Wednesday, March 20, 2024

422 NPA rebels, allies neutralized from Jan. 1 to March 14 – AFP

 From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21, 2024):  422 NPA rebels, allies neutralized from Jan. 1 to March 14 – AFP (By Priam Nepomuceno)

AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla (PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)

MANILA – A total of 422 New People's Army (NPA) insurgents and their supporters were neutralized in various operations by military units nationwide from Jan. 1 to March 14, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.

AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla, in a media briefing Wednesday, said the figure consists of 374 surrendered, 15 arrested, and 33 killed.

Over the same period, 56 NPA lairs were seized and 221 assorted firearms and 71 anti-personnel mines were recovered and surrendered by the rebels to military units, according to the AFP.

In a related development, Padilla said the declaration of Surigao del Norte as an "insurgency-free province" on March 15 is a "testament to the effective implementation of our campaigns and brings us closer to our target of dismantling the remaining guerilla fronts and vertical units in the region."

It is also a significant development for the province in terms of peace and development, she added.

Islamic religion student slain near scene of deadly Maguindanao Sur ambush

From the Philippine Star (Mar 20, 2024): Islamic religion student slain near scene of deadly Maguindanao Sur ambush (By John Unson)

The slain 16-year-old was found in a grassland in Barangay Tuayan in Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao del Sur a day after Sunday's fatal ambush of four soldiers in the area by local terrorists.
Photo courtesy of / John Unson

COTABATO CITY — Relatives want an extensive probe on the brutal killing of a 16-year-old Islamic religion student, found dead on Monday in Barangay Tuayan in Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao del Sur near where four soldiers were fatally ambushed by local terrorists the day before.

The patriarch of the slain Abdulrahman Esmail, Salahuddin, told reporters via mobile phone on Wednesday that there were signs that his son was tortured before he was shot in the upper torso that caused his death.

Esmail was a hafidz, which means one who is studying Islam in a Madrasah, or Islamic school, in Datu Hoffer.

“I learned of his death when I was notified by barangay officials that I need to get his cadaver from where they found it,” Salahuddin said in Filipino, in a Maguindanaon accent.

Four soldiers, Pvt. Marvin Dumaguing, Pvt. Jessie James Corpuz, Pfc. Carl Araña and Cpl. Creszaldy Espertero of units under the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, were killed in an ambush in Barangay Tuayan on Sunday by members of the Dawlah Islamiya and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The four soldiers in a vehicle on their way to their command post in Barangay Tuayan when members of the two terrorist groups opened fire as they got close, killing all of them on the spot.

Their attackers finished them off with rifle shots in the head, according to barangay officials and the local police.

Meanwhile, Salahuddin has alleged that his son was last seen riding a motorcycle when he was flagged down for inspection by soldiers at a stretch of a farm-to-market road in Barangay Tuayan.

He said that his son was found by villagers on Monday lying dead on the ground, both hands and feet tied to a piece of bamboo.

“He seemed beaten badly first before he was killed,” Salahuddin said.

39 former extremists get cash, livelihood aid

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Mar 20. 2024): 39 former extremists get cash, livelihood aid

ZAMBOANGA. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm), through its Ministry of Trade, Investment, and Tourism (MTIT), awards livelihood and cash assistance to 39 Former Violent Extremists (FVEs) in Basilan province. A photo handout shows Brigadier General Alvin Luzon, 101st Infantry Brigade commander, handing over a check to one of the recipients during the awarding of the livelihood aid at a restaurant in Lamitan City, Basilan, on Tuesday, March 19. (SunStar Zamboanga)

THE Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm), through its Ministry of Trade, Investment, and Tourism (MTIT), has awarded livelihood and cash assistance to former violent extremists (FVEs) in Basilan province, the military said Wednesday, March 20, 2024.

The FVEs include former members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Maute group, and other rebel groups.

The 101st Infantry Brigade said the grant of livelihood and cash assistance was facilitated through Project Tugon (Tulong ng Gobyernong Nagmamalasakit) aimed to assist the reintegration and transformation of former combatants in the Barmm area.

Project Tugon is initiated by the Barmm’s Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILF) to provide the recipients meaningful help towards their sustainable lives.

The MTIT, in partnership with the 101st Infantry Brigade, awarded livelihood and cash assistance to 39 FVEs in a program held at a restaurant in Lamitan City, Basilan, on Tuesday, March 19.

The 101st Infantry Brigade said the beneficiaries received business counseling and were empowered to select their preferred livelihood program, which included options such as sari-sari stores, rubber buying, hollow block making, fishing equipment, and motor parts retail.

“The choices were based on economic viability and the interests of the recipients,” Brigadier General Alvin Luzon, 101st Infantry Brigade commander, said.

Luzon emphasized the commitment of the military to the government’s campaign towards peace and development and expressed his gratitude to the MILG and MTIT for carrying out the program. (SunStar Zamboanga)

BK24 expands activities beyond Palawan waters

From Palawan News (Mar 21, 2024): BK24 expands activities beyond Palawan waters (By Elmer Badilla)

PN File photo

The annual joint military exercise between the Philippines and the United States, Balikatan, will venture beyond the territorial waters of the Philippines for the first time since its inception, Balikatan’s executive agent, Col. Michael Logico, announced in a press conference.

According to Logico, activities will now extend beyond 12 nautical miles off the west coast of Palawan, marking a departure from previous exercises confined within this limit.

“In previous exercises, we’ve been limited to just 12 nautical miles, now we are encouraging or we are venturing outwards beyond that,” he said.

He also explained that the area beyond 12 nautical miles falls within international waters, providing an opportunity for diverse maritime exercises.


These exercises will include division tactics, search and rescue operations, vehicle boarding, search, and seizure exercises, gunnery exercises, deck landing qualifications, and well deck operations.

Participants, including units from the Philippine Navy, US Navy, French Navy, and the Philippine Coast Guard, will navigate from Point A to Point B in the West Philippine Sea.

This expansion underscores the commitment of the Philippine forces to strengthening defense capabilities and fostering alliances in the region.

“The message that we want to send is that we are serious about defending our territory and we have allies. That’s basically it and the alliance is still going strong,” he said

Balikatan 2024, scheduled for April and May, will involve approximately 16,000 troops, including around 11,000 from the US and 5,000 from the Philippines.

14 countries will also participate as observers, highlighting the exercise’s regional significance and collaborative nature.

PBBM: Meeting with Blinken ‘absolutely necessary’

From Panay News (Mar 21, 2024): PBBM: Meeting with Blinken ‘absolutely necessary’ (By Adrian Stewart Co)

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and US Secretary Antony J. Blinken meet at Malacañan Palace. Among the issues discussed by Marcos and Blinken were efforts to strengthen PH-US alliance, increased cooperation on trade and investment, promoting regional peace and security, defense modernization, and economic cooperation.

MANILA – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said his recent meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was “absolutely necessary” to strengthen the bilateral ties between the Philippines and the United States.

According to the Chief Executive, it is encouraging for the Philippines to be among the countries Blinken has visited despite all the extremely important issues that the United States has to deal with.

Among the issues discussed by Marcos and Blinken are efforts to strengthen PH-US alliance, increased cooperation on trade and investment, promoting regional peace and security, defense modernization, and economic cooperation.

“We are all familiar with the situations that you are having to deal with the world, and it is extremely encouraging for the Philippines that, despite all of these extremely important issues that you have to attend to, that you consider the Philippines important enough to take time from all global – globally important issues to come with us in the Philippines,” Marcos told Blinken.

“As with many meetings that we have with yourself, of these officials, our meetings always cover a great deal, great regard, wide scope and, as again, this happened in a quick chat that we just have and this is absolutely necessary. It is important that we continue to do that,” he added.

The visit of the US official is timely with the continued tension between the Philippines and China in its long-running maritime dispute over the South China Sea, including portions of the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In 2016, the Philippines was awarded the arbitral ruling that denied the nine-dash line, the basis of China’s historical claims over the islands and waters in the entire South China Sea, including EEZs of neighboring Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

China, however, rejected the ruling and maintained an aggressive stance in the region, even firing water cannons at Philippine vessels taking humanitarian supplies to a military outpost at the Ayungin Shoal.

Ex-CTG member arrested for robbery

From Panay News (Mar 21, 2024): Ex-CTG member arrested for robbery (By MAI LADIAO)

BACOLOD City – A suspected active member of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) wanted for the crime of robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons was apprehended in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

The suspect, alias
“Dose,” 41, was served on Monday morning, March 18, with his arrest warrant issued by Hon. Arville Guyod Delgado, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court 6, Branch 57 in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental dated February 20, 2023.

Bail was set at P100,000.

“Dose” is reportedly designated as the intel and vice squad leader of the Sentro de Grabedad (SDG) Platoon of the New People’s Army.

The arrested individual was placed under the custody of the Sagay City police for proper disposition.

APC-Visayas commander appeals to rebels to surrender

From Panay News (Mar 21, 2024): APC-Visayas commander appeals to rebels to surrender

Rodriguez. APC-Visayas/FACEBOOK PHOTO

ILOILO City – Surrender peacefully or face death.

This was the call of Major General Robert Rodriguez, chief of the Area Police Command (APC)-Visayas, against the New People’s Army (NPA) who continues to fight the armed struggle.

Rodriguez is calling upon the members of the NPA to embrace the true meaning of peace by surrendering and availing of the government programs for them.

“Indi kita gusto magpatyanay kay we are all Filipinos. Sa mga remaining rebels nga naga-refuse mag-surrender, palihog surrender na kamo kon indi kamo gusto nga mapatay paagi sa encounter. Madamo programs ang gobyerno nga para gid sa inyo,” Rodriguez said.

Records from Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) showed that six rebels were killed in operations, 17 had surrendered and 12 withdrew their support for the rebel groups.

Further, 39 firearms and 17 explosives were either surrendered or recovered by the authorities.

“Let us work hand in hand to end the insurgency in Panay and Negros islands and live peacefully,” Rodriguez added.

Meanwhile, the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army continues its deployment to strategic places.

“No let up for the insurgents. We have to continue our operations, but we are still open for them to surrender,” 3ID commander Major General Marion Sison said./

Rebel nabbed for robbery

From the Negros Now Daily (Mar 20, 2024): Rebel nabbed for robbery (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

A remnant of the dismantled Northern Negros Front (NNF) of the New People\s Army (NPA) was arrested on Monday (March 18) in a joint police and military operation in Barangay Bato, Sagay City, Negros Occidental, a report of the Police Regional Office-Western Visayas said.

The suspect identified only as
alias “Dose” has an arrest warrant for the crime of robbery with violence.

The 41-year-old rebel was a
vice squad leader of the dismantled NNF Sentro de Grabidad Platoon, the report added.

San Carlos City Regional Trial Court Judge Arville Guyod Delgado has recommended a bail of P100,000 for his provisional liberty.

He is now under the custody of the Sagay City Police Station. | GB

No cause for panic, Escalante says on alleged MNLF presence in Cadiz

From Negros Now Daily (Mar 21, 2024): No cause for panic, Escalante says on alleged MNLF presence in Cadiz (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

There is no cause for panic.

This was the assurance of Mayor Salvador Escalante Jr. on the alleged presence of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members in Barangay Tinampaan, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.

Escalante said the local authorities, including the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army, are verifying the authenticity of such information.

The city government will give its full support to whatever move they will make, he added.

Escalante said Cadiz remains very peaceful and there is no cause for alarm.

Some residents of Barangay Tinampaan were reported to have aired their concerns on the construction of a camp by persons claiming to be MNLF, who even raised a flag and set up checkpoints in the area.

The alleged MNLF men were also monitored to have been wearing military camouflage uniforms.

There were also reports that they are recruiting members, whom they promised a P40,000 monthly salary, after paying P10,000 recruitment fee.

PLt. Abegail Donasco, spokesperson of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, said they have received initial information that these people, claiming to be Muslims, were ordered to vacate the area within 15 days.

Donasco said the construction of a mosque in the area has no permit from the City Engineer’s Office.

She added that they are verifying the information on the reported recruitment. | GB

79IB soldiers reach out to family of slain rebel

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 21, 2024): 79IB soldiers reach out to family of slain rebel (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Lt. Col. Arnel Calaoagan, 79IB commander, with Josefa Caramihan, wife of slain NPA rebel Jose Caramihan, alias Joe, and their two daughters.* PA photo

The Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion reached out to the family of Jose Caramihan, one of the three suspected New People’s Army rebels who died in a series of encounters on February 21 in Brgy. Pinapugasan, Escalante City, Negros Occidental.

In a statement issued by the 79IB, its commander, Lt. Col. Arnel Calaoagan, accompanied by Pinapugasan barangay officials, recently met with the wife of Caramihan, Josefa, and their daughters, and personally extended his sympathies.

Calaoagan explained to them that Jose, a regular member of the
dismantled Northern Negros Front of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor, was recruited by the NPA through lies and deceptions.

“It is also with deep sorrow and pain for us to witness a life lost, as a sacrifice of those who use the vulnerable to justify their senseless ideology” he stressed.

“Another wasted life and a family was left devastated due to the senseless ideology of the New People’s Army (NPA). A happy family might have existed, but their propaganda and lies ruined it,” Calaoagan further said.

Nevertheless, in spite of this tragic loss, the government is still here to offer help and assistance and to extend a helping hand, and a sincere message that “we are not enemies,” he also stressed.

The 79IB statement also said that the visit ended with the Caramihan family’s acceptance of the support and cooperation with the Philippine Army, and a guarantee of assisting them in securing support and scholarships for the three daughters of Caramihan, and assistance for their basic needs, in partnership with the Escalante City government, among other stakeholders.*

Philippine Maritime Zones Act ratified

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 21, 2024): Philippine Maritime Zones Act ratified (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Amid disputes with China over the West Philippine Sea, House Bill 7819, known as the Philippine Maritime Zones Act and authored by Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, is now on its way to Malacañang, for signing into a law by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

HB 7819 was ratified on March 19 by the House of Representatives, after the Lower House and Senate Bicameral Committee agreed on the consolidated bill, Benitez said.

“This will set clear demarcations for our maritime areas, especially in light of disputes with China over the West Philippine Sea, and to uphold our sovereign rights to make use of our resources in our local waters and Exclusive Economic Zone,” he stressed.

HB 7819 provides a comprehensive framework for delineating the various maritime zones under the Philippines’ jurisdiction.

The bill aims to declare the rights and entitlements of the Philippines over its maritime zones, which include its internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and continental shelf.

It will also be in accordance with the 2016 South China Sea (SCS) arbitration, wherein The Permanent Court of Arbitration unanimously ruled in favor of the Philippines in its case against China over conflicting claims on the SCS.

Stressing that it will be a big help to local fishermen, Benitez said “ this will show the world that we have clear rules, and are compliant with International Law when we are operating in our waters.”

The Philippine Maritime Zones Act reflects our commitment to being a responsible member of the global community, and our country adheres to the rules-based international order and complies with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), he stressed.*

PH-Indon Navies intensify patrols at sea border

From the Mindanao Times (Mar 20, 2024): PH-Indon Navies intensify patrols at sea border (By RHODA GRACE SARON)

THE NAVAL Forces Eastern Mindanao and the Indonesian Navy increased patrols at the Philippines-Indonesian border on March 19 during the first leg of Corpat Philindo XXXVIII-2024.

The joint effort aims to strengthen border security and prevent illegal maritime activities while fostering a harmonious, diplomatic relationship between the two countries.

The Eastern Mindanao Command, through Joint Task Force Seahawk, conducted the 1st Leg of Corpat Philindo XXXVIII-2024 with the Indonesian 2nd Fleet in the Philippines-Indonesia maritime border areas.

Lt Commander Jerome Bryan Mauring, the Public Affairs Officer of Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM), said the purpose of this joint task force is to ensure that the border is secured and free from any illegal activities. Additionally, it aims to enhance interoperability and foster harmonious working relationships between the two neighboring countries.

The Philippine Navy’s contingent for the operation included the Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Artemio Ricarte (PS37) and NV394, under the operational control of Naval Task Force 71. Meanwhile, the Indonesian Navy’s contingent was represented by Kri-Pandrong 801.

CPP/CPP Southern Tagalog ROC: Pamunuan ang pakikibaka ng bayan para sa kanilang kapakanan sa harap ng pananalasa ng tagtuyot! Singilin ang rehimeng US-Marcos II sa kapabayaan at pagpapahirap sa masang magsasaka at mamamayan!

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (Mar 20, 2024): Pamunuan ang pakikibaka ng bayan para sa kanilang kapakanan sa harap ng pananalasa ng tagtuyot! Singilin ang rehimeng US-Marcos II sa kapabayaan at pagpapahirap sa masang magsasaka at mamamayan! (Lead the people's struggle for their welfare in the face of the ravages of drought! Blame the US-Marcos II regime for neglecting and torturing the masses of farmers and citizens!)

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

March 20, 2024

Ramdam na ramdam ng mamamayan sa Timog Katagalugan, laluna ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda ang malubhang epekto ng El Nino. Sa kabila ng kanilang pagdurusa bingi at manhid ang rehimeng US-Marcos II na sagipin sila sa kanilang pagdurusa, sa halip ay papatsi-patseng solusyon at kakarampot na ayuda ang ibinibigay nito. Sa likod nito malayang nakakapang-api at nakakapandambong ang mga tunay na salarin sa pagbabago ng klima at pagkasira ng kalikasan na ugat ng mas papalubha at papadalas na hambalos ng kalamidad sa bansa.

Matatandaang Pebrero pa lang ng taon ay inianunsyo na ng Task Force El Niño na kabilang ang MIMAROPA, partikular ang Oriental at Occidental Mindoro at Palawan sa tatamaan ng matinding tagtuyot. Sa kasagsagan ng tagtuyot, iniulat na ang kalakhan ng lupaing natatamnan ng palay at sibuyas sa bayan ng Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro ang sinasalanta habang apektado ang 69,000 mamamayan sa nasabing bayan. Mayroong 325 ektaryang taniman ng sibuyas at 539 ektaryang palayan ang napinsala na nagkakahalaga ng aabot sa P87 milyon. Lubos na natigang ang lupa bunga ng pagkatuyo ng mga ilog na pangunahing pinagkukunan ng tubig. Apektado ng tagtuyot ang kalidad at kantidad ng produksyon ng palay at sibuyas na tiyak na magpapahirap sa mga magsasakang pangunahing umaasa sa mga nasabing produkto. Nagkasya naman ang mga ahensya ng gubyerno sa pagbibigay ng P5,000 para sa bigas at petrolyo bilang ayuda sa mga magsasakang apektado ng tagtuyot at P2,000 sa mga mamamayan sa ilalim ng Cash and Rice Distribution (CARD). Subalit sa hirap ng buhay at taas ng mga pagkain, bilihin at langis, saan aabot ang kakarampot na ayuda sa ilang buwan pang babatahing paghihirap ng mamamayan sa hagupit ng tagtuyot?

Tiyak din ang epekto ng tagtuyot sa mga taniman ng niyog, mais, tubo, gulayin at iba pang produktong bukid ng mga magsasaka sa rehiyon. Nitong Marso, sa ulat mismo ng National Disaster Risk Reduction ang Management Council (NDRRMC), umabot na sa P1.23 bilyon ang halaga ng nasalantang pananim at hayop dahil sa tagtuyot, apektado ang 29,409 magsasaka sa 26,731 ektaryang lupaing agrikultural sa bansa, bagama’t tiyak na malaki pa ito sa aktwal dahil kapansin-pansing tinatakpan ng gubyerno ang tunay na lawak ng apektado ng tagtuyot. Pangalawa ang MIMAROPA sa buong bansa na may pinakamalaking napinsalang pananim na nagkakahalagang P319.7 milyon kasabay ang CALABARZON na umaabot na sa P2.75 milyon. Nakakabahala, dahil ang tagtuyot ay tinatayang aabot pa hanggang Hunyo.

Liban sa mga magsasaka ay apektado rin ang mga mangingisda sa rehiyon. Sa panahon ng El Nino, kadalasan ng mga isda ay pumupunta sa mas malalim na bahagi ng karagatan kung saan mas malamig ang temperatura kaya mas mahirap na makahuli ng isda at nangagaailangan ng dagdag na pagawa, teknolohiya, panahon at gastos sa petrolyo. Nagdudulot din ang tagtuyot ng disbalanseng ekolohikal sa mga pinagmumulan ng tubig na kadalasan ay nagbubunga ng fishkill at redtide. Apektado nito ang mga aktibidad sa pangingisda at produksyon ng isda. Dahil dito, lalong lumiit ang kita ng dati nang naghihirap na maliliit na mangingisda.

Sa kabila ng matagal nang inasahang tagtuyot na tatama sa bansa bilang isa sa mga pinakabulnerable sa mga katulad na kalamidad, sobrang kapos ang kahandaan ng reaksyunaryong gubyerno para harapin ang epekto nito sa sektor ng agrikultura. Higit nitong inilulubog sa sobrang pagdurusa ang masang magsasaka at mangingisda na dati nang pinahihirapan ng patakarang liberalisasyon at importasyon na pumapatay sa lokal na produksyon ng agrikultura.

Ibinunga ng bulok na naghaharing sistemang malakolonyal at malapyudal ang malubhang epekto ng tagtuyot sa mamamayan. Nagsasabwatan ang imperyalismong US, malalaking burgesyang kumprador (MBK)-panginoong maylupa (PML) sa pagsira sa kapaligiran at pagwasak ng kalikasan na dahilan ng madalas na kalamidad kapalit ng supertubo mula sa paghuthot sa yamang-likas ng bansa sa kapariwaraan ng masang Pilipino.

Papatindi ang epekto ng pagbabago ng klima sa bansa dahil sa tuluy-tuloy na pagkawasak ng kalikasan resulta ng pagkalbo ng mga kabundukan dahil sa pagtotroso, malakihang pagmimina, pagtatayo ng mga dambuhang dam at iba pang proyekto at imprastraktura. Sinira at sinisira nito ang watershed na pinakukunan ng tubig. Pangunahing salarin sa mga ito ang malalaking kumpanyang dayuhan, malalaking kumprador-panginoong maylupa.

Ayon mismo sa Forest Management Bureau, ang kagubatan ng bansa ay bumagsak sa 7 milyong ektarya na lamang na katumbas ng 23.3% sa kabuuang lupain ng bansa. Ito ay maikokonsiderang mapanganib na sa kapaligiran. Patuloy na lumiit ang kagubatan sa bansa mula 1970s dahil sa mga pagtotroso ng mismong may pahintulot ang reaksyunaryong gubyerno. Pangita ito sa probinsya ng Palawan na itinuturing na “last frontier” ng bansa. Sa harap nito, patuloy na ipinatutupad ng gubyerno ang patakaran sa pagpapahintulot sa logging, dambuhang mina at pagpaprayoridad sa pagtatayo ng mga malalaking dam at mga lugar sa ekoturismo. Halimbawa, ang patuloy na logging at konstruksyon ng dam sa Rizal at Quezon, tulad ng Wawa-Violago, Kaliwa at Macalelon dam projects na nilalabanan ng mga katutubo, magsasaka at mga grupong maka-kalikasan dahil sa hatid na panganib sa biodiversity at seguridad sa tubig sa mga kabundukan ng Sierra Madre.

Liban sa palpak at inutil na pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng masa sa panahon ng kalamidad, nakikipagsabwatan ang rehimeng Marcos II sa imperyalismong US na pangunahing mapangwasak ng kalikasan. Patunay ang mga bagong kasunduan para sa pamumuhunan ng US sa bansa. Sa Batangas, naiulat ang bagong pumasok na negosyo ng US kakutsaba ang mga MBK na sina Ramon Ang, pamilyang Lopez at iba pa sa pagpapalawak ng negosyo sa Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Ang US ang pinakamalaking LNG exporter sa buong mundo at ang pagkontrol sa LNG ang isa sa layunin ng US sa inilunsad nitong proxy war sa Russia gamit ang Ukraine. Ang imperyalismong US ang isa sa mga bansang pinagmumulan ng pinakamalaking carbon emissions mula sa pagsunog ng langis na panggatong. Isa ito sa pangunahing sanhi ng pag-init ng mundo. Higit pa rito ang mapangwasak na pagmimina ng monopolyo kapitalismo sa mga minerals at rare earth metals, gamit sa paglikha ng mga aircraft carriers, sasakyan pangkalawakan, gamit pandigma at iba pa. Ang US at iba pang imperyalistang bansa ang salarin sa pagkasira ng kalikasan ng mga bayang kolonya, malakolonya at atrasado tulad ng Pilipinas. Sa panahon ng El Niño, kumakalat ang mainit na tubig sa ibabaw ng karagatang Pasipiko na nagdadala ng mainit na hangin sa atmospera at nagdudulot ng mainit na temperatura sa kalakhang bahagi ng arkipelago ng Pilipinas at buong Southeast Asia, dahilan sa aabot sa 80 probinsya sa bansa ang direktang apektado ng tagtuyot sa kasalukuyan.

Dapat pagkaisahin ang mamamayan na kolektibong labanan ang epekto ng tagtuyot sa pamamagitan ng sama-samang paggiit at panawagan para sa sapat na ayuda, subsidyo at serbisyo. Kasabay nito, dapat ilantad at singilin ang rehimeng Marcos sa kapabayaan, korapsyon at pagiging kontra-magsasaka nito at pangangayupapa sa interes ng mga mapandambong at mapangwasak na interes ng mga burgesyang-kumprador at dayuhang monopolyo kapitalista.

Dapat makipagpakaisa sa iba pang aping bansa ang Pilipinas sa paglaban sa katarungang pangklima (climate justice) laban sa mga imperyalistang bansa. Dapat panagutin ang imperyalismo at pandaigdigang sistemang kapitalista bilang siyang numero-unong mandarambong at maninira ng mga rekurso ng mundo, sa labis-labis na kasakiman para sa super-tubo at kawalang pakundangan sa pagyurak sa kapakanan ng mga mamamayan ng mga aping bansa. Dapat ilantad ang “green-washing” o pagpapanggap na maka-kalikasan ng mga imperyalistang institusyon at korporasyong multi-nasyunal. Dapat ilantad at labanan ang mga kontra-mamamayang proyektong tulad ng baterya, e-vehicles, solar power na nagpapanggap na maka-kalikasan pero ang nasa likod ay makapanegosyo at makapanghuthot ng supertubo at pag-agaw sa kabuhayan ng mamamayan.

Ang pakikibaka para sa pambansang kalayaan, demokrasya at sosyalismo ang tunay na pangmatagalang solusyon sa problema sa climate change na nagdudulot ng El Nino at iba pang katulad na sakuna. Dapat ibagsak ang imperyalismo, pyudalismo at burukrata kapitalismo na siyang ugat ng kahirapan ng bayan at patuloy na pagkasira ng kapaligiran at pagkawasak ng kalikasan. Sa tagumpay ng pambansa-demokratikong rebolusyon itatayo ng demokratikong estadong bayan at ipatutupad ang tunay na reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon. Kaakibat nito, ipapatupad ang mga patakaran at mekanismo na magtitiyak sa pangangalaga ng kapaligiran at kalikasan at itataguyod ang sustenableng ekonomyang maka-kalikasan para sa tuloy-tuloy na pag-unlad ng bayan at may sapat na proteksyon ang mamamayan at paghahanda sa pagharap sa mga kalamidad at sakuna.###

CPP/NDF-MAKIBAKA: Pang-aabuso ng mga militar sa kanilang mga asawa at anak, kinundena ng MAKIBAKA

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (Mar 20, 2024): Pang-aabuso ng mga militar sa kanilang mga asawa at anak, kinundena ng MAKIBAKA (Abuse by military personnel of their wives and children, condemned by MAKIBAKA)

Malaya Libertad
Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Makibaka)
National Democratic Front of the Philippines

March 20, 2024

Nagpahayag ng matinding pagkundena ang Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA) sa pang-aabuso ng mga militar sa kanilang mga asawa at anak na inilantad kamakailan.

Kahapon lamang, nagsalita si Gemini Baladad sa isang press conference na siya at ang kanyang mga anak ay dumaan sa pang-aabuso ng kanyang dating asawa, isang retiradong heneral ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Nangyari ang pahayag ni Baladad ilang araw pagkatapos magsalita ni Tessa Luz Reyes-Sevilla laban sa pagpromote ng kanyang asawa na si Ranulfo Sevilla, isa ring miyembro ng AFP, dahil sa kaso ng pang-aabuso.

“Sa ilalim ng malakolonyal at malapyudal na sistema, nagpapatuloy ang kahayupan at kabulastugang ginagawa ng AFP sa kababaihan at mga bata. Isang patunay ito ng macho-pasistang kultura na umiiral sa loob ng AFP,” saad ni Malaya Libertad, tagapagsalita ng MAKIBAKA.

Ayon kay Reyes-Sevilla, nasa sampung (10) kababaihan kada araw ang naghahain ng reklamo sa AFP dahil sa kaso ng pang-aabuso ng kanilang mga asawang militar.

“Hindi na bago ang pang-aabuso ng AFP sa kababaihan at mga bata. Patuloy nila itong ginagawa sa ilalim ng mga kontra-insurhensyang operasyong militar sa kanayunan at pamamalagi nila sa mga baryo at komunidad. Maraming kaso ng pang-aabuso ng militar sa kanayunan ang hindi narereport o nababalita,” ani Malaya Libertad.

“Sa kanayunan, walang kaluluwang ginagahasa, sinasaktan, dinudukot at pinapatay ng mga militar ang kababaihan. May mga kaso rin ng pagdukot ng mga sanggol at bata bilang hostage sa mga armadong tunggalian. Dalawang buwang sanggol ang naitalang pinakabatang dinukot ng mga militar. Marami rin ang bilang ng karahasan sa kababaihan sa mga lugar na may base militar,” dagdag ni Malaya Libertad.

“Hinihikayat ang lahat ng biktima na tumindig, magsalita, at labanan ang pang-aabuso ng mga pulis at militar sa kababaihan at mga bata. Liban sa mga organisasyong pangkababaihan at women’s desks, bukas din ang mga chapter ng MAKIBAKA sa larangan at sa mga base sa kalunsuran upang tumulong sa mga biktima ng karahasan.”

VP Sara: Terrorism remains problem requiring collective action

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20, 2024): VP Sara: Terrorism remains problem requiring collective action (By Wilnard Bacelonia)

FIGHT VS. TERRORISM. Vice President Sara Duterte delivers her speech during a meeting of the Joint Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Davao City on Feb. 28, 2024. Duterte on Tuesday (March 19) called for a collective action against terrorism following the death of four soldiers in an ambush in Maguindanao del Sur. (PNA photo by Robinson Niñal Jr.)

MANILA – Vice President Sara Z. Duterte has called for a collective action against terrorism following the death of four soldiers in an ambush in Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao del Sur.

In a statement issued Tuesday night, Duterte said the lives of soldiers sacrificed to maintain peace in the country should be reciprocated with the willingness of everyone to fight terrorism.

"The death of four soldiers in an ambush in Maguindanao del Sur points us to the painful truth that terrorism remains a fundamental problem that requires our collective action as a nation," Duterte said, noting this could be done by supporting education.

"Suportahan natin ang ating kasundalohan sa pamamagitan ng pagbigay impormasyon tungkol sa kalaban (Let us support our soldiers by providing information about the enemy)," she added.

As a Mindanaoan, Duterte said she witnessed how violence spawned poverty, lack of livelihood, internal displacement and inequitable access to education opportunities for children and the youth, which ultimately made radicalism more appealing.

She said there are a lot of problems that need to be addressed apart from terrorism which are quality of education, prices of commodities, security and criminality.

PBBM: PH avoiding armed conflict with China, seeking peace in SCS

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20, 2024): PBBM: PH avoiding armed conflict with China, seeking peace in SCS (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

(File photo)

MANILA – The Philippines is keeping the peace with China amid the tensions in the South China Sea (SCS), President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has said, discounting the possibility of waging a war on Beijing.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Tuesday night, Marcos maintained that his administration is not inciting conflict in the SCS.

The President stressed that he is merely defending the Philippine territory, amid China’s incursions in the highly-contested waters.

“The threat has grown, and since the threat has grown, we must do more to defend our territory. And so maybe perhaps that’s what people are seeing — a more robust defense of our territorial rights, as recognized by the international community, through international law, through the UNCLOS (United Nations on the Convention on the Law of the Sea),” he said.

“So, we feel very close to that. We have not instigated any kind of conflict. We have not instigated any kind of confrontation. We are just trying to feed our people. We are just hoping to let our fishermen fish, and to go about our business within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) and within our baselines,” Marcos added.

Asked about the United States’ (US) readiness to side with the Philippines in case an armed conflict in SCS arises, Marcos said such a scenario is “precisely what we want to avoid.”

Marcos said the Philippines is working with its partners and allies such as the US to prevent the possible escalation of tensions in the disputed waters.

“This is not poking the bear, as it were. We are trying to do quite the opposite. We are trying to keep things at a manageable level, to continue the dialogues, whatever they are, at every level,” he said.

“And we have initiated many of those dialogues. We have dialogues at the sub-ministerial level, at the ministerial level and at the executive level. And so, I think that’s what we hope to continue.”

Marcos also reiterated that he has no plan to invoke the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the US despite the growing tensions in the SCS, saying he thinks about peace “in the national interest.”

He said only “existential threat” could trigger the Philippines to invoke the MDT, adding that the US “has been certainly very supportive in every way.”

He, however, said it is “dangerous” to think about seeking the US’ help, in the event that the situation in the SCS exacerbates.

“That’s an incursion, for example, to occupy, which has already happened. But we’re still trying to keep it peaceful,” Marcos said.

“And the United States has really shown that it takes very seriously these agreements that we have. But it is dangerous for one to think in terms of when something goes wrong, we’ll run to ‘Big Brother.’ That’s not the way we treat it at all. We do this for ourselves. We do this because we feel, that we have to do it. And it’s not at the behest of the United States,” he added.

Marcos made the remarks before his scheduled trilateral summit with US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington on April 11 to discuss the three countries’ agenda to advance their defense, security, and economic interests.

The first-ever trilateral summit will be held in the wake of China's provocative actions in the SCS.

Lawmakers: US-PH partnership at ‘all-time high’

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20, 2024): Lawmakers: US-PH partnership at ‘all-time high’ (By Jose Cielito Reganit)

STRONG US-PH TIES. Assistant Majority Leaders Raul Angelo Bongalon (Ako Bicol) and Zia Alonto Adiong (Lanao Del Sur 1st District), Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. David Suarez, Davao Oriental 2nd District Rep. Cheeno Miguel Almario, and Davao Oriental 2nd District Rep. Cheeno Miguel Almario (from left) during a press conference at the House of Representatives on Wednesday (March 20, 2024). The lawmakers said the relationship between the United States and the Philippines is at an “all-time high” in terms of security and the economy. (Photo courtesy of House of Representatives)

MANILA – Several leaders of the House of Representatives on Wednesday hailed the strong partnership between the United States and the Philippines following the recent visits of high-ranking US officials to the country.

“We see that the partnership and the relationship of the US and the country is in an all-time high when it comes to security and when it comes to the economy,” Deputy Speaker and Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez said during the regular daily press conference at the House of Representatives.

Suarez cited US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit, which closely followed the highly successful first-ever US presidential trade and investment mission to Manila, led by Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, which secured over USD1 billion in investment commitments for the Philippines.

He said President Joe Biden will host President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at the White House on April 11 for the first trilateral US-Japan-Philippines leaders’ summit.

Suarez, who was joined in the press conference by Assistant Majority Leaders Francisco Paolo Ortega (La Union, 1st District), Zia Alonto Adiong (Lanao del Sur, 1st District) and Raul Angelo Bongalon (AKO BICOL Party-list), along with Davao Oriental 2nd District Rep. Cheeno Miguel Almario, also cited the significance of Blinken’s assurance of support, especially amid escalating tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

During his visit, Blinken reiterated America’s "ironclad" commitment to defending the Philippines.

They also acknowledged the crucial role of President Marcos and his leadership in fostering the strong partnership between the US and the Philippines.

“For me that’s a good sign. The President is doing his job in terms of strengthening our ties with our allies,” Ortega said. “Malaking bagay po na meron po tayong ganoong commitment kasi nakikita po natin na hindi nag-iisa ang Pilipinas (It’s great to have that kind of commitment because it shows that the Philippines is not alone.”

Adiong said he sees Blinken’s statement as a morale booster for the Marcos administration, and as a solid support for the Philippines to assert its territorial integrity in the region.

“It only reaffirms the commitment of our allies in the West to make sure that the Philippine territorial integrity and sovereignty is respected,” he said.

For Bongalon, Blinken’s statement "sends a powerful message of solidarity and support" for the Philippines' assertion in the WPS.

“In other words, we stand united in safeguarding regional peace and security,” he said.

Almario said America’s reaffirmation of its commitment to defending the Philippines also underscores the "amount of trust that our allies have placed in us."

“This would not have been possible without the efforts of everyone in the administration, especially to our President who has been tirelessly looking for connections, for allies and also enhancing them in the meantime,” he said.

“For us here in Congress, if there is any need for us to supplement and further enhance the ties through legislation, then we are more than happy to do so,” he added.

16K US, PH troops, support staff to take part in BK 2024

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20, 2024): 16K US, PH troops, support staff to take part in BK 2024 (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Balikatan 2024 executive agent Col. Michael Logico (PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)

MANILA – Some 11,000 American military personnel and their support staff along with 5,000 troops from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be taking part in this year's "Balikatan" exercise slated from April 22 to May 8 this year.

"As of (today), the running total that we have as of the moment is 16,000 participants. That means 11,000 US personnel (compared) to 5,000 AFP personnel. It might seem like a disparity pero (but) the 11,000 includes (their) (exercise) support (personnel)," Balikatan 2024 executive agent Col. Michael Logico in a media briefing at AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Wednesday.

These support personnel also include those from the US military's "self-contained logistics" and also American civilian contractors and members of the US government's also coming in to witness the Balikatan drills.

Logico said participating US troops are starting to come in and that there will be Balikatan-related activities starting next week.

These activities are so-called humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) related to engineering civic action (ENCAP) projects all over the country.

For this year, Logico said ENCAP projects are to be done in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte; Punta Baja, Rizal Palawan; and San Fernando, La Union.

"(These are) the CMO (civil-military operations) components of the exercise and US military engineers are going to work hand in hand with AFP engineers in setting up school classrooms and health centers," he added.

These will be funded 100 percent by the US.

On April 1, Logico said an "information warfare exercise" (IWX) will be held at AFP headquarters. IWX refers to the battlespace use and management of information technology "in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent."

And though it will be held much earlier, Logico said the IWX is still part of this year's "Balikatan" as to "deconflict that space for other events in 'Balikatan'." Large contingent of foreign observers to participate.

As this developed, Logico said 14 countries, mostly from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), will be sending observers to witness the Filipino and American troops go about this year's Balikatan.

"Observers we have about 14 countries that are included in the IOP (International Observers Program) most of them from ASEAN but also countries from the region but not from ASEAN like Japan, India," he said, adding that he will have more detailed list later.

A 'group sail' for Balikatan

Aside from the US military, the Australian Defense Force will be sending a 150 contingent while France will be sending a frigate to participate in the "group sail" phase of the Balikatan.

A group sail is defined as a maritime exercise and events that take place are a combination of division tactics, search and rescue, visit, board and search and seizure exercises, gunnery exercises, and flight deck operations.

Logico said the group sail will be taking place on the western side of Palawan and extending beyond the country's 12 nautical mile limitation (also known as the territorial sea).

"Like I said, in previous exercises we have been limited to just 12 nautical miles, now we are encouraging or we are venturing outwards, beyond that," he added. Other group sail participants include the Philippine Navy, US Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, the US Coast Guard, and the French Navy.

Logico said this naval exercise will take place much earlier.

He said around four Filipino ships are expected to participate while those from the foreign navies will be known in the coming weeks.

The Franch Navy, he said, was able to participate as this is already considered "International waters".

"France's presence is easily justified, as they are exercising FONOPs (freedom of navigation operations) but they are incorporating themselves into the group sail and then it just so happened that they are performing comms (communications) exercises, division tactics exercises," he added.

Logico said the group sail will proceed with or without the presence of Chinese ships in the area. And pending a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) with France, the best thing to do and allow French naval participation is to conduct a group sail.

"If you don't have (SOVFA) that the easiest thing that you can do is to conduct a group sail that is beyond territorial waters, for as long as they are not putting French boots on the ground, (that is permissible)," he added.

1 NPA dead, firearms seized in Northern Samar clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20, 2024): 1 NPA dead, firearms seized in Northern Samar clash (By Sarwell Meniano): 

ANTI-INSURGENCY. A community in Bagacay, Palapag, Northern Samar near the site where the military and rebels had a series of clashes on March 19, 2024. The incident killed a member of the New People’s Army and led to the recovery of three high-powered firearms. (Photo from Bagacay, Palapag, Northern Samar FB page)

TACLOBAN CITY – A series of clashes between soldiers and the New People’s Army (NPA) ensued Tuesday in the upland village of Bagacay, Palapag, Northern Samar, killing a rebel and also led to the recovery of three high-powered firearms.

The Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division reported on Wednesday that government troops found an unidentified dead NPA combatant after a series of armed encounters in the area.

Soldiers also found a banned anti-personnel mine, medical paraphernalia, subversive documents, and other war materials.

Capt. Jefferson Mariano, spokesperson for the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said clearing efforts are still ongoing as troops on the ground have seen heavy bloodstain along their route of withdrawal, indicating that rebels suffered heavy casualties.

Mariano said the troops clashed with about 30 NPA members who belonged to the sub-regional guerilla unit and remnants of the dismantled front committee 15 of the Eastern Visayas regional party committee led by a certain Marchu Ocson, a notorious rebel leader in Northern Samar.

“The terrorist hideouts were heavily fortified and surrounded by international humanitarian law banned anti-personnel mines that prompted the troops to call for close air support and artillery support,” he added.

Soldiers launched the joint operation acting on tips from a concerned resident that a group of armed men were seen passing through the outskirts of their village.

In a statement, Major Gen. Camilo Ligayo, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said the success of the operation was made possible through the government’s efforts to protect the villages from the NPA’s recovery efforts, extortion, and intimidation.

"This is our strong response to the wishes of our people to free them from the continuous threats of the NPA terrorists. We will not rest; we will continue to hunt the communist terrorist group anywhere, anytime. What the NPA can do now and the option left for them is to lay down their firearms and go home to their families,” Ligayo said.

The NPA unit is known for numerous atrocities in Northern Samar, such as ambuscades, extortions and killings. Their leader and members have multiple warrants of arrest for murder and attempted murder.

Children of slain NPA rebel in Negros to get educational aid

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20, 2024): Children of slain NPA rebel in Negros to get educational aid (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

REACHING OUT. Lt. Col. Arnel Calaoagan (right), commander of the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion, meets with the members of the Caramihan family and officials of Barangay Pinapugasan, Escalante City in Negros Occidental, after the series of armed encounters in the village last month. On Wednesday (March 20, 2024), Capt. Dan Carlo Samoza, civil-military operations officer of 79IB, said they have ongoing assistance to the family and will assist them in securing various forms of assistance, such as educational scholarships for all the children. (Photo courtesy of 79th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY – The Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) has assured the children of the slain remnant of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Occidental of educational assistance for them to finish school.

Jose Caramihan, a member of an anti-crime volunteer group before joining the NPA Northern Negros Front, was among the three rebels killed during the series of encounters in Sitio Mansulao, Barangay Pinapugasan, Escalante City, on Feb. 21.

Lt. Col. Arnel Calaoagan, commander of 79IB, recently visited Caramihan’s wife Susan and their three daughters at the barangay hall to extend his sympathies.

Capt. Dan Carlo Samoza, civil-military operations officer of 79IB, said Wednesday that the Caramihan family accepted the support of their unit and also assured their cooperation with the government forces.

“We have ongoing assistance to them, and we will keep on assisting them,” he said in an interview.

Among the three daughters, two are still minors who are junior high school students.

Samoza said the 79IB will assist the family in securing various forms of assistance, such as educational scholarships for all the children.

The Philippine Army is providing assistance for their basic needs in partnership with the city government and other stakeholders, he added.

In a statement, Calaogan said he told the Caramihan family that the government troops are not enemies and are offering assistance to them.

“May we all stand in one voice to prevent another tragic story like this. Let us all make a resilient community that will protect and preserve the sanctity of life and the very basic foundation of society, the family,” he said.

The two others killed along with Caramihan were Emaryn “Jandie” Pastedio and Christopher “Michael” Ebarle, recruited by the NPA as child warriors several years back.