Sunday, November 9, 2014

CBCP not keen on mediating for resumption of govt-NDF peace talks

From GMA News (Nov 9): CBCP not keen on mediating for resumption of govt-NDF peace talks

Citing questions about the National Democratic Front's sincerity and command over communist New People's Army rebels, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on Sunday said it will not mediate for the resumption of peace talks between the NDF and the government.

But CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Socrates Villegas said the bishops will continue to pray for the peace process.

"The CBCP for its part categorically states that it cannot take in the role of initiating, convening, mediating or presiding over a dialogue between the National Democratic Front and government representatives. We are of the firm persuasion that under the present circumstances, this cannot be part of our ecclesial mandate as an episcopal conference," he said in a statement.

While Villegas' statement indicated the CBCP was requested to mediate, he did not indicate who made the request.

In April 2013, the Philippine government ended formal peace talks with the Communist Part of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF)

The CPP said later that year that it would no longer engage in peace talks with the Philippine government under the Aquino administration.

Villegas said that while the NDF claims to be the umbrella organization, its cohesiveness is questionable as it appears to be caught off guard at times about the NPA's activities.

"We have been informed by members of the government peace panel that they were under the impression that many of the attacks and raids conducted on the local fronts were hardly ever known and -- if ever -- only belatedly acknowledged by Utrecht leaders," he said.

Also, he said that while the government has repeatedly acceded to peace talks by appointing top-level negotiators and requesting the involvement of foreign governments like Norway, "none of these prolonged, and expensive negotiations have borne substantial fruit."

Worse, he said ceasefires "have regrettably been used by the rebel forces to recruit membership especially in far flung barangays that have had to labor under the burden of supplying food and sustenance to the members of he New People's Army."

"And while insurgents complain that some of their leaders have been arrested while on safe-conduct passes, it is our understanding that such passes were issued to allow their representatives to attend negotiations and conferences, and not for the purpose of consolidating membership," he said.

Besides, he said that when the CBCP mediates or initiates negotiation, "it does so at all times as herald of the Gospel and servant of the Kingdom of God."

"Truth and justice are therefore its primary and non-negotiable guideposts, and when it does not find these present, or when, in its discernment, made in prayer and docility to the prompting of the Spirit, it does not find a disposition to sincerity and trustworthiness in the parties to the dialogue, the CBCP will not lend itself to a fruitless exercise or to a charade visited on the entire country," he added.

On the other hand, Villegas said the bishops will continue to pray for a peaceful resolution to this long-festering problem of insurgency in the country.

He said that while recent historical events proved the impracticability of socialist societies as the now-defunct Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Pope Francis has also taught that unbridled and unprincipled capitalism cannot be any better "and is as exploitative and oppressive particularly on the marginalized."

"We encourage qualified lay persons to contribute to the dialogue and to foster that spirit of openness and sincerity that alone can make negotiations promising," he said.

Rebel killed, soldier wounded in Negros clash

From InterAksyon (Nov 9): Rebel killed, soldier wounded in Negros clash

A communist rebel was killed and a soldier wounded in a clash in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental Sunday morning, the military said.

Lieutenant Colonel Paulito Idul, commander of the 11th Infantry Battalion, said troops led by 1st Lieutenant Chino Cornelio were patrolling in Barangay Maniac when seven rebels believed to belong to the New People’s Army’s Central Negros Front fired on them around 9:50 a.m., triggering a 20-minute firefight.

Private First Class Jennifer Carbajosa was slightly wounded on the forehead in the encounter.

The identity of the slain rebel, who was left behind by his retreating comrades, was not disclosed.

The troops also found the rebels’ encampment and seized a KG-9 submachinegun, four backpacks, training materials and medical supplies.

New weapons, gears with AFP's P87-B modernization

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Nov 9): New weapons, gears with AFP's P87-B modernization

WITH the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) already in place, expect soldiers to carry around new assault rifles and gears soon.
M16 OUT, M4 rifle in.

The recent upgrading of the military’s weapons and war materiel started during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who approved the allocation of some P30 billion for the AFP.

Under the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, the budget for the modernization is now pegged at P87 billion, said Major General Oscar Lactao,
commanding general of the Philippine Army’s (PA) 4th Infantry Division (4ID).

Lactao said of the total amount, P10 billion will go to the PA and it is spent for the purchase of about 54,000 pieces of M4 rifles, replacing the M16, to be issued to all the Filipino soldiers, and other armaments and supplies.

Manufactured in 1956, the M16 had become the firearm of choice by the United States military starting in the Vietnam War in the 1960s up until recently.

He said the M4, produced in 1994, is shorter and therefore easier for soldiers to move around, but has longer range at about 400 meters. The M16 can only hit a target of about 150 meters.

The military has also acquired K3 machine guns, armor vests, tanks, mortars, artillery, additional radio with encryption system and a handful of jetfighters. Most of these purchases come from South Korea. The jetfighters alone cost P18 billion.

He said the modernization of the country’s armed forces took some time before it can be realized since it has to undergo a long process.

“Hindi ganun kabilis, it’s not like buying from a sari-sari store,” Lactao said, referring to the procurement of weapons and supplies.

He said the minimum period of purchasing is two years, which, according to him, is not really long. “Yung mga iba aabot pa nga ng seven years.”

With these upgrading, Lactao said the AFP has intensified its capability to fight groups that pose a threat to the national security, especially the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Kaya naman natin ang NPA (We can handle the NPA). Your armed forces can still fight the NPA,” he said.

NPA camp overran

Meanwhile, the 4ID’s 401st Infantry Brigade has reported an NPA regional headquarters in Sitio Hebron, Barangay Tubigon, Sibagat own, Agusan del Sur was overran by soldiers recently.

In a statement e-mailed to this paper Sunday, Captain Jasper Gacayan, 401IB public affairs officer, said a platoon of the 9th Special Forces Company of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion caught the members of the NPA’s Regional Sentro de Grabidad (RSDG) under the Northeastern Mindanao Regional Command by surprise during an attack.

Gacayan said the Maoist insurgents were in the middle of a ceremony honoring their dead comrades when the soldiers swooped down on their encampment. The military and the NPA engaged in exchange of fire for about 30 minutes.

Situated at the peak of Makalo mountain range, the NPA camp has an estimated land area of about 15,000 square meters with 81 bunkers made out of tent and wooden beds, along with five multipurpose halls that serve as their kitchen and lecture room which can accommodate 30 people, he said.

“Around 80 [NPAs] occupying the camp fled in different direction during the attack. They also dragged their killed and wounded comrades during their escape,” Gacayan said.

Recovered by government troops from the site were an M16 rifle with M203 grenade launcher, an improvised grenade launcher, one portable generator set, improvised explosive devices, two .45 caliber pistols, five handheld radios, documents and other materials.

“The Communist NPA in the provinces of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur are now gradually losing the people’s support; they are always in a defensive mode. We will sustain our momentum to wipe them out,” Colonel Gregory Cayetano, 401IB brigade commander, said.

“However we will still give them a chance if they’ll opt to go back into the fold of law,” Cayetano added.

Abandoned Sulu camp found Sunday proof Abu Sayyaf on the run - military commander

From InterAksyon (Nov 9): Abandoned Sulu camp found Sunday proof Abu Sayyaf on the run - military commander

Another abandoned Abu Sayyaf camp was discovered by Army troopers in Patikul, Sulu Sunday morning, proof that government operations are keeping the extremists on the run, the military commander on the southern province said.

Colonel Allan Arrojado, commander of Joint Task Group Sulu, said the camp in Barangay Danag found by troops of the 35th Infantry Battalion around 9:30 a.m. had six bunkers and a “training area,” and was believed last occupied “a week ago by more or less 30 men.”

Aside from combat uniforms, Arrojado said the soldiers also retrieved two flags, one with the markings “Sultaniyah Sulu Darul Islam,” the other saying “Happy 60rth Founding Anniversary, Sulu Darul Islam,” and documents.

The military mounted operations soon after the Abu Sayyaf released kidnapped Germans Viktor Stefan Okonek and Henrike Dielen in mid-October.

However, while maintaining that the operations were keeping the extremists on the run, the military has yet to initiate any contact with their targets.

Arrojado acknowledged this, explaining that the Abu Sayyaf enjoyed substantial support from communities where they operate.

Mahirap talaga … community ‘yung kalaban natin, suporta nila, nand’yan ‘yung mga barangay na ‘yan, d’yan sila nabubuhay (It’s really difficult … our enemy is the community, their support, there are these villages there, it is where they live),” he said.

Arrojado also said that the Abu Sayyaf band they are pursuing had split up into four groups, with one group of about 70 gunmen led by Radullan Sahiron believed to be holding around 10 hostages, including foreigners.

When the splintered groups converge, he said, they would number around 200 gunmen.

Despite the lack of contact with the gunmen, Arrojado said, “importante hindi sila makapahinga (what is important is that they cannot rest),” so the military can eventually catch up with them.

He added that the pursuit operations also allowed the troops to familiarize themselves with the area.

Arrojado also acknowledged that, aside from their intimate knowledge of the terrain, the extremists also receive warning of approaching troops from their civilian supporters.

‘Abu Sayyaf to eventually tire out due to AFP’s non-stop manhunt’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 9): ‘Abu Sayyaf to eventually tire out due to AFP’s non-stop manhunt’

The military is continuing its pursuit of the Abu Sayyaf group as it discovered another abandoned enemy camp in Patikul, Sulu, on Sunday morning.

Col. Allan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said troops from the 35th Infantry Battalion found at around 9:30 a.m. the camp where combat uniforms, documents and flags were recovered.

The camp, equipped with six bunkers and a training area, was believed to have been last occupied a week ago by around 30 men.

Arrojado said the two recovered flags had the markings “Sultaniyah Sulu Darul Islam” and “Happy 60th Founding Anniversary Sulu Darul Islam.”

He said that as of Sunday, troops were still scouring the area as part of the military and police’s all-out law enforcement operations against the terrorist group.

Arrojado said the Abu Sayyaf group has been running out of food and places to hide as the military has been pursuing its members, non-stop.

“If the bandits converge together, they can reach around 200. They splinter into four sub groups. One has 40 members, another has 30, one has 70 and Radullan Sahiron has 70,” he said.

He said there would be no let-up in the campaign as the military scoured the Patikul area and the Talipao mountain range where the bandits were believed to be hiding.

“What is important is that they have no time to rest. They will get tired of being on the run and the troops will catch them,” Arrojado said.

The Joint Task Group Sulu commander said the Abu Sayyaf’s abandonment of its camp and temporary encampment showed that the bandits were on the run.

In previous weeks, temporary encampments of the Abu Sayyaf have been abandoned and seized by the military.

The military and the police previously launched an all-out manhunt for the terrorist group. Last week’s killing of six soldiers, including a young 2nd lieutenant, who have been guarding a Basilan road project, is believed to have been the bandits’ response to the pressure exerted by government troops hunting them down.

The casualties came a day after the military conducted air strikes against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

The Abu Sayyaf is believed to be still holding at least 10 hostages despite the release of two Germans in Sulu last October.

Mindoro town cop chief fired after NPA attack

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 9): Mindoro town cop chief fired after NPA attack
The police chief of the remote town of Paluan in Occidental Mindoro province was sacked after an investigation showed that he was nowhere to be found when New People’s Army (NPA) rebels stormed his police station on Friday and left two policemen and a soldier dead.

Senior Insp. Amel Tupas, Paluan police chief, was relieved from his post on Saturday pending an internal investigation by the police.

“Tupas was not around when the station was attacked,” said Supt. Imelda Tolentino, information officer of the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) police.

Tolentino, in a phone interview, said “the relief is SOP (standard operating procedure).”

She said investigators were checking how many policemen were on duty during the rebel attack.

The rebels, disguised as government soldiers, arrived on board two vans and opened fire at the police station.

Two policemen—PO1 Rolly Alcagno and PO2 Robert Tendido—were killed in a gunfight that lasted for about an hour while three others were wounded, Tolentino said.

As the rebels withdrew, they passed by a military detachment near the police station, where a brief gunfight took place, leaving Cpl. Job Florante dead.

The rebels escaped, abducting Paluan Mayor Carl Michael Pangilinan and municipal administrator Eduardo Yambao, and using them as human shields, said Maj. Angelo de Guzman, spokesperson of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He said the officials were taken from the municipal hall, which is just beside the police station.

Pangilinan and Yambao were released near the Calawagan River, also in the same village, about 3 kilometers from the police station.

PAF helis assault Abu Sayyaf with machineguns

From Ang Malaya (Nov 9): PAF helis assault Abu Sayyaf with machineguns

Philippine Air Force conducted air assaults against the Abu Sayyaf Friday night. “The three Abu Sayyaf groups of around 200 men were consolidating in the area when our attack helicopters hit them at about 9:30 p.m.,” Joint Task Group Sulu (JTGS) commander Col. Allan Arrojado said over the weekend.

Arrojado confirmed one casualty from the rebel group. Sabri Modja body’s was monitored to be brought to his family in Brgy. Bud Bunga in Talipao town.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has been conducting ground and air attacks since last week.

“Aside from our continuing ground operations, our intent in launching the air strike is to keep them running in order to deny them their good night’s sleep which we hope would result to the lowering of their guard to pave the way for us to launch decisive ground engagement with no collateral damage,” Col. Arrojado said.

The military is yet to provide a complete report regarding the said assault last Friday night.

Son of an Abu Sayyaf senior leader was reportedly killed during an airstrike mission conducted morning of Saturday last week, November 1. The Philippine Air Force conducted strikes using MG520 light attack helicopters which led to the killing of Uran Jawhari in Patikul.

Rebel killed in clash with military in Negros Oriental

From the Philippine Star (Nov 9): Rebel killed in clash with military in Negros Oriental

A New People's Army(NPA) rebel was killed following a firefight in Negros Oriental today, said military officials.

Ray Tiongson, public affairs officer of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, said troops from the 11th Infantry Battalion were on a security patrol when they clashed with seven NPA rebels in Guihulngan City around 9:50 a.m. local time.

Tiongson said one soldier was injured in the 20-minute-long firefight and was sent to hospital for treatment.

While pursuing the fleeing rebels, Tiongson said, the troops discovered a rebel camp nearby.

He said the camp features a training area, makeshift facilities for training instructions and meetings, a kitchen and a foxhole.

Recovered at the scene were a KG-9 submachine gun, four backpacks with rebel documents, training materials, assorted medicines, kitchen utensils, and personnel belongings.

Sayyaf, jihadists on run as troops step up attacks

From the Manila Standard Today (Nov 10): Sayyaf, jihadists on run as troops step up attacks

THE Abu Sayyaf and the Filipino jihadists inspired by the Islamic State in Syria are on the run as five battalions of soldiers in Basilan and 1,200 troopers in Sulu are hunting them down, a source said Sunday.

“Because of the massive deployment of security forces in Mindanao, the jihadist may have sought cover in the jungles to avoid being intercepted,” said Rolando Mendoza, a former police intelligence director and now president of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research.

He said the jihadists could be training young Muslim recruits who would be tasked to conduct bombings and other terrorist actions in various parts of Mindanao to ease the pressure on the Abu Sayyaf and other extremists in Sulu, Basilan and Central Mindanao.

He said the jihadists had mysteriously disappeared from their previous training grounds in Basilan Sulu and may have sought cover in the mountains to elude the ground forces going after them.

“They are now mobile to avoid being caught by the security forces,” Mendoza said.
He said tighter security measures and more intelligence operations were needed to frustrate the jihadists and other terrorists.

Meanwhile, the ground forces pursuing the Abu Sayyaf hve seized another terrorist camp in Danag village in Patikul, Sulu, around 9:30 am on Sunday, the ninth camp that the military had captured since an all-out offensive against the Abu Sayaff started following the bandits’ release of two German hostages.

The Islamic State gained prominence in September this year after its warriors waged war against Syria and Iraq and then started recruiting Muslims from around the world to join them. At least a dozens foreign terrorists, including five ISIS members, have reportedly entered the Philippines via Malaysia.

Mendoza said the jihadists were highly mobile when conducting training sessions in the undisclosed camps in Central Mindanao, mostly in the areas covered by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front under Commander Umbra Kato.

“They are moving from one place to another in a very short period of time while on training sorties to avoid detection,” Mendoza said.

68th IB in hot water for harassment in Davao town

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 9): 68th IB in hot water for harassment in Davao town

Members of the House of Representatives, belonging to the so-called Makabayan block, have recently passed a resolution calling for the Committee on Human Rights of the House to investigate the continuing militarization in Talaingod town in Davao del Norte.

In House Resolution No. 1639, representatives Emmi de Jesus and Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela, Fernando Hicap of AnakPawis, Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna, James Mark Terry Ridon of Kabataan and Antonio Tinio of ACT-Teachers directed the committee to “conduct an on-site investigation in aid of legislation on the recent militarization, harassments and attack on schools and communities in Talaingod.”

The attacks, the resolution said, were perpetrated by the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the 68th Infantry Battalion (IB).

The Makabayan solons said that parents and teachers at the Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) were frequently harassed by elements of the 68th IB with the latest incident recorded just last month.

STTICLC has 11 learning sites, nine primary/elementary schools and two high schools that are serving the Manobo children for the last eight years in various communities in Talaingod.

The harassments, the resolution added, have reportedly been committed since 2007 and have been escalating in both intensity and in frequency.

Last month, it added, the STTICLC School in Sitio Laslasakan, Palma Gil in Talaingod was ransacked and vandalized by the same army unit along with its paramilitary group called the Alamara.

Deny NPAs chance to attack – PNP Chief

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 9): Deny NPAs chance to attack – PNP Chief

Following the death of three people in Friday’s rebel attack on a town hall in Occidental Mindoro, Director General Alan Purisima ordered all police commanders in the provinces to implement security protocols that would deny communist rebels the opportunity to launch similar offensives.

The attack at the Paluan town on Friday, said the Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, should serve as a constant reminder to all chiefs of police (COPs) that there is no room for complacency in the conduct of security measures in their respective areas, noting that communist rebels have been taking advantage of any lapses by government security forces.

Two policemen and a soldier were killed while four others were injured in a gun battle that erupted between the local police, the Army troopers and the raiding communist rebels.

The fleeing rebels also held hostage the town mayor and the municipal administrator on their way to escape. They were later freed.

It was learned that the town police chief of Paluan town has already been relieved of his post as a result of the attack.

Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor, PNP spokesman, said police commanders especially in rebel-infested areas have the obligation to be always alert what with several incidents of rebel attacks in the past.

Police stations have been a favorite target of communist rebels, targeting the armory for all the firearms that they could get.

“The order is to also secure vital installations in their respective areas to prevent similar attacks,” said Mayor.

Part of the security measures that the PNP leadership wants police commanders to strictly observe is beefing up the intelligence-gathering of any possible rebel movements or plans.

Another ASG camp falls in the hands of soldiers

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 9): Another ASG camp falls in the hands of soldiers

Government security forces on Sunday seized another Abu Sayyaf (ASG) camp in Sulu, an indication that the bandit group is on the run, a military official said.

Col. Allan Arrojado, commander, Joint Task Group Sulu, said troops from the 35th Infantry Brigade (IB) discovered the ASG camp at Barangay Danag, Patikul town around 9:30 a.m. yesterday.

He said the camp was believed to have been last occupied a week ago by more or less 30 men. It has six bunkers with training area. Soldiers also recovered combat uniforms and two flags.

The soldiers continue to scour the area, as Arrojado stressed that there will be no let-up in the pursuit operations against the bandit group.

The military said a total of 16 ASG camps in Sulu have been seized by government forces since an all-out law enforcement operation was launched last week of October.

Arrojado said this shows that the bandits are now on the run.

On Friday night, the military launched another aerial attack against some 200 ASG members who were monitored to have converged at Sitio Datag Kan Masarin, Barangay Buhanginan, also in Patikul town.

One ASG member was killed in the operation.

Last Nov. 1, the military also launched an airstrike against the bandit group in the same barangay, killing Uran Jawhari, reportedly the son of ASG sub-leader Jamiri Jaong Jawhari.

Government security forces are hot on the trail of the bandit group since full-scale law enforcement operations were launched last week of October following the release of two German nationals who were held captive by the ASG for six months.

The soldiers have been directed by AFP Chief Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang, Jr. to maintain military pressure to force the bandits to release their remaining hostages.

Among the 10 kidnap victims believed to be still in the hands of the ASG are six foreign nationals – European birdwatchers Ewold Horn and Lorenzo Vinciguerra, Japanese treasure hunter Mamaito Katayama, Malaysian Zakiah Aleip, and mother and daughter, Dina Lim and Yahong Lim Tan.

Last week, Catapang said government security forces will also be hunting down the ASG in Basilan 24 hours a day. The military now have five battalions and specialized units pursuing the bandits as part of the all-out law enforcement operation.

Restricted shore leave imposed on US servicemen

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 9): Restricted shore leave imposed on US servicemen

United States Navy port calls to the Philippines are still a go, but restricted shore leave is temporarily being imposed among visiting US service members in consideration of recent events in Olongapo City, where a US Marine was implicated in the murder of a Filipino transgender last month.

“The US Embassy and the US Pacific Command (US Pacom) are working together to review each port call to ensure US service members still have an opportunity to visit the Philippines and experience the food, culture and strong historic ties between our two countries,” said Capt. Craig Thomas, military public affairs liaison at the US embassy said.

According to Thomas, the visit of US Navy ships to ports in the Philippines is a key part of the US-Philippine alliance. However, there are many factors that go into the scheduling of these visits, and the schedule of a particular ship can change for a variety of reasons.

108 of 112 AFP men returning from Liberia

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 9): 108 of 112 AFP men returning from Liberia

All certified Ebola-free; 4 left behind a few more days

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday said 108 of the 112 Philippine Peacekeeping Forces in Liberia are due to return tomorrow, Tuesday, and are Ebola-free.

Colonel Roberto Ancan, commanding officer of the Peacekeeping Operations Center in Tarlac, said four Filipino peacekeepers will be left behind in Liberia for a few more days.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, the AFP public affairs office (PAO) chief, said the 108 arriving tomorrow “have all passed the Ebola screening test conducted by the medical staff of the United Nations on November 8.”

The medical procedure is a requirement for all UN Peacekeepers before their retun to their home countries.

Colonel Ancan said he has received a copy of the clinical assessments.

The returning troops are 100 percent medically and physically fit, he said. “They are not infected, not exposed to Ebola.”

Upon their arrival tomorrow, the troopes will undergo a 21-day quarantine on Caballo island at the mouth of Manila Bay near Corregidor. The quarantine is just a precautionary measure, he said.

Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr., AFP chief of staff, has directed the Joint Task Group Liberia to provide the peacekeepers with recreational facilities aside from the medical facilities that are needed during their stay on Caballo island.

Colonel Ancan said he has sent to 250 generators to the island camp to ensure tht there will be electricity in the island during the peacekeepers’ stay.

Ancan said families of the 108 all-Air Force Philippine Peacekeeping Contingent to Liberia will be allowed to meet them when they arrive at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City in a chartered plane.

“Makikita sila ng family, yun lang we will observe the protocol,” said Ancan. This means that “there is no handshake” and there will “one-meter distance” between the soldiers and their families.

“Yung protocol lang is no handshake… one meter distance pag naguusap, yun lang naman,” said the Peacekeeping Operations Center commander.

He said four personnel will take charge of the AFP-owned equipment that will also be transported back to the country.

CPP: Sa 36 ka tuig nga waay kutod nga pag-alagad sa pumuluyo, himpit nga pagpasalamat, KA AGNES

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Nov 9): Sa 36 ka tuig nga waay kutod nga pag-alagad sa pumuluyo, himpit nga pagpasalamat, KA AGNES
CPP Panay Regional Committee
Pagkatapos sang mga isa ka semana nga pagpakigsumpong sa malala nga masakit, nagpalyar ang tagipusuon ni Ka Agnes kag nagginhawa sang katapusan sa 58 ka tuig nga pagkabuhi. Nagtaliwan na si Ka Agnes apang ginpasubli niya ang 36 ka tuig nga makaalantos nga paghimakas sa nagapagros na nga mga rebolusyonaryo. Nagtindog si Ka Agnes bilang halimbawa sang isa ka proletaryo nga rebolusyonaryo nga makabig nga inanak ni Ka Andres kag Kumander Waling-waling.

Sa katung-anan sang mapintas nga paghari nga diniktador sang rehimen Marcos, isa si Ka Agnes sa linibo nga mga pamatan-on nga nagpamat-od nga hangkaton ang puting kakugmat sang diktadurya kag idedikar ang primera nga tinuig sang ila kabuhi sa pagbagsak sang Layi Militar kag ang paggabot sang mga ugat nga nagpatuhaw sini. Sa proseso sang rebolusyonaryo nga pagpakig-away, nakatubong si Ka Agnes sa pagpundar sang pula nga gahom pulitikal sang mga Tumandok kag iban pa nga mangunguma/ pumuluyo sa Sentral Panay. Sa tunga sang mapintas nga pagpanglambas nga operasyon militar sang diktadurya nga ginakontra-atake sang nagapabaskog nga armadong kusog nga kontra-diktadurya, napangibabawan ni Ka Agnes ang kabudlayan, katalagman kag kamatayon nga nagahukmong sa mga iskina sang patag-awayan.

Nakatilaw sang padya ang ginsakripisyuhan sang mga rebolusyonaryo sang mabagsak ang rehimen Marcos sang Pebrero 1986. Apang nakilala nanday Ka Agnes nga mapiot gihapon kag ipit ang kahimtangan sang pumuluyo bisan pa nagbulos ang nagkalain-lain nga rehimen. Ginsustener ni Ka Agnes ang iya pagsuong sa banas sang rebolusyon batok sa kaaway nga may puni sang burgis demokratiko nga pakuno-kuno samtang nagapalala ang pagburaw sang pila ka pamilya sang poder kag manggad.

Madamo nga mga pagtilaw sa rebolusyonaryo nga paghimakas ang nasulay kag nalampasan ni Ka Agnes sa panahon sang diktadurya. Apang sang mga una nga tinuig sang 1990’s, ginhangkat naman sang pag-alagwa sang mga naghantal nga mga kasaypanan kag paglihis sa mga basihan nga prinsipyo sang rebolusyon. Sa konkreto nagsipak ang madamo nga ginkilala nga lideres sang rebolusyonaryo nga hublag nga ang iban suod nga ginrespetar ni Ka Agnes. Naobligar si Ka Agnes nga magtungkad sang may kalawig na gid man nga eksperyensya sa pagrebolusyon, nagtuon sa mga basihan nga prinsipyo sang rebolusyon upod sa kadam-an nga nagpakigbahin sa ikaduha nga dungganon nga hublag panadlong. Ginbatuan ang mga naglihis sa kabuhi kag kamatayon nga paghimakas sa sulod kag gwa sang hublag samtang ginaatubang ang mapintas kag makahalaylo man nga atake sang kaaway.

Nakalampuwas ang rebolusyunaryo nga hublag upod na si Ka Agnes nga mas madalom ang paghakos sang mga prinsipyo kag komitment sa pagrebolusyon. Bisan naggamay ang rebolusyonaryo nga pwersa sa Panay, pero mas solido kag mas mapag-on ang nangin basihan sa pag-abanse pakadto sa pagdako kag pagbaskog.

Nagdako kag nagsangkad ang ginkarga nga hilikuton ni Ka Agnes nga sa lebel na sang rehiyon. Maluwas sa hilikuton sa pagpalapad kag pabaskog sang pula nga gahum sa Sentral Panay, napauyat sa kay Ka Agnes ang rebolusyonaryo nga hilikuton sa puti nga mga lugar sang kaumhan kag kabanwahanan sang Capiz. Nakapang-ugat ang rebolusyonaryo nga hublag paagi sa mga organo nga ginapamunuan ni Ka Agnes sa mangunguma kag mamumugon sa malapad nga lugar sa kaumhan. Nangin masangkad ang pagpakig-angot nanday K Agnes sa nahanunga nga mga sektor nga nagtubong sa pagpabaskog sang Pulang Gahom sa mga prente. Tanan nga ini nagkasa sa pagpadagsa sang linibo nga pumuluyo sa mga kahublagan masa sa kasyudaran kag kaumhan. Ka-estorya ni Ka Agnes ang mga pulitiko, personahe, mga may sarang nga nagaamot sa mga kinahanglanon sang rebolusyonaryo nga hublag kag bisan sa pagnyutralisa lang sa ila nga reaksyonaryo nga huyog.

Matawhay kag kalmado ang postura ni Ka Agnes sa pagdala sang hilikuton. Bisan nagapangakig sa kapaltahan sang pwersa ukon kapintas sang kaaway, indi mabatian nga naga-alsa sang tingog. Isa man gani ini ka batasan nga mas makaimpluwensya siya sa malapad nga pwersa kag mga alyado sa puti nga lugar. Indi dali-dali makaposisyon si Ka Agnes sa mga ginahusgahan nga mga desisyon ukon halambalanon, apang kon makaposisyon na ang Partido, hugot ang uyat kag pursigido ang pagpatuman sini ni Ka Agnes. Ang yabi sa pagtigayon ni Ka Agnes sang hilikuton amo ang komitido nga pagduso sang pagpatuman sa tunga sang kabudlayan kag katalagman.

Ang pinakaulihi nga kampanya nga nagdemanda sang todo-larga sa ikasarang ni K Agnes amo ang kahublagan sa pagpabangon sa ginatos–libo nga gindalasa sang Superbagyo Yolanda kag sang kriminal nga pagkainutil sang rehimen Aquino. Sa sulod sang nauna nga bulan sang kalamidad sang ulihi nga bahin sang 2013, pila ka pilo nga pwersa sang pumuluyo ang nagademanda nga maorganisa agud mabululigan ang pagbalik sang panimalay kag palangabuhian nga ginlanas sang bagyo. Sa gatos libo nga napahulag sa pag-alibyo sang kasamaran, kag pagbawi sang panimalay kag palangabuhian, pulo-pulo pa gid ka libo ang nagadagsa sa dalanon nga nagademanda sang resorsa para makabangon.

Halin sang Nobyembre 8, 2013 waay pahuway nga nagtubong sa pagpamuno si Ka Agnes sang kahublagan sa pagpabangon sang pumuluyo sa kaumhan sang Capiz. Bisan nagapalanakit ang rayuma, obligado siya nga sulayon ang dagsa sang pumuluyo kag padako nga atake sang kaaway lamang maubayan ang nagamartsa nga linibo sa dalanon kag ang nagabinuligay sa pagpamanday sang ila balay, pagpanggas sang mga binhi kag pagpangita resorsa para sa nasalanta.

Bisan sa pagpahuway, malip-ot lang kag nagakadulaan tulog si Ka Agnes sa pagpamensar sang pagpatuman sang pangginobyerno nga pagpatikang sang rehabilitasyon sa tunga sang kainutil sang rehimen. Waay na lang ginbaliha ang pagsinakit sang dughan, ang atake sang asma, ang pabalik-balik nga hilanat kag matig-a nga ubo agud mapalitikan lang ang madasig nga pagpatuman sang rehabilitasyon sang malapad nga lugar.

Sang indi na maagwanta ang sakit, sang mabatyagan na ang katalagman sang balatian kag didto na gindul-ong ang iya lawas sa bululngan. Naulihi na siya kay ginsukot na sang balatian ang waay pahuway nga lawas nga nagalangot ang buot sa paghatag pa sang ultimo nga ginhawa, ultimo nga panikad para lang maduso ang pag-alagad sa banwa sa pinakamasarangan. Si Ka Agnes huwaran sang walay kutod nga paghakos kag pagtungod sang responsibilidad nga aton pagasundon, tunay siya nga hiyas sang rebolusyon.

Sa gilayon, mabudlay masal-ihan ang katungdanan kag lugar ni Ka Agnes sa rebolusyon. Apang, sa mas malawig nga panan-awan, ang tunay man nga talaksan sang iya natigayon amo nga madula man siya sa kalibutan, indi na ini makapuhag pa sang rebolusyonaryo nga hilikuton nga ginbilin niya. Ginatos na nga kadre nga iya napamunuan, nahanas sa pahulag kag nainspirar sa iya halimbawa ang nagabulos kag malampasan pa ang nauna nga naamot sang mga nagtaliwan. Ang tunay nga paghanduraw sang ehemplo ni Ka Agnes amo ang pagpadayon sang iya waay-kutod nga pagkomiter sa rebolusyon kag mamag-an nga pagkarga sang pinilopilo na nga hilikuton nga dala sang paglukso sa masunod nga halintang sang inaway banwa.

Ka Agnes, saludo sa imo, kag himpit nga pagpasalamat.

Military reports new sightings of hostages of the Abu Sayyaf

From the Business World (Nov 9): Military reports new sightings of hostages of the Abu Sayyaf

TROOPS pursuing members of the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in the southern part of the Philippines have reported new sightings of the hostages, authorities said.

Hostages were seen traveling with at least four groups with each group having 30 to 40 people each, said Col. Allan R. Arojado, commander of the military’s Joint Task Group Sulu which has been in active pursuit of the Abu Sayyaf since October.

Radullan Sahiron has been tagged by the military as a senior leader of the group, who reportedly took command of a sizeable faction of the Abu Sayyaf when its leader, Khadaffy Janjalani, was killed in 2006.

Mr. Arojado said that the hostages are likely traveling with the group of the Abu Sayyaf subgroup leader.

The official added that the military has already secured another abandoned Abu Sayyaf camp early Sunday morning at Danag Village in the municipality of Patikul.

“[The] camp is believed to be occupied a week ago by more or less 30 men. It has six bunkers with training area,” said Mr. Arojado.

He added that they were also able to recover several combat uniforms and various document and files.

There will be no letup in the ongoing and intensified law enforcement operations against the Abu Sayyaf as operations reach second month this November.

“The important thing is that we do not let them rest. We are hunting them but the area of Patikul is really vast... Our soldiers are still familiarizing themselves with the terrain,” Mr. Arojado further said.

Meanwhile, a Palace official said that the national government is doing everything it can to solve the Abu Sayyaf problem aside from conducting military offensives.

“The government is helping our countrymen in those areas where these bandits operate through our different livelihood programs... In other words, we have an all-encompassing strategy to the situation -- we have the law enforcement aspect and we also have the socioeconomic aspect,” Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma, Jr. told reporters at a press briefing on Sunday.

The government has put up buying stations to purchase fruit harvests in the province to ensure that the economy remains intact despite the situation, he said.

Troops in Liberia set to arrive soon after they tested negative for Ebola

From the BusinessWorld (Nov 9): Troops in Liberia set to arrive soon after they tested negative for Ebola

ALL 108 Philippine peace-keepers in Liberia have tested negative for the Ebola virus and will be arriving on Tuesday, authorities said.

“They will be quarantined in a secure location along with the other returning government troops -- the ones from the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology),” Col. Roberto T. Ancan, commanding officer of the Peacekeeping Operations Center, said.

Some 29 PNP personnel and one BJMP officer, apart from the troops committed by the military to the United Nations peace-keeping forces, have also passed the medical tests that have been conducted by the UN.

Troops will be placed in isolation for 21 days in a former American observation facility during World War II located on Caballo Island, one of the five islands that greet vessels upon entering the Manila Bay.

Despite the forced isolation and quarantine, Mr. Ancan said that the returning troops will be allowed to see their families once they arrive but cited that strict health security protocols will be implemented to make sure that nothing will be compromised.

“No handshakes. They also have to maintain a one-meter distance when they are talking to each other,” Mr. Ancan said.

The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that the deadly virus has already affected at least seven countries including Guinea, Libera, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Spain, Sengal as well as the US.

Ebola has also claimed the lives of at least 4,000 people from the recorded 8,399 cases as of last month, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

US’ Asia alliances face strains

Posted to Business World (Nov 9): US’ Asia alliances face strains

In November 2011, with the Arab Spring uprisings in full tilt and Europe rocked by a debt crisis, President Barack Obama flew to Asia to promote a shift of America’s military, diplomatic and business assets to the region. His then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, declared in the same year that the 21st century would be “America’s Pacific century.”

Fast-forward to today: as Mr. Obama flew to Asia on Sunday, Washington’s “pivot” to the region is becoming more visible. It includes deployment of American Marines in Darwin, Australia, stepped up US naval visits to the Philippines and many more joint drills with that nation’s armed forces, as well as the lifting of a ban on lethal weapons sales to Vietnam.

But just as Washington seeks to expand American interests in Asia as a counterpoint to China’s growing influence, some US partners have shown less willingness to challenge Beijing.

That may mean China will have a freer hand to assert its authority in the resource-rich South China Sea, where its territorial claims overlap those of Taiwan and four Southeast Asian countries.

The drubbing Mr. Obama’s Democrats took in last week’s mid-term elections -- defeats that were blamed by many on his leadership -- will hardly strengthen his position in discussions with China or with allies in the region.

Mr. Obama will have less room for maneuver on foreign policy now he has a Republican-controlled Senate to deal with, and the political focus in Washington is already starting to turn to the 2016 presidential election.

Although several countries -- notably the Philippines and Vietnam -- have sought closer US ties as a defense against what they see as China’s aggression in pursuit of its claims in the South China Sea, other long-established alliances have become less robust.

Beijing’s increasing economic influence is a major reason. Southeast Asia’s trade with China is up four-fold over the past decade to $350 billion last year and is forecast to reach $1 trillion by 2020.

Indonesia, traditionally a leading voice and strong US ally in Southeast Asia, has signaled a foreign policy shift away from international activism following this year’s election of a populist President Joko Widodo, who said in his election campaign that his focus would be on domestic affairs.

Rizal Sukma, a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Widodo, told Reuters there would be a shift in priorities from high-profile diplomacy, though Indonesia would continue to play a role in the South China Sea and support freedom of navigation and trade.

On the South China Sea, Mr. Widodo is unlikely to act without a crisis, said Greg Fealy, an Indonesia expert at the Australian National University. “The US may well find it much more difficult to get any leverage,” he said.

In Thailand, a military coup in May has shaken up its relationship with the United States. Since the coup, Washington has scaled back diplomatic contacts and reduced joint military exercises.

And Malaysia, next year’s chair of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has seen a wave of Chinese trade and investment and is working with Beijing on upgrading an ASEAN-China free-trade agreement.

“I think there is every reason to be concerned,” over whether ASEAN will stand up to China, said Joseph Liow, a Southeast Asia expert at Washington’s Brookings Institution think tank.

During his trip, Mr. Obama will attend the Nov. 10-11 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing and the Nov. 13 East Asia Summit in Myanmar. Perhaps most importantly, he will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Nov. 11-12.

US officials say he plans to press Mr. Xi on China’s aggressive pursuit of maritime claims in Asia. “We are going to have to speak very directly and candidly about some of our concerns and our areas of disagreement,” a senior US administration official said.

Washington has had recent successes in the region. In April, the US and the Philippines signed a new 10-year security pact allowing for larger US military presence. In July, Japan revised its interpretation of a pacifist postwar constitution to allow Japanese troops to assist a friendly state under attack. And Washington has also agreed to boost defense ties with Australia and agreed with India to negotiate a 10-year extension of a bilateral military cooperation deal. And nearly 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, the United States last month partially lifted a long-time ban on lethal weapon sales to Vietnam to help Hanoi improve maritime security.

“There’s no country in the region, given China’s rise... who isn’t ... a strong supporter of America remaining strategically engaged in the region,” said Russell Trood, adjunct professor of US studies at the University of Sydney. “And yet when you ask them to stand up and nail their colors to the masthead... few are prepared to do it to the degree to which Washington would... be reassured.” -- Reuters

Catholic Church rejects military offensive in Basilan province

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Nov 9): Catholic Church rejects military offensive in Basilan province

Military photos show Armed Forces Chief General Gregorio Catapang and Western Mindanao Command Chief General Rustico Guerrero with Governor Mujiv Hataman and some of Basilan municipal mayors during a closed-door meeting recently at a military base in Zamboanga City. 

An influential Catholic bishop has rejected proposals for an all-out war against the al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan, one of five provinces under the troubled Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad said waging a full-scale military offensive against the militant group is not the solution. “Waging an all-out campaign against the lawless elements in Mindanao is not the solution,” he said, stressing that the use of violence to violence might even encourage more rebel recruits.

According to the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, Bishop Jumoad - in a recent interview over Radyo Veritas - said a solution that emphasizes force will not earn the government the trust and confidence of the rebels.

“Those perpetrators or lawless elements, we can’t do anything about them, run after them… Finishing them all? I think that is not the solution because that will just add more problems. I think the government must act like a mother that will look for aid in order to win their trust and confidence to the calls of law,” he said, adding, extreme poverty from which most people in Mindanao suffer is at the root of the conflict.

“I have been in Basilan. Parang paulit-ulit na lang ang pangyarari. I think the approach should really be no longer through guns. I ask the government to really give more educational and livelihood programs to those areas, especially in Sumisip,” he said.

The bishop said instead of an armed response, government officials should find ways to assure the rebels that Mindanaoans are not second-class citizens, and that they get educated and have the means to support themselves and their children.

His pronouncement came after Mujiv Hataman, the regional governor, recommended an all-out war 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.

Mayors in Basilan, who are allies of Hataman, also supported his calls, but the provincial governor, Jum Akbar, the head of the peace and order council, was silent about the proposed all-out military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf.

Hataman and the mayors also met recently with Philippine military chief General Gregorio Catapang and senior military commanders at the Western Mindanao Command headquarters where they discussed about the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf.

Among the mayors who are supporting Hataman were were Indanan Daud of Maluso, Rose Furigay of Lamitan City, Jomar Maturan of Ungkaya Pukan, Jamar Mansur of Hadji Muhtaman, Gulam Hataman of Sumisip, Darussalam Lajid of Al-Barka, Talib Pawaki of Mohammad Adjul, Tong Istarul of Tipo-Tipo, Muctar Junaid of Tabuan-Lasa, Alih Sali of Akbar, Durie Kallahal of Tuburan and Rustam Ismael of Lantawan.

Peace, not war

Human rights group Suara Bangsamoro also warned that a full military offensive could lead to civilian abuses and destruction of properties, and massive displacement of people.

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.

Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo, who was among those who led a coup against the previous Arroyo government, also rejected Hataman’s proposal for an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf, saying, innocent civilians will bear the brunt of the military operations.

“Sang-ayon po tayo na tugisin ng gobyerno yung mga responsible rito para mahuli sila, makasuhan at makulong, (pero) hindi tayo sang-ayon na gawing all-out war,” Acedillo said.

“Ang nasa losing end diyan, ‘yung ating mga sibilyan. Alam naman natin, hindi naman buong isla ang involved sa nangyari pero sila ay maaapektuhan lahat dito kapag nagkaroon ng massive military ope­ration.”

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

“Baligtad na talaga, (si Mujiv Hataman) ang nagpakilalang HR (human rights) fighter and peace activist noon (remember his Anak Mindanao party-list na asawa naman niya ngayon ang naupo) ang nananawagan ngayon ng all-out war at ang isang (Magdalo) party-list na mas linyado sa mga sundalo ay ang umaawat at sumasalungat sa munkahing all-out war? Tama ba itong nababasa ko?” asked Lanog Mindanao, a group advocating for the rights of the indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

President Benigno Aquino has recently 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, adding, several infantry battalions were sent to Mindanao to sustain the operations against the Abu Sayyaf which is still holding more than a dozen Filipino and foreign hostages in the restive region.

Cop injured in 2 bomb explosions in Zamboanga City

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Nov 9): Cop injured in 2 bomb explosions in Zamboanga City

Police crime scene investigators collect evidence from a bombing site in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines on October 26, 2011. Zamboanga has been bombed many times in the past by the Abu Sayyaf. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

A member of the police bomb squad was wounded when an improvised explosive device went off late Sunday in downtown Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said PO2 Franklin Init was rushed to the hospital after sustaining shrapnel wounds from the explosion. The police was inspecting the explosive inside the De Luxe Massage and Karaoke Bar at Tomas Claudio Street when it went off. Two explosions were reported in the first and second floors of the bar.

The blast occurred just as police and military forces tightened security in Zamboanga where more than 7,000 scouters are attending the week-long Centennial Jamboree.

Police have cordoned off the area as they searched for debris and evidence inside and outside the bar.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar rushed to the area and later proceeded to the hospital to see the condition of the injured policeman.

"Police and military authorities are thoroughly investigating to determine the cause and motive of the blasts that hit Deluxe Massage Parlor in Tomas Claudio Street shortly before 8 tonight. A member of the police bomb squad was injured while checking on the suspicious item in the area," she said.

"The public is advised to stay calm but vigilant and report suspicious persons or bags and other items to 062-117 or 166. Authorities are in control of the situation, that the city, particularly the Boy Scout of the Philippines jamboree participants are safe and sound. The blast site is over 20 kilometers away from the jamboree site in Ecozone."

She also assured the safety of scouters who are camping out at the sprawling compound of the Zamboanga City Economic and Freeport Zone in San Ramon village where armed soldiers and policemen, backed by armored vehicles, were guarding them.

Officials could not say if the twin explosions were the handiwork of Abu Sayyaf militants blamed by authorities to the spate of bombings and killings in the southern Philippines.

Last month, police bomb squad also disrupted an improvised explosive abandoned at the Plaza Pershing also in downtown Zamboanga. The explosive was hidden in a thermos that contained nails and ammonium nitrate, a banned chemical fertilizer widely used by rebels in the manufacture of homemade bombs.

The Abu Sayyaf has recently pledged allegiance to the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.