Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sayyaf trots out alleged P250-M ransom

From the Philippine Star (Nov 5): Sayyaf trots out alleged P250-M ransom

Video grab from Facebook shows stacks of P1,000 bills, which the Abu Sayyaf said represents the P250-million ransom paid in exchange for the release of two German hostages last month.
Abu Sayyaf spokesman Muamar Askali has released a video clip showing what the bandits claim to be the P250-million ransom paid to them in exchange for the freedom of two German captives.
Askali, alias Abu Rami, posted on Facebook last week a video clip of the stacks of cash in an effort to dispute reports that no ransom was paid when they freed German couple Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen last Oct. 17.
The video showed the Abu Sayyaf piling bundles of P1,000 bills in five stacks, neatly wrapped in transparent plastic, with each stack estimated to be P1 million. The money was placed on top of a large black plastic bag.
The video clip that ran for two minutes and 57 seconds also showed the militants standing around the money bag with a black flag of the Islamic State in the background.
Some of the militants were overheard counting in the Tausug dialect.
“Al-hamdu-lillah (all praise and thanks to God), we counter the Philippine government that they said that no ransom policy. And now for the sake of the Shariyah Islamiyah, the no ramsom policy will be lost at this moment,” Askali said in the video clip.
Askali also showed a picture of one of the blue traveling bags used in concealing the ransom money.
Rear Admiral Reynaldo Yoma, commander of the Joint Task Group Basulta, the combined unit in charge of the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, refused to comment on the ransom money reportedly paid to the Abu Sayyaf.
Yoma said government troops have been relentlessly pursuing the Abu Sayyaf groups in Basilan and Sulu following the order of President Aquino to get the Abu Sayyaf gunmen behind the ambush and killing of six soldiers in Basilan.
“We will pursue relentless operations but not necessarily causing collateral damage,” Yoma said.
“We are doing our best to catch up with the Abu Sayyaf group and that they will not be able to plan other terroristic act such as what happened two days ago. That is what we are intending to do. That’s the directive from the President so we will see to it that we will relentlessly pursue the Abu Sayyaf group,” Yoma added.

Malaysian hostages safe despite attack

From the Star Online (Nov 5): Malaysian hostages safe despite attack

KOTA KINABALU: Two Malaysian hostages are believed to be safe after a military offensive against Abu Sayyaf gunmen positions over the weekend on Jolo island in southern Philippines.

A Filipino academician, who closely monitors operations against the Abu Sayyaf, said Marine police Kons Zakiah Aleip and fish farm breeder Chan Sai Chuin were merely 3km from where the Philippine air force bombed the gunmen early Saturday.

Southern Mindanao State Uni­versity Prof Octavio Dinampo said Zakiah and Chan were being held at the Indanan municipality along with two other European hostages directly under the control of Abu Sayyaf commander Radulan Sahiron.

He said the military attack – beginning with a gunfight between the gunmen and Philippine Marines at about 6am – occurred near a camp that the Abu Sayyaf had abandoned two months earlier.
“The hostages are being kept together and no longer separately under different sub-commanders,” he said, adding that the change came amid word of the Philippine security forces stepping up their offensive against the gunmen.

Zakiah was abducted after gunmen attacked a Marine police unit on Pulau Mabul, Semporna, on July 12.

Chan was kidnapped June 14 when gunmen took him from the fish farm he was managing in Kampung Sapang, Kunak.

The two European hostages are ornithologists Ewold Horn of Hol­land and Lorenzo Vinciguerra of Switzerland, who have been captives since February 2012.

Treasure hunter Toshio Ito, a Japanese national who was kidnapped in 2010, was not considered a captive as the Philippine military believed he was now collaborating with the Abu Sayyaf.

Philippine president Benigno Aquino ordered his security forces to continue their operations against the Abu Sayyaf until the gunmen were “wiped out”.

Aquino said there were about 200 Abu Sayyaf gunmen and 200 or so sympathisers on Jolo island, which had gained a reputation as the kidnap capital of the Philippines.

“The military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf includes depriving the gunmen of their safe haven by sending battalions of troops to the gunmen’s bases,” he said.


Basilan mayors want military to step up offensives vs Abu Sayyaf

From Rappler (Nov 5): Basilan mayors want military to step up offensives vs Abu Sayyaf

The mayors say they want the hightened offensive because the Abu Sayyaf has consistently threatened peace, security and development in Basilan

All 12 mayors of the province of Basilan appealed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to intensify its operations against the Abu Sayyaf, following the ambush of 6 soldiers, including a junior officer,in Sumisip town. (READ: Basilan's hero: Fresh PMA grad dies in Abu Sayyaf hands)

In a manifesto, signed on November 5, the mayors supported the recommendation of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Mujiv Hataman for the military to launch an all-out offensive to flush out the militants from their hiding places in the province.

"We, the mayors of the local government units of Basilan, strongly condemn in the highest possible terms and denounce the terroristic activities of the ASG," the manifesto said.

Those who signed the manifesto include mayor Rose Furigay of Lamitan City, mayor Gulam Hataman of Sumisip, mayor Tong Istarul of Tipo-tipo, mayor Alih Sali of Akbar, mayor Duri Kallahal of Tuburan, mayor Talib Pawaki of Mohammad Adjul, mayor Darussalam Lajid of Al-barka, mayor Jomar Maturan of Ungkaya Pukan, mayor Muctar Junaid of Tabuan Lasa, mayor Rustam Ismael of Lantawan, mayor Jamar Mansur of Hadji Muhtaman and mayor Indanan Daud of Maluso.

The mayors explained that they have agreed to unite and call for the all-out offensive because ASG has consistently threatened peace, security and development in Basilan.

"We, the local leaders of Basilan, are asking the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to neutralize and intensify its military actions against the ASG to restore peace and order in our province," the mayors said.

But for Amirah Ali Lidasan, president of Suara Bangsamoro, the local leaders of ARMM must be cautious in its "all-out war announcement" against the Abu Sayyaf because civilians might be targeted in the military offensives.

Suara Bangsamoro asserted that intensified offensives are "prone to abuse of power by the authorities and would lead to more cases of human rights violations such as massive displacement of residents, death due to strafing and indiscriminate firing, destruction of properties, exposing women and children to harm."

Lidasan added that the previous all out wars in Mindanao resulted in the displacement of thousands of residents and damage to properties.

On Monday, November 3, President Benigno Aquino III vowed to terminate the Abu Sayyaf and bring them to court. The President however acknowledged that increased military attacks could make the Abu Sayyaf respond more aggressively.

The military however is undeterred. “We have been assured by the military and the police that we have sufficient forces to terminate these ill-intentioned groups,” Aquino said.

MILF: Damakling Professionals hold peace forum on Bangsamoro Basic Law

Posted to the MILF Website (Nov 4):  Damakling Professionals hold peace forum on Bangsamoro Basic Law

The professional sector of Damakling Provincial Committee (DPC) conducted peace forum on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on November 1, 2014 at the Eastern Kutawato Islamic Institute (EKII), Buluan, Maguindanao attended by 340 professionals  from the municipalities of Buluan, Pandag, Mangudadatu,Datu Paglas and Paglat, Maguindanao.
Some professionals from Tulunan , Cotabato Province and President Quirino and Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat also attended the activity.

The theme of the program was “Understanding the Bangsamoro Basic Law: Key towards Comprehensive Solution to the Bangsamoro Question and Right to chart Bangsamoro political future”.

The program started with a recital of some verses of the Noble Quran by Uz.Omar Bagumbayan followed by opening remarks by Director Abdulazzis B. Talib, Information officer of Damakling Provincial Committee.

Sheik Esmail Dalinan , DPC Chairman gave the welcome address where he acknowledged the development initiatives of the DPC professional sectors. He stressed the importance of knowledge as a basic requirement for any undertakings and encouraged the audience to understand thoroughly the BBL.

Thereafter, Professor Taha M. Talib gave the overview of the program.

Prof. Esmael A. Abdula , Member of Steering Committee of  Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) , and   KDFI Senior Program Consultant delved on the current status of the GPH-MILF peace agreement and the BBL.

He enthusiastically explained the importance of the affair and stressed that Bangsamoro professionals should strive hard in disseminating and explaining the BBL.

He also related the colorful history of the Moro Homeland and the struggle of the Moros against colonialism and oppression by foreign powers and Filipino colonial regimes.

He told his audience, “Now is the time to stand in unison; convey to the people that the BBL is the right answer to the Bangsamoro Question”.

He cited salient features of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and said among others that, ”We can now present to the world the peace deal that we entered into with the government as a model for every armed struggle”. With the signing of the FAB and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), we can now hold meetings openly”.

Subsequently, he tackled the annexes and some experiences of the MILF peace panel during consultations with various stakeholders. Abdula also discussed some provisions of the BBL and explained the term “core territory” mentioned therein. He ended his lecture by emphasizing the benefits of the BBL to all sectors, such as (1) Attainment of peace, (2) Economic progress and end of the Mindanao conflict.

KDFI Executive Director Moidjoddin K. Talusob, mentioned briefly Article IX of the BBL on Basic Rights and related it to Islamic point of view.

Dr. Iskak Dilna , School Administrator from the Province of Sultan Kudarat delivered a message and put emphasis on the need for Bangsamoro professionals to pursue higher education, become competent and prepare themselves for the upcoming Bangsamoro government. He also enumerated four principles of good governance such as, Shared governance, transparency, accountability and consultative approach.

The open forum was facilitated by Prof. Ramsan  Bagumbayan.

Prof. Madie K. Salendab, Chairman the Professional Sector of Damakling Provincial Committee at the same time Dean of EKII delivered the closing remarks advising the participants to value what has been learned from the forum as the fruit of the struggle is about to be harvested. He then quoted what Chairman Murad said, that “The chance to govern means the more we have to multiply our struggle, so we have to prepare ourselves for change”.

MILF: Bangsamoro development plan needs P110 Billion

Posted to the MILF Website (Nov 4): Bangsamoro development plan needs P110 Billion

The Bangsamoro Development Agency has finally submitted a development blueprint for the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and development of war-torn areas in Mindanao.  

Officials of the agency submitted the blueprint to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Sunday morning, a move that peace stakeholders said was another level up in the peace negotiations.

During the transition period until the election of officers for the Bangsamoro political entity, the agency said it would be needing P110 billion for the infrastructure, education and agriculture development of areas affected by conflicts.

The MILF will be presenting to the public the plan during the Philippine Development Forum on November 5 and 6 in Davao City. The forum will be attended by President Benigno Aquino III.

In his speech, the agency’s board of director vice chairperson Saffrullah Dipatuan said the Bangsamoro development blueprint was a product of collaboration from different sectors, which started work in March 2013.
He said the blueprint will pave the way for economic growth, human capacity development, and progress.

MILF chairman Murad Ibrahim said the submission of the blueprint is another milestone to the peace talks, stressing that the development program for the Bangsamoro people would pave the way for better social services, job generation, rule of law.

He also said this will resolve the problems of injustice and poverty.

The turnover of the blueprint was witnessed by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and officials from the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, among others.

United States will never be silent in defending allies in Asia

Ang Malaya (Nov 5): United States will never be silent in defending allies in Asia

United States takes a strong position on how South and East China Seas “claims are pursued and how those disputes are going to be resolved,” Secretary of State John Kerry said at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.

He added that agreeing to disagree is not a choice “when it comes to maritime security, especially in the South and East China Seas.”

Kerry said that the US government is “deeply concerned about mounting tension in the South China Sea and we consistently urge all the parties to pursue claims in accordance with international law, to exercise self-restraint, to peacefully resolve disputes, and to make rapid, meaningful progress to complete a code of conduct that will help reduce the potential for conflict in the years to come.”

“The United States will work, without getting involved in the merits of the claim, on helping that process to be effectuated, because doing so brings greater stability, brings more opportunity for cooperation in other areas.”

The US Secretary of State emphasized that good US-China relationship will not only benefit them individually but the entire world. Kerry said that one of the main components of re-balance to Asia is strengthening U.S-China relations. “The sheer size of China and its economy, coupled with the rapid and significant changes that are taking place there, means that our relationship by definition has vast potential.”

Kerry also cleared out that “the United States will never shy away from articulating our deeply held values or defending our interests, our allies, and our partners throughout the region. And China is well aware of that.”


Army gives planeside honors to slain soldiers

From the Philippine Star (Nov 4): Army gives planeside honors to slain soldiers

Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan of the 6th Infantry Division render a salute to soldiers killed on Sunday in Basilan, transported on Tuesday to their hometowns in Central Mindanao via the Maguindanao provincial airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat town. John Unson

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division on Tuesday gave planeside honors to the soldiers killed last Sunday in Basilan as their remains arrived at the Maguindanao Airport en route to their hometowns in Central Mindanao.

Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of 6th ID, said the rank-and-file personnel of the division mourns the death of the six soldiers killed in an ambush by bandits in Basilan's Sumisip town, even as they all belong to the 1st Infantry Division.

“As soldiers we are all brothers. In the big Philippine Army family, losing members this way is painful for all. Death in line of  duty is honorable. As soldiers we have to live by our sacred oath to serve the Filipino nation at all cost,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan led the airport ceremony for four of the six slain soldiers, whose cadavers were brought Tuesday to the Maguindanao airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat town from Zamboanga City by an Air Force C-130 plane.

The four slain members of the Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion, Sgt. Tranquilino Germo, Privates First Class Rolando Entera, Freddie Pandoy, and Mark Singson, got enlisted in the 64th IB through the 6th ID while the battalion was still in Maguindanao, under the division’s administrative control.

Another ambush fatality, Pfc. Raffy Canuto, is from Barangay Pansod in Lebak, a coastal town in Sultan Kudarat, about 90 kilometers west of the 6th ID's command center, Camp Siongco, near the Maguindanao airport.

Canuto’s father, Rudy, 60, said his son last talked to him via mobile phone more than a month ago, asking to be excused from a family gathering on Christmas Day next month.

“He told me he could not make it because of his assignments and asked for an apology. He promised to make up when he comes home next year,” the older Canuto said in Hiligaynon dialect.

The 64th IB, which originally belonged to the 6th ID, was first reassigned to Lanao del Sur from the second district of Maguindanao in early 2010 and eventually became a component unit of the 1st ID.

The battalion was deployed a year later in Basilan, which is under the jurisdiction of the 1st ID.

Germo, Entera and Pandoy are all from North Cotabato’s Aleosan town while Singson hailed from Barangay Manuangan in Pigcawayan municipality in the province.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou TaliƱo-Mendoza said her office will extend cash assistance to the families of her four constituent-soldiers.

“It is but fitting and proper to help their bereaved families and honor these men who had served the country to the point of an ultimate, supreme sacrifice – that of dying loyal to the nation,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza said each of the families of the four soldiers will receive a P5,000 financial package from the provincial government.

The local government units in the hometowns of the victims will also give them burial honors, according to the governor.

 The team leader of the soldiers killed last Sunday while patrolling in Barangay Libug in Sumisip town in northeast of Basilan, 2nd Lieutenant Cresencio Corpuz, Jr., was born in Bacnotan, La Union.


AFP captures NPA camp but loses 3 soldiers in Caraga clashes

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 4): AFP captures NPA camp but loses 3 soldiers in Caraga clashes

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) captured a major New People’s Army (NPA) encampment here but lost three soldiers in other encounters with the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines in the Caraga region recently.

According to regional spokesman Maj. Christian C. Uy, the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) swooped down unopposed and captured the NPA camp located at New Tubigon area in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

Uy said the camp could easily accommodate 100 persons, complete with make shift huts, kitchens, running trenches, listening posts and training ground.

“The occupants hastily fled to a nearby forested mountain before our operating troops arrived,” claimed Uy.

The combat troops recovered war materials including M16 Armalite rifle with M203 attached, improvised explosive devices IED’s), rifle grenades assorted hand guns, blasting caps and voluminous subversive documents with high intelligence value at the NPA camp.

But the military suffered a setback in Surigao del Norte, after two soldiers were killed while another was injured in a running gun-battle with the communist rebels in Little Baguio, Barangay Payapag in the town of Bacuag.

Another trooper was slain in a firefight in  Bunawan, Agusan del Sur.

According to Uy, the first casualty in the Surigao del Norte skirmish was Pfc Jay Ar G. Escaret after a 30-minute exchange with the NPA in the morning.

Then, at around 4 p.m., a second barrage of gunfire between the two sides left Pfc Webster Branzuela dead in Little Baguio.

In another fierce encounter last Sunday in Sitio Maghilot, Barangay Consuelo in Bunawan town, Tsgt Leonardo G. Pilare Jr. of the Alpha Company of the 75th Infantry Battalion (IB), 6th ID was killed after a 35-minute firefight with guerillas belonging to Front Committee 14 of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Party Committee.

“A few days before that series of gunbattles, the 30th IB already received information regarding the presence of at least 30 heavily armed NPA’s in the area,” claimed Uy quoting a flash report from the field, adding: “They were allegedly extorting money and food from the villagers that prompted the field troops to respond.”

And in the aftermath of all these skirmishes, Uy said Army troopers are now hot on-the-heels of fleeing rebels.

Uy added that the NPA side may have also sustained heavy casualty in these battles as could be seen from the long trail of blood that pursuing troops found along their routes of withdrawal.

“Our pursuing troops led by Lt. Col. Arsenio Sadural, commanding officer of the 30th Infantry Battallion are tracking down without let up the rebels’ escape route,” Uy told Manila Bulletin.

“Despite the incidents, our troops will continue to pursue a peaceful initiative in order for development to come in Mindanao. Even if the life of every soldier is at stake, we (in the Army) aim to accomplish this mandate and be pro-active in support of peace and development in the area,” said Lt. Col. Norman L. Alcovindas.


WestMinCom honors fallen soldiers

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 4): WestMinCom honors fallen soldiers

The Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conferred military honors to the six soldiers who were killed in an ambush last Sunday in Sumisip, Basilan.

WestMinCom information officer Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, in a statement sent to the Manila Bulletin here, said WestMinCom commander Lt. General Rustico Guerrero and Naval Forces of Western Mindanao (NFWM) commander Rear Admiral Reynaldo Yoma led the funeral honors inside the Naval Station, Romulo Espaldon in Bagong Calarian, Zamboanga City last Monday

“Today marks the sacrifices that our fallen comrades have made to defend the province of Basilan and preserve the constitutional duty of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Guerrero said.

“We stand as witnesses of the courage and dedication that our soldiers have portrayed to protect our territorial integrity”, he added.

Killed during the encounter were 2nd  Lt. June G. Corpuz of Cabaloan, Bacnotan, La Union; Sergeant Tranquilino G. Germo, Private First Class (PFCs) Freddie G. Pandoy and Rolando P. Entera of Aleosan, North Cotabato, Raffy E. Canuto of Lebak, Sultan Kudarat and Mark Anthony F. Singson of Pigkwayan, North Cotabato.

Wounded was PFC Marvin T. Paragosa who hails from Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

Paragosa is now undergoing medical treatment at Camp Navarro General Hospital, Captain Muyuela said.

On Tuesday morning, the remains of the six soldiers were returned to their respective families.

The formal investigation on the ambush incident started yesterday, according to Muyuela.

Pursuit operations are still on going against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members who were responsible for the ambush-slaying of the soldiers.

“The Abu Sayyaf suffered undetermined number of casualties because of the pursuit operations,”Muyuela said in the statement.


Japan agency vows to support Bangsamoro

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 4): Japan agency vows to support Bangsamoro

The world’s largest bilateral aid agency has vowed to assist the development of priority sectors identified in the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) to boost investments and create jobs in Mindanao.

Speaking during the BDP turn-over and launch in Maguindanao this week, Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) Chief Representative Noriaki Niwa reiterated JICA’s support to the projects identified in the BDP, saying that it is working with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) for a Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CCDP) to assist in the transition to the Bangsamoro government.

The BDP, a roadmap outlining short and long–term strategies for recovery and development of Bangsamoro areas, was crafted by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) through the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA).

Under the Development Planning Component of CCDP, JICA helped craft sector-based plans to complete the Transitional Development Plan 2015-2016 for quick impact interventions in the transition.

It will also assist in the medium term development plan for 2016-2020 geared towards investments and inclusive growth.

Related to this, JICA, together with other development partners, government agencies, and the private sector will participate in the Philippines Development Forum on Bangsamoro this week to help tackle development challenges and issues in said sectors.

Early this year, JICA turned over the updated Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and held capacity building activities to further assist BDA staff in planning. Said GIS database is addition to the Y1.2 billion (roughly P475.6 million) topographic mapping project turned over by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to President Aquino last year.

JICA is an agency of the Japanese government responsible for implementing the technical cooperation, grant aid and yen loan programs of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) to developing countries such as the Philippines.


Fallen soldier’s brother wants to enter PMA

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 4): Fallen soldier’s brother wants to enter PMA

Despite the death in battle in Basilan of 2nd Lt. Jun G. Corpuz, 22, nothing else drives his younger brother 17-year-old Christian Corpuz to join the military but to follow in his footsteps.

2Lt. Corpuz, a fresh graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), was among the six soldiers killed in Sunday’s clash with the Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan.

Surprisingly, his biggest fan – the brother he called “Ian” – was unfazed by what had happened to him and even wants to enter the military.

“He was the breadwinner of the family,” recalled Ian. “Even when he was in the (military) academy, he was the one supported my financial needs for school aside from giving me advice.”

Before that (the clash in Basilan) happened, Ian said, 2Lt. Corpuz was in a cheerful mood with friends and family in Barangay Cabaraoan, this town, last March. They were celebrating his graduation, Ian recalled.

“He’s a jolly person; happy to be around with; and he’s open to all things. He’s not a snob as a sibling and he advised me to enter the PMA and be a soldier like him,” said Ian, the youngest of eight children of spouses Cresencio and Elizabeth Corpuz.

The fourth in the family, 2nd Lt. Corpuz was a B.S. Engineering student at the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University North La Union Campus when he entered the PMA, Ian said.

“Next year, I’ll join the PMA. I’ll be taking the examination for next year’s batch,” he said.


Cresencio, a construction worker, is still in shock after learning of his son’s death through Facebook last Sunday morning.

“At first, we didn’t believe the expression of sympathy and the death of my son, through Facebook. But we confirmed his fate when an army official called us up,” he said.

Cresencio said his son is as a role model, but stopped short of commenting on his other son’s desire to follow in 2nd Lt. Corpuz’s footsteps.

Lawyer Benjamin Sapitula, the president of the Don Mariano Marcos State University (DMMMSU), led the teachers and students from the school in expressing their deepest sympathy to the bereaved family of 2nd Lt. Corpuz.

Sapitula said Lt. Corpuz was lastly visited their school upon graduation from the PMA last March, 2014.

“After his graduation from PMA, he visited our school to thank his teachers for achieving his dream to become an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” Sapitula said.

“We are very much saddened as we lost a good soldier and a soon to be good leader of the nation,” he added.


AFP exec admits military alone can’t defeat Abus

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 5): AFP exec admits military alone can’t defeat Abus

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday branded as a “huge challenge” the order of President Aquino to wipe out the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), citing that military operation alone cannot address the root-causes of the ASG menace.

At a press briefing, AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc,
however, stressed that the military is supporting the President’s call for the annihilation of the Abu bandits.

But Cabunoc was realistic that military operation alone cannot address the ASG menace — particularly in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu, where an all-out law enforcement operation is now ongoing against the terrorists.

“It’s a big challenge…the problem is not only killing those bandits but to address the root-causes of the problem why some of these people prefer to take up arms and use violence…use criminal activities as an income-generating activities, kidnapping,” Cabunoc said.

“We believe that military solution alone could not address the problem. We will support the government efforts in its drive (against the ASG),” he added.

According to Cabunoc, it has been proven before that despite the neutralization of top leaders of the Abu Sayyaf, the terrorist menace continues.

“We have shown, the military has shown in the past years, the known leaders have killed Abu Sabaya, (Khaddafy) Janjalani, but the problem is still there, so there must be some portions of the problem that should be addressed (by other concerned agencies),” Cabunoc said.

“We could not solve all the problems about Abu Sayyaf, not pure military solution,” he added.

Cabunoc expressed belief that the “whole of nation approach” should be adapted to address ASG menace.

On Monday, Aquino said his instruction to the police and military is to conduct relentless operations until the ASG is finished.

“The military and police have assured us that we have sufficient forces to wipe out these lawless elements,” the President said.

“The minimum we can expect is we will not issue daily press releases, keeping score or running total. Our instruction is to pursue the operations without letup until we finish them, meaning arrest and bring to court all members of the Abu Sayyaf,” Aquino added.


Son of Abu Sayyaf leader killed in Sulu air strike – report

From Rappler (Nov 4): Son of Abu Sayyaf leader killed in Sulu air strike – report

Uran Jawhari is the son of senior leader Jamiri Jaong Jawhari, according to the military

ABANDONED CAMPS: The military says the Abu Sayyaf is now on the run. Military photo
ABANDONED CAMPS: The military says the Abu Sayyaf is now on the run. Military photo

Military air strikes in Sulu over the weekend killed a son of an Abu Sayyaf senior leader, according to a military intelligence report.

Uran Jawhari was killed on Saturday, November 1, in sitio Sangay, Barangay Buhanginan in Patikul town, during air strikes that targetted an Abu Sayyaf encampment there.

He is the son of senior leader Jamiri Jaong Jawhari, who has through the years led an Abu Sayyaf subgroup in a number of high-profile clashes with the military, according to the intelligence report.

The encampment was reportedly a site of a gathering of about 150 Abu Sayyaf members a day before the military launched air strikes. The Abu Sayyaf also slaughtered a cow, suggesting that they were celebrating.

The Marines also exchanged gunfire with the elder Jawhari's group in nearby Bud Langgal hours after the air strike that killed the son.

Another Abu Sayyaf member known as "Tula" was wounded, according to the same intelligence report. He is supposedly a member of a subgroup led by another leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Several jungle bases have been found since the military launched attacks in October. On Saturday, the troops were finally able to catch up with the armed group resulting in several clashes.

President Benigno Aquino III reiterated his vow to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf in the wake of deaths of 6 soldiers, including a junior officer, in another Muslim-dominated province, Basilan.

"It's a big challenge," said military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc but added the military is committed to cooperate with the local government unit to end the threat of the Abu Sayyaf.

There are two brigades and elite units – about 3,000 troops – deployed in Sulu. In Basilan, another battaion of Marines – about 500 troops – was also deployed to augment troops there.


'Military hazing' video of recruits goes viral on Internet

From InterAksyon (Nov 4): 'Military hazing' video of recruits goes viral on Internet

Screen grab from YouTube.

A YouTube video clip that was apparently posted on November 1 showing acts of hazing of military recruits or what is also referred to in the service as "unit reception" is going viral on the Internet, to which the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has initially reacted by saying that the top brass is trying to validate the veracity of the material.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, Chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO), told Interaksyon.com: "I have already seen the video footage, but we have to investigate if the material is authentic or not. So, I will hold any comment for now because we have to first validate the material." Below is a screengrab from the YouTube video:

YouTube screengrab

Cabunoc added that if the authorities find out that the video is authentic and involves real government soldiers, it would be worth investigating because "hazing is strictly prohibited in military training."

The clip shows some soldiers garbed in camouflage uniform being beaten with pieces of wood and sticks and even being punched by fellow soldiers also in camouflage pants and some wearing athletic pants and jerseys.

The place where the hazing was taking place has coconut trees banana plants.

The video showing almost continuous hazing activity runs for at least 10 minutes.

High officials acknowledge off the record that hazing in the military and police organizations remain a culture of some units as a form of "welcome" rites to incoming new members.

The practice can also be done as a "unit reception" ceremony for soldiers who are newly transferred in.


Cop in critical condition after clash with NPA in Masbate

From InterAksyon (Nov 4): Cop in critical condition after clash with NPA in Masbate

A police officer was in critical condition after he was shot in a clash with New People’s Army guerrillas in a village on Burias Island, Masbate over the weekend, belated reports said Tuesday.

The reports reaching Camp Crame said on Sunday the rebels attacked personnel of the Regional Public Safety Battalion who had been deployed to Claveria town to provide security during the All Saints’ Day weekend.

Police Officer 3 Johnson Ozaeta was shot in the nape during the 10-minute gun battle and was evacuated to a hospital in Albay province.


5 killed as government troops clash with NPA in Sarangani

From InterAksyon (Nov 5): 5 killed as government troops clash with NPA in Sarangani

Reports reaching Manila on Tuesday afternoon indicated that at least five persons were killed and high-powered firearms were recovered after a fierce encounter between government troops and suspected elements of the New People's Army (NPA) in Barangay Nono, Maasim, Sarangani.

"We are certain that three of those killed were rebels," Maj. Gen. Eduardo Ano, commander of the Army's 10th Infantry Division, disclosed.

Ano said authorities were not sure yet if the two other fatalities, whose remains still have to be recovered, were rebels.

The firefight started at around 2 p.m. between 20 armed rebels and a platoon of pursuing soldiers.

"The rebels were part of an estimated force of 40 NPA fighters that our soldiers were pursuing after a brief encounter earlier in the place," Anos aid.

After the firefight and the rebels left their dead, the soldiers recovered 4 M16 rifles, an M4 rifle, 3 M14 rifles, and a Baby Armalite rifle.


Surigao villagers fear escalation of conflict

From MindaNews (Nov 4): Surigao villagers fear escalation of conflict

Residents of a barangay in Bacuag town in Surigao del Norte expressed fears of a possible escalation of conflict after clashes between government forces and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Sunday.

The encounters occurred in Sitio Little Baguio in Barangay Payapag, Bacuag and left two soldiers killed.

Some 30 NPA rebels first clashed with government troops at around 8:00 p.m. on All Souls Day leaving one soldier killed, Lt. Colonel Arsenio Sadural, commanding officer of the 30th Infantry Battalion told MindaNews on Monday evening.

Sadural said the rebels belong to the Sandatahang Platun Pampropaganda of Guerrilla Front Committee 16.

Another encounter erupted at 4:00 p.m. on the same day in the same place killing one soldier and wounding two others, he added.

Some villagers said they might be forced to evacuate if the hostilities escalated.

“I hope they should stop this because we might be caught in the crossfire,” John Delgado, a farmer from Bacuag said in a text message.

“Unta wala na gira kay hasol kaayo mag bakwit, wala bay ihatag nga maayo ana,” (I hope there will no longer be war because evacuating will do us no good) Dadoy Horod, a Mamanwa from Bacuag said.

Bacuag Mayor Sheila Mae Orquina-Cebedo told MindaNews Monday evening via text message that she received no reports of evacuation after the clashes.

“We express our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of our slain comrades. They were killed while protecting the Filipino people in pursuit for peace and development in the area,” Sadural, referring to the slain soldiers, said.

“They offered their lives for the sake of the people of Surigao Del Norte. They will always be remembered as true heroes and their sacrifices will never be in vain,” he added.


P1.5M allotted for guns for village peacekeepers in South Cotabato

From MindaNews (Nov 4): P1.5M allotted for guns for village peacekeepers in South Cotabato

The provincial government of South Cotabato has set aside an initial P1.5 million for the purchase of additional firearms for barangay-based peacekeeping units in the area.

Board member Agustin Demaala, chair of the board’s committee on public order and safety, said Tuesday such move aims to improve the capability of the province’s 199 barangays in terms of maintaining peace and order as well as in responding to possible security threats.

He said they are targeting to acquire until next year a total of 128 semi-automatic shotguns that will be distributed to Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

The official said the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or provincial board issued an authority on Monday to South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes to work on the acquisition and licensing of the firearms.

Citing an earlier proposal submitted to the board by the Office of the Governor, he said each semi-automatic shotgun will cost around P60,000 each.

The budget for the purchase of the new firearms, which will cost a total of P7.68 million based on the unit cost, was earlier endorsed by the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC).

“These firearms will be issued to barangays that were not covered by the initial distribution last year,” Demaala said.

The local government acquired last year 121 semi-automatic shotguns that were distributed to 121 barangays in the area.

Demaala said they are currently assessing the peace and order situation in all barangays in the province to facilitate the proper distribution of the firearms.

Aside from barangays that were not covered by the initial distribution, he said they will issue the firearms to those that posted high incidence of criminalities.

“We will issue some of the firearms based on the need of our barangays. We will prioritize areas that had recorded security-related incidents or problems these past months,” he said.

Last month, the PPOC endorsed a P10 million budget for various peace and order initiatives in the province next year.

The allocation will cover for the operations of the council, which is the highest security and peace and order policy-making body of the province, as well as the local government’s support to law enforcement units in the area.

The peace and order budget was included in the Annual Investment Program of the province for 2015.


Muslim groups reject all-out military offensive in Mindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Nov 4): Muslim groups reject all-out military offensive in Mindanao

The caskets of six soldiers slain in fierce clashes with Abu Sayyaf militants in Basilan province is being loaded to a military cargo plane in Zamboanga city on November 4, 2014 that would bring it to their provinces. (Photos by Ely Dumaboc)

Human rights group Suara Bangsamoro has warned that a full offensive against the militant group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippine province of Basilan could lead to civilian abuses and destruction of properties, and massive displacement of people.

A battalion of marines were sent to Basilan recently to reinforce army troops battling the Abu Sayyaf in the restive province.

This, after Mujiv Hataman, the governor of the troubled Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao, recommended an all-out offensive against the Abu Sayyaf tagged as behind the killings of 6 soldiers, including a young army officer, in a recent clash in Basilan’s Sumisip town, a known stronghold of the jihadist group and birthplace of the politician.

Amira Lidasan, the group’s leader, has cautioned Hataman - whose elder brother Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman is the congressman of Basilan - in his all-out war announcement against the Abu Sayyaf fearing that civilians will be targeted in the military assault.

“Such policy is prone to abuse of power by the authorities and would lead to more cases of human rights violations such as massive displacement of residents, death due to strafing and indiscriminate firing, destruction of properties, exposing women and children to harm,” Lidasan said.

She said previous wars against the Abu Sayyaf tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya had resulted in the exodus of civilians whose properties and livelihoods were affected by military operations. She said that in 2000, the government ordered a massive military assault, backed by US military forces, against the Abu Sayyaf and the biggest casualties were the civilians while the Abu Sayyaf still continues their criminal activities.

Lidasan also accused Hataman of contradicting himself when two years ago he and the other governors in the autonomous region said “never again” to all-out war policy in dealing with rebels. She reminded Hataman that in the previous military operations against the Abu Sayyaf, there were also reports of military clashes with Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels who are also in the mountainous area of Basilan.

Various Muslim groups also opposed a full-scale offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu province where security forces are pursuing the militants, saying, it would affect and displaced tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

President Benigno Aquino has ordered security forces to sustain the operations against the Abu Sayyaf group and at the same time said the government is also trying to bring progress to the region by constructing infrastructure.

“Ina-assure tayo ng ating militar at kapulisan na supisiyente ang ating mga pwersa para malipol itong mga masasamang-loob na ito,” Aquino said.

He said the military has deployed several infantry battalions to sustain the operations against the Abu Sayyaf which is still holding more than a dozen Filipino and foreign hostages in Mindanao. “Kapag several (battalions), hindi one or two, hindi three – several battalions composed of some of our most elite forces and the regular line infantry battalions, are going to all of these mountain lairs and very heavily wooded jungle and dense areas to precisely deprive them of (their) safe havens,” he said.


3 NPA insurgents killed in Sarangani clash

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Nov 4): 3 NPA insurgents killed in Sarangani clash

Government troops killed three communist insurgents in a clash Tuesday in Sarangani province in southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said troops also recovered 9 automatic weapons following the firefight in the village of Nomoh in the town of Maasim. The fighting erupted after patrolling soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion encountered a group of New People’s Army rebels in the village.

Just recently, members of the 9th Special Forces Company also clashed with rebels and captured their camp in the village of New Tubigon in Agusan del Sur’s Sibagat town.

The soldiers also recovered one M16 rifle, two grenade launchers, and an improvised explosive device and assorted ammunition, including communication equipment, personal belongings and subversive documents.

The NPA has been fighting for decades now for the establishment of a separate state in the country.