Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Misuari’s top aide is presumed dead

From Malaya (Oct 23): Misuari’s top aide is presumed dead

HABIER Malik, most trusted lieutenant of Moro National Liberation Front founding chair Nur Misuari, is presumed dead as there is no evidence to show that he has slipped past the   cordon of government security forces in Zamboanga City.
This was the assumption of the Western Mindanao Police Regional Office as police and military forces finished with the clearing operations in eight barangays of Zamboanga City invaded by the MNLF rebels on September 9.
“He (Malik) could be one of those na nasunog or nailibing sa conflict area... Pero sa legal aspect, sinama pa rin namin siya sa kaso because we consider him as a prime (suspect) at large,” said Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Police Regional Office.
He said the PNP crime laboratory gathered the DNA samples of the dead MNLF rebels and will compare these with those of relatives of Malik.
Based on questioning of captured MNLF rebels, Huesca said that Commander Salic Idjal was able to talk to Malik in the conflict area the day before he was captured. He said Idjal was captured on September 21.
Huesca, however, said Idjal and the other rebels do not know the exact place where Malik was last seen since they are not so familiar with Zamboanga City as they are from Sulu and Basilan.
Huesca said the clearing operations were officially declared over last Monday.
He said policemen who comprised Task Force Suyod were given commendations on Tuesday, which include Medals of Merit, Commendation Medals, and Efficiency Medals.

PNP: Video of alleged MNLF use of human shields could serve as evidence

From GMA News (Oct 22): PNP: Video of alleged MNLF use of human shields could serve as evidence

The Philippine National Police (PNP) may be able to use in prosecution a video showing what could be scenes of when the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) allegedly used human shields during their armed incursion in Zamboanga City.

In a report by Ian Cruz on GMA News' "24 Oras" newscast on October 22, PNP spokesman Sr. Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said the video is "revealing" and if verified to be "legit" could be used to prosecute the MNLF members in government custody.

The video, which became viral on Facebook and other social networking sites, showed civilians huddled together for protection as gunshots were fired. Several of them waved white flags while others, including children, crouched beside a jeep.

In the video, men in camouflage, said to be MNLF forces, took cover at nearby buildings. 

The video also showed a bazooka being fired near where the civilians were.

“Nakikita mo sa video sila 'yung nakatago sa KGK Building, nakatago sa mosque. Itong pag-wave ng flag is to stop AFP operations against them. By using the civilians as shields, alam nila na ang iyong kasundaluhan ay hindi puputok laban sa mga civilians,” said Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP's Public Affairs Office chief.

Charges of rebellion and violation of the International Humanitarian Law (Republic Act 9851) were filed against MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari, Commander Habier Malik and 60 others for the assault on Zamboanga City

A Zamboanga City court issued arrest warrants against Misuari and Malik on October 9.

Sec. Leila de Lima of the DOJ said that careful scrutiny is needed to verify the validity and news of the video.

MNLF spokesperson Absalom Cerveza has yet to see the video, but said that it was impossible for the group to have shot it.

 “To me, it does not make sense na magdala ka ng hostage, lalabas ka doon and 6,000 sundalo ang nandoon na dadatnan mo eh. That is insanity,” said Cerveza.

 The death toll by Sept. 28 counted 167 slain and 247 arrested MNLF rebels, while 18 soldiers were killed in action.

4 dead, 4 hurt as groups clash in Pagalungan

From the Philippine Star (Oct 23): 4 dead, 4 hurt as groups clash in Pagalungan

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Four Moro bandits were killed while four others were wounded as they attacked Wednesday dawn a rival group led by a former barangay chairman in Pagalungan town.

The incident forced dozens of poor Moro families to evacuate to safer areas.

Captain Tony Bulao, spokesman of the Army’s 602nd Brigade, identified the slain gunmen as Nasrulah, Aladdin, Datukan and Mamatanto, who belonged to a guerrilla gang led by Commanders Bhuto and Bigkog.

Members of the Pagalungan municipal peace and order council said Bhuto and Bigkog are both identified with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The two commanders and their men first surrounded a farming village in Barangay Bago Inged in Pagalungan and shot houses with assault rifles.

The group’s target, Mokamad Andoy, resides in Barangay Bago Inged, a secluded district in the impoverished, politically-troubled Pagalungan town, located in the second district of Maguindanao.

The family of Andoy, who was a former barangay chairman of Bago Inged, who had also served as president of Pagalungan’s association of barangay captains, is locked in a bloody “rido” (clan war) with relatives of Bigkog and Bhuto.

Andoy and his followers, also armed with assault rifles, traded shots with their attackers for almost 40 minutes. The  firefight waned at about 6:30 a.m. Monday after four of the bandits got killed  in the ensuing gunbattle.

Bulao said the bandits escaped toward a swampy area near the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta.

Evacuees have confirmed that four other bandits were wounded in the initial skirmish.

Another group of gunmen identified with Bigkug and Bhuto arrived at Barangay Bago Inged after a three-hour lull in hostilities, triggering another encounter, which left four followers of Andoy wounded.

The hostilities escalated when supporters and relatives of Andoy from the MILF's National Guards Division, led by Samir Salamat, joined the foray and helped repel the heavily armed attackers.

The latest encounters between the group of Andoy and the bandits was this month's third, according to local officials.

Residents of Pagalungan have asked the police to investigate on the recurring hostilities, convinced they could be related to the forthcoming October 28 barangay elections.

Several relatives of Andoy are candidates for elective barangay posts, running against aspirants being supported by Bhuto and Bigkog.

Bulao said the main concern of the 602nd Brigade now is to prevent any spill over of the hostilities in Barangay Bago Inged to surrounding barangays and communities traversed by the Cotabato-Davao Highway.

He said the commanding officer of the 602nd Brigade, Gen. Ademar Tomaro, has asked the government's Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, which has a counterpart in the MILF, to work out the immediate disengagement of the feuding groups.

MILF urged to expel commander protecting bandits

From the Philippine Star (Oct 23): MILF urged to expel commander protecting bandits

Army trucks try to get through a muddy stretch of a farm-to-market road in Basilan’s Sumisip town, where Abu Sayyaf bandits are reportedly being coddled by Commander Malista Malanka of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. John Unson

Local leaders in Basilan want the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to remove from its official roster a notorious commander providing sanctuary to wanted leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Local officials are apprehensive the violations by the group of Malista Malanka of the existing government-MILF ceasefire can trigger hostilities with the police and military that can cause massive dislocation of innocent villagers.

Malanka, a senior MILF leader, and his men are operating at the border of Basilan’s adjoining Ungkaya Pukan and Sumisip towns.

Barangay folks have confirmed that Malanka has been allowing the notorious ASG leaders Furudji Indama and Solaiman Olay roam freely in government-recognized guerrilla enclaves covered by the GPH-MILF Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities.

The agreement, crafted by GPH and MILF negotiators in Cagayan de Oro City in July of 1997, enjoins the rebel group, the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to mutually cooperate in preventing crimes in flashpoint areas in the south.

The Star tried, but failed to get comment on Malanka’s illegal activities from Major Gen. Leo Cresente Ferrer of the government’s Ad-Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).
The government and MILF’s joint AHJAG is an anti-crime mechanism helping enforce the ceasefire in hostile areas where there are criminal gangs and terrorists.

Barangay officials have complained that Malanka’s group collects regular “protection money” in exchange for their safety.

“We just can’t easily go out and talk about this commander because we’re so vulnerable,” a barangay official said in Filipino.

Sources from the municipal peace and order councils in three adjoining Basilan towns said Malanka’s group was also implicated in no fewer than five kidnappings and some 20 ambush attacks on civilian and military targets from 2009 to early October 2013.

Malanka and his men were also blamed for the May 22, 2013 abduction in Ungkaya Pukan of a government social worker named Jenny Luna.

Luna, according to the local police, was snatched not far from Malanka’s house, while attending to people displaced by an armed conflict that erupted several days before.

The kidnap victim was set free without any ransom through the intercession of local executives and Muslim clerics.

Local officials, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, said Malanka also helped ASG bandits perpetrate the October 13 to 14, 2013 attacks at Lamitan City, the capital of Basilan.

City officials said some of the gunmen that repeatedly attempted, but failed to get through Lamitan’s adjoining Barangays Colonia, Bulanting, Kulay Batu, and Maganda due to a strong defense put up by soldiers, policemen and armed villagers, came from Malanka’s lair.
Some of the sources, among them relatives of senior MILF leaders in Basilan, said Malanka and his men also deliberately forestalled the military’s pursuit of an ASG band that attacked patrolling soldiers early this month in Ungkaya Pukan town.

Aquino: Panatag Shoal still ours

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 23): Aquino: Panatag Shoal still ours

The Panatag Shoal remains a legitimate part of the Philippine territory so Filipinos can go freely to the area, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Wednesday.

Aquino rejected speculations that the country has already lost ownership of the Panatag Shoal, also known as Scarborough Shoal.

“We are not allowed to go to Scarborough Shoal seems to be an oxymoron. It is ours and there’s no rule that says we can’t go there,” the president said in a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) at the Manila Hotel.

Asked if he wanted China to withdraw from the Scarborough shoal, Aquino said that the area is 120 miles from Masinloc, Zambales and that is “clearly within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone).”

“If we are supported or upheld by the arbitration, then, that is a clear provision,” he said.

The country earlier complained against China’s incursion into its waters before an international tribunal. Manila wants the United Nations-recognized tribunal to declare illegal China’s move in the potentially resource-rich waters.

Aquino said he hopes concerned parties would adhere to the rule of law in resolving the maritime dispute.

“Everybody has committed to work under international law amongst them UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and UNCLOS gives us the EEZ to which both China and other countries are signatories including the Philippines,” he said.

However, the president said the government will not remove the concrete blocks reportedly placed by China in the Panatag Shoal since it does not hamper with shipping activities.

Based on government findings, Aquino said the “very, very old” concrete blocks does not pose any immediate danger to Philippine vessels or those that would transit the area.

“If they do not present a danger to shipping or to any ships transiting the area, then there might not be a need to remove these concrete blocks at this time,” he said.

He said the concrete blocks located in the shallow part of the shoal are “not a new phenomenon” and “doesn’t seem to give us any reason to have an increase in anxiety.”

Despite Philippines’ claim over Panatag Shoal, China has kept presence in the area with its surveillance and fishing vessels.

Hardware store owner seized in southern Philippines

From the Manila Times (Oct 23): Hardware store owner seized in southern Philippines

Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen seized a hardware store owner in Patikul town in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, police said on Wednesday.

Police said Archie Hablo, 29, whose family owns the Sincere Enterprises in Jolo town, was traveling on a motorcycle with his brother Miko late Tuesday, when the gunmen, who were riding a jeepney, blocked their path and seized the businessman.

Hablo’s brother managed to run and escape and reported the incident to authorities.

“There is an ongoing operation and police forces have been deployed to track down Hablo,” Senior Supt. Abraham Orbita, provincial police chief, told The Times.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction, but authorities suspect that the Abu Sayyaf was behind the incident.

There was no immediate statement from the town mayor Kabir Hayudini about the latest abduction.

Recently, gunmen, believed to be Abu Sayyaf rebels, also abducted Dr. Salladin Teo and Wilfred Ngo in the island-town of Siasi. Two others who were abducted along with them—Bernal Joe and Absuwal Sasapan—were recovered by policemen in Tagbak village in Indanan town on October 16, a day after the abduction.

It was unknown whether the abductions were carried out by the same group, but the Abu Sayyaf is still holding several foreigners kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi province and Sulu. The Abu Sayyaf rebels have been largely blamed for many ransom kidnappings in the southern region.

Rebels surrender guns, explosives

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 23): Rebels surrender guns, explosives

The “Dagyaw Para sa Kalinaw” campaign, derived from the AFP Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan, has brought a major impact in winning the peace in Negros Oriental, Brig. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division commander, claimed recently.

Baladad said in a statement that with the continued efforts in gaining grounds towards achieving peace, they are certain that Negros Oriental will be free from the affectations of the New People’s Army by yearend.

Within three weeks, 19 assorted firearms, that included two M-72 anti-tank weapons, two M-16 rifles, two M-1 carbine rifles, and assorted hand guns, 12 rifle grenades and 60mm mortar ammunition, were surrendered by 11 rebels in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, and Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, military records show.

That was on top of several high-powered firearms recovered from captured rebels and those recovered at encounter sites. A ranking rebel leader, identified as Nilda Bertulano, alias Frea, was apprehended in Bais City, Negros Oriental, by virtue of arrest warrants for murder and rebellion.

Military records also show that 11 rebels surrendered, seven were captured, and one killed in an encounter in the third quarter of this year in Negros and Panay.

Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, who supervises the internal security operations in Negros Oriental, said the Bayanihan of the Negrenses led to these significant accomplishments.

He said the continued collaboration between the military, the local government units, other government agencies, civil society organizations and other stakeholders has enabled the campaign to win the peace in this part of the region.

‘NPA offering support to Oct. 28 candidates’

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 23): ‘NPA offering support to Oct. 28 candidates’

After imposing permit-to-campaign fees, and permits to win, the New People’s Army is now also offering support to candidates for the Oct. 28 barangay elections, the military said.

Two candidates for barangay captain in northern Negros sought advice from the Philippine Army on what to do with the offer of the NPA to support their candidacies.

Lt. Col. Efren Morados, 62nd Infantry Battalion commander, who concealed their identities for security reasons said yesterday that he discouraged the two candidates from accepting the offer, adding that it will do them more harm than good.

If they win, the NPA will blackmail and intimidate them because of their support, Morados added.

Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said they are closely monitoring the 31 barangays, where the NPA have established influence, and four others, where the presence of private armed groups was monitored.

Aying said they have also received reports of candidates being supported by the NPA.

Six days before the Oct. 28 barangay elections, the 62nd Infantry Battalion and 6th Special Action Battalion of the Philippine National Police yesterday started their security caravan from Manapla, Cadiz, Sagay and Escalante City, to project a “show of force” to lawless groups and individuals, who may coerce and intimidate voters.

A total of 120 barangays in Negros Occidental have been classified as “areas of concern”, in connection with the barangay elections.

Morados said the security caravan will roam around the election areas of concern until Friday, before positioning their forces on Oct. 26 for election duties, to secure the transport of ballot boxes and election paraphernalia.

BIFM: BIFM Official Ousted

Posted to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement Website (Oct 23): BIFM Official Ousted

An exclusive interview to the BIFM chairman, Sheikh Ameril Umra Kato was conducted on October 23, 2013 at his hideout. It was related to the rumor that some high ranking members of the Movement have decided to get out of the Organization.

When asked what was/were the main reasons for separation, he refused to elaborate.

He told to the group that it's the exclusive right of the movement not to reveal to the public the reasons of allowing the desire of the vice chairman for Political Affairs to get out of the BIFM.  
As far as we know, completely cutting the whole connection between Mohammad Ali Tambako and BIFM is the best of our actions, he told the Media Group.

CPP/NPA: 61st IB suffered many casualties in the recent attacks of the NPA

Posted to the PRWC blog site (Oct 21): 61st IB suffered many casualties in the recent attacks of the NPA

Jose Percival Estocada, Jr. Command,
NPA-Central Panay
Oct 21, 2013

Six were killed and not less than three were wounded from the troops of 61st IB, PA in the two succeeding ambushes launched by the units of the NPA under the Jose Percival Estocada, Jr. Command, Central Panay in the town of Tapaz, Capiz last October 7 and 9, 2013.

The first ambush happened in Panay river in the boundaries of Barangays Nawayan and Tacayan around 6:45am while a 15-man unit of the Alpha Company were passing the banks of the river. In the first burst of fire, seven fascist soldiers were immediately hit and fell into the Panay River with their fire arms. Six of them died.

The second ambush happened in Sitio Malangsa, Barangay Abangay, past 1:00 in the afternoon while the troops of Bravo Company were marching to reinforce. Two fascist troops were wounded.

The pretentions of the 61st IB that they are protectors of human rights were laid bare when they strafed the houses of the Tumanduk people in Barangay Nayawan that killed Pastor Mirasol and wounded Rolando Diaz, Sr., both farmers. They also beat up Dario Gilbaliga, a pastor, and Ered Gilbaliga an old man and also a barangay official from Abangay, accusing them of being part of the unit that conducted the ambush. Henry Diaz, of Nayawan, was also beaten while on the way home after accompanying his child to school in the adjacent barangay of Tacayan a few days after the incident.

Out of shame, Maj. Rey Tiongson, spokesperson of the 3rd ID, PA denied that they have many casualties and even claimed that Pastor Mirasol and Rolando Diaz, Sr. were members of the NPA. It may be recalled that a few months back, the officials of 3rd Infantry Division, PA proudly declared that the NPA in Central Panay is weakening because of many of its members has surrendered and are losing the support of the masses.

These two successful ambushes launched by the red fighters is their response to the strong opposition of the Tumanduk people to the construction of two mega dams in the rivers of Jalaur and Panay and to exact justice for the many crimes and violations of human rights of the 61st IB, PA.#


CPP: Ang Bayan Video -- Eliminate corruption which weighs down on the peasant masses

Posted to the PRWC blog site (Oct 21): Ang Bayan Video: Eliminate corruption which weighs down on the peasant masses
Ang Bayan
21 October 2013

The vast countryside is a picture of extreme oppression and abuse. It is where millions of peasants and farm workers suffer from intensifying feudal and semifeudal exploitation and where hunger and penury are the fruits of their efforts to enrich the land and produce food. It is where they are victimized by widespread landgrabbing, back-breaking debts, and incomes that are woefully inadequate to buy even food and other basic needs.

Thus, it is doubly enraging to know that the peasants' poverty and oppression have been invoked by corrupt bureaucrat capitalists in connivance with other exploiters as pretexts to amass ever larger sums of money for themselves.

Trader snatched in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): Trader snatched in Sulu

Security forces are now tracking down the seven heavily-armed men who abducted a trader in Christian Village, Barangay Gandasuli, Patikul, Sulu Tuesday afternoon.

Senior Insp. Kris Conrad Gutierrez, Sulu Provincial Police Office spokesperson, said the abduction took place around 5:00 p.m. He identified the victim as Archie Hablo, 29, owner of the Sincere Enterprises located in Jolo, Sulu.

Investigations indicated that the victim and his brother, Miko, were on their way home riding their motorcycle when the suspects who were on board a black passenger jeepney blocked their path.

The heavily-armed suspects grabbed and dragged the screaming Hablo to the vehicle and quickly made their getaway.

Gutierrez said they are still investigating the incident.

President says territorial row should not define PHL-China relationship

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): President says territorial row should not define PHL-China relationship

President Benigno Aquino III said the territorial row with China on the West Philippine Sea issue should not define the relationship between the two nations.

"There have been discussions ongoing but we have to point out... the issues with regard to the dispute should not be the be all and end all of our relationship. Both sides are acting on that pronouncement," Aquino said at the annual Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines Presidential Forum held at the Manila Hotel.

Aquino also said there are now talks on the formulation of a Code of Conduct between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China aimed to ease the territorial disputes.

"We raised this matter out in 2012 in Phnom Penh... we have to sit down and everybody has to show that image of cooperating and crafting the CoC, which will undoubtedly ease the tension in the sea with many names," Aquino said.

Aquino said the West Philippine Sea is a "very important body of water" that has to have freedom of navigation.

"This body of water which I labeled the 'sea with many names' is portion of the world where 40 percent of commerce would traverse," he said.

He said despite China's refusal to take part in the proceedings, the Philippines will continue to pursue the arbitration before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

During the recent East Asia summit in Brunei, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe backed the Philippines on its stand and called on China to resolve the dispute without the use of threat or force.

Kerry said stability in the disputed territories matter because Southeast Asia is home to some of the world's busiest ports and most critical sea lanes.

Police arrest kidnapper in Zambo Sibugay

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): Police arrest kidnapper in Zambo Sibugay

Government authorities have arrested an alleged member of the kidnap-for-ransom-group (KFRG) involved in the abduction of a foreigner priest in the province of Zamboanga Sibugay, the police reported on Wednesday.

Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) information officer Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca identified the arrested KFRG member as Ogis Jakaria.

Huesca said Jakaria was arrested on the strength of a warrant of arrest for homicide around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Barangay Sanito, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

The warrant of arrest with a recommended bail of P24,000 was signed by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 31 Judge Josefino Bael.

Huesca said Jakaria was involved in the kidnapping of Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi of the Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME) sometime in June of 2007.

Bossi was kidnapped in Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay and was freed in July of the same year in Karomatan town in Lanao del Norte.

Huesca said Jakaria was also involved in the 11-day clash from October 15 to 26 with government forces in Barangay Talaib, Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay.

He said Jakaria is detained at the district jail in Zamboanga Sibugay.

2 militiamen killed, 1 soldier and 4 civilians wounded in Agusan encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): 2 militiamen killed, 1 soldier and 4 civilians wounded in Agusan encounter
Two paramilitary forces were killed while an Army sergeant was severely wounded in a 20-minute firefight with communist guerrillas in Agusan del Sur, a report reaching here said on Wednesday.

Capt. Christian Uy, spokesperson of the Army’s Public Affairs Division here, said that the paramilitary forces were on patrol when they encountered about 30 fully armed rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the hinterland village of Guadalupe in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, on Monday.

Uy said that the military has not released the names of the militiamen who were killed and the identities of the four wounded civilians.

However, Uy said that Sgt. Danilo Alamban, the squad leader of the two regular members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), was airlifted to the army’s sub-station hospital in Bancasi, Butuan City while the civilians were treated in another hospital.

He said that Alamban’s team proceeded to the village in Guadalupe in Esperanza to follow up a report of the presence of the NPAs in the area.

Uy said that the military as deployed a team which, until Wednesday, has been in hot pursuit of the fleeing NPA rebels.

SOLCOM honors stakeholders, DRRMC focal persons for disaster-preparedness simulation exercises

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): SOLCOM honors stakeholders, DRRMC focal persons for disaster-preparedness simulation exercises

CAMP GUILLERMO NAKAR, LUCENA CITY -– Top brass officials of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) hosted on Tuesday the “Stakeholders Night and Awarding Ceremony” at the Bayview Resort in Barangay Bantigue, Pagbilao, Quezon.

SOLCOM Commander, Lieutenant General Caesar Ronnie F. Ordoyo, said the command hosted the social gathering as a token of appreciation for all the support and significant contributions of stakeholders and participants of the successful staging of the “Table Top Exercise and Disaster Risk Reduction Capability Demonstration” held recently in Lucena City’s Dalahican Port complex.

Lt. Gen. Ordoyo also expressed optimism for sustained good working relationships and partnership undertakings among stakeholders as he thanked the participating heads of agencies, private organizations and AFP units who supported the said activities.

“This activity aims to enhance camaraderie and cooperation of major stakeholders in disaster response operations in the province of Quezon and we are very grateful for their cooperation and support to every endeavor of the command,” the SOLCOM commanding general remarked.

Ordoyo also led the presentation of the certificates of recognition and awards to the stakeholders, donors and sponsors following the dinner reception.

A goodwill basketball game between SOLCOM players and Team Energy was held Tuesday afternoon followed by the cocktail reception.

NPA member wanted in Ilocos Sur nabbed in Mountain Province

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): NPA member wanted in Ilocos Sur nabbed in Mountain Province

A suspected New People’s Army (NPA) member with two pending warrants of arrest in Ilocos Sur courts has been collared in Sta. Rita Convent, Poblacion, Bontoc, Mountain Province last October 18.

Chief Superintendent Ricardo C. Marquez, Regional Director of Police Regional Office 1 (PRO1), announced Wednesday the recent arrest of Lucena S. Ticag, alias Ka Ibo, 35 years old, single and a resident of Poblacion, Sadanga, Mountain Province.

Ticag was arrested by virtue of Warrant of Arrest issued by Judge Gabino Balbin Jr. of Regional Trial Court Branch 23 in Candon City, Ilocos Sur for two counts of murder docketed under Criminal Case Numbers 2407-C and 2408-C dated April 10, 2006.

Another warrant of arrest was also issued against her by Judge Policarpio Martinez of RTC Branch 71 in Candon City for the crime of Robbery docketed under 2405-C dated April 4,2006.

The arrest was effected by the joint operatives of La Union Police, Regional Intelligence Division of PRO1 (RID-PRO1), NICA Region 1, NISG-NL and Provincial Intelligence Branch of Mt. Province Police Provincial Office (PIBMPPPO).

According to Marquez, Ticag had been in hiding for more than seven years prior to her arrest.

Pres. Aquino: Government may offer reward for capture of Misuari

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): Pres. Aquino: Government may offer reward for capture of Misuari

President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday said that government may offer a reward for the immediate capture of fugitive founding Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari who is still in the country, relocating from one place to another to elude arrest.

"He (Misuari) is still in the country, in Sulu, transferring from island to island," President Aquino said during the annual Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) forum held at the Manila Hotel.

He said government law enforcement agencies are still hunting Misuari and 60 of his followers who have been charged with rebellion by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the Zamboanga City standoff.

Misuari is accused of sending MNLF fighters to Zamboanga City last Sept. 9 likely in an effort to stop the proposed peace deal between the government and a rival Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The President said that the government has yet to set a bounty for the immediate arrest of Misuari because of his busy schedule in the past.

"Since we also have a warrant of arrest, we may issue a reward leading to the capture of Misuari,"he said.

During the 23-day Zamboanga City standoff between government security forces and MNLF fighters, more than a hundred were killed including 12 civilians and scores of others injured.

More than 9,000 houses and buildings, amounting to more than P200 million, were destroyed during the numerous skirmishes.

Pres. Aquino confident GPH-MILF peace deal to be completed before his term ends

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): Pres. Aquino confident GPH-MILF peace deal to be completed before his term ends

President Benigno Aquino III remains confident that the peace agreement will be completed before his term ends in 2016.

During the annual Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines forum at the Manila Hotel, the President said that negotiators from both government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front have been cognizant of the issues.

"Both parties have acknowledged that the annexes have the most contentious issues... crafting the correct agreement that is livable and doable will have to take the necessary time," the President said on Wednesday's FOCAP event.

The GPH and the MILF peace panels failed to sign the annexes on power sharing and normalization during the 41st exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur. But GPH panel chair Miriam Colonel Ferrer said the parties will meet again "in due time" as they agreed on a process to facilitate the discussion on unsettled issues.

A completed Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) shall be the basis for an enabling law to legitimize the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with an MILF-led Bangsamoro self-governing political entity.

The President also kept his hopes that the government and MILF panel could iron out a peace accord despite the recent standoff in Zamboanga City between government security forces and Muslim rebels allied to Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari.

Misuari reportedly dispatched dozens of his armed followers to Zamboanga City last Sept. 9 to disrupt and subsequently halt the signing of the peace deal with MILF, its rival rebel group.

Aquino: No need to remove concrete blocks at Scarborough Shoal

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): Aquino: No need to remove concrete blocks at Scarborough Shoal

There is no need to remove the concrete blocks found at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, believed to have been placed by crew of Chinese ships, as these do not pose any danger to vessels, President Benigno Aquino III said on Wednesday.

"These are very, very old concrete blocks. They don't seem to give us any reason to have an increase in anxiety... they don't present an immediate danger to any of our vessels," Aquino said during the annual Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines Presidential Forum.

Department of National Defense officials said that at least 30 concrete blocks were seen two months ago at the Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc.

The blocks could be used for construction in the area, the DND officials added.

The shoal, just 124 nautical miles off Zambales province, is disputed by China and the Philippines.

8 die, 8 hurt in poll-related MILF infighting in Maguindanao - Army

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): 8 die, 8 hurt in poll-related MILF infighting in Maguindanao - Army

Eight persons were killed and eight others wounded Wednesday morning when two Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) field commanders, who have been keeping a long-standing family feud, clashed in conflict which stemmed from previous elections in the province and the coming barangay polls on Monday.

Capt. Antonio Bulao, speaking for the 602nd Infantry Brigade, said four armed men belonging to MILF Commander Bhuto Sanday alias Commander Bhuto were killed Wednesday dawn in a clash with MILF Commander Mokamad Andoy in Barangay Bagoinged, Pagalungan, Maguindanao. Four other followers of Commander Bhuto were also wounded.

Bulao said the group of Commander Bhuto stormed the village of Bagoinged where Commander Andoy and his men were staying since one of his relative was seeking a village position.

“They arrived at past 12 midnight, firing their guns and strafed several houses then yelling they were looking for Commander Andoy,” Bulao said.

A clash ensued and lasted till the break of dawn, leaving four followers of Commander Bhuto killed and four wounded.

At about 9:00 a.m. on the same day, fighting erupted anew when followers of Commander Bhuto tried to retrieve the remains of their fallen comrades. Armed men belonging to Commander Andoy fired at the retrieving team.

In the two-hour fighting, four of Commander Andoy’s followers were killed and four others were hurt.

At about noon, the fighting slowed down and both groups disengaged.

“We remained neutral, we did not intervene, we just secured the civilians displaced by the armed conflict,” Bulao said.

He said it was election-related. “Few days from now, its election day so armed are in the village to ensure their supporters can vote,” Bulao explained.

“The upcoming village election actually heightened the tension because both sides have candidates for various positions in the village,” Bulao said.

“Actually they are all related, by affinity and by blood,” Bulao said of the warring clans.

He said peacekeeping forces from the Army and Philippine National Police have been deployed to ensure the balloting will push through on Monday.

Bulao said they also informed the MILF leadership to convince their field commanders to refrain from armed confrontation.

Men, women in uniform to get higher allowances with just one more plenary reading, Trillanes says

From InterAksyon (Oct 23): Men, women in uniform to get higher allowances with just one more plenary reading, Trillanes says

Just one more plenary reading and the proposed measure to increase the "quarters allowance" of men and women in uniform will soon become law, Senator Antonio Trillanes said on Tuesday.

Under committee report No. 3 carrying Senate bill No. 480 which Trillanes and Sen. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara co-authored, the "quarters allowance" of officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will surge by nearly nine times.

Currently, enlisted personnel receive anywhere from P400 to P525 quarters allowance. Once passed into law, they will receive P5,000 or upwards, depending on their rank, the bill said.

Military officers carrying the rank of second lieutenant to colonel who receive P600 quarters allowance are proposed to be given P10,000--a nearly 16-fold increase--and generals who currently receive P1,500 are expected to receive P15,000, a 900-percent increase.

The “subsistence allowance” of military and policemen and the uniformed personnel of the DILG and cadets of the PNPA, under committee report No. 4, is proposed to be increased from the measly P90 daily to P150 effective July 1, 2014. Trillanes noted that the said allowance is very low by any standard and clearly inadequate for the purpose it is intended.

Trillanes said that the measure intends to boost the morale of soldiers, police officers, and uniformed personnel of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) including members of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and cadets of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA).

"This is one of the measures that we hope to pass as a way of recognizing the sacrifices of the military personnel for this country, and also as a way of instituting reforms.
With decent pay and adequate benefits, we believe that we will be able to further motivate the officers and enlisted personnel of the AFP to continue their faithful, loyal and dedicated service to the country,” the chair of the committee on national defense and security said in his sponsorship speeches.

“Mr. President, we demand so much from the members of the AFP. During times of calamity and crisis, we expect them to be at the front lines in the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts. In case of external threats, we expect them to defend our country and our people despite of their rudimentary, inadequate and antiquated equipment,” he added.

Trader snatched in Sulu

From InterAksyon (Oct 23): Trader snatched in Sulu

Security forces are tracking down seven heavily armed men who abducted a trader in Christian Village, Barangay Gandasuli, Patikul, Sulu Tuesday afternoon.

Senior Inspector Kris Conrad Gutierrez, spokesman of the Sulu police, said Archie Hablo, 29, owner of Sincere Enterprises in Jolo town, was on his way home with his brother Miko when a black jeep blocked their path and seized the businessman around 5 p.m.

Aquino dismisses video of Zambo hostages under fire as 'unverified propaganda'

From InterAksyon (Oct 23): Aquino dismisses video of Zambo hostages under fire as 'unverified propaganda'

An image grabbed from a video circulating online showing purported civilian hostages of the MNLF in Zamboanga waving white flags just before they come under fire, allegedly from government forces.

President Benigno Aquino III downplayed a video circulating online that purportedly shows hostages of the Moro National Liberation Front in Zamboanga City waving white flags before they come under heavy fire, allegedly from government forces, saying it was “unverified” and likely spread as "propaganda.”

"I haven't seen the videos but from the point of view of the Department of Justice, that has not been verified," Aquino said at the annual forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines on Wednesday.

"This smacks a bit of propaganda," he added.

The video, which runs for 3:11 minutes, was posted on the Facebook page of Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari. Misuari, however, does not maintain the page.

The video shows the hostages on a street waving white flags and shouting for a ceasefire before they come under fire but does not show who was shooting at them.

At buildings by the roadside are armed men who appear to be MNLF fighters who, at one point fire what seems to be a recoilless rifle in the direction of where the shots are coming from.

Aquino said the video tended to confirm that the rebels had used civilians as human shields during the close to month-long standoff with government forces in Zamboanga.

"It starts with the violation of international humanitarian law for using human shields.

The bottom-line is, the action of the MNLF brought about the crisis in Mindanao," Aquino said.

He based intelligence reports indicate Misuari is likely still in the country.

Meanwhile, in Zamboanga City, also on Tuesday, policemen and soldiers were awarded for their role in the standoff.

Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, spokesman of Police Regional Office 9, said the awardees, members of Task Force “Suyod” involved in mopping up operations from September 29 to October 20, received the Medalya ng Kagalingan (PNP Medal of Merit), Medalya ng Papuri (PNP Commendation Medal) and Medalya ng Kasanayan (PNP Efficiency Medal).

The Zamboanga standoff, which began on September 9, claimed the lives of more than 200 combatants and civilians and displaced more than 100,000 people, many of who still remain in evacuation centers.

Gunman shoots lawyer, pastor in daring attack in Zamboanga City

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Oct 22): Gunman shoots lawyer, pastor in daring attack in Zamboanga City

A lone gunman shot and wounded a lawyer and a pastor in a daring broad daylight attack on Tuesday in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police said.

Police said lawyer Paulino Ersando and Pastor Pablo Elis were shot in the village of Baliwasan. The duo was travelling in a car on their way to attend the burial of a friend when they were attacked.

Ersando is the president of the Zion Evangelical School in Zamboanga City, while Elis is an evangelical minister. The two were rushed to hospital and are now in stable condition, according to Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, a regional police spokesman.

“The motive of the attack has not yet been established. Police are investigating the attack. The gunman is still at large and is now the subject of police manhunt operation,” Huesca told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Ersando was a former lawyer of two Abu Sayyaf rebels - Jeffrey Jinnul and Adjid Halik - who were arrested in Zamboanga City in 2000. The two men were arrested while trying to exchange more than $200,000 at a local bank. Jinnul and Halik escaped after posting bail. 

The two men were part of a group that held 21 mostly Europeans and Asian holidaymakers kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf from the resort island of Sipadan in Malaysia’s state of Sabah and brought them to Sulu province. The hostages were freed in batches after Malaysia and Libya paid millions of dollars in ransom to the Abu Sayyaf.

In April this year, two motorcycle gunmen also shot and wounded lawyer Homer Mabale and killed two of his staffs in Zamboanga City.

Gun attacks and killings in Zamboanga City are not uncommon and many of the attacks have been blamed to hired killers who are actively operating here and most of the killings remain unresolved.

Philippine court allows $558-bail for captured rebel leader behind kidnappings of Italian, Irish missioners in Mindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Oct 22): Philippine court allows $558-bail for captured rebel leader behind kidnappings of Italian, Irish missioners in Mindanao

A Philippine court has allowed a captured rebel leader to post bail despite a string of criminal cases, including the kidnappings of an elderly Italian and Irish missioners in the southern region of Mindanao.

Police said the court recommended a P24,000 ($558) bail for the temporary freedom of Ogis Jakaria, a notorious commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is now negotiating peace with the Aquino government.

Jakaria is being implicated in the kidnappings of Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi in 2007 in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Payao town and Irish missionary Michael Sinnott in 2009 in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province. Both priests had been freed in exchange for huge ransoms facilitated by private negotiators.

Bossi, who served for over three decades in the Philippines, died last year in Italy. He was 62.  And Sinnot, now 81, has retired in Ireland.

The rebel leader is also facing charges of frustrated homicide for the wounding of 5 soldiers during a clash in October 2011 in Payao.

The 30-year old Jakaria was arrested in May this year in a joint police and military covert operation at the Mindpro Mall in Zamboanga City. Two other men were also arrested in the operation.

Media Statement: His Majesty, Sulu Sultan Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Oct 23): Media Statement: His Majesty, Sulu Sultan Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram

His Majesty, Sulu Sultan Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram 

The Bangsamoro Statement

The tragic events in Zamboanga manifest the intolerable tension. It is more than a conflict: it is a crisis which is ultimately dissatisfying for all the involved. Bloodshed and destruction rather than success or hope entered the city of Zamboanga, a gem of Our Sultanate as well as "the Latin City of Asia," and the home of various cultures and ethnicities.

Peace was broken, as usual, and both sides fought in this name of justice and freedom. But to oppose freedom and justice to peace is not admissible. Freedom and justice must be brought to all the Moro peoples, not only to the lucky survivors of armed conflicts.

The Tausugs constitute a brave nation always ready to the self-sacrifice; but there is no glory in easy pouring either the noble Tausug blood, or anyone else's blood, as far as reason could be used instead. The city of Zamboanga is currently a border city: in some aspects it belongs to the Moroland and in some, to the outer world.

It is telling that this did not prevent the city from being affected so gravely by the current tension. Bangsamoro, as a historically formed phenomenon, is a complicated reality. The effective creation of a formally outlined entity of this name, either as autonomy or a state, is commonly recognized as imminent.

The aim of this reform (whatever are the given programs suggested by the parties) is evident: to provide the Moslem population of Mindanao and Sulu with a just, adequate administration, not culturally alien to the majority of the citizens.

It is the general Moro population whose interests are to be thought of, and ultimately met. It is useful to remember that the current Filipino laws protecting the traditions and customs of the native peoples of the Republic provide the citizens with broad liberties and advantages. Would these laws be properly observed and implemented, the level of the current tensions would be significantly lower.

The laws, states and autonomies, pacts and negotiations are all tools, not aims, and may be used effectively or not. The aims are the Islamic values of justice and kindness, in their quotidian practical application. Some of our compatriots believe that the creation of the Bangsamoro entity, just like in the Big Bang theory, will constitute a decent social and political entity from nothing. This is understandable as a spontaneous aspiration but naive as a view.

It would be pointless to substitute the current model of state as it exists in our lands with any other model imposed "from above" in an artificial way, be it a "Western democracy", or an "Islamic democracy", or anything else.

It is absolutely necessary to recognize the authentic traditions of the Moro nation, or, more precisely, of the Moro peoples of the region, as the fundamental values of the future entity. The Tausugs and their brotherly Moro peoples, splendidly rich traditions and sublime cultural legacy, will make their unique contribution into the international Moslem community and the modern civilised world.

The traditional Sultanates and chiefships constitute a genuine and organic element of this legacy and should be accepted as integral in the course of formation of the modern land of the Moros; not only for the obvious reason that these historical structures embody the true national and religious identity, but also because they would counterbalance the risky novelties, populist tricks and arbitrary decisions which are always unavoidable in the course of a rapid political development.

I say this all as a Sultan of the Tausugs who have a bitter multi-secular experience of resistance and mass slaughters. The Moro peoples suffered enough and deserve freedom and their own home, not a newly built faceless barrack to be thrown into. We must remain ourselves, the proud and dutiful heirs to our fathers and grandfathers.

Independent policing body for Bangsamoro meets to begin work

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Oct 23): Independent policing body for Bangsamoro meets to begin work

The Independent Commission on Policing (ICP) constituted by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Monday, October 21, held its first meeting with the GPH Negotiating Panel in preparation for its task of submitting recommendations to the peace panels on the appropriate form, structures, and relationships of the police force for the envisioned Bangsamoro region.

“This is a getting-to-know-you session and we hope to provide you with some overview of the institutional context of the task on hand” said GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer who presided over the meeting held at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process headquarters in Pasig City.

In attendance were the members of the ICP, namely, Randall Beck as Chairperson (from Canada); retired Police Director Ricardo De Leon (GPH selected local expert); retired Police Chief Superintendent Amerodin Hamdag (MILF selected local expert); Police Dir. Lina Sarmiento (GPH appointed representative); Von Al Haq (MILF appointed representative); and Cedric Netto (international expert from Australia). Another international expert who will be nominated by the Japan government has yet to be named. Hirotaka Ono, First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines and member of the International Contact Group (ICG), attended in the meantime.

During the meeting, Sarmiento discussed the structure, history, and constitutional mandate of the Philippine National Police while Coronel-Ferrer presented the legal framework relevant to policing in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

After the meeting with the Panel, the ICP led by its chairperson proceeded to the Canadian Embassy to hold their organizational meeting. They arranged to continue discussions until Wednesday.

The ICP was convened for the first time in September during the 40th round of talks wherein the parties, in a joint statement, said that “the ICP shall commence its work by mid-October.” The ICP's Terms of Reference was signed by the parties on February 27, 2013 during the 36th GPH-MILF exploratory talks.

As stated in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), the commission “shall recommend appropriate policing within the Bangsamoro which is civilian in character and responsible both to the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government, and to the communities it serves.”

Also present in the said meeting were GPH panel member Undersecretary Yasmin Busran-Lao; Atty. Jesus Doque IV, member of the GPH Technical Working Group on Normalization; and officials of the Canadian Embassy to the Philippines, namely Benoit Girouard and James Christoff. Rasid Ladiasan, Head of Secretariat of the MILF ceasefire committee, also came as notetaker for the MILF representative.