Friday, February 2, 2024

‘Abandoned’ insurgent leads arms cache recovery

From the Daily Tribune (Feb 1, 2024): ‘Abandoned’ insurgent leads arms cache recovery

When the communist guerillas retreated, Doming was left behind and was subsequently captured by the government troops

CATBALOGAN CITY — An individual believed to be a member of the New People’s Army who was abandoned by his fleeing comrades during an encounter led government troops to the place where the communist guerillas hid their firearms and ammunition.

The encounter happened between troops from the 43rd Infantry “We Search” Battalion and a squad of NPA in the hinterlands of Barangay Palanit, San Isidro, Northern Samar, last 27 January 2024.

A report from the 8th Infantry Division said the troop captured alias Doming/Nitoy, a member of Squad 1, Sub-Regional Guerilla Unit, Sub-Regional Committee Emporium, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee.

He was found to have a standing warrant of arrest for the crime of murder issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 20 on 10 October 2015.

The 8ID said that prior to the encounter, the troops were conducting a focused military operation after receiving information from the residents about the presence of an armed group extorting residents in the said barangay, when they were fired upon by the group of alias Doming.

When the communist guerillas retreated, Doming was left behind and was subsequently captured by the government troops.

During an interview, Doming revealed the location of an arms cache of the NPA in the hinterlands of Sitio Kahidwangan, Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro, Northern Samar. Seized were an M16 rifle and a short plastic magazine.

Lieutenant Colonel Nasser Arojo, Commanding Officer of the 43IB, attributed the success of the operation to the timely and relevant information provided by the residents as he acknowledged that the cooperation of the residents led to the capture of alias Doming and the recovery of the arms cache containing high-powered firearms.

“This is a clear indication that the community appreciates the efforts of the government and has decided to support the fight of ending the local communist armed conflict,” Arojo said.

Meanwhile, 8th Infantry Division commanding general Major General Camilo Z. Ligayo also encouraged the remaining communist guerillas and the community to unite and work together towards the upliftment of socio-economic conditions especially in far-flung communities.

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Marcos grants amnesty to rebel, insurgent groups

 From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 2, 2024): Marcos grants amnesty to rebel, insurgent groups (By ARGYLL CYRUS GEDUCOS)

In line with this goal, President Marcos, issued several proclamations that granted amnesty to several groups to entice them to return to the fold of the law

One of the Marcos administration’s priorities is to pursue lasting peace in the country. In line with this goal, President Marcos, on Nov. 22, 2023, issued several proclamations that granted amnesty to several groups to entice them to return to the fold of the law.

Proclamation No. 403 granted amnesty to the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/
Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB) members who have committed crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and special penal laws, specifically those committed crimes in pursuit of their political beliefs.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos

It, however, did not cover certain crimes such as kidnap for ransom, massacre, rape, terrorism, drug-related charges, violations of the Geneva Convention of 1949, and gross violations of human rights, among others.

Proclamation No. 404 granted amnesty to former Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) members who have committed crimes such as those related to rebellion or insurrection, sedition, assault, resistance and disobedience to a person in authority, alarms and scandals, and illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, or explosives, among others.

Suspected NPA rebel killed in Camarines Sur clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 3, 2024): Suspected NPA rebel killed in Camarines Sur clash (By: Ma. April Mier-Manjares)

LEGAZPI CITY — A suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebel was killed in an encounter in Presentacion, Camarines Sur early Friday.

Police Brig. Gen. Andre Perez Dizon, Bicol regional police director, identified the fatality as
Wilmer Señar, alias “Lucky,” an alleged member of Platoon 2 of Komiteng Larangan Gerilya 1, Sub Regional Committee 2.

Dizon said when the members of 83rd Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army were conducting an intelligence operation, they had a chance encounter with the rebels in Barangay Lidong at 10:50 a.m.

2 more shabu dealers linked to Mindanao terrorists busted

From the Philippine Star (Feb 1, 2024): 2 more shabu dealers linked to Mindanao terrorists busted (By John Unson)

Shabu peddler Piping Guialodin Makmod, who was entrapped in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao del Norte, is now locked in a police detention facility. / John Unson

COTABATO CITY — Two shabu peddlers suspected of sharing earnings to violent religious extremists fell in separate entrapment operations in two adjoining towns in Maguindanao del Norte on Wednesday.

Plainclothes policemen first arrested Kenny Malagel in Barangay Awang in Datu Odin Sinsuat after selling P300,000 worth of shabu to anti-narcotics operatives disguised as drug dependents.

The sting that led to Malagel’s arrest was laid by officials and personnel of the Datu Odin Sinsuat Municipal Police Station with the help of civilian informants privy to his shabu peddling activities.

Two of Malagel's relatives in the hostile Salibo town in Maguindanao del Sur had told reporters that he is related to three commanders in the province of the Dawlah Islamiya, which is operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Several hours after Malagel was arrested in Datu Odin Sinsuat, policemen led by Lt. Col. Esmael Madin entrapped shabu dealer Piping Guialodin Makmod in Barangay Narra in Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao del Norte, an operation that resulted in the confiscation from him of P2,000 worth of shabu and a .45 caliber pistol.

Makmod's companion, initially identified only as Balundo, managed to run away when he sensed that they had sold their illegal merchandise to non-uniformed members of the Sultan Kudarat municipal police force led by Madin.

Barangay officials said Balundo's real name is Zahir Ameruddin, a distant relative of Kagui Karialan, leader of one of three factions in the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Madin, who is Sultan Kudarat's municipal police chief, said the entrapment operation was launched after relatives of Makmod reported his distribution of shabu in secluded villages in the municipality.

Investigators and intelligence agents in the Datu Odin Sinsuat and Sultan Kudarat police forces are now validating reports about the connections of Malagel and Makmod with the outlawed Dawlah Islamiya and the BIFF, known for coddling drug traffickers in exchange for money.

5 years after its birth, Bangsamoro autonomous region struggles to control violence

From the BenarNews (Feb 2, 2024): 5 years after its birth, Bangsamoro autonomous region struggles to control violence (By Camille Elemia and Jeoffrey Maitem)

Former Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels participate in a decommissioning process where they turned in their weapons, in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao province, Philippines, Aug. 3, 2023.  Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews

An autonomous Muslim region in the southern Philippines that came out of a peace deal is struggling to end violence five years after being established and 15 months before its first-ever elections, analysts and the region’s top leader told BenarNews.

Weapons in the hands of many armed groups including former rebels and private armies, combined with the slow trickle of funds from Manila meant to lift the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) out of poverty, remain challenges, they said.

“We have to admit there are many loose firearms in Bangsamoro,” Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim told BenarNews during an interview in his office at Cotabato City on Wednesday. “We have struggles with the decommissioning of combatants and the politicians’ private armies.”

Murad, who became leader of the BARMM when it came into being on Feb. 26, 2019, previously headed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest among guerrilla groups in the southern Philippines. It waged a separatist war with Manila until it opted for autonomy under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a peace deal signed in March 2014.

That agreement included a so-called normalization program, to be undertaken by the central government, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and a Joint Normalization Committee. The program mandates the decommissioning of combatants and their firearms and the disbanding of politicians’ private armed groups.

Since its creation, the BARMM government has decommissioned only two-thirds of its target of 40,000 combatants and 7,000 firearms – a pace that analysts and politicians criticized as slow. Murad admitted there had been no progress on the private armies.

Murad blamed the national government for inadequate funding of the normalization program.

Under the peace agreement, the national government must give former combatants a one-time cash assistance of 100,000 pesos (U.S. $1,783) as well as jobs, education and housing assistance. Murad said many of these promises had yet to be met.

“Almost all of that, except the cash assistance, has not been delivered by the government. The problem is that there is no budget for the normalization track,” Murad said.


Murad Ebrahim, the former rebel leader who leads the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is interviewed in Cotabato city, southern Philippines, Jan.31, 2024. [Camille Elemia/BenarNews]

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPPRU), which is tasked to oversee the peace process, has to “solicit” from individual agencies to get funds for the services, Murad said.

“The government has to act so the normalization process will succeed,” he said.

In 2024, OPAPPRU has an approved budget of 7 billion pesos ($124.8 million), with 901 million pesos ($16 million) allotted specifically for the BARMM’s normalization program. In previous years, the agency had been operating with an average overall budget of only 800 million pesos ($14.2 million).

Officials at the office did not immediately respond to a BenarNews request for comment.

The delay in benefits has already caused resentment among ex-combatants, which could create additional threats, analysts said.

Rommel Banlaoi, a counter-terrorism analyst, said that the slow rate of decommissioning would be “another challenge for security teams in Mindanao.”

“And I am afraid that the armed threats will emanate from those remaining combatants because they are raising serious issues that can undermine peace and order,” Banlaoi told BenarNews.

“Threats are evolving into a new form. My assessment is very alarming for those not yet decommissioned because these combatants can be a source of another form of violence in Mindanao, especially after the 2025 election in BARMM,” he said.

Bangsamoro 2025 elections, clan wars

The Council for Climate and Conflict Action, an NGO, sees the prospect of conflicts this year tied to the potentially highly charged parliamentary elections in Bangsamoro and in other communities across the Philippines in 2025.

“The preparation for the 2025 elections and the polls itself may ignite further violence and cause widespread human cost as former rebels, political warlords, and traditional elites vie for political power at the national, regional, and local level,” the council said in a Jan. 27 statement sent to BenarNews.

The group said any legislative move in the interim parliament would be seen as a political move “to ensure the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s win in the region.”

This includes gerrymandering, which resulted in the creation of three new municipalities from the towns of Datu Odin Sinsuat and Sultan Kudarat – a move opposed by local mayors as these are the only areas in the province of Maguindanao del Norte “that are not politically allied” with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The October 2023 village elections in BARMM, the council said, were “the bloodiest elections recorded in the last decade.”

“Election-related violence is often intertwined or has escalated to clan feuding, and vice versa,” it said, adding that “violent extremism” persists.

At least six people were killed. They were “not candidates, they were mere voters,” George Garcia, chairman of the Commission on Elections, said at the time.

Banlaoi, the counter-terrorism analyst, said that terrorism in the region has not been totally eradicated.

“My current assessment of terrorism threat in the Philippines is that threats are diminishing, but not disappearing,” he said, citing the weakening of the Abu Sayyaf Group in the island provinces of Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi along with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao.

Still, a bomb exploded during a Catholic Mass at a university gymnasium in Marawi City in December 2023, killing four and injuring 72 others. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

The military has said that the bombing was an apparent retaliation for offensives that killed two senior militants.

The December 2023 Marawi Bombing and the Region’s Unending Terror Threat

From The Diplomat (Feb 2, 2024): The December 2023 Marawi Bombing and the Region’s Unending Terror Threat (By Jasminder Singh and Muhammad Haziq Jani)

The deadly bombing of a Catholic Mass in Marawi City ended years of relative peace in Mindanao. It is a reminder of the need for continued vigilance.

Law enforcement investigate the scene of a bombing at Mindanao State University, Marawi, December 3, 2023. Credit: Facebook/Provincial Government of Lanao Del Sur

On December 3, terrorists from the Islamic State (IS) affiliate Daulah Islamiyah Philippines (DIP) detonated an improvised explosive device during a Catholic mass in Marawi City. DIP claimed responsibility for the attack which killed four and wounded 50 civilians who attended the mass in a gymnasium at Mindanao State University. The venue hosts many Christian students, despite being located in a Muslim-majority region of the Philippines.

IS-affiliated terrorists in the Philippines, including DIP, have conducted a number of other bombings in recent years, such as the bombing of two buses in North Cotabato in 2022 as well as roadside bombings in Basilan in the Sulu Archipelago the year prior. However, DIP has more recently been incapacitated by constant military operations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) aimed at eradicating the group. More than 1,000 militant Islamists – some affiliated to IS – have also surrendered to government authorities since the five month-long counter-siege to recapture Marawi from terrorist control in 2017. Many have cited exhaustion, hunger, fear, disillusionment with the terrorist treatment of civilians and extremist doctrines, the loss of leaders, and the growing irrelevance of militancy given the success of the Bangsamoro peace process since 2014.

Despite counterterrorism gains and the post-war rejection of militancy and violence by Marawi’s residents, the December 2023 attack marked the unwelcomed return of terrorist activity in a city that had only recently began to show signs of recovery. The blast also coincided with the fourth day of the Mindanao Week of Peace, an annual inter-religious event that was in its 26th year.

IS Propaganda

Aside from claiming responsibility for the attack, IS-affiliated terrorist media followed up with propaganda in Tagalog that seems to suggest that the attacks were intended as retaliation for the deaths of 21 DIP members in counter-terrorism operations last year. These included Mudzrimar Sawadjaan, the bomb expert behind the 2019 bombing of a cathedral in Jolo, Sulu province, and Faharudin Pumbuaya Pangalian, the alleged then-leader of DIP. The propaganda raised several concerns.

First, DIP highlighted the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as a significant target. In a statement released after the attacks under the name “Abu Abdullah al-Ansari,” DIP blamed MILF for working with the AFP to identify DIP hideouts in the counter-operations that led to the deaths of 18 DIP terrorists. The video also highlighted a previous attack on a MILF position to emphasize this point. Following AFP counter-operations during December 7-9, DIP attacked the MILF, killing a MILF commander and a baby. Targeting MILF and MILF members’ relatives in retaliation is unlikely to discourage MILF-AFP cooperation. However, it could disincentivize the decommissioning of the MILF if there are no assurances of protection from the AFP. There is also the risk of the DIP obtaining weapons and materials with which it build future bombs.

Second, IS capitalized on the bombing to call for a hijrah (migration) of Muslims to join DIP on the East Asia front, labelling the Philippines as a “field of jihad.” This call was published in al-Naba, IS’ Arabic newsletter on December 7. While it is unlikely that IS has the ability to mount something on the scale of the 2017 Marawi siege, the call for migration underscores the fears of experts and officials from neighboring countries that the bombing will inspire jihadists in the region to travel to Mindanao to wage further violent attacks. The 2019 suicide bombing of the church in Jolo was conducted by an Indonesian couple. The call for hijrah could also encourage transborder cooperation between IS supporters. The movement of foreign terrorists to the Philippines is also something that cannot be precluded.


Following the attack, as well as the sort of messaging emanating once again from IS propaganda, Southeast Asian countries, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia, which share maritime borders with the Philippines, should remain vigilant against the movement of terrorist supporters into Mindanao.

On the ground, AFP and MILF must continue to put pressure on the DIP’s fighters, which already has their backs against the wall. Despite the bombing, the recruitment pool for DIP has thinned and will remain so as long as the jihadists’ lives remain dreadful and unsustainable. As it is, DIP is relying on a shrinking recruitment base comprising family members, relatives from the same tribe or clan, children, and women. AFP could consider proactive programs to counter violent extremism that intervene before the often naive new prospects get recruited, especially at a time when DIP leaders are in hiding, or busy with fighting.

At the same time, the more fundamental issues that continue to draw potential recruits to the terrorist cause must be addressed. Here, a key issue is the rehabilitation of Marawi City, which, following its destruction and the subsequent in-flow of aid, remains far from complete, standing as a physical reminder of the damage wrought by the state on IS.

There remain many other vectors that generate recruits for the jihadi struggle. These vectors are both home-grown, such as the need to reconstruct Marawi City, the ongoing Christian-Muslim issues, and the antipathy towards the AFP. However, another factor is the rise of the “green wave” of Islamic political successes in Indonesia and Malaysia, which may impact upon the ongoing conflict in Mindanao. The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict may also provide new ground for recruits to join the jihadist struggle against the Philippines government, which is seen to be supporting Israel against Hamas in particular and Palestinians in general.

The December 2023 bombing in Marawi demonstrated that the conflict with radicalized Islamists remains a long-term concern and issue for governments in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. A further concern is the potential to involve jihadists from the region to join in the struggle in the Philippines or even for the potential of the conflict being exported to neighboring states. While addressing the domestic issues remains a primary imperative for each affected nation, inter-state cooperation is the only way forward to address this obstinate security issue.
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[Jasminder Singh is an Associate Research Fellow with the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) and Muhammad Haziq Jani is a Senior Analyst with the Studies of Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies (SRP) Programme, respectively, at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.]

[Muhammad Haziq Jani is a Senior Analyst with the Studies of Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies (SRP) Programme.]

OPAPRU pilots localized normalization program for Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants in Basilan

 From the Manila Bulletin (Jan 26, 2024): OPAPRU pilots localized normalization program for Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants in Basilan (By MARTIN SADONGDONG)

OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (middle) and Basilan Gov. Hajiman Salliman Hataman (second from right) lead the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the pilot implementation in Basilan of the localized normalization program for former Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants held at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City on Jan. 26, 2024. Also in photo are (L-R) Presidential Assistant for Bangsamoro Transformation David Diciano; Lt. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of Western Mindanao Command; and Basilan Provincial Treasurer Majad Daggong. (Photo by OPAPRU)

To sustain the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the provincial government of Basilan on Friday, Jan. 26, for the pilot implementation of the localized "normalization program" for former Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants.

Currently being implemented at the national level, the normalization program is a key component of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which aims to decommission 40,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and transform them into "peaceful and productive civilians" and their areas into "progressive and resilient communities", according to Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.

The agreement seeks to localize the implementation of the normalization program through the "Localizing Normalization Implementation" (LNI) concept. The signing was led by Galvez and Basilan Governor Hajiman Salliman Hataman at the Eisenhower Hall inside the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) Headquarters at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.

The OPAPRU said that the LNI concept presents a "locally-led and national government/inter-agency-supported structure" to implement the normalization program.

It seeks to strike a balance between enriching competencies and authorities already exercised by local government units (LGUs) under Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) under RA 11054 or Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which operationalizes the CAB.

OPAPRU Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. signs the Pledge of Commitment for the pilot implementation in Basilan of the normalization program for former Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants during a ceremony at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City on Jan. 26, 2024. (Photo by OPAPRU)

"As members of our community, we must join forces and work hand-in-hand to ensure the smooth and effective delivery of programs and projects that aim to address the different aspects of the normalization program which include security, socio economic development, confidence-building, and transitional justice, as well as political participation," Galvez said.

The OPAPRU further explained that the LNI concept largely depends on the local structure of the communities and as such, its framework is designed to adjust and adapt to certain peculiarities in terms of the capacities and needs of LGUs.

The LNI's community-driven approach "empowers local communities, promotes inclusivity, and ensures that development efforts are sustainable and effective," the OPAPRU noted.

Governor Hataman said the "inspiration" for the implementation of the LNI in Basilan came from the provincial government’s campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a militant organization that was based in the province.

"That time, there was no proper policy on how to deal with members of the Abu Sayyaf who are willing to [go] mainstream back to the society. Then, this snowballs, as we implement the Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Management Program," he said, referring to an intervention program by the LGU and local law enforcement agencies that sought to eradicate loose firearms in Basilan.

At present, Hataman said the provincial government of Basilan and the Philippine Army's 101st Infantry Brigade headed by Brig. Gen. Alvin Luzon has already stenciled at least 4, 500 firearms and recovered 500 firearms in the island-province.

"We need to level up our peace interventions. The result of LNI will help in the overall peace of the island province of Basilan, the BARMM regional government, and the country," Hataman said. islamic liberation front-combatants-in-basilan#google_vignette

5 ASG members surrender in Zamboanga City

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Jan 29, 2024): 5 ASG members surrender in Zamboanga City

FIVE members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have surrendered to the authorities in Zamboanga City, the police reported Monday, January 29, 2024.

Police Colonel Alexander Lorenzo, Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) director, said the five ASG members surrendered in Rio Hondo village on Saturday, January 27.

Lorenzo identified the five ASG surrenderers as the following:
Amil Ingil Hamja, 60; Parad Enggil Hamja, 63; Jomil Hamja Abduharim alias Along Abduharim, 32; Romil Hamja Abduharim alias Alit Abduharim, 32; and, Ramil Isa Hamja alias Ramel Ammih, 29, all residents of Kasanyangan village.

Lorenzo said they turned over a Garand rifle and a calilber .38 revolver with five ammunition for the revolver.

He said the five ASG surrenderers were followers of detained ASG sub-leader Injimar Mangkabong alias Bensal Jakare and the late ASG sub-leader Najir Arik, who were involved in terroristic atrocities in Sulu.

He said they are also known for their kidnapping activities targeting both local and foreign individuals.

Philippines brings supplies to Ayungin in ‘flawless’ mission

 From Rappler (Feb 2, 2024): Philippines brings supplies to Ayungin in ‘flawless’ mission (By BEA CUPIN)

It is the first confirmed rotation and resupply mission to the outpost in Ayungin Shoal in 2024

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Friday, February 2, completed a rotation and resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre, its makeshift military outpost in Ayungin Shoal.

The completed mission was confirmed in a post on X, formerly Twitter, by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Colonel Francel Padilla.

Padilla, in a tweet that’s since been deleted, said: “Mission accomplished! Today, we executed a flawless rotation and resupply operation for BRP Sierra Madre. Teamwork, precision, and dedication at its best.”

It was the first completed resupply by sea in 2024 following a bilateral meeting between the Philippines and China, wherein both sides agreed to improve the use of a communication mechanism to avoid untoward incidents at sea.

“The Philippines’ resupply of BRP Sierra Madre at 2nd Thomas Shoal today seems to have encountered virtually no resistance from China,” noted maritime defense expert Ray Powell, who is also Project Myoushu Team Lead of the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation.

China earlier claimed that it “allowed” an air drop of supplies to the Sierra Madre, but the AFP has refused to confirm or deny that supplies were delivered through air.

Ayungin Shoal is a feature well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) within the South China Sea, referred to as the West Philippine Sea. The BRP Sierra Madre, a World War II-era warship that was purposefully ran aground in 1999, serves as the Philippine military outpost there.

China claims practically the entire South China Sea, and sees resupply missions as violations of its sovereignty. Beijing has also refused to recognize a 2016 Arbitral Ruling that sided with the Philippines and deemed its sweeping claim of the South China Sea as invalid.

At least once a month, the Philippines conducts rotation and resupply missions to Ayungin to rotate troops who are stationed there for months at a time, and to bring supplies for their daily needs.

What would have been the first mission of 2024 was scrapped due to a “technical difficulty” in one of the supply ships that required minor repairs.

Missions in the latter part of 2023 were tense and, often, precarious because of harassment from the China Coast Guard (CCG) and Chinese Maritime Militia. Navy-contracted ships, escorted by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), would have to weave through Chinese ships to bring supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre.

CCG ships in the past had subjected Philippines vessels to harassment, shadowing, and watercannoning. Collision incidents have also been reported by Philippine authorities.

The Philippines put a spotlight on China’s “gray zone” behavior through its transparency initiative by releasing videos and photos of China’s actions, and embedding Philippine journalists in PCG vessels.

The AFP did not give any other details about the mission as of posting.

Ayungin resupply mission goes unhampered

From Palawan News (Feb 2, 2024): Ayungin resupply mission goes unhampered (By Gerald Ticke)

Unaiza Mae 1 during the resupply mission on February 2, 2024.

“The latest rotation and reprovision (RORE) mission to the BRP Sierra Madre (LS-57) at Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea proceeded unchallenged and unimpeded, as stated by AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla.”

“Mission accomplished! Today, we executed a flawless rotation and resupply operation for BRP Sierra Madre. Teamwork, precision, and dedication at it’s best,” Padilla said in a social media post which she later removed.

Earlier today, SeaLight Director at the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation’s Ray Powell also said he has observed different scenarios in the West Philippine Sea after Philippine Coast Guard Vessels BRP Cabra and BRP Sindangan arrived at Sabina Shoal and was met by only one China Coast Guard Vessel 520.5 He said the resupply mission “seems to have encountered virtually no ressitance from China.”

Powell also said around 17 Chinese militia vessels were also monitored nearby but stayed west of Mischief Reef and did not conduct their usual blocking and intimidation against the PCG vessels as well as the civilian resupply boat Unaiza May 1.

“Very different… Philippines resupply to 2nd Thomas Shoal China’s usual blockade hasn’t materialized-almost all militia staying back by Mischief Reef. Whatever deal the 2 sides made in Shanghai must have dialed down China’s aggression,” Powell said in his post.

“BRP Cabra approaching 2nd Thomas Shoal but BRP Sindangan hanging back by Sabina Shoal. Maybe because China is not blockading because only one resupply vessel (Unaiza May 1) with others (UM2 and M/L Kalayaan) damaged in recent encounters or combo of both factors,” he added referring to the civilian resupply boats used by the PCG in previous resupply missions.

UM2 and M/L Kalayaan sustained damages after they were water cannoned by CCG vessels during the RORE mission in December last year.

He however noted that while only the 17 militia vessels and only one CCG vessels were sighted in the area, there are still other vessels that might have just intentionally turned off their Automatic Identification System (AIS) which makes them impossible from the radar of other vessels.

“Of course certainly AIS-dark vessels we can’t see (e.g., CCG 5203) but those we can detect have kept their distance,” he said.

AFP, PNP boost joint efforts vs insurgency in Visayas

Posted to Panay News (Feb 2, 2024): AFP, PNP boost joint efforts vs insurgency in Visayas (By Ruby P. Silubrico)

Private First Class Rodelo Alfanza, who died in Tubungan, Iloilo encounter, was laid to rest in a private cemetery in Barangay Bato, Sagay City, Negros Occidental on Jan. 28, 2024. A gun salute was held to honor Alfanza’s committed and dedicated service to the Philippine Army and the nation. PHILIPPINE ARMY SPEARHEAD TROOPERS FACEBOOK PHOTO

ILOILO City – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have bolstered cooperation to address the insurgency problem and maintain peace and order throughout the Visayas region.

Major General Marion Sison, commander of Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), and Major General Robert Rodriguez, chief of Area Police Command Visayas (APC), vowed to tighten their operations this year against insurgents.

Sison said they don’t want to kill rebels and they keep on convincing those in the mountains to surrender and avail themselves of the government’s livelihood program.

“But if they continue to refuse our offer to surrender peacefully, we have no choice but to run after them. We will hunt them until they realize na walang magandang patutungohan ang kanilang pakipaglaban,” the 3ID commander added.

According to the 3ID, for January alone they recorded five encounters – one in Iloilo and four in Negros island – that resulted in the death of four rebels and one surrenderer.

The government troops also seized four high-powered and four low-powered firearms.

However, one soldier died and another was wounded following an encounter with New People’s Army rebels in Barangay Igpaho, Tubungan, Iloilo on Jan. 17

The troops of the 61st Infantry (Hunter) Battalion clashed with the members of
Puregold (SYP) Platoon, SPF, KR-Panay, led by Nahum “Bebong” Camariosa that resulted in the death of Private First Class Rodelo Alfanza and wounding of Sergeant Ernie Dionson.

Despite this, Rodriguez is optimistic that insurgency in the Visayas will be resolved soon especially with the cooperation of the community.

“Nagapati ako nga tanan may katapusan kag sooner ang mga rebelde nga ara sa mga bukid, maga-surrender. Madamo ang programa sang gobyerno para sa ila if ever mag-surrender kag mangabuhi sila sang malinong,” Rodriguez said.

Records from the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) showed that for the month of January, 18 rebels had surrendered, four were arrested through arrest warrants and two were killed during operations.

The PRO-6 also seized a total of 20 firearms that include four high-powered and 16 low-powered guns./PN

AFP remains non-partisan amidst remarks of ex-president

Posted to Panay News (Feb 2, 2024): AFP remains non-partisan amidst remarks of ex-president Duterte

The Armed Forces of the Philippines reiterated its non-partisan stand in view of the recent falling out between President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte. Philippine Daily Inquirer / Joan Bondoc

MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reiterated its non-partisan stand in view of the recent falling out between President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte.

The AFP was linked to the recent controversy after Duterte claimed that the military knows Marcos’ alleged drug use.

“We would like to reiterate in terms of this topic … that we remain united, we remain professional and we are non-partisan,” AFP spokesperson Col. Fransel Margareth Padilla said in a regular press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo.

Padilla also said that the AFP will just “continue to have our focus in terms of our mission to end our local terrorist insurgency problem and transition ultimately to territorial defense.”

The spokesperson clarified that the AFP only conducts drug tests for its own troops and has no mandate to conduct such things outside its personnel, adding that this responsibility could fall under the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

“We are concerned with our own troops on how we can check them on these things, so we have our regular drug checks for our own troops,” Padilla said.

For its part, PDEA on Monday said Marcos was never on the government watch list for illegal drugs. (John Eric Mendoza © Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Pregnant NPA member surrenders

From Negros Now Daily (Feb 2, 2024): Pregnant NPA member surrenders (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Another member of the New People’s Army (NPA), who is pregnant, surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 11th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Barangay Mantiquil, Siaton, Negros Occidental on Jan. 31.

Ruzela Casilao, alias Maine, 22, a remnant of the dismantled South East Front (SEF) of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor, was the third female rebel in a family way, who recently abandoned the armed struggle after serving the NPA for almost three years, the 3rd Infantry Division (ID) said in a statement.

In December last year, two pregnant members of the dismantled SEF, identified as
alias “Sarah” and “Aubrey,” also surrendered, after they were rescued by troops of 11IB and Philippine National Police in Barangay Tayak, also in Siaton.

“Ka Aubrey” recently gave birth to her third child at a hospital in Dumaguete City, after reuniting with her two other minor children, whom she had not met for three years.

Casilao, 22
, a finance and logistics officer of SEF Squad 2, decided to surrender due to hardships and demoralization among the remaining members, the 3ID further said.

“The series of surrenders by top cadres and members in Negros strongly manifest that the collaborative efforts of various government instrumentalities and the strong support of civil society organizations are effective in resolving the root causes of the insurgency problem,” it added. | GB

Army eyes declaration of Negros in ‘stable internal peace, security’

From Negros Now Daily (Feb 1, 2024): Army eyes declaration of Negros in ‘stable internal peace, security’ (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID) is eyeing to recommend the declaration of Negros Island being in a state of “stable internal peace and security” by the end of the first quarter this year.

The 3ID earlier declared the dismantling of all five New People’s Army (NPA) guerilla fronts in Negros Island.

However, the focused military operations against the remnants are ongoing to prevent them from recovering their lost territories and recruiting new members, Lt. Col. J-Jay Javines, 3ID public affairs head, said in a statement.

First to be declared as dismantled more than two years ago was the South East Front, followed by the Northern Negros Front in 2022, Central Negros 1 and 2 as well as South West Front in 2023.

In a statement, Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, 3ID commander, said the series of surrenders in Negros Island since the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in December 2018 is a testament to the government’s efficiency in addressing the root causes of insurgency.

“If we can maintain this trend and with the commitment and cooperation of our partners and stakeholders, we can already recommend the declaration of Negros Island in a state of ‘stable internal peace and security’ by the end of this quarter,” he added.

Last month, two rebel remnants died while another surrendered, following an encounter in La Castellena, which also led to the recovery of six high-powered firearms and explosives. | GB

NPA loses 10 members, 14 firearms after series of encounters in AgNor

From the Mindanao Daily News Network (Feb 2, 2024): NPA loses 10 members, 14 firearms after series of encounters in AgNor

NPA loses 10 members, 14 firearms after series of encounters in AgNor

BANCASI, Butuan City – The New People’s Army in Agusan del Norte has faced another setback after one (1) member of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered and revealed the location of the six (6) high-powered firearms to the 23rd Infantry Battalion, Operational Control unit of the 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade at H23IB, Jamboree Site, P-6, Brgy Alubihid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte on February 1, 2024.

Recently, series of armed encounters transpired between the 23IB and the remnants of
Platoon 2, Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabidad (SRSDG), Sagay, Sub-Regional Committee 3 (SRC-3) of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) that resulted in the neutralization of the Ten (10) NPA members, seizure of high-powered firearms and other personal belongings.

Consequently, in more than two weeks’ time, another NPA member identified as
Jerome Amparo Marapao alias Mark, a medic of the Platoon 2, Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabidad (SRSDG), Sagay, Sub-Regional Committee 3 (SRC-3) of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) surrendered to 23IB, and revealed the location of the firearms that were hidden at Sitio Malambago, Brgy. Sangay, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. Subsequently, a follow-through operation was conducted which resulted in the discovery of six (6) AK47 Rifles, one (1) cal. 45 pistol, and other war materiel.

According to alias Mark, their hardships were immense, and the sacrifices often seemed endless. Also, he realized that the ideology he once embraced failed to align with the pursuit of genuine progress and unity he had long been fighting for. This proves that the relentless focused military operations of the 402Bde and 23IB has triumphed against the dwindling forces of the local insurgents in the Province of Agusan del Norte.

Brigadier General Adonis Ariel G Orio, Commander of the 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade, said “Many of NPA members are now following the call for a long-lasting and genuine peace that further weakens the NPA organization. However, the 402nd Infantry Brigade will not cease to intensify our operations to track and pursue the remaining communist rebels here in Agusan del Norte and the rest in our Area of Responsibility. We will stay vigilant as we urge you to abandon the armed struggle, rebuild your family, happy and without fear.”

OPAPRU tells Filipinos: Reject calls to destabilize, divide PH

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2, 2024): OPAPRU tells Filipinos: Reject calls to destabilize, divide PH (By Priam Nepomuceno)

OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Friday called on all Filipinos to shun any calls that would destabilize and divide the country, stressing that a united nation is vital in achieving development.

"When we, as Filipinos, are united, there is peace, development and prosperity. But when we, as a people, are divided, there is instability, underdevelopment and disorder," Galvez said in a statement.

The government's top peace adviser said calls for the separation of Mindanao from the Philippines are "an anathema to the letter and spirit of the Philippine Constitution", which serves as the foundation of the country's identity.

Galvez also said the move goes against the principles of a country which is already benefiting from the comprehensive peace process that has put an end to decades of armed conflict in Mindanao.

"As Filipinos, let us therefore continue supporting the Marcos administration’s peace, reconciliation and unity agenda. The dividends of peace are upon us and are now being felt by everyone," he added.

The OPAPRU chief also stressed that former members of revolutionary groups are now playing an active part in nation-building.

"Mindanao has already shed its image as a land of volatility, violence and armed struggle. It has now become a symbol of hope, mutual understanding and solidarity, and most of all, a shining example that good things come to those who choose the path of peace," Galvez said.

He added the country cannot go back to "square one" in its move to achieve lasting peace.

"We must learn our lessons from the past and apply these to all aspects of our life as peace-loving citizens. Let us always choose peace and remain united, as it is the only way to move forward as one people and one nation," Galvez said.

NTF-ELCAC abolition inappropriate at this time – NSC exec

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2, 2024): NTF-ELCAC abolition inappropriate at this time – NSC exec (By Ma. Teresa Montemayor)

National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya (File photo)

MANILA – The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has been a game changer in the country’s 52-year-old fight against communist terrorism and abolishing it would be an improper move for the government, an official of the National Security Council (NSC) said Friday.

This, after visiting United Nations Special Rapporteur Irene Khan recommended the task force's termination.

“With the strategic victory over the New People’s Army (NPA) and the exploratory peace talks with CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front), it would not be proper at this time to abolish the NTF-ELCAC,” NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said in a media forum.

Currently, there are only 1,500 armed regulars of the NPA and 11 weakened guerilla fronts, he added.

On Dec. 4, 2018, former President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 70 forming the NTF-ELCAC to respond and raise awareness of the ongoing communist rebellion in the country.

Department of Justice Undersecretary Raul Vasquez said they explained to Khan that the NTF-ELCAC is a creation of the government as an act of defense in the exercise of its sovereign powers and rights.

“We mentioned to her that the right to sovereignty is actually the cornerstone and the foundation of the United Nations Charter and she acceded to that proposition,” he added.

Khan was also informed that there is no order, policy issuance, or law on red-tagging in connection with the NTF-ELCAC.

Malaya said persons who fear being red-tagged can file libel or oral defamation cases in court. Public officers who may be victims of red-tagging can file cases with the Ombudsman or Civil Service Commission.

“Now that we’ve reached this stage in the campaign, we feel it is improper to call for its abolition and it would be best if necessary to undertake the transition,” he said.

He added that the NTF-ELCAC’s roadmap is to transition into a different body — the National Task Force on Unity Peace and Development — that will take charge of continuing development projects in the areas that were impoverished and neglected due to communist conflict.

Vasquez emphasized that Khan’s recommendation is preliminary and the final report will come months later.

“In fact, she herself opened a channel for continuing dialogues and engagements to further clarify,” he said.

“There was also an agreement between her and the State, that indeed the 10-day visit has so many limitations and that's why she herself said there’s a need for a longer time to refine the report.”

National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año, meanwhile, said they "respectfully disagree" with Khan’s recommendation to abolish the anti-insurgency task force.

"We are already at strategic victory in our campaign against the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) and to turn back now will be counterproductive and would render moot the 'whole of nation' approach that has been very successful in breaking the back of the CPP-NPA-NDF in the past five years," he added.

Año also noted that the communist insurgents are not yet eradicated as there are still 11 weakened guerrilla fronts across the country with some 1,500 armed fighters seeking to overthrow the government and wreak havoc and sow terrorism in the countryside.

"Once all guerilla fronts have been dismantled – hopefully this year – the NTF ELCAC intends to transition to an NTF-Unity Peace and Development (body) but not a day sooner. We have relayed this position to UNSR Irene Khan during the exit conference this morning and we hope she will consider this in her final report," he added.

Only PBBM, DND can issue statements on AFP modernization

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2, 2024): Only PBBM, DND can issue statements on AFP modernization (By Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday said only the agency and President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and the Department of National Defense (DND) can issue statements on the acquisition of equipment under the ongoing modernization program of the military.

"The PN (The Philippine Navy) is developing a sustainable fleet build-up to more effectively perform its mandate. Beyond that, the DND cannot provide additional information," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.

This came in response to reports that the Navy would acquire a diesel-electric submarine as part of its efforts to protect the country's territory and sovereignty.

These reports also said the acquisition is under the "Rehorizon 3", a revised 10-year military modernization plan.

BARMM leaders oppose separation of Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2, 2024): BARMM leaders oppose separation of Mindanao (By Edwin Fernandez)

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim (Photo courtesy of Bangsamoro Information Office)

COTABATO CITY – The chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), has called on all Bangsamoro to help protect the gains of the Mindanao peace processes.

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim issued the statement Friday amid calls by former President Duterte for a separate Mindanao.

“We remain grateful for and acknowledge the significant contributions made by past and present Presidents of the Philippines in arriving at the peaceful settlement of the Bangsamoro Question,” Ebrahim said.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, also led by Ebrahim, has agreed to an autonomy setup that is acceptable to the Bangsamoro people instead of the original demand for independence.

“We, therefore, urge everyone to help protect the gains of the peace processes. Let us continue to support the current administration and allow peace and civility to reign over the affairs of our land,” he said.

Ebrahim also said he stands firmly on adhering to the faithful implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) provisions toward the right to self-determination.

“Underlying the CAB is the recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and the aspiration to chart our political future through a democratic process that will secure our identity and posterity and allow for meaningful self-governance,” he said.

Meanwhile, a BARMM regional lawmaker also believed that the separation of Mindanao from Luzon and the Visayas is not as realistic as in the past.

Omar Yasser Sema, the deputy speaker of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and a member of the Moro National Liberation Front, which has also agreed to a peace deal for autonomy with the Philippine government, said that former separatists who were once fighting for the independence of Mindanao have now shifted their focus toward autonomy.

“Separation of Mindanao is not the solution to our current problem,” he told reporters when asked to comment on calls for separation of Mindanao.

NPA in Agusan Norte loses 10 members, 14 firearms in January

 From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2, 2024): NPA in Agusan Norte loses 10 members, 14 firearms in January (By Alexander Lopez)

NPA FIREARMS. Jerome Amparo Marapao, an NPA medic of Platoon 2, Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabidad Sagay in Agusan del Norte led government troops on Thursday (Feb. 1, 2024) in the recovery of a cache of firearms hidden by the rebels in Barangay Sangay, Buenavista town. The armed encounters in Agusan del Norte last month also resulted in the death of four rebels, the capture of three, and the recovery of 14 high-powered firearms. (Photo courtesy of 402Bde)

BUTUAN CITY – The communist New People’s Army (NPA) suffered a major blow during the three armed confrontations last month in Agusan del Norte, the Army’s 402nd Infantry Brigade (402Bde) said Friday.

In a statement, Brig. Gen. Adonis Ariel Orio, the 402Bde commander, said the series of encounters between the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) and the
Platoon 2, Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabidad Sagay (SRSDG Sagay) under the NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Committee last month had resulted to the death of four rebels, capture of three, and the surrender of three others.

The encounters took place on January 16, 24, and 29 where
14 high-powered firearms and ammunition of the rebels were also recovered by the 23IB, seven of which were seized in the encounter sites.

On Thursday, Orio said a rebel, identified as
Jerome Amparo, also turned himself in at the 23IB headquarters.

Upon his surrender,
Marapao a medic of SRSDG Sagay, revealed the location of firearms hidden by the NPA rebels in Sitio Malambago, Barangay Sangay, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.

A follow-up operation led to the recovery of six AK-47 rifles, a cal.45 pistol, ammunition, and other war materials at the site.

“Many NPA members are now following the call for a long-lasting and genuine peace that further weakens their organization,” Orio said.

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: Nagpapatuloy na pag-block ng rehimeng Marcos sa mga progresibong website, binatikos

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis propaganda article (Jan 29, 2024): Nagpapatuloy na pag-block ng rehimeng Marcos sa mga progresibong website, binatikos (Marcos regime's continued blocking of progressive websites, criticized)

January 29, 2024

Nagprotesta ang mga progresibong grupo at mga tagapagtanggol sa kalayaan sa pamamahayag sa harap ng upisina ng National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) sa Quezon City ngayong Enero 29 para batikusin ang nagpapatuloy na pag-“block” o pagharang sa 27 website ng mga alternatibong midya, progresibo at rebolusyonaryong grupo sa bansa. Nagsimula itong i-block noong Hunyo 2022 sa ilalim ng rehimeng Duterte.

Ang kautusan ay inilabas ng NTC noong Hunyo 8, 2022 matapos iutos ng hepe ng National Secutiry Council na si Gen. Hermogenes Esperon. Ginawa ito ni Esperon alinsunod sa walang-batayang designasyon ng Anti-Terror Council sa Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas bilang isang teroristang organisasyon at mga binansagan nitong “tagasuporta” o “may kaugnayan” sa Partido.

Kabilang sa mga website na naka-block ang sa pahayagang Bulatlat at Pinoy Weekly, at sa mga grupong Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Amihan Women, at PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas.

Muling iginiit ng mga grupo sa rehimeng Marcos na tanggalin ang pagka-block ng mga website bilang pagkilala at pagrespeto sa karapatang magpahayag sa bansa. Itinaon nila ang pagkilos sa isinasagawang pagbisita at imbestigasyon ni Irene Khan, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Experession, sa bansa. Kabilang din ang mga kasong ito sa isinumite ng mga grupo na ulat kay Khan.

Matapos ang pagkilos sa NTC, tumungo ang mga grupo sa National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) na upisina ng National Task Force-Elcac para magsagawa ng isa pang protesta. Binatikos ng mga grupo ang ginagawang panunupil at kampanya ng malawakang red-tagging ng naturang ahensya. Iginiit nilang buwagin na ang NTF-Elcac.

Ayon sa Bayan, inilunsad nila ang magkasunod na pagkilos para “pasinungalingan ang pahayag ng gubyerno sa pagbisita ni Khan na buhay na buhay ang kalayaan sa pagpapahayag sa bansa.”

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: Porum ng US Air Force sa UP-Diliman, napaatras

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis propaganda article (Feb 1, 2024): Porum ng US Air Force sa UP-Diliman, napaatras (US Air Force forum in UP-Diliman, postponed)

February 01, 2024

Napaatras ng mga estudyante at iba’t ibang grupong demokratiko ang plano ng US Air Force na magsagawa ng porum sa College of Science sa University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman ngayong araw, Pebrero 1. Mahigit 46 organisasyon at 464 indibidwal ang pumirma sa petisyon para ikansela ang naturang porum. Anila, ang abanteng teknolohiya ay di dapat gamitin para sa mga krimen sa digma, katulad ng ginagawa ngayon ng US sa Palestine.

Ang naturang porum, na bahagi ng tinaguriang “Umalohokan Series” ng UP Office of International Linkages ay para himukin ang mga estudyante sa syensya na makipagsabwatan sa syentipikong pananaliksik ng US Airforce. Pangunahing panauhin nito ang mga punong upisyal mula sa US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, ang bisig na nagbibigay ng mga “grant” o ayudang pinansyal sa mga estudyanteng kulang ang pondo para makapagsagawa ng mga pananaliksik na rekisito para sila makapagtapos sa kanilang kurso.

“Tagumpay! US military, rejected!” pahayag ng mga estudyate at grupo. “Ang ating kolektibong aksyon ang naghatid ng ating patutol sa paggamit ng syensya at teknolohiya para sa mga krimen ng digma (ng US) sa mga aping bansa. Naniniwala kaming ang syentipikong pananaliksik ay magiging maka-mamamayan lamang kung ito ay gagawin para likhain ang isang makatarungan at mapayapang lipunan.”

Dagdag ng mga nagpetisyon, hindi syentipiko ang kontra-mamamayang teknolohiya kundi armas lamang para kumitil ng mga buhay.

“Sa harap ng mga krimen sa digma na isinagawa ng US Air Force, nakikiisa ang College of Science at ang unibersidad sa aping mamamayan tulad ng mga Palestino. Ang syensya at teknolohiya ay hindi para sa mga krimen sa digma!”

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: Tropa ng 80th IB na protektor ng Wawa-Violago Dam, inambus ng BHB-Rizal

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis propaganda article (Feb 1, 2024): Tropa ng 80th IB na protektor ng Wawa-Violago Dam, inambus ng BHB-Rizal (Troops of the 80th IB protector of the Wawa-Violago Dam, ambushed by the NPA-Rizal)

February 01, 2024

Inambus ng isang yunit ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB)-Rizal ang nag-ooperasyong tropa ng 80th IB sa Lukutang Malaki, Barangay San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal noong Enero 31, alas-5:10 ng madaling araw. Isang pasistang sundalo ang napaslang, habang dalawang iba pa ang nasugatan. Ang naturang yunit militar ay tagabantay sa mapanirang proyektong Wawa-Violago Dam sa Rizal.

Ayon sa ulat, mag-iisang taon na ang masinsin at walang-puknat na focused military operation ng 80th IB sa naturang bayan sa Rizal. Liban sa pagsisilbing bantay ng itinatayong dam, protektor din ang yunit sa interes sa Lukutang Malaki ng naghahari-hariang malalaking burgesya kumprador-panginoong may lupa na mga Araneta, Villar at Robles.

Imbwelto ang yunit sa patung-patong na mga paglabag sa karapatang-tao kabilang ang iligal na pagkulong sa mga katutubo at mga magsasaka na nagtatanggol sa kanilang karapatan sa kabuhayan. Simula kahapon, Enero 31, pinatindi at pinahigpit ng 80th IB ang pagbabantay sa paglabas-masok ng mga residente sa komunidad. Nagtayo ang mga sundalo ng mga tsekpoynt at nagbabahay-bahay para sindakin ang mga residente at ipailalim sa iligal na interogasyon.

Ayon kay Macario Liwanag (Ka Karyo), tagapagsalita ng BHB-Rizal, ang panggigipit at karahasan ng 80th IB laban sa mga sibilyan ay bahagi ng desperasyon nito na durugin ang hukbong bayan sa prubinsya. Ito umano ang tanging layunin ng 80th IB para mabigyang daan nito ang diumano’y mga proyektong pangkaunlaran ng mga naghaharing uri upang magkamal ng limpak-limpak na yaman para sa kanilang sariling interes” sa kapinsalaan ng kabuhayan ng mga katutubong Dumagat-Remontado at masang magsasaka.

Ang ambus ay pagbibigay-hustisya at pagtatanggol ng BHB-Rizal sa mamamayan ng Rizal.

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: Mga magsasaka sa Masbate, ninakawan, pinaputukan ng CAFGU at militar

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis propaganda article (Feb 2, 2024): Mga magsasaka sa Masbate, ninakawan, pinaputukan ng CAFGU at militar (Farmers in Masbate, robbed, shot by CAFGU and military)

February 02, 2024

Kinundena ng Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid (PKM)-Masbate ang mga kaso ng pagnanakaw at walang habas na pamamaril ng mga elemento ng Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) at yunit ng 2nd at 96th IB sa ilang bayan sa Masbate noong huling linggo ng Enero. Labis ang takot at tromang idinulot nito sa masang magsasaka at mga residente.

Noong Enero 30, nagpaulan ng bala ang mga elemento ng 96th IB sa Sityo Malapinggan hangganan ng Barangay San Jose, Uson at Barangay Sawmill, bayan ng Mobo noong Enero 30, alas-7 ng umaga. Pinaputukan ng mga sundalo ang mga residenteng nangahas na magkopra sa niyugang inagaw ng militar.

Ayon sa PKM-Masbate, malalawak na niyugan sa naturang mga barangay ang pinagbawalang ipakopra sa mga residente upang ang militar ang makinabang. Kabi-kabilang kaso na ng paninindak ang naitala laban sa mga magkokopra na nais lamang maghanapbuhay.

Noong Enero 29, naitala naman ang mga kaso ng pagnanakaw at sapilitang pagpasok sa mga bahay at iligal na paghalughog ng mga CAFGU at militar. Sa pangunguna ng isang Sgt. Ramos, naghasik ng terorismo ang mga elemento ng CAFGU sa mga komunidad na sumasaklaw sa Hacienda Mortuegue sa bayan ng Pio V. Corpuz at Esperanza.

Sa Barangay Labigan, Pio V. Corpuz, binugbog at ninakawan ng alagang manok si Johnny Compuesto. Sa Barangay Tubog sa parehong bayan, sinalakay din ang tahanan ni Ruel Menchavez. Sa Barangay Tawad, Esperanza, kapwa nakaranas ng pananakit sina Cadong Mendoza at Wilyn Menchavez habang ninakawan naman si Inday Canete at Ruben Menchavez.

Sangkot sa mga krimeng ito ang mga tauhang militar at CAFGU na nakabase sa Barangay Estampar sa Cataingan na sina Jerome Bohol, Ondo Quilong-quilong at Boboy Armenion sa pangunguna ni Sergeant Ramos mula sa 2nd IB.

Ang mga bayan ng Cataingan, Pio V. Corpuz at Esperanza, ay pawang malalawak na kapatagang pabor sa pagsasaka. Kabilang dito ang makasaysayang Hacienda Mortuegue na nabawi ng mga magsasaka mula sa asyendero. Ayon sa PKM-Masbate, ang mga lupaing ito ay desperadong tinatrabaho ng gubernador ng prubinsya na si Gov. Antonio T. Kho para kamkamin at gamitin sa kanyang interes sa rantso at ekoturismo.

“Sa ilalim ng rehimeng US-Marcos, lalong naging marahas at agresibo ang gera kontra magsasaka. Sa ilang taon pa lamang, daan-daang pamilya na ng magsasaka ang napalayas sa kanilang lupang binubungkal sa pamamagitan ni Gov. Kho,” pahayag ng PKM-Masbate.

Anito, ang nagpapatuloy na pangangamkam ng lupa at pandarahas sa masang magsasaka ay nagpapatunay sa kabuktutan ng repormang agraryo ng reaksyunaryong gubyerno. “May bahid ng dugo ang libu-libong ektarya ng lupaing inagaw ng gubernador mula sa mga magsasaka,” giit ng grupo.

Sa harap nito, nananawagan ang PKM-Masbate sa mga magsasakang Masbatenyo na magiting na harapin ang teroristang gera ng rehimeng US-Marcos sa pamamagitan ng paglahok sa digmang bayan. Ipinabatid naman ng grupo ang suporta nito sa kanilang hukbo, ang Bagong Hukong Bayan (BHB)-Masbate. “Sabik kami sa aming Hukbo. Lalong kailangan ng mga magsasakang Masbatenyo ang kanilang Hukbo sa harap ng lumalalang pang-aapi’t pagsasamantalang kanilang dinaranas,” ayon sa grupo.

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: Lektura ng USAID sa UP Manila, binatikos ng mga estudyante

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis propaganda article (Feb 2, 2024): Lektura ng USAID sa UP Manila, binatikos ng mga estudyante (USAID lecture at UP Manila, criticized by students)

February 02, 2024

Binatikos ng University of the Philippines (UP)-Manila University Student Council (USC) ang pagpasok ng US Agency for International Development (USAID) at pagsasagawa nito ng lektura sa loob ng kampus noong Enero 31. Tinuligsa ito ng konseho dahil sa pagtatangka ng US na itulak sa loob ng unibersidad ang imperyalistang adyenda nito.

“Kasama ang iba pang makabayang konseho ng mga mag-aaral at organisasyong masa, tinutuligsa namin ang pagpasok ng imperyalistang mga pwersang militar, o kahit anong balangay ng ahensyang pang-ayuda nito tulad ng USAID, sa aming pamantasan, kahit na at lalo sa tabing ng pagbibigay ng suportang pang-akademiko, mga porum, talakayan at iba pang pakikipagtulungan sa akademya,” ayon sa pahayag ng konseho.

Anito, mahaba na ang kasaysayan ng US sa pagpapadala ng ayudang militar at pinansya sa mga reaksyunaryong estado, tulad ng Pilipinas at Israel. Ginagawa umano ito ng imperyalistang US para panatilihin ang kontrol sa mga rekurso at mamamayan ng bansang kanilang kinukubabawan at supilin ang mga tumutuligsa sa kanilang mapagsamantalang mga intensyon. Sa Pilipinas, anila, ginagawa ito sa pamamagitan ng mga kaso ng Red-tagging, pagdukot, pag-aresto at maging pagpaslang.

Liban dito, naniniwala ang konseho na manipestasyon din ng pagkubabaw ng US sa Pilipinas ang pagpapanatili sa kolonyal, komerysalisado at mapanupil na sistema ng edukasyon sa bansa. “Ang sistema ng edukasyon ay nananatiling naka-angkla sa Kanluraning sistema ng edukasyon na nagtataguyod ng komersyal at indibidwalistang kultura,” ayon sa konseho.

Kaugnay nito, hinimok ng UPM USC ang administrasyon ng unibersidad na “abisuhan at konsultahin ang mga estudyante kaugnay ng mga kaganapan at pakikipagtulungan nito sa iba’t ibang institusyon.” Anila, mayroon silang karapatang malaman kung sino ang pumapasok sa kampus bilang bahagi ng komunidad ng UPM.

Kahapon lamang, Pebrero 1, napaatras ng mga estudyante ng UP Diliman ang porum ng US Air Force na ilulunsad sana nito sa College of Science. Mahigit 46 organisasyon at 464 indibidwal ang pumirma sa petisyon para ikansela ang naturang porum. Giit nila, ang abanteng teknolohiya ay di dapat gamitin para sa mga krimen sa digma, katulad ng ginagawa ngayon ng US sa Palestine.

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: Pagbuwag sa NTF-Elcac, inirekomenda ng espesyal na tagaulat ng UN

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis propaganda article (Feb 2, 2024): Pagbuwag sa NTF-Elcac, inirekomenda ng espesyal na tagaulat ng UN (Disbanding NTF-Elcac, recommended by UN special rapporteur)

February 02, 2024

Nagtapos ngayong araw, Pebrero 2, ang 10-araw na pagbisita ng UN Special Rapporteur para sa pagtataguyod at pagtatanggol sa karapatan sa malayang pagbibigay ng opinyon at pagpapahayag para siyasatin ang kalagayan nito sa Pilipinas. Kabilang sa pinagtuunan niya ng pansin ay ang mga gawi na nakaaapekto sa malayang pagpapahayag tulad ng Red-tagging, harasment at ligal na panggigipit.

Sa kanyang press conference, ipinanawagan niya ang pagbuwag sa NTF-Elcac na aniya’y “lipas na” at “tagapagtulak” ng Red-tagging.

“Diretsahan kong tinanong ang gubyerno kung mayroon ba itong patakaran sa Red-tagging at sinabi nilang hindi nila ito inieendorso o hinihikayat. Gayunpaman, klaro ang ebidensya: Ginagawa ng mga pwersang panseguridad (ng estado) ang Red-tagging at terror-tagging bilang bahagi ng estratehiyang kontra-terorismo.”

Inirekomenda rin ni Khan ang pag-“unblock” o pagtanggal sa restriksyon sa mga progresibong website na ipinataw ng reaksyunaryong estado.

Ang rekomendasyong ito ay mula sa pakikipagdayalogo ni Khan sa iba’t ibang grupo ng midya at iba pang demokratikong sektor, at kahit sa mga upisyal at armadong pwersa ng estado. Binisita rin niya sa kulungan sa Tacloban ang nakakulong na mamamahayag na si Frenchie May Cumpio ng independyenteng midya na Eastern Vista at dalawa pa niyang kasama.

Pangalawang pagkakataon nang inirekomenda ng isang espesyal na tagapag-ulat ng United Nations (UN) ang pagbubuwag sa National Task Force-Elcac. Noong Nobyembre 2023, ito na rin ang rekomendasyon ni Ian Fry, ang UN special rapporteur para sa pagtataguyod at pagtatanggol ng karapatang-tao sa konteksto ng climate change. Tulad ni Khan, nakipagpulong si Fry sa iba’t ibang demokratikong sektor sa bansa.

Malugod na tinanggap ng Altermidya, network ng mga alternatibong midya at mamamahayag sa komunidad, ang mga rekomendasyon ni Khan.

“Sinusuportahan ng alternatibong midya ang rekomendasyon ni Ms. Khan para sa pagbubuwag sa NTF-Elcac, gayundin ang pagpapanagot sa mga tagapagtaguyod ng Red-tagging,” pahayag ng grupo matapos ang press conference. Dapat ding ibasura ang Executive Order No. 70 na batayan ng pagkakatatag ng ahensyang ito.

Ikinalugod din ng grupo ang pagbisita ni Khan sa myembro nitong si Cumpio at pagpanawagan para sa kanyang kagyat na pagpapalaya. Si Cumpio ang pinakabatang mamamahayag na nakakulong sa Pilipinas. Nagdiwang siya ng kanyang ika-25 kaarawan ilang araw bago ang bisita ni Khan. Iligal siyang inaresto, kasama ang dalawa pa, noong 2020. Ayon kay Khan, ang matagal nang pagkukulong kay Cumpio ay “justice delayed, justice denied.”

Nagpasalamat naman ang National Union of Journalists of the Philippines kay Khan sa pagtutulak nito ng mga rekomendasyon para sa proteksyon ng mga mamamahayag at kalayaan sa pamamahayag.

“Nakikiisa kami sa mga pananaw ni Ms. Khan tungkol sa Red-tagging, at sang-ayon kami na dapat nang buwagin ang NTF-Elcac,” anito. Ikinalugod din ng NUJP ang pusisyon ni Khan laban sa Cybercrime Prevention Act na aniya’y pumipigil sa media freedom, partikular ang probisyon nito sa cyberlibel.

“Panahon na para gawing di-kriminal ang libel sa Pilipinas,” ayon sa NUJP.

CPP/CIO: Condemn and oppose plan to hold Balikatan near Taiwan

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (Jan 31, 2024): Condemn and oppose plan to hold Balikatan near Taiwan

Marco Valbuena
Chief Information Officer
Communist Party of the Philippines

February 01, 2024

Together with the Filipino people, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns the US military and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for planning to hold another round of large-scale war exercises in the Philippines that trample on the country’s national sovereignty and further drag the country into military and economic conflicts of the Big Powers.

The US plan to bring tens of thousands of troops and naval war vessels to conduct war exercises at the Mavulis island, together with their Filipino minions, at the northernmost tip of the Batanes province, is clearly saber-rattling and a show of force which will surely be considered by China as acts of provocation. Mavulis is a mere 140 kilometers from the southern coast of Taiwan, which the US has long been stoking to separate from China.

The Filipino people must call for the withdrawal of all American troops stationed in the Philippines and demand the dismantling of all US military bases and facilities. Serving as host to thousands of American troops makes the Philippines a pawn of US geopolitical and military strategy. Continuing to allow the US to make use of the country as a military stronghold for mounting its overseas military operations takes away the country’s capacity to exercise an independent foreign policy and uphold the policy of peace, amity and cooperation with all nations.

We must be keenly aware of how the US pursuit of its policy of war has perpetuated endless armed conflicts over the past decades since the end of World War II. The now 2-year war in Ukraine, the Zionist Israel genocide of the Palestinian people, and the expanding and escalating war in the Middle East are just some of recent examples of armed conflicts that arose from the US imperialist policy of using war as instrument in imposing global hegemony, in its rivalry with other imperialist powers and as a means of oppressing countries assertive of their national sovereignty.

Under US colonial, and later neocolonial, rule, the Philippines has long been subjected to US military intervention, and used as a springboard for US wars, including wars of aggression in Korea and Taiwan, as well as in Iran and Afghanistan. Indoctrinated, trained, armed and funded by the US, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) serves as pillar of US domination in the Philippines.

The Filipino people must militantly resist and oppose the Balikatan war exercises, and fight US military intervention and its policy of using the Philippines as a stronghold for US hegemonism in Asia, before the country becomes completely sucked into the vortex of US-initiated wars.