NPA will be held liable for ceasefire violations – AFP

Marje Pelayo   •   December 24, 2019   •   365

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)

AFP to send ships, planes, 2 battalions for repatriation of OFWs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 8, 2020

The Department of National Defense (DND) said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will send two ships, three planes, and two battalions for the repatriation of overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in the Middles East.

DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the two landing ships can accommodate 500 persons each. They will also send two C130 and a C295 planes.

Lorenzana clarified the two battalions will be deployed to assist Filipinos who will return to the country as tension continues to rise between the United States (US) and Iran.

“The two battalions will not be there to engage in combat with anybody, but to facilitate or help assist in the repatriation of the OFWs especially in Iraq. Hindi sila magpunta doon para makipaglaban, (they will not be sent there to fight)” Lorenzana said.

The Defense Secretary also said they also considering to use cruise ships and commercial airlines to accommodate more Filipinos returning home.

Meanwhile, the BRP Gabriela Silang of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is set to sail in the Middle East to assist in the repatriation.

Lorenzana also raised concerns over Filipinos who will refuse to leave the Middle East and said it will be a challenge.

“Some Filipinos do not want to leave their job. Kasi sabi nila, ‘anong gagawin natin sa Pilipinas?’ (because they will say ‘what will they do in the Philippines?’) But hopefully, we will be able to convince them—kung medyo delikado iyong buhay nila (if their lives are in danger)—to come home,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

AFP ready to deploy if gov’t orders evacuation of Filipinos in Middle East

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 6, 2020

Iranians attend the funeral ceremony of Qasem Soleimani, the late Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General and commander of the Quds Forces, in the city of Tehran, Iran, 06 January 2020. Soleimanil was killed in a targeted US airstrike on 03 January 2020, in Baghdad, Iraq.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced on Monday (January 6) that it is prepared to deploy its air and naval assets once the government orders the evacuation of Filipinos in the Middle East.

AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. said they have already laid out their contingency plan to President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The indicators will be determined. Pag-uusapan namin ng national government (we will discuss it with the national government) the go signal is from them especially with the DFA with all the inputs,” he said.

Among the air and naval assets available include the C-130s as well as new frigates that are able to travel to the Middle East.

The AFP chief of staff added they are still improving their plans due to the possibility that tension might spread in neighboring countries of Iran.

“We are improving our plans not only on Iran and Iraq but the whole Middle East. We don’t know; it might spread to other countries, especially if you know the history of the war. It might spread to Israel. There are probabilities like that,” he said.

Meanwhile, the AFP is monitoring a possible retaliatory act of Iran in countries allied with the United States (US).

It is also monitoring local terrorist groups who might sympathize with the Iranian militia.

“Siyempre mayroong sympathetic, either by race or by ideology, so the PNP [Philippine National Police] is profiling possible threats, possible groups who may take advantage or who might share sympathies (Of course, there will be those sympathetic, either by race or by ideology, so the PNP is profiling possible threats, possible groups who may take advantage or who might share sympathies). So our intelligence monitoring will be continuous up until medyo luminaw na iyong problema doon sa Middle East (until the problem in the Middle East clears up),” Santos said.

Tensions between the U.S and Iran rose following the death of Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani on January 3 after the US launched an airstrike on an airport in Baghdad, Iraq.

President Rodrigo Duterte called for an emergency meeting in Malacañang on Sunday (January 5).

This is to determine the possible effects of the rising tension on thousands of Filipinos in the Middle East especially in Iran and Iraq.—AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Incoming AFP Chief ensures tighter security in Mindanao despite Martial Law termination

Maris Federez   •   January 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Incoming Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff LtGen. Felimon Santos, Jr. believes that the people in Mindanao have welcomed the change that the termination of Martial Law has brought to the region.

He said that the military has explained very well to the local government units in Mindanao who had been initially closed to the idea of lifting the Martial Law on why it should no longer be extended further.

The official also ensures that the security in the region will be tightened even more, with checkpoints and regular soldiers on patrol still in place.

“I assure them na kahit walang martial law our security measures are in place even we will enhance pa yung security to ensure na walang mangyari,” said Santos.

Former Sulu governor, Abdusakur Tan, Sr. agrees.

“Nakikita na nag-iimprove dahil pag lagi tayong nasa martial law ibig sabihin magulo,” he said. — (from the report of Dante Amento) /mbmf

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