NPA will be held liable for ceasefire violations – AFP

Marje Pelayo   •   December 24, 2019   •   769

Fighters of the New People’s Army-Melito Glor Command (NPA-MGC) gather at an undisclosed location in the mountains of Sierra Madre in Quezon Province, south of Manila, Philippines, 26 December 2018. EPA-EFE (FILE) / ALECS ONGCAL

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) noted two incidents that violated the ongoing truce between government forces and the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), just a day after the two sides agreed of the holiday ceasefire.

About 9:20 AM on Tuesday (December 24), an anti-personnel landmine exploded at Barangay Singon, Tubungan in Iloilo City where several members of the Iloilo Police Mobile Force Company were injured.

Minutes after, an ambush against AFP personnel happened at the border of Maguiway, Tagcawayan, Quezon, and Labo in the vicinity of Camarines Norte where one soldier was killed and six others wounded.

“These violations will be taken noted of and at least to the eyes of our countrymen. Makikita nila na ang ating mga sundalo ay tumutupad sa umiiral na ceasefire (They can prove that our soldiers are complying with the ongoing ceasefire),” noted AFP Spokesperson B.Gen. Edgard Arevalo.

“These violations on the other side is their responsibility. Pananagutan nila ito sa sambayanang Pilipino (They will be accountable to the Filipino people),” Arevalo added.

The AFP will submit a written report on the incident as ordered by the Department of National Defense (DND) which will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The AFP, meanwhile, leaves it to the President as to what to do with the ceasefire declaration in relation to the impending resumption of the peace talks with the communist group – MNP (with details from Dante Amento)

Pangilinan seeks Senate probe on fatal shooting of 4 soldiers in Jolo

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan is calling for an inquiry into the killing of four soldiers by local policemen in Jolo, Sulu.

“Nakakabahala ang balitang ito. Ngayon pa lang na hindi pa batas ang anti-terror bill, may nangyayari nang ganito. Ano na lang ang laban ng ordinaryong tao?” Pangilinan said in a statement on Wednesday.

On Monday afternoon, June 29, four members of the Philippine Army were fatally shot by police officers some meters away from the Jolo police station.

The Army said the four soldiers were on an official mission and were tracking suspected suicide bombers  when they were accosted by the local police.

The soldiers, who had been wearing plain clothes, were said to have introduced themselves to the policemen. The cops allegedly told them to go with them to a nearby police station for identity verification.

Initial police report said that as their team and Army officers approached the police station, the soldiers’ vehicle allegedly sped off, prompting a car chase.

Police said they only defended themselves when the soldiers opened fire.

The Army disputed this claim, saying the soldiers did not try to escape and never fired a single shot towards police officers based on eye-witness accounts of two civilians and of a motorcycle-riding soldier who was part of the operation trailing the soldiers’ vehicle.

Pangilinan said the police and military have different versions of what happened, and an “independent and impartial” Senate probe will “help bring out the truth.”

“This incident is disturbing because it appears that the police are quick in pulling the trigger without careful judgment. If they can do this to their fellow uniformed men, how much more to the ordinary civilians who are unarmed and defenseless?” the senator said.

Nevertheless, Pangilinan called on military and police ground commanders to “rein in their men to preserve peace and avert escalation of tension between the armed personnel.”

“We should be going after the common enemy — terrorists, drug lords, armed groups, and in this time of the pandemic, COVID — not against each other,” Pangilinan said.

The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines earlier said they have requested the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an impartial probe into the incident.

The nine policemen involved in the incident, as well as the chief of Jolo police station have also been ordered relieved from their posts pending investigation.

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DND: Parañaque raid that killed alleged ASG members highlights need for tougher anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday said that the recent joint police and military operation in Parañaque City, which led to the killing of suspected Abu Sayyaf members, highlights the need for President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, “the presence of these terrorists in the NCR highlights the need for us to enhance our measures against those who intend to bring harm to our people.”

“A law such as the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020 will give our law enforcers greater capacity to stop these terrorists and prevent them from wreaking havoc in our communities,” he added.

Lorenzana also commended the police and the military for the “successful” law enforcement.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, said the incident calls for an urgent decision of the President.

“This development all the more highlights the need for the President and Commander-in-Chief Rodrigo Duterte to expedite the signing and immediate implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Bill,” AFP chief-of-staff General Felimon Santos, Jr. said in a statement.

He said terrorism really poses great threat to public security and places general welfare at stake.

“We should protect and defend from terrorists— without further delay than it had already been —fellow Filipinos from wanton death or destruction of their property,” he said.

Santos also said that the recent operation against the alleged members of Abu Sayyaf group only shows that a pandemic could not deter terror groups from committing lawless acts.

“The unwanted presence of terrorist ASG members in Metro Manila and their timely neutralization in Parañaque proves that terrorist groups know no pandemic or people’s suffering in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world,” he said.

“Not even COVID-19 could deter or prevent the terrorists ASG and their cohorts from planning and looking for the opportune time to strike and kill or maim innocent civilians and to destroy massively government infrastructure and private property,” he added.

The Philippine National Police earlier reported that four suspected ASG members were killed in an operation jointly conducted by police and military forces in Barangay Don Bosco, Parañaque City on past Friday midnight.

The government security forces were about to serve a search warrant issued by the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court Branch 258 when they were engaged by the suspects in a firefight.

The clash eventually resulted in the killing of the suspects, identified as Bensaudi Sali alias “Boy,” his wife Merhama Abdul Sawari alias “Mheng,” Rasin Hussin alias “Boscon,” and Jamal Kalliming alias “Pando.”

The police and military said the operation stemmed from an information they received about the presence of the group tagged as members of Daulah Islamiyah and acting as a financial conduit of Daesh-East Asia, in Parañaque City.

Authorities recovered from the encounter site various handguns, wires, suspected explosive devices, and ISIS flags.

Nothing in anti-terrorism bill adds any new power to military, AFP says

Robie de Guzman   •   June 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday welcomed the Congress’ move to immediately pass the controversial anti-terrorism bill amid growing opposition from various rights groups.

In a statement, AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said the military is aware of the issues being raised on the proposed measure but based on reports, there is nothing in the bill that adds “any new power” to the military.

“…From what has been reported to me so far is that nothing in the Enrolled Bill to be sent to the President for his consideration adds any new power to the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.

He also said that various issues on the proposal were “all considered in the thorough and deliberate discussions in Congress.”

“We reserve further comment until the proposed legislation is signed into law by the President and the IRRs (implementing rules and regulations) are out so we can study the law and the how’s of its implementation,” Arevalo added.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the anti-terrorism bill on second reading with 173 affirmative votes, 31 negative and 29 abstentions.

The Senate passed its version of the bill on third and final reading in February.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier certified the bill as urgent, saying the immediate enactment of the measure is to “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”

The anti-terrorism bill seeks to amend and improve the provisions of the Human Security Act of 2007.

Under the measure, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure also includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.

It also aims to provide law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from terrorism threat and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.

The Department of National Defense has assured the public that activists and critics of the government will not be considered as terrorists following concerns that the measure will be used to target those who are expressing anti-government sentiments.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government also said that the bill is not anti-human rights as it, in fact, seeks to protect the rights of innocent people from terrorists.

“The Anti-Terrorism Bill aims to eradicate terrorism from our country. The people have nothing to fear from this bill; it is only the terrorists and their supporters who should fear it,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said, adding that this measure is a timely upgrade in the government’s arsenal against all forms of terrorism plaguing the Philippines for so many years.

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