Sunday, July 23, 2023

Philippine Air Force celebrates 76th anniversary showcasing aerial might and dedication

From the Palawan News (Jul 21, 2023): Philippine Air Force celebrates 76th anniversary showcasing aerial might and dedication (By Press Release)

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) celebrated its 76″h Founding Anniversary by displaying its air assets with pride and gratitude.

The PAF impressed its audience with live demonstrations of lntelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities using the C208 aircraf, Fast Rope Insertion, and Extrication System (FRIES) operations with the S70i Black Hawk helicopters and a hoist rescue operation of a patient using a Huey 2 aircraft. Additionally, the PAF showcased air-to ground live fire demonstrations with the FA5O PH, A29B Super Tucano, and T129 Atak Helicopters.

The formal program on July 3 began with an impressive high-speed opener exhibiion by three FA-50 PH aircraft, followed by a formation flight of T-41 aircraft, forming “76” to honor the PAF’s many years of existence and service. A flyby demonstration featured various types of PAF air and ground assets, such as the FA5OPH, T129, C295, C130, PZL W-3A Sokol, S70i, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS) platfoms.

In his speech, President Ferdinand R Marcos Jr., as the Commander-in-Chief, commended the PAF for its selfless service and dedication over the past 76 years. He recognized the rich history and growth of the PAF, from its humble beginnings during the First World War to its present role in securing the nation.

The President expressed his gratitude to the PAF personnel for their exemplary dedication and contributions to enhancing the country’s aerial defense capabilities. He emphasized the values of integrity, excellence, and patriotism, urging the PAF to continue upholding them in their mission to protect the nation.

Furthermore, the President assured the PAF of the government’s commitment to strengthening the Armed Forces, including the PAF, through the AFP Modernization Program. Recognizing the challenges ahead, the President emphasized the importance of the PAF’s maritime air patrol missions in upholding territorial integrity and safeguarding Philippine naval zones. He expressed his confidence in the PAF’s ability to soar to greater heights, calling for unity, indomitable spirit, and unwavering dedication to protecting the Republic.

Throughout its 76-year journey, the PAF has consistently strived for excellence in fulfilling its mission. Its relentless pursuit of improvement was evident in its continuous investments in cutting-edge technology, advanced infrastructure, and the development of its human resources, ensuring the security of the Philippines and its skies.

These strategic endeavors have propelled the PAF’s capability to new heights, resulting in a more robust fleet, state-of-the-art platfoms, efficient air bases, and highly trained personnel.

The celebration not only commemorates its rich history but also serves as a reminder of its unwavering commitment to protecting the nation and its skies. With support and unity, the PAF remains steadfast in its mission as one of the government’s assets to create a better future for the nation.

As the PAF navigates the challenges ahead, every Airman and Airwoman does so with pride, gratitude, and full confidence in the PAF’s ability to overcome obstacles and achieve even more significant milestones.

2 NPA rebels slain in Moises Padilla

Posted to the Panay News (Jul 22, 2023): 2 NPA rebels slain in Moises Padilla

An encounter with the government forces on Thursday night, July 20, led to the deaths of two New People’s Army rebels, including Marivic Ebarle, believed to be the commanding officer of the Central Negros Front's Section Guerilla Unit. 96.7 XFM BACOLOD FACEBOOK PHOTO

BACOLOD City – Two New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed in a gun battle with soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (62IB) in Barangay Montilla, Moises Padilla Negros Occidental late Thursday night.

Marivic “Ivan” Ebarle was believed to be the commanding officer of the NPA’s Section Guerilla Unit of the Central Negros Front.

The second fatality, meanwhile, has yet to be identified by the authorities.

It is also believed that two more NPA rebels were wounded in the clash. The Army found bloodstains at the rebels’ withdrawal route.

1st Lieutenant Mary Liza Joy De Guzman, Civil Military Officer of the 62IB, said residents informed government forces of the rebels’’ presence in the area.

The gun battle lasted for at least 15 minutes.

A .45 pistol, a .357 revolver, 21 pieces of .45 pistol bullets, six .357 revolver bullets, two magazines for a .45 pistol, medical kits, and backpacks containing the rebels’ personal items were recovered.

A background check by the Philippine Army revealed that Ebarle was one of the primary suspects in various murders of civilians, harassment, and extortion activities in the town, as well as in neighboring La Castellana and Canlaon City in Negros Oriental. (Watchmen Daily Journal)

VISCOM head vying for Army chief position

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 21, 2023): VISCOM head vying for Army chief position (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

The guessing game on who will be named by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the next commanding general of the Philippine Army is on.

Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the AFP Visayas Command, is reportedly among the candidates for the position to be vacated by Army chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr, who was designated as the incoming chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Let’s wait,” Arevalo said when asked his chances to be the next commanding general of the Philippine Army.

Arevalo belongs to Philippine Military Academy Class of 1990.

Brawner was installed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the new AFP chief of staff, in a change of command ceremony held at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Brawner will replace AFP chief of staff Gen. Andres Centino, who has been designated by President Marcos Jr. as the Presidential Adviser on the West Philippine Sea.

Centino reached the mandatory retirement on February 4, but qualified for another three-year term following the signing of Republic Act 11709. Under RA 11709, the AFP chief of staff, vice chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, heads of the major services (Army, Navy, and Air Force), unified command commanders, and inspector general will have a three-year term of office “unless sooner terminated by the President.”* with PNA report

Army targets declaring Negros Island insurgency free by year end

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 21, 2023): Army targets declaring Negros Island insurgency free by year end (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson receives a token from Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, 3rd Infantry Division commander, in the presence of Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, 303rd Infantry Brigade commanding officer, in recognition of his support to the peace and development campaign in Negros Occidental, as head of the Provincial Task Force ELCAC.* GB photo

The Army’s 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division is targeting to declare Negros Island “insurgency free” by the end of 2023, yesterday revealed its commander, Maj. Gen. Marion Sison.

With God’s grace, and as long as TF ELCAC (Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict) is very active in the field of cooperation and collaboration, among each and every member of government agencies and the community, we can finish this, Sison said.

He disclosed that for the first time in more than 50 years of fighting the insurgency problem, the focus of the main effort of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is now in Visayas, including Negros Island.

Sison, who commands the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division infantry units stationed in Western and Central Visayas regions, said “this is the first time in the history of AFP that VISCOM (Visayas Command) was the main effort, as far as dismantling of guerilla fronts, in ending the insurgency in the whole Philippines.”

As far as internal security operations are concerned, the effort of AFP is now focusing in the Visayas area in eliminating, decimating, dismantling of all existing guerilla fronts, he further said, stressing that “statistically, we are on the 70 to 75 percent winning, as far as numbers of surrendered and killed NPA rebels, and recovery of almost 100 percent of barangays that used to be under the infiltration and influence of the CPP NPA.”

The 3ID was recently conferred with numerous awards by the AFP, because of its anti-insurgency campaign accomplishments, especially in Negros, mainly on the accomplishments of the 303rd Infantry Brigade that recorded at least 30 armed engagements since the start of the year, which led to the neutralization of 67 guerillas, including several of its top NPA leaders, who died in encounters.

Hopefully by the end of the year, we may able to dismantle the three remaining guerilla fronts, including the Central Negros 1 and 2, as well as the South West Front of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor, that will pave the way for the declaration of Negros Island as “insurgency free,” Sison said.

Of the three Army infantry brigades supervised by the 3ID, the 302nd and 303rd Infantry Brigades are stationed in Negros Island, with six Army battalions under their respective commands.

Sison thanked Negros Occidental Gov. Lacson for actively leading them in the addressing the insurgency problem in the island, being leader of the Provincial Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict.

“We can’t finish the fight, without you, and the local chief executives,” Sison told Lacson and mayor awardees, who played a vital role in the implementation of EO 70, which mandates a whole of nation approach in putting an end to the decades long communist insurgency problem, at Camp Major Nelson Gerona in Murcia, Negros Occidental.

Assisted by Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, which marked its 37th founding anniversary yesterday, Sison led the distribution of plaques of recognition to its supporters, including Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, Abang Lingkod Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano, San Carlos City Mayor Renato Gustilo, Toboso Mayor Madonna Jaojoco, Escalante Mayor Melecio Yap, Valladolid Mayor Enrique Miravalles, Kabankalan City Mayor Benjie Miranda, and Himamaylan City Mayor Rogelio Raymund Tongson of Negros Occidental, and Guihulngan City Mayor Filomeno Reyes of Negros Oriental, among other civilian supporters.

He also rallied men and women of the 303rd Infantry Brigade to continue the conduct of focused military operations.

“This is the right time to finish the enemy. This is the right time for us to prepare ourselves for territorial defense,” Sison further stressed.

Also conferred with Military Merit Medals by Sison were SSgt. Harold Bayona, Sgt. Jonil Gruta, TSgt. Raul Ceron, 1Lt. Analyn Lonjawon and TSgt. Charlie Palomado.

In attending the 303IB founding anniversary, Sison and Edralin were joined by their members of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1991, Brigadier Generals Leonardo Peña and Michael Samson.

NPA leader killed in Moises Padilla gun battle

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 22, 2023): NPA leader killed in Moises Padilla gun battle (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Two more suspected New People’s Army rebels died in a renewed gunbattle almost midnight of July 20 in Sitio Kawayanan, Brgy. Montilla, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental.

Two cadavers were left by their fleeing comrades at the encounter site, and one of the slain rebels was identified by the 62nd Infantry Battalion as Marivic Ebarle, alias Ka Ivan, commanding officer of the Section Guerilla Unit of Central Negros 1 of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor.

Ebarle was also reported by the 62IB as a notorious NPA hitman operating in the hinterlands of Moises Padilla and neighboring La Castellana in Negros Occidental.

Lt. Col. William Pesase, 62nd Infantry Battalion commander, disclosed that the gunbattle between his troops and six NPA members lasted 15 minutes, which prompted to insurgents to scamper in different directions.

Pesase added that aside from cadavers of two slain rebels, army soldiers also recovered a caliber .45 pistol with two magazines containing ammunition, a caliber .357 revolver with 21 ammunition, medical kits and assorted medicines, two back packs containing personal belongings.

He also reported that two other rebels were also reportedly injured, as indicated by bloodstains along their withdrawal routes, and based on testimonies of residents in the area who reported the NPA presence in their community.

Pesase further said that the group of Ebarle was tagged as the primary suspects in various killings of innocent civilians, harassment, and extortion activities in Barangays Macagahay and Quintin Remo, both in Moises Padilla, where the boundary extends towards barangays of La Castellana, both in Negros Occidental, and Canlaon City in Negros Oriental.

Last month, five NPA rebels also died in an encounter with 62IB soldiers in Brgy. Quintin Remo, Moises Padilla.

The identity of the other slain rebel was yet to be established by the 62IB and Moises Padilla Police Station as of press time.

Rebels impose death penalties on 2 civilians

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 22, 2023): Rebels impose death penalties on 2 civilians (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

The New People’s Army issued separate statements claiming responsibility for the deaths of alleged military informants in Siaton and Vallehermoso, Negros Oriental.

Ka Estrella Banagbanag, spokesperson of the NPA Southeast Negros Guerilla Front, claimed that they imposed death penalty on James Acab in Brgy. Napakaw, Siaton, Negros Oriental, for being a military informant.

Banagbanag accused Acab of serving as a guide of the 11th Infantry Battalion soldiers in the conduct of a raid against a unit of the NPA in Sitio Balaskan of the barangay in 2020, that claimed the lives of Ka Jorge and Ka MG, and also two encounters in the same barangay in 2021.

Meanwhile, Ka JB Regalado, spokesman of the Leonardo Panaligan Command, in a statement also claimed responsibility in the killing of Ricky Catubig on July 19 in Brgy. Guba, Vallehermoso, Negros Oriental.

Regalado linked Catubig, 40, to illegal activities, and of connections with the 62IB.

DND eyes tapping 'non-traditional sources' for AFP modernization

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 21, 2023): DND eyes tapping 'non-traditional sources' for AFP modernization (By Priam Nepomuceno)

DND Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) said it is also looking at "non-traditional sources" of weapon systems and platforms to support the ongoing modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"We are looking also (at) 'non-traditional sources' to fill in the gaps, particularly in technology and other capabilities," DND Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. said in a press briefing with select reporters on Thursday.

"Non-traditional sources" refers to countries or suppliers that are not usually tapped by the Philippines as sources of its military equipment requirements.

He made this comment when asked whether the DND has already achieved its goal of ensuring the so-called "minimum credible defense" posture.

This refers to the concept that while the Philippines might not have the capability to win a war against a potential aggressor, it has enough defensive means to make would-be attackers think twice about attacking it.

"I'm too early on the job to figure out where we are or whatnot. I'm not comfortable telling the public (about it). That's a question of the highest national defense," he said.

Teodoro, a Bar topnotcher and an Air Force reservist, was appointed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the DND's top post on June 6.

He replaced then Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. who was reappointed to his old post at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

This is Teodoro's second time as DND chief with the first time taking place in 2007 to 2009 under the administration of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Teodoro, however, assured the public that the DND is doing its best to fill in its gaps.

"Rest assured that we are doing our level best day and night trying to fill in the gap(s)," he said, adding that these "gaps" in the first two Horizons of the AFP Modernization Program needed to be addressed immediately to ensure that Horizon 3 would not be "marginalized."

"We still have to fill in the gaps of Horizon 2 and Horizon 1. Without those foundational blocks, then Horizon 3 will be marginalized and we are busy doing that, studying our processes, and filling in the gaps as quickly as possible," Teodoro said.

The military modernization program's Horizon 3 is slated for 2023 to 2028 while Horizon 2 is from 2018 to 2022 and Horizon 1 is from 2013 to 2018.

All these horizons are geared toward acquiring equipment and weapon platforms that would allow the AFP to do its external defense mandate.

Some of the platforms being eyed in these upgrades are the multi-role fighter and diesel-electric submarines.

Teodoro also said the AFP has submitted its "wish list" for Horizon 3 and these are all for beefing up the military's deterrent capabilities.

"Well, the military has submitted their 'wish list' already for Horizon 3. President Marcos and I do not place the priorities. We rely on the recommendations of the military. These are for Phase 1 of Horizon 3 (and) include the possibility of multi-role fighter(s), additional naval assets, command-and-control and other deterrent capabilities which are shore-based," he added.

Recalibrate AFP’s internal security ops: PBBM to Brawner

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 21, 2023): Recalibrate AFP’s internal security ops: PBBM to Brawner (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos and Priam Nepomuceno)

CHANGE OF COMMAND. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. leads the Armed Forces of the Philippines change of command and retirement ceremony in honor of Gen. Andres Centino at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Friday (July 21, 2023). Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. replaces Centino who reached the mandatory retirement age in February. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday urged newly-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. to maintain peace and order to make the Philippines a “safer and more secure nation.”

“Given your extensive experience in safeguarding peace in conflict affected areas, I urge you to recalibrate our internal security operations so that we can deliver public services in geographically isolated and disadvantaged communities,” the Commander-in-Chief said during the AFP’s Change of Command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

“I know your supervision will give rise to a safer and more secure nation where more rebels return to the fold of the law and decide to be productive citizens. At this juncture, allow me to urge you all to work towards an armed forces that is agile and prepared for any contingency,” the President added.

Brawner assumed the new post at the AFP, two days after Malacañang announced his new designation.

Marcos expressed optimism that under Brawner’s leadership, the AFP would continue to ensure the Filipinos’ security and uphold national sovereignty amid pressing challenges.

To help the AFP fulfill its mandate to serve and protect the country, the President renewed his vow to provide support for its modernization efforts.

“As your commander-in-chief, I assure you that this administration is firm in reinforcing this noble pursuit by modernizing the AFP. Along with our efforts to strengthen our external defense capabilities, I ask you to continue working with national government agencies and civilian stakeholders to form archipelagic consciousness amongst Filipinos,” Marcos said.

Brawner replaced Gen. Andres Centino who reached the mandatory retirement on Feb. 4 this year but qualified for another three-year term following the signing of Republic Act 11709.

Under RA 11709, the AFP chief of staff, vice chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, heads of the major services (Army, Navy, and Air Force), unified command commanders, and inspector general will have a three-year term of office "unless sooner terminated by the President."

Marcos honored Centino for demonstrating “exemplary service and resolute commitment to our nation’s peace, order and security.”

“Under your supervision, the AFP has made significant strides in reducing the presence and capabilities of communists and local terrorist groups. In terms of our national security, the AFP has conducted hundreds of maritime air patrols, naval surface patrols as well as deployed hundreds of troops to defend our islands,” he said.

“The AFP also established dozens of littoral monitoring stations and detachments across the country. With regard to our peace support operations, the AFP has facilitated the deployment of military observers to United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations in India and Pakistan, to the UN Mission to South Sudan, and to the UN Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic,” he added.

Marcos hoped that Centino would continue to “pursue endeavors that will benefit our fellow Filipinos and our entire nation.”

Centino has been appointed as Presidential Adviser on the West Philippine Sea.

“We have made sure that we don’t lose the talent and the skills and the experience that Gen. Andy has acquired over his 39 years of service and so we have assigned him as presidential adviser on the West Philippine Sea so that we can be sure that all our policies in that regard are continuously evolving from what we had begun,” Marcos said.

Focus on nat'l unity

Brawner, meanwhile, vowed to focus all military efforts on ensuring national unity.

"As I take the helm of the AFP, allow me to articulate the five areas where I wish to focus our efforts. For these focus areas I would like to keep in line with the President's call for national unity. So please allow me Sir, to use the acronym 'UNITY' to better explain these focus areas," Brawner said in his assumption speech.

He also emphasized that the same method was used by then AFP chief Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro when he took over the military last year.

"'U' is for unification. Internally we will focus on making sure that we have a solid and professional AFP. All members of the AFP whether they are officers, enlisted personnel or civilian human resource should follow the chain of command. Externally we will help unite our communities. We will make sure that the former rebels unite once again with their families as we extend our hands in reconciliation. We will leverage interagency coordination, linkaging, and alliance building in furtherance of our whole-of-nation approach," Brawner stressed.

Brawner said "N" is giving special attention to the normalization process in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, particularly in the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as stipulated in the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

"I" is for internal security operations, with the AFP defeating the remaining local terrorist groups and the communist insurgency to attain total victory, Brawner said.

"We have to sustain the dividends of peace by making sure that there will be no resurgency of insurgency and terrorism in our country," he added.

Brawner said "T" stands for territorial defense where the AFP will do its best to modernize its personnel, equipment, facilities, processes, and systems so that it can be a "lethal and competent fighting force" capable of defending the country from external aggression.

"Part of this modernization would be a focus on cyber warfare. I see cyber as a great equalizer and we have great potential to be a player in the cyber domain. We shall also actively pursue our international defense and security engagements to strengthen our relations with our allies and partners. We shall actively participate in the United Nations missions to enhance our country's reputation as a peace-loving nation," Brawner said.

Lastly, he said "Y" stands for the youth, as he vowed to exert all efforts best to develop them as future leaders of the country.

"The AFP will do its share in developing our youth, the future leaders and citizens of our nation to be responsible and patriotic defenders of our national identity as a people and of our territorial integrity. one way of doing this is through the proper and relevant conduct of the ROTC's program. This will also coincide with our efforts to develop our reserve force," he added.

Excellent choice

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday lauded Brawner's appointment as military chief.

"The DND lauds the appointment of Lt. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner (Jr.) as the incoming Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), vice General Andres C. Centino, who is set to be appointed as the Presidential Adviser on the West Philippine Sea," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.

With more than 30 years of exemplary military service, Andolong said Brawner is an excellent choice to lead the AFP at this crucial stage of continuing internal and external security operations.

"We are confident that Lt. Gen. Brawner will continue to exemplify excellence, innovation, and professionalism as he leads the AFP," Andolong said.

Andolong also said the DND is looking forward to working with Centino in implementing a whole-of-government approach to managing the situation in the West Philippine Sea.

PBBM lauds PH troops’ peace efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 23, 2023): PBBM lauds PH troops’ peace efforts (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

CAMP VISIT. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. pays a visit to the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division (1ID) at Camp Major Cesar Sang-An in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur on Friday (July 21, 2023). During his camp visit, Marcos met with 1ID officials to discuss peace and security updates in the region. (Screenshot from Radio Television Malacañang)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday commended the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry Division (1ID) and the Joint Task Force (JTF) - Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao (ZamPeLan) for their relentless efforts to maintain peace and order in Mindanao.

During his visit to Camp Major Cesar Sang-an in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur, Marcos congratulated the 1ID and the JTF ZamPeLan for their good work, saying they must be “very proud” of their dedication to fighting for peace.

“Dahil maganda ang performance ninyo, lagi namin i-expect sa inyo na laging maganda rin ang performance ninyo (Because of your good performance, we always expect that you will always perform well). Pero (But) you have never failed the country,” he said. “You have never failed to answer the call of duty with honor, with pride, and with the passion and the love for the Republic of the Philippines.”

The President told the troops that they are now tasked to transform themselves from warfighters to peacemakers as the country pursues the peace process.

He emphasized the importance of unity and bringing lasting peace to the country.

“Papunta na tayo sa dulo ng (We are geared towards the finalization of the) peace process and that’s why we are very optimistic about all of the development and the progress that we will be seeing in the area,” Marcos said.

About 200 attendees, composed of officials and troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and 1ID, were present during Marcos’ camp visit.

He also met with the 1ID officials to discuss peace and security updates in the region.

Established in 1936, the 1ID is the Army’s unit supervising security operations against threats in the Zamboanga Peninsula, including the Lanao provinces and Misamis Occidental.

On the other hand, the JTF ZamPeLan consists of the 1ID, Naval Task Group - ZamPeLan, and Tactical Operations Group 9 covering the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Occidental, and some parts of Misamis Oriental.

JTF ZamPeLan confronts the communist groups and the Daulah Islamiyah - Maute Group (DI-MG) and monitors the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.

Some of the task force’s accomplishments as of this month are the dismantling of six of seven communist guerilla fronts in its area of responsibility, the recovery of 48 enemy firearms, and the neutralization of four high-value individuals during the March 2022 encounter with the DI-MG.

It also neutralized the top leadership of DI-MG, Abu Zacharia, the Amir of DI-Philippines and overall Amir of the Islamic State - East Asia on June 14.

Off-duty soldier slain in N. Cotabato ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 21, 2023): Off-duty soldier slain in N. Cotabato ambush (By Edwin Fernandez)

GUNNED DOWN. Police check on the body of an off-duty soldier slain in an ambush along the national highway in Kabacan, North Cotabato, on Thursday night (July 20, 2023).Major Maxim Peralta, Kabacan police chief, said suspects took the soldier’s motorbike but later abandoned it in nearby Datu Montawal town, Maguindanao Sur, including their motorbike. (Photo courtesy of Kabacan MPS)

KABACAN, North Cotabato – Unidentified gunmen ambushed and killed Thursday night an off-duty soldier in Barangay Kayaga here, police said.

Major Maxim Peralta, Kabacan police chief, identified the fatality as Private First Class John Ian Paul Castor, 30, assigned with the Army’s 90th Infantry Battalion based in Pikit, North Cotabato.

Castor was driving his motorcycle going to Kabacan when two men aboard another motorbike opened fire, hitting the soldier in his back and falling off his bike.

Police recovered empty shells for a .45-caliber pistol at the crime scene. The victim's motorcycle was taken by the gunmen.

However, during the pursuit operation, the perpetrators abandoned the victim's vehicle, along with a motorbike, believed to be the gunmen’s getaway vehicle, on a roadside in Datu Montawal, Maguindanao del Sur.

Police units in the province have been alerted for possible sightings of the armed duo, Peralta said.

Soldiers rescue, treat injured female NPA rebel

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 21, 2023): Soldiers rescue, treat injured female NPA rebel (By Edwin Fernandez)

RESCUED REBEL. Philippine Army troopers assist Charklyn, an injured female rebel, after she was rescued following an encounter in Barangay Hinalaan, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat on Wednesday (July 19, 2023). The Army’s 37th Infantry Battalion clashed with about 20 communist rebels, who abandoned “Charklyn.” (Photo courtesy of 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao Norte – The soldiers of the 37th Infantry Battalion (IB) and the 603rd Infantry Brigade did a commendable act of rescuing and treating an injured communist rebel following a recent clash in the hinterlands of Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat.

The noble act is worth emulating by all state troopers in dealing with issues like international humanitarian laws, Major Gen. Alex Rillera, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) and Joint Task Force Central (JTFC) commander, said in a statement Friday.

Rillera repeated his appeal to all communist guerillas within the 6ID area of operation to surrender, lay down their arms, and avail of the government’s peace offer.

"My calls remain for NPA (New People’s Army) rebels to rejoin the mainstream and live normal lives with their families and loved ones,” he said.

In a report, Lt. Colonel John Paul Baldomar, commander of the 37IB based in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat, identified the wounded combatant only as a certain “Charklyn,” 30, a political instructor of NPA Platoon Beijing, Sub-Regional Committee Daguma, Far South Region.

He said “Charklyn” was injured after her 20-man group encountered the 37IB troopers in Barangay Hinalaan on Wednesday.

“She was abandoned by her companions,” Baldomar said.

He said the soldiers administered first aid to “Charklyn” and brought her to a hospital in Lebak town where she remains under treatment.

2 NPA rebels killed in central Negros clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 21, 2023): 2 NPA rebels killed in central Negros clash (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

SEIZED. The firearms, ammunition and other items recovered by troops of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion after their encounter with New People’s Army rebels in Barangay Montilla, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental before midnight on Thursday (July 20, 2023). The clash led to the death of two communist rebels, one of whom was a guerrilla unit leader of Central Negros Front 1. (Photo courtesy of 62nd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY – Troops of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) recovered two bodies of New People’s Army (NPA) fighters, following an encounter in the hinterlands of Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental minutes before midnight on Thursday.

In a report on Friday, the 62IB identified one of the fatalities as Marivic “Ivan” Ebarle, commanding officer of Section Guerilla Unit under the Central Negros Front 1 (CN1), while the other one, also a male, has yet to be identified.

Two other communist rebels were also wounded, based on the bloodstain found in their withdrawal route, the report said.

“The troops immediately responded to information of the enemy presence from the report of concerned citizens in Barangay Montilla,” the 62IB, led by Lt. Col. William Pesase Jr., said in a statement.

The soldiers engaged some six NPA rebels during the 15-minute firefight in Sitio Kawayanan.

After an exchange of fire, they found the two bodies and also recovered a cal.45 pistol with 21 rounds of ammunition and a cal.357 revolver with six rounds of ammunition.

Other seized items included two steel magazines for cal.45 pistol, medical kits with assorted medicines, and two backpacks containing personal items.

The 62IB said communist rebels led by Ebarle were considered the primary suspects in the killing of civilians, harassment, and extortion activities in Barangays Macagahay and Quintin Remo as well as in some villages in the neighboring La Castellana town in Negros Occidental and Canlaon City in Negros Oriental.

The death of Ebarle and his comrade were the latest setbacks of the NPA in central Negros since the skirmishes in Moises Padilla started last April, which then claimed the life of Jose “Jojo” Albores, one of the leaders of the “kangaroo court” under the CN1, during a clash in Sitio Lower Tiyos, Barangay Quintin Remo.

In May, five NPA rebels were killed during a skirmish in Barangay Quintin Remo while in June, two others were also killed in a clash in Barangay Macagahay.

2 firearms, explosives seized in Masbate clash with NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 21, 2023): 2 firearms, explosives seized in Masbate clash with NPA (By Connie Calipay)

RECOVERED. Two high-powered firearms and other war materiel of the New People's Army (NPA) are recovered after an armed encounter with soldiers and rebel groups in Masbate province on Thursday (July 20, 2023). The weapons included two M16 rifles, 12 pieces of 40-mm high explosive ammunition, and two anti-personnel mines. (Photo courtesy of 9ID)

LEGAZPI CITY – At least two high-powered firearms and other war materiel of communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels were recovered after an armed encounter with government troops in Masbate province Thursday.

In an interview on Friday, Maj. Frank Roldan, Army’s 9th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office chief, said the encounter occurred in the border of Barangays Baang and Bagacay in Mobo town of the province.

“Recovered were two M16 rifles, 12 pieces of 40-mm high explosive ammunition, two anti-personnel mines, magazines, subversive documents, and personal belongings of the rebels," Roldan said.

Acting on reports from villagers, he said soldiers from the Army’s 2nd Infantry Battalion proceeded to the area where they traded shots with some 15 NPA rebels for several minutes.

The rebels later withdrew toward the southeast direction, he added.

No soldier was reported injured or killed in the incident.

The military is still determining whether the rebels have suffered casualties.

2 NPA rebels yield, hand over firearms to Surigao Sur cops

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 23, 2023): 2 NPA rebels yield, hand over firearms to Surigao Sur cops (By Alexander Lopez)

SURRENDER. Fatigue and hunger forced two New People’s Army rebels to surrender to the Surigao del Sur Provincial Police Office in Tandag City on Saturday (July 22, 2023). The surrenderers also handed over two high-powered firearms to authorities. (Photo courtesy of SDSPPO)

BUTUAN CITY – Two communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels surrendered in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur on Saturday afternoon and handed over two high-powered firearms.

In a statement Sunday, the Surigao del Sur Police Provincial Office (SDSPPO) said the two surrenderers, identified by their aliases “Jun,” 33, and “Bas,” 21, are regular members of Guerrilla Front Committee 14 under the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee of the NPA.

The two insurgents also turned over to SDSPPO two 5.56-caliber M4A1 rifles, a military backpack, and two NPA sweatshirts.

“The two communist terrorist group members also presented themselves to Surigao del Sur Gov. Alexander Pimentel during their surrender,” SDSPPO director Col. Harry Domingo said in the same statement.

He added that fatigue and hunger forced the two rebels to abandon the communist movement and they decided to return peacefully to their families and communities.

“The surrender also proves the effectivity of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government,” Domingo said.

The two NPA rebels will undergo processes for them to qualify to avail of the benefits of the E-CLIP, especially livelihood assistance which will prepare them for reintegration to their communities, he added.