Saturday, June 28, 2014

'Army officer, cops linked to Filipino group'

From the Star Online (Jun 29): 'Army officer, cops linked to Filipino group'

KUALA LUMPUR: The two police and army officers detained during a special operation in Kunak, Sabah, are related to members of the militant group in the Philippines.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Zinin said the two corporals were singled out after investigations revealed that their “movements here had assisted groups to move in and out” of Sabah waters.

“And they have family members who are from these groups across the sea.

A thorough investigation will be under way,” Mohd Bakri told reporters after attending a graduation ceremony for female constables at the Police Training Centre (Pulapol) in Jalan Semarak here yesterday.

The officers were among six suspects linked to Sulu terrorists arrested by Bukit Aman Special Branch and Eastern Sabah Security Command on Wednesday.
On the Malaysians taking part in the jihadist movement in Syria, Mohd Bakri said that police were investigating them under the Security Offences (Special Mea­sures) Act.

He added that they would pick up their trail once they re-enter the country.
Bukit Aman Special Branch had announced that it had identified at least 20 Malaysians fighting in the Syrian uprising, amid reports that there may be more than 100 Malaysians in that country.

The Syrian government recently claimed that its troops had killed 15 Malaysians involved with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (Isil), though Malaysian police had yet to confirm that.

Bukit Aman has intensified operations against militants and terrorist cells in the country, with 16 detained for suspected links to foreign terror groups so far.

ASG Bandit killed in Patikul

From the Manila Times (Jun 28): ASG Bandit killed in Patikul

ONE Islamic militant was killed on Friday afternoon following an encounter between elite government troops and a band of Islamic militants in a remote village in Patikul, Sulu, the military reported over the weekend.

Initial reports to Camp Aguinaldo, the military headquarters in Manila, said the encounter took place at about 1:15 p.m. Friday while troops of the 1st Light Reaction Company were conducting a blocking operation in Sitio Kabuntakas, PatIkul, Sulu.

Troops engaged some 20 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members in a fierce encounter lasting for several minutes before the bandits withdrew towards the southwest.

One still unidentified ASG bandit was killed, while no casualties were reported on the government side.

Troops are pursuing the retreating bandits.

Extreme jihadists out to derail peace negotiations

From the Manila Times (Jun 29): Extreme jihadists out to derail peace negotiations

Muslim jihadists here continued preaching their “ex–treme ideology” amid peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and this month’s ob–servance of the Holy Ramadan, sources said.

Muslims worldwide will start performing sawm or fasting Sunday as part of the their obligations, while waiting for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the government and the MILF on March 27 in Malacañang to end the decade-long misunderstanding in Muslim Mindanao.

Even the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)—a group that led the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the “failed experiment” that will be replaced by new Bangsamoro government next year—is reportedly giving their support for the peace process and the linking of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the CAB.

According to reports, the merging of FAB and CAB is being facilitated by the 57-member Organization of Islamic Con–ference (OIC) that hosted a special meeting between the MNLF and MILF in Saudi Arabia earlier this month that culminated in a “memorandum of understanding” between the two fronts.

However, the sources, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said more “ji–hadist preachers” here were calling for the establishment of a Khilafah Islamiya [Islamic Caliphate] state in the country.

The sources identified the group leaders as Magdaga Binatac and Jamal Alim Amboloto, both calling themselves as “Abu Jamal,” who started preaching on local cable television since 2011.

The concerned residents provided a copy of the group’s recorded sermon videos and other documents related to their advocacies.

The videos show that the group was lecturing on RPMD TV 10, a local cable station owned by the former Lanao del Sur 1st District Rep. Faisah Dumarpa and her husband Atty. Salic Dumarpa, a member of the Sautol Haqq or Voice of Peace.

Earlier this year, the group for unknown reasons moved to two-way radio (icom) frequency here after their three-year stay in the TV station, the sources told The Manila Times.

In the videos, the two preachers along with other speakers invited Muslim residents here to heed their call for a jihad [Holy War] instead.

The group claimed that the “primary obligation” of a Muslim was to consider the kufar [infidels] and tagut [tyrants] as their mortal enemies and that every Muslim should implant in their hearts and minds a determination to “fight them and be angry” with them.

They also believed that Muslims should “go first to jihad” before “performing the five pillars of Islam” including fasting in Ramadan to establish a full-blown Sharia’ Law as practiced in the early history of Islam by the Khulafa ul-Rashidoon [the rightly guided Caliphs] and oppose the current peace process.

In a document furnished by the sources, the extremists justify the acts of grabbing non-Muslims’ wealth, kidnapping and killing of infidels and tagut as halal or permissible in Islam, through jihad where Dar Al Harb or a place of war exists.

The sources said Magdaga has also been running a madrasah [Arabic school] called Darul Abrar here since 2011.

MILF: BLMI undertakes information campaign on Human Resource Mapping

From the MILF Website (Jun 29): BLMI undertakes information campaign on Human Resource Mapping

The Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) conducted community information campaign on human resource mapping for Bangsamoro professionals for two cluster areas namely; Cotabato City and Maguindanao.  The remaining two clusters are North Cotabato cluster and another one in Maguindanao.
The two clusters for information campaign were held at Em Manor Hotel, Cotabato City and JP Garden and Restaurant, Barangay Rebuken, Sultan Kudarat Maguindanao on June 26 and June 27, 2014, respectively.

Officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) political and information committees, MILF line agencies and members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) participated in both occasions. 

Mahmod S. Ahmad, BLMI Executive Director emphasized that the program is not for hiring job applicants. “This is only an inventory of professionals so that we will be able to know the capacity of the Bangsamoros’ various fields of specializations,” he said.

“If the data analyst discovers that they (Bangsamoro professionals) need more knowledge on certain field that is useful for running an institution, concerned authorities will find ways on how to remedy those deficiencies through capacity building,” he disclosed. 

Mr. Shu Nishimaru, Project Coordinator of the CCDP-B Project from JICA-CPO who attended the program, said “We the Japanese people want peace in the world, peace for the Bangsamoro, and we want to attain sustainable peace for us to have a healthy community,” he stressed.

“The Japanese government supported the Bangsamoro on several programs including this Comprehensive Capacity Development Project in partnership with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission,” Mr Nishimaru pointed out.

For the information campaign held in the municipality of Sultan Kudarat, BLMI Executive Director Ahmad explained that the security of the database is exclusive for those handling the particular program.

“No one else can see the information except the IT Engineer of the Human Resource Mapping Implementation Unit, nor anyone can ask a copy except the BTC,” he stressed.

In encouraging the professionals to register, Director Ahmad said, “Don’t wait for the heavy rain to come, find a safe place for you to not to be dampen by rain.” 

He reminded the professionals to grab the opportunity and register before the registration period ends on September 30, 2014. 

Asked about the database once submitted to the BTC? He said, “On November 30, 2014, we will submit the analysed data to the BTC office and they are the authorized agency to make decisions on what to do with the database.”

“The human resource mapping is not for hiring purposes”, he continued.

“If you have submitted your profile just wait because once your knowledge and skills are needed, I think you will be called by proper authorities.

Mr. Abubakar Bandila, BLMI staff tasked to explain the rationale of the Bangsamoro professionals mapping said that those database on human resource mapping prepared by BLMI shall be included in the new database manned by the BTC Socio-Economic Program.

“To those who are not here, please tell them to fill out the datasheet that were distributed to you or register online at”, he said.

Among other programs in the community information campaign of the BLMI were updates on the GPH-MILF peace process particularly on the signed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Mr. Esmael “Mike” Abdula, BLMI’s HRM coordinator said that they have scheduled another information campaign along with other service providers such as the United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD), and Mindanao Action for Peace and Development (MAPAD) in July until mid of August for Central, Northern, and Western Mindanao targeting the members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), MILF, traditional leaders, NGOs, CSOs and Local Government Units (LGUs).

MILF: MILF-BIAF 118th Base Command, Committee on Tarbiyah hold advocacy on CAB

From the MILF Website (Jun 28): MILF-BIAF 118th Base Command, Committee on Tarbiyah hold advocacy on CAB

Responding to a request by the MILF-BIAF 118th Base Command who wanted to be updated on GPH-MILF Peace Process and other related issues, peace advocates from the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), one of  Mindanao’s leading and most active non-government organizations held advocacy at Barangay Tatapan, Datu Unsay, Maguindanao on June 19, 2014 facilitated by the base command’s medical and dental unit. Local residents as well as from neighboring barangays attended the program.
In a similar activity on June 23, 2014, the same team from the BLMI Extension Service and Research Units with some Ulama (Islamic Scholars) from MILF- Committee on Tarbiyah travelled to the coastal area of Barangay Kinemi, Datu Blah Sinsuat town in Maguindanao on board a pump-boat that took them about four hours before reaching the venue.

The activity was initiated and organized by the religious sector which coincided with the graduation ceremony of Madrasatul Ittihad Al- Islamiyah in the area. Ms. Lani L. Guiamadel, Secretary of Mindanao Women’s Advocacy for Good Governance and Arabic Teacher facilitated the program.

Sheikh Sam Alabat, BLMI Extension Service Unit in-charge on Community Organizing talked on Shari’ah Laws and Politics in Islam.

On his part, this writer, BLMI Research Unit head touched on governance for the envisioned Bangsamoro, political party formation and electoral system in a ministerial form of governance and stressing its salient points and comparisons with other systems of government.

Some ulama who were present and the MILF Municipal Chairman also shared some message of motivations on Bangsamoro cause in line with Islamic teachings. One gave emphasis that Islam covers all spectrums of struggle and human affairs that every Muslim needs consistent application.    

At the end of the program, the villagers expressed their heartfelt gratitude to BLMI Management, lecturers as well as to the organizers for their efforts and the knowledge that they have shared.

Barangay Kinemi is a far-flung barangay with no access road, no electricity and system of telecommunication. Due to its geographical location, peace advocates seldom come to the locality. The villagers who are predominantly Moros rely on fishing and farming as source of living.

Abu Sayyaf leader believed dead is still alive, says intel officer

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 29): Abu Sayyaf leader believed dead is still alive, says intel officer

Abu Sayyaf group. AP FILE PHOTO

Isnilon Hapilon, a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, has in all likelihood survived a gunshot wound on the belly, a military intelligence source told the Inquirer Saturday.

“I think he is still alive. If he had died, then news of it would have spread already. But even our sources tell us it’s negative,” said the source, a high ranking officer who requested anonymity.

But the intelligence source said the soldier who took the shot was certain that he hit Hapilon during an encounter between government troops and Abu Sayyaf fighters last Wednesday in Barangay Kamamburingan in the municipality of Ungkaya Pukan in Basilan.

Hapilon has a $5 million bounty on his head as one of the most wanted terrorists under the US Rewards for Justice.

Hapilon was involved in the 2001 Dos Palmas kidnappings, in which three of the 20 victims were American citizens Gracia and Martin Burnham and Guillermo Sobero. Sobero was beheaded while Martin Burnham was killed during a rescue operation in June 2002.

Hapilon had been injured several times in encounters with government troops but managed to survive.

The intelligence source said that if Hapilon dies, it would be a “huge blow” to the Abu Sayyaf.

Hapilon is known as the “Emir of Basilan,” the religious head of all Abu Sayyaf in Basilan. Most of the terror group’s members in the area are Hapilon’s relatives.

Moreover, there is a power struggle within the ASG itself, the source said. Hapilon and Furuji Indama are at odds with another Abu Sayyaf leader, Nur Hassan Jamiri.

“Leadership and power struggle is the cause of their fight but whenever there are military operations, they band together. If Hapilon dies, the groups led by Indama and Hassan will split up for sure,” the source said.

A series of clashes between government troops and the Abu Sayyaf have taken place in Basilan and Sulu recently. Among those killed was a promising young Marine lieutenant, Roger Flores.

The military source  said the intelligence community has gotten wind of plans by the Abu Sayyaf to sow terror in Davao City, Cotabato City, and General Santos City in retaliation for the raid on the bomb factory of Abdul Basit Usman in Maguindanao last June.

President Aquino himself had warned Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the possible attacks, prompting the latter to place his area on high alert.
“Supposedly they would plant car bombs, but they [Abu Sayyaf] are still at the planning stage,” the source said.

Usman, who carries  a $1-million reward for information leading to his arrest, escaped arrest during the June 10 raid. Government troops arrested his wife and three others.

West Philippine Sea China’s best shield vs US, paper says

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 28): West Philippine Sea China’s best shield vs US, paper says

Map showing the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (south China Sea), including the Spratlys Islands and Scarborough Shoal. AFP

The West Philippine Sea is China’s “natural shield” in the south, which will not only give it a strong defense against the United States, but will also provide food and energy security given the wealth of natural resources in the Reed Bank, according to a strategic assessment paper from the Development Academy of the Philippines.

The importance of the West Philippine Sea to China also explains its assertive claims to territories within the Philippines’ Kalayaan Island Group (KIG).

The West Philippine Sea is the name given by Manila to that part of the South China Sea that falls within the country’s exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea.

“The West Philippine Sea (WPS) is important as it is regarded as a natural shield of China’s security in the South. Having a strong foothold on the WPS would give China a strategic area of defense consisting of over 1,000 kilometers, the security implication of which is ‘incalculable’,” said the DAP paper titled, “Maintaining the Balance of Power and Increasing the Sphere of Influence over the West Philippine Sea: The China Track.”

The paper also noted that controlling the West Philippine Sea would “ensure the economic and political survival of the Communist Party.”

The West Philippine Sea is the part of South China Sea that is within the Philippines’ 320-kilometer exclusive economic zone.

Filipino military officers, who as students at the DAP Graduate School of Public Development and Management, came up with the 12-page strategic paper focusing on the West Philippine Sea problem through China’s lens last year. DAP provided the Philippine Daily Inquirer a copy of the paper.

On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for stronger frontier defenses on land and sea during a “national meeting” also attended by Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The DAP paper noted that an expert from China’s State Ocean Administration had pointed out that “the ocean has become an important area of contention for comprehensive national power and long-term strategic advantage.”

The DAP paper emphasized that having control of the South China Sea would “serve as a restraining factor” for the US 7th Fleet, whose area of responsibility covers 124 million square kilometers in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“The United States has always intended to preserve its strong military presence in [the] West Pacific. Given this fact, Beijing feels that it must have a strong grip on the South China Sea to give themselves some space for strategic maneuvering,” the paper said.

China acknowledges its vulnerability both on land and sea, but “believes that any challenges to China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in the future would mostly come from the ocean, including the West Philippine Sea,” the paper said.

“This is the reason why China has been developing its anti access/area denial (AA/AD) capability. In this context, China’s anti-access/area-denial forces increasingly overlap, providing multiple layers of offensive systems utilizing the sea, air, space, and cyber-space,” the paper added.

The paper cited estimates from the US Energy Information Administration that the Spratlys seabed may hold up to 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, “much of it concentrated in Reed Bank,” also known as Recto Bank off Palawan province.

Aside from the natural gas and oil, the waters in the area are also home to the “richest fisheries in the world.”

“Experts say that the West Philippine Sea provides 25 percent of the protein needs of 500 million people; over 5 million tons of fish are hauled from the fisheries in the WPS each year—10 percent of the global fisheries catch—and five of the world’s top shrimp producers border the sea,” the paper said.

The paper also noted how China has looked down on the Philippines “as a small country with weak military capabilities.”

“Also, China considers the Philippines as nothing but a convenient market of cheap Chinese goods and services. They perceive the Filipinos as a people who can easily be appeased by a gesture of goodwill after being offended,” the paper said.

china-world map

China’s latest published map shows its claim over the South China Sea by marking ten dash lines around the region just off the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines’ islands of Palawan and Luzon. PHOTO sourced from China Daily/ANN

Palace welcomes statement of U.S. Ambassador regarding new Chinese map

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 28): Palace welcomes statement of U.S. Ambassador regarding new Chinese map

Malacanang welcomed the statement of US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg who said China’s ten-dash line map has no basis.

"Ganyan din po ang aming paniniwala and we welcome the statement from Ambassador Goldberg," Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday.

"Adding another dash to the nine-dash line does not add any weight of legitimacy to its claim and for that particular reason, we have strongly emphasized that we have pursued the arbitration case before the international court," he added.

The Philippine government is also strongly advocating the finalization of the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea, he added.

The Palace official said the foreign affairs department is also looking into the new map released by China and mulling the filing of a new diplomatic protest.

"We will certainly support the position taken by our foreign affairs department. It is also good to note that talagang very consistent ang suporta ng ating international community rito, on our emphasis on the rule of law. And having all these arbitrated and decided on the basis of international law," he added.

China has published this week a new map of the entire country including the islands in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) saying the move is to “better show” its territorial claim over the region.

The new Chinese map shows China’s claim over the South China Sea by marking ten dash lines around the region just off the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines.

The Philippines filed an arbitration case before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) challenging China's claim in the West Philippine Sea.

The region, believed to be rich in oil and natural gas and a vital shipping route, is becoming a flashpoint to several countries with conflicting claims in the area.

Task Force Davao in heightened alert for terror threat

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): Task Force Davao in heightened alert for terror threat

Even before President Benigno S. Aquino III's terror threat warning to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the military task force securing the area has already been placed in heightened alert since last week.

This was revealed by Capt. Mario Tena, Task Force Davao public affairs office chief, in a message to the PNA.

"We have received (word) regarding the presence of international terrorist groups and planned terrorist actions of different terrorist groups in Mindanao area so we placed our (forces) in heightened alert since last week," he added.

Eastern Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III had earlier directed all military intelligence units in the area of responsibility to verify and validate the said report as to the plan and intent of the above-mentioned threat groups.

“The Philippine National Police intelligence units are also doing the same efforts. We are working jointly with the PNP," he added.

Filipino Muslims begin Ramadan fast Sunday

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 28): Filipino Muslims begin Ramadan fast Sunday

Fasting season in the Philippines officially starts Sunday after the naked-eye moon sighting by Muslim religious leaders failed to view the crescent moon.

Ustadz Mike Ibrahim, commissioner of the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), said the Darul Ifta, Islamic House of Opinion and members of the Ulama Council of the Philippines (UCP), failed to view the moon in viewing sites in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), thus fasting officially starts Sunday.

”Since the crescent moon was not sighted clearly on Friday evening, fasting officially starts tomorrow, Sunday,” Ibrahim said, adding that it will last until July 27 where the Hariraya Puwasa or the end of Ramadhan is celebrated.

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam that every Muslim must perform except for pregnant women, elders or senior citizens and minors.

The other pillars include performing pilgrimage in the Holy Land of Mecca, praying five times a day, offering material and financial aid to the needy brethren and those in need.

Fasting from food, water and earthly desires, including engaging in sex are observed by Muslim faithful from dawn to sunset.

According to Ustadz Jaafar Ali, speaking for Darul Iftah, the organization of Islamic religious leaders, said during the fasting month, Muslim faithful are obliged to fast from sunrise to sunset, breaking the fast at about 6 p.m.

During the fasting month, Islam believers refrain from taking solid and liquid food, smoking and other earthly desires.

Fasting is the most important Islamic religious activity.

Various activities like nightly presentation at the ARMM compound have been prepared ahead of the fasting month.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hatamn said a food festival is being prepared at the ARMM compound so Muslims can break the fast shortly after work.

The start of fasting month is a regular working day but Muslim workers are allowed to work until 3 p.m. without noon break to give them ample time to prepare for the breaking of the fast at sunset.

For a devout Muslim, Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection and sympathy for those who are suffering and needy.

"During the fasting month, we pray that Allah that peace will reign in our land and that we continue to provide help to our brethren who are in need, physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually," said Allan Hamdila, a 29 year-old government employee.

Ustasdz Ali urged Muslims to share part of their wealth to the needy during the fasting month.

He urged those who have extra money to share by buying food and donate them to less privileged Muslims.

Government troops capture 2 NPA rebels in Zambo Sur clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): Government troops capture 2 NPA rebels in Zambo Sur clash

Combined military and police forces have captured two New People’s Army rebels following a clash in the hinterlands of Zamboanga del Sur, a military official announced Saturday.

Army’s First Infantry Division Public Affairs Officer-in-Charge Capt. Franco Suelto identified the captured NPA rebels as Wilfredo Dalumos alias Ka Nick and Ka Tong-Tong and Edgar Candilansa.

Suelto said they were captured Friday afternoon in Sitio Sagpang, Barangay Datagan, Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur.

Suelto said the clash ensued when the troops returned fire after they were fired upon by the NPA rebels.

He said the group of NPA rebels that figured in the clash was believed to be involved in the ambush-slay of a soldier from the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion last June 14 in the neighboring town of San Miguel, Zamboanga del Sur.

He said the captured NPA rebels were taken to the police provincial headquarters for further investigation and eventual filing of cases against them.

ROK contingent in Tacloban hails contribution of Filipino Korean War veterans

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): ROK contingent in Tacloban hails contribution of Filipino Korean War veterans

The Republic of Korea (ROK)'s military contingent, rendering post-disaster reconstruction work in Leyte, has expressed their appreciation to the contribution of Filipino veterans during simple ceremonies held at the South Korean Military Joint Support Base Camp in Palo, Leyte on June 24.

The date is the 64th anniversary of the Korean War, a statement forwarded Saturday by 8th Infantry Division spokesperson Major Amado Gutierrez, said.

Col. Chuw Lon Lee, ROK military contingent commander, awarded seven Filipino veterans with certificates of recognition in appreciation of their contribution to the peaceful resolution of Korean War and for fighting for the Korean People from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.

The awarding ceremony was graced by 8th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Jet B. Velarmino, Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico l. Petilla and other stakeholders.

It can be recalled that the ROK military contingent arrived in the Philippines via Cebu last Dec. 27.

After six months of post disaster reconstruction work, the following were the projects they completed in different towns of Leyte Province: repair and renovation of 16 elementary schools, repair of Leyte Provincial Hospital and Barugo Municipal Hospital, repair and rehab of Palo DepEd (Department of Education) Dormitory and planning building, repair of DSWD regional office, repair of Palo Orphanage building, repair and rehab of Tanauan and Palo Police Stations, repair of BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenues) and COMELEC (Commission on Elections) offices, repair of Tolosa Fire Department building, renovation of Tanauan municipality hall annex and fire station, and renovation and rehabilitation of houses of three Korean War veterans.

In addition, four projects are still ongoing, these are the repair of DepEd regional office, Mohon Elementary School, the Mohon barangay hall and a veteran’s home in Tacloban City.

The first ROK military contingent returned to South Korea on June 23 and the second military contingent arrived on the same day.

"The deployment of troops reflects the gratitude of the Korean people to the Filipinos who fought with them during the Korean War, and their optimism about the future of Tacloban. We hope that their work will bring the people of the two countries closer to each other," the South Korean embassy said when they were newly deployed in the country and they did as expected, winning the Eastern Visayans’ gratitude and appreciation," the ROK military commander said.

Velarmino in his message said: “The Korean war became the foundation where the friendship between Philippines and South Korea has sprouted, a friendship that has been strengthened not just in times of war but also in times of calamities, to mention the recent onslaught brought about by the super typhoon 'Haiyan'/'Yolanda'; the Republic of Korean Armed Forces was one of the first who responded to aide our forces in the conduct of relief and rehabilitation after the onslaught of the said super typhoon and with such actions, we the Filipinos appreciated and will always be thankful for.”

Dock landing ship of U.S. Navy participates in CARAT exercise

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): Dock landing ship of U.S. Navy participates in CARAT exercise

The United States Navy has utilized dock landing ship USS Ashland in the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise with the Philippine Navy here that opened Thursday and to end on Monday.

It is the second American ship, after USS John McCain, that participated in the CARAT exercise.

Docked at the Alava wharf in the Subic Bay Freeport, the 22-year old ship has on board 400 U.S. Marines and 274 Navy crews. It can cruise at a speed of 20 knots.

“The purpose of USS Ashland is to embark U.S. Marines and their vehicles as well as amphibious craft that take the men and their vehicles to the beach for any mission,” said Lieutenant Commander Dan Duhan, ship executive officer.

He said that the ship’s armament is primarily for self-defense having a flight deck for helicopters and well deck for amphibious assault vehicles, hovercraft, air cushion craft, personnel transport modules (PTM), among some other equipment.

The hovercraft can take 15 combat men while the PTM can carry 120 soldiers.

This is the first time the ship has its port call in the Philippines but most of its crews have already came in the country from other ships.

Duhan said some members of the Philippines Marines are on board to take part in the exercise and land in the beach with their American counterpart.

“They will exchange technique and learn from each other,” the officer said.

“On the navy side, we will do some underway events, do maneuvers at sea, weapons system, coordination of ships with the Philippine Navy,” Duhan said.

Filipino is 2nd top man in engineering dept of U.S. guided-missile ship

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): Filipino is 2nd top man in engineering dept of U.S. guided-missile ship

A Filipino holds the second top post in the engineering department of guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain, one of two American warships participating in the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise in Subic Bay.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Arnold Libongco, 46, is from San Mateo, Rizal and with the United States Navy for 20 years.

He is assistant head of the engineering department that has supervision on all engines of the ship, including three engines that supply electricity to the whole ship and the combat system that manages the missiles.

Libongco is with 20 other Filipinos among 329 officers and men of the ship.

“Once a week, the ship prepares Filipino cuisine like lumpia, pansit and adobo that even many American sailors like to eat,” the chief petty officer said.

He visited his family in San Mateo only last month so he volunteered to help in the CARAT exercise.

“This is the first time I saw Philippine Navy ships. I saw how professional and industrious the sailors of the Philippine Navy," Libongco said.

He said that every time a U.S. Navy ship makes its port call in the Philippines, Filipino sailors are very eager to go home to their families.

”They cannot sleep the night before and very excited to have an opportunity to go home in their respective areas in the Philippines," he added.

USN fields guided-missile destroyer in CARAT exercise in Subic Bay

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): USN fields guided-missile destroyer in CARAT exercise in Subic Bay
The United States Navy fielded two warships, one a missile-guided destroyer, in the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise with the Philippine Navy in Subic Bay that started Thursday and to go on until Monday.

The 25-year old missile-equipped USS John McCain docked at the Alava wharf inside the Subic Bay Freeport is 154 meters long, 20.4 meters high and with draft of 9.3 meters.

It is based in Yokosuka, Japan with 33 officers, 34 chief petty officers and 262 men.

It has a speed of 30 knots.

Lt JG Blaine Shipley, anti-submarine warfare officer, said the ship has combination of missiles, torpedoes and machine guns in its missile deck.

There are anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine missiles and also tomahawks and standard missiles.

The warship has also a post office and an Automated Teller Machine for use of its sailors and officers.

Shipley with chief petty officer Arnold Libongco, assistant engineering department head, showed various portions of the ship from the Pilot House or Bridge to the missile deck.

Libongco is a Filipino from San Mateo, Rizal.

Shipley said all charts in the Bridge are all electronically-operated.

“USS John McCain has not fought in any war but has undertaken exercises with the navies of the Philippines, Japan and Korea,” Shipley said.

He said that there will be firing exercises like firing missiles on moving target during the CARAT.

Another warship participating in CARAT in Subic Bay is USS Ashland, a dock landing ship.

A third ship which was not identified is in Sangley Point in Cavite.

Military: No terror threat report in Northern Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): Military: No terror threat report in Northern Mindanao

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan De Oro City -– The military and the police have raised an alert status on Saturday, although both denied receiving reports of an impending terror attack here, military officials said on Saturday.

Maj. Christian Uy, spokesperson of the army’s 4th Infantry Division, said that the military has not received an intelligence report that Cagayan De Oro City is a target of terror attack by an unidentified terror group.

He said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has an intelligence unit that especially worked on threats from terror groups.

The regional command of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Cagayan De Oro City has not also received a report of a terror plot, Police Sr. Supt. Michael Pareja, the PNP’s regional spokesperson said.

Pareja, however, said that the PNP has stepped up the setting up of checkpoints at the provincial boundaries as well as mobile checkpoints while scouring the mountains for New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

He said that the PNP has also deployed new canine units to Cagayan De Oro City and Camiguin to secure the ports and terminals in areas concerned.

Uy said that the military is working closely with the PNP in securing the capital city of Northern Mindanao and the surrounding provinces.Last week, the military has deployed soldiers in urban and rural villages in Cagayan De Oro City as part of the military’s program for Bayanihan Alert for Peace and Development, Uy said.

He said that under the peace and development program, the Philippine Army troops would be engaged in activities such as youth leadership and community leaders’ enhancement seminars, establishing livelihood projects, among others.

Uy has issued an appeal against spreading rumors of terror attacks since it would only cause unreasonable panic among investors and tourists that would ultimately affect the economy of the region.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte claimed on Friday that his city as well as the cities of Davao, Cagayan De Oro, Kidapawan, and Koronadal, all in Mindanao are targeted by an unknown terror group sending anxiety among residents in concerned places.

Impatience grows for MILF over delayed BBL passage

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 29): Impatience grows for MILF over delayed BBL passage

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the rebel group which President Aquino is negotiating a peace deal with in exchange for the setting up of the Bangsamoro substate is growing impatient over the delay in the Palace transmittal of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which would be the basis for the creation of the autonomous region, to Congress for its approval.

The MILF in its website warned the delay could create a domino effect that may put in jeopardy the entire peace agreement.

“The systemic design of the GRP(Government of the Philippines)-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,” the MILF said in its website.

During his one-day visit to Japan last week, Aquino met with MILF chairman Al Haj Murad supposedly to assure the MILF of his administration’s commitment to have the Bangsamoro substate in place before his term ends.

Aquino assured Murad the draft of the BBL will be submitted to Congress before his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in July 28 to ensure its passage within the year.

President Aquino said he and Murad also discussed ways to come up with the proposed law that would ensure swift passage in Congress during their meeting in Japan.

The MILF said that its questioning of the delay in the transmittal of the document does not mean that it casts doubt “on the sincerity of Aquino 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,” it said.

The MILF said that the delay in the processing of BBL may affect the road map indicated in the Annex on Transitional Arrangement and Modalities of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) which would be the basis of the Exit Agreement “after the parties have faithfully complied” with all their commitments.”

It said the GRP-MILF peace negotiation was designed to succeed and makes whichever side not complying or violating any part of the agreement the subject of criticisms.

It expressed worries over several other collateral issues that would have to come after the approval of the BBL such as the forming of 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) which it said “compliance is the only option of the parties.”

The MILF said the BBL being stranded at 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,” it added.
Aquino said the meeting with Murad in Japan did not result in any disagreement on the guiding principles.

“Now, we’re putting in all of the details and I asked him (Murad) if it would be possible to meet sometime next week either their panels or we in particular or our designated representatives to thresh it out and come up with that proposed measure and give it to Congress even before the Sona (State of the Nation Address),” Aquino said.

“There is an agreement on how you actually work. There’s a need to further refine the language so that it really states a meeting of the minds of both parties,” he said.

Aquino added the government aims to hasten the process of coming up with the draft BBL that both parties can fully support and endorse.

He assured the Filipino people that all efforts are being exerted to ensure that the proposed law is passed in timely manner.

“...Because the dream still is to give the new Bangsamoro government time to demonstrate its abilities and the time that they need as a minimum is a year and six months. So, we’re hoping that all the steps will be done that they can sit already in office by January of 2015,” Aquino said.

Army trainee dies in Maguindanao boot camp

From ABS-CBN (Jun 28): Army trainee dies in Maguindanao boot camp

A candidate soldier undergoing training at the 6th Infantry Division Training Camp in Barangay Semba, Datu Odin Sinsuat town, Maguindanao died last Monday, a source said.

An ABS-CBN source said the candidate soldier, identified as Nelson Espartero from North Cotabato, died due to cardiac arrest at Camp Siongco Station Hospital.

The source said Esparterlo was on a "sick in quarters" status since he was not feeling well.

When noticed by one officer at the boot camp, he was immediately brought to the station hospital for check-up.

The 6th Infantry Division has yet to give an official statement regarding the incident, pending the arrival of the acting division commander who is still in Manila as of posting.

A probe on the incident is underway.

On Friday last week, around 300 candidate soldiers took oath for their training.

According to the commandant of the 6th Division training school, Col. Bernie Langub, the candidate soldiers would be exposed to an intense training to hone deserving and brave soldiers.

NPA squad leader surrenders in Laguna

From the Philippine Star (Jun 27): NPA squad leader surrenders in Laguna

A squad commander of the New People’s Army (NPA) who operated in communist hotbed Compostela Valley surrendered recently to the military.

Lt. Col. Lloyd Cabacungan, spokesman of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command, said the rebel leader, identified as Bernardo Garbo, surrendered to the 2nd Infantry Division in Cavinti, Laguna early this month.

Cabacungan said Garbo was the squad leader of Guerilla Front 27 operating in the towns of Mawab, Maragusan and Nabunturan in Compostela Valley. The former rebel is now living in Lumban, Laguna.

“The rebel related stories of his hardships while in the rebel movement and revealed concerns on the welfare of his family which prompted him to leave the armed struggle,” Cabacungan said in a statement.

Garbo will avail of the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program, which provides assistance to former insurgents.

Under the program, a rebel returnee is entitled to receive P50,000 worth of livelihood assistance and P15,000 in immediate assistance.

Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Caesar Ordoyo said he is hopeful that other rebels would also abandon the armed struggle and live peaceful lives with their families.

There are about 4,000 communist fighters in the country, based on latest military estimates.

Plainclothes ‘marshals’ help secure Davao from ‘threat’

From GMA News (Jun 28): Plainclothes ‘marshals’ help secure Davao from ‘threat’

Plainclothes "marshals" have been deployed in Davao City to keep watch against a possible security threat, a day after Mayor Rodrigo Duterte disclosed it.

These lawmen in civilian attire are on the lookout for signs of potential threats, GMA News' Chino Gaston reported on GMA News TV's "Balitanghali."

Davao City had been placed on heightened alert after President Benigno Aquino III called up Duterte to warn him of a supposed possible security threat.

While Duterte did not give details, he said Aquino warned him about the threat and told him not to take it lightly, GMA News' "Saksi" reported Friday night.

A report on state-run Philippines News Agency also quoted Duterte as saying the government is pursuing "persons of interest."

On Saturday morning, Philippine National Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac told GMA News TV's "News TV Live" that "(e)verything is manageable."

Sindac added the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines are "on top of the situation," and that they are taking the proper steps to prevent threats by various groups.

AFP enhances ROTC to increase enrollees

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 28): AFP enhances ROTC to increase enrollees

In an effort to enhance the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Program and increase the number of its enrollees, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted the ROTC Commandants’ Symposium, Thursday at the AFP Commissioned Officers Club.

The AFP through the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Retiree Affairs, J9, invited officials from the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and selected National Service Training Program (NSTP) directors to participate in yesterday’s activity.

The symposium focused on the current status of the ROTC Program implementation, best practices by the commandants, and updates on the DepEd’s K12 program and its effects on ROTC. It also served as opportunity for different NSTP school administrators to give insights on how to enhance ROTC and develop creative ways to increase the number enrollees.

The Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Retiree Affairs, Rear Admiral Romeo Santiago Nebres presided over the event.

The ROTC program is the main source of reservists in the AFP. However, with the implementation of the NSTP Act of 2001 mandating the voluntary enrolment in the program, the number ROTC enrollees have since declined. Based on recorded data, there was almost 50% decrease in the number of enrollees from over two million in 2001 to an estimated 950,000 in 2012.

Obligation of Every Citizen

The constitution states that the preservation of the state is an obligation of every citizen. The ROTC program is a good training program for our youths to prepare them in the fulfillment of this sacred duty.

The AFP on its part continues to encourage more youth to enroll in the ROTC program. It is high time that we develop people who will willingly help us in the emerging threats of external aggression and natural calamities and disasters.

Through ROTC, the country will have trained men and women who can defend their country in times of war and crises; undertake disaster, relief and rescue operations and; assist in socio-economic development, and operate vital government and private installations in times of emergencies.

The ROTC Program promotes nationalism and patriotism among the youth and develops their sense of willingness to render active military service and civil services, either for peacetime, emergency or wartime missions.

Aquino vows passage of Bangsamoro law by January 2015

From Rappler (Jun 27): Aquino vows passage of Bangsamoro law by January 2015

President Benigno Aquino III hopes to meet with MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim next week to discuss details of the draft law and ways to speed up its passage

President Benigno Aquino III on Friday, June 27, pledged to rally the passage of the proposed law that will provide an enhanced autonomous government in southern Philippines by January 2015.

"I can assure the Filipino people that we will be exerting all efforts to ensure that this measure is passed in a timely manner because the dream, still, is to give the new Bangsamoro government time to demonstrate its abilities and the time that they need as a minimum is a year and 6 months," he said.

"So, we’re hoping that all the steps will be done [so] that they can sit already in office by January of 2015."

Aquino wants the Bangsamoro Basic Law to be submitted to Congress before the opening of its second regular session on July 28.

Aquino, who met with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Murad Ebrahim in Japan last week, said he hopes to meet with Murad again to further iron out details. He said the unscheduled meeting was too short, only spanning 10 minutes.

"Now, we’re putting in all of the details and I asked him if it would be possible to meet sometime next week, either their panels or we in particular, or our designated representatives, to thresh it out and come up with that proposed measure and give it to Congress even before the SONA [State of the Nation Address]," Aquino told reporters on Friday, June 27.

The SONA is slated for July 28.

In his meeting with Murad, Aquino said they discussed the output of the Transition Commission in charge of drafting the bill and ways to ensure its swift passage in Congress.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) submitted the draft law to Malacañang in April – close to a month after the signing of the historic peace deal between the government and Muslim rebels.

The bill was expected to be submitted to Congress in May, before the end of the last session, but is still under Palace review.

The MILF has expressed concern about the delay. Constitutional experts have also raised concerns about the legality of certain provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, even as the draft of the basic law has yet to be released.

Aquino however, gave his assurance that the reason for the delay is nothing serious, and is simply because of how the Bangsamoro framework principles "should be articulated or written out."

"I don’t think there’s a disagreement on the guiding principles. There is an agreement on how you actually work [but] there’s a need to further refine the language so that it really states a meeting of the minds of both parties," he said.

He also dismissed concerns regarding its constitutionality. (INFOGRAPHIC: The Bangsamoro peace deal at a glance)

"From the start, the Constitution was a guiding document in crafting the Framework Agreement so the Basic Law that gives the details should also be consistent," he said.

The President confessed he has yet to read the 6-inch thick document in full – which includes the comments of both parties – but said he has reserved Sunday to go through every page.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law will legalize the creation of the Bangsamoro political entity, which is designed to have greater political and fiscal powers than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which it will replace.

Submitting the law before the opening of session will give lawmakers the choice to call for a committee hearing during the break to discuss the measure.

Early passage of the law will also allow Aquino to appoint an MILF-led transition authority that will lead the transition of the present ARMM towards the Bangsamoro.

As indicated in the final peace pact between the government and the MILF, the Bangsamoro bill will be certified as urgent by the President once transmitted to Congress.

In his 2013 SONA, Aquino asked Congress to pass the basic law by the end of 2014. This will give the MILF-led transitional authority at least one year to lead the transition from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro.

It took the government and the MILF 17 years to arrive at a final peace accord that hopes to end 4 decades of armed conflict in Mindanao.

The MILF, with 10,000 armed followers, is the biggest rebel group and its signing of the accord has raised hopes of an enduring peace in the south, despite other breakaway groups still vowing to fight.

Philippines: China's '10-dash' line won't affect case

From Rappler (Jun 28): Philippines: China's '10-dash' line won't affect case

In the first place, China hasn't officially 'communicated' the 10-dash line to the international community, a maritime law expert tells Rappler

NEW MAP. A new Chinese map shows a 10-dash line to claim virtually the entire South China Sea. Screen grab from edited by Rappler

NEW MAP. A new Chinese map shows a 10-dash line to claim virtually the entire South China Sea. Screen grab from edited by Rappler

Dismissed by the Philippines as a mere “drawing,” China's 10-dash line map will not affect the historic case filed by Manila against Beijing even if it involves a 9-dash line, the Philippine government said.

To begin with, China has not officially “communicated” this 10-dash line to the international community, an expert added.

In an e-mail to Rappler, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose pointed out that the Philippines, in its arbitration case, is “seeking a clarification on the maritime entitlements of coastal states” based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Philippines wants a ruling that says the Philippines is entitled to, among others, a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), within which it has the exclusive rights to use marine resources, for example, to fish.

Jose said if the tribunal rules in the Philippines' favor, “then it does not really matter whether it's a 9-dash or 10-dash line claim because all of China's excessive and groundless claims will be nullified.”

The DFA spokesman issued this statement after China's state-run Xinhua news agency published a photo taken on Monday, June 23, that shows China's 10-dash line map.

The map lengthens the usual 9-dash line that China uses to claim virtually the entire South China Sea, including parts claimed by the Philippines as the West Philippine Sea.

Not 'officially communicated'

Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, added that the 10-dash line map “doesn't carry that much weight.” The 10th dash near Taiwan even lies outside the South China Sea.

When asked if China's 10-dash line supersedes its 9-dash line, Batongbacal told Rappler: “In the sense that it's a new map that they're issuing, yes. But in terms of legal impact, as far as the international community is concerned, the only one that they have been given is the one that was issued in 2009, included in a note verbale.”

He referred to China's submission of a 9-dash line map to the United Nations in 2009.

“That is the one that has been officially communicated to the international community,” he said of this 2009 document, as he compared the 10-dash line map to a primer or brochure.

The Philippines and other countries have officially protested the 9-dash line. (READ: What's at stake in our case vs China)

In its case against China before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Philippines requests an award that “declares that China's maritime claims in the South China Sea based on its so-called '9-dash line' are contrary to UNCLOS and invalid.”

'It's the actions, not the line'

Batongbacal added, “Merely drawing a line does not, by itself, mean anything. It's all the actions that accompany that line, not the line itself.” (READ: PH on China: Judge us by actions, not words)

“So you can call China being expansionist and ambitious not because they draw maps, but because of everything that they're doing. And the drawing of the map is only one small part of it, because just drawing a map does not have any legal effect in international law. All maps are self-serving instruments anyway,” he said.

Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr on Thursday, June 26, dismissed China's 9- and 10-dash lines as mere “drawings” on which maritime claims cannot be based.

He pointed out that it even used to be an 11-dash line during the time of Chiang Kai-shek, who headed China's nationalist government from 1928 to 1949.

“To put it simply, they've just been drawing all those. All those drawings have been superseded by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Coloma said in Filipino.

The Philippines, in any case, denounced this map as a display of China's “ambitious expansionism.”

‘Peace drive in 5th district successful’

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 28): ‘Peace drive in 5th district successful’

The 11-day “Marching for Peace, Serving the Countryside” activities held in six conflict-affected communities in the 5th district of Negros Occidental, were described by organizers as “very successful.”

Local and national government officials, even those affiliated with different political parties, showed unity in pushing the peace and development initiatives, they said.
Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday that government officials headed by Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Rep. Alejandro Mirasol, mayors and barangay officials in the district were very cooperative in the six convergence areas that they attended, in “high spirits”.
Thousands from Brgys. Puso and Cabacungan in La Castellana, Brgy. Quintin Remo in Moises Padilla, Brgy. San Agustin in Isabela, Brgy. Bi-ao in Binalbagan, Brgys. Carabalan and Buenavista in Himamaylan City, received health-related services, and financial and livelihood assistance, among others.
These were was part of the peace and development activities, that were joined by non-government and people’s organizations, and religious sects, military records show.
Aying also noted the high acceptance of the people in the six convergence areas, where the presence of New People’s Army rebels has been reported, and the effort of the Provincial Peace, Integration and Development Unit, that spearheaded the activities, as well as the five priests who officiated at the masses.
Provincial Planning and Development Officer Maria Lina Sanogal, said the second edition of the project was warmly received by local government officials and the community.
Aying said one of the priests, who officiated at a mass even wanted to join the foot march. In their previous foot march at the ESTOCA (Escalante-Toboso-Calatrava) hinterlands, soldier and police participants travelled about 100 kilometers, in full battle gear.
The 11-day activities ended with a peace rally Thursday night at the Himamaylan public plaza. Aying said they will deploy Bayanihan Teams in the six areas to look into the situation of the conflict-affected communities, and identify people who need help from the government.
This will be followed by a grassroots development planning, which will be participated in by community leaders, who will identify and help find solution to the problems of their areas, with the help of multi-sectoral groups, he said.
The outputs will be presented to concerned government officials and agencies for implementation, Aying also said.

Military says has more than enough forces to secure Davao City

From InterAksyon (Jun 28): Military says has more than enough forces to secure Davao City

Map of Davao City, from

In wake of the terror threat warnings provided by President Benigno S. Aquino III to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the Eastern Mindanao Command on Saturday assured the public it has more than sufficient forces to deploy and protect the locality.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) units here are on alert always even before the report of the President was announced," Capt. Alberto Caber, the command spokesperson, said.

"We have more than enough forces to secure Davao City and its neighboring towns and communities. Task Force Davao and the PNP are in charge of the security of the City and its people. We have the support of the civilian and the rest of stakeholders.

The local government unit and the military enjoy mutual cooperation in the pursuit of peace and stability of the City as mandated by the existing laws and under our Campaign Plan 'Panagdait' under Internal Peace Security Plan 'Bayanihan'," he added.

Caber stressed that threats to Davao City and its communities are a daily challenge to the AFP and PNP in Davao City and the latter are always ready to respond to its occurrence.

Eastern Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III, according to Caber,has already directed all military intelligence units in the area of responsibility to verify the report as to the plan and intent of a threat group.

“The PNP Intelligence units are also doing the same. We are working jointly with the PNP," Caber added.

3 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in Sulu firefight with Marines

From InterAksyon (Jun 28): 3 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in Sulu firefight with Marines

Vice President Jejomar Binay (back to camera) reads the tarpaulin outside the wake in Iloilo for Marine 1st Lt. Roger Flores, one of those killed by Abu Sayyaf in Patikul, Sulu, last week. On Saturday, it seemed payback time as Marines killed three ASG men in an encounter, also in Sulu. PHOTO FROM THE OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

At least three members of the Abu Sayyaf Group died in an encounter Saturday with Marines in Barangay Kabuntakas, Patikul, Sulu, even as authorities are still mourning the loss of soldiers a few days earlier, also in Sulu.

Initial reports reaching Camp Aquinaldo Saturday said soldiers recovered the body of one of the bandits, identified as Alkin Sali alias Bakrin. The body was turned over to Barangay Chairman Ahajuli Ahajani, who, in turn, turned it over to his relatives for burial.

Supposedly, a certain Eggah Hajal and Alnashir were also killed, but the bandits were able to drag their bodies along in their escape.

A highly-placed military source who requested he not be named because he is not authorized to speak on the matter said the encounter happened around 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Pursuit operations are ongoing.

Payback time for Marines?

Earlier on Friday, both President Aquino and Vice President Jejomar C. Binay separately visited the wake in Iloilo City for Marine 1Lt. Roger Flores, one of those killed in an encounter with Abu Sayyaf terrorists headed by Hairula Asbang in Patikul, Sulu last week.

Binay is a reservist in the Philippine Marines with the rank of colonel.
Mr. Aquino was in Iloilo to inaugurate the Jaro bridge and other infrastructure projects.

Davao doble-alerto na dahil sa terorismo

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jun 28): Davao doble-alerto na dahil sa terorismo

Todo-bantay ang sundalong ito sa isang checkpoint sa Davao City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

Inilagay na ng militar sa mataas na alerto ang Davao City at iba pang mga kalapit na lugar nito matapos na pulungin ni Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ang mga awtoridad dahil sa umano’y banta ng terorismo.

Inamin ni Duterte na mismong si Pangulong Benigno Aquino ang siyang nagbigay sa kanya ng babala ukol sa banta. Hindi naman agad mabatid kung bakit si Aquino pa ang nagpasa ng impormasyon kay Duterte at hindi ang pulisya o militar.

Subalit sinabi naman ngayon Sabado ni Capt. Alberto Caber, ang tagapagsalita ng Eastern Mindanao Command, na bago pa man umanong sabihin ni Aquino kay Duterte ang ukol sa banta ay naka-alerto na ang militar at pulisya.

Hindi naman sinabi nito kung ipinasa ba nila kay Duterte ang anumang impormasyon ukol sa banta ng terorismo.

“The AFP and PNP units here are on the alert always even before the report of the President was announced. We have more than enough forces to secure Davao City and its neighboring towns and communities. Task Force Davao and the PNP are in charge of the security of the City and its people.”

“We have the support of the civilian and the rest of stakeholders. The local government unit and the military enjoy mutual cooperation in the pursuit of peace and stability of the City. Threats to the thriving City and its communities are always a daily challenges that your AFP and PNP in Davao are always ready to respond to its occurrence,” ani Caber sa ipinadala nitong pahayag sa Mindanao Examiner.

Samantala, sinabi naman ni Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, ang hepe ng Eastern Mindanao Command, na ipinag-utos na nito sa mga military intelligence units sa kanyang nasasakupan na beripikahin ang naturang banta. “The PNP Intelligence units are also doing the same efforts. We are working jointly with the PNP,” wika pa ni Cruz.

Hindi masabi ng militar at pulisya kung sino ang nasa likod ng banta o kung may kinalaman ba ang Jemaah Islamiya o Abu Sayyaf dito. Ilang beses na rin binomba ng Abu Sayyaf ang Davao City sa mga nakaraang taon.

Security forces capture 2 NPA rebels in Zamboanga Sur

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jun 28): Security forces capture 2 NPA rebels in Zamboanga Sur

Security forces captured two communist rebels following a firefight Friday in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Sur, officials said.

Officials said the soldiers and policemen were patrolling the village of Datagan in Guipos town when they ran into a group of New People’s Army rebels and a firefight ensued. The two rebels have been identified by the military as Wilfredo Dalumos and Edgar Candilansa.

Troops also recovered an Ingram machine pistol and fragmentation grenade from the rebels who were also tagged as behind the killing of a government soldier in San Miguel town in Zamboanga del Sur.

Both Dalumos and Candilansa were being interrogated by the police.

The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a secessionist war for decades now.