Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rebel leader falls

From the "Luzon Tidbits" section of the Manila Bulletin (Jun 22): Rebel leader falls

Candon City, Ilocos Sur – A suspected New People’s Army (NPA) leader was arrested by lawmen in an entrapment operation recently at Sitio Tabangaoen, Barangay Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet.

Superintendent Davy Vicente Limmong, spokesman of the Cordillera Region police, said the NPA leader, Corsio Ganima Ebeng, is carrying P1.8 million on his head as reward for his capture.

“The captured NPA leader had been identified as the suspected leader of the armed NPA’s group responsible in the series of ambuscade incidents in Mountain Province in the past two years that resulted to the death of several policemen,” Limmong said.

http://www.mb.com.ph/luzon-newsbits-for-june-22-2014/

Military on alert for ‘dead’ top Filipino militant

From the Malay Mail Online (Jun 21): Military on alert for ‘dead’ top Filipino militant

Abdul Basit Usman's profile on the US National Counterterrorism Center (NTC) website.























A Filipino militant bomb-making expert who had been believed dead recently eluded a military raid of a Muslim guerrilla camp in the Philippines, disproving earlier reports of his demise, the military said today.

Abdel Basit Usman is on the US government’s list of most-wanted “terrorists”, described a “bomb-making expert”, and the State Department offered an US$1 million (RM3.22 million) reward for information leading to his arrest in 2009. The Filipino press had reported in 2010 that Usman was among several people believed killed early that year in a US drone attack that targeted a Pakistani Taliban leader in a remote area of northern Pakistan. However Philippine military officials now say that the reports of his death were erroneous. Usman, who the Philippine and US governments say has links to the Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf group of Southeast Asian militants, was seen in the camp of another armed Muslim group on the island of Mindanao, southern Philippines military spokesman Colonel Dickson Hermoso told AFP. The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) is a small offshoot of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest Muslim guerrilla force that waged a decades-long armed rebellion in the southern region of Mindanao.

“We launched a raid two weeks ago. There was a firefight and we recovered an arms cache, but he was able to get away,” Hermoso said, adding: “He’s the one training the BIFF members who are conducting bombings in central Mindanao.” “Based on what we know, he is still active,” Philippine military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Ramon Zagala told AFP today. “As far as we’re concerned he’s with the BIFF,” he said.

Zagala said the Philippine government was offering a 6.3 million-peso reward (about RM464,180) for information leading to Usman’s capture. There is a standing warrant for his arrest on charges of multiple murder, Zagala added. “We are securing our communities and vital installations from his activities,” Hermoso added. The MILF signed a peace treaty with the Philippine government early this year that had both sides committing to create a Muslim self-rule area in the region. The BIFF has rejected the deal and vowed to fight on. Two BIFF members were killed in the latest military operation on June 10, when the military also said they seized firearms and bomb-making equipment at the rebel training camp near the town of Shariff Saydona Mustapha.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/military-on-alert-for-dead-top-filipino-militant

Malaysian authorities zeroing in on Pinoy group behind Sabah abductions

From GMA News (Jun 22): Malaysian authorities zeroing in on Pinoy group behind Sabah abductions

Malaysian forces are zeroing in on a group of "well-armed" Filipino kidnappers that they believe are behind a series of abductions in Sabah in past months, a Malaysian news site reported Sunday.

The Malaysian security forces suspect the "Muktadir brothers" are behind four abductions in the east coast of Sabah since November, Malaysia's The Star Online reported.

Citing intelligence officers it interviewed, the report said the Muktadir brothers are among the "most active" of some 14 known kidnap-for-ransom groups in the southern Philippines.

It said the group has five members whose father was a "notorious pirate" who "terrorized the Sulu and Celebes seas" before he died in the late 1990s.

Last April 2, gunmen abducted Filipina resort worker Marcelita Dayawan and Chinese tourist Gao Huayun from a floating resort. The two women were released May 30.

On May 6, Chinese Yang Zai Lin, 34, was snatched by suspected Filipino gunmen from the Wonderful Terrace Fish Farm in Lahad Datu waters. Abu Sayyaf bandits are believed holding him.

Last June 16, suspected Filipino gunmen abducted a Filipino worker and a fish breeder from Sabah.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/366787/news/nation/malaysian-authorities-zeroing-in-on-pinoy-group-behind-sabah-abductions

Troops sent to Lanao town due to rumors of impending rebel attack

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 21): Troops sent to Lanao town due to rumors of impending rebel attack



The military and the police deployed a large number of troops Friday in a town in Lanao del Norte in anticipation of an attack by Moro gunmen.

Lacson Lantud, vice mayor of the town of Pantao Ragat, told the Inquirer by phone Friday that local authorities had received “reports of an impending attack” by some 700 armed followers of Commander Bravo, a field commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

However, no such attack had taken place by Saturday morning.

Bravo, whose real name is Abdullah Macapaar, was the same senior MILF commander who led attacks in the two Lanao provinces in 2008 following the scuttling of the so-called Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the government and the MILF after the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional.

Lantud said that according to the “reports,”  Bravo was “planning to raid”  the municipality to rescue a comrade who was captured following the abduction of a teacher and her husband three days ago.

“The armed men are just two kilometers away from the town proper now,” Lantud said, adding that fierce fighting could occur anytime.

On June 18, Bravo’s men seized public school teacher Aslaime Pangader and her husband Nait as they were heading home to Pantao Ragat on a motorcycle. The authorities considered it a crime and went after the abductors, capturing one Majid Abuat.

But as far as Commander Bravo was concerned, according to Lantud, the seizure of the Pangader couple was an “arrest” by the MILF because they owed someone in another town some money that needed to be paid back.

“Arresting them was illegal,” Lantud said. “The MILF has no authority to do that. What they did was a form of kidnapping.”

He said prior to the massing of Bravo’s men, the MILF leader demanded Abuat’s release but this was denied.

“Upon further investigation, the police discovered that Abuat has long standing warrants for his arrest for murder,” Lantud said.

He said Abuat has been turned over to the Lanao del Norte provincial jail.

Lantud called on the MILF leadership to intervene to prevent violence from breaking out.

He said the authorities were determined to defend civilians from the planned attack by Bravo’s men.

Efforts by the Inquirer to reach senior MILF leaders, including peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, were unsuccessful.
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/613184/troops-sent-to-lanao-town-due-to-rumors-of-impending-rebel-attack

BIFF leader killed in clash in Basilan

From the Philippine Star (Jun 21): BIFF leader killed in clash in Basilan

A commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) with links to the Abu Sayyaf group was killed while a follower was wounded in a clash with the pro-government faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Saturday in Al-Barka town, Basilan province.

Lt. Col. Jose Paolo Perez, chief of the 18th Infantry Battalion, said the forces of MNLF leader Umbong Mallatin alias Commander Cobra clashed with the combined Abu Sayyaf and BIFF groups led by Furuji Indama alias Abu Dujana, Nurhassan Jamiri alias Abu Bekkat, Ibrahim Malat Sulayman; Musanna Jamiri alias Mongo-Mongo and Basir Kasaran alias Commander Basir at Barangay Kuhon Lennuh about 6 a.m. Saturday.

Perez said the firefight ensued for an hour that left Commander Basir dead after one of Mallatin's snipers shot the former's head.

He said a follower of Abu Sayyaf leader Jamiri was also wounded in the encounter. The wounded militant was identified as a certain Misuari Jamiri.

According to Perez, despite being outnumbered in size  and in strength, the group of Mallatin repelled the combined forces of the Abu Sayyaf group and BIFF.

The military official said troops under his command also provided support to the  pro-government MNLF group with mortar shelling that sent the Abu Sayyaf and BIFF militants fleeing.

Perez said the group of Commander Cobra has been noted in reinforcing the 18th IB against the Abu Sayyaf group in a series of previous encounters  that neutralized Abu Sayyaf leader Long Malat Sulayman in 2012.

He said the MNLF faction has also supported the troops in  civil military outreach program in far-flung areas to help villagers in the area.

http://www.philstar.com/nation/2014/06/21/1337443/biff-leader-killed-clash-basilan

Slain soldiers flown to Manila

From the Philippine Star (Jun 22): Slain soldiers flown to Manila



Soldiers carry the remains of their comrades at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City yesterday. ERNIE PENAREDONDO 

The remains of six elite soldiers killed on Thursday in an encounter with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul, Sulu arrived at the Villamor Air Base yesterday afternoon.

Lt. Col. Noel Deto-yato, Army spokesman, said that the bodies of the slain soldiers, all members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG), arrived on a Philippine Air Force C-130 plane.

The slain soldiers were accorded full military honors at Villamor Air Base. The remains were taken to the mortuary of the Libingan ng mga Bayani at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City where a wake would be held.

No interment schedule has been set as the families of the slain soldiers will have to decide if they wish to have their fallen loved ones buried at the Libingan or in their respective hometowns.

The remains of one of the soldiers – a Bicolano – for instance, were transported first to Legazpi City before being flown to Manila yesterday.

Mortar rounds fired by the bandits reportedly killed the six soldiers.

Aside from the six JSOG troopers, also killed was Marine 1Lt. Roger Flores of Philippine Military Academy “Masiglahi” Class of 2009.

Flores was killed in an encounter earlier with a band of Abu Sayyaf terrorists headed by Hairula Asbang.

The fighting left 24 soldiers wounded, three of them critically. They had to be airlifted to Camp Navarro military hospital in Zamboanga City for further treatment.

Citing intelligence reports, AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said 10 Abu Sayyaf members were also killed in the fighting.

He said the military is pursuing Asbang and his men.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/06/22/1337573/slain-soldiers-flown-manila

Muktadir kin - mastermind behind kidnaps?

From The Star Online (Jun 22): Muktadir kin - mastermind behind kidnaps?

Making the rounds: Police patrolling around the Pom Pom island resort. In the background are the water villas where a Taiwanese tourist was killed and another kidnapped.

Making the rounds: Police patrolling around the Pom Pom island resort. In the background are the water villas where a Taiwanese tourist was killed and another kidnapped.

SEMPORNA: The father was a notorious pirate before his death in the late 1990s.
Muktadir, a Filipino, terrorised the Sulu and Celebes seas separa­ting Sabah and the southern Philip­pines.

His five sons, known as the “Muktadir brothers”, are part of a well-armed family of kidnappers.

Malaysian security forces are hunting them down as they believe the brothers are behind the last four cross-border kidnappings in the east coast of Sabah since November.

Sabah CID chief Sr Asst Comm Omar Mammah said the police believed the same group was involved in all four abductions over the past seven months. However, he did not disclose the identity of the kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) group.

According to intelligence offi­cers interviewed by Sunday Star, the Muktadir brothers are one of the most active of the 14 known KFR groups in the southern Philip­pines.

Unlike the Muktadir brothers, the other KFR groups operate with­in the Philippine waters.

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/06/22/Muktadir-kin-mastermind-behind-kidnaps-Sources-Brothers-sell-hostages-to-Abu-Sayyaf/

'Dead' top Filipino militant is alive and a threat: military

From InterAksyonn (Jun 22): 'Dead' top Filipino militant is alive and a threat: military

A Filipino militant bomb-making expert who had been believed dead recently eluded a military raid of a Muslim guerrilla camp in the Philippines, disproving earlier reports of his demise, the military said Saturday.

Abdel Basit Usman is on the US government's list of most-wanted "terrorists", described a "bomb-making expert", and the State Department offered an $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest in 2009.

The Filipino press had reported in 2010 that Usman was among several people believed killed early that year in a US drone attack that targeted a Pakistani Taliban leader in a remote area of northern Pakistan.

However Philippine military officials now say that the reports of his death were erroneous.

Usman, who the Philippine and US governments say has links to the Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf group of Southeast Asian militants, was seen in the camp of another armed Muslim group on the island of Mindanao, southern Philippines military spokesman Colonel Dickson Hermoso told AFP.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) is a small offshoot of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest Muslim guerrilla force that waged a decades-long armed rebellion in the southern region of Mindanao.

"We launched a raid two weeks ago. There was a firefight and we recovered an arms cache, but he was able to get away," Hermoso said, adding: "He's the one training the BIFF members who are conducting bombings in central Mindanao."

"Based on what we know, he is still active," Philippine military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Ramon Zagala told AFP Saturday.

"As far as we're concerned he's with the BIFF," he said.

Zagala said the Philippine government was offering a 6.3 million-peso reward (about $144,000) for information leading to Usman's capture.

There is a standing warrant for his arrest on charges of multiple murder, Zagala added.

"We are securing our communities and vital installations from his activities," Hermoso added.

The MILF signed a peace treaty with the Philippine government early this year that had both sides committing to create a Muslim self-rule area in the region.

The BIFF has rejected the deal and vowed to fight on.

Two BIFF members were killed in the latest military operation on June 10, when the military also said they seized firearms and bomb-making equipment at the rebel training camp near the town of Shariff Saydona Mustapha.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/89617/dead-top-filipino-militant-is-alive-and-a-threat-military

Troops wounded in clash with Sayyaf get medal

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jun 21): Troops wounded in clash with Sayyaf get medal



The Philippine military awarded medals Saturday to a group of soldiers who were wounded in fierce clashes with Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern island of Sulu.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guererro, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, pinned the medals to the soldiers at their hospital beds in the military’s Camp Navarro Hospital in Zamboanga City. Guererro praised the soldiers for their bravery and dedication to their duty.

The fighting on June 19 had killed 7 soldiers and wounded two dozen more and security officials said at least 10 militants were also slain in the clashes on the island.

A military cargo plane airlifted the caskets of slain soldiers to Zamboanga City.

The military said the fighting erupted when a military patrol ran into a group of militants headed by Abu Sayyaf subleader Hairula Asbang in the village of Buhanginan in Patikul town.

It said most of the military casualties were hit by Abu Sayyaf mortar fire. The Abu Sayyaf is being blamed for the spate of ransom kidnappings in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah and is also believed harboring Jemaah Islamiya militants on the island.







Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guererro pins medals to soldiers at their hospital beds in the military’s Camp Navarro Hospital in Zamboanga City.(Mindanao Examiner Photo - Ely Dumaboc)

http://www.mindanaoexaminer.net/2014/06/troops-wounded-in-clash-with-sayyaf-get.html

China twits US, PH over joint drills

From the Manila Standard Today (Jun 22): China twits US, PH over joint drills

The Chinese government has called on the Philippines and United States to engage in other productive activities that would promote national security and trust in the region.

On a  government official website was posted the Friday  statement of Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying who was asked to comment on the  forthcoming naval exercises between Manila and Washington in the disputed waters. “We hope relevant countries can do more things that are conducive to promoting national security and mutual trust, and safeguarding regional peace and stability,” Hua told the Chinese reporters on Friday.

The Philippines’ Defense department  spokesman on Friday  confirmed that warships of Manila and Washington would hold joint  exercises near the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) amid escalating territorial rows between Beijing and its neighbors.

The drills will be held off the west coast of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon, said military spokesman Lt. Rommel Rodriguez.

Hua also confirmed that China’s Maritime Security Administration is set to conduct another four drilling platforms operation in the disputed waters sometime next week.

She said that the drilling is just “normal activity” and that other countries must not “link” this activity to any particular matter.

“China’s Maritime Security Administration has made it clear in its announcements that the drilling platforms are operating completely within the coastal waters off China’s Guangdong Province and Hainan Province,” she said.

“So these are just normal activities. There is no need to read too much into them or make particular links,” Hua added.

The Hainan province has established last year a new city called “Sansha”.
Sansha city covers a huge part of the West Philippine Sea which affects parts of the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

Hua confirmed that they are going to perform drilling platforms in its puportedly territory Number 9 South China Sea, Guangdong Province (which affects Vietnam’s water territory) and Hainan Province where part of it are the Philippines’ rightfully sovereignty.

“China’s Maritime Security Administration has made public these platforms’ coordinates. You can locate these coordinates on a map. China is working in its own yard. If someone read too much into it or give wild interpretations, then they are deliberately stirring things up,” she said.

As of press time, the Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose has yet to comment on this development.

China has been claiming 90 percent ot the whole waters and features of the South China Sea where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei has overlapping claims.

The Philippines recently filed protests following Beijing’s reclamation activities in at least five reefs in the region-- Mabini, Malvar, Calderon, Burgos and Kennan.

There is also pending case against China’s nine-dash line map claims before the Arbitral Tribunal.

http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/06/22/china-twits-us-ph-over-joint-drills/

No deal with MILF, MNLF says

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 22): No deal with MILF, MNLF says

THE Moro National Liberation Front on Saturday denied that it had reached an understanding with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to bridge the gaps in the peace deal it concluded with the government after it was rejected by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

MNLF Spokesman Absalom Cerveza clarified that the only agreement the separatist group signed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last June 12 was a document recognizing Nur Misuari as the sole legitimate leader of the MNLF.

MNLF
The document was signed by another MNLF faction, led by Cotabato Vice Mayor Muslimin  Sema, but Cerveza said he could not be sure whether the acknowledgment means the Sema group will return to the fold of the MNLF or merely recognized Misuari.

“They did it because they were not recognized by the OIC and the OIC wants a reunification of the MNLF,” Cerveza said.

“The OIC wants the Bangsamoro people to have only one representation in the OIC,” Cerveza said, adding that the MILF was similarly rebuffed when it tried to get OIC endorsement of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro that it signed with the government last March 27.

The MILF was represented by Mohaquer Iqbal and former congressman Mike Mastura, who were instrumental in the forging of the peace pact, and they went to the OIC meeting in Jeddah precisely to ask for OIC support.

But Cerveza explained that the OIC did not recognize the CAB as it would “undermine the agreement of the MNLF that was orchestrated by the OIC.”

The OIC thus rejected the CAB because it failed to incorporate the Tripoli and Jakarta agreements that the MNLF, under Misuari, signed with the government in 1996.

MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar declined on Saturday to comment on the OIC rejection because he had not seen the official document.

On the other hand, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles insisted that the CAB “builds on the gains” of previous peace agreements, particularly the 1996 peace accord, as shown by the CAB’s annex on power-sharing.

“The Philippine government is in the same fold with the OIC in working for a single framework focusing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law towards a genuine autonomy, lasting peace, and sustainable development in and for the Bangsamoro,” Deles replied when asked about the matter on Friday.

“The CAB that the Philippine government and the MILF signed last March 27 builds on the gains of previous peace agreements, particularly of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement on the implementation of the 1976 peace agreement,” she said.

OIC secretary-general Iyad Ameen Madani, however, proposed a linkage of the government’s peace pacts with the MILF and the MNLF.

Cerveza agreed that the agreements that the government signed with the MNLF and the MILF are almost similar as regards geographical area, political power, autonomy and people.

But “a big ship cannot be loaded into a small boat,” Cerveza said in comparing the MNLF with the MILF, which is a splinter group of the Misuari-founded organization.

“The Framework Agreement [for the CAB] will lose its identity,” Cerveza said, adding that even MILF leaders are not keen on spending more time to reconcile the two agreements.

Cerveza said the synchronization pushed by the OIC has already been repeatedly discussed, most recently in a meeting with an unidentified OIC official in Cotabato City a few months ago.

http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/06/22/no-deal-with-milf-mnlf-says/

Pregnant NPA member arrested in Quezon, brought to hospital due to bleeding

From GMA News (Jun 21): Pregnant NPA member arrested in Quezon, brought to hospital due to bleeding

A pregnant woman, believed to be a member of the New People's Army, was captured by military and police personnel on Friday and later rushed to the hospital due to continuous bleeding, Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) said.

Maria Maridel Torres, arrested on murder charges, was taken to Camp Guillermo Nakar Station Hospital in Lucena City.

Torres, said to be a political instructor with the Southern Luzon Regional Party Committee,  was arrested by troops of the 2nd Infantry "Jungle Fighter" Division and Quezon Police Provincial Office at Barangay Ilayang Ilam in Lucena City.

The warrant for her arrest was issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 65 in Infanta, Quezon, SOLCOM said.

“Her rights will be respected. She will be given...proper medical attention and will be treated well,” said SOLCOM commander Lt. Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo.

Five days prior to her arrest, Torres, three months pregnant, was hospitalized at the Quezon Medical Center for the same conditions, SOLCOM said.

On Friday, Andrea Rosal — a suspected member of the NPA who gave birth while in detention over kidnapping and murder charges — sued officials of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology for "forcibly" taking her from the Philippine General Hospital in Manila and bringing her to the Taguig City Jail inside Camp Bagong Diwa.

Rosal gave birth at the PGH in May but her baby died the next day. Activist groups with Bagong Alyansang Makabayan have blamed the BJMP for the baby's death, saying Rosal had been denied proper medical care.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/366728/news/regions/pregnant-npa-member-arrested-in-quezon-brought-to-hospital-due-to-bleeding

Soldiers clean mosques ahead of Ramadhan

From ABS-CBN (Jun 21): Soldiers clean mosques ahead of Ramadhan

In a bid to show their support to the Muslim community's observance of the Holy Month of Ramadhan, the military in Basilan trooped to mosques and masjids to clean the surroundings.

Col. Eliglen Villaflor, Commanding Officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, said this is one of their ways to express their unity with their Muslim brothers in the observance of Ramadhan.

Dubbed as Brigada Masjid, Villaflor said soldiers are making rounds in the entire province of Basilan to clean the area.

Villaflor also talked to some Muslim youth studying in the Masjid in Calle Posporo, Barangay San Rafael, Zamboanga City. At least 100 young Muslims are studying in this school.

He said they want to impart to the youth that they should not be afraid of soldiers.

"We are their friends, their partners. We want to get their cooperation in maintaining peace and order in the province," Villaflor said.

Ustadz Fairadz Pulalon, caretaker of the mosque in Barangay San Rafael, expressed elation over the military's initiative.

Pulalon said they are encouraged to make good their sacrifices come Ramadhan time.

The military, meanwhile, also assured that they will be providing security in all places of worship to make sure no incident will disturb the peaceful observance of the Holy Month.

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/06/21/14/soldiers-clean-mosques-ahead-ramadhan

BIFF commander killed in Basilan clash: military

From ABS-CBN (Jun 21): BIFF commander killed in Basilan clash: military

A top commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was killed in a firefight with government troops in Al-Barka, Basilan on Saturday morning, the military said.

Col. Carlito Galvez, commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade, said BIFF commander Basir Kasaran was killed after being shot in the head by a sniper.

The military said Kasaran is the highest commander of the BIFF in Basilan. The groups of Nurhassan Jamiri and Musana Jamiri, which have about 30 to 40 members, are believed to be under him.

Kasaran also provides mortars as well as safe haven to Abu Sayyaf Group's Furuji Indama and Isnilon Hapilon in his area in Al-Barka, it added.
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/06/21/14/biff-commander-killed-basilan-clash-military

MILF: Editorial -- Domino effect of delay

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Jun 22): Domino effect of delay

“The systemic design of the GPH-MILF peace negotiation, especially after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), is such that when it moves, every organ also moves. If it does not, then other organs are directly affected.
  
This is particularly true to the road map indicated in the Annex on Transitional Arrangement and Modalities of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) that ensures the signing of the Exit Agreement after the parties have faithfully complied with all their agreements.

This chain reaction, which we can call domino effect, occurs when a change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on in linear sequence. It is like a hand-held flashlight. If you do not push another battery onto the first and then to the second, there would be no light expected of it.

The truth is that the GPH-MILF peace negotiation is designed to succeed, or at least whichever side is not complying or violating any agreement signed by them will have great difficulty in fending-off itself against criticisms including shaming and blaming. Moreover, the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), we are confident, will not take sitting down any such gross or deliberate misbehavior by either party. There are also other infrastructures like the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC), Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB), Joint Peace and Security Committee (JPST), Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST), Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), etc. that help ensure that compliance is the only option of the parties.

While we understand that the “not-so-fast pace” of the BBL in the Office of the President (OP) cannot be attributed to any unreasonable reason, but it is much desired that all of us must be conscious of time. Time, once it lapses, will not come back anymore. More seriously, the road ahead is not paved; it is still capable of posing many surprises.

This is not to say, however, that we cast doubt on the sincerity of President Benigno Aquino III to deliver. Actually, this open declaration of trust is causing the MILF harsh bashing from many quarters. They say that the issue of the Bangsamoro people cannot be rested on one man alone. Yes, that is true, but the truth is that since the MILF had entered into peace talks with the Aquino Administration, the President has not failed the MILF. This is the reason the peace negotiation under his presidency achieved many political milestones, like the FAB, CAB, etc. 

However, these milestones can only be fitting and truly fulfilling with the enactment of a good BBL legislated by Congress, which is faithful to the letter and spirit of the CAB.
http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/editorial/item/1053-domino-effect-of-delay

MILF: BLMI, NGO’s sign contract with JICA on Community Information Campaign

From the MILF Website (Jun 21): BLMI, NGO’s sign contract with JICA on Community Information Campaign



The Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) and Mindanao Action for Peace and Development (MAPAD) Initiatives, three (3) of the leading local non-government organizations in Mindanao signed a contract with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the implementation of an information drive campaign in Moro communities on June 16, 2014 at the BTC Human Resource Implementation Unit, 3/F Al Nor Bldg., Sinsuat Ave., Cotabato City.
  
The historic signing was made between Dr. Norodin D. Salam, CCDP-B Project Manager of the BTC Socio-Economic Program; Mr Shinichi Masuda, Chief Advisor of JICA-Cotabato Project Office and the heads of the three service providers represented by BLMI’s Executive Director Ustadz Mahmod Sumilalao Ahmad, UNYPAD’s President Rahib L. Kudto and MAPAD’s Executive Director Samsodin “Mahdie” Amella.

The service providers are commissioned to undertake the information drive campaign in Cotabato City, Marawi City, Isabela City, provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

Mr. Masuda explained that the HRM was launched on June 4 in Cotabato City where various stakeholders attended.

“This program (signing of contract) was discussed with BLMI, UNYPAD, MAPAD and members of the HRM Task Force with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) in a series of planning”, Mr Masuda said before the formal signing started.

“From now on, the service providers will go to the communities and explain the program and with this contract they will start the activity”, he said.

After Mr Masuda’s opening message, the contract was then signed.
In behalf of the service providers, BLMI Executive Director Ustadz Ahmad expressed his strong commitment to the program.

“We know that this activity is not for particular individual but for the future of the entire Bangsamoro; the next generation will benefit from it,” he said. He also thanked the people of Japan, JICA personnel, and BTC for this undertaking.

Atty. Haron S. Meling, BTC Chief Executive Assistant was also invited to discuss the current status of the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Dr. Salam said that updates on the GPH-MILF peace process will be part of the information drive campaign in the community. He disclosed that a ‘community forum’ (wherein the MNLF, MILF, LGUs, NGOs, CSOs, and other groups are target participant s) is among other activities to be undertaken.

“In the community forum, posters, flyers and datasheet will be distributed to participants”, said Dr. Salam.

“The datasheet shall be provided for those who have no access to internet”, he added.

He also said that the BDA and the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) will help in distributing the materials to their respective areas and had committed to retrieve them in their regional offices. They will submit the collected datasheet to the HRM Implementation Unit in Cotabato City.

Ms Baisanie J. Macabuat, HRM Project Officer encouraged Bangsamoro professionals who have access to internet to fill up the datasheet online. “They can log on to www.bangsamoroprofessionals.org”, she said. 

The closing date for registration according to Ms Macabuat is September 30, 2014.

The information drive campaign is part of the activities of the Human Resource Mapping (HRM) for Bangsamoro Professionals. HRM is under the Human Resource Development (HRD) component of the Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CCDP-B) and is being implemented by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in partnership with the JICA.
http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/welcome/item/1051-blmi-ngo’s-sign-contract-with-jica-on-community-information-campaign

Andrea Rosal sues BJMP warden, doc, lawyer

From GMA News (Jun 20): Andrea Rosal sues BJMP warden, doc, lawyer

Andrea Rosal, the detained daughter of the late communist spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal, on Friday filed contempt charges against a jail warden, doctor, and a lawyer from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) for "forcibly" taking her out of the hospital and back to the Taguig City Jail inside Camp Bagong Diwa.
 
Named respondents in the complaint filed with the Pasig Regional Trial Court were Jail Senior Inspector Dr. Jaime Claveria Jr, Jail Senior Inspector Atty. Crisyrel Awe, and warden Jail Senior Inspector Ellen B. Barrios.
 
Joining Rosal in the complaint were the Free Andrea Rosal Movement and the National Union of People's Lawyers.
 
According to Rosal, she was "forcibly" taken out of the Philippine General Hospital in Manila by BJMP authorities and guards by virtue of a court discharge order from the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 266.
 
From the hospital, Rosal was brought to the Taguig City Jail. Rosal said her transfer was done after office hours and without prior notice to her, her attending physician and her counsels.
 
Rosal said BJMP lawyer Awe had informed her that she would be transferred back to the city jail at 5:30 p.m. but the detainee insisted that her lawyers be informed about it first.
 
"(But) I was only given two minutes to prepare," said Rosal, adding that she even prohibited by jail personnel to use the comfort room to urinate before leaving.
 
"I was shoved to a wheelchair, which forced open my birth stitches. They transferred me against my will. All I can do is cry," Rosal added.
 
The court's discharge order was issued based on medical findings by Claveria. But Rosal insisted she had never seen Claveria before. The only time she saw and met the doctor was during her "forcible transfer."
 
Rosal also filed separate complaints against Claveria with the Philippine Regulatory Commission and the Philippine Medical Association, asking that the physician be imposed with proper disciplinary penalty.
 
"The callous manner in which they treated Andrea - she was shoved into a wheelchair, not allowed to contact her family or lawyers - speaks eloquently of how our society treats those who have less in life," said the NUPL in a statement.
 
"Where the government bends over backwards for the rich and influential, it hammers down  on the others. If this double standard is a thought enraging enough for mothers, women, and decent human beings everywhere else, it is a reality that Andrea has to grapple with everyday in her cramped, subpar cell in Taguig which she shares with 30 others," the group added.
 
Rosal, who earlier gave birth to Diona Andrea, is suspected to be a leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People's Army.
 
Her baby later died at the Philippine General Hospital due to oxygen deficiency in the blood. Militant groups have blamed prison authorities for the baby's death, citing "unreasonable delays" in bringing Rosal to the hospital.
 
Rosal was arrested in Caloocan last March 27 based on a warrant of arrest issued in Mauban, Quezon, for the non-bailable cases of kidnapping and murder. She has denied the charges. 
 

Special units hunting Sayyaf in kidnapping activities

From the Philippine Star (Jun 21): Special units hunting Sayyaf in kidnapping activities



Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero pins medal to one of the 24 wounded soldiers Saturday at Camp Navarro General Hospital inside Westmincom in Zamboanga City. At least seven soldiers and 10 Abu Sayyaf members  were killed in the encounter Thursday in Sulu province. ROEL D. PAREƑO

Highly trained and special forces have been pooled for the rescue mission of about 10 kidnap victims, including foreigners, being held by  different factions of the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu, a senior military official revealed Saturday here.

The seven soldiers who died and 24 others who were wounded when they hit by a wayward mortar were members of the special forces from the Joint Special Operation Group (JSOG) that joined the rescue mission.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, Commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the rescue operation is a joint effort of all units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Guerrero confirmed the rescue mission during his visit Saturday at the military hospital where he awarded medals and  distributed food to the 24 wounded soldiers.

“I could not divulge the units involved but nevertheless we are pooling our resources from the army, air force, and navy as well as the support of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Guerrero said.

Guerrero declined to discuss in details the units involved in the rescue mission but said that there is a continuing effort to stop the kidnapping and to ensure the rescue of the hostages.

“And we are trying our very best in different ways to get them out of the hands of the kidnappers,” he said.

“We want to take a serious look at this kidnapping business. We want to put a stop to this, otherwise we will see more of this if we will not do something about this,” Guerrero added.

Guerrero said that based on the information they received, there are about 10 hostages being held captive by the different factions of the Abu Sayyaf and most of the victims are foreigners. He did not elaborate.

Reports however said the Abu Sayyaf groups are believed to be holding captive two European bird watchers Elwold Horns and Lorenzo Vinceguerre; two Germans - Stefan Viktor Okonek, and Herike Diesen;  two Malaysians, and four Filipinos, who were separately abducted in 2012 and in May.

The victims are separately held by different factions of the Abu Sayyaf under Radullan Sahiron, Guerrero said.

Reports have also claimed that one of the Filipino captives -  Joselito Gonzales -  a construction laborer, was killed during the encounter Thursday.

Guerrero said they could confirm the report.

Guerrero said the heavy casualty they suffered was a result of the tactics of the Abu Sayyaf group which fired numerous rifle grenades and mortars in various directions, hitting the soldiers.

He said this tactic has been employed by the militants  in previous clashes  in Basilan and Sulu.

The military commander said that based on their information the munitions were secured by the Abu Sayyaf from various souces and bought using ransom proceeds the militants get from kidnapping activities.

Guerrero said they are tracing the sources to stop the bandits from acquiring weapons.

Meanwhile, the military reported that there was no displacement of civilians from Barangay Buhanginan in Patikul town because of the encounter.

Guerrero said they have coordinated with the provincial government, which assured them that the internally displaced persons (IDPs) would be taken care of.

http://www.philstar.com/nation/2014/06/21/1337442/special-units-hunting-sayyaf-kidnapping-activities

5 Maguindanao clans settle family feud

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 21): 5 Maguindanao clans settle family feud

Five Moro clans from Maguindanao who have been at odds and locked in a long standing family feud on Friday buried the hatchet and agreed to work for peace.

This after Maguindanao Governor Esmael Toto Mangudadatu and Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, brought the families together to sign a peace covenant ending their conflict that claimed more than a dozen lives in the past 16 years.

The historic signing ceremonies and swearing before the Holy Qur’an was held at private resort in Tacurong City attended by local officials, police and military leaders and members of Muslim clans.

Families who agreed to bury their misunderstanding include the Sarosong and Mohmin families who have traded bullets in the past, Marandang family, Taug and Bantilan clan.

Mangudadatu said the clans are actually related by blood and by affinity.

”Their misunderstanding stemmed from land dispute in Maguindanao, we are happy all agreed to settle their rido amicably,” Mangudadatu, explaining “rido” (family feud) hinders the government’s desire to achieve peace in the province.

More than 10 members of the Taug and Bantilan clans were either killed our hurt in wars that spanned about 11 years.

One of the signatories to the peace accord, Maguid Sarosong, told local officials that his family’s decision to come to terms with the Mohmin clan was their contribution to the government’s peace process in Mindanao.

Usman Marandang, also one of the signatories for peace with Sarosong and Mohmin, said his family elders readily agreed to proposal of Mangudadatu and Gen. Pangilinan “because they were not party to the conflict and that they did not take sides during bloody conflict.”

Maguindanao is home to the most number of family feuds in Muslim Mindanao region which the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) believed will hinder the attainment of peace if remained unsolved.

Mangudadatu said more families in conflict with relatives and other clans in Maguindanao will soon follow through.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=655639

Top BIFF commander killed

From Rappler (Jun 21): Top BIFF commander killed

Commander Basir Kasaran, said to be the highest commander of the rebel group, is shot in the head by an army sniper in Basilan




The highest commander of the rebel group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Basilan has been killed, the military reported on Saturday, June 21.

Basir Kasaran was shot in the head by a sniper from the Philippine Army's 18th Infantry Batallion, which was supported by Commander Cobra of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), according to initial reports.

Believed to be under Kasaran are the group of Nurhassan Jamiri and Musana Jamiri, who have clashed with the military in Basilan in recent months.

Kasaran is also reported to have supported Furuji Indama and Isnilon Hapilon, top leaders of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, by providing safe haven in his area in Al-Barka, Basilan.

The BIFF is waging a rebellion to claim an independent "Bangsamoro Islamic State" which is free from the "control" of the Philippine government.

Founded by commander Ameril Umra Kato, the BIFF broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over serious disagreements on the MILF's peace talks with the Aquino administration, among other reasons.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/61215-top-biff-commander-killed

Malaysian bomber Marwan is alive, training Sayyaf recruits in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jun 21): Malaysian bomber Marwan is alive, training Sayyaf recruits in Southern Philippines



    Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan

A Malaysian bomb expert who was reportedly killed in a US-backed airstrike in the southern Philippine province of Sulu two years ago is alive and actively training recruits alongside with the militant group Abu Sayyaf.

Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, a leader of the Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia, and member of the Jemaah Islamiya, had trained a significant number of bombers, including suicide bombers, including new cadre of Malaysian militants who are looking for combat experience before joining militant groups active in Syria and Iraq, aming them the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, according to a report by the Kuala Lumpur-based newspaper New Straits Times.

Citing intelligence sources, the report said those who had gone for training at the Abu Sayyaf camps had also participated in the group’s militant and criminal activities.

“We can confirm that he is very much alive and is passing on his knowledge and technical know-how at the Abu Sayyaf base. He is not as dead as is widely thought just well-hidden. Many up and coming terrorists and militants have gained immensely from his tutelage,” NST sources said.

The sources further said that militants were required to pay a significant amount of money for the training that would provide them with the skills and confidence needed in battle.

It was not immediately known whether the spike on ransom kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines and cross-border raids in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah was connected to the training of the militants or if ransom money is being used to finance the training and for the purchase of weapons by the group.

Just this month, Filipino troops stormed the hideout of a notorious militant leader Abdul Basit Usman - who also has links with al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya – in Maguindanao province, but he managed to escape after being shot and wounded in the massive military operation.

Brigadier General Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, said two other suspected militants were killed by soldiers during the raid in the hideout of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in the village called Libutan in Shariff Saydona Mustapha town.

He said Usman’s wife and three other women – two of them Indonesian nationals and a Filipina native of Sulu province - were also arrested and that one of them is the wife of Marwan. The names of the four women were not released by the military, but all of them are being interrogated separately by authorities.

He said they recovered a cache of weapons and improvised explosives, including a 155mm howitzer and mortar bombs and munitions. Troops also recovered a van and 7 motorcycles before rebels could rig it with explosives and use to bomb military and civilian targets. A wallet with Usman’s picture was also recovered in the area.

“We have recovered so many weapons and explosives, and there is also a Barrett sniper rifle, blasting caps and cell phones that they use as detonators, and 155mm (howitzer) and mortar bombs. The recovery of these war materials has saved a lot of lives,” Pangilinan said.

He said troops launched the raid after long surveillance operations and intelligence provided by civilians about Usman and the BIFF, blamed for the series of bombings in the restive Muslim autonomous region.

Philippine authorities have blamed Usman, also a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front commander, for the spate of deadly bombings in Mindanao the past two decades. The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group which recently signed a peace deal with Manila, has previously ordered its forces to hunt down Usman after he was linked to terror attacks.

In 2010, Pakistan military reported that Usman was killed along with another foreigner and 10 al-Qaeda militants in a US drone strike in the restive South Waziristan region, but the reports turned out to be false with the Philippine military saying that the militant leader was in Mindanao.

The United States has put up a $5 bounty for Marwan and $1million for Usman under its Government Rewards Program after they were tagged by authorities as behind deadly bombings in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Marwan, who was trained as an engineer in the United States, is also included in the “Most Wanted Terrorists” list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Filipino security officials have not issued any statement about the news that Marwan is alive, but security forces clashed recently with the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu province that killed and wounded at least 40 soldiers and militants. It was unknown whether Marwan or any other Malaysian or Indonesian militants were with the Abu Sayyaf group that clashed with government forces.

http://www.mindanaoexaminer.net/2014/06/malaysian-bomber-marwan-is-alive.html