Friday, November 14, 2014

Obama warns Asian sea disputes could ‘spiral into confrontation’

From GMA News (Nov 15): Obama warns Asian sea disputes could ‘spiral into confrontation’

US President Barack Obama on Saturday warned of the dangers of outright conflict in Asia, as China squares off against rival claimants over various territories, but vowed that Washington would remain anchored in the region.

In a speech at Brisbane's University of Queensland, Obama insisted that his "pivot" of US policy back to Asia was real and here to stay.

In the speech, given on the margins of the G20 summit, the US president reviewed the stunning economic progress seen in East Asia since World War II.

"Yet alongside this dynamism, there are genuine dangers that can undermine this progress," he said, citing North Korea for one and adding: "Disputes over territory -- remote islands and rocky shoals -- that threaten to spiral into confrontation."

China is locked in dispute with Southeast Asian countries over lonely outcrops in the South China Sea and with Japan over another set of islets.

Obama repeated his insistence given in Beijing this week, after talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, that the United States welcomes the rise of China provided it is a peaceful and responsible player on the world stage.

But China, he stressed in Brisbane, must "adhere to the same rules as other nations, whether in trade or on the seas".

And the United States will continue to be "frank where there are differences" with Beijing, Obama said, adding that an effective security order for Asia must be based "not on spheres of influence, or coercion or intimidation where big nations bully the small" but on alliances.

"Generations of Americans have served and died here so that the people of the Asia Pacific might live free. So no one should ever question our resolve or our commitments to our allies," he said.

"Day in, day out, steadily, deliberately, we will continue to deepen our engagement using every element of our power—diplomacy, military, economic, development and the power of our values."

AgustaWestland on Philippine military modernization

From Ang Malaya (Nov 14): AgustaWestland on Philippine military modernization

Philippine government has several businesses with the British-Italian helicopter design and manufacturing company AgustaWestland. The government chose to procure helicopters for Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force from the said manufacturer to ease post procurement services and pilot training.

Three AgustaWestland AW109 Power are already in the arsenal of Philippine Navy acting as multi-purpose naval helicopter which are unarmed. While armed naval choppers are needed, the Navy then procured two armed AW109 helis from the British-Italian manufacturer. Delivery is set on December 2014.

On the other hand, Philippine Air Force also placed order for eight AW109 armed variant. Delivery will start January of 2015. “That’s the scheduled delivery. There is no information that the delivery will be delayed,” Defense Undersecretary for Modernization, Munition and Finance Fernando Manalo said today, November 14.

Air Force’s AW109 armed helis will be mainly used for homeland security, armed reconnaissance and close support.

Meanwhile, Department of National Defense is going through the second phase of bidding for two anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for Philippine Navy.

With this acquisition project only AgustaWestland was qualified for the procurement process of ASW helis. The manufacturer offered the AW159 Wildcat helicopter.

Hundreds flee to North Cotabato as military, BIFF clash in Maguindanao

From GMA News (Nov 14): Hundreds flee to North Cotabato as military, BIFF clash in Maguindanao

Hundreds of families from the town of Datu Piang, Maguindanao province evacuated to nearby villages here as the military and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) rebels engaged in mortar shelling Friday dawn.
Insp. Sindato Karim, the PNP officer in charge, said some 407 families are temporarily seeking refuge in barangays Kabasalan and Bulol in Pikit out of fear of being caught in the crossfire.
Karim however said the number of evacuees is expected to increase as the town’s social welfare and development office has yet to count other evacuees in barangays Katilakan, Barungis, Punol, Makabual, and Balong.
These places where the displaced people are temporarily staying are at least 26 kilometers from town.
“We need to clear the roads leading to these villages for the safety of our policemen and even the LGU employees who will conduct validations in the area,” Karim told this writer in interview.
He said that aside from members of the BIFF spotted in the area, lawless elements who are suspects in the Maguindanao massacre are also believed to be hiding there.
Karim said sporadic gun- and mortar fire could still be heard in Datu Piang town as the military is nearing the major BIFF camp there.
The police officicial also confirmed the death of the two civilians who were hit by mortars while leaving Datu Piang town in Maguindanao at around 4 a.m. on Friday.
Karim identified the victims as Rayhana Akmad, 8 years old and Kinto Akmad, 40, both residents of Barangay Lagban, Datu Piang town. Laila Akmad was also wounded in the incident.
The victims were crossing the Rio Grande de Mindanao on a motorized banca when they were hit by mortar fired from unknown direction.

S. Benedicto rebel camp discovered

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 14): S. Benedicto rebel camp discovered

An abandoned camp of the New People’s Army was discovered Wednesday by Army soldiers, while conducting security operations in Sitio Kinabong, Brgy. Igmayaan, Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental.

Lt. Col. Rommel Cordova, 62nd Infantry Battalion commander, said the camp, that could accommodate 60 personnel, may have been abandoned by its occupants several days ago.
The camp is composed 20 bunkers, four comfort rooms, four kitchens and a mess hall.
Before the discovery, Cordova reported, they also discovered an abandoned harboring area of the NPA in the same barangay, and recovered a sack of rice and a poncho.
Early this week, soldiers of the 11th Infantry Battalion soldiers also seized a rebel camp, following an encounter with members of the Sentro De Grabidad Platoon of the Leonardo Panaligan Command in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, military records show.
Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, who superviseds the security operations of 62IB in northern Negros and 11IB in central Negros, said the discovery of NPA camps is a clear manifestation that the rebel group continues to lose ground, as the people, who relayed the information to the Philippine Army troops, are tired of their extortion activities.
Of the 39 camps discovered by 3rd Infantry Division troopers, 24 were in Negros and 15 in Panay, Maj. Rey Tiongson, 3ID Public Affairs Office chief, said.
Tiongson added that the 3ID is presently intensifying its efforts in securing communities against armed threats through focused military operations, and constant coordination and collaboration with the stakeholders through “ Bayanihan” in attaining peace and development in the region.

4 NPA rebels killed in Sultan Kudarat encounter

From the Philippine Star (Nov 15): 4 NPA rebels killed in Sultan Kudarat encounter

Soldiers shot dead four communist rebels and arrested another in an encounter Thursday in a hinterland in Senator Ninoy Aquino town in the province.

A soldier who was slightly wounded in the ensuing encounter is now recuperating at a hospital.

Col. Melquiades Feliciano, commander of the Army’s 601st Brigade, said the encounter in Barangay Nati erupted when a group of New People's Army guerillas attacked patrolling combatants of the 33rd Infantry Battalion.

The soldiers were dispatched to Barangay Nati to verify reported presence of NPAs in the area suspected to be preparing an attack to local peasant communities.

1Lt. Mark Soria, team leader of the ambushed troops, said four guerillas were killed in the initial exchanges of gunfire.

Soria's team had captured a guerilla who ran out of ammunition and voluntarily turned himself in.

The running firefights the ambush precipitated forced some 300 villagers to evacuate to safer areas for fear of retaliations from the NPA.

The municipal peace and order council, chaired by Mayor Dante Manganaan, is now attending to the needs of the evacuees.

Abu Sayyaf leader's brother-in-law, sub-commander among those slain in Sulu clash - military

From InterAksyon (Nov 15): Abu Sayyaf leader's brother-in-law, sub-commander among those slain in Sulu clash - military

Abu Sayyaf leader Radullon Sahiron

(UPDATE - 10:42 a.m.) A brother-in-law of Abu Sayyaf leader Radullon Sahiron and a sub-commander of the extremist group were allegedly among those killed in a clash with Army Scout Rangers in Talipao, Sulu on Friday, the military said.

Joint Task Group Sulu commander Colonel Allan Arrojado identified Sahiron’s in-law as Beting Jakka and the sub-commander as Hairullah Asbang, who the military officer said was killed in a military air strike. The third reported Abu Sayyaf fatality was Hamer Absara.

However, the military acknowledged the identities of the slain extremists were based on reports from intelligence operatives and that none of the remains of the nine Abu Sayyaf fighters reportedly slain in the clash have been recovered.

The fighting also claimed the lives of five soldiers, while leaving 26 other troops and three Abu Sayyaf fighters wounded.

"As per official record that we have here, there were five soldiers killed and 26 others wounded. On the (Abu Sayyaf) side, they suffered nine killed and three wounded,"
Captain Ma. Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, told in a phone interview.

She did not, however, identify the military casualties as their families have not yet been informed.

She named the three wounded Abu Sayyaf fighters only as Abun, Sali and Almujahid.

Major Edilberto Aramponi, JTG Sulu civil-military operations officer, said the five-hour battle between 150 Scout Rangers against twice the number of Abu Sayyaf gunmen happened in two stages, breaking out in Barangay Bud Bunga at 1:50 p.m. and again at 4:30 p.m.

The military had to call in strikes by attack helicopters to support the ground troops.
"There were other units present in the operation like the 35th Infantry Battalion and the Marines but it was the Scout Rangers who bore the brunt of the contact," Aramponi said.

He added that all the military fatalities were Rangers.

Muyuela said more fresh troops had been inserted in the combat area to conduct pursuit operations against the gunmen, who had splintered into several groups.

She said that the clash actually involved three Abu Sayyaf bands, that led by Sahiron and those of Hatib Sawadjaan and Julie Ekit.

14 killed, 56 hurt as soldiers clash anew with Abu Sayyaf

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 15): 14 killed, 56 hurt as soldiers clash anew with Abu Sayyaf

Five soldiers and nine Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed in heavy fighting between government security forces and the Al Qaeda-linked bandit group in the hinterlands of Sulu yesterday afternoon.

Col. Allan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said 26 soldiers were also wounded in the firefight that erupted at around 1:50 p.m. at Barangay Bud-Bungao in Talipao town.

Intelligence reports likewise indicate that more than 30 bandits were injured in the clashes.

Operating troops composed of four officers and 74 enlisted personnel from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) and the 1st Scout Ranger Company (1SRC) were conducting law enforcement operations when they encountered some 300 Abu Sayyaf gunmen under Radullan Sahiron, Hatib Sawadjaan, and Julie Ekit.

Arrojado said five soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice, while 26 others were wounded in the five-hour series of gun battles.

He added that information gathered also revealed that at least nine were killed on the Abu Sayyaf side, including sub-leader Hairullah Asbang.

A statement from the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) said that at 2:38 p.m., attack helicopters were deployed to provide close-air support to the operating troops.

“It’s a major encounter… as of now the fighting is over. We are tracking their whereabouts, we are pursuing them,” said Arrojado.

Government security forces are hot on the trail of the bandit group since full-scale law enforcement operation was launched in October following the release of two German nationals who were held captive by the Abu Sayyaf 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.

“The intensified operations in Sulu had canalized the group of Sahiron, Sawadjaan and Ekit which

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

Security Boost Following Release Of JI Militants

From the Malaysian Digest (Nov 14): Security Boost Following Release Of JI Militants

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will boost surveillance and Immigration checks at all entry points following the imminent release of 350 Jemaah Islamiah (JI) militants from Indonesian prisons.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the authorities would collaborate with their Indonesian counterparts and Aseanapol, or the Asean police organisation, to ensure that the released militants did not pose any threat to other countries.
“We do not want them to come here and create trouble, let alone reactivate their militant cells,” he said at the federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman here yesterday.
JI is a Southeast Asian militant terrorist organisation dedicated to the establishment of a Daulah Islamiyah (regional Islamic caliphate) in the region.
It was responsible for the Oct 25, 2002, bombing in Bali, Indonesia, which resulted in the United Nations Security Council labelling it as a terrorist organisation linked to the Taliban’s al-Qaeda.
JI is believed to be linked with other militant groups, such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid, a splinter cell of JI that was formed by Abu Bakar Baasyir in July 2008.
Meanwhile, Zahid said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had agreed to the ministry boosting security in the state, with increased community policing measures.
“Lim is supportive of the ministry in increasing the strength of police volunteer reserves and other initiatives under the ministry’s supervision,” he said, referring to Penang’s voluntary patrol unit, which had been declared illegal.
Zahid said other measures included boosting the police-to-people ratio from 1:3,500 to 1:250, or one officer for every 250 people, in the country.
“More closed-circuit television cameras in crime hot spots, as well as patrol cars, will be allocated to improve security.”
He added that the ministry would promote self-censorship initiatives for smartphones, television and cinema during the Film Censorship Board’s 60th anniversary celebration in Putrajaya from Nov 22 to 23.

AFP hunts NPA raiders in Mindoro using air, sea and ground patrols

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 14): AFP hunts NPA raiders in Mindoro using air, sea and ground patrols

A week after New People’s Army rebels attacked the police station in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro, government forces are still looking for the raiders using ground, air and sea patrols.

Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, head of the military’s Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), said a Navy gunboat has been patroling the seas off Mindoro in support of ground operations.

He said attack and transport helicopters were also made available to support the ground operations.

“We want to constrict them,” Visaya said in a statement issued by the Solcom public information office on Friday.

Visaya said the presence of the gunboat would deter the rebels from returning to mainland Mindoro or its nearby islands.

On Nov. 8, Lt. Col. Mario Africa was replaced by Lt. Col. Michael Licyayo as commander of the 67th Infantry Battalion based in Mindoro.

Maj. Angelo Guzman, Solcom spokesman, said the replacement was standard operating procedure after an “internal security operation-related incident” to preserve the Armed Forces’ tempo in the anti-insurgency operation.

Guzman added Solcom would also conduct an investigation into possible security lapses in Mindoro.

An estimated 50 rebels attacked the police station in Paluan in broad daylight on Nov. 7, killing a policeman and a soldier.

Paluan Mayor Carl Michael Pangilinan and his municipal administrator were taken hostage by the rebels and were used as human shields as they retreated. The two officials were freed at a river about three kilometers from the police station.

The Communist Party of the Philippines, in a statement, praised the NPA raiders belonging to the Lucio de Guzman Command based on Mindoro Island who carted away a total of 23 firearms: seven M14 rifles, 13 M16 rifles, a shotgun, two handguns, ammunition and other war material.

“It was one of the biggest NPA tactical offensives this year in terms of the number of arms seized,” the CPP boasted.

The CPP said the seized weapons could arm a new platoon of NPA recruits in Mindoro.

No evidence of ISIS in Mindanao, says US envoy

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 14): No evidence of ISIS in Mindanao, says US envoy
The Abu Sayyaf’s use of the “Islamic caliphate” flag, as shown in a recent video released by a Sulu faction of the extremist group, has not convinced US Ambassador Philip Goldberg that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has indeed reached the Philippines.

“I have no confirmation that ISIS is present in the Philippines. I have heard and seen those statements; there have been statements made here alleging some sort of involvement with ISIS (but) we have no confirmation of that,” Goldberg told reporters during a visit here Friday.

He said with all sorts of claims being made in public, Filipinos should be discerning about the information that they get.

“I would urge people to take all that with the grain of salt,” he said.

But Goldberg admitted that there were indeed “people who have tried to align themselves, at least historically, with ISIS.”

“But I cannot confirm that there is any linkage,” he added.

On reports that some Filipinos went to the Middle East to fight alongside ISIS, he said Washington was concerned.

Goldberg didn’t actually mention the ASG by name but noted that everybody was “concerned about the issue of foreign fighters and of the people going to the Middle East from various countries, and again we don’t have confirmation of that from the Philippines.”

“I know the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine government take it very seriously as we do and we’ll keep close eye on it,” he added.

But then, he said that “everybody should not take these (reports) at face value.”

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said what was obvious was that the Abu Sayyaf was “just riding on the popularity of the ISIS in the international forum.”

“So we believe it is just but a local propaganda but they don’t have direct linkage to the international group,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero claimed Malaysian militant Dr. Mahmud Bin Ahmad was in Basilan.

Ahmad, alias Abu Handzalah, 36, is a known recruiter for ISIS in Malaysia, where he served as lecturer-professor at the Department of Akidah and Islamic Thought.

Guerrero said based on what the military had gathered, Ahmad is currently with Furudji Indama, a Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf leader.

Meanwhile, the military has deployed some 2,500 soldiers to Basilan in response to the call of local officials there for an all-out war against the bandit group.

“And we have some specialized units deployed too,” Armed Forces Chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said during a recent visit here.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said the military should focus its operation in Barangay Macalang in Al Barka town; Kurellem in Ungkaya Pukan, and Baiwas in Sumisip.

“These three barangays are their (ASG) bases but they maintain some satellite bases too,” Hataman said.

What, no Wi-Fi? sigh peacekeepers on Day One at quarantine island

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 13): What, no Wi-Fi? sigh peacekeepers on Day One at quarantine island
The Filipino peacekeepers from Liberia landed on their temporary home on Caballo Island Thursday morning for a 21-day quarantine as a precaution against Ebola virus, an official said.
Lieutenant Commander Marineth Domingo, Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office Chief, said that all 108 personnel of the Philippine Liberia contingent reached the island at the mouth of Manila Bay at 7:20 a.m.

She added that the peacekeepers were onboard BRP Dagupan City, the naval ship that transported them from Sangley Point in Cavite.

The peacekeepers arrived on the island in three batches with two landing crafts for vehicle and personnel of BRP Dagupan City transporting them from the ship to the island at around 6 a.m.

“The Philippine Navy assures the public, especially the peacekeepers and their families, that we will be ready to serve and secure them, and ensure their safety in the island,” Domingo said. “They are all in high spirit and are all well aware of what to expect.”

Caballo Island also houses Navy personnel in its perimeter.

Also, the Armed Forces of the Philippines emphasized the no-fly and no-sail zone is enforced in the area surrounding the island.

Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, AFP Public Affairs Office Chief, said the flight and sail restriction order has been up long before the arrival of the peacekeepers as Caballo Island is a Navy encampment.

Domingo, though, added the no-flight order is only applicable to low-flying aircraft and commercial planes are free to fly over the island.


In case of any probable sickness, Cabunoc said that military doctors are included in the support group of the peacekeepers and the health professionals would be the first responders if any of the peacekeepers fell ill.

He said that the quarantine area has an isolation room wherein a soldier who becomes sick would be housed and treated.

“If a soldier feels not that good, he should immediately consult the doctor,” Cabunoc said.

Once probable symptom of the Ebola virus is observed, Cabunoc said an air ambulance would pick up the soldier and bring him to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Hitting the sack, hitting a snag

Upon the arrival of the peacekeepers, they discovered something that they wanted in the paradise island was sorely missing: Wi-Fi signal.

A peacekeeper talking to Cabunoc said that when they arrived they could not connect to the Wi-Fi, but phone signals on both the Philippines’ largest providers are running perfectly.

“When they arrived, they immediately called their families to tell them on how they are,” Cabunoc said.

Right after talking to the families, the peacekeepers went to bed in their air-conditioned quarters to make up for lost sleep during their travel from Liberia.

Cabunoc added that the peacekeepers would still have a schedule of activities during their 21-day stay in Caballo.

Military didn’t take over Manobo village

Letter to the editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 13): Military didn’t take over Manobo village

This is a reaction to the news article titled “Manobo kids cry ‘SOS’ over disrupted schooling” (Metro, 11/9/14).

I’m a social worker-volunteer living in Davao del Norte and currently helping the Manobo in Talaingod town. I witnessed the arrival of the military for the supposed implementation of development projects, and it was definitely to address the needs of a minority people.

But the Save Our Schools (SOS) network, Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns, Gabriela, Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Karapatan human rights group called for the immediate pullout of the military from the community.

The Manobo needed the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the local government to serve them and to preserve the unity of the tribal people. I don’t think that the SOS and its allied groups are really concerned with the Manobo people because if they were, they would not have used these indigenous tribe.

Did they have to exploit those children and others to oppose something or raise an issue they don’t even know about? Haven’t the SOS network, Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns, Gabriela, Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Karapatan realized that the military is trying to reach out peacefully to the needy, especially the indigenous peoples? They (military) never took over any schools or community.


AFP, BIFF troops clash in Sulu; nine killed

From the Manila Standard Today (Nov 15): AFP, BIFF troops clash in Sulu; nine killed

Five soldiers and four Abus Sayyaf bandits were killed while 26 other soldiers were wounded in almost five hours of fighting in Talipao, Sulu, even as the Bangsamoro Islamic Fighters reportedly suffered ‘heavy casualties’ in a separate clash against government troops in Maguindanao early Friday.

Col. Allan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu said the  “major encounter,” started at 1 p.m after some 100 members of the elite 1st Scout Ranger Company led by Michael Asistores engaged around 300 bandits led by Radullan Sahiron.

“Right now, our soldiers are tracking them. Pursuit operations continue,” Arrojado said.

The military has yet to validate reports that three civilians were killed during the firefight.

In the Maguindanao clash, government security forces reportedly repulsed some 100 fully-armed BIFF rebels who tried to overrun a military detachment in the outskirt of Sultan Sabarongis town.

At least three civilians were hit in the crossfire during the firefight, as BIFF also launched artillery fire against another government positions in Sitio Kabasalan, Brgy Darampua at about 2:30 a.m.

The recent encounter erupted after the BIFF launched attacks on military posts in Sultan Sabarongis town while also targeting some civilians for liquidation in the past few days.

Army Captain Joan Petinglay, Public Affairs Officer (PAO) of the 6th Infantry Division said the military and police forces are conducting pursuit operations against the BIFF members involved in the attacks.

Petinglay said the BIFF forces, who were led by a certain Commander Karialan, were forced to retreat after hundreds of soldiers from the 601st Infantry Brigade reinforced the military detachment.

The BIFF rebels reportedly sought shelter in nearby camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which prevented the soldiers to stop the pursuit.

Petinglay said the military recovered documents, mobile phones, bandoleers and military paraphernalia from a BIFF encampment as the rebels retreated.

Neanwhile, the police said the group behind the November 9 twin bombings that injured a member of a police’s bomb squad and his K-9 sniffing dog belonged to the group of Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Furuji Indama.

Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, officer in charge of the Public Information Office of the Police Regional Office 9 (PRO9), said that based on the official report submitted by the Criminal Investigation Section of the Police Station 11 (Central) led by Senior Insp. Arlan Delumpines, there were four followers of Indama who were responsbile for the bombings.

The explosions transpired at the De Luxe Massage and Karaoke Bar located along Tomas Claudio Street at around 7:40 p.m.

“Information gathered disclosed that the incidents were perpetrated by four followers of Basilan-based ASG leader Furuji Indama. One of them was identified as certain Yaser alias “Yas” while the three cohorts are unidentified, two of them twins, as  natives of Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan,” Samuddin said.

The suspects are described as follows: Yasser -- more or less 22 years old, 5’6” in height, around 55 kilograms, small built, brown complexion with long curly hair (shoulder level); twin brother 1 -- more or less 20, 5’4”, around 54 kg, small built, brown complexion with short straight hair; twin brother 2 -- more or less 20, 5’6”, around 60 kg, brown complexion with short curly hair; and unidentified, 20, 5’5”, small built, white complexion with short straight hair.

Samuddin said that prior to the explosions, the suspects reportedly stayed at a bunk house located at the house of Gafur Pingli in Barangay Taluksangay, Zamboanga City.

“This information is under validation by the intelligence section,” Samuddin said.

`According to the report of Delumpines, the origin of the plastic container used by the suspects in the second explosion was traced to the Unitop Convinience Store.

This was traced through the official receipt attached on the recovered plastic bag which was used as a wrapper to conceal the plastic container that contained the improvised explosive device (IED).

Maguindanao alliance reaffirms unity for Bangsamoro

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 14): Maguindanao alliance reaffirms unity for Bangsamoro

Amid political dissention within their ranks, Maguindanao leaders converged here on Thursday and renewed unity in reaffirming of their support to the government’s peace overtures with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the creation of a parliamentarian autonomous region called Bangsamoro.

Expression of pledges capped the second general assembly of the Alliance of Lumad, Iranun and Maguindanaon (ALIM) at the Al-Nor convention center in this city. ALIM a tri-people political bloc comprised mainly by the mayors, vice mayors and representatives of various sectors from Maguindanao’s 36 towns.

Assembly participants tackled vital community peace and security issues in a day-long session jointly presided over by Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, Vice Gov. Lester Sinsuat, and Rep. Sandra Sema.

Sema, congressman of the first district of Maguindanao, is a member of the House ad-hoc committee tasked to legislate the draft Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL).

The draft BBL prescribes for the creation of a Bangsamoro entity pursuant to two major peace deals signed by the government and MILF.

Lawyer Abubakar Katambak, a senior provincial board member and one of the organizers of the ALIM assembly, said the event also disproved assertions by “hostile” political quarters that local officials in Maguindanao are split in their respective positions on the government’s ongoing peace overture with the MILF.

“There are speculations that local leaders in the province are politically disunited. No, we are not. We cannot get disunited under any situation,” Katambak said.

Other ALIM officials even cited commendations from the MILF leadership and incumbent officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that among the ARMM five provinces, Maguindanao has manifested the staunchest support to the government-MILF negotiations.

Navy gunboat deployed to pursue NPA rebels in Mindoro

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 15): Navy gunboat deployed to pursue NPA rebels in Mindoro

The military’s Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) sent out a Navy gunboat off the seas of Mindoro provinces to constrict communist New People’s Army (NPA) responsible in the attack against Paluan Municipal Police Station last week.

Maj. Angelo Guzman, public affairs officer of Solcom, said that Solcom chief Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya ordered the deployment of a Philippine Navy patrol gunboat as part of the continuing operations against the NPA in Mindoro.

The naval gunboat will augment the relentless ground operations of Army troops against the communists. Aside from the gunboat, Guzman said that Solcom also placed air assets on stand-by.

“We want to constrict them,” Visaya said.

According to the Solcom chief, the presence of the gunboat will deter the NPAs from escaping by returning to mainland Luzon or nearby islands.

“We will make use of our available assets,” he stressed.

Aside from the navy vessel, Visaya said that Air Force assets were also placed on stand-by.

“Attack and transport helicopters are readily available when needed to support the ground operations,” said Visaya.

“We are optimistic to win our campaign in Mindoro,” he added.

Meanwhile, Col. Mariano Antonio Perez Jr. commander of the Army’s 203rd Brigade which has jurisdiction over Occidental Mindaoro are continuously conducting pursuit operations against the NPA attackers of Paluan MPS last Nov. 7 that resulted in the killing of one policeman and a soldier.

Perez said that the focused of the ground operations are known strongholds of the NPAs in Mindoro.

Two killed in BIFF attack in North Cotabato

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 15): Two killed in BIFF attack in North Cotabato

Two civilians were killed while three others were wounded when outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) members harassed military installations in the borders of Maguindanao and North Cotabato before dawn yesterday.

 Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the 6th Infantry Division, said the fatalities as Rayhana Akmad Malading, 11, and Kantoh Kaluidasan, 40 and their three wounded companions were fleeing from the scene of the encounter on board a boat when a mortar landed near them along the river in Barangay Kabasalan, Pikit, North Cotabato. Hermoso said about 50 BIFF guerrillas attacked a detachment of the 7th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Kabasalan, Pikit.

The attackers, he said, position on the other side of the same village but already part of Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao.

Elements of the 7th IB returned fire and killed one BIFF member. No casualty on the government side.

Abu Misry Mama, BIFF spokesperson, admitted they launched the attack against Army positions in Barangay Kabasalan but would not admit responsibility in the death of civilians.

Hermoso said the BIFF incursion in Barangay Kabasalan forced about 100 civilians to evacuate toward the side of Pikit town at 3 a.m.

Citing report from the 7th IB based here, Hermoso said the BIFF used 60 mm mortars in the harassment when the Army returned fire.

The displaced families are now housed in Kabasalan Elementary School in Barangay Kabasalan, Pikit, North Cotabato.

The BIFF is a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front who broke away in 2008. It has about 1,000 armed followers, mostly rag-tag rebels who engaged in extortion, kidnapping, robbery in band and bombing in Central Mindanao region.

CONTINUING VIOLENCE | Couple, grandson wounded as BIFF attack CVO bases in Pikit, North Cotabato

From InterAksyon (Nov 15): CONTINUING VIOLENCE | Couple, grandson wounded as BIFF attack CVO bases in Pikit, North Cotabato

BIFF spokesman Abu Misrie Mama

A couple and their 5-year old grandson were wounded Friday night when the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters simultaneously attacked two militia bases as hostilities between the rebels and government forces continued in the town of Pikit, North Cotabato.

The attack followed the deaths of a farmer and an elementary school student, and the wounding of another pupil, in Barangay Kabasalan during a military mortar strike against the BIFF Friday morning.

BIFF spokesman Abu Misrie Mama acknowledged that one of their fighters was killed by the shelling.

The fighting in Pikit has driven thousands of civilians from their homes and into evacuation centers.

Around 10:20 p.m., BIFF gunmen opened fire on the civilian volunteer organization bases in Barangays Selik and Dasawaw, Colonel Audie Edralin, commander of the 7th Infantry Battalion, said.

None of the militiamen were injured but Raul Sahid, 50, his wife Rosalinda, also 50, and their grandson were wounded.

Around 3 a.m. Friday, farmer Kinto Kalidasan, 40, and Ella Akmad Malading, 11, were killed when mortar barrages targeted at the BIFF struck Kabasalan.

A shell struck Kalidasan’s hut, where the farmer was sleeping.

Malading died when another shell hit a pumpboat she and other residents of the village were riding to flee the shelling.

Another girl, a 14-year old Grade 6 student, was wounded.

CPP: Justice for Hacienda Luisita Massacre can be attained through people’s war

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Nov 14): Justice for Hacienda Luisita Massacre can be attained through people’s war

Communist Party of the Philippines
The CPP joins the Filipino peasantry and people in commemorating the 10th year of the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16, 2014.

Ten years ago, workers of Hacienda Luisita went on strike demanding higher wages. They were joined by thousands of peasants and farm workers clamoring for the distribution of 6,000 hectares of land taken from them by the Aquinos and the Cojuangco landlords. On November 16, several thousand people joined a demonstration in front of the main gates of Hacienda Luisita.

In connivance with the Arroyo regime, the despotic feudal lords and big compradors of Hacienda Luisita unleashed the forces of the Northern Luzon Command to suppress the strike. From the vantage point of the hacienda gates, soldiers fired randomly at the demonstrators. Thirteen farmworkers and supporters were killed while scores were hurt.

In the succeeding months following the massacre, the Aquino-Cojuangco clan unleashed further violence against the farm workers and their supporters. Armed agents of the state and the Cojuangcos carried out the killing of Obispo Maximo Alberto Ramento, Tarlac City Councilor Abel Ladera, Fr. William Tadena, United Luisita Workers Union leader Tirso Cruz and peasant leader Victor “Tatang Ben” Concepcion.

Not one of the perpetrators of the Hacienda Luisita massacre has been meted justice. Criminal charges filed against then Rep. Benigno Aquino III (now president) were summarily dismissed by the Ombudsman. Then labor officials now sit in appointive positions in government offices. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, then head of the Philippine Army unit behind the massacre, now heads the AFP’s Southern Luzon Command.
Worse, the demand for genuine land reform and higher wages remain unheeded. The peasants and farm workers who have long demanded the return of their land remain landless. The so-called land distribution carried out in Hacienda Luisita since 2012 is a big hoax.

Scores of long-time tillers have been removed from the list of “beneficiaries” while loyal subalterns have been rewarded with parcels of land. Small peasants were given “certificates” to be amortized. Meanwhile, the Cojuangcos, through their agents, managed to wrest back the land through such schemes as debt-for-land, taking advantage of the peasant masses’ desperation or forcing them to surrender their certificates through social pressure or threats.

Peasant tillers of several score hectares of productive land are being driven away from their homes and land being claimed by the Cojuangco-owned Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco). Tadeco has employed armed force supported by the local police in uprooting the vegetables and other food crops planted by the peasant tillers. High fences are being erected around the land.

The families and friends of the victims and survivors of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre of 2004 and the workers, peasants and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita continue to desire justice. They tirelessly organize their ranks and wage relentless mass struggles to demand genuine land reform and the return of Hacienda Luisita to the peasants tillers.

The CPP fully supports the struggle of the workers, peasants and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita for justice and genuine land reform.

The peasants of Hacienda Luisita and other vast feudal landholdings and large plantations in Central Luzon and across the Philippines have long been waging revolutionary struggle to advance the national and democratic aspirations of the Filipino people. Their best sons and daughters continue to line up to join the New People’s Army (NPA) to advance people’s war.

The revolutionary program for land reform continues to be carried out nationwide under the auspices of the peasant associations and the organs of political power. Where the revolutionary program for land reform takes root, the peasant masses benefit in the form of a reduction in, or the elimination of, land rent, higher farm gate prices for their agricultural produce, lower prices of agricultural inputs and basic goods, the elimination of usury, establishment of work collectives and other forms of cooperation, increased income through side occupations and so on.

The CPP enjoins the workers, peasants and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita to continue to wage revolutionary struggle. Genuine justice can only be attained by waging people’s war.

CPP: Comrade Lucas (Rendell Ryan Cagula): Young Red fighter, student leader

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Nov 13): Comrade Lucas (Rendell Ryan Cagula): Young Red fighter, student leader

CPP Southern Mindanao Regional Committee
The Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines salutes Comrade Lucas (Rendell Ryan Cagula) whose young life ended in the battlefield while fighting the fascist enemy troops of the 27th Infantry Battalion in Maasim, Saranggani at 2 pm November 4, 2014. Comrade Lucas died along with martyred Red fighters Ka Payat, Ka Doming and Ka Jappie.

Rendell Ryan Cagula was born on February 26, 1991 in Davao City to a lower petty bourgeoisie family. He was the easygoing and friendly RR to his neighbors and friends. His academic records speak for his high intelligence and leadership acumen. He graduated the elementary level with salutatorian honors at the Davao Holy Trinity Academy. In high school at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo High School, he became the editor-in-chief of the student publication The Reflector, and a scholar of the Department of Science and Technology enrolled in the school’s honor’s section.

He took up Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. He became president of the Summer Bridge Program, college representative and later president of the UP Mindanao student council. He was elected executive vice president of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP (KASAMA sa UP), the national alliance of UP student councils. He was also a member of Pi sigma- Pi sigma Delta fraternity, Anak UP Min and Dugong Antro. He became active in campaigning for better school facilities, ouster of UP President Roman who pushed for the 300% increase in tuition fees, and higher budget subsidy for state universities and colleges. He joined the League of Filipino Students and the Kabataan Partylist, where he was the regional spokesperson and coordinator, respectively.

In his foray with these organizations, he became exposed to the basic ills of society and the sorry state of peasants, workers, indigenous people and the urban poor. His study of society led him to an awakening that the same ills can only be cured not by reforms but by a systemic change through an armed revolution. Thus, it was only a matter of time before Cagula was recruited to the Kabataang Makabayan and later as full member of the Communist Party. As a tireless organizer, agitator, educator, and methodical facilitator, he took up key tasks at the Party branch in the youth and student sector. A Party cadre he truly had become, when he decided to stop schooling and concentrate with his Party work.

He resolved to go to the countryside in December 2013 and joined the New People’s Army. He was later deployed to the Far Southern Mindanao Region where comrades and the peasant masses admired his innate leadership skills, critical thinking and fortitude. Cagula became Comrade Lucas when he left the comforts of city life and became a Red fighter who followed the iron discipline contained in the NPA’s three rules of discipline and eight points of attention.

His daily routine was such that he woke up early morning at 4am, and went the tents of his other comrades to stir them up; later they would do morning exercise and maximize breakfast immersing with other comrades. Comrade Lucas became a medic and conducted barrio mass clinics. That he carried heavy medical paraphernalia alongside his already full backpack and an issued M16 rifle, was no burden for Comrade Lucas. He was happy with the masses. In between mass clinics, he taught the indigenous people and peasants of basic political education. In organizing the peasants, he participated in farm work for the communal production. He also did tapping rubber, planting vegetables and helping with the peasants in their individual farms.

In less than year, he became the political instructor of a platoon belonging to the Guerrilla Front 73 and worked in its recovery areas. There he began learning four different dialects of the indigenous peoples, to help him effectively immerse with the masses. He was tireless in agitating comrades to remain firm and steadfast in spirit.
Relentless enemy attacks and series of engagements in Saranggani have made organizing efforts in the recovery areas more difficult for Comrade Lucas. And when the enemy engaged their fighting platoon last week, he heaved his last breath while courageously exchanging blows with the enemy.

Comrade Lucas’ death comes a little over a month after the death of Comrade Jack (Rhaim Buanjug) a youth activist turned Red fighter who died from complications of malaria disease last September 22. The deaths of the two young Red fighters from Davao City were untimely, indeed, for they could have given more for the well-being of the masses and for the national democratic revolution. But comrades and the masses who dearly loved them know that in so short a time in their young lives, the two have left an irreplaceable mark in history.

The enemy’s spin doctors and hysterical anti-communists are quick to debase Comrade Lucas and his death as a senseless consequence from a useless war. They attempt to sensationalize the killing to dissuade young activists and student leaders from participating in the people’s war. They rant against so-called indoctrination, activism and recruitment of the youth in obvious denial of the reality that the young are boundless sources of communists who have the daringness and intellectual capacity to help the masses in waging an agrarian revolution in the countryside. The anti-communist attack dogs capitalize on the deaths of young Red fighters as an occasion to bolster the futility of waging an armed revolution. And yet their propaganda sounds hollow in the face of mounting support from the youth in both cities and in the countryside to become part in the fierce struggle to attain total emancipation.

The ever exploitative and oppressive conditions of the Philippine society continue to provide fertile ground for the young to join the revolution. Comrade Lucas’s martyrdom teach that the youth should never fear sacrifice for there can be no revolutionary victory without sacrifice, to not waver in the face of any setback, to always uphold the revolutionary cause, to not let down guard, rely on the masses at all times, and to strive more in order to defeat the enemy.

Thus, we shall prevail, because the people and the battlefield are our infinite sources of strength and support. Comrade Lucas’ example and the martyrdom of other Red fighters continue to inspire the revolutionary forces to steadfastly carry out the most urgent tasks in advancing the revolution, to outwit the enemy and to resolutely bring the people’s war to revolutionary victory.

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

NDF propaganda statement 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.

Police tags Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf in twin Nov 9 Zamboanga City bombings

From InterAksyon (Nov 14): Police tags Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf in twin Nov 9 Zamboanga City bombings

A band of Abu Sayyaf fighters under Basilan-based sub-leader Furuji Indama was responsible for the twin bombings in Zamboanga City on November 9, one of which wounded a police bomb expert and his sniffer dog, authorities said on Friday.

Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, officer-in charge-of the Public Information Office of Police Regional Office 9 (PRO9), said the official report submitted by the Criminal Investigation Section of Police Station 11 indicated four of Indama’s followers triggered the bombs, which exploded at the De Luxe Massage and Karaoke Bar located along Tomas Claudio Street at around 7:40 p.m. of November 9.

"Information gathered disclosed that the incidents were perpetrated by four followers of Basilan-based ASG leader Furuji Indama. One of them was identified as certain Yaser alias "Yas" while the three cohorts are unidentified, two of them are twin brothers, all natives of Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan," Samuddin said.

The report gave the following descriptions of the suspects:
  • Yasser -- more or less 22 years old, 5’6" in height, around 55 kilograms, small built, brown complexion with long curly hair (shoulder level)
  • Twin brother 1 -- more or less 20, 5’4", around 54 kg, small built, brown complexion with short straight hair
  • Twin brother 2 -- more or less 20, 5’6", around 60 kg, brown complexion with short curly hair
  • Unidentifited -- more or less 20, 5’5", small built, white complexion with short straight hair
Samuddin said prior to the explosions, the suspects reportedly stayed at a bunkhouse at the residence of Gafur Pingli in Barangay Taluksangay.

"This information is under validation by the intelligence section," Samuddin said.

According to the report, the origin of the plastic container used by the suspects in the second explosion was traced to the Unitop Convinience Store as indicated by the official receipt attached to the recovered plastic bag used to conceal the explosive device.

Delumpines reported that the container was bought on November 8 at around 4 p.m. as confirmed by the sales clerk of the convenience store after the receipt was shown to her.

"A male person of the same description in the facial composite sketch shown to her by the investigator on case bought one plastic container colored green. And on November 9, the same person bought two more plastic containers colored green and pink. The investigator on case, when he matched the pieces of broken green plastic container recovered from the scene of explosion and the intact plastic container at Unitop Convenience store, (said) both are virtually identical," the report stated.

Earlier, Armed Forces chief of staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. expressed concern on the fragility of security measures in Zamboanga City, which is still rebuilding from the destruction caused by almost month-long fighting last year between fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front and government forces.

AFP, Ombudsman firm up agreement to hasten disposition of cases

From InterAksyon (Nov 14): AFP, Ombudsman firm up agreement to hasten disposition of cases

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Office of the Ombudsman have firmed up a memorandum of agreement (MOA) aimed at hastening the disposition of cases filed against servicemen and officers.

"To reinforce institutional synergy and fast-track case disposition, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) today at simple ceremonies at the Ombudsman Building," Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said.

Morales said the agreement stipulates that her office retains exclusive jurisdiction over criminal and administrative cases involving graft and corruption, plunder, violations of Republic Act (RA) No. 1379 (An Act Declaring Forfeiture in Favor of the State Any Property Found to Have Been Unlawfully Acquired), R.A. No. 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act), R.A. No. 9485 (Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007), and crimes punishable under Titles II, IV and VII of the Revised Penal Code.

Meanwhile, the AFP retains exclusive jurisdiction over crimes and administrative offenses identified under the Articles of War, complaints involving salaries, benefits, remuneration, promotion of military personnel, including violations of the economic provisions of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Children).

The MOA also provides for the conduct of joint fact-finding investigation on a case-to-case basis as well as training and education programs.

Morales said she is confident "the implementation of this MOA would bring about better women and men in uniform" as she "looks forward to working with the AFP in deepening the sense of integrity, accountability and transparency in the military service."

For his part, AFP Chief of Staff Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr. stated that it is "imperative for us to join hands in order to move forward and prevent misdeeds that taint the honorable path of public service."

Cyril E. Ramos, Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO), and Lt. Gen John S. Bonafos, AFP Vice Chief of Staff and chief of the AFP Office of Ethical Standards and Public Accountability (OESPA), witnessed the MOA signing.

The MOA becomes effective on 01 December 2014.

The Office of the Ombudsman had also forged MOAs with national government agencies such as the Department of Justice in March 2012, the Commission on Audit in April 2012, the Philippine National Police/National Police Commission in September 2012, the Office of the President in June 2013, and the Governance Commission for GOCCs in June 2013.

14 dead, 26 hurt in PH military-Abu Sayyaf clash

From InterAksyon (Nov 14): 14 dead, 26 hurt in PH military-Abu Sayyaf clash

Philippine troops clashed on Friday with Islamist militants on a remote southern island and 14 people were killed in the first major encounter since the army launched an offensive almost a month ago, military officials said.

Militants from the Abu Sayyaf group had been avoiding contact with government forces on the island of Jolo since the release of the two German captives last month after ransom was reportedly paid.

Army rangers killed nine rebels in a five-hour gun battle after the soldiers raided a camp where 300 of the al Qaeda-linked militants were based, said Army spokesperson Captain Rowena Muyuela.

She said five soldiers were killed and 26 were wounded.

Intelligence reports also indicated that around 30 bandits were seriously wounded in the firefight that began 1: 50 p.m. Friday.

Around 300 ASG bandits, led by Radullon Sahiron, were encountered by a force of more than 70 troopers.

Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders Hatib Sawadjaan and Julie Ekit were also involved in the clash, the Western Mindanao Command said.

ASG sub-leader Hairullah Asbang was among the militants killed, said Joint Task Group Sulu commander Colonel Allan Arrojado.

"As of now, the fighting is over, it's already dark but we are pursuing them," Arrojado, also commander of the army brigade on the island, told reporters.

Additional troops were deployed to pursue and block the bandits who were believed to have fled to their jungle hideouts.

Helicopter gunships were brought in to pound the fleeing bandits.

Soldiers have been hunting the militants on the island since the two German captives were released on Oct. 17. But until Friday, they had found only several abandoned camps, Arrojado said.

The Abu Sayyaf are known as one of the most brutal Muslim rebels factions in the Muslim south of the largely Christian Philippines. They are known for kidnappings, beheadings and bombings.

The government signed a peace deal with the largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in March, promising to grant autonomy in the south and ending a 45-year conflict that killed 120,000 people and displaced 2 million.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf member arrested in Zambo port

From MindaNews (Nov 14): Suspected Abu Sayyaf member arrested in Zambo port

Government forces have arrested Thursday a security guard suspected of being an Abu Sayyaf Group member at a wharf here, a top police official disclosed.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City Police Office director, identified the arrested suspect as Rael Muharibil Jumadil, alias Abu Mursan, a native of Barangay Bakkaan, Banguingui, Sulu.

Casimiro said Jumadil is employed by a private security firm and detailed as security guard of M/V Stephanie Marie that plies the Zamboanga City-Basilan route via Isabela City.

He said that Jumadil was arrested by combined police and military operatives at around 8:30 a.m. Thursday aboard the vessel docked at the local wharf.

Casimiro said a warrant of arrest for kidnap-for-ransom has been issued against the suspect by a court in Isabela City, Basilan.

Seized from Jumadil’s possession were a shotgun, a caliber .38 revolver with ammunition, and identification cards “of different persons.”

Jumadil, who was placed under police custody, denied he is a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Goldberg reiterates US support to Mindanao peace process

From MindaNews (Nov 14): Goldberg reiterates US support to Mindanao peace process

United States (US) Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg reiterated his government’s full support to the continuing peace process and the creation of the proposed Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

Goldberg, who visited the city on Thursday, said they are upbeat with the prospects of the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, especially with the recent strides that came with the signing of the final peace agreement in March.

“From an international perspective and from a US perspective, we’re hopeful that the peace agreement will lead to better things, (especially) to the lives of the people (of Mindanao),” he said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.

He said they expect that it would also bring more opportunities and chances to develop the “great resources of Mindanao, including agriculture and mining.”

Goldberg expressed support to the establishment of a new Bangsamoro region, which is the centerpiece of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The BBL will specifically give way to the establishment of a new autonomous political entity, the Bangsamoro government, to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee has been conducting public consultations in parts of Mindanao for the BBL, which it targets to pass before the end of the year.

In terms of peace and order, Goldberg assured that the US will continue to provide support to the government in terms of resolving the lingering security problems in parts of the island, especially the threats posed by the Abu Sayyaf Group.

“We support the government’s efforts to try to end these threats — the kidnappings, the violence,” he said.

During his brief swing here, Goldberg met with City Mayor Ronnel Rivera and leaders of the city’s business sector.

He also met with South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, who chairs the Regional Peace and Order Council of Region 12.

The US Ambassador visited the city’s fishport complex in Barangay Tambler and briefly observed its operations.

“It was interesting to see the ships offloading and to see the actual cutting of tuna,” he said.

Goldberg added the tuna industry is a huge and probably the most important industry in GenSan.

The US is one of the top export destinations of the country’s fresh, chilled and canned tuna, which are mainly produced in this city.

Dubbed the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” the city hosts six of the country’s seven tuna canneries and ancillary industries that generate around US$ 350 million in export receipts annually.

3 dozen killed, wounded in fierce clashes in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Nov 14): 3 dozen killed, wounded in fierce clashes in Southern Philippines

At least 3 dozen soldiers and rebels were killed and wounded in fierce clashes Saturday in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said.

Officials said at least 9 militants and four soldiers were confirmed dead as fighting erupted the hinterlands of Talipao town where security forces are pursuing Abu Sayyaf leaders Radullan Sahiron, Hatib Sawadjaan and Julie Ekit.

Marine Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokesperson for the Western Mindanao Command, said the battle began shortly before 2 p.m. and continued well into the night.

She said helicopter gunships were also dispatched in the area to provide close air support to ground troops.

“Military troops conducting law enforcement operations in Talipao, Sulu encountered undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf members under Radullan Sahiron, Hatib Sawadjaan and Julie Ekit, resulting to the killing of nine Abu Sayyafs and wounding of several others,” Muyuela told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

“The intensified operations launched by the operating troops under Joint Task Group-Sulu had canalized the group of Sahiron, Sawadjaan and Ekit which resulted to massive number of Abu Sayyaf’s casualties,” she added.

Police forces also put up blockades in villages to prevent militants from blending with civilians and eventually escaped.

Abu Sayyaf man arrested in Zamboanga City

From the Manila Examiner BlogSpot site (Nov 15): Abu Sayyaf man arrested in Zamboanga City

Police are interrogating an Abu Sayyaf militant – long wanted for a string of murder cases – following his arrest in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

Police said Rael Jumadil, who is working as a security guard of a ferry here, did not resist when security forces arrested him on Thursday at the local wharf.

Authorities linked Jumadil to a bloody attack in Lamitan City in Basilan province in 2001 and the murder of at least 11 farmers seized by the Abu Sayyaf in Lantawan town.

Police said Jumadil was also acting as a liaison for the militant group in Basilan, one of five provinces under the troubled Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

MILF member arrested in Zamboanga Sibugay province

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Nov 15): MILF member arrested in Zamboanga Sibugay province

Police forces arrested a member of the former rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front tagged as behind a string of murder cases and kidnappings in southern Philippines, officials said Friday.

Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, a regional police spokesman, said Anjang Abbas was arrested in the town of Talusan in Zamboanga Sibugay province after police tracked down his hideout.

He said Abbas is one of the most wanted criminal in western Mindanao because of the huge number of cases against him.

“He is a rogue MILF member and engaged in several illegal activities such as carnapping, robbery, extortion and kidnapping, and is a known gun-for-hire,” Samuddin said.

He said Abbas is currently being investigated by the police. There was no immediate statement from the MILF about the arrest of Abbas.