Sunday, January 28, 2024

2nd Inf Div: 4 Militias surrender in Batangas

 Posted to the 2nd Infantry Division (PA) Facebook Page (Jan 25, 2024): 4 Militias surrender in Batangas

Four Milisyang Bayan members surrendered to the government forces in Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas on Saturday, January 20, 2024.
Troops of the 59th Infantry “Protector” Battalion, Batangas PNP, Mataas na Kahoy PNP, Calaca PNP, San Juan PNP, and the Tactical Operations Wing Southern Luzon facilitated the voluntary surrender of four MBs, two of whom are residents of Barangay Munting Coral in Calaca City while the other two are residents of Barangay Laiya Aplaya in San Juan. Two of them also yielded one cal.38 revolver, three live ammunition, and a hand grenade fragment.
The said personalities served as surveillance, guides, and contacts of SPP Kawing from the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee. They were recruited from 2010 to 2015 and have been part of the armed group since.
In a statement, the 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division Commander Maj. Gen. Roberto S. Capulong commended the wise decision of the MBs to heed the call for genuine peace and urged the other members of the Communist Terrorist Group to follow suit and embrace the government's offer for peaceful reintegration.
He also attributed this development to the peace-centric efforts being done by all levels of government, the security sector, their partner agencies, and key stakeholders, as well as the growing support of the communities, adding that through the collaborative efforts of everyone, Batangas could soon be able to achieve peace and development.

4th Inf Div: 4ID troops capture 2 wounded Female CNTs after recent clash in Butuan City

Posted to the 4th Infantry Division (PA) Facebook Page (Jan 26, 2024): 4ID troops capture 2 wounded Female CNTs after recent clash in Butuan City

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – Troops of the 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division successfully captured two (2) wounded female CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs) in Agusan del Norte Provincial Hospital in Bgry Libertad, Butuan City early dawn today, January 25, 2024.
The 402nd Infantry Brigade and its operationally controlled unit, the 23rd Infantry Battalion, together with the elements of Police Regional Office-13 (PRO13), immediately launched a Joint Intelligence Operations after receiving reports that 2 CNTs, who sustained multiple gunshots during a clashed against 23IB troops in Brgy Bitan-agan, Butuan City, were evacuated and medically treated in Agusan del Norte Provincial Hospital.

402nd Brigade Commander BGen. Adonis Ariel Orio said that yesterday afternoon, January 24, troops of the 23IB under Lt. Col. Jeffrey Balingao, the Commanding Officer, figured in a 10-minute encounter against more or less 10 CNTs believed to be under the Platoon 2 of the so-called Sub-Regional Sentro De Gravidad (SRSDG) Sagay, Sub Regional Committee 3 (SRC3) of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) in Brgy. Bitan-agan, Butuan City which resulted in the capture of one (1) M653 Rifle, bandoliers, backpacks and assorted personal belongings of the CNTs.
“The captured CNTs are identified as Dangga Ayuma Huliao alias Senyang/Mara/Mekay, the Medical Staff of the so-called Headquarters Force NEO of NCMRC, a resident of So. Roa-Roa, Brgy. Umagos, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental; and Mylene Odayao Domino alias Mayan, Member of Platoon 2, SRSDG Sagay, SRC3, NCMRC, a resident of Brgy. Agsabu, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur. They will continue to be treated and accorded with necessary assistance until they fully recuperate. This is in line with our strict adherence to the respect of the human rights and to the provisions under the international humanitarian law. We are now coordinating with the PRO13 for filing of appropriate cases against the said CNTs,” BGen. Orio added.
It can also be recalled, that on January 16, the same terrorist group, the SRSDG Sagay, clashed against the 23IB troops, which resulted to the death of 2 CNTs and the capture of 3 High-Powered Firearms of the CTG at Sitio Calaitan, Brgy. Simbalan, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.

In a statement, 4ID Commander Maj. Gen. Jose Maria R Cuerpo II expressed his utmost gratitude to the civilian residents who continue to cooperate and stand vigilant against the communist terrorist criminals. He also lauded the troops’ resilience and encouraged them to continue serving with dedication until lasting peace for every communities will be achieved.

“We shall continue to be relentless in our combat operations and hunt down those who continue to fight the government and sow violence as a means to promote their own agenda. Hence, while there are still opportunities to return to your families and live normal lives, heed our call of peace and surrender now. With the people and all instrumentalities of the government rallying behind us, you will not win this fight," He added.

1st Inf Div: 9 DI Maute Terrorists Killed in Armed Encounters with Army in Lanao del Sur

Posted to the 1st Infantry Division (PA) Facebook Page (Jan 27, 2024): 9 DI Maute Terrorists Killed in Armed Encounters with Army in Lanao del Sur

CAMP SANG-AN, ZDS - In a series of armed encounters with government forces in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur on January 25-26, nine (9) confirmed members of the Dawla Islamiyah Maute Group were neutralized.
Of the nine DI MG terrorists killed, three (3) were directly responsible for the heinous MSU terrorist bombing last December 2023.

Following the engagements, multiple high-powered firearms, including three M14 rifles, one Bushmaster rifle, two baby M16 rifles, one M203 grenade launcher, one M653 rifle, and one R4 rifle were seized.
On the government side, four personnel sustained injuries during the operation and were promptly evacuated to Amai Pakpak Medical Center for medical treatment.

Brig. Gen. Yegor Rey P. Barroquillo, Commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, reiterated his commitment to eradicating terrorism from Lanao del Sur and bringing the perpetrators of the MSU terrorist bombing to justice. He lauded the courage and determination of his personnel, emphasizing the brigade's unwavering dedication to serving and protecting the province's residents.

Maj. Gen. Gabriel C. Viray III, Commander of the 1st Infantry Division, commended the troops for their successful operation against the DI-MG, expressing steadfast support for their bravery and resolve.

“With precision and valor, our troops have secured a triumph against terrorism that reinforces our nation’s security and the enduring spirit of its people. Just as important, justice has been served for the victims of the MSU terrorist bombing, providing solace to those who have suffered and reaffirming our commitment to a safer, more just Philippines.” Maj. Gen. Viray III stated.

Furthermore, Lt. Gen. William N. Gonzales, Commander of the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), expressed full support for the successful combat operation against the terrorists responsible for the MSU bombing. He praised the armed forces' exceptional capabilities and unwavering commitment to protecting the nation.

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PH boosts disaster response ops as vital part of int'l relations

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 26, 2024): PH boosts disaster response ops as vital part of int'l relations (By Priam Nepomuceno)

BOOSTING DISASTER RESPONSE. Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. (left) attends the 9th Multilateral Maritime Key Leadership Engagement (KLE) held online on Thursday (Jan. 25, 2024). The KLE gathers navies in the Indo-Pacific region to discuss mutual challenges, share insights, and increase awareness about pressing maritime issues. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Navy)

MANILA – Philippine Navy (PN) chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. said boosting humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) among allied nations is a vital part of strengthening international relations.

Adaci made this remark during Thursday's 9th Multilateral Maritime Key Leadership Engagement (KLE) hosted by US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Samuel Paparo, which he and other naval leaders in the Asia-Pacific region attended online.

"Vice Admiral Adaci emphasized the innovations made by the Philippine government in order to be more effective in HADR. He also highlighted that coordination, collaboration, and collective response to HADR are important aspects of international relations," PN spokesperson Captain Benjo Negranza said in a statement late Thursday night.

This year's meeting carries the theme “Challenges delivering Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) in the Indo-Pacific and How We Can Strengthen our Response Together”.

The KLE presents a unique and significant opportunity that enables like-minded navies in the Indo-Pacific region to discuss mutual challenges, share insights, and increase awareness about pressing maritime issues.

"As the primary maritime defense force of the country, the Philippine Navy regularly engages international counterparts, anchored on international law and commitment to a rules-based order," Negranza said.

AFP spokesperson Francel Padilla is always up for a challenge

From Rappler (Jan 27, 2024): AFP spokesperson Francel Padilla is always up for a challenge (By BEA CUPIN)

The new Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson talks about her new role and career as a woman in the military

MANILA, Philippines – There was no grand plan in place when Francel Margareth Padilla unwittingly began her Philippine military career.

It was the late ’90s, and she was a sophomore taking up engineering at the University of Santo Tomas. “My kuya called me up [and said], ‘Len, take the exams, magpadiyaryo ka lang (just to be in the papers),'” recalled Padilla in an interview with Rappler.

Her older brother was himself a cadet at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), alma mater to many officers in the uniformed service and beyond. When she passed the written exam, her brother pushed her further: Why not take the medical exam, Len? It’s free, and they might manage to detect something early.

At the V. Luna Medical Center, with the sole intention of getting a free health screening, Padilla – the only female in a family of three other males – would find a community of other young women who were beginning to imagine a career in the uniformed service.

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Her fellow exam passers called each other through landline phones in the weeks after and encouraged one another to go all the way to the PMA.

Nearly 30 years later, Padilla’s name is now a constant – in newspapers, websites, radio, and even television as the first woman spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Padilla had been spokesperson for just over a week when she and her staff of two dropped by the Rappler headquarters for our interview. It’s been a week of one interview after another and one meeting followed by another.

“It’s quite a blur for me at this point…. Everything was coming so fast and changing so fast,” admitted Colonel Padilla in a Rappler Talk interview.

Cybersecurity experience

Padilla takes over as spokesperson with a background that’s atypical for the post. Most of her 27 or so years as a soldier have been spent behind the scenes: as security for presidents and visiting world leaders or as chief of cybersecurity.

Padilla herself admitted to being surprised when she was first offered the post by Major General Ramon Zagala, who heads the AFP’s Civil Relations Service. For several months, she’d been preparing herself for a new role outside the AFP related to cybersecurity.

But there wasn’t really an option to say no – not for Padilla the soldier, nor for Padilla the go-getter.

“I am in the military, so I am covered by orders. And so, if I’m given the order, you have to really say yes, but, of course, on top of that, it’s a different challenge for me as well. It’s a different experience altogether. And if I am given an opportunity to make my voice be heard, I will really say yes to that without actually any second thoughts,” she explained.

Her interest in cybersecurity started early on in her career as a fresh graduate of the PMA. She joined the Signal Corps and focused on information systems. She later shifted to cybersecurity when she joined the Presidential Security Group (PSG) under the late Benigno Aquino III.

Within the PSG, Padilla headed Command and Control, Communications, and Computer Systems. Her eyes lit up when asked what about cybersecurity interests her the most. “It’s all encompassing…cyber is simply the medium,” she said.

Cyber networks and systems, explained Padilla, come in handy for development, too. In her previous role as commander of the 7th Signal Battalion, she tapped technology to find out which communities in their area of operation had the worst connectivity.

“Hindi mo mapapantayan ‘yung mukha ng isang bata na makita mo ‘yung tablet niya napagana ng tropa, ‘yung mga ganon. So they use that for online classes during the pandemic. So napakalaking bagay, ganoong serbisyo rin ang naipaparating,” she said.

(It’s priceless to see the face of a child whose tablet was fixed by the troops. So they use that for online classes during the pandemic. This kind of service is a huge deal.)

The AFP has big plans for improving its cybersecurity capabilities after Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro declared cyberspace as its “fourth domain of operations.” AFP chief General Romeo Brawner Jr. announced in 2023 that its Cyber Group would be elevated to a Cyber Command.

COLONEL PADILLA. The AFP’s new spokesperson is also a cyber security expert. Photo by Armed Forces of the Philippines

Making it in the AFP

Padilla’s new role is a milestone not only for herself, but also the 88-year-old AFP. While the PMA has long been co-ed and the AFP welcoming of women personnel, it’s an institution that’s still mostly dominated by men. Appointments of women still sometimes make headlines because of several instances of a “first woman” to ever hold a post.

The new AFP spokesperson knows she stands on the shoulders of the other “first women” before her. Padilla personally wants more young girls and women to imagine careers related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the AFP.

Her 27-year-long journey in the military has certainly not been easy. Padilla laughed as she recalled how, in her younger years, she was ready and raring to fight insurgencies in the Philippines as a frontline soldier.

Things changed when she gave birth to her first son. “My priorities shifted. I don’t think I can be a warrior anymore because I have someone who depends on me. So I went to the Signal Corps,” she said.

From jumping off helicopters as a cadet, her tasks as a young military officer became a little less precarious – work was mostly in front of computers, and it was possible to balance being a mother and a career woman. But that didn’t mean it was any easier.

This was when Padilla’s voice turned softer. “When I was in the PSG, when I’d be deployed, my husband would come home to the military quarters and then take care of the kids,” she recalled.
A winning ‘tag team’

Her husband is the late Felicisimo Esteban Taborlupa Jr., a retired Navy officer who was deputy commander of the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) Air Group when he died in a 2015 helicopter crash. Padilla and Taborlupa both belong to the PMA Class of 2000.

It was the “tag team” of her husband and herself that made it possible for them to balance being parents to two sons while pursuing successful careers in the AFP, and later, the PCG. When huge opportunities came her way – securing the Queen of Spain, being on duty for the World Economic Forum on East Asia, or heading communications during Pope Francis’ visit – her husband would make sure he’d be at home to take care of the kids.

“I could perform because I had nothing else to worry about,” she said.

Life has not been the same since his death.

Softness makes way for grief, and Padilla’s eyes turned red. “Grief is a constant,” she explained.

“You can’t say, ‘Oh, now she’s okay.’ It doesn’t matter how long it’s been. It really doesn’t. Sometimes, you really wake up on the other side of the bed and then you’re crying maybe because you had a dream, or something like that. I really miss our tag team,” she said.

Leadership in the military, said Padilla, also means putting aside your emotions because there’s a job to finish. Right after she laid her husband to rest, she was back to work to secure the Korean delegation for high-level Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings.

If waves of grief came – and they always did – Padilla would excuse herself, hide behind a post, and wipe a tear away. It was the same struggle when she was 7th Signal Battalion commander and even as mother to two teenage sons dealing with the loss of a father.

Padilla said she makes it a point to accept the grief and express it behind closed doors. But in front of subordinates, or in front of her children, it was necessary to keep a brave face. “It’s a different pressure,” she explained.

Nine years later, the grief is still there, but life has found its new rhythm. Padilla said her sons were very supportive when she decided to use the surname Padilla instead of Taborlupa as spokesperson. “[They were] like, ‘Go, Mommy!’ That’s how they reacted,” she said.

Her eldest son recently graduated from one of the Philippines’ top universities, with a major in Management Information Systems. Her youngest is a sophomore or yearling in the PMA and is set to follow, more or less, the path her late husband once carved out.
2024 and beyond

It’s bound to be a huge 2024 both for Padilla and the institution she now speaks for.

The AFP is finally pushing forward with a long-overdue transition to territorial defense as external threats abound – out at sea, in the air, and in cyberspace.

Zagala said it’s this crucial period – of an AFP in flux – that makes Padilla perfect for the role.

“With the AFP transition into territorial defense operations, the DND and AFP leadership decided that we need a young and dynamic spokesperson that is very aware of the multi-domain environment,” he said in a message to Rappler.

Padilla admitted she’s still adjusting to the new role and learning to find the right words to say. Aside from being spokesperson, she is also chief of the Media and Civil Affairs Group.

There seems to be no doubt in everyone’s mind that Padilla will learn, and even master, the ropes soon.

“We chose her since she is an expert in the cyber domain that covers human cognitive operations, where, as a spokesperson, she is adept and can greatly present the AFP to the public,” said Zagala.