Thursday, April 17, 2014

MILF: Biwang province holds thanksgiving for CAB signing

Posted to the MILF Website (Apr 17): Biwang province holds thanksgiving for CAB signing

Almost five hundred constituents of Biwang Province gathered for the thanksgiving celebration of the recent signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with hope that the peace accord will realize their dreamed Bangsamoro government.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Philippines signed the historic agreement in Malaca┼łang Palace on March 27, 2014.

More than a hundred motorcycles joined the motorcade from Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat to the municipalities of Maitum, Kiamba and Maasim in Sarangani, then back to the assembly area in Barangay Malisbong, Palimbang, where a two-day program was held on April 7 to 8, 2014.

Local leaders spoke expressing their thanks to the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for their patience for almost two decades of peace negotiation. The CAB was reached which paves way to the establishing the Bangsamoro government once the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be ratified by Congress.

Members of the Indigenous Peoples also attended in the gathering. Delegates brought their own foods to share for a feast or Kanduli aside from those prepared by the host communities. Moro songs and cultural performances entertained the crowd.

Personalities from the Nonviolent PeaceForce, an international NGO that is also engaged in ceasefire monitoring, were present during the event. Atty. Emmanuel Fontanilla, spokesperson of the Moro National Liberation Front graced the affair.

Kingboy Bayang, MILF Provincial Political Chairman of Biwang Province, recalled the hardship experienced by those who perished and survived the struggle since the Bangsamoro revolution began in 1968.

He attributed the initial “fruit of the struggle” to the Mujaheedins or freedom fighters. The provincial chairman is very much hopeful that the Philippine government will give the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people to run their own government.

The municipality of Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat, Lake Sebu in South Cotabato and Maitum, Kiamba and Maasim in Sarangani comprise Biwang Province under the MILF political set-up.

The Moro leaders present during the Kanduli urged both Christian Settlers and the Indigenous Peoples to rally behind the quest for the establishment of Bangsamoro government which now lies on the hands of Congressmen and Senators.

On Monday, April 14, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), submitted the draft BBL to Malaca┼łang. It will be certified by the President as urgent bill in Congress.

Concurrently chaired by MILF Peace Panel Mohagher Iqbal, the BTC was commissioned to draft the basic law. The body has reached out various stakeholders to draw recommendations and insights for the inclusive crafting of the BBL.

CPP/NDF: Major Tiongson’s Branding the NPAs as ‘Perpetrators of Extrajudicial Killings’ is ridiculous

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Apr 10): Major Tiongson’s Branding the NPAs as ‘Perpetrators of Extrajudicial Killings’ is ridiculous

NDFP Panay Regional Chapter
Major Tiongson, spokesperson of the 3rd ID, has branded the NPA as self-admitted ‘perpetrators of barbaric extrajudicial killings’ of Demetrio Capilastique, Daniel Batoy, Joven Tababa and Army Corporal Joebert Glindro. What he failed to mention was that these were armed enemy combatants subject to military actions in the prusuit of armed revolution. He maliciously threw in the name of a certain Gina Gestalao whom the NPA have never subjected to armed action nor even know of.

The names mention above were responsible for bloody crimes such as the murder of innocent civilians who got in their way or whom they suspect as sympathetic to the revolutionary movement. Other than Glindro the three others were leaders of the RPA-ABB, a special paramilitary outfit handled by military intelligence officers. Their special role as fascist gangs were to do the dirty job for the military such as extrajudicial killings of civilians whom the military could not harass with trump up charges. This is why Major Tiongson is so concerned about their deaths while denying the 3RD ID’s role in the deaths of businessman Romeo Capalla, Councillor Fernando Baldomero and the abduction and disappearance of Luisa Posa and Nilo Arado, all SELDA members. These victims are engaged in legal political, business and human rights advocacies and were done in by the state for this.

If by the term ‘extrajudicial’ Major Tiongson meant not sentenced by a court under the government of the Philippines (GRP), he was correct. For one, when the NPA engaged armed elements of the GRP in a firefight they do not need a court order to do so. It would be ridiculous, even for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to shoot rebels armed with a court order. The NPA itself does not recognize the GRP’s courts and judicial processes. Even our people recognize the injustice institutionalized by these reactionary courts that favor the rich and powerful and are unjust to the poor suffering masses.

Take the case of Romeo Capalla. The first phase of the GRP’s judicial process already stinks of putting up a fall guy. They have charged a certain Julie Cabino and 4 other John Does. But they could not put in paper the person’s RPA membership as it would open up a can of worms leading up to the military handlers of the RPA. The media were the one’s who traced Cabino’s RPA affiliation and his current address. The public and even the media are commenting that this case is going nowhere.

How could the case prosper if some of those investigating the crime are themselves involve in the 24/7 surveillance of Romeo Capalla while alive. They could not investigate the military’s involvement as borne out of the constant harassment that the military foisted on Romeo Capalla, hounding him with trumped up arson cases and marking him up in its order of battle. Such investigation would only implicate the very investigators of the case. So do you think the NPA would go through the judicial process of the GRP to seek justice?

Having defended the likes of Hugo (Capilastique), Mokong (Batoy) and other RPA leaders, Major Tiongson is slyly admitting that the 3rd ID sanctions the criminal and murderous acts of the RPA. He is also comparing the NPA’s armed attacks on armed elements of the RPA and the military to the state security’s extrajudicial (even by the GRP’s unjust courts) killings. In effect, Major Tiongson has admitted to the equation perfected by the Japanese fascist Kempetai: for every Japanese soldier killed by the guerrillas in armed combat, ten civilians will have their heads cut off by samurai.

87th IB commander encourages media to promote peace

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 16): 87th IB commander encourages media to promote peace

“In peace, everybody wins. Every Filipinos deserve better and peaceful life.”These were uttered by 87th Infantry Battalion Commander Antonio Dulnuan Jr. as he encouraged media partners to pass peace during the media forum held at 87th IB camp, Calbiga, Samar on April 14, Monday.

“Peace cannot be achieved through fear and violence, it can only be attained through understanding,” Dulnuan expressed.

Recently, the New People’s Army (NPA) celebrated their 45th anniversary and according to Dulnuan, this shows the long years of armed struggle in the country.

He also revealed that since 1971, there were 23,472 have already recorded deaths, 12,842 wounded and 2.9 Billion destroyed properties.

“How many more years of fear and violence? We need peace now! Pass the peace please. Let us all come together in peace.”

He also asked the media partners to disseminate what the government is really doing for the betterment of the lives of his people.

He emphasized that each one can make a difference.

During the said activity, some members of the media pledge their commitment to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and vowed that they will spread peace through their media outlets.

Military troops clash with ASGs in efforts at flushing out lawlessness in Basilan

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 16): Military troops clash with ASGs in efforts at flushing out lawlessness in Basilan

Military troops conducting combat operations have encountered early Friday morning an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf Group led by Furuji Indama at Unkaya Pukan town in Basilan.

The Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City said that as per report from the operating units on the ground, there were undetermined number of casualties from the enemy side while eighteen  wounded in action from the government side, who were immediately brought to Zamboanga City for medication via military aircraft.

The clash occurred at around 2:25 a.m.

Capt. Maria Rowena A Muyuela PN(M), WesMinCom Public Information Officer said in a press release that the launching of the said combat operation has been coordinated with the AHJAG, CCCH and the PNP in pursuit of the lawless elements, primarily the ASG, which is believed to be responsible for several extortions and kidnapping cases in Mindanao.

According to 104thBde BGen Calrlito Galvez, the ASG has occupied a school building in Barangay Baguindan.

Galvez said that the operation was intended to seize Furuji Indama and his group who tried to threaten and extort money from the ongoing construction of the Magkawa-Albarka Road.

The said operation was conducted purposely to clear Tipo-Tipo and Albarka of ASG influence to pave the way for the normalization and development of these depressed areas.

Muyuela said the Western Mindanao Command will commit all available air and naval assets in support of the operations in order to immediately seize this group of criminals and bandits.

NPA fired at CAFGU camp in Samar, says Army

From GMA News (Apr 17): NPA fired at CAFGU camp in Samar, says Army

The New People’s Army (NPA) recently attacked a detachment of the Citizen Armed Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Brgy. San Pascual, Catarman, Northern Samar, the Philippine Army (PA) reported on Thursday.

According to the PA’s 803rd Infantry Brigade, about 10 of the attackers positioned themselves 200 to 300 kilometers from the CAFGU camp and started firing at around 10:30 a.m. on Monday, April 14.

The CAFGU is the auxiliary force of the Philippine Army in fighting insurgents.

“The CAFGU and military personnel assigned in the detachment did not return fire as the rebels immediately ran away after firing few rounds,” Captain Amado Gutierrez, spokesperson of the PA 8th Infantry Division in Camp General Vicente, said in a press statement.

No one was reported hurt in the incident.

Gutierrez said troops from the 803rd Infantry Brigade were immediately dispatched after the incident and are currently conducting pursuit operation against the NPA rebels.

“The action of the NPAs in Northern Samar is an act of desperation since they were not able to launch any significant tactical offensives in Northern Samar before, during or after their 45th anniversary on March 29, 2014,” Colonel Herminigildo Aquino, commander of the 803rd Infantry Brigade, said in a statement.

Based on the military estimate, the CPP-NPA was responsible for the deaths of about 30,000 individuals since it was founded in 1969.

According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the CPP-NPA is now down to 4,347 members from more than 26,000 in the late 1980s, with their operations mostly directed against small military and police units and extortion activities against rural businesses.

Military operations in Basilan continue but fighting has subsided

From Business World (Apr 16): Military operations in Basilan continue but fighting has subsided

Military operations against members of the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan are continuing but active hostilities have subsided, said Capt. Ma. Rowena A. Muyuela, Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) spokesperson.

“No firefight has been reported, but the operation is still ongoing,” she told BusinessWorld.

Meanwhile, President Benigno S.C. Aquino III yesterday said the deaths of four members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the military encounter in Basilan will not affect the recently sealed peace pact between the government and the MILF.

“We don’t see this as a big problem or obstacle to the Comprehensive Agreement we signed,” he added.

In an ambush interview Wednesday, Mr. Aquino told reporters that the military did its duty of informing the MILF about the former’s operation against the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG).

Four members of the MILF were among those killed in a firefight between the government forces and the ASG in Basilan last Friday.

A fierce firefight erupted last weekend in Basilan after government troops raided an Abu Sayyaf lair in the town of Tipo-Tipo. The operation was intended to seize Fujiri Indama, one of the leaders of a group that tried to extort money from the contractor of the Magkawa-Albarka Road. The group is also responsible for a spate of violence and kidnappings in Basilan and other parts of this region.

Lt. Col. Ramon P. Zagala, Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) spokesperson, said on Tuesday that the number of soldiers wounded in action in the Basilan clash has climbed to 31. Two soldiers have been killed. On the Abu Sayyaf’s side, 14 were wounded and 18 were killed. The MILF acknowledged four of its members were among those killed.

The fighting between the military and the ASG took place just two weeks after the 10,000-member MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the government -- a deal expected to end the decades-old rebellion in Mindanao.

A ranking leader of the MILF -- Ghazali Jaafar, vice-chairman for political affairs of the MILF -- expressed disappointment over the bloody encounter, saying that what happened in Basilan last week was unfortunate. “This is a moment where we are in a honeymoon with the agreement on the Bangsamoro,” he told BusinessWorld. “This honeymoon should not be disturbed,” he added.

Mr. Aquino said the MILF members killed in the fighting were there as relatives of ASG members and not as members of the MILF. “Those members of theirs [MILF] who were killed were not there as members of the MILF but as relatives of the Abu Sayyaf who were being pursued. So [it was more] personal rather than political or ideological,” he said.

Mr. Jaafar confirmed that there are some MILF members with relatives in the Abu Sayyaf but denied their participation in the battle with the military. “The issue of MILF members helping the Abu Sayyaf is not true. But as to the information that MILF members have relatives from that group is correct,” he said.

On Tuesday, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista visited the Camp Navarro General Hospital where the wounded soldiers are being treated. He also awarded gold cross medals to the relatives of the two soldiers who died in action: 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Fernando Reyeg and Cpl. Loui Orinia.

A report on Tuesday said the Abu Sayyaf members deliberately targeted a military ambulance during the encounter with the government forces in Basilan on April 11.

Ms. Muyuela said ambulance driver Sgt. Rolando Noble was wounded in the attack. “The 104th Army Infantry Brigade has been investigating the incident for appropriate filing of cases against the perpetrators,” she noted.

Earlier, Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita “Ging” Quintos-Deles also expressed confidence that the incident “will not affect the entire process.”

The MILF fighters killed were reportedly helping Abu Sayyaf fighters battling government troops but did so without their leadership’s permission, Ms. Deles said.

“We are still confident that the MILF leadership can bring a huge bulk of their fighters into the fold of the law ... a small number of the rebel force may opt to ignore the peace deal, [but] any such faction would be subjected to law enforcement activities,” she said.

The government panel and the MILF signed the CAB (which contains the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, its four annexes, and one addendum) on March 27.

The agreement outlines the milestones over the next two years that will put in place the Bangsamoro political entity (replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where Basilan is found), the expanded powers of autonomy to be granted to the new political entity, the detailed process of decommissioning the armed component of the MILF, and the mechanisms for increased security in the area.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission recently submitted to the President the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is seen to speed up the process of creating the autonomous region as part of a peace process to end decades of fighting that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Meanwhile, the President is leaving it up to the military to decide whether to declare a Lenten ceasefire with the New People’s Army.

“That’s a tactical decision which I leave to the Chief of Staff, and I await their recommendation,” he said.

Army's 87th Infantry Battalion hands over Philippine Hawk Eagle to DENR

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 17): Army's 87th Infantry Battalion hands over Philippine Hawk Eagle to DENR

In line with its ecological preservation missions, the Calbiga town-based 87th Infantry Battalion on Thursday formally handed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Samar Philippine Hawk Eagle it had rescued shortly after the onslaught of Supertyphoon "Yolanda" last Nov. 8.

The bird was formally handed by 8th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Jet B Velarmino and 87th Infantry Battalion head Lt. Col. Antonio B. Dulnuan to DENR technical director protected area, wildlife and coastal zone management service director Danilo Javier.

The Philippine Hawk Eagle was estimated to be five months old when found wounded in the legs by the troops conducting assessment at the hinterlands of Pinabacdao-Sta Rita, Samar on the effects of "Yolanda".

The troops named the bird “Murayaw”, a Waray-Waray word which means “Peace” and nursed it until it healed.

After the bird regained its strength, Dulnuan directed his troops to contact DENR and arrange for the bird’s turn over for its eventual return to the wild where it belongs.

“While our primary mandate is to protect the people from threat groups, we are fully aware of the national government on its environmental conservation programs and as such, we always provide necessary assistance to DENR. The handing over of the Philippine Hawk Eagle to DENR that was nursed by the 87th Infantry Battalion is a manifestation of our support to the environment conservation program of the government,” Velarmino concluded.

Obama looks to salvage Asia 'pivot' as allies fret about China

Posted to InterAksyon (Apr 17): Obama looks to salvage Asia 'pivot' as allies fret about China

When a Philippine government ship evaded a Chinese blockade in disputed waters of the South China Sea last month, a US Navy plane swooped in to witness the dramatic encounter.

The flyover was a vivid illustration of the expanding significance of one of Asia's most strategic regions and underscored a message that senior US officials say President Barack Obama will make in Asia next week: The "pivot" of US military and diplomatic assets toward the Asia-Pacific region is real.

Washington's Asian allies, however, appear unconvinced.

During Obama's four-nation tour of Asia that begins on April 23, his toughest challenge will be to reassure skeptical leaders that the United States intends to be more than just a casual observer and instead is genuinely committed to countering an increasingly assertive China in the region.

Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula - and perceptions of limited US options to get Moscow to back down - has heightened unease in Japan, the Philippines and elsewhere about whether Beijing might feel emboldened to use force to pursue its territorial claims in the East and South China Seas.

There is also suspicion among some Asian allies that if they come under threat from China, the United States - despite treaty obligations to come to their aid - might craft a response aimed more at controlling damage to its own vital relationship with China, the world's second-biggest economic power.

For Obama, the tricky part of the trip, which will include stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, will be deciding how to set limits on China in a way that soothes US allies in Asia but avoids stoking tensions with Beijing.

"Obama's upcoming visit will be the most critical test of this administration's Asia policy," said Richard Jacobson, a Manila-based analyst with TD International, a business risk and strategic consulting firm.

US officials say the Obama administration's long-promised "rebalancing" of America's economic, diplomatic and security policy toward Asia is on track, largely unaffected by the attention demanded by the crisis in Ukraine or persistent troubles in the Middle East.

The Asia "pivot" - as the White House initially dubbed it - represented a strategy to refocus on the region's dynamic economies as the United States disentangled itself from costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But doubts about Washington's commitment to Asia are simmering in some allied capitals.

"It was a welcome policy change, but will they do it?" Yukio Okamoto, a former Japanese government adviser on foreign affairs said of the strategic shift toward Asia that Obama announced in 2011. "We do not see any actual sign" of its implementation.

When Obama announced the eastward shift, the most dramatic symbol of the new policy was the planned deployment of 2,500 US Marines in northern Australia, where they would be primed to respond to regional conflicts. It took until this month to build up forces to 1,150 Marines based in Darwin, and the full contingent is not due to be in place until 2017.

"The US pivot towards Asia has had very few tangible, concrete outcomes so far," said Adam Lockyer, a foreign policy and defense analyst at the University of New South Wales.

A sign of anxiety

Obama will try to put those concerns to rest while in Manila, where Philippine officials say he is expected to sign a security pact that will allow for increased use of Philippine bases by US ships, aircraft and troops.

Manila's acceptance of a beefed-up US military presence, a politically sensitive issue in the independent-minded archipelago nation, would reveal the scale of Philippine anxiety over China.

The Philippine Senate voted to evict the US military from their bases in 1991, ending 94 years of American military presence in the Philippines, and has only gradually allowed the return of US forces for limited operations during the past decade.

The Philippine government is struggling to keep control of Second Thomas (local name: Ayungin) Shoal, where it has a military outpost on a reef surrounded by Chinese coastguard ships. The outpost itself is a huge, rusting World War Two transport vessel that the Philippine navy intentionally ran aground in 1999 to mark its claim.

Eight or so Filipino soldiers live there for three months at a time in harsh conditions on a reef that Manila says is within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. China, which claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, says the shoal is part of its territory.

Last month, a US surveillance plane was spotted overhead as a Philippine vessel dodged Chinese coastguard vessels to deliver supplies and fresh troops to the outpost.

Such US aircraft normally conduct their missions at higher altitudes, so the fact that its flyover was in full view of journalists monitoring the incident on the surface below suggested that the United States wanted to make its presence known. A Chinese plane and a Philippine military aircraft also flew above the area at different intervals.

The Obama administration has promised that the United States will reposition naval forces so that 60 percent of its warships are based in Asia-Pacific by the end of the decade, up from about 50 percent now. But as the US military budget contracts, that likely would represent part of a shrinking US defense pie.

Obama's aides brush aside complaints about the US follow-through on the pivot strategy, saying that no matter how much attention Washington devotes to friends and partners in the region, the allies will always want more from their superpower friend.

"Questions by Asia-Pacific allies about the degree of American commitment has been a constant component of our relationship for 60-plus years. It's not new," said a senior US official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to comment publicly. "It doesn't mean the US won't do more to work with them."

Making up for Obama's no-show

Obama himself helped to fuel some of the skepticism about the United States' commitment to Asia when he abruptly canceled a long-planned trip to Asia to attend two regional summits last fall and stayed home to deal with a US government shutdown.

Since then, negotiations have dragged on over a proposed US-led trans-Pacific trade pact that is widely seen as the economic centerpiece of Obama's pivot strategy.

In this tense regional climate, Obama can be expected to appeal directly to Asian leaders to have faith in America's resolve to keep China in check and discourage any notion that Beijing could emulate Russia's takeover of Crimea by seizing contested islands and shoals from its neighbors.

"Among countries in Asia, there has been an increase in the level of anxiety about what lessons China may be drawing from Russia and Ukraine," the senior US official said.

While sticking to a US refusal to take sides in the maritime disputes, Obama will seek to reassure South Korea, Japan and the Philippines that Washington is "fully committed to our defense treaties" with them, the official said.

Obama's Japanese hosts likely will only be satisfied if the president takes a tough stand against China and in solidarity with Japan amid growing concern that Washington's defense commitment may be wavering.

Tokyo and Beijing are locked in a bitter row in the East China Sea over tiny, uninhabited isles administered by Japan, especially since China announced the creation of a controversial new air defense zone covering the area, which the Japanese call Senkaku and the Chinese call Diaoyu.

Relations between Japan and China have been further poisoned by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a controversial shrine for war dead seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism - a move that drew US criticism as well.

Obama, the US official said, will send a message during his Asian tour to China that "it should not use intimidation or coercion" against its neighbors.

That is not likely to go down well in Beijing, where visiting US Secretary of State Chuck Hagel faced harsh accusations last week from Chinese officials who claimed that Washington's regional agenda was aimed at blocking China's rise.

5 Abu Sayyaf killed, teenage rebel nabbed in Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Apr 16): 5 Abu Sayyaf killed, teenage rebel nabbed in Philippines

Five Abu Sayyaf rebels were killed following a firefight with government soldiers in Patikul town in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials announced on Wednesday.

Officials said the rebels were onboard a vehicle when they opened fire on marines manning a checkpoint in the village of Bangkal on the night of April 13. The soldiers pursued the attackers and engaged them in a running gunbattle that left 5 rebels dead.

“According to an official report received from the ground units, the incident transpired when the Marine troops conducting checkpoint signaled and tried to stop the approaching vehicle (Tamaraw FX), but instead, they were fired upon by the passengers aboard said vehicle. The troops then immediately reacted and retaliated while the vehicle speeds up.”

“The marines immediately conducted pursuit operation which led them to recover the vehicle and one cadaver which was positively identified as an Abu Sayyaf member, and it was also disclosed that the other four Abu Sayyafs were seriously wounded and later died in an undisclosed area,” said Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command.

She said the vehicle and the cadaver were handed over to the local municipal government and police authorities.

Muyuela said the operations against the Abu Sayyaf are continuing in Sulu and she also appealed to the public to help in the campaign against kidnappings and terrorism by providing authorities with information about lawless elements or suspicious persons in their communities.

“The military is continuously intensifying efforts to address the threats posed by the Abu Sayyaf in the Sulu province,” she said.

Just recently, a 17-year old member of the Abu Sayyaf, Jelam Elah alias Jihad and Jers, was also arrested at a marine checkpoint in the village of Bungkaung in Patikul town following a tip off from local villagers.

Elah, a resident of Budkaha in the town’s Maligay village, was travelling on a motorcycle when he was stopped at the checkpoint. During interrogation, Elah admitted to be a member of the so-called Lucky 9 group under Abu Sayyaf leader Ninok Sapari, whose members are mostly young men, tagged as behind the recent kidnappings in the province and the attacks on military targets in Patikul.

PMA to showcase military tradition in Zamboanga City

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Apr 16): PMA to showcase military tradition in Zamboanga City

The public is up for a rare public performance by cadets from the prestigious Philippine Military Academy who will hold a silent drill exhibition in Zamboanga City in Mindanao.

Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the cadets will hold their exhibition at Paseo del Mar, Naval Forces Western Mindanao and in Western Mindanao Command Grandstand on April 21, 22 and 23, respectively. 

She said this exhibition is part of their annual Southern Cruise. “The silent drill exhibition will be performed by the third class cadets of PMA Class 2017 which will showcase the finest movements in military marching and formation. The main highlight of the Southern Cruise is to promote PMA in the different areas in order to recruit the best, brightest and the fittest applicants for the military service,” Muyuela said.

She said in this activity, cadets will also be oriented in the different units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that will help them choose which branch of service they will serve — the Army, the Navy or the Air Force - after graduating from the academy located in Baguio City.

“This is a continuing activity, after the successful conduct of the Southern Cruises for PMA classes 2014 and 2015 in the past two years — a revival after 20 years,” she said.

The cadets have recently visited the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City. Also in the list of their visitation are Cebu City, Cavite, Corregidor Island and Puerto Princesa in Palawan province.

Cadets follow very unique customs and traditions that are premised on the principle that "no one is fit to command who has not learned to obey. To build the desirable character traits expected of cadets, they live under an atmosphere of restraint prescribed by rules and regulations.

MILF accuses Philippine military of attacking rebel forces

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Apr 17): MILF accuses Philippine military of attacking rebel forces

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has accused the Philippine military of attacking its forces in the southern province of Basilan and said three of its fighters had been killed by soldiers.

It said one civilian, Julamri Bapakil was also killed and three others wounded - Adzmar Abdurahim, 14; Hudri Julamri, 16; and Basri Pamasad, 17; and Jihad Abdurajim, 17 - by the military assault in the towns of Ungkaya Pukan and Tipo-Tipo.

The MILF identified its slain members as Basir Kerok, Soy Tarung and Mohammad Soh. Two other fighters, Totong Ausal and Muthim Imam, were also wounded in the fighting. It said the military violated the cease-fire agreement between the MILF and the government.

Abu Sayyaf

The military’s Western Mindanao Command said it launched the operation on April 11 against the Abu Sayyaf which is being blamed for the spate of terrorism and ransom kidnappings in Basilan and other parts of western Mindanao. The clashes also killed two soldiers and wounded 29 more.

Marine Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the military assault targeted Abu Sayyaf leaders Puruji Indama and Nurhassan Jamiri, who have been harassing workers at a government road project there.

She said the military operation was coordinated with the MILF in Basilan, one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and is also a known stronghold of the rebel group.

“The launching of the combat operation has been coordinated with the AHJAG, CCCH and the PNP in pursuit of the lawless elements, primarily the Abu Sayyaf, which is believed to be responsible in several extortion and kidnapping cases here in the Mindanao area,” Myuela said.

AHJAG refers to the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group and the CCCH is the abbreviation for the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities which is part of the peace panels of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that ensures the mechanism of the cease-fire agreement is not violated.

Truce violated

But the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group which recently signed a peace deal with Manila, denied the military report, saying the assault was launched without any coordination and this sparked fierce gun battle between its forces and government troops after security forced encroached into its territories.

“The movement of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) soldiers was not in any way coordinated with CCCH neither the military informed the AHJAG. The encounter could had been avoided had the military coordinated with the GPH-MILF CCCH and the International Monitoring Team,” the MILF said.

It said the military assault against the Abu Sayyaf in the village of Kurellem lasted only for two hours, the exchanged of gun fire between the aggressed MILF forces and the government troops took several hours.

“Heavy damages were also reported on a school building, madrasah, mosque and agricultural crops due to relentless artillery shelling and helicopter machinegun fire,” it said.

MILF rebels aided Abu Sayyaf

AFP chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said they have reports that MILF rebels fought alongside Abu Sayyaf militants in Basilan.

“We were running after the ASG, yun MILF kinausap sila through our mechanisms that we are going to launch enforcement operations and they supported that.  Kung saan ay mayroon silang mga members that they cannot control, may mga kamag-anak sila sa Abu Sayyaf (and) they probably joined (the fighting) in their individual capacity (and) not as MILF (as an organization), as relatives...naguusap yun MILF and AFP so it’s very clear yun,” Bautista told reporters while visiting wounded troops in Zamboanga City.

Bautista said some MILF members who have relatives with the Abu Sayyaf were involved in the fighting.

“There is no participation of the MILF in the operations. May usapan tayo with the MILF and it is working and kausap natin yun mga commander nila during the operations and they support our operations. Ngayon alam naman natin na ang MILF ay irregular force yan, minsan mayroong kamag-anak ang ASG doon, Ganoon ang nangyari,” he said.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said they are still verifying reports that as many as 32 rebels were killed and wounded in the fighting. “We are checking this report that at least 18 rebels were killed and 14 others were wounded in the clashes. All these (reports) came from the grounds,” Tutaan told The Manila Times.

Despite the massive military assault, the militants escaped, but the military said the operation against the Abu Sayyaf will not stop. Some 200 soldiers under the command of Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez had taken part in the offensive.

Notorious kidnappers arrested in Zamboanga province

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Apr 17): Notorious kidnappers arrested in Zamboanga province

Philippines authorities are holding three men implicated in the series of kidnappings in Western Mindanao region.

The trio Abral Abdusalam, Rating Hadjirul and Kismir Hadjurul were arrested by police and military units in a house in the village of Timbang-Timbang in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Alicia town and are currently being interrogated.

They were tracked down in the house of Hadjirul where authorities also seized an M16 automatic rifle and a magazine, one fragmentation grenade, police and military uniforms and two mobile phones.

Police said Abral Abdusalam, a brother of a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader Waning Abdusalam, has a string of criminal cases and is long wanted by authorities for his involvement in many ransom kidnappings in the region.

It said the police operation was conducted in the presence of village chieftain Hussein Abdulasalam.

There was no report about Waning or if was in the area when police arrested the trio. Waning was also linked to the kidnapping of Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Ipil town on December 2011 and freed in June 2013 after his brother and sister paid $94,600 ransom.