4ID welcomes new battalion

Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deployed an additional peacekeeping battalion to the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) today, January 10, 2018, in an effort to allay fears of the people in Northern Mindanao on the threats posed by the terrorists NPA.

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The 65th Infantry (Stalwart) Battalion of the 9th Infantry Division, Philippine Army headed by Ltc Richard B Rabaca was formally welcomed at the Headquarters of the 4th Infantry Division. Aside from their traditional military operations against threat groups, the 500 strong soldiers boost the army’s capability in responding to natural and manmade calamities.

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The deployment of 65IB would help hasten 4th infantry Division’s operations to defeat the terrorist NPA. The full might of the battalion shall be employed against armed terrorist, while the battalion will also initiate community-based dialogues to enlighten the members of illegal secret associations organized by the terrorist NPAs in the villages.

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On behalf of MGen Ronald Villanueva, 4th Division commander, the assistant Division commander for Operations, BGen Cristobal Zaragoza, warmly welcomed the officers, men, and women of 65th Inf Bn as he reminded them to maintain the Army’s highest standard of discipline as well as perform with excellence their mandate of protecting the people against all threats.

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He said, “To all of you, soldiers of this battalion, we expect that you will always bear the professionalism as you execute your tasks. We support the intent of our Commander-in-Chief to protect the state and the people. Again, be reminded that you have to perform only your duty as a disciplined soldier.”

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“Build bridges from among the people, earn their respect and gain friends. There is no room for any Human Rights violations. We have already gained an immeasurable people’s support in this part of the country. Don’t let one mistake destroy what we have sacrificed for our Country.” BGen Zaragoza underlined. (4ID/PA)

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Army hits NPA terrorists in Bukidnon

Troops under the 403rd Infantry Brigade scores one dead, several wounded, and one AK47 recovered against the New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists at the outskirts of Sitio Mahan-aw, Brgy Bulonay, Impasugong town, Bukidnon around 5:30 p.m., January 5, 2018.

“We have been proactively monitoring their (NPA terrorists) activities in the area with the help of the concerned citizens and we caught them this time,” said BGen Eric Vinoya, 403rd Brigade commander.

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He also said that sad to say that because of the selfish interest of the terrorists’ leadership, who victimize and lure innocent people to join their money making group, one NPA has to die.

The recovered dead NPA will be turned over to the local government unit for identification and to facilitate its burial.

For his part, MGen Ronald C Villanueva, 4th Infantry Division (4ID) commander commended the troops.

Villanueva said, “I congratulate our troops for successfully protecting this peaceful community against this terror group. This shall serve as a stern warning to all other NPA terrorists in Northern Mindanao and Caraga Regions. Surrender now or face the consequences of your evil activities.”

There will be no let up on our operation to hunt down the remaining terrorist members in this part of the country, he said.

As of press time, troops are still conducting pursuit and clearing operations in the area. (4ID/PA)

Hundreds benefit from army, LGU ‘Hatud Serbisyo’ in Bukidnon hinterlands

As part of the Armed Forces commitment and dedication to be of service to the nation,  the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry “Dependable” Battalion (8th IB) helped the local government unit (LGU) of Impasugong in its recent two-day “Hatud Serbisyo (delivery of basic services) program in Kalabugao and Hagpa barangays, both in Impasugong town.

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“The 8th IB Dependable Troopers, along with dental team from 4th Infantry Division, augmented the efforts of Impasugong town Mayor Anthony A. Uy in bringing government services to communities,” 8th IB Commander Col. Antonio I. Bautista Jr. said.

Records showed that more than 1,000 people—mostly children—in said two villages benefited from the Philippine Army’s dental services; free haircut; schoolchildren feeding; as well as other services offered by private individuals and key government organizations.

8IB PA Free Haircut services

The AFP now is taking the leap by carrying out tasks beyond their bounds.

For so long, the Armed Forces have been defending and protecting people despite the risks just to attain peace. Soldiers extend their helping hand to reach the ‘unreached’ through its Community Support Program where the military performs tasks other than protecting the nation.

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In a statement, 8th IB Commander said the activity aims to deliver basic services to uplift lives in the neighborhood that could help attain peace in communities. (Erwin P. Bugarin/8IB, 4ID, PA)

MinDA holds ‘DNH’ workshop for media practitioners

With the crucial role played by the press in disseminating pieces of information to the public, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has conducted here a workshop on “Do No Harm” (DNH) and conflict sensitivity for some 20 government and private media practitioners.

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The training, which was held last Nov. 9-10 in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft  für Internationale Zusammenarbeit- Conflict Sensitive Resource and Asset Management (GIZ-COSERAM), has provided the media with holistic understanding of peace, conflict and violence as well as conflict sensitivity.

Walter Alquiza of GIZ-COSERAM discussed the conflicts on different social levels such as intra-personal, inter-personal, intra-group, inter-group, and inter-state.

The participants were also made to conduct conflict mapping or actors mapping of the Marawi siege, identifying the individuals and groups involved in the war, which forced thousands of families to flee their homes.

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DNH is said to be an important principle of conflict sensitivity that lays a solid foundation for peace building to take place.

After the training, MinDA believed the media practitioners could help minimize “the unintended negative impacts and maximize positive impacts” in their reporting. (FPG/PIA-10)

CHR-10 cites land rights, gender equality as major IPs issues

In the last leg of the National Inquiry on the Situation of Filipino Indigenous Peoples (IPs) on October 27 at Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)-10 reported that land rights, gender equality, migration, government service accessibility and employment are among the major issues of the IPs in Mindanao.

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CHR Focal Commissioner on IP Rights Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana said that the inquiry includes three thematic areas which are the protection and promotion of the IPs’ land and cultural rights, effectiveness of the current government process to obtain the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of IPs, and the state of economic and social development of IPs in the Philippines.

 

“Layunin ng National Inquiry na alamin ang kasalukuyang kalagayan ng ating mga kapatid na katutubo sa buong Pilipinas at ilarawan kung ano ang antas ngayon ng pagkilala at pagtupad sa inyong karapatang pantao,” Gana stressed.

 

(It is the aim of the National Inquiry to know the current situation of the IPs in the Philippines and describe the level of recognition and fulfillment of your human rights)

 

IP communities in regions 9, 10, CARAGA and BaSulTa (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi Tawi provinces of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) participated in the national inquiry.

 

Community leaders and members from Bangigi, Subano, Manobo, Bajau, Kolibugan, Sama Bangigi, Sama Dilaut, Sama, Tausug, Bukidnon, Manubo Pulangyon, Yakan and Talaandig shared some of their experiences in their area which hindered them to establish their cultural identity and further brace development.

 

Representatives from BaSulTa said that one of their primary concerns is the treatment of women in their area especially in Jolo noting that most women are not prioritized in accessing education since they will just be confined in homes as housewives.

 

Aside from gender equality, illegal employment of Badjaos in Malaysia was also reported where the group’s representative stated that they are still seeking for a bilateral agreement of the two governments (the Philippines and Malaysia) to lessen undocumented employment in the neighboring country.

 

When it comes to health concerns, most of the IPs mentioned that the government still lacks medical service and provision of medicines in their areas. They stressed that the proximity of their areas and the cultural practices of some groups may cause such health service gap.

 

The Badjaos also cited less to no employment opportunities for their graduates.

 

These concerns and more were tackled carefully by the CHR as these outputs of the National Inquiry will comprise the Indigenous Peoples’ Right Observatory (IPRO). The CHR also said that such issues will be raised to the national government agency concerned for appropriate actions.

 

 

“Ang lahat ng mga kaalaman at datos na lilitaw sa National Inquiry ay gagamiting batayan upang magpadaloy ng kaukulang serbisyo at tulong para sa mga katutubo sa Pilipinas (All of the information and data that will emerge in the National Inquiry will be used as basis to provide appropriate service and aid to the Indigenous People in the Philippines),” Gana said.(RTP/PIA10)

Duterte: Liberation of Marawi marks beginning of rehab

Following the day after the top terrorist leaders of Marawi siege, Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute were killed in a military assault, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte(PRRD), declared the liberation of Marawi from the control of terrorists.

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“I hereby declare Marawi city liberated from the terrorist influence… that marks the beginning of rehabilitation,” said Duterte.

The president also commended the valor of the troops as they braved the dangers posed by gun fires and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in fighting against the terrorists and in rescuing hostages.

Symbolizing the achievement of victory against the terrorists, the President led the raising of the Philippine flag held at the Jamiatul Philippine Al-Islamia campus, located at the main battle area.

Ending of Crisis

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Eduardo Año  said in a press conference on Monday that “the Marawi crisis will be over–sooner than later. The resistance of–or what is left of it— the terrorists will crumble.”

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Meanwhile, Col Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Joint Task Force Ranao,  said that the death of terrorist leaders led to the declaration of Marawi’s liberation as they are the “center of gravity, they are the ones who are binding Maute-ISIS together.”

“It [the declaration] is a strategic message to tell the world na tapos na itong problema sa Maute-ISIS [that the problem with Maute-ISIS is over], na they cannot be victorious anymore. Patapos na po [This is about to end.],” said Brawner.

Beginning of Rehabilitation       

Brawner also asked the residents of the Marawi City to be patient as clearing operations of the area are being conducted.

“We will rescue remaining hostages and make sure na wala ng stragglers na naiiwan at mga IEDs [that there will be no longer stragglers and IEDs in the area].. tuloy na pa tayo [we are ready for]  sa next phase which is the rehabilitation,” Brawner said.

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Brawner also shared that the cleanup drive ‘Brigada Marawi’ has began last week.

The  Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams will also check and remove remained IEDs.

Meanwhile, Post Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA) teams composed of various national and local government agencies had begun their assessment on the damages in 24 barangays in Marawi City.

The results of the data analysis, consolidation, and report development of the assessment is to be completed before October ends.(LEAntonio-PIA ILIGAN/LDN)

AFP chief says safety of hostages being prioritized

Following the death of Marawi siege top leaders, Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Eduardo M. Año, emphasized during the press conference held in Camp Ranao last October 16 that the safety of hostages was being prioritized in their operations.

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Año said that rescuing the hostages was the main goal of the troops that day.

 

He also said the group of Hapilon and Maute together with hostages was seen dashing from one building to another at around 1:30 a.m. with the intention to escape from the main battle area with the hostages.

 

“In our rescue operations, we are very careful. We do not fire on anybody carrying arms; we make sure na hindi hostage [that they are not hostages],” said Año.

 

Prioritizing the protection of the hostages, 20 were rescued including a two-month-old baby.

 

“It is worth the effort that we save a life. One additional life that we save is good enough and worth the effort,” he added.

 

Boosting the morale         

 

Año said that the death of the top leaders boosted the morale of the soldiers.

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“It will even inspire the armed forces, policemen and other law enforcement agencies to go after the remaining enemies and finish them all,” said Año.

 

“Nawala lahat ng pagod. Kahit walang tulog, walang pahinga, hindi makakain on time, lahat yun nawala,” he added.

 

[All of the exhaustion was gone. Even if they were not able to sleep, to rest, to eat on time; all of it was gone.]

 

Año also said that full support is the biggest recognition that soldiers can receive.

 

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, “The biggest reward is that they did their job properly and being happy that it is over.”

 

Countering Backlash and Extremist Ideology

 

With the death of the two top leaders of Marawi siege, Año said that the military is ready for the possible retaliatory attacks from other terrorists.

 

“We have forces employed all around. Huwag mag alala [do not worry], but of course we need the supporting cooperation of the community na makapagreport ng [to report] suspicious persons immediately and we will take action,” said Año.

 

While there are plans to go after Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters when the Marawi conflict ends, Año said “We will make sure that there will be forces left behind in Marawi.”

 

“Kailangan pa rin ng pwersa dito, kasi tutulong sila sa reconstruction and rehabilitation ng Marawi,” he added.

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[Armed forces are still needed here, as they will be part of the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts for Marawi.]

 

Meanwhile, Secretary Lorenzana said that the government started initiatives to counter extremist ideology.

 

“We have talked with the ulamas (Muslim scholars) and imams (officiating priest of a mosque). I asked them to [monitor] madrasahs (Islamic schools); what they are teaching to the kids, and who are the teachers,” said Lorenzana.(LEAntonio-PIA ILIGAN/LDN)