Thursday, July 27, 2017

AFP, PNP reaffirm La Union as insurgency-free province

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 27): AFP, PNP reaffirm La Union as insurgency-free province

High-ranking officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the police in Northern Luzon have reaffirmed the status of La Union as insurgency-free province during the recent second quarter meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in Diego Silang at the provincial capitol here.

Maj. Gen. Angelito M. De Leon, commander of the army’s 7th Infantry Division, said that the reaffirmation of the status of La Union as insurgency-free was due to unprecedented economic growth and development of the province and the continued trust of stakeholders to the stability of the province’s peace and order.

De Leon, however, clarified that said restatement does not mean that the AFP and other law enforcement agencies will relinquish the security support to the province.

“The initiative is our mode of sustaining our all-out security support to maintain the peace and order situation in the province of La Union,” said De Leon, who represented the AFP during the signing ceremony.

He said that the continued support of the AFP to the provinces even after its declaration as insurgency - free shows its dedication to serving the people beyond the threat.

“Although the status of insurgency situation in the Ilocos region is manageable, we are constantly vigilant against the possible occurrence of terror threat from the leftist groups operating in our area of responsibility,” added De Leon.

Aside from De Leon, other signatories of the reaffirmation document were La Union Governor Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III, Police Regional Office 1 director Chief Supt. Charlo Collado, Brig. Gen. Milfredo M. Melegrito, who represented Lt. Gen. Romeo T. Tanalgo, the commander of the AFP’s Northern Luzon command. Witnessing the event were the members of the RPOC Region 1.

For his part, Gov. Ortega expressed elation to the status of La Union as rebel-free and said “this is a remarkable indicator for La Union while vying for the award as country’s most peaceful province this year.”

“In behalf of the provincial government of La Union, I rest assured our fullest support to this peace and order initiative,” Ortega said.

Meanwhile, Col. Henry A. Robinson Jr., commander of the army’s 702nd Brigade, said “it is in this particular event where the government must remember to make use of its people so that little by little they will be able to contribute, not only to economic growth but by their vigilance to prevent insurgents gain their power.”

Lt. Col. Eugenio Julio C Osias IV, commander of the army’s 81st Infantry Battalion, also said “we, the Spartan Troopers will continue to support and secure the province of La Union by mobilizing our resources to prevent the resurgence of the protracted war of the communist terrorists.”

On September 4, 2009, La Union was also declared as insurgency-free province through a Memorandum of Agreement entered into by the AFP, PNP, and the province of La Union, with provisions of partnership for strengthening the internal security of the province.

Suspected NPA couple arrested in Northern Palawan

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): Suspected NPA couple arrested in Northern Palawan

A husband and wife, believed to be members of the communist-terrorist group New People’s Army (NPA), were arrested in the northern Palawan town of Araceli, a ranking police official told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) early Wednesday afternoon.

Palawan Police Provincial Office (PPO) Director Senior Superintendent Gabriel Lopez confirmed to the PNA that suspected NPA members Carlito and Elizabeth Labajo were arrested on July 24.

They were arrested in Barangay Tinintinan following operations conducted by elements of the Municipal Police Station (MPS) in Araceli.

“They are husband and wife arrested by our policemen in Tinintinan after residents reported them asking around and spying on the MPS, and the house of Mayor (Noel) Beronio,” Lopez said.

He said the Labajos are going to be submitted for inquest to ascertain facts relating to their arrest.

They were arrested in their home in the said barangay, where seditious documents and a caliber .38 were found.

“Our policemen in the area found documents in their possession that tell they are onto something treasonous,” Lopez said, adding two other NPA suspects were able to flee Tinintinan.

The couple is now under their custody, he said.

The arrest of the Labajos came in the wake of alleged reports that the NPA in Palawan are threatening to stage attacks against municipal police stations in the northern part of the province.

Lopez said all MPS in northern Palawan are ready, and they do not take for granted tip-offs provided by residents.

The arrest also came after joint military forces by the Western Command (WESCOM) in southern Palawan captured two major campgrounds of the NPA in Malihud, Bataraza and SamariƱana, Brooke’s Point.

On July 18, a roadside bomb attack on a M35 truck injured a Marine soldier in Bataraza, southern Palawan. The following day, suspected NPA gunmen killed two Marines in Roxas town in northern Palawan.

2 cops hurt in Samar roadside blast

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): 2 cops hurt in Samar roadside blast

Two policemen were wounded when alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) detonated an improvised explosive devise targeting a police patrol car at a national road in Jiabong, Samar Wednesday noon.

PNP regional police spokesperson Chief Insp. Ma. Bella D. Rentuaya said police officers of Catarman, Northern Samar were heading to this city to attend a meeting when attacked them around 12:15 p.m. in Jia-an village, Jiabong town.

Wounded were Police Officer (PO) 1 Roan Ralph Sabanal and PO1 John Cervantes.

“We are saddened that this incident happened. Clearly, this was part of a series of harassment of the NPA targeting government forces in the region,” Rentuaya said.

“I could not say that NPA forces are getting stronger in our region because there’s no casualty on the side of the government.”

The police have stepped up their security plan after the Communist Party of the Philippines asked its armed wing, the NPA, to launch “armed counteractions and offensives” across the country.

The violent action is a protest against the five-month extension of Martial Law in Mindanao.

Rentuaya confirmed that there are some reported harassment against soldiers and police officers in the region since Sunday, but she declined to disclose details.

“Our vulnerable police stations are being directed to always be on guard and not be caught off-guard. They really have to be alert,” she added.

The police have been focusing in Samar provinces because of past incidents of rebel attacks. The remote villages in Samar have been tagged by government troops as hotbed of the NPA. Poor road network, poverty and low level of education are the major factors why communism thrives in Samar provinces.

Muslim preacher is Marawi City police chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): Muslim preacher is Marawi City police chief

Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, police regional director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-ARMM), today announced the designation of a noted Muslim preacher as the new police chief for Marawi City.

Supt. Ebra Moxir Al Haj has assumed office Tuesday facing a gargantuan challenge of bringing peace and normalcy in the city stilled besieged by jihadists Abu Sayyaf and Maute Groups.

Sindac said Moxir served for 22 years in the Philippine National Police Chaplain Service and a commissioned officer of the Philippine Army.

His being religious will help bring back the glory days of police in Marawi City.

Supt. Moxir, currently the president of the Imam Council of the Philippines, was welcomed by his subordinates and other police officers from PRO-ARMM when he assumed office at the Camp Bagong Amai Pakpak in Marawi City.

”Let us bring back the rule of law,” he told members of the Marawi City PNP, majority of whom he knew personally being and native of the city.

”Let us be an instrument to bring back the peace that was lost in Marawi due to the Maute and Abu Sayyaf attacks,” he added.

Sindac said aside from being a full bloodied Maranao, Supt. Moxir was one of the best among police superintendents there is in the organization. He holds a masters’ degree in public management major in development studies and master in public administration.

Sindac hoped that Moxir will bring back the glory days of the PNP in Marawi City whose main objective is to serve and to protect the people.

WESCOM steps up operations vs NPA; clashes with rebels anew

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 27): WESCOM steps up operations vs NPA; clashes with rebels anew

The Western Command (WESCOM) here has stepped up focused military operations in southern Palawan as it recorded late Wednesday afternoon its third encounter in a week with armed New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

The encounter happened around 4:00 p.m. between Barangay Malihud, Bataraza and Barangay Culasian, Rizal towns, confirmed Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4) commanding officer Lt. Col. Danilo Facundo.

The Marine troops led by 1Lt. Geovanni Bangoy engaged the NPA insurgents in an hour-long encounter.

“The encounter this time was longer… around an hour,” Facundo said Wednesday afternoon, and added that bloodstains, contrived shotguns, and a mobile phone were found in the clash site.

The NPAs are said to be trying to escape the military’s blockading troops towards Rizal, used to be known as Tarumpitao Point and was part of the municipality of Quezon.

The NPAs are reportedly led by their Palawan frontrunner, identified only as “Ka Allan.”

“They have injured members based on the bloodstains discovered by our troops. We can’t ascertain how many, but there were bloodstains in the area,” he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

Military forces and the NPA first clashed on July 21 at Sitio Kambingan, Malihud. The second encounter happened on July 23, also in the same barangay but in the area of Sitio Ilyan.

Wednesday’s clash brought to three the number of encounters between the military and the communist-terrorist group in Southern Palawan in a week.

Meanwhile, in a July 25 website post, Salvador Luminoso, spokesperson of the NPA's Bienvenido Vallever Command (BVC), confirmed the July 21 encounter between the military and their force in Malihud.

Luminoso said the military forces attacked their members while in the process of consulting with residents of the said barangay.

Two major campgrounds of the NPA have been captured by WESCOM in southern Palawan.

In northern Palawan, a suspected NPA couple was arrested on July 24 in Barangay Tinintinan, Araceli by operatives of the Municipal Police Station, according to Palawan Police Provincial Office Director Senior Supt. Gabriel Lopez.

Suspected militants Carlito and Elizabeth Labajo were the first to be arrested in Palawan since President Rodrigo Duterte announced the end of peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Top cop says Reds still weak in Eastern Visayas

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 27): Top cop says Reds still weak in Eastern Visayas

A top regional official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said the recent harassment by the New People’s Army (NPA) was all just for show as they were trying to project their strength.

PNP Eastern Visayas Regional Director Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar said the armed rebels were incapable to launch major attacks or even fight back government forces.

“The incident of harassment is alarming because it injured soldiers and policemen, but we are more than prepared to face them,” Beltejar said.

The police regional chief backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to terminate peace talks with the communist rebels frustrated by attacks against government troops.

“There are many violations committed by the NPAs, indicating that they are not sincere about peace talks,” Beltejar told reporters Wednesday night.

He reiterated his call to all units to be on alert against possible attacks after two policemen were wounded when rebels detonated an improvised explosive device targeting a police patrol car at a national road in Jiabong, Samar on Wednesday.

Police officers of Catarman, Northern Samar were heading to this city to attend a meeting when attacked around 12:15 p.m. in Jia-an village, Jiabong town.

Samar police provincial director Supt. Nicolas Torre said about five NPA members planted the explosive to harm policemen.

“When we responded, they just ran away and not attempted to fight back. This is just pure harassment since they have no capability to really fight back,” Torre said.

Citing intelligence report, Beltejar said rebels in the region have not increased its numbers. “We know their real strength. They’re just launching attacks as a strategy to project that they are strong.”

The police has stepped up its security plan after the Communist Party of the Philippines asked its armed wing, the NPA, to launch “armed counteractions and offensives” across the country.

The violent action is a protest against the five-month extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Troops apprehend 2 Sayyaf bandits

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 27): Troops apprehend 2 Sayyaf bandits

The Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi on Thursday announced the arrest of two Abu Sayyaf bandits involved in series of robbery in that province.

Brig. Gen. Custodio Parcon Jr., Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi commander, identified the arrested suspects as Merson Arak Garim and Rustom Garim, both members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), based in Panglima Sugala.

Parcon said the two suspects were arrested while the Marine Battalion Landing Team-9 (MBLT-9) troops were on combat operations around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday in Barangay Batu-Batu, Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi.

“Prompted by reports alleging the presence of seven Abu Sayyaf bandits and the commission of robbery by the said group in Barangay Batu-Batu, the Marine troops conducted the offensive, yielding to the arrest of the Garims and the seizure of an M-16 (rifle) loaded with ammunition,” Parcon said.

The civilians reported the presence of the Abu Sayyaf bandits, who were armed with M-16 and caliber .30 rifles on Tuesday in Panglima Sugala.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits resorted to robbery to sustain themselves victimizing farmers in far-flung areas like in Barangay Balimbing, Panglima Sugala since the marine troops intensified the conduct of seaborne patrols.

On Monday, July 24, the bandits robbed a certain Mansiar, a tenant of a coconut farm and threatened to kill its owner, Reny Flores, a brother of a soldier assigned with the MBLT-9.

Parcon said records showed the mayor of Panglimna Sugala has ordered the Garims to leave the town but they refused and has established a temporary harbor site in Barangay Batu-Batu in that municipality.

The Garims were turned over to the custody of the police in Panglima Sugala town.

The arrest of the Garims have brought to 72 Abu Sayyaf bandits apprehended by the government troops as of Wednesday, July 26, here in Western Mindanao.

Of the total, 11 were nabbed in Basilan, 43 in Sulu, seven in Tawi-Tawi, and 11 in this city.