Thursday, October 30, 2014

Esszone safer compared to

From the Rakyat Post (Oct 30): Esszone safer compared to
Kuala Lumpur, says Shahidan

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the area was fully secured by officers on duty at Sabah’s east coast, making it safe zone.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim today said that the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) districts were far safer compared to Kuala Lumpur.
According to him, the area was fully secured by officers on duty at Sabah’s east coast, making it safe.
“I feel that in the Esszone areas, we are moving about in conditions where we are constantly being watched by security teams.
“In fact being in Kuala Lumpur, I feel the Eszone is safer because we are being watched,” he said in response to a question by Putatan Member of Parliament Datuk Makin @ Marcus Majigoh in Parliament today.
Shahidan added that Malaysia was a country that was always the attention of outsiders who want to enter the country.

However, the intrusion into the country was not something to be taken lightly by the government, he said.

“This should not happen in this modern era, whereby a group of criminals attack a country.
“And the government has made the decision to ensure this was a safe zone because the area was also one where the economic activities were important,” he said.
Shahidan added that the state was also seen as one of the most beautiful places in the world and it was important to take care of it so that it was safe not only to those there, but everyone.
He was replying to Batu Sapi MP Linda Tsen Thau Lin who asked the prime minister to state the impact of the curfew at the Esscom that was imposed since July involving the tourism and fishing sectors.
“It doesn’t affect the people, in fact the people rather enjoy it because if we go to the shores along the Esszone area, we can see no movements anywhere.
“If there is any, it’s those who have obtained permits to fish,” he further explained.
Shahidan admitted there were those who attempted to invade, but it was at a controlled level.
“Apart from controlling the intrusion, we also focus on crime from within,” answered the Arau MP.

Bukit Aman team investigating kidnap-for-ransom groups in Semporna

From the Star Online (Oct 30): Bukit Aman team investigating kidnap-for-ransom groups in Semporna

KOTA KINABALU: A special team from Bukit Aman is questioning suspects detained following the shooting of a suspected kidnap for ransom (KFR) scout in Semporna on Oct 26.

Sabah Police Commisisoner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said the team was conducting investigations and would leave it to them to probe further the involvement of those arrested and their connections to the KFR groups.

He was commenting after Wahab Atab @ Botak, a 34-year-old from Kg Balimbang Semporna surrendered himself to police on Oct 27 after he was named as one of six wanted men to assist in their cross border crime investigations.

Earlier this month, police arrested three suspected scouts of the KFR group while on Saturday police shot dead a suspected intruder on a speedboat in waters off Pulau Bangau-Bangau in Semporna, 
This was followed by the arrest of seven men and two women in the Semporna area.

The eastern coast of Sabah is considered to be volatile, with frequent kidnappings by KFR groups from the Southern Philippines.

Jalaluddin, meanwhile, said that all 10 police districts under the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZONE) are holding exercises codenamed Ops Gempar where they would be testing the efficiency of the police in combating various threats including incursion, kidnappings and other criminal activities.

``I urge the public not to be alarmed over large scale movements and roadblocks that will be in place during the current operations over the next few days,’’ he said, adding that the operations started late Wednesday.

Negotiations For PAF site in Silay on

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 27): Negotiations For PAF site in Silay on

The negotiations for the acquisition of a four-hectare lot for the Philippine Air Force tactical operation center in Western Visayas, near the Bacolod-Silay airport are still ongoing, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said yesterday.
Marañon said the purchase has been delayed because they are dealing with several owners of the property.
The Philippine Air Force plans to set up its regional tactical operation group headquarters at the Bacolod-Silay Airport in Negros Occidental. Presently, its Tactical Operation Group-6 headquarters is in Iloilo.
Marañon said the property is located at the northern part of the Bacolod Silay airport.
The move to transfer the Air Force tactical operation center to Negros Occidental started during the stint of retired Gen. Victor Ibrado then chief of the AFP Central Command.
The MOA stipulates that the provincial government will acquire four hectares of land within or near the vicinity of the Bacolod-Silay Airport in Brgy. Bagtic, Silay City, while the PAF will undertake its development, construction and maintenance of structures, and facilities.
The MOA also states that the PAF will give Negros Occidental priority in extending assistance, or preference to the needs of the province in times of emergency, calamity and similar circumstances, when its services may be needed.
In times of natural calamities or armed engagement between government troops and local armed insurgents, the Army’s 302nd and 303rd Infantry Brigade in Negros island have to request air support, either from Iloilo or Cebu.

Philippines conducts first trilateral drills with Japanese, US navies in South China Sea

From IHS Janes 360 (Oct 26): Philippines conducts first trilateral drills with Japanese, US navies in South China Sea

The Philippine Navy (PN) hosted joint naval exercises with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the US Navy near disputed waters in the South China Sea, a spokesperson from the PN naval public affairs office confirmed with IHS Jane's on 24 October.

The exercises, which took place from 22-23 October, consisted of live gunnery exercises, manoeuvring drills and a practice of the newly ratified naval protocol known as the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). The protocol, which aims to prevent maritime tensions from escalating into conflict, was ratified unanimously by 25 Asia-Pacific countries at the 14th Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) held in China earlier this year.

The naval public affairs office confirmed that the drills were the first time the PN had practised with the protocol and participated in joint naval exercises with both the US and Japan.

The drills involved JMSDF Takanami-class guided missile destroyer Sazanami (DD 113) and the USN's Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), the latter of which is in the Philippines as part of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington 's (CVN 73) strike group. The carrier is currently docked in Manila on a routine port call and was not involved in the exercises. The PN's sole vessel to take part in the drill was the Pilar (Hamilton and Hero)-class frigate Gregorio del Pilar (PF 15).

Naval spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Marineth Domingo earlier told reporters that the drills would be conducted near disputed waters as it was the most convenient location considering the strike group's itinerary. She denied that the drills were conducted to send a signal of the Philippine's claims to China.

Manila and Beijing are currently locked in a sovereignty dispute over several islands and reefs in the South China Sea, a body of water that Manila calls the West Philippine Sea. Earlier this year, the Philippines filed a memorandum against Chinese claims in the area before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, claiming that China has illegally occupied a number of reefs claimed by both Manila and Beijing. China has described these moves as injurious to bilateral relations.

The US Embassy in the Philippines referred to George Washington 's visit to Manila on 23 October as one that: "highlights the historic and military connections between the Philippines and the United States" but did not comment on the trilateral naval exercises.

PA officer finished second in

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 30): PA officer finished second in
IPSC World Shoot XVII

Philippine Army Maj. Wilfredo Martin Jr. won a silver medal during the recent International Practical Shooting Confederation World Shoot XVII held in Florida, USA.

Martin was among the Filipino shooters who won silver medals after landing second overall in the prestigious shooting event last Oct. 12 participated in by 1,346 participants representing 60 countries around the world.

He finished at ninth place over-all for the individual category of the Classic Division that was lorded by veteran shooter Robert Leatham.

“It is an honor to represent the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the whole country in this prestigious event,” Martin said.

He was a member of the Philippine Army Shooting Team that participated in the annual ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet and was part of the 80-man team that represented the country in the competition.

Other Filipino winners were Daniel Torrevillas who won first place in the Classic Division Super Senior Category and Michael Ron Ligon who was also first place in the Classic Junior Category.

The 80-man Team Philippines garnered various medals in different events earning for them the tag as the crack shots of Asia.

Among the winners are Leonora Darte in the Classic Division Ladies; Philip Chua in the Revolver Division Overall; Edward Rivera in the Classic Division Overall; Edwin Gotamco in the Production Division Super Senior Category; Nelson Uygongco in the Open Division Senior Category; and, Edcel John Gino in the Open Division Junior Category.

The team also received trophies in the team matches for the Classic Division Overall; Production Division – Senior; Standard Division-Lady; and Open Division – Junior.

Army’s 6th ID honors partners, supporters

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 30): Army’s 6th ID honors partners, supporters

COTABATO CITY – Celebrating its 27th years of maintaining and securing the safety of the people and communities in its area of responsibility, the 6th Infantry Division (ID) anchored its  anniversary celebration this on peace, with the theme, “Ang Kampilan Division Para sa Kapayapaan”.

The Kampilan Division was established on November 30, 1987 and has served as the protector- defender of the people for more than two decades against lawlessness and other criminal activities here in Central Mindanao and neighboring areas.

In this year’s  celebration, various activities were conducted including Takbong Kampilan Para sa Kapayapaan last October 14, Fluvial Caravan for Peace last October 18 and Search for Lady Kampilan last October 24, 2014 to give tribute to soldier’s wives.

6th ID Spokesperson Col. Dickson Hermoso said, "when we shifted our paradigm from winning the war to winning the peace in 2010 – along with the coming out of  our Army Transformation Road Map  whicht is about good governance, operational excellence and organizational excellence."
“So it is not only fighting your enemy by use of force but to win the peace,” Hermoso stressed.

Highlighting the celebration, 6th ID through Commanding General Maj.Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan will give honor and recognition to individuals and groups for their valuable support and partnership in the campaign for the promotion of peace and solidarity in the region.

6th ID has been proclaimed as Best Army Unit in ten (10) major units of Philippine Army.

“This is the result of good leadership, implementation of programs and transparent governance in the Division as one unit).

We have parameters, Hermoso added, and we comply with these to accomplish all our budget-driven activities funded by the government through people’s money.

1,700 Manobos flee homes in Surigao del Sur due to killings, arson

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 30): 1,700 Manobos flee homes in Surigao del Sur due to killings, arson

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – More than 1,700 Manobo residents fled their homes in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, after their communities were hit by a series of killings, gun attacks and school-and-house burning.

On Oct. 24, Manobo leader Henry Alameda had just finished eating his breakfast inside their house in Sitio Kabalawan, Barangay San Isidro in Lianga town when armed men barged in and dragged him outside.

The armed men, who were allegedly government soldiers and members of a tribal paramilitary group called Bagani led by Datu Calpet Egua, tried to bring him towards the forest but Alameda grabbed a post of the nearby waiting shed as his wife and children cried for help.

Alameda was shot in his chest and head.

Alameda was a council member of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod (Mapasu), an inter-municipal Lumad organization in Surigao del Sur and has been vocal against the entry of mining corporations in the Andap Valley complex.

The tribal leader has also campaigned against military operations in ancestral lands and against the pork barrel system.

At around 4 p.m. in the nearby town of Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, shots were fired at the house of Alejandro Dumaguit, the chief of Barangay (village) San Lorenzo.

Dumaguit was hit in his shoulder while his two children also sustained gunshot wounds in the hail of bullets. His son, Aldren, died after trying to save his father and sister.

The armed men also fired at the nearby houses hitting Aldredo Undayon, Victor Undayon and minors only identified as Enggoy and Lynlyn.

Two hours later, military forces and members of the Bagani were also reportedly seen near the house of Genasque Enriquez, the secretary general of the tribal group, Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon-Caraga.

Human rights group Karapatan said that a day before the series of attacks, Marcos Bocales, the former commander of the paramilitary group Task Force Gantangan and the present right hand man of Egua, sent text messages and called leaders of MAPASU telling them that the time has come for him to “put holes in the chests” of the tribal leaders.

The recent incidents caused the massive displacement of at least 1,700 indigenous people and farmers from the towns of Lianga and Prosperidad who are presently seeking temporary shelter in a gymnasium in Barangay Diatagon.

Dr. Naty Castro, secretary general of Karapatan-Caraga, also accused the military and the Bagani of burning homes and schools in their path.

A school building with two classrooms of the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) was razed in Sitio Kabalawan while another building with three classrooms was damaged by fire in Sitio Kabuluhan.

“We are still trying to assess the damage but presently we have identified more or less five houses, which were destroyed or damaged either in the fire or during the strafing,” Castro said.

In an emailed statement, Enriquez, who has been hiding because of threats to his life, lambasted the 29th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Battalion, 2nd Scout Rangers Battalion for the alleged human rights violations and demanded the immediate pull-out of the troops in their communities.

Accusing the military of training and funding the Bagani to sow terror in tribal villages, the group also demanded that Egua and his paramilitary group be immediately disbanded and be arrested for their involvement in the recent attacks.

Capt. Jasper Gacayan, spokesman of the military 401st Brigade, confirmed ongoing military operations in the area against communist guerrillas but he denied that they were involved in the attacks and asserted that the soldiers were far from civilian communities.

“It is true that these incidents happened but our soldiers are not involved in these activities. According to witnesses, the perpetrators were wearing uniform but there are no patches. It will be very impossible for soldiers to do these things,” Gacayan said.

Gacayan said the soldiers have been careful not to commit human-rights violations in observance of the Army transformation roadmap that sought to bring the military closer to the people.

“The military is adhering to the International Humanitarian Law. If any witness can help identify the perpetrators we are willing to help,” Gacayan said.

Gacayan also confirmed the existence of the Bagani but said it was not a paramilitary unit but a group of tribal warriors formed by Egua as to defend their area.

The military spokesman also said that there were instances where they reinforced the Baganis. He cited the time when the New People’s Army attacked Egua’s group in July this year resulting in massive communist casualties.

“We backed the Bagani up because they are also victims of human rights violations and it is our mandate to protect communities from violence,” Gacayan said.

The National Democratic Front earlier tagged Egua’s group as a private army used by both the military and private companies to protect logging and mining operations in the area.