Sunday, August 28, 2016

Japan-build coast guard vessel arrives

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 28): Japan-build coast guard vessel arrives

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade underscores that the 44-meter Multi-Role Response Vessel (MRRV) that arrived from Japan is part of a project contracted and secured by the previous administration. 

“We are receiving it in behalf of the Government.”  It is a project of the past administration.  We just want to say that, “Ayaw namin ng nagnanakaw ng kalabaw”, said Tugade during the turnover ceremony at the Philippine Coast Guard Headquarters where he and Rear Admiral Melad received the vessel along with 2 PCG officers and 10 non-officers including Japanese crew who sailed through rough waters to deliver the ship on its agreed date yesterday.
Rear Admiral Melad lauded the Japanese government for the continuous and unwavering support to the PCG’s capability development programs. 

Over the past 18 years, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has extended numerous assistance to the PCG in terms of human resource development, providing additional equipment for the communications, diving and rescue, personal protective equipment for oil spill combat operations, and donating small boats and rubber boats.

Nine (9) more MRRVs will be built by the Japan Marine United Corporation (JMUC) Yokohama Shipyard for the PCG and will also be named after the primary lighthouses in the country to denote the important role of lighthouse as an aid to navigation to mariners.

The project is being implemented as an Official Development Assistance (ODA) via a tied loan extended by the JICA.  The loan facility covers P 7,373,700,000 out of the total project of P 8,807,700,000.  The balance will be sourced from the Philippine counterpart of P 1,434,000,000.

JMU will provide the supply of standard spare parts and tools, crew training, ocean transportation and marine insurance.  The vessels will have a cruising speed of 25 knots and a range of 1,500 nautical miles.

http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/1141472292498/japan-build-coast-guard-vessel-arrives

PMA alumni to Dela Rosa: Sound the call, we will be there

From Rappler (Aug 28): PMA alumni to Dela Rosa: Sound the call, we will be there

Alumni of the PMA 'pledge' to help another alumnus, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, in the country's campaign against illegal drugs   

PMA CAV. PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, then still a Senior Superintendent, at the PMA during its alumni homecoming. File photo from Dela Rosa's Facebook page

Amid mounting criticism on the country's "war on drugs," alumni of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) are rallying behind the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

On Facebook, alumni of the prestigious military academy are affixing their names to an open letter declaring their support for Dela Rosa.

"The people who matter, the people who feel the changes brought about by the relentless war against drugs, the people who are victims, whose loved ones are victims and are now being rendered justice and the people who once lost hope but are now looking at a drug-free and peaceful Philippines want you and the whole Philippine National Police to know that they appreciate your efforts, your sacrifices, your lack of sleep, your fatigue and the extraordinary risks you take," reads the statement.

Dela Rosa is among the top personalities in President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called "war on drugs," among the latter's key promises during the 2016 campaign. Since Dela Rosa officially assumed the post of top cop on July 1, the PNP has arrested over 11,000 drug suspects in operations around the country.

"Oplan TokHang," a literal knock and plead operation by cops, have led to the surrender of more than 600,000 drug users and pushers.

But the same police operations have let to the death of over 700 drug suspects. Police are investigating more than 1,000 "vigilante-style" deaths they suspect to have been drug-related as well.

It's the rising death toll that's alarmed critics, who have also hit the government and the police for what they say is a campaign that targets only the poor.

Some PMA alumni apparently did not share the same view.

"Do not worry about the senseless mumbling of the 'righteous' nor the indignation of the now irrelevant civil society nor the vain attempt of 'human rights' activists to distort the truth and to give primary consideration to the drug peddlers and lords rather than the unfortunate victims."

"Despair not at the words of grandstanding politicians, the demagogues of falsehoods, the whores of ultimate power. They have been unmasked and stripped. Now the people know their ugliness, their evil, their real intent."

"We, who share with you the Philippine Military Academy as the depository of what is noble, what is true, what is gallant and what is a worthy life, pledge our unequivocal support to you in the eradication of the drug menace, the peddlers, the cuddlers (sic), the protectors and the lords. We pledge that in whatever capacity we can, we will help. That, yes, in this gargantuan endeavor, you have us to count on. Sound the call, we will be there," reads one of the last paragraphs of the statement.

The manifesto of support was seen posted on the walls of several active and retired alumni of the PMA.

Former PNP chief Arturo Lumibao and retired police general turned legislator Leopoldo Bataoil were among the "signatories" to the message of support.

The same message was posted in the Facebook group "TheLongGrayLine," which Dela Rosa is part of.

***************************************************************

Dado G Enrique
on Wednesday

 


Dela Rosa is a member of the PMA Class of 1986. A native of Santa Cruz town in Davao del Sur, Dela Rosa spent most of his years in the service in the Davao region, where he met then-vice mayor Duterte.

He was city police director of Davao City during the terms of Duterte and Duterte's daughter, Sara.

Dela Rosa has had to defend the PNP from allegations of abuse of authority and irregularities in police operations. The PMA alumnus himself has had his share of controversy over statements made in relation to the war on drugs.

Recently, Dela Rosa told surrendered drug users and pushers to "kill" or "burn the houses" of known drug lords because the latter put the former's lives in danger just for money.

The police general would later apologize for making the remark, explaining that he was simply overcome with emotion after seeing the emaciated faces of the drug users and pushers.

Read the message from PMA alumni in full here:

Dear Bato, our man:
The people who matter, the people who feel the changes brought about by the relentless war against drugs, the people who are victims, whose loved ones are victims and are now being rendered justice and the people who once lost hope but are now looking at a drug-free and peaceful Philippines want you and the whole Philippine National Police to know that they appreciate your efforts, your sacrifices, your lack of sleep, your fatigue and the extra ordinary risks you take. They can not thank you enough. They can not completely express the gratitude they feel.
 
Do not worry about the senseless mumbling of the "righteous" nor the indignation of the now irrelevant civil society nor the vain attempt of "human rights" activists to distort the truth and to give primary consideration to the drug peddlers and lords rather than the unfortunate victims.
 
Despair not at the words of grandstanding politicians, the demagogues of falsehoods, the whores of ultimate power. They have been unmasked and stripped. Now the people know their ugliness, their evil, their real intent.
 
Believe in your people. Those you have sworn to serve and die for if need be. Hear their collective voices, their prayers to the heavens for your safety and deliverance. They are your neighbors, the kids you grew up with, the teachers who honed you, your true friends through the years.

Remember your brave ancestors, the heroism they bequeathed, the ultimate sacrifice they made. Be inspired by their love of country, by their love of their people, by their being true Filipinos. Live by their code and be immortal!
 
We, who share with you the Philippine Military Academy as the depository of what is noble, what is true, what is gallant and what is a worthy life, pledge our unequivocal support to you in the eradication of the drug menace, the peddlers, the cuddlers, the protectors and the lords. We pledge that in whatever capacity we can, we will help. That, yes, in this gargantuan endeavor, you have us to count on. Sound the call, we will be there.
 
COURAGE. INTEGRITY. LOYALTY.
They are not just words written in stone. They live within as should be.
Our snappy salute!

http://www.rappler.com/nation/144432-pma-alumni-support-dela-rosa

3 Abu Sayyaf killed in Patikul encounter

From Rappler (Aug 28): 3 Abu Sayyaf killed in Patikul encounter

Over a span of 2 weeks, the AFP’s Joint Task Force Sulu has captured 2 and killed 19 members of the ASG



At least 3 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were killed on Saturday, August 27, during an encounter with government troops in Latih, Patikul, Sulu.

According to a press release from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), personnel from the Army’s 10th Infantry Battalion encountered around around 30 ASG fighters at around 10:15 am on Saturday.

The Army did not report any casualties and were able to recover two M-16 rifles and an M203 grenade launcher. The AFP said the 3 ASG members’ bodies were brought away from the encounter sit.

The incident comes a day after the ASG and the military also had an encounter Friday, August 26, where 6 members of the bandit group were killed.

Over a span of 2 weeks, the AFP’s Joint Task Force Sulu has captured 2 and killed 19 members of the ASG. High-powered firearms and Improvised Explosive Devices were also seized during these operations.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/144439-afp-abu-sayyaf-patikul-sulu

Chopper on rescue mission itself becomes disaster victim: CAAP confirms 2 deaths

From InterAksyon (Aug 28): Chopper on rescue mission itself becomes disaster victim: CAAP confirms 2 deaths



Arrow shows the helicopter's tail wreckage at the crash site, in photo taken by PAF pilot.

(UPDATE, 2:37PM) Five days of habagat-hindered search for a missing helicopter turned up a grim find Saturday morning: a single-engine light helicopter used in the Quezon province tunnel collapse, with bodies of two fatalities still strapped to the crashed chopper.

Retrieval and recovery operations by the 505th search and rescue group at Villamor Airbase were scheduled Sunday morning for the chopper, which had itself been on a rescue mission when it crashed at the height of bad weather on August 22.

However, bad weather again foiled efforts to retrieve bodies of the helicopter pilot and his assistant, with rescue teams prevented by zero visibility, strong winds and heavy rains from reaching the crash site Sunday over the mountains of Gen. Nakar town in Quezon Province.

Rescuers from the PAF 505th SAR Group (search and rescue) will try to attempt to reach the area again early Sunday morning, if good weather prevails'

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) confirmed late Saturday that the helicopter AS350B2 type operated by Macroasia Air Taxi Services, with registry number RP-C2688, was located at 3:30 pm at the crash site by a search and rescue team.

The ill-fated chopper, on a mission to pick up and rescue stranded construction and engineering personnel working at the Sumag diversion tunnel in Quezon, crashed last August 22 but its location could not be found. Relentless heavy rains induced by the southwest monsoon had made the search difficult.

CAAP Operations and Rescue Coordinating Center (ORCC) identified the fatalities as Capt. Miguel C. Logronio and his Aircraft Mechanic Eng. Jay Gregorio.

Efforts to locate the missing chopper took several days, but on Saturday morning, a helicopter piloted by Capt. Jojo Consunji was able to penetrate the crash site and dropped two rescuers to the ground.

The chopper crash site was first sighted by the 505th search and rescue group of the Philippine Air Force last Tuesday (August 23) but bad weather made penetration impossible.

Civilian and military volunteers from 505 Rescue Bustos group, Pureforce Rescue group, Conrad Tomeldan, Jude Estrada, Capt. Boy Garucho, Alex Limjuoco, Cavdeal, MWSS, Transcare and the local Dumagats in the area also helped search for the missing chopper.

Last May 5, 2016, a single-engine light HelicopterAS350B with registration number RP-C6828 piloted by Filipino pilot Capt. Rudolph Rex Raagas together with five passengers crash-landed in Sarawak, Malaysia killing all occupants.

http://interaksyon.com/article/131875/chopper-on-rescue-mission-itself-becomes-disaster-victim-caap-confirms-2-deaths

IS-linked Maute Group extremists spring 23 comrades from Marawi jail

From InterAksyon (Aug 28): IS-linked Maute Group extremists spring 23 comrades from Marawi jail



(UPDATE, 5:52PM) Muslim extremists who support the Islamic State group staged a daring jailbreak in the southern Philippines, freeing 23 detainees in the latest in a series of mass escapes, officials said Sunday.

About 50 heavily armed members of the Maute group raided the local jail in the southern city of Marawi on Mindanao island on Saturday and freed eight comrades who were arrested barely a week ago, police said.

Fifteen other detainees, held for other serious offenses, also escaped in the raid, said provincial jail warden Acmad Tabao.

Police earlier said that 28 inmates escaped but Tabao clarified the figure.

In a report Tabao said two women came to the prison gate, asking the guard to take delivery of some food for the detainees. When the guard opened the gate, hooded men forced their way into the compound.

They overwhelmed the guards, forcing them to their knees and taking two rifles before freeing the inmates.

The hooded men shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) before fleeing in a prison vehicle to a nearby lake. The Maute gang members then fled by boat while the other inmates scattered, Tabao said.

At the jail, two bullet holes and a shattered television set were the only evidence of the attack.

The eight Maute group members were arrested on August 22 after soldiers manning a checkpoint found improvised bombs and pistols in the van they were driving.

The Maute group is one of several Muslim gangs in Mindanao, the ancestral homeland of the Muslim minority in the largely Catholic Philippines.

The group has carried out kidnappings and bombings and is believed to have led an attack on an army outpost in the Mindanao town of Butig in February.

The fighting there lasted a week, leaving numerous fatalities and forcing thousands to flee their homes as helicopter gunships fought off the attackers.

IS flags in Butig fighting

During the Butig fighting the group's members were seen carrying black flags of the Islamic State group, and bandanas bearing the jihadists' insignia were found in their base, the military said.

Authorities said they were investigating the jailbreak and the reason why security had not been increased after high-risk suspects were brought in.

It was the latest of several mass escapes from poorly secured Philippine jails, with the incidents often involving Muslim extremists.

In 2009 more than 100 armed men raided a jail in the strife-torn southern island of Basilan, freeing 31 prisoners including several Muslim guerrillas.

The southern Philippines has been plagued by Muslim separatist insurgencies for over four decades, with the conflict leaving more than 120,000 dead.

President Rodrigo Duterte is pursuing peace talks with the largest Muslim insurgent groups, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which have ceasefires with the government.

Smaller bands like the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf group are not covered by the ceasefires and are not part of the peace process.

http://interaksyon.com/article/131880/is-linked-maute-group-extremists-spring-23-comrades-from-marawi-jail

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Local terror leader escapes after jail attack in Lanao del Sur

From Rappler (Aug 28): Local terror leader escapes after jail attack in Lanao del Sur

(UPDATED) Authorities believe that the attack was carried by members of the local terrorist gang Maute Group



Members of a local terrorist groups escaped the Lanao del Sur Provincial Jail on Saturday, August 27, after 20 fully armed men stormed the prison, located in Marawi City.

"Heavily armed men wielding RPGs, Soviet-made AK 47, M16 rifles and other high-powered weapon stormed Lanao Sur Provincial Jail in Marawi City Saturday afternoon and freed 8 recently arrested members of an alleged local terror group," police said in a statement Sunday, August 28.

Authorities believe that the attack was carried by members of the local terrorist gang Maute Group, in their attempt to free their leader Hashim Balawag Maute.

“Clearly this is a rescue operation aimed at freeing their members,” Marawi City Chief of Police Chief Inspector Parson Asadil said.

“Our accounting showed that 23 prisoners escaped during the assault,” Asadil said.

Asadil said that the armed men even carried rocket propelled grenades which they used to attack the provincial jail.

The 8 members of the Maute group were just arrested Monday, August 22, after they were detained for carrying weapons and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Lumbayanague, Lanao del Sur.

Those detained including Maute, the leader of the Maute Group who has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS); Abdul Jabbar Tominaman Macabading; Jamil Batoa Amerul; Muhammad Sianodin Mulok; and Omar Khalil. The men were reportedly involved in various terrorist activities in Lanao del Sur.

They also arrested 3 women, identified as Nasifa Pundug, the alleged wife Hashim Maute; Hafidah Romato Maute; and Norhanna Balawag Maute.

Lanao del Sur Provincial Police Director Senior Supt. Agustin Tello also added that the armed men also took Jail Officer 3 Modasir Manwar as they left the area. Manwar was later freed in Barangay Calocan, Marawi City, 3 hours after the attack.

The attackers also took away one M16 and one M14 assault rifle, and burned a provincial jail vehicle which they used as one of their getaway vehicles.

The group used a total of 4 getaway vehicles, including the jail-owned vehicle, which they all abandoned at the lake shore of Barangay Calocan in Marawi City. The suspects and the escapees then rode motorboats to escape to an unknown location.

"These escapees pose serious threat to public safety and must be prevented from sowing further terror," PNP Regional Director PCSupt Noel Constantino was quoted in the police statement as saying.

The military and the police are conducting hot pursuit operations.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/144405-prionsers-escape-jail-raid-lanao-del-sur

I.S. THREAT IN PHL | Counterprop, As-Pac cooperation needed: US official

From InterAksyon (Aug 28): I.S. THREAT IN PHL | Counterprop, As-Pac cooperation needed: US official

US Department of State Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Justin Siberell cannot confirm whether or not the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group is already in the Philippines, but he proposes measures to respond to this “global challenge”.

In a conference call from Washington D.C. to reporters in Asia-Pacific on Friday morning, Siberell said, “IS has a history of associating itself or attaching itself to pre-existing terror organizations.”

IS did this, he said, with the Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis group in Sinai, Egypt; and the Boko Haram group in Nigeria. Closer to home, there was the Katibah Nusantara, a group of fighters in Syria which has been luring individuals across Southeast Asia.

Siberell said that IS would identify existing terrorist organizations, then associates with them or getts them to pledge allegiance to IS. The rise of new IS affiliates is a concern, he acknowledged.

Bali consensus

In the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf had been active even before the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001. It is “vital” to address this threat, and Siberell assured the reporters that governments were cooperating across the region in this regard.

During his visit to Bali, Indonesia for a ministerial meeting on countering the cross-border movement of terrorism, there were discussions that the concerned  governments would work on the following:

· making adjustments to counter-terrorism legislation, specifically those that would criminalize travelling to join a conflict and contributing to a terrorist group fighting in a conflict, and that would criminalize recruitment into or preparations for terrorist groups;

· improving information-sharing, particularly about the identities of known or suspected terrorists;

· implementing stronger border security measures; and

· undertaking counter-recruitment and counter-radicalization efforts.


The conflict in Syria and Iraq has attracted fighters from around the world, including Southeast Asia.  In all, Siberell reported, over 40,000 individuals from 120 countries have traveled already to these conflict zones.

He praised Indonesia for its “strong-rule-of-law framework” in counter-terrorism, which began with good legislation, coupled with the use of the court system to prosecute terrorism suspects and gain convictions.

But the challenge to Indonesia – as well as to many other nations – was that prisons themselves became locations for further radicalization.

Research on radicalization's roots, counterprop

According to Siberell, the US military found that to address the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in particular, they needed to strengthen their efforts “in the counter-messaging, counter-narrative area.”

“ISIL was, at one point, almost unopposed in the social media sphere in being able to propagandize, to draw attention to its attacks,” Siberell said, pointing to the “horrific” images of beheadings and killings proliferating on social media sites.

In response, the US government created the Global Engagement Center, whose tasks included partnering with government and non-government to develop counter-narratives and boost communication against ISIL.

He praised the Malaysian government for its similar initiative, a “counter-messaging center”.

Siberell said research must be done on the root causes of radicalization, and resources must be put into this.

It was important to find out “what might be driving recruitment in the terrorist organizations, what might be the factors that are contributing to the receptivity of individuals to messages and recruitment messages from terrorist organizations.”

Another component was improved information-sharing among the countries, especially on the identity of known and suspected terrorists “so that border security personnel have available to them all of the information that would help them prevent known and suspected terrorists from crossing borders.”

Shared database

US President Barack Obama launched a project this year to help governments connect to the Interpol and its database of 8,000 foreign terrorist fighters. Many countries were now sharing information with that database, and the US now had bilateral information-sharing agreements with more than 55 countries.

For the Philippines, in particular, the US was now helping beef up the former's response to kidnap-for-ransom cases, given that kidnap-for-ransom was a critical source of income for the Abu Sayyaf, as in other terrorist organizations.

Siberell said that the US was looking forward to an exchange of expertise, especially the good practices that governments could adopt.

http://interaksyon.com/article/131877/i-s--threat-in-phl--counter-propaganda-as-pac-cooperation-needed---us-official