Friday, May 24, 2013

Army to help investigation of 2 PSG members nabbed for robbery

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Army to help investigation of 2 PSG members nabbed for robbery

Philippine Army (PA) spokesperson Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang on Friday said that they will closely cooperate with police on the investigation on the two Presidential Security Group (PSG) members who were arrested for allegedly robbing an auto-detailing shop in Novaliches, Quezon City before dawn Thursday.

"We are not denying that they are members of the PA but this does not mean that we are turning a blind eye on their criminal actions. We will help and support the Philippine National Police in its ongoing investigation against them," Cabangbang said.

Part of the investigation will also determine whether the two have applied for an exemption to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) imposed gun-ban.

Supt. Eleazar Matta, Quezon City Police District-Station 5 commander, earlier identified the suspects as Cpl. Bobby Ates, 25; and Sgt. Marvin Gaton, 31.

The two were arrested roughly an hour later when they were seen carrying firearms inside a KTV bar.

Matta said Streamline Auto Salon and Detailing Shop owner Richard Tubig and security guard Manolo Panotes were at the shop located at Barangay Lagro in Novaliches, Quezon City when Ates and Gaton, along with three other still unidentified suspects, entered around 12:00 a.m.

The suspects then handcuffed Tubig and hogtied Panotes. One of the suspects also whipped a pistol at Tubig’s head.Items mugged at gunpoint were a Sony Vios laptop worth P50,000; IPhone 4 worth P30,000; Ipad worth P15,000; a wedding ring worth P65,000; a driver’s license and a white Honda Civic which they subsequently used as their getaway vehicle.

Cabangbang said that a summary of the two's records showed that they have not been involved in any criminal cases and have combat medals.

PHL 2nd warship armed with anti-ship missile system?

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): PHL 2nd warship armed with anti-ship missile system?

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), the country's second Hamilton-class cutter due to arrive this August, is a far more potent weapon platform than her sister ship, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), a Department of National Defense (DND) official who asked not to be named said on Friday.

"Her weapons system is heavier and sophisticated than those of the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar," he said.

However, the DND officer declined to specify these weapon systems and stressed that such items cannot be divulged due to matters of national security.

He made this announcement when asked if there is truth to reports that a Harpoon anti-ship missile system was installed as part of BRP Ramon Alcaraz's armament fit.

At present, the Filipino warship is believed to be carrying a 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon, two 25 Bushmaster guns and assorted machine guns.

In contrast, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, which arrived in the country in December 2011, is only armed with the 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon, making it prudent to install additional 20mm automatic cannons as her secondary weapons.

BRP Ramon Alcaraz is presently carrying out sea trials off the waters of South Carolina in the United States.

She is expected to depart for the Philippines by first week of June.

The ship is "fully mission capable" on her arrival.

Maritime observers said this development speaks well of the PN efforts to modernize and boost its power projection capabilities.

"With the arrival of our Hamilton-class cutters, which are being converted to frigates, the PN has started its first step in developing its blue-water capability or the ability to detect or engage intruders in the high seas," they said.

1 killed, 2 hurt as rebels attack ComVal gold panning site

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): 1 killed, 2 hurt as rebels attack ComVal gold panning site

Fifteen heavily-armed members of the New People's Army (NPA) attacked a gold panning site in Sitio Panganason, Kingking, Pantukan town, Compostela Valley Province, killing a ball mill operator and wounding two security guards Thursday morning.

Senior Supt. Camilo Cascolan, Compostela Valley Province police chief, said the incident took place around 5 a.m.

He identified the fatality as Aso Masayaw.

Cascolan said the rebels appeared out of nowhere and fired on the facility, hitting Masayaw in the back and causing the latter's death.

Duty guards present engaged the NPAs in an hour-long gun battle that apparently resulted to the wounding rebels as they flee the area.

Pursuit operations are still ongoing. Harassment is being eyed as the motive for this attack.

PN chief orders maximization of all assets

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): PN chief orders maximization of all assets

In order to carry out its mandate of protecting the country's maritime territories, Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano has ordered all naval units to religiously implement its deploy, sustain, repair and train strategy to maximize all its operational assets.

He also added that such footing would also ensure the operational readiness of all PN units.

"In order to sustain operational readiness, the PN (should religiously implement) its deploy, sustain, repair and train program," Alano stated.

The PN chief added that the implementation of these strategies should be given special focus by Naval Sea Systems Command and the Naval Logistics Center, as both organizations play a vital role in keeping the country's naval assets operational.

"To further enhance our operational readiness particularly on my left are some newly acquire items that have been programmed for quick response to disasters, such eight fully equipped disaster response trailers as well as newly acquire six KM-500 trucks, for the mobility requirement of our Marines," the PN chief stressed.

On top of this, Alano said the PN is awaiting the completion of training and refurbishment of the second high endurance cutter BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) which is slated to arrive in country this August.

"By December, we are also expecting initial delivery of our naval helicopters. Coupled with various other acquisitions to include increase in the number of our littoral observatory stations will further boost our credible deterrent and maritime situational awareness capability," he concluded.

OPPAP-CBA/CPLA sign landmark agreement

From the Philippine News Agency (May  24): OPPAP-CBA/CPLA sign landmark agreement

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Army Friday signed a landmark agreement that would improve monitoring and good governance in implementing peace and development projects in the Cordillera.

Signed in Baguio City was a mechanism for Monitoring, Evaluation, and Transparency of the government’s Memorandum of Agreement with the CBA/CPLA together with the civil society organizations in the region.

“The MET mechanism shows commitment of both the government and the CBA-CPLA to principles of transparency and accountability in implementing the 2011 MOA,” OPAPP Undersecretary Maria Cleofe Gettie Sandoval said in her email to the Philippines News Agency.

“OPAPP and our CSO partners believe the MET mechanism can improve governance and monitoring of government’s peace and development projects and programs,” she said.

The mechanism will ensure independent regular monitoring and evaluation of the progress of the GPH-CBA-CPLA MOA implementation.

The CSOs in Cordillera are the Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Governance; Peoples Organization for Social Transformation Development Network Inc., Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc. (Ifugao), International Association for Transformation (Kalinga), and EBGAN, Inc. (Mountain Province).

PMA Class 1981, AFPEBSO aids 12 'Pablo' survivors

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): PMA Class 1981, AFPEBSO aids 12 'Pablo' survivors

As part of its efforts to aid families still reeling from the effects of Typhoon "Pablo", the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) "Dimalupig" Class of 1981 and Armed Forces of the Philippines Educational Benefit System Office (AFPEBSO) partnered to provide educational grants to 12 survivors of the devastating storm.

PMA Class 1981 managed to collect P1 million for this endeavor.

The money was channeled to AFPEBSO as the latter is the organization tasked to give educational benefits to dependents of military personnel.

“This partnership signifies the start of a noble effort as we try to innovate and collaborate in providing assistance to the orphaned victims of Typhoon 'Pablo'," AFPEBSO assistant general manager Lt. Col. Danilo E Estranero said.

“I commend each and everyone here, for we are not just continuing what we have always been doing, we are also pushing ourselves to be more dedicated in service. With this partnership, we are strengthening our service and commitment," he added.

Grantees are all orphaned victims, with one or both parents who have died or declared missing as a result of "Pablo".

They will be supported until they graduated.

2 Moro rebel groups in North Cotabato end clan war

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): 2 Moro rebel groups in North Cotabato end clan war
Local leaders of two warring Moro rebel groups in Matalam, North Cotabato agreed to end their ‘rido’ in order to facilitate the safe return of some 6,900 evacuees to their homes.

On Thursday, leaders of the 108th Base Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIAF-MILF) and the Sebangan Kutawato State Revolutionary Committee of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF-SKSRC) inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) after series of consultations and dialogues spearheaded by the Local Monitoring Team (LMT) of the Joint Committee of the Cessation of Hostilities of the GPH and the MILF.

The signatories to the MoA include Commander Mansur Imbong of the 108th Base Command of the BIAF-MILF and Commander Datu Dima Ambil of the MNLF-SKSRC.

The MoA signing took place at Villa Oro Resort in Matalam, North Cotabato.

Habib Guiabar, head of the LMT based in Kabacan, North Cotabato, said both the MILF and the MNLF agreed to a ceasefire.

Also, they agreed to pull their troops from Barangay Marbel in Matalam, site of the recent armed skirmishes.

Data from the LMT showed there are at least 400 armed Moro rebels positioned in the area and in nearby villages.

Government forces, however, will stay put in conflict areas to secure the civilians and government installations.

One of the vital installations located near Barangay Marbel is the main headquarters of the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco), which provides power to at least 98,000 electric consumers in North Cotabato.

Peacekeeping forces include troops from the 602nd Infantry Brigade and the Cotabato Provincial Police Office, Guiabar said.

On May 5, the warring Moro rebels clashed in Barangay Marbel, Matalam, which killed an MILF member and displaced some 200 families.

Three days later, two villagers were seriously injured when a projectile from an M203 grenade launcher went off while they were returning to their home.

The fighting ceased after the LMT and the Cotabato provincial government, including the PNP and the Army, conducted dialogues and consultations with the warring Moro rebel groups in the area.

But two days after the May 13 local elections, the rebels were at ‘it’ again, which resulted to the displacement of some 6,880 evacuees from five villages in Matalam town.

(Update) DSWD social worker freed in Basilan province

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): (Update) DSWD social worker freed in Basilan province

The social worker who was set free by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits on Thursday night has been reunited with her family, the top police official here said.

Basilan police director Senior Supt. Mario Dapilloza said the victim, Jenelyn Entera, was freed around 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Barangay Marang, Sumisip municipality.

Entera’s freedom came hours after the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) has convened and activated the Crisis Management Committee (CMC) to work for the safe recovery of Entera.

Dapilloza said Entera was released to Sumisip Mayor Gulam Hataman and Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Leonardo Dacumos following the successful negotiations initiated by the PPOC and CMC headed by Vice-Gov. Alrasheed Sakkalahul.

Entera was seized by four alleged Abu Sayyaf bandits around 9:00 a.m. Wednesday in Barangay Ulitan, Ungkaya Pukan municipality.

She was inspecting the beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) when the bandits seized her at gunpoint.

CAFGUS freed by NPAs undergoing Army debriefing

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): CAFGUS freed by NPAs undergoing Army debriefing

The two Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) members who were abducted by the rebels a month ago but were released noontime Thursday, are now placed under custodial stress debriefing and medical examination at the headquarters of the 75th Infantry Battalion.

Col. Gregory Cayetano, 401st Brigade Commander, in a local radio interview Friday morning said the two Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU)members Ronald Isaga and Noel Martinez, were released by the custodial force of the New People's Army (NPA), believed to be of the Front Committee 14, operating in the provinces of Agusan del Sur and part of Surigao del Sur, at Sitio Mantuyom, Brgy. San Roque, Bislig City 12:00 noon Thursday. The two were said to be in good physical condition upon their release.

Col. Cayetano said in the same interview that they were not able to grant the rebels pre-condition for the release of the two captives, which is to momentarily suspend the military and police operations in the area. “We cannot stop our military operations since the mandate for suspension of such military operations should come from the national government. We cannot do that here in our own level,” Cayetano said.

However, the negotiations for the release of the two CAFGUs succeeded through the negotiating team headed by Agusan del Sur Provincial Officer Josefina Bajade.

The two CAFGUs will be allowed to return to their respective families after their debriefing and medical examination according to Cayetano.

WESCOM: No plan yet to augment military presence

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): WESCOM: No plan yet to augment military presence

The Western Command (WESCOM) is not moving to amplify its current military force in the contested West Philippines Sea despite the admission by its higher headquarters that numerous Chinese vessels believed to be owned by its naval force have been spotted near Ayungin Shoal.

Lt. Cheryl Tindog said the Armed Forces of the Philippines has not instructed WESCOM to augment its strength in the contested region regardless of the information from Kalayaan Mayor Joel Bito-onon that he was harassed by two vessels he believes to be owned by the Chinese navy.

“According to the higher headquarters there is no need to add forces in the area we claimed, particularly in the West Philippines Sea,” she said.

What was ordered was for the WESCOM to sustain its monitoring and patrolling in the area to ensure that no harassment will be done again to any Filipino sailing the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“This is what we’re exactly doing in the area,” Tindog said, since reports about Chinese vessels sighting came out.

She said the WESCOM is supportive of the “government’s diplomatic action regarding the presence of the Chinese navy vessels in the disputed island chain.

“At this point, what we can do best is to support the government in its desire to pacify the situation in the area. Let us be patient that something positive will be done,” she said.

Meanwhile, a ranking Philippine Air Force officer at the 570th Composite Tactical Wing said their aerial patrolling has not seen any pre-fabricated structure or others that the Chinese are building on Ayungin.

He said their regular aerial surveys are exactly meant to ensure that if any construction is being done on the controversial shoal, they would be able to make immediate reports to the AFP.

South Cotabato pushes release of livelihood aid for ex-NPA rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): South Cotabato pushes release of livelihood aid for ex-NPA rebels

The Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) of South Cotabato province is pushing for the release of livelihood support from the national government for 18 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the province.

Lt. Col. Zhalimar Imperial, commander of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion, said Friday the former rebels have already undergone the required profiling process and are now only waiting for the delivery of the livelihood assistance that they availed under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

He said they are currently working for the completion of the implementing rules for the program’s implementation in the area to facilitate the release of the assistance.

“We’ve requested the concerned agencies to hasten the crafting of the implementing rules,” he said during the PPOC meeting in Koronadal City.

Under the CLIP, which is mainly implemented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), former NPA rebels may avail of various assistance programs from the national and local governments.

Imperial said that aside from the 18 former NPA rebels, several others have already signified to avail of the program’s livelihood assistance.

The provincial government of South Cotabato, through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, earlier conducted the profiling of the former rebels.

“One reason that forced them (former rebels) to join the rebel movement was the lack of livelihood opportunities in their areas. We have to seriously address this problem to encourage other active rebels to return to the fold of the law,” he said.

The official said that if such problem is not properly addressed, some of the former rebels might be forced to rejoin their comrades and remain as security threats in the area.

Meantime, Imperial said they are closely watching the movements of around 40 rebels under the NPA Far South Mindanao Region’s Front 73.

He said the group remains a serious security threat in the province and noted that the volatile issue on mining was among the reasons for its resurgence in the past several months.

Imperial was referring to the planned large-scale copper and gold mining project of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines Inc. in Tampakan, South Cotabato that continues to be under threat from the NPA.

He cited that based on their monitoring, the group has recently added new recruits came from the towns of Lake Sebu, T’boli and Surallah in South Cotabato; Maitum, Kiamba and Maasim in Sarangani; and, parts of Davao Del Sur.

Normalcy restored in North Cotabato town after MNLF, MILF sign truce

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Normalcy restored in North Cotabato town after MNLF, MILF sign truce

MATALAM, North Cotabato -- Normalcy has slowly been restored in three remote villages here after feuding factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed Friday a peace covenant.

About 6,000 villagers from Barangays Elian, Kilada and Marbel, three adjoining villages of Matalam, also started to return home amid shaky truce since an earlier localized truce was violated by both sides.

Datu Dima Ambil, chair of the MNLF forces in North Cotabato and Commander Mansur Imbung of the MILF's 108th base command, signed the peace accord in the presence oftown and provincial officials and representatives of the joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).

The CCCH is a ceasefire monitoring mechanism between MILF and government forces.

Followers of Ambil and Mansur have traded bullets and rifle grenades three times since May 6 when the clashes began.

Ambil claimed the MILF violated a local agreement that they will not carry guns and wear fatigue uniforms when they enter the three villages, known bailiwick and peace zone of the MNLF after it signed a peace deal with the national government in 1996.

Mansur said Ambil's followers fired the first shot and they just retaliated. Ambil claimed otherwise.

A local ceasefire agreement was forged but Ambil said the MILF fired at MNLF forces anew on May 11 and 16.

Mansur, on the other hand, claimed the Army sided with the MNLF when they fired shots toward MILF forces.

North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Talinio Mendoza has ordered the provincial disaster risk reduction management council to extend assistance to the families who flocked to Barangay Kilada.

Government forces from the Army's 602nd Infantry Brigade and North Cotabato police public safety battalion now stand guard in between warring Moro rebel groups who are incidentally related by blood and by affinity.

The warring groups are only separated by about 800 meters and Marbel river.

One MILF member was killed while two others were wounded. Two MNLF fighters were hurt, police reports said.

1 soldier, 3 others wounded in NPA clash in Zamboanga

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 23): 1 soldier, 3 others wounded in NPA clash in Zamboanga

Communist rebels killed a government soldier and wounded three others in a clash in Zamboanga del Sur province in southern Philippines, officials told the Mindanao Examiner on Thursday.

Officials said the fighting erupted in the town of Tambulig and that among those wounded in the fighting was platoon leader Lt. Jose Pamor, of the 55th Infantry Battalion. The clash near the village of Dimalinao lasted more than 30 minutes.

Some 60 New People’s Army rebels were involved in the fighting, but it was not immediately known if any of them had been killed or wounded in the clash.

Insp. Ariel Huesca, a regional police spokesman, said the wounded soldiers were rushed to hospital in Molave town.

He said security forces were sent to track down the rebels. “There is a joint police and military pursuit operation in the province to track down the rebels,” he said.

The NPA rebels have been fighting for decades for the establishment of a separate state in the country.

Gunmen free abducted social worker in Basilan province

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 23): Gunmen free abducted social worker in Basilan province

Gunmen have freed late Thursday a social worker who was abducted in the restive province of Basilan, officials said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development said Jennelyn Luna Enprera was freed unharmed by her captors, but the agency did not give details of the woman’s release.

Other reports said Enprera was released in the town of Sumisip. It was unknown if ransom was paid for her safe release.

The woman, who works for the Department of Social Welfare and Development, was abducted in the town of Ungkaya Pukan. She is said to be in-charge of the government’s anti-poverty alleviation program called Pantawid Pamilya, whose objective is to provide financial support to poor families for the children’s health and education.

The woman was seized this week from a school by motorcycle gunmen.  

Another group of gunmen are also holding Lucio Gonzales, a skipper of a fishing trawler seized off Lantawan town in Basilan province.

Police said at least a dozen gunmen in two speedboats were involved in the kidnapping of Gonzales. The captors have demanded P15 million for the freedom of Gonbzales.

No individuals or group have claimed responsibility for kidnappings.

Basilan is one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and is notoriously known for its kidnappings and ambuscades.

Provincial government officials rarely release any statement about local abductions and are hardly accessible for media interviews.