By EDITH B. COLMO, PANAY NEWS
BACOLOD City — It seems that the number of sympathizers and supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) is not declining, a Philippine Army official lamented.
Rebels do not stop recruiting civilians, including minors, said Col. Jon Aying, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade.
There may be surrenderees, but the recruits “replenish” those who return to mainstream society, according to Aying.
Still, the Army official believes that not all the members and the new recruits were true supporters of the revolutionary movement.
Most people in the hinterlands, where the rebels commonly stage recruitment activities, were beneficiaries of programs of the Provincial Integration and Development Unit (PIDU), said Aying.
NPA members recently surrendered and turned over their firearms after receiving assistance from the “Marching for Peace” program of PIDU.
Reymay Hagabon, 44, and Vincent dela Cruz, 28, both from Cadiz City, confessed that they are tired of hiding from government troops and realized that their cause has no direction.
By 19th Infantry Battalion, 8ID PA
KANANGA, Leyte – The so-called home of the commandos in Leyte, which was turned ground zero after super yyphoon “Yolanda”, stood again with its reconstructed and newly-built facilities being inaugurated here on Aug. 16.
The inaugural ceremony was graced by Maj. Gen. Jet B. Velarmino, Commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division as guest of honor with some of his staff who came all the way from Catbalogan, Samar.
MGen. Velarmino commends the leadership of 19th Infantry Battalion, with its commanding officer, Lt. Col. Nedy Espulgar who self-engineered the rehabilitation of their camp without compromising tasks mandated by higher headquarters.
In his message, MGen. Velarmino said he can imagine how the battalion was destroyed when Super Typhoon Yolanda struck.
Maj. Gen. Velarmino was himself a survivor and among those who have seen the face of actual disaster in Tacloban City when the devastating super typhoon hit.
With Fr. Christopher Ligason, the officiating priest, MGen. Velarmino inaugurated half-concrete structures such as the camp’s admin building, liaison offices, dining park, supply rooms, guard post, people center, officers and enlisted personnel quarters, and chapel. The camp’s perimeter fences, organic garden and five (5) bay firing range were also rehabilitated.
Lt. Col. Nedy Espulgar said his troops can fully focus on Internal Peace and Security Operations (IPSO), now that its camp is restored.
Espulgar said the rehabilitation of their camp was started six (6) months ago when the frequency of humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) operations in areas severely affected by ST Yolanda has dropped.
“The timeline for our camp rehabilitation does not include our joint undertaking with the members of Joint Task Force 630 of the Australian Defence Force in December last year which resulted to the clearing of our camp from all debris and the reconstruction of some facilities like our mess hall, water system and comfort rooms”, Espulgar stressed.
What we have built would not be possible without the helping hands of the stakeholders and friends who believed on our cause. This is not just a traditional military camp, but a home to peace-loving people.
The Inaugural Ceremony was highlighted with a five-stages Inaugural Shoot Fest shoot which was participated by a total of 68 enthusiasts and members of gun clubs from Ormoc, Baybay, Kananga, Matag-ob, Tanauan and Samar.
In attendance during the fun shoot were Leyte Board Member Allan Ang, Congressman Rogelio Espina of Biliran’s lone district, Mayor Elmer Codilla of Kananga, Vice-Mayor Michael Torrevillas of Matag-ob, and Superintendent Niel Montaño of Ormoc City Police.
Published on August 19, 2014
Once dubbed as enemies of the state due to their opposed political and social beliefs, but they are now backing the government’s initiative for what is best for the future of their children and the generations to come.
Reformists and the military have signified their sincere partnership and commitment towards peace and development in the community by planting tree seedlings during the launching of the National Greening Program where the Kapatiran is enrolled and was allocated an area of 100 hectares to be planted with varieties of fruit trees and hardwood species.
The reformists are in one with the government towards the action in bringing back the lush forests in the hinterlands of Negros Occidental; a green and healthy environment with full of trees that must abound in the mountainside of Brgy. Locotan, Kabankalan City.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently awarded financial support to the Kapatiran para sa Progresong Panlipunan (Kapatiran) in Kabankalan City in the Province of Negros Occidental to maintain and develop of a 100-hectare property under the National Greening Program (NGP).
Kapatiran is a people’s organization comprised of reformists from Rebolusyunaryo Partidong Manggagawa Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group.
The initiative is part of the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA), a component of the Peace Process-Closure Agreement between the government and the former armed groups who returned to the fold of the law.
PAMANA is the national government’s program and framework for peace and development. It is implemented in areas affected by conflict and communities covered by existing peace agreements.
DENR Regional Director Jim O. Sampulna together with the officials of Kabankalan City led by Mayor Isidro Zayco, gave the check in the amount of P89,250 to Locotan Punong Barangay Danilo E. Abanilla as mobilization fund for the initial preparation of their NGP site.
The total project cost amounts to P995,000 allotted for seedlings production (P595,000), site preparation (P300,000), and maintenance and protection for the first year of operation (P100,000).
Gov. Alfredo Marañon expressed total support of the program for the attainment of total peace in the community. He said the activity manifests the sincere commitment of the government on the peace process agreement.
Director Sampulna said the government is banking to provide identified Peace and Development Community Sites (PDCS) livelihood to be an active partner towards community development. The PDCS are resettlement areas for some members of the Kapatiran.
Mayor Isidro P. Zayco said the initiative is a model for future projects and development in the community. It likewise opened an opportunity for the government to provided infrastructure like the concreting of roads for the city and the beneficiaries.
Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process (OPAPP) Assistant Secretary Danilo Encinas, on the other hand, underscored that the resettlement sites shall form part of the development plan of the local government unit, and gain support from other communities.
With the unity among the stakeholders, nothing is impossible in attaining peace, he said.
In 2013, DENR-6 employed a total of 85 members of the Group as Forest Protection Officers and was increased to 100 this 2014, and enrolled them in the NGP by allocating planting sites as part of the major commitment of the DENR for the Peace Process.
Further, the government through the DENR and OPAPP had also allocated an amount of P200 million for land acquisition for those members who opted to stay where they are now residing and are no longer interested to settle in any of the identified PDCS.
By JAZMIN BONIFACIO, SAMAR NEWS
July 14, 2014
CARIGARA, Leyte – Soldiers and PNP are familiar sights today in rural areas and in conflict-affected communities, especially in Leyte and Samar. They cross rivers, climb mountains, reaching far-flung barangays with difficult terrain and accessibility, is undertaken to teach the farmers – the basic education, health, proper nutrition, values education, farming techniques, and income-generating projects, to help uplift them from the bondage of poverty and ignorance. And this, apart from their duties to help maintain peace and order.
In line with the Peace and Development Program of the Philippine Army, troops of the `Charlie’ company of the 19th Infantry battalion Phil Army and teams from Philippine National Police were warmly received by the barangay officials and residents of Brgy. Canlampay, Paglaum, Caghalo, San Isidro and Hiluctugan in Carigara, Leyte last July 2, 2014.
Barangay Chairman Narciso Llanza of Brgy. Hiluctugan said “I guess they are not here to bring war but to change the perception of my people what soldiers really are.”
And Brgy chairwoman Aurora Quebec of Brgy Caghalo, Carigara, Leyte said, “we should be thankful that this time, the Army and Police is now in Brgy Caghalo as our partner in implementing peace and order in our barangay.” She lauded as well the troops for their discipline and for showing genuine peace and development efforts to the people.
While Asterio Uribe, 57 yrs old, a farmer of Brgy San Isidro said “we feel safe and we thank the soldiers and the police for their care, compassion and understanding to us residents here in the village, it cannot be matched and we are proud to have them here in our barangay.”
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with 1Lt. Jaime B. Tuguic Jr., company commander of the 19th IB, Charlie Company, said that deployed troops focused not only on people’s safety, for territorial defense and securing the area, but also to unite and work hand in hand with the stakeholders, local executives and heads of agencies in order to solve the insurgency problem.
The Bayanihan Team of Charlie Company of the 19th IB together with the PNP jointly had to identify social issues and the team are known for their capabilities in bringing livelihood projects in communities in coordination with the local government agencies.
“Our goal is to cultivate synergy from stakeholders’ network for the benefit of the communities” Lt. Tuguic said.
Their efforts helped reduce illiteracy rate in far flung barangays and reduced poverty. It empowers the rural people with knowledge, skills and values that will help them be a better person.
The truth according to Lt. Tuguic is that there are a lot of noise out there drowning out quite voices, and many people have stopped listening to the cries of their neighbors. Lots of folks have put their hands over their ears to drown out the sufferings. Some institutions have distanced themselves from the disturbing cries. But one thing beautiful for now is folks in poverty are no longer just a missions project but become a genuine friends and family with whom we laugh, cry, dream and struggle.
Camp Lukban, Catbalogan City, Samar— Following the tip from a concerned resident in the area, troops from the 8th Military Intelligence Battalion were able to recover a high-powered firearm on Aug. 11.
Major Amado Gutierrez, spokesman of the Phil. Army’s 8th Infantry Division based here, said the M16 rifle recovered in between the boundaries of Barangays (villages) San Francisco and San Miguel in Las Navas town, Northern Samar.
Maj. Gutierrez said the firearm was among the things left by members of the New People’s Army after an encounter with the military on July 31.
Also recovered with the firearm is a medical kit containing assorted medicines, a syringe, dextrose and a pair of gloves.
Maj. Gutierrez added Army soldiers were dispatched in the said barangays to pursue the rebels reported to be hiding there.
CAMP LAPULAPU, CEBU CITY— Another member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Sandigan” Class of 1982 is appointed to sit as the new Central Command chief in a turnover set on Friday (Aug. 15).
Major Gen. Nicanor M. Vivar will take the place of outgoing Centcom Chief Lt. Gen. John S. Bonafos, who was recently appointed as the new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Vice Chief of Staff.
Vivar is the outgoing commander of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) 3rd Air Division based in Edwin Andrews Air Base (EAAB) in Zamboanga City and the 16th Centcom Chief come Friday.
Vivar, a native of Hagonoy, Bulacan, is the second member of PMA “Sandigan” Class, which holds one of the top positions in the AFP.
Vivar formerly headed the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, 100th Training Wing, and the 5th Fighter Wing.
He has also underwent various career courses and trainings, both local and abroad, including several courses in Australia and his Air Command and Staff Course in Alabama, USA.
He is also a recipient of numerous awards and commendations including a Distinguished Service Star, Presidential Medal of Merit, Bronze Cross Medals, Silver Wing Medal and the Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao Campaign Medals.
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang will spearhead the turnover on Friday.
Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City- To officially mark the start of modernizing the fire power capability of the military’s ground forces, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will conduct a ceremonial distribution of newly acquired Assault Rifles on Tuesday, August 12 at the AFP General Headquarters canopy area.
The President and AFP Commander-in-Chief Benigno Aquino III together with Secretary of National Defense, Voltaire T. Gazmin and AFP Chief of Staff, General Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr. are expected to attend the ceremony.
The AFP will distribute a total of 27,300 units of 5.56mm M4 rifles to the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps. These rifles were delivered in two batches last July 5 with 100 units and July 31 with 27,200 units. The remaining 23,329 units are expected to be delivered in December, this year.
The delivery of these newly acquired firearms is part of the Joint Philippine Army – Philippine Marine Corps Assault Rifle Acquisition Project by the government. Under this project, the AFP will receive a total of 50,629 units of M4 rifles with 44,186 to be given to the Army and 6,443 for the Navy.
The contract price was estimated at P1.9 billion which was sourced from the AFP Capability Upgrade Program (CUP) 2012. United States-based Remington Outdoor Company won the public bidding in October 2013.
The approved budget for the contract was about P3.3 billion thus generating a total savings for the government estimated at P1.2 billion. This savings will be used for the procurement of additional rifles, thereby increasing the readiness rating of the Army and the Marines and at the same time, increasing the level of confidence, morale and pride of every soldier especially those serving in the field.
The 5.56mm M4 rifle was prioritized to supplement and replace the early models of M-16 and M-16A1 rifle, majority of which were as old as the Vietnam War era and are already in poor condition and need refurbishing or replacement.
The AFP’s procurement of these brand new assault rifles is part of the thrust to modernize our armed forces, and start it with the individual foot soldier in the field.
One of the major goals of the AFP Modernization Program is the improvement of the mission-essential capability requirements of the AFP in terms of firepower for the ground troops. With this recent acquisition, the AFP is optimistic that it will significantly contribute to the development and transformation of the AFP into a multi-mission-oriented force, capable of effectively addressing both internal and external threats. (By Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office with Jessica Gracilla)
TAPAZ, Capiz – A soldier was killed following an encounter with communist rebels in barangay (village) Roosevelt at 6a.m. today (July 31).
The slain soldier was identified as 31-year-old Private First Class Lowel John Bravo, a native of Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental province.
Bravo was a member of the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) conducting peace and development activities in the said village when they were shot by about 10 armed men.
Lt. Col. Victor Llapitan, commanding officer of the said battalion, said the armed men were believed to be members of the Tugalbong Platoon, Central Front, Komiteng Rehiyonal-Panay (CF,KR-P).
“We engaged the NPA bandits which resulted to the death of one of our soldiers. Our troops are there to help the Local Government Unit (LGU) in assisting the people to resolve the issues in their community and to further improve their lives,” said Llapitan.
“The NPA continues to deprive the people of Tapaz to have a developed community. This will not hamper our initiatives to provide the necessary services and assistance to the people for them to have a peaceful and better life,” he added.
Llapitan also said that they are now in pursuit of the fleeing rebels.
Meanwhile, MGen Aurelio Baladad, Commander of Army’s 3rd Infantry Division sent his condolences to the kin of Bravo.
“We express our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of our slain soldier. He offered his life for the sake of the people. He will always be remembered as true hero and advocate of peace,” Baladad said in a press statement.
Baladad also stressed that despite of this, the Army soldiers in Capiz will work even more in Bayanihan spirit together with the LGUs, other stakeholders and the people to win the peace in this part of the region.
“The issues in our society are being addressed through Bayanihan and armed struggle is not one of the solutions. We call on the CPP-NPA to end the armed struggle and talk with us peacefully,” Baladad added.
Additional troops are now in the area conducting pursuit operations to run after the fleeing rebels while members of the Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) conducted investigation in the encounter site.
Troops of 61IB are also in close communication with the barangay officials to ensure the safety and security of the residents in the area. ### (By: Division Public Affairs Office, 3rd Infantry Division, Philippine Army)
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CEBU CITY— Central Command (Centcom) chief said there is no truth of a destabilization plot against its commander in chief President Benigno Aquino III.
Centcom chief Lt. Gen. John Bonafos told reporters in an interview here on Wednesday that the soldiers here are “very high morale” with the present administration.
This was in response to a statement released by Senator Antonio Trillanes that there are retired generals plotting such things.
“There are no reports of a destabilization plot within the active members of the AFP here in the Visayas,” Bonafos said.
According to a report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Trillanes said in a television report that retired generals who are in support of former president, and now, Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are planning to overthrow the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
A former Navy officer, Trillanes said retired generals are meeting with active members of the AFP in their destabilization plots.
He, however, did not identify the retired generals.