Wednesday, August 7, 2013

PMA entrance exam set

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 7): PMA entrance exam set

The Philippine Military Academy will hold its entrance examination for cadet hopefuls on August 25 in 37 centers nationwide.

Qualified applicants must be born from April 1, 1992 to April 1, 1997; natural-born Filipino citizen, physically fit and of good moral character, single and has never been married, at least high school graduate, minimum of 5’0 but not to exceed 6’4 for both male and female, no administrative/criminal case, must pass the PMA entrance exam, said PMA spokesperson Major Agnes Lynette Flores.

Last year, cadet applicants reached about 14,500, the highest in PMA history.

Flores attributed the increase to reforms in the PMA, such as the lowering of height requirement for both and female which the military academy began to implement last year.

In 2012, there were 14,450 who took the exams out of 22,754 applicants. The previous year, only 6,066 hopefuls took the entrance test out of 20,211 applicants, Flores told

Many applicants had been disqulified for failing to meet the required 5’4″ height for male and 5’2″ for female, she said.

There are 350 slots up for grabs, and successful applicants will be part of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 2018, who will be officially received in in an oath-taking ceremony and reception rites on April 01, 2014.

Graduates of PMA will be commissioned as officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The applicants must pass the PMA Cadet Qualification Test  which covers Algebra and Geometry, Grammar and Composition, Reading and Comprehension, Verbal and Numerical Reasoning and Pattern Analysis before they will be able to proceed to the next phase of cadet selection which is the complete physical examination. In this phase they will undergo medical and physical fitness test to comply with the requirements for the military training they will undergo in the academy.

“Being a PMA cadet gives an individual a noble privilege in serving the country. One is able to avail of a free college education with a well-rounded curriculum, as well as, receive monthly pay and allowances,” Flores said.

“After graduating from the academy, one is guaranteed a progressive career as an officer in the Army, Navy or Air Force,” she said.

AFP awards merit medal to Army troops who were part of the successful operation vs armed rebels in Tarlac

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 7): AFP awards merit medal to Army troops who were part of the successful operation vs armed rebels in Tarlac

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) awarded on Tuesday Military Merit Medal to eight members of the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion of the Army who were part of the security forces that successfully neutralized armed rebels in an encounter last week in Camiling, Tarlac.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin led the conferment of honors along with AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista, Army Chief Lt. General Noel Coballes, Northern Luzon Command Commander Major General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr, and Army 7th Infantry Division Commander Brigadier General Hernando DCA Iriberri in a ceremony held at Subic Bay Freeport.

The operation, which was jointly done with the Philippine National Police, killed six rebels and captured one.

Aside from casualties from the enemy, the troops were also able to confiscate 10 high-powered firearms as well as subversive documents. The security forces did not suffer any casualties.

“The operation in Camiling last July 30 is so far, one of the biggest accomplishments of the AFP for calendar year 2013. Some of these rebels have pending criminal cases filed at the Regional Trial Court,” said Catapang.

For his part Iriberri noted, “it is very clear that the people are now aware and tired of the criminal acts of these armed groups conducting extortion activities to the residents who are less fortunate. They’ve lost in the ideological war and resorted to criminal activities,”

“We encourage our constituents to continue to be vigilant and report any presence of armed groups in the area so that we could totally neutralize them and restore peace and order so that progress will be felt by our stakeholders,” Iriberri added.

Bombers now in Metro

From the Manila Times (Aug 7): Bombers now in Metro

A group of young members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) under Ameril Umbrakato are reportedly in Metro Manila for their “test mission”, which is to conduct bombings on select targets similar to the recent blasts in Cagayan De Oro and Cotabato City that killed more than a dozen people.

According to Saji Mukamad Abdul, one of the few young men who were trained by the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to detonate improvised explosive devices, the order given to them was to set the foundation for a Jihad or holy war.

“Ang sinabi sa amin sir ay tatapusin lang namin ang isang test mission para sa isang jihad [We were told to accomplish one test mission for a Jihad],” Abdul told The Manila Times.

The Times managed to get in touch with the 18-year-old Abdul through Watamama Kadil, also a BIFF recruit. Kadil said that some of the young recruits who have finished their bomb training were deployed to Metro Manila to carry out “test missions.”

Without saying whether he is one of the recruits tapped for the mission in Metro Manila, Abdul, a native of Lanao Del Sur, said that they were directed to bomb vital utilities like the towers and power lines of the National Power Corporation and telecommunications firms Smart and Globe.

The bombing that occurred last week in Cagayan De Oro City that killed at least eight people and wounded 48 others was among the continuing attacks on civilian populace carried out by the young BIFF recruits.

Abdul further claimed that the bombing missions were upon the orders of JI operative Abdul Basit Usman, who directed all fresh graduates of the BIFF training camp in Lanao Del Norte to assemble in an undisclosed place where they planned their “test missions” in Mindanao.

Usman is a Pakistani-trained militant who joined the al-Qaeda-linked JI as a bomb specialist, according to the information from the two sources, who confirmed that young BIFF members have been trained by Usman on how to prepare and explode an improvised explosive device (IED) with a timer.


Kadil also said there were even members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who insisted that the young recruits are not members of the BIFF but of the MILF.

“Ito daw ay dahil si Usman ang nagturo sa amin kung papaano magpasabog ng bomba sa tamang oras at pamamaraan [It is for the reason that we were trained by Usman that we should consider ourselves not BIFF members but the MILF],” he further stressed.

An asset of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp) from Maguindanao province, who refused to be identified, claimed that they received raw information from the Muslim community that Usman was with some MILF commanders and three bearded Arab-looking personalities who passed along Liguasan Marsh in Barangay Kabuntalan in Maguindanao.

Intelligence reports said the group was spotted along a route connecting the Marsh with Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat late Saturday evening with some 20 fully-armed escorts.

But other military sources said they were still evaluating the report as they expressed the belief that the group that was sighted in Barangay Kabuntalan was Umbrakato’s.

“We already learned of the presence of the members of the Jemaah Islamiyah who were also sighted in Barangay Bagras in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat, where the MILF has coddled them and so do the BIFF. But we don’t know if they were planning an attack although we are ready for them,” said an official of 74th Infantry Battalion who requested not to be named.

Liguasan Marsh spans the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Sarangani, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat which are along the boundaries of
General Santos City, Davao del Sur and Davao del Norte.

It also connects to the provinces of Zamboanga, Jolo and Sulu with open access called the Philippine back door to Sabah, Malaysia and Singapore.

It was further learned that the JI terror cell and Muslim rebels were using a Volvo speed boat, a two to four engine fast craft, in going to and from Malaysia.

Triple alert

 Central Mindanao has been placed under triple alert status following reports of the presence of the armed group.

The military is also verifying reports that the MILF still has a connection with the group of Umbrakato and Usman and are planning to launch wide scale hostilities and atrocities.

Police Chief Superintendent Charles Calima, the Police Regional Office 12 director, said all threats are being closely monitored.

“But we are always on our toes to combat against these rebel groups whoever they are,” he said.

‘Bomber for hire’

On Tuesday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) presented a different theory and blamed the Cotabato City explosion on a so-called “bomber for hire” group.

PNP Public Information chief, Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said this is among the possible angles being pursued by their investigators following Monday’s explosion.

“There’s an emerging modus operandi in the area and that this could be the handiwork of a ‘bomber for hire’ is one of the possibilities being explored by our investigators in the area,” Sindac told reporters in Camp Crame.

But the police official quickly said that they are also not discounting the possibility that the powerful explosion in Cotabato City Monday afternoon was also a possible ‘terrorist attack’.

The explosion also occurred as the SUV carrying City Administrator Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi was passing by Sinsuat Avenue, at around 4:30 p.m. Monday, killing two of her police security escorts.

“This could be personal, this could be political . . . but we’re not discounting terrorist angle, investigation are still on-going,” Sindac said.

The PNP official added that the explosion in Cotabato City has no connection with the global terror threat alert issued by the US government over the weekend.

PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima has already directed all Mindanao-based police units to step-up their intelligence gathering and security measures in their respective areas.

“Step-up intelligence and target-hardening efforts in their respective areas, particularly on soft targets like commercial areas and such places of convergence and to fully employ the 3-tiered defense system,” Purisima said in his directive.

The PNP chief was also summoned to MalacaƱang for a security cluster meeting called by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd.

Army officer asks public to be aware, get involved

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 6): Army officer asks public to be aware, get involved

The military urged the public to be more vigilant in providing information after a bomb exploded in Sinsuat Avenue in Cotabato City which killed eight and injured 40 people last Monday afternoon.It was the second bomb explosion in less than two weeks after the Limketkai Rosario Arcade in Cagayan de Oro City on July 26, which killed eight and injured nearly 50 people.

Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, 10th Infantry Division commander, said that people should get involved in order to thwart terror attempts.

“In this entire effort of identifying, locating, deterring, denying, and disrupting the (terrorist) plans, it doesn’t only involve security forces but everyone,” Bernardo told the TIMES in a phone interview. “We have to utilize everyone to join the effort with the police,” He added.

Bernardo asked for support and coordination of the people, saying they want to have a “person-to-person” interaction among key players.

Aside from the additional help of citizens, Bernardo said their efforts have now shifted to expanding their intelligence networks in nearby areas, which include Kidapawan, Panabo, and Digos cities.

 He added that they are also closely coordinating with the 6th ID in Cotabato.

“We should have that kind of networking to sense any developments. We need to have some inter-connectivity as far effort is concerned, not just by focusing on themselves and their own areas,” He said.

Col. Casiano Monilla, Task Force Davao Commander, said they are intensifying checkpoint operations, as well as their intelligence monitoring of threat groups in Mindanao.

“We should not be alarmed by be more vigilant as terrorist do not discriminate on their victims. We do not monitor any report that Davao City is directly being targeted.

However, we should not lower our guard,” Monilla told the TIMES in a text message.

Earlier, Monilla said there is a need for a more thorough inspection at the checkpoints.

He added there were instances when vehicles were not properly checked due to traffic congestion especially during rush hours. “The tendency here is that the inspections are going to speed-up. We really need to check every vehicle that passes our checkpoints,” he added.

IEP: Latest UMMAH News Update (Aug 7)

From the Islamic Emirate of the Philippines (IEP) Facebook page (Aug 7): Latest UMMAH News Update

An enemy convoy from Raja Buayan going to Maghanoy was bombed as they pass Mamasapano area. One of their vehicles exploded with an IED (Improvised Explosive Device), the report confirms that there are 7 enemy personnel died on the spot but the number of wounded was not yet identified....
- "We will take back what is ours."
"It's down to the government – if they wage a war on us, Inshallah – then we are ready. Whether the government allows it or not – we will implement our Islamic system in our areas."- Ameril Umbrakato

We will be updating the UMMAH for more Fresh and Accurate news. Insha'ALLAH

Please make Du'a for our Honorable Mujahideen and don't forget to give everything that you can give in support to The Honorable Defenders of our DEEN.

Don't forget to take part in spreading the NEWS Of the UMMAH.

 Hit Like and Share, Let the Muslim know the reality of the UMMAH Today, because the Infedels are hiding the TRUTH!

MILF: FASTRAC to provide technical support for two remaining annexes and BBL

From the MILF Website (Aug 7): FASTRAC to provide technical support for two remaining annexes and BBL

The United Nations-World Bank-Moro Islamic Liberation Front partnership dubbed Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities (FASTRAC) has finally taken off to fast-track technical assistance to the MILF for the remaining two annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
This was made after three months of delay, Mindanews reported on August 4.

The partnership which will run for three years was launched right at the MILF Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on April 29 where MILF top brass headed by MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad , foreign dignitaries and representatives from international NGO’s attended.

FASTRAC’s Consultative Committee headed by Chairman Mohagher Iqbal approved via a teleconference on July 29 the interim work plan until December this year which includes a number of initiatives to support the ongoing negotiations between the GPH and the MILF of the remaining annexes to the FAB, as well as forward looking support to the transition process.

A delegation from the World Bank (WB), United Nations (UN), the World Food Program (WFP) and the International Contact Group (ICG) took the 4 a.m. flight from Manila to Cotabato City to attend the two-hour meeting on July 29 but their plane was unable to land due to bad weather. They decided to return to Manila on board the same plane. The plane was diverted to Davao City where most of the passengers disembarked to take the five-hour land trip to Cotabato City.

FASTRAC,  now joined by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), is  tasked to  provide “on-demand advisory services and access to the most relevant national and international expertise to contribute and help move forward with the peace process especially in the drafting of the Basic Law that will reflect the Bangsamoro people’s aspirations for genuine autonomy while establishing the basis for efficient and accountable government,” UN Resident Director Luiza Carvalho said during the launch.

On July 31, MindaNews reported that the Australian government has approved an additional grant of Aus$1.8 million as support to the continuing peace process in Mindanao.

According to the report, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who announced the fresh financial grant in an emailed statement on Wednesday July 31st, said such move is part of his government’s commitment to help achieve lasting peace in the island. “Expanding our support for peace in Mindanao is a concrete statement of Australia’s concern for the poor of that long-suffering region, and our interest in the achievement of long-lasting peace,” Carr said. The grant will be in the form of training, policy advice and other technical help.

A Consultative Committee composed of representatives from the GPH and MILF peace panels, donor partners, and the ICG will “provide strategic guidance to the facility, agree through consensus on quarterly work plans, and review progress and results of the support provided.”

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, concurrent Bangsamoro Transition chair, told the Consultative Committee via Skype that he hopes the signing of the Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing “will push faster the pace of our work.”

“To recall and give emphasis, this Facility has been conceptualized to address the asymmetry in terms of capacity between the MILF and the GPH. While the GPH enjoys enormous resource both fiscal and human as well as a wealth of experience, the MILF is just starting in this venture. This Facility therefore looks at deploying technical expertise to the MILF and its agencies so that the MILF can smoothly transition from rebels to governance and cope up with all the accompanying skills and knowledge acquisition that will be required in this challenging process,” he said.

He also noted how they “must reckon with the herculean task of building a bureaucracy for the Bangsamoro and the accompanying task of allowing a massive public participation process for the Bangsamoro people so that we can as one nation own this process,” he said.
The parties will continue its negotiation of the two remaining annexes to the FAB on Power Sharing and Normalization by September or any day after Ramadan.

According to the FASTRAC Interim Work Plan, the MILF is seeking support from FASTRAC on four points: support to the political negotiations process, through technical notes on the still unresolved  issues; support to the transition to the Bangsamoro through mapping of priority areas for intervention and current partner support; conceiving a ministerial form of government as both sides had earlier agreed that this would be the form of government of the Bangsamoro; and  support to the Transition Commission in preparing the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

On August 1, three days after the Consultative Committee meeting via Skype, senior members of the MILF led by Iqbal visited the UN office in Makati City for another meeting with Matt Stephens and Nick Leffer of the World Bank joining, to discuss the next steps. The visit of Iqbal and his group was also published on this web.

Only command group of 6th RPSB to transfer

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 7): Only command group of 6th RPSB to transfer

Only the command group of the 6th Regional Public Safety Battalion is up for transfer to Iloilo, not its entire force in Negros Occidental, Senior Supt. Celestino Guara said yesterday.

Guara, who is chief of the Police Regional Office 6 Personnel and Human Resource Development Division, said that if the transfer of 6th RPSB headquarters to Janiuay in Iloilo, pushes through, Camp Aniceto Lacson in Victorias City will be made a forward command post of the police unit.

The 6th RPSB is the rapid deployment force of the Western Visayas police. There are now three companies of 6th RPSB stationed in Victorias City, Murcia and Sagay City,Negros Occidental, while another company is deployed in Iloilo.

Except for the 6th RPSB, the command groups of Police Regional Office 6, and its various support units, are all at Camp Martin Delgado in Iloilo City.

Guara said a parcel of land in Janiuay town has been offered to be the new site of the 6th RPSB headquarters. If not being occupied within a three-year period, however, it will be returned to its owner, he added.

He, however, said there is no budget yet for the transfer and construction of a new 6th RPSB headquarters in Iloilo.

In counter-insurgency operations, the 6th RPSB and 6th Special Action Force Battalion have been placed under the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade in Negros Occidental.

Police eye MILF breakaway group in North Cotabato bombing

From GMA News (Aug 7): Police eye MILF breakaway group in North Cotabato bombing

Police are not discounting the possibility that a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front may have been behind a predawn explosion in front of a radio station in Midsayap in North Cotabato before dawn Wednesday.

Region 12 police head Chief Superintendent Charles Calima Jr. said the group led by Ameril Umbra Kato had been linked to several atrocities in the past, including attacks on paramilitary detachments and military outposts.

"(Kung) tingnan natin ang history ng nangyari sa Maguindanao at North Cotabato, continuing ang atrocities na ginagawa ng lawless elements ni Umbra Kato," Calima said in an interview on dzBB radio when asked what group could be behind the explosion.

Kato had been leading attacks in Mindanao since 2008 when the Supreme Court thumbed down a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the MILF and the government.

He has since formed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

"Tingin namin baka dito nanggagaling sa grupo nila (We think one possibility is that his group may be behind the blast)," Calima said.

Earlier Wednesday, an explosion rocked an area in front of a building housing a local radio station.

The blast was the third since an improvised explosive device went off in Cagayan de Oro and killed at least eight last July 26, and an explosion in Cotabato City that killed at least nine last Monday.

But Calima also claimed Wednesday's explosion may have been an offshoot of intensified police operations in public places.

He said those behind Wednesday's explosion may have left their device in front of the building and detonated it at a relatively harmless hour so they would not be caught with the explosive at police checkpoints.

"Meron daw kasing report na may balak magpasabog sa area doon pero dahil sa paghigpit ng pulis hindi na-implement ito. (Baka) iniwan na lang, inabandona na lang ang bomba," he said.

With the information, Calima said police concentrated their presence on the local market, using K-9 units to sniff out bombs.

"Siguro inabandona at pinasabog para di mahuli sa checkpoint," he added.

"From our point of view magandang senyales ito, nagtutulungan ang mamamayan at kapulisan (From our point of view, this is a good sign in the sense that police and the community are helping each other)," he said.

BRP Ramon Alcaraz to undergo 2-month overhaul, upgrade

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 7): BRP Ramon Alcaraz to undergo 2-month overhaul, upgrade

Following its arrival at Alava Pier, Subic Bay Tuesday morning, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), the Navy's second Hamilton-class cutter, will now undergo a two-month checkup and repair before it is commissioned and given its first assignment.

The ship will be brought to Batangas where it will be dry-docked and examined.

During her dry dock period, ship-fitters are to remove and replace broken piping systems, gaskets, bearings, and hydraulics, the report said. BRP Ramon Alcaraz will also be painted haze gray.

By mid-October, the Filipino frigate will be ready for commissioning and assigning, likely to an area where it can best protect the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

The ship will be also fitted with additional weapons.

"The additional armaments which will be fitted to the BRP Ramon Alcaraz is part of our enhancement program," the PNA quoted Navy flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano said earlier.

PNA sources said the additional weapons include two Mark 38 Model 2 25mm "Bushmasters" autocannons, which would be mounted on the ship's port and starboard.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz's present armament includes a quick-firing 76mm Oto Melara main gun, with a range of 20 nautical miles.

IED blast in North Cotabato actually foiled - PNP

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 7): IED blast in North Cotabato actually foiled - PNP

The Philippine National Police (PNP) in North Cotabato announced that it has actually foiled the improvised explosive device (IED) attack in a pawnshop in Midsayap town, North Cotabato Wednesday morning.

Chief Supt. Charles Calima, Central Mindanao Regional Police Office commander, said that his men actually stopped a potentially deadly disaster since the IED attack was aimed at causing civilian casualties.

“We have actually intensified our security measures here and since we deployed additional (men) we believed that the suspects just hurriedly left it to where it eventually exploded,” he added.

The blast occurred at around 3:00 a.m. Wednesday on Sto. Nino Street in Poblacion 1. There was no reported casualties.

The explosion occurred in front of a business establishment which also houses a radio station but investigators said there were no indications that it was the target.

Calima also said that the explosion seemed to be not connected with the explosion in Cotabato City on Monday that left eight people dead so far.

Intel community working overtime to thwart possible terror attacks

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 7): Intel community working overtime to thwart possible terror attacks
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala on Wednesday assured the public that the country's intelligence community is working overtime to thwart possible bombing attacks against civilians and establishments.

He made this statement of several bombing attacks in civilian and military targets in the Mindanao this week, killing and wounding scores of people.

"The entire intelligence community, including the AFP and the Philippine National Police, is exerting all efforts to thwart possible attacks against civilians and establishments," he stressed.

"Although our security forces are focused on its intelligence and security operations, we call on every citizen to be alert and vigilant," Zagala pointed out.

He also added that preventing terror attacks is a shared responsibility and "we encouraged the civilian community to be perceptive of their surroundings and maintain immediate and constant communication with government authorities."

"Our troops will remain vigilant and will continue to exert pressure on armed threats to prevent them from planning and executing terroristic activities," Zagala concluded.

Mark 38 'Bushmaster' auto-cannons, BRP Ramon Alcaraz's secondary armament

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 7): Mark 38 'Bushmaster' auto-cannons, BRP Ramon Alcaraz's secondary armament

The Mark 38 Model 2 25mm "Bushmaster" auto-cannons, which will be installed on the BRP Ramon Alcaraz during her two-month dry-dock period, is the ship's secondary armament or backup weaponry other than its 76mm Oto Melara main gun.

Drydock period for the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will start August until early October.

These guns will be fitted amidship (middle part) of the frigate.

It will be mounted on the port (left) and starboard (right) side.

These guns are also considered BRP Ramon Alcaraz's "close-in weapon systems" and will be fired to engage aerial and surface threats that cannot be engaged by the ship's 76 Oto Melara auto-cannon.

Military sources said the weapon was commissioned by the US Navy following the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000.

It was designed to counter high-speed maneuvering surface targets and will be installed in almost all US surface ships by 2015.

The remotely controlled chain gun system can fire as many as 180 25m rounds per minute at targets as far as two kilometers.

The new weapons systems are upgraded versions of the Mark 38 M242 "Bushmasters" that were removed from the vessels prior to its turnover to the Philippines.

CIDG files charges vs bombing suspects in CDO

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 7): CIDG files charges vs bombing suspects in CDO

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) on Tuesday has formally charged the suspects in the Cagayan de Oro bombing 13 days ago in Limketkai Complex, the City Prosecutor’s Office said on Wednesday.

City Prosecutor Fidel Macauyag said that the CIDG has identified a certain “Usman Hapids” and several other “John Does” in the criminal case with multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder in connection with the bomb explosion at the Rosario Arcade in Limketkai last July 26.

The improvised explosive device (IED) reportedly armed with an 81 millimeter mortar exploded outside the “Kyla’s Bistro” at Rosario Arcade killing six people and wounding 46 others as participants in the mid-year convention of doctors and medical professionals were partying.

Two other critically wounded victims later died in local hospitals here bringing the death toll to eight in one of the worst bombing incidents in the port capital of Cagayan de Oro in recent years.

The City Prosecutor’s office said that about six witnesses executed an affidavit that they have positively identified “Usman Hapids” as the alleged person in the computer generated profile of the suspect who allegedly placed the backpack filled with explosive outside Kyla’s Bistro.

City Councilor Ramon Tabor, chair of the city’s committee on police, security, and public safety, said that the combined elements of the military and police in coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the CIDG pooled resources together into an investigative task force.

He said that Task Force Rosario Arcade became the leading investigative body that formed a dragnet to identify, arrest, and charge the suspects in court.

According to Tabor, some of the witnesses even collapsed when the law enforcers presented the suspect to them for possible identification.

He said that most of the witnesses were survivors of the tragic incident. “We cannot discount the possibility that some witnesses continue to bear the traumatic experience,” Tabor added.

Tabor said that the military and police had identified the suspects few days after the incident since the file photo of the suspect and the computer generated image identically matched.

Prosecutor Macauyag said cases filed were not bailable and that the prosecution would conduct a preliminary investigation of the case as soon as possible.

Car in Cotabato bombing registered to Metro Manila owner; 6 invited for questioning

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 7): Car in Cotabato bombing registered to Metro Manila owner; 6 invited for questioning
The car used in the bombing that killed eight persons and wounded at least 30 others here on Monday was traced to be registered in San Juan City in Metro Manila.

Sr. Supt. Rolen Balquin, police director for Cotabato City, said the car bomb was set off using a remote controlled blasting mechanism.

Police and officials of the Land Transportation Office said the car (WFG-183) was registered in the name of a certain "Carolina Denamera" of San Juan City.

Balquin said the license plate could have been stolen or taken from another vehicle and attached to the car bomb.

“We are still conferring with LTO (Land Transportation Organization) the chassis numbers and engine numbers to determine ownership of the car,” Balquin said.

Meanwhile, Balquin clarified that no arrests had been made so far.

Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. on Tuesday said that three suspects had been apprehended. However, Balquin stressed at least six persons were invited for questioning as they were captured on CCTV roaming around the vehicle.

The police director also quoted military and police bomb experts that car was laden with ammonium nitrate and petroleum.

Balquin said the scene of the crime operatives have initially reported that the car bomb rigged in a parked multi-cab vehicle along Sinsuat Avenue was loaded with ammonium nitrate and fuel thus conflagration occurred after the blast. The fire damaged at least seven houses and carinderia.

Police have in custody CCTV footages of the driver and the men that parked the car bomb in front of Villa Funeral homes.

The mayor said the artist's sketches of the suspects would be made public soon.

Guiani said the car bomb which was obviously intended for him or his sister, city administrator Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi was carried out by "big fish" who are into drug trade or his political rivals.

He refused to name names but said it would be made public once appropriate charges were filed in court.

He said a bounty of undetermined amount remain would be offered to anyone who could provide information that wold lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.

Soldiers hurt in Maguindanao IED blast

From Rappler (Aug 7): Soldiers hurt in Maguindanao IED blast

A roadside bomb attack in Maguindanao targeted a military convoy on Wednesday morning, August 7.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), claimed responsibility for the incident.

The military said 7 soldiers were wounded, while the BIFF said 5 were killed and 2 were wounded.

Col Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the military's 6th Infantry Division, said the improvised explosive device was detonated along Crossing Nabundas, Shariff Saydona Mustapha town at around 9:35 in the morning.

Maj Jocelyn Mangadlaw, spokesperson of 1st Mechanized brigade, said the troops were moving from Rajah Buayan (where the soldiers were stationed) going to their headquarters in Shariff Aguak when the bomb went off at the side of the road.

A KM250 military truck was hit resulting to the injury of the soldiers. A V150 armored personnel carrier which was part of the convoy was not damaged in the attack.

BIFF spokesperson Abu Misry Mama, meanwhile, said they did not use a roadside bomb, but M-79 grenade launchers and volume gunfires.

The wounded soldiers were:
  • SSG Vicente Bendoy
  • Sgt Alex Pepugal
  • Cpl Jeoill Ancheta
  • PFC Julious Villanueva
  • PFC Philip John Soriano
  • PFC Efren Garite
  • Pvt Aurelio Cantomayor.
Hermoso said the soldiers were immediately brought to the nearest hospital for proper medical attention.

Local authorities immediately secured the blast site and are now conducting post-blast investigation to identify the materials of the bomb.

The BIFF is also being linked to the July 26 bombing in Cagayan de Oro City.

PNP had prior info on Mindanao blasts - Purisima

From Rappler (Aug 7): PNP had prior info on Mindanao blasts - Purisima

POSSIBLE ATTACK. PNP chief Alan Purisima tells senators police got reports about possible attacks on major cities in Mindanao but the information was "very general." Photo by Senate PRIB/Albert Calvelo

POSSIBLE ATTACK. PNP chief Alan Purisima tells senators police got reports about possible attacks on major cities in Mindanao but the information was "very general." Photo by Senate PRIB/Albert Calvelo

Even before the bombings in Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato and North Cotabato, police already got intelligence reports about attacks in Mindanao.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima told a Senate inquiry on Wednesday, August 7, that the PNP got wind of possible bombings.

“There were reports circulating – that we’re trying to validate – that there will be bombings of major cities in Mindanao,” Purisima said in a Senate probe into the July 26 Cagayan de Oro blast.

Later pressed by reporters about details, Purisima said the reports contained “very general information” and “it was just a text [message] report” that “comes on a daily basis.”

Asked why the police was unable to prevent the Cagayan de Oro bombing, Purisima responded, “Can you prevent that from happening?”

The PNP chief said his group conducted “target-hardening measures” like increasing police presence, and conducting checkpoints and raids.

On the identity of the bombers, Purisima repeated a line he and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas often said during the hearing: that it will be best for the police and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to brief senators in an executive session.

“We are not confirming nor denying [anything]. We are looking at all angles,” Purisima said.

The Senate public order committee chaired by Sen Grace Poe is looking into the July 26 bombing in Cagayan de Oro City that left 8 dead and over 40 injured.

Police have yet to identify the perpetrators but a report of a risk control organization obtained by Rappler showed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters is the likely suspect.

In just 10 days, another bombing hit Cotabato, killing 8 people. Just hours before the hearing, another blast rocked Midsayap, North Cotabato.

READ: Aquino vows arrest as Cotabato toll rises

Interrelated bombings?

In the hearing, Purisima and Roxas also could not say whether or not the 3 bombings in Mindanao are related to each other, and to the global terror threat that caused the closure of US embassies and consulates over the weekend.

“If we say they are interrelated while we lack data, we are spreading fear. If we say they are not interrelated and then the time may come we will be proven wrong. It’s hard to say if you do not have complete information,” Roxas said.

“The US and the UK released a warning but it will be irresponsible for us to say the explosions here are connected to that when the connection is not clear,” he added.

Roxas stressed that the information authorities have is still incomplete and raw.

Police said they are looking at various angles in the Cagayan de Oro blast like a personal grudge against slain Provincial Board Member Roldan Lagbas, terrorism, and the local government’s clearing of vendors. They did not name groups possibly behind the attack.

Yet senators pressed Roxas and the police about how they could apprehend the bombers.

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile said that with the list and profile of crime groups and the Anti-Terrorism Law at the police's disposal, officials should have had an idea who was behind the Cagayan de Oro bombing.

“By now, you should have information on all this. That’s the purpose of intelligence funds given by Congress. I’m sure it’s easy for you to detect possible targets of your investigation.”

Roxas said, “With respect to who has the capacity, wherewithal to assemble elements to make this happen, the access to technology, detonation and mortal shells, there is the information package available. My judgment is it will not be beneficial to divulge this as it will be aiding enemies of the state.”

Sen Ralph Recto suggested that the officials just brief the Senate in a future executive session.

Roxas agreed to this but admitted that the information for now was “hilaw na hilaw” (very raw).

On Tuesday evening, August 6, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of Region 10 filed multiple murder charges against 3 suspects in the CDO blast.
Police have declined to reveal the suspects' identities for now until Purisima makes an official announcement.
‘Explosives market in Jolo’

In the hearing, Poe asked the resource speakers about an information she got from an unnamed victims that bomb-making has become a “cottage industry” in parts of Mindanao, and explosives are easily obtained.

Roxas replied, “Without denying or confirming but in so many ways affirming what the chairman said, clearly regulated substances or devices [like grenades] are not so regulated and controlled.”

Purisima said the police is taking measures to resolve this.

“What the PNP is doing is confiscating explosives in Jolo, in a market in Jolo where the explosives are being sold in tingi (in retail).”

Poe said the information was “scary” and the police should adopt a zero tolerance policy.

Monitoring mining firms, inventory

Roxas gave recommendations to address the problem. He asked the senators to give his department and the police budget for more units monitoring the explosives that go in and out of mining firms.

“Para ang labas-pasok ng dinamita ay nabibilang, malaking tulong iyon.” (So we can monitor the entry and exit of dynamites and have an accounting of the explosives, that will be a big help.)

He added, “If you will say you won’t pass our budget until we account all of the mortars, all the M203, I’m just saying that because you might be thinking about it. We will see the source of the explosives and have an inventory.”

Recto quipped, “Good thing you said that. Yes, we are thinking about it.”

Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) suggested stiffer penalties for crime, prompting the committee to consider reviewing Republic Act 9516, which imposed tougher penalties on the manufacture, sale and possession of explosives.

The senators also asked for an inventory of laws related to the bombing, with the goal of checking and updating them and passing those that need to be enacted.

For Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno, only the resolution of the case will satisfy the victims and their families.

“The incident was a serious blow to Cagayan de Oro’s quest for leadership. The bombing had tremendous consequence to the city, to Northern Mindanao.”

Eyeing China, Philippines gains US ship in military upgrade

From InterAksyon (Aug 7): Eyeing China, Philippines gains US ship in military upgrade

The Philippines' newly acquired frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz sails into Subic Bay, a former US naval base, after a two-month voyage from South Carolina in this picture provided by the Malacanang Presidential Palace August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Malacanang Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters

The Philippines took possession of a former US Coast Guard ship on Tuesday, part of its biggest military upgrade in decades, as a stronger economy allows it to raise spending to counter China's growing assertiveness in disputed waters.

The military build-up, which is heavily focused on maritime capability, is likely to add to tension over the South China Sea that has threatened to draw in the United States as it refocuses its military attention on Asia.

President Benigno Aquino III and senior ministers watched as the frigate, BRP Ramon Alcaraz, sailed into the Philippines' Subic Bay, a former US naval base, after a two-month voyage from South Carolina, where its 88 Philippine crew trained for a year.

The 46-year-old Hamilton-class cutter, the second of its type the Philippines has received from its US ally, will be used to patrol areas of the South China Sea near the Philippine coast that have become a major source of tension with Beijing.

"It's very clear - real growth is possible only if there's genuine stability and peace in our nation," Aquino said in a speech, adding the country needed to "erase the image" of a poorly equipped military.

Aquino is determined to modernize the navy and air force after three past administrations failed to implement a 330- billion-peso ($7.6-billion) spending plan passed in 1995, after the Chinese occupation of the half-submerged Mischief Reef.

But a weak economy and two long-running insurgencies by Maoist and Muslim rebels drained the country's funds and left it with one of Southeast Asia's weakest militaries.

When Aquino took over in 2010, just 10 percent of the 1995 plan's budget had been used.

He won congressional approval to extend the plan 15 years and spend $1.7 billion to upgrade the military over the next five years, helped by robust economic growth that hit 7.8 percent in the first quarter this year, the fastest in Asia.

China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim the entire South China Sea while Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines have partial claims on areas believed to have rich deposits of oil and natural gas.

Last year, China added to Manila's alarm by occupying the Scarborough Shoal just 124 nautical miles off the Philippine coast, following a tense stand-off with Philippine vessels.

The Philippines received the latest cutter for free under Washington's foreign military financing program, but spent about $15 million to upgrade its weapons and radar systems.

General Emmanuel Bautista, head of the 130,000-member armed forces, said the ship would make "a big contribution" to efforts to secure Philippine territorial waters against intrusions.

"We want to improve our maritime domain awareness so that we know what is going on around us and also be able to respond to some contingencies," Bautista told Reuters in an interview.

"BRP Ramon Alcaraz is going to fill the gap between now and the delivery of new frigates," Bautista said, adding that the armed forces also plan to buy radars, surveillance planes, fighters, and helicopters under the $1.7-billion plan.

Manila has opened talks to acquire a dozen new fighter jets and two frigates from South Korea. It has also ordered 10 coast guard ships from Japan and three more vessels from France.

The military says the government needs to double its defense spending from 1.2 percent of GDP now, in order to properly spot, monitor and prevent intrusions over its vast maritime borders.

Until then, Bautista said, it was "practical" and "pragmatic" to allow a US military presence in the Philippines.

"It is a deterrence against external threats," he said. "That's the order of the day now. Nobody stands alone."

The Philippines said last week that Washington had stepped up its military assistance package next fiscal year to about $50 million from $30 million, which would be the highest level since US troops returned to the Philippines in 2000.

The Philippine military has also revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay that American forces could use, senior navy officials told Reuters in June.

($1=43.6100 Philippine pesos)

Deputized soldiers intercept illegally cut logs

From InterAksyon (Aug 7): Deputized soldiers intercept illegally cut logs

The Army’s 10th Infantry Division intercepted vehicles carrying 70 pieces of illegally-cut Lawaan round logs early dawn Tuesday, August 6, at Sitio Tawid, Barangay Taytayan, Cateel, Davao Oriental, according to the Eastern Mindanao Command of the AFP.

The troops of the 67th Infantry Battalion were on their regular security patrol when they chanced upon two vehicles, an Isuzu prime move truck and CUV, carrying the logs approximately 46.36 cubic meters.

The trucks with the logs, along with the apprehended individuals, were turned-over to the CENRO of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)at Barangay Lambajon in Baganga, Davao Oriental for further investigation.

During the conference of the Anti-Illegal Logging Regional Task Force held at the DENR XI Regional Office in Lanang Davao City early Wednesday, the Regional Executive Director, Joselin Marcus Fragada reported that joint operations by the DENR, AFP and PNP from January to July 2013 resulted in a total of 60 apprehensions and seizure of forest products. “The seized products have an estimated market value of 4,063,877.05,” Fragada reported.

Of these apprehensions, eight cases had already been filed in court as of June 2013, “We will continue conduct trainings and seminars for the Deputization of our Law Enforces and other Peoples Organizations (PO). In fact recently, we deputized 146 AFP, 31 PNP and 14 POs.”

Meanwhile, Lt. General Ricardo Rainier G Cruz, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command said, “We support the national government in its environmental protection program as stipulated in Executive Order 23---the moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forest and creating the anti-illegal logging task force issued by President Benigno S. Aquino III on February 1, 2011.”

The Anti-Illegal Logging Regional Task Force in Region XI is composed of offices and units from DENR Provincial ENROs, 10th Infantry Division, PNP Regional Office XI and People's Organization.

DENR-XI together with the Philippine Army is now mapping out plans to operate on the 16 identified hotspots for illegal logging in Region XI.

NBI recommends homicide raps vs Coast Guard men in Taiwanese fisher's killing

From InterAksyon (Aug 7): NBI recommends homicide raps vs Coast Guard men in Taiwanese fisher's killing

The National Bureau of Investigation Wednesday recommended the filing of homicide charges against eight members of the Philippine Coast Guard who shot dead a Taiwanese fisherman off Balintang Channel last May, saying the PCG could not justify it as an act of self-defense.

The revelation came two days after the daughter of the slain fisherman said they got word Manila will send a special envoy to officially apologize for his shooting by the PCG, which had insisted that the man's boat tried to ram theirs, prompting them to open fire.

The shooting had unleashed protests in Taiwan and prompted the government there to impose a hiring freeze on new Philippine workers despite the high demand for their skills, especially in the island's robust manufacturing sector.

At a press conference Wednesday, however, NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas said the Coast Guard men failed to justify the need to use self-defense; and to prove there was an attempt by the Taiwanese fishermen to ram their boat.

Rojas noted that seven PCG personnel admitted firing direct shots at the fishing boat, a "collective act" that "gives rise to conspiracy."

The homicide case will be filed at the Department of Justice's National Prosecution Service. A separate charge of obstruction of justice will also be filed against four other Coast Guard men who allegedly tampered with the evidence during the investigation, which saw two teams from Manila and Taipei conducting parallel examinations and interviews in the two cities.

7 troops hurt as bombs go off in North Cotabato, Maguindanao

From InterAksyon (Aug 7): 7 troops hurt as bombs go off in North Cotabato, Maguindanao

Seven Army soldiers were wounded when a bomb exploded as a military convoy was passing by in Shariff Saydona Mustapha Maguindanao town, Maguindanao province, Wednesday morning, the military said.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a faction that broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, claimed responsibility for the incident but its spokesman, Abu Misry Mama, described it as an ambush with grenade launchers and rifles.

Mama also claimed they had killed five soldiers and wounded two others.

However, 6th Infantry Division information chief Colonel Dickson Hermoso said the casualties were only slightly injured.

The Maguindanao incident followed a bomb explosion early Wednesday morning in Midsayap town, North Cotabato.

Major Jocelyn Mangadlao, spokesperson of the 1st Mechanized Brigade, said the wounded soldiers were in a truck on their way from Rajah Buayan, where they were stationed, to their headquarters in Shariff Aguak when the bomb exploded at the side of the road around 9:35 a.m.

The wounded soldiers, from the 12th Mechanized Company, were riding a truck when the bomb went off in Barangay Nabundas around 9:30 a.m.

The casualties were rushed to the Maguindanao provincial hospital.

The first explosion shook Midsayap, North Cotabato around 3:30 a.m. but caused no casualties.

The day before, authorities had warned residents to take precautions against in imminent terrorist attack, a local radio station owner said.

At around 9 a.m., the second bomb went off near an Army detachment in Shariff Saidona Mustapha town in Maguindanao province.

The 3:30 a.m. explosion in Midsayap, on the ground floor of the Tenorio Building in Poblacion One, damaged a pawnshop and the canopy and glass windows of a salon, said Roger Sacdalan, owner of Wow FM.

The incident in Maguindanao happened as security officials met in Cotabato City on the Monday car bombing that killed eight persons and wounded at least 30 others.

7 soldiers wounded in new Philippine bombings

From the Mindanao Examiner blog (Aug 7): 7 soldiers wounded in new Philippine bombings

Seven soldiers were wounded Wednesday in a new wave of bombings in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said a roadside bomb was detonated as a military truck passed on the village of Nabundas in Maguindanao’s Shariff Saydona Mustapha town.

“The soldiers were on a law enforcement operation when the attack occurred,” Col. Dickson Hermoso, a spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division, told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

He said the wounded troops belong to the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion. “The soldiers were slightly wounded and are back to their unit to join the continuing law enforcement operation against the auxiliary threat group,” he said.

Hermoso did not identify the threat group, but previous military statements refer this to Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, blamed for the spate of attacks against military targets in central Mindanao.

A bomb also exploded earlier in North Cotabato’s Midsayap town, but authorities said no casualties had been reported in the attack.  The improvised bomb exploded outside a pawnshop in downtown area and the powerful blast damaged several offices and establishments.

The twin attacks came days after a deadly bombing in Cotabato City that killed 9 people. Authorities are still investigating who were behind the attack which occurred during the holy of month of Ramadan.

Most of the victims in the August 5 bombing in Cotabato City are Muslims, according to the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center.

It also released a detailed map showing where the bombing occurred - Sinsuat Avenue – a busy road that leads to Cotabato Regional Medical Center, Notre Dame Hospital, Al-Nor Commercial Complex, and the headquarters of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“This is the city's main artery and easily one of the most crowded areas in Cotabato City, especially during rush hour,” it said. “As of mid-day, fatalities now total 9, all of whom appear to be Bangsamoros. The list of injured is mixed ethnicities, but mostly Bangsamoros.”

The bomb was planted in a car parked along the avenue and was detonated remotely, although forensic experts have not determined the type of improvised explosive used in the attack.

No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the bombing. But Abu Misri, a spokesman for the the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, who were earlier suspected of carrying out the attack, has strongly denied any hand in the bombing.

Last month, a bomb also exploded in downtown Cagayan de Oro City killing 8 people and wounding several dozens more.


Suara Bangsamoro, a cause-oriented group based in Mindanao, has joined various groups in condemning the bombing and called on the government to thoroughly investigate the attack. It fears that Moros in Mindanao would again be blamed for the bombing.

“Suara Bangsamoro is saddened that the killing of innocent civilians happened at the time that the Moro people are observing fast in the month of Ramadan. We are bothered by the bombing incidents, in light of the warning issued by the US State Department on August 2 about possible terrorist threats from Al-Qaeda network against US interests in Middle East and North Africa.”

“Much disturbing is the video of Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri that circulated in the media hours after the US State Department advisory, accusing the US government as behind the overthrowing of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt. We fear that as a consequence of the advisory, state authorities will want to direct their investigations in Moro communities in Mindanao which they suspect of hiding Al-Qaeda terrorist cells,” Amirah Ali Lidasan, the group’s spokesperson said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

She said in the past, this kind of operation has led to the rounding up and detention of innocent Moro civilians as well as heightened military operations in Moro communities.

“We are therefore calling for a thorough investigation of the incident and get the real culprits and not use this incident to prove the veracity of the US government’s latest advisory on terrorism.  We hope that this will not provoke another round of crackdown and eventual military operations in Moro communities here in Mindanao and Manila,” she said.

The Liga ng Makabagong Kabataan also condemned the series of bombings and said justice must be served to the victims of the violence.

“We strongly denounce any attack to civilian population of whatever purposes it may. We believe that this is an orchestrated and there are groups of people behind these. We should not allow these trouble-makers to win in their agenda to spread fear, panic and hatred among us,” it said.

“We call on authorities to maximize all efforts available without jeopardizing due process to bring before the law those culprits and behind of these bombings. We call the attention of the authorities while in pursuit for justice not to curtail human rights and due process. Thus, we reiterate that militarist and militarization would never be an effective response to this. We also call on the peace loving communities to cooperate in bringing the suspects before justice and importantly safeguard the victories of the peace processes in the region while continue to demand for an inclusive process.”

The  Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Mindanao said the Cotabato bombings is an act of cowardice by unprincipled individuals or group which only wanted to advance its vested interests.

“We express here our sympathy and solidarity to friends, relatives and families of the victims and to the whole mourning population. Again and again, the dominant system wanted to spread fear and panic as if something is really is going to happen,” it said. “It was also an attack to the Muslim population that are in their 28th day of Ramadhan this year 2013. This was an attack to all peoples in Mindanao.”

It said the incidents should unite the peoples of Mindanao to be more vigilant and critical and that the investigation (into the bombings) should always be without human rights violations. It said militarization can never be an answer. “These tragic events should then unite the tri-people in Mindanao and collectively condemn all acts of terror by all means. Hurting civilian population can never be justified by any cause.