Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pledges To Islamic State: Weak And Strong Alliances – Analysis

From the Eurasia Review (Nov 12): Pledges To Islamic State: Weak And Strong Alliances – Analysis (By Joseph Franco and Philipp Holtmann)

Pledges of allegiance and obedience are the typical mechanisms used by jihadist groups to create “alliance hubs”, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) which is also known as Islamic State (IS). Some of the alliances may have proven strong, while others remain weak and exist in name only.

Recent research published by the US-based think-tank, Terrorism Research Initiative, argued that in order to become an effective alliance hub, a “mother organisation” must be capable of providing resources to support its partner organisations. The Islamic State (IS) appears to fulfil this criterion amongst the smaller terrorist groups to which it holds sway under bay’ah or pledges.

But this resource-centred focus fails to address the IS partner organisations’ varying levels of dedication. Based on the purported legalistic discourse promoted by IS, such pledges are of equal gravity to Islamic contracts of allegiance and obedience.

Following this logic, a bay’ah addressed to IS should go beyond a mere “declaration of fidelity”. Both IS and the pledging organisation ostensibly profit equally in terms of propaganda, popularity, and mutual support from such “franchising deals”. Under the discourse of bay’ah, IS expects to gain more and to be acknowledged as the leader in an asymmetric alliance.

Pledges, disconnect and purported jurisprudence

However, even a limited comparison of how pledges to IS translate into actual terrorist operations reveals a disconnect between the transnational jihadist group’s self-promoted vision of leadership and reality. The behaviour of some partner organisations calls into question their ability to comply with IS strategic guidelines and commands.
It would appear that it is the interplay of ideological dedication versus financial interests that determine the effectiveness of jihadist alliance hubs and their long-range command patterns. Of the dozen or so regional jihadist groups from the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia two cases are presented to demonstrate the differing degrees of subordination to IS commands.

In mid-September 2014, the spokesperson of IS issued an online speech, commanding affiliates to start worldwide attacks against citizens from the “Coalition of the Willing”— the ad hoc group of states involved in launching an air campaign against IS fighters. Through an Internet-disseminated statement, the Jund al-Khilfa pledged allegiance to IS. Weeks later, in late September 2014, the group murdered its French hostage HervĂ© Gourdel, claiming to act on IS’ behalf.

In a subsequent video statement justifying the gruesome act, Jund al-Khilfa not only elaborated on their motives but included excerpts of the IS spokesperson’s statement. The case clearly indicates an effective long-range leadership pattern, from IS to an ideologically dedicated Jund al-Khilfa, which strongly relies on the Internet to issue alliance-contracts and disseminate orders.

Case of Abu Sayyaf Group

In contrast, this virtual leadership is negligible if not totally non-existent between IS and the southern Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). While the ASG has gained notoriety recently for the kidnapping of two German citizens, their motives were largely financial. As noted by many observers, the ASG has degenerated into a bandit group, with multiple factions operating in what is essentially a lawless, kidnapping-prone fringe of the southern Philippines.

The Sulu-based Hatib Sawadjaan ASG faction reportedly received ransom amounting to 250 million PHP (7.1 million SGD). What was curious was that while the Sulu-based faction purported to refer to IS-related discourse, it never pledged a bay’ah to Al-Baghdadi. The reference to IS was therefore made in utilitarian fashion to obscure the faction’s illicit entrepreneurship.

In fact, it was another ASG faction headed by Isnilon Hapilon in Basilan that formally pledged to IS, stemming from the former’s reputation as one of the “old guard” leadership of the ASG in contrast to the more upstart Sawadjaan. Hapilon’s case is an archetype of how some of the more influential leaders of the ASG can be operationally and tactically inferior to other emergent ASG leaders.

Uneven impact of pledges

Juxtaposition of the Jund al-Khilfa and the ASG case demonstrates how even IS affiliates are far from being monolithic and passive receivers of jihadist discourse and strategy. The differing manifestations of IS influence, whether direct violence by affiliates or indirect use of jihadist discourse to boost affiliate reputations, thus require nuanced counter-terrorist approaches.

Within a few months IS has emerged to become the new alliance hub of global jihad. Yet contrary to its grandiose vision, IS has not yet reached the quality of command, leadership, and hierarchy; which networks of jihadist alliances typically strive for. In addition, the implementation of obligations connected to alliance-pledges with IS vary greatly. While IS–similar to al-Qaeda Central in the past–has been successful at establishing extended long-range command and deterrence patterns with some partners contrary examples are extant.

In short, states need to be cautious of Islamic State’s ambitious leadership concept but at the same time remember that it is an initiative still in the making. It remains premature to judge whether Islamic State as an alliance hub will wither as quickly as it blossomed.

[Joseph Franco is an Associate Research Fellow with the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. Philipp Holtmann is a Middle East analyst who has lived and worked in several Arab countries.

RSIS Commentaries are intended to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy relevant background and analysis of contemporary developments. The views of the author/s are their own and do not represent the official position of the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), NTU, which produces the Commentaries.]

D-day in the mountains of Basilan

From the Zamboanga Today (Nov 13): D-day in the mountains of Basilan

When you can hear helicopters hovering in the City’s airspace, it probably is part of the military operations in the hinterlands of Basilan. Barangay eMedia has also been on the edge to cover its story through the press releases from the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom).
It is understandable that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) must be on top of the situation in this kind of military endeavour. News up in the operations must be official. Media folks wait every single announcement from the WesMinCom.
Barangay eMedia reporters, like partner Ely Dumaboc, would wait in real patience with the rest of the press corps in the WesMinCom in order to gather the freshest news to report to the public. It’s a professionalism thing.
More or less than 500 families in Sumisip, Basilan fled and evacuated from their residents due to the offensive operations of the military against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which lairs are adjacent to homes of civilians.
The said operations are aimed to neutralize the ASG who are making camps in Barangay Baiwas, Sumisip and to bring to justice the perpetrators who were responsible to the death of 6 soldiers, including a junior officer—2nd Lt. Jun Corpus, few weeks ago.
Sumisip Mayor Gulam Hataman said that they are prepared in case said operations will affect more civilian families in his municipality and the rest.
One must remember, that the military force in the Basilan Province is now reaching about to be 2,500 foot soldiers. They are in the province not just to guard vital installations of the national government projects but to literally run after the ASG, who also are connected to international terror groups and as are responsible to the different attacks in Mindanao.
Cellular networks in three municipalities of Basilan are temporarily shut down for the offensive operations of the military in the hinterlands of Basilan. The objective of said “shut down” is to suppress the communication between the ASG and their supporters/sympathizers outside the province.
The military wants now to totally destroy the ASG in the province who are responsible in the delay of bigger projects of the national government, and the peace and order in the South. The ASG also extorts to different businessmen in the province and even to mayors. This is the reason why the ARMM governor himself, Hon. Mujiv Hataman, asked the military to neutralize the ASG in Basilan.
Meanwhile, said military operations brought some fruitful successes as the 104th Brigade of the Philippine Army captured an ASG camp, in the mountains of Tipo-Tipo, Basilan, which manufactured a number of Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
The same camp produced bombs which the ASG used to attack government installations and in planting bombs in the South Western part of Mindanao. This camp was operated by the ASG commander Furuji Indama, who was responsible to a number of kidnapping in the ARMM area. The Military assured the destruction of the ASG and to put to end the extortions in the province.
Well, it must be or should have been! The South of Mindanao has already suffered a lot because of the atrocities perpetrated by the ASG. Its force is relatively minute compared to the might of the government.
Dear Generals, enough for the moro-moro operations! Everyone wants to see not just military actions as “pogi points” for the promotions of ranks and the AFP Chief of Staff but an actual pulverizing of the ASG menace.
Let’s wait and see then for the operations’ ultimate results, kudos to all of our military forces in Basilan who are giving their lives for the peace of Mindanao. “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” 1 Pet. 3:17.

Probe into how student became NPA leader sought

From the Sun Star-Davao (Nov 12): Probe into how student became NPA leader sought

THE Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division sought the assistance of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to conduct an in-depth investigation on how student leader Rendell Ryan Edpan Cagula became a New People's Army (NPA) member.

Cagula was killed in a clash in Sarangani town this month. He was president of the University Student Council of the University of the Philippines Mindanao in 2011-2012, former Davao City coordinator of the League of Filipino Students, and Southern Mindanao coordinator of the Kabataan party-list. He returned home after an 11-month absence, but in a coffin.

[READ: UPMin student leader killed in Army-NPA encounter]

The 23-year-old Cagula, also known as "Perper," was among three persons dubbed in an army press release as "NPA bandits killed in Sarangani encounter" between the Army's 27th Infantry Battalion and the NPA at Sitio Tubac in Barangay Nomoh, Maasim town around 1 p.m. of November 4.

"We have requested the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Davao Region to dig up their investigation into this matter, as to why a student from a very prestigious university was conducting research with the NPA," 10th Infantry Division's Civil Military Operation (CMO) commander Colonel Llewellyn Binasoy said.

Marina, mother of the student, said she does not know if her son was, indeed, a member of the NPA, as claimed by the military.

She said her son earlier told her that he was teaching indigenous people, adding that Rendell would contact her when he was in the area.

"We would like to express our sympathy to the slain student who happened to be one of the victims of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army's deception and recruitment inside schools and universities in Mindanao," Binasoy said.

Binasoy said the military would only know that a rebel is a student or an employee after their encounter.

He added that: "The army had no idea as to their background. It is only after the encounter or the arrest we learned their personal background."

Binasoy said with such obvious fact that any potential student could be recruited, the division appealed to the parents, who only want the best for their children, to watch and guide their them in choosing organizations they are about to join.

US Marine in Angeles City deaths: Extradition coming

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 13): US Marine in Angeles City deaths: Extradition coming
A former US Marine accused of killing a couple in the Philippines said Wednesday his extradition is looming and he looks forward to finally fighting the charges.

Timothy Kaufman has been incarcerated since his arrest in April 2013 near his grandfather’s upstate New York home. He is one of three men charged by authorities in the Philippines with the 2011 killing of a retired Northern Ireland police officer and his girlfriend.

A federal magistrate in Albany ruled last year there was sufficient evidence against Kaufman for the US Department of State to extradite him to the Philippines.

Kaufman, who spoke to The Associated Press by phone from a detention center in Los Angeles, said his lawyer told him the extradition was official about a month ago.

Kaufman, who had been held in New York state until recently, did not know when he would be going.

Kaufman, 36, has maintained his innocence and said he looked forward to getting to argue his case.

“I have nothing left but to fight, and I will. I will fight this until I die,” said Kaufman, who insists he was framed.

On September 2, 2011, David Balmer, 54, and Elma de Guia, 26, were found dead in a bedroom in the Angeles City home of a club owner and friend of Balmer’s dating to when they joined Northern Ireland’s Royal Ulster Constabulary in the late 1970s. Eighteen spent 9mm shells were recovered from the scene.

Within three months of the killing, Kaufman and two other men were charged with two counts of murder.

Kaufman, who grew up in Tennessee, worked security and intelligence for contractors as a civilian in Iraq after he left the military, according to his family. A bulletin posted online by Philippines authorities included an ID card that indicated that in 2011 Kaufman worked as an inventory controller at a manufacturer for mobile phone cases in the Philippines.

There was no immediate comment Wednesday from the federal authorities.

Blast hits Lamitan City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 13): Blast hits Lamitan City

A grenade explosion hit a copra warehouse late Wednesday in Lamitan City in the province of Basilan in the troubled Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, security officials said.

Marine Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, a military spokeswoman, said the grenade was lobbed at the warehouse owned by businessman Efren New.  She said there were no reports of casualties from the attack which occurred at around 7 p.m. at Quezon Boulevard.

“The grenade was thrown from the outside and there is no report of casualties. The investigation is going on to determine the motive and the perpetrator of this dastardly act,” Muyuela told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack, but authorities suspect the Abu Sayyaf could be behind this. In September, two men on a motorcycle also lobbed a grenade inside the warehouse owned by another trader, Bobong Yumul, in Lamitan City.

The blast occurred two days after police and military disarmed an improvised explosive left at a gas station in Basilan’s Isabela City.

Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, a regional police spokesman, said two masked men on a motorcycle left a plastic bag containing the explosive at the ASL gasoline station. He said the explosive, whose ingredient was mostly ammonium nitrate, and wired to a blasting cap and cell phone as triggering device, was inside a cooking pot when recovered by members of the local bomb squad.

Authorities have foiled several bombing attempts in Isabela City with one police report saying the bombers escaped on a pick-up truck, raising suspicions that a group may be trying to destabilize the security situation in Basilan for a still unknown reason.

CPP/NPA: Video - Araw ay Ngiti_Ang Kahublagan sa Pagbangon

NPA-Panay propaganda video posted to the CPP Website (Nov 9): Araw ay Ngiti_Ang Kahublagan sa Pagbangon

Napamunuan sang PKP ang Hublag Pagbangon sa Nasidlangang Panay. Sa hugot nga paghiliusa sang BHB kag masa padayon nga napangibabawan ang trahedya nga gintuga sang superbagyong Yolanda kag kainutil sang rehimeng Aquino makaligad ang isa ka tuig.

CPP/Sine Proletaryo: Video - YOLANDA: Rebolusyonaryong Pagdaig sa Kalamidad

Sine Proletaryo video posted to the CPP Website (Nov 12): YOLANDA: Rebolusyonaryong Pagdaig sa Kalamidad

Before Yolanda swept through the Philippines, the CPP enjoined all revolutionary forces in areas along the supertyphoon’s path to mobilize the people and bring them to safer ground. Attending to the people’s well-being, NPA units and people’s militias organized a mass evacuation, giving priority to young children and the elderly.

NPA units, local party branches and mass organizations immediately mobilized the people in order to assess the damage and plan out an appropriate course of action to address urgent needs. A communication and transportation network was immediately established in order to seek relief goods and other material assistance from local mass organizations as well as international and local relief agencies.

Disaster survivors are victims of a grave injustice. They are victims of the Aquino regime’s failure to put into place sufficient disaster-prevention measures. They are victims of corruption in so-called welfare agencies. They are victims of the oppressive and backward system that fails to provide them jobs, just wages and sufficient livelihood. It is the oppressed and exploited classes who suffer grave economic hardships after any disaster.

The struggle of the disaster survivors forms a growing aspect of the national democratic mass movement as the ruling semicolonial and semifeudal system continues to deteriorate rapidly.

CPP/NDF: On the CBCP President’s November 10 Message

NDF propaganda statement from Luis Jalandoni posted to the CPP Website (Nov 13): On the CBCP President’s November 10 Message

Luis Jalandoni
NDFP Negotiating Panel
The Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has not requested the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President to mediate in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDFP. It is the firm policy of the NDFP not to entrust any entity with the power of mediation in the peace negotiations. Such power to make decisions arbitrarily and impose them on the Parties to the peace negotiations could mean grave danger to the revolutionary movement and people. Hence, the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG), which has been requested by both the GRP/GPH and the NDFP to help in the peace negotiations, is asked only to be a Third Party Facilitator.

When the CBCP President speaks of “the request to mediate in the government-NDF dialogue”, such a request has never come from the NDFP. The request to any third party to play a role in peace negotiations must be done by both Parties. Both Parties also have to agree to the type of role the third party will fulfill in the peace negotiations.

It should be made clear to the CBCP President that the revolutionary leadership is based in the Philippines. The NDFP Negotiating Panel is mandated by the revolutionary leadership to carry out peace negotiations on behalf of the revolutionary forces. The command and leadership of the revolutionary struggle are carried out in the Philippines.

In connection with the peace negotiations, when an agreement for a temporary ceasefire to promote the peace talks is proposed, the NDFP Negotiating Panel does recommend to the revolutionary leadership the implementation of such a ceasefire. For example, on December 18, 2012, both Parties in a meeting in The Hague with the presence of the RNG facilitator, there was a proposal to have a mutual ceasefire for 27 days. The NDFP Negotiating Panel conveyed this proposal to the revolutionary leadership in the Philippines. Thus, the 27 day ceasefire starting December 20, 2012 was carried out.

The CBCP President, in alleging that the New People’s Army (NPA) is a burden to the people in the countryside, commits a grievous error. The NPA and other revolutionary forces carry out pro-people programs of land reform, health, education including literacy and numeracy, culture and self-defense, among others. These programs result in the improvement of the lives of the people, in their millions. Hence, the people cherish the NPA as their army, defending their rights and programs. Such allegation stemming from the GPH peace panel is a distortion of reality. Church leaders and other Church people close to the struggling people in the countryside would know that the allegation from the GPH peace panel is false.

We strongly dispute the allegation that the peace negotiations have had no substantial fruit. The Hague Joint Declaration as framework of the peace negotiations, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other basic agreements are very significant results. Internationally these have won recognition, such as two European Parliament resolutions endorsing these agreements.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel expresses its appreciation for church leaders in the Philippines who have hosted us when we visit our homeland. We welcome their friendly gesture. When they visit our NDFP International Office, we likewise welcome and host them. We believe this kind of friendly exchange is beneficial to both sides and helps in fostering a spirit that is conducive to advancing the efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace in our country.

We have appreciated the persistent efforts to strive for a just peace by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF), the Pilgrims for Peace, the Sowing Seeds for Peace and KAPAYAPAAN Campaign for Just and Lasting Peace, which have prominent and significant Church leaders. The call of these peace advocates acting as “bridge builders for peace” to resume peace talks, honor all agreements, and address the root causes of the armed conflict, is a welcome positive impetus to foster the peace negotiations to achieve a just and lasting peace.

CPP/NDF: CBCP as peace talks mediator is presumptuous – Sison

NDF propaganda statement from Jose Maria Sison posted to the CPP Website (Nov 13): CBCP as peace talks mediator is presumptuous – Sison

Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
[Interview of Sison by Roselle Valerio in Liberation International]
Roselle Valerio: In a message issued on 10 November 2014, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines President, Bishop Socrates B. Villegas speaks about a request made for the CBCP to mediate in the peace talks between the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Bishop Villegas did not reveal who made that request. Did the NDFP ever make such a request for the CBCP to mediate in peace talks?

Jose Maria Sison: The NDFP never made a request to the CBCP or the CBCP President to mediate in peace negotiations between the NDFP and the GPH. It cannot make such a request to the CBCP because there is a clear secular framework for peace negotiations laid down by The Hague Joint Declaration, signed by both parties in 1992. The NDFP has a high sense of the modern democratic principle of the separation of church and state.

RV: In the ongoing peace negotiations, the Royal Norwegian Government is the Third Party Facilitator. In none of the previous agreements is there mention of a “mediator”. What do you think would be the role of the CBCP or Bishop Villegas as “mediator”?

JMS: Only Archbishop Villegas can say who told him to consider making the CBCP mediator. Perhaps, the term is being played with by persons who do not know the meaning of mediator in peace negotiations under international law. The term “mediator” is a highly elevated term for a third party state or interstate agency which has powers sometimes going up to the level of arbitration between two belligerent parties. The NDFP is extra careful about having a mediator.

RV: In his message, Bishop Villegas reveals that his information comes from the GPH panel and he echoes the acknowledged source. What is your comment on the notion that NDFP representatives in Utrecht are out of touch with developments in the field?

JMS: Archbishop Villegas should review the most authoritative public statements of the central leading organs of the CPP and NDFP, and the central command of the New People’s Army, that the leadership of the revolutionary forces is based in the Philippines. The NDFP Negotiating Panel and its members have nothing to do with leading and administering the revolutionary movement in the Philippines. On the other hand, the NDFP Negotiating Panel is duly-authorized to perform the task of peace negotiations and as such, may request the NPA and other revolutionary organization in the Philippines for information that may be relevant to the performance of this task.

RV: Bishop Villegas attacks the NDFP as being insincere in the peace negotiations, claiming that it uses for its sole benefit the ceasefires and the safe conduct passes for its negotiators and consultants. He also claims that the peace negotiations have not borne substantial fruit. How do you respond to these claims?

JMS: Archbishiop Villegas needs to become better informed about the peace negotiations. He can start by conversing with both panels – the GPH and the NDFP – and not with just one. He does not have to meet them at the same time. The worst and most shocking part of his statement is that the peace negotiations have not borne substantial fruit, practically dismissing as worthless the hard work done by both sides in producing more than ten major agreements, including the framework of peace negotiations, the substantive agenda, the methods for making the comprehensive agreements, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

RV: Notwithstanding Bishop Villegas’ attacks on the NDFP and the revolutionary movement, can the CBCP become a mediator in the peace negotiations? What sort of roles can Bishop Villegas, the Roman Catholic Church, and other religious institutions play in fostering peace in the country?

JMS: It is gratuitous, if not extremely presumptuous, for the CBCP to imagine that it can ever become a mediator in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. What the NDFP has welcomed is the role of religious leaders as peace advocates who serve as moral bridge builders and promoters of the peace negotiations. Thus, the NDFP has always appreciated the work of Catholic bishops and other religious leaders in the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the Ecumenical Bishops Forum on Peace, and the like.

RV: Bishop Villegas opines that the “long-festering insurgency” is the problem, and that socialist societies are “impractical”. What’s your reaction to these views?

JMS: The revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people for national liberation and democracy is not the problem but is the solution to the long running problem of foreign and feudal domination. The struggle is well-grounded and is of great importance and consequence. It has gone on since 1896 and will proceed until it gains complete victory.

It cannot be discouraged or deterred by any anti-socialist or anti-communist statements. The prolonged and worsening crisis of the world capitalist system is once more generating the conditions for the rise of powerful anti-imperialist and socialist movements. It is reactionary for anyone to preach that capitalism is forever and can only be accepted and improved.

RV: At the concluding part of his message, Bishop Villegas categorically states that the CBCP “cannot take in the role of initiating, convening, mediating or presiding over a dialogue” between representatives of the NDFP and the GPH, and that, “under the present circumstances”, this “dialogue” cannot be part of the CBCP’s ecclesial mandate as an episcopal conference. What is your own concluding response?

JMS: The NDFP completely agrees that the CBCP is not at all qualified to take in the role of initiating, convening, mediating or presiding over the peace negotiations of the GPH and NDFP. The lack of competence is underscored by the CBCP President merely echoing the positions of the GPH, and exposing his ignorance of basic information surrounding the negotiations. It is fine that Bishop Villegas is aware of the CBCP’s limitations under its ecclesial mandate. The CBCP President should have been aware of this in the first place and avoided making a statement of presumptuous claims and outright attacks against the NDFP.

RV: Do you think that the views of Bishop Villegas on the peace negotiations and the social conflict in the country are shared by the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy and their constituency? What should be the attitude of the revolutionary forces in confronting the reactionary and ignorant views of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines?

JMS: The views of Bishop Villegas reflect the conservative character of the Roman Catholic Church as an institution of colonial origin, with substantial property interests in land and corporate stocks under the current ruling system of big compradors and landlords. But there can be a variety of views among the bishops, the lower clergy, and the church people in general because of the conflicting demands of the ruling classes and the masses of exploited and oppressed people who also belong to the church.

It is good that within the Church there are church leaders and church people who describe themselves as Christians for National Liberation and strive to build a church that serves the exploited and oppressed people and not the dominant foreign power, the local ruling classes and the institutional interests in the ownership of land and shares of stocks in corporations and banks.

The revolutionary forces should be patient and be persuasive in explaining their position to the bishops. They can take issues with any bishop by presenting the facts and arguments, and with due respect to their religious belief and sensibilities. In recent times, the people have seen how some church leaders can be so reactionary while others are so progressive. They have also seen how an increasing number of church leaders and church people have opted for the just path of national and social liberation.

Basilan road project to be completed despite threat

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 12): Basilan road project to be completed despite threat

The public works office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is determined to finish the multi-million circumferential road in Basilan disrupted by the recent ambush of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) against government forces securing the project.

Engr. Emil Sadain, regional secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-ARMM), said the project will connect major towns in the island province of Basilan.

ARMM Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman earlier said the engineering office in Basilan had been subjected to harassment by ASG for its refusal to give in to the group’s demand for protection money.

In fact, Hataman said, a bomb went off in the house of Basilan district engineer after he junked demands for money by the extremist group.

Hataman said the engineering head of Basilan had received an extortion demand from ASG asking him to shell out Php200,000 month “protection money.” It was ignored and his house was attacked.

Hataman also said he received a call from suspected Abu Sayyaf asking him to provide Php200,000 protection money. He rejected the demand.

“It is our responsibility and obligation to finish the project because we believe the people of Basilan deserve infrastructure development like any other region in the country,” Sadain said.

Sadain said threats of harassment and extortion have been accompanying government projects in areas known to be lair of bandits and rebels.

“Our government forces are providing us security because we need to complete the project as programmed,” he said.

“We should not be cowed by these lawless elements because we strongly believed the good will always triumph over the bad at the end of the day,” Sadain said.

Six soldiers, including a young Army lieutenant graduate of Philippine Military Academy in 2014, were killed when Abu Sayyaf staged an ambush on Nov. 2 in Sumisip town, Basilan.

The atrocities revived calls for an all-out offensive against the extremists, including from Hataman who has grown tired of what he described as saboteurs in his efforts to improve the lives of ARMM residents.

Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, Philippine Army chief, said an all-out war against the ASG was an option but stressed the Army is weighing another options.

Iriberri was guest of honor during the 6th Infantry Division 27th founding anniversary on Monday.

He said the Army ground commanders in Basilan, who are more knowledgeable on the situation in their area of responsibility, are yet to recommend for an all-out war.

“May be a surgical and limited Army offensive will crush the militants,” he told a local TV network.

Amid the harassment by ASG, Engr. Sadain assured public works officials in Basilan that his office is very concern about their safety and it is doing everything to ensure they are safe and the project is completed.

Peace deal to blot out oppression

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 13): Peace deal to blot out oppression

Philippine Muslim rebels will ensure economic gains from this year’s peace agreement are shared evenly to sustain the truce and alleviate suffering in the country’s poorest region.

“Everyone should feel the fruits of peace,” Mohammad Yacob, 44, executive director of the Bangsamoro Development Agency, said in an interview Manila early this week. “We don’t want people to feel they are still oppressed. The only solution to a lasting peace is if you involve communities, make them self- sufficient.”

President Aquino is seeking to create an autonomous political region called Bangsamoro in Mindanao after signing a peace accord with Muslim rebels in March to end a four-decade insurgency. Mindanao is the least developed island in the Philippines as the Muslim rebellion, bandits and private armies deterred investors from tapping resources including about $312 billion in mineral deposits.

Now, there is a plan to set up cooperatives in each village in Bangsamoro to help evaluate investment proposals and manage government support, said Yacob.

Companies including Malaysia’s Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd., Del Monte Pacific Ltd., and a group of businessmen from Singapore, have already approached officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, he said.

Yacob’s agency manages more than P500 million ($11 million) in projects backed by aid agencies.


The poverty rate in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which was created during a previous attempt at peace, was 56 percent in 2012. That poverty rate is the highest in the country and more than twice the national average. Economic growth averaged 2.4 percent from 2012 to 2013, compared with 7 percent for the country.

There is limited access to basic needs. About 26 percent of children in the autonomous region are in high school, compared with 65 percent in the nation, according to estimates by the Bangsamoro Development Agency. Only a fifth of its households have toilets and about a third have access to clean water.

Mindanao can attract as much as $1 billion in investment after an agreement is reached, the government has estimated. Development of the region, which accounted for almost 15 percent of Philippine output in 2013, is crucial for Aquino’s goal of as much as 8.5 percent annual growth by 2016.

For these targets to be met “there should be equal opportunities for all stakeholders, especially for employment,” said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at BDO Unibank Inc. in Manila. “Everyone must get involved so expectations are addressed.

The local government must also strike a balance because too much regulation can turn off investors.”


The Bangsamoro bill being debated by lawmakers states that the Moro Islamic rebels must abandon their pursuit of a separate state in return for more power, revenue and territory. After the bill is passed, a local referendum will determine which other provinces will join the expanded autonomous region.

About P63 billion has been budgeted for public works in Mindanao next year, compared with about 100 billion pesos spent from 2011 to 2014, Aquino said last week during a forum on Bangsamoro.

The government is also offering cash for work, study grants, health insurance and vocational training, he said.

“The early impact of our efforts at peace, stability and fostering a good business climate has been near instant,” Aquino said. Investment in the autonomous region rose to P3.37 billion in January to September, compared with P1.46 billion for 2013, with companies in energy, coconut products, and palm oil planning to expand in Mindanao, he said.

Bangsamoro needs about P220 billion from 2015 to 2016 to build roads and schools, and for livelihood projects, Yacob said. About half the funding will come from the government, while the rest may come from donors including the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, he said.

“There is a lot of expectations right now among the Bangsamoro and we have to manage those expectations,” said Yacob. “We are advocating for a just peace, a just economy. We want progress that trickles down to communities and which benefits everyone.”

PH police, military foil bombing attempt in Basilan

From the Manila Times (Nov 12): PH police, military foil bombing attempt in Basilan

Police and military units have disarmed an improvised explosive left at a gas station in Isabela City in the restive southern Philippine province of Basilan, officials said.

Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, a regional police spokesman, said two masked men on a motorcycle left a plastic bag containing the explosive at the ASL gasoline station. He said the explosive, whose ingredient was mostly ammonium nitrate, and wired to a blasting cap and cell phone as triggering device, was inside a cooking pot when recovered by members of the local bomb squad late Monday.

“Post-blast investigation revealed that the IED was placed by two suspicious persons riding on a red motorcycle – one wearing a bonnet and the other had a handkerchief covering his face – and they immediately fled,” Samuddin said. “The explosive was successfully disarmed and there is no reported damage to properties. Investigation is still going on.”

The foiled bombing occurred a day after the military’s Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City said troops assaulted an Abu Sayyaf bomb factory in Tipo-Tipo town where security forces are pursuing militants headed by Puruji Indama.

Military spokeswoman Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela also tagged Indama as behind the twin bombings in Zamboanga City recently.

“The main intent of the operation is to allay the fears of the civilians and local officials in view of the series of atrocities, kidnapping and extortion committed by the group of Indama,” Muyuela said. “This operation also shows the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police’s commitment to the people of Basilan to have lasting peace and development to this island province.”

She did not say if there were Abu Sayyaf casualties in the assault.

Security forces in Basilan also heightened their patrol following the foiled bombing. Police and military have earlier tightened security in Zamboanga City following the two bomb explosions at the Deluxe Massage and Karaoke Bar at Tomas Claudio Street that injured a member of the police bomb squad, PO2 Manuel Franklin Ined, Sr.
Police also released the facial composite of the alleged bomber based on the description of several witnesses. The mayor of Zamboanga, Maria Isabelle Salazar, offered a P50,000 to anyone who can provide information leading to the apprehension of the bomber.

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 beverage container that had nails and ammonium nitrate, a banned chemical fertilizer widely used by rebels in the manufacture of homemade bombs. Several bomb explosions were also reported in Isabela City with one police report saying the bombers escaped on a pick-up truck.

The Abu Sayyaf, blamed by authorities to the spate of bombings and killings in the southern Philippines, has recently pledged allegiance to the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

No ISIS recruitment in Mindanao schools, WMSU president says

From the Manila Times (Nov 12): No ISIS recruitment in Mindanao schools, WMSU president says

Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) president Milabel Ho said there are no verified reports that some of their students have been recruited by Islamic State jihadists.

In a letter addressed to Commissioner Minella Alarcon of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) dated November 4, Ho said she has not received reports that members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are recruiting Filipino students at campuses in Mindanao, particularly at their university.

“As per immediate and proper inquiry made by the administration with the appropriate government agencies and other sources, there appears to be no verified information on the alleged recruitment of students from this university,” Ho explained.

The university president said this is the first time they heard about the supposed recruitment of students in the campus.

A student from WMSU earlier claimed that members and supporters of Islamic State jihadists are recruiting students from a Mindanao university, adding that each recruit would be given P70, 000 and would receive more benefits once they finish their training as ISIS.

Since the student who revealed on the alleged ISIS recruitment failed to show up publicly and reveal his true identity, Ho however concluded that the existence of ISIS in Mindanao is not true – but just a myth.

“And while the news item alleges that the information come from a WMSU student, there is no independent confirmation of his or her identity as such,” she said.

Ho also said that she will immediately coordinate with authorities and local officials to prevent jihadists or members of terror groups from preying on students.

“We would like to assure as with all security issues in the region, particularly in Zamboanga City and the university, we are taking the matter very seriously, and we have adopted, in coordination with other government agencies, appropriate measures to address this particular concern,” she said.

Army deploy bomb sniffing dogs in NorCot town after NPA land mine attack

From the Manila Times (Nov 12): Army deploy bomb sniffing dogs in NorCot town after NPA land mine attack

MAGPET, North Cotabato: The military here has deployed more troops and bomb sniffing dogs in remote villages here following a land mine attack by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas that left two soldiers wounded Wednesday noon.

Captain Manuel Gatus, speaking for the 57th Infantry Battalion, said the soldiers were part of an Army contingent conducting peace and development operation program (PDOP) in Magpet interior villages.

While on environmental patrol, part of the PDOP activities, one of the two soldiers stepped on a land mine that went off in Sitio Natutungank, Barangay Bagumbayan, Magpet, North Cotabato.

Gatus refused to identify the soldiers but assured they are now in safe condition.
Additional troops backed by bomb sniffing dogs have already arrived and conducting clearing operations to prevent similar incident as the Army push for peace and development programs.

Barangay Bagumbayan is one of the NPA infiltrated villages of Magpet.

Gatus said the the 57th IB strongly condemned the use of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) because it was a violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) which the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) was a signatory.

“We fear for the safety of civilians in the communities, they may be the next victim if the rebels planted several land mines in the area,” Gatus said in a statement.

At least 17 villages in Magpet has military presence due to Peace and Development Operation Program (PDOP) which aims to bring peace and order as well as implementation of development projects in the area.

Military PDOP is also being implemented in the towns of Tulunan, Makilala and Arakan Valley complex, all in North Cotabato and within the area of coverage of the 57th IB.

The presence of soldiers in the villages has been opposed violently by communist guerrillas and other militant groups.

Before the land mine attack, the NPAs fired rifle grenade at soldiers in one of the villages where PDOP was at work.

Last month, the NPA detonated road side IED that left three policemen injured.

A payloader of a construction company in Magpet was also torched by the NPAs in early October for refusing of its owner to shell out “revolutionary tax.”

Despite the atrocities, Colonel Danilo Vinluan, 57th IB chief, said the program will continue “because at the end of the day its the people who will benefit the projects, including the rebels who reside in the area.”

Vinluan appealed to the residents to support the program because the government is doing it for them.

“We should welcome development, we should support this program because this is pro-people, pro-poor and for the future of your children,” Vinluan said.

MNLF scoffs at jihadists

From the Manila Standard Today (Nov 13): MNLF scoffs at jihadists

The Moro National Liberation Front said it foiled attempts by the Syria-based Islamic State  to influence its ranks and recruit jihadists.

MNLF Spokesman Absalom Cerveza said the IS  extremists were trying to recruit  fighters from  the MNLF ranks but were unsuccessful so far. “As of today, no one from the MNLF has manifested interest in the IS  recruitment,” Cerveza said.

He said the IS members, to boost its recruitment, fanned out to Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, Lanao and Maguindanao—areas considered as controlled territories of the MNLF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Foreign jihadists have  also sought sanctuary in those areas to elude government forces, Cerveza said.

Malaysian terrorist  Zulkifli Abdul Hir, alias Marwan, believed to be the head of the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysian terror group and is a key leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah who has trained Abu Sayyaf Group jihadists in bomb making and other terrorist activities,  has been in the country for years.

Cerveza said the ISIS had a pointman that is in charge of the recruitment venture. He however did not identify the pointman.

The recruitment process, according to Cerveza is being done through a mechanism using Overseas Contract Workers   bound for the Middle East.

“There are no legal means for them to possibly recruit except in the guise of OCW,” Cerveza said.

Having been denied by the MNLF, the ISIS would then shift  focus to Muslim youth, the most vulnerable targets, according to Cerveza.

But Cerveza said he believed that the ISIS would eventually be able to expand its ranks with recruits  particularly the less-fortunate people or vagrants.

“Any body would accept the offer because of the lack of economic opportunities particularly  if he IS offers them a hefty $1,000 dollars per recruit,” Cervez said.

Sulu marijuana 'plantation' discovered in hunt vs Abu Sayyaf

From Rappler (Nov 12): Sulu marijuana 'plantation' discovered in hunt vs Abu Sayyaf

During pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf in a Sulu town, authorities stumble upon lots planted with marijuana

ABU SAYYAF HUNT. Sulu island commander Colonel Alan Arrojado and his men in Sulu. Rappler file photo

ABU SAYYAF HUNT. Sulu island commander Colonel Alan Arrojado and his men in Sulu. Rappler file photo
Government troops and Sulu police on early Wednesday morning, November 12, discovered "marijuana plantations" in Maimbung town while conducting pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf.
The troops of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 (MBLT-2), along with town police, found two lots totalling 700 square meters planted with marijuana in Sitio Kabugan, Barangay Patao in Maimbung town, according to Task Force Group Sulu Commander Alan Arrojado.

Up to 130 marijuana plants, two to 5 feet in height with an estimated value of P500,000 (US$11,100*), were uprooted and turned over to the police.

Arrojado said there is an ongoing investigation on whether the Abu Sayyaf Group is running the plantation. He said this is "possible" because some Abu Sayyaf members are believed to be drug users.

He added, "Our troops recovered shabu paraphernalia like plenty of used aluminum/tin foils in the Abu Sayyaf Group encampments."

In October, the military and the police launched intensified law enforcement operations againt the Abu Sayyaf, a kidnap-for-ransom group keeping at least 10 local and foreign hostages. President Benigno Aquino III has vowed the elimination of the Abu Sayyaf.
The military and the police in adjacent island Basilan also recently stepped up operations against the Abu Sayyaf following an attack that killed 6 soldiers, including a fresh graduate of the Philippine Military Academy.

2 soldiers hurt in land mine blast in Cotabato

From GMA News (Nov 12): 2 soldiers hurt in land mine blast in Cotabato

Two soldiers belonging to the military’s 57th Infantry Battalion were injured when a land mine exploded shortly before noon on Wednesday, a military official said.

Captain Manuel Gatus, the battalion’s spokesperson, did not identify the wounded military personnel but claimed their troops were on environmental patrol in Sitio Natutungan, Barangay Bagumbayan, in Magpet town when the two accidentally stepped on the explosives.

Gatus said the two soldiers are now safe and treated at a hospital in the province.

In a statement, Gatus also said the 57th IB condemns the use of improvised explosive device (IED) as it is against the International Humanitarian Law.

“We are afraid that civilians in the community may suffer casualties if this group [responsible for the incident] continues their atrocities,” Gatus said.

At least 17 villages in Magpet have military presence due to Peace and Development Operation, which aims to bring peace and order as well as implement development projects in the area.

BIFF tagged in bus explosion in Bukidnon

From ABS-CBN (Nov 12): BIFF tagged in bus explosion in Bukidnon

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has been tagged in the bombing of a passenger bus in Barangay Dologon, Maramag, Bukidnon last November 6.

Bukidnon police provincial director Sr. Supt. Glenn Dela Torre said that based on the statements of the passengers of the RTMI bus, they were able to identify the suspect as alleged BIFF member Dawtin Gendang alias Actor.

Charges of multiple frustrated murder and violation of the anti-terrorism law were filed against Gendang and other John Does before the provincial prosecutor's office in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon on Tuesday.

At least four people were injured in the explosion.

Police, meanwhile, said Gendang also has a standing warrant of arrest in Cotabato.

BIFF denies Misuari hiding with Kato

From ABS-CBN (Nov 12): BIFF denies Misuari hiding with Kato

The spokesman of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) denied reports that Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari is hiding in the bailiwick of BIFF founder Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato.

BIFF spokesman Abu Missry Mama told ABS-CBN News that he did not see Misuari or any of the MNLF founding chairman's men in his recent visit to Kato.

"Dun ako galing ilang araw na ang lumipas, mga two days ago, wala namang Misuari doon. Hindi naman din namin ide-deny sa mga tao na nagtatanong sa amin o sa media kung nandun si Misuari. Kung nandun siya, bakit i-deny?" Mama said.

He added that they do not have any communication with Misuari.

Misuari is being hunted down by the government for the Zamboanga siege in September last year.

It was last year when Mama told ABS-CBN News that Misuari sought the BIFF's help to stop the signing of the framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The BIFF, however, did not give in to the request.

Meanwhile, Mama said Kato does not stay in only one area in Maguindanao.
He said Kato still has control over the BIFF.

The BIFF is an armed group that broke away from the MILF.

Another grenade blast rocks Basilan

From ABS-CBN (Nov 12): Another grenade blast rocks Basilan

A grenade was lobbed at a copra warehouse in Barangay Matatag, Quezon Boulevard in Lamitan City, Basilan on Wednesday evening, the military said.

Reports from the Armed Forces' Western Mindanao Command said the warehouse is owned by businessman Efren New.

No casualties were reported in the explosion.

Authorities are investigating the motive behind the blast.

Lamitan Vice-Mayor Roderick Furigay said the incident could be a diversionary tactic by the Abu Sayyaf Group, which has been reportedly placing improvised explosive devices in different areas in Basilan, as well as Zamboanga City.

He said that the incidents took place at the time the military launched its all-out offensive against the Abu Sayyaf.

On Monday, an explosive was found and disrupted at a gasoline station in Isabela City, Basilan following an explosion in Zamboanga City Sunday evening wherein a K-9 handler was injured.

No fly, no sail zone being implemented

From Ang Malaya (Nov 12): No fly, no sail zone being implemented

Armed Forces of the Philippines is implementing a ‘no fly’ and ‘no sail’ restriction within the perimeter and airspace of Caballo Island near Corregidor Island. “Caballo Island is a PN (Philippine Navy) facility, there is a restriction only with respect to overflight elevation and the distance to be no closer than 1,000 yards from the naval facility,” said Navy Spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo.

According to Arevalo the Island houses important equipment. “This camp has mission-essential equipment and supplies.”

“No-Fly Zone” is being implemented in coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines while the “No-Sail Zone” is being monitored by the Philippine Coast Guard.

Even before chosen as location where 108 Filipino peacekeepers from Liberia will be quarantined, government forces are already implement tight security in the said island.

The Filipino peacekeepers will be quarantined in Caballo Island for 21 days to make sure they are free from Ebola virus before meeting their families. After 21 days, peacekeepers from Liberia will be given heroes welcome. They will also receive UN medals.

They will be secured by 24 police officers and one Bureau of Jail Management and Penology personnel throughout there stay in the island.

Regional security, code of conduct to govern sea rows top ASEAN's first-day agenda

From InterAksyon (Nov 12): Regional security, code of conduct to govern sea rows top ASEAN's first-day agenda

Regional security, and the declarations that have been advanced to promote this, topped the agenda on the first day of the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Leaders' Summit here.

President Benigno Aquino III told leaders of the nine other ASEAN member countries it was time to have a legally binding code of conduct in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, 90 percent of which is being claimed by China.

The "legally binding code of conduct," said Aquino, is the best means for responding to the regional maritime disputes, such as that between Beijing and Manila, over the West Philippine Sea.  Last May, the Philippines submitted its Memorial to the UN arbitral tribunal where it had elevated the case against China's "excessive claims."

The code is crucial to promoting economies in the ASEAN bloc in the next few years - particularly in terms of boosting commerce and trade, public-private partnerships, and stronger connectivity between member states, he pointed out.

Leaders of ASEAN supported the President's pitch.

According to Presidential Communication Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma, "the general sense of the heads of state was one of support; they recognize this to be an important step forward."

It is the first time Mr. Aquino has faced all fellow ASEAN leaders since Manila's filing of its Memorial with the UN international tribunal on the law of the sea or ITLOS concerning the territorial claim of Manila on the West Philippine Sea.

President Aquino, however, did not reveal full details of the Philippines-China encounter.

Palace officials stressed that Mr. Aquino and President Xi Jinping had a clear understanding that the two countries will continue negotiations for a peaceful resolution of the maritime issues.

According to Coloma, they acknowledged that peaceful resolution is essential, peace and stability in the region is vital to attaining a greater measure of economic progress.

At the same time, he made clear that by no means was the Philippines withdrawing the arbitration case with ITLOS.

"There is no change in our position, our filing with the [tribunal] for arbitration is still an active process, and we continue to await progress on that process," Coloma added.

Besides the Philippines, ASEAN members Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei have territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Also expected on the first day of the ASEAN meetings is the ASEAN-Japan summit and the bilateral meeting between Mr. Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Japan's emerging role in regional security.

The Philippines is confident about the support of ASEAN leaders for the code of conduct, which is deemed indispensable to boosting the regional economy. This accounts for Manila's expectation that finally, after a decade, the code of conduct may be finally in place.

Cop seized by armed men in Surigao town

From MindaNews (Nov 12): Cop seized by armed men in Surigao town

Unidentified armed men snatched a novice policeman on Wednesday morning in Malimono town in Surigao del Norte, Senior Inspector Rosemarie Molabola, community relations head of the Philippine National Police provincial office said.

Molabola said PO1 Jonry M. Amper was driving his XRM Honda motorbike in Barangay Bunyasan at around 9:45 A.M. when he was flagged down by at least eight heavily armed men believed to be members of the New People Army (NPA).

The suspected rebels were believed to have brought Amper to the mountainous part of Barangay Tinago in Malimono.

A police report also said that Amper was conducting discreet surveillance on reports that unidentified armed men were roaming in Bunyasan.
MindaNews tried to call Malimono Mayor Teodoro Senaca but failed to reach him.

Marcelino Rojo, Jr., a policeman assigned in Malimono town told MindaNews on Wednesday afternoon he was worried over the abduction of his colleague.

“I hope and pray that the abductors will not hurt him and bring him back safe to his family as soon as possible,” he said.

Last Last July 10, an NPA blocking force flagged down four policemen aboard a patrol car in Barangay Puntod, Alegria, Surigao del Norte while other rebels attacked the police station.

The rebels freed the four policemen on July 29 in Hinimbangan, a remote village of Kitcharao town in Agusan del Norte.