Thursday, July 17, 2014

More horrifying details of Alhabsi emerge

From the Star Online (Jul 18): More horrifying details of Alhabsi emerge

PETALING JAYA: More details are beginning to emerge of Alhabsi Misaya, the notorious Abu Sayyaf leader, who is said to be holding marine policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip hostage in southern Philippines.

He is one of the gunmen responsible for the beheading of seven factory workers in Jolo, in southern Philippines in 2007, as discovered in an online video.

The 14-minute video clip, recorded by Alhabsi himself, sees a group of gunmen leading the hostages to different spots in the jungle where the brutal act is carried out.

Alhabsi can be heard reciting Quranic verses as the first hostage is made to lie face down before his head is pulled back by one of the gunmen and severed with what appears to be an army knife.
The next hostage is then led a few hundred metres away and meets a similar fate, much to the enjoyment of Alhabsi, who is heard giggling and chanting ‘Allahuakbar’ (God is great).

The recording depicts the killing of each worker in gory detail, and at one point, Alhabsi even zooms in on a severed head while making a celebratory comment.

Later, he very briefly turns the camera to himself, and the face is clearly visible to be that of the man identified by Philippine and Malaysian intelligence forces as the rising leader in the Abu Sayyaf terror group.

Kons Zakiah watched day and night by Abu Sayyaf gunmen

From the Star Online (Jul 18): Kons Zakiah watched day and night by Abu Sayyaf gunmen

JOLO: Marine policeman Zakiah Aleip is under heavy guard in a jungle hideout about 18km from Jolo town in the southern Philippines.

“Our informants told us that he was seen in the Indanan area,” said a senior police officer here who declined to be named.

He said the area was dotted with fruit orchards and coconut plantations, and was on the border of the Indanan and Parang municipalities.

Octavio A. Dinampo, a Mindanao State University lecturer and former Abu Sayyaf hostage in Jolo, has a good idea of what Kons Zakiah, 26, will have to endure.
He said Kons Zakiah will most probably be made to wear a black jacket, like any that could be bought from second-hand clothing stores in town.

“Both the hostage and Abu Sayyaf members will be in black so that if there is a rescue operation the security forces will not be able to easily distinguish the hostage from the captors,” he added.

Dinampo was kidnapped with famous Filipino news anchor Ces Drilon and others on Jolo island on June 8, 2008 and released nine days later after ransoms were paid.

According to him, Kons Zakiah would be watched but not tied up during the daytime.

“He will probably be made to stay on a hammock where he will be guarded by about five or six gunmen,” Dinampo said.

At night, Kons Zakiah would be tied up, handcuffed or chained.

“He is a trained policeman and the Abu Sayyaf will expect him to make an escape if the opportunity presents itself,” said Dinampo.

The 57-year-old Dinampo is a Tausug who has been investigating the business of kidnapping in the Sulu province, the nearby Tawi Tawi islands and Sabah.

According to him, the number of gunmen guarding Kons Zakiah would be increased to about 20 or more at night.

“That is standard procedure for the Abu Sayyaf,” he said.

He said Kons Zakiah would be guarded round-the-clock by teams in three eight-hour shifts.

“Even when he goes to the toilet, he will be escorted by several armed men,” Dinampo said.

There would also be a second layer of security positioned on the fringes of the hideout, probably a kilometre or two away.

Kons Zakiah was snatched from Mabul island off the Sabah coast late on Saturday night. His colleague, Kpl Abdul Rajah Jamuan, 32, was killed during the abduction.

In Kota Kinabalu, Zakiah’s wife Sharifah Erna Berson has been busying herself with prayers and fussing over their four-month-old son Muhammad Hisham.

She hopes he will be freed before Hari Raya and the family has been holding sembayang hajat (special prayers) for his safe return.

“We are praying that my husband will always be protected by God. We hope that he will return safely as soon as possible,” she said yesterday.

The housewife is staying with her husband’s family but declined to say where exactly. The family home is in Tenghilan, some 70km from the state capital.

She also declined to say whether she had received more calls from her husband or his abductors.

Amid reports of Abu Sayyaf beheadings, Mabul kidnappers demand ‘10 MILLION’ for Sabah cop

From the Malaysia Chronicle (Jul 17): Amid reports of Abu Sayyaf beheadings, Mabul kidnappers demand ‘10 MILLION’ for Sabah cop

THOSE holding Constable Zakiah Aleip captive have contacted the police for his ransom.

The brief call ended with one of his captors saying, “I demand 10 million”.

However, they did not say if that was what it will take for them to set him free.

The call came at 10.50pm on Sunday, a day after the 26-year-old marine policeman was abducted by six heavily-armed gunmen who came from the southern Philippines, just after 11pm.

The terrorists came in two speedboats fitted with additional outboard engines.

The gunmen, (two more were believed to be manning the speedboats) had first killed Zakiah’s colleague, Corporal Abd Rajah Jamuan, 32.

Rajah, who died from gunshot wounds to the chest, was found in the water close to the dining hall of the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort on Pulau Mabul here.

The two policemen were part of a four-man patrol who were on a break.

The ransom call, which sources told the New Straits Times “was brief”, was made to the Semporna marine police headquarters’ operations centre.

Zakiah was first put on the line.

This was when he told the police officer who had picked up the call, an inspector, that his kidnappers had asked for no less than 10 million.

Zakiah, however, did not specify which currency his captors had asked for.

Before he could continue, someone took over the phone and told the inspector in English that his group expected to be paid the ransom.

The call was then cut off.

The man on the other end of the line did not give any instructions or set any conditions.

The NST was made to understand that Zakiah was well and was not under duress.

“There have been several calls from Zakiah, including from his own phone to his wife, as well as the Marine police operations centre.

“There was also a call made on Monday at 10pm from a foreign-registered number.

“We believe this was also his captors telling us that Zakiah had not been harmed, so that they will get what they want,” a source close to the on going investigations said.

Meanwhile, another set of sources told the NST that authorities believe that the gunmen had come from Setangkai (Tumindao Reef) in the Philippines, and had taken the route near Mataking (the island closest to the Malaysia-Philippine border).

It is exactly 3.8 nautical miles from the Malaysia-Philippines maritime border to Mataking.

Authorities said the escape route believed to have been taken by the gunmen, gave Malaysian pursuers little time to an intercept the gunmen.

This was because the gunmen had gone south from Pulau Mabul, past Pulau Sipadan and into international waters to retreat to the Philippines.

The dash they had to make was just about 10 nautical miles.

If the gunmen had taken the same route they had come in, they would likely have been intercepted by Malaysian enforcement vessels, including those dispatched from Mataking, that was at several cut-off points along the border.

There are a set of teams pre-positioned on every island within the Sabah’s east coast waters, ready to be mobilised at a moment’s notice.

[Video report: Seven innocent people beheaded in Sulu by Abu Sayyaf (Warning graphic content)

The recording depicts the killing of each worker in gory detail, and at one point, Alhabsi even zooms in on a severed head while making a celebratory comment.

Later, he very briefly turns the camera to himself, and the face is clearly visible to be that of the man identified by Philippines and Malaysian intelligence forces as the rising leader in the Abu Sayyaf terror group.

Towards the end of the video, the gunmen approach the remaining hostage and are seen tying his hands behind his back while asking him several questions.

They then lead him into the jungle, but his fate is unknown, as the recording ends abruptly.

The video clip, titled Seven innocent people in Jolo, Sulu beheaded by Abu Sayyaf group was uploaded on YouTube by a Raymond Penny in July last year, and has garnered more than 5,000 views to date.

The workers, who were employed at a nearby plywood factory, were apparently abducted and beheaded after the company refused to pay extortion money to Abu Sayyaf for carrying out logging in the area.

Alhabsi, then only a junior member of the terror group, has since risen in the ranks after making millions of pesos in ransom money from the spate of kidnappings on the east coast of Sabah.

Zakiah was snatched from a resort in Sabah's east coast when eight masked gunmen in military fatigues attacked Mabul Island last Saturday. The gunmen also killed another policeman, Abdul Rajah Jamuan, 32. -Asiaone

2 missing Germans abducted by Abu Sayyaf, says military

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 17): 2 missing Germans abducted by Abu Sayyaf, says military

Military officials say they have verified that two missing German tourists were abducted by Abu Sayyaf militants and are being held “unharmed” by the Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen in their jungle encampments in the south.

Regional military commander Lieutenant General Rustico Guerrero said Thursday that the government has ordered troops to locate the Germans in Sulu province and ensure their safe recovery but he declined to say what the military intends to do.

He says the Abu Sayyaf is holding about 10 hostages, including the Germans and two other Europeans kidnapped two years ago.

Four military and police officials say Henrike Dielen and Stefan Okonek were taken at gunpoint from a yacht between Malaysia’s Sabah state on Borneo Island and the western Philippine province of Palawan sometime in April.

A general's long wait: Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr

From Rappler (Jul 18): A general's long wait: Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr

New Armed Forces chief Lieutenant General Gregorio Catapang Jr says he's long prepared for the job. 'I have prepared myself for this since I was told I was a candidate,' he says.

CLASSMATES: In this file photo are new Armed Forces chief Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang (left) and retired General Emmanuel Bautista
CLASSMATES: In this file photo are new Armed Forces chief Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang (left) and retired General Emmanuel Bautista

 Lieutenant General Gregorio Catapang Jr assumes command of the 120,000-strong Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday, July 18, at a time when the military has to step up in the face of escalating maritime conflict with China and improve response to natural disasters.

There are those who believe the post has always been his. Catapang was also a shoo-in for the Army chief post that was vacated in February this year. When he was bypassed for this, Catapang's supporters were surprised but thought perhaps it's better to keep him commander of the Tarlac City-based Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) until the AFP chief post is vacated in July.

It's like this every time a big retirement in the military looms, especially one involving the AFP chief post.

The announcement precedes several months of speculative talk in military circles, pitting generals with the strongest links to Malacañang against each other. In the end, the President decides – usually at the last-minute – on who will be tasked to protect his government and his people. And it is this decision that can make or unmake the careers of soldiers, not only of the appointee but the circle of officers he will bring with him to the top.

The fate of Catapang, a former rebel soldier who plotted against the Marcos dictatorship, seemed to have taken a different course when President Benigno Aquino III appointed him vice chief of staff in May 2014, three months after he was bypassed in the selection of Army chief. From a major command overseeing 2 divisions, a naval station, and an air base in northern Luzon, he was "promoted" to occupy an administrative job in the general headquarters. Many wondered why he was being moved to a desk job. (READ: Surprise appointment for AFP chief contender)

But as one soldier put it, "It's better to be the head of a dog than tail of the lion."

Ties to Malacañang

As the retirement of AFP chief General Emmanuel Bautista neared, the rumor mill began to turn sour for Catapang. He was suddenly out of contention to replace his classmate in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) "Dimalupig" Class of 1981, based on the talks.

Officers were already betting on either Air Force chief Lieutenant General Jeffrey Delgado of PMA Class 1982 or Army chief Lieutenant General Hernando Iriberri of PMA Class 1983 – both more junior than Catapang.
Delgado is a former aide of President Aquino himself. Iriberri is a former aide of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, a father figure to the President.

[Video report: New AFP Chief General Catapang: 'I have prepared myself for this']

But Catapang's anti-Marcos background and his stint in Tarlac, the home city of the President, are not his only advantages. Unknown to many, the President and Catapang have known each other for decades. They were introduced to each other by Aquino's cousin Rapa Lopa, who knew Catapang because a professor teaching a masters class in both the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) mixed their classes together.

Catapang told Rappler he met Aquino after the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, where he joined the military revolt against the Marcos dictatorship as a member of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM). The revolt catapulted Corazon Aquino, the late mother of the incumbent president, to the presidency.

It was only on Thursday, July 17, when the speculation ended. That day, Gazmin informed Catapang of his appointment. Inside the Operations Center of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) where he got the news, the new AFP chief performed 10 push up exercises to comply with a naughty tradition for newly promoted generals of the military. (READ: One week 'punishment' for new AFP chief)

"It was a really funny thing.... I had to do the push up in front of the Secretary of National Defense while Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa was watching. It was really a funny incident," Catapang recalled the day he received the good news.

Revolving door?

He will be the 5th AFP chief of staff under the Aquino administration and joins previous chiefs who have had short stints in their posts. Catapang will stay for only 12 months, as he is scheduled to retire on July 11, 2015, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Bautista served for 18 months as chief of staff. (READ: Son of slain general is new AFP chief)

Catapang shot down criticism that his appointment reflected once again the so-called revolving door policy in the military. "The changing of the guard is not a problem in the Armed Forces because we have a roadmap. We have a campaign that we just follow. Whoever takes over, there is no problem about the limit or the term of the chief of staff," he said.

The troops shouldn't worry about adjustments, he added. He will spend his term continuing the programs of his mistah, General Bautista.

"He left a legacy of the IPSP (Internal Peace and Security Plan) and the AFP Transformation Roadmap. They are all in the infancy stage. I have to nurture it," he vowed. 
Major General Donato San Juan, chief of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), expects a smooth transition. The mistahs are alike in a way, he said.

"They share the same line of thinking. That's a good thing. They have similar intentions for the improvement of peace and order," said San Juan.
Catapang is passionate about IPSP Bayanihan, the brainchild of Bautista, as the appropriate counter-insurgency strategy. It was under Catapang's watch that the entire area of Nolcom was declared insurgency-free although sporadic clashes have raised questions if the declaration was premature.
Like Bautista, Catapang was able to draw strong support from LGUs and NGOs. Iriberri said this is one of his strongest assets. “When he talks to our stakeholders, I think the way he communicates, the way he drives home the message of our intentions and the direction that we are conducting our operations, I think that is one of his biggest strengths," Iriberri said.
A contender for the AFP chief post, Iriberri immediately called to congratulate Catapang. "I told him that the Army is solidly behind him. We fully support him. We are happy. I am very happy for General Catapang," Iriberri said.
No bad soldiers, only bad officers

Catapang said he has long been ready for the job. "I have prepared myself for this since I was told I was a candidate," he told reporters a day before he assumes the top post in the military.

"We have been doing this for the last 30 years. When you go up the ladder and you know how it is down there in the frontline, we immediately know what to do. At the end of the day, it is the soldier in the foxhole who are fighting out there in the field who is your primordial concern," Catapang said.

Catapang recognizes that maritime tension with China is one of the military's new challenges, along with terrorism and climate change.
He will also see through the implementation of the new agreement with US and the completion of the peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"These are the wars we will be facing in the 21st century.... We will look into our capability upgrade program focused on territorial defense. All the wars we will be facing in the 21st century will all be global," he said.
Catapang has dealt will these issues first hand. A member of the elite Scout Ranger, Catapang has been assigned to various posts conflict areas including Mindanao. His experience in disaster response began when he served under the Office of Civil Defense (OCD). He led operations in the aftermath of Ondoy, the tropical storm that submerged many parts of Metro Manila.

He rose in the military hierarchy beginning as commander of the Pampanga-based 703rd Infantry Brigade before he became chief of the Nueva Ecija-based 7th Infantry Division and later Nolcom, which was previously responsible over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough) – a flashpoint in the dispute between the Philippines and China.

Catapang said improvement in the professionalism of soldiers, upgrade of their training, and the modernization of their assets go hand in hand in effectively addressing the challenges that the military is facing.

"There are no bad soldiers, only bad officers. If the officers tolerate the misbehavior of soldiers, they will think it is good. But if they are cautioned immediately that these things are bad, they will correct these immediately. Leadership is what we need in the Armed Forces," he said.

Army soldiers returning from medical mission ambushed; no casualty

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): Army soldiers returning from medical mission ambushed; no casualty

Philippine Army soldiers who came from a medical mission in the hinterland villages in one of the towns in the Second District of Iloilo were ambushed by an armed group believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels somewhere in Barangay Mayang, Tubungan, Iloilo Thursday afternoon.

Major Rey Tiongson, spokesman of the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division (3ID), Philippine Army based in Camp Macario Peralta, Jaminda, Capiz, said the soldiers were on their way back to their headquarters in Iloilo early this afternoon when fired upon by the armed rebels.

In a radio interview, Major Tiongson said the government troops were with members of an international humanitarian organization coming from a medical mission dubbed "Operation Blessing" conducted in barangays of the neighboring Leon town in Iloilo when armed rebels staged the ambuscade.

A brief firefight erupted that later saw the withdrawing rebel ambushers seemingly avoiding head-on engagement with the more superior firepower of government soldiers.

Fortunately, there were no reported casualties or injuries on the government side. Soldiers scoured the vicinity of the encounter scene for possible signs of casualties on the rebel side.

Military authorities did not immediately identify the rebel group responsible for the ambuscade.

Meanwhile, soldiers from the 82nd Infantry Battalion (82IB) of the Philippine Army based in Camp Monteclaro, Miag-ao, Iloilo immediately launched a hot pursuit operation against the ambushers who retreated toward the hinterlands of Barangay Mayang in Tubungan town.

3 battalions pursuing rebel groups in Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): 3 battalions pursuing rebel groups in Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte

The Cagayan De Oro-based 4th Infantry Division announced it has deployed three battalions to pursue New People's Army (NPA) fighters who had attacked and abducted four police officers detailed at the Alegria Municipal Police Station last July 10.

A battalion consists of 500 to 1,000 soldiers.

"We will continue our operations until we recover the four police officers captured by the rebels," said 4th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Ricardo Visaya.

Operations are now focused in forested areas of Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte.

Visaya said that unprovoked attack on the police station and the abduction of the four policemen are serious atrocities on the part of the NPA.

NPA official killed in gun battle

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 18): NPA official killed in gun battle

The secretary of  the New People’s Army (NPA) Guerrilla Front 8, Joseph Cainong, was one of the 13 guerrillas killed in a gun battle with Manobo tribesmen in the town of Prosperidad in Agusan del Sur last week, the commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division said on Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya said Cainong, alias Malik, was killed last July 15 when the NPA raided the residential compound of Datu Calpito Egua, a staunch anti-communist chieftain, in Barangay Sta. Irine and met strong resistance from Manobo tribesmen.

“Cainong was a native of Barangay Calaitan in the nearby town of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur,” Visaya said.

Four bodyguards and a soldier assigned to guard Datu Calpito died in the fighting but they killed 13 NPA rebels and forced them to withdrew. The bodyguards were close relatives of Calpito, who was slightly injured.

The Manobos have apparently been alerted of the NPA raid and were waiting in ambush inside the compound. The rebels used two pick-ups and an Elf truck to ram through the gate, but abandoned the vehicles when they withdrew.

Visaya said Cainong led the attack on the Calpito compound and was one of the highest ranking NPA rebels to be killed in the area in the past several years.

Another rebel and three soldiers were also killed separate encounters in the province on that day, Visaya said.

Misuari likens KL to ‘boy who cried wolf’

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 18): Misuari likens KL to ‘boy who cried wolf’

The Moro National Liberation Front on Thursday blasted Malaysia for blaming its founding chairman Nur Misuari for the spate of kidnapping and intrusion in Sabah as it threatened to wage war should Malaysia continue to pester the MNLF.

“They are like a boy crying wolf,” said Absalom Cerveza, MNLF spokesman. He vehemently denied Malaysia’s accusation that Misuari was responsible for the criminal activities in Sabah.

“They are hallucinating, there’s no truth about it,” Cerveza said, adding that Malaysia was trying to destroy Misuari for unknown reasons.

Cerveza’s response came after Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi accused Misuari of using his own men and other groups to carry out intrusion and kidnapping activities in Sabah.

But Cerveza urged Malaysia to prove their allegation.

Last week, eight gunmen wearing black T-shirts and fatigue trousers fired at a police outpost at a resort in Mabul island killing a marine police corporal Ab Rajah Jamuan, 32 and  abducting Constable Zakia Aleip.

On the issue that the exclusion of Misuari from the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) prompted the MNLF to exact revenge, Cerveza said the MNLF “have not indicated to be part of the Bangsamoro government.”

“We have tried to be part of the deal. We have a peace deal with the government but the government does not comply,” he said.

Cerveza said Malaysia remains paranoid because of their failure to safeguard and arrest criminal elements in  their territory. He cited Malaysia’s inability, despite the deployment of enough military and police force, to captured 100 men from the Sultanate of Sulu which figured in a firefight that killed a ranking police officer and dozens others.

“If they don’t know how to capture those responsible criminal elements, they should not try to involve people in the Philippines particularly the MNLF,” Cerveza stressed.

The Sultanate of Sulu led by Agbimuddin Kiram,  has launched a series of attacks in Sabah in an attempt to reclaim Sabah.

MNLF kidnappings in Sabah? ‘A blatant lie’

From the Business World (Jul 17): MNLF kidnappings in Sabah? ‘A blatant lie’

THE MORO National Liberation Front (MNLF) has denied a Malaysian official’s accusation that its leader, Nur Misuari, is the mastermind behind the spate of kidnappings in Sabah.
On Wednesday, foreign media quoted Malaysian Home Minister datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as saying that Mr. Misuari, as part of efforts to raise funds and rearm his movement, has orchestrated the recent kidnappings in eastern Sabah.

MNLF spokesperson Emmanuel C. Fontanilla branded these allegations as “a stupendous lie... a blatant propaganda against the MNLF.”
He also said the Philippine government was tainting Misuari’s image.

Rebuilding from the ashes of conflict in Tawi-Tawi

From the Business World (Jul 17): Rebuilding from the ashes of conflict in Tawi-Tawi

Former commanders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the southernmost island-province of Tawi-Tawi say their communities are reaping the benefits of peace and development through the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program of the national government.
Phaysal Aral, an MNLF commander who went by the name Omar Shariff at the height of the Moro rebellion of the 1970s, is one former rebel who attests to PAMANA’s results.
“I was part of the team that helped implement the school project in Yusoph Dais Elementary School,” he said.

Mr. Aral said more classrooms for the school in Barangay Sanga-Sanga have been built through PAMANA, a development-intervention program for isolated, conflict-affected communities.

“At the height of Martial Law, the entire barangay of Sanga-Sanga was razed to the ground. We had one major battle here,” Mr. Aral said.

He remembers being among the MNLF fighters who were assigned to take over an airstrip in the barangay to prevent government forces from launching air strikes against the rebels.

Mr. Aral said one of his goals after the war was to rebuild the barangay from the ashes of armed conflict.


Aside from the classrooms, the barangay’s lone health center was also built through PAMANA, said Mohamadnoe Jamaluddin, another former MNLF commander.
“We need more developmental projects like these. We see the need for more school buildings because our population is growing,” Mr. Jamaluddin said.

Because of PAMANA, “there is no need for the residents here to travel to Bongao [the capital of Tawi-Tawi] for medical attention,” Mr. Jamaluddin said. “It saves us money. We can use the money we save to buy medicines and food.”

The PAMANA program has also funded the Pakias-Karungdong road project, which serves as a farm-to-market road for the island’s farmers.

NPA admits 14 fatalities in simultaneous anti-private army attacks

From the pro-CPP Davao Today (Jul 16): NPA admits 14 fatalities in simultaneous anti-private army attacks

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines said it lost 14 New People’s Army members during a “simultaneous raid to crush three  private army groups” Tuesday in Agusan del Sur.

Ka Maria Malaya, NDF- Northeastern Mindanao spokesperson, said in a statement they first attacked the “armed group of lumad Calpet (Calpito aka Datu Calpit) Egua in Sta. Irene, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.”

They also targetted Calpet’s companions in La Purisima, also in Prosperidad, and another “bandit” group in Barangay Bitan-agan, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur.

Police and Army authories reported that a total of 70 rebels attacked Egua’s group in Santa Ines early morning of July 15 which resulted to the death of 18 people.

Ka Malaya said that the “private armies were put-up with the help of Army, police and LGU (local government units) so Calpet can control the mining area of Manhulayan [Surigao del Sur] and all of them can make a profit [out of it].”

“When Calpet became a powerful warlord, he seized the area of other lumad and other mining businessmen. He was able to enlarge his private army to 60 [members] so he can expand and strengthen control logging and mining areas in the boundary of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur,” Malaya said.

Malaya accused Egua for being behind the “massacre, salvaging, rape and ambush of his own kin” and that his “military handlers were able to profit from him and use him as an anti-revolutionary force.”

“The attack against him (Egua) was to serve justice,” she said.

Malaya said that based on their initial report, the attack on Egua “resulted to the death of 10 Red fighters and one civilian driver” of the pick-up truck recovered in the incident while another NPA fighter was killed in the Army’s attack against the NPA’s “blocking force in Barangay Hamugaway, Bayugan City.”

Malayo also said that they were able to cart away “seven M16 rifles one M14 rifle and 2 handguns in the raid of another group of Calpet in La Purisima where another “NPA fighter was killed.”

Malaya claimed that in San Francisco town, “Renato Villaverde, the leader of the bandit group was killed and one carbine, one .45 calibre pistol and one 9mm KG (KG9) were confiscated.”

Malaya said Villaverde’s group was “responsible for drug pushing, theft, gun for hire and highway robbery.”

“The simultaneous attack of the NPA against the three private armies in Agusan den sur is part of the resolute stand of the NPA to crush all fascist private armies to defend the interest of the people,” said Malaya.

Malaya said the “Philippine government encourages the existence of private armies as these serve its interest for counterrevolutionary purposes.”

Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command, in an interview denied that Egua’s men were members of a “private army.”

“They don’t want to leave their territory and so they chose they fight it out with the NPA. They applied for their firearms’ licenses but they do not bring these outside of their community. They have 15 firearms for the very purpose of defending their community,” he said.

Paniza said they were able to respond to the NPA’s attack because of the recently installed “Condition Situation Response System” which involved the Eastmincon and the PNP’s Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO)-Eastern Mindanao.

According to presentation during the signing of the CSRC last July 11 in Eastmincom Headquarters in Panacan,  Davao City, the said system is “intel-driven” with four “alert levels” against “NPA threats.”

The operation of the CSRS, according to Lieutenant General Rainier Cruz, commanding general of the Eastmincon, is as basic as “sending three text messages to nearby police, military or civialian auxiliary units in case of an attack.”

Meanwhile, Malaya appealed to “concerned government agencies to extend the embalming of the dead Red fighters to a minimum of one week so we can have enough time to contact their families.”

She added  that they “are ready to pay for the funeral expenses.”

Malaya also asked apologies to the “family of the civilian driver killed in the NPA operation” and to the owner of their rented vehicle, and promised to “find ways to pay for our financial obligations.”

“To the general public, we ask for your consideration to the hassles brought by the NPA operation. We are on a civil war where the NPA launches tactical offensive to crush the armed instrumentalities of exploitation and oppression,” said Malaya.

Gunmen kidnap DSWD workers in Sulu

From ABS-CBN (Jul 17): Gunmen kidnap DSWD workers in Sulu

Unidentified armed men abducted 3 Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) workers and their companion in Sulu on Thursday, police said.

Chief Supt. Noel delos Reyes, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police regional director, said the other victim is a spouse of one of the DSWD employees.

The abduction happened after the victims, who have yet to be named, went to Barangay Upper Sinumaan in Talipao, Sulu, to hold a survey on the government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

They were returning to Jolo, Sulu, when armed men took them.

A source said the victims were being escorted by a relative of a barangay captain.

However, only the 4 were taken at gunpoint.

Police have yet to identify the group behind the abduction.

PAF assets, troops prepared to help in recovery efforts in 'Glenda' affected areas

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): PAF assets, troops prepared to help in recovery efforts in 'Glenda' affected areas

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Thursday announced that all its assets and troops are prepared to aid the national government in recovery efforts in areas severely impacted by Typhoon "Glenda."

"At present, all PAF air assets, ground vehicles, equipment and personnel remain ready to support the recovery efforts and humanitarian assistance disaster relief (efforts) on orders," Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya stated.

He added that the PAF has been closely monitoring Typhoon "Glenda" since Monday when it has entered the Philippine area of responsibility.

"Close monitoring and alert directive related to Typhoon 'Glenda' started as early as Monday and followed by assembly of around 150 trained disaster response task units with M-35s (trucks) and rubber boats on standby alert the following day," Canaya pointed out.

And during the actual landfall of the typhoon Wednesday morning, the PAF spokesperson said Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado and his battle staff monitored the situation around the country as "Glenda" traversed Metro Manila area until it exits to the West Philippine Sea.

"At around 8:45 a.m. two UH-1H at TOG-5 Legazpi flew a disaster assessment and need analysis over areas of Albay, As soon as the weather becomes safe for an aerial reconnaissance in Metro Manila area, a Huey II search and rescue helicopter departed 1:27 p.m. and followed by two W-3 Sokol helicopter departed Col. Jesus Villamor Air Base by 1:30 p.m.," he added.

Canaya said the Sokol helicopters conducted airborne assessment over Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Pasig and Marikina areas with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director Alexander Pama.

The Huey II, on the other hand, covered the area of Southern Metro Manila and some parts of Laguna and Batangas.

Eastern Mindanao Command junks NPA demand to stop offensive in exchange of freedom of 4 captive cops

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): Eastern Mindanao Command junks NPA demand to stop offensive in exchange of freedom of 4 captive cops

The Eastern Mindanao Command on Thursday thumbed down the demand of the New People's Army (NPA) to stop military operations in Surigao Del Norte in exchange for the freedom of four police officers who were captured when the rebel group attacked the Alegria Municipal Police Station last July 10.

"There will no let up of operations against those who sow terror acts in the communities. The CPP-NPA's continued violation of the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) and rule of law, they continue to attack peace-loving people, two days ago they attacked (a) Lumad community in Prosperidad," Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III said.

In the attack against the Alegria Municipal Police Station, two rebels were killed while two police officers wounded.

The incident took place 3 p.m. of July 10.

The issuing firefight lasted for 30 minutes and resulted in the overrunning of the police station.

The rebels then carted away an M-14 automatic rifle, four M-16 rifles and one shotgun before escaping towards the direction of Barangays Siringan and Bliss, both of Kitcharao town, Agusan Del Norte. Also captured were the four on duty police officers.

Two rebels were killed in the incident while an AK-47 automatic rifle was recovered by authorities.

President Aquino opens Asian Defense and Security exhibition

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): President Aquino opens Asian Defense and Security exhibition

As the Philippines gears towards achieving the goal of upgrading its defense capabilities, President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday opened this year’s Asian Defense, Security and Crisis Management (ADAS) exhibition and conference, held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

This is the first ADAS exhibition and conference to be held in the country.
The ADAS 2014 is envisioned to afford all participating countries the opportunity for various interactions to realize their urgent requirements on defense, security, peace and order, disaster readiness, and crisis management, among others.

President Aquino, in his speech, acknowledged the significance of holding the trade show and conference in the country as they will benefit our uniformed men and women, who are always on the front line in times of crises, conflicts, and calamities.

“Anytime we have an opportunity to make our military more efficient, we have every intention of taking that opportunity. More than any other time in history, our country is making certain that our soldiers’ commitment on the field is met not only with the respect and admiration of our people, but also by the necessary support from government,” he said.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin mentioned that this event provides additional vibrancy to the Philippine economy as the organizers have created genuine opportunities for our domestic companies to establish business linkages with participating international exhibitors.

Andrew Marriott, managing director of the Asia Pacific Expo, which organized ADAS, cited the Philippines’ improved economic situation as among the reasons behind their decision to launch the event in the country, on top of the government’s commitment to pursue the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Act.

The AFP Modernization Act is in the first five-year phase of activity and significant progress has already been made since its enactment with the government’s recent acquisition of various aircraft, naval vessels, helicopters, and armored vehicles.

The ADAS organizers have brought in goods and services for the evaluation and determination of the specific requirements of concerned government agencies. They have also highlighted the Philippines as a potential growth market for international defense, security, and crisis management industries and products.

The exhibition features 130 companies from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, Israel, Turkey, Brazil, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malaysia, and Belarus, among others.

President Aquino: Military modernization meant for disaster response and internal defense only

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): President Aquino: Military modernization meant for disaster response and internal defense only

President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Thursday that the military modernization that he initiated when he assumed office is meant to upgrade the country for disaster response and internal defense.

“Our efforts seek to modernize the capabilities of our security sector is to address the needs in human disaster response arenas and for our own internal defense. None of these actions are meant to increase tensions in the region; rather, they are meant to address our domestic problems and issues,” he said during his speech to open the Asian Defense, Security and Crisis Management (ADAS) Exhibition 2014 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

President Aquino said that since he assumed office in 2010, he has released P40 billion to modernize and upgrade the capabilities of the military.

“Compare this to the P26 billion that my predecessor released in a span of nearly 10 years. On top of this, we made it a point to follow a procurement process that is fair, transparent, and strategic,” he said.

The Commander-in-Chief noted that over the past four years, his administration has acquired two Hamilton Class Cutters for the Navy -- the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, eight Sokol Combat Utility Helicopters, three AW-109 naval helicopters, four refurbished UH-1 helicopters, and the BRP Tagbanua, the first locally-built landing craft utility ship, among others.

The government has already received the first batch of M4 Caliber 5.56 mm rifles, and expects that all 50,629 units shall have been distributed by the end of the year, he added.

“Because of our fair and transparent procurement process, we have saved P1.2 billion on these rifles, which has allowed us to order another 12,657 M4s, and to set aside a budget for succeeding rifle procurements,” he said.

The President further said that the government is expecting the arrival of two out of 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets, 17 more refurbished UH-1 helicopters, eight more combat utility helicopters, two long-range patrol aircraft, six close-air support aircraft, two anti-submarine helicopters, two frigates, three full missile capable multi-purpose attack crafts, and other equipment that will strengthen the capacity of the country’s armed forces.

“Clearly, if this event is any indication, we have no plans of slowing down. Anytime we have an opportunity to make our military more efficient, we have every intention of taking that opportunity,” the President said.

Army raises alert in Agusan del Sur, activates AFP-PNP Critical Incident Management

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16): Army raises alert in Agusan del Sur, activates AFP-PNP Critical Incident Management 

The Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) has implemented an Alert Level 3 and activated the Joint Armed Forces of the Philippines – Philippine National Police (AFP-PNP) Critical Incident Management Task Group as hot pursuit operations continue to track down New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who attacked the gold processing plant of a tribal chieftain in Prosperidad town, Agusan del Sur.

The alert status and activation of the AFP-PNP Joint Critical Incident Management complements the activation of the local government’s Crisis Management Committee headed by Prosperidad Mayor Alvin Magdamit.

EastMinCom spokesperson Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza presented the incident report and the measures taken by the AFP, PNP and the local government leadership during the AFP-PNP press corps forum at Royal Mandaya Hotel on Wednesday, following the Tuesday incident when about 70 NPA rebels attacked the mining area of Datu Calpito “Calpit” Egua in Barangay Irene, Prosperidad town.

The attack was successfully repelled by the Calpit’s tribal community guards “Bagani”. Responding army troops of the 401st Infantry Brigade and Agusan Provincial Police Office encountered the withdrawing rebels in Hamugaway, Prosperidad and Bayugan, San Francisco town leaving 13 rebels; four IPs and one soldier dead.

Paniza said that aside from follow-up operations, the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) is already in the area to investigate for case build-up and filing of appropriate cases against the perpetrators. He said the LGU is also conducting profiling of the victims.

PNP 13 Deputy Regional Director for Operations PS/Supt. Pedro Obaldo, Jr. identified the casualty from the NPA as a certain Joseph Tahora Kainog, who is the secretary of NPA Guerilla Front 8.

On the reported delay of response to the incident, Paniza said it was difficult situation because they have to ensure the safety of the civilians inside buses which were flagged down to use as road block along the highway.

Obaldo corrected misimpression that the “Bagani” tribal guards are private armies, saying “Calpit being the tribal chieftain and grantee of the Certificate of the Ancestral Domain is entitled to maintain guards for his protection.” He added that it provided under the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) law; and, he is also entitled to own firearms.

Datu Calpit was reportedly targeted by the NPA four times since year 2000 after he left the organization.

PRO 13 spokesperson P/Supt Romualdo Bayting said Datu Calpit owns 15 licensed firearms. He said six members of Civilian Armed Auxiliary (CAA) are also worked for him as tribal guards when they are off duty.

Bayting said the CAA members were inside the residence compound during the incident. Datu Calpit was also wounded in the two-hour firefight and recovery of four (4) M16 and four AK-47 rifles from the NPA. The responding AFP troops suffered 1 killed and 1 wounded.

Datu Calpit is a Tribal Chieftain and a holder of Comprehensive Ancestral Domain Title in Barangay La Purisima, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

79IB to leave Negros Oriental for training in Nueva Ecija

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): 79IB to leave Negros Oriental for training in Nueva Ecija

The more than 500-strong 79th Infantry “Masaligan” Battalion of the Philippine Army will be departing Negros Oriental on Friday for a three-month Battalion of Excellence training in Nueva Ecija.

Lt. Col. Harold Anthony Pascua, 79th IB commander, on Thursday confirmed the battalion will pull out from its headquarters in the southern town of Siaton and leave on board a C-130 cargo plane of the Philippine Air Force from the Dumaguete-Sibulan airport.

The 79th IB, which arrived in Negros Oriental in February 2008 from Bohol, will undergo the Battalion of Excellence training at Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.

The training, which will run for about three months, is designed primarily to refurbish and improve the fighting capability of the 79th IB, said Lt. Col. Pascua.

This means that the battalion’s “move, shoot and communicate” capabilities will be enhanced, to include the provision of more vehicles, firearms, radio communications equipment and the like, he added.

In the meantime, the 20th IB will replace the 79th IB at all of its vacated posts and take over responsibilities of areas previously controlled or occupied by the latter, said Pascua.

He assured there shall be no vacuum left with the pullout of the 79th IB, according to Lt. Col. Pascua.

The 79th IB is tentatively expected to return to Negros Oriental sometime in October.

PNP in Region 13 still on full alert after clashes with NPA rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): PNP in Region 13 still on full alert after clashes with NPA rebels

Police Regional Office 13 is still on full red alert status after a series of clashes between the government security forces and the rebels since last week.

Senior Police Officer 1 Philip Amer P. Mazo, Duty PNCO and information officer-designate of PRO 13 said Thursday that the regional police at present is on full alert status. All leaves were cancelled, except on medical and emergency maternity cases, Mazo said.

Regional police officers and personnel were either in patrol or camouflage combat attire and in the state of readiness on any eventuality.

“We still do not know when this alert status will be downgraded,” Mazo added.

According to SPO1 Mazo, mobile check and choke points were conducted, as well as police covert and overt operations. Security measures were in place in economic key points, vital installations, terminals, air and seaports and other places of convergence. Police and military patrol bases and stations particularly in remote and attack prone areas were alerted and their camp defense petrified.

The alert status was triggered by the attack two days ago against a tribal chieftain’s residence in Agusan del Sur, wherein 18 were killed consisting of 13 rebels, four members of the tribal security forces of Datu Calpito and an Army man.

Last Tuesday, an undetermined number of rebels believed to be members of the Guerilla Front 19A and Guerilla Front 8 staged an attack against the residence of Egua at Barangay Sta. Irene, Prosperidad town in Agusan del Sur.

Joint police and military pursuit operations are still ongoing.

Last July 10, around 60 rebels attacked and overran a municipal police station in Alegria town, Surigao del Norte. Two rebels were killed by the reinforcing police forces, two police personnel wounded and four PNP personnel were abducted by the fleeing rebels, who were now a subject of ongoing negotiations for their release by the Provincial Crisis Management Committee of Surigao del Norte, headed by Governor Sol Matugas.

Hot pursuit operation against NPA rebels continues in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): Hot pursuit operation against NPA rebels continues in Bukidnon

A hot pursuit operation against the communist New People’s Army (NPA) who raided the security headquarters of the Del Monte Phil. in Bukidnon continues, the military said on Thursday.

Army Maj. Christian Uy, spokesperson of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said that two security guards were killed while the company’s chemical warehouse was burned when the NPA attacked the Del Monte Pineapple Plantation in Sitio Kiantig, San Jose Quezon, Bukidnon last Tuesday morning.

The fatalities were identified as Rey Balon and Reynald Pangkat, all security guards assigned with the Del Monte Plantation. The victims were also burned by the NPA rebels, Uy said.

Uy said that the NPA rebels also seized 17 firearms, VHF radios, live ammunition, and burned the security bunker and plant machinery that include a tractor and four motorcycles.

He said that the attack in San Jose, Bukidnon took place apparently to retaliate for the killing of 13 NPA rebels in an armed skirmish with the followers of a tribal chieftain in the town of Prosperidad in Agusan Del Sur last Tuesday.

Uy said that the unaware security guards allowed the NPA rebels to enter the Del Monte compound on board a ten-wheeler truck and a forward truck.

“The security guards did not notice that the armed communist rebels were on the bed of the truck since the truck beds were fully covered. The security guards thought that the trucks were delivering chemicals,” Uy said.

He said that one of the security guards fired shots to warn other security guards of the presence of the rebels inside the company compound which resulted in a brief firefight.

In a statement released to the media here, the NPA claimed responsibility for the attack of the Del Monte security headquarters in retaliation to alleged land grabbing, harassment of legitimate land claimants and non-payment of just wages and benefits to workers of the Del Monte company.

The chemicals employed by Del Monte on the pineapple plantation also poisoned the Luwan-Luwan Spring, the only source of potable and fresh water in the area, the statement said.

The statement signed by a certain Allan Juanito of the NPA’s South-Central Bukidnon Sub-Regional Command, also extended condolences to the families of the victims, saying that the rebels had no intention to harm the security guards but were compelled when the victims resisted during the attack.

He said that more punitive attacks would be carried out against the multi-national companies operating in Bukidnon such as the Del Monte, Dole and Sumifru unless the companies cease the aggressive and destructive expansion in the province.

One week 'punishment' for new AFP chief

From Rappler (Jul 17): One week 'punishment' for new AFP chief

It's a military tradition that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, a former Army general himself, practices to congratulate newly promoted generals

NEW CHIEF: Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr is the new chief of staff of the 120,000-strong Armed Forces of the Philippines

NEW CHIEF: Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr is the new chief of staff of the 120,000-strong Armed Forces of the Philippines

It's a punishment that newly appointed Armed Forces chief Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr welcomed wholeheartedly: 10 push ups in front of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Gazmin, a former Army general, has applied a military tradition to congratulate newly promoted generals. He would ask them to do 10 push ups, an equivalent of a one-week punishment for soldiers. Philippine troops go through this "punishment" when they complete training for elite units, for example, to show their strength and fitness.
On Thursday, July 17, Gazmin gave Catapang the news of his appointment while they were at the Operations Center of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) monitoring Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun). Right there and then, in front of Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa Jr, a member of the disaster management council, Catapang served his punishment.
"It was a really funny thing.... I had to do the push up in front of the Secretary of National Defense while Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa was watching. It was really a funny incident," Catapang told reporters Thursday.
It was also Ochoa, as executive secretary, who signed his appointment.
"It's a symbolism that you have to maintain your physical strength. If you are given a command, you execute it immediately," said a laughing Catapang, an Army Scout Ranger himself.
Catapang is replacing General Emmanuel Bautista, his classmate in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Dimalupig Class of 1981. The change of command ceremony is scheduled on Friday, July 18.
Catapang was commander of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) before his appointment as vice chief of staff in May. He also served as chief of the 7th Infantry Division.

NABURYONG? Refused permission to go home after disaster training, soldiers take nuns, kids hostage

From InterAksyon (Jul 17): NABURYONG? Refused permission to go home after disaster training, soldiers take nuns, kids hostage

What were they thinking? After undergoing disaster management training hosted by the Legazpi City government, three Army men who were refused permission by their chief to go home took it out on nuns in an orphanage, taking them and their wards hostage.

The group, led by an Army private, barged into the Good Shepherd Home in Barangay San Roque and took hostage Wednesday the nuns and children for several hours. They were upset that their field commander refused to let them go home after a disaster training earlier, as typhoon Glenda was then about to hit Albay.

In a phone interview, staff at the Public Affairs Office (PAO) of the Army's 9th Infantry Division confirmed the incident and identified only the leader of the hostage-takers as Private First Class Licayan, a member of the 2nd Infantry Battalion.

Licayan and his companions are detained at the Legazpi City police while charges are being readied against them.

An initial military report said Licayan's group forcibly entered the Good Shepherd Home in Barangay San Roque shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday for still unknown reasons.

The police came to the area, and during negotiations, heard three demands: that Licayan be allowed to ask for forgiveness from his parents and speak through a television reporter; they be given water and food; and only a TV reporter and cameraman, not cops, are to meet him and his group.

Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal said Licayan's group had earlier attended a training for disaster risk reduction and management hosted by the city government but were asked to stay put by their commander in the city as the typhoon was about to bear down in a few hours.

Rosal said the soldiers did not hurt the nuns and children during the hostage-taking that ended peacefully at around 5:20 p.m.

Army general nixes NPA ceasefire call for release of 4 captive cops

From InterAksyon (Jul 17): Army general nixes NPA ceasefire call for release of 4 captive cops

The commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division rejected calls by the New People’s Army for a cessation of military operations to pave the way for the release of four policemen captured by the rebels in Surigao del Sur a week ago.

"If they want to release the policemen, they can do it without condition," Major General Ricardo Visaya said, adding that he has even ordered more troops deployed to rescue the captive lawmen.

The National Democratic Front Northeast Mindanao chapter said Police Officer 3 Vic Concon and PO1s Rey Morales, Joen Zabala, and Edito Roquino were in a patrol car when they ran into an NPA blocking force on the lookout for reinforcement as rebels raided the police station of Alegria town.

Local government officials, led by Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel, have formed a crisis management committee to work for the safe release of the rebels captives.

Ranking rebel officer among 12 slain in raid on Agusan tribal chief's home

From InterAksyon (Jul 17): Ranking rebel officer among 12 slain in raid on Agusan tribal chief's home

One of 12 New People’s Army fighters who died when they raided the home of a Manobo tribal leader in Prosperidad town, Agusan del Sur Tuesday was a ranking rebel leader who led the attack, the military said.

This developed as the rebels acknowledged losing 14 fighters in the attack on the home of Datu Calpito Egua in Barangay Sta. Irine and subsequent clashes with his followers as well as on another “bandit” group in San Francisco town, in a statement sent to Mindanao media.

Major General Ricardo Visaya, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said Joseph Tajora Cainong, alias Malik and Alas, was the secretary of the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 8.

Egua was wounded in the attack and lost four of his men.

The military said three 3 M16 rifles and four AK47 rifles were recovered from the rebels.

In a report posted by Davao Today, Maria Malaya, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front-Northeastern Mindanao, said the attack on Egua’s compound was part of “simultaneous raids to crush three private armed groups” in Agusan del sur.

Other rebels also attacked Egua’s followers in Barangay La Purisima, also in Prosperidad, and another armed group, led by Renato Villaverde, in Barangay Bitan-agan, San Francisco town.

Malaya described Egua as a “powerful warlord” who grabbed the lands of fellow “lumad,” or indigenous people, and small miners with the backing of the Army, police and local government units to allow him to “control the mining area of Manhulayan” in Surigao del Sur so “all of them can make a profit.”

She claimed Egua commanded a private army of 60 members and accused him of the “massacre, salvaging (extrajudicial killing), rape and ambush of his own kin.”

The rebel spokesperson said 10 guerrillas and the driver of the vehicle they were using were killed in the attack on Egua’s compound. Another rebel died when soldiers clashed with the NPA blocking force in Barangay Hamugaway, Bayugan City.

The attacks on Egua’s followers and on Villaverde’s group were more successful.

The La Purisima raid, said Malaya, netted the rebels eight assault rifles and two pistols, although they lost a fighter, while the attack in San Francisco town saw Villaverde killed and the rebels seizing three firearms.

Meanwhile, Malaya appealed to “concerned government agencies to extend the embalming of the dead Red fighters to a minimum of one week so we can have enough time to contact their families” and said they “are ready to pay for the funeral expenses.”

PH, Indonesia to present solution to West Philippine Sea row

From InterAksyon (Jul 17): PH, Indonesia to present solution to West Philippine Sea row

The Philippines and Indonesia are working on a "proposal" that may resolve the ongoing dispute in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosarion said on Thursday.

Del Rosario declined to detail the proposal, but said both he and his Indonesian counterpart intend to present this during the Association of the Southeast Asian Nation Foreign Minister meeting once they get the consensus of the the 10-member bloc.

"I just came from Jakarta and met with the Foreign Minister Marty Natelagawa and we discussed the developments following the visit of (Indonesian President Susilo Bambang) Yudhono in Philippines," del Rosario said.

He did not confirm, though, whether the proposal is meant to deescalate tension in the disputed sea or to prevent China from invading all islands and features of the South China Sea where countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan has overlapping claims.

Del Rosario assured that once the details of the proposal are complete, he will be ready to discuss them before the public.

"We ought to, maybe, considering getting together and freezing all activities that escalates tension. Let's call for a moratorium in terms of activities that escalate tension," del Rosario said in an interview in June.

Del Rosario said that, given the latest incidents in the region, including the establishment of airstrips and schools by China and its reclamation of five reefs, the proposed moratorium is "reasonable".

The DFA spokesman Charles Jose also confirmed last June that the department is now preparing the groundwork for the inclusion of the moratorium on Chinese activities in the disputed sea.

Meanwhile, after del Rosario's meeting with Natelagawa, Thai Foreign Minister Sihasak Phuangketkeow is set to arrive on Friday morning, also for a bilateral meeting.

NPA rebel killed, cop wounded in Zambo Norte clash

From MindaNews (Jul 16): NPA rebel killed, cop wounded in Zambo Norte clash

A suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebel was killed while a policeman was wounded in a clash Tuesday in Sergio Osmeña, Zamboanga del Norte, military and police officials said.

Capt. Franco Suelto, public affairs officer-in-charge of the Army’s First Infantry Division, said the clash broke out around 9 a.m. when policemen from the Provincial Public Safety Battalion (PPSB) spotted a group of NPA rebels while on security patrol in Barangay San Francisco, Sergio Osmeña.

Senior Supt. James Mejia, Zamboanga del Norte police director, disclosed that PO1 Edward Panoril was wounded in the clash.

The NPA rebels reportedly fled as government reinforcement arrived.
Sergio Osmeña Municipal Health Office paramedics rushed Panoril to the hospital.

Mejia said policemen were deployed in the nearby barangays of Macalibre and Princesa Lamaya as blocking forces to prevent the escape of the NPA rebels.

Policemen were also positioned as blocking forces and to conduct clearing operations in Barangay Maligaya in the nearby Municipality of Polanco following the reported evacuation of residents in the area as an offshoot of the clash in Sergio Osmeña.

Suelto said troops from the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion were positioned in Barangay Kauswagan to block the retreating NPA rebels.

It was not known how long the firefight lasted but Suelto said the troops have recovered the remains of a slain NPA rebel around 5:30 p.m. while conducting clearing operations in Barangay San Francisco, Sergio Osmeña.

Suelto said the troops recovered an improvised explosive device, a grenade, ammunition for AK-47 assault rifle and subversive documents of high intelligence value.

He said the clash triggered the evacuation of 250 civilians to the Sergio Osmeña municipal covered court.

The Sergio Osmeña Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office have provided them relief assistance.

Zambo Norte cop wounded in NPA clash

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 16): Zambo Norte cop wounded in NPA clash

One policeman was wounded in a clash with communist rebels in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Norte, officials said on Wednesday.

Officials said the fighting erupted in San Francisco village in the town in the town of Sergio Osmeña. The policemen were patrolling the village when they encountered a group of New People’s Army rebels, sparking a running gun battle.

Troops from the 32nd Infantry Battalion were deployed to help police forces pursue the rebels, but did not catch up with them.

The wounded officer, PO1 Carl Edward Panoril, was rushed to hospital.