Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Viscom urges voters to reject CPP-NPA affiliates

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15, 2023): Viscom urges voters to reject CPP-NPA affiliates (By John Rey Saavedra)

Visayas Command commander, Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo (PNA File Photo)

CEBU CITY – The top Army official in the Visayas reminded voters not to support candidates affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE).

Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, Visayas Command (Viscom) chief, said in a statement Tuesday that they need all the help they could get in preventing the CPP-NPA from regaining their foothold in the region.

“As the Barangay and SK elections are fast approaching, we encourage our people to cast their vote wisely by not supporting individuals who are affiliated with the terrorist group,” Arevalo said.

Arevalo cited the vibrant partnership of the military in the region with the local government units and private stakeholders in drumming up dialogues through localized peace engagements that led to the piling of losses in the communist side.

“Our focused military operations coupled with our localized peace engagement have been proven effective in pushing the terrorist group to the brink of irreversible downfall,” he said.

He said the latest stinging blow against the CPP-NPA came after its high official surrendered while the other was killed over the weekend.

Lt. Col. Israel Galorio, Viscom spokesperson, told the Philippine News Agency that a finance officer of the NPA’s sub-regional guerilla unit under the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee has surrendered.

The finance officer revealed to the troops the location of an arms cache in Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro, Northern Samar on Saturday, leading to the seizure of an M16 rifle, a cal. .22 rifle, an upper receiver of an M16 rifle, an anti-personnel mine, and other war materiel.

Galorio said the troops also recovered another anti-personnel mine in the vicinity of Barangay Buenavista, Victoria town.

Galorio said soldiers from the 61st Infantry Battalion likewise encountered remnants of the weakened Southern Front under Komiteng Rehiyon Panay at the boundary of Barangay Ayobo and Barangay Cananaman, both in Leon, Iloilo.

One NPA rebel was killed while
war materiel, a cal .45 pistol, two backpacks, and a hand grenade were recovered.


Ilocos Norte university to offer drone pilot training soon

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15, 2023): Ilocos Norte university to offer drone pilot training soon (By Leilanie Adriano)

MOU SIGNING. Representatives of the MMSU and an Indian company signed a memorandum of understanding on Aug. 14, 2023 for a training partnership on geospatial data application. The agreement is valid for five years. (Photo courtesy of MMSU Stratcom)

LAOAG CITY – A drone pilot training course will soon be available at the state-run Mariano Marcos State University in Batac City, Ilocos Norte, in partnership with the DroneAcharya Aerial Innovations Ltd. (DAIL), an India-based company specializing in geospatial data application.

MMSU president Shirley Agrupis said on Tuesday that the latest tie-up with an Indian company is also expected to capacitate faculty and researchers in coastal engineering, disaster risk assessment and coastal flood modeling.

“May this partnership be beneficial to students in the fields of agriculture, engineering, geoinformatics, and data science for internships and future job opportunities,” she said in a statement.

On Aug. 14, officials of the MMSU and DAIL signed a six-page memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the training partnership at the Teatro Ilocandia.

DAIL’s managing director Prateek Srivastava was represented by Marcia Chen, the company’s senior manager for business development and digital marketing.

Nathaniel Alibuyog, MMSU vice president for research and extension; Mee Jay Domingo, internationalization, linkages and partnerships director; and Lawrence John Tagata, public-private partnerships director, also joined the MOU signing.

In the five-year MOU, DAIL and MMSU agreed to offer drone and geographic information system-related courses, trainings and workshops.

MMSU will provide classrooms and office spaces, and give access to hardware, software, and other tangible resources for the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

On the other hand, the company will deliver the content and curriculum of the courses, and grant MMSU students and faculty access to drones and other applications. It will also provide at least four internships to junior and senior college students every year.

For her part, Chen expressed gratitude to the university for the collaboration, and said “the DroneAcharya will provide the best technology and services to support all projects that we will carry out together.”

The partnership is also expected to support the newly established Coastal Engineering and Management Research and Development Center of the MMSU as it ventures into modern-day methods of data-gathering and decision-making in the field of coastal engineering.

Established in 2017, DAIL is engaged in various types of application based courses related to drone and GIS technology for all age group. It aims to train the next generation to become extremely skilled in using unmanned aerial vehicles, and to become a major player in the drone industry in India.


NPA political officer, member yield to Army in Agusan Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15, 2023): NPA political officer, member yield to Army in Agusan Norte (By Alexander Lopez)

TIRED REBELS. Jaime Manpinsahan Manseliohan (left), a communist New People’s Army (NPA) political officer, and his comrade, Jolano Baja Ramos, yield to the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion on Monday (Aug. 14, 2023) in Buenavista town, Agusan del Norte province. The Army’s 4th Infantry Division also reported the recovery of six high-powered firearms on the same day in an operation conducted in Pangantucan town, Bukidnon province. (Photo courtesy of 4ID)

BUTUAN CITY – A political officer and a member of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) have voluntarily surrendered to military authorities in Buenavista town, Agusan del Norte province on Monday.

In a statement Tuesday, the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division identified the surrenderers as
Jaime Manpinsahan Manseliohan, a political officer under the rebels' North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC), and Jolano Baja Ramos, a platoon member of SRSDG-Sagay.

The insurgents surrendered two M16 rifles and an AK-47 to the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion headquarters in Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista.

Meanwhile, the 4ID said that another guerrilla, identified as Jalyn Mantensahan Capitan, a medic, also surrendered to the 58th Infantry Battalion (58IB) on Monday in its headquarters in Claveria, Misamis Oriental.

“The rebels are now experiencing organizational collapse and leadership crisis after the death of Dionesio "Muling" Micabalo, the regional secretary of the NCMRC,” said Brig. Adonis Ariel Orio, the 402nd Infantry Brigade commander, in the same statement.

Micabalo was killed in an encounter with 58IB troops on July 26 this year in Barangay Libertad, Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental.

“With the death of Micabalo, immense demoralization now grips within the ranks of the remaining NPA in Agusan del Norte and Misamis Oriental, coupled with fatigue and hardships due to relentless combat operation of the government troops,” he said.

Cache of NPA firearms

Moreover, the 4ID also reported the recovery of a cache of firearms concealed by the NPA guerrillas in the hinterlands of Barangay New Eden in Pangantucan town, Bukidnon province on Monday.

Troops from the 23IB and the 1st Special Forces Battalion recovered high-powered firearms which include four M16 rifles, an M653 rifle, a grenade launcher, and an anti-personnel mine.

“The recovery of the firearms was made possible through the information provided by Marjone M. Abion, the former team leader of Platoon Huawei under the SRC 5 of NCMRC who surrendered to the government last July 1,” the 4ID said.

Maj. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo II, the 4ID commander, lauded the former rebel for the information given that led to the recovery of the NPA firearms.


NPA leader slain in S. Kudarat clash with Army troops

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15, 2023): NPA leader slain in S. Kudarat clash with Army troops (By Edwin Fernandez)

Image courtesy of the Philippine Army’s 37th Infantry Battalion.

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao Norte – A middle-level commander of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) was killed during an encounter with government forces in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, the military here said Tuesday.

Joseph Longan,
leader of Beijing Platoon of the NPA Far South Mindanao Region Command, was killed in a clash with Army troopers in Barangay Badiangon, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat on Sunday, said Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar, commander of the Philippine Army’s 37th Infantry Battalion (37IB).

Baldomar said the troops were sent to the area after several residents alerted the Army about the NPA recruitment activities among high school students of the village.

The communist guerrillas fired on the responding soldiers, triggering a 10-minute gun battle.

Brig. Gen. Michael Santos, the Army’s 603rd Infantry Brigade commander based in Palimbang, said soldiers recovered a hand grenade, food supplies, and personal items beside the body of Longan.

“The rebels have nowhere to go. There’s no letup in our operation against them in the mountains of Palimbang, Kalamansig and nearby areas,” Santos said.

He recalled that on July 27, soldiers of the 37IB, also killed Rowie Libot, an NPA member under NPA Far South Regional Command during a brief encounter in Barangay Limulan, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat.

Maj. Gen. Alex S. Rillera, 6th Infantry Division (6ID) commander, urged remaining communist rebels to accept the government’s offer for peace by laying down their guns and rejoining the mainstream.

“Your government is offering peace, come and join us and your families. We know you are victims of deceptive ideologies,” Rillera said.

Since January, the 6ID has neutralized 42 communist rebels where seven have been arrested, 12 were killed in armed encounters and 23 have peacefully surrendered.

The 6ID covers the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao Sur, Maguindanao Norte, South Cotabato, parts of Sarangani, North Cotabato and Lanao del Sur.


Philippine military blames ex-separatist rebels for deadly southern ambush

 From BenarNews (Aug 14, 2023): Philippine military blames ex-separatist rebels for deadly southern ambush (BenarNews staff)

Moro Islamic Liberation Front troops stand along a road ahead of last year’s presidential elections, in Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Philippines, April 23, 2022. [Ferdinandh Cabrera/AFP]

The Philippine military on Monday accused members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a former guerrilla group, of killing a soldier and a policeman during an attack in the south that left seven government troops wounded.

In Sunday’s incident in Ungkaya Pukan, a remote town in the island province of Basilan, officials said that 10 gunmen ambushed a security convoy guarding a Joint Peace and Security Team. The team is tasked with overseeing the decommissioning and disarming of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front  combatants as agreed in a 2014 peace agreement with Manila.

The team members were riding in two vehicles after inspecting the area – a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front stronghold – when they were attacked, said Maj. Andrew Linao, a regional military spokesman.

“Our troops fought back, resulting in a firefight which lasted for five minutes,” Linao said.

He said the soldier died on the spot, while the policeman died later while being treated for his injuries. The seven other wounded soldiers were recuperating at a military hospital in Zamboanga City.

“This act is a clear manifestation of the perpetrators’ disrespect to their local government officials, the military, and their fellow Basileños, hence, we will not stop until these heartless individuals are identified and neutralized,” Linao said.

BenarNews contacted local Moro Islamic Liberation Front authorities but did not immediately hear back.

Brig. Gen. Alvin Luzon, commander of 101st Brigade and Joint Task Force Basilan (JTFB), said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front leadership “appears to have no control over its members,” although he added that they had denied their members were involved in the ambush.

“Right now, the pressure is on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front side to show their sincerity,” Luzon told reporters.

The former separatist group’s leadership said they had no control over people not identified as their members, according to Luzon.

“But the MILF leadership promised to look and identify those perpetrators,” Luzon said.

He said pursuit operations were continuing on Monday against the suspects.

The 12,000-strong  Moro Islamic Liberation Front was once the country’s largest insurgent force until it dropped its bid for independence and settled for expanded autonomy under the 2014 peace deal.

The separatists then became caretakers of a Muslim region although they agreed to turn over their weapons, while some of the ex-guerrillas were absorbed into the local police force.

In November, around 100 suspected Moro Islamic Liberation Front members attacked a military outpost in the same village as the weekend ambush, according to the military. Officials did not immediately say if the two incidents were related.

Roel Pareño in Zamboanga City, southern Philippines, contributed to this report.