Tuesday, September 30, 2014

‘Convergence’ marks Kagitingan Brigade’s reactivation anniversary

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 29): ‘Convergence’ marks Kagitingan Brigade’s reactivation anniversary

Marking the 6th Reactivation Anniversary of the 701st Infantry (Kagitingan) Brigade of 7th Infantry Division Philippine Army is the term ‘convergence’ as uttered by the provincial governor Corazon N. Malanyaon during her anniversary message for the brigade on September 19, 2014.

A strong advocate of convergence, Governor Malanyaon made sure to make it as one of her development strategies in achieving peace. “I have first-hand experience on how convergence had achieved better and faster results than relying on our limited internal resources and capacities,” said Governor Malanyaon.

She cited the Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) as one concrete example of how convergence worked in harnessing all relevant programs of various government agencies to provide integrated support to depressed communities.

In achieving this, she thanked the Philippine Army for fully embracing the province’s development direction and being effective implementers of the province’s development programs and projects.

“We have journeyed together through a program that changed mindsets. We adopted a paradigm where civilian and military authorities pursue undertakings together and work together with other stakeholder to achieve not only peace but also development, peace and development being interdependent – such that there can be no development without peace just as peace can be elusive without development,” she said.

She also cited the collaboration and partnership of the provincial government and the military when disasters struck Davao Oriental.

Meanwhile, guest of honor and speaker, Major General Glorioso V. Miranda, Commander of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, also highlighted ‘convergence’ as an important part of achieving greater strides in peace and development.

He commended the backing efforts of Gov. Malanyaon for peace and order that made it easier for the military to reach the people, especially those in far-flung areas.

MGEN Miranda reminded the stability per se of free-insurgency and ready for development rating of the province. He said that Peace and Stability is an ‘abstract’ that could be a vehicle or a process for development approach although people of different sectors thought of different priorities and mindsets in life.

“It is our duty by all means to protect that ‘abstract’ to reach our vision in enriching our ways of lives,” MGen Miranda said as the Army were supported by the different sectors of society especially this provincial government.

Meanwhile, the renowned core troops of this province under Col. Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr. also expressed their deep gratitude on the non-stop support and efforts of the provincial government. The Brigade Commander re-echoed a statement by a senior army officer in Camp Panacan, Davao City stating that “if all Governors are like Governor Malanyaon, then we would no problems in our country.”

Col. Madrigal, Jr. also acknowledged the Army and Armed Forces’ leadership in providing them the guidance and wherewithal to accomplish the Kagitingan Brigade’s mission. More particularly, he thanked also the different sectors of the civilian community who stand as stakeholders for the strong partnership and full support given to the brigade in all its undertakings.

“They were the keys to the success of our campaign, and we could have not done this without them,” Col. Madrigal, Jr. stated.

Meanwhile, local government officials and stakeholders have been awarded with Plaques of Appreciation. Col. Madrigal Jr. supported that these people unselfishly rendered significant contribution for the Peace and Order undertakings of the government throughout the area of responsibility.


1 killed, 2 hurt as MILF groups clash in Cotabato

From the Philippine Star (Sep 30): 1 killed, 2 hurt as MILF groups clash in Cotabato

A Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel was killed while two others were injured in a firefight between two MILF groups in southern Philippines on Monday, a military official said today.

Major Dante Gania, spokesman of the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division, said the clash at Bulol village, Pikit town in North Cotabato province was traced to long-standing land dispute between the two groups.

Gania said the two groups were engaged in sporadic fighting as of today noon.

He said the Philippine military will not send government troops to the site and that it has coordinated with the MILF's Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities to stop the fighting.

The MILF, the largest Muslim separatist group in the country, signed a peace agreement with the government last March.

The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will establish a new political entity in the restive south as part of the pact, is currently being reviewed by Philippine Congress.


Suspected BIFFs kill two unarmed soldiers in Maguindanao

From GMA News (Sep 30): Suspected BIFFs kill two unarmed soldiers in Maguindanao

Suspected rebels from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters killed two unarmed soldiers—including one who was celeberating his 23rd birthday—in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, the 6th Division of the Philippine Army said on Tuesday morning.

The fatalities were identified as Pfc. Rex Limpahan, who was celebrating his birthday, and his buddy Pfc. Edward Baes.  Both were from the 62nd Division Recon Company.
The two had just lit a candle for thanksgiving and prayer at the St. Therese Church in Datu Piang when tragedy struck.

Armed men who were riding in tandem in motorcycles opened fire as they went out of the church courtyard. 
They were killed immediately as they suffered multiple gunshot wounds caused by .45 caliber and 9 mm pistols and a carbine rifle.
“The slain soldiers went to the church just wearing athletic uniforms to lit a candle and offered a prayer for birthday celebration, we condemn this cowardly attack to our armless men knowing they came from a church”, according to Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of 6th Army Division.
A separate source said, at least seven persons are involved in the liquidation team.
Former St. Therese Parish priest and peace advocate Fr. Bert Layson was saddened when he heard the killing in front of the church.

Some members of the military are calling on human rights groups to condemn the attack as it happened on unarmed soldiers, who just came from church.
The BIFF spokesperson cannot reached for comment as of posting time. The group has yet to claim the attack on the soldiers.

BIFF has not sent men to ISIS, says AFP

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 30): BIFF has not sent men to ISIS, says AFP

Even with their pledge of allegiance to terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters has no links with ISIS and has not dispatched members to join the group, a military official said.

Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division, said Tuesday that they are closely monitoring the activities of BIFF following the group’s declaration.

“There are no activities, except for the pronouncement of Abu Misry Mama showing their support for ISIS,” Pangilinan said.

Abu Misry is the spokesperson of the BIFF.

In August, Abu Misry said that the BIFF supports ISIS through several videos posted on YouTube.

He added that the BIFF has not sent any of its members to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS.

Pangilinan said that even though BIFF does not have links with ISIS it does have links with Jemaah Islamiyah, a terror group that mainly operates in Southeast Asia.

“What we monitored, though, was that these BIFF members are linked with the JI,” Pangilinan said.


2 soldiers shot dead outside church in Maguindanao

From MindaNews (Oct 1): 2 soldiers shot dead outside church in Maguindanao

He was supposed to celebrate his 23rd birth anniversary on Tuesday. But newly enlisted Pfc. Rex Limpahan died in an attack on the same day by suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Piang town in Maguindanao.

Also killed was Pfc. Edward Baes, who accompanied Limpahan to the St. Therese church in Datu Piang to light a candle and offer a prayer for the latter’s birthday.

Both soldiers, who were unarmed at the time, belonged to the 62nd Division Recon Company. They were shot outside the gate of the church by men onboard a motorcycle, around 9:00 am.

The victims sustained several gunshot wounds in the head and body from .45 caliber and 9mm pistols and a carbine.

“The slain soldiers went to the church just wearing athletic uniforms to light a candle and offer a prayer for birthday celebration. We condemn this cowardly attack to our armless men knowing they came from a church”, said Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division.

Another source said at least seven persons staged the attack.

Former St. Therese Parish priest and peace advocate Fr. Bert Layson said he was saddened that the killing occurred in front of a church.

Some soldiers urged human rights groups to take action saying the attack was done against unarmed soldiers who had just come from a church.

MindaNews tried to reach the BIFF, which was yet to issue a statement on the incident.

In Cotabato City, men aboard a motorcycle opened fire and wounded three security guards manning the main gate of the Cotabato Regional Medical Center.

The victims were identified as Ameruddin Sumandal, Sahab Abdullah, and one Mohammad of Goldfield Security Agency.

Police said the attack occurred around 8:10pm Tuesday. At least 10 empty shells from a .45 caliber pistol were recovered from the crime scene.

The assailants took the M-16 rifle of one of the security guards before fleeing.

Sumandal was still fighting for this life in the emergency room of the same hospital.

Police said the motive could either be personal grudge or simply “agaw armas” (arms snatching).


Presence of rebels tops peace challenges in Davao Region

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 29): Presence of rebels tops peace challenges in Davao Region

Continued presence of the insurgency network in communities tops the list of peace and development challenges in the Davao Region.

Regional Development Council (RDC) 11 Chairperson Rodolfo P. Del Rosario revealed this during the second round of the RDC Press Briefing on September 25.

He said that the Communist Party of the Philippine-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CNN) targets farmers, women, and youth, putting at risk 13 percent of the barangays in the Davao Region.

To counter such move, Del Rosario saw it fit to target members of the CNN armed groups in rolling out the priority programs, activities and projects of the government.

“If armed groups have  farmers, women and youth as targets, we must also have them as our targets in pursuing our priority PAPs,” he said in his opening statement during the RDC Press Briefing held at the Conference Hall of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) XI in Bangkal, Davao City.

In presenting the Chapter 8 entitled “Peace and Development”, of the 2014-2016 Updated Davao Regional Development Plan, RDC 11 Vice Chairperson Ma. Lourdes Lim of NEDA 11 revealed the six other challenges to peace in the region.

Ranking next  are the prevention of the CNN resurgence in cleared barangays; sustaining the gains of Peace and Development Outreach Programs (PDOP); convergence in delivering economic and social services;  gaps in skills/ capability and support equipment in maintaining law and order; the disadvantaged indigenous peoples and the lack of judges, prosecutors and halls of justice in newly created cities and municipalities.

To  counter these challenges, the Plan has set to increase the crime solution efficiency rate from 14.10 percent in 2010 to 41.74 percent in 2016; to free all barangays from influence of CNN by the same year; reduce the number of insurgents by 80 percent;  reduce the number of atrocities perpetrated by insurgents by 90 percent;  increase case resolution  rate by Lupong Tagapamayapa; and establish 1,932 schools adopting peace concept by 2016.

Despite the challenges, Del Rosario saw it timely to further invest on peace and development which has presently become an open subject of discussion unlike in the past when such topic was wrapped in fear.

He believed that discussion on  peace has reached its  farthest level with  the approval of the Comprehensive Agreement on  the Bangsamoro (CAB) which consequently has formed part of history.

In the same forum,  Major  Gen. Eduardo Ano, commander of the 10th Infantry Brigade found hope of resolving the insurgency problem through peace talks with the approval of CAB and the progress of mainstreaming the Bangsangmoro in Philippine governance after decades of engaging in conflict with the government.


Philippine Army Commanding-General visited Abra

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 30): Philippine Army Commanding-General visited Abra

Lt. Gen. Hernando DC. A. Iriberri, Commanding Officer of the Philippine Army, visited the province   earlier this month to give his moral support to his men in the field especially those who fought the battle in Brgy. Guinguinabang, Lacub.

In his visit to the 41st Battalion Headquarters in Sitio Barbarit, Tagodtod, Lagangilang, Lt. Col. Virgilio M. Noora, Commanding Officer, presented to  him the high-powered firearms, communication gadgets, various facilities and subversive documents confiscated at the battle scene last Sept. 4.

Iriberri  also visited the soldiers confined at the Abra Provincial Hospital who were wounded when the New People’s Army ambushed them on September 5, while they were on their way to Poblacion, Lacub to deliver the cadaver of an  NPA left by his comrades during the battle on Sept. 4.

Iriberri pinned the medal of valor to the soldiers who were wounded in action and expressed his sympathy to the family of the soldier who was killed in action. He saluted his soldiers for their bravery in defending the freedom and liberty of their countrymen.

Iriberri again appealed to the rebels to surrender because the battle in Lacub is a clear indication that they have already lost the support of the community.

He  also planted a tree upon landing from his chopper in Tagodtod.

Iriberri’s visit was a homecoming of sort as he served  as the Brigade Commander of the 503rd Infantry Brigade here  and worked closely  with community people and the local executives and leaders in Abra.


9 suspects in NPA raid transferred to BJMP cell in Davao Sur

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 30): 9 suspects in NPA raid transferred to BJMP cell in Davao Sur
The nine men arrested for the March 10 raid by communist rebels in Matanao, Davao del Sur, were transferred to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s district jail here on Tuesday.

The order to transfer the so-called Matanao 9 from the holding cells of Padada and Hagonoy police stations was issued by Judge Carmelita Sarno-Davin.

As in the early days of their detention, security was also tight when Johnrey Moher, Jolito Sales, Rofo B Nabundasan, Roger Natunton, Christopher Sales, and Joey Alberca, all from North Cotabato; Noel Alba from South Cotabato; Lodemer Gama Bagumbayan from Davao del Sur; and Reynante Orot Paradise from General Santos City, were remanded to the district jail.

Superintendent Querubin Manalang, city police director, said the police could not take chances as the prisoners were considered high-profile.

Manalang, however, said the transfer of the prisoners was orderly and that no militant group staged any protest.

The nine men were accused of taking part in the deadly raid in the Matanao police station in March, in which two policemen were killed.

The military said they were captured during the pursuit operation against the raiders. The New People’s Army had disowned the suspects and said they were “hapless civilians who were on their way to attend a fiesta in Barangay Savoy in Matanao.”

“They were illegitimately accosted,” Dencio Madrigal, an NPA spokesperson, said. During Tuesday’s transfer, the suspects also reiterated their innocence.

“Naalaan ra jud mi sir (We were mistaken for rebels sir),” Alberca said.

Senior Superintendent Michael John Dubria, Davao del Sur police chief, said only the court could declare if the suspects were innocent or guilty as charged.

“Our job is to make sure they stay in jail until the court makes its decision,” he said.

Dubria said the provincial police office would help secure the Matanao 9 and that a contingent would be sent to the district jail to beef up the BJMP force manning it.
“We will provide as many men as needed,” he said.

Meanwhile, court sources said Davin would be scheduling the arraignment of the suspects soon.


LTC Cabunoc assumes as new AFP Public Affairs chief

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 1): LTC Cabunoc assumes as new AFP Public Affairs chief

Lieutenant Colonel Ramon P. Zagala relinquished his post at 9 am today, September 30, as Chief of the Public Affairs Office, Armed Forces of the Philippines, capping over a year of service as a spokesperson of the military organization.

The post was relinquished to Lt. Col Harold M. Cabunoc, current Commander of the 7th Civil Relations Group, in a simple ceremony presided by the AFP Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Virgilio O. Domingo at the General Headquarters here.

Lt. Col Cabunoc was the former Spokesperson of the Philippine Army and the 9th Infantry Division. A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1994, Lt. Col. Cabunoc is also active in promoting “athlete-soldiers” particularly through his management of the world-renowned Philippine Army Dragonboat Team. He is a recipient of Metrobank Foundation’s The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers in 2004.

Since his assumption in May 2013, Lt. Col. Zagala was at the center of various media relations activities, particularly in critical issues that affected the AFP. His first challenge came from the abduction and eventual release of four Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights immediately after his assumption last year.

He also led the public affairs activities during the attack on Zamboanga City in September last year, where he was deployed on the ground during the focused military operations against the rogue MNLF elements.

Lt. Col. Zagala received the Distinguished Service Star in line with his work during the attack on Zamboanga City. He received this award on November 4 last year from President Benigno S. Aquino III.

He was also instrumental in the successful implementation of public affairs activities during the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda; capture of New People’s Army leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon; West Philippine Sea conflict; and the standoff between Filipino peacekeepers and Syrian rebels in Golan Heights.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Cabunoc will relinquish his post as 7th CRG Commander to Major Emmanuel R. Garcia, current 1st CRG commander.


2 Army soldiers, 1 civilian killed in fresh NPA offensive in Quezon

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 1): 2 Army soldiers, 1 civilian killed in fresh NPA offensive in Quezon
Two Army soldiers and one civilian were gunned down by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Gumaca, Quezon Tuesday evening, in what the military believed was the start of renewed offensives by the dwindling local communist insurgents to reclaim lost grounds.

“They (NPA) plan to conduct an offensive to recover lost areas and their mass base. This is the fastest in their plan,” Colonel Roderick Parayno, commander of the 201st Infantry Brigade operating in Quezon, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The Army official said the NPA aims to frighten local villagers to regain their support by force.

Chief Insp. Romulo Albacea, Gumaca police chief, said that at around 7 p.m. Tuesday, the two slain soldiers, Private First Class Christopher Antonio Dingle, 31, and PFC Alpasain Ahamil Ikan, 32, both from the Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion, were conversing with the other fatality, Rosalie Brillantes, and several other civilians friends inside a nipa hut in Barangay (village) San Vicente when around six armed NPA rebels open fired at them.

The suspects fled on foot towards the mountainous part of the nearby village of Villa Tañada.

Albacea said the soldiers were unarmed.

“They were just talking with local villagers when they were shot,” he said over the phone.

Albacea said the volleys of gunfire hit the soldiers and Brillantes in different parts of their bodies. The three were rushed to the Gumaca district hospital but were all declared dead on arrival by medical authorities.

Recovered from the crime scene were 25 empty shells from still unknown firearms and 10 shell casings from Cal .45 pistol.

Parayno said government forces in the province are ready to repel attempts by NPA rebels to regain their former strongholds.

He disclosed that the local NPA rebels had been attempting to reclaim their lost ground with the help of comrades from Bicol and other parts of Southern Tagalog regions.

“But they always fail due to the active supports of the citizens to the government peacekeeping efforts,” he said.

Parayno attributed the rebels’ diminishing force and influence to the waning support from their former mass base especially in remote areas.

“The NPA could no longer stay in one place for a longer period. Their presence was immediately tipped off by the villagers to the nearest police and military detachment,” the Army official said.

Parayno earlier said the remaining ragtag band of NPA rebels in the province is now down to 23 armed guerrillas. The rebels in Quezon are losing ground due to mass surrenders and continues military operation, he added.

Last August, 26 former NPA guerrillas in the province surrendered to the government. Another batch of more than 20 NPA rebels has also recently surrendered to the military and local government officials from different parts of the province.

Parayno said the rebel returnees are now in the process of being included into the government social integration program.


NPA rebels burn heavy equipment

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 1): NPA rebels burn heavy equipment

The New People’s Army made its presence felt again in southern Negros, when men believed to be its members burned heavy equipment of a private construction firm contracted by the government to rehabilitate and repair farm to market roads in Cauayan, Negros Occidental, Monday night.

Lt. Col. Ariel Reyes, 47th Infantry Battalion commander, yesterday said about 30 armed men, who introduced themselves as NPA members, burned a dump truck and a backhoe owned by the HLJ construction firm in Sitio Buta, Brgy. Caliling, Cauayan. Damage has been placed at P1.8 million.
Reyes said the NPA rebels, however, did not harm the workers of the construction firm, but merely told them that they are going after the heavy equipment owned by Henry Jordan.
The arsonists used combustible materials in burning the heavy equipment.
In previous months, suspected rebels had used improvised explosive devices to destroy the sugarcane transloading station in Escalante City, military records show.
Reyes said the owner of the construction firm may have rejected the demands of the NPA for revolutionary taxes, and this led to the destruction of the two heavy equipment. Citing documents recovered by 47IB soldiers during encounters with NPA rebels in southern Negros, he said the construction firm was among the targets for extortion by the NPA.
The 3rd Infantry Division, that supervises internal security operations in Negros and Panay island, condemned the latest atrocities perpetrated by the NPA.
Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, 3ID commander, said they will continue to protect the citizenry and ensure that development efforts of the government reach the people, especially in the far-flung barangays.”
The construction firm is also involved in the construction and rehabilitation of road segments in Sipalay City, Hinobaan and Ilog towns.
Col. Allan Martin, 302ndInfantry Brigade commander, said their manhunt operation is ongoing and targeting the suspects in the arson activities.
Martin also asked for the cooperation of the business sector in reporting any extortion attempt, to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.

No activities monitored after BIFF pledge of allegiance to ISIS – Army official

From GMA News (Sep 30): No activities monitored after BIFF pledge of allegiance to ISIS – Army official

An Army regional commander maintained Tuesday that they have not monitored any unusual activities after the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Abu Sayyaf rebels pledged support to the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
In an interview, Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division commander, said they also have yet to receive any documents proving that the rebel groups have indeed alligned themselves with the Islamic State.
"Wala pang ganon na ka-concrete na proof, except nga 'yung pronouncement nga sa media ni Abu Misry na they support, and they are alligning themselves dito sa ISIS."
In August, BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama said: "We have an alliance with the Islamic State and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi."
He also confirmed a YouTube video earlier uploaded, showing a purported BIFF leader flanked by armed men reading a statement of support for the IS, had come from his group.
The BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The MILF signed a peace agreement with the government in March.

On the other hand, authorities describe the Abu Sayyaf as a radical group having links with the al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist organizations. 

Defense Chief confirms joint operations vs ASG

From the Zamboanga Today (Sep 30): Defense Chief confirms joint operations vs ASG

Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has confirmed a joint operation of forces in Sulu to fight the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

This amid reports of deployment of at approximately 1,000 troops in Western Mindanao comprising the Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu corridor.

“Magiging Joint Operation ang area ng Sulu, dati rati, puro Marines, ngayon Army, Marines and Philippine Navy, MBLT 4,” said Gazmin during a press conference in Zamboanga City.

Gazmin said that the deployment of troops is in line with an earlier ultimatum to put a stop fo the terroristic activities of the Abu Sayyaf group.

For his part, Western Mindanao Commander Lt General Rustico Guerrero welcomed the additional deployment of troops to Mindanao saying that this was done to strengthen the military’s security profile in the region.

“Everything is for the improvement of our security environment for Western Mindanao so that is augmentation for our current forces here,” Guerrero explained.

Guerrero however refused to state specifically the number of troops deployed stating operational reasons.

Based on earlier reports, one military brigade has been dispatched to Sulu province with two other battalions deployed in other nearby areas.


ISIL’s allure causes worry in South East Asia

From The National (Sep 30): ISIL’s allure causes worry in South East Asia

KUALA LUMPUR // The ISIL militant group’s growing appeal is fanning fears that it could serve as a potent new rallying cry for South East Asian extremists who had been largely brought to heel following past deadly terror attacks.

Authorities in Indonesia – the world’s most populous Islamic country – and Muslim-majority Malaysia have watched with alarm as scores, possibly even hundreds, of their nationals are believed to have gone to Syria and Iraq to join the fight for a hardline Muslim caliphate.

Terrorism analysts are increasingly concerned that these volunteers could import the organisation’s violent ideology upon their return, or inspire supporters back home to carry out deadly attacks.

“There are still many breeding grounds for militancy in parts of the region, and if fighters come back they can strengthen these existing groups, and that’s going to be a major problem,” said Bantarto Bandoro of the Indonesian Defense University.

Already, the Philippine Islamist rebel group Abu Sayyaf has threatened to decapitate a German hostage taken earlier this year, recalling the grisly ISIL beheadings of foreign journalists and an aid worker that caused worldwide revulsion and triggered US airstrikes.

Abu Sayyaf last week demanded a ransom and that Germany cease support for the strikes. The demands have been refused, with Manila dismissing the ultimatum as a cynical ploy to exploit the notoriety of ISIL for profit.

But the group’s actions in Iraq and Syria are drawing troubling comparisons to the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, which drew in volunteer Islamic fighters from around the world to fight the communist “infidels”, including from across South-east Asia.

The hardened militants who returned nurtured a generation of South-east Asian extremists, helping give rise to groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which was responsible for deadly attacks including the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Aggressive South-east Asian counter-terror efforts have since dramatically weakened JI and other militant groups, but they remain a threat.


No serious threat to Pope–AFP

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 1): No serious threat to Pope–AFP


Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang: No serious threat to Pope. AP FILE PHOTO
Except for the mob, there are no serious security threats against Pope Francis’s Manila visit in January next year, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang said on Tuesday.

Catapang said the AFP was preparing for a mob control and rescue scenario to prevent the Pontiff from accidentally getting hurt by the throng of Catholic devotees.

He ruled out any assassination attempt on the Pope from any armed or terrorist/extremist groups here, including supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis).

“We have no information on the Isis so we don’t consider it as among many threats we have to deal with,” Catapang told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo.

He said the Abu Sayyaf’s recent declaration of support for the Isis through a video posted on the video-sharing site Youtube was more of an expression of sympathy than actual support.

Catapang said the Filipino peacekeepers who recently returned from Golan Heights in Israel would be assigned to secure the Pope since this group had been exposed to international events.

He said these peacekeepers would be retrained to prepare them for the elaborate security plan on how to deal with the crowd that will meet the Pope.


Ex-military solon: ISIS yet to establish conduit in PHL for recruitment activities

From GMA News (Sep 30): Ex-military solon: ISIS yet to establish conduit in PHL for recruitment activities

Amid reports the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has begun recruiting Filipinos, a lawmaker said Monday the group has not yet established a conduit in the Philippines where it can channel funds to support possible activities in the country.

Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo, a former member of the Philippine Armed Forces, told GMA News Online that, based on the information he gathered from his sources in the military and intelligence community, the ISIS has not yet managed to recruit a Filipino to join and train with other members of the group in the Middle East.

Acedillo, however, admitted some Filipinos, especially those belonging to rebel groups, may be enamored to join ISIS after watching the group's propaganda videos posted on the Internet.

"There are people who may be sympathetic to ISIS or those who are attracted to the group because it carries a certain appeal to them," he said.

ISIS has become infamous for posting videos of gruesome beheadings on the Internet, with American journalists James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines among the group's latest victims.,

Cultivation of ISIS sympathizers

But while the ISIS has yet to establish a foothold in the country, Acedillo said the government should remain vigilant for unusual activities by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Abu Sayyaf (which has pledged itself to ISIS) as they pose a threat to national security.

"The immediate danger to us is the cultivation of ISIS sympathizers. Once these people manage to be recruited by the ISIS, then it becomes an even bigger problem for us," he said.

The Philippine Army had said that it had seen no suspicious activities from either the BIFF nor the Abu Sayyaf group after its leaders pledged allegiance to ISIS last August.

The BIFF is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) while the Abu Sayyaf is a radical group with ties to the al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist networks.

Inter-agency task force

House National Defense and Security chair and former AFP Chief of Staff Rep. Rodolfo Biazon said the government should create an inter-agency intelligence task force composed of military and police officials, as well as representatives from the National Bureau of Investigation and the International Police Organization (Interpol), to check reports about possible recruitment activities started by the ISIS in the country.

"All efforts by that intelligence task force I'm proposing should be to suppress the possible recruitment of the ISIS among Filipinos," Biazon said, adding that authorities must do everything to nip the militant group's growth in the country in the bud.

Acedillo, meanwhile, was confident the AFP was actively monitoring suspicious activities planned by rebel and extremist groups, whether or not they are allied with the ISIS.

Proof of this, he said, were the intelligence reports regularly released by the military regarding the presence of foreign individuals suspected of training rebels, because they were spotted near the training camps of the Abu Sayyaf and the BIFF.

"These reports allow us to determine the extent of activities carried out by these groups. I think the military is very much capable of monitoring and addressing threats posed by the ISIS," he said.


AFP eyes deployment of add’l Marine troops near Spratlys

From GMA News (Sep 30): AFP eyes deployment of add’l Marine troops near Spratlys

The Philippine military is mulling the transfer of a Sulu-based Marine battalion to Palawan near the disputed West Philippine Sea, citing “territorial defense operation.”

A source said this is being studied by the military top brass in Camp Aguinaldo in coordination with the Armed Forces' Western Mindanao Command.

“That’s being planned by GHQ (General Headquarters) but there is still no confirmation to it. It is still being discussed,” a ranking official said Tuesday.

Palawan is near the Spratly Islands, a chain of islands and islets believed to be rich in oil and minerals deposits in the West Philippine Sea, which is a portion of the vast South China Sea that is the subject of a territorial dispute between China and the Philippines.

A second source said the affected battalion, which is from the 2nd Marine Brigade, will be attached to the Palawan-based 3rd Marine Brigade, an undersized unit with only two battalions or more or less 1,000 men under its control.

“The plan is to pull out one battalion from Sulu and move it to Palawan,” the second source said. “Typically, one brigade is composed of three battalions but the 3rd Marine Brigade in Palawan only has two battalions.”

He added that the 3rd Marine Brigade “needs another battalion to become a full complement brigade.”

The 2nd Marine Brigade, on the other hand, has five battalions. Officials earlier said the brigade will be downsized to pave the way for the deployment of Army soldiers in Sulu, a bailiwick of the notorious Abu Sayyaf bandit group.

Asked on why pick Palawan for the transfer, another source said: “We have the West Philippine Sea [issue], so it's for territorial defense operation.”

The Philippines has a pending arbitration case before The Hague-based UN Permanent Court of Arbitration contesting China's nine-dotted line claim over the South China Sea. Beijing has ignored the proceedings and has insisted on bilateral talks.

Arbitration has become the Philippines' last option in its negotiations with China. Prior to launching a case at the UN tribunal, at least 15 bilateral meetings between both countries were conducted, but Chinese demands made negotiations difficult.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, China and Taiwan all have overlapping claims over the waters – a major trade route teeming with rich marine life and said to be harboring vast oil and mineral deposits.


Ridon: 2 UP students arrested for alleged NPA links tortured

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 29): Ridon: 2 UP students arrested for alleged NPA links tortured
Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon claimed Monday that the two University of the Philippines (UP) students detained last August for allegedly being New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were tortured by the military.

In a statement, Ridon said that he visited Gerald Salonga and Guiller Cadano in their detention cell in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija Sunday where the two students recounted their plight when they were allegedly tortured by interrogators.

“Gerald himself was subjected to a 13-hour interrogation. His captors warned that they would harm his mother if he does not admit that he’s a member of the New People’s Army,” Ridon said.

“At one point, Gerald said he was brought out of the interrogation room and was made to kneel on the ground to feel the dirt on which he will be buried,” the youth representative added.

Ridon said that he is planning to file charges against the arresting officers of the two students.

“We plan to file charges of torture and serious illegal detention not only against the arresting officers but also against their commanding officers and even the highest ranking military and police officials. Gerald and Guiller’s revelation further aggravates the human rights violations committed by these police and military personnel,” Ridon said.

In reaction, the military maintained that they did not hurt the students during their arrest.

Salonga, 24, and Cadano, 22, were arrested last August 9 in Barangay (village) RT Padilla, Carranglan town, Nueva Ecija because they were allegedly the companions of a certain Ely Taray, who is said to have standing warrants for cases of attempted murder and murder.

Salonga and Cadano were slapped with charges in violation of RA 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunitions Regulation Act) and RA 9516 (Illegal Possession of Explosives) as the arresting team found two 9-mm pistols, bullets, two hand grenades and anti-government documents in their possession.


Abu Sayyaf gunmen threaten to kill fish breeder

From the Star Online (Sep 30): Abu Sayyaf gunmen threaten to kill fish breeder

KOTA KINABALU: The wife of abducted fish breeder Chan Sai Chuin fears that his life is now in real danger.

Abu Sayyaf gunmen holding the 32-year-old at an undisclosed location in Jolo island are getting impatient and are demanding that ransom be paid immediately for his release or he might die.

The gunmen told his wife Chin Pek Nyen, 42, (pic) that enough time had been given for her to raise the RM3mil ransom and that any further delay would put her husband in danger.

“They told me my husband is sick and is dying.
“I don’t know if they are telling me the truth but I’m very scared,” said Chin, adding that the gunmen had allowed her husband to make fewer calls to her.

“It’s like putting a bet on my husband’s life,” she said, adding that she was now considering getting public assistance to raise the money to pay for her husband’s release.

“I have only been able to borrow about RM100,000 from friends and relatives so far. I can’t get any more,” Chin said when contacted.

However, Chin hoped that the Malaysian and Philippines governments would help in securing the release of her husband.

Chan was abducted by a group of Abu Sayyaf-linked gunmen from a fish farm in Kunak on June 16.

Marine policeman Kon Zakiah Aleip, 26, was taken about a month later from the Water Bungalows in Semporna.

It is learnt that the gunmen holding Kons Zakiah are demanding up to RM5mil for his release.

Negotiations through mediators have stalled due to the high ransom demands.

Last week, the Abu Sayyaf posted online a threat to kill one of two German hostages in their custody if two demands were not met by Oct 10.

The Abu Sayyaf had demanded a ransom of 250mil pesos (RM18mil) for Stefan Vicktor Okonek, 71, and his partner Herike Diesen, 55, who were reported missing while sailing their yacht from Palawan island to Sabah on April 25.

The terror group also demanded that Germany stopped supporting the current United States-led bombings in Iraq and Syria.

United stand over IS threat

From the Star Online (Sep 30): United stand over IS threat

Hishammuddin in discussion with Murad at his office on Monday.

Hishammuddin in discussion with Murad at his office on Monday.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is serious about the country’s security and agrees with the Moro Islamic Libe­ration Front (MILF) that the so-called Islamic State (IS) terror group should not be allowed to gain a foothold in this region.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri His­ham­­muddin Hussein, who met MILF chairman Murad Ibrahim here, said both of them agreed they did not want the region to be used by IS to spread its influence and ideology.

Their meeting at the Defence Mi­­nistry yesterday came as the United States and other nations widened air strikes against IS fighters in Iraq and Syria while Asean expressed concern over the rise of violence and bruta­lity by radical groups in the two countries.

In a statement released in Bangkok, Asean said these groups posed a threat to not only the people of Iraq and Syria but also to all the countries in the Middle East and, if left un­­checked, to the rest of the world.
Malaysia had rejected allegations it was being used for secret training hideouts and as a transit point for foreign militants.

“I had a discussion with him (Mu­rad) today regarding the IS threat.

“Both of us agreed we do not want the region to be used by IS to spread its influence and ideology,” Hisham­muddin told reporters after the meeting.

He said Malaysia stopped three people who were recently on their way to Syria.

Three other Malaysians were arrested last Thursday as they were about to board a plane to Turkey, en route to Syria, to purportedly join the IS.

Hishammuddin said there were also threats from other groups, in­clu­ding the Bangsamoro Islamic Free­dom Fighters (BIFF), Abu Sayyaf, which had declared their support for IS, and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari, who reportedly planned to form an Islamic caliphate in South-East Asia, that includes Sabah and Sarawak, the southern Philippines, Brunei and Indonesia.

Hishammuddin said in their meeting, he and Murad also talked of the situation in southern Philippines.

He said as Malaysia would be ta­king over the Asean chair next year, he hoped all member countries of the grouping would take part in the peace process.

“We have to be united in this front,” he said.

A Bangsamoro Bill, which seeks to implement the peace pact signed between the Philippines government and the MILF to end decades of Muslim secessionist movement in the region, has reportedly been submitted to the Philippines House of Representatives for discussion.


PHIBLEX begins with a Salute to Partnership, Friendship

From the US Pacific Command (Sep 29): PHIBLEX begins with a Salute to Partnership, Friendship

Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. service members gathered for the opening ceremony of Amphibious Landing Exercise 2015 Sept. 29 at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Naval Forces West Headquarters, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines.

PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by U.S. Marine and Navy forces alongside members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines focused on strengthening the partnership and relationships between the two nations, across a range of military operations, including disaster relief and complex expeditionary operations.

“This year marks the 31st iteration of this exercise,” said U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul J. Kennedy, commanding general of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “On the surface, it showcases our combined capabilities and complex maritime operations. But in reality, it highlights a much deeper union.”

The exercise and training events will strengthen the bond between the two nations, and ensure they are able to work together in an even more efficient and effective way during future real-world operations, according to Kennedy.

"We will hone our military skills together during multiple combined field training events,” said Kennedy. “Additionally, we will focus on improving the tactics, techniques, and procedures in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, crisis response, and preservation of peace.”

While the main focus of PHIBLEX is strengthening interoperability, and ensuring the exchange of best practices and tactics between the two forces, the secondary purpose is to ensure there is a bilateral force standing ready to respond to potential HA/DR needs, according to AFP Rear Adm. Alexander S. Lopez, commander of Western Command, AFP.

“The Philippines is host to 20, 22 typhoons a year…our country is well versed for varying degrees of natural disaster,” said Lopez. “PHIBLEX has been intentionally scheduled yearly in the Philippines during the region’s typhoon season. Together we form an organized bilateral force with the capacity and ability to conduct more rapidly and affect more humanitarian assistance and disaster response (missions).”

PHIBLEX 15 will take place in areas around the Philippines, including Palawan and Subic Bay, and reinforce the structure in those places to ensure a stronger Philippine nation overall.

“A significant amount of the exercise will take place here in the province of Palawan,” said AFP Brig. Gen. Armando V. Banez, commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade, AFP. “We are sending out a strong message of commitment to the people in Palawan, and our country as a whole, as we support nation building and developmental efforts throughout our country.”

During his closing remarks, Lopez took time to emphasize the
importance of PHIBLEX as not just another exercise and training opportunity, but as a chance to build upon already present friendships and strengthen bonds.

“To me, the most significant aspect of the exercise is its social relevance and sustainability,” said Lopez. “Let us not waste a great opportunity to meet new friends and develop a friendship between our ranks – military or civilian alike.”

Inter-agency task force vs IS urged amid persistent reports of jihadist recruitment

From InterAksyon (Sep 30): Inter-agency task force vs IS urged amid persistent reports of jihadist recruitment

Amin Baco, alleged Malaysian JI member and IS follower (photo provided by intelligence source 'Pokemon')

(UPDATE - 3:03 p.m.) A former Armed Forces chief on Tuesday urged the creation of a task force culled from various intelligence agencies to thwart what he said is the “serious” threat posed to the country by the Islamic State and its sympathizers.

Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon issued the call even as a retired police intelligence officer who now helps run a security think tank said foreigners who have sworn allegiance to IS continue to roam Mindanao looking for recruits to their cause.

This was confirmed, also on Tuesday, by a well-placed police source who said four members of Jemaah Islamiyah, including Marwan, who had been erroneously reported as having been killed in an airstrike on an Abu Sayyaf lair in Sulu in 2012, are in Mindanao and actively seeking recruits for IS. The source said they had been joined by a Saudi national named Abudrahman.

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs said 23 Filipinos are scheduled to arrive from Syria, where the IS has seized a wide swathe of territory, on Tuesday, bringing the total of repatriates from the war-torn Middle East country to 5,496.

Biazon proposed that President Benigno Aquino III form the intelligence task force from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation and order it to check reports of sympathizers of IS, which is also called by its former name Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, in the country.

"We cannot ignore these reports," Biazon said at a news conference.
"We have to remember the history of the Abu Sayyaf. Organized in 1979 to fight the Russians in Afghanistan, they were together with Osama Bin Laden, with Al Qaeda, fighting the Russians. When the Afghan war finished in 1989, the Filipinos who joined the war, imbued with Al Qaeda fundamentalism, came back to the country and what happened was Abu Sayyaf was born. What if there are indeed Filipinos being recruited by the ISIS, especially the young people?" Biazon said.

On Monday, retired police officer Rodolfo “Boogie” Mendoza, who is now president of the Philippine Institute for Peace Violence and Terrorism Research, said his group has received reports “from the ground” that some Abu Sayyaf members have been assisting foreign jihadists look for recruits, specifically in the Lanao provinces, the Zamboanga Peninsula and in Sulu and Basilan provinces.

Mendoza, who retired in 2008, is credited with busting “Oplan Bojinka,” an Al Qaeda operation that is widely acknowledged as the precursor to the 9/11 attacks on the US.

The source, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter, said aside from Marwan, the other JI members recruiting for IS are known as Quaim, Mawiya and Abu Saad.

It was not clear if the four work with another JI member, Malaysian Amin Baco, alias Abu Jihad, who an intelligence operative codenamed “Pokemon,” earlier said had also begun recruiting for IS.

Biazon warned that reports of IS recruitment, if true, could affect the peace agreement between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Should any IS recruits who return to the country could pose a threat not only to government but to the new Bangsamoro homeland to be created as a result of the peace pact with the MILF.

Mendoza said among the local extremist groups that have pledged allegiance, or “baia,” to IS are the Abu Sayyaf and the Khilaga Islamiya Movement. Reports say the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, which broke off from the MILF, and the Rajah Solayman Movement, which is composed of converts to Islam, have also done the same.

There were earlier reports that some 100 Filipinos have gone abroad to train and fight with IS, and that two have been killed fighting in Syria, although the DFA has said these remain unverified. And the BIFM has denied sending its men abroad.

Mendoza said the allegiance promised by local extremists to IS is not a minor thing.

“Filipino Muslims are considered members as they pledge their allegiance … this is not (merely) sympathy … this is in compliance to the existence of the Caliphate” that IS claims to have established in wide tracts of Iraq and Syria, Mendoza said.

Such vows of fealty, Mendoza said, are considered for the “sake of Allah or Quital Fi Sabililah Jihad.”

“The expectation and belief of IS (is that) all militant Islamic organizations are now part of the Islamic Caliphate’s army,” Mendoza said.

 “There’s now debate (over which) category Philippine militant organizations belong. Are they adjuncts, branches, support groups or affiliates (of IS)?” Mendoza said.

What is not in dispute, he added, is that IS’ membership is “multi-national,” adding that a jihadist who professes allegiance to the movement does not need to be physically present in Iraq or Syria to be a member.

Mendoza also wondered why the national government refuses to validate the existence of Filipino IS members despite multiple reports from local government units.

But newly appointed PNP public information chief, Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor, told reporters in Camp Crame that all queries about terrorism and IS-related issues should be addressed to the multi-agency Anti-Terrorism Council.


Gov't to hold rebidding for anti-submarine choppers

From ABS-CBN (Sep 29): Gov't to hold rebidding for anti-submarine choppers

The Department of National Defense (DND) will hold anew a bidding for the procurement of 2 anti-submarine helicopters which have a total contract price of P5.4 billion.

The pre-bid conference will be held on October 7 at the DND Bids and Awards Committee conference room in Camp Aguinaldo. The submission of the bids will be on October 21.

The first bidding for the helicopters back in June was scrapped because of the failure of two proponents to submit documentary requirements.

The helicopters are two of the big ticket items under the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program, which is meant to address issues in the security and territorial defense front.

DND undersecretary for defense operations Natalio Ecarma, who chairs the DND-BAC, said the bidding will be conducted using the non-discretionary “pass/fail” criterion specified under the Government Procurement Reform Act.

“The goods being offered must be used by the Armed Forces of the country of origin or by the Armed Forces of at least two other countries…The goods offered must be from suppliers who are themselves the manufacturers,” he said.

The bidders will also have to provide munitions, mission essential equipment, and integrated logistics support, he added.


A year after Zamboanga siege, Misuari still at large

From the Philippine Star (Sep 29): A year after Zamboanga siege, Misuari still at large

A year after the military declared the end of the Zamboanga crisis, Nur Misuari, the alleged brains behind the attack, remains at large.

Security officials previously said that Misuari, the founder of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), is still hiding in Sulu.

They said efforts to track down Misuari are continuous but until now, the rebel leader is still evading authorities.

“Right now, he (Misuari) is in hiding and eventually the law will catch up to him,” Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said in an earlier interview.

The Zamboanga crisis started on Sept. 9, 2013 when followers of Misuari tried to hoist their flag at the city hall and held hostage several civilians.

A series of gun battles between the Misuari group and government forces ensued, resulting in the death of 105 rebels, 11 civilians, nine soldiers and five policemen.

Misuari and about 60 of his followers are facing rebellion charges over the attempted takeover. An arrest warrant was issued against Misuari last October.

Last month, the MNLF claimed that Misuari had reappeared in Sulu and led flag-raising ceremonies to commemorate the independence of what he called as the Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik.

Misuari was said to be in full battle gear as he called on his followers to continue their struggle for self-determination. The military has not confirmed this even as it dared the rebel leader to face the charges against him.

The military, nevertheless, vowed to resist those who seek to endanger public security.

“The victory of Zamboanga will always remind us of the heroism and sacrifices of our soldiers. They risked their lives to defend the city and save innocent civilians from lawless elements selfishly trying to grab power,” Zagala said in a statement on Monday.

“Rest assured the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) will continue to guard against those who attempt to destroy or harm our way of life. Be it Zamboanga or anywhere else,” he added.


Philippine, US service members take it to the hole

From DVIDS (Sep 29): Philippine, US service members take it to the hole

PALAWAN, Philippines – Sports are one of the most common way for people to build upon or start new relationships. While the competition and drive to win brings separate teams together, the overall experience provides the chance for those who were just battling each other for victory to embrace in friendship after.

Philippine Marines and sailors played exhibition games of basketball against U.S. Marines and sailors in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines as a way to give the men and women a chance to get to know each other and become closer outside of work and training settings.

The members of the AFP are with 3rd Marine Brigade, and the U.S. service members are with 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Starting in the beginning of Sept., members of both forces have been working hard and continuously to complete engineering civic action and cooperative health engagement projects they are involved in as part of humanitarian and civic assistance program projects taking place here.

The ENCAP projects improve local infrastructure with new and repaired buildings while the CHEs focus on sharing best medical practices and assisting the local Filipino community with medical supplies and free treatment.

With all the time and work that goes into all of these projects, it is sometimes difficult to get to know new people in a more personal way, but basketball provided just that for several service members, according to U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kenzie J. Moore.

“It’s good to take a half day off once in a while to do something recreational,” said Moore, an independent duty corpsman with 3rd MEB. “It’s a good break especially for the [Philippine and U.S. service members] working at the ENCAPs.”

The first game the forces played was a “fastest to 40 points” set-up with two teams of five people. At the end of the game, the members of AFP came out victorious with a score of 40-33.

“It was a good game,” said Philippine Marine Capt. Reyson Talingdan, chief military operations officer with 3rd Marine Brigade, AFP. “Philippine and U.S. service members are very competitive, and this game was important to build our camaraderie and friendships.”

Whether members were on the winning or losing side, the games served their purpose by tightening the bond between the two forces. For some of the U.S. service members, it has been the highlight of their time in the Philippines, according to Moore.

“I feel it was a great experience getting to represent, in a sense, the U.S. forces when it comes to playing sports,” said Moore. “It was a great opportunity to be a part of this game, and increase our friendship.”

Philippine, US service members take it to the holeMembers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. forces compete in a basketball game in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines as a way to give the men and women a chance to get to know each other and become closer outside of work and training settings. Starting in the beginning of Sept., members of both forces have been working hard and continuously to complete engineering civic action and cooperative health engagement projects they are involved in as part of the community service projects taking place here. This basketball game represented an opportunity to bond in a way they had not had yet up to this point. The AFP members are with 3rd Marine Brigade, and the U.S. service members are with 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony J. Kirby/Released)


Salute: Kudos to the Guam Army National Guard for aid efforts in RP

From the Saipan Tribune (Sep 30): Salute: Kudos to the Guam Army National Guard for aid efforts in RP

Medical professionals from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, local health workers, and the Guam Army National Guard treated more than 1,600 residents during a recent two-day medical and dental mission at two locations in Tacloban City, Philippines.

1st Lt. Fernando DeBelen, a nurse with the Guam Army National Guard, performs minor surgery on a resident from Tacloban City, Philippines, during a recent medical/dental readiness event at Marasbaras National High School. (MAJ. JOSEPHINE BLAS) A Guam Army National Guard medic assists with taking vital signs on residents of Tacloban City, Philippines, during a recent medical/dental readiness event at Northern Tacloban National High School in New Kawayan. (MAJ. JOSEPHINE BLAS) Guam Army National Guard dentists Col. Roger Kaneshiro and Maj. David Marutani are assisted by Guam Army National Guard medics, as they perform dental work on residents of Tacloban City, Philippines, during a recent medical/dental readiness event at Marasbaras National High School. (MAJ. JOSEPHINE BLAS)

Rey Babauta, left, and Keoni Ichihara show their winning moves to rule the Pro Men’s Bodyboard and Men’s Pro Flowboard events of the 2014 Asia Flow Tour held over the weekend at the Pacific Islands Club-Saipan. (Jon Perez) Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Hong Kong-based Honest Profit International Ltd. owner and chief executive officer Sam Chan lead local and visiting dignitaries in a ceremonial shoveling of dirt with Saipan’s lagoon in the background to mark the start of construction for a $130-million, 300-room hotel in San Antonio on Saturday. (Haidee V. Eugenio) Guam Army National Guard dentists Col. Roger Kaneshiro and Maj. David Marutani perform dental work on residents of Tacloban City, Philippines, during a recent medical/dental readiness event at Marasbaras National High School. (MAJ. JOSEPHINE BLAS)

A Guam Army National Guard medic assists with taking vital signs on residents of Tacloban City, Philippines, during a recent medical/dental readiness event at Northern Tacloban National High School in New Kawayan.  (MAJ. JOSEPHINE BLAS)

The medical mission is part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program and helps to strengthen relations between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States. The Philippines is the state partner to the Guam National Guard.

The Guam Army National Guard’s Medical Detachment brought two dentists, one nurse, and a team of medics, who were joined by doctors, dentists, and medical staff from the AFP and the local community hospital to provide dental and medical procedures and minor surgeries to the local residents.

Marasbaras National High School was the site on the first day. Although the rainy weather and slight flooding hampered some from seeking assistance, the medical team still provided treatment to more than 600 residents.

“We really appreciate all that is being done for the people of Tacloban City,” said Basilisa D. Negru, the school’s principal. “Since the calamity of the Typhoon [Haiyan] last year, we have been slowly rebuilding and are very thankful for the help that has been provided by the Guam National Guard.”

The weather cleared on day two of the mission, which was held at Northern Tacloban National High School in New Kawayan, on the other side of Tacloban City, and more than one thousand residents took advantage of the medical assistance available to them.

“These missions provide our soldiers with valuable hands-on training while working side by side with our partners from the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said Col. Roger Kaneshiro, commander, Medical Detachment, Guam Army National Guard.  “It’s very rewarding to help these residents who are still recovering from last year’s devastating typhoon.”

The State Partnership Program is a Department of Defense sponsored program administered by the National Guard Bureau, partnering Guard units from different states with selected countries for nation building, among other projects. It has existed in the Philippines since 2001 and since its inception, over 70 events have been completed.


Salute: Kudos to the Guam Army National Guard for aid efforts in RP

From the Pacific Daily News (Sep 30): Salute: Kudos to the Guam Army National Guard for aid efforts in RP

A Guam Army National Guard Medic assists with taking vital signs on residents of Tacloban City, Philippines, during a recent medical/dental readiness event at Northern Tacloban National High School in New Kawayan. Courtesy Maj. Josephine Blas, Guam National Guard

A Guam Army National Guard Medic assists with taking vital signs on residents of Tacloban City, Philippines, during a recent medical/dental readiness event at Northern Tacloban National High School in New Kawayan. Courtesy Maj. Josephine Blas, Guam National Guard

We commend the members of Guam Army National Guard who assisted more than 1,600 people during a recent two-day medical mission in still-recovering Tacloban City in the Philippines. The Guard members joined medical professionals from the armed forces of the Philippines and local health workers to conduct medical and dental missions in two locations.

The medical mission was part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program and helps to strengthen relations between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States. The Philippines is the state partner to the Guam National Guard.

Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, causing widespread destruction. Thousands died and about 4.1 million were displaced.

The Guam Army National Guard's Medical Detachment brought two dentists, a nurse and a team of medics, who were joined by doctors, dentists and medical staff from the armed forces of the Philippines and a local community hospital to provide dental and medical procedures, and minor surgeries, to the local residents.

"We really appreciate all that is being done for the people of Tacloban City," said Basilisa D. Negru, the principal of Marasbaras National High School, which was the site of the first day of the medical mission. "Since the calamity of the typhoon last year, we have been slowly rebuilding and are very thankful for the help that has been provided by the Guam National Guard."

The Guard's participation in the medical mission follows medical missions performed by a team of Guam doctors and medical professionals. The Guam Medical Association partnered with Philippine-based St. Luke's Medical Center for three medical missions to help survivors of the typhoon.

Guam's community displayed an outpouring of support following the disaster, and we thank everyone in Guam involved in the relief efforts -- the medical missions, groups that held fundraisers, and all those who made donations. These efforts highlight the best parts of our island community -- the care and concern for those who need help so desperately.


AFP augments Westmincom troops

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Sep 30): AFP augments Westmincom troops

ZAMBOANGA. Rep. Celso Lobregat listens intently to AFP Chief-of-Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang in a tete-a-tete before the start of the "Celebracion de Victoria y Paz" on Monday, September 29, 2014. (Bong Garcia)

WESTERN Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lieutenant General Rustico Guerrero said the deployment of additional battalions of soldiers from Luzon to his command is a great help toward improving the security situation in the region.

Guerrero's statement came after the arrival of two battalions of Army forces.

The troops that were deployed to the area of responsibility of Westmincom are the Army's 41st and 21st Infantry Battalions coming from the 501st Infantry Brigade based in Gamu, Isabela.

"I cannot reveal the details (of deployment) but they are an augmentation to our current security forces in entire Western Mindanao," Guerrero added.

Guerrero's command has jurisdiction over the Western Mindanao areas to include the provinces of Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte and Central Mindanao areas.

Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang earlier said that additional troops will be deployed to pursue the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu.

Catapang also led the distribution of the newly purchased rifles to the troops held at Camp Navarro that houses the Westmincom headquarters.


Military denies hand in slay try on activist

From the Sun Star-Davao (Oct 1): Military denies hand in slay try on activist

THE military belied the accusation of the human rights advocates that the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division and Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) commanders are behind the murder attempt on a Davao del Norte activist.

Dexter Ian Librando, 32, among the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) peasant organizers in Davao del Norte, is now in critical condition after he was shot by two unidentified riding-in-tandem men at 4:35 p.m. along 3rd Avenue in Tagum City.

Reports said the victim had just attended the Inter-Provincial Forum of the People's Initiative to Abolish Pork Barrel System (PIAP) when he was gunshot. Librando sustained to two gunshot wounds in his upper pelvic and nape.

According to the witnesses, some suspicious men were seen in the forum following Librando until he left the area. The victim was onboard a motorcycle driven by his colleague heading toward Tagum City when unidentified men shot him.

The human rights advocates believe that the assassination attempt against Librando is the handiwork of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), as the victim had been instrument in the exposition of the military's role in the arming of paramilitary indigenous people so-called Alamara in the province.

Karapatan secretary-general Hanimay Suazo said they believe that it was Major General Aurelio Baladad, Eastmincom commander, and Major General Eduardo Año, commander of the 10th Infantry Division who ordered the assassination given their notorious record in suppressing and repressing the activists' rights.

"The claim of Año that the military is adhering to human rights is a mere stale rhetoric given the rising of cases of human rights violations in the region after he was installed as the 10th ID commander together with Baladad, who are famous for their notoriety against activists Palparan did," Suazo said.

Bayan secretary-general, on the other hand, said the group condemns in the strongest possible term the fascist movement against the activist. She added that the victim has been active in the campaign against militarization of peasant and lumad communities in Davao del Norte.

10th Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Ernest Carolina, meanwhile, said there is no truth about the accusation of the human rights advocates. He added that the division commander has no idea about the incident.

"Yan naman palagi ang paniniwalan nila na hindi na naming matatanggal. But one thing is for sure, we really have nothing against the person (Librando). In fact, the 10 ID condemns such act, at kung sino man ang nasa likod niyan, sana ay mahuli at makasuhan na," Carolina said.

Año already ordered a unit to coordinate with the Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office in conducting investigation on the incident for the possible identification and arrest of the suspects. He also asked the protesters to leave the investigation to the police.