Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Military dares Karapatan to prove accusations

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Aug 28): Military dares Karapatan to prove accusations

The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) challenged Karapatan, a human rights group, to prove their accusations with evidence against the two military generals who it has alleged of perpetuating various acts of human rights violation committed by retired general Jovito Palparan.

In a statement, Karapatan accused Brigadier General Ricardo Visaya of the 4ID and General Eduardo Año of the 10th Infantry Division (10ID) for what the group perceived as continuing Palparan’s campaign of “terror” in Mindanao.

The 4ID, which denied this, instead challenged Karapatan to present evidences to proper agencies to prove the allegations.

“We will continue denying issues they are throwing and will throw at us. The military will not be shaken by these allegations. I suggest they report it to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) or to the civil courts. With this, their reports will have proper venue and we, the military, can also answer their accusations,” 4ID spokesperson Major Christian Uy said.

Karapatan said with the leadership of the two generals, as “trained dogs” of Palparan, who at present is under incarceration, terror still reigns in Mindanao, especially on the cases of human rights being allegedly violated by the military.

“Gen. Palparan may be in jail, but his trained dogs, Brig. Gen, Ricardo Visaya and Gen. Eduardo Año are sowing terror in Mindanao,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, in a statement.

Visaya was accused in the murder of a “lumad” (tribesman) Marcel Lambon, who was allegedly killed by two paramilitary members last August 14, 2014 in Barangay Kalabugao, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

Lambon was gunned down by Dodoy Genton, a member of the Special Cafgu Active Auxiliary (SCAA), and a suspected military asset Maru Sanugan. The victim succumbed to two gunshots from the suspects.

Lambon was a council member of the PIGYAYUNGAAN (a Lumad organization representing the Higaonon tribe of Kalabugao, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon). Lambon led his organization in the campaign against environmental destruction and the expansion of an oil palm plantation in the Municipality of Impasug-ong.

Uy, however, said the military has nothing to do with the incident and that it was a “personal matter” between the victim and those who killed him.

“We have a report from the Philippine National Police who is in-charge [of] the investigation that the reason was caused by a ‘personal grudge.’ The victim had a record that he killed someone and that it is one of the angles the police [are] looking into,” Uy said.

Palabay said that Uy is covering crimes allegedly done by some members of the military.

“The army officer you mentioned (Uy) must be doing a ‘Noynoy Aquino’–feigning innocence on crimes they are accused of while the truth and facts are staring at them in their face,” she said.

“Karapatan and its chapter in Northern Mindanao, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in the region documented several cases of killings, forced evacuation and rights abuses of Gen. Visaya and his men with their trained paramilitary dogs,” she said in a text message sent to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Wednesday.

Misuari surfaces to mark 1st anniversary of Zamboanga siege

From Rappler (Aug 27): Misuari surfaces to mark 1st anniversary of Zamboanga siege

Nur Misuari, who is wanted for rebellion and crimes against humanity for allegedly plotting the Zamboanga siege in 2013, rallies his supporters to mark the first year anniversary of the MNLF's 'declaration of independence'

Fugitive Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding leader Nur Misuari recently resurfaced in a Sulu town to gather his supporters for the first anniversary of the declaration of the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik (UFSBR), the MNLF spokesman confirmed on Wednesday, August 27.

MNLF spokesman and legal counsel Emmanuel Fontanilla confirmed the gathering of rebels and supporters attended by Misuari when asked about a photo of Misuari in full battle gear, addressing MNLF members.

 "Yes, the photo is genuine. It happened on August 12, in Sulu," Fontanilla said.

In an editorial published on its official website on August 14, the MNLF mentioned the event and showed a photo of Misuari attending it.

The gathering took place a year after the MNLF faction of Misuari massed up in key cities in Mindanao in August 2013 to declare an "independent" Bangsamoro Republic. The move culminated in a September 9, 2013 bloody siege of Zamboanga City.

The caption of the photo read: "Prof. Dr. Nur Misuari, Chairman of the Central Committee, Founding Leader of the MNLF and Commander-in-Chief of the Bangsamoro Armed Forces called for the unity of all Bangsamoro freedom fighters in pursuit of the complete independence and national self-determination of the Bangsamoro People from Philippine colonialism."

Fontanilla refused to identify the exact location of the gathering for "security reasons" because Misuari has a standing arrest warrant for allegedly plotting the Zamboanga siege that dragged for 20 days.

Misuari and his followers face rebellion charges of rebellion and crimes against humanity in connection with the 2013 Zamboanga siege, where over 200 people were killed, including 12 civilians, and thousands displaced.

Fontanilla said similar gatherings were also held in MNLF communities to commemorate the siege, including in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. "Gatherings were held in almost all MNLF bases in Mindanao," Fontanilla said.

He said the MNLF is hoping that with the first public appearance of Misuari since he went into hiding, the government would drop the charges and the arrest warrant so that the issues are addressed peacefully.

"We have already abdicated the use of violence and we want to resolve this peacefully," Fontanilla said.

The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the Ramos administration, but the group felt that the Aquino administration neglected them in favor of a rival rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Nur Misuari back, declares independence anew

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 28): Nur Misuari back, declares independence anew

Moro leader Nur Misuari has renewed his call for independence when he resurfaced near the town of Panamao, Sulu province, after months of hiding, a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) official confirmed on Tuesday.

Habib Mudjahab Hashim, chair of the MNLF’s Islamic Command Council, said Misuari appeared before the group’s members and supporters who had gathered in the remote village of Lampayag on Aug. 24.

Lampayag is between Panamao and Talipao towns.

Hashim said some 2,000 MNLF members attended the assembly, which Misuari called for.

“It was a political assembly. As of now, there are no plans to attack,” Hashim said.

He said reports saying that the MNLF was ready to launch attacks to restart a war for an independent Moro state in Mindanao were just meant to  discredit the group, which had entered into a peace agreement with the government in 1996 under then President Fidel Ramos.

On Aug. 12 last year, Misuari also rallied his supporters to cling to a campaign to win independence for the Moro people in Mindanao. He made the declaration of independence in the village of Taglibi in Panamao town, a stronghold of Misuari follower Habier Malik.

Barely a month after that declaration, MNLF gunmen went on a rampage in this city, entering and occupying heavily populated communities.

The occupation of communities by the MNLF was followed shortly by a government offensive that razed homes and businesses to the ground and sent thousands of residents fleeing to evacuation centers, some of which continue to host evacuees.

At least 200 people, including civilian hostages, were killed in the gunfights and more than 120,000 residents were displaced in the terror attack and the government offensive that followed.

Misuari’s men burned and looted more than 10,000 structures.

Hashim said Misuari’s hiatus in the jungles of Sulu “made him stronger.”

“He is healthy now, physically and mentally. He just had some allergies last year,” he said.

Abdulbaki Abubakar, one of those who attended a meeting with the Organization of the Islamic Conference in June 2014 by the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), also attended the Aug. 24 assembly near Panamao, according to Hashim.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said all government forces that were still stationed in this city and other parts of Mindanao “are prepared for any threat.”

“Definitely we should be able to address it if [it’s a serious one] and there are contingencies in place for that,” he said in a telephone interview.

But Zagala said the military had yet to verify the assembly near Panamao and Misuari’s new declaration.

Authorities seeking to keep Kahumbo detained

From the Star Online (Aug 28): Authorities seeking to keep Kahumbo detained

KOTA KINABALU: A notorious cross-border kidnapping gang leader arrested in the southern Philippines may be released if the authorities find no incriminating evidence against him.

Philippine security officials are interrogating Apo Kahumbo @ Mubin Halil, who was arrested armed with a loaded handgun and a grenade on Tuesday at a remote village in Tawi-Tawi province, bordering Sabah.

They said they were looking for any other evidence in his possession that could become the basis for his continued detention.

A Philippine intelligence source said Kahumbo might be out of jail if the authorities did not have anything concrete on him.
“We need to look at some basis for criminal charges to keep him detained,” he said.

Kahumbo was arrested as hundreds of police personnel swarmed his village in Tawi-Tawi, located barely 150km from Pulau Mabul off Sabah’s east-coast Semporna district.

Philippine police said they were trying to ascertain whether Kahumbo was involved in an attack on Malay­sian marine police unit on Pulau Mabul on July 12 that saw the killing of Kpl Ab Rajah Jamuan, 32, and the abduction of Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26.

According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Mindanao police chief Chief Supt Noel delos Reyes said Kahumbo, 44, was apprehended in Sanga-sanga in Tawi-Tawi after he was found carrying a .45-calibre pistol, bullets and a grenade at a mobile checkpoint on Tuesday.

The paper also reported the police’s Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) as saying that it received intelligence that Kahumbo was an Abu Sayyaf member operating in Tawi-Tawi.

Chief Insp Arthur Valdez of the AKG believed that Kahumbo, being a good navigator, was instrumental in bringing kidnap victims from Sabah to Sulu.

The Pulau Mabul attack was the latest in a series of kidnapping raids in Sabah’s east coast since last November.

Suspected Sayyaf men release abducted gov’t mechanic

From the Philippine daily Inquirer (Aug 27): Suspected Sayyaf men release abducted gov’t mechanic

Alleged members of Islamist rebel group Abu Sayyaf have released the chief mechanic they abducted more than a week ago, an Intelligence official said Wednesday.

In an email to, the official, who requested anonymity, said the abductors freed Ronald Peligrin on Monday.

Peligrin was seized last August 14 inside the Sulu Provincial Motor pool in Barangay (village) Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu.

He added that Peligrin was released near Barangay Danag, Patikul, Sulu, where he boarded a passenger jeep in Barangay Danag toward Jolo town.

Peligrin was abducted when the gunmen breached a government compound at night and killed Peligrin’s assistant, Dante Avila, when he tried to run away.

Peligrin was brought to the residence of Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan in Barangay Asturias, Jolo, Sulu.

Marines to pull out of Sulu

From the Philippine Star (Aug 28): Marines to pull out of Sulu

For allegedly failing to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf group and its kidnapping activities, the 2nd Marine Brigade will be pulled out from Sulu and replaced by an Army unit, a source from the military said yesterday.

 The source said the 102nd Army Brigade based in Ipil town, Zamboanga Sibugay province, would replace the Marine brigade. Another army brigade from the 5th Division in Northern Luzon will be brought in to cover the area that will be vacated.

The official said the 102nd Army Brigade was chosen since some of its soldiers were residents or previously deployed in Sulu. “They know the territory and culture which is best for the civil military operation to reach out with the community,” the source said.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of Western Mindanao Command, refused to confirm the pullout for security reasons.

“Any changes will just be implemented without announcements as it will endanger our troops and unnecessarily alert the bad elements,” he said in a text message.

AFP to Misuari: Face the music

From the Philippine Star (Aug 28): AFP to Misuari: Face the music

The military yesterday called on Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari to face the cases against him following reports that the fugitive surfaced in Sulu recently.

“Because of his role in the attack on Zamboanga City last year, Nur Misuari should take responsibility by submitting himself to the rule of law and face the consequences of his group’s actions,” Armed Forces of the Philippines  (AFP) public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said in a text message.

“As he is wanted by the law, he is subject to law enforcement operations led by the PNP (Philippine National Police), supported by the AFP,” Zagala added.

Misuari and 60 of his followers face criminal charges over the Zamboanga siege that left over 200 people dead and damaged around P200 million worth of properties.

The MNLF claimed Misuari had surfaced in Sulu and led flag-raising ceremonies to reiterate the independence of the so-called Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik.

Misuari was reportedly seen in full battle gear as he called on his followers to fight for their right to self-determination.

“The AFP is still validating reports of Nur Misuari’s reappearance in Sulu,” Zagala said.

MILF warns Muslims against extremism

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 27): MILF warns Muslims against extremism

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has warned the Muslim world against the resurgence of religious extremism, even as it likened it to “virus” that contaminates peace and social order.

The MILF expressed the warning after former President Fidel V. Ramos had revealed that some 100 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for training and will return back home to wage destruction.

“The MILF has no verified report about it (Ramos’ claim). In our view, there is more loss than gain for the two groups in joining the ISIS,” the MILF said in its official Web site Luwaran.

“For us, the threat is not in the two groups’ joining the ISIS. Their number is too tiny to be felt and make a difference. The ISIS is overflowing with volunteers from all over the world, including those from the United States, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia,” the MILF added.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has corroborated Ramos’ revelation, saying the jihadists have started recruiting Muslim Filipinos from his turf since July, and he is not condemning it but hoping that they would “fight for religious principle and not hatred.”

In its statement, the MILF said, “the threat really comes from the extremism espoused by the ISIS. Ideas are contagious and infectious. Wild ideas are attractive to those who want adventures… pre-occupied with hatred and revenge.”

The MILF took the opportunity to underscore the need for the immediate creation of the Bangasamo geo-political entity in lieu of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a robust community to weed out the seeds of religious extremism.

MNLF renounces use of violence by ISIS

From the Daily Tribune (Aug 28): MNLF renounces use of violence by ISIS

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) yesterday renounced the use of violence by the Islamic State, formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as it confirmed recruitment of Filipino Muslims by IS in Mindanao.

Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla, spokesman of the MNLF, said  the MNLF will never resort to violence, just like what Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi-led IS is now propagating in Iraq, in its pursuit for Bangsamoro Republik.

“We oppose the Islamic State because the MNLF renounces the use of violence,” Fontanilla told The Daily Tribune.

According to Fontanilla, they have received information of recruitment by IS in Mindanao areas.

“We have received reports that there is (recruitment) but we cannot pinpoint what areas,” said Fontanilla.

Earlier, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said that there were Filipino Muslims from Davao who were recruited by the IS.

Prior to this, former President Ramos revealed that about 100 Filipino Muslims have travelled to the Middle East to train with IS to become jihadists.

In spite of Duterte’s and Ramos’ confirmation of IS recruitment, the military has yet to validate such information.

The IS, which is the subject of United States air strikes in Iraq, now controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria. The group was tagged in brutalities against minorities in Iraq and claimed to have beheaded American journalist James Foley.

Fontanilla stressed that while the MNLF continues to pursue Bangsamoro Republik, the group will only use peaceful means.

The MNLF, Fontanilla said, does not want a repeat of the 1970s in Mindanao where several towns were burned down during the conflict.

“We will never agree to such kind of approach. We will never allow that kind of situation in Mindanao…we will never resort to violence,” said Fontanilla.

“It’s unproductive. It’s a no win situation, it’s like you are entering a boxing match and you’re punching yourself,” he added.

Fontanilla emphasized that the MNLF leadership has reminded its ranks against the propagation of IS ideals.

Navy officer accused of killing cop promoted three times while on the run

From the Business Mirror (Aug 27): Navy officer accused of killing cop promoted three times while on the run

THE Navy wants to take custody of a senior officer, who, despite having been charged with murder 17 seven years ago, managed to reenter the military service and get promoted several times.

Col. Aaron Fetalvero, commander of Navy Base Cavite, has asked Branch 18 of the Regional Trial Court in Manila, for custody of Navy Capt. Marcelo Lampas, principal accused in the killing of Lt. Domingo Piopongco in Cagayan.

Piopongco was a member of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Class of 1997.

On the other hand, Lampas is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1982, the current ruling class in the military, that counts among its members the current Navy flag officer in command, Vice Adm. Jesus Millan.

Lampas, who is currently held at Fort San Felipe in Cavite City, is also being investigated for alleged violations of the Articles of War and Armed Force regulations.

Lampas was recently arrested at Sangley Point in Cavite, where he had been assigned by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for Piopongco’s murder in Aparri, Cagayan, in November 1997.

NBI officials said Lampas managed to elude arrest by deleting “Vicente” from his original name of Vicente Marcelo Lampas and passing off his name as just Marcelo Lampas.

Lampas, together with fellow suspects—Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Melchor Laylo and Dominador Borgonia Jr. were accused of killing of Piopongco on the night of November 19, 1997, outside the Paparazzi Bar in Tuguegarao, Cagayan.

At the time of the murder, Lampas was with the Coast Guard and was based in Cagayan.

Before the killing, Lampas, who was with Laylo and Borgonia had an altercation with Piopongco and two of his classmates inside the club.

After the altercation, Lampas and his group hurriedly left while the Piopongco and his classmates opted to transfer to another place near the Paparazzi Club.

While Piopongco’s group was still inquiring from the establishment if it can still accommodate them, a commotion broke out outside and Piopongco went to see what was happening.

As Piopongco emerged from the establishement, he was met with a hail of bullets from an M-16 rifle that was allegedly fired by Lampas.

Piopongco died on the spot while his two classmates from the PNPA, who were also shot at by Lampas’s group, survived.

Lampas, Laylo and Borgonia were subsequently charged with murder and frustrated murder under Criminal Case 00-186413 before the Regional Trial Court in Cagayan.

Laylo and Borgonio were arrested and jailed in Cagayan. Laylo was later convicted of murder, while Borgonia died in detention. On the other hand, Lampas managed to elude arrest for 17 years.

The NBI claimed that Lampas reentered Naval service by using the name Marcelo Lampas and was even promoted thrice before the NBI managed to trace him.

“This means that Lampas managed to hoodwink the entire Armed Forces, particularly the Navy, by getting promoted three times while he was wanted by law,” said policemen assigned at the National Police general headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

But, while the NBI had already traced Lampas and served the warrant of arrest against him, the Navy, through Fetalvero, wanted Lampas to remain in its custody.

11th MBLT is technically deployed in Zambo- Beng

From the Daily Zamboanga Times (Aug 27): 11th MBLT is technically deployed in Zambo- Beng

Authorities yesterday clarified that the deployment of 11th Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT) troops from Sulu to Zamboanga City is nothing new, as the troops are technically assigned in the city.
Mayor Beng Climaco said the return of the marine troops to Zamboanga City is properly coordinated with LGen. Rustico Guerrero, chief of the Western Mindanao Command and Gen. Martin Pinto, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade and Joint Task Force Sulu.
“Technically they (the troops) have been assigned in Zamboanga City,” Mayor Climaco said stressing that no less than Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang has pointed out that the deployment of marines in the city is to boost Zamboanga City confidence in security.
It was June this year when the 11th MBLT troops under Lt. Col. Nestor Narag  were assigned in Zamboanga City replacing the MBLT 3 under Lt. Col. Elpidio Factor, who has been reassigned to Tawi-tawi. The MBLT 3 has been assigned in the city at the height of the September 2013 siege.
Wesmincom Public Information Officer Capt. Rowena Muyuela said while MBLT 11 is based in Zamboanga, a company-size troop was sent to Sulu a month ago for security purposes. And now the same company is being returned to Zamboanga City.
Gen. Catapang in a recent statement said the reassignment of the marine troops to Zamboanga City will not leave Sulu, as army troops from the 1st Infantry Division and the elite Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG) will be sent to replace the marines.
Catapang noted that Zamboangueños are more comfortable with the Marines, thus, the marines are returned to Zamboanga City.

Exec says banana firm attacked by rebels got no demand letter

From the Mindanao Gold Star Daily (Aug 27): Exec says banana firm attacked by rebels got no demand letter

AGUSAN del Norte––Banana firm Mindanao Agri Traders Inc. (MAI), which leased a Cessna plane burned by the New People’s Army (NPA) on Friday evening, said it has not received any demand ketter for revolutionary taxes from the rebels.

MAI officer-in-charge Romeo Panis said he was unaware of any past or present demand for money by the rebels. “I don’t know if our Davao office received any but here in our office, we have not received any demand so far.”

MAI is maintaining a 225-hectare banana plantation situated in Barangay Soriano, CabadbaranCity, Agusn del Norte.

Panis and MAI security chief Daniel Busbos have called on authorities to step up security measures in Barangay Soriano.

Three guards who were disarmed and tied up by rebels said the NPA entered the hangar rented by MAI at around 5:30 pm on Friday. They said the rebels were wearing police uniforms.

They said the rebels told guards Jacinto Salas Gales, 58, and Jay-ar Acebis Loreto, 27, that they were running after suspected shabu pushers who supposedly went inside the hangar.

The two guards said they allowed the rebels to enter the hangar but as soon as they did, more came and the guards were told that they were really NPA rebels out to burn a plane and the hangar.

Some took videos while others got cartons and sacks, and set the airplane on fire, the guards said.

The rebels burned the plane owned by the Davao-based Philippine Agricultural Aviation Corp., eight drums of Aviation gas, Hangar airstrip, a generator, and chemicals used to spray for the banana plantation.

No one was hurt, and the fire was put out at around 9 pm on Friday.
The hangar was owned by Alberto M. Soriano Banana and Fruit Co..

Meanwhile, Insp. Mervin Suva Laborera, head of the Agusan del Norte Provincial Police Mobile Group, said he and his men heard an explosion at around 7:30 pm that day.

Laborera said they decided not to respond because they feared the rebels have deployed forces near the area.

“We never really expected a NPA attack at the hangar although there were intelligence reports that NPA rebels will attack vital installations in Tubay, Santiago and Jabonga towns. We conducted combat patrol operations days before that Friday evening attack at the hangar,” Laborera said.

CPP/NPA: Duha ka sundalo sa 8th IB PA – POW sa NPA

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Aug 26): Duha ka sundalo sa 8th IB PA – POW sa NPA

Alan Juanito
NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Operations Command (Julito Tiro Command)
Naaresto sa usa ka yunit sa New People’s Army ilalum sa South Central Bukidnon Sub-Regional Command ang duha ka sundalo sa 8th IB PA nga namalengke niadtong alas 5 sa hapon sa Agosto 22, 2014 sa Buntungon, Impasug-ong Bukidnon. Si Pvt. Marnel Tagalogon Cinches, 23 anyos, SN 895243 ug Pvt. Jerrel Hapay Yorong, 28 anyos, SN 895633 kabahin sa usa ka iskwad nga tropa sa Bravo Company sa 8th IB nga nagahimo og COPD sa Barangay Buntungon. Nakuha gikan sa ilang posesyon ang ilang usa ka pistolang kalibre .45 ug mga bala sa M203 ug M16.

Samtang ginahimo ang pagtuki kun aduna ba sila’y giatubang nga mga kaso ug reklamo sa katawhan, giatiman sila sa usa ka custodial unit sa NPA subay sa gitakda sa mga lagda sa balaud sa gubat isip prisoners of war. Among ipadangat ngadto sa ilang mga pamilya ug kahigalaan nga anaa silang duha sa maayong panglawas ug luwas nga kahimtang.

Military foils NPA attempts to attack hog farm in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): Military foils NPA attempts to attack hog farm in Bukidnon

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan De Oro City -– The military has foiled an attempted attack of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) on a hog farm in Libona, Bukidnon Tuesday night, a military officer said on Wednesday.

Army Maj. Christian Uy, spokesperson of the army’s 4th Infantry Division here, said that an undetermined number of suspected NPA rebels fired several shots Tuesday night in the vicinity of the farming village of Sil-ipon in the municipal town of Libona where a hog farm is located.

He said that the NPA rebels simply fired their guns and withdrew to unknown direction when they sensed the presence of the army soldiers in the area.

Uy said that the army’s 3rd Special Forces Command has been deployed in the agriculture-rich town of Libona after the NPA rebels waged a series of raids on various multi-national companies in the area since 2013.

Last Tuesday, the NPA rebels tried to attack the multi-million Ororama Mega Farm in Sil-ipon, the largest hog farm in Northern Mindanao, that supplies a chain of meat stores and mega malls in the premier capital city of Cagayan De Oro.

Uy said that the military has suspected that the NPA was out to attack the hog farm once again after the rebels attacked the firm sometime last year which resulted in the casualties of over 50 hogs.

He said that the military is no longer taking chances after the NPA rebels attacked the Del Monte Philippines pineapple plantation sites and the company’s administration building in February 2013.

Aside from the Del Monte Philippines, the communist rebels also attacked the banana plantation of the Agrinanas Company in Libona last year, Uy added.

NPA rebels snatch 2 unarmed army soldiers in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): NPA rebels snatch 2 unarmed army soldiers in Bukidnon
The communist New Peoples Army (NPA) on Wednesday announced the capture of 2 soldiers of the army’s 8th Infantry Battalion in Bukidnon, a rebel infested province, 800 miles south of Manila.

In a statement sent to the local media, Allan Juanito, the spokesperson of the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Region, identified the soldiers as Pvt. Marnel Tagalogon Cinches, 23, and Pvt. Jerrel Hapay Yorong, 28, both members of the 8th IB based in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

Juanito said that the NPA seized a one .45 caliber pistol, an M16 rifle and M203 grenade from the soldiers who were captured while doing “marketing chores” in Buntungon, Impasug-ong Tuesday afternoon by NPA rebels of the South Central Bukidnon Sub-Regional Command.

He said that the captured soldiers would be treated as “prisoners of war” and would be entitled to all the privileges as mandated under the Articles of War of the Geneva Convention.

“The soldiers will undergo an intensive investigation by the people’s court to determine if they have committed “war crimes” against the people,” Juanito said.

Juanito assured the members of the family, relatives and friends that the two soldiers are in good condition and unharmed.

The army’s 8th IB command has confirmed that the two soldiers had been declared missing since Tuesday afternoon, the battalion spokesperson Lt. Norman Tagros, said on Wednesday.

Tagros said that, contrary to the NPA report, the soldiers were unarmed when taken by four unidentified hooded armed men.

The soldiers were members of the 8th IB’s peace panel team who conduct dialogue with the local villagers in an effort to bring solutions to common problems of the village people by bringing the concerns to concerned government agencies.

“The combined forces of the army’s 403rd Brigade and the 8th IB have already deployed its forces to conduct a search and retrieval operations of the captive soldiers while a crisis committee to negotiate for the safe release of the victims is also formed,” Tagros said.

He said that the rebels seized the soldiers in the farming village of Buntungon, an erstwhile rebel controlled village, who renewed allegiance to the government after the NPA killed town Mayor Mario Okinlay of Impasug-ong after delivering social services in the area sometime in July this year.

Pilots, crew of armed AW-109s to leave by last quarter of 2014 for flight training abroad

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): Pilots, crew of armed AW-109s to leave by last quarter of 2014 for flight training abroad

The pilots and crew of the two armed AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters, which are scheduled to be delivered by January 2015, will leave for their flight training in Italy by the last quarter of 2014.

This was revealed by Navy public affairs office chief Lt. Cmdr. Marineth Domingo in a message to the Philippines News Agency Tuesday evening.

"The pilots (and the aircrew) will leave for their training by the last quarter of the year (2014)," she said.

Training will take place at AgustaWestland facility at Cesto Calende, Italy.

The two armed AW-109s are part of the five helicopters contract from AgustaWestland inked by the Department of National Defense (DND) last year. The contract is worth Php 1.33 billion.

Three of the planes were delivered on Dec. 8 and commissioned on Dec. 20 last year.

The AW-109 is a three-ton class, eight-seat helicopter powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW206C engines.

The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

The aircraft’s safety features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW-109 has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions.

Its superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost-effective maritime helicopter in its class.

For shipboard operations, the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures.

The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW-109 to perform its mission when many other helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.

Over 550 AW-109 "Power" and AW-109 light utility helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers in almost 50 countries.

DND stresses need to establish additional hospitals for veterans

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): DND stresses need to establish additional hospitals for veterans

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Wednesday stressed the need to construct more hospitals for Filipino veterans.

He made this statement shortly after signing the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Enrique Ona on the joint implementation of the Veterans Hospitalization Program (VHP).

Gazmin said the additional hospital for veterans is a fitting tribute to the living heroes of the country and their loved ones.

As of this August, there are 36,281 living World War II and post-war veterans, including retirees of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and an estimated 140,000 legal beneficiaries who are entitled to enjoy health care services from the government.

Taking into consideration the children and parents of post-war veterans and retirees, dependents could reach to as high as 500,000 who are equally entitled to the same benefits.

The DND chief lauded the steps made by Congress in taking cognizance of the need to establish more veterans' hospitals for those who reside in remote provinces with House Bill No. 2225 being deliberated in the House of Representatives, and Senate Bill No. 830 in the Senate, both seeking to establish Veterans Memorial Medical Centers in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Gazmin also appealed to Ona for the inclusion of living World War II veterans and surviving spouses as beneficiaries in DOH’s Universal Healthcare Program for them to enjoy PhilHealth coverage as sponsored members.

“Mister Secretary, there are only 14,013 living World War II veterans at present and who are dying at an average rate of 300 per month. We earnestly hope that this request be given utmost priority so that we may realize the ultimate goal that 'no veteran shall pay for his own medicine'," Gazmin said.

For his part, the DOH chief said that that they are exploring the expansion of Philhealth insurance coverage to all surviving World War II Veterans. “This is a promise we intend to keep,” Ona said.

“We cannot overemphasize the invaluable contributions that our veterans have done to our country that enjoys its sovereignty, and to Filipinos who enjoy their freedom… And because many of our veterans are now in the twilight years and with deteriorating health, the Department of Health is here to address and assist in their share of those healthcare needs,” the DOH chief added.

The VHP is a program that extends hospitalization and medical care benefits to Filipino veterans and their dependents nationwide in hospitals that are accredited by the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO).

The program provides partial hospital subsidy of PHP1,200 per day of hospital confinement net of other applicable discounts up to a maximum of 45 days per patient per year to be reimbursed by PVAO-VMMC to the accredited hospitals. It also gives partial reimbursement of certain select procedures and additional benefits such as cataract surgery, cardiac procedures such as angiogram, angioplasty, pace-maker placement and heart by-pass; endoaneurysmectomy, and chemotherapeutic agents.

In addition, partial reimbursement may also be given to veterans and dependents that need hearing aid, hernia mesh, orthopedic implants and braces and dentures.

Aquino appoints 2 military commanders to Solcom, Eastmincom

From InterAksyon (Aug 27): Aquino appoints 2 military commanders to Solcom, Eastmincom

President Benigno Aquino III has approved the appointment of two senior military commanders to a higher area command, a three-star position, based in Mindanao and Luzon.

The 4th Infantry Division (ID) commander, Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, and 3rd ID commander Maj. General Aurelio Baladad will assume their new positions as commander of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) and Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), respectively, according to Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Matikas” Class of 1983, Visaya had recently survived an aircraft crash together with his Division Inspector General, Col. Alexander Macario, and several aides of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. They were riding a brand-new Polish-made Sokol helicopter when its engines stopped midair some 50 meters after takeoff in Marawi City.

Visaya will assume command at SOLCOM based in Lucena City on September 8, at the retirement and turnover ceremony of outgoing SOLCOM commander LtGen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo.

Replacing Visaya at the 4th ID is Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (J3) Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao (PMA “Maharlika” Class ’84). Lactao will be replaced by Brig. Gen. Angelito de Leon (PMA Class ’84), current chief of Command Center of the Armed Forces.

Visaya formerly commanded the 104th Brigade based in Mindanao and 901st Brigade based in Bicol before becoming the assistant division commander of the 6th ID based in Mindanao.

Visaya is viewed in some sectors as having the potential for becoming the next Chief of Staff.  A senior officer who requested anonymity said Visaya “is highly being considered by the President to become the successor of AFP chief Gen. Catapang when he retires next year."

The general and the President "worked together very silently. The general was the battalion commander in Tarlac who pacified the picketing farmers at the Hacienda Luisita,” said the senior officer.

Meanwhile, Baladad (PMA “Sandigan” Class ’82) will replace outgoing Eastmincom commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III. Baladad will be replaced by Army chief of Staff. Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero (PMA ’84).

Baladad used to head J3 and was acting commander of the Army’s 9th ID.

While Major Generals Baladad and Visaya are often hit by enemy propaganda, the AFP is confident that they are more than able to take charge of more sensitive positions in the AFP. Their professionalism and dedication to their duty and their active campaign to curb insurgency in their areas of responsibility have proven effective in battling the effects of insurgency, and in crippling down the enemy from conducting violence and atrocities against our people,” Catapang said.

Murad to Lumads: “We will not repeat the situation where a majority will oppress the minority”

From MindaNews (Aug 27): Murad to Lumads: “We will not repeat the situation where a majority will oppress the minority”

CAMP DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao – The chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is assuring Lumads (Indigenous Peoples /IPs) in the proposed Bangsamoro that they will not allow them to experience what the Moro people have gone through because “we have experienced being the minority and we know the situation, we know the hardship of being a minority, of being a victim of oppression.”

“We are assuring them that we will not repeat the same situation where a majority will oppress the minority,” MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told MindaNews on Sunday afternoon.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim assures Lumads in the future Bangsamoro that "we will not repeat the same situation where a majority will oppress the minority" MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim assures Lumads in the future Bangsamoro that “we will not repeat the same situation where a majority will oppress the minority” MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Murad said oppressing the IPs and doing them injustice would mean “opening a door for them to wage another struggle against the Bangsamoro people.”

According to an IP Dev 2013 survey among 80 barangays in 12 towns “with sizeable IP population” in the mainland of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the total Lumad population there is 117,189, with the Tedurays numbering 110,559, followed by the Lambangian with 3,139, the Dulangan Manobo with 2,904, Higaonon with 161 and 17 other ethnic affiliations with less than a hundred each.

The ARMM, part of the core territory of the Bangsamoro political entity that would replace it by 2016, has a population of 4.7 million as of 2013, according to the ARMM website.

Murad said the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law has “so many provisions that are addressing the rights of the indigenous peoples,” including a provision for the Bangsamoro government to establish an office or ministry specifically for the IPs, to ensure their concerns are addressed.

Harassment, killings

Complaints have been aired by some Lumad residents in the proposed Bangsamoro about harassments and even killings by armed men identifying themselves as MILF members.

The most recent complaint was aired in a letter sent by Timuay Alim Bandara of the Teduray, Lambangian and Dulangan Manobo Ancestral Domain Claim (TLADMADC) to government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on August 20, about how an armed group terrified residents of Pmogoyon, a community close to Sitio Bahar in Pandan, South Upi, Maguindanao.

The letter, coursed through Froilyn Tenorio-Mendoza, one of two members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) representing the Lumads, said three instances of ambush had been recorded, killing four persons and injuring one, between May 1 and August 10, 2014 in Sitio Behar and that a certain Maliga Alhaj Ali, an alleged MILF member was “consistently behind the disturbance of peace in this area.”

The GPH and MILF peace panels have a mechanism aimed at addressing complaints involving their respective military forces – the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities which was created in 2003 and mandated to monitor the implementation of the GPH-MILF Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities and settle complaints on ceasefire violations to contain and prevent conflicts from escalation.

If the alleged violation is perpetrated by the MILF’s armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the complaint is sent to the CCCH of the government peace panel which then sends a protest to the MILF CCCH, copy furnished the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT).

The same process is followed if the alleged violation is done by the military or police. A complaint is filed before the MILF’s CCCH which then sends a protest to the GPH’s CCCH.


Murad said Lumads who have complaints against the MILF are welcome to visit him in his office.

“We are very open.. even yung opisina ko mismo, we are open for them to come and have a dialogue with us at saka iparating nila kung ano yung mga concern nila,” he said.

Murad said he has been holding dialogues with Lumad leaders and mayors.

On August 6 this year, Murad wrote Ricardo Gunsi, Romano Ariston and Janito Rabelo, IP Mandatory Representatives in Upi, Maguindanao, reiterating his commitment to “protect, preserve and guarantee the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the future Bangsamoro, with emphasis on the rights over our shared ancestral domain, as a reflection of our genuine intention of assuring inclusiveness and promoting peace and justice in the region.”

Murad had earlier met the three representatives in a dialogue. He thanked them for their support to the peace process and ended his letter by saying, “Indeed, peace and prosperity in the region can only be attained through collective positive action and recognition of the rights of all constituents in our Bangsamoro homeland.”

“Give us a chance”

In a speech at the Moro-IP Solidarity Event at the EDSA Shangrila Hotel on May 23, 2014, MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, also BTC chair, admitted that the IP issue “ has been one of the most difficult and complex concerns I addressed as Chair of the BTC.”

“Understandably, groups held on to unshakeable ancestral domain claims backed by clashing interpretation of international and domestic legal and political principles. Yet, a zero-sum, take no prisoners’ approach in addressing this complex issue proved counter-productive and destructive of relationships that are key to building peace in our communities,” he said, adding they made progress “only when we took on a new lens and develop(ed) a new language that will foster unity not division in our communities.”

Iqbal added that with the new lens, “we can now imagine a Bangsamoro where all groups equitably and mutually reap what have been gained in our quest for self-determination on top of rights already enjoyed by each and every person or group.”

“We should focus our energies to weaving our beliefs, laws and rights towards forming a tapestry of peace, unity and progress in the Bangsamoro,” he said.

“Give us the chance to prove that in the Bangsamoro, the IPs have a bright future. This we will prove once the Bangsamoro is in place,” Iqbal vowed.

Murad: “What’s happening here is different from the Middle East”

From MindaNews (Aug 27): Murad: “What’s happening here is different from the Middle East”

CAMP DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao — Mindanao and the Middle East should not be compared because the situations in these areas are different, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said amid claims by a former Philippine president that 100 Filipino Muslims are undergoing training in Iraq with the extremist Islamic State (IS).

“So far we have not monitored any Filipino Muslim who went to Iraq,” Murad told MindaNews in his camp on Sunday afternoon.”

Murad said they are “openly advising our people, especially the young that they should not compare our situation with the situation in the Middle East. We are also advising them not to get involved in that problem and to instead focus our efforts on the advancement of our own struggle.”

He said what is happening in the Middle East “cannot be applied here because we have a very different situation,” adding, “dito sa Mindanao ay meron tayong nakikita na opportunity na ma-resolve itong problema” (here in Mindanao, we see an opportunity to resolve this problem).

Murad was referring to positive developments in the peace process with the Philippine government, with both parties about to complete the final text of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will be submitted to Congress before the end of August.

The MILF and the Philippine government (GPH) signed on March 27 this year the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) after 17 years of peace negotiations and are awaiting the submission of the draft Basic Law to Congress, a major part of the implementation process.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim says what is happening in the Middle East “cannot be applied here because we have a very different situation." MIndaNews photo by Toto Lozano
MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim says what is happening in the Middle East “cannot be applied here because we have a very different situation.” MIndaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Former President Fidel Ramos told ANC’s “Beyond Politics” on August 19, that “the report that has been reaching us retired people” is that “at least 100 of our young Filipino Muslims have already infiltrated Iraq to undergo training to return and be jihadists or militants.”

Media reports on Sunday and Monday quoted Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as saying in his Sunday morning television program that there were Dabawenyos who were among “100 Filipinos” who allegedly went to Iraq for training but Duterte on Monday told reporters that he did not link Filipino Muslims, among them Davao City residents, with the IS.

“I said na may nagbulong sa akin dito … na may mga young Muslims na pupunta ng Middle East kasi makipagsapalaran sa giyera” (I said someone whispered to me that there are young Muslims going to the Middle East to take part in the war).

“I did not say that they will join ISIS,” he said, adding what he fears is thescenario of young Muslims bringing back to the city a “technology of terror.”

Philippine military officials in Manila and Mindanao have, since the Ramos announcement, repeatedly said reports about Filipino Muslims training with the IS in Iraq and Syria have yet to be verified.

The ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), also know as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), was formerly known as the Al Qaeda in Iraq. It renamed itself into IS after declaring in late June this year that it had established a Caliphate, an Islamic state, and called on supporters worldwide to pledge their allegiance.

Salamat Hashim’s reminder
“What is happening now (in Iraq and Syria) is that they’re trying to force people to accept radical Islam even as the people there cannot accept that,” Murad said.

He recalled that the late MILF chair, Ustadz Salamat Hashim would always remind them that “you cannot force people to accept and adhere to strict Islamic principles. Acceptance must be voluntary.”

Murad, however, acknowledged that the recent developments in the Middle East make it even more imperative for the peace process with the Philippine government to succeed.

“The MILF wants the peace process with the Philippine government to succeed because if it will not, then it could be a motivation to the younger generation to follow what is happening in the Middle East.”

The Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were earlier reported to have pledged allegiance to the IS but these reports are “unverified,” according to Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan.

ANC News quoted Tutaan as saying “it can be claimed by anybody who wants to take (advantage) so they can become more notorious, so that they will be feared more since they have links (with IS),” he said.

The ANC report also quoted as saying the military is not dignifying the video posted on YouTube about the Abu Sayyaf and BIFF reportedly pledging support to the IS.

“We do not dignify (videos on) YouTube… A lot of things can happen on YouTube… We are just being careful on our pronouncements before the media because we don’t want to cause undue alarm… These (linkages) are unverified,” he said.

Dealing with BIFF, Abu Sayyaf

Murad said they have been “opening our door” to dialogues with the BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf “if not to convince them to get aboard the peace process, then maybe they can just opt for wait and see attitude for them to give the peace process a chance to succeed.”

“What is important is we can show after the peace process is completed that a solution is already in place. If they see the solution is viable, there is a chance that they will accept the solution,” he said.

But for those who refuse to accept the peaceful solution, “then what is important is we get the overwhelming support of the people because when we get the overwhelming support of the people, those who will not accept the solution to the problem will ultimately be isolated.”

The government and MILF had agreed in April 2012 that “the status quo is unacceptable” and that they would work for the creation of a new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The parties signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on October 15, 2012 where a roadmap was set for the establishment of the “Bangsamoro,” a political entity that would have an asymmetrical relationship with the national government and will run the affairs of the region using a ministerial form of government.

Murad said the dialogue with the BIFF, a group that broke away from the MILF “is still continuing.”

Ustadz Amiril Umra Kato set up the BIFF in March 2010, three months after he tendered his resignation as commander of the MILF’s 105th Base Command. He told MindaNews in an interview in April 2011 that he resigned because he felt he was being eased out and was not defended by the MILF when the military declared his command a “Lawless MILF Group” following the war that broke out after the aborted signing of the GPH-MIFL Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) on August 5, 2008.

Murad said Kato’s group launched offensives in protest of the government’s not signing the MOA-AD. The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on August 4, barring the government peace panel chair from signing the then already initialed MOA-AD.

“All of us want peace”

“They (Kato) have accepted the process even before, kaya lang nakikita nila, ‘parang wala namang patutunguhan ang peace process,’ na ‘niloloko lang kayo ng gobyerno.’ Those are their statements. That shows that even if they are not joining the peace process, they see that if there is a solution to the problem, a real solution, then ultimately they will also join us,” Murad said. 

Kato in the same April 2011 interview narrated that when representatives of the MILF Central Committee visited him, he told them to just continue the peace negotiations, that if something positive comes out of it, then he will respect it. “Lahat tayo gusto ng kapayaapaan” (All of us want peace), he said.

Kato also said he was aware of how critics of the peace process were asking if an agreement is reached with the MILF, will this mean another peace negotiation with the BIFF?

Kato replied: “Hindi kami nangangailangan ng negotiation. Kami kailangan namin ang resulta. Kahit na hindi kami magnegotiate, pero kung makita namin na yun ang hinahangad natin, okay automatic, we will agree. Sang-ayon na kami.” (We do not need negotiations. What we need are results. Even if we do not negotiate ourselves, if we see that what was negotiated is also what we aspire for, okay automatic we will agree. We will agree).

Kato suffered a stroke late that year and has not been seen or heard from since.

Sayyaf man in Sabah raid falls in Tawi-Tawi

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Aug 27): Sayyaf man in Sabah raid falls in Tawi-Tawi

Security forces have arrested an Abu Sayyaf militant linked to kidnappings in Sabah, Malaysia following a raid in the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi, police said Wednesday.

Police said Mobin Hailil alias Kahumbo was arrested on Tuesday in Bongao town. Police commandos and soldiers also seized a pistol and fragmentation grenade from him.

Hailil is also being linked to the killing of a Malaysian policeman Kpl Rajah Jamuan, 32, on Mabul Water Bungalow Resort during an Abu Sayyaf raid in July this year. Rajah’s companion Kons Zakiah Alejp, 26, was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf and is being held for ransom in southern Philippines.

It was not immediately known how security forces were able to track down Hailil, but his arrest came a month after the Eastern Sabah Security Command passed information to Philippine authorities about his Abu Sayyaf activities.

Eastern Sabah Security Command Intelligence Director Datuk Ahmad Nadzer Nordin said at least 14 groups from southern Philippines were involved in cross-border kidnappings in Sabah.

Malaysia’s Star Today also quoted a report by former Abu Sayyaf hostage and Mindanao State University lecturer Octavio Dinampo as saying that Hailil is “an intelligence gatherer for Abu Sayyaf, whose main duty is to identify possible targets for the gunmen to kidnap.”

“As an urban operative, he would be familiar with places like Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Semporna,” Dinampo, who was kidnapped in June 2008, told The Star, adding that Hailil would blend in with the Tausug and Yakan communities in these districts.

“These operatives use their knowledge to identify possible kidnap victims and watch their movements as well as the fast boats to be used in the abductions,” he said, adding, any information from Hailil would enable Philippine security officials to know the inner workings of the Abu Sayyaf.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abd Rahman earlier tagged brothers as Nilson and Badong Muktadil as among those involved in kidnappings in Sabah. The two brothers were also linked to the raid on Mabul Water Bungalow Resort.

Star Today also quoted Jalaluddin as saying that the brothers were part of a kidnap-for-ransom group based in Tawi-Tawi province. They were believed to be involved in the April 2 kidnapping of Chinese tourist, Gao Huayun, 29, and Filipino worker Marcy Darawan, 40, from the Singamata Reef Resort off Semporna in Sabah. Both women had been freed in exchange for a huge ransom.

NPA in Bukidnon claims taking 2 soldiers as ‘prisoners of war’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 27): NPA in Bukidnon claims taking 2 soldiers as ‘prisoners of war’

The NPA is the armed unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and has been waging an insurgency since 1969. AFP FILE PHOTO

Communist rebels on Wednesday claimed to have seized two soldiers in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon, and said they were holding them as “prisoners of war.”

The military has not responded to Inquirer queries on the claim.

Allan Juanito, spokesperson of the New People’s Army in North Central Mindanao, said the two soldiers were seized Friday as they were buying supplies in the market.

He identified them as Privates Marnel Cinches, 23, and Jerrel Yorong, 28, of the 8th Infantry Battalion who were assigned to Impasug-ong’s Barangay Buntungon.

“Recovered from their possession were a .45-caliber pistol and M203 and M16 ammunition,” Juanito said.

He said the NPA custodial unit currently holding the soldiers was investigating the two soldiers.

“While an investigation is being done to know if they are facing cases or complaints from the people, they are attended to by an NPA custodial unit in accordance to the protocols and laws of war as prisoners of war,” Juanito said.

The rebel spokesperson said the NPA had also sent messages to the families of the captured soldiers, assuring them that they were safe.

“We also wanted to tell their families and friends that both are in good health and are safe from danger,” Juanito said.

The NPA has been active in Bukidnon and other parts of Mindanao in recent months.

Last month, a group of NPA rebel sharpshooters killed Impasug-ong Mayor Mario Okinlay for allegedly participating in “anti-people and counterrevolutionary” activities.