CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has captured a factory of improvised bombs during the assault on a Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) stronghold in Mamasapano town yesterday (March 1).
Colonel Melquiades Feliciano, the commander of the Philippine Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade that spearheaded the offensive operations against the bandits, said that his troops captured the encampment owned by Mohammad Tambako in Barangay (village) Dasikil.
“Our troops successfully seized a bomb-making facility after assaulting the enemy positions yesterday. The enemy was able to escape but the equipment and materials that are used to fabricate home-made bombs were left behind,” said Feliciano.
Feliciano said that Basit Usman is currently coddled by small bands of notorious bandits from two different BIFF groups.
Mohammad Ali Tambako of Mamasapano town is one of Usman’s current protector. He is a BIFF leader who had carried out violent atrocities against civilians both in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.
Another one is BIFF leader named Kagi Karialan with at least 100 members. He led the attack on MILF communities and civilian communities nearby in Kabasalan and Bulol, both in Pikit, North Cotabato in two separate occasions, displacing at least 25,000 people.
Several tipsters have spotted Usman in the bailiwicks of these cohorts. Five foreign nationals who are believed to be members of an international terrorist organization, were seen moving with Usman as they evaded their pursuers.
Among those recovered include vital components for making bombs such as mortar fuses, ammonium nitrate, blasting caps and tie wires.
Law enforcement operation
On March 1 (Sunday), the Army’s 6th Infantry Division led by Major General Edmundo Pangilinan facilitated a meeting with different local government officials in order to shed light on the ongoing ‘all-out offensive’ actions against the BIFF.
The meeting, held inside the Phil. Army’s 6th ID headquarters in Maguindanao, tackled different issues including the purpose of the ongoing law enforcement operations against the BIFF.
During the meeting, the military officials explained that the government forces are hunting down Basit Usman’s group who were sighted in the hinterland villages of Shariff Saydona and Mamasapano municipalities.
The government officials also agreed to collaborate on how to protect the civilian population and in providing humanitarian assistance to at least 5,700 affected families who were displaced from their homes.
As of today, the AFP has accounted nine (9) members of the BIFF who were killed in the recent law enforcement operations in Maguindanao.
Three soldiers were also wounded in the fighting. (BY AFP PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE)
CEBU CITY— About 40 K9 teams have passed and will be deployed in Tacloban City for the slated visit of Pope Francis on Jan. 17.
Prior to their deployment, K9 teams from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) units, Philippine Coast Guard and private security firms were assembled for a series of exams.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) Civil Security Group (CSG) sent a team to Cebu on Jan. 7 and spearheaded the exam.
The K9 teams which is composed of a handler and dog underwent a four-level test at the headquarters of the AFP Central Command in this city.
These exams include baggage inspection, room inspection, vehicular inspection and open area inspection. Real explosives were planted during the exams.
K9 teams (both handler and dog) should pass three exams out of the four.
Lt. Commander Jim Alagao, spokesman, said these K9 teams will be an added security asset for the Papal Visit. (BY Public Information Office, Central Command, AFP)
Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz – The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) here in Western Visayas has committed to abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the government’s Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) from December 18, 2014 to January 19, 2015.
While the 3ID will be suspending all deliberate offensive military operations here in Western Visayas, it will continue its presence in communities by maintaining its security patrols aimed to protect the civilian populace, government and private infrastructure, and military camps and detachments in order to maintain peace and security in the area.
“Your Army remains committed and sincere in its resolve to peace especially during this Christmas season. Our people deserve to celebrate the Yuletide peacefully,” Major General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Commander of 3ID said in a statement.
Likewise, the 3ID will also maintain its activities supporting the government and civil authorities’ peace, development, law enforcement operations and humanitarian assistance programs.
Meanwhile, taking into consideration the transgressions of the New People’s Army in the past that took advantage of the ceasefire of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the military will continue with its proactive defense counter measures to prevent imminent NPA attacks.
MGen Guerrero also instructed the units in the field to remain vigilant especially in protecting the civilian communities. (BY Division Public Affairs Office, 3rd Infantry Division, Phil. Army)
CEBU CITY—Almost a year after their arrival, South Korean soldiers have bid goodbye to the people of Leyte leaving their traces of sunshine through the houses they have built and schools they have repaired and reconstructed.
Team Araw composed of at least 300 South Korean soldiers of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces (ROKAF) has formally ended its rehabilitation and recovery efforts for the survivors of the super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ (international name ‘Haiyan’) in the towns of Palo and Tanauan, Leyte province.
In a Mission Completion Ceremony held at their temporary base in Campetic, Palo town, officials from the Philippine government led by Department of National Defense (DND) Sec. Voltaire Gazmin and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Undersecretary Alexander Pama thanked them for the efforts they have put up in rehabilitating schools, government offices, as well as houses of war veterans devastated by Haiyan.
Sec. Gazmin and Usec. Pama awarded the “Bakas Parangal ng Kadakilaan” (roughly “footprint award”) to the team led by Col. Chol Won Lee.
This award is given to given to honor the noble service of the ROKAF Joint Support Group in rehabilitation efforts despite the obvious hardships of the situation.
Col. Lee also received the “Bakas Parangal ng Kabayanihan”, which is given to the leader of the unit or group that exhibited exemplary acts of heroism.
There was also an unveiling of the ‘Araw Shrine’ where the words “We repaid your sacrifices of blood with our sweat drops” were carved on a huge stone monument.
Team Araw is set to leave the country on Dec. 22 where they will go back to their country and spend Christmas with their own families.
Team Araw arrived in the country last Dec. 27, 2013. The team was named after ‘Araw’ (English: Sun) to symbolize ‘hope’ to the typhoon survivors. (BY Public Information Office, Central Command, AFP)
CAMP PERALTA, Jamindan, Capiz –Machineries were burned by suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental on Sunday (Dec. 14) evening.
Heavy equipment owned by the International Builders Corporation were torched by a group of 30 armed men at Sitio Taoangan, Barangay (village) Gil Montilla in the said city at 8:35pm.
Lt. Col. Pompeyo Jason Almagro, commanding officer of the Phil. Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion said the equipment that were burned include one grader, pay loader and one vibratory roller.
“These were used for the construction and rehabilitation of a national road which is a government project that could boost trade and economic development in Sipalay City,” Pompeyo said in a press statement.
Pompeyo added that based on the information they have gathered, the communist rebels did this as part of their extortion scheme to force the private firm to give in to the NPA’s demands.
Col. Allan Martin, commander of the Phil. Army’s 302nd Brigade based in Tanjay City, said it has intensified its security operations in the area especially in tracking the communist rebels responsible for the burning.
“The government is working hard on developmental projects that will benefit the people but in return, the NPA destroyed the equipment to stall development,” he said.
“Our soldiers are working closely with the Philippine National Police and we are optimistic that the NPA group behind this would be cornered soon,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Phil. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) condemns the act committed by the NPAs.
Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commander of the 3ID, continues to call on the people especially in Negros Occidental “to convince those who are deceived by the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) to follow the path of peace and condemn those who advocate violence and use arms against civilians”. (BY Division Public Affairs Office, 3rd Infantry Division, Phil. Army)
Catbalogan City, Samar – The Provincial Government of Samar and the 8th Infantry (Stromtroopers) Division, Philippine Army through the 801st Infantry (Bantay at Gabay) Brigade spearheaded the Signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) formally declaring Samar as Peaceful and Ready for Further Development Province (PRFD). The momentous event was held last December 10, 2014 at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Session Hall, Provincial Capitol, Catbalogan City, Samar.
The declaration of Samar as PRFD caps the successful implementation of the peace and development efforts in the Eastern Visayas region. The activity was well-attended by key stakeholders for the peace effort which includes: Gov. Sharee Ann T. Tan of the Province of Samar and also the chairman of the Provincial Peace and Order Council, Vice Gov. Stephen James T. Tan, Central Command chief Lt. Gen. Nicanor M. Vivar, Phil. Army 8th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Jet B Velarmino, and 801st Infantry Brigade commander Brig Gen Wilson M. Leyva.
Also present to witnesses the momentous event were Central Command deputy commander for operations Brig Gen Vic C Castro, Regional PAMANA Area Manager Emy C. Bonifacio of OPAAPP, DILG Provincial Dir. Judy Batulan, Provincial Dir. P/SSupt Nolasco K. Bathan of Samar PPO,87IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Antonio B. Dulnuan, and 43IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Siegfred Tubalado. Likewise, the activity was graced by the different municipal mayors of the Province of Samar, heads and representatives of the different local government agencies and sectors of the society.
Gov. Tan expressed her gratitude to the joint efforts of all stakeholders in helping Samar reached the status it has today.
She added that the successful declaration of Samar as PDRP is also a manifestation of the Samarnon’s desire for peace and development.
Lt. Col. Erwin Alea, spokesman of 8ID said, it was through several years of combined efforts of the Armed Forces of Philippines, the Samar Police Provincial Office and the Provincial Government of Samar to combat insurgency problems that the province has gained positive results taking into account the fact that no immense armed offensives by the enemy of the state occurred for the past years.
“The threats posed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CNN) in the past have been successfully addressed, thus, threats to stability, peace and order have been reduced, paving the way for development projects to eventually succeed,” he said.
Alea also emphasized that the uninterrupted economic and development activities in the province which successfully addressed the poverty-induced insurgency problem has helped them attain the declaration now.
Alea cited PAMANA interventions in Samar as one of the key where the people felt the government’s presence through delivery of social services and creation of economic opportunities.
“The social participation among our stakeholders have greatly increased, resulting in increased productivity, social cohesiveness among the different sectors in the community and regained the trust and confidence of the people in the government,” he said in a press statement.
Alea also cited the institutionalisation of Peace Caravans as a venue for focused service delivery.
This, Alea added, led to the declaration of some Samar municipalities as ‘Manageable Conflict Affected and Development Ready Areas’. Last August 7, 2014, the Sanggunian Panlalawigan of the Province of Samar, passed Ordinance No. 14-012-14 declaring the Province of Samar as Manageable Conflict-Affected and Development-Ready Area. This is an indicator that the root causes of conflict were appropriately addressed. Winning the peace on the ground was made possible by the strengthened collaboration among various stakeholders for peace and development, and the improved capacities of a converged/ strengthened constituency.
During his remarks, Gen. Velarmino said the implementation of the IPSP ‘Bayanihan’ is very evident in this side of the region since fruits of peace were also achieve by planting the seed of peace in every hearts of the people in Samar.
“Without peace and order, prosperity will never be possible. We have been advocating that it is only through peaceful means and not armed struggle, that we can achieve sustainable growth development in this province,” he said.
“Today, the whole nation is also observing the culmination of the National Human Rights Consciousness Week. We have pledged our commitment, and our activity today is a definite manifestation of our advocacy of protecting the rights and ensuring the well-being of every Samareno. We, your army here in the Eastern Visayas Region, are very grateful that our efforts were supported and recognized by the local populace, otherwise this success would not have been achieved,” he added. (BY Division Public Affairsm 8th Infantry Division, Phil. Army)
CAMP PERALTA, Jamindan, Capiz – The provincial government of Capiz gave financial assistance to eight former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) on Dec. 11, 2014 at the Capiz provincial capitol to aid in their transition back to mainstream society.
The eight former rebels (FRs) were members of the Central Front, Komiteng Rehiyonal-Panay (CF, KR-P). They each received P15,000.00 as initial cash assistance under the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) administered by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Capiz Gov. Victor Tanco, Major General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Commander of 3ID, Clyne Deocampo, DILG Capiz Provincial Director, Colonel Eric Uchida, Commander of 301st Brigade, and Lt. Col. Victor Llapitan, Commanding Officer of 61stInfantry Battalion welcomed the returnees.
Alias Inday, one of the returnees said she opted to turn herself to the authorities because of the hardships that she has experienced living in the mountains.
“Gusto man namon mangabuhi sang hilway kag malinong” (We also wanted to live freely and peacefully), Inday added.
The 61st Infantry Battalion operating in the province of Capiz was the unit that helped process the required documents of these FRs with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development.
A livelihood assistance amounting to P50, 000.00 each will also be given to the FRs which will be used for their livelihood project.
Mrs Maria Barnes, Officer-in-Charge of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development in Capiz immediately interviewed the FRs for the livelihood assistance program entitled to them.
Aside from this, former rebels may also avail of the benefits from other government programs available like TESDA skills and livelihood programs.
“Our arms are always open for peace. We welcome and help those who choose to live in peace. Just like our eight (8) long lost brothers and sister, we will always welcome other NPA rebels who would want to go down and live normally,” Col. Uchida said.
Meanwhile, Major General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Commander of 3ID said “We call on the NPA to abandon the armed struggle and to live a life in peace. The AFP and the government will give you a chance to live with your families and will assist you to start a new life and give a better future for your children.” (BY Division Public Affairs, 3rd Infantry Division, Phil. Army)
CAMP LAPULAPU, CEBU— Heavy equipment of a construction firm implementing road widening in a town in Samar were burned by a group of suspected New Peoples’ Army (NPAs) on Wednesday (Dec. 10) morning.
Lt. Commander Jim Aris V. Alagao, Central Command spokesman, said two dump trucks and a backhoe owned by HANJIN (HHIC) Company were burned at 10am by at least 30 NPAs.
Alagao said these rebels are operating under SESAME of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee.
The incident happened while the construction personnel were conducting an ongoing quarry operations in Barangay (village) Vigan and Binalay river, Gen. Mac-Arthur, Eastern Samar.
Hanjin company is also in charge for the P19 million widening project of a national road from Llorente to Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
“We are aiming for peace and development on this side of the country. Roads should be opened for further development to start for Samar that has long been a hot bed of insurgency in the country. The burning only indicates that they are against development,” Alagao said.
“Typhoon Ruby has just devasted some parts of Eastern Visayas. Your AFP in the Visayas is in the middle of a huge relief-operations to help out our kababayans and here come these communist terrorists wreaking havoc and destroying the livelihood of the people in the area. They said they are going to help those who were affected by the typhoon. Should the Filipino People believe them? I guess not,” he added.
Camp Lapulapu, Cebu City— All military units in the Visayas are place under red alert to brace for typhoon ‘Ruby’ (international name: Hagupit which means ‘whip’ in English) as it entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) at 2a.m. today (Dec. 4).
Lt. Commander Jim Aris Alagao, Central Command (Centcom) spokesman, said that all military troops who are on leave or having their rest and recreation have temporarily reported back to their respective units.
Naval and air assets as well as Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) teams and equipment are already available and ready for deployment in case the typhoon would hit any parts in the Visayas.
As of 11am forecast of weather bureau Pag-asa (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration), typhoon signals have been raised in the provinces of Eastern Samar, Leyte, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands. (BY Public Information Office, Central Command, AFP)
CPP-NPA activities in the Visayas dwindles as the provinces of Samar and Northern Samar will be declared ‘peaceful’
Central Command (Centcom) Chief Lt. Gen. Nicanor Vivar said this resulted to a vacuum in leadership among the officials and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army- National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
“The apprehension of the Tiamzon couple further lowered the morale and will to fight of the members of the communist-terrorist movement,” he said in his message delivered during the 13th Anniversary Celebration of Centcom on Monday morning at Camp Lapulapu in this city.
Vivar said the dwindling activities of the CPP-NPA-NDF has resulted to the declaration of the provinces of Samar and Northern Samar as ‘peaceful and ready for further development’ by this month.
He added that with this declaration, they will be able to meet the deadline of declaring the communist rebel threat ‘irrelevant’ by the first quarter of 2015.
The Tiamzon couple were apprehended last March 22 in Barangay (village) Valencia, Carcar City.