Sunday, May 26, 2024

Marcos: China policy vs ‘trespassers’ in South China Sea unacceptable

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2024): Marcos: China policy vs ‘trespassers’ in South China Sea unacceptable (By Filane Mikee Cervantes and Darryl John Esguerra)

MEDIA INTERVIEW. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. talks to the media on the sidelines of the signing of alliance between the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) in Makati City on Saturday (May 18, 2024). Marcos said China’s new policy empowering its coast guard to detain foreigners trespassing in the South China Sea is "completely unacceptable." (RTVM Screengrab)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Saturday said China’s policy to detain alleged “trespassers” in the South China Sea, including those overlapping in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is “completely unacceptable.”

On the sidelines of the signing of alliance between the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) in Makati City, Marcos said the government will take "whatever measures" to protect Filipinos amid escalating tensions in the contested waters.

“That kind of action would be completely unacceptable to the Philippines,” Marcos said.

“I do not talk about the operational details so leave it to us. But the position that we take is that, that is unacceptable and we will take whatever measures to always protect our citizens,” he added.

China reportedly empowered its own Coast Guard to detain for up to 60 days without trial foreign trespassers who will cross what it claims are its borders.

This came after the Atin To Coalition successfully finished its civilian convoy to Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

China’s new trespass rule met fierce criticism from Philippine authorities.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson Jay Tarriela said the move was just another “illegal action” by Beijing justified by its “imaginary” nine-dash-line claim to nearly all of the South China Sea.

In 2016, the Philippines won a landmark international arbitration case against China, invalidating its ambitious nine-dash line claim that owns the entire South China Sea.

Philippine lawmakers also blasted China’s new rule with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri saying that it violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which protects the freedom of navigation at sea.

Speaker Martin Romualdez, for his part, vowed that the House of Representatives would oppose any arrest made by China within the 200-nautical mile EEZ of the Philippines.

“The House of the Filipino people will not tolerate any arrests of our citizens or fishermen within our own Exclusive Economic Zone. We will fiercely defend our sovereignty and ensure the safety and rights of our people,” Romualdez said.

He described China's aggressive pronouncements as "blatant escalation of tensions" in the WPS.

"These unilateral actions flagrantly violate international law and the established norms that guide the Philippines and other law-abiding nations with claims in the South China Sea,” Romualdez said.

"China must respect international rulings and act as a responsible member of the global community, rather than imposing its own laws unilaterally and bullying other nations,” he added.

Marcos seeks probe on China’s wiretapping of AFP official

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19, 2024): Marcos seeks probe on China’s wiretapping of AFP official (By Darryl John Esguerra)

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has vowed to investigate the alleged wiretapping of the Chinese Embassy in Manila against the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Command (AFP-Wescom).

“We are looking into it because the fact of the matter is there have been mentions of a tape to (try to confirm) confirms that there was this agreement (between China and the Philippines),” Marcos said in a media interview Saturday night.

Marcos said it is still early to come up with any conclusion until he hears for himself the contents of the supposed wiretapping.

“It’s in the possession of the Chinese Embassy and the Chinese government. So, until they release it, it’s harder to believe and to accept that there was an agreement,” he said.

Asked if he has directed government agencies to be extra careful about it, Marcos said “there is no directive like that” but emphasized an existing policy on the issue.

The President added that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are working together to make the country’s cybersecurity more robust and secure.

He said they are already planning to bring some Filipino experts, who are among the world’s best, to work for the government as “free agents” to help bolster the country’s cybersecurity.

"Some of the best people in cybersecurity are actually Filipino but they are civilians so we have to bring some of them,” Marcos said.

"I don’t know if we can find an arrangement for them to work for the military, to work for government agencies. Maybe as a free agent? We’ll see,” he added.

‘Administrative decision’

Meanwhile, the AFP said the designation of Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres Jr. as the new Wescom chief is an "administrative decision."

Torres replaced former Wescom chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos who has been on personal leave since May 7.

No reason was given by the military for Carlos' leave, with Torres being placed as acting Wescom chief.

Carlos was earlier tagged by the Chinese Embassy as the military official who allegedly agreed with their "new model" arrangement in managing the tensions in Ayungin Shoal, with the approval of ranking government officials.

"It is part of the ongoing changes in leadership and key positions within the military which is necessary for the institution to adapt to evolving security environment and effectively address emerging challenges," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said.

He added Wescom's critical role requires a fulltime leader that has more years in service to provide continuity and strategic direction.

"We offer our full support to Rear Admiral Torres and we are confident in his ability to lead with distinction," Trinidad said. (with reports from Filane Cervantes/Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA)

PH Air Force gets 2 more T-129 attack helicopters

From the Philippine News Agency (May 20, 2024): PH Air Force gets 2 more T-129 attack helicopters (By Priam Nepomuceno)

NEW 'ATAK' HELICOPTERS. One of the two newly-delivered Turkish Aerospace Industries T-129 in Sangley Point, Cavite in this May 17, 2024 photo. The Philippine Air Force's (PAF) 15th Strike Wing received two more Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T-129 "Atak" helicopters which would be used for territorial defense, aerial surveillance and reconnaissance, counter-insurgency combat operations, and combat support operations. (Photo courtesy of the PAF's 15th Strike Wing)

MANILA – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has formally received two more Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T-129 'Atak' helicopters.

In a Facebook (FB) post on Sunday, the PAF's 15th Strike Wing said it received the two helicopters, with tail numbers 1505 and 1506, in simple rites presided by Air Command Command chief Maj. Gen. Araus Robert F. Musico and 15th Strike Wing commander Brig, Gen. Juliano C. Llarenas at the Atienza Air Base, Sangley Point, Cavite City on May 17.

"The two T-129 'Atak' helicopters performed a low pass before landing on the active runway. Upon taxiing and exiting, a water cannon salute was rendered to the two aircraft - the traditional and ceremonial welcome to honor the newly procured attack helicopters of the 15th Strike Wing," it added.

"The acquisition of the T-129 'Atak' helicopters was part of the priority projects under Horizon 2 of the AFP Modernization Program. The T-129s with tail numbers 1505 and 1506, which were delivered last Nov. 29, 2023, are the fifth and sixth T-129 'Atak' helicopters acquired through negotiated (government-to-government) procurement with Turkey. These dedicated attack helicopters are expected to enhance the combat operational capability of PAF and address the capability gap identified in urban warfare," the FB post added.

The contract for the six T-129 "Atak" helicopters is worth USD269 million which was signed on July 20, 2020.

The first two T-129 choppers were delivered on March 9, 2022, while the second batch of two were delivered in December of the same year.

These helicopters will be utilized for territorial defense, aerial surveillance and reconnaissance, counter-insurgency combat operations and combat support operations.

OPAPRU: P4-B PAMANA funds to hasten dev't in conflict-hit areas

From the Philippine News Agency (May 20, 2024): OPAPRU: P4-B PAMANA funds to hasten dev't in conflict-hit areas (By Priam Nepomuceno)

OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) on Monday thanked the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the release of PHP4 billion in funds for the implementation of key projects under its "Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan" (PAMANA) program.

OPAPRU chief Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the budget will make possible the delivery of much-needed infrastructure projects, such as roads and bridges, and create livelihood and job opportunities particularly in underserved, last-mile communities and areas devastated by previous conflicts.

“While we strive to push forward, build on and sustain the gains of peace, it is also crucial to implement development interventions that aim to improve the lives of our people, particularly the former combatants, and enable them to achieve their full potential,” Galvez said in a news release.

He said peace and development must always go hand in hand and must be pursued simultaneously.

It is the reason why the OPAPRU is working closely with national line agencies as this strategy will enable the government to maximize its resources and carry out strategic interventions where they can have the most impact, Galvez said.

The collaborative approach, as exemplified by the cooperation with DBM and the Public Works and Highways, Social Welfare and Development, Agriculture, and Labor departments, reflects the Marcos administration's whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approach.

Implemented in 2011, the PAMANA Program is a key component of the government’s peace, reconciliation, and unity agenda.

AFP chief, US Pacific Fleet head tackle regional peace efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2024): AFP chief, US Pacific Fleet head tackle regional peace efforts (By Priam Nepomuceno)

ENDURING ALLIANCE. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. (right) and US Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. Stephen Koehler, Commander hold talks during the latter's courtesy call at the AFP headquarters on Monday (May 20, 2024). The two officials discussed ways to further uphold peace in the Indo-Pacific Region and other areas of cooperation. (Photo courtesy of the AFP)

MANILA – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief, Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. and United States Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. Stephen Koehler met Monday to discuss ways to further uphold peace in the Indo-Pacific Region.

"In their meeting, Gen. Brawner Jr. expressed his gratitude to Admiral Koehler for the continued support of the enduring US-Philippine alliance amidst evolving security challenges," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said in a statement Tuesday.

During their meeting at the AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Brawner reaffirmed the AFP’s dedication to upholding a free and stable Indo-Pacific region through rules-based approaches under international law.

Trinidad said Koehler's courtesy call reflects the AFP’s strategic partnership to strengthen interoperability and further advance combined capabilities in the maritime domain.

The two officials also discussed the conduct of the first-ever multilateral maritime cooperative activity and its regular holding between Manila and Washington D.C.

These activities are part of the ongoing effort to underscore collective commitment to regional and international cooperation in safeguarding the Indo-Pacific Region.

Ranking Marine officer named AFP deputy chief for ops

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2024): Ranking Marine officer named AFP deputy chief for ops (By Priam Nepomuceno)

NEW OPERATIONS CHIEF. Brig. Gen. Jimmy Larida (left), newly appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief of staff for operations receives the symbol of leadership from AFP deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. Charlton Sean Gaerlan (right) during the change of chief of office ceremony at the AFP headquarters on Tuesday (May 21, 2024). Larida replaced Air Force Col. Jessie Banastao, who served as AFP deputy chief of staff for operations in an acting capacity. (Photo courtesy of AFP)

MANILA – A ranking official of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) has risen to one of the key positions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In a statement Wednesday, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said Marine Brig. Gen. Jimmy Larida assumed the military's deputy chief of staff for operations (J3) post during short ceremonies in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Tuesday.

Larida succeeded Air Force Col. Jessie Banastao, who was designated as AFP deputy chief of staff for operations in an acting capacity.

"Prior (to his) assumption, Brig.Gen. Larida commanded the AFP's Joint Task Force National Capital Region (JTF NCR). He also served as the deputy commandant of the PMC; commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade; commander of Jolo Internal Defense Force; and chief of staff of JTF-Comet, Westmincom (Western Mindanao Command)," Trinidad added.

Larida is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1991 and holds a Master’s degree in Military Studies from the United States Marine Corps University in Virginia.

Key NPA member in 2005 Quezon province attacks convicted of rebellion

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2024): Key NPA member in 2005 Quezon province attacks convicted of rebellion (By Benjamin Pulta)

MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday announced the conviction of a key member of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) who led a series of attacks against military personnel and communication facilities in Quezon province, nineteen years ago.

In a decision promulgated last May 16, 2024, the Taguig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 266 found Maria Salome Crisostomo, also known as Maria Salome Crisostomo Ujano, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rebellion and sentenced her up to 17 years imprisonment.

Based on records, Ujano and several others identified as officers and members of the CPP-NPA led attacks against government soldiers in Quezon province from November 19 - 25, 2005, killing/wounding several soldiers, destroying communication sites and various government properties.

Ujano testified that she has no connection with the NPA and alleged that on said dates, she was not in the vicinity or near Quezon Province, and that she was at St. Scholastica College, Leon Guinto, Malate, Manila.

Prosecution witnesses recognized some members of the NPA during the encounter, including Ujano, being one of the most wanted CPP-NPA members posted in the bulletin in their camps.

“Positive identification where categorical and consistent and without any showing of ill motive on the part of the eyewitness testifying on the matter, prevails over a denial which, if not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence is negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law,” Taguig City RTC Br. 266 Presiding Judge Marivic C. Vitor said in her decision.

She also pointed out that evidently, members of the NPA took up arms against the armed forces who act on behalf of the Government, and also shouted “Mabuhay ang CPP-NPA,” “Mabuhay ang Kilusan,” and relayed to the armed forces for them to surrender.

“Taken altogether, the actions of the NPA members constitute acts of rebellion.”

In a statement, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla lauded the DOJ Task Force on Counter-Terrorism and Terrorism Financing led by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor (SDSP) Peter L. Ong for “successfully prosecuting the case which led to the conviction of Ujano.”

“We stood united once again in the face of sinister terrorists and conquered this menace by our resilience and unity. We will never back down against such evil who continue to destabilize the government and sow discord and division. This is the very guarantee we can give our country and people,” Remulla said.

AFP: Ex-Wescom chief's reassignment not a punishment

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2024): AFP: Ex-Wescom chief's reassignment not a punishment (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Former AFP Western Command (Wescom) chief Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said the reassignment of former Western Command (Wescom) chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos to one of the units inside its general headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City is not a punishment.

"Reassignment is never a form of punishment, its part of our being officers, even enlistment, rotational policy, it's a policy," AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said in a media interview.

This came after Carlos was reassigned to the General Headquarters Support Command, which is under the direct supervision of the office of the AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr.

"Yes, he is reassigned which is a normal occurrence for us here in the AFP, I'll like to put into perspective ano once you get assigned or transferred to another post, it's never a part of, form of punishment. It's part of our role, we have to play different roles, be in different capacities, it doesn't necessarily mean that meron kang offense or its a punishment on your end," Padilla said.

Carlos made headlines after the Chinese Embassy in Manila claimed that he agreed on their "new model" arrangement for Ayungin Shoal with approval of other ranking Philippine government officials.

He filed for personal leave on May 6 for an undetermined period that was later extended.

Following Carlos' leave, Padilla said the military deemed it necessary to appoint Rear Adm. Alfonso Torres Jr. as commander of the Wescom, which is an important area in Philippine security.

She urged the public not to be distracted from the real issue which is China's illegal activities in the West Philippine Sea.

"Let us not lose track (of) the real issue, we would rather focus our efforts and our resources and all into pressing matters which is external defense. Ang dapat pinag uusapan natin yung illegal activities na ginagawa ng (what we should be talking about are the illegal activities) China (is doing) against us, let us not let them win in this narrative," she said.

Navy commissions 2 more Israeli-made missile boats

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2024): Navy commissions 2 more Israeli-made missile boats (By Priam Nepomuceno)

BOOSTING DEFENSE. The Philippine Navy's missile boat BRP Herminigildo Yurong (PG-906) during the christening, commissioning, and send-off ceremony at the PN headquarters along Roxas Boulevard, Manila on Tuesday (May 21, 2024). Aside from the BRP Herminigildo Yurong, also commissioned into Navy service was another missile boat, the BRP Laurence Narag (PG-907). (Photo courtesy of the PN)

MANILA – The Philippine Navy (PN) has formally commissioned two more fast attack interdiction craft (FAIC) equipped with the Spike NLOS (non-line of sight) missile systems.

The commissioning rites for the new vessels, named BRP Herminigildo Yurong (PG-906) and BRP Laurence Narag (PG-907), were held at the Naval Station Jose Andrada, Roxas Boulevard, Manila on Tuesday, PN spokesperson Commander John Percie Alcos said in a news release Wednesday.

The PN received the two gunboats from Israel Shipyards Ltd. on Nov. 18, 2023.

"These crafts are indispensable assets for archipelagic defense, tailored to address unique challenges inherent to the Philippine maritime landscape. As force multipliers, these craft enable rapid deployment and force projection, strengthen our deterrence, and uphold maritime security across Philippine waters," PN chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. said during the commissioning rites.

He also said the acquisition of these missile-capable craft, also called the Acero-class patrol gunboats, would greatly accelerate the ongoing modernization efforts of the Navy.

Adaci also thanked the national government and the Department of National Defense for their support throughout the FAIC acquisition process.

“The PN takes pride in aligning itself with the national leadership's commitment to a defense posture that resonates with the unique characteristics and needs of our geographic configuration. Despite an enduring journey, the PN remains committed to improving our physical capabilities and, more importantly, our collective consciousness to be at the forefront of our comprehensive archipelagic defense," he added.

The vessels were named after two Medal of Valor awardees, the late Marine Staff Sgt. Herminigildo Yurong and Marine Cpl. Laurence Narag, who perished in the line of duty during the Philippine government's campaign against Moro rebels in Mindanao in 2000.

The PN now has six Acero-class gunboats in service.

The first two Acero-class gunboats, the BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) and BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG-902), were delivered in September 2022 and commissioned two months later.

The third and fourth FAICs, the BRP Gener Tinangag (PG-903) and BRP Domingo Deluana (PG-905), were delivered in April 2023 and commissioned the following month.

The remaining three Acero-class gunboats are expected to be constructed and delivered within the next two years.

Four of the ships will be armed with NLOS missiles with pinpoint accuracy and a range of 25 km. while the other five will be armed with Typhoon-mounted 30mm main cannons and .50 caliber heavy machine guns.

DFA says no downgrading but PH-China ties ‘a bit choppy’ now

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2024): DFA says no downgrading but PH-China ties ‘a bit choppy’ now (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo (PNA file photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Wednesday the Philippines has yet come to a point where it would have to downgrade its relations with Beijing amid the latter's harassments in the West Philippine Sea, but described the ties with the Asian power as “a bit choppy” at the moment.

“I would say, they're a bit choppy. There are many issues which have come up recently. In the case of the Philippines, there’s really been an effort by the Philippines to assert our rights, in this particular case, in our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) in the West Philippine Sea,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said during a lunch meeting with reporters in Manila.

Manalo said it is China’s continuous harassment of Filipino fishermen and efforts to block the Philippines from exercising its rights in the West Philippine Sea that are creating tensions in the area.

“So these actions have been a cause for raising tensions, we are merely trying to assert our rights. And unfortunately, we're being hampered in doing so and in my personal belief, this is creating the tensions,” he said.

Despite these, Manalo said the DFA will continue to engage with China and manage tensions through dialogue and diplomatic means without compromising the country’s rights over the waters.

The DFA is working to convene the next Philippine-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) on the South China Sea in the Philippines this year.

Manalo said this would be the first undersecretary-level meeting between the two states since the 8th BCM was held in Shanghai on Jan. 17, when the two sides initially agreed to “de-escalate” the situation in the area.

“Of course, the issue is we have to find a way to manage. We have to have an understanding on how we can manage our relationship without increasing tensions,” he said.

But Manalo noted that “in many ways, China's not really helping us to do so”.

“That's the challenge because of the many incidents that are occurring. So that's a challenge for us how to do that. But we are still definitely committed to seeking diplomatic means to manage our tensions,” he said.

“It doesn't necessarily mean that we could reach an agreement on issues of concern immediately, that (will) take a long time. But we have to find ways to manage tensions,” he added.

Pending a resolution to maritime disputes with China, Manalo said the Philippines had proposed various ways to diffuse tension in the area, including on Philippine access to Scarborough Shoal and the development of fisheries in the area.

“In fact, we’re considering a number of proposals also from their side so definitely, we will have proposals, but it doesn’t mean may (there’s) agreement,” he said, citing the need for these proposals to go through proper channels for approval first.

Under the Marcos administration, Manalo reiterated that there had been no agreement nor Chinese proposals on Ayungin Shoal and Scarborough Shoal that have been approved.

“They (China) say there are agreements, but where? Show us,” he said.

“I don’t recall ever having discussed proposals to have such agreements. If there was a proposal for an agreement, we would go through channels and ensure that it has the approval of the highest authorities,” he added.

PH 2+2 meets with Japan, US expected in Q3

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2024): PH 2+2 meets with Japan, US expected in Q3 (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

MANILA – The Philippine government is expected to convene two foreign and defense ministerial dialogues or 2+2 meetings with Japan and the United States in the third quarter of 2024.

In a lunch meeting in Manila, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo confirmed that his counterparts Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will conduct an official visit to the Philippines in the coming weeks.

“We’re planned to have meetings with Japan on a 2+2… And also, there’s a possibility of a Philippine-US 2+2 meeting, this is also standard,” he told reporters.

There is no specific date set yet, but the US-Philippines 2+2 is currently being planned in July or August.

The date for the Japan-Philippines 2+2 is likewise yet to be finalized but Tokyo-based Kyodo reported that the meeting is slated in early July.

“I’m sure that we will have very positive meetings on how we could further improve upon the cooperation we already have. At the moment, I don’t know if there’ll be any agreement signed but definitely, there will be reaffirmation of existing agreements,” Manalo said.

The Japan-Philippine 2+2 meeting will be the second of its kind since the inaugural dialogue in Tokyo in April 2022.

The meeting comes amid efforts from both sides to expand cooperation and negotiate a reciprocal access agreement, a deal similar to a visiting forces agreement.

Ex-Wescom chief on secret deal with China: ‘Completely false’

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2024): Ex-Wescom chief on secret deal with China: ‘Completely false’ (By Leonel Abasola)

Former AFP Western Command (Wescom) chief Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command (Wescom) chief, Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, has denied signing any secret deal with China.

"There are stories about me making secret deals with China and their officials. These are completely false," Carlos said in a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Carlos, however, admitted talking with a Chinese military attache he identified as a “Senior Col. Li” last January.

"I did not forge any agreement at the level and magnitude that would bind our two countries for the long term and redefine foreign policy,” Carlos told the members of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation.

“As Wescom commander, I have done my very best to provide for the welfare of Wescom personnel. I did not enter into any secret deals that will compromise the interest of our country," he added.

He also said he did not give consent to anybody to record his conversation with the Chinese official.

Carlos said the supposed agreement on a "new model" to handle the WPS issue was never part of their conversation that lasted only about three to five minutes.

At the same hearing, Department of Justice (DOJ) Senior State Counsel Atty. Fretti Ganchoon said the Chinese Embassy has violated the Philippine laws for leaking the supposed transcript of the conversation.

“It could be considered as a violation of the wiretapping law, This is the first time that we are hearing the sworn testimony of Vice Admiral Carlos because we are not also sure of the truthfulness, or the authenticity of the transcript,” Ganchoon said.

Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada vowed to file appropriate remedial measures stemming from what he noted was the apparent manipulation of a wiretapped phone conversation between Carlos and the Chinese military attaché to make it appear that a secret deal was hatched to handle tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

"Nakakabahala itong wiretapping incident kaya dapat meron tayong gawing hakbang tungkol dito (This wiretapping is alarming so we should do something about it,” said Estrada, chair of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security.

“At mas nakakabahala na kayang-kaya tayong manipulahin nitong mga Chinese officials, kayang i-manipulate ang isang conversation, pag-uusap para tayo ay guluhin at paghinalaan pa ang isang bemedalled officer katulad ni Vice Admiral Carlos na tapat na naglilingkod sa ating bayan (And it is more alarming that these Chinese officials can manipulate us, can manipulate a conversation, a conversation so that we can disturb and even suspect a bemedalled officer like Vice Admiral Carlos who is faithfully serving our people)," he added.

Carlos revealed to the committee that the Chinese official had reached out to him two days ago.

"But I did not reply," the AFP official said. "He sent me a message two days ago Sir but I did not acknowledge."

He said he's willing to disclose full details in an executive session.

"Guilty siya na siya nagpalabas (ng phone conversation)? (Is he guilty that he release the phone conversation)?" Estrada asked Carlos, to which the latter replied: "That is a reasonable assumption Sir."

PAF: 2nd edition of 2024 'Cope Thunder' drills set June 17-28

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23, 2024): PAF: 2nd edition of 2024 'Cope Thunder' drills set June 17-28 (By Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The second iteration of this year's "Cope Thunder" air exercises will run from June 17 to 28.

In a briefing Wednesday afternoon, Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesperson, Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo, said the activity between the PAF and the US Air Force is a follow-up to the drills' first edition that took place from April 8 to 19.

"We have our upcoming bilateral activity with the United States Air Force which is "Cope Thunder Two' which is the second iteration of this exercise. Focus on this exercise is (training for) large force deployment," Castillo said in a media briefing.

Large force deployment refers to the sending off large numbers of Air Force personnel and aircraft and related equipment to faraway areas.

The PAF spokesperson said this training is part of the PAF's preparations for its first-ever participation in the Royal Australian Air Force "Pitch Black" exercise with actual Filipino aircraft taking part.

The "Pitch Black" exercise, set from July 12 to Aug. 2 this year, involves personnel and aircraft from more than a dozen nations. The Australian air exercise is a biennial event and often takes place in Australia's Northern Territory.

"So remember (the) 'Pitch Black' exercise will be the first ever multi-lateral exercise the PAF will be participating in with our aircraft, the FA-50 aircraft," Castillo said.

An estimated five PAF FA-50s are expected to take part in this multilateral exercise, she added.

PH Army to secure naval, air bases under new defense concept

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23, 2024): PH Army to secure naval, air bases under new defense concept (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Roy Galido (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army)

MANILA – The Philippine Army will play an important role in the military's adoption of the Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept (CADC), aimed at protecting the country's vast maritime territories.

In a press briefing Wednesday, Army chief Lt. Gen. Roy Galido said land forces are necessary for securing naval and air bases, as well as assets inside these facilities.

"This is where protection is required," he said, noting that naval ships and aircraft along with their crew members are required to return to base for maintenance and other purposes after completing their missions.

"The CADC, aside from being able to develop the capability to protect our assets, ang pinaka-importante dito (the most important of all) is to be able to sustain this protection, and the sustainment," Galido said.

He also said the CADC is a "holistic national approach" aimed at protecting Philippine territory and interests.

Galido also said the Indian-made BrahMos cruise missile systems, which the country has acquired for its anti-ship missile defenses, would serve as a "deterrent to (a) possible intrusion."

He added that this capability is being developed.

Earlier, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it would focus on five major defensive capabilities – cyber systems, air interdiction, surface and sub-surface, missile defense systems, and support systems – as it shifts its focus to the CADC, which aims to defend all of the country's territories, including its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

All of these improvements are part of the "AFP Modernization Program Re-Horizon 3."

Under the CADC, the AFP is required to defend Philippine mainland territory, held island territories, and features.

To ensure that it is capable of conducting this mission, the AFP needs adequate radar coverage to detect and identify intrusions in Philippine territory; air and maritime assets with adequate defensive capabilities; cyber defensive capabilities to defend against opponents looking to attack cyber infrastructures; and missile systems to defend critical infrastructures.

The military said it would also need credible and capable land maneuver forces for both conventional and asymmetric warfare, credible reserve forces, and logistics support systems.

PAF chief visits naval outpost in Mavulis

On Wednesday, Philippine Air Force (PAF) chief Lt.Gen. Stephen Parreño visited the naval detachment in Mavulis Island, Batanes.

It is one of the farthest and remote military outposts that secure the country's borders.

Escorted by Northern Luzon Command chief Air Force Lt.Gen. Fernyl G. Buca and other senior military officials, Parreño toured the facility and received an informational briefing from personnel stationed at the Naval Forces Northern Luzon, gaining valuable insights into the operational readiness and strategic importance of the detachment.

Parreño also met with Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco to foster strong civil-military relations and discuss matters of mutual interest concerning the security and development of the province.

PBBM commends JTF Tawi-Tawi for bringing peace to Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24, 2024): PBBM commends JTF Tawi-Tawi for bringing peace to Mindanao (By Filane Mikee Cervantes)

SALUTE. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. salutes troopers of the Joint Task Force (JTF) - Tawi-Tawi during his visit to its headquarters in Bongao town on Thursday (May 23, 2024). Marcos made history by being the first Filipino president to visit the JTF headquarters in Tawi-Tawi. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Office)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has commended the Joint Task Force (JTF) - Tawi-Tawi for helping the government attain peace in Mindanao, resulting in enhanced tourism and business activities in the region.

During his visit to the JTF Tawi-Tawi headquarters in Bongao town on Thursday, Marcos said Tawi-Tawi, which used to be a conflict ground zero and the nest of insurgents and terrorists in their kidnapping activities, is now peaceful because of all the efforts of the troops.

“But because of the efforts of all our personnel in the Task Force, we have now come to the situation where it is peaceful enough,” he told the soldiers of the 2nd Marine Brigade.

“Ngayon, imbes na naglalabanan, ang labanan ngayon dito pagandahan na ng resort (Instead of fighting, the battle here now is which is the best-looking resort). That is a very big achievement and the part that you played in that is a very major part. Congratulations for the good work and for a job well done.”

First president to visit Tawi-Tawi task force HQ

Meanwhile, 2nd Marine Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Nestor Narag Jr. noted that Marcos made history by being the first Filipino president to visit the JTF headquarters in Tawi-Tawi.

“Indeed, we are very much honored and privileged to have you here with us this morning for it is the first time in the history of the deployment of our brigade here in the province of Tawi-Tawi that the highest official of the land sets foot inside these headquarters,” Narag said.

“Along that line Mr. President, sir, kami po ay taus-pusong nagpapasalamat sa inyong pagdalo (we are wholeheartedly grateful for your visit) and thank you very much, sir.”

Marcos said he was able to visit Mindanao because of the present peace in the region, which his predecessors did not experience during their tenure.

He said he was very happy to be able to claim to be the first Filipino president to set foot on the Marines headquarters on the island.

“The reason is not because other presidents did not want to come here. It was because other presidents were not allowed by the security conditions that had passed before to be able to come here,” Marcos said.

From warfighters to peacemakers

The President, however, emphasized that the military’s mission is not over and the soldiers have to transform themselves from warfighters to peacemakers as the nation marches toward development.

He said while the military’s primary mission is to thwart attempts to topple the government, security personnel have an obligation to advance peace by giving insurgents the opportunity to return to the fold of the law.

“Kasama na ngayon sa mission natin ay ‘yung patuloy na peace-making para bigyan natin ng pagkakataon ang mga fighters, ang mga dating fighers na magkaroon ng mas magandang buhay na hindi sila nakatago sa bundok, hindi sila laging gutom (Part of our mission now is to continue our peace-making efforts to give the former fighters a chance to live better lives where they don't need to hide in the mountains or starve),” he said.

Noting that the Marines performed their war-fighting mission to an excellent degree, he urged them to adopt the peace-making part of their goal to the same level.

Marcos was in Tawi-Tawi to lead the distribution of government aid to farmers and fisherfolk affected by El Niño and assess the needs of families in the country’s isolated areas.

DND chief: China provokes with threat to arrest WPS trespassers

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24, 2024): DND chief: China provokes with threat to arrest WPS trespassers (By Priam Nepomuceno)

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

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Friday said China's threat to arrest and detain foreigners entering what it claims are its territorial waters is a form of provocation.

"They threatened to arrest. That is a provocation and a violation, to me, of the UN (United Nations) Charter," Teodoro said in an interview on the sidelines of the Philippine Navy (PN)'s 126th founding anniversary.

He said Beijing's move is a "breach of international peace," noting that it is illegal and should be a cause of international concern.

Teodoro said the move is a "roguish and irresponsible threat," stressing that what China claims as its internal waters are actually part of the high seas and part of Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.

"Such behavior is not only a violation of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) but also a violation of the precepts of the United Nations Charter which lays upon each responsible member state the duty to refrain from the threat or the use of force or aggression to enforce particularly in this case illegal territorial claims in the maritime domain," he added.

The DND chief said what the Philippines does with its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and its measures to defend its territory can "in no way be termed by any sane person as a provocation."

China ship in Bajo de Masinloc

As this developed, PN spokesperson for the WPS, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, confirmed the presence of the China Coast Guard's (CCG) largest vessel, with bow number 5901, in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal).

"Yes, as of this morning (Friday) it was 50 nautical miles from Bajo de Masinloc," he said in an interview.

Earlier reports said the ship made a brief patrol in Bajo de Masinloc.

The CCG vessel is said to be the largest of its kind in the world, which measures 165 meters.

"The response will be at the NTF-WPS (National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea) level. It's a Chinese Coast Guard ship and there will be (an) appropriate response from the NTF, Philippine Coast Guard," he added.

PNP chief sees highly capable, more mission-ready SAF in 2 years

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24, 2024): PNP chief sees highly capable, more mission-ready SAF in 2 years (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil (Photo courtesy of PNP-SAF)

MANILA – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil said Friday he sees the Special Action Force (SAF) to be highly capable of dealing with various internal security threats in the next two years.

This is also possible through the acquisition of additional assets, such as choppers, Marbil said during the elite unit's 41st founding anniversary in Fort Sto. Domingo, Sta. Rosa City, Laguna.

“Two years from now, SAF will be a different SAF. We will be handling yung internal security operations. Before, we (were) just a support group of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) but right now, sabi nila (they said) the Armed Forces will be concentrating on external defense while SAF will be focusing on internal (security) so this is the bigger challenge. As I have said last time, we cannot buy anymore choppers that are not tactical worthy so ito yung pinag-iipunan namin (this is what we are saving up for),” he said.

Marbil also lauded SAF Director, Brig. Gen. Mark Pespes, and his predecessors who worked hard to ensure that the unit remains a formidable force ready to be deployed swiftly and even in the most challenging situations.

“Our missions to conduct rapid deployment operations in situations with national and international implications demands not only skills and courage but also deep-seated resilience in unwavering faith in our purpose,” he added.

He also called on SAF troops to continue to embody the virtues of courage, discipline, and dedication, stay vigilant, remain resilient, and always strive for excellence.

In a separate interview, Marbil said there is no reason for SAF commandos to be of low morale over the involvement of two of its members in moonlighting as unauthorized security escorts of a Chinese official of a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO).

“These things should not affect our mission. Sabi ko nga kay (As I have told the) SAF commander, there is no perfect organization but for you, the members, life must go on. Kung sino lang po nagkasala, yun lang po talaga paparusahan namin (Only those who erred would be punished),” he said.

On Friday, the two commandos – Cpl. George Mabuti and Pat. Roger Valdez – underwent preliminary investigation for charges of alarm and scandal at the Muntinlupa City Hall of Justice.

The two were arrested on May 18 after engaging in a brawl inside the Ayala-Alabang Village, which led to the discovery of their moonlighting scheme.

Aside from Mabuti and Valdez, seven other SAF officers are under restrictive custody pending the results of an investigation into the scheme.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

PBBM may touch on WPS dispute in Asia security summit in Singapore

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24, 2024): PBBM may touch on WPS dispute in Asia security summit in Singapore

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (File photo from the Presidential Communications Office)

MANILA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. might touch on the country's maritime dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) during the upcoming Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Friday.

In a Palace briefing, DFA's Office of the Asian and Pacific Affairs Assistant Secretary Aileen Mendiola-Rau raised the possibility of President Marcos discussing the WPS dispute in his keynote address at the 21st Edition of the International Institute For Strategic Studies' (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue on May 31.

"I presume for all meetings and as well as the speech of the President, his keynote address, this issue will be touched but I do not wish to preempt the statements of the president," Mendiola-Rau said.

The dialogue will be attended by multiple stakeholders in the defense field ranging from heads of governments, heads of states, and defense of ministers to industry players.

Mendiola-Rau said the regional defense summit will serve as a platform for the Philippines to provide relevant stakeholders in the defense field an "important source of accurate, objective information on international strategic issues important to the region."

She said she expects representatives from about 40 countries to attend this year's Shangri-La Dialogue, ranging from heads of governments, heads of states, and defense of ministers to industry players.

"When you have a forum such as this, it gives a good platform for a country to actually expound and articulate its position on key issues. So, it will be an important platform for us to actually also convey our positions relative to what is happening within the region and what we are advocating for. So, it’s something that is useful not only for those who are attending but also for the country who’s actually participating in this international forum," she said.

Marcos will be in Singapore from May 30 to 31, where he is also expected to meet with the country's new leaders, President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, Mendiola-Rau said.

"We want to ensure that the relationship continues under the new administration in Singapore," she said, noting that this year commemorates the 55 years of Philippines-Singapore diplomatic relations and the meeting between the new Singaporean leaders and President Marcos comes at this "very auspicious juncture."

The President also will have a brief meeting with the former prime minister and currently senior minister Lee Hsien Loong on the sidelines of the Shangri-la Dialogue.

Before his working visit in Singapore, Marcos is set to depart next week for Brunei Darussalam for his first state visit to the Sultanate.

President Marcos will visit Brunei from May 28 to 29 upon the invitation of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the DFA said.

Mendiola-Rau said President Marcos’ visit to Brunei marks the 40 years of bilateral relations between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam, which was established in 1984.

“Our ties are multifaceted encompassing cooperation in defense and security, maritime, agriculture and trade, as well as people-to-people relations. The state visit is a signal of our vibrant relations as both countries conducted the joint commission for bilateral cooperation chaired by the DFA last year,” she said.

“This state visit will provide an avenue for both leaders to take stock of the progress of our commitments and ongoing bilateral undertakings, and fine tune them accordingly,” she added.

Aside from being part of the tradition of the ASEAN leaders visiting fellow ASEAN countries, this state visit is in line with the President’s commitment to continue exploring avenues for economic growth and job opportunities for Filipinos as the business forum aims to boost trade and investments in the country, she said.

The Philippines also expects agreements will be signed during the President’s visit to Brunei Darussalam.

“We are actually currently in the process of finalizing text for several MOUs. But I can inform you that the MOUs that we are working with the Brunei insight will include priority areas ranging from agriculture to food security, maritime cooperation, tourism,” Mendiola-Rau said.

PAF commissions another C-130 plane from US

From the Philippine News Agency (May 20, 2024): PAF commissions another C-130 plane from US (By Priam Nepomuceno)

ADDITIONAL ASSET. Philippine Air Force (PAF) personnel pose for a photo with the newly blessed C-130H aircraft at the Brig. Gen. Benito N. Ebuen Air Base, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu on Thursday (May 23, 2024). The PAF on Friday (May 24) said the aircraft is one of the two C-130H transport acquired from the United States under the Excess Defense Article Program in 2016. (Photo courtesy of the PAF)

MANILA – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Friday announced it has commissioned into service another Lockheed C-130H "Hercules" transport aircraft.

The aircraft with tail number 5157 was commissioned during rites at the Brig. Gen. Benito N. Ebuen Air Base, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu on Thursday, PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo said in a news release.

Castillo said the aircraft is one of the two C-130H transport acquired from the United States under the Excess Defense Article (EDA) Program in 2016.

"This aircraft arrived last February 16, 2024," she added.

Meanwhile, the first C-130H aircraft was delivered on Jan. 29, 2021.

"With the delivery of this transport aircraft, the PAF now has five C-130 aircraft in its inventory that can be used for humanitarian, tactical, and strategic missions," Castillo said.

She added these heavy airlifters are significant in delivering relief goods and essential supplies, transporting troops and equipment, and lending support to communities in different areas around the country and even overseas.

Marcos orders review of PMA curriculum

From the Philippine News Agency (May 20, 2024): Marcos orders review of PMA curriculum (May 18, 2024)

MAIN GUEST. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. makes his way to the Fort del Pilar grounds in Baguio City for the Philippine Military Academy “Bagong Sinag” Class of 2024 commencement exercises on Saturday (May 18, 2024). In his speech before the 278 graduates, the President said he shares with their parents the immense pride and joy over their achievements as the country's newest commissioned officers. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. ordered the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to review the curriculum of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to better prepare cadets face modern-day challenges at “this time of great complexity.”

Speaking at the commencement exercises of PMA’s Bagong Sinag Class of 2024 here, Marcos urged the military institution to step up and take on the task of ensuring that the next generation of leaders in the country is ready for emerging and future challenges.

“So, I direct the DND and AFP leadership to review the PMA curriculum to ensure that our cadets will be equipped with the 21st-century skills necessary to counter conventional and asymmetric threats,” the president said.

“In the digital battlefield, a clear vision for truth, integrity, and patriotism are necessary tools to combat attempts at disinformation and infiltration.”

Since the PMA’s establishment in 1935, the institution’s curriculum has undergone review 10 times in response to the growing demands of the security environment and technical advancements.

The review has become more frequent since 2021.

The current curriculum is designed to enhance the cadets’ competence in performing their basic roles in the AFP and ensure that the baccalaureate degree program is at par with international qualifications.

In facing the evolving threats against the people that corrode social and political trust, Marcos urged the new graduates to be always ready to keep the Filipino people safe and secure the territory and the democracy's stability.

During the ceremony, Marcos also recognized the hard work of the PMA instructors in providing a responsive military education, ensuring the cadets become worthy protectors of the country.

He said he was also impressed by the outstanding performances of the female cadets who dominated the top 10 achievers.

A total of 278 cadets graduated from Bagong Sinag Class of 2024. Of the figure, 143 will serve in the army, 62 in the Air Force, and 73 will join the Navy. (With reports from Liza Agoot/PND)

Cotabato City chapel grenade blast injures 2

From the Philippine News Agency (May 20, 2024): Cotabato City chapel grenade blast injures 2 (By Edwin Fernandez)

BLAST. Civilians and village officials mill outside Sto. Nino Chapel in Barangay Rosary Heights 3, Cotabato City, following a grenade attack (inset) that left two churchgoers injured on Sunday morning (May 19, 2024). A village watchman said two men aboard a motorbike tossed the grenade. (Photo courtesy of DXOL-FM Cotabato)

COTABATO CITY – Two churchgoers were injured when a suspected fragmentation grenade exploded inside a Catholic chapel here on Sunday morning.

The attack happened about 10:30 a.m. inside the Sto. Nino Chapel in Barangay Rosary Heights 3.

A "tanod" (watchman) saw two men on a motorcycle toss the grenade before speeding away, according to village chairperson Kagui Omar Pasawilan.

Mayor Bruce Matabalao said the city government would reward anyone who could provide information about the perpetrators.

“Let’s all fight violence and terrorism. The attack is an outright disrespect to the Roman Catholic Church and its believers,” Matabalao said in a statement.

Pasawilan identified the injured residents as Maribel Abis, 46, and Aniceta Tobil, a senior citizen.

NPA remnant killed in central Negros encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2024): NPA remnant killed in central Negros encounter (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

ENCOUNTER. A location map of the encounter between troops of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion and remnants of the Central Negros 1 guerrilla of the New People’s Army in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, on May 21, 2024. A remnant of the dismantled Central Negros 1 guerrilla front, Richard “Rocky” De la Peña, was killed in the encounter.(Image courtesy of 62nd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY – A remnant of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed during an encounter with troops of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) in a remote village of Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental Tuesday morning.

In a report, the 62IB identified the fatality as Richard “Rocky” De la Peña, 50, from the dismantled Central Negros 1 guerrilla front.

First Lt. Mary Liza De Guzman, civil-military operations officer of 62IB, said in a statement that De la Peña died during a 10-minute clash that took place around 7 a.m. in Sitio Inangaw, Barangay Quintin Remo.

The soldiers launched focused military operations following reports of civilians about the presence of NPA remnants conducting extortion and forced recruitment, she added.

After the encounter, the troops recovered the body of De la Peña along with an M16 rifle, three magazines with live ammunition, a bandolier, and subversive documents.

According to the 62IB, De la Peña was involved in various crimes and human rights violations, among these the murder of Albert Navaro Goles, whom the NPA accused of being a military informant, last April 24.

It was also reported he was in the company of Marivic “Ivan” Ebarle, a communist rebel killed in an encounter on July 20, 2023, at Sitio Kawayanan, Barangay Montilla, Moises Padilla.

In a separate statement, Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, commended the operating troops and the locals of Barangay Quintin Remo for their concerted efforts that led to the neutralization of the NPA remnant and the recovery of a high-powered firearm.

“Our peace and security efforts in Negros will persist even as the achievement of a stable internal peace and security environment for all Negrenses is at hand. This is an integral part of our sustainment strategy to prevent any attempts at recovery and resurgence by the dismantled guerrilla fronts of the NPA,” he added.

79 ex-rebels in Negros Oriental to get land titles

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2024): 79 ex-rebels in Negros Oriental to get land titles (By Mary Judaline Partlow)

SITE INSPECTION. Members of the Negros Oriental Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict conduct a site inspection in Barangay Bongalonan, Basay town in this undated photo. Manuel Galon (2nd from left), Provincial Agrarian Reform Program officer, said on Wednesday (May 22, 2024) that 79 former rebels will receive individual and collective land titles for this 13-hectare site for housing and communal farms. (PNA file photo by Mary Judaline Flores Partlow)

DUMAGUETE CITY – At least 79 former rebels (FRs) of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Negros Oriental will receive individual and collective land titles from the government, a Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) official said Wednesday.

“The distribution of land titles to FRs is in line with efforts of the Task Force To End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) to provide them decent housing and a source of income or livelihood through communal farms,” Manuel Galon, Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (PARPO) II of DAR-Negros Oriental, said.

Some 13 hectares of government land in Barangay Bongalonan in Basay, the southernmost town of Negros Oriental, have been identified for distribution to the FRs.

The area is part of the former CDCP Mining Corporation, now a government-owned and controlled corporation.

The 79 beneficiaries, four of whom are from Basay, have already been profiled and have gone through the process of validation by the Joint Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police Intelligence Committee (JAPIC).

Each beneficiary will receive no less than 100 square meters of land for their housing, where individual land titles will be issued, while the remainder of the property will be for communal farms that will be issued a collective title, he added.

DAR Secretary Conrad Estrella will lead the land distribution in August or September.

Northern Negros LGU, Army strengthen alliance for peace

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2024): Northern Negros LGU, Army strengthen alliance for peace (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

BACOLOD CITY – The municipality of Calatrava and the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Negros Occidental have strengthened their alliance for peace in the wake of the series of killings perpetrated by the New People's Army (NPA) in the northern Negros locality.

First Lt. Dan Carlo Samoza, civil-military operations officer of 79IB, said on Wednesday that Mayor Marilyn Era, who chairs the Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC), condemns the atrocities of the remnants of the NPA.

“This is a manifestation of the mayor’s sincerity of protecting her constituents in line with her mandate as the head of the municipality’s TF-ELCAC,” he told the Philippine News Agency.

This year alone, five persons were killed by NPA assailants in Calatrava, as admitted by the communist terrorist group in their public pronouncements; the latest was Alexander Alquizar, a village watchman of Barangay Lagaan, who was gunned down on April 20.

In a meeting at the municipal hall on May 20, Era expressed her condemnation as she also appealed for the remaining NPA rebels in Calatrava to surrender to the authorities.

“I personally condemn the killing incidents that happened in my municipality without a valid reason. I am pleading to my brothers on the other side to please come and join the government that is ready to help you,” the mayor said.

First Lt. Kenn Brian Adesas of the 79IB, Lt. Artus Escuadra of the Calatrava Municipal Police Station, and representatives of other government agencies attended the meeting to assure the NPA remnants of support for their reintegration to their respective communities once they decide to surrender.

In a statement, Lt. Col. Arnel Calaoagan, commander of 79IB, welcomed the mayor’s condemnation of the killings and her call on the communist rebels to surrender.

“This is a manifestation of our strong alliance towards the same goal and shared aspiration of making Calatrava a haven of peace and progress. We will remain steadfast in our commitment and support to the local government units to once and for all decimate this terror group,” he added.

Former MagSur town councilor-cum-Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader shot dead in Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2024): Former MagSur town councilor-cum-Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader shot dead in Cotabato (By Edwin Fernandez)

CRIME SCENE. Police investigators cordon off the site where a former Maguindanao del Sur town councilor-cum-Moro Islamic Liberation Front commander was shot dead by gunmen in front of a hotel in Cotabato City on Wednesday noon (May 22, 2024). The victim had just received a certificate of house ownership for a housing project of the BARMM. (Photo courtesy of Nigel Sumanghid/DXMS-Cotabato).

COTABATO CITY – Unidentified gunmen shot dead here a former municipal councilor of Maguindanao del Sur who was a recipient of a housing project built by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Col. Querubin Manalang Jr., city police director, identified the victim as Abdulrahman Kasid, a resident of Mamasapano town in Maguindanao del Sur and a field commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Kasid was walking with his relatives toward his car parked in front of the EM Manor Hotel when shot by gunmen using assault rifles around noontime.

“The turnover program was held at the function hall of the same hotel,” Manalang said, referring to the housing project of the Ministry of Human Settlements and Development (MHSD) - BARMM in Barangay Pimbalakan, Mamasapano. “Relatives rushed him to the hospital but he was declared dead on arrival due to multiple gunshot wounds.”

Police investigators recovered 10 empty shells from an M16 rifle.

Authorities remained clueless as to the motive and identities of the attackers.

2 ranking NPA rebels, 1 other killed in Agusan, MisOr skirmishes

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23, 2024): 2 ranking NPA rebels, 1 other killed in Agusan, MisOr skirmishes (By Alexander Lopez)

DEAD REBELS. Two ranking New People’s Army (NPA) rebels lay dead after an encounter with government troops in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental on May 21, 2024. A day earlier, an NPA rebel was also slain in a clash with military troops in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte. (Photo courtesy of 4ID)

BUTUAN CITY – Two ranking New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and a member were killed in recent encounters that took place in Agusan del Norte and Misamis Oriental provinces, the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) said in a statement Thursday.

On May 21, the Army’s 16th Infantry Battalion (IB) engaged in a 10-minute skirmish with a group of NPA rebels in Barangay Bal-ason, Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, which resulted in the death of two ranking leaders.

The fatalities were identified as Zaldy Galamiton, the secretary of the Sub-Regional Committee 1, and Johnjhon Ayuma Ramos, the commanding officer of the Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabidad Eagles, both under the NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

Recovered from the encounter site were two M16 rifles, bandoliers, magazines, ammunition, and personal belongings, the 4ID said.

On May 20, troopers of the Army’s 29IB on a pursuit operation in Bangonay, Jabonga, Agusan del Norte also clashed with a group of communist insurgents.

The insurgents immediately abandoned their position after the five-minute firefight and left behind a dead comrade identified as Berto Dayong, a member of the NPA Sub-Regional Sentro de Grabidad West under the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

Government troops also recovered a 9mm pistol and a .45-caliber pistol at the clash site.

Maj. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo II, 4ID commander, commended the 29IB and 16IB for swiftly responding to citizens' reports of the presence of NPA guerrillas in their localities.

“These reports indicate the continuing support of the civilians to our government and our forces,” Cuerpo said.

The operations, he added, also thwarted the plans of the insurgents to conduct extortion and harassment of civilians in the area.

2 NPA rebels slain in S. Cotabato clash

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23, 2024): 2 NPA rebels slain in S. Cotabato clash (By Edwin Fernandez)

Google map of T’boli, South Cotabato.

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao del Norte – Two communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels were killed as authorities served an arrest warrant against one of them in T'boli, South Cotabato on Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Alex Rillera, Army's 6th Infantry Division chief, said one of the soldiers backing up the local police was wounded when the suspects resisted and traded shots with law enforcers at about 10 a.m. in Barangay Talcon.

Citing a report from the Army's 5th Special Forces Battalion, Rillera, also the head of Joint Task Force Central, identified the slain rebels as Yasser Catacutan and Eizar Emam.

"Police and military forces were to serve an arrest warrant for Catacutan, who was facing murder charges when he resisted upon seeing lawmen near his home," he said.

The injured soldier belonged to the Army's 10th Special Forces Company.

All injured were rushed to a hospital, but the two suspects were pronounced dead on arrival, while the soldier is now in stable condition, Rillera said.

Seized from the suspects were a .45-caliber pistol and a homemade explosive device.

NPA remnant killed, weapons recovered in northern Negros clash

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23, 2024): NPA remnant killed, weapons recovered in northern Negros clash (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

CLASH SITE. The site of the encounter between joint troops of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion and the Philippine National Police 1st Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force and remnants of New People’s Army Northern Negros Front in Calatrava, Negros Occidental on Wednesday (May 22, 2024). The body of NPA fatality Jeje Redobles was recovered from the encounter site, the 3rd Infantry Division said. (Image courtesy of 49th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY – A remnant of the dismantled Northern Negros Front of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed in a clash with joint government troops in Barangay Cambayobo, Calatrava, Negros Occidental Wednesday afternoon.

The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), in a report on Thursday, identified the fatality as Jeje Redobles, whose body the government troops recovered from the encounter site.

Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, commander of the 3ID, lauded the troops of the 79 Infantry Battalion and their counterparts from the Philippine National Police 1st Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force for the successful joint enhanced military and police operations.

“This unity is evident in the series of encounters where information from local residents plays a crucial role in our combat operations, especially in locating and hitting the remnants of the communist-terrorist group with precision,” he added.

Sison renewed his call for the remaining NPA rebels in Negros to return to the fold of the law.

“Surrender now while you still have time. Negros is no longer a safe refuge for you,” he added.

Redobles died during a 10-minute firefight between government troops and seven NPA remnants in Sitio Manaysay just before 4 p.m., the 3ID report said.

During the clearing operation, the soldiers and police officers recovered weapons, including an M16 rifle, hand grenade, and magazines containing ammunition, along with subversive documents, medicines, food items, and personal belongings.

The encounter in Calatrava came a day after troops of the 62nd Infantry Battalion (62IB) clashed with remnants of the dismantled Central Negros 1 guerrilla front in Sitio Inangaw, Barangay Quintin Remo, Moises Padilla.

NPA rebel Richard “Rocky” De la Peña, 50, died during the gunbattle Tuesday morning, the 62IB reported.

AFP to hold peace-geared seminars for job seekers in Laguna city

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23, 2024): AFP to hold peace-geared seminars for job seekers in Laguna city (By Zen Trinidad)

MEETING OF MINDS. San Pedro, Laguna Mayor Art Mercado meets with Lt. Col. Rolando Acido, commander of the 2nd Civil Military Operations (2CMO) Battalion, at the city hall on Wednesday (May 22, 2024). The military seeks a bigger role in supporting the city's economic development by conducting peace and order-oriented seminars for job-seekers and other community stakeholders. (Photo courtesy of 2CMO)

SAN PEDRO CITY, Laguna – Instructors from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) 2nd Civil Military Operations (2CMO) Battalion will soon be conducting peace and order-oriented seminars for first-time job-seekers in this city in hopes of steering them away from communist rebels’ influence.

This plan came together as San Pedro is poised to be awarded the stable internal peace and security (SIPS) designation, a seal the AFP confers on jurisdictions that have been without significant rebel activity for at least one year.

In an interview on Thursday, Lt. Col. Rolando Acido, commander of 2CMO, said the military looks forward to contributing to the city’s economic development by promoting constructive relations between the workforce tripartite, which is composed of the government, employers and the labor force by upholding industrial peace.

The Army officer said there was a meeting of minds when officers of the AFP and the Philippine National Police held an engagement meeting with local government leaders at the city hall on Wednesday.

He disclosed that San Pedro Mayor Art Joseph Mercado gave his support for the proposal to conduct AFP-led seminars for prospective entrants to the workforce in venues to be determined by the local leader.

"By fostering an environment of enduring peace within the community and becoming the pioneer city in Laguna to achieve SIPS status, Santa Pedro City can unlock its full economic potential for the benefit of all its constituents," Acido said.

He explained that his office hopes to leverage the participation of the human resource departments of the various hiring enterprises in the city to ensure they have access to as many applicants as possible.

Additionally, it was also agreed upon during Wednesday’s meeting that the military would conduct similar seminars for other community stakeholders, including village representatives and the youth of San Pedro.

“The local government has generously offered venues and other necessary support, while the PNP and CMO will contribute by providing speakers and moderators,” Acido added.

He noted that Santa Pedro has remained devoid of violent terrorist incidents for over a year, and as such, the SIPS seal should be forthcoming.

13 ex-NPA rebels complete ALS studies in Agusan Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24, 2024): 13 ex-NPA rebels complete ALS studies in Agusan Norte (By Alexander Lopez)

GRADUATES. Thirteen former rebels who separately surrendered to the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) in 2023 and this year completed their Junior High School studies through the Alternative Learning System of the Department of Education following their graduation held in Butuan City on Thursday (May 23, 2024). The former insurgents lauded the government for the opportunity to change their lives as they rejoin the mainstream society. (Photo courtesy of 23IB)

BUTUAN CITY – At least 13 former combatants of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Agusan del Norte have completed their Junior High School studies under the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education.

The former rebels (FRs) had surrendered to the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) on different occasions in 2023 and this year.

“The ALS program is among the benefits that our FRs availed from the government when they decided to abandon the communist group,” the 23IB said in a statement on Friday.

The former rebels were among the hundreds of ALS scholars who graduated from the program in a ceremony held in Butuan City on Thursday.

“I am happy that I achieved something after leaving my violent past under the NPA movement,” Ka Arlene of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, said in a phone interview on Friday.

Ka Arlene turned herself to the 23IB in middle of 2023 after spending more than five years in the communist movement.

Another former rebel, Ka Dondon, acknowledged the government for the opportunity given to change his life.

“After my surrender last year, I immediately received assistance from the government,” Ka Dondon said, adding he plans to take up a vocational course following his completion of the ALS program.

Army seizes NPA war materiel, food supplies in Agusan Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24, 2024): Army seizes NPA war materiel, food supplies in Agusan Sur (By Alexander Lopez)

NPA FOOD SUPPLY. The hidden food supply of the New People’s Army rebels recovered by government troops during an operation on May 22, 2024 in far-flung Barangay Kolambogan, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur. Soldiers also recovered various war materiel in the area. (Photo courtesy of 4ID)

BUTUAN CITY – Government troops recovered war materiel and food supplies of the New People’s Army (NPA) in a series of recent military operations in Caraga Region, the Army’s 4th Infantry Division reported Friday.

On May 22, 4ID said civilians in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur, reported to the Army's 65th Infantry Battalion (65IB) the location of NPA war materiel and food supplies.

This led to an operation in which the 65IB troopers recovered from a cave in the hinterlands of Barangay Kolambogan various food supplies and NPA war materiel.

The recovered war materiel include various rounds of ammunition for M16 rifle, M14 rifle, Garand rifle, a fragmentation grenade, rifle grenades, M79 projectile grenades, blasting caps, and detonating wires for anti-personnel mine.

“The food cache and war materiel belonged to the NPA Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabidad Westland of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC),” the 4ID report said.

On the same day, troops from Special Recon Team of the Army's 901st Infantry Brigade chanced upon a group of NPA rebels, also from the NEMRC, resulting in a 20-minute firefight in Barangay Camayahan here.

Government troops recovered from the encounter site an M16 rifle, magazines with ammunition, and bandoliers.

Maj. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo II, the 4ID commander, said the NPA rebels in the region are already demoralized due to the intensified focused military operations.

“We will not stop until these remaining rebel groups will finally collapse, and their few remaining members will choose to embrace the path to peace,” he said.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Army to LGUs, landowners: Do not support NPA front organizations

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 11, 2024): Army to LGUs, landowners: Do not support NPA front organizations (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division yesterday enjoined local government units (LGUs), businesses, landowners, small and medium enterprises, as well as the local populace to refrain from, desist, resist, and avoid by any means necessary the giving of any financial and material support to the CPP-NPA-NDF, or any of their front organizations.

The long arm of the law will reach those who violate the law with severe penalties as provided for under our anti-terror laws, disclosed Lt. Col. J Jay Javines, 3rd Infantry Division Civil Military Operations officer.

We ask that our LGUs and their chief executives, including our local legislators, be prudent and vigilant so that CPP NPA affiliated organizations cannot exploit our legal processes and cannot have access to government funds and resources, Javines further said.

The Supreme Court has declared red-tagging a threat to people’s life, liberty and security, and could warrant the issuance of a protection order.

Human rights group  called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to end the practice of red-tagging and abolish the government task force notorious for vilifying activists and critics as fighters or supporters of the country’s communist insurgency.

Javines said those charged for various violations of Republic Act No. 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, which he did not identify, were afforded due process under our laws.

These cases are a result of tedious case build-up and have garnered the support of the peace-loving people of Negros Island, he added.

This is a manifestation of our people’s collective resolve and aspiration to attain a just and lasting peace by ending the CPP-NPA-NDF and their lifeline by cutting all sources of funds to finance the communist terrorist group’s (CTG) terror activities, Javines further said.*

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News and Analysis: Various groups hold protest on Balikatan 39-24's last day

Ang Bayan Daily News and Analysis propaganda article posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (May 10, 2024): Various groups hold protest on Balikatan 39-24's last day

This article is available in Pilipino

May 10, 2024

Various groups burned the US imperialist flag in front of the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City today, May 10. This is part of their protest against the US-launched Balikatan 39-24 joined by AFP forces. The protest coincided with the closing ceremony of Balikatan which was being held inside the camp.

Balikatan 39-24 was launched on April 22. This series is the 39th iteration since it was first launched in the 1990s. Balikatan 39-24 is considered the largest in history with 11,000 American soldiers and 5,000 Filipino troops participating. Military officials representing 14 other foreign countries also entered the country to participate and observe.

“This Balikatan is a symbol, a clear example of direct US intervention in our country. It provides no benefit to our people, it’s a disruption, a social scourge,” Raymond Palatino, general secretary of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said. He insisted that this squanders billions of pesos from public funds with absolutely no benefit to the Filipino people.

The groups also condemned the disruption of the livelihoods of the communities affected by the war games and the environmental destruction due to bombings. Among them is the ban on fisherfolk from fishing off the coast of Palawan and the western provinces of Luzon due to the live-fire exercises of Balikatan. Thousands of fisherfolk have been without income for weeks.

Palatino says Balikatan has long been used to keep the AFP’s dependence and mendicancy for rotten and outdated weapons and military equipment from the imperialist country. He added, these weapons “are used for violence, for bombing our communities.”

They also condemned the imperialist US for supporting Zionist Israel’s genocidal campaign against the Palestinian people and ravaging Gaza. “The weapons and bombs that come from the US are used [in Gaza],” Palatino stressed. While the US and Filipino military forces are allegedly being trained in the detonation and use of war weaponry in the Philippines, similar weapons are killing thousands in Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

“We do not want the country to be used as a staging ground by the US for its imperialist agenda in Asia and in other parts of the world. The government of Marcos Jr, instead of addressing the issue of the people—hunger, [dealing with] El Niño, national poverty — prioritizes foreign interests, especially the imperialist US,” he emphasized.

Palatino also called for the continuation of propaganda and education campaigns to expose the crimes of US imperialism in the country, especially with the upcoming 25th anniversary of the signing of the Visiting Forces Agreement by the Philippine Government with the US on May 27.

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News and Analysis: Pinta-protesta, pagsabit ng balatengga kontra Balikatan, isinagawa ng KM at Kaguma

Ang Bayan Daily News and Analysis propaganda article posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (May 11, 2024): Pinta-protesta, pagsabit ng balatengga kontra Balikatan, isinagawa ng KM at Kaguma (Protest painting, hanging of balatengga against Balikatan, carried out by KM and Kaguma)

May 11, 2024

Inilunsad ng Kabataang Makabayan (KM) at Katipunan ng mga Gurong Makabayan (Kaguma) ang kani-kanilang mga aktibidad para batikusin ang katatapos lamang na Balikatan Exercises 39-24.

Sa Australia, mapangahas na nagsagawa ng pinta-protesta ang mga kasapi ng Kabataang Makabayan (KM)-Narmm sa konsulado ng US sa Melbourne noong nakaraang linggo. Gabi nang isinagawa ng mga kasapi ng KM-Narmm ang kanilang aktibidad habang nakasuot ng takip sa mukha para protektahan ang kanilang pagkakakilanlan.

Ipininta ng mga kabataan ang katagang ‘US out of PH’ at ‘US troops out of PH now’ sa pader at salamin ng konsulado ng US. Walang mga pwersang panseguridad ang nakapigil sa pinta-protesta ng mga kabataan dahil sa katangian ng pagiging biglaan at mabilisan ng kanilang aktibidad.

Samantala, nagsabit ng malaking balatengga ang mga kasapi ng Kaguma sa isang footbridge sa Malibay, Pasay kahapon, Mayo 10. Nakasulat dito ang panawagan ng grupo na ‘Labanan ang imperyalistang giyera! Isulong ang demokratikong rebolusyong bayan!’

Pahayag ng grupo, “ito ang panawagan naming mga miyembro ng Kaguma sa pang-uupat ng giyera ng US sa China sa pamamagitan ng pinakamalaking Balikatan sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas.” Dagdag nila, dapat manindigan ang mga Pilipino laban sa pagkaladkad ng imperyalistang US sa bansa sa inter-imperyalistang gera nito.

Mahalaga umanong balik-aralan at suriin ang isinagawa at inupatan na mga proxy war ng imperyalistang gera sa kasaysayan. “Ang lahat ng ito ay para sa kanyang interes na manatiling nag-iisang superpower,” paliwanag ng grupo.

Pagtatapos nila, tanging sa pagsusulong ng demokratikong rebolusyong bayan makakamtan ng sambayanang Pilipino ang panlipunang pagbabago, pagkakapantay-pantay at tunay na pagtatanggol sa soberanya ng bansa.

CPP/NPA-Central Negros: Rapist sa La Castellana, Ginsilotan sang LPC-NPA

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (May 10, 2024): Rapist sa La Castellana, Ginsilotan sang LPC-NPA (Rapist in La Castellana, Punished by LPC-NPA)

JB Regalado
NPA-Central Negros (Leonardo Panaligan Command)
New People's Army

May 10, 2024

Ang Leonardo Panaligan Command-New People’s Army (LPC-NPA) ang nagpatuman sang silot-kamatayon kay Arman Binalo-ac, 38 anyos, may asawa kag mga kabataan sang Sityo Naube, Barangay Puso, La Castellana, Negros Occidental, alas 7:30 sang gab-i, Mayo 9.

Bangud sensitibo kag pinamilya ang kinaiya sang kaso, tuig 2005 napending sa korte sang pumuluyo ang ginpasaka nga kaso sa akusado. Tuig 2012-2014, ginpaninguhaan pa sang NPA nga maistorya si Arman kabahin sa ginpasaka nga kaso sa iya, apang wala gid ini nag-angkon sa pihak sang mga ebidensya gikan sa mga biktima kag mga witness.

Tungod man sang mga sirkumstansya sang seguridad nga indi gid mapaiway, nagpabilin ang nasambit nga kaso korte sang pumuluyo tubtob 2023. Ginreview ang kaso paagi sa pag-recall sang mga ebidensya, importante nga mga datus subongman ang mga mitigating and aggravating circumstances kag na-establisar kriminal nga kaso sang pagpanglugos paagi sa liwat pagtukod sang people’s court. Ini nga hukmanan ang ginakomposar sang nine-man-committee diin ara presiding judge, prosecution kag depensa bilang nagatindog nga mga hurado kag ginhimo ang pagbista sining 2024.

Ginpahamtang ang silot-kamatayon sang LPC-NPA kay Binalo-ac, matapos nga napamatud-an sang rebolusyonaryong korte sang pumuluyo nga siya ang responsable nga naglugos sa iya mga himata sadtong tuig 1998-1999. Si Arman ang nagapangatubang sa rebolusyonaryong kahublagan sang two counts of attempted rape kag one count of rape.

Gani ang rebolusyonaryong hustisya ang nagahulag kag ang malaba nga kamot sini paagi sa NPA ang indi man magduha-duha sa pagsilot sandig sa kabug-aton sang kaso nga inyo nakomiter.

Sa tanan nga may mga kaso nga gina-atubang sa pumuluyo kag rebolusyon, indi gid pagsundon ang malaswa nga gawi ni Arman Binalo-ac. Bukas ang malapit nga mga talatapan sang CPP-NPA sa inyo tampad nga pagbag-o.

CPP/Southern Tagalog RC-PIO: Paigtingin ang pakikibaka para sa nakabubuhay na sahod,Tupdin ang makasaysayang tungkuling pamunuan ang pakikibaka para sa pambansang kalayaan, demokrasya at sosyalismo!

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (May 10, 2024): Paigtingin ang pakikibaka para sa nakabubuhay na sahod,Tupdin ang makasaysayang tungkuling pamunuan ang pakikibaka para sa pambansang kalayaan, demokrasya at sosyalismo! (Intensify the struggle for a living wage, Fulfill the historical duty to lead the struggle for national freedom, democracy and socialism!)

Public Information Office
CPP Southern Tagalog Regional Committee
Communist Party of the Philippines

May 10, 2024

Nagpupugay ang Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas – Timog Katagalugan (PKP-TK) sa lahat ng manggagawa at iba pang mamamayan sa rehiyon at sa buong bansa na lumahok sa matagumpay na kilos-protesta para gunitain ang Ika-122 Pandaigdigang Araw ng Paggawa nitong Mayo 1. Sa TK, libong manggagawa ang nagtipon mula sa kani-kanilang pook-paggawa para ipakita ang kanilang pakikiisa at paggunita. Madaling araw pala lamang noong Mayo 1, suot ang pulang t-shirt — tanda ng militanteng paglaban, sinimulan nila ang pagkilos para ipanawagan ang mga lehitimong interes at kahilingan ng sektor paggawa. Tinuligsa din nila ang nagaganap na Balikatan Exercises, VFA , EDCA at ang pagiging sagadsaring tuta ng rehimeng Marcos II sa imperyalistang US. Nagpahayag sila ng pagkontra sa cha-cha at sa PUV modernization, at kinundena ang pasistang pang-aatake sa kanilang sektor.

Ang paggunita sa Pandaigdigang Araw ng Paggawa ay pagtatambol sa mayamang kasaysayan ng kilusang paggawa. Ito ang araw na sumisimbolo ng pakikibaka at mga tagumpay ng uring manggagawa sa buong mundo — ang pakikibaka para sa 8-oras na paggawa, mataas na sahod at mahusay na kondisyon sa paggawa. Sinasaluduhan din natin ang mga martir ng kilusang paggawa na walang pag-iimbot na inialay ang kanilang nag-iisang buhay para sa kapakanan hindi lang ng kanilang uri kundi ng buong sambayanan. Muli’t muling pagtibayin ang makasaysayang misyon ng uring manggagawa — ang pinakaabanteng uri ng kasalukuyang lipunan, na may natatanging misyon na pamunuan ang pakikibaka para sa pambansang pagpapalaya at demokrasya para sa kanyang uri at sa buong bayan at itatag ang sosyalistang lipunan.

Kasama ang iba pang aping sektor at uri sa lipunan, patuloy na nananawagan ang mga manggagawa para sa nakabubuhay na sahod, pagwawakas ng kontraktwalisasyon, pagkamit ng iba pang mga benepisyo’t kagalingan at paglaban sa patuloy na pasistang pang-aatake ng estado sa kanilang mga lehitimong mga pakikibaka. Mariin nilang kinukundena ang pagpapawalang-saysay sa mga nakamit na tagumpay ng kilusang paggawa ng mga monopolyo kapitalista, malalaking burgesyang kumprador at ng estado mismo sa pamamagitan ng mga atakeng neoliberal sa mga manggagawa.

Matatandaang mula pa sa panahon ng diktadurang Marcos Sr. ng dekada 1970 at 1980 pinatindi ang pagpapailalim ng bansa sa dikta ng IMF-World Bank hanggang sa panahon ni Aquino I. Isinakatuparan ng mga ito ang neoliberal na atake sa kilusang paggawa na ang lokal na bersyon ay ang pagsasabatas ng 1989 Wage Rationalization Law at Herrera Law na higit na nagpalala sa kalagayan ng mga manggagawang kontraktwal. Sa pagpapatuloy na pagpataw ng mga neoliberal na polisiya lalong nabaon ang ekonomya ng Pilipinas. Dumami ang mga walang trabaho, lalong naghirap ang mga mangagawa at ang malawak na mamamayan. Pinagdurusa sila sa napakababang sahod, kawalan ng seguridad sa trabaho — laluna sa pag-iral ng kontraktwalisasyon, at kawalan o kakulangan ng mga serbisyong panlipunan.

Makatarungan ang hiling ng mga manggagawa para sa nakabubuhay na sahod sa gitna ng paglala ng krisis sa ekonomya, mataas na implasyon, patuloy na pagsirit ng mga presyo ng pagkain at mga serbisyo. Sa kabila ng pinakahuling kakarampot na dagdag na sahod na ibinigay ng iba’t ibang Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPB) noong nakaraang taon, mayroong 4.2 milyong manggagawa sa buong bansa na tumatanggap ng minimum na sahod ang walang disenteng pamumuhay.

Labis na naghihikahos ang mahigit 7 milyon na manggagawa sa CALABARZON na bumubuo ng 25% ng sektor sa industriya sa bansa. Konsentrado sila sa mga industriya na kalakhan ay sa Laguna, Cavite at Batangas. Sa CALABARZON at MIMAROPA tumatanggap ang mga manggagawa ng magkakaibang pasahod kada probinsya at munisipyo na P395 – P520 na lubhang malayo sa P1,123- P1,213 na kinakailangan ng isang pamilya para mamuhay nang disente sa gitna ng patuloy na pagsirit ng implasyon. Kaya lampas kalahati o P600-800 ang kakulangan ng kanilang arawang sahod para tugunan ang kanilang batayang pangangailangan. Lalong pahirap sa kanila ang kontraktwalisasayon. Sa rehiyon pito sa 10 manggagawa ay kontraktwal. Dagdag pa, umaabot din sa 75% ang underemployment sa CALABARZON at MIMAROPA, ayon sa pag-aaral ng IBON.

Laganap din ang pag-eeksport ng murang lakas paggawa na nagresulta sa pagdami ng mga migranteng manggagawang Pilipino sa ibayong dagat. Dinaranas nila ang pang-aapi at pang-aalipusta ng mga dayuhang amo o kumpanya habang tinitiis ang sakit at kalungkutang mapawalay sa pamilya. Masahol pa, hinuhuthot ng estado ang pinaghirapang kita ng mga manggagawang migrante sa anyo ng mga kaltas at buwis sa mga ipinapadalang OFW remittances sa mga kaanak.

Sa kabila ng aping kalagayan ng mga manggagawa, manhid at walang-pakialam ang papet, pahirap at pasistang rehimeng US-Marcos II sa dinaranas nila. Sa halip, nagagawa pa ng ilehitimong pangulo na linlangin ang mga manggagawa. Para pabanguhin ang sarili, nakisakay ito sa pagunita nitong Mayo 1 sa pamamagitan ng pambubuladas na sa ilalim umano ng “Bagong Pilipinas”, ang bawat manggagawa ay mamahalin, igagalang at bibigyan ng pagkakataong umunlad. Aniya, patuloy na susuportahan ng gubyerno ang uring manggagawa at itataguyod ang prinsipyo ng pagiging patas, may dignidad at pagkakapantay-pantay sa lahat ng pook-paggawa. Inatasan din niya ang National Wages and Productivity Commission na repasuhin umano ang mga patakaran nito hinggil sa sahod. Ipinagmayabang din ni Marcos Jr. ang kanyang programa na di umano’y para sa kapakanan ng mga manggagawa tulad ng Kadiwa Centers, programa sa pabahay at ang isang taong pagpapalawig ng job order sa pag-eempleyo sa gubyerno. Subalit malinaw sa mga manggagawa na ang lahat ng ito’y walang katuturan, bagkus ay paghahambog lamang ni Marcos Jr. dahil mas pinili nitong pagsilbihan ang amo nitong imperyalistang US at ang burgesyang kumprador kaysa sa interes ng mga manggagawa at ng sambayanang Pilipino.

Pangita na sa likod ng pagpapanggap ni Marcos Jr. na kinikilala umano niya ang ambag ng manggagawa sa pambansang pag-unlad, subalit pagmasaker naman sa kabuhayan ang nakaabang sa mga driver at jeepney operators na hindi nagpailalim sa korporado at makadayuhang PUV modernization na may kaakibat ng “franchise consolidation” dahil ituturing na silang iligal o colorum mula noong Mayo 1. Maapektuhan nito ang 38,000 na mga driver ng jeepney at kanilang pamilya.

Dinaranas din ng mga manggagawa sa TK, mula pa sa panahon ni Duterte hanggang sa kasalukuyang rehimen ni Marcos II ang pinatinding pasistang panunupil. Di kukulangin sa 100 na manggagawa ang “binisita” ng mga ahente ng estado. Nagkaroon ng 36 na iba’t ibang kaso ng harassment at paglabag sa karapatang tao, kabilang ang pagbabanta gamit ang text messaging, pagpapaskil ng poster at tarpaulin na nag-uugnay sa mamamayan sa NPA, pagbisita ng pulis at ahente ng estado sa mga bahay ng biktima, pagsampa ng gawa-gawang kaso at iligal na pang-aaresto. At ang pinakamalala ay ang sabay-sabay na pang-aatake sa mga lider manggagawa na nagluwal sa “Bloody Sunday Massacre” na ikinasawi ni Manny Azuncion at iba pang lider-masa. Gayundin ang pagpaslang sa presidente ng unyon na si Dandy Miguel habang papauwi sa bahay sa Calamba City, Laguna. Nagpapatuloy pa rin hanggang sa kasalukuyan ang panghaharas at red-tagging/terrorist-tagging sa mga nakikibakang manggagawa.

Dapat paigtingin ng mangagawa ang pakikibaka para sa pang-ekonomiya at pampulitikang mga adhikain. Dapat patuloy na ipaglaban ang regularisasyon sa paggawa, ipabasura ang kontraktwalisasyon at ipaglaban ang mga karapatan at benepisyong dati nang ipinagwagi pero pinawalang saysay ng mga patakarang neoliberal. Dapat puspusang labanan ang labis na pagpapakatuta ng rehimeng US-Marcos II sa imperyalismong US na sukdulang nagsasapanganib sa kalayaan at kaligtasan ng sambayanang Pilipino na naiipit sa inter-imperyalistang tunggalian ng US at China. Magagawa ito sa pamamagitan ng pagpapalawak at pagpapalakas ng militante at progresibong kilusang unyon na magsusulong at nagsisilbi sa sustenidong pakikibaka ng mga manggagawa.

Ang papatinding terorismo ng estado na ginagawang imposible ang paglaban para sa makatarungang kahilingan ang magtutulak sa manggagawa para tahakin ang armadong pakikibaka. Ang digmang bayan ang magluluwal ng demokratikong gubyernong bayan sa ilalim ng pamumuno ng rebolusyonaryong Partido ng uring proletaryado. Ang Pulang kapangyarihan ng mamamayan ay palalakasin at patatagin ng Pulang hukbo at mga pangmasang organisasyon ng mga uring anakpawis at iba pang makabayan at demokratikong pwersa.

Nanawagan ang PKP-TK sa mga manggagawa at sa lahat ng aping mamamayan na paigtingin ang pakikibaka laban sa imperyalismo, pyudalismo at burukratang kapitalismo na siyang ugat ng paghihirap ng uring manggagawa at ng malawak na mamamayang Pilipino. Dapat patuloy na hawakan ng uring mangagawa ang pamumuno sa rebolusyong Pilipino sa pamamagitan ng patuloy na pagpapalakas ng kanilang hanay at ng proletaryong pamumuno sa pangunahing pwersa ng rebolusyon — ang uring magsasaka at pagkabig sa iba pang makabayan at demokratikong pwersa. Sa gitna ng papalubhang krisis sa ekonomya, panlipunang ligalig at mga gerang bunsod ng labis na krisis ng monoployo kapitalismo, dapat pag-ibayuhin ang rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka para sa pambansang kalayaan, demokrasya at sosyalismo.###