Sunday, August 11, 2013

2 commies abandon unit, surrender to military in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner Blog site (Aug 11): 2 commies abandon unit, surrender to military in Southern Philippines

Two communist rebels have abandoned their unit and surrendered to the military in the southern Philippines, officials said Sunday.

Officials said the duo - Bryan Corminal and Jonathan Arguelles – surrendered to the Army’s 42nd Reconnaissance Company under the 4th Infantry Division in the village of Sico-sico in Surigao del Norte’s Gugaquit town.

They also led troops near a riverbank where they hid their weapons – 2 M16 and 2 Ak47 automatic rifles – which they took from the New People’s Army.

Corminal and Arguelles said that they could no longer bear the hardship running away from government forces and wanted to live peacefully with their respective families.

“The firearms of Corminal and Arguelles will help them start anew through the AFP Guns for Peace Program. We will ensure that what is due for them will be provided including the livelihood package from the Office of Presidential Adviser on Peace Process,” Lieutenant General Ricardo Rainier Cruz, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

“We are continually inviting all NPA members to lay down their arms. It is obvious now how they have suffered and experience hardship from their leaders and the rotten communist ideology. We are encouraging everyone to facilitate and assist the surrender of our brothers who are still in the mountains because it is only through "bayanihan" that we can achieve lasting peace," Cruz added.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which is fighting for decades for the establishment of a separate state in the country.

Military transports relief aid in flood-hit Zamboanga villages

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 11): Military transports relief aid in flood-hit Zamboanga villages

Philippine soldiers aided local government in Zamboanga del Norte in delivering relief goods to villagers trapped by flash floods in the town of Gutalac, officials said Sunday.

Officials said the military dispatched two helicopters to deliver the aid in the areas worst hit by floods.

The 10th Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Leonel Nicolas orchestrated the inter-agency collaboration to ensure the immediate delivery of relief goods from the provincial and municipal governments and Department of Social Welfare and Development to affected families.

He said Brig. Gen. Felicito Virgilio Trinidad, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, facilitated the immediate deployment of two helicopters from Tactical Operations Group 9 under the 3rd Air Division in Zamboanga City.

The helicopters delivered over 600 packs of relief goods and 41 bottles of four-liter mineral water were distributed in the villages of Canupong and Map. Each pack contained 12.5 kilos rice, 13 cans of sardines and one pack of noodles, according to Nicolas.

Nicolas said the aerial operations will be complemented by simultaneous ground relief operations to fast track the delivery of food supplies to the villagers, particularly in Tipan, Sibalic and Panganuran.

He said it will take several days before roads in the villagers are cleared by debris and rocks due to the continued rains.

Philippine troops and civilians prepare relief aid to villagers trapped by floods in Zamboanga del Norte's Gutalac town.

RFJ: Zulkifli bin Hir (Marwan)

From the U.S. Department of State Rewards for Justice Website: Zulkifli bin Hir (Marwan)


Information leading to the location of Zulkifli bin Hir

Up to $5 Million Reward

Date of Birth : 1966
Place of Birth : Muar, Johor
Sex : Male
Citizenship : Malaysian
Aliases : Zulkifli, Zulkifli Hir, Zulkifli Abdul Hir, Musa Abdul Hir, Musa, Marwan
Zulkifli bin Hir is a Malaysian citizen born in 1966 in Muar, Johor. An engineer trained in the United States, he is believed to be the head of the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM) terrorist organization and a member of Jemaah Islamiyah's central command. Since August 2003, he has been present in the Philippines, where he is believed to have conducted bomb-making training for the Abu Sayyaf Group. hir&language=english

China: US-RP rotational talks to ‘challenge peace’

From the Daily Tribune (Aug 11): China: US-RP rotational talks to ‘challenge peace’

China sharply criticized the government of President Aquino after Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the other day talks with Washington would start soon on the proposed US military’s “increased rotational presence” while at the same time writing the two chambers of Congress seeking permission to start negotiations.

China’s official mouthpiece China Daily said the “move could challenge favorable atmosphere for peace in Asia-Pacific.”

House leaders, meanwhile, said that they need to fully review the letter from the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and indicated that the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) may need updating.

The joint letter signed by Gazmin and Del Rosario said more American troops in the country can shield us against possible aggression, particularly in Philippine territory at the West Philippine Sea.

The two Cabinet secretaries stressed that the presence of US troops will help the country attain a “minimum credible defense” to guard our territory as the Philippines boosts its own military.

“The Philippines will shortly enter into consultations and negotiations with the United States on a possible framework agreement that would implement our agreed policy of increased rotational presence,” Gazmin and Del Rosario stated in their letter to Congress.

In an article quoting various Chinese experts, the newspaper said the new development could also “harm Washington’s interests.

“The Philippines should give up its vain hope that the United States will allow whatever it wants to safeguard its claims in the South China Sea, although Washington always tries to keep tension in the region to a certain degree,” the newspaper said.

“More military presence from the US, an outside power, will bring more uncertainties in the South China Sea and harm Washington’s own economic interests in the region,” the newspaper quoted Wang Fan, a professor of international affairs at China Foreign Affairs University.

“The US will not allow the Philippines to do whatever it wants to do with its territorial disputes with China at the cost of general stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” Wang was quoted as saying.

“The US is willing to keep the tension in the South China Sea at a certain degree,” Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said according to China Daily.

“The tension offers a good excuse for Washington to deploy more military forces to the Asia-Pacific region under its Asia rebalancing strategy, given that some regional countries may ask the US for help to cope with territorial disputes,” he said.

Manila has long been seeking to upgrade its military and draw military powers outside the region to get involved in the South China Sea issue, in a bid to strengthen its hand to bargain with China on the dispute in the future, said Li.

Although the US has not confirmed Manila’s statements, it has repeatedly insisted that it would not take sides in the disputes in the South China Sea, but it has continually offered support to the Philippines by helping the country upgrade its military capacity.

“The reason is Washington hopes to make use of the South China Sea issue to sustain its dominance in Asia Pacific”, said Wang.

The three House leaders, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Senior Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, said they need to deeply study the request, a sensitive matter which “needs close scrutiny because we need to balance our position.”

Gonzales said that a review of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) is needed before they can act on the letter request and they need more opinion to study all its pros and cons.

Aside from this, Gonzales said the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States also needs to be reviewed before making any bold move.

Aggabao added the House must revisit first the MDT to make very certain that any aggression against the Philippines would automatically trigger an immediate response from the US forces.

He added a deeper study is needed to avoid moves that may agitate our neighbors.
“It needs more burning of eyebrows before making final decisions on the letter request. This is no joke,” Agabao said.

Speaking to the press last Thursday, Del Rosario said about the planned negotiations: “We’re trying to do it as soon as we can, as early as we can.

“I think if we’re talking about access we need to discuss the modalities and parameters,” he added.

Several hundred US Special Forces troops have been on short term deployments in the southern Philippines since 2002 to help train local troops fighting Islamic militants.

“If and when there is agreement on the access, then there will be equipment coming in from the (United) States,” Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on June 27.

“Modalities for the increased rotational presence are right now being examined. One modality is the conduct of high-value, high-impact exercises,” Gazmin said, without elaborating.

Gazmin, however, emphasized the plan would not see any new bases or a permanent US presence in the Philippines.

The United States had tens of thousands of troops stationed in the Philippines, at the Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base north of Manila, until the early 1990s.

The United States, a former colonial ruler of the Philippines, was forced to abandon the bases amid anti-US sentiment and a row over rent. The constitution now bans any permanent foreign bases in the Philippines.

However Clark and Subic, now partly converted to business use, still host and service US military aircraft and warships on short-term exercises.

China claims most of the South China Sea including waters close to the shores of its neighbours including the Philippines.

Last year China seized control of Scarborough Shoal, about 230 kilometers (140 miles) off the coast of the main Philippine island of Luzon, after the Filipino navy backed down from a lengthy stand-off.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), meanwhile, said plans of the Obama government to increase US military aid from $30 million to $50 million military assistance to the Philippines is tied with pushing Aquino  to forge an agreement with the US allowing greater US military access to its former military port facilities, especially in Subic and other former US military bases starting next year.

“Heightened US military aid to the Philippines, which mostly takes the form of providing decommissioned war materiél, is also Obama’s reward to Aquino who has exhibited unquestioning servility to the US,” said the CPP.

The CPP said the US military has been maintaining an exclusive military base within the AFP Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.

Even Filipino officers are banned from the area reserved for the 700-strong Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTFP).

Under the Aquino administration, Philippine sovereignty has depreciated several folds, said the CPP.

“The Aquino regime has blindly allowed the US military to make use of the Philippines as a base of its operations in its declared aim of deploying more than half of its overseas military strength into the Asia-Pacific region,” the CPP said in a statement.

“The permanent and increasing presence of the US military in the Philippines has provoked China to become more aggressive and has worsened diplomatic tensions among the various claimants of disputed territory in the South China Sea,” the CPP said.

The CPP said violations of Philippine sovereingty are bound to worsen with the new access agreement effectively granting the US basing rights in the Philippines.

“Increased military aid to the Philippines will also result in worsening violations of human rights abuses committed by the reactionary armed forces in the conduct of its US-designed Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression,” the CPP said.

Palace sees gains from US' use of local bases

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 11): Palace sees gains from US' use of local bases

Malacañang is eager about the country's potential gains from a proposed greater access of the United States to the local military bases.

The proposal on increased presence of the American troops, which was recently given the green light by President Aquino, will help enhance the capability of Filipino soldiers, according to Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier wrote to leaders of Congress about the imminent negotiations with the United Sates on the proposed access agreement with the US troops. Allowing the US soldiers to have increased rotational presence will supposedly help the country achieve a minimum credible defense to guard its territory.

"We have been pretty straightforward with what we want to achieve when it comes to these talks," Valte said in an interview with DZRB. "The increase, if ever, in the rotational presence would benefit our soldiers because they will have more knowledge and information-sharing when it comes to upgrading our capabilities," she added.

Valte also said the upcoming talks on the larger US access to Philippine military bases would be done strictly under the purview of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

The military pact, forged between the Philippines and the United States in 1998, governs the treatment of US troops visiting the country for joint military exercises. The accord allows the Filipino soldiers access to new defense and security tactics and technologies.

"For all those who are awaiting for it, let us wait for more information as they figure out the modalities on how to implement it," Valte said.

Last month, President Aquino endorsed the proposal of the Department of National Defense to give the US greater access to the country's bases, saying this is "a natural circumstance" to achieve a credible alliance." Aquino however made clear that the proposed greater access pact with the US will not lead to its permeant presence in the country.

At present, Aquino said the country has two strategic partners, the United States and Japan, citing that any military training between forces should be done “within our territory or the allies’ territory.”

8 Malaysian forces killed by RSF on Eid Day battle

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 11): 8 Malaysian forces killed by RSF on Eid Day battle

Violence re-ignited on Sabah island morning of Friday between patrolling Malaysian forces and followers of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo that reportedly killed eight Malaysians.

Malaysia marked the end of Ramadan on Thursday, while Philippines observed it last Friday.

The sultanate's secretary general, engineer Abraham J. Idjirani, relayed the battle that took place to journalist on Sunday. He said special forces from the Sarawak state, a neighbor of Sabah, were patrolling the vast palm oil plantations in Felda Sahabat, Lahad Datu, Sabah, when ambushed by 50 Royal Security Forces (RSF).

"One of the top commanders of the RSF, Commander Uto Ubi, was leading his men on a patrol when they sensed the presence of the Sarawak security forces. The RSF men then positioned for an ambush," said Idjirani.

"The first volley from the sultanate's followers killed eight Malaysian forces, which they saw with their own eyes as they fell," said Idjirani, also the spokesman of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.

He said the RSF wthdrew after several minutes of fighting, but sustained no casualties.

Idjirani said Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram called him up by phone after the Eid'l Fitr prayer on Aug. 10 in Manila, between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m.

"Rajah muda relayed to me the fighting. He said there were 200 special forces from Sarawak conducting patrol in Felda Sahabat," the sultanate's spokesman said.

Idjirani said Rajah Muda told him the patrol was from Sarawak because the forces in Sabah may not be too incline to fight the RSF who are Suluk (Tausug) people.

Rajah Muda and 235 RSF men sailed to Sabah in early February to stake their "historical claim" over the resources-rich Borneo territory. When the Malaysian government discovered them, they were asked to stand down and leave the island.

Rajah Muda refused, resulting in a three-week standoff that erupted on March 1 into a firefight, and a massive Malaysian offensive on March 5.

Figures released by the Muslim government showed they have 10 forces killed and about 70 from the sultanate's forces.

Idjirani had also reported a round of fighting in June, but Malaysia and the Philippine government denied such incident happened.

Rebs attack Army post; 2 dead, 2 hurt

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 11): Rebs attack Army post; 2 dead, 2 hurt

Members of the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

ALEOSAN, North Cotabato—Fierce fighting erupted on Saturday along the border of Maguindanao and North Cotabato after a  breakaway Islamist rebel group, believed to be backed by foreign terrorists, attacked an Army detachment and moved in to control a major highway in the area.

Initial reports said two suspected rebels were killed and two Army men were wounded since the fighting began, while around 2,000 residents fled their homes in the affected villages of Aleosan and Pikit.

The military has rushed reinforcements to the area and launched mortar strikes to prevent the rebels from taking control of the key highway, which links North Cotabato and Davao City.

The rebel offensive, led by a group identified as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), followed a series of bombings that claimed 14 lives and wounded 70 in various parts of Mindanao.

Military officials said Zulkifli Bin Hir, a Malaysian bomb expert also known in other Southeast Asian countries as Marwan, was believed to be among the terrorists hiding in BIFF territories.

Col. Dickson Hermoso of the 6th Infantry Division, said the fighting between government forces and BIFF gunmen was concentrated in Barangay Bualan in Pikit, North Cotabato, and in Sitio Tubak, Barangay Pagangan, Aleosan.

The two areas are situated near Datu Piang, Maguindanao, where the BIFF maintains a major camp.

Lt. Col. Donald Gumiran, commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion, said more clashes were being reported as of Saturday afternoon as more BIFF forces arrived in several other villages.

From the side of the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade, 60- and 81-millimeter mortars and 105 howitzers were being fired to deter advancing gunmen.

According to Hermoso, the incident began overnight Friday when militiamen reported being fired at by BIFF forces from across the Rio Grande de Mindanao, which separates Pikit and Aleosan from Datu Piang.

When soldiers went to reinforce the beleaguered militiamen, they were met by shots from rebels with high-powered firearms.

He identified the suspected BIFF members killed only as Sanday and Dimasangkay, while Sergeants Greg Sarte and Alexis Amando, both of the 40th Infantry Battalion, were wounded and rushed to the Aleosan District Hospital.

The same rebel group set off a roadside bomb on Wednesday in nearby Maguindanao province, wounding seven soldiers, and it warned of more attacks.

The BIFF, led by former MILF commander Ameril Umra Kato, broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is currently negotiating a peace agreement with the government.

The military said another roadside bomb believed to have been planted by the group exploded early Saturday in another town in Maguindanao. There were no casualties. A second homemade bomb was found and safely detonated in the same area.

Provincial Gov. Emmylou Mendoza said around 2,000 people who fled their homes to avoid being caught in the fighting were in a village schoolhouse.

Families carrying bags of clothes and cooking implements dragged their water buffalo and cattle into the village of Nalapaan yesterday as exploding mortar rounds could be heard in the distance.

“We can hear the fighting from here,” said Tibungko Abdul, village chief of Nalapaan.
“As of now we feel we are safe here, but if this worsens we may have to leave for the town center as well,” he said, referring to Pikit, the town nearest to Nalapaan and to the villages where the evacuees had come from.

Meanwhile, the military is also pursuing rebels of another extremist group, the Abu Sayyaf, in Basilan province. At least one soldier and about seven militants were reported by the military to have been killed in the fighting in Basilan on Thursday.

Local army commander Col. Carlito Galvez said the offensive was meant to prevent the group from making more bombs for attacks after Eid’l Fitr, the three-day festivities celebrating the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that began Thursday.

New threat group suspected in bombings

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 11): New threat group suspected in bombings

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Saturday said a new threat group called the Kilafah Islamic Movement was among those suspected to be behind the recent spate of bombings in central Mindanao.

Kilafah is the umbrella organization of peace saboteurs, which include the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Gazmin told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

Asked about Kilafah’s objective, Gazmin said: “They just don’t want the framework agreement, the peace process.”

“(It) is one of the suspects emerging from the investigation into the bombings, but there is no confirmation yet as to who is really behind it,” Gazmin said. He said that Kilafah was organized some time ago.

Gazmin said it appeared that Kilafah was a potent threat group in terms of its ruthlessness.

“They don’t recognize anyone when it comes to killing people and inflicting harm on the public,” Gazmin said.

Earlier, an Inquirer source in the intelligence community said Kilafah was organized by terror groups and a breakaway MILF faction that was behind the spate of deadly bombings in central Mindanao.

Intelligence agents, however, are still determining the exact motive of the groups for coming together, aside from trying to sabotage the ongoing peace talks between the government and the MILF.

The Inquirer source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak to the media, said Kilafah was fairly new with members coming from al-Qaida, Jemaah Islamiyah and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters headed by former MILF commander Ameril Umra Kato.

“We haven’t established their real motive yet, aside from some of them being angry over the peace agreement. Our people on the ground are still confirming some information,” the source said.

The source, however, said state security forces had already learned what the next likely targets of this new terror group were, which has prompted the police to increase their presence in these areas.

Malacañang, meanwhile, on Saturday called on the media to be wary of publishing reports from unnamed sources on the spate of bombings in Mindanao and fears that the violence will reach Metro Manila.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said operations were going on against the perpetrators of the bombings but given the sensitive nature of the information, “we can’t really discuss details.”

“If you will notice, these bombings have random targets. It’s not about religion, it’s not about your affiliation, but it’s being done randomly,” Valte said in an interview over state-run radio dzRB.

As for the BIFF reportedly planning a “test mission” in Metro Manila, Valte said: “You know, let’s be careful about reports like this.”

“Let’s make sure that it comes from the correct sources because as it is, we don’t want to be spreading…perhaps incorrect information,” Valte said.

PH panel chief gears up for 39th round with MILF

From Solar News (Aug 9): PH panel chief gears up for 39th round with MILF

It's crunch time again for the government peace panel.
By Friday, Eidl Fitr, Miriam Coronel Ferrer, peace panel chairperson, has started getting busy entertaining calls and holding meetings, to draw up a draft on power-sharing, one of the two pending annexes of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement.
On the other hand, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panel, as well as the talk facilitator, the Malaysian government, has to celebrate Eidl Fitr for about a week.
So the 39th round of the negotiations will begin a week from Friday, giving both panels more time to work on their proposals.
The power sharing annex details the political autonomy of the proposed Bangsamoro government, particularly its relations with the central government.
Under the framework agreement, the central government will have reserved powers on the following:
  • defense
  • foreign policy
  • common market and global trade
  • coinage and monetary policy
  • citizenship and naturalization
  • postal service
On the other hand, the Bangsamoro will have devolved powers similar to what the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) presently has, only better.
Ferrer said the concept would be called "exclusive lease of powers," hinting that these expanded functions would be codified in a contract.
"We take note that the concept of an exclusive lease might be misunderstood by other people. But it simply means that these are devolved powers but overall being still part of the national government," she said.
Part of the agenda for discussion is how to create new devolved powers for the Bangsamoro so that it can raise revenues through taxation and collection of fees.
Other devolved powers will include the administration of justice through the Shariah courts and the design of curriculum in schools, which all should reflect the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.
The negotiations for devolved powers will also cover localized law-enforcement functions.
These functions, Ferrer said, should harmonize with standards set by the central government.
"We always assume that, for most parts, there will be conflict or disputes or standards will be so grossly different," she said. "I think what we can anticipate is maybe some peculiar characteristics that will be adopted in relation to the culture, history, the ways of life in the region."
As in recent negotiations, both panels said the outcome of the next round of talks would remain unpredictable.
The government doubts that the power sharing annex will be approved in this round since the draft they will compose will have to go through a review process. That would only mean talks will have to drag on for a few more months, moving further timetables that could risk the deadline in setting up the Bangsamoro government by 2016.

Talks on increased US military presence to abide by VFA

From GMA News (Aug 11): Talks on increased US military presence to abide by VFA

Malacañang on Sunday reassured the public the talks between the Philippines and the United States on an agreement that will allow “increased rotational presence” of US military in the country will not violate Philippine laws.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the negotiations, which are reportedly set to start on Monday, will be under the framework of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement.

“My understanding is that everything will be under the framework of the VFA. So ang modalities na lang on how to implement the rotational presence ang kanilang pag-uusapan," she said on government-run dzRB radio.

But she also appealed to the public not to make further speculations, and wait for the proper announcements.

“(L)et’s wait for more information as they figure out the modalities on how to implement it,” she said.

The talks come amid tension over territorial disputes between the Philippines and China over parts of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

An earlier report said the Departments of National Defense and Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives to inform them of the upcoming negotiations on the terms of the increased US military presence.

In their letter, they said the Philippines “will shortly enter into consultations and negotiations with the United States on a possible framework agreement that would implement our agreed policy of increased rotational presence.”

They also said that “(i)n both diplomacy and national defense, our strategic relationship with the United States remains crucial.”

BIFF-Army clashes in North Cotabato subside but evacuees refuse to return home

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): BIFF-Army clashes in North Cotabato subside but evacuees refuse to return home

Fighting between government forces and lawless Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the borders of Maguindanao and North Cotabato have died down but the military remained on alert.

Government forces in full battle gear remained visible along portions of the Cotabato-Davao highway Sunday morning as clearing operations continue some two kilometers away where fierce clashes erupted Saturday morning.

Since no shelling have been heard and the BIFF stopped firing back at government forces, evacuees believed it was safe to return home. Others prefer to stay one more day before heading back home.

Mayor Vicente Suropia of Aleosan, North Cotabato said the families, numbering about 500, are temporarily housed in Barangay Pagangan and in two villages of adjacent Pikit town, also in North Cotabato.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said the rebels have stop fighting with government forces and fled toward Datu Piang, Maguindanao Saturday night.

He said while the tension had died down, elements of the 40th and 7th Infantry Battalion, station in Aleosan and Pikit towns, respectively, have remained on alert.

Soldiers continue to provide road security along portions of the Cotabato-Davao highway to thwart any attempt by BIFF bandits to take control of the road network like they regularly do in Maguindanao highway.

Fighting erupted Saturday morning when BIFF members harassed a militia and Army detachment in Sitio Tubak, Barangay Pagangan, Aleosan.

The Army had to use mortar fire to drive away the rebels. Shelling ceased Saturday night when the rebels fled to Datu Piang using the Rio Grande de Mindanao.

Infantrymen conducted clearing operations until Sunday morning.

Residents who fled their homes Saturday remained in evacuation sites in Pagangan and Nalapaan, Pikit, refusing to return home until their community is cleared from lawless elements.

Other displaced families wanted to return home but were advised to wait for order from the security officials.

Sorupia said his office is still assessing the situation of affected villages and will soon give the green light for displaced families to return home.

He said dump trucks and other vehicles owned by the local government are on stand by to help the evacuees return home. Relief operations are on going.

5 BIFF rebels killed in Cotabato fighting - military

From Rappler (Aug 11): 5 BIFF rebels killed in Cotabato fighting - military

EVACUATED. Around 2,000 residents from 3 villages in the towns of Aleosan and Pikit vacated their houses as BIFF rebels arrived in the area. Photo by Ferdh Cabrera

EVACUATED. Around 2,000 residents from 3 villages in the towns of Aleosan and Pikit vacated their houses as BIFF rebels arrived in the area. Photo by Ferdh Cabrera

The death toll in the fighting between government troops and members of a breakaway rebel group reached 5, a military official said Sunday, August 11.

Maj. Gen. Gapuz, commander of the military’s 6th Division, said at least 5 followers of Ameril Umbra Kato, leader of the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), were killed in clashes Saturday, August 10, in Aleosan, North Cotabato.

Gapuz said two soldiers, identified as Sgt Greg Sarte and Sgt Alexis Armando of 40th Infantry Battalion, were wounded.

Fierce fighting broke out after soldiers encountered around 50 heavily armed BIFF men, who are allegedly coddling a Malaysian terror bomb expert believed behind in the series of bomb attacks in the region.

“We are on relentless pursuit against these rebels,” he said.

Earlier, North Cotabato Governor Emmelou Mendoza said around 2,000 people have been staying in the evacuation centre in the village of Pagangan in the town of Aleosan.

Von Al Haq, spokesman for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said by phone, said his group is in constant communication with their counterparts in the government to prevent a misencounter between their men and soldiers.

Al Haq recently revealed a Malaysian wanted by the US government for terrorist activities in Southeast Asia, Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, is being coddled by the breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao.

Marwan has been monitored in the country since 2003. He has also been reported hiding with Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Last year, a military report said Marwan had moved to Central Mindanao, an area of operation for the MILF.

It was not clear if Marwan, wanted by the US government for the series of terror attacks in southeast Asia, was in “Habitat,” a lair of BIFF situated in the village of Bualan.

The BIFF has denied coddling Marwan.

Dud grenade thrown in Cagayan de Oro

From InterAksyon (Aug 11): Dud grenade thrown in Cagayan de Oro

Unidentified suspects lobbed a grenade at a street between a marine post and a department store warehouse in this city around 8 p.m. Saturday night. The grenade did not explode, Senior Superintendent Rolen Balquin said.

The explosive landed on Dona Blanco Martinez Street between the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 detachment and the Superama Department Store.

“We immediately requested EOD (Explosives and Ordnance) team to conduct the safety procedure of defusing the explosive,” Balquin said.

Superama security guard Ricky Custodio said: “I thought it was just a stone they threw, but I found out it’s a grenade so we immediately asked assistance from the authorities.”

On Monday, August 8, a powerful bomb exploded in this city killing eight persons and wounding 30 others. Police are still investigating the case.

ESCAPE | Malaysian kept hostage by Philippine extremists for 9 months recounts ordeal - reports

From InterAksyon (Aug 11): ESCAPE | Malaysian kept hostage by Philippine extremists for 9 months recounts ordeal - reports

A Malaysian plantation manager held hostage by Philippine Muslim extremists said he escaped before dawn under the cover of a tropical downpour after almost nine months in abysmal conditions, reports said Sunday.

Tung Wei Jie, 26, who was seized in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island last November together with his cousin, was found in the southern Philippine island of Jolo early this week and returned to Malaysia on Saturday.

Tung told local media in his uncle's home in Port Dickson on the Straits of Malacca that he escaped in heavy rain from a bamboo hut in the jungle when his abductors, about 20 gunmen, went for pre-dawn prayers.

He and his cousin, Wei Fei, 34, who suffered from hypertension, had been taken away in April with the abductors, who demanded ransom from the family, claiming they would bring him to a hospital.

Tung said he did not know what happened to his cousin. Philippine police said on Tuesday that he died from illness.

"The hut was in the middle of nowhere. It was infested with mosquitoes. We each had one of our legs chained to the wooden pillars," Tung was quoted by The Star as saying.
"After my cousin was taken away, I began using a fork to cut through a link in the iron chain. I succeeded after almost a month... I waited another month. And then I got the chance to escape," he said.

Tung said he prayed for rain to escape unnoticed, adding he ran "through dense jungle for hours and hours" taking only short breaks until reaching a village.

Exhausted and dehydrated, he collapsed until the next day when a villager alerted the police.

Tung said he, his cousin, and two other workers were at their palm oil plantation in Sabah's Lahad Datu district in November when about half a dozen men -- some armed with machine guns -- appeared and ordered them to walk to the beach.

While the two workers were freed, the cousins were ordered aboard a speedboat.
They later boarded another boat to a small island, where they stayed five days, before being taken to Jolo, a known stronghold of the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militant group.

While in captivity, they were only fed plain rice and some fried fish and not allowed to bathe for three months. There was no running water or electricity, Tung added.

"They were planning to shoot us or just dump us at sea" after securing ransom, he said, adding they overheard their captors' discussion.

"It was very traumatizing," the New Straits Times quoted him as saying.

Tung's uncle said he only spoke briefly to his son, Tung's cousin, in January and Tung on April 18.

AFP could not reach Tung or his family.

Philippine police have blamed the kidnapping on the Abu Sayyaf group, responsible for multiple bombings and mass kidnappings of foreigners.

In 2000, the group seized 21 mostly western holidaymakers from a resort at Sipadan in Sabah state. The hostages were later freed.

But Abu Sayyaf are still believed to be holding an unknown number of foreign and local hostages in the strife-torn southern Philippines.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit, No. 6 'most wanted' and member of bomb-making unit, yields

From InterAksyon (Aug 11): Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit, No. 6 'most wanted' and member of bomb-making unit, yields

A member of what is believed to be the urban terror unit of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), and listed as Number 6 on the list of the "most wanted" by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), turned himself in to military authorities Sunday in Zamboanga City.

Abdurahin M. Nasalon alias Papoy Nasalon surrendered to elements of Task Force Zamboanga (TFZ) at Barangay Curuan District Zamboanga City, said Capt. Jefferson Somera, spokesman of the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division.

Somera quoted the task force commander, Col. Adrelino G. Colina, as saying Nasalon surrendered to his staff led by Cpt. Jerry V. Doldol "after successful negotiations with his family.”

Brig. Gen. Felicito Virgilio Trinidad, commander of the 1st ID, said Nasalon is a member of the Ustadz Abdullah Ajilul aka Abu Termijie group that operates in Zamboanga City. It is believed to be the ASG's urban terrorist group, with some members trained by the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

Nasalon ranks number six on the AFP watch list. “The surrender of Nasalon was credited to the continued military and police operation and visibility in the area that created pressure on the subject. As of now, the subject is under military custody,” Trinidad said.

Nasalon's surrender comes as authorities are on the alert with a rash of explosions in parts of Mindanao, and which killed at least 16 persons and injured some 70 others.
The past two days, soldiers were also battling the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguidanao and North Cotabato. Authorities believe the BIFF is also being backed by the JI.

MILF: GPH Panel Chair warns about impact of bombings on Mindanao peace process

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 11): GPH Panel Chair warns about impact of bombings on Mindanao peace process

Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the government’s chief negotiator in the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has called on the people of Mindanao to “rage against the violence” happening in various parts of the region,

Ryan Rosauro of Inquirer Mindanao reported on Thursday, August 8. Professor Ferrer who spoke in a forum in Davao City on Wednesday told her audience that, “We should stand up and say we cannot allow these to happen”. “That is myself speaking as a peace advocate,” she added.
The forum was attended by leaders of indigenous peoples, academe, business, civil society, and local communities during which she explained the status of the peace negotiations with the Moro Front.

Coronel-Ferrer was accompanied by peace panel members Yasmin Busran-Lao and Senen Bacani, and the panel’s military adviser, Major General Leo Crescente Ferrer.

Mindanao has been rocked by a series of bomb attacks within the last two weeks with the blasts in Cagayan de Oro on July 26 which killed eight people and in Cotabato on Monday that also killed nine people and wounded many others.

On Wednesday morning, seven soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb blast in Shariff Mustapha Saidona town in Maguindanao. Earlier on the same day, a bomb blasted off near a radio station and pawnshop in Midsayap, North Cotabato.

Coronel-Ferrer explained that even as the bombings were not linked to efforts to derail the peace process between government and the MILF, these have painted a negative impression on the parties’ capacity to find a lasting solution to the conflict in the region, said Rosauro in his report.

“Bombings and other inhumane acts have not softened our resolve to continue to work for non-violence, peace and development in these areas that have suffered far too long from hostilities,” she pointed out.

Coronel-Ferrer said the bombings in Cagayan de Oro and Cotabato “are an affront to the people of Mindanao’s right to personal and collective well-being and security.”

“We take heart in the peaceful mobilizations of the residents of Cagayan de Oro that show that they will not live with this kind of violence. The people of Cotabato should likewise show their indignation, as should the rest of the country,” she added.

Muhammad Ameen, chair of the MILF general secretariat, described the Cotabato bombing as “barbarism.”

Ameen said the attack “deliberately targeted” civilians “as means to deliver a message for an evil agenda.”

“Whoever did this deserved the wrath of Allah,” Ameen added.

IEP: Latest Ummah News Update (Aug 10)

Posted to the Islamic Emirate of the Philippines (IEP) Facebook page (Aug 10): Latest Ummah News Update

This morning around 7:30 am at Brgy. Kibleg North Ope, Maguindanao BIFF Mujahideens planted two IED's to one of AFP Military Outposts in the area.

They planted this IED's around dawn, and when the Kafir soldiers arrive by morning, the first IED that was detonated. Six Kafir soldiers dead on the spot.

After awhile a groups of AFP Marines and Police offic...ers came to the rescue but the second IED planted was detonated, a large count of casualties and wounded were known but the exact count is not yet confirmed.

- "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!

Sporadic fighting in Southern Philippines continue

From the Mindanao Examiner Blog site (Aug 11): Sporadic fighting in Southern Philippines continue

Sporadic fighting continue in the southern Philippines between security and Moro rebel forces as the exodus of civilians fleeing the deadly clashes is also mounting.

At least 4 rebels from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement and two soldiers were killed in the fighting over the weekend, according to Col. Dickson Hermoso, a spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division in central Mindanao.

He said the fighting erupted in North Cotabato’s Aleosan town after rebel forces attacked troops in the villages of Tubak and Pagangan.

“Our operations against the ATG continue to protect the civilians and communities from terrorism,” he told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

ATG is the acronym for Auxiliary Threat Group which refers to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement and its army of so-called freedom fighters.

According to the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center, most of those who fled their villages have sought safe refuge in government schools and other areas far away from the fighting.

It said village officials reported that cannon shells landed in civilian areas in the village of Lagunde in the neighboring town of Pikit.

The rebels were largely blamed for the spate of attacks and a recent roadside bombing that wounded 7 soldiers in the town of Shariff Saydona Mustapha in Maguindanao province.

The soldiers, who belong to the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, were in a truck and travelling in the village of Nabundas when the bomb went off.

The rebels were mostly former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighting for independence in the troubled South. The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group is now negotiating peace with Manila in an effort to end decades of bloody fighting in Mindanao.

Villagers flee to safer ground Saturday, August 10, 2013 as government troops and Moro rebels clashed in the town of Aleosan in North Cotabato province in southern Philippines. At least two 6 rebels and soldiers were killed in the clashes after the  military launched offensives against the group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement believed to be coddling a Malaysian terror bomb expert Marwan, believed to be behind the series of bomb attacks in the region. (Mindanao Examiner Photo - Mark Navales)

Sayyaf rebel yields to army in Zamboanga City

From the Mindanao Examiner Blog site (Aug 11): Sayyaf rebel yields to army in Zamboanga City

An Abu Sayyaf rebel who is among wanted by the military has surrendered to the army following a series of negotiations, officials said Sunday.

Officials said Abdurahin Nasalon surrendered to the anti-terrorist Task Force Zamboanga in the village of Curuan. Nasalon’s family helped in the negotiations for the surrender of the rebel, who is operating in Zamboanga City.

He yielded to Capt. Jerry Doldol, but details of the negotiations were unknown.

“The surrender of Nasalon was largely credited on the continued military and police operations. The presence of security forces also pressured Nasalon to surrender peacefully,” Capt. Jefferson Somera, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Somera, quoting a report from Col. Andrelino Colina, the task force commander, said the army is still interrogating Nasalon - who is number 6 on the military’s watch list - to determine his involved in kidnappings and terrorism.

“He is still being interrogated. We want to know whether he is involved in kidnappings and terrorism or the extent of his involvement with the Abu Sayyaf,” he said.

He said Nasalon’s surrender was due largely to the security operation of the authorities. “Nasalon admitted to interrogators that he was scared because of the operations of the military and police and so he decided to surrender peacefully,” Somera said.

Abu Sayyaf rebels are actively operating in Zamboanga and nearby provinces of Sulu and Basilan, all part of the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.