Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2 ASG members nabbed in Zamboanga

From the Philippine Star (Aug 21): 2 ASG members nabbed in Zamboanga

Government security forces captured two Abu Sayyaf militants, including a sub-leader tagged in the Lamitan siege in Basilan province, in separate law enforcement operations late Wednesday in this Zamboanga City.

The captured suspects were identified as Nur Hassan alias Hassan, a sub-leader wanted for his alleged participation in the string of kidnappings and the Lamitan siege, and Jemhar Halillula Alih with aliases of Memay Alih, Ustadz Haepa and Ustadz Wahid.

Hassan was captured inside the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) area at 6:10 p.m. Wednesday by joint elements of the Task Force Zamboanga (TFZ), Army intelligence unit and the police. Meanwhile, Alih fell into the hands of the joint police intelligence unit about 11:15 p.m. during a raid at his safehouse in the coastal village of Taluksangay, east of this city.

Col. Andrelino Colina, chief of the TFZ, an anti-terror unit, said Hassan, a native of Basilan, was spotted by tracking military intelligence inside the vicinity of the port area prompting his unit and police forces to conduct the operation backed with the warrant of arrest issued by two courts in Isabela City, Basilan.

“The suspects have pending 12 cases of kidnapping with serious illegal detention with ransom based on the warrant of arrest issued by the local courts of Isabela City,” Colina said.

He said the cases against Hassan include the Lamitan siege incident last June 2001 and the abduction of plantation workers in Barangay Tairan, Lantawan town on the same year.

The suspect was brought to the Philippine Center for Transnational Crim inside the police headquarters for documentation and subsequently turned over to the custody of the police.

Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro, city police director, said the joint police intelligence unit captured Alih who has a pending warrant of arrest for carnapping and attempted murder issued by Judge Catherine Fabian of Regional Trial Court Branch 16.

The apprehending forces recovered from Alih a fragmentation grenade and a pistol pouch.

Alih was detained at the city police office while undergoing tactical interrogation.;postID=4736745690656045763

No confirmation on Filipino Muslims joining Islamic State terror campaign in Iraq, Syria -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): No confirmation on Filipino Muslims joining Islamic State terror campaign in Iraq, Syria -- AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday it is still to confirm reports that 100 Filipino Muslims have have joined the extremist group, Islamic State, in their ongoing campaign of terror in Iraq and Syria.

"As far as the AFP is concerned there are no reports of such. We checked with the Intelligence Services, and there are (still) no reports of such (activities)," AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

Earlier, former president Fidel V. Ramos claimed around 100 Filipino Muslims have joined the Islamic State (formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) in their ongoing battles with Iraqi, Syrian and Kurdish forces.

The former president added that these militants will return to the Philippines upon completing their "jihad".

However, Zagala stressed that they will coordinate with Ramos, who is also a former member of the Special Forces, to determine where he got his information, just to be on the safe side.

The AFP public affairs office chief also dismissed reports of Abu Sayyaf Group pledging alliance to the Islamic State in wake of video clips showing members of the bandit group expressing their support to the extremists.

"We have reports of the video of Abu Sayyaf showing their support for Islamic State, they took their oath, but these are mere propaganda materials," he said.

Zagala stated that the AFP sees no threat from the Islamic State.

But despite this, he added that they will continue to monitor for further developments.

"We are continuing to monitor the situation, especially that this is the interest of the AFP," the AFP public affairs chief said.

Indian warship arrives in Manila for port visit

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): Indian warship arrives in Manila for port visit

One of India's most modern surface combatants, the INS Sahyadri, arrived Wednesday in Manila South Harbor for a routine port call and visit which aims to strengthen the naval ties between the two countries.

The INS Sahyadri is a Shivalik class stealth multi-role frigate constructed by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai, India.

Construction of the vessel began in 2003 and was completed by 2011.

Prior her arrival in Manila, she was one of the participants in Exercise RIMPAC 2014 in Hawaii last July.

INS Sahyadri steamed around 5,000 nautical miles (9,000 kilometers) to get to Manila.

She boasts of an array of weaponry in her arsenal. Long range anti-ship missiles, medium and short range surface to air missiles augmented by powerful guns of different calibers provide a formidable shield against all types of threats.

Two multi-role helicopters carried by the ship act as force multipliers in all maritime scenarios due to their versatility and long range.

Commissioned on July 2012, INS Sahyadri is commanded by Capt. Jyotin Raina and is manned by 25 officers and 255 sailors.

During her stay in Manila, the ship would undertake operational turn around while the ship's crew would participate in various events like professional interaction, sports events and social fixtures.

Manila is a regular port of all for Indian naval ships. INS Satpura, Ranvijay, Shakti, and Kirch visited Manila in 2013.

Australia-bound BRP Ramon Alcaraz makes 'meeting point procedure' with Japanese destroyer

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Australia-bound BRP Ramon Alcaraz makes 'meeting point procedure' with Japanese destroyer

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), the country's most capable and modern frigate, demonstrated the excellent seamanship skills of its officers and crew when it made "meeting point procedure" with the Japanese destroyer, JS Hatakaze, off Indonesian waters Wednesday.

The maneuver is also known as PASSEX (passage exercise in naval parlance).

The two ships are headed for Australia to participate in "Kakadu 2014" which is slated Aug. 25 to Sept. 12 at the Northern Australian Area.

While in PASSEX, the two ships conducted tactical maneuvers, visual, communication and publication exercises utilizing the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) developed and published by Western Pacific Naval Symposium as a means to facilitate communication when naval ships or naval aircraft encounter each other in an unplanned manner.

Capt. Ernesto O. Baldovino, BRP Ramon Alcaraz commanding officer, said the PASSEX did not only provide an opportunity to test the effectiveness of the CUES but also served as an avenue to enhance the ability and skills of the sailors and promote cooperation and interoperability between the two ships.

After the successful maneuvers, the two ships proceeded in convoy to Darwin, Australia for the opening ceremony of "Kakadu 2014".

PN public affairs officer for "Kakadu 2014" Ensign John Windy Abing said Australian naval exercise is the largest international maritime exercise hosted biennially by Royal Australian Navy.

He added that this represents an opportunity to promote and enhance regional interoperability and multilateral cooperation among the participating navies.

ASG member bagged in Zamboanga City operation

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): ASG member bagged in Zamboanga City operation

Operatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police on Wednesday night arrested an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member with numerous arrest warrants for kidnapping, serious illegal detention and other crimes during operations at the port area of Zamboanga City.

Capt. Franco Suelto, 1st Infantry Division spokesperson, identified the arrested ASG man as Nur Hassan.

Hassan's apprehension took place around 6: 10 p.m.

Hassan has several outstanding warrants for kidnapping and serious illegal detention issued by Isabela City Regional Trial Court Branch 1 and 2.

Aside from this, the suspect also took part in the June 2, 2001 Lamitan Siege.

In this attack, 40 ASG fighters stormed the Dr. Jose Torres Memorial Hospital and St. Peter's Church compound and took hostage 200 people, including medical staff of the above-mentioned hospital.

Dozens of people were killed in the efforts to retake the hospital and church.

Proficiency exercises to meet BRP Ramon Alcaraz in 'Kakadu 2014'

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Proficiency exercises to meet BRP Ramon Alcaraz in 'Kakadu 2014'

A series of exercises await BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) and her crew upon arrival at the exercise area of "Kakadu 2014" this coming Aug. 24, the Philippine Navy (PN) said Thursday.

Navy public affairs office chief Lt. Cmdr. Marineth Domingo said that the maneuvers, which are designed to improve proficiencies and efficiency of the ship and crew, are the following:

*Graduated harbor training;

*Mariner skills work-up;

*Force integration training;

*Structured live weapons practice;

*Collaborate planning;

*Structured tactical free play.

"Kakadu 2014" is slated this Aug. 25 to Sept. 12. It will be held at the Northern Australian Exercise Area.

Twelve countries will be participating in the biennial naval maneuvers hosted by the Royal Australian Navy.

The participating countries with navy ships/aircraft are Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Pakistan and Australia while Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Thailand, Vanuatu, South Korea, and India will be sending personnel as observers.

This is the second time the PN has sent its ship to participate since the exercise began way back in 1993.

The first time that the PN sent a ship was in 1999. PN observers were also sent in 2003, 2005, and 2007.

It can be recalled that in March 2014, Alcaraz’s sister ship, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) was also sent to Indonesia to participate for the first time in the Multilateral Naval Exercise codenamed “Komodo” which was participated by 16 countries.

The PN’s participation in multilateral exercises is an affirmation of its commitment in collaborating with other navies to promote peace and stability in the maritime region.

Police confirm planned terror attack: Zambo siege 2 looming

From the Manila Standard Today (Aug 21): Police confirm planned terror attack: Zambo siege 2 looming

Eleven months after the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) September 2013 bloody siege here, the police confirmed another attack is looming even as half of about 120,000 evacuated residents have yet to return to their homes.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, police chief, said “these threats include possible bombings of gasoline stations, restaurants  and other highly vulnerable areas as well as kidnappings of some prominent residents and businessmen” but asasured the city that security measures have been placed.

He said Abbu Sayaf member Abbo Jomar was arrested in Barangay Upper Calarian with components of  Improvised  Explosive Device about to be assembled.

Jomar’s group is allegedly networked with  cells operating in Sulu and Basilan with members deployed in several towns in North Cotabato.

Casimiro said another siege is meant to derail the on-going peace process that the  government is  undertaking with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“There are some sectors that are not satisfied with the ways this process is being done while others disagree with the government’s  effort  of reaching for peace in the entire Mindanao, the country’s second largest island region,” he said.

Meanwhile, he debunked the flurry of text messages since Monday about an alleged massing up of armed men in coastal villages of the city’s eastern area as part of the second MNLF assault on the City of Flowers.

“I call on all residents not to fall prey on this  kind of messages  because your police and military men of Task Force Zamboanga  (TFZ) are always on the guard,” Casimiro said.

He said Septemebr 9 has been designated “Memorial Day”  to honor members of the City Police Office who died to defend the city three week siege that also claimed the lives of  military officers from Camp Aguinaldo and some 150 MNLF insurgents who invaded and burned the semi-urban villages of Santa Catalina, Rio Hondo, Talon-Talon, Kasanyangan and Santa Barbara.

Casimiro said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been asked to designate a one-hectare lot as site for a memorial for the fallen heroes to honor their bravery and  gallantry in championing peace in Mindanao.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Philippines, Luiza Carvalho, said many evacuees are still away from their homes.

“Almost 17,000 people are still living in extremely difficult conditions in overcrowded evacuation centers with inadequate sanitation at the Cawa-Cawa shoreline and in and around Zamboanga’s nearby sports complex,” ahe said.

“These people remain most vulnerable to disease and exploitation, while other families now living in temporary housing in transition sites or being hosted by relatives or friends also require humanitarian support.”

Mored than 10,000 homes destroyed or damaged in the Sept. 9 siege and the government did not expect to complete the return or permanent relocation of the pdisplaced families until mid-2015.

Philippine Army to get 28 upgraded APCs by Q1 of 2015

From the Manila Times (Aug 21): Philippine Army to get 28 upgraded APCs by Q1 of 2015

The Philippine Army (PA) announced that the delivery of its 28 Israeli upgraded APCs (armored personnel carriers) is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015.

This was revealed by Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato Thursday.

“Delivery of all APCs is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015,” he added.

The Department of National Defense (DND) earlier announced that the payment for the PHP 882 million upgraded armored personnel carrier (APC), bagged by Israeli defense manufacturer Elbit Systems Ltd., will be done in three tranches.

Dr. Peter Paul Galvez, Defense spokesperson, said first payment will be pegged at P405 million, the second will be PHP 335 million and the third at PHP 142 million.

Elbit Systems Ltd., formally announced the signing of the PHP 882 million deal (roughly USD20 million) last June 22.

Upgrades include 25 mm unmanned turrets, 12.7 mm remote controlled weapon stations (RCWS) and fire control systems (FCS) for 90 mm turrets.

The APCs, 28 in all, will be supplied over a one-year period.

The contract marks a significant breakthrough for Elbit Systems, as it is the first one awarded to the company in the Philippines.

“We are very pleased to be awarded our first contract for the Philippines Armed Forces, which we hope will be followed by others. Our extensive portfolio and our vast experience enable us to offer our customers advanced solutions, answering the specific requirements of various combat vehicles, and this award further positions us as world leaders in the field of ground vehicle upgrades,” Elbit Systems’ Land and C41 general manager Udi Vered said.

The APCs are for the use of the Philippine Army.

The latter operates around 343 AFVs (armored fighting vehicles) and APCs.
Around 85 percent of these AFVs are on green status (fully mission capable) while another 10 percent are on yellow status (undergoing repair) and five percent are on red (beyond repair)

150 of these are the United Kingdom-built GKN “Simba” with the remaining AFVs consisting of US designed V-150 and V-200 APCs, M-113 “Bradley”, Turkish made ACV-300s and British Scorpion CVRTs.

These vehicles give the PA its armor capability and are organized into a 14-vehicle mechanized infantry companion for deployment with regular units.

Alleged Abu Sayyaf leader captured in Zamboanga City

From InterAksyon (Aug 21): Alleged Abu Sayyaf leader captured in Zamboanga City

An alleged leader of the Abu Sayyaf wanted for a string of kidnapping charges was arrested Wednesday evening at the port area of Zamboanga City, the Army said Thursday.

A joint police and military team served Nur Hassan Jamiri warrants of arrest issued by Judges Leo Jay Princepe and Danilo M. Bucoy of the regional trial court in Isabela City, Basilan, said Captain Frank Suelto, spokesman of the 1st Infantry Division.

Many of the cases involve kidnapping, and at least one involves the 2001 Lamitan siege, when Abu Sayyaf gunmen holding several local and foreign hostages battled government troops in the Basilan town.

Suelto said Jamiri, who was taken to Camp Batalla in Barangay Cawa-Cawa, Zamboanga City following his arrest, usually operates with fellow Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf commanders Puruji Indama and Isnilon Hapilon.

Among their more recent victims was former Australian Army soldier Warren Rodwell, who was seized December 2011 and released in March 2013.

Fighters under the three commanders were also linked to the beheading of 10 Marines in 2007, the attack on Isabela City in April 2010 that left 13 people dead, and the ambush and killing of 19 Amy Special Forces troops in Al-Barka in October 2011.

MILF commander, village chief son slain in Maguindanao ambush; 'rido' eyed

From InterAksyon (Aug 21): MILF commander, village chief son slain in Maguindanao ambush; 'rido' eyed

A commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and his son, a barangay captain, were killed in an ambush in Sultan sa Barongis town in Maguindanao province Wednesday afternoon.

Authorities say the main suspect in the ambush of Datu Mohamad, also known as “Kumander Bato” of the MILF’s 106th Base Command, and his son Sadam, barangay captain of Togal, where the incident happened, is also an MILF commander, Kagi Sajid, or “Kumander Saya” of the MILF National Guard and the 104th Base Command.

The Mohamads were on their way home on a motorcycle when they were shot dead.

Developing information indicates the two MILF commanders have been at odds since the 1990s and the animosity was revived during last year’s barangay election, when their sons ran against each other for village chief of Togal.

The military immediately deployed troops to Togal to prevent the situation from worsening amid reports the slain MILF commander's men and kin were massing up for possible retaliation and tensions drove several families to flee the village, according to Lieutenant Colonel Markton Abo, commander of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion.

The joint military-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities has already moved to pacify the warring groups.

Aquino swears in 39 newly promoted police generals

From the Business Mirror (Aug 20): Aquino swears in 39 newly promoted police generals

PRESIDENT Aquino on Wednesday inducted into office 39 newly promoted police generals in a ceremony held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang.
Promoted to the equivalent military rank of lieutenant general were Deputy Directors General Leonardo Espina and Marcelo Garbo Jr.
Also promoted were Directors Ronaldo Purugganan, Francisco Uyami Jr., Francisco Don Montenegro, Charles Calima Jr., Benjamin Magalong, Ricardo Marquez, Jamie Morente, Rodrigo de Gracia, Melito Mabilin, Getulio Napeñas, Jose Jorge Corpuz, Catalino Rodriquez Jr., Juanito Vaño Jr., Edgardo Inking and Danilo Constantino. A police director has the equivalent military rank of major general.
Joining them were Chief Supts. Richard Albano, Asher Dolina, Prudencio Tom Bañas, Jose Getiles, Robert Kiunisala, Ferdinand Sevilla, Abelardo Villacorta, Edgar Basbas, Rodel Calungsud, Diodado Valeroso, Edwin Erni, Manolito Labador, Oriel Bragais, Wilfredo Franco, David Ombao, Ferdinand Yuzon, Ronaldo Asuncion, Rene Ong, Antonio Viernes, Reuben Theodore Sindac, Augusto Marquez Jr. and Danilo Pelisco. The rank of chief superintendent is equivalent to the rank of brigadier general in the military.
After the oath-taking ceremony, the newly promoted generals and their respective families had a photo opportunity with the President. With the President during the ceremony was Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

DVIDS: NOLES 2014 comes to a close

From DVIDS (Aug 19): NOLES 2014 comes to a close

NOLES 2014 comes to a close

Philippine Lt. Gen. Virgilio Domingo, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines gives final remarks at the closing ceremony of Non-lethal Weapons Executive Seminar (NOLES) 2014, August 16. NOLES is an annual field-training exercise and leadership seminar sponsored by U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, and hosted by various nations throughout the Asia-Pacific. This is the 13th iteration of NOLES with members from the AFP, and Philippine National Police participating. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Erik Estrada
After 12 days of teaching and learning from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, and representatives from 20 nations, the Non-lethal Weapons Executive Seminar (NOLES) 2014 came to an end with the conclusion of the leadership seminar portion of the exercise August 16.

Completing the 13th iteration, NOLES 2014 was the first time the Philippines hosted the seminar. NOLES is held annually by U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, consisting of a field-training exercise for the first nine days, and finishing with a demonstration of non-lethal weapons (NLW) and tactics learned throughout training, and a three-day NLW seminar. The exercise promotes awareness and effective use of non-lethal weapons to maintain order in low-intensity conflicts or civil unrest.

“In a world where we are continuingly being challenged by threats and changes, it is critical we adapt to new techniques,” said Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, commanding general, 1st Marine Logistics Group.

Tactics learned here during the exercise consisted of Mechanical Advantage Control Holds (MACH), Taser and Oleoresin Capsicum training, the firing of non-lethal munitions, and even a portion where the AFP and PNP taught the U.S. Marines tactics and martial arts native to the Philippines.

On the last day of the seminar, senior leaders were formed into groups, and given two different scenarios on situations where they could employ non-lethal tactics and weapons. Non-lethal tactics and weapons are tools that give leaders more options to de-escalate situations such as civil disturbances, rescue missions, convoy operations or checkpoints, and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations.

“I encourage you to do two things, the first is to take what you’ve seen and challenge your leaders and peers when you go back home,” said Coglianese. “The second thing I encourage you to do, and probably the most important, is to continue the great partnership you developed here.”

Pinoys training with Iraq jihadists?

From ABS-CBN (Aug 20): Pinoys training with Iraq jihadists?

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) said they have not monitored Filipinos going to Iraq or Syria supposedly to undergo training with jihadists.

Former President Fidel Ramos, in an interview on ANC's "Beyond Politics" on Tuesday night, said he has received reports that around 100 young Filipinos  "have already infiltrated Iraq to undergo training to return and be jihadists or militants."

According to AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, the military intelligence community has not monitored any Filipino leaving the country to train with the Islamic State (IS), a group of jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

"There are no reports of such. I've already checked with the intelligence units of the AFP and we have not monitored, not even names of Filipinos who are there fighting (or training). There is none," Zagala told reporters.

The 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army also said they have not received such information so far.

"Wala pa naman tayong nare-receive na report on that in our end, and titingnan din natin yan if there's a possibility na meron dito sa area of responsibility. However, sa ngayon ay wala," said Maj. Christian Uy, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division.

PNP-Caraga spokesperson Supt. Romaldo Bayting also said they have yet to verify the information revealed by Ramos.

"I just recently coordinated with regional intelligence division, and they emphasized that this information remain unverified. We don't have any intelligence report or directives from headquarters to tackling this report," he said.

But Bayting nonetheless said that the police force will intensify security measures.

Zagala said they respect the opinion and views of the former President. "And maybe, we can coordinate with him on the possibility of where his information came from," he added.

In the ANC interview, Ramos said the Abu Sayyaf has been encouraged by the "success" of the Islamic State (IS), formerly known known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

An Agence France-Presse report earlier said hardline Moro guerrillas have pledged allegiance to IS.

Clips have been uploaded on YouTube showing both BIFF and Abu Sayyaf gunmen pledging support to the IS.

But the AFP said these videos are "mere propaganda materials and that they (IS) are not threats here."

"It's possible that they (Abu Sayyaf and BIFF) want to show their support and (generate) possible funding but them going there (Syria and Iraq), there are no reports that any of them have really gone to fight with IS," Zagala said.

Breakaway Moro rebels willing to fight in Iraq, Syria

From ABS-CBN (Aug 20): Breakaway Moro rebels willing to fight in Iraq, Syria

A breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has reiterated support for the Islamic State (IS), an extremist group creating havoc in Iraq and Syria.

Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) spokesman Abumissry Mama told ABS-CBN Cotabato in a phone interview that they fully support the group formerly called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been declared a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council.

"One hundred percent sumusuporta kami, at susuportahan naman kami," Mama said.

He said the BIFF and the IS had a "mubayyaa," or an agreement 3 months ago wherein they vowed to support each other.

Mama, however, said he has not seen the agreement, which has signed by foreign affairs officers of both the BIFF and IS.

"Halimbawa niyan ay kami ay nagsumpaan na matamisin na namin ang mamatay kaysa mabuhay kung hindi namin makamtan ang aming minimithi na Islamic state, ang aming mga homeland. Naghawak-kamay sa pamamagitan ng foreign affairs nila at foreign affairs namin ay naghawak kami ng mga kamay yun ang sinasabi na mubayyaa," Mama said.

Mama, however, said no BIFF fighter has been sent yet to Iraq or Syria to train with IS.

He said the training given BIFF members is the same abroad.

Mama, however, said BIFF leaders are willing to send reinforcements to the IS if the Middle Eastern group needs their help.

"Ang sinasabi ng Arabic na 'jihad fisabibillah' ay magkakapatid iyan sa dugo at sa religion na kahit anong mangyari ay mangyayari yan sa isa at doon sa isa," Mama said.

He said they get in touch with the IS through the Internet but they have not received any monetary assistance.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), meanwhile, said it does not support the IS.

MILF First Vice-Chairman Ghazali Jaafar said they are more focused on peaceful negotiations to achieve the Bangsamoro entity that they see as a solution to the conflict in Mindanao.

[Video News Report: Jihadist militants training Pinoys, FVR claims]

BIFF harasses Army detachment in Maguindanao, no losses to government troopers

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): BIFF harasses Army detachment in Maguindanao, no losses to government troopers

Undetermined numbers of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have fired upon the temporary patrol base of the 62nd Division Reconnaissance Company in Sitio Dam, Barangay Damabalas, Datung Piang town, Maguindanao Wednesday morning.

The harassment and sniping attack took place around 9:50 a.m., Major Dante Gania, 6th Infantry Division public affairs office chief said.

No losses were reported on the government side.

Gania said that troopers assigned to the facility conducted counter-sniping tactics at the BIFF.

Sporadic shooting is still ongoing as of this posting.

MILF: Editorial -- One at a time

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Aug 19): One at a time

One cannot fight several battles at a time. It has to be one battle after the other. This is the credo of the MILF in the face of several challenges before the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) becomes a reality.
It is like saying that we cross the bridge when we reach it. But this is not in a way forgetting the forest, because the tree is part of it.

This frame of mind and way of handling situation, the MILF, after 17 long and harsh years of negotiation, has managed to sign the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014. These two agreements are indeed historic, which can only be surpassed by one that is above and over an autonomous arrangement with the government.

To illustrate this point: After the long years of protracted negotiation, the MILF has led the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in crafting the BBL, which underwent real deliberations and multi-layers of decision-making. It was difficult as it was time-consuming. Today, the real happening is in the Office of the President (OP) where the proposed BBL is under scrutiny; after which the battle will shift to Congress, then to the conduct of the plebiscite in which people will approve (or disapprove) of the BBL. That is not the end of the trials and tribulations. It is almost certain that people or groups will question the constitutionality of the BBL before the Supreme Court. All of these scenarios are risks-laden, but the MILF is not cowed at all.

This explains the reason why the MILF refuses to answer questions on the basis of supposition; e.g., suppose Congress will not pass the BBL, suppose the BBL is not ratified, suppose the BBL is declared unconstitutional.

“Man shall have nothing except what he strives for,” says the Holy Qur’an. This is the basis of the MILF working formula. It is rare or not at all that success comes in handy or on a silver platter. There are no rewards without risk. Taking risks is part of the undertaking.

Be this as it may, the good news, however, is that after several delays, the MILF and the government are currently struggling to finish an “agreed version” of the BBL for submission to Congress, after the President certifies it as urgent bill. It is not an easy undertaking but what is good is that both parties are in a problem-solving exercise. They have also set aside rigidity in favor of creativity, so that even hard issues are not handled fairly well.

With the rate, the Parties are going in resolving the remaining issues in the BBL; chances are that it will be submitted to Congress very soon.

MILF: GPH, MILF panels need more time to prepare an agreed version of draft BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 20): GPH, MILF panels need more time to prepare an agreed version of draft BBL

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels need more time to prepare an agreed and final draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), as they failed to submit it to President Benigno Aquino III last August 18.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles relayed the information to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. that the panels failed to make it last Monday and need more time to prepare a final draft.

"Ayon kay Secretary Ging Deles, lahat ng mahahalagang isyu ay natalakay at nailinaw na. Ang ginagawa lang ng magkabilang panig ngayon ay inihahanda ‘yung mismong draft Bangsamoro Basic Law na ihahain sa Tanggapan ng Pangulo," he said in a press briefing.

But Coloma said, Deles did not indicate any specific date as to when the final version of the bill would be submitted to the President for his review before he forwards it to Congress.

"The parties are targeting submission of final draft to President within the week and submission to Congress by the end of August," he said, further quoting Deles.

The Palace official said there was nothing to be worried about despite the delay again in the submission of the draft to the President, stressing that the leadership of both the Senate and the House of Representatives have expressed their support for the early passage of the draft BBL. (Source: SDR/Sunnex)

MILF: Vice President Binay visits Maguindanao, supports Bangsamoro

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 20): Vice President Binay visits Maguindanao, supports Bangsamoro

In his recent visit to Cotabato City and Maguindanao, Vice President Jejomar Binay expressed support to the creation of the Bangsamoro government in 2016. Binay however, denied his visits here and to various towns in Maguindanao were part of the early campaign trail for his presidential bid in 2016, MindaNews reported.
VP Binay was welcomed by both administration and opposition leaders during his visit on Sunday. August 17 and Monday, August 18.

Binay expressed his support to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on Monday in Sultan Kudarat town as it celebrated its 67th foundation anniversary.

Once passed by Congress and ratified by the constituents, the BBL will entrench the Bangsamoro government to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The creation of the Bangsamoro government was envisioned by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace agreement of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed last March 27.

Binay chanted Takbir thrice in expressing support to the passage of the BBL, which the crowd exuberantly responded with “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest).

Datu Tucao Mastura, former Sultan Kudarat town mayor and the provincial stalwart of the United Nationalist Alliance, Binay’s political party, lauded the vice president’s support to the BBL.
It is an “expression of giving importance to the dream of the Bangsamoro people,” Mastura said.
Also in attendance during Sultan Kudarat town’s foundation anniversary were ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, 6th Infantry Division commander Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, top ARMM police officials, and several local government officials of the province. He also met with members of the Archdiocese of Cotabato and members of his Alpha Phi Omega (APO).

While in Datu Odin Sinsuat town on Sunday for the inauguration of a Seniors Citizen Building which his office funded, Maguindanao Vice Governor Datu Lester Sinsuat, a Liberal Party stalwart, introduced Binay as “the next President of the Republic of the Philippines.” Binay thanked the young vice governor for the “endorsement,” and later “denied that he was in the province to campaign early for his 2016 presidential bid.”

Binay was joined by former Tarlac Governor Margarita “Ting-Ting” Cojuangco, Paranaque Rep. Gustavo Tambunting and Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian in his trips. (Source: MindaNews, August 19, 2014)

CPP/NDF: Tribute to Nila “Comrade Edna” Montes

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Aug 19): Tribute to Nila “Comrade Edna” Montes

Fr. Santiago Salas (Ka Sanny)
NDFP Eastern Visayas Chapter
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Eastern Visayas condoles with the family and friends of our dear Nila “Comrade Edna” Montes, who died of illness last August 15, 2014 while under the custody of the Government of the Philippines (GPH). She served the people for more than 30 years as a proletarian revolutionary cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), and had last served as the deputy secretary for education of the Party’ s Southeast Samar Committee. Although she was diagnosed and being treated for a serious illness since 2012, she never wavered in her love for the people and in her determination to carry out her revolutionary tasks.

Comrade Edna was arrested by the military of the GPH on trumped-up charges in Guiuan, Eastern Samar last July 4, 2013. Although she was already very sick and needed hospital confinement, she was denied the humanitarian consideration her legal counsel appealed for. This is also guaranteed by the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law signed by the NDFP and GPH. Instead, she was detained in unhealthy and shabby prisons in Oras and Dolores towns in Eastern Samar, far away from the medical care she needed. She suffered like other political prisoners under the US-Aquino regime, whose high officials and their accomplices currently accused of corruption and plunder, on the other hand, enjoy special treatment under luxurious “hospital arrest.” The reason she was rushed to but died on the way to the hospital in Tacloban City on August 15 was that her previous treatment had been left unfinished because her GPH military custodians demanded her return to detention, against the protests of her legal counsel and doctors.

But to the very end, in the face of enemy persecution, Comrade Edna held her head high, refusing to bow to the enemy’s persecution and remaining steadfast in her revolutionary commitment. Despite her fatal ailment, she never collaborated with the enemy and betrayed the comrades and the masses. She raised the prestige of the revolutionary movement and set an example by her selflessness, dedication and self-sacrifice.

Comrade Edna came from a relatively well-off petty-bourgeois family in Samar, but had been orphaned at a young age. She was studying in college in Manila when she was first organized as a mass activist in the youth and students movement in the anti-dictatorship struggle against Marcos in the 1970s. She was recruited into the Party and was collectivized in the regional support group in Manila. Up to the early 1980s, she did liaison work, linking the Party in the region and in Manila. Afterwards, she was in the staff of the Visayas Commission, where she was discontented with the decadent lifestyle of the counterrevolutionary traitor Arturo Tabara.

The mid-1980s came with major challenges for Comrade Edna, at the time when the revolutionary movement was following the wrong line of premature regularization and military adventurism. Comrade Edna returned to Eastern Visayas with her husband, Comrade Paulo. She was assigned to the Political Department of the then regional battalion of the NPA in Samar. Comrade Paulo served as a member of the Battalion Party Committee and a political officer of a company in the battalion. The other comrades in the battalion praised Comrade Edna for serving as a model for the “Red Detachment of Women” in the people’s army in her remoulding, self-sacrifice and problem-solving.

But Comrade Paulo was martyred not long after their deployment in a guerrilla offensive in San Jorge, Samar. Comrade Edna was also wounded in an incident and suffered from personal crisis while convalescing. But after a time, Comrade Edna recovered her morale and revolutionary optimism, wholeheartedly dedicating herself to the masses and to the revolutionary struggle.

Comrade Edna did regional propaganda and education work in the early 1990s. She was one of the anchors in the revolutionary VHF radio program Radyo Katalwasan. When the Second Great Rectification Movement began in Eastern Visayas, she was one of those who ensured the reproduction of education materials to guide the comrades. As a comrade recalls of that time, she would be busy all day typing, as well as smeared all over with ink from running the mimeograph machine. The rectification movement reinvigorated the comrades including Comrade Edna, and they strived to once again strengthen the Party in ideology, politics and organization.

In 1996, Comrade Edna was deployed to Southern Leyte to help in the recovery work there after the setbacks during the time of the wrong line. A Red commander who was also her comrade in the collective said the conditions at the start were very difficult. There were only seven comrades when they started. They traveled long distances to organize the peasant masses in far-flung barrios. They subsisted on root crops and could only eat rice once a month, if there were any. The Red commander relates you would never think Comrade Edna came from the petty bourgeoisie, as she never once complained at the hardships, but sharing weal and woe with other comrades and the peasant masses. She lived up to being a proletarian revolutionary fighter of the CPP-NPA in political work as well as joining guerrilla offensives in the armed struggle. She proved to be a good leader in territorial work and the people’s army grew from a handful to being an undersized company in due time. Because of her exemplary work, she was raised to the Party’s Leyte Island Committee in 2003.

Comrade Edna also remarried during this time to a peasant comrade and they had one daughter. But they encountered irreconcilable differences in the marriage and were divorced in 2005. During the same year, she was deployed to Eastern Samar as a member of the provincial Party committee. But she did not let her personal problems get in the way of her political work.

In 2010, when the provincial Party committees were reorganized to better carry out comprehensive work, Comrade Edna began serving as the deputy secretary for education of the Southeast Samar Committee. A staff member of the committee recalls that the enemy attacked during the plenum and the comrades had to withdraw to a distant barrio. During the retreat, even the younger comrades were left exhausted by the forced march. But they marveled that Comrade Edna was one of the few comrades who could still call on a peasant household and happily converse despite her own tiredness. She showed enthusiasm in dealing with the comrades and masses of all ages. She was sharp and direct in speech in striving for the correct line, never tiring of educating other comrades, and showing humility and selflessness.

Comrade Edna also persevered in striving to build a revolutionary family. She was a communist mother who faced the challenge of being far from her children because of her revolutionary tasks. She remained steadfast in the face of loneliness, distance and the disappointments from time to time of her children. Comrade Edna understood that the poverty and neediness of her children were the same as that felt by the masses of the people. She had no doubt and overcame her family problems as part of her sacrifices as a revolutionary.

Even when Comrade Edna was arrested in 2013, she still rose above her circumstances and proved herself as a proletarian revolutionary cadre. Because of her prestige, friends of the revolutionary movement sent her food, cooking utensils and other forms of support even while she was in detention. She never minded sharing what she received, and befriended as well her fellow detainees and the jailguards.

Comrade Edna knew the US-Aquino regime was corrupt and rotten to the core, and thus persecuting her because she was on the side of the people’s resistance. Despite being under duress, despite suffering from a fatal illness, her revolutionary determination remained firm and unshakeable in the face of the enemy. When her treatment was stopped and she was being taken away from the hospital by the military guards of the GPH, her last message to the comrades was: “Padayon kita!” (Let us persevere!)

Let us avenge Comrade Edna, not by the simple act of killing the enemy in battle but by defeating the class enemies and overthrowing the rotten reactionary system. Let us emulate her example of selflessness, self-sacrifice, simple living and diligent struggle. Let us salute and continue her legacy as a proletarian cadre, a woman, a fighter for the revolutionary cause!

AFP welcomes new ISAFP chief

From InterAksyon (Aug 20): AFP welcomes new ISAFP chief

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday welcomed Brigadier General Arnold M. Quiapo, who assumed the post of chief of Intelligence Service, AFP (ISAFP).

In a simple ceremony at the ISAFP Headquarters, Brig. Gen. Quiapo formally replaced Major Gen. Eduardo M. Año who earlier took a new post as the commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division last July 25.

Before being appointed ISAFP chief, Quiapo was the Commander of the Army's 301st Brigade, 3rdInfantry Division, based in Dingle, Iloilo. He held the position from December 2011 to present.

During his tenure as commander, the 301BDE conducted simultaneous signing of Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council (JPSCC) Implementing Plan on Security for  All Vital Government and Private Projects, Undertakings, Facilities and Equipment with Iloilo Provincial  Police  Office,  Guimaras  Provincial  Police  Office  and  Iloilo  City  Police Office in July 2014. He also spearheaded numerous Bayanihan, and Community Development projects in the 301BDE area of responsibility.

He was also the Chief of Staff of the Training and Doctrine Command, PA in Tarlac; Group Commander, K-9 Company of the Army’s Intelligence Service Group; and Battalion Commander of 39th Infantry Battalion, 6thInfantry Division, Philippine Army in Mindanao.

Quiapo is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Matikas” Class of 1983. He took specialization courses and training both in military and civilian schools here and abroad. He graduated the Overseas Joint Warfare Course at the Australian Defense Force Warfare Centre; Counter Terrorism Training at PMA; and Command and General Staff Course at CGSC, TRADOC, PA.

He holds a Masters in Business Management from the University of the Philippines and Master of Arts in Security Studies at the Australian Defense College.

A decorated military officer, Quiapo has received, among others, five Bronze Cross Medals, Military Civic Action Medal, Silver Wing Medal and two Distinguished Service Stars.

China rejects Manila protest on ships, complains of detentions

From InterAksyon (Aug 20): China rejects Manila protest on ships, complains of detentions

China rejected Philippine complaints on Wednesday about Chinese survey vessels operating in a gas-rich area of Manila's exclusive economic zone, and has lodged a separate complaint about the detention of Chinese workers, as tensions persist.

President Benigno Aquino III said over the weekend that two Chinese survey vessels had been sighted at the Reed Bank, which the Philippines also claims.

In a statement faxed to Reuters, China's Foreign Ministry said that Reed Bank was Chinese territory.

"Survey activities being carried out by Chinese survey ships are appropriate, legal and beyond reproach," the ministry said.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to be rich in deposits of oil and gas resources. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim the sea where $5 trillion of ship-borne goods pass every year.

Tensions in the South China Sea between the Philippines and China began in 2011 when Chinese patrol boats harassed a survey ship hired by Anglo-Filipino Forum Energy PLC, which won a contact to explore the Reed Bank.

Another two to three Chinese ships have been seen regularly on patrol around Scarborough Shoal, another part of the disputed South China Sea.

Last month, Forum Energy PLC obtained an approval from the Philippine government to extend by one year its drilling plan for a natural gas project in Reed Bank. The company is now expected to complete by August 2016 drilling for its appraisal wells to assess the size of gas or oil discoveries.

Relations between Beijing and Manila have also been strained due to the detention of Chinese fishermen caught in waters claimed by both countries.

In a separate incident, the Chinese embassy in Manila lodged a complaint about the detention on Tuesday of more than 50 Chinese suspected of working illegally in the country.

The embassy is demanding that the authorities handle the case swiftly and fairly and treat those detained properly, the embassy said in a statement.

Philippine immigration authorities said the 55 Chinese had been picked up in raids across Metro Manila as they were believed to working without the necessary permits.

Task group formed to solve Zambo trader’s abduction

From MindaNews (Aug 20): Task group formed to solve Zambo trader’s abduction

A task group has been activated to address the abduction of a businesswoman seized here Monday evening by gunmen believed to be members of a kidnap-for-ransom group (KFRG).

Activated was Task Group Michelle, which was named after the victim, Michelle Panes, 36, a businesswoman from Purok 5, Barangay Labuan, this city.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City police director, will act as the task group commander since he doesn’t have a deputy for operations that is supposed to head the body.

Casimiro said Wednesday there was no demand yet from the suspects, who are believed to be based in the province of Zamboanga del Norte.

The suspects abducted Panes and her husband, Noel, while they were tending their grocery store at around 7:45 p.m. Monday in Purok 5, Barangay Labuan.

Panes’ husband managed to escape while he was being forced to board on a motorboat locally known as “jungkung.” The couple’s grocery store is located less than a hundred meters away from the shore.

The gunmen fled towards the direction of Zamboanga del Norte.

Panes was the third to be abducted in Barangay Labuan by gunmen believed to be KFRG members based in the province of Zamboanga del Norte.

The first was Olivia Barredo, also a businesswoman, who was seized in the evening of March 3, 2011. She was released on April 22, 2011 in a secluded place in R.T. Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay.

The second was Flordeliza Ongchua, a teacher, who was seized on November 13, 2012 and was freed on December 24, 2012 in downtown Jolo, Sulu.

NPA rebels sued for arson in Koronadal City

From MindaNews (Aug 20): NPA rebels sued for arson in Koronadal City

Police have filed arson charges against an alleged leader and several members of a New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the hinterlands of South Cotabato province over the burning of three heavy equipment in an attack at a quarry site in Koronadal City last week.

Sr. Insp. Joseph Carlos Madrid, chief investigator of the Koronadal City police station, said Wednesday they filed complaints for violation of Article 320 of the Revised Penal Code before the city prosecution office on Tuesday against a certain Marlon Obanan alias Matmat, alias Nelson, alias Joseph and 15 other unidentified suspects.

He said they identified the suspects, who were mostly listed as residents of Matanao town in Davao del Sur, based on the results of their investigation and accounts from several witnesses.

The group, which is reportedly under the NPA’s Far South Mindanao Regional Operations Command, staged the attack at around 4 a.m. last Friday, Aug. 15, at a quarry site in Purok Riverside of Barangay Topland in Koronadal City and burned three heavy equipment owned by a local construction company, he said.

“We initially filed the arson charges to facilitate their endorsement to a court and the issuance of the arrest warrants against the suspects,” Madrid said in a radio interview.

Once the court issues the arrest warrants, the official said they will immediately coordinate and send its copies to other police stations in nearby regions.

He said they will also coordinate with local units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for possible operations against the suspects.

Madrid called for cooperation from local residents, especially those located in areas possibly frequented by the suspects.

“We need help from the public in terms of information on the whereabouts of these suspects,” he added.

An estimated 20 to 30 heavily armed rebels aboard a commandeered utility van stormed last Friday a quarry site along the Topland River operated by the FM Bascon Construction and Concrete Products and later torched its grader, loader and crusher.

The construction firm is owned by Engr. Fernando Bascon, an uncle of Koronadal City Mayor Peter Miguel.

The utility van was later found abandoned in Purok Randal of Sitio Tabialong of nearby Barangay Cacub, which is located near the boundary of Koronadal City and Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat.

The attack at the quarry site was followed by the throwing of an improvised grenade about 30 minutes later at a police detachment in Barangay Sta. Cruz in nearby Tampakan, South Cotabato and the strafing several hours later of a service vehicle owned by a security firm connected with foreign-backed mining firm Sagittarius Mines Inc. in Barangay Danlag of the same town.

Three members of the South Cotabato Provincial Police’s Public Safety Company were injured in the dawn grenade attack while no one was reported hurt in the strafing incident.

Philippine Navy sends Alcaraz for biggest Aussie war games

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Aug 20): Philippine Navy sends Alcaraz for biggest Aussie war games

Personnel on board BRP Ramon Alcaraz make most of the remaining minutes calling their families and love ones while their mobile phones has still signal. Just 30 minutes after the ship’s recent departure from Subic en route to Australia, the signal was lost. The Filipino ship will participate in Exercise KAKADU.

The Philippine Navy’s BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) has sailed recently to participate in the multilateral naval exercise dubbed as “KAKADU 2014” from August 25 to September 12, 2014 at Northern Australia Exercise Area.

The exercise is participated by 180 strong personnel that include the crew of PF 16, the crew of helicopter Augusta Westland PNH431, medical team, and the exercise directorate members. Rear Admiral Isabelo Gador heads the event.

KAKADU is the largest international maritime exercise hosted biennially by the Royal Australian Navy and represents an opportunity to promote and enhance regional interoperability and cooperation among the participating navies.

This year’s exercise will be participated by 12 countries - Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Pakistan and Australia while Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Thailand, Vanuatu, South Korea, and India will be sending personnel as observers.

This is the second time the Philippine Navy has sent its ship to participate since the exercise began in 1993. The first time that the Philippine Navy sent a ship was in 1999.

The Philippine Navy’s participation is expected to enhance its surface warfare capabilities and interoperability with regional navies. It will also be an opportunity for the Philippine Navy to enhance cooperation, camaraderie, and good working relationship with the participating navies. Its participation in multilateral exercises is an affirmation of its commitment in collaborating with other navies to promote peace and stability in the maritime region.