Monday, December 8, 2014

NPA burn heavy equipment in Kidapawan City - police

From InterAksyon (Dec 9): NPA burn heavy equipment in Kidapawan City - police

Police said Tuesday communist rebels burned the heavy equipment of a private construction company working on a road project beside Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak, over the weekend.

Superintendent Franklin Anito, Kidapawan City police chief, said the rebels who burned two dump trucks, a cement mixer and a backhoe of the Jargon construction company, were identified by witnesses through a police photo gallery.

The burning of the heavy equipment in Barangay Mua-an past midnight on Sunday happened hours after the New People’s Army carried out a roadside bomb attack that slightly wounded an Army captain and a corporal in nearby Barangay Balite, Magpet, North Cotabato.

About 12 heavily armed rebels arrived in Mua-an, and then poured gasoline and torched the equipment used in the construction of a road network connecting Mua-an and Barangay Ilomavis. The equipment had been parked near the village hall.

The rebels then fired their weapons and left, chanting, “We are NPA.”

Kidapawan Councilor Francis Palmones, chair of the committee on peace and order, condemned the attack and urged the police to file charges over what he described as “terrorist act.”

“They (NPA) sow terror in our city. I condemn the act and considered it as barbaric as it caused panic and fear among constituents in Barangay Mua-an,” Palmones said as he appealed to the rebels to spare the city and its people.

“Please don’t disturb the peace and tranquility of Kidapawan City. The peace loving people here want to live without fear and free from any form of terrorists' act,” Palmones added.

Torching of heavy equipment in Kidapawan by suspected NPA rebels condemned

From GMA News (Dec 9): Torching of heavy equipment in Kidapawan by suspected NPA rebels condemned

The City Legislative Council on Monday condemned suspected New People's Army rebels responsible for the torching of some heavy equipment in Barangay Mua-an in Kidapawan on Sunday evening.

The equipment were owned by a private contractor based in General Santos City.
City Councilor Francis Palmones, committee chair on peace and order, in his privilege speech during a special session on Monday, said the act can be considered terroristic and barbaric.

He added the incident caused trauma to the firm's employees and residents who witnessed the torching.
“They sow terror in our city. I condemn the act and consider it as barbaric as it caused panic and fear among constituents in Barangay Mua-an,” Palmones said.
“Please don’t disturb the peace and tranquillity of Kidapawan City. The peace-loving people here want to live without fear and free from any form of terroristic act.” Palmones added.
A dozen alleged suspected NPA rebels torched four heavy equipment in Barangay Mua-an in retaliation for the reported failure of the owner of Jargon Construction to pay revolutionary taxes.
The rebels arrived in the area aboard six motorcycles. Without saying a word, they poured gasoline on the equipment and set them on fire.
Damaged were two dump trucks, a backhoe and a cement mixer. The equipment were being used in concreting the Mua-an-Ilomavis Road being undertaken by Jargon Construction as contractor.
Supt. Franklin Anito, city chief of police, pegged the damage at P20 million.          
In an interview, Anito confirmed that the suspects are indeed members of the NPA as some of them were identified by the witnesses in the photo gallery of possible suspects.
Azer Perez, barangay chairman of Mua-an, said that before the armed men left the place, they identified themselves as NPA and fired shots several times which sowed panic among witnesses.

Chinese fishing fleet anchored off Basilan to avoid Hagupit allowed to sail home - Navy

From InterAksyon (Dec 9): Chinese fishing fleet anchored off Basilan to avoid Hagupit allowed to sail home - Navy

A Chinese fishing fleet on its way home from Indonesia anchored off Basilan Monday to avoid running into typhoon Hagupit, which was battering southern Luzon, and has been allowed to sail home, the Philippine Navy said.

Captain Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, deputy commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao and commander of Naval Force 61, said the Chinese fleet -- 18 fishing boats with 14 to 16 crewmembers each -- is scheduled to sail home Tuesday afternoon through the Basilan Strait, then the Sulu Sea and Balabac Strait, exiting through the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, which the officer said was “their pre-plotted course.”

Bacordo said Naval forces and personnel of the Bureaus of Immigration and of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had also boarded and inspected the Chinese vessels and found everything, including the foreigners’ papers, in order.

The officer said Joint Task Group Basilan had reported that the Chinese vessels had anchored off Langkil Island in Basilan, prompting the Navy command in Zamboanga City to dispatch patrol boats to check.

Bacordo explained that, while foreign vessels can sail through the country’s waters by claiming innocent passage, this “does not include stopping and anchoring unless by force majeure … which they invoked … kasi nga sa bagyo (because there was a storm).”

“That is legal” under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Bacordo added.

He added that the Chinese also possessed a note verbale from the Department of Foreign Affairs allowing them to pass through Philippine waters along the course they had plotted, although he stressed that this was not necessary under the “innocent passage” doctrine.

He said a Navy gunboat guarded the fleet overnight as the foreigners’ papers were checked in Zamboanga City “kasi naka-anchor na lang sila (because they were anchored there) … these are foreigners in our area so our task (is) to secure the maritime environment for both Filipinos and foreigners and we know that’s not a very friendly area.”

Arrests will regain confidence of tourists – KKCCCI

From the Borneo Post (Dec 8): Arrests will regain confidence of tourists – KKCCCI

Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce (KKCCCI) president Datuk Michael Lui lauded the police on their success in detaining Nikson, one of the five Muktadir brothers and other suspects to facilitate in the investigation of kidnap-for-ransom cases in Sabah.

Lui believed that the recent arrests would allow the police to solve cross-border kidnappings in the State.

“This is very good news. I hope the security forces, especially the police, will continue to undertake effective measures to counter any attempts that threaten the security of Sabah,” he said in a press statement yesterday.

Lui stressed that the relevant authorities must step up security efforts in the East Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone).

He hoped that the police would remain vigilant and alert at all times to ensure the security in the ESSZone is under control.

He said the latest arrests and preventive measures such as the curfew imposed in the east coast had boosted the police’s credibility and efficiency in carrying out enforcement activities.

In addition, Lui believed that the latest arrests would regain the confidence of foreign tourists towards Sabah and enable them to feel safe when visiting the State.

“This can definitely restore the confidence of tourists, and therefore rebuild the tourism industry in Sabah.”

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman has confirmed that one of the eight people detained near Pulau Bohayan in Semporna for illegal entry on November 30, was on the police ‘wanted list’ for several cross-border kidnappings in Sabah.

The suspect, identified as Nikson, is one of five Muktadir brothers who are notorious for cross-border kidnappings in Sabah over the past year.

Nikson is also believed to be involved in the kidnapping of marine policeman Constable Zakiah Aleip, 26, at Mabul Water Bungalow Resort in Semporna on July 12.

Jalaluddin said the suspect was detained together with three adults and four children when security forces spotted a vessel trying to sneak into Semporna from Sitangkai Island in the Philippines.

The arrest was made following a normal patrol operation during the curfew order on November 30 around 5.30pm.

Jalaluddin said the police managed to identify the suspect and immediately arrested him while checking those on board the vessel.

Nikson, who is in his 30s, used to live in Bangau Bangau water village in Semporna. He is reputedly an expert boatman who knows the waters off Semporna well and had worked at some of the nearby island resorts.

His brother, Badong@Adzmil, is allegedly the mastermind of the 40-man strong Muktadir brothers gang.

Nikson is said to be the supplier of high-powered boats, which the gang used for kidnappings since 2013.

Other members of his kin include Gadafi, Murphy Ambang Ladia@Gulam, and Ali, who is also known as Braun, all of whom are sons of a notorious local pirate who died several years ago.

On Oct 26, the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) released the photos of six men including Nikson, who were wanted for cross-border kidnappings. The others were Wahab Atab, Badong, Bocai, Ali and Alex.

Wahab Atab surrendered at the Semporna police station on Oct 27.

Esscom: Five kidnapping attempts foiled since July

From the Malay Mail Online (Dec 8): Esscom: Five kidnapping attempts foiled since July

A file picture of a Lahad Datu water village squatter colony. The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) has repelled at least five kidnapping attempts which had been planned by criminals in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) during the past five months. ― Picture courtesy of Esscom

A file picture of a Lahad Datu water village squatter colony. The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) has repelled at least five kidnapping attempts which had been planned by criminals in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) during the past five months. ― Picture courtesy of Esscom

The Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) has repelled at least five kidnapping attempts which had been planned by criminals in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) during the past five months.     
ESSCom Commander Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said this was the biggest success by ESSCom since the restructuring of the entity on July 15.
“Since the restructuring of ESSCom, there has not been any case of abduction in our records. I congratulate all the staff of ESSCom (for this achievement),” he said.   
Abdul Rashid said this in his speech at the parade to mark the retirement of former ESSCom Director of Security Intelligence, Datuk Ahmad Nadzer Nordin at the grounds of the Marine Operations Force Base, near here today.      
Also present were ESSCom Deputy Commander Brig Gen Subari Tomo, ESSCom Marine Component Head, Maritime First Admiral M Karunanithi, Head of the Operations Centre Component Datuk Tuan Roslan Tuan Ismail and ESSCom senior staff.        
Abdul Rashid said that since assuming the post of ESSCom Commander, he had changed the focus and priority of ESSCom from fighting abductions to curbing smuggling activities.       
“We believe and have even proved that by curbing smuggling activities, we managed to curb other activities such as drug trafficking, the entry of illegal immigrants and kidnappings,” he said.       
Beginning next year, he said ESSCom would be even more aggressive with the addition of several new assets and the repair of several assets.

“ESSCom is now planning to repair several boats to assist the existing fleet. We are also planning to acquire several engines to enable the idle boats to operate again,” he said.        
“Defence on the islands will also be strengthened where we are planning to install various equipment such as radars, cameras and alarm systems.

Meanwhile in his farewell speech, Ahmad Nadzer, said he was most fortunate for having been selected to serve ESSCom which was most challenging.  
He said the creation of ESSCom was appropriate to defend the sovereignty and safety of the people of Sabah, particularly in ESSZone and it should be supported by everyone. 
Ahmad Nadzer, who goes on mandatory retirement on Saturday, said ESSCom, which comprised personnel from the Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysian Armed Forces, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the civilian division, was a “role model” agency of the federal government which truly practiced the National Blue Ocean Strategy. — Bernama

Move to free hostage hits a snag

From the Star Online (Dec 9): Move to free hostage hits a snag

KOTA KINABALU: Negotiations for the release of Marine Police Kons Zakiah Aleip have hit a snag with a dispute that nearly ended in a gunbattle in Jolo.

The quarrel over ransom money was between negotiators and the Abu Sayyaf terror group holding Zakiah Aleip hostage on the southern Philippines island.

Philippines intelligence sources in Jolo said the gunbattle was averted with the intervention of a Moro National Liberation Front senior leader identified as Tahir.

The argument broke out between Abu Sayyaf leader Al Habsi and the negotiators led by Marmi Sangkula, a former MNLF commander, more than a week ago over the amount of ransom money delivered to the kidnap group which has moved Zakiah to a plantation in the jungle hideout.
Instead of the agreed 40mil Pesos for board and lodging, only 15mil Pesos (RM1.17mil) reached Al Habsi, said a Jolo source who requested anonymity.

“This angered Al Habsi and his gunmen and they decided to grab Marmi and several other negotiators around the border of Indanan and Patikul municipalities in Jolo,” he added.

The gunmen even went to the coast to see if the boats which ferried one or two Malaysians who were dealing with Marmi Sangkula were still in the vicinity.

“Fortunately for the Malaysians they were already out of shooting range,” the source said.

The source said Al Habsi issued a five-day ultimatum for the delivery of the balance of 25mil Pesos (RM1.96mil) while keeping Marmi Sangkula and his team under guard.

Marmi Sangkula’s men from a neighbouring area wanted to retaliate, but Tahir pacified the feuding sides, and the negotiators were later released, they said.

Tension, however, remained high although Zakiah was reported to be safe as negotiations continue, the sources said.

When asked about the incident, southern Philippines anti-kidnapping activist Prof Octavio Dinompo said he was aware of the latest development but declined to give details.

“I expect the situation to become clearer in a week or so,” said Dinampo.

Zakiah, 25, and Kunak fish farm manager Chan Sai Chuin, 32, for whom ransoms of RM3mil have been demanded, are among 10 held hostage by Abu Sayyaf.

On Saturday, one of the foreign hostages, Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra, 47, escaped from the Abu Sayyaf fighters during a gunbattle with the Philippine military.

A Dutch man Ewold Horn, 52, who was with Vinciguerra, was unable to run away as he was sick and was still held captive near Patikul.

Troops capture NPA rebel

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Dec 7): Troops capture NPA rebel

GOVERNMENT troops have captured a New People’s Army (NPA) rebel following a 30-minute clash in the hinterlands of Davao Oriental, a top military official said Sunday.

Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) chief Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad said the clash ensued Sunday morning at Sitio Sibuli in the village of Maragtas, Lupon, Davao Oriental.

Baladad identified the captured NPA rebel as Joaquin Linma, 28, a resident of Marayag, Lupon, Davao Oriental.

Baladad said the firefight broke out as the troops from the Army’s 28th Infantry Battalion chanced upon a group of NPA rebels while on security patrol.

Baladad added that the troops were sent on security patrol in a bid to thwart extortion activities of the NPA rebels in the area.

The troops have recovered an M-16 Armalite rifle, one anti-tank landmine, personal belongings and subversive documents of high intelligence value, according to Baladad.

No one among the troops were either killed or wounded during the 30 minute firefight, he added.

The clash took two days after four NPA rebels separately surrendered in Davao and Compostela Valley areas.

They were identified as Jaime Pilacan, Jenny Rose Ingcal, Rene Dumalag, and Carlo Tagimla.

Eastmincom information officer Major Ezra Balagtey said Pilacan surrendered to the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion in the village of Ampawid, Laak, Compostela Valley province.

Balagtey said Pilacan turned over an M-14 rile rifle with several rounds of ammunition.

Ingcal and Dumalag yielded to the 84th Infantry Battalion based in Calinan, Davao City while Tagimla to the 73rd Infantry Battalion in the village of Manuel Peralta, Malita, Davao Occidental.

“Based on the testimonies of the surrenderees, they were disillusioned with the leadership of the organization, not only due to the hardships brought by the relentless pursuit operations of the military, but because of the order of the communist party to hit innocent civilians and other non-military objectives in pursuit of their violent goals,” Balagtey said.

Military still verifying status of other foreign hostages with Abu Sayyaf

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 7): Military still verifying status of other foreign hostages with Abu Sayyaf
The military said it had no information yet on the status of other hostages that the Abu Sayyaf has been holding in Sulu as hostilities continued there Sunday.

“We are verifying if the other hostages were able to escape but the operation is continuous so we will keep you updated,” Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of the Western Mindanao Command based here, said.

Guerrero did not say who the other hostages were but escaped hostage, Lorenzo Vinciguerra, had said he was with fellow bird watcher Ewold Horn when the military struck in Patikul on Saturday morning.

Vinciguerra, a 49-year old Swiss birdwatcher, said he and Horn had actually planned to escape together during the military strike but the latter was too sick and weak to move.

He later told military officials in Sulu that he had tried carrying Horn on his back but Horn had refused.

“Horn said you go first, I can no longer walk,” Col. Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu quoted Vinciguerra as saying.

Arrojado said Vinciguerra was concerned about what the Abu Sayyaf might do to Horn.

Guerrero said the military was trying to rescue the other hostages that the Abu Sayyaf was holding in Sulu.

“This is actually the very basic intent of the operation, it is to rescue them,” he said, without providing additional details on who the hostages – aside from Horn – were.

But in an interview following the release of German hostages Viktor Stefan Okonek and Henrike Dieter in October, Guerrero said Abu Sayyaf factions in Sulu were also holding Malaysian Marine police Kons Zakiah Aleip, who was taken from Sabah in July and Chan Sai Chuin, 32, a Chinese national who was also kidnapped in Sabah last June 26.

There were also several Filipino hostages “being held separately by different sub groups,” he said.

The police’s Anti Kidnapping Group (AKG) last month said aside from the European birders, the Abu Sayyaf has also been holding Toshio Ito, a Japanese treasure hunter abducted on July 16, 2010; Chinese national Dina Lim, 42, and her daughter Yahong Tan Lim (both Chinese nationals) – who were kidnapped in Isabela City in Basilan last May 22; and Chinese Malaysians Wai Tung and Jie Tung, who were taken on November 14, 2012 from Lahad Datu in Sabah.

AFP to file charges vs rebels in Agusan attack

From the Sun Star-Davao (Dec 7): AFP to file charges vs rebels in Agusan attack

THE military is determined to file charges before the Provincial Prosecutor's Office against the members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who attacked an ambulance that killed four civilians and hurt seven others at Sitio Latay in Barangay Marfil, Rosario town in Agusan del Sur last November 30.

Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) commander Lieutenant General Aurelio B. Baladad said troops belonging to the Army's 4th Infantry Division are already coordinating with the Provincial Government and police in its investigation and filing of appropriate charges against the rebels behind the attack.

Aside from the criminal charges, Baladad said the NPA rebels have been indiscriminately violating the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the very same law that they are always invoking to be observed and followed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police.

"Yet such attack was just another proof of their true intension not to be truly compliant to IHL and merely use it as propaganda and protection from their criminal activities where the ambush of an ambulance was only a case at point," Baladad said.

Reports earlier revealed that the rebels who attack the ambulance were allegedly under the command of a certain Leonida Belarmino Sanchez, alias Monik or Susay, an NPA's front secretary; Randy Subla, alias Nice; Ariel Conejar Ornales, alias Charlie or Jorlan or Brylle; and Renato Sayasat, alias Friday.

Baladad hit the statement of the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army’s Northeastern Mindanao on the death of the four civilians, which it appeared that it is a mistake to ride any vehicles with government soldiers.

In a statement, the communist movement appealed to civilians not to board any vehicles with government soldiers who are their targets of attack.

China rejects arbitration anew

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 8): China rejects arbitration anew

China insisted Sunday that the United Nations arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case filed by the Philippines against Beijing’s vast territorial claims in the South China Sea.

In a position paper posted on its website, the Chinese foreign ministry said Manila violated international law when it went directly to the United Nations after the two sides agreed to settle disputes bilaterally. China said it was not changing its position not to participate in the UN arbitration case.

“We’re studying it and will issue a statement in due course, if warranted and appropriate,” Charles Jose, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a text message.

China’s rejection came a week before the Dec. 15 deadline given by the tribunal operating under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) for Beijing to respond to the Philippine challenge filed in January last year.

“No acceptance by China is signified in this position paper   of the views or claims advanced by the Philippines, whether or not they are referred to herein. Nor shall this position paper be regarded as China’s acceptance of or participation in this arbitration,” the paper said.

‘Beyond Unclos scope’

China said the Philippine claims were “in essence one of territorial sovereignty over several maritime features in the South China Sea” and that this was “beyond the scope” of the Unclos and did not “concern the interpretation or application of the convention.”

“Consequently, the arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over the claims of the Philippines for arbitration,” it said.

China maintained that it had “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea islands and the adjacent waters and claimed that it was the Philippines since the ’70s that had been illegally occupying islands there, including the Kalayaan Island Group, as well as illegally exploring and exploiting resources.

It said the general principle of international law was that “sovereignty over land territory is the basis for the determination of maritime rights.”

“As far as the present arbitration is concerned, without first having determined China’s territorial sovereignty over the maritime features in the South China Sea, the arbitral tribunal will not be in a position to determine the extent to which China may claim maritime rights in the South China Sea pursuant to the Convention, not to mention whether China’s claims exceed the extent allowed under the Convention,” it said, adding that the issue of territorial sovereignty was not within the purview of the Unclos.

‘Cart before horse’

The paper said the Philippines was “putting the cart before the horse” when it sought arbitration. It said the Philippines was trying to deny China’s sovereignty over the entire Nansha Islands or Spratly Islands even if Manila only wanted to clarify some of the features there. China said the Philippines did not mention the islands that it had illegally occupied.

China said the Philippines had agreed since 1995 to settle territorial disputes through negotiations. It cited agreements, the latest in 2011 during the visit of President Aquino to China where the two countries agreed to settle disputes peacefully.

It said these bilateral instruments meant that a third party was excluded in any settlement of disputes between the two nations.

China also contended that even if assuming that the Philippines’ case against it had to do with the interpretation or application of the Unclos in the dispute, “it would still be an integral part of the dispute of maritime delimitation between the two states,” but this could not be subjected to compulsory arbitration under the Unclos.

It said that in 2006, China made a declaration that it will not accept any of the compulsory dispute settlement procedures in the Unclos, including compulsory arbitration.

China has the right to choose the means of dispute settlement and that its rejection and nonparticipation in the Philippine case in the UN tribunal are “solidly grounded in international law.”

Filipino troops capture NPA rebel in clash

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Dec 7): Filipino troops capture NPA rebel in clash

Government troops captured a communist rebel following a clash Sunday in the southern Filipino province of Davao Oriental, an army spokesman said.

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the fighting broke out in the village called Maragatas in Lupon town after patrolling soldiers ran into a group of New People’s Army rebels.

He said troops recovered an M16 automatic rifle, an anti-tank landmine, personal belongings and subversive documents left behind by fleeing rebels after a 30-minute running gunbattle in the area where troops captured the 28-year old Joaquin Linma.

Balagtey said there were no casualties on their side. He said the rebels were reportedly extorting money from villagers.

He said Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, condemned the extortion and atrocities of the NPA and ordered troops to strengthen security in villages and intensify the campaign against the rebel group, and at the same time urged the communist fighters to surrender peacefully.

“The community is tired of this felonious activity of these bandits that while they are busy on their extortion more information coming from the community that led the troops to locate them. It is for this reason that we are calling on our deceived brothers to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law and live peacefully with their families,” Balagtey quoted Baladad as saying.

Just recently, four soldiers were killed in Bukidnon province after rebels detonated a roadside bomb on a passing military truck. And communist rebels are still holding four government soldiers - Pfc. Alvin Ricarte, Cpl. Benjamin Enot Samano, Pvts. Marnel Cinches and Jerrel Yurong - and three policemen PO3 Democrito Polvorosa, PO1 Marichel Contemplo and PO1 Junrie as prisoners of war in the restive region.

The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging separatist war for many decades now.

8 men executed in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Dec 7): 8 men executed in Southern Philippines

Eight men were executed before dawn Sunday in Iligan City in southern Philippines in what police claimed may be linked to illegal narcotics.

Police said the bodies of the victims were found in the village of Saray where forensic experts recovered several sachets of shabu and drug paraphernalia, including bullet casings of .45-caliber pistol.

Initial police report said four masked gunmen were involved in the killings. Police have identified the victims as Bryan Cubilla, Balong Catiloc, Tata Gabriel, Pedro Lumayaga, Ariel Lumayaga, Narciso Lumayaga, Tonio Decalan, and a still unidentified man.

Senior Supt. Leony Roy Geroche, the local police chief, has formed a special investigation task group that would look into the murders.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the execution of the men.

4 NPA rebels yield in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Dec 7): 4 NPA rebels yield in Southern Philippines

The Philippine Army said four communist insurgents have surrendered separately in Mindanao and officials urged the others to yield peacefully and rejoin society and live with their family.

The four, who were members of the New People’s Army, have been identified as Jenny Rose Ingcal, Rene Dumalag, Carlo Tagimla and Jaime Pilacan.

They surrendered to the in Compostela Valley, Davao Occidental and Davao City.

A statement sent by the Eastern Mindanao Command to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner said “based on testimonies of the surrenderees, they were disillusioned with the leadership of the organization, not only due to the hardships brought by the relentless pursuit operations of the military, but because of the order of the communist party to hit innocent civilians and other non-military objectives in pursuit of their violent goals.”

It said the former rebels will be enrolled to the localized integration program where they originally reside and would be provided with livelihood assistance for them to start a new life.

Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, urged members of the communist rebel group New People’s Army – which is fighting for a separate state in the country - to return to the folds of the law.

There was no immediate statement from the NPA about the surrender of the four Maoist fighters.

Philippines detains 18 Chinese trawlers, poachers

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Dec 8): Philippines detains 18 Chinese trawlers, poachers


Philippine army soldiers inspect one of 18 Chinese trawlers they intercepted off the southern province of Basilan.(Mindanao Examiner)

The Philippine Army is holding dozens of Chinese poachers after intercepting them off the southern province of Basilan on their way to Palawan, a rich marine sanctuary about 586 kilometers southwest of Manila, officials said.

Officials said members of the 4th Special Forces, backed by naval gunships, intercepted 18 Chinese trawlers near Langil Island and apprehended the poachers. The trawlers were towed to a naval base in Zamboanga City where the poachers are being investigated.

Initial military reports said the poachers were heading to Palawan to illegally fish, but had to seek shelter from the storm Ruby. The identities and exact number of the poachers are not immediately known.

“The interception of these Chinese vessels in Philippine territorial waters is part of our active and vigilant campaign in protecting our sovereignty.  This is also part of the anti-illegal fishing efforts to curb the wanton disregard in sea ad environmental laws,” the army said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Palawan province - which lies between Mindoro Island on the North and Sabah on the South; and West Philippines Sea on the West, and Sulu Sea on the East - is rich in marine resources and a favorite fishing ground in the Philippines.

Filipino authorities previously arrested and detained tens of dozens of Chinese poachers in recent years.

In May, the Philippines also detained 11 Chinese poachers, including two minors, near Hasa-Hasa (also known as Half Moon Shoal) Shoal which is part of the Kalayaan Island Group and within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone. The minors were released by authorities since under Philippine laws, minors cannot be prosecuted.

Filipino authorities also recovered from the Chinese poachers many dead giant sea turtles which are endangered in the Philippines. They were all found guilty by a local court and fined each of the poachers $100,000.

There was no immediate statement from the Chinese Embassy in Manila about the latest detention of its poachers in Zamboanga City.

The Philippines and China, both locked in territorial disputes, have previously accused each other violating international maritime laws.

Details of the daring escape by Swiss national from Abu Sayyaf captivity bared (Feature)

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): Details of the daring escape by Swiss national from Abu Sayyaf captivity bared (Feature)

The daring escapade last Saturday by Swiss hostage Lorenzo Vinciguerra, who was held captive by the Abu Sayyaf terror group in Sulu for over two years was full of action and suspense when he was recaptured in his first attempt, but succeeded in his second try by killing the lone terrorist guarding him in a mortal hand-to-hand combat.

Details of Vinciguerra’s great escape were revealed to the Philippines News Agency during an exclusive phone interview with Col. Alan Arrojado, commander of the Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi Task Group of the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Sunday night.

Arrojado described the escape of the Swiss national as classic and one for the books when Vinciguerra virtually fought way to freedom at the crack of dawn last Saturday (Dec. 6, 2014) in Talipao, Sulu when government forces mounted an innovative simultaneous attacks on three targets on the island province where the al-Qaeda linked terrorists are hiding in their mountain lairs.

“It was a well-planned attack after our intelligence unit had confirmed the presence of the Abu Sayyaf holding some 10 local and foreign hostages in separate areas,” said Arrojado, who drew up the battle plan.

“The plan was to mount a ground and air assault first by firing our 105mm howitzers followed by an aerial bombardment,” Arrojado said.

First and Philippine Army Battery fired 50 rounds of 105mm, followed by an interval of every 30 minutes.

“I took the risk and paid off,” he said.

After confirming 100 percent of the reliability of the intelligence report provided by the local populace, Arrojado gave the green light to launch the attacks at 3 in the morning of Saturday.

“The attacks lasted for only 30 minutes and during the lull, Vinciguerra made his first dash to freedom but unfortunately he was recaptured at 4 a.m.,” Arrojado said, quoting the Swiss as saying later when he gained his freedom.

“I ordered my troops to cease firing,” although at that time Arrojado did not have an inkling that Vinciguerra was trying to escape from his abductors.

At 5 in the morning he again ordered his troops to resume the simultaneous attacks against the Abu Sayyaf terrorists who by this time were apparently in disarray as they could not reinforce their other comrades because they themselves were under attack.

Seeing another opportunity, “Vinciguerra decided to sneak out of the camp but a few minutes after, he was noticed by one Abu Sayyaf member, a certain Hussein who was later identified as Abu Sayyaf Group sub commander Juhurim Hussein and a fist fight between the two ensued,” Arrojado said.

During the melee, “Vinciguerra was able to hack Hussein on the head and neck but Hussein fought back and hacked the Swiss on the left side of the face,” he added.

“It was during this confusion that Vinciguerra made his second attempt to escape for good but not after he disposed with the lone Abu Sayyaf guarding the Swiss national, first when they squared off in a fist fight before he (Vinciguerra) was able to seize the machete from the Abu Sayyaf terrorist who hacked him in his face,” Arrojado said.

“When Vinciguerra got hold of the machete, he swung it at the terrorist who was fatally hit,” the army colonel added.

Upon seeing the opportunity for a second escape attempt, Arrojado quoted the bearded Swiss national as saying that it was at that instance that “I decided to escape.”

“Vinciguerra while wandering where to go, a Muslim civilian spotted him bleeding profusely from the wound in his face,” Arrojado added.

By 7 a.m. he was brought to Lt. Col. Eugene Buquio, commander of the Scout Ranger Battalion deployed in Sulu.

It was during the briefing that Vinciguerra was informed that the terrorist he killed was Juhurin Hussien, an Abu Sayyaf sub-commander under Radullan Sahiron, the Swiss national was surprised to know.

Hussien was hacked in the neck, killing him on the spot.

At that instance, it was a matter of life and death for Vinciguerra because if he were recaptured for the second time, he would be beheaded by his captors as what they did to several of their captives before.

Luckily for Vinciguerra he survived the hand-to-hand combat to make a great escape of his life he will never forget to his last breath.

Arrojado vowed that the military will continue its hot pursuit operation against the remaining of about ten hostages, including those held by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

He credited the full cooperation of the people in Sulu by giving accurate intelligence information on the hideouts of the Abu Sayyaf that enabled the military to conduct combat operations last Saturday.

It may be recalled that it was on Feb. 1, 2012 that Vinciguerra, a birdwatcher from Switzerland, was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in Tawi-Tawi, the Philippines southernmost island, along with Elwold Horn, a Dutch, and Ivan Sarenas, their Filipino guide.

However, Horn and Sarenas escaped by jumping into the sea while they were brought to Sulu aboard a motor boat.

Army hunts suspected NPAs in landmine attack in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): Army hunts suspected NPAs in landmine attack in North Cotabato 

The Army here has launched manhunt against suspected New Peoples’ Army (NPA) rebels who set off several improvised land mines that left an Army captain and one of his men wounded in a remote village in Magpet, North Cotabato Sunday afternoon, an Army official said today.

Colonel Nilo Vinluan, commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion, confirmed to Philippine News Agency (PNA) that two of his men were slightly hurt when members of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) set off two or more improvised land mine along a dirt road in Barangay Balite, Magpet, North Cotabato at past 3 p.m.

Vinluan said Captain Nasrullah Sema and a certain Pfc. Camia sustained minor injuries and are now recuperating at a hospital in Kidapawan City.

He said the team of Captain Sema, company commander, was on board in at least three motorcycles heading toward Barangay Balite village center to conduct “Pulong-Pulong” on the Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Vinluan has condemned the use of land mine by communist guerrillas against his men saying the military in Magpet has been pushing for peaceful dialogues with the NPAs but it continued to ignore the offer.

Seven of Magpet’s villages are primary area of the 57th IB’s peace and development activities aimed at helping the locals attain peace in their communities.

“We believed that when there is peace in a community, development follow through,” Vinluan said, adding that his unit had been subjected to several bomb attacks by the NPA.

“Despite that, we remain committed to pushing for peace and development because that is the national government’s thrust in far-flung communities,” he said.

Magpet, located at the slope of the country’s highest peak – Mt. Apo, is among the towns in North Cotabato infiltrated by communist rebels.

Vinluan said no one or no group could stop the PDOP because the program was a noble one aimed at nothing but help improve peoples’ lives in the countryside.

Aside from Magpet, PDOP is also being implemented the towns of Tulunan, Makilala, Kidapawan City, Mlang, President Roxas, Antipas and Arakan.

Army, PNP hunt down NPAs in burning of heavy equipment in Kidapawan

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): Army, PNP hunt down NPAs in burning of heavy equipment in Kidapawan
Police and military forces are now hunting down suspected communist guerillas who torched three heavy equipment of a construction firm in a hinterland barangay of Kidapawan City Sunday night.

The rebels fled bringing with them a village watchman who, as of posting, remained missing.

Colonel Nilo Vinluan, commander of the Army's 57th Infantry Battalion, said the attack happened at about 12 midnight.

It came about seven hours after New Peoples Army set off a series of land mines along a dirt road in the village of Balite in Magpet, North Cotabato that left two soldiers slightly wounded.

Acer Perez, chairperson of Barangay Mua-an here, told Radyo Bida Kidapawan that about a dozen heavily armed men on board six motorcycles arrived at the village at about 11:30 p.m.

They then poured gallons of gasoline on the equipment and set them on fire. As the equipment went ablaze, the NPAs fired their guns, chanting NPA slogans.

According to Perez the rebels then fled and seized a "tanod" (watchman) identified as Tata Cardion after the gunmen stripped him with his 12-gauge shot gun. He remained missing.

The heavy equipment were owned by the Jargon Construction Company constructing road project in the village.

The torching incident came just few hours after suspected NPA rebels staged landmine attacks against personnel of the 57th Infantry Battalion.

Army Capt. Nasrullah Sema and his escort, PFC Camia, were slightly wounded.

Vinluan clarified Sema was hit on his foot, not by bomb shrapnel, but due to an accident as he tried to jump from his motorcycle to cover from the blast. He is now out of danger, the 57th IB commander said.

Vinluan said the attack against soldiers were part of the NPA's opposition to the peace and development outreach program of the military while the burning of construction firm heavy equipment was part of the extortion activities of the rebels.

Eastern Mindanao Command ready to deploy troops to areas affected by 'Ruby'

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): Eastern Mindanao Command ready to deploy troops to areas affected by 'Ruby'
The Eastern Mindanao Command on Monday announced that it is prepared to deploy troops to areas to be affected by typhoon “Ruby”.

It added that it will do so with its Joint Task Force Tambayayong III.

Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Ezra Balagtey said the task force is composed of search and rescue and onfrastructure rehabilitation skilled soldier (mason, carpenter etc) from 10th and 4th Infantry Divisions and Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao.

It was reactivated after warning was issued on the possibility of the typhoon entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

Meantime, except for the Dinagat, Siargao and Camiguin, Provinces, evacuees from the North Eastern coast of the Eastern Mindanao Command have started to return to their respective homes after Typhoon "Ruby" hit Northern part of the Visayas.

In a directive issued by Eastern Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, the 4th Infantry Division was directed to extend the necessary assistance to the different local disaster risk reduction management council in its area of responsibility in bringing the evacuees to their respective community.

Phl requests US disaster management package

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): Phl requests US disaster management package

With Typhoon "Ruby" now starting to batter parts of Southern Luzon after pummeling parts of the Visayas over the weekend, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) announced that the Philippines has requested the support capabilities/assets on disaster management package from the United States.

In its Monday update, the agency reported that the request was coursed through Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. This includes surface and airborne maritime search and rescue, air platforms, (helis and fixed wings), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support. Earlier, the US Embassy in Manila has offered nine Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo aircraft and three Lockheed P-3C "Orion" maritime surveillance planes for air assessment and monitoring. Medical, relief workers and other support will also be provided if needed.

Army fends off NPA extortion team in Isabela

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): Army fends off NPA extortion team in Isabela

Troopers from the Army's 86th Infantry Battalion have successfully fended off a New People's Army (NPA) extortion team during an encounter at the boundaries of Barangays Sinalugan and Aringays, San Guillermo town, Isabela Sunday afternoon.

The rebel band was composed of 20 fighters, Lt. Col. Jose Arn Real, 86th Infantry Battalion commander, said.

He added that the encounter, which lasted for five minutes, took place at 1 p.m.

Real said that his men were conducting law enforcement operations when residents told them of the NPA extortion attempt, prompting to proceed to the threatened areas.

A M-1 Garand rifle was recovered from the scene of the encounter.

Residents reported seeing many wounded rebels fleeing. No casualties were reportedly incurred by the government side.

Sorsogon, Albay, Catanduanes evacuees now returning home --SolCom

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): Sorsogon, Albay, Catanduanes evacuees now returning home --SolCom

Evacuees who hunkered down into various evacuation shelters in Sorsogon, Albay and Catanduanes in the Bicol Region over the weekend due to typhoon "Ruby" are now returning home, Major Angelo Guzman, Southern Luzon Command (SolCom) spokesperson, said on Monday.

"The 903rd Infantry Brigade and 31st Infantry Battalion started assisting evacuees in Sorsogon in returning to their homes at 7 a.m. Monday," he said.

He added that the 901st Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Battalion and 83rd Infantry Battalion also began assisting evacuees in Albay and Catanduanes to return to their homes starting at 9 a.m.

Guzman also said that the Masbate airport in the same region is now clear for landing.

No casualties attributable to "Ruby" were reported in the three provinces, he added.

"The Southern Luzon Command is closely monitoring the preparations and effects of Ruby in Romblon and Mindoro," Guzman said.

Aside from this, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has given 500 sacks of rice to the Southern Luzon Command units directly involved in humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR).

Around 300 troopers from the 2nd Infantry Division were alerted for HADR missions, complementing efforts being done by the 4th Infantry Battalion.

"All three naval vessels docked in San Pascual, Burias Island, Masbate were properly secured and in operational condition," Guzman said.

Aside from these missions, the Southern Luzon Command announced that it has now alerted its rapid damage and needs assessment teams for post-"Ruby" operations.

Guzman said that disaster response operation units are now helping in clearing roads blocked by typhoon debris.

Clearing operations ongoing in Guiuan airstrip

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): Clearing operations ongoing in Guiuan airstrip

Clearing operations are now ongoing at the Guiuan airtrip in Eastern Samar, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said Monday.

Clearing of the facility will allow the government and its allies to land more relief goods and items which will be distributed to families in Samar area hard hit by Typhoon "Ruby", he added.

Once the air strip is cleared, an air controller unit will be immediately deployed to assist incoming civilian and military aircraft to make safe landings and take-off.

The typhoon made its first landfall in Dolores, Eastern, Samar, Sunday

Guiuan is the area where Supertyphoon "Yolanda" made its landfall in Nov. 8, 2013.

CA junks plea for recall of arrest warrant vs cops in "Atimonan Shootout"

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): CA junks plea for recall of arrest warrant vs cops in "Atimonan Shootout"

The Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed the petition filed by a police officer in connection with the alleged “Atimonan Shootout” which killed 13 persons in Quezon province last year.

In a 12-page ruling written by Associate Justice Isaias Dicdican, the CA’s Special 11th Division denied for lack of merit the amended petition for certiorari filed by Supt. Ramon Balauag seeking to annul and set aside the resolution issued by Gumaca, Quezon Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 61 Judge Maria Chona Pulgar-Navarro, which inter alia, denied his motion for judicial determination of probable cause.

“The Resolution that was issued by the [RTC] is hereby affirmed…dated September 20, 2013 and the Motion for Reconsideration and Supplement Motion for Reconsideration dated September 23, 2013 and October 24, 2013, respectively, that were filed by [the] petitioner…” the CA ruling dated Nov. 28, 2014 said.

Concurring in the ruling were Associate Justices Amy Lazaro-Javier and Victoria Isabel Paredes.

Records show that several persons, known as the “Siman Group”, were involved in alleged illegal gambling, illegal drugs, gun-for-hire and other criminal activities in the Southern Luzon area.

With the objective of neutralizing the group, “Coplan Armado” was conceptualized in order to conduct surveillance and covert operations on the group.

Supt. Hansel Marantan, Deputy Chief of the Regional Intelligence Division of the Police Regional Office 4-A, allegedly received on Jan. 5, 2013 an information that a convoy of four vehicles without registration plates carrying 15 to 20 fully-armed men would be passing through the Maharlika Highway on their way to Camarines province.

At about 1 p.m. of Jan. 6, 2013, three checkpoints were established along the highway, Barangay Lumutan, Atimonan, Quezon by a joint police and army forces that was headed by Marantan, Balauag, Chief of the Provincial Intelligence Branch of the Quezon Provincial Police Office; Chief Insp. Grant Gollod, Chief of Police of Atimonan; and Lt. Col. Monico Abang, Battalion Commander of the First Special Forces Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), the two Mitsubishi Montero SUVs did not slow down when they were apprehended and, instead, opened fire on the police operatives who were manning the checkpoint, prompting the joint forces to retaliate, thereby killing all of the 13 occupants of the two SUVs.

Marantan was allegedly wounded during the encounter.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended on Aug. 30, 2013 that charges for multiple murders be filed against several PNP officials and personnel, including Balauag, who had allegedly participated in the alleged “shootout.”

The RTC issued a warrant of arrest against them after finding probable cause on the basis of information that was filed by the DOJ.

Balauag sought for recall of the warrant of arrest and for re-examination of the pieces of evidence in the case, but was denied by the RTC.

This prompted him to seek redress before the CA.

The CA said that “there was no hint of whimsicality nor gross and patent abuse of discretion on the part of the lower court as would amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law or to act at all in contemplation of law.”

“Per contra, the lower court, in resolving the aforesaid motions, applied the basic precepts of law to the facts, allegations and evidence on record,” it said.

The CA added that “the grounds that were relied upon by [Balauag] for the recall of the warrant of arrest that was issued against him and for the judicial determination of probable cause clearly involved factual disputes which are best ventilated in a full blown trial.”

PN to deploy 3 ships to transport supplies to 'Ruby' affected provinces

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): PN to deploy 3 ships to transport supplies to 'Ruby' affected provinces

The Philippine Navy (PN) on Monday announced that it will be deploying three ships to help in the ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) being done for Typhoon "Ruby" victims.

The ships will deliver and transport much needed relief goods and equipment, Navy public affairs office chief Lt. Cmdr. Marineth Domingo said.

One of the vessels, the BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-36), is already loaded with 33 tons of assorted relief goods, and currently docked at Puerto Princesa City, Palawan waiting for orders to head for the towns of Cuyo, Magsaysay, and Agutaya Islands in northern Palawan.

Meanwhile, loading of relief goods on board BRP Dagupan City (LC-551) and BRP Benguet (LT-507) which can accommodate seven thousand tons and four thousand tons of cargoes, respectively, is still ongoing.

LC-551 is currently docked in Sangley Point, Cavite City and will procced to Romblon and Oriental Mindoro upon completion of cargo loading.

On the other hand, LT-507 is docked at the Captain Veloso Pier in Mactan, Cebu and will head for Tacloban City once all her cargo is loaded.

The PN thru Civil Military Operation Group (CMOG) and CMO-Units all over the country is now accepting relief goods from different agencies/individuals who want to share something for their fellowmen severely affected by the calamity.

"The PN in addition to its tasks for internal and external security shall be an active partner of government in disaster response and relief operations," Domingo said.

(Update) US, Japan, Australia, Singapore assessment teams now in PHL

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): (Update) US, Japan, Australia, Singapore assessment teams now in PHL

Advance assessment teams from the United States, Japan, Australia and Singapore have arrived in the Philippines to help in the ongoing efforts to determine the exact damage caused by the onslaught of Typhoon "Ruby".

This was announced by 7th Civil Relations Group commander Major Emmanuel Garcia Monday.

He added that the US team is composed of nine personnel while the Japanese team is composed of eight while those coming from Australian and Singapore are composed of four each.

Garcia said that these teams will help their Philippine counterparts in expediting assessment of damage sustained by the country during the onslaught of "Ruby."

In line with this, a US aircraft, U-28, which overfly the affected areas in the Visayas and nearby provinces, initially indicated light damage along a 20-kilometer width path.

"(The plane) saw no signs of major damage (in) structures, most trees it saw were bending but not down," Garcia said.

And with adverse weather caused by "Ruby" expected to batter Metro Manila early Tuesday, the 7th Civil Relations Group commander said that Joint Task Force-National Capital Region has already pre-positioned disaster response task units in flood prone areas in Manila, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela.

Eastern Mindanao Command committed to observing, protecting human rights

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): Eastern Mindanao Command committed to observing, protecting human rights

With the country celebrating National Human Rights Consciousness Week (NHRCW), the Eastern Mindanao Command renewed its commitment to put premium in protecting the people’s right especially the children, elderly and the vulnerable.

NHRCW is celebrated from Dec. 4 to 10.

Brig. Gen. Alexander F. Balutan, Eastern Mindanao Command human rights officer, said they are committed in protecting the rights of the people especially the children and the vulnerable

“One of the reasons for being of service to the local residents of Eastern Mindanao, is the protection of their rights particularly the poor and the oppressed to be free from fear and want. As such, we fully and continuously support and cooperate with other government agencies especially the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Commission on Human Rights in pursuit of the common aspiration," he added.

"Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law is part of our Rules of Engagement and we are conducting and providing lectures, training and seminars on Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and Role of Law to our officers and men,” Balutan stressed.

Navy deploys 42 ships, 13 aircraft for 'Ruby' relief efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): Navy deploys 42 ships, 13 aircraft for 'Ruby' relief efforts

With government relief efforts for people displaced by Typhoon "Ruby" going full blast, the Philippine Navy (PN) on Monday announced that it has so far deployed a total of 42 naval ships and 13 aircraft to respond to the needs of affected communities.

Lt. Cmdr. Marineth Domingo, Navy public affairs office chief, said that these assets were stationed in strategic locations from the Visayas, Southern and Northern Luzon, Northern Palawan including those of the islands in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Eastern Mindanao

These can be broken down into four surface ships assets in Southern Luzon; 10 naval ships in the Visayas, 10 surface assets and two aircraft in Palawan; six naval ships in Eastern Mindanao and two aircraft in Northern Luzon.

Moreover, a total of 12 surface assets are on standby and ready for deployment in Sangley Point, Cavite City under the Command of the Fleet-Marine Ready Force and nine other aircraft of the Naval Air Group.

Likewise, a number of disaster response and rescue teams were deployed in areas covering Cavite, Manila stretched to CAMANAVA (Caloocan- Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuela) areas to avert the effects in these flood prone areas.

Deployed were 10 teams with one medical team in CAMANAVA aside from that 12 teams with one communication van and three medical teams for Cavite area; and 10 teams deployed in Manila area.

A total of 37 PN DRR (disaster relief response) teams are ready to respond in case of any eventualities.

"The Flag Officer-in-Command (Vice Admiral Jesus Millan) emphasized the Navy’s thrust in helping our government in its nation–building efforts in areas affected by this typhoon. Thus, the Navy’s participation heed to the call of the local government units and the community as a whole for force protection and security; likewise, as reliable partner in inter-agency operations," Domingo stressed.

She added that this mission put into the test the PN’s communication, electronic and information system capability in times of disaster.

Rehabilitation efforts manifested through sealift, transport and relief operations; road clearing, search and rescue; medical assistance as well as reconstruction activities with the Navy engineering capability, Domingo concluded.