Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Marcos approved AFP modernization's 'Horizon 3'

From GMA News Online (Jan 24, 2024): Marcos approved AFP modernization's 'Horizon 3' —Teodoro

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has approved revisions for "Horizon 3" of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) modernization program, according to Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

“Next, we are embarking into a what we call the ‘Rehorizoned 3’ capability enhancement and modernization program where the President recently approved an array of capabilities,” he said in a press conference with Manila Overseas Press Club Tuesday night.

He said these will range from domain awareness, connectivity, intelligence capabilities of C4ISTAR communication, command and control, and deterrence capabilities on maritime and aerial domains.

Meanwhile, Teodro added that the Philippines is also starting a new defense concept called the Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept.

“The Armed Forces will transition initially to enable itself to guarantee, as much as possible, Philippine corporations and those authorized by the Philippine environment the unimpeded and peaceful exploration and exploitation of all natural resources within our exclusive economic zone and other areas where we have jurisdiction,” he added.

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In September 2023, Teodoro earlier said he instructed the AFP to review and revise the target assets that will be acquired as they may no longer be relevant at the present time.

There were also some delays in the acquisition of some assets in the modernization program due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“However, it gives us a greenfield opportunity to re-vision and re-horizon our modernization. So I think we'd rather have, if we can fund it, contingent on new modernization requirements, then I think it would make better value for every peso spent,” Teodoro had said. —Joviland Rita/ VAL, GMA Integrated News


NSA: PH ups defense posture as more Pinoys back strong approach in WPS

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 24, 2024): NSA: PH ups defense posture as more Pinoys back strong approach in WPS (By Priam Nepomuceno)

National Security Adviser Eduardo Año (PNA file photo)

MANILA – National Security Adviser Eduardo Año on Wednesday welcomed the results of the latest OCTA Research survey, showing more Filipinos are calling for the Philippine government to have a more assertive stance in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue.

"The survey, conducted last month among 1,200 adult respondents, has revealed that a significant majority of 72 percent believe that the Marcos administration should assert the country's territorial rights in the WPS through military action, specifically through expanded naval patrols and troop presence in the area," Año said in a statement, referring to the group's Tugon ng Masa Fourth Quarter Survey from Dec. 10 to 14, 2023.

Año, who is also head of the National Security Council, said the government is now prioritizing the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Coast Guard with the acquisition of state-of-the-art assets to achieve credible defense.

"We have also stepped up maritime and air patrols in the area as well as conducted maritime cooperation activities and exercises with the United States and with other countries in the future," he added.

Año said they acknowledge the importance of understanding public sentiment and values the democratic process that allows the Filipino people to express their views on matters of national significance.

"We note that the WPS issue is of great concern to the public, as evidenced by the respondents' strong preference for a robust approach to safeguarding the country's territorial integrity," he said.

Año noted that it is essential to recognize the diversity of opinions reflected in the survey, with 70 percent of respondents expressing the belief that the issue should also be addressed through diplomacy and other peaceful methods.

He said they recognized the importance of considering a comprehensive national strategy that encompasses both military and diplomatic efforts to secure and protect the nation's interests in the WPS.

"The government will carefully evaluate the survey results, taking into account the multifaceted nature of the WPS issue, to formulate policies that align with the collective aspirations of the nation," Año said.

He said they are encouraging continued engagement and discourse on matters related to national security and emphasized the importance of unity in addressing challenges.


NPA political instructor surrenders

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 24, 2024): NPA political instructor surrenders (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Cadavers of the two slain rebels being retrieved from the encounter site in Hacienda Gomez, Brgy. Sag ang, La Castellana.* PA photo

An alleged New People’s Army political instructor surrendered on Monday to Mayor Alme Rhumyla Mangilimutan and the police, following a recent encounter in Brgy. Sag-ang, La Castellana, Negros Occidental, that led to the killing of two rebels and recovery of three assorted firearms.

P/Maj. Rhojn Daryl Nigos, spokesman of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, yesterday said that the self-confessed rebel instructor, who is a woman, resides in Brgy. Linantuyan, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

She is now under the custody of authorities, pending verification of any pending arrest warrants.

The two rebel fatalities in Brgy. Sag-ang encounter in La Castellana were already turned over to their respective families, who are residents of Brgys. Linantuyan and Buenavista, all in Guihulngan City, respectively.

On the other hand, th 79th Infantry Battalion was honored by the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division for its exceptional valor and accomplishments, as a result of its major encounters with the remnants of the New People’s Army in Calatrava and EB Magalona, Negros Occidental.

During the traditional New Year’s call on Jan. 18 at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz, Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, 3rd Infantry Division commander, conferred a Command Plaque to the 79IB, represented by its commander, Lt. Col. Arnel Calaoagan.

The two encounters in the hinterlands of E.B. Magalona and in Calatrava, all Negros Occidental, led to the death of a rebel couple, recovery of nine assorted firearms and six rifle grenades, among other war materials.*


Alleged NPA instructor surrenders in La Castellana

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Jan 23, 2024): Alleged NPA instructor surrenders in La Castellana (By Carla N. Canet)

An alleged female political instructor of the insurgent New People's Army (NPA) surrendered to authorities in Barangay Sag-ang in the town of La Castellana on Monday, January 22.

Authorities have requested not to identify the now-former rebel, aged 71 and a resident of Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office spokesperson Maj. Rhojn Darell Nigos said the former insurgent surrendered directly to local town officials.

He said that when the officials talked to the former rebel, she revealed that she was one of the individuals who got into a gun battle with elements of the Philippine Army's 62nd Infantry Battalion (62IB) on January 17 in the said town.

It can be recalled that the 62nd Infantry Battalion was sent to the area of Hacienda Gomez in the town's Barangay Sag-ang after they received word that the NPA rebels were extorting and attempting to recruit some of the village's residents.

The said battle resulted in the deaths of two rebels.

Following the fight, the former rebel claimed that she attempted to escape the pursuing government forces.

However, she soon realized that the area she was in was encircled, which is why she chose to yield herself to the authorities.

Nigos said the local town police are now trying to find out if she has any pending arrest warrants.

If she was not involved in any heinous crime incidents, such as murder, Nigos said she would likely receive a pardon following the proclamation made by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in November of last year, which granted amnesty to rebels.

Authorities will also review if the former rebel will be eligible for the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

In the meantime, Nigos said the former rebel is currently placed under the custody of the La Castellana Municipal Police Station.*


Nueva Vizcaya now insurgency-free

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 24, 2024): Nueva Vizcaya now insurgency-free (By Benjamin Moses Ebreo)

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya (PIA) -- Nueva Vizcaya is now insurgency-free.

Major General Audrey Pasia, commander of the 5th Infantry Division, made this declaration during the flag raising program at the provincial capitol.

Pacia said the declaration underscores the normalization and stabilization of the security situation in the province.

He said the criteria required in the different stages in declaring a province insurgency-free were all satisfied from the insurgency stage, the conflict management stage, the insurgency suppression stage, and the stable internal peace and security stage.

Nueva Vizcaya is the second province in Cagayan Valley to be declared by the AFP as insurgency–free. The province of Quirino was first.

Gov. Jose Gambito said the prevailing insurgency-free state of the province will further spur economic growth and development.

He also anticipates more investment opportunities given the assurance of peace and security in the entire province.

Nueva Vizcaya Governor Jose Gambito (right) receives the plaque containing the official declaration of the province as insurgency-free from AFP officials. (PIA Image)

“This is a major development for our province. After so many decades, we now have a relief to pursue more development projects, especially in our remote communities,” he said.

Gambito also thanked the military, police, and Novo Vizcayanos in general for contributing much to the attainment of peace and order in the province.

“Billions of pesos have been wasted in the fight against insurgency in the country instead of using these resources in uplifting the lives of every Filipino,” he said.

The AFP said the transformation of the province as insurgency-free started in 1997 when the communist-terrorist groups were very active. With the sustained anti-insurgency efforts of the AFP and the Philippine National Police, the insurgency intensity became inactive until the occurrence of New People’s Army-initiated violent activities and incidents, and criminal acts gradually diminished.

It added that Nueva Vizcaya was under the conflict manageable stage in 2010 wherein a memorandum of agreement was signed between the provincial officials and the Philippine Army to gain a level of security and stability.

Army officials bared the continuing anti-insurgency campaign of the government forces drove the communist–terrorist groups away from the region and encouraged their members to surrender, resulting in zero NPA-initiated violent activities.

This prompted military officials to declare the province under a stable internal peace and security stage.

The official declaration of Nueva Vizcaya as an insurgency-free province was pushed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan by a resolution based on the recommendation of the Provincial Peace and Order Council, Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council, the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, and certified by the Peace Law Enforcement and Development Support and NTF-ELCAC.
   (OTB/BME/PIA NVizcaya)

AFP eyes more naval patrols in Bajo de Masinloc

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 23, 2024): AFP eyes more naval patrols in Bajo de Masinloc (By Priam Nepomuceno)

AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla (Screengrab from PTV)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is planning to hold more naval patrols in the Bajo de Masinloc (also known as Scarborough Shoal), following China's latest harassment of Filipino fisherfolk in these waters.

"For the Philippine Navy (PN) since nagdidwindle na ho yun internal security operations natin (since our internal security operations are dwindling) then we can allocate more resources for our external defense. So we'll have more assets of our Navy circling around the area," AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said in an interview with CNN Philippines' "The Source" on Tuesday.

Padilla was responding to questions on what support the AFP can provide to the Philippine Coast Guard in the wake of the incident.

On Jan. 12, five Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) personnel aboard a rubber boat accosted a group of Filipino fisherfolk from the fishing boat, F/B "Legendary Jo" gathering sea shells at the south entrance of Bajo de Masinloc.

The CCG personnel reportedly forced these fishermen to throw away the sea shells they had collected before allowing them to leave.

She said that this support will be based on the guidelines of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea.

"And we are willing to do our best to prevent this incident from happening again in the future. We will ensure that the Filipinos can freely enjoy our aquatic resources, especially in this traditional fishing ground. We are hoping that CCG will respect this," Padilla added.

Padilla, meanwhile, said Filipino fisherfolk can continue fishing at the Bajo de Masinloc.

"These are territorial waters, we have all the right to be fishing in this water. So we will tell all fishermen they can continue with their fishing in these territorial waters and maipapangako po ng AFP na nadyan po ang supporta namin para sa kanila (and the AFP promises to support them)," Padilla stressed.


Construction of PH Navy's 2 new landing docks starts in Indonesia

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 23, 2024): Construction of PH Navy's 2 new landing docks starts in Indonesia (By Priam Nepomuceno)

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS. The keel of the Philippine Navy's third landing dock is laid at the shipbuilding facilities of PT Pal Indonesia in the city of Surabaya on Jan. 22, 2024. Philippine officials witnessed the keel-laying and steel-cutting rites for the PN's third and fourth landing dock, respectively. (Photo courtesy of PT Pal Indonesia)

MANILA – The Philippine Navy (PN) on Tuesday announced that the construction of its two additional landing docks in Indonesia has started.

PN vice commander Rear Adm. Caesar Bernard Valencia and Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Gina Jamoralin headed the delegation who witnessed the keel laying rites for the Navy's third landing dock and steel cutting rites for the fourth landing dock at the shipbuilding facilities of PT Pal Indonesia in the city of Surabaya on Monday.

"It is considered as another significant milestone in shipbuilding following its steel cutting (of the third landing dock) held in August 2023," the PN said in a statement.

Steel cutting signifies the start of the construction of the ship while keel laying refers to the building of the ship's backbone. These processes signal the official start of the ships' construction.

"These two vessels will be identical to the PN’s Tarlac-class landing docks -- the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), which are derivative of the Makassar-class landing platform dock of the Indonesian Navy. The acquisition of two additional LDs is part of the Landing Dock Acquisition Project (LDAP) for the PN with an approved budget of PHP5.5 billion that also includes mission-essential equipment," the PN added.

The first two landing docks of the PN were delivered from 2016 to 2017.

The PN said the acquisition is expected to significantly boost its strategic sealift capability and enhance the capacity of its personnel primarily in humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.

Once completed, the PN said the two new landing docks would enable it to be more effective and efficient in fulfilling its mandate to protect the country's territorial waters.


House approves PH Self-Reliant Defense Posture Program

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 23, 2024): House approves PH Self-Reliant Defense Posture Program (By Jose Cielito Reganit)

(File photo)

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the proposed Philippine Self-Reliant Defense Posture Program which will serve as the government’s tool to develop the country’s national defense industry.

House Bill (HB) No. 9713, which was approved with a vote of 194-3 and no abstentions, aims to support the country’s defense force through military and civilian partnership and local production of materiel (military technology), materials, and equipment including arms and ammunition and combat clothing.

“The bill provides that the concept of self-reliance shall be manifested in the continued preference on local production of materiel, when feasible, for the country’s defense forces through the partnership between the military and civilian establishments,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said in a statement.

He said recourse to importation will only be resorted to for requirements that cannot be locally produced.

“The bill essentially provides for government support to the technical and financial needs of civilian manufacturers of materiel. The aim is to develop the defense capability of the country and rationalize defense acquisition,” he said

Section 6 of the proposed law allows in-country enterprises engaged or proposing to engage in the manufacture, servicing, and operation of materiel for the government to be registered with the Board of Investments and avail of incentives under the National Internal Revenue Code.

Section 14, meanwhile, creates the Office of the Undersecretary for Defense Technology Research and Industry Development, which will manage a databank for analysis, research, and development for defense industry promotion.

The bill also seeks to establish the Self-Reliant Defense Posture Trust Fund.

The fund will come from the savings generated from the annual net income of the government arsenal, shares of the government revenues from proceeds of reclamation projects determined by the President, grants and donations, and other sources as may be determined by the Department of National Defense.

HB 9713 is the 54th of the 57 Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) measures passed by the leadership of Romualdez.

The three remaining LEDAC measures awaiting final approval at the Houe are amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, which is under technical working group finalization; and the Budget Modernization Bill, and National Defense Act, which are under committee consideration.


Bill prohibiting chemical weapons gets final House nod

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 23, 2024): Bill prohibiting chemical weapons gets final House nod (By Filane Mikee Cervantes)

Session hall of the House of Representatives (File photo)

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved on third and final reading a measure prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons.

With 197 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, and no abstention, the chamber passed House Bill (SB) 9571, or the proposed Chemical Weapons Prohibition Act, which would provide an enabling legislative framework required to fulfill the Philippine government's international commitments and obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

Under the bill, developing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling, retaining, or using any chemical weapons shall be prohibited.

Other prohibited acts under the bill include engaging in any military preparations to use a chemical weapon, transferring chemical weapons to persons, using a riot control agent as a method of warfare, and exporting or importing Schedule 1 chemicals to or from states.

It also provides penalties and sanctions for criminal and administrative violations committed by officers of partnerships, corporations, associations and other juridical entities, government officials and employees, and foreign nationals.

Any person who commits any of the prohibited acts under the proposed law shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of 12 years and one day to life imprisonment, and a fine of PHP2 million to PHP5 million.

Patrol Rep. Jorge Antonio Bustos, author of the bill, said there is a need to enact a substantive and comprehensive law that will make the country fully realize its responsibilities under the CWC, which would protect the people and aspire to eliminate all chemical weapons and abuses involved in the use of chemicals.

"This bill, a collective effort of the Anti-Terrorism Council and various governmental agencies in charge of the country's defense and security, including our Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and Bureau of Fire Protection, among others, seeks to consolidate all current laws we have in compliance with the CWC, to include those which are substantively required under the treaty," Bustos said.

The bill designates the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as the Philippine National Authority on the Chemical Weapons Convention (PNA-CWC) to be headed by the Executive Secretary as chairperson of the ATC.

The PNA-CWC shall serve as the national focal point for effective liaison with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and other states-parties as prescribed under the convention.

SB 9571 shall also conduct and facilitate national inspections, as well as international inspections by OPCW inspectors, of sites involving scheduled chemicals or other chemical production facilities.

In the commission of the offense, any chemical weapon found anywhere in the territory or in any other place under the jurisdiction of the Philippines, the warehouse or the place where the chemical weapons are being stored, such other instruments, as well as the fruits and proceeds of the offense, shall be forfeited in favor of the national government through the PNA-CWC, and shall be destroyed or disposed of in accordance with existing environmental regulations or related applicable laws.

The erring person shall be responsible for paying the cost of destruction or disposal of any chemical weapon.

Mechanisms for the declaration, verification and inspection of toxic chemicals and their precursors are also proposed under the bill.


PH Navy turns over anti-piracy task force command to Brazil

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 24, 2024): PH Navy turns over anti-piracy task force command to Brazil (By Priam Nepomuceno)

JOB WELL DONE. Philippine Navy (PN) Capt. Mateo Carido (left) turns over the command of the Combined Task Force (CTF)-151 to Brazil's Rear Adm. Braz de Souza (right) in simple rites at a base of the United States Navy in Manama, Bahrain on Tuesday (Jan. 23, 2024). The CTF is one of the operational task forces under the Combined Maritime Forces, which promotes security, stability and prosperity across approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Navy)

MANILA – The Philippine Navy (PN) formally turned over the command of the multinational counter-piracy task force to the Brazilian Navy.

In a statement Wednesday, the PN said Capt. Mateo Carido turned over his duties and responsibilities as commander of the Combined Task Force (CTF)-151 to Brazil's Rear Adm. Braz de Souza in simple rites at a base of the United States Navy in Manama, Bahrain on Tuesday.

Carido and six other PN officers took over the command of the CTF-151 from the Republic of Korea Navy on Aug. 21, 2023.

"They were supported by officers and enlisted personnel from different Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) member countries like Australia, Brazil, Bahrain, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, South Korea, Spain, Singapore, Thailand, and Türkiye," the PN said.

CTF 151 is one of five operational task forces under CMF, a multi-national naval partnership of 39 nations, which promotes security, stability and prosperity across approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters, encompassing some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

CMF deputy commander, Commodore Mark Anderson of the UK Royal Navy, who led the turnover rites, acknowledged and lauded the accomplishments of the PN-led CTF 151 whose tenure has been marked with achievements and outstanding contributions to the CMF.

“Captain Carido, you have led an exceptional task force staff with utmost dedication. Your team has served with great professionalism and skill in enhancing key relationship(s) by strengthening ties with international organizations and the global shipping industry," Anderson said.

He also expressed his confidence that the incoming Brazilian Navy led CTF-151 would contribute significantly to the accomplishment of the CMF mission.


'Comprehensive archipelagic defense' to help PH explore EEZ resources

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 24, 2024): 'Comprehensive archipelagic defense' to help PH explore EEZ resources (By Priam Nepomuceno)

DND Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is now embarking on a "comprehensive archipelagic defense concept" to ensure that the country would benefit from the natural resources that are to be found in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said Tuesday night.

In his speech at the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) forum at the Fairmont Makati Hotel, Teodoro said this transformation is initially aimed at allowing the AFP to protect and guarantee "Philippine nationals, Philippine corporations, and those authorized by the Philippine government the unimpeded and peaceful exploration and exploitation of all natural resources within our EEZ and other areas we have jurisdiction."

Teodoro said this concept will also allow the Philippines to project its military power into areas that must be protected and preserved, pursuant to the Constitution.

"So other than a forward-looking concept, we are evolving into a defense concept which projects our power into our areas where we must by Constitutional fiat and duty, protect and preserve our resources," he said.

Teodoro also cited the importance of protecting Philippine interests and Filipinos in an increasingly volatile and unpredictable world, hence the need to develop the AFP capable of carrying out such missions in the future.

"For example, should we need to import oil in areas which are heavy with pirates, heavy with international criminals, we will have to have the wherewithal to protect Philippine vessels and other interests in those areas," he added.

Teodoro said these tasks are not simple and involve more efforts aside from the acquisition of new equipment to beef up the AFP's capability.

"We have to marshal the resources of making the best of what we have, making sure that acquisitions made are supportable, sustainable, and redundancy is built-in," he said.


BARMM condemns ambush of Maguindanao Sur headteacher

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 23, 2024): BARMM condemns ambush of Maguindanao Sur headteacher (By Edwin Fernandez)

AMBUSHED. Police conduct a post-crime investigation on the murder of a school headteacher along the highway in Barangay Manongkaling, Mamasapano, Maguindanao del Sur, on Monday (Jan. 22, 2024). The victim, identified as Mamadatu Dalandas, school head of Datu Tecson Elementary School in neighboring Sultan sa Barongis town, was driving his motorbike along the Manongkaling area when ambushed by motorcycle riding-in-tandem gunmen. (Photo from Mamasapano MPS)

MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao del Sur – The education ministry of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has condemned the latest attack against educators in the region and called on authorities to give justice to a fallen headteacher on Monday afternoon.

The latest victim, Mamadatu Dalandas, 39, school head of Datu Tecson Elementary School in adjacent Sultan sa Barongis town, was ambushed by still unidentified gunmen in Barangay Manongkaling in this town.

“We implore the authorities to swiftly and comprehensively investigate this heinous act, ensuring that justice prevails,” Mohagher Iqbal, head of the BARMM’s Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE), said in a statement on Tuesday.

Dalandas, a resident of Barangay Papakan, Sultan sa Barongis, was driving his motorbike around 1:30 p.m. when tailed and fired upon by motorcycle riding-in-tandem gunmen along the section of the highway in Manongkaling village.

Lt. Lou Christian Villoñes, municipal police chief, said the motive of the attack remained unknown as the investigation is still ongoing as of posting time.

Dalandas was the second headteacher in Sultan sa Barongis slain in a gun attack in the past three months, and the third in BARMM since May 2023.

On Nov. 15 last year, Hermielex Kapusan, 40, head teacher of Tukanakuden Elementary School in Barangay Tukanakuden in Sultan sa Barongis, was ambushed by two gunmen along the highway in Barangay Tinumigues, Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat town.

In the same year, Joel Reformado, 36, head teacher of Damalasak Elementary School was also shot dead on May 26 by motorcycle-riding gunmen. His fellow teacher, 37-year-old Elton John Lapinid, was injured.

The shooting occurred in front of the Manaulanan Elementary School in Pikit town of North Cotabato province.

“Acts of violence have no place in our educational institutions, and we stand resolute in our collective opposition to such brutal incidents,” Iqbal said.


123 new soldiers to serve as add’l Army forces in Bicol

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 23, 2024): 123 new soldiers to serve as add’l Army forces in Bicol (By Connie Calipay)

NEW DEFENDERS. The Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division (9ID) welcomes the new graduates of basic military training during the closing ceremony at Camp Elias Angeles in Pili, Camarines Sur on Jan. 18, 2024. The 123 new soldiers will be added to about 7,000-strong force of 9ID that helps maintain Bicol region's peace and development. (Photo courtesy of 9ID)

LEGAZPI CITY – At least 123 new soldiers who recently finished basic military training are now ready to be deployed to different line units of the 9th Infantry Division (9ID), a Philippine Army official said on Tuesday.

In an interview, Maj. Frank Roldan, 9ID spokesperson, said members of the Candidate Soldier Course Masidlak Class 779-2023 transformed into competent, confident and capable soldiers after eight months of basic military training.

"Composed of 109 males and 14 females, they also underwent a 60-day infantry orientation course, which equipped them with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitude to conduct jungle and mountain operations and urban operations. Their knowledge and competencies will be used to accomplish all tasks and responsibilities they take under oath," Roldan said.

He said the new soldiers will be added to about 7,000-strong force of 9ID that helps maintain the region's peace and development.

"They are just waiting for their order of assignment but all will be assigned to six provinces of the region. For those who are interested in being part of the Philippine Army and dedicating their time and life to the country, continuous recruitment is being conducted in our headquarters," he added.

Maj. Gen. Adonis Bajao, 9ID commander, congratulated and thanked the parents of the graduates for raising their children well.

"Congratulations at nawa'y nasa puso nyo ang mas mataas na adhikaing ipagtanggol ang ating bayan. Maraming salamat din po inyo, mga magulang, sa pag-aalay sa inyong mahal na anak upang maging kaisa namin sa pagtaguyod ng kapayapaan (Congratulations and may you have in your heart the higher aspiration to defend our country. Thank you very much to the parents, for offering your dear child to join us in promoting peace)," Bajao said in a statement.


2 NPA rebels nabbed, surrender in central Negros

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 23, 2024): 2 NPA rebels nabbed, surrender in central Negros (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

ARRESTED. New People’s Army rebel Rey Vincies “Art” De Leon is now in police custody for inquest proceedings following his arrest by the joint military and police troops in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental on Jan. 21, 2023. He has a warrant of arrest for frustrated murder issued by Presiding Judge Walter Zorilla of Regional Trial Court Branch 55. (Photo courtesy of 3rd Infantry Division, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY – A Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) rebel wanted for frustrated murder was arrested, another voluntarily surrendered to authorities in central Negros on separate occasions earlier this week, the military and the police confirmed on Tuesday.

In Himamaylan City, Rey Vincies “Art” De Leon, 30, is now in police custody for inquest proceedings after his arrest by the joint team of the Philippine Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion and Himamaylan Component City Police Station on Jan. 21.

A resident of Sitio Cantupa, Barangay Buenavista, De Leon, an active member of the dismantled Central Negros 2’s Sentro De Grabidad Platoon, was involved in an ambush of police officers in the neighboring Binalbagan town a few years back.

Joint military and police troops served on De Leon the warrant of arrest for frustrated murder issued by Presiding Judge Walter Zorilla of Regional Trial Court Branch 55, dated Sept. 26, 2023.

Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, lauded the collaboration of the military and the police that resulted in the arrest of the suspect, showing that criminals, especially wanted CPP-NPA terrorists, cannot elude authorities.

“Our Philippine Army and Philippine National Police are intensifying their joint law enforcement operations to neutralize offenders, including remnants of the dismantled CN2, preventing them from regaining influence in Negros. These efforts are integral to our drive to declare Negros Island insurgency-free,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a 71-year-old female NPA member turned herself in to the local government and municipal police of La Castellana, Negros Occidental, on Tuesday.

The surrenderer, a resident of Barangay Linantuyan, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, was among those who encountered troops of the 62nd Infantry Battalion in the town’s Barangay Sag-ang on Jan. 17.

In an interview, Maj. Rhojn Darell Nigos, public information officer of Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office, said the woman, who is a political instructor of CN1, decided to surrender because of the continued presence of government troops in La Castellana.

“We’re trying to secure the person to gather more information on how she can be assisted, and she might have comrades who also want to surrender,” he added.