Sunday, December 15, 2013

OIC rebukes Misuari

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 16): OIC rebukes Misuari

Condemns Zambo raid as ‘wrong  move’

THE influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation chided Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari for masterminding a three-week hostage siege in Zamboanga City in September, a diplomatic source said Sunday.

The high-level diplomat who attended the recently concluded 40th Council of Foreign Ministers in Conakry, Republic of Guinea, said OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called for a closed-door meeting to discuss the Zamboanga attack.

Secretary General Ihsanoglu said Misuari made a ‘wrong move’ when he resorted to violence in trying to assert his cause,” the source said in an e-mail interview from Conakry.

The siege left more than 200 people dead and displaced some 120,000 residents in Zamboanga City.

The OIC also adopted a resolution calling on its Peace Committee on the Southern Philippines “to exert their efforts in order not to allow these unfortunate events to derail the peace process.”

In the resolution, the group said the loss of innocent lives and property during the Misuari-led MNLF attack was “deplorable.”

The OIC resolution also “called upon member states and Islamic relief organizations to help generously in the efforts of relief and reconstruction operation to allow the quick return of the many thousand displaced people to their homes and to compensate the victims.”

The group, however, has yet to comment on the petition of other MNLF groups who want to have Misuari replaced as the sole representative of the Bangsamoro people before the OIC.

The petition has been officially communicated to the OIC-Peace Committee on the Southern Philippines.

The MNLF seat remained vacant throughout the meeting in Conakry even if Misuari spokesman Emmanuel Fontanilla claimed that the wanted MNLF leader was able to slip out of the Philippines to attend the OIC meeting.

The Department of Foreign Affairs cancelled Misuari’s passport in October following the issuance of a warrant of arrest against him over the Zamboanga attack.

The OIC earlier expressed its full support to the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front even as it called for an “integration” of the MILF and MNLF peace processes.

In a separate resolution, the OIC tasked Ihsanoglu to “exert his efforts to find common grounds between the parties to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (MILF) and the 1996 Agreement on the implementation of the 1976 Peace Agreement (MNLF).”

The OIC also urged Ihsanoglu to “develop a mechanism to ensure that the gains of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement are preserved and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and its annexes are fully implemented with the end goal of integrating the gains achieved in these peace agreements in the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

The government and the MILF have already concluded three of the four remaining annexes - on power-sharing, wealth-sharing, and transitional arrangements—that will form part of the comprehensive peace agreement that both sides wish to conclude in January.

Both panels expect to sign the remaining annex normalization (or the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of MILF fighters) as well as an addendum on the Bangsamoro waters next month.

NPA’s intensified attacks part of its 44th anniversary rites — military spokesman

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 16): NPA’s intensified attacks part of its 44th anniversary rites — military spokesman

The communist New People’s Army (NPA) has intensified attacks against government troops and installations as part of its 44th anniversary celebration on Dec. 26, a military spokesman said yesterday.

Capt. Christian Uy, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID), theorized that the NPA wants to project its force to celebrate its anniversary.

“The root of these (attacks) is that they (NPAs) want to grab the limelight because of their upcoming anniversary,” Uy said.

“It’s just to show force for their upcoming anniversary, their way of celebration is killing, burning down properties and raids,” he added.

On Saturday, the NPA rebels launched two separate attacks against military and police in Bukidnon and Misamis Occidental.

An Army man was killed while another one was wounded after they were ambushed by NPA rebels in San Fernando town, Bukidnon.

According to Uy, elements of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion were on their way back to camp after a combat operation at around 8 p.m. when they were waylaid.

Uy said that around five NPA rebels staged the ambush along Barangay Namnam in San Fernando town.

One soldier was killed while another was wounded during the attack.

Uy said the troops managed to engage the communist ambushers into a 10-minute fire fight. According to Uy, the troops had just conducted combat operation in Barangay Bonacao when they were attacked.

Pursuit operations were immediately launched against the NPA band.

In Misamis Occidental, communist rebels also swooped down on Don Victoriano Chiongbian MPS, carting away seven M16 Armalite rifles, nine pistols, a .60 caliber machinegun, an M203 grenade launcher and numerous ammunition.

Last Dec. 11, NPA rebels raided the Kibawe Municipal Police Station also in Bukidnon, killing one policeman while three others were wounded. The communists also carted away several high-powered firearms.

NPA raid 2nd Mindanao police station in 3 days

From InterAksyon (Dec 14): NPA raid 2nd Mindanao police station in 3 days

Just two days after raiding the police station of Kibawe, Bukidnon, New People’s Army guerrillas on Saturday morning struck at another police station in Mindanao, this time that of Don Victoriano Chiongbian in Misamis Oriental.

Lieutenant Colonel Rommel Almaria, commanding officer of the 55th Infantry Battalion, said more than 30 rebels, clead in military camouflage, stormed the police station at around 5 a.m., quickly disarming the personnel on duty and carting away an M60 light machinegun, an M203 grenade launcher-equipped rifle, seven M16 assault rifles, nine pistols and ammunition.

“The rebels withdrew towards the hinterland of Josefina, Zamboanga del Sur utilizing a white Revo,” Almaria said.

Almaria said troops from his battalion’s Alpha Company rushed to aid the police but ran into the rebel blocking force in Barangay Bag-ong Tudela, Josefina, Zamboanga del Sur at around 6 a.m., triggeirng a 25-minute firefight.

“The rebels detonated a landmine but inflicted no casualty to the operating troops,” Almaria said.

On Thursday, more than 50 rebels attacked the Kibawe police station, killing a police and wounding three others.

They also took several weapons and ammunition.

Meanwhile, soldiers of the 20th Special Forces Company of the 6th Special Forces Battalion encountered a group of rebels in Barangay Bato, Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte also on Saturday.

The soldiers recovered a Garand rifle and ammunition.

Tabak Division gets 138 news soldiers

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 15): Tabak Division gets 138 news soldiers

Awarding of candidates soldiers who finish Jungle Warfare Mountaineering Operation Course.

PAGADIAN CITY – Some 138 candidate soldiers finished Sunday the Jungle Warfare Mountaineering Operation Course at an army base in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Sur, officials said.

Officials said candidate soldier Rodel Babao, of Isabela City in Basilan province, topped the course and was followed by Richard Aninion and Nover Rillera, both from Molave town in Zamboanga del Sur province.

Captain Jefferson Somera, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, said the class which opened in June originally had 144 candidate soldiers and only 138 graduated the rigors of military trainings and discipline.

He said among the 138 candidate soldiers, 42 of them were college graduate, 62 college level and 28 finished vocational courses. He added that 25 were high school graduates, but proved to be deserving candidates as they possessed the skills required to qualify for enlistment.

Brigadier General Felicito Virgilio Trinidad, Jr, the division commander, praised the soldiers. “You are the new breed of the Philippine Army under the Army Transformation Road Map. We are expecting from you as your parents and relatives do, to perform your duty to the best of your ability. You are now a soldier of the people, serve them well,” he said.

DND to acquire drones, surveillance equipment

From ABS-CBN (Dec 15): DND to acquire drones, surveillance equipment

The Department of National Defense (DND) will acquire drones and other surveillance equipment to boost the Philippine Marines’ security and search and rescue operations.

The items form part of the Marine Forces Imagery and Targeting Support System Acquisition Project worth P684 million, according to a bid bulletin released by the agency.

The project involves the acquisition of six sets of drones or small unmanned aerial vehicle sub-systems, nine sets of target acquisition device sub-systems, 12 kits of tactical sensor integration sub-systems, and an integrated logistics support package.

The equipment will be used by the three Marine brigades in Sulu, Central Mindanao and Palawan.

 Navy spokesman Lt. Commander Gregory Fabic said on Friday drones can be used for surveillance and for search and rescue efforts.

“It will serve as our eye in the sky without the risk of personnel casualty,” Fabic said. “Since a drone has a camera, the area to be covered by reconnaissance operations will be wider. It can also help us detect missing persons.”

The DND is now inviting companies to bid for the project. The equipment will be acquired through competitive bidding in line with the implementing rules of the procurement law.

Bidders should have completed within five years from the date of the submission of bids a contract similar to the project. The deadline for the submission of bids is on Jan. 6, 2014.

The goods to be offered should have been used by military forces of the countries of origin of the suppliers or by the armed forces of at least two other countries.

Late bids as well as those that exceed the approved budget of P684 million will be rejected.

Interested parties may buy bid documents from the bids and awards committee secretariat for P75,000.

They may also be downloaded from the website of the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System but the bidder will have to pay for them before the submission of bids.

NPA kills one soldier, injures another

From ABS-CBN (Dec 15): NPA kills one soldier, injures another

Alleged members of the New People's Army (NPA) killed one elite soldier and injured another during an ambush in San Fernando town in Bukidnon on Saturday night.

Earlier in the day, the rebels also raided the Don Victoriano Chiongbian town police station in Misamis Occidental and sequestered a number of firearms which include an M203 grenade launcher, nine handguns, a cal. 60 machine gun, seven armalite rifles, and various ammunition.

According to Captain Christian Uy, spokesman of the Philippine Army's 4th Infantry Division, the ambush in San Fernando happened at 8 p.m.

Uy said that the troops were sent to Barangay Bunakaw in San Fernando after the army received reports confirming the rebels’ presence in the area. When they were already returning to their camp, they were attacked by roughly five rebels.

"The rebels withdrew as the troops returned fire," said Uy.

Uy reported that the soldier who was killed is a private first class while the injured holds a corporal rank.

The army refused to reveal the soldiers’ identities until their families have been duly notified.

Uy said the series of attacks is part of the celebration of the 45th foundation anniversary of the NPA’s political arm, the Communist Party of the Philippines, on December 26.

"They just want to project that they are still a force to reckon with when their strength continues to decline. They usually do this when their anniversary is approaching. What they want to celebrate is the number of people they kill.”

The incident is the third encounter between the rebels and the government soldiers since the former attacked the Kibawe town police station in Bukidnon last Thursday.

One soldier killed, another injured in Bukidnon clash

From the Philippine Star (Dec 15): One soldier killed, another injured in Bukidnon clash

A soldier was killed and another was wounded in a clash between government troops and leftist rebels yesterday, the military said today.

The firefight in San Fernando town of Mindanao's Bukidnon province happened just days after New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas attacked a police station in Kibawe town, also in Bukidnon, which left two policemen dead, said Christian Uy, regional army spokesperson.

Soldiers from the army's 2nd Scout Rangers Battalion were on their way back to camp from a combat patrol when they chanced upon an undetermined number of NPA insurgents, triggering a ten-minute clash, Uy told Xinhua in a text message.

"One soldier was killed and another was wounded. We're conducting pursuit operations (against the rebels)," said Uy.

This was the third attack by NPA rebels since Thursday. Over a dozen firearms were carted and two other policemen were wounded as dozens of NPA guerrillas stormed the Kibawe police station on Thursday. Early on Saturday, the leftist rebels also attacked a police station in Misamis Occidental province, taking away weapons, although there were no immediate reports of police casualties.

JICA extends $184-M loan for PCG vessels

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 15): JICA extends $184-M loan for PCG vessels

Amid ongoing territorial disputes with China, President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will loan $184 million for the purchase of 10 Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels.

The President, in a press conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, announced that the agreement with JICA has been signed.

“Nalagdaan na po ang 184 million dollars na pautang mula sa Japan International Cooperation Agency, para makabili ng sampung Coast Guard vessels na magbabantay sa ating mga baybayin,” he said.

(“The $184-million loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, for the purchase of ten Coast Guard vessels that will guard our shores, has been signed,” he said.)

Aquino was recently in Japan for the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit.
He said the vessels, which are expected to be delivered by 2015, will boost the country’s maritime security.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said the PCG will receive ten 40-meter multi-purpose vessels.

“With the purchase of new vessels, the PCG could upgrade its current fleet that will strengthen its task of defending the country’s exclusive economic zone. The new sea crafts, once turned over to the PCG, will do patrols in several contested territories in the West Philippine Sea,” the report said.

Al-Qaeda more dangerous than ever

From InterAksyon (Dec 15): Al-Qaeda more dangerous than ever

Al Qaeda chieftain Ayman al-Zawahiri (AFP/Getty Images files)

More than two and a half years after US commandos shot dead Al-Qaeda figurehead Osama bin Laden, the global extremist network is more dangerous than ever, American experts and counterterrorism officials warned this week.

Thanks notably to a flood of recruits flowing to join Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist forces fighting in Syria's civil war, the group is back on its feet, and securing territory from which it could once more threaten Europe and the United States.

Bin Laden's former lieutenants in Al-Qaeda's historic leadership have been killed by US Special Forces or in drone strikes, or else are isolated and on the run in the tribal badlands on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

But armed groups in Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and West Africa have flocked to his banner and Al-Qaeda is rebuilding its influence and recruiting fighters across the region.

"Their leadership has been hit very hard, but this brand is still growing. And it's growing from an increased number of safe havens," said retired US Marine Corps general James Mattis.

Between 2010 and earlier this year, Mattis led US Central Command, in charge of prosecuting Washington's long war against extremists in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and the Horn of Africa.

Now he has hung up his uniform, but admits the war is far from over, warning: "The congratulations that we heard two years ago on the demise of Al-Qaeda were premature and are now discredited."

Speaking at the Jamestown Foundation's annual conference on terrorism in Washington, Mattis said: "Al-Qaeda is resilient, they adapted. We have to think strategically before we act, not only act tactically."

Bin Laden's death in May 2011 triggered a wave of optimism that the United States and its allies might have broken the back of the jihadist threat, but today officials here are under no illusions.

Since the audacious commando strike that took out Al-Qaeda's apparently largely symbolic chieftain, the black banner of his movement has been raised more widely than ever.

Militants inspired by or linked to Bin Laden's brand of armed jihad have sacked a US consulate in Libya and stormed a shopping mall in Kenya.

Attacks are on the rise once again in Iraq, Al-Qaeda has reportedly begun operating in Egypt's Sinai desert and violent extremist groups are now the most powerful elements in the rebel coalition fighting in the Syrian civil war.

Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, told the Jamestown conference that collapsing states in the Middle East were opening up space for extremists.

"The oxygen that Al-Qaeda depends on is access to sanctuaries and safe haven. And unfortunately over the past two years it gained greater access to more ungoverned spaces," he said.

"The success of the attack in Nairobi and earlier in Mumbai suggests that this groups have now within their capacity the ability to fulfill one of Bin Laden's last commands or operational desires, which was to stage Mumbai-style attacks in Europe."

For the experts gathered in Washington, Syria's civil war -- which has attracted Islamist volunteers from Muslim communities in Europe as well as Arab countries -- has worked greatly to Al-Qaeda's advantage.

"The Al-Qaeda affiliated groups have created an alliance which disposes of 45,000 guerrilla fighters across the country," said David Kilcullen, a renowned counterinsurgency expert who has advised US forces in the field.

"It's a very significant number, almost twice as many as we see in terms of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan," he said. "We're seeing a recovery on all fronts for Al-Qaeda."

For Bruce Riedel, a three-decade CIA veteran who now works for the Brookings Institution, Al-Qaeda's resurgence is proof that it has managed to ride out and ultimately profit from the revolts that have roiled the Middle East and North Africa.

"Al-Qaeda's narrative was challenged in 2011 by the Arab Spring. Peaceful demonstrations succeeded in toppling dictators. Al-Qaeda's narrative was at risk. Terror had not produced change, Twitter had," Riedel said.

"But today, everything is different. Al-Qaeda's narrative is validated in 2013, most notably in Egypt. The counterrevolution has succeeded, the army has overthrown the elected government.

"For those who want to join Al-Qaeda's movement, events in Cairo, in Damascus have validated what they long said: Jihad is the only solution to the problem of change in the Muslim world today."

Rebels attack Misamis Oriental police station, 12 firearms taken

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 15): Rebels attack Misamis Oriental police station, 12 firearms taken

Units from the 1st Infantry Division are now hot on the trail of the 30 or more New People's Army (NPA) fighters who raided the police station in Don Victoriano Chiongbian town, Misamis Oriental early Saturday morning.

Capt. Jefferson Somera, 1st Infantry Division spokesperson, said the raid took place around 5 a.m.

"Some of the rebels arrived on a white Toyota Revo while the others were on foot," he added.

Although no one was hurt nor killed in the rebel raid, the NPAs succeeded in stealing 12 firearms, including six Armalite rifles and a light machine gun.

Somera said that responding military units clashed with the NPA's "blocking force" in the neighboring town of Josefina while on the way to reinforce the Don Victoriano Chiongbian police.

The rebels detonated a landmine during the clash with members of the 55th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Tudela before withdrawing, but no one was injured, Somera said.

The raid in Don Victoriano Chiongbian town came just two days after NPA members carried out an attack in another police station in Kibawe, Bukidnon, on Thursday.

One policeman was killed and three others were injured in the earlier incident, where rebels also seized a total of 13 firearms from the Kibawe police.

Aquino signs Japan loan for acquisition of new vessels for Philippine Coast Guard

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 15): Aquino signs Japan loan for acquisition of new vessels for Philippine Coast Guard
President Benigno S. Aquino III said the US$ 184-million loan to acquire 10 multi-role vessels from Japan as additional sea assets of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is a done deal.

“Bago tayo lumipad pauwi, tuloy pa rin ang pagdating ng good news. Nalagdaan na po ang US$ 184 million na pautang mula sa Japan International Cooperation Agency para makabili ng sampung Coast Guard vessels na magbabantay sa ating mga baybayin,” the President said in his arrival message at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 Sunday.

The President arrived from Japan after attending the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit.

The President said that he expected that after the bidding process, the first shipment of the newly-acquired 40-meter multi-purpose vessels would arrive in the country in 2015.

With the purchase of new vessels, the PCG could upgrade its current fleet that will strengthen its task of defending the country’s exclusive economic zone.

The new sea crafts, once turned over to the PCG, would do patrols in several contested territories in the West Philippine Sea.