Sunday, September 17, 2023

Army clashes with alleged rebels in Negros Occidental city

From Rappler (Sep 17, 2023): Army clashes with alleged rebels in Negros Occidental city (By REYMUND TITONG)

The military says the alleged rebels belonged under the Southwest Front Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor – a group which authorities claimed as weakened

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Soldiers from the Army’s 15th Infantry Battalion engaged in a firefight with a band of alleged communist rebels in Sitio Tunap, Barangay San Jose, Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, on Saturday, September 16.

The troops were acting on reports of rebel extortion in the area and engaged the 15 alleged communist rebels in a 10-minute firefight, the military said.

According to the military, the alleged rebels belonged under the
Southwest Front Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor (SWF KR-NCBS), a group which the authorities claimed as weakened.

The state forces seized a .45 caliber pistol with magazines and ammunition, a homemade shotgun, a cellphone with a memory card, medical paraphernalia, a transistor radio, other personal belongings, and subversive documents.

No casualties were recorded from the government side, the military said.

The City Social Welfare Development of Sipalay City also assisted and assisted 5 families – or 13 individuals – in a neighboring sitio of Patio-tio, who sought safe grounds to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

Major General Marion R. Sison, 3rd Infantry Division Commander, lauded the persistent and unwavering determination of the troops to protect civilians in the province of Negros Occidental.

In a separate statement, 15th Infantry Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Michael Cuarteros said the Army will continue to intensify its efforts to bring lasting peace to its area of operation.

Alleged IP rebel leader slain in Army encounter in Bohol

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 17, 2023): Alleged IP rebel leader slain in Army encounter in Bohol (By RHODA GRACE SARON)

AN INDIGENOUS People (IP) leader in Davao Region, along with five other communist rebels, was killed in a series of clashes with soldiers of the 47th Infantry battalion under the 3rd Infantry Division of Visayas Command (VisCom) in Bohol.

The military identified him as Kerlan Fanagel, the chairperson of Pasakaday Salugpungan Kalimudan (Pasaka/Confederation of Lumad Organization in Southern Mindanao Region), who hailed from Barangay Poblacion, Malapatan in Sarangani Province.

Fanagel was previously identified as Rogelio Jorillo from Minglanilla, Cebu based on the Office ID recovered from his body, according to the report.

However, his true identity was later verified by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Accordingly, Fanagel was one of the six NPA fatalities in the encounter between the 47th Infantry battalion and remnants of the dismantled Bohol Provincial Committee (BPC), Komite Rehiyonal ng Negros, Cebu, Bohol at Siquijor (KRNCBS), in Bilar, Bohol last Sept. 7.

“This is a clear manifestation of the deceptive tactics employed by the CPP-NPA. They infiltrate the different sectors in our community to include our Indigenous People, organize them, and use them to go against the government,” Lieutenant General Benedict M. Arevalo, the commander of the Visayas Command emphasized.

Fanagel was also a council member of Katribu, a national IP organization; Kalumaran in Mindanao; and Sandugo, an alliance of Moro and IP organizations.

He was a member of the Regional Urban Committee of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Command, the group responsible for organizing indigenous peoples for mass protests in the urban centers in Mindanao and in Metro Manila, the military further said.

Arevalo added, “The presence of Fanagel here in the Visayas validates our assessment that the CPP-NPA is exerting efforts to recover their lost mass bases in the region which was cleared from NPA-infestation by our Community Support Program (CSP) Teams with the support of the local task force to end local communist armed conflict.”

He then reaffirmed their commitment to never allow the resurgence of the CPP-NPA in the region, “We will not allow the CPP-NPA from regaining their foothold anywhere in the region.”

“The people themselves have spoken. They don’t want anything to do with the terrorist group. As such, Team VisCom will sustain our momentum and push the CPP-NPA further to the point of their eventual defeat. Thus, we call on them to return to the folds of the law now, while they still have the chance.”

On May 12, 2015, Kerlan Fanagel, along with other 14 leaders of different organizations, were filed charges by the CIDG for kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and human trafficking for evacuating hundreds of indigenous people from Talaingod, Davao del Norte to Davao City.

Meanwhile, the body of Kerlan Fanagel was claimed by his brother Kernie Fanagel on Sept. 12 at Baguio Funeral Homes in Carmen, Bohol.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front warns rogue members

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 17, 2023): Moro Islamic Liberation Front warns rogue members

DAVAO CITY – The former rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front has warned its members against engaging in activities that will ruin the peace and order in the southern region.

The Department of Defense (DND) welcomed this measure imposed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front headed by Ahod Ebrahim, the current Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro autonomous region.

Arsenio Andolong, spokesperson for DND, described the Moro Islamic Liberation Front policy as manifestation of its commitment to uphold and sustain the peace process. He said a recent Moro Islamic Liberation Front memorandum also denounced the involvement in armed conflicts by its members arising from family feuds and/or political rivalries, and warned of automatic termination from the roster of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, if found guilty.

“This move, allows the security sector to stay on track in the implementation of peace and development programs, especially in Mindanao,” Andolong said.

Just last month, two former Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas involved in an attack that killed a soldier and a police officer in Basilan surrendered to the military. The suspects, Adzmin Manjapal, 20, and Mudzni Sapau, 27, were among the 10  Moro Islamic Liberation Frontgunmen behind the ambushed of government security team on August 12 in Ulitan, a village of Ungkaya Pukan town in Basilan province.

Police said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ambushers were also joined by the Abu Sayyaf in the attack.

Andolong said the national government, along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will continue to collaborate with and support the Bangsamoro government in attaining and maintaining genuine and lasting peace in the region.

In 2014, the government and  Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a peace agreement, with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ending its long-running separatist insurgency in exchange for autonomous rule in Mindanao.

Under the peace deal’s terms, the group promised to have its tens of thousands of members turn over and decommission their weapons, but the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has struggled to meet that target. (Jeoffrey Maitem)

Barbers brothers want Surigao Norte as EDCA site

Posted to MindaNews (Sep 17, 2023): Barbers brothers want Surigao Norte as EDCA site (By BONG S. SARMIENTO)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 17 September) — Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers and brother Governor Lyndon Barbers want their province to be an additional site under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States.

If designated, Surigao del Norte will be the second EDCA site in Mindanao after the Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro City, and will be the 10th EDCA site in the country.

The lawmaker invited the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US military to inspect the province for its inclusion as an EDCA site.

Map courtesy of Google

“Our province is situated on the Northeastern tip of Mindanao facing the Pacific Ocean. Its deep waters can accommodate the huge naval ships of the United States,” Rep. Barbers said in a statement on Saturday.

Surigao del Norte has a distinct advantage as it is openly facing the Pacific Ocean yet has an outlet to the West Philippine Sea (WPS), he added.

China has been claiming the WPS as part of the South China Sea. Beijing had rejected The Hague Arbitral Ruling favorable to the Philippines involving the contested maritime area.

Rep. Barbers said that the province becoming an EDCA site has a strategic advantage in that Philippine and US ships can traverse the country from East to West and vice-versa without needing to circle around.

According to him, the presence of Philippine and US military forces in their province will discourage any hostile activity and even posturing by foreign forces both civilian or otherwise.”

Surigao del Norte is renowned for its world class surfing spot, Siargao, which has been hosting international surfing competitions. The province also hosts several mining operations.

Governor Barbers said setting up an EDCA base in Surigao del Norte “would benefit not only the province but the whole eastern regions of the Visayas and Mindanao.”

“In times of calamities, aid can be delivered fast and wide. Immediate assistance and relief will prevent loss of countless lives and massive damage. Remember that our region is always under threat from nature’s wrath, be it super typhoons or strong earthquakes,” he said.

“Best of all,” Rep. Barbers said, “the people will warmly welcome the Americans, our long time friends and allies.”

He said the establishment of an EDCA site in Surigao del Norte “will surely spur economic prosperity to the region, to which the people will be happy about.”

“The mere presence of our armed forces and our allies will greatly enhance our confidence building measures. Our fisherfolks will have nothing to worry about being driven away by hostile forces within our own territory,” the lawmaker said.

At present, the country has nine EDCA sites: the first five — Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cabu, Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro – and the four additional sites established this year: TCamilo Osias Naval Base and Lal-lo Airport both in Cagayan; Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela; and Balabac Island in the West Philippine Sea. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

PH, Indon navies hold drills in Cebu, Negros waters

 Posted to the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 17, 2023): PH, Indon navies hold drills in Cebu, Negros waters

CEBU CITY – The Philippines and Indonesia are set to hold joint naval exercise off Cebu and Negros islands as part of the annual Maritime Training Activity (MTA) PhilIndo.

Lt. Bernabe Jay Zambale Jr., public affairs officer of the Naval Forces Central, said military exercise will begin on September 24.

“MTA PhilIndo 2023 is a yearly navy to navy exercise between the Philippines and Indonesia conducted in different naval operating forces in the Philippines, which will be reciprocated with the same event in Indonesia,” Zambale said.

He said the activity is expected to enhance interoperability between the two navies and strengthen situational awareness and mutual cooperation as it will involve navigation and operations training and developing combined operational doctrines, practices, and naval tactics. It will also highlight maritime security operations, surveillance, reconnaissance, maritime interdiction operations, gunnery exercises, and air operations training.

“It will be conducted in three phases – preparation, harbor, and sea phase. There will also be subject matter expert exchange participated by the personnel of two warships, a landing craft, and a patrol craft of the Philippine Navy and two warships from the Indonesian Navy,” Zambale said, adding that they are also looking at the possibility of including the naval reservists in the familiarization boarding tour over any of the Indonesian naval vessels.

Zambale said the KRI Sampari and KRI Hiu will participate in the maritime drills for the Indonesian side while the BRP Gener Tinangag (PG-903), BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS16), BRP Batak (LC299), and BRP Enrique Jurado (PC371) for the Philippine side.

Members of the Philippine Navy SEAL and Naval Air Wing will deploy a fighter plane and an AW-109 attack helicopter for the drills. He said the participating sailors and their warships will converge at the Captain Veloso Pier along the Naval Base Rafael Ramos in Lapu-Lapu City on the opening day and will commence the drills off the waters of Cebu and up to the southwestern tip of Negros Island the next day. (John Rey Saavedra)

Govt., MNLF agree on new joint peace committee

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 17, 2023): Govt., MNLF agree on new joint peace committee

A photo from the Facebook page of BTA Deputy Speaker Ustadz Abdulkarim Tan Misuari shows MILF and BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim with Nur Misuari, chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front during their unity meeting on September 2022.

SULU - The Philippine government and the former rebel group Moro National Liberation Front have agreed to reconstitute its joint Peace Coordinating Committee into the Peace Implementing Committee in an effort to carry out the full implementation of the peace accord signed by both sides in September 1996.

The government and the MNLF also signed a resolution to strengthen the composition of the joint Peace Implementing Committee. Both sides agreed to submit the new composition of their implementing committees which shall be composed of seven members each as follows: Chairperson,Vice chairperson (who shall come from the four subcommittee chairpersons), four chairpersons of the subcommittees as members, and two alternate members who shall also serve as members of technical working groups, which shall be created based on need.

"The implementing committee shall have subcommittees to tackle specific concerns on security, socio-economic, confidence building measures, and transitional justice," the resolution reads.

The implementation of the Bangsamoro peace agreements is one of the five-point Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Agenda of the Marcos administration. The reconstitution is needed to strengthen the collaboration of the government and the MNLF, especially in implementing remaining commitments on the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund and Tripartite Implementation Monitoring Committee, as well as a transformation program for MNLF combatants, their families and communities.

The Transformation Program is anchored on Article 20a of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement which states that “there shall be a special socio-economic, cultural and educational program to cater to MNLF forces not absorbed into the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), PNP (Philippine National Police), and the SRSF (Special Regional Security Forces) to prepare them for productive endeavors, provide for educational, technical skills and livelihood training and give them priority for hiring in developmental projects.”

The creation of the Peace Coordinating Committee for the government side was created through a Memorandum from the Executive Secretary issued in November 2019 under the Duterte administration.

BTA Deputy Speaker Ustadz Abdulkarim Tan Misuari

Ustadz Abdulkarim Tan Misuari, Vice-Chairman of the MNLF Central Committee and currently the Deputy Speaker of the Bangsamoro Parliament, said: “The MNLF is one of the champions of peace. We will do our part to sanctify our agreements.”

Bangsamoro Member of Parliament Randolph Parcasio, quoting MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari, said the MNLF believes that "time will come when firearms will not be daily activity and a culture – when carrying firearms will be considered a shame."

The MNLF thanked the Marcos administration for its steadfast commitment to the Bangsamoro peace agreements. The Bangsamoro peace process in Mindanao started during the time of the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., when he forged the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement with the MNLF.

The pact became the basis of the succeeding peace agreements in the Bangsamoro such as the 1996 peace agreement and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro signed in 2014 between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Just recently, the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front commemorated “The Great Bangsamoro National Unity and Solidarity Day,” according to Misuari.

In a Facebook post, Misuari wrote: “On September 11, 2022, the leaders of the two Moro revolutionary groups, MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari and Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman and BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ibrahim, met for the first time in decades to usher in a new era of unity and solidarity in pursuit of lasting peace in the Bangsamoro homeland.”

“Named as “The Great Bangsamoro National Unity and Solidarity Day” by Chairman Nur, both agreed to strengthen partnership and unification efforts towards sustainable development and a brighter future for the Bangsamoro people.” (Priam Nepomuceno and The Mindanao Examiner)

Soldiers discover NPA hideout, seize weapons in southern Negros

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 17, 2023): Soldiers discover NPA hideout, seize weapons in southern Negros (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

OVERRUN. The firearms and other items recovered by troops of the Philippine Army’s 15th Infantry Battalion from a hideout of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army South West Front in the hinterlands of Sipalay City, Negros Occidental Saturday afternoon (Sept. 16, 2023). The place was discovered after an encounter between the soldiers and communist rebels in Sitio Tunap, Barangay San Jose. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army 15IB)

BACOLOD CITY – Troops of the Philippine Army's 15th Infantry Battalion (IB) discovered a hideout of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), following a clash in the hinterlands of Sipalay City, Negros Occidental.

The encounter in Sitio Tunap, Barangay San Jose past 3 p.m. Saturday transpired after residents informed soldiers of the presence of armed men asking for food and recruiting residents to join the rebel movement.

“The cooperation of the locals demonstrates their willingness to prevent the resurgence of the armed group in their community and their unwavering commitment to fight terrorism and maintain their safety,” Lt. Col. Michael Cuarteros, commanding officer of the 15IB, said in a statement Saturday night.

As of Sunday morning, some 38 families from Sitios Atoy-atoy and Patio-tio in the border village of Gil Montilla were still in evacuation centers but were preparing to return home by noontime.

The City Social Welfare Development Office provided assistance to the displaced families.

In a report, the 15IB said the troops engaged for about 10 minutes some 15 members of Platoon 3 of the weakened NPA South West Front, but the rebels eventually fled, leaving blood stains on their trail.

Military working dogs were dispatched to track the rebels’ withdrawal route and to detect presence of anti-personnel mines, it added

The soldiers recovered a caliber .45 pistol and a homemade shotgun with ammunition along with a mobile phone with memory card, transistor radio, 200 meters of electrical wire, solar panel and medical paraphernalia.

Other items seized were flashlights, hammocks, poncho tent, rain boots, jungle packs and subversive documents.

Cuarteros said government troops will continue to intensify efforts to dismantle rebel groups and bring peace and stability in the area.

“The Army, together with the local government unit, urges the remaining CPP-NPA members to give peace a chance by surrendering now,” he said.

In a separate statement, Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, commended the troops for their “persistent and unwavering determination” to pursue the remaining communist rebels in Negros.

“There will be no letup in our focus military operations until they will have no place to hide,” he said.

In January this year, an encounter also took place in Barangay San Jose’s Malipayon sub-village during the pursuit operation for rebels from the NPA’s South West Front.

A soldier of 15IB was injured, hundreds of residents were displaced and classes were canceled.