Tuesday, September 30, 2014

‘Convergence’ marks Kagitingan Brigade’s reactivation anniversary

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 29): ‘Convergence’ marks Kagitingan Brigade’s reactivation anniversary

Marking the 6th Reactivation Anniversary of the 701st Infantry (Kagitingan) Brigade of 7th Infantry Division Philippine Army is the term ‘convergence’ as uttered by the provincial governor Corazon N. Malanyaon during her anniversary message for the brigade on September 19, 2014.

A strong advocate of convergence, Governor Malanyaon made sure to make it as one of her development strategies in achieving peace. “I have first-hand experience on how convergence had achieved better and faster results than relying on our limited internal resources and capacities,” said Governor Malanyaon.

She cited the Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) as one concrete example of how convergence worked in harnessing all relevant programs of various government agencies to provide integrated support to depressed communities.

In achieving this, she thanked the Philippine Army for fully embracing the province’s development direction and being effective implementers of the province’s development programs and projects.

“We have journeyed together through a program that changed mindsets. We adopted a paradigm where civilian and military authorities pursue undertakings together and work together with other stakeholder to achieve not only peace but also development, peace and development being interdependent – such that there can be no development without peace just as peace can be elusive without development,” she said.

She also cited the collaboration and partnership of the provincial government and the military when disasters struck Davao Oriental.

Meanwhile, guest of honor and speaker, Major General Glorioso V. Miranda, Commander of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, also highlighted ‘convergence’ as an important part of achieving greater strides in peace and development.

He commended the backing efforts of Gov. Malanyaon for peace and order that made it easier for the military to reach the people, especially those in far-flung areas.

MGEN Miranda reminded the stability per se of free-insurgency and ready for development rating of the province. He said that Peace and Stability is an ‘abstract’ that could be a vehicle or a process for development approach although people of different sectors thought of different priorities and mindsets in life.

“It is our duty by all means to protect that ‘abstract’ to reach our vision in enriching our ways of lives,” MGen Miranda said as the Army were supported by the different sectors of society especially this provincial government.

Meanwhile, the renowned core troops of this province under Col. Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr. also expressed their deep gratitude on the non-stop support and efforts of the provincial government. The Brigade Commander re-echoed a statement by a senior army officer in Camp Panacan, Davao City stating that “if all Governors are like Governor Malanyaon, then we would no problems in our country.”

Col. Madrigal, Jr. also acknowledged the Army and Armed Forces’ leadership in providing them the guidance and wherewithal to accomplish the Kagitingan Brigade’s mission. More particularly, he thanked also the different sectors of the civilian community who stand as stakeholders for the strong partnership and full support given to the brigade in all its undertakings.

“They were the keys to the success of our campaign, and we could have not done this without them,” Col. Madrigal, Jr. stated.

Meanwhile, local government officials and stakeholders have been awarded with Plaques of Appreciation. Col. Madrigal Jr. supported that these people unselfishly rendered significant contribution for the Peace and Order undertakings of the government throughout the area of responsibility.


1 killed, 2 hurt as MILF groups clash in Cotabato

From the Philippine Star (Sep 30): 1 killed, 2 hurt as MILF groups clash in Cotabato

A Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel was killed while two others were injured in a firefight between two MILF groups in southern Philippines on Monday, a military official said today.

Major Dante Gania, spokesman of the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division, said the clash at Bulol village, Pikit town in North Cotabato province was traced to long-standing land dispute between the two groups.

Gania said the two groups were engaged in sporadic fighting as of today noon.

He said the Philippine military will not send government troops to the site and that it has coordinated with the MILF's Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities to stop the fighting.

The MILF, the largest Muslim separatist group in the country, signed a peace agreement with the government last March.

The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will establish a new political entity in the restive south as part of the pact, is currently being reviewed by Philippine Congress.


Suspected BIFFs kill two unarmed soldiers in Maguindanao

From GMA News (Sep 30): Suspected BIFFs kill two unarmed soldiers in Maguindanao

Suspected rebels from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters killed two unarmed soldiers—including one who was celeberating his 23rd birthday—in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, the 6th Division of the Philippine Army said on Tuesday morning.

The fatalities were identified as Pfc. Rex Limpahan, who was celebrating his birthday, and his buddy Pfc. Edward Baes.  Both were from the 62nd Division Recon Company.
The two had just lit a candle for thanksgiving and prayer at the St. Therese Church in Datu Piang when tragedy struck.

Armed men who were riding in tandem in motorcycles opened fire as they went out of the church courtyard. 
They were killed immediately as they suffered multiple gunshot wounds caused by .45 caliber and 9 mm pistols and a carbine rifle.
“The slain soldiers went to the church just wearing athletic uniforms to lit a candle and offered a prayer for birthday celebration, we condemn this cowardly attack to our armless men knowing they came from a church”, according to Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of 6th Army Division.
A separate source said, at least seven persons are involved in the liquidation team.
Former St. Therese Parish priest and peace advocate Fr. Bert Layson was saddened when he heard the killing in front of the church.

Some members of the military are calling on human rights groups to condemn the attack as it happened on unarmed soldiers, who just came from church.
The BIFF spokesperson cannot reached for comment as of posting time. The group has yet to claim the attack on the soldiers.

BIFF has not sent men to ISIS, says AFP

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 30): BIFF has not sent men to ISIS, says AFP

Even with their pledge of allegiance to terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters has no links with ISIS and has not dispatched members to join the group, a military official said.

Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division, said Tuesday that they are closely monitoring the activities of BIFF following the group’s declaration.

“There are no activities, except for the pronouncement of Abu Misry Mama showing their support for ISIS,” Pangilinan said.

Abu Misry is the spokesperson of the BIFF.

In August, Abu Misry said that the BIFF supports ISIS through several videos posted on YouTube.

He added that the BIFF has not sent any of its members to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS.

Pangilinan said that even though BIFF does not have links with ISIS it does have links with Jemaah Islamiyah, a terror group that mainly operates in Southeast Asia.

“What we monitored, though, was that these BIFF members are linked with the JI,” Pangilinan said.


2 soldiers shot dead outside church in Maguindanao

From MindaNews (Oct 1): 2 soldiers shot dead outside church in Maguindanao

He was supposed to celebrate his 23rd birth anniversary on Tuesday. But newly enlisted Pfc. Rex Limpahan died in an attack on the same day by suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Piang town in Maguindanao.

Also killed was Pfc. Edward Baes, who accompanied Limpahan to the St. Therese church in Datu Piang to light a candle and offer a prayer for the latter’s birthday.

Both soldiers, who were unarmed at the time, belonged to the 62nd Division Recon Company. They were shot outside the gate of the church by men onboard a motorcycle, around 9:00 am.

The victims sustained several gunshot wounds in the head and body from .45 caliber and 9mm pistols and a carbine.

“The slain soldiers went to the church just wearing athletic uniforms to light a candle and offer a prayer for birthday celebration. We condemn this cowardly attack to our armless men knowing they came from a church”, said Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division.

Another source said at least seven persons staged the attack.

Former St. Therese Parish priest and peace advocate Fr. Bert Layson said he was saddened that the killing occurred in front of a church.

Some soldiers urged human rights groups to take action saying the attack was done against unarmed soldiers who had just come from a church.

MindaNews tried to reach the BIFF, which was yet to issue a statement on the incident.

In Cotabato City, men aboard a motorcycle opened fire and wounded three security guards manning the main gate of the Cotabato Regional Medical Center.

The victims were identified as Ameruddin Sumandal, Sahab Abdullah, and one Mohammad of Goldfield Security Agency.

Police said the attack occurred around 8:10pm Tuesday. At least 10 empty shells from a .45 caliber pistol were recovered from the crime scene.

The assailants took the M-16 rifle of one of the security guards before fleeing.

Sumandal was still fighting for this life in the emergency room of the same hospital.

Police said the motive could either be personal grudge or simply “agaw armas” (arms snatching).


Presence of rebels tops peace challenges in Davao Region

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 29): Presence of rebels tops peace challenges in Davao Region

Continued presence of the insurgency network in communities tops the list of peace and development challenges in the Davao Region.

Regional Development Council (RDC) 11 Chairperson Rodolfo P. Del Rosario revealed this during the second round of the RDC Press Briefing on September 25.

He said that the Communist Party of the Philippine-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CNN) targets farmers, women, and youth, putting at risk 13 percent of the barangays in the Davao Region.

To counter such move, Del Rosario saw it fit to target members of the CNN armed groups in rolling out the priority programs, activities and projects of the government.

“If armed groups have  farmers, women and youth as targets, we must also have them as our targets in pursuing our priority PAPs,” he said in his opening statement during the RDC Press Briefing held at the Conference Hall of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) XI in Bangkal, Davao City.

In presenting the Chapter 8 entitled “Peace and Development”, of the 2014-2016 Updated Davao Regional Development Plan, RDC 11 Vice Chairperson Ma. Lourdes Lim of NEDA 11 revealed the six other challenges to peace in the region.

Ranking next  are the prevention of the CNN resurgence in cleared barangays; sustaining the gains of Peace and Development Outreach Programs (PDOP); convergence in delivering economic and social services;  gaps in skills/ capability and support equipment in maintaining law and order; the disadvantaged indigenous peoples and the lack of judges, prosecutors and halls of justice in newly created cities and municipalities.

To  counter these challenges, the Plan has set to increase the crime solution efficiency rate from 14.10 percent in 2010 to 41.74 percent in 2016; to free all barangays from influence of CNN by the same year; reduce the number of insurgents by 80 percent;  reduce the number of atrocities perpetrated by insurgents by 90 percent;  increase case resolution  rate by Lupong Tagapamayapa; and establish 1,932 schools adopting peace concept by 2016.

Despite the challenges, Del Rosario saw it timely to further invest on peace and development which has presently become an open subject of discussion unlike in the past when such topic was wrapped in fear.

He believed that discussion on  peace has reached its  farthest level with  the approval of the Comprehensive Agreement on  the Bangsamoro (CAB) which consequently has formed part of history.

In the same forum,  Major  Gen. Eduardo Ano, commander of the 10th Infantry Brigade found hope of resolving the insurgency problem through peace talks with the approval of CAB and the progress of mainstreaming the Bangsangmoro in Philippine governance after decades of engaging in conflict with the government.


Philippine Army Commanding-General visited Abra

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 30): Philippine Army Commanding-General visited Abra

Lt. Gen. Hernando DC. A. Iriberri, Commanding Officer of the Philippine Army, visited the province   earlier this month to give his moral support to his men in the field especially those who fought the battle in Brgy. Guinguinabang, Lacub.

In his visit to the 41st Battalion Headquarters in Sitio Barbarit, Tagodtod, Lagangilang, Lt. Col. Virgilio M. Noora, Commanding Officer, presented to  him the high-powered firearms, communication gadgets, various facilities and subversive documents confiscated at the battle scene last Sept. 4.

Iriberri  also visited the soldiers confined at the Abra Provincial Hospital who were wounded when the New People’s Army ambushed them on September 5, while they were on their way to Poblacion, Lacub to deliver the cadaver of an  NPA left by his comrades during the battle on Sept. 4.

Iriberri pinned the medal of valor to the soldiers who were wounded in action and expressed his sympathy to the family of the soldier who was killed in action. He saluted his soldiers for their bravery in defending the freedom and liberty of their countrymen.

Iriberri again appealed to the rebels to surrender because the battle in Lacub is a clear indication that they have already lost the support of the community.

He  also planted a tree upon landing from his chopper in Tagodtod.

Iriberri’s visit was a homecoming of sort as he served  as the Brigade Commander of the 503rd Infantry Brigade here  and worked closely  with community people and the local executives and leaders in Abra.