Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Second highest ranking BIFF, 16 others killed in Maguindanao clashes -- military

From InterAksyon (Jul 22): Second highest ranking BIFF, 16 others killed in Maguindanao clashes -- military

One of the civilians injured in renewed fighting in Maguindanao, 22 July 2014. PHOTO BY JO HENRY OF ARMM-HEART

Alias City Hunter, the second highest ranking member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter, was among the 17 Moro rebels killed in fresh fighting in Maguindanao, Colonel Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army's 6th Infantry Division, said Tuesday.

Hermoso said City Hunter’s four security aides, identified as Dris Salik, Mashud Ali, Nur Hassan, and Mantawil Kaliga, were also killed after they attacked two military detachments in Maguindanao.

He said two soldiers were wounded in the attack. (A separate article from the Philippines News Agency said a trooper was killed and three soldiers were wounded.)

"Verification of the identities of another 12 BIFF members who perished in the ensuing firefights is ongoing with the help of barangay officials and imams (Muslim leaders) as they were hastily buried by their comrades after they withdrew from the scene at 2 p.m. yesterday," Hermoso said.

BIFF fighters separately attacked the camps of the 31st and 32nd Reconnaissance Companies in Barangay Ganta, Sharif Saydona Mustapha and Barangay Dumablas, Datu Piang, respectively.

Intense fighting broke out when the brigands attacked the outpost in Sharif Saydona Mustapha town around 12: 15 a.m.

This was followed by another attack in Datu Piang an hour later.

Return fire from government soldiers stationed there killed 17 BIFF men, Hermoso said.

The military and police labeled the BIFF as lawless armed group, a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that shunned peace talks with the government.

Civilians injured

In a related development, three civilians were rushed to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center after sustaining injuries from bullets of a 105 Howitzer.

They were identified as Mohamidin Umal, 17, Kingaw Umal, 40, and Andiale Gumandal, 35, all sustained bullet wounds in different parts of the body.

The three were among nine civilians who experienced severe trauma due to the heavy fighting between the BIFF and the military.

Apart from the wounded, more than 300 farmer families were affected by renewed firefight, according to the initial information gathered by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (ARMM-HEART).

In relation to this, the ARMM leadership called on both sides to ceasefire, particularly as it is still Ramadan, a period of fasting among Muslims.

ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia said she is saddened that innocent civilians are affected every time fighting happens.


Top ranking NPA leader falls

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 22): Top ranking NPA leader falls


Captured NPA leader Villanueva* (See story)

Another top ranking leader of the New People's Army in southern Negros was arrested Sunday night by the police at a checkpoint in Brgy. Dancalan, Ilog, Negros Occidental.
Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, yesterday identified the arrested suspect as Abraham Villanueva, secretary of the South West Front of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros.
Lirazan said Villanueva, alias “Tikboy, Gamay, Bods54,” has a pending arrest warrant for violation of Section 3, Paragraph 4 of PD 1613, or arson, issued by San Carlos Regional Trial Court Judge Kathrine Go, who also denied him bail.
Police investigations show that Villanueva, who was riding a motorcycle, tried to avoid the police checkpoint. But he was arrested later by the Ilog police headed by Inspector Renante Salgado after a brief chase, Lirazan said.
The arrest of Villanueva came more than a year after Reniel Cellon, alias Ka Kumpol, an elusive leader of the SWF Sentro de Grabidad Platoon, his wife, Mary Jane Magquilat, alias Chin Chin, and four others, were also arrested at a police checkpoint in Brgy. Dancalan, Ilog, in April last year.
Villanueva commands about 60 NPA rebels, many of them on inactive status, due to demoralization among their rank-and-file since the arrest of Cellon last year, Lt. Col. Ariel Reyes, 47 th Infantry Battalion commander, said.
The arrest of Villanueva, will create another leadership vacuum and further disorganization of SWF forces in southern Negros, Reyes said.
He claimed that Villanueva also participated in the ambush-slay of five 47IB soldiers in Sitio Omas, Brgy. Camindangan, Sipaly City, the raid and destruction of Sola family properties in Brgy. Camansi, Kabankalan City, among others.
Villanueva is now detained at the Ilog police jail.

Air Force, Army, Navy thanked President Aquino for the modernization

From AngMalaya (Jul 22): Air Force, Army, Navy thanked President Aquino for the modernization

“We are very thankful of President Aquino’s unprecedented support to our modernization and capability upgrade programs. Even before the signing of the Revised AFP Modernization Act in 2012, more than P16 billion was made available for the acquisition and upgrading of our assets. His continued support to our efforts to modernize the AFP will surely empower us in fulfilling our mandate,” Armed Force of the Philippines Public Affairs Office Chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala told the Philippines News Agency.

The Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy with their spokespersons, individually stated how thankful the three forces are for the President’s effort to modernize the Armed Forces.

“With the support the Army is getting, our Army Transformation Roadmap is well on its way of achieving the Army’s vision by 2028 [of being] a world-class Army that is a source of national pride,” Philippine Army (PA) spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato said.

“The Philippine Navy is very grateful for the continued support of the President. That support can be felt down to the grassroots level, the sailors and the marines, as we continuously pursue in achieving the objectives set in our strategic sail plan and towards the attainment of our vision which is to become strong and credible,” Philippine Navy (PN) public affairs office chief Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.

“The leadership, men and women of the Philippine Air Force, are grateful for the support of our Commander-in-Chief. The modernization of the PAF offers numerous opportunity such as further upgrading the skills of [our airmen] and expanding our capability to support territorial defense, internal security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response and national development,” Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesperson Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya.

As reported by Philippine News Agency, since the term of President Aquino, the AFP have contracted for 12 FA-50 Philippine version fighter jets, eight combat utility helicopters, eight attack helicopters, 63,000 units of brand-new M-4 automatic rifles, 21 refurbished combat utility helicopters, and 28 upgraded APCs.

Also, the Philippine Navy is waiting for 2 attack helicopters and two strategic sealift vessels.

Deliveries of these military hardware are expected to be finished starting the end of the year to 2017, some deliveries have already started. While acquisition process for Navy frigates and assault amphibious vehicle are on the later stage.


WESCOM-Palawan welcomes back on-rotation troops from Kalayaan

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 22): WESCOM-Palawan welcomes back on-rotation troops from Kalayaan

Lieutenant General Roy Deveraturda, commander of the Western Command (WESCOM) in Palawan led Monday the ceremony that welcomed back troops assigned in the disputed West Philippines Sea (WPS) for five months at the Philippine Navy Tide Pole in this city.

Deveraturda and other ranking WESCOM officials welcomed back a number of troops stationed in Kalayaan to take care of eight detachments located in the islands of Panata, Likas, Rizal Reef, Parola, Lawak, Pag-Asa, Kota, and Patag – all in the contested region.

He said troops, who are staying on a navy vessel in Ayungin Shoal are not included in the group that has returned to mainland Palawan.

The WESCOM commander said the troops are back for the first time in five months, and they were ferried to Puerto Princesa by BRP 550.

In his message, Deveraturda lauded the troops, whose number he will not say for security purposes, and told them that the Welcome Ceremony is the country’s way of saying it is proud of them for accepting the special task to take care of its territories off in the WPS.

He told the returning troops that they should not think their sacrifices have not paid off because they did.

Deveraturda, in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) following the ceremony, said that to be deployed in detachments far away from their families to safeguard the country’s claim, “is honorable and laudable,” and for this reason, the troops “are heroes.”

“It’s not easy to be deployed there because a far place can be very sad away from families. But as soldiers, they gladly did it,” he said, adding it is more than a responsibility accorded by their jobs to make sure that the Philippines 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is safe.

“Under international law, the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone is for Filipinos, and we, your soldiers, have sworn to serve the country for you. We are ready to do that, to serve the country, and even lose our lives just to serve the Filipino people,” he said.

Giving the welcome ceremony, he added, will continue for troops on-rotation in the West Philippines Sea – a small token for a happy return.

The troops will be given more than two weeks of vacation to be reunited with their families, as well additional allowances so they may enjoy their much-needed respite.

A new batch of troops will also be sent to the Kalayaan Group of Islands, but he did not say when they will leave.


U.S. Armed Forces to rehabilitate Zamboanga airport runway

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 22): U.S. Armed Forces to rehabilitate Zamboanga airport runway

The United States Armed Forces through the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) is set to rehabilitate the runway of the Zamboanga International Airport (ZIA).

This was announced by ZIA manager Danilo Abareta, citing the repair works at the 1.8 kilometer runway will start by the first week of August this year.

However, Abareta said he doesn’t have any idea how much the project cost, citing “we have not discussed about the cost of the rehabilitation.”

“Definitely, it will be the whole runway that will be rehabilitated,” Abareta said.

He said the repair works will be undertaken by Filipino contractors but will be under the supervision of the JSOTF-P.

He said the repair works, which will be completed in two weeks time, will not affect any of the in-bound and out-bound flights of ZIA.

He said at present, ZIA has an average of 12 in-bound flights and 12 out-bound flights or “back and forth that is 24 flights.”

Among the routes served by ZIA are the following: Zamboanga-Manila; Zamboanga-Cebu; Zamboanga-Davao; Zamboanga-Jolo; and, Zamboanga-Sanga-Sanga (Tawi-Tawi).

Earlier, Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar disclosed that she has requested the JSOTF-P to help rehabilitate the runway since they have been using the airport for more than 10 years.

The JSOTF-P had been using the airport since 2002 during the joint military exercise dubbed as “Balikatan 02-1.”

Abareta said the U.S. Forces under the JSOTF-P used big planes like the C-17 “Globemaster” in ferrying personnel and equipment.

The biggest plane they have used so far is a Russian-made plane known as the Antonov An-124-100 Ruslan.

A handful of American forces are still stationed in this city as the JSOTF-P was recently downsized.

They assist Filipinos troops in fighting against terrorism through training and gathering intelligence.

Abareta said the rehabilitation to be undertaken by the American forces will be of great help since it would minimize maintenance expenses of the government.


Korean officials lead turnover of repaired elementary school, cash assistance, laptops in Palo

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 22): Korean officials lead turnover of repaired elementary school, cash assistance, laptops in Palo

Officials from the Republic of Korea graced the turnover of the newly-repaired San Fernando Elementary School in Palo and the release of educational cash assistance and three laptops for use of school teachers on Monday.

The repair was undertaken by the Araw Forces of the Joint Support Group of the Republic of Korea who has been in Leyte province since December last year.

Meantime, the cash assistance was extended to seven selected pupils of the school.

During the ceremony, assemblymen Han Gi Ho and Ahn Gyu Baek relayed the commitment of their colleagues for fund support to their military contingent so they could continue with their rehabilitation works in three municipalities of Leyte.

Congressman Baek in his message during the turnover ceremony at the San Fernando Elementary School stressed the importance of education for children so they could recover immediately after experiencing the disaster that struck them last year.

He said that ensuring that the education of children affected by typhoon Yolanda continues is one of the greatest and sweetest legacies their country can give to the people who once helped them in their deepest despair when their country was in war against the communist government of North Korea.

He added that they are thankful to the warm welcome, appreciation and support of the provincial government of Leyte and residents from the three towns to their troops who are still conducting rehabilitation works.

Meantime, Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla said that thank you is not enough to express how grateful they are to the Republic of Korea for all the help its people had extended.

Petilla added that parents and teachers including the pupils of San Fernando Elementary School should take care and value the help that the foreign military troops had given to them.

“It has saved you from the scorching heat of the sun and on heavy rain. This is a remembrance between the Republic of Korea and of the Philippines that will stay for many years and even a long, long time,” said Petilla.

The two South Korean officials were accompanied by Araw Force commander Colonel Chul Won Lee during the activities.


PNP bomb experts defuse improvised bomb in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 22): PNP bomb experts defuse improvised bomb in Sultan Kudarat

An alert duck raiser aware of violence happening in the region quickly alerted authorities of his surprising discovery, an improvised bomb in a remote village in President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat province, officials on Tuesday said.

His discovery sent chilling effects on residents of Barangay Katiko, President Quirino, a town bordering with Maguindanao province and had experience bombings in the past.

"A duck raiser found a suspicious paper box at a roadside in the border of Barangay Katiko and Baraagay Bagumbayan Monday morning," Sancho Salamanca, Barangay Katiko chairperson told Radio Happy FM in Koronadal City Tuesday.

The duck raiser whom he did not identify immediately reported to members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in nearby militia detachment.

Salamanca said the IED was fashioned from 81 mm mortar with mobile phone as trigger mechanism.

To ensure the IED would not harm anyone, including bomb expert, they decided to detonate the powerful device.

Following the discovery of IED, Salamanca said village defenders have been planed on heightened alert.

Nobody claimed responsibility for planting the IED and to whom it may be intended for.

Police operatives from the Sultan Kudarat police provincial office are still investigating the incident.