Friday, September 1, 2023

2 wanted NPA nabbed in Caraga

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 1, 2023): 2 wanted NPA nabbed in Caraga (By MIKE CRISMUNDO)

CAMP RAFAEL C. RODRIGUEZ, Butuan City – Two New People’s Army rebels wanted for murder and robbery were arrested and an NPA medic voluntarily surrendered in the Caraga region on Wednesday, August 30.

Police Regional Office-13 Regional Public Information Office chief Police Major Jennifer S. Ometer said the two wanted NPA were nabbed by the San Luis Municipal Police Station, Philippine National Police-Intelligence Group-Intelligence Operations Division, Agusan del Sur Provincial Intelligence Team, Tactical Operations Group 10 of the Philippine Air Force, and 3012nd Eastern Mindanao Air Intelligence and Security Squadron.

Ometer said
Ka Faustimp Jeck and Ka Ronnie were surprised when police arrived in San Luis, Agusan del Sur.

She said
Ka Faustimp Jeck was a former ABE member, Squad 1, under the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP), Dismantled Guerilla Front 8, Sub-Regional Sentro de Grabidad of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

He was charged with attempted murder under Criminal Case No. 6611.

Ka Ronnie was an NPA education and propaganda staff officer under the former Guerilla Front Committee 8 of the CPP-NPA-NEMRC and was wanted for robbery in band docketed under Criminal Case No. 2019-610 without bail.

The 1st Surigao del Sur Provincial Mobile Force Company facilitated the surrender of “Eugene,” a former Bansay Medical under WGF21, NEMRC. Eugene yielded a caliber .38 revolver without serial number and ammunition.

Eugene was accompanied by the field unit negotiating team and barangay officials when he was presented to the command group of the 1st Surigao del Sur Mobile Fore Company in Surigao del Sur.

PRO-13 Director Police Brig. Gen. Kirby John B. Kraft commended all field units for the arrest of the two wanted NPAs and the surrender of the NPA regular.

“I laud the combined efforts of the PNP-Caraga and our AFP counterparts in the region which resulted in the depletion and weakening of the CTG,” Kraft said.

“Likewise, I urge our remaining brothers and sisters who are still blinded by the Maoist ideals to return to the government's fold and embrace the peaceful path.”

5 Cafgu members slain, 3 Army troops hurt in clash with NPA in Quezon

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 1, 2023): 5 Cafgu members slain, 3 Army troops hurt in clash with NPA in Quezon (By: Delfin T. Mallari Jr.)


LUCENA CITY (Updated) — At least five members of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) were killed and three Army soldiers wounded in an ambush on Friday, Sept. 1, by suspected communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Tagkawayan town in Quezon province.

Army Colonel Dennis Cana, Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command public information officer, reported that five Cafgu members were confirmed dead, while three soldiers from the Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion were wounded in the NPA attack in Barangay Mapulot.

“We are giving our salute to these brave Filipinos who willingly gave their lives in the service of our country. They died protecting the community,” said Cana in a statement.

Colonel Ledon Monte, Quezon police chief, said the team of Army soldiers and Cafgu members who were stationed in Sitio (sub-village) Pagasa in Mapulot were ambushed at 11:05 a.m.

Monte said the government forces were about to conduct their routine patrol on the boundary of Quezon and Labo, Camarines Norte when one of the militiamen stepped on an explosive device set up by the NPA rebels.

“It was a direct hit. There were casualties,” Monte said in a phone interview.

Monte said the Cafgu detachment was located near the boundary of Quezon and Camarines Norte. “The area was being operated by NPA terrorists based in the Bicol region and not in Quezon,” he explained.

The AFP is still determining if there are casualties on the rebel’s side, according to Cana. He added that these rebels may have come from the nearby province.

“These CT [communist terrorists] who may have come from the nearby province, may have thought that they still have their old haven in Barangay Mapulot, an area historically the ground of the famous NPA Ka Roger,” Cana said.

“However, information from the populace revealed the presence of the CT in the hinterlands, which our government troops acted upon,” he added. “Quezon province had declared being insurgency-free, and the people wanted to make it stay that way.”

Established on March 29, 1969, the NPA had 25,000 members at its height around 1987, according to Philippine military estimates.

Marcos declares Palawan insurgency-free; leads start of peace consciousness month

 From Palawan News (Sep 1, 2022): Marcos declares Palawan insurgency-free; leads start of peace consciousness month (By Gerald Ticke)

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during the declaration of Palawan as an insurgency-free province and the commencement of the Nationa Peace Consciousness Month with (seated) Palawan Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates, CORDS RTF-Mimaropa Sec. Ivan John Uy, Presidential Adviser on Peace Reconciliation and Unity Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. and Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron. (Photo from the Palawan Provincial Information Office)

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. hailed the endeavors of the local government units and other stakeholders that played a role in what he described as a successful implementation of the Whole-of-Nation approach to end local communist armed conflict, which resulted in the declaration of Palawan and the city of Puerto Princesa City as “insurgency-free.”

Marcos was present in town to oversee the proclamation of the province as free from insurgency and to initiate the commencement of the National Peace Consciousness Month festivities.

During the event, he announced that Palawan has achieved freedom from insurgency, based on recommendations derived from previous resolutions put forth by the Mimaropa Regional Peace and Order Council, the Provincial Peace and Order Council, and the provincial government of Palawan.

“I recognize supportive and collaborative efforts of the regional and provincial task force of the task force ELCAC, the Provincial Peace and Order to Council, its partner agencies in the people of the province for the successful implementation on the whole of nation approach on local communist armed conflict which has led to this insurgency free status for Palawan island,” Marcos said in his speech.

“The milestone that we celebrate today epitomizes the commitment that you have put, to end the decades long insurgency in the area through the provision of national integration program for former rebels and the promotion of the island’s peace and security,” he added.

Similarly, the President mentioned that the triumph of the peace process, exemplified by the elucidations provided by the local government unit through their presentations highlighting diverse achievements, demonstrates that comparable outcomes can be attained in different regions of the nation.

He emphasized that the engagement of various sectors is a crucial element in ensuring the success of the program.

“Nandyan siguro ang sekreto kung bakit naging matagumpay ito dahil lahat ng lipunan ay kasama na ngayon sa peace process. Kung dati ay rebelde at mga sundalo at pulis lang, kaya napakahirap na maabot ang pagkakaintindihan at maibalik sa ating lipunan ang mga naging rebelde, ngayon ay marami nang idinagdag na features that helped us and bring us to this day that we can commemorate the declaration of areas as insurgency free,” Marcos stated.

“Unang una dyan, ay yung tinatawag natin na whole of nation approach kung saan hindi lamang sundalo at pulis ang kaharap ng mga rebelde kundi pati na ang lahat ng ahensya ng pamahalaan sa pagdadala ng serbisyo na kinakailangan doon sa mga komunidad,” he elaborated.

The province of Palawan was initially declared insurgency-free through a joint resolution adopted by the PPOC and the Provincial Task Force Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) in December 2022.

The PPOC and PTF-ELCAC stated in their resolution that, with the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte, which established the NTF-ELCAC, rebel groups in the province were significantly diminished. This was achieved either through the voluntary surrender of their members or by being neutralized through targeted military operations conducted by the Western Command’s operating units.

Former rebels who surrendered also emphasized the government’s endeavors to reintegrate them into society through the Local Social Integration Program (LSIP) and the national government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP). Moreover, essential services were extended to the communities through the community service programs of Wescom.

Marcos said the insurgency-free status of the province plays an integral part for the province to further develop its economy through the tourism industry which is its primary enterprise.

“Your local government officials have many plans already na talagang matagal nang gustong gawin, ngunit yung iba ay hindi pa magawa dahil may gulo pa na konti. Butnow that we are able to declare, because even if there is only a few, alam naman natin na Palawan is very tourist sensitive, sasabihin nila may nangyari sa Jolo, sabit ang Palawan dahil ang mga turistang pupunta dito dahil nga sasabihin magulo sa Pilipinas,” Marcos told reporters in an interview.

“And now that we are able to wave that flag, masasabi natin na Palawan is (insurgency) free, then Palawan has already a very large part of all our plans for transformation of our economy, tourism plays a very large part and Palawan plays a large part in Philippine tourism,” he said.

Don’t give money to NPA, military tells brgy, SK bets

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 1, 2023): Don’t give money to NPA, military tells brgy, SK bets (By Ruby P. Silubrico)


ILOILO City – Refrain from giving in to the demand of the New People’s Army (NPA) for the so-called “permit to campaign” fees.

This is the appeal of the Philippine Army to candidates in the Oct. 30 synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections

“If magbigay ang mga candidates, parang kiss of death yan. Hindi sila mananalo kasi ang mga mamamayan ay kampi na sa atin. Ayaw na ng taongbayan sa mga rebelde,” said Major General Marion Sison, commander of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) based in Tapaz, Capiz.

The filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COC) for the barangay and SK elections started on Aug. 28. The last day of filing is Sept. 2.

In their areas of influence – usually in remote barangays – it has been the practice of the NPA to impose “permit to campaign” and even “permit to win” fees on election candidates. It is the rebels’ money-making scheme during elections.

For the military, that is plain extortion.

Sison is, however, confident that the NPA right now will be having a hard time imposing such fees.

The rebels are constantly on the run, he said, and hiding deep in the mountains to evade military offensives.

“Hindi sila agad-agad makababa kasi marami tayong sundalo sa field tapos maraming mga mamamayan ang nag-i-inform sa atin of their whereabouts,” said Sison.

He added: “We will not allow them to do their illegal activities. Hindi namin sila titigilan especially this coming election.”

Think tank scores China's try to legitimize claims via new map

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1, 2023): Think tank scores China's try to legitimize claims via new map (By Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – International research organization Stratbase ADR Institute scored China's 2023 edition of its so-called 'standard' map, which it described as an attempt to legitimize its territorial claims.

"The Stratbase ADR Institute strongly and categorically rejects China’s desperate attempt to legitimize its territorial claims through the new 'standard' map released by its Ministry of Natural Resources," Stratbase ADR Institute president Victor Andres "Dindo" Manhit said in a statement late Thursday.

He also pointed out that the 2023 version of the map, which now shows a 10-dash line, is a serious insult to the 2016 arbitral victory of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Manhit said this new Chinese map is a direct affront to the established United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) aside from being a " mockery of the rules-based international order and of basic decency."

"We reiterate that the arbitral award issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration is clear and final-- China’s nine-dash line is baseless and illegal. China’s claims to sovereign and historic rights in the maritime area are contrary to the UNCLOS," he said.

He added that the publication of the map has the dangerous potential of propagating disinformation by advancing the Chinese narrative that the WPS is part of their territory.

Manhit said no attempt to redraw geopolitical boundaries will make this acceptable, as this is a blatant violation of international law.

"Since 2016, the Philippines’ victory at the arbitral tribunal has been repeatedly recognized and supported by numerous states that adhere to the fundamental value of the rule of law. We applaud like-minded states that have stood up against this map representing an expansionist agenda," he noted.

Manhit also maintained that the Philippines, its allies, and partners must remain firm in defending the rules-based international order through strategic cooperation to maintain a united front against coercive and antagonistic states.

"Adherence to the rules-based international order is the utmost responsibility and obligation of all states to ensure stability and prosperity in the region," he said.

Manhit also said the geopolitical and geo-economic landscape of the Indo-Pacific is uncertain, perilous, and daunting.

"With the support of the international community, the Philippines must hold China accountable for its actions, particularly in propagating disinformation. We are on the right side of history; therefore, we have all the reason to stand proud and to defend our well-recognized victory in the WPS," he noted.

PH to take appropriate action on China’s new SCS map – PBBM

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1, 2023): PH to take appropriate action on China’s new SCS map – PBBM (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

(Contributed photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos said on Friday the government will take appropriate action on China’s release of its new map, which features a 10-dash line covering a large part of the South China Sea (SCS), including the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“Now, once again, we have received the news that now, the nine-dash line has been extended to the 10-dash line. We have to respond to all of these and we will,” Marcos said in a media interview on the sidelines of an event in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Marcos refused to elaborate on the “operational details” about the actions the Philippines would take.

His statement came in the wake of China’s release of its updated “standard map” with a U-shaped 10-dash line showing its extensive claims to SCS.

The map illustrates China’s supposed ownership of WPS, as well as Taiwan and India’s northern state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin region.

"The Indian National Congress takes strong objection to any such illegal representation or renaming of India’s territories,” Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge posted on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday.

"This is not the first time China has made such an attempt. We reject this outright," added Arindam Bagchi, India external affairs ministry spokesperson, in another X post. "Arunachal Pradesh is, has been and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. Attempts to assign invented names will not alter this reality."

Marcos said the Philippines would not relinquish its territorial claims in the hotly contested waters, stressing that the government would remain consistent in asserting its ownership of the WPS.

“Ngayon (Now), of course, we’ll continue to defend our territorial sovereignty, our territorial rights. We have not changed our approach. It is other countries around us that have changed their approach,” he said.

Marcos said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) gives the Philippines a “very solid” basis to defend its territorial rights over WPS.

“We have to stay true to the rules-based international law, especially the UNCLOS. That I think puts us on a very solid ground in terms to our claims for territorial sovereignty, for maritime territory. And this has been validated and supported by many, many countries around the world,” he said.

“And I think we need to strengthen that. That again is very big help to the Philippines in continuing to defend our maritime borders,” Marcos added.

The UNCLOS, adopted in 1982, lays down a comprehensive legal framework governing all activities and uses of the world's seas and oceans. It also establishes general obligations for safeguarding the marine environment and protecting the freedom of scientific research on the high seas.

In a Palace briefing on Thursday, Foreign Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Affairs Daniel Espiritu said Marcos will push for the issuance of a joint statement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on China’s recent actions in SCS and release of its 2023 standard map.

Also on Thursday, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said the Marcos administration is committed to protecting the Philippines’ territorial integrity and national sovereignty, disregarding China’s new map featuring its extended claims in SCS.

The Philippines won its petition filed before the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration on July 12, 2016 after the tribunal invalidated Beijing’s claim of supposed historic rights over almost the entire SCS.

The Philippines, China and several other littoral states are locked in a territorial dispute over the SCS, where Beijing lays claims on around 80 percent of the strategic waters.

PBBM to Wescom: Gov’t behind you in defending PH territory

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1, 2023): PBBM to Wescom: Gov’t behind you in defending PH territory (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

CAMP VISIT. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (center, front) meets with the troops of the Western Command at the Lawak Gymnasium of Camp General Artemio Ricarte in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on Friday (Sept. 1, 2023). In his speech, Marcos emphasized the need to maintain heightened military presence to defend the country’s territory in the West Philippine Sea. (Screenshot from Radio Television Malacañang)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday assured the Western Command (Wescom) that its “very difficult and important” job to keep peace in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) will be matched by government efforts to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Marcos met with the Wescom troops at Camp General Artemio Ricarte’s Lawak Gymnasium in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan and instructed them to maintain heightened military presence in the WPS at all times.

“Nandito po ang inyong Pangulo na sinasabi sa inyo na ang civilian government ay nasa likod na ninyo… Upang [maging] maganda ang inyong trabaho ay gagawin natin at ipagpatuloy natin ang modernization ng AFP, ang pagkakaibigan sa iba’t ibang bansa sa Asya, sa Southeast Asia (Your President is here telling you that the civilian government is behind you... For you to keep up your good work, we will continue the modernization of the AFP and the friendship with different countries in Asia, in Southeast Asia),” he said.

The Commander-in-Chief lauded the Wescom for being at the forefront amid continuing tensions in the WPS.

“Kahit papaano, doon sa maliit nating presence, in comparison doon sa mga ibang nakakatagpo natin doon sa West Philippine Sea ay kahit na maliit lang ang na-ihaharap natin na puwersa ay maganda naman ang nagiging resulta dahil kahit papaano ay nagagawa natin na nagiging maliwanag (Somehow, in our small presence, in comparison to the others we meet in the West Philippine Sea, even though we just have a small force, the result is good because somehow, we are able to make things clear),” he told the Wescom.

“Kahit na paano nandiyan na ‘yan (Somehow, it’s already there), and the Western Command is playing a very, very important part in keeping the peace. That is the most important part. And equally important is to defend the sovereign territory of the Republic of the Philippines,” he added.

Marcos’ latest instruction came in the wake of China’s provocative actions in the WPS and release of its new map that extends its claim.

Known as the “Defenders and Patriots of the Last Frontier,” the Wescom has jurisdiction over the country’s maritime territory, particularly the WPS.

Before the meeting with the troops, Wescom commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos briefed Marcos about the military units’ accomplishments and ongoing initiatives, according to a statement posted on state-run Radio Television Malacañang’s official Facebook page.

Marcos also received assurance that Wescom continues to occupy and establish an effective presence around nine Philippine-held islands, including Ayungin Shoal.

“They also regularly launch intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights to achieve wider coverage and better common operating picture in the West Philippine Sea,” the statement read.

PBBM declares Palawan insurgency-free

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1, 2023): PBBM declares Palawan insurgency-free (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

SOUND OF PEACE. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (left) and Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. pose with the Peace Gong in Puerto Princesa City on Friday (Sept. 1, 2023) as Palawan Island is officially declared insurgency-free. The gong symbolizes the start of National Peace Consciousness Month. (PNA photo by Rey Baniquet)

MANILA – The country continued to make significant strides in attaining peace and order, with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. leading the declaration of Palawan Island as “insurgency-free” on Friday.

“Patuloy pa rin ang proseso ng paghahanap ng kapayapaan para sa lahat ng komunidad ng Pilipinas (The process of finding peace for all communities in the Philippines is still ongoing),” he said in a media interview in Puerto Princesa City.

“Ngunit, maaari ring mag-celebrate tayo dahil nakita naman natin, may progreso naman, maganda naman ang sitwasyon (But we can also celebrate because we have seen there is progress and the situation is good),” he added.

Marcos attributed the successful implementation of the peace initiatives and anti-insurgency efforts to the government’s “whole-of-nation” approach.

He also lauded the “collaborative and inclusive” efforts of the Regional and Provincial Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC), Provincial Peace and Order Council, partner agencies and Palawan residents to end insurgency on the island.

“The milestone that we celebrate today epitomizes the commitment that you have put to end the decades-long insurgency in the area through the provision of national reintegration programs for former rebels and promotion of the island’s peace and security,” Marcos said.

“And that is why it is gratifying to see because we have seen the success of this principle, of this concept, all around the country,” he added.

Marcos said the local government units’ (LGUs) participation is also a “big help” in convincing communist rebels to reintegrate into mainstream society.

He acknowledged that the peace process has improved because of the successful negotiations between LGUs and local insurgents.

“Alam naman po natin ay mamumundok ang isang magiging rebelde dahil sa kanilang palagay hindi sila tinutulungan ng kanilang pamahalaan, hindi sila tinutulungan ng kanilang mga opisyal (We know that rebels go to the mountain because they think their government is not helping them, their officials are not helping them), they are neglected and have lost hope in a peaceful life, in a peaceful society, and that is why they resort to violence, and they resort to fighting in the different forms,” Marcos said.

“So, that is the first thing that we need to attend to. Kailangan maramdaman ng bawat Pilipino na nandito, hindi lamang ang pamahalaan, kung hindi pati na ang local communities, pati na ang local government, pati na ang mga pulis, pati na ang mga sundalo, pati na lahat ng bahagi ng ating lipunan ay nandiyan upang suportahan at pagandahin ang kanilang buhay (Every Filipino needs to feel that it is here, not only the government, but also the local communities, including the local government, the police, the soldiers, and all parts of our society to support and improve their lives).”

Marcos also led the banging of the Peace Gong, symbolizing the start of the National Peace Consciousness Month, assisted by Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

The event theme “Kapayapaan, ng Bawat Mamamayan” (Peace for Each Citizen) highlights the shared vision of all Filipinos for a peaceful and prosperous country, as well as the collective responsibility to protect peace.

The declaration by the joint body states that all focused areas and Konsolidado, Kinokonsolida, Ekspansyon at Rekoberi in Palawan and the City have been cleared, as reported in the Clearing Validation Board Resolution Nos. 01 s-2020, 01 s-2021 and 01 s-2022 of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

In a press briefing at Malacañan Palace’s Premier Guest House on Thursday, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said the Marcos administration is focused on carrying out counter-insurgency initiatives aimed at pursuing “permanent peace and sustainable development” in areas that are now considered insurgency-free.

Año added that the government is seeking to reorient the armed forces’ focus on “external threats.”

National Task Force-ELCAC executive director Undersecretary Ernesto Torres noted that a total of 69 guerrilla fronts have already been dismantled in the past four years.

Torres said there are only 20 remaining guerrilla fronts, with one of them still “active” in Northern Samar, and the 19 others are considered “weakened.”

Six of the weakened guerrilla fronts come from Luzon, seven in the Visayas, and the remaining six in Mindanao.

India wants to expand naval engagement with PH

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1, 2023): India wants to expand naval engagement with PH (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

India Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran (Photo courtesy of Jamil Santos)

MANILA — India seeks to expand naval interaction with the Philippines as the two nation's priorities align in keeping a free and stable Indo-Pacific region.

In a press briefing on Friday, Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran said he sees opportunities for cooperation in the naval domain as defense is a “relatively new area” of engagement between New Delhi and Manila.

He added that India is not ruling out possible joint patrols with the Philippine Navy but noted that there is no active proposal for the activity yet.

“We do believe that strengthening our national security capabilities will bring greater stability and obviously through stability, progress and prosperity in the region,” he said.

Kumaran said this intention to boost defense ties with Manila is not targeted against any country but a logical move as two fellow democracies.

“Without attributing it to any one motivation we obviously would like the region to have the evolution that is rules-based, that does not sidestep the interests of smaller states, and that aggressive maneuvers are avoided because we all have a common stake in this region,” he said.

The envoy said India would like to see the Indo-Pacific region develop in a “peaceful manner” where freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce and overflight also continue.

This year, India for the first time called for the adherence to the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims under its so-called nine-dash line in the region.

India along with the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam protested China’s new “standard map” which included several Philippine features in the West Philippine Sea as part of Beijing’s national boundaries.

The map released in 2023 also showed Arunachal Pradesh and the Doklam Plateau as well as the Aksai Chin that China controls but India claims.

As China insists on its South China Sea claims and the motivation behind the map’s release, Kumaran said countries “should be sensitive to each other's concerns”.

“I express my solidarity with the sentiment in the Philippines with regard to such efforts and what I would call cartographic expansionism,” he said.

“I think it's important to state our positions and our views. And I think both India and the Philippines have done so efficiently,” he added.

2 NPA rebels facing multiple criminal charges nabbed in Masbate

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1, 2023): 2 NPA rebels facing multiple criminal charges nabbed in Masbate (By Connie Calipay)

Camp Gen. Simeon Ola, Police Regional Office-5 headquarters in Legazpi City. (PNA file photo by Connie Calipay)

LEGAZPI CITY – Two members of the New People’s Army (NPA) wanted for several crimes were arrested during manhunt operations in Masbate province on Wednesday, the Police Regional Office 5 (Bicol) reported on Friday.

Lt. Col. Malu Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said
July Verdida, 38; and Gener Mestiola, alias "Lansoy", who are active NPA members operating in Masbate were nabbed while in their homes.

Verdida was nabbed by operatives of the Uson Municipal Police Station and the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company in Barangay Del Carmen, Uson town through a warrant of arrest for multiple attempted murders.

Verdida is an active member of NPA led by Rogelio Suson alias "Manong", commanding officer of Platoon 1, Larangan 2, Komite ng Probinsya 4 (KP4), police said. Cal

Meanwhile, San Fernando town police nabbed Mestiola, alias "Lansoy", an NPA combatant under Eliseo Cabarles alias "Kiko" of Squad 2, Platoon 2, Larangan 1, KP4.

"Mestiola, 46, is also the number 2 most wanted person at the municipal level. His arrest was carried out due to serious crimes, including two counts of murder and attempted murder," Calubaquib said.

US envoy renews commitment to US-PH ties

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1, 2023): US envoy renews commitment to US-PH ties (By Liza Agoot)

PH-US TIES. United States Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson (left) speaks at the 114th Baguio Charter Day program at the Baguio Convention Center, with a sign language interpreter beside her, on Friday (Sept. 1, 2023). The envoy talked about different programs and projects that further enhance the Philippines-US relationship. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

BAGUIO CITY – United States Ambassador to the Philippines Mary Kay Carlson on Friday reiterated her country’s commitment to further strengthen partnership with the Philippines on economy, education, and security.

Carlson made the reassurance in a message during the 114th Baguio Charter Day anniversary celebration at the Baguio Convention Center.

“Every trip I have made from Pagudpud up north to Zamboanga down south and mini parts in between has brought me a greater appreciation for the Philippines’ rich and diverse history and during my travels, I have learned about this country’s immense potential, a future that the United States is honored to support as your friend, partner and ally,” she said.

During her travels throughout different parts of the country, including Baguio, she saw not only the heritage but also its huge potential.

Carlson said her government supports the country’s transition to clean energy, citing projects by the United States of America for International Development (USAID) to help build a more resilient Philippines.

She also noted several US companies in the country that employ entry-level workers and executives.

“Timex is just one of the many US businesses operating in the Philippines [Cebu] to grow a brighter future for the Philippines and the United States as partners in prosperity,” the diplomat said.

She also talked about the Filipino alumni of US Embassy exchange programs, saying it was “so impressive to see these young entrepreneurs.”

“In every stop the dozens of places I visited throughout the Philippines, I have been wowed by the youth, many of whom are alumni of US Embassy exchange programs. These talented young people take the lessons from their experiences here in the Philippines and the US to make their visionary ideas for the future a reality including many small and medium enterprises which they started on their own,” she said.

Meanwhile, Carlson highlighted Baguio's deep history and how it is directly connected with that of the US.

“You can see it in the many heritage sites like Camp John Hay or Burnham Park. While these historical connections are important, Baguio is also primarily, informative, and distinctly a Filipino city with a rich indigenous culture. No wonder it is a UNESCO creative city with the amazing performances that we have seen today, I am so wowed by what we saw on stage. The US is proud to partner with you in realizing your vision for the city,” Carlson added.

US-Baguio ties

The American envoy said this partnership comes in the form of educational linkages like the University of the Cordilleras and the University of Cincinnati which are jointly developing programs on cyber security.

She also said that they are opening an affiliate American space within the Philippine Military Academy, also located in Baguio to provide cadets with access to the latest US scholarly research.

She said the city is also being eyed by numerous cutting-edge American companies for future investment.

These would be an addition to companies like microchip maker Texas Instruments, and firms in the business process management sector such as Sitel, Convergys, and Synergy, which already have offices in the city.

“These companies are just part of the flourishing US-PH economic partnership which is for the prosperous future of both our countries,” Carlson said.