Monday, August 14, 2023

NPA owns responsibility for ambush, killing of villagers in Negros Occidental

From Rappler (Aug 14, 2023): NPA owns responsibility for ambush, killing of villagers in Negros Occidental (By REYMUND TITONG)

Rebels claim to have seized firearms and ammunition from policemen during the August 9 ambush

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The New People’s Army (NPA) has claimed responsibility for the August 9 ambush that left one killed and three others wounded in Sitio Calanugan, Barangay Minapasok, Calatrava town in Negros Occidental.

Cecil Estrella, spokesperson of the NPA’s Roselyn Jean Pelle Command, said on Sunday, August 13, that they staged the ambush on a patrol vehicle carrying 10 police personnel from the Calatrava Police Station.

Estrella said the rebels seized four assault rifles, ammunition, and a .45 caliber pistol.

The attack killed Corporal Jaime Nuñez and wounded Corporal Dennis Nasis and Captain Jesus Alba, the deputy chief of police of the Calatrava police station.

Police Staff Sergeant Frank Caballero was later reported as another wounded officer.

Calatrava police chief Major Ronald Santillan said investigators found M-203 cartridges at the crime scene, and he rejected reports about a landmine explosion, as several police survivors had claimed.

According to Captain Judesses Catalogo, spokesperson for the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, the policemen were en route to arrest several fugitives wanted for murder and illegal possession of explosives in Sitio Icogan, Barangay Minapasok, when the fierce encounter took place for about 30 minutes.

Those subject to the arrest warrants were Darry Dayawan and Charry Amacan, among others, who were also identified by state forces as communist guerrillas under the NPA’s Northern Negros Front.

Authorities earlier said the rebel group was dismantled by state forces.

The arrest warrant for murder against Dayawan was issued by Judge Arville Guyod Delgado of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 57 in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, on February 18, 2022.

Amacan, meanwhile, and several others are wanted for a 2022 illegal possession of explosives case.

Catalogo denied that the policemen were ambushed, asserting that the law enforcers engaged communist rebels.

Civilian casualties

The NPA also claimed responsibility for the killing of two villagers in Batyogon, a sitio three kilometers from the encounter site, for allegedly serving as military spies.

Estrella said the villagers – Felix Resotay Jr. and his nephew Elesio Resotay – were meted the “death sentence” by the NPA.

“The verdict was promulgated two years ago after a fair and impartial trial but enforced only recently to give ample time [for them] to mend their ways and cease their anti-people counter-revolutionary activities,” Estrella said.

Relatives of the killed civilians told Radyo Bandera-Bacolod criticized the NPA and denied that they were military informants.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnel Calaoagan, commander of the Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion, said killing unarmed civilians constituted a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

In Negros Island, communist rebels have a history of targeting civilians accused of being army informants or criminals, a practice strongly condemned by the government and human rights groups.

Only 1% of applicants from Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front accepted to PNP

From Rappler (Aug 14, 2023): Only 1% of applicants from Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front accepted to PNP (By FERDINANDH CABRERA)

Many of new policemen are children of former guerrillas who fought for Mindanao secession and have also joined the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Standing several meters back, proud parents and relatives witnessed the first batch of Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members take their oath as members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the Bangsamoro region.

Many of them are children of former guerrillas who fought for Mindanao secession and have also joined the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF.

They took their oath as the next generation of police officers in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on Thursday, August 10, at Camp Salipada K. Pendatun, the PNP regional headquarters in Parang, Maguindanao del Norte.

MUST READ: 102 former Moro rebels take oath as PNP patrolmen

However, only 1% of the total 11,033 applicants reached the final selection process.

“They are considered the best of the best and the cream of the crop from the young generation of Bangsamoro police,” said Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. who came to witness the acceptance of the 102 men and women in the Bangsamoro police force from the ranks of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF.

Abalos said the oath-taking was the fruit of the peace agreement, which includes the recruitment of Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF members into the PNP.

“It feels great that the government has given us a chance to join the national police force. We are thankful to the President,” said Abdullah Lumambas, one of the recruits.

Former Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatant Abdulradjak Anao, now a sextuagenarian, said, “I wish I were still as young as they are. I dreamed of becoming a police officer, but I’m still thankful and happy for this opportunity.

Anao has two sons who applied, but only one passed the final selection process.

The recruitment was based on the National Police Commission’s (Napolcom) Resolution No. 2023-0380, which approved the recommendation of the PNP to allocate 400 slots in its 2023 recruitment program for the rank of patrolman and patrolwoman to former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF. In the end, only 102 were accepted.

Officials said many applicants were eliminated after undergoing rigorous police standard selection and screening processes, which included mental, physical, neurological, and drug tests.

Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) member Mohager Iqbal said the aim was to have a “quality and competent” police force in the BARMM, but asserted that the recruitment should continue until the 400 slots have all been filled up.

Iqbal said the BARMM regional government can even help and set aside funds to fill up the vacant slots.

The BARMM has an annual block grant of at least P85 billion from the national fund for the region’s development and implementation.

On April 7, 2022, the BARMM government and Napolcom signed an agreement allowing qualified Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF members to take the Special Qualifying Eligibility Examination (NSQEE), the prescribed eligibility for temporary appointment to the rank of patrolman/patrolwoman in the PNP for members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF.

Out of 11,033 examinees, 7,145, or 64.77%, of Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF members successfully passed the NSQEE held in the cities of Cotabato and Lamitan on May 29, 2022.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front to probe if members behind Basilan ambush

From Rappler (Aug 14, 2023): Moro Islamic Liberation Front to probe if members behind Basilan ambush (By RICHARD FALCATAN)

One of the eight wounded soldiers died in a hospital and is immediately laid to rest following Muslim tradition on August 14

BASILAN, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has announced an investigation into the ambush that took place on Saturday afternoon, August 12, in Barangay Ulitan, Ungkaya Pukan town, Basilan, which resulted in the deaths of two soldiers and injuries to seven others.

Hadji Samad Ahaddin, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Ad Hoc Joint Action Group-Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (AHJAG-CCCH) in Basilan, said they will determine whether Moro Islamic Liberation Front members were involved in the ambush.

He said that if any of their members were found to be involved, they would be held accountable for violating the agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

On Monday, August 14, one of the wounded soldiers, Corporal Abdurafic Akalun, passed away in a hospital and was immediately laid to rest following Muslim tradition.

Akalun was a member of the Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST), which was ambushed by an armed group in the village of Ulitan, along with eight other soldiers.

One of the soldiers was immediately killed during the ambush.

The injured soldiers were rushed to the Camp Navarro General Hospital of the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.

Soldiers from the Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion and JPST members were dispatched to the village to conduct an assessment in preparation for a medical outreach program.

During their mission, they were attacked by an armed group and engaged in a five-minute firefight.

Brigadier General Alvin Luzon, commander of Joint Task Force Basilan, condemned what he described as “cowardice” on the part of the group responsible for the ambush.

AFP chief clarifies: PH not sending cadets to China to study

Posted to the Panay News (Aug 12, 2023): AFP chief clarifies: PH not sending cadets to China to study

The Philippines will not send cadets to study in China’s Beijing Military Academy and other training institutions of the Communist People’s Liberation Army, says Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Romeo Brawner Jr. The Philippines will not send cadets to study in China’s Beijing Military Academy and other training institutions of the Communist People’s Liberation Army, says Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Romeo Brawner Jr.

MANILA — The Philippine government is not sending its military cadets to study in China, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Romeo Brawner Jr. said.

“Let me just clarify: we don’t send cadets to China [to study],” Brawner said, partly in Filipino, during a press conference in Western Command headquarters in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on Thursday.

Brawner said that as of present, the Philippines is only sending their cadets to the United States, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.

To date, there are 45 Filipino cadets studying in these countries, according to the top official.

He made this clarification when asked to comment on senators’ reaction when they learned that a number of ranking AFP officials had completed their schooling at the Beijing Military Academy and other training institutions of the Communist People’s Liberation Army.

However, Brawner noted that the Philippine government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government in 2004, adding that this experience brought positive results for the country.

“We get so much value by sending officers and enlisted personnel to study,” he said. “When they come back, they share best practices and we can see what we can apply here.” (John Eric Mendoza © Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Rebels claim killings of 2 civilians, policeman

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 14, 2023): Rebels claim killings of 2 civilians, policeman (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

The Roselyn Jean Pelle Command of the New People’s Army has issued a statement claiming responsibility for the summary execution of two civilians they accused as military spies, and the ambush of local policemen who responded to the incident on August 9 in Brgy. Minapasuk, Calatrava, Negros Occidental.

In a statement, rebel spokesperson Cecille Estrella justified the killing of Felix Resotay Sr. and his nephew, Eliseo Mahilum, who were charged with the crime of espionage and meted the death penalty by the People’s Revolutionary Court, in Sitio Batyogon, Brgy. Minapasuk, Calatrava.

Estrella said that the death verdict was promulgated two years ago, after a fair and impartial trial, but enforced only recently to give them ample time to mend their ways and cease their anti-people counterrevolutionary activities.

The rebel spokesman further claimed that two were active intelligence assets of the military, allegations which were strongly denied by family members of the victims.

Estrella further alleged that both victims served as guides in combat operations, and provided reconnaissance on suspected NPA encampments, as well as surveillance on civilians arbitrarily accused as NPA members or sympathizers.

Both the Philippine Army and National Police have strongly condemned the barbaric acts of the NPA.

Estrella also reported that the NPA recovered four assault rifles and a caliber .45 pistol from the police they ambushed, and admitted of using command detonated explosive, that also resulted in the killing of PCpl. Jaime Nuñez, a member of the Calatrava Police Station, and injured two others.*

Weapons cache surrendered in Southern Philippines

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 14, 2023): Weapons cache surrendered in Southern Philippines

KIDAPAWAN CITY – About a dozen village leaders in the special geographic area of the Muslim autonomous region in North Cotabato have surrendered a cache of weapons, including anti-tank rocket launchers and sniper rifles ahead of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

This was confirmed Monday by the Western Mindanao Command, saying the mass surrender of weapons is part of the military’s campaign in the southern region.

It said the military collected at least 22 illegal weapons from the village leaders who voluntarily surrendered the firearms. It was unknown whether the weapons belonged to the former rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front or civilians.

The Western Mindanao Command also quoted Brig. Gen. Donald Gumiran, commander of the 602nd Infantry Brigade, who attributed the surrender of the weapons to the government’s “Balik-Baril” (Bring a Rifle Improve your Livelihood) program or “Guns-for-Peace Program” – it lures rebels to return to the folds of the law in exchange for rewards and livelihood aid for those who surrender their weapons - dilapidated, vintage or not.

Gumiran said they collected two .50-caliber Barrett rifles, five rocket-propelled grenade launchers and six ammunition, four sniper rifles, six 12-gauge shotguns, one 9mm pistol, one .22-caliber revolver, one .38-caliber revolver, one .45-caliber pistol, one .357 caliber revolver, four shotgun magazines, four sniper rifle magazines and one magazine for .45-caliber pistol. He said the weapons are now in the custody of the 34th Infantry Battalion.

“With the participation of local governments and our peace partners, the campaign was sustained in preparation for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan 2023 elections. Rest assured that the Joint Task Forces will continue to facilitate law enforcement support operations to prevent lawless violence and curb illegal activities in the joint area of operations,” the Western Mindanao Command quoted Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Roy Galido.

The Balik-Baril program was first introduced during President Corazon Aquino’s time where the government pays as such as P25, 000 for every weapon surrendered by rebels, aside from at least P18,000 in initial aid. Formerly under the National Reconciliation and Development Program (NRDP) which was intended to coordinate and integrate efforts of the government and non-governmental organizations, and the private sectors for the rebel returnees.

According to the government, although launched on December 24, 1986, it was not until 1988 that the NRDP went into full swing providing loans to rebel returnees under Balik-Baril program. The Aquino administration said the program was so successful that it transferred Balik-Baril to Peace and Order Councils which facilitated and hastened the processing of assistance to the rebels at the lowest levels of government.

It said NRDP had greatly contributed to the substantial neutralization of the secessionist movement in southern Philippines as well as improved peace and order situation in erstwhile insurgent affected areas.

With the success of the program, the government expanded this and called it the Social Integration Program and offered rebel returnees higher cash aid of P20,000 improved emergency assistance, P50,000 livelihood fund and increased amount for the Balik-Baril component.

Gov’t to fast-track normalization program for ex-Moro Islamic Liberation Front members

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14, 2023): Gov’t to fast-track normalization program for ex-Moro Islamic Liberation Front members (By Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) said the Marcos administration is determined to expedite the implementation of the Normalization Program that aims to uplift the conditions of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants, their families and communities.

In a statement over the weekend, the agency said this commitment was made during the 10th meeting of the Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization (ICCMN) held on Aug. 10.

Secretary Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr., Special Assistant to the President, who also serves as ICCMN co-chairperson, said he is honored to take part in the administration's commitment to lasting peace in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“As we look back on our first year, it is important to take stock of our accomplishments and ensure that we build on the momentum we have built in our communities,” he stressed.

Lagdameo also commended the efforts of the ICCMN member agencies in fulfilling their commitments to the Normalization Program.

"I note the efforts of several partners in government in providing tangible socio-economic support for decommissioned combatants and for infrastructure improvements on acknowledged former Moro Islamic Liberation Front camps,” he added.

Lagdameo also stressed that it is important that we treat our progress as steps towards the complete fulfillment of the national government deliverables.

He also called on ICCMN member agencies “to ensure that committed deliverables are met in the near-term and that those facing significant challenges due to budgetary constraints or implementing agency absorptive capacity are flagged at the soonest possible opportunity.”

“We possess a moral imperative, cloaked in the aspirations of our countrymen eager to lift themselves from years of conflict to ensure that these goals are met,” Lagdameo said.

Meanwhile, OPAPRU chief and ICCMN co-chairperson Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. thanked ICCMN member agencies for continuing to implement various socioeconomic interventions under the Normalization Program for FY 2023.

These agencies include the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, which is conducting its Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for decommissioned MILF combatants; the Department of Labor and Employment which is carrying out its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) Program; the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which is providing birth registration assistance to decommissioned combatants (DCs); the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) that is constructing community irrigation systems in MILF communities; and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which is helping former combatants through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

Galvez urged ICCMN member agencies to continue implementing their interventions in 2024, as he also cited the initiatives that will continue to be carried out by the OPAPRU in 2024 under the National Expenditure Program.

These projects include immediate cash assistance for DCs under the fourth phase of decommissioning; study grants for 1,050 DCs; the provision of health insurance premiums and the conduct of Alternative Learning System (ALS) for DCs.

Moreover, the OPAPRU, through its PAyapa at MAsagaNAng Pamayanan (PAMANA) Program, will build a fish port, five evacuation centers, seven bridges, 11 roads and 15 water systems in the 33 core barangays within the six previously-acknowledged Moro Islamic Liberation Front  camps.

During the meeting, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa cited the major accomplishments of his department under the Normalization Program.

These include producing 15 registered midwives who are the offspring of Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants; the 25 percent completion of rural health infrastructures projects; the processing of the PhilHealth membership of combatants; and the continuous construction of health, primary care, and other special facilities. Minister of Interior and Local Government Naguib Sinarimbo also expressed BARMM’s willingness to allocate resources for the Normalization Program’s implementation.

According to Sinarimbo, the next step for the national and the Bangsamoro is “to look at what programs can be delivered to these [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] communities so that we’ll get a more holistic picture of what we can actually deliver to the combatants both at the level of the national government and BARMM government.

“[W]e are open to doing attribution of our programs to complement the national govt programs for the combatants and communities,” he added. Lagdemeo, meanwhile, commended the member agencies’ significant contribution to the Normalization Program, noting “we now have all the agencies here that are necessary to get BARMM moving.”

He emphasized that the implementation of the Normalization Program is now in full blast and continues to gain momentum. Lagdameo explained that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was passed in 2014, while the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which operationalizes the CAB, was only ratified in 2019.

He added that the implementation of the Normalization Program was also affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 which pushed back its timeline.

Lagdameo underscored the need for all stakeholders to work together to ensure the successful implementation of the Normalization Program, and consequently, realize the BARMM’s full economic potential.

“Everyone is willing to help, so let’s start with that today and forget about yesterday. Everyone is here, we have the agencies that want to commit resources. There are plenty of things that we didn't see in the BARMM that are already there. That's why I would like to thank everyone for being here and all the agencies,” he said.

Galvez, for his part, lauded the ICCMN for a job well done, particularly for its major contributions to bringing sustainable peace and development to the BARMM.

“As the President said in his SONA (State of the Nation Address), we are proud of the progress that the BARMM has made. This is made possible because of everyone’s cooperation and hard work to achieve peace and progress in BARMM,” he said.

Galvez also thanked the ICCMN for its "unwavering commitment for the rollout of the Normalization Program."

"Each ICCMN member-agency has a crucial role to play in building a sustainable and progressive future for the BARMM. Our shared responsibility and strong partnership have brought us this far in ensuring the successful implementation of the Normalization track. Let us stay the course and carry on with our determination and all-out support from ICCMN agencies,” he added.

The ICCMN was created to ensure the timely, appropriate and efficient implementation of the Normalization Program under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) through close collaboration and greater synergy among national line agencies.

The body was established through Executive Order (EO) 79 issued by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on April 24, 2019. To ensure the gains achieved by the ICCMN, the Marcos administration issued EO 6 in 2022, which aims to strengthen the body.

The ICCMN is tasked to ensure a whole-of-government approach to generate funding and resources needed to implement the Normalization Program, and fully transform the combatants and their families into peaceful and productive members of society.

PH, Australia hold first-ever bilateral amphibious drills

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14, 2023): PH, Australia hold first-ever bilateral amphibious drills (By Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The first amphibious exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Australian Defense Force (ADF) formally opened on Monday in the city of Darwin.

In a statement, AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Enrico Gil Ileto said the maneuvers formally kicked off at the flight deck of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra (LO2) with Indo-Pacific Endeavor (IPE) 2023 commander Air Commodore Tony McCormack present during the proceedings.

The drills would run until Aug. 31.

He said the maneuvers, also known as "Exercise Alon 2023", are part of the IPE activities for this year and the first bilateral amphibious exercise between Australia and the Philippines. “Alon” means waves in Tagalog.

"The term 'waves' signifies the characteristics of amphibious warfare and emphasizes the projection of ground and air power onto a hostile or potentially hostile shore.

"The IPE23 is Australia’s flagship international engagement activity in the Southeast Asian and Indian Ocean region," Ileto said.

IPE aims to promote security, stability, and stronger partnership through bilateral and multilateral engagement training, capacity building and humanitarian efforts.

The opening ceremony started with the acknowledgment of participating militaries including the 111 contingent from the AFP who were aboard the ship, commanders of participating RAN and ADF units and representatives from the United States Marines Corps (USMC).

"The departure of Exercise Alon 2023 participants onboard HMAS Canberra from Australia to the Philippines after the opening ceremony depicts the start of a bilateral and joint led amphibious field training exercise of the ADF with the AFP," Ileto said.

This will be held at various training locations in the Northern Luzon Command and Western Command with ground, aviation and surface assets from ADF, Philippine Navy, Philippine Marine Corps (PMC), Philippine Fleet, Philippine Air Force, and Philippine Army supported by USMC.

Overall, multiple ships and aircraft and more than 2,000 personnel will be involved in the exercise, which includes approximately 700 personnel from the AFP, 1,200 from the ADF and another 150 from the USMC.

The USMC will be a participant but as support, Ileto said.

"USMC personnel will be integrated with Australia's Amphibious Force and we will be utilizing USMC's MV-22 during the combined air assault," he added.

Ileto said the main objective of this exercise is to enhance interoperability and be able to share tactics, techniques and procedures and best practices in the conduct of amphibious operations in the accomplishment of the PMC and AFP mission.

The bilateral exercise will help enhance regional security through cooperation and partnership. It will further enhance interoperability and readiness to respond to shared security challenges.

It is also expected to be an avenue for a shared commitment to a peaceful, prosperous and resilient Indo-Pacific Region.

Nat'l Security Council scores latest NPA attack in Masbate (

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14, 2023): Nat'l Security Council scores latest NPA attack in Masbate (By Priam Nepomuceno)

National Security Adviser Eduardo Año (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The National Security Council (NSC) on Monday condemned the communist insurgents following another unprovoked "bomb and gun attack" by its members which wounded three people, including a barangay captain, in Masbate province over the weekend.

"We strongly condemn the latest atrocities by the New People’s Army (NPA) against unarmed civilians in Barangay Bonifacio, Uson, Masbate, where a local government official and two others were seriously injured following a bomb and gun attack by members of the communist terrorist group, CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front)," said National Security Adviser Eduardo M. Año, who is also head of the NSC, in a statement.

Incidentally, this latest atrocity of the NPA took place on Aug. 12 which marks the global observance of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Day.

He added the continued use by the NPA of banned landmines and its persistent attacks on civilian targets are both gross violations of international and domestic laws.

"The perpetrators of this dastardly and cowardly act will not go unpunished. Justice will be served for Barangay Captain Democrito Rivera, Romneck Lumabab and Alex Balayan, all of Barangay Bonifacio, who were shot by a five-man NPA hit team after being hit by a remotely-detonated explosive device," Año said.

This latest terror attack perpetrated by the NPA only shows the group’s brand of violence that placed it as the 15th deadliest terrorist organization in the world as indicated in the 2023 Global Terrorism Index.

"We commiserate with the victims and their families and the countless others who were hurt, maimed or killed by this godless and inhumane communist armed group. This terrorist group deserves no less than the condemnation of all freedom and peace-loving Filipinos here and all over the world," Año emphasized.

He added that the NPA is already a spent force and a dying group of ideologues gasping for its last breath.

"Rest assured that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police will be relentless in hunting down the NPA remnants who continue to sow terror in our communities with impunity if only to stay relevant and project a false image of strength," Año pointed out.

He also reiterated the Philippine government’s strong commitment to uphold the tenets of the IHL of the Geneva Convention and Republic Act 9851 (An Act Defining and Penalizing Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity).

Likewise, he said the Philippines continues to uphold the enforcement of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

"In light of this recent atrocity, let us continue to provide the national government a strong hand and vibrant mechanisms – a whole-of-nation approach – through the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to finally end the more than five-decade reign of terror of the evil triumvirate, CPP-NPA-NDF," Año noted.

BI deports Indian 'terrorist' duo

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14, 2023): BI deports Indian 'terrorist' duo (By Stephanie Sevillano)

Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco (File photo from BI)

MANILA – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday said it deported two Indian fugitives tagged as "terrorists" with the aid of information-sharing with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the government of India.

In a statement, BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said this collaboration is crucial to "hunting down" similar fugitives.

“Their deportation ensures that our country is safe from these undesirable aliens that pose a major threat to our people,” he said.

On Sunday, both
23-year-old Manpreet Singh Gill and 26-year-old Mandeep Singh were deported to New Delhi via a Thai Airways flight.

"They were said to be involved in terrorist activities in Punjab, India. Two of their companions, Amrik Singh and Hayer Amritpal Singh, were already deported last May. Manpreet and Mandeep were immediately deported after being cleared of local charges in the Philippines," the BI said.

According to the Indian government, a warrant of arrest was issued against Manpreet for violation of India's Arms Act.

The FBI said he remains at large for charges, including unlawful activities prevention act and alleged murder in India.

"Mandeep on the other hand was tagged as undesirable for harboring a fugitive and for violation of the conditions of his stay," the BI added.

Immigration authorities arrested the two fugitives in Iloilo City last March 7.

The BI Fugitive Search Unit conducted its operation with the Anti-Terrorism Group, the Cybercrime Investigation Coordinating Center and the Philippine National Police.

Strengthening regional collaboration

Tansingco, meanwhile, vowed to continue to work with partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to combat incidents of trafficking within the region.

This came after the BI participated in the 26th ASEAN Directors-General of Immigration Departments and Heads of Consular Affairs Divisions of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (DGICM) gathering.

“This important annual forum allows us to discuss best practices in the ASEAN region that we can benchmark in our efforts to improve our services,” he said.

To address trafficking schemes, regional immigration leaders committed to boosting security measures, intensifying cooperation and improving intelligence sharing among member states.

The forum was conducted from Aug. 7 to 11 in Thailand, according to BI.

PBBM: Gov't must equip citizens to fight disinformation

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14, 2023): PBBM: Gov't must equip citizens to fight disinformation (By Anna Leah Gonzales and Benjamin Pulta)

NO TO FAKE NEWS. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (2nd from left) leads the signing of a memorandum of understanding during the launch of the Presidential Communications Office-led Media and Information Literacy campaign at Hilton Manila in Pasay City on Monday (Aug. 14, 2023). Marcos said the government should help equip the public with the knowledge and tools to combat misinformation and disinformation. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has urged Filipinos to always fight for and seek the truth as the government made a unified stand against the scourge of divisive false narratives and fake news.

Marcos led the signing Monday of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on its Media and Information Literacy (MIL) campaign with Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil, officials of other government agencies and representatives of major social media platforms.

Aside from PCO, the campaign's lead agency, the MIL drive will involve the Departments of Education (DepEd), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The private sector participants include Meta (Facebook, Instagram and Threads), Google, TikTok and X (formerly Twitter).

Marcos said the MIL program is about fighting for the truth.

"When we signed the MIL campaign, what I wrote is fight for the truth. What we are fighting for is the truth because the very first casualty of all of these sometimes sinister, sometimes mistaken or misguided activities is the truth," Marcos said in his speech at Hilton Manila in Pasay City.

The President said the government should equip the public with the knowledge and tools to combat misinformation and disinformation.

The MIL program will also be brought to the communities.

"It's time that we give our kids, not only our kids but our citizenry, the tools for them to be able to tell what is important, what is not, what is relevant, where the sources of this information come from," Marcos added.

"Let us recognize that there is good information and there's bad information and it's up to us to make sure...we have to find a way to make sure that whatever the inputs our people are getting, they have the capability, they have the ability to discern between truth, speculation, propaganda, and outright lies and that is the job that we are starting here today," Marcos said.

Information is "available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. But that information is pure and raw, unedited, uncurated and unexamined. That is why they say the internet is a great equalizer. It is called the great equalizer because anyone can be part of that digital world," said Marcos.

Under the agreement, the PCO shall engage and involve the public and media in enriching the quality of public discourse in matters of governance, and to craft, formulate, develop, enhance and coordinate the messaging system of the Executive Branch and the Office of the President.

Garafil said the MIL project aims to educate the public on how to discern truth from disinformation. In particular, the project targets the youth since they are most vulnerable and exposed to the digital landscape.

She added that the government is not merely embarking on a mission but is also empowering a collective endeavor that exemplifies a whole of nation approach and a whole of society commitment.

“Sa panahon po natin ngayon, napakadali na po ang pagkuha ng impormasyon gamit ang mga bagong teknolohiya, online news at social media. Ngunit kasabay din nito ang mabilis na pagkalat ng maling impormasyon (During these times it is very easy to obtain information using new technology, online news and social media. However, alongside this is the ease of securing false information). False narratives and fake news have the power to mislead, divide and even cause harm or damage,” Garafil said.


The DepEd will oversee the crafting of the nationwide survey’s framework and questions, recommend participants of the focus group discussions among MIL practitioners, partake in the development of an educator’s and learner’s MIL manual and incorporate the crafted manual through the MIL project in the country’s basic educational curriculum.

The CHED will perform the same tasks as DepEd, alongside its other mandate of fostering coordination and collaboration with state universities and colleges; while the DSWD shall incorporate the MIL project in its social protection programs, provide support to the conduct of training related to the project in targeted communities and assist in disseminating MIL information materials.

The DILG will coordinate with local government units’ on-the-ground activities that advance the goals of the MIL project, in coordination with the Sangguniang Kabataan of each local government unit and National Youth Commission.

DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. noted that cybercrimes using fake news are on the rise with the poor sector usually on the receiving end of disinformation.

DSWD Undersecretary Eduardo Punay, meanwhile, said he had witnessed how the poor and vulnerable sector fell prey to fake news.

Last January, hundreds of senior citizens flocked to DSWD offices for a supposed payout of a social pension grant that was not scheduled, he recalled.

“This showed how misinformation could impact on the psyche of our poor beneficiaries, how it gave them false hope and caused frustration, not to mention the disruption in our day-to-day services and the amount of grievances we received in the department. Sadly, such incidents happened several times over the past year,” Punay said.

Activist turned NPA ‘political instructor’ killed in Iloilo clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14, 2023): Activist turned NPA ‘political instructor’ killed in Iloilo clash (By Perla Lena)

DEAD. A political instructor and finance officer of the Southern Front Committee of the Komiteng Rehiyon Panay of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) was killed in action after an encounter with government troops in Barangay Cananaman in Leon, Iloilo past noon of Sunday (Aug. 13, 2023). Aliparo started as a student activist when she was about 18 to 19 years old, said Leon MPS officer-in-charge Lt. Danilo L. Noca, quoting the siblings in an interview on Monday (Aug. 14, 2023). (Photo courtesy of Lt. Danilo L. Noca/Leon MPS)

ILOILO CITY – A political instructor and finance officer of the Southern Front Committee of the Komiteng Rehiyon Panay of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) was killed after sustaining injuries in a three-minute firefight with government troops in Barangay Cananaman in Leon, Iloilo past noon of Sunday.

“As a result of the firefight a female member was killed in action later identified as
Rebecca Aliparo alias Mara. She has gunshot wounds on her left arm, right face, and right chest,” said Leon Municipal Police Station officer-in-charge Lt. Danilo L. Noca, in an interview on Monday.

Members of the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) were unhurt while the two companions of Aliparo escaped.

The body of 56-year-old Aliparo, a resident of Barangay Bagacay in the municipality of Tigbauan, was claimed by her siblings on Monday.

Noca said according to her siblings, Aliparo started as a student activist when she was around 18 to 19 years old.

She did not graduate from college because she already joined the movement. The last time they saw her was in 1994, during the wake of their father.

“She was convinced by her family to return to the government but because of her principle, they were not able to persuade her,” Noca said, adding that after 38 years in the movement, she returned home already dead.

Brig. Gen. Michael Samson, 301st Infantry Brigade commander, said the incident was a major blow to the Southern Front.

“A political instructor is an important position because they are the ones indoctrinating on policies and other ideologies and policies by the central committee. So very important,” he said in a media interview.

Samson said they have been receiving information from the community regarding NPA presence, a sign that they are no longer welcome.

“Their presence means the place is not peaceful, investors and projects got affected. It is our legitimate mandate to pursue them and pressure them not to fight the government, usually, the result is death,” he added.

The authorities recovered from the scene of the incident one .45-caliber pistol, assorted medicines, two civilian backpacks and personal belongings.

Aliparo was the third NPA slain in an encounter with government troops in Leon; the two others died in an encounter at Sitio Pagas, Barangay Ayabang in July.

Separate ops net two NPA rebels in Caraga

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14, 2023): Separate ops net two NPA rebels in Caraga (By Alexander Lopez)

ARRESTED REBELS. Brig. Gen. John Kirby Kraft, Police Regional Office-Caraga director, releases an announcement on the arrest of a squad leader and a member of the New People’s Army in separate operations in Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur on Aug. 12, 2023. The two rebels are among the regional police's priority targets. (Photo courtesy of PRO-13)

BUTUAN CITY – A New People’s Army (NPA) squad leader and a member were arrested in separate implementation of arrest warrants on Saturday in Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur.

Maj. Jennifer Ometer, Police Regional Office in the Caraga Region (PRO-13) information office chief, said the two arrested suspects are also listed as wanted persons in the two provinces.

“The suspects have existing arrest warrants issued by the courts and were involved in ambush and harassment of government troopers in 2018 and 2020,” Ometer said in a phone interview on Monday.

The arrested rebels were identified as
Richard Gomes, 28, of San Luis, Agusan del Sur; and Ronie Perez, 50, of Diatagon, Surigao del Sur.

Gomez is the alleged leader of Squad 1, Platoon 1, Sentro De Grabidad, Guerrilla Front 88 under the NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Committee, while Perez is a member of the weakened NPA Guerrilla Front 19 under the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

“Gomes is considered the topmost wanted NPA rebel at the municipal level in San Luis while Perez is on the top two priority target for the police Regional Mobile Force Battalion,” said Brig. Gen. John Kirby Kraft, PRO-13 director.

Kraft said Gomes is facing frustrated murder charges before a regional court in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur, while the warrant of arrest for attempted murder against Perez was issued by a court in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

22 loose firearms, RPGs surrendered to Army in N. Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14, 2023): 22 loose firearms, RPGs surrendered to Army in N. Cotabato (By Edwin Fernandez)

DEACTIVATED GUNS. Military and police officials inspect the assorted high-powered firearms surrendered by village officials in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, in support of the government’s “Balik Baril” program on Saturday (Aug. 12, 2023). Some of the guns were from villages that are now part of the Special Geographic Area of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (Photo courtesy of 34IB)

PIGCAWAYAN, North Cotabato – The government’s campaign against loose firearms continues to gain ground in North Cotabato with village chairpersons of Pigcawayan town leading the surrender of 22 guns and explosives to the military over the weekend.

“This is in support of the government’s Balik Baril program of the government,” Dr. Vincent Tejada, Pigcawayan town administrator, said in a statement Monday.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, interior minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), witnessed the turnover program held Saturday at the headquarters of the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Salunayan, Midsayap, North Cotabato.

Some of the guns were from villages that are now part of the BARMM Special Geographic Area in the province.

The chairmen collected the firearms from their respective constituents and handed them over to the military. These include a .50 Barrett sniper rifle, five 12 gauge shotguns, five rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs), four 7.62-mm sniper rifles, magazines and ammunition.

Maj. Andres Sumugat Jr., Pigcawayan municipal police station chief, also lauded the village leaders for going out of their way to encourage unauthorized gun owners to surrender their firearms.

Lt. Col. Rey Rico, Army’s 34th IB commander, said the surrender of the guns will contribute to the peaceful conduct of the upcoming Barangay and SK Elections in October.

Close to 150 loose firearms have been surrendered to the military by village and local officials in the Army’s 6th Infantry Division area of operation since January this year.