Saturday, March 2, 2024

Bohol Clash Triggers Stress Debriefing for 26, Including Minors, in Bilar Encounter

From BNN News (Mar 2, 2024): Bohol Clash Triggers Stress Debriefing for 26, Including Minors, in Bilar Encounter (By Mahnoor Jehangir)

After a violent encounter in Mandaue City, Cebu, Bohol's government steps in to support 26 affected civilians with stress debriefing and aid.

Bohol Clash Triggers Stress Debriefing for 26, Including Minors, in Bilar Encounter

In a significant development following a violent encounter in Mandaue City, Cebu, 26 individuals from Barangay Campagao, Bilar town, found themselves undergoing stress debriefing, among them 13 minors, as confirmed by Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado. The clash that transpired early morning on February 23 involved government troops and suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA), leading to a heightened focus on the psychological well-being of the affected civilians.

Immediate Response and Support

The Office of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development (OPSWD) swiftly mobilized to Barangay Campagao on March 1, engaging with the families living in proximity to the encounter site. The mission: to deliver psychological first aid and assess the immediate needs of those impacted by the violence. Beyond the crucial stress debriefing sessions, the provincial government extended tangible support through the distribution of food packs, acknowledging the pressing needs of the affected families, especially those with children.

Ensuring Peace and Order

With a focus on long-term stability, Governor Aumentado emphasized the importance of maintaining close coordination with the residents of Bilar. This collaborative approach aims not only to address the immediate aftermath of such conflicts but also to foster a sense of community resilience and ensure the continuous peace and order within the province. The governor's commitment reflects a broader strategy to mitigate the effects of armed conflicts on civilian populations, particularly the vulnerable sectors.

Reflections on the Encounter

The Bohol clash, which resulted in the death of five suspected NPA members and one government soldier, casts a spotlight on the ongoing challenges faced in regions plagued by insurgent activities. The incident not only underscores the human cost of such conflicts but also the psychological and social ramifications on communities caught in the crossfire. As the affected individuals in Barangay Campagao begin their journey towards recovery, the incident serves as a poignant reminder of the need for comprehensive strategies that address both the physical and mental health impacts of conflict.

The proactive steps taken by the Bohol provincial government in the wake of the encounter highlight the critical role of local authorities in crisis response and community support. As the residents of Barangay Campagao navigate the aftermath of this tragic event, the broader implications for peace-building and conflict resolution in the region remain a subject of significant reflection. The incident not only calls for a continued commitment to safeguarding civilians but also for a renewed focus on addressing the root causes of insurgency, ensuring a future where communities can thrive free from the shadow of conflict.

Clash in Surigao del Sur: Philippine Army, NPA Conflict Displaces Families

From BNN News (Mar 2, 2024): Clash in Surigao del Sur: Philippine Army, NPA Conflict Displaces Families (By Rizwan Shah)

A confrontation between the Philippine Army and NPA in Surigao del Sur displaces families. Explore the DSWD's relief actions and community impact.

Clash in Surigao del Sur: Philippine Army, NPA Conflict Displaces Families

On the morning of February 12, 2023, an armed encounter between the Philippine Army and the New People's Army (NPA) erupted in Brgy. Baucawe, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. This confrontation has led to the displacement of several families, thrusting the community into a state of urgent need.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), through its Field Office in Caraga, promptly responded to the crisis by providing relief augmentation. This action aimed to support the immediate needs of the affected families and individuals, highlighting the government's swift response to conflict-induced displacements.

Immediate Response and Relief Efforts

In total, nine families or 39 individuals were directly impacted by the conflict in Brgy. Baucawe. These families found temporary refuge with relatives or friends, demonstrating the tight-knit nature of the community in times of distress. The DSWD's relief efforts amounted to ₱69,597.00 worth of assistance, a testament to the government's commitment to supporting its citizens in times of need.

Community Impact and Government Intervention

The incident not only highlights the ongoing conflict between the Philippine Army and the NPA but also sheds light on the broader issue of internal displacement within the Philippines. The government's rapid response, spearheaded by the DSWD, serves as a crucial lifeline for those affected, ensuring the welfare of displaced families until they can safely return to their homes.

Looking Forward: Challenges and Recovery

While the immediate needs of the displaced families have been addressed, the incident in Brgy. Baucawe opens up discussions on the long-term solutions to internal conflict and displacement in the Philippines. As the community begins to recover, the resilience of its people and the continued support from government agencies will be key to overcoming the challenges posed by such conflicts.

The clash in Surigao del Sur is a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges facing many communities across the Philippines. As efforts towards peace and reconciliation continue, the support provided by the DSWD and other agencies remains essential for the recovery and well-being of those affected by conflict.

Marcos vows boost to dev’t of Basilan

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 3, 2024): Marcos vows boost to dev’t of Basilan (By: Julie Alipala, Julie M. Aurelio)

LET THERE BE PEACE President Marcos examines a surrendered rifle before its destruction in Basilan on Saturday. —PPA POOL

SUMISIP, BASILAN—President Marcos on Saturday set foot on a former stronghold of separatism and Islamic extremism in the country and vowed to renew the development that has evaded this island province for more than 50 years.

Mr. Marcos arrived in Mahatallang village at past 9 a.m. to grace the launch of the “Panabang si Kasanyangan” (Support the Peace) program, held in time for the province’s 50th founding anniversary.

He was the fourth President to have come to this formerly no-go island province. The first was his father in the 1970s to inaugurate the establishment of Mahatallang, a farming resettlement for former Moro guerrillas. The second was former President Benigno Aquino III in 2015 and the third was former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 and 2019.

But he was the first to visit the so-called Sampinit Complex, a stronghold of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which started the 50-year insurgency after the Jabidah Massacre in 1968.

When the MNLF signed a peace deal with the government in 1996, the Abu Sayyaf group, whose core leadership was those who split from the MNLF, took over the area. Hence, it has become the centrum of banditry and terrorism operations not just in Basilan but in the country’s southern region.

“I am the first President to be able to come here to ground zero,” Mr. Marcos said in a chance interview.

Mr. Marcos took the presidential chopper from Zamboanga City to Tumahubong village, which was also marred by violence, the most gruesome of which was the March 2000 hostage taking of more than 70 schoolchildren, teachers and Claretian missionary priest Rhoel Gallardo.

But things have changed in this former warzone. The President was greeted upon arrival by cheerful plantation workers with no elaborate military security cover in sight, except for four armored personnel carriers that were half a kilometer away from the event venue.
550 weapons destroyed

The President witnessed the decommissioning and destruction of 550 small arms that were turned in by former Moro rebels, Abu Sayyaf bandits and ordinary civilians.

The Army used a payloader to roll over the weapons displayed on the pavement. Lamitan City Mayor Roderick Furigay told the Inquirer that he estimated the destroyed weapons to cost about P20 million.

“I am very happy to be here in a beautiful, bountiful and breathtaking Basilan. Our presence in today’s event reaffirms the truth that what was once a ground zero of war is now turned into an epicenter of peace,” Mr. Marcos said.

He acknowledged that Basilan, which was once tainted by violence and terrorism, is now a zone of peace. He emphasized that it was not so much due to military might “but more-so by our people saying ‘no’ to violence.”

“Peace is more than just a cessation of hostilities, it is about the creation of a social order that values human dignity, improves lives and promotes progress,” Mr. Marcos pointed out.

Basilan, he noted, is twice as large as Singapore, and has a lot of agricultural and fisheries potential.

“Basilan’s new role is now the war against hunger. You have a land area twice the size of Singapore, blessed with a rich soil, above-all more or less typhoon-free, which makes you an ideal bulwark in our fight for food security,” he said.

He vowed government help to make the province another food basket for the country, after security concerns that pushed it to underdevelopment for a long time had eased.
Still many pending issues

Even before the MNLF inked a peace deal in 1996, the Abu Sayyaf had already become the main purveyor of violence in the province shortly after it was organized in 1989.

The first Abu Sayyaf members were young people, mostly related to MNLF fighters who were slain or experienced atrocities committed at that time or the 1976 Moro Gulf earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of Mindanao folk.

Islamist fundamentalism, brought to the country by veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1970s, conflated the economic and socio-political grievances of the Moro insurgency.

A joint program by the Army, the then ARMM, and a nongovernmental organization lured the former bandits back into the folds of the law through generous socioeconomic incentives and a reintegration program. The same initiative has been continued by the provincial government under Gov. Jim Hataman-Salliman.

READ: Gov’t to help unravel Basilan’s ‘agri-fisheries potential’ – Marcos

“Peace is totally achieved not when the sound of gunfire was ended, it is when the clamor of better has been met. This is the kind of peace that we see dawn off here in Basilan,” Mr. Marcos noted.

“This is the kind of peace where the depressing tally of casualties of war must be replaced by the statistics of human development. The kind of peace that endures because it uproots the causes of people’s discontent that purveyors of violence may want to exploit. This is the kind of peace that draws strength from the free will of the people instead of commanding their religion by force,” the President added.

Sumisip Mayor Jul Adnan Hataman said he also wanted the President to increase the government’s investment into the reintegration program for former Abu Sayyaf bandits.

“We have so many former Abu Sayyaf who surrendered but sustainability is a big challenge to ensure they will not go back to the life they used to live,” he told the Inquirer.

3MBde’s Col. Manalang among Metrobank Foundation’s ACES awardees

From Palawan News (Mar 3, 2024): 3MBde’s Col. Manalang among Metrobank Foundation’s ACES awardees (By Celeste Anna Formoso)

Colonel Wilfredo Manalang Jr., deputy commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade (pictured on the left in the first line, wearing a Marine uniform), stands alongside the other ACES awardees. (Photo by SSg Ambay/PAOAFP)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the deputy commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade, Col. Wilfredo Manalang Jr., were among the institutions and individuals recently recognized by the Metrobank Foundation for commitment to excellence and service, and dedication to nation-building with partners and stakeholders.

The recognition was conferred upon them by the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI), along with others, on February 29 at the Marquis Events Place in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, led by its president Aniceto Sobrepeña, GT Foundation president Alfred Ty, and Metrobank president Fabian Dee, in celebration of their 45th Anniversary.

Colonel Manalang, stationed in Palawan as the deputy brigade commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade (3MBde),
was recognized alongside over 30 individuals with the 5th Metrobank Foundation Award for Continuing Excellence and Service (ACES) 2024, embodying the theme “A Heart that Serves.”

In 2016, he was honored as one of The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS) awardees. He was selected from past recipients of the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos (OF) awards, which honor outstanding individuals from various fields including academe, the military, and law enforcement.

He, along with others, received the “Spiral” medallion crafted by Roberto Feleo, the recipient of the Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE) award in 1984.

A congratulatory post on Friday by the 3MBde, led by Brigadier General Antonio Mangoroban Jr., stated that Col. Manalang previously served as the commanding officer of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-8, which earned the Philippine Marines Corps “Kahusayan” award for two consecutive years.

He has been honored with the Distinguished Service Star twice and has received various commendations and recognitions throughout his career. In addition, he also held important leadership roles in counterterrorism and military diplomatic affairs within the AFP’s Intelligence Service and served as the Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attaché (PhilDAFA) to Pakistan for three years.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), on the other hand, was bestowed the 4th Metrobank Foundation Award for Partner in Empowerment, Advocacy, and Commitment to Excellence (PEACE), which recognizes its collaborative efforts with MBFI.

AFP Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner Jr., also a recipient of the TOPS in 2013, received the honor from Metrobank Foundation.

In its 45th year, the Metrobank Foundation said it has remained committed to the philanthropic vision of its late founder, Dr. George S.K. Ty.

Through diverse corporate social responsibility initiatives, MBFI aims to empower communities and contribute to nation-building in line with its goal of being the Philippines’ leading corporate philanthropic foundation.

South Korea jets bring airshow display to Clark

From Rappler (Mar 2, 2024): South Korea jets bring airshow display to Clark (By JOANN MANABAT)

The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) Black Eagles aerobatics team will hold an exclusive two-day airshow display in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and South Korea

CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines – Eight supersonic jets from South Korea are set to take to the Philippine territorial skies for a two-day free public airshow event at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga on March 4 and 5.

The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) Black Eagles aerobatics team will take flight in an exclusive two-day airshow display in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and South Korea.

The Philippines became the first member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to establish diplomatic relations with South Korea on March 3, 1949.

A joint flight also kicked off the celebration in a demonstration of friendship and collaboration as ROKAF’s eight T-50B jets and PAF’s four FA-50 light combat fighters flew together on Sunday morning, March 3.

National Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr looks on various hand guns and rifles from South Korea at the Haribon Hangar exhibit area during the 75th commemoration of the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and South Korea. Joann Manabat/Rapper

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National Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr., who led the opening ceremonies, said a closer cooperation between the Philippines and South Korea signified a strong shared commitment and values between the two countries.

Teodoro said the event will also bring learning exchanges from subject matter experts between the ROKAF delegation led by its Air Defense and Control Commander General Park Chang Kyu and PAF personnel.

“This commemorates diplomatic relations for the simple reason that we fought together side by side against tyranny and oppression, to ensure the liberty of South Korea,” Teodoro said.

“To show us what the Koreans are made of in the air and learn not only in terms of modernization but also in meticulousness, how they pay attention to logistics, maintenance, and other support needs.”

The event also featured defense exhibits from Korean defense industry companies such as Korea Aerospace Industries, Dasan Engineering, and Hyundai Heavy Industries, among others.

The two-day public airshow is set on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning at 3:30 pm and 9 am respectively at the Haribon Hangar. The gates will open two hours prior to the start of the airshow.

In a region under ‘threat,’ Marcos presents to Australia a Philippines on the frontlines

From Rappler (Mar 2, 2024): In a region under ‘threat,’ Marcos presents to Australia a Philippines on the frontlines (By BEA CUPIN)

The Philippine president draws on history during a visit where the outcomes – in talk and in documents – look toward the future as the Indo-Pacific deals with actions that ‘undermine regional peace, erode regional stability, and threaten regional success’

In his first visit to Canberra as commander-in-chief, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday, February 29, spoke of a Philippines that was on the “frontline” against “actions that undermine regional peace.”

“We must reinforce each other’s strengths. We must protect the peace that we fought for during the war and have jealously guarded in the decades since. We must oppose actions that clearly denigrate the rule of law,” said Marcos at Parliament House, speaking before legislators of Manila’s newest strategic partner.

Marcos, who flew into Canberra the night before, wore his usual barong but donned a pair of spectacles to address a joint sitting of Australia’s parliament.

The son and namesake of the late dictator is the first Philippine president to have been invited to address parliament. He joins an exclusive club that includes former US presidents and Chinese leaders.

Marcos’ visit was not universally welcomed – Senator Janet Rice, of the minority Australian Greens party, held up a banner decrying human rights abuses in the Philippines, and protesters staged a rally outside Parliament House against the Philippine president.

Yet for the Albanese government and even the opposition – Marcos is a welcome and important visitor.

“I know you will be warmly welcomed wherever you go in Australia. Because all of us in this place, and indeed all Australians, are united in our respect for the contribution your nation and your people make to our region and our communities,” said Albanese, after thanking Marcos and his wife, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, for hosting him and partner Jodie Haydon in September 2023.

His trip to Canberra, with another visit to Melbourne days later for a regional summit, comes as tensions in the South China Sea continue to rise and concerns over stability in the region concern even countries that exist outside of it.

‘When the Southern Cross met the Pearl of the Orient’

Dr. Maria Tanyag, a research fellow and lecturer at the Australian National University’s Department of International Relations, said the invitation from Australia to make the “rare” address is “the strongest testament to the importance of the Philippines for geopolitical relations.”

“Australia, in a variety of ways, has been signaling its commitment to Southeast Asia, and [this invitation] is part of it. It also aligns because Marcos is also sending the right signals. This is an alignment of strategic interest,” she said in an interview with Rappler before Marcos left for Canberra.

Marcos swept the 2022 national elections on a campaign that vaguely promised to continue the policies of his predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte.

In the realm of foreign affairs, especially, Marcos could not be any more different than the former city mayor who came before him.

“Marcos is opening up in ways that Duterte was not. And Australia has been for a while trying to position itself, not just in Southeast Asia, but also in the Pacific. Having the Philippines as an ally covers that region fully. Because again, the Philippines is not just Southeast Asia, it’s very much the Pacific too,” added Tanyag.

Since Marcos took office in June 2022, Philippine foreign policy and relations have taken a 180-degree turn. If Duterte was friends with – critics would say kowtowed to – Beijing, Marcos has chosen to become closer to the Philippines’ only treaty ally, the United States.

If under Duterte, Chinese activities in the West Philippine Sea, or parts of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), were a mystery, it’s under Marcos’ National Security Adviser, former military chief Eduardo Año, that the Philippines launched a “transparency initiative” in the West Philippine Sea.

Año, curiously, was also a member of Duterte’s Cabinet as local government chief.

A lot of things have developed in the realm of defense and diplomacy under Marcos. In early 2023, his government announced additional military camps that the US could access under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Marcos in Canberra: What the Philippines and its president gains

“Like-minded countries” – old, existing, and emerging – have been quick to propose closer relations, especially when it comes to maritime cooperation. During a visit to Washington DC in 2023, Marcos got what he had been asking for: an update to existing agreements with the United States.

Japan, a strategic partner and long-time friend especially in maritime issues, is eager to sign a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), a Visiting Forces Agreement-like deal that would allow Japanese boots on Philippine soil more regularly. Canada wants the same set-up.

Australia certainly does not want to get left behind.

In September 2023, when Albanese visited Manila, the two countries officially elevated ties to a strategic partnership. During Marcos’ February 2024 visit Canberra visit, the two countries signed a “Enhanced Maritime Cooperation to strengthen our existing civil and defense maritime commitments.”

Canberra and Manila also signed Memoranda of Understanding on cyber and critical technology to better combat cyber attacks, as well as one on cooperation between competitive commissions to “enhance effective competition law and policy.”

Albanese also announced a Aus $20 million investment to “support the Philippines to reform, and improve access to, its justice system.”
Middle powers and the rules-base order

While Marcos’ speech made numerous references to the past – Filipino pearl divers in the 1860s who ventured into Australia, Filipinos who fought in Bataan and Corregidor to delay Imperial Japan’s onslaught, and the two countries’ roles in “shaping the free world’s vision for the postwar order” – more focus was placed on what lies ahead.

“From the very beginning, we knew that our interests were intertwined. The security of Australia is bound with the security of the Philippines. When my father accompanied Prime Minister [Edward Gough] Whitlam on a sentimental tour of Bataan and Corregidor in 1974, they reaffirmed that core principle,” he said.

“Our two countries have always understood that without the predictability and stability of our rules-based order, our region would not have emerged as the driver of the global economy as it is today,” added Marcos.

Albanese, in welcoming Marcos, also highlighted the two countries’ commonalities: island and trading nations and middle powers that depend heavily on regional stability and international law.

“All of us in the international community, middle powers like our countries, as well as small nations, have our part to play in building a more stable, peaceful and prosperous future,” said the Australian leader.

He also echoed a sentiment that Marcos had made in the past: that regional stability should not hinge in great powers.

ALLIES. The Philippines and Australia sign agreements on maritime, cybersecurity, and trade during Marcos’ visit to Canberra.

“Our cooperation is an assertion of our national interest and a recognition of our regional responsibility. It reflects our shared understanding that peace depends on more than the presence of the great powers,” said the Prime Minister, as he emphasized the importance of upholding the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and freedom of navigation.

The week before Marcos’ Canberra visit, the Philippines again reported incidents of harassment at the hands of the Chinese – both its China Coast Guard and Chinese Maritime Militia.

The West Philippine Sea is the flashpoint of tensions between Manila and Beijing – there’s Ayungin Shoal where a marooned World War II ship stands as a military outpost, and Bajo de Masinloc, where Filipino fisherfolk are regularly barred by the Chinese from fishing.

Both features are within the Philippines’ EEZ, which means it has sovereign rights over the area. Yet China insists almost all of the South China Sea is part of their territory, rejecting a 2016 Arbitral Ruling that said their claim was invalid.

“We must reinforce each other’s strengths. We must protect the peace that we fought for during the war and have jealously guarded in the decades since. We must oppose actions that clearly denigrate the rule of law,” Marcos told parliament.

In a previous interview with Rappler, Ateneo de Manila University Assistant Professor Alma Salvador said that in bringing Manila back closer to Washington DC, Marcos was building on the diplomacy work of the presidents before him – especially that of the late Benigno Aquino III.

On top of improving Philippine-US ties, Salvador then noted that like Aquino, Marcos was keen on working with fellow middle powers – Japan, South Korea, and, of course, Australia.

Both Manila and Canberra are treaty-allies of the US.

Philippine defense and security officials will say that allies – old and potential new partners – making a beeline to improve ties with the Philippines is a new opportunity they want to capitalize on. Observers and diplomats themselves said the opportunities had always been there: it was just a matter of the Philippines opening itself up to those opportunities.

5 militants yield to military in Iligan City

From MindaNews (Mar 2, 2024): 5 militants yield to military in Iligan City (By MARIVIC OMANDAM DAVIS)

Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. pays his respects to the six fallen soldiers at the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Headquarters last February 21, 2024. The soldiers were killed in an encounter with Dawlah Islamiyah members in Munai, Lanao del Norte last February 18. MindaNews photo by MARIVIC OMANDAM DAVIS

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 02 March) – Five members of Dawlah Islamiyah have surrendered to the 2nd Mechanized “Magbalantay” Infantry Brigade in Iligan City since February this year, the military said.

The fifth surrenderee, who gave himself up on Friday, March 1, was
identified as Ansanadong Dimaointo Nasrodin alias Ghuraba, a resident of Barangay Lininding, Munai, Lanao del Norte.

Nasrodin arrived at the camp accompanied by his family and the son of Abdullah Makapaar alias Commander Bravo of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

He allegedly figured in the Feb. 18 encounter in Barangay Ramain, Munai where six soldiers from the 44th Infantry Battalion and three Dawlah Islamiyah members were killed.

His father Bao Nasrodin, a farmer, said they were looking for his son for four years, adding it was a member of the MILF who informed them that he was wounded and his left hand had to be amputated at a hospital in the city.

He said his son, the fourth of five siblings, was a student and they never knew he had joined the Dawlah Islamiyah after he failed to come home.

The four other surrenderees were identified as Hasanor Polangi Dato alias Abu Horira/Aslam, resident of Barangay Paridi, Piagapo, Lanao del Sur; Arsani Mimbisa alias Khatab, resident of Barangay Lininding, Munai; Sohaily Datu Ali alias Pablo/Abudah also of Barangay Lininding, Munai; and Almanar Angne Umpar alias Pablo/Ekrima, resident of Barangay Ramain, Munai.

Brigade commander BGen Anthon Abrina said only a few militants are left “and they have nowhere to run.”

He added, “Returnees will now be part of the government’s comprehensive rehabilitation program, which includes livelihood training, financial assistance, and other support mechanisms to help them reintegrate into society.” (Marivic Omandam Davis/MindaNews)

Duterte fetes 10th ID, stakeholders for sustaining Davao’s insurgency free status

From the Mindanao Times (Mar 2, 2024): Duterte fetes 10th ID, stakeholders for sustaining Davao’s insurgency free status (By RHODA GRACE SARON)

THE 10TH Infantry (Agila) Division and various agencies were honored with plaques of recognition for successfully maintaining the insurgency-free status of Davao Region at Apo View Hotel, on Feb. 28,

Major General Allan D Hambala, the 10ID commander, along with other key leaders, personally received the award from Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte during the Joint Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (JRTF-ELCAC) XI meeting.

Also, the 10ID presented comprehensive security updates, programs, and initiatives focused on maintaining peace in the region in the same meeting.

Hambala also briefed participants on the remaining security threats in the region, specifically the urban operatives linked to the communist terrorist group, such as underground mass organizations disguised as legal fronts but associated with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

In her message, Duterte emphasized the need to protect the indigenous people, youth, and student sector from recruitment by the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“Kaya humihingi din kami ng tulong ninyo para maprotektahan ang mga kabataan natin at masiguro na sila ay nasa loob ng paaralan at sila ay makapagtapos na ng pag-aaral,” VP Duterte said.

“Hindi dahil Davao Region ay insurgency free ay wala na tayong problema dahil anytime, any issue, any complaints na pwedeng sakyan, na pwedeng i-utilize ng CPP-NPA-NDF na grupo diyan sa ating mga communities can spark movements,” Duterte added.

Military vows to prevent resurgence of NPA in cleared communities

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 2, 2024): Military vows to prevent resurgence of NPA in cleared communities (By John Rey Saavedra)

ENCOUNTER. Three bodies of male New People’s Army rebels are left at the encounter site following the 20-minute exchange of fire between government troops and the insurgents in Barangay Torocadan, San Joaquin, Iloilo before dawn Wednesday (Feb. 28, 2024). Fourteen rebels were killed by the Visayas Command in February. (Photo courtesy of 301st Infantry Brigade)

CEBU CITY – The Visayas Command (Viscom) said Saturday that military operations will now be focused on preventing the resurgence of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in communities already cleared of insurgency.

Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, Viscom chief, said in a statement that after the devastating blows against the CPP-NPA in February, the must ensure that insurgents could not take any foothold in areas where development is inevitable.

At least 30 rebels were neutralized during the February operations, 14 of whom died in encounters, 15 surrendered, and one apprehended.

“Our mission is not yet over. We may have achieved significant gains in our campaign last month, but there is a lot to be done," he said.

"Our forces are now focused on preventing the resurgence of the CPP-NPA in the Visayas by neutralizing the few remaining members of the terrorist group,” he added.

He said three of the 30 rebels neutralized last month were classified high-value suspects.

Rolando Caballera (alias Chow/Brooks), a member of the NPA’s regional executive committee in Eastern Visayas, died during the encounter in Albuera, Leyte, on Feb. 10.

Domingo Compoc (alias Cobra/Silong)
, the top NPA leader in Bohol, was killed in Bilar town on Feb. 23.

Rena Rhea Camariosa (alias Kira/Sheena),
second deputy secretary of the NPA’s Southern Panay Front, was left to die by his comrades following an encounter in San Joaquin, Iloilo.

“The success of our campaign in its early stage this year is attributed to the active support of our people, having freed them from the clutches of the terrorist group last year. This is the reason why we cannot stop,” Arevalo said.