Saturday, May 3, 2014

DOS: Excerpt from Country Reports on Terrorism--Chapter 2 Country Reports: East Asia and Pacific--Overview and Philippines

From the U.S. Department of State (Apr 30): Excerpt from Country Reports on Terrorism--Chapter 2 Country Reports: East Asia and Pacific--Overview and Philippines


Overall, countries in the East Asia and Pacific region continued to weaken the ability of terrorist groups to operate and constrain the activities of large terrorist organizations such as Jemaah Islamiya (JI), Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Ongoing concerns remained, however, notably in Indonesia, where terrorist attacks on police continued, and in the southern Philippines, where improvised explosive device (IED) attacks occurred on several occasions in Mindanao and rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) conducted a violent three-week siege of Zamboanga City that killed dozens of Philippine Security Force members and displaced thousands. The tri-border region of the Sulu Sea remained an area of concern for cross-border weapons smuggling and kidnapping for ransom.

The Philippine government moved closer to a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) by signing three of the four annexes to the 2012 Peace Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), but terrorist incidents such as bombings and raids were more frequent in 2013 than in the years preceding the signing.

The trend of violent extremists focusing on domestic targets continued in Indonesia, with numerous attacks on police, including a series of separate high-profile attacks in which four Indonesia law enforcement officials were killed and seven were wounded. Indonesia also experienced its first suicide bombing in two years when a motorcycle-riding bomber targeted a police facility in Poso, Central Sulawesi. Challenges presented by overcrowded prisons and weaknesses in correctional facility management and security were highlighted when inmates, including convicted terrorists, escaped in a series of prison breaks.

Malaysia continued its legal reform efforts in 2013, bringing charges under the new Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act of 2012 (SOSMA). Malaysia arrested former al-Qa’ida operative Yazid Sufaat, who was the first to be charged under SOSMA. In Thailand, two Iranians behind a failed 2012 plot, in which explosives were accidentally set off that allegedly were targeting Israeli diplomats in Bangkok, were convicted.

Australia maintained its position as a regional leader in the fight against terrorism and worked to strengthen the Asia-Pacific region’s counterterrorism capacity through a range of bilateral and regional initiatives in organizations such as ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Pacific Island Forum. The Japanese government continued to participate in international counterterrorism efforts at multilateral, regional, and bilateral levels through the ASEAN-Japan Counterterrorism meeting and the Japan-China Counterterrorism Consultations.


Overview: The Philippines maintained its strong counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. The ability of terrorist groups, including the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Jemaah Islamiya (JI), and the Communist People’s Party/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA), to conduct terrorist activities inside the Philippines remained constrained. Terrorist group actions included criminal activities designed to generate revenue for self-sustainment, such as kidnapping for ransom or extortion, in addition to bombings for hire. In addition, members of these groups were suspected to have carried out bombings against government, public, and private facilities, primarily in the central and western areas of Mindanao; while others were linked to extortion operations in other parts of the country. Terrorist groups in the southern Philippines actively conducted bomb-making training, small-scale shootings, and ambushes.

The Government of the Philippines continued to implement its 2011–2016 Internal Peace and Security Plan that calls for the transition of internal security functions from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to the Philippine National Police (PNP). The increasing role and capability of the police to maintain internal security in conflict-affected areas will permit the AFP to shift its focus to enhancing the country's maritime security and territorial defense capabilities. To date, however, this transition has been slow and ineffective.

In 2013 the peace panels of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed three of four annexes to the 2012 Peace Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), which lays out a roadmap to a comprehensive peace agreement and calls for the creation of a new, autonomous Bangsamoro entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). However, during the year, rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) conducted a three-week violent siege of Zamboanga City, a major city in the southern Philippines, killing dozens of Philippine security forces members and displacing thousands of civilians. Also, a number of smaller armed groups in Mindanao conducted bombings, raids, and kidnapping for ransom with increased frequency compared to the years before the MILF signed the FAB.

2013 Terrorist Incidents: High-profile terrorist incidents included:
  • On January 21, a bicycle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) at Lligan City injured10 people.
  • On February 4, an IED placed on a parked motorcycle exploded in front of a restaurant at Tubod Lanao del Norte, resulting in five wounded.
  • On May 25, ASG militants were involved in an hour-long gun battle near Patikul, Sulu, which killed seven Philippine Marines and injured nine; and killed five ASG and injured 10.
  • On June 22, ASG kidnapped two sisters who were filming a documentary on Sulu. They were being held in Sulu at year’s end.
  • On July 26, Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao (KIM) – one of several emerging small violent extremist groups in Mindanao called the Black Flag Movement – was blamed for conducting an IED attack in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) at the Kyla's Bistro in the Limketkai Commercial Center, which killed six and injured more than 40. Most victims were medical practitioners and pharmaceutical sales representatives in CDO for a national medical convention. Components recovered from post-blast investigation indicated a command-detonated IED concealed in a backpack.
  • On August 5, a vehicle-borne IED (VBIED) detonated on a main street near the center of Cotabato City, killing eight and injuring 34. The VBIED detonated when the Cotabato City Mayor's bullet-proof SUV neared the site. The Mayor was not in the vehicle, but the City Administrator was. A large fire damaged several buildings and vehicles nearby.
  • On September 9, approximately 250 members of MNLF seized several villages and numerous hostages throughout Zamboanga City in Mindanao. The siege lasted three weeks, leading to the deaths of dozens of Philippines Security Forces (PSF) members and 180 MNLF, and destroyed 344,400 square meters of urban space, resulting in over 100,000 evacuees, several thousand of whom remained homeless at year’s end.
  • On September 16, two IEDs detonated in cinemas at two different malls in Davao City. Five people were injured. At year’s end, the Philippine government had not identified who was responsible.
  • On September 23, members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked Mlang village in North Cotabato, taking more than 20 civilians hostages at Malingaw Elementary School. The attack resulted in the killing of two individuals and displaced more than 2,000.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The 2007 Human Security Act is the principal counterterrorism legislation in the Philippines. The law defines terrorism and provides methods for law enforcement to conduct investigations of terrorist suspects. President Aquino has prioritized the adoption of amendments to the Human Security Act in three main areas: revising the definition of terrorism to conform to international standards; easing strict monetary penalties and prison terms against law enforcement officials involved in cases where individuals are wrongly accused and later acquitted; and removing barriers to support investigations.

Despite those legislative efforts, an under-resourced and understaffed law enforcement and judicial system coupled with widespread official corruption resulted in limited domestic investigations, unexecuted arrest warrants, few prosecutions, and lengthy trials of cases. Philippine investigators and prosecutors lacked necessary tools to build strong cases such as clear processes for requesting judicially authorized interception of terrorist communications, entering into plea bargains with key witnesses, and seizing assets of those suspected in benefiting from terrorism.

The United States continued to work with the Government of the Philippines to investigate subjects associated with the development and operations of a JI training camp in the southern Philippines. The Government of the Philippines has arrested multiple persons with suspected ties to ASG and JI.
  • On June 16, the PNP arrested five suspected ASG members and seized numerous IED-making components.
  • On July 23, a trial commenced in Cebu City against two members of the MNLF, Ronnie Jammang and Marlon Jilhano, for the IED attack on a U.S. convoy in Kagay, Jolo, in 2009, which killed two U.S. Servicemen and one Philippine Marine. The trial was subsequently postponed for the remainder of 2013 because of a major earthquake that damaged Cebu’s Hall of Justice.
  • On November 5, Jabide Abdul, a leader of the al-Khobat Group, which the PNP reports had ties with JI and is believed to be responsible for several bomb attacks in Central Mindanao, was arrested by Sultan Kudarat. Abdul was the subject of several arrest warrants for murder, destruction of property, and related crimes.
The Philippines Antiterrorism Council (ATC) provides guidance to agencies responsible for enforcing terrorism laws. In 2013, the UN Office of Drug Control worked with the ATC to develop a manual on Collaborative Intelligence, Investigation and Prosecution of Terrorism-Related Cases in the Philippines. Coordination between law enforcement, investigators, and prosecutors, however, remained sporadic.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) maintains legal responsibility for ensuring peace and security throughout the county, including arresting terrorists and conducting terrorism investigations. In some of the conflict-affected areas, the PNP has relied upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines to conduct counterterrorism operations. The creation of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) has helped to strengthen law enforcement counterterrorism capabilities; however, the SAF remains a relatively small unit. The SAF has received training through multiple sources including the Joint Special Operations Task Forces – Philippines, and has been designated as a unit that will be given communications equipment through the U.S. Global Security Contingency Fund.

The Philippines remained an important partner in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, which provided extensive tactical training to PNP officers, including SAF members, to support the transition in the southern Philippines from military to civilian counterterrorism authority. ATA assistance included instruction in areas such as crisis response, hostage negotiation, and explosive ordnance disposal training. The ATA program has also focused on building PNP capacity to conduct counterterrorism-related investigations, including cyber investigations.

The Philippines continued to improve the security of its passports. Beginning in 2007, the Philippines started to issue machine readable passports. Three million non-machine readable passports remained in circulation at year’s end, the last of which expired in 2013. Phase one of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) is complete, and the system has been installed at the NBI’s headquarters. Phase one was the build-out of the physical AFIS facility at NBI HQ and the digitization of 850,000 fingerprint records.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Philippines is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The Philippines has improved its anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance (AML/CFT) regime. Republic Act No. 10365, which further amended the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, was signed into law on February 15, and took effect on March 7. It expanded the list of predicate crimes under the Philippines’ anti-money laundering regime to include the financing of terrorism (which was made a stand-alone crime under Republic Act No. 10168 – “The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012”). In June, the FATF recognized the progress that the Philippines has made in improving its AML/CFT regime but noted that the country needed to continue to work on implementing regulations for the casino sector. The country is extremely advanced in the use of cellphones for funds transfer and receives considerable funds from abroad via remittances. Along with trade-based money laundering, these pose possible vulnerabilities for exploitation by illicit actors.

Thus far, the Anti-Money Laundering Council has been able to identify, obtain freeze orders, and obtain forfeiture judgments and writs of execution for bank deposits and real estate assets linked to the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and the Rajah Solaiman Movement – both listed on the UN 1267/1989 Sanctions List – with a total estimated value of more than US $237,000.

Non-profit organizations are not covered institutions under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, as amended. There is no single supervisory authority for entities in the non-profit sector. Monitoring is weak due to insufficient coordination and limited resources of regulatory bodies.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: The Philippines participated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) and supported the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Counterterrorism. Through U.S.-sponsored antiterrorism training, the PNP developed contacts with law enforcement agencies in Indonesia and Malaysia. Although the Philippines is not a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), Philippine officials regularly attend GCTF-organized events.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Philippine government continued its counter-radicalization program: Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan or PAMANA (Resilient Communities in Conflict Affected Communities). The Philippines government worked with the GCTF in an effort to apply the Rome Memorandum on Good Practices for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremist Offenders.

MILF: Editorial--Fear without understanding

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (May 3): Fear without understanding

April 1-7, 2014:: Many of the fears related to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) are borne out of misunderstanding of – refusing to understand – the content and real intent of the document.
For instance, the fear for one village in Sarangani, using the principle of contiguity, to become part of the future Bangsamoro political entity is truly a distortion of facts.  No way will faraway place or unit of government that are detached by land from the Bangsamoro can ever become part of it.

The dictionary defines “contiguity” as 1) adjoining: sharing a boundary or touching each other physically or 2) neighboring: situated next to something else or to each other.

There are two categories of “contiguous” areas provided in the CAB. First is one which is directly adjoining the core territory of the Bangsamoro, and second, that as a result of the joining of the first category to the Bangsamoro, upon the petition of at least 10 percent of the residents and approved by a majority of the qualified voters in a plebiscite, and directly touching it, can, using the same formula, also decide to be part of the Bangsamoro territory. For the first category, it has to petition for inclusion immediately, while the second can opt to join anytime in the future.

The other important prerequisite is that the populations asking for inclusion using the principle of contiguity have to be Bangsamoro; meaning, Moros and indigenous peoples. Without saying, therefore, migrants or settlers are not imagined to avail of this prerogative.

The easiest way to be unfriendly to the peace process is to interpret the CAB in one’s way of understanding. Text of document can have two senses, the letter and spirit or intention. Nuances also abound in it. A word or phrase has subtle shades of meaning, so that only those who are involved in the crafting of the document are in a better position to explain the content.

Many a critic of the CAB expressed outright negative comment against it, because his or her “unconscious mind” directs him or her to do so, because in the past she or he was used to oppose whatever is good for the Bangsamoro. It is very hard to part with a habit, especially those who believe in the inferiority of the Bangsamoro.

CPP/NPA-Batanga: Makatwirang pamamarusa ng BHB-Batangas sa mga makinaryang pangkonstruksyon ni Henry Sy, Ipinagbunyi ng mga magsasaka ng Hacienda Looc

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (May 3): Makatwirang pamamarusa ng BHB-Batangas sa mga makinaryang pangkonstruksyon ni Henry Sy, Ipinagbunyi ng mga magsasaka ng Hacienda Looc

Apolinario Matienza
NPA Batangas Provincial Operations Command (Edgardo Dagli Command)
Matagumpay na naisagawa kagabi ang pamamarusa ng BHB-Batangas sa pamamagitan ng pagsunog sa mga kagamitan sa konstruksyon sa paggawa ng kalsada nina Henry Sy sa Hacienda Looc ng Nasugbu. Isasakripisyo ang mga sakahan ng mga magsasaka para matuloy lamang ang kalsadang idudugtong sa barangay Bulihan ng Nasugbu sa bayan ng Magallanes Cavite. Napilitan isagawa ito para irehistro ng BHB Batangas ang mariing pagtutol sa proyektong Eko-Turismo na nagdudulot ng malawakang pangwawasak ng mga sakahan at maramihang paglabag sa karapatang pantao tulad ng panununog ng mga kubo, paninira ng pananim at pangungumpiska ng mga tanim, uling at kahoy na panggawa ng bahay ng mga magsasaka ng Hacienda Looc na masugid na ipinapatupad ng mga bayarang Security Guard ni Henry Sy at Virata ng Cavite.

Noong ika- 21 ng Pebrero 2014, iligal na inaresto sina William Castillano at Lorenzo Obrado na tinaniman ng matataas na kalibre ng armas at sinampahan ng gawa-gawang kaso . Sila ay mga lider magsasakang nakikibaka sa barangay Patungan na pilit pinapalayas ng pamilya Virata na kakutsaba ni Henry Sy. Sinundan pa ito sa barangay Kalayo , Nasugbu noong ika-15 ng Abril ng pwersahang dinakip ang mag-asawang sina Armando Lemita, Rosenda Lemita at anak nilang dalagita na si Alaysa Mari Lemita sa kasong “Obstruction of Justice, Resistance and Disobedience of Authority at Direct Assault”. Samantalang ang kapatid ni Armando Lemita na si Anatalio Lemita ay pinagbintangang nagtatago ng malakas na kalibre ng baril. Sinadya itong isinagawa para patahimikin ang pakikibaka ng mga magsasaka ng Hacienda Looc at barangay Patungan ng Maragondon Cavite. Ang yunit ng 730th Combat Group at PNP ng Batangas at Cavite ang masugid na instrumento at tagapagpatupad ng kanilang amo na sina Henry Sy at Pamilya Virata ng Cavite.

Ang pakikibaka ng mga magsasaka sa Hacienda Looc ay tinatapatan ng dahas ng rehimeng US–Aquino para pagbigyan ang makitid na interes ng mga kauri niyang kumprador panginoong maylupa na tulad ni Henry Sy at Virata. Napakadaling payagan ng rehimeng ito ang anumang imprastraktura kahit na ang kapalit ay ang mga sakahan at kabuhayan ng mga mamamayan para sa proyektong EkoTurismo. Walang tunay na kaunlarang makakamit ang mamamayan ng Hacienda Looc hanggat hindi ipinapatupad ang tunay na reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon sa ating bansa. Kami sa BHB Batangas ay seryosong sasagka sa anumang proyektong panturismo ng mga katulad nina Henry Sy at Virata na ang mga tirahan at sakahan ay isasakripisyo kapalit ng tubo.

CPP: CPP congratulates Talaingod residents for driving away the fascists from their communities

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (May 3): CPP congratulates Talaingod residents for driving away the fascists from their communities

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today congratulated the residents of Talaingod, mostly Manobo minority people, for successfully driving away the fascist troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from their communities.

More than 1,000 residents of Talaingod were forced to leave their homes and communities in April 4 to protest the presence of soldiers belonging to the 1003rd Infantry Brigade in their communities. Travelling to Davao City, they sought help from church groups and civic organizations and were accommodated at the grounds of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

Negotiations last April 29 with officials of the AFP facilitated by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte resulted in a pledge by the military to pull out of the communities. The city government promised to provide transportation for the residents to return home yesterday.

The residents of Talaingod denounced the AFP for harassing the residents and controlling their movements. According to the residents, they are being accused by soldiers of supporting the New People’s Army (NPA). They condemned the AFP for conducting aerial bombing runs which damaged the environment and caused widespread fear among the residents.

In the guise of a so-called “Peace and Development Outreach Program,” armed combat troops of the 1003rd Bde occupied schools, barangay halls and other public structures in the sitios of Bayabas, Sazo, Pong-pong, Nasilaban, Dulyan, Nalubas, Bagang, Lasakan, Sambolongan and Bogni.

“The CPP commends the residents of Talaingod for their gallant fight to defend their homes, communities and ancestral land against armed incursions by the fascist troops of the AFP.”

“Indeed, the struggle of the people of Talaingod and other parts of Mindanao is far from over, as mining companies, logging operators and plantation owners continue to expand their profit-seeking operations,” said the CPP.

“We can anticipate worsening brutalities by the AFP as it subjects more and more communities to militarization in the vain hope of suppressing the people’s resistance to big foreign and local plunderers,” added the CPP.

“The CPP enjoins the people of Talaingod and other areas being militarized to pave the way for the entry of big plundering mining companies and plantations to stand firmly in the defense of their rights and their lands.”

NegOr preps underway for ‘conflict manageable’ declaration

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 2): NegOr preps underway for ‘conflict manageable’ declaration

Negros Oriental will be finally declared as “conflict manageable and development ready province” on May 7 after several years of continued peace efforts by military and police forces with the support of provincial government.

Decades ago, the province had a reputation of having a high insurgency rate and is currently the only province in Central Visayas with insurgent activity. Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor are now all insurgency-free.

In a press conference recently, brigade commander of army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade, BGen. Francisco Patrimonio said fortunately, with the rigorous efforts, numbers of New People’s Army (NPA) have drastically decreased.

Proof of the success of government’s united efforts is the drastic reduction of the Southeast Guerrilla Front of the NPA and the failure to launch a major tactical offensive against troops for more than two years, BGen. Patrimonio said.

The brigade commander quoted the recent captured NPA leader Jesse Dacal-dacal saying: “Desperado na kami .. Insurgents within the province have had encounters with troops in non-traditional guerrilla quarters such as in Tanjay, Pamplona and Tayasan because they are continuously being driven out of their “comfort zones”.

Other than weakening the NPA armed forces, the local government has also been giving livelihood and cash incentives to rebel returnees to encourage them to return to the folds of law.

As to the status of the province, Patrimonio clarified that although Negros Oriental is ‘conflict-manageable and development ready’ much has yet to be done.

“It is not an insurgency-free province yet but we have reduced it to a very manageable level such that it cannot pose a serious threat to peace and order condition in the province,” he said.

Provincial Administrator Atty. Richard Enojo said that the declaration would positively affect the image of the province and contribute to economic and infrastructural growth.

Meanwhile, Sr. Supt. Mariano Natu-el sees it as a task for the NegOr PNP to tackle insurgency in addition to their stand against criminality.

After the declaration, the AFP, PNP and provincial government will be continuing their operations to finally make the province “insurgent-free”.

Army soldiers in Negros seize firearms, ammunition after clash with rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (May 2): Army soldiers in Negros seize firearms, ammunition after clash with rebels

Soldiers of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army seized guns and ammunition after another encounter with suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental Friday morning.

First Lt. Von Ryan Gomez, civil military operations officer of the 11th IB, said the Army soldiers were conducting security patrol operations in Barangay Amontay when the rebels fired upon them, resulting in a 20-minute firefight.

After the rebels fled, the soldiers recovered a .357 caliber revolver with six ammunition, a homemade 12-gauge shotgun with a magazine containing a live ammunition along with a backpack containing subversive documents and personal items.

They also found traces of bloodstains which could mean injuries or casualties among the rebels.

Gomez said no casualty was reported among the government troops.

Friday’s encounter came two days after a squad-size unit of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit led by Corporal Galapin also clashed with suspected NPA rebels in Sitio Bulabog, Barangay Tanlad, Tayasan, Negros Oriental.

Gomez said the rebels fled towards Sitio Pagatanan and Lantad proper and left behind a caliber .45 pistol with six ammunition.

Lt. Col. Paulito Idul, commander of the 11th IB, said the two recent encounters in Tayasan, Negros Oriental, and Binalbagan, Negros Occidental proved that the rebels are no longer enjoying the support of the people, who even reported their presence to government troops.

Hot pursuit operation vs. NPA men who ambushed soldiers in Ilocos Sur on

From the Philippine News Agency (May 3): Hot pursuit operation vs. NPA men who ambushed soldiers in Ilocos Sur on

CAMP PRESIDENT QUIRINO, Ilocos Sur – Pursuit operations are still going on for remnants of a band of the New People's Army (NPA) who ambushed five soldiers returning to their base last Thursday morning in Barangay Remedios, Cervantes, killing three soldiers and wounding another.

Senior Supt. Nestor Felix, Ilocos Sur provincial director, said the dead were identified as Corporal Edward Ryan A. Pingel, Private First Class Ralph Henry A. Balungot, and PFC Joey Labert L. Alejandro; all of the Army's 50th Infantry Batalion based in Cervantes town.

The 50th Infantry Batallion is under the Army's 501st Infantry Brigade of the 5th Infantry Division based in Gamu, Isabela province.

The injured soldier was identified as PFC Rommel B. Pilien. A fifth member of the group,,PFC Arnel Parungao, was unhurt.

Felix said the incident happened at about 9:45 a.m. when the five soldiers were on their way to camp on board a KM450 vehicle.

He said responding local policemen recovered from the ambush site a Caliber .45 pistol; two empty shells for Caliber .45; several empty shells for M-16 and M-14 rifles and fragments of improvised explosive device.

“Our investigation is going on aimed at identifying the suspected armed group involved in this incident,” Felix said.

He theorized that the suspected NPA group behind the ambushcade was also responsible for the burning of the drilling machine of a mining firm in the mountainous area of Barangay Patiacan, Quirino, Ilocos Sur on April 11, 2014 considering the proximity of Quirino town to Cervantes.

A report of the Army's 5th Infantry Division stated the soldiers were ambushed by undetermined number of NPA men believed to be from the Kilusang Larangang Gerilya (KLG) Montes.

Major Calixto D. Cadano Jr., public affairs officer of the Army's 5th Division, said the soldiers were going back to their Company Post after participating in a “bayanihan” activity in the area when they were ambushed.

“Although outnumbered, our troops on board a KM450 vehicle fought and were able to repulse the attack initiated by the NPA remnants and even recovered one Cal. 45 pistol from them,” he said.

Cadano said that hot pursuit operation against the escaping NPA remnants is now being conducted.

Peace rally in support of Bangsanmoro Basic Law approval set in Pagadian City

From the Philippine News Agency (May 3): Peace rally in support of Bangsanmoro Basic Law approval set in Pagadian City

At least 5,000 people from different sectors are expected to participate Sunday, May 4, in a peace rally here in support of the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP) and the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) will lead the peace rally that will start at 8 a.m. at Plaza Luz located in front of City Hall.

CBCS Chairman Guiamel Alin said Saturday the peace rally dubbed as “People’s popular ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law” will be participated in by the Bangsamoro people.

Alin said the participants will come from the nearby provinces of Zamboanga Sibugay, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur aside from those from this province’ 26 municipalities and one city.

Alin said the peace rally will be held simultaneously with that in other Mindanao areas particularly in the proposed Bangsamoro Region and in neighboring provinces outside the proposed region “to show our support to the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).”

“We strongly endorse the adoption of the proposed BBL by the Congress; It reflects the century-old dreams and aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for meaningful autonomy and self-determination,” he said.

Bangsamoro Transition Commission member Atty. Raissa Jajurie said the proposed BBL was the product of the series of consultations and recommendations of the different sectors of the society from the proposed Bangsamoro Region as agreed in the Comprehensive Agreement of Bangsamoro (CAB).

Jajurie said the proposed BBL was already submitted to President Benigno Simeon Aquino, III for review and for the Chief Executive to certify it as an urgent bill before submission to the Congress for ratification.

Jajurie was the resource speaker Saturday during the information education campaign on CAB and proposed BBL held in this city.

The activity was attended by the different moro-community leaders of this province and that of the nearby Zamboanga Sibugay province.

8th ID commander visits ROK contingent helping in 'Yolanda' relief efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): 8th ID commander visits ROK contingent helping in 'Yolanda' relief efforts

Major Gen. Jet Velarmino, 8th Infantry Division commander, paid a visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) forces helping in "Yolanda" rehabilitation efforts in Barangay Candahug, Palo town, Leyte.

In a statement forwarded to the Philippines News Agency Saturday, it said Velarmino's visit took place last May 1.

The 8th Infantry Division is based in Catbalogan, Samar and is responsible for protecting and defending the Eastern Visayas.

The unit was dispatched by the South Korean government last Dec. 28 to help local and other international contingents in rebuilding "Yolada" devastated portions of the Eastern Visayas.

Based on the accomplishment report presented during the visit, the ROK military contingent in tandem with Philippine Army Engineer Construction units completed the repairs and rehabilitations of 17 elementary schools, two hospitals, nine other government facilities like police stations, fire stations, courthouses and barangay halls.

Velarmino said the ROK contingent also fumigated at least 235 barangays, treated 11,168 medical and 1,686 dental patients in the towns of Palo, Tanauan, Tolosa and Dulag, Leyte.

Further, they have 9 on-going projects and 57 upcoming projects to be completed by December 2014.

In addition, the ROK contingent effected the removal of 16,600 tons of debris from the thoroughfares of the towns of Palo, Tanauan, Tolosa and Dulag towns as well as conducted 637 sorties delivering 9,310,000 liters of potable water in various communities of above-mentioned towns.

One heart-warming act that the ROK contingent did was their effort in looking back after the people who fought for them during the Korean War from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.

“I also would like to express gratitude in behalf of the people of Eastern Visayas for the repairs, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts that greatly uplifted the well-being of the communities affected by the super typhoon," Velarmino concluded.

Ranking NPA leader arrested in South Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (May 3): Ranking NPA leader arrested in South Cotabato

Troopers of the Eastern Mindanao Command together with the local police have successfully arrested Felix Armodia, a New People's Army (NPA) Front Secretary operating in Davao Del Sur, South Cotabato and North Cotabato, during operations in Barangay San Roque, Tampakan, South Cotabato Friday afternoon.

This took place around 12:45 p.m., Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson Capt. Alberto Caber said.

He added that the arrested rebel is responsible for the series of attacks on plantations and construction firms in the region which refused to give in to their extortion demands.

Armodia's arrest was made after a concerned civilian tipped authorities about the latter's location.

The NPA leader is wanted for murder, robbery with violence, and illegal detention among others. He is now locked up at Digos City police headquarters to await for the trial of his cases.

Meanwhile, Eastern Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III, lauded the residents and the security forces involved in the arrest of Armodia.

“There shall be no let-up of pursuit operations against those responsible in the series of attacks to civilians and civilian properties in Eastern Mindanao. The public is now aware that their role in peace and security in the region is vital to the success of the security operations," he added.

Military resupply Marine contingent aboard BRP SIerra Madre

From the Philippine News Agency (May 3): Military resupply Marine contingent aboard BRP SIerra Madre

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Saturday said that it has resupplied the Marine contingent aboard the BRP Sierra Madre (LST-57), which was grounded off Ayungin Shoal, via airdrop.

This took place around 9:15 a.m., Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs office chief.

"Using the Philippine Navy’s Islander aircraft, the AFP dropped a package that contained fast food, bottled water, assorted bread, canned goods, magazines, and letters of encouragement to our soldiers written by students. Also included in the package was a note from the Chief of Staff of the AFP, General Emmanuel Bautista to the soldiers aboard BRP Sierra Madre which read: 'Hold the Line!' and signed by 'Manny Sundalo'," he added.

The bundle drop was conceived by concerned citizens and civil groups who wanted to show their support to our soldiers who spend between three to six months guarding our detachment in Ayungin Shoal.

They sought the assistance of the AFP to ensure the safe delivery of the goods intended for the troops on BRP Sierra Madre.

"The AFP is doing all it can to support and uplift the morale of our troops assigned in one of the remotest military posts within our territory. Little comforts being sent to our troops is always welcome and will surely have a positive effect on their commitment to defend what is ours. The AFP is grateful for the outpouring of support given by our citizens to our soldiers," Zagala concluded.

AFP fetes 100 SK soldiers for 'Yolanda' relief efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (May 3): AFP fetes 100 SK soldiers for 'Yolanda' relief efforts

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista awarded 100 South Korean soldiers in Palo, Leyte Saturday with the Military Civic Action Medal for their immediate humanitarian and relief assistance to victims of Supetyphoon "Yolanda" last Nov. 8.

Awarding ceremonies took place at the base camp of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces (ROKAF) in Barangay Candahug, Palo town, Leyte.

AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista headed the ceremonies.

After Typhoon "Yolanda" hit the country last November, the military volunteers from the Korean armed forces were one of the first groups who rendered immediate humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and clearing operations on places severely affected particularly in the Visayas Region, provinces of Eastern Samar, Eastern Leyte and in Ormoc.

South Korean military personnel in cooperation with the AFP, national government agencies and other local government units were deployed all over the affected areas and participated in the delivery of relief goods and other humanitarian services even in inaccessible areas which were isolated for days without food and water.

The military volunteers also gave free meals to more than 400 school children together with their families, repaired local infrastructures, and rendered free medical services to victims of the typhoon.

In his speech, Bautista expressed his gratitude to the Korean contingent for their outstanding achievement in support of the AFP’s HADR operations in the Yolanda-affected areas.

“On behalf of the Filipino people, I would like to express my gratitude to our partners from the Korean Armed Forces who were one of the first countries to arrive in the Philippines and helped us in rendering humanitarian and relief services to our people greatly affected by Typhoon Yolanda,” he added.

“We were together back in the Korean War, and now we are together in Leyte to celebrate our continued partnership as longtime allies. We are confident that together, we can overcome all challenges that might come in the future,” Bautista pointed out.

Roxas: Merit should prevail in PNP promotions

From Rappler (May 2): Roxas: Merit should prevail in PNP promotions

'I do not want a promotion system based on seniority or merely on the call of PNPA or PMA graduates,' says DILG chief and NAPOLCOM chairman Mar Roxas

PNP, PNPA ISSUES. DILG Secretar Mar Roxas (L) and PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima (R) flank President Benigno Aquino III during a April 14 PNP Command Conference in Camp Crame. File photo by Photo by: Rey Baniquet/MalacaƱang Photo Bureau

PNP, PNPA ISSUES. DILG Secretar Mar Roxas (L) and PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima (R) flank President Benigno Aquino III during a April 14 PNP Command Conference in Camp Crame. File photo by Photo by: Rey Baniquet/MalacaƱang Photo Bureau

Promotions and movements in the Philippine National Police (PNP) shouldn't be based on the school you come from or your tenure of service, said Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas on Friday, May 2.

In a speech delivered at the Nueva Ecija PNP Provincial Office, the DILG chief and National Police Commission chairman said meritocracy should be the basis of promotions.

"Kung sino ang matino, kung sino ang may track record, kung sino ang makaka-deliver sa anti-criminality campaign natin, yun ang mapapansin at yun din ang mabibigyan ng promotion at position," said Roxas.

(Whoever does a good job, with a good track record, whoever is able to deliver on our anti-criminality campaign, that person will be noticed and will be given a promotion, good positions.)

Roxas was addressing complaints of PNP Academy Alumni Association (PNPAAAI) members about the promotion system in the PNP. They said Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates were being favored when it comes to promotions in the PNP.

PMA, PNPA rivalry

PMA graduates from the Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police were absorbed into the PNP upon its creation in 1991. PMA batch of 2012 was the last to join the PNP.

Roxas earlier promised the PNPAAAI that he would address their concerns. “I do not want a promotion system based on seniority or merely on the call of PNPA or PMA graduates. Promotions must always be merit-based,” he added.

Roxas is an adopted member of PMA Class 1984.

According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, only 3 PNPA graduates currently have a star-rank in the PNP. In contrast, over 150 graduates of the PMA are now chief superintendents (or generals) in the PNP.

President Benigno Aquino III earlier said he would also look into the complaints of PNPA alumni, emphasizing that "everything has to be decided on merit."

PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima on Friday, May 2, formally welcomed 184 newly-commissioned Police Inspectors from the PNPA's "Mandilaab" Class of 2014 at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

The 184 graduates were also issued their appointment and assignment orders.

'Field experience important'

Roxas has tasked PNP deputy chief for administration Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas to require PNP personnel to list down "anti-criminality accomplishments in their last place of assignment" in their curriculum vitae.

Rojas was also told to make sure personnel did not doctor their accomplishments, or change crime statistics in their area of responsibility just to get a favorable record.

Possible changes include "adopting a system similar to the Judicial Bar Council," according to a statement from the DILG. Roxas also suggested that Police Inspectors, the default position of graduates from the PNPA should be "given key assignments" to give them experience and "fast-track" their careers.

Top NPA rebel killed in Sorsogon clash

From Rappler (May 3): Top NPA rebel killed in Sorsogon clash

CASTILLA, Sorsogon – A top ranking rebel from the New People’s Army was killed Tuesday, April 27, in a clash between the rebel group and government forces in Sorsogon.

The body of Recto Golimlim (alias Cenon/Pingko/Remus) was recovered by army troops on Wednesday afternoon, April 28, during a pursuit operation in Bgy Lapinig, Magallanes, Sorsogon.

Golimlim is believed to be the head of the explosives department and a member of the executive committee of the Bicol Regional Party Committee.

The pursuit operation was a follow-up to Tuesday’s clash – a 10-minute firefight which also happened in the same barangay. Golimlim’s body was brought to the barangay by his co-rebels to be properly buried by the group’s supporters.

Along the rebels' route of withdrawal were traces of bloodstains that led the army troops and their tracking dogs to the body’s location. Close associates of Golimlim later confirmed his identity.

Brigadier General Joselito Kakilala, commander of the 903rd Infantry Brigade, said Golimlim's death is a “big blow” to the overall tactical capacity of the NPA in Bicol since Golimlim – an expert in explosives – was elevated second in command of the Bicol Regional Party Committee.

Informants will receive a P2.5 million reward.

Kakilala commended the army troops – members of the Scout Ranger Group of the 31st Infantry battalion and 9th K9 Battalion – for the “remarkable feat.”

There were no government troops among Tuesday’s casualties.

"I stand my ground as Commander of the Army in the Province of Sorsogon that our troops will continue to scour the mountains and go after those rebels who persist to be a grave threat to our peace-loving countrymen and who totally disregard the call of Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee for localized peace talks,” Kakilala, from the 31st Infantry Battalion, said.

PH Navy airdrops supplies for Ayungin troops

From Rappler (May 3): PH Navy airdrops supplies for Ayungin troops

The bundles contain fast food, bottled water, assorted bread, canned goods, and magazines

AIRDROP: The Philippine Navy airdrops supplies for the troops in Ayungin Shoal a month since the tense rotation mission. Photo from Western Command

AIRDROP: The Philippine Navy airdrops supplies for the troops in Ayungin Shoal a month since the tense rotation mission. Photo from Western Command

A Philippine Navy Islander aircraft airdropped on Saturday, May 3, supply bundles for troops stationed at the disputed Ayungin Shoal a month after the tense rotation and resupply mission last March.

"About 9:15 today, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) executed a supply bundle drop for our soldiers currently aboard BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal," the military said in a statement.

The bundles contained fast food, bottled water, assorted bread, canned goods, and magazines. These were supposedly donated by civilians. They also contained "letters of encouragement" written by students.

Philippines Marines are deployed to man the grounded World War 2 warship, BRP Sierra Madre, which serves as an unconventional naval detachment in the middle of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Troops stay there between 3 to 6 months. China, which claims almost all of the South China Sea, has been demanding the removal of the ship. On March 29, the Chinese Coast Coard attempted but failed to block the Philippine Navy's rotation and resupply mission.

WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT: Students write letters for the troops in Ayungin Shoal. Photo from Western Command

WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT: Students write letters for the troops in Ayungin Shoal. Photo from Western Command

US lawmakers, Pentagon affirm support for PH

From Rappler (May 3): US lawmakers, Pentagon affirm support for PH

Close to 6 months after Haiyan devastated the Visayas, US congressional leaders and Pentagon officials reaffirm their support for rehabilitation efforts and boosting Manila's security capabilities

BILATERAL TIES. Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, Chair of the Sub-Committee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs, meets with Vice President Jejomar Binay, accompanied by Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Jr, and Binay’s children Makati Representative Abigail Binay-Campos and Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay in Capitol Hill, Washington DC. Philippine Embassy Photo by Ariel Penaranda

BILATERAL TIES. Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, Chair of the Sub-Committee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs, meets with Vice President Jejomar Binay, accompanied by Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Jr, and Binay’s children Makati Representative Abigail Binay-Campos and Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay in Capitol Hill, Washington DC. Philippine Embassy Photo by Ariel Penaranda

Nearly 6 months after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated the Visayas, American lawmakers renewed their support for rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.

Echoing the pronouncements of US President Barack Obama during his state visit here on Monday, US congressional leaders expressed hope for the immediate recovery of the victims, and assured the Philippine government of continued assistance.

In a statement on Saturday, May 3, the Philippine embassy in Washington DC said the American legislators delivered the message in meetings with Vice President Jejomar Binay, who visited Capitol Hill on Thursday.

“Vice President Binay’s congressional meetings showed that the bipartisan support of the US for the Philippines and the Philippines-United States alliance is rooted in the US Congress which represents the American people,” said Philippine Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr, who accompanied Binay in the meetings.

The following are the US lawmakers Binay and Cuisia met with:

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, chairman of the US Senate Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs

California Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Ohio Representative Steve Chabot, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

Cardin, Royce, and Chabot also assured the Philippines of their support for closer defense cooperation, and “building capabilities to respond to catastrophes and natural disasters.”

The world’s most powerful typhoon, Yolanda (Haiyan) ravaged central Philippines on November 8, 2013, killing over 6,000 and leaving millions homeless. More are believed to have died.

The US was among the first to offer assistance in the aftermath of the storm, deploying troops and military equipment to help in rescue and relief efforts. This became one of the justifications for the signing of a military agreement on Monday, April 28, that allows US forces greater access to Philippine bases.

The Philippine embassy said that in the US congressional leaders’ meetings with Binay, they also “pointed to the importance of the US rebalance to the Asia Pacific region.”

It was a reference to the Obama administration’s so-called pivot or “strategic rebalance” of American foreign policy to the Asia Pacific region after Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East dominated the White House’s attention in the last decade.

The Asian “pivot” drew sharper focus after Obama’s 4-nation trip to Asia. Besides the Philippines, Obama also visited allies Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.

Developing maritime security

In a separate statement, the US Department of Defense said the Pentagon also reiterated US commitment to helping the Philippines develop its maritime domain awareness and maritime security capabilities.

The topics were discussed during Binay’s meeting with Acting US Deputy Defense Secretary Christine H. Fox at the Pentagon on Friday, May 2.

“James Swartout, a spokesman for Fox, said the acting deputy secretary congratulated Binay on the recent signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which deepens US engagement with the Philippines,” the Pentagon said.

Swartout added that Fox and Binay talked about the “productive discussions” between the US, Philippine, and other regional leaders at the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Forum in Hawaii last April. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hosted the forum.

“The two leaders also discussed regional security developments, including recent events in the South China Sea,” Swartout said.

The Philippines is locked in a territorial dispute with China over parts of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea to the Philippines). Proponents of the military agreement with the US said the deal acts as a “security blanket” and helps ensure maritime security as China increasingly becomes assertive in the region.

Govt forces hunt NPA band that killed 3 troops in Ilocos Sur

From InterAksyon (May 3): Govt forces hunt NPA band that killed 3 troops in Ilocos Sur

CAMP PRESIDENT QUIRINO, Ilocos Sur -- Government forces are hunting down a band of New People’s Army guerrillas who ambushed five soldiers returning to their base Thursday in Cervantes town, Ilocos Sur killing three and wounding another.

Senior Superintendent Nestor Felix, provincial director, said Corporal Edward Ryan A. Pingel, Privates First Class Ralph Henry A. Balungot, Joey Labert L. Alejandro, Rommel B. Pilien and Arnel Parungao, of the Army's 50th Infantry Batalion, were onboard a KM450 truck when they were attacked in Barangay Remedios around 9:45 a.m. Thursday.

Pingel, Balungot and Alejandro died while Pilien was wounded.
Parungao escaped unscathed.

Felix said responding local policemen recovered a caliber .45 pistol, empty caliber .45, M16 and M14 rifle shells, and fragments of an improvised explosive device.

Felix said they believe the rebels were the same group that burned the drilling machine of a mining firm in Barangay Patiacan, Quirino town on April 11.

Major Calixto D. Cadano Jr., public affairs officer of the Army's 5th Division, claimed the ambushed soldiers were returning from a “bayanihan” or civic activity.

Army claims NPA holding civilians as 'human shields' in Compostela Valley

From InterAksyon (May 3): Army claims NPA holding civilians as 'human shields' in Compostela Valley

Cornered communist rebels in Compostela Valley province are allegedly using at least 39 civilians as “human shields” to prevent government forces from attacking them, the military claimed Saturday.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Logico, commander of the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion, said in a phone interview that the rebels had seized the civilians from Barangay Mahayahay in Maragusan town Saturday morning as they fled from pursuing government troops.

However, he said the rebels have been cornered in Sitio Tabon, Barangay Panamin in Mabini town.

“We were able to confirm the hostage-taking by the rebels this morning at around 10:17 o’clock through Mahayahay barangay captain Juanito Torcende and barangay councilor Alejandro Hoylar, who came to our detachment there and informed our soldiers about the situation,” Logico said.

“The rebels were warning us to stop our artillery fire against their position because they have 39 civilians with them,” he said. “For what? As human shields?”

At the same time, however, he said: “We’re verifying this information to make sure there would be no collateral damage.”

Itong mga hostage-takers na ito ay hindi basta-basta makalusot doon dahil kahit saaang direksiyon sila balak tumakas meron tayong sundalong nakaabang (These hostage-takers cannot slip away easily because whichever direction they intend to escape we have soldiers waiting).”

Logico said as he urged the rebels to release their captives and surrender.

Logico said they have already coordinated with local officials to help negotiate the release of the civilians.

Man linked to grenade blast arrested in Mindanao

From theMindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (May 3): Man linked to grenade blast arrested in Mindanao

Police arrested a man suspected as behind a grenade attack in North Cotabato province in southern Philippines, officials said Saturday.

Officials said the man, Abdul Hapid, was arrested while fleeing from the blast site in Kabacan town.

It was unknown if Hapid is a member of a rebel group and officials would not give any details about the assailant, saying investigation is still going on.

There was no report of casualties from the attack, but the blast damaged surrounding establishments, although not seriously.

New Navy chief visits Marine wounded troops in Sulu

From the Sun Star-Manila (May 2): New Navy chief visits Marine wounded troops in Sulu

NEWLY installed Navy chief Rear Admiral Jesus Millan paid a visit to Marine troops fighting the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu on Thursday, a day after he assumed the top Navy post.

Colonel Edgar Arevalo, commander of the Navy's Civil Military Operations Group, said Millan asked the troops what they need as they pursue surgical operations against the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

At least 25 Abu Sayyaf members were reported killed and 24 others were reported last Tuesday, as the bandits tried to retake a lair overran by the Marines a day earlier. A soldier died and 19 others were injured.

The Philippine Marines is a major unit under the Navy.

"He sought to determine the operational requirements that the Marines need to pursue the ongoing surgical military action in Sulu and how he, as concurrent commander and Flag Officer in Command with the cognizant Navy Central Staff and Commander with him, can support," said Arevalo.

Millan assumed as the new Navy chief last Wednesday, replacing now retired Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano. He was previously the commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao based in Zamboanga City.

Millan was accompanied in the visit by Lieutenant General Rustico Guerrerro and Marine commandant Major General Romeo Tanalgo. He handed out P150,000 in assistance to the family of the slain soldier and P15,000 to the injured.

Arevalo said the visit of Millan was in line with the commitment he gave during his assumption "to vigorously pursue mission accomplishment while mindful of the morale and welfare of Sailors and Marines."

"This is why I made it a point that on Labor Day, my first official act immediately after being posted as Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy is to visit our forward troops in Western Mindanao," Arevalo quoted Millan as saying.

Arevalo said Millan got "fresh reports on the ongoing operations."

Suspected NPA leader blamed for mining, construction firm raids nabbed in S. Cotabato

From InterAksyon (May 3): Suspected NPA leader blamed for mining, construction firm raids nabbed in S. Cotabato

The man tagged by the military as a Front Secretary of the New People’s Army responsible for serial attacks on mining and construction firms in Davao del Sur, South Cotabato and Tulunan North Cotabato was arrested Friday by a joint Army-police team, the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command reported.

Capt. Alberto Caber, EASTMINCOM spokesman, said Felix Armodia alias Jing/Jade was arrested by a composite team of military and police at around 12:45 p.m. at his hideout in Barangay San Roque, Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Caber claimed Armodia’s front was responsible for several attacks on plantations and construction firms in the region who refused the NPA’s collection of “revolutionary tax.”

“Armodia’s arrest was through a tip from a civilian informer in the place,” Caber added, but could not immediately confirm if the government has a bounty for Armodia’s capture.

He said Armodia has pending cases for murder, robbery with violence and illegal detention, among others, and is now detained at the Digos City police.

Arrest follows that of Tiamzons, Rosal

His arrest follows the recent highly-publicized apprehension of alleged CPP-NPA top leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon along with four other suspected ranking rebel leaders in Aloguinsan, Cebu.

They are detained at the Custodial Center at Camp Crame, the national headquarters of the Philippine National Police.

Shortly after the Tiamzons’ arrest, the NBI collared a pregnant Andrea Rosal, daughter of the late NPA spokesman Gregorio Rosal alias Ka Roger, and her male companion in Caloocan City. Rosal is due to give birth any time, and human rights groups are clamoring for the military to keep her in a state hospital, citing the poor conditions in her detention area.

Meanwhile, EASTMINCOM Commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III praised the residents and the security forces involved in the arrest of Armodia, vowing, “there shall be no let-up of pursuit operations against those responsible in the series of attacks to civilians and civilian properties in Eastern Mindanao. The public is now aware that their role in peace and security in the region is vital to the success of the security operations.”