Saturday, January 24, 2015

Less communication between kidnapped cop and wife due to ‘intervention’

From the Rakyat Post (Jan 24): Less communication between kidnapped cop and wife due to ‘intervention’


Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman says that the kidnappers are moving Lance Corporal Zakia Aleip (left) around to avoid being caught by the Philippine security forces. — File pic

Communications between kidnapped police personnel Lance Corporal Zakia Aleip and his wife have to be controlled following “intervention” by several other groups.

“They are hampering our efforts to bring Zakia home,” said Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman.
He, however, did not disclose the identity of the “other groups”.
Speaking to reporters after attending a briefing at the Sabah police headquarters in Kepayan for some 600 police personnel who would be deployed for the Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Sabah next week, Jalaluddin said the kidnappers were moving Zakia around to avoid being caught by the Philippine security forces.
“They are also not negotiating the ransom,” he said.

On July 12, 2014, armed gunmen ambushed the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort, off Semporna. In the ambush, Zakia’s colleague, Corporal Ab Rajah Jamuan, was killed.
Following the incident and several other spate of cross border crimes, a dusk to dawn curfew in Sabah’s east coast districts was introduced.
Jalaluddin said the curfew, which expires tomorrow, had been extended for the 13th time until Feb 10, adding that it was necessary based on intelligence reports that the intruders were still planning attacks on the state’s borders.
In addition, he said, resort operators and fishermen associations had called for the curfew to be continued, expressing their satisfaction and security it brought, with some suggesting it should stay permanently.
Jalaluddin said the curfew was introduced to ensure the safety and security of the people along the coast and tourists in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone), and to facilitate surveillance of cross border activities, including trafficking in humans, drugs and weapons.
The curfew was first introduced from 6pm to 6am on July 16, 2014, following spate of kidnappings in the east coast of Sabah in the six districts under Esszone — Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Semporna, Kunak and Tawau.
It has been extended every two weeks since, and recently shortened to 10 hours from 7pm to 5am beginning Aug 18.

Palace: Authorities pursuing lead on suspects behind Zamboanga blast

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 24): Palace: Authorities pursuing lead on suspects behind Zamboanga blast
Photo by Julie Alipala/INQUIRER
Photo by Julie Alipala/INQUIRER
Authorities are currently following a lead on who may have carried out the blast in Zamboanga City on Friday that killed two people and injured 52 others.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippine National Police (PNP) has gathered evidence to identify the perpetrators behind the blast.

“And as of now, what we can tell you is that current evidence available to us has indicated a particular direction. Mayroon na pong tinutumbok (We are already following a lead) based on the evidence that has been gathered, but we will leave that to the military to speak about and the PNP,” Valte said on stat-run radio dzRB.

The Palace official said President Benigno Aquino III has been briefed about the situation and also got a copy of the full report regarding the blast.

Asked if the blast is connected to terrorists Abu Sayyaf or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Valte refused to divulge information regarding the lead.

“We will not… We are not free at this time to discuss the details,” she said.

She said Malacañang would leave it to the military and the police to provide additional details about the blast.

Negotiations with Abu Sayyaf to free cop stall

From the Star Online (Jan 24): Negotiations with Abu Sayyaf to free cop stall

KOTA KINABALU: Negotiations to secure the release of marine policeman Konst Zakiah Aleip (pic) are stalling as Abu Sayyaf gunmen are demanding too high a ransom.

The problem is compounded as Zakiah is being moved constantly due to ongoing Philippines military operations in its Jolo Island hideouts.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman added that Zakiah is believed to be in healthy condition and had not contracted any illnesses.

"Their demands are still too high," he said on Saturday,  without disclosing the amount.

Zakiah was snatched from the Mabul Water Bungalows resort in Semporna Island on July 12 last year.

Filipino sources indicated that the Abu Sayyaf gunmen initially demanded RM3mil, then dropped their price to RM1.5mil before asking for more again.

Jalaluddin said that they had been able to speak to Zakiah and have kept his wife, Sharifah Erna Berson, informed.

"We are restricting communication between Zakiah's wife as we do not want her to be disturbed by various other elements," he said.

MILF: Iqbal calls for statesmanship of Congress on issues of constitutionality of the draft BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Jan 24): Iqbal calls for statesmanship of Congress on issues of constitutionality of the draft BBL

Chairman Mohagher Iqbal of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) appealed on Wednesday (January 21) to the members of the House of Representatives to exercise statesmanship on provisions of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with issue of constitutionality.
Attending the 36th and last public hearing of the Adhoc Committee on the BBL, Iqbal said that they are “on the same plain” as with the rest of the 75-member body in ensuring the constitutionality of the proposed basic law.

In drawing lessons from the failed MOA-AD in 2008, Iqbal said that there is no use in writing a proposed law that is clearly unconstitutional. “We have the experience of the MOA-AD wherein so much problems erupted out of that,” he said.

In particular, Iqbal replied to a question raised by Lanao del Norte Gov. Khalid Dimaporo as to whether or not the MILF would accept amendments to the BBL specifically on constitutional bodies.

Quoting from the Dec. 29, 2014 letter of MILF Chairman AlhajMuradEbrahim to Adhoc Committee Chairman Cong. Rufus Rodriguez, Iqbal said that part of the official position of the MILF is to welcome minor changes or changes that clearly improve or enhance the BBL.

Part of that letter which Iqbal read says that they “trust that Congress will pass the mutually agreed Bangsamoro Basic Law draft with no changes and without diminishing, diluting or watering down its provisions except probably for minor changes or changes that clearly improve it or enhance it.”

Iqbal, also the MILF Peace Panel Chairman, narrated how the peace panels and later on the BTC and the Office of the President exerted all legal diligence to ensure that the provisions of the draft BBL is within the confines of the Philippine Constitution.

Iqbal also spoke on what he called the “very controversial issue of contiguity” especially as it relates to the City of Zamboanga.

He said there is actually no issue of contiguity if one considers the archipelagic nature of the Philippines.

He stressed that the island-provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are in fact not contiguous and if the “issue of contiguity is used, the ARMM could not have been formed.”

He said that Zamboanga City and the last (sic) of the island of Basilan is less than 30 kilometers and the municipal waters (15 kilometers from shoreline) of the city and Bangsamoro waters (22.224 kilometers from the low water-mark of the coast) overlap

“This is a particular issue that the statesmanship of the august body would come into play because you cannot say outright that they are not contiguous because it is overlapping and the definition of territory in the Framework Agreement includes maritime, which is water,” Iqbal stated.

He emphasized that the real issue is right to self-determination, of the “right of the governed to be asked.”

“Let the people of Zamboanga be asked in the plebiscite,” he said before the last public hearing that was attended by local government executives, including Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabel Climaco-Salazar, the five ARMM provincial governors, some governors in Mindanao, and five members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission(ConCom) members.

Christian Monsod, one of the 14 surviving members of the 1986 ConCom that recently issued a favorable position on the constitutionality of the draft BBL, rejoined that any “interpretation of the Bangsamoro must give way to the closing of the gap between law and justice.”

Monsod was joined by fellow ConCom members WilfridoVilalcorta, Jose Luis Martin Gazcon, Florangel Rosario Braid, and Edmundo Garcia.

Cong. Rodriguez announced that the AdHoc committee targets February 9 for the voting on the final committee report.

SolCom cites military gains vs NPA

Posted to the Business Mirror (Jan 23): SolCom cites military gains vs NPA

THE Southern Luzon Command (SolCom) said on Friday its units neutralized 124 guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA), including 18 ranking leaders, during the course of operations in 2014.

The SolCom killed a dozen NPA guerrillas, captured 33 and accepted 79 who voluntarily surrendered, according to Maj. Angelo Guzman, SolCom spokesman.
Guzman said the capture of these individuals prevented the recruitment of new members for their armed component.

Civil-military operations efforts of Bayanihan teams led to the clearing of 40 barangays from enemy influence, he added.

“Our focused military operations in 2014 gained headway in diminishing mass-based support on the Communist Party and the NPA,” SolCom head Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya said.

Visaya claims SolCom’s community-based peace and development efforts in partnership with various stakeholders effectively complemented their focused military operations.

Most of the Bayanihan projects were integral part in the conduct of peace and development operations in the barangays, he said.

A total of 9,443 various projects and activities with stakeholders were conducted, including community services, medical assistance, cleanliness and beautification, feeding programs, sports festivities, and visits to camp facilities, Visaya added.

New Agusan officer

From the Mindanao Newsbits section of the Manila Bulletin (Jan 25): New Agusan officer

Awa, New Leyte, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur – The provinces of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur including the cities of Bayugan, Tandag and Bislig has a new seasoned Army officer in Col. Alexander L. Macario who recently assumed the post of commanding officer of the 401st Infantry “Unity” Brigade (401st IB) based here.

The change of command ceremony on Wednesday was presided by Major General Oscar T. Lactao, commanding general of the AFPs’ Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID).

Macario  replaced Brig. Gen. Gregory M. Cayetano, who will assume as Deputy Chief of Staff for Education and Training, J8, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Army's BBL set

From the Mindanao Newsbits section of the Manila Bulletin (Jan 25): Army's BBL set

Cotabato City - The 6th Infantry Division, adjudged in 2013 and 2014 as the best of 10 Philippine Army divisions in peace and community-building, is sponsoring another record-setting project to promote love via  bike-riding along the combat-prone highway linking this city and Buluan, the new provincial capital town of Maguindanao, on Valentine’s Day.

Organizers led by Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, head of the top performing Army’s 6th Infantry Division, tagged the project as Bangsamoro Bike for Love (BBL) in consonance also with the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6ID public affairs officer, said yesterday.

Army to get 23 Humvee ambulances

From the Manila Bulletin (Jan 24): Army to get 23 Humvee ambulances

The Philippine Army will formally receive tomorrow Humvee ambulances to enhance its medical emergency responsiveness and efficiency, leading to a higher survivability rate among combat casualties.

A blessing and turn-over ceremony for the 23 units M1152 high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV) / (Humvee) will be held at Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo tomorrow at 7:30 a.m., with Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin as the guest of honor and speaker.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Noel J. Detoyato said that the military ambulances they will receive next week are part of the 30 units M1152 HMMWV procured under the Philippine Defense Reform Program to enhance the Forward Health Service Support System of the Philippine Army. The remaining seven units are expected to be delivered in February.

Detoyato said each ambulance is equipped with a life support system including oxygen tank, suction system, upper litter rack, sliding/stowing attendant seat, first aid kit, tools and manuals, among others which can provide immediate medical response to wounded troops prior to their transfer to medical facilities.

“The procurement of these new ambulances will improve the medical care capability in the Army, particularly in the frontline units, leading to a higher survivability rate among combat casualties,” Detoyato said.

The blessing and turn-over ceremony will be witnessed by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang, Jr.; Army Commanding General Lt Gen Hernando Iriberri; and personnel from the Department of National Defense (DND), General Headquarters, and the Philippine Army.

NPA kidnap victims’ remains found in Leyte

From the Philippine Star (Jan 25): NPA kidnap victims’ remains found in Leyte

Crime scene investigators collect a set of skeletal remains found in Macarthur town in Leyte Friday. Lalaine Jimenea

LEYTE, Philippines – Authorities exhumed the skeletal remains of two men who have been reported missing since the 1980s in MacArthur town, Leyte last Friday.

The bones were identified by relatives of the victims, who were reportedly snatched by the New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas, through their clothing.

The remains of Nicostrates Nobio, reportedly kidnapped in August 1984, was dug from a shallow grave in Barangay Lanawan.

Nobio was identified by his sons Reynaldo and Rodrigo through a polo shirt he was wearing when he was last seen alive.

Wilfredo Gabao, 59, who was with Nobio on the day the victim was kidnapped, said they were on their way to a fiesta when three armed men took the victim away.

Nobio’s sons said their father was probably mistaken for a spy. They said they joined the government militia to protect themselves after their father was kidnapped.

The second set of skeletal remains, said to be that of Lolieto Custodio, was found in the nearby village of San Vicente.

Custodio’s son Levi, 47, said he, his brother and a neighbor were with their father on the day armed men kidnapped him. He said the kidnappers hogtied them and took his father away.

Levi said the shirt found with the bones was his father’s favorite. He said they moved to Manila after the incident.

Meanwhile, Eliza Concordo, who accompanied the authorities to the site, expressed hope that her father, Felipe Nobio, would also be found.

Concordo said several men, believed to be victims of the NPA’s Operation: Venereal Disease in the 1980s, remain missing.

 Lt. Col. Allan Jose Taguba, chief of the Army’s 78th Infantry Battalion, said among those reported missing from Mac-Arthur town alone were Alfredo Parado, Nestor and Conrado Bernal, Marcelino Castro, Daniel Gonzaga, Pepe Casuela, Bebot Abalos, Beyo Gubi and Puri Casuela.

At least 1 suspect in Zambo City blast undergoing interrogation

From GMA News (Jan 24): At least 1 suspect in Zambo City blast undergoing interrogation

At least one person linked to Friday's deadly blast near a bus terminal in Zamboanga City is undergoing interrogation by the local police.

But the Zamboanga City Police Office has not identified the person being held, GMA News stringer Jayvee Francisco reported on GMA News TV's "Balitanghali Weekend."

Francisco also reported the city police's bomb squad confirmed a car bomb was used in Friday's blast, but they are still determining the type of explosives involved.

The report added city mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar believes the Abu Sayyaf may have been behind Friday's attack, as many of their colleagues are in the city jail.

Authorities earlier said at least two people were killed while 52 were wounded.

One was Dennis Valente, a tricycle driver passing by the area when the explosion occurred.

State-run Philippines News Agency said the other fatality was identified as Reynaldo Tan.

AFP: No reason to worry over US drones turning up in PHL territory

From GMA News (Jan 23): AFP: No reason to worry over US drones turning up in PHL territory

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Friday said that US military drones turning up in different parts of the country are no cause for alarm.
According to AFP Spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, the drones found were only target drones that do not pose a threat.
“Ibig sabihin ng target drones, ito 'yung mga ginagamit na target practice sa training at karamihan dyan ay ginamit ng Estados Unidos sa may lugar ng Guam na kung saan may exercises silang ginaganap para magkaroon ng kaunting reyalismo yung kanilang training,” Padilla explained.
PNP personnel in Quezon Province pose beside a recovered aerial target drone. The drone, bearing serial number BQ55079 and marked US Navy, was recovered by Patnanungan PNP on Sunday, Jan 4, 2015. The police took custody of the unarmed drone. (GMA News Stringer Hero Peewee Bacuño)
He then said that since most of these drones were disposable, it meant that some may have not been recovered after use.
“Karamihan nito ay tinangay lang ng agos ng tubig na nagmula sa may lugar ng Guam, tulad ng sabi ko kanina, napadpad 'yun sa mga shores natin kasi ganun ang takbo ng current mula sa may Pasipiko papunta sa Pilipinas,” Padilla said.
He also urged anyone who finds a drone to surrender these to authorities so they can track down which country it came from and alert the appropriate diplomatic mission.
Earlier this week, three fishermen recovered a drone off Cagayan while fishing in the Pacific Ocean.
On Jan. 4, the local police of Quezon province also recovered a drone owned and operated by the US Navy.
A similar drone was recovered off the coast of Masbate province by San Jacinto town police in 2013.
The US Embassy said previously that the drone was unarmed and not used to conduct surveillance.
Despite this, Bayan Muna party-list, which opposes the presence of US military assets in the Philippines, said earlier this month that the drones are "yet another proof of the US disregard of Philippine sovereignty." 
"Truth is, the US government, in the pursuit of its own self-serving interest, does not respect nor take into consideration the interest of other nations, allies or not, the Philippines included," Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a statement

5 NPA rebels killed in Surigao City clash: military

From ABS-CBN (Jan 23): 5 NPA rebels killed in Surigao City clash: military

SURIGAO CITY -- Five members of the communist New People's Army were killed in a clash with government troops in Barangay Mati, Surigao City in Surigao del Norte on Thursday, the military said.

Members of the 29th Infantry Battalion clashed with at least 15 members of the NPA Guerilla Front 16, Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

The firefight lasted for 15 minutes.

There was no reported injured from the government side.

Soldiers recovered two M-16 rifles, an M-16 rifle with a M-203 grenade launcher, 10 backpacks, and an improvised explosive device (IED).

Military and police in the area are now on alert for possible retaliatory attacks by the rebels

Photo: Students tour (BRP Ramon Alcaraz)

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 24): Photo: Students tour (BRP Ramon Alcaraz)

Students tour the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), the biggest and newest warship of the Philippine Navy. The warship is now docked at the Cebu International Port, where it is being refueled. The ship is set to return to the West Philippine Sea after standing by in case of an emergency during the recent visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines. RALPH PIEZAS

Third drone recovered in Cagayan

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 24): Third drone recovered in Cagayan

REP. Luz Ilagan on Friday denounced what she described as the continuing drone attacks by the United States following the recovery of yet another drone in the coastal waters of Sta. Ana in Cagayan.

“We have asked this before and we shall ask it again: What is a US drone doing in Philippine territory?” Ilagan said.

“On what specific mission or military exercise was this drone operating and, more importantly, why does the Aquino government allow this wanton breach of national territory and sovereignty?”

The unmanned aircraft was said to be a BQM-74E owned by the US Navy and used in military exercises in Guam.

Ilagan said similar BQM-74E Aerial Target drones had been recovered in Patnanungan, Quezon, and in San Jacinto, Masbate, in January 2015 and January 2013, respectively.

In July 2013 PC3-Orion reconnaissance drones were reported flying over Philippine territory, Ilagan said.

She recalled that in February 2012 a US-led and supported air strike using attack drones destroyed an Abu Sayyaf hideout in Jolo as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippine’s counter-insurgency program.

“Given the heated situation in the West Philippine Sea, the Aquino government should be doubly circumspect in allowing reconnaissance operations and the presence of US drones in the country,” Ilagan said.

“The presence of drones, which has obviously escalated with the signingof the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, puts the country in a very vulnerable situation that could drag us into conflict should our neighbors become further agitated over territorial disputes.”

Ilagan urged the Philippine government to rescind The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and refuse the introduction of US drones and war materials in the country.

Ilagan was the principal author of several resolutions in the House of Representatives seeking a congressional probe into the deployment of US drones in the Philippines.

LOOK: Plantation in Bukidnon attacked by alleged NPA rebels

From ABS-CBN (Jan 24): LOOK: Plantation in Bukidnon attacked by alleged NPA rebels

Suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) attacked a banana plantation in Lilingayon, Valencia, Bukidnon last Tuesday, authorities said.

Photos released by the local police to ABS-CBN News on Friday show a facility in the plantation owned by Dole totally burned down.

About 770 banana trees in the firm's plantation were also cut by the alleged rebels.
No one was reported injured in the incident.

According to Bukidnon police spokesperson Inspector Jiselle Longakit, about P1.4 million worth of properties were destroyed in the attack.

[Photo slide show of damage]

PA brigade commander: AFP’s Bayanihan a strategy against insurgency

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 24): PA brigade commander: AFP’s Bayanihan a strategy against insurgency

MALUNGON, Sarangani -- The 1002nd Brigade, Philippine Army continues to reinforce its “support operations” to counter insurgency in its area of responsibility (AOR).

At a press briefing at the brigade headquarters here on Tuesday (Jan 20), Col. Ronald Villanueva, commander, took pride of the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to “win the peace.” 

Aside from the insurgency update, the briefing also included the brigade’s thrusts for 2015 and its efforts to continuously protect the people and the state.

Villanueva admitted that insurgency continues to grow in some parts of Regions XI and XII.

“The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), National Democratic Front (NDF), and the New People’s Army (NPA) persistently exploit the vulnerabilities of the populace particularly those who are living in far flung communities of the region,” he said.

He also said that rebels continue to perform their “ideological, political and organizational (IPO) works” to build up “their armed elements, consolidating united front efforts and establishing reliable support bases in the communities.”

Col. Villanueva said NPA’s offensives on “soft targets” have distracted AFP’s “focused military operations” from their main guerrilla bases.

“Consequently, the effects of insurgency in these regions have greatly affected the safety and well-being of the people,” he told members of the media urging them to “tell people especially in the government to do their job” since the AFP is just part of the big parcel as support agency in addressing the country’s insurgency problem.

The AFP has been undertaking Bayanihan as strategy to fight insurgency and thus, “win the peace” for years now.

Villanueva said Bayanihan is two-pronged being “people-centered and whole-of-nation” that anchors on human security and human rights as well as on the involvement and concerted efforts of stakeholders.

It is also poised to create conducive environment and lasting peace that paves the way for sustainable development of communities affected by insurgency.

The AFP’s Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) also consists of a series of activities that promotes peace and people empowerment.

The activities include educating communities by enhancing people’s skills, providing access to services like medical-dental, feeding, farm-to-market roads, among others.

The brigade chief described PDOP as an “effective security operation” to protect people from rebels aside from being a “catalyst for effective governance.”  

Col. Villanueva also cited “illiteracy” as the reason why a lot of people in the community are easily convinced to defect to the enemy side.

As to the question why insurgency still remains, he answered by attributing it to Filipinos’ attitude of walang pakialam (I-don’t-care-way) and the habit of procrastinating.

When asked about the peace condition in his area of operation, in general, Villanueva said: “Peace situation is stable but unpredictable.”

The brigade’s AOR are the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Davao Occidental, Davao del Sur, the municipality of Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, and the 2nd District of North Cotabato.

Aside from staff officers of the 1002nd Brigade, the briefing was also attended by battalion commanders: Lt. Col. Ronald Jess Alcodia of 27IB based in Tupi, South Cotabato; Lt. Col. Felix Ronnie Babac of 73IB in Malita, Davao Occidental; and Lt. Col. Apollo Jun Lamaton of 39IB based in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.

Legazpi commemorates 1900 battle against American invaders

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 24): Legazpi commemorates 1900 battle against American invaders

LEGAZPI CITY -- Despite the rains, hundreds of people from the different sectors of this city’s society headed by local officials commemorated the 115th year of the Battle of Legazpi in Quezon Avenue at the central business district.

Mayor Noel E. Rosal led city officials, veterans, business community, students, Philippine Navy and Army personnel, Philippine National Police officers and civil society organizations in the significant historical event.

“This day is the sign of remembering forever the heroism of the Filipino people who fought for our freedom from the hands of the American invaders,” Rosal said.

On January 23, 1900, the American forces consisting of three infantry companies with powerful rifles and canyons landed in shore of Albay Gulf to conquer Legazpi but 800 revolutionary Filipino troops headed by General Ignacio Pawa, Col. Antero Reyes, Captain Alvaro Nepomuceno and Policarpio Pergone put up a fierce fight against the invaders.

The American troops headed by Brigadier Gen. W.A. Kobbe found heavy resistance from the Filipino forces that gallantry engaged them in a bloody fight on San Rafael Bridge that resulted in the killing of 172 Filipinos, including Reyes, who used only bolos.

Further, 12 Filipinos were injured while the American forces' only casualties were also 12 injured.

Rosal said the fight against the foreign invaders is already a history but he urged the Legazpenos tofight hand in hand against illegal drugs, other forms of criminality and the disastrous effects of climate change “that we are now facing for the safety and tranquility of every individual.”

“We will also continue to fight for high-quality education of all the students in this city to achieve their meaningful dreams towards prosperity of every family in the whole community,” he added.

The city chief executive said his administration is always fighting for sustainable development and progress that resulted in the city being included now in the map as one of the localities in the entire country that have done a lot of improvements in infrastructure development, social services and tourism.

In 2014, the City Government of Legazpi was selected by the US Agency for International Development as one of the most livable cities in the entire country.

It was also named by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as a “Hall of Famer” in the Galing Pookk Awards under the DILG’s program for the implementation of Public Private Partnership scheme,

It also garnered the Trail Blazer Award given by the Institute of Solidarity in Asia for the honest-to-goodness governance of the city administration.

“All these recognitions given to the City Government of Legazpi are luminous symbol that the city officials have done an effectively good governance that Legazpenos can be proud,” Rosal said.

Bicol University (BU) president Fay Lauraya said the Battle of Legazpi monument was constructed 115 years ago to honor and always remember the Filipino people who fought with bravery, heroism and nationalism.

Lauraya recalled that on that same day, Col. Amando Arian, commander of the Filipinos' Sorsogon garrison wired Gen. Vito Belarmino, commanding general of the Filipino troops, advising that the American troops had already occupied Sorsogon.

Belarmino immediately alerted the garrison of Legazpi under the direct command of Pawa as chief of operations and his two assistants, Reyes of the famous Tiradores de Silang and Pilgone.

The defense of Legazpi consisted of four main trenches facing the sea from Yawa river to the north to Makabalo river to the south and some secondary entrenchment called trenchera No. 5, closing the approaches of the San Rafael Bridge where the monument now stands.

Remembering history, Lauraya said the independence from the Spanish Government was supposed to be in 1898; however, there was a collapse of diplomatic relations between the Filipino people and the Americans, and soon after, the American troops came over to the country and seized the country from the hands of the Spaniards.

401st Infantry Brigade gets new commanding officer

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 24): 401st Infantry Brigade gets new commanding officer

The Agusan Del Sur-based 401st Infantry Brigade has a new commanding officer in the person of Col. Alexander L. Macario.

Macario replaces Brig. Gen. Gregory M. Cayetano who was appointed as deputy chief of staff for education and training, J-8, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Change-of-command ceremony was presided by 4th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Oscar T. Lactao.

Macario is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sandiwa” Class of 1985.

He held various key positions in the Army Special Operations Command including as 4th Infantry Division's inspector general.

He is a well decorated Army officer who received various military awards for excellence in combat and administration, letters and plaques of commendation and appreciation from different military units and civilian sectors.

Macario vowed to do his job and continue what his predecessor has done. He also encouraged the soldiers of the 401st Brigade to continue to work as a team so that peace and sustainable development in CARAGA region will be attained.

Western Mindanao Command helping police solve Zamboanga City blast

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 24): Western Mindanao Command helping police solve Zamboanga City blast

The Zamboanga City-based Western Mindanao Command announced that all its available units are assisting the local police in identifying and arresting the perpetrators behind the explosion at Barangay Guiwan which left one person dead and 44 others wounded Friday.

“We are currently exhausting all efforts to assist the local police in the conduct of investigations,” Western Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Rustico O. Guerrero said.

He added that Joint Task Force ZAMBASULTA (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) alerted all troops to cordon and monitor the incident.

The blast took place at 3: 15 p.m. at a parking lot along the national highway in Barangay Guiwan, Zamboanga City.

Reorganization and Modernization of the NBI pushed

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 24): Reorganization and Modernization of the NBI pushed

A lawmaker pushes for the enactment of a bill seeking for the reorganization and modernization of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to strengthen the agency's capability to successfully address the “high-tech” level at which criminals pursue their “trade.”

Rep. Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado (2nd District, Bohol) urged the enactment of the “National Bureau of Investigation Reorganization and Modernization Act” as contained in House Bill (HB) 5304.

“This is in consonance with the policy of the State to promote and maintain a modern, competent and highly trained investigative body, functionally integrated and national in scope,” Aumentado said.

“Law enforcement does not seem able nor capable to deliver and respond fast enough or good enough,” the author lamented.

He recalled that a version of this bill was adopted by both the Senate and the House during the previous Congress, but was, unfortunately overtaken by the adjournment without the bicameral conference action being ratified.

It was difficult to imagine how law enforcement could truly be efficient and effective if its growth and expansion were stifled by age-old organizational system and procedures and chained by too much financial restriction, the Bohol lawmaker said.

The Committee on Justice, to which the Aumentado bill has been referred to, is also in receipt earlier of a similar bill, HB 4556, authored by Rep. Ann K. Hofer (2nd District, Zamboanga Sibugay).

“Reorganization, modernization and expansion of the National Bureau of Investigation are long overdue,” Aumentado said.

The NBI – the equivalent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States – “is passionately eager to face the challenges of the present and the approaching millennium, but it needs to be adequately equipped in terms of developed human resources, state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, and necessary logistics for mobilization,” he said.

Furthermore, the proposed statute would pave the way for the NBI to reorganize and modernize to provide the agency the much needed capability to successfully address the “high-tech” level at which criminal pursue their “trade.”

“The NBI vision is to be capable of getting results at the flick of a finger, to be capable of responding quickly to the call to action of the people – all the time,” Aumentado said.

The lawmaker also said that the latest killings of members of media, judges, elective officials and other government officials have caught the attention of international organizations and those concerned sectors of the country on the government’s inability to solve crimes.

Under the bill, the NBI shall implement a modernization program geared towards the acquisition of state-of-the-art investigative and intelligence equipment and the establishment of forensic and scientific laboratories, including the provision for training of personnel.

Likewise, the investigative and non-investigative staff of the NBI should be increased and their positions upgraded to adequately meet the increasing demands of an expanded investigative and detective work.

The NBI should establish a Regional Office in every region and a Sub-Office in every province, to be headed by a Regional Director and Head Agent, respectively. Likewise, field offices in Congressional Districts should be established/maintained, according to the bill.

It also said that the present organizational structure of the NBI should be reorganized into the Office of the Director, Office of the Deputy Director for Administration and Office of the Deputy Director for Operations, Office of the Assistant Directors for Investigation Service, Intelligence Service, Comptroller Service, Internal Audit Service, forensic and Scientific Research Services, Legal Service, and Information and Communications Technology Service. Each of the Services shall be composed of the necessary divisions and sections.

The funds required for the implementation of the proposed Act, including employee benefits, would come from all collections from NBI clearance and certified fees; all Service incomes from training, DNA, Drug tests, Confirmatory and Neuro tests and the like; seizures; other miscellaneous incomes; and appropriations by Congress, as maybe necessary.

The bill provides that all incumbent personnel would continue in office and perform their duties as such, provided that the designated Deputy Director would continue in office as Deputy director and the incumbent Assistant Directors assumes as Assistant Directors of their respective or equivalent Services.

In addition, incumbent Special Investigators should be deemed Regular Agents, provided they meet the qualifications set forth under the proposed Act within two years from the time of its effectivity.

Mindanao governors back BBL, call for improvement of draft law

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 24): Mindanao governors back BBL, call for improvement of draft law

Mindanao governors and local executives expressed their support for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the 36th and last public hearing and consultation conducted by the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro on January 21.

“I'd like to express my support for the BBL,” Maguindanao Governor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu said during the hearing. “I hope the legislative process is fast-tracked, because we all know that our government has been in conflict with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and other groups in southern Mindanao for more than 40 years now.”

Basilan Governor Jum Jainudin Akbar similarly backed the BBL, noting that her constituents are “happy and hopeful that lasting peace can be finally achieved.”

“We are supporting the BBL,” Akbar said while emphasizing the need to educate the public on the Bangsamoro Law. “I hope we properly communicate the BBL to (the people), so they can understand it. Then we won’t have any problems with the BBL,” Akbar said. “We are hoping for peace in Basilan.”

Tawi-Tawi Governor Nurbert Sahali also noted the wide public support for the BBL and the peace process among his constituents, saying, “whatever objectives the national government has with regard to the peace process in our region, we in the local government unit of Tawi-Tawi support it.”

Sulu Vice Governor Sakur Tan similarly expressed his support for the BBL while also urging Congress to improve and fine-tune the draft, especially on provisions that might be challenged on grounds of unconstitutionality.

“We are not against the BBL,” Tan said, but added that “we have our concerns about certain provisions of the BBL…I hope all of our proposals will be considered.”

BBL addresses LGU concerns

Government of the Philippines peace panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, also present at the hearing to address the concerns of the resource persons present, noted that it was not the first time the panel engaged local government officials in the course of the peace process.

“If there is one lesson that we learned in the MOA-AD [Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain] experience, it was that kind of a lack of engagement within government that precipitated the tragic turn of events in 2008,” Coronel-Ferrer said. “That is why when this new panel came in in 2010 we made sure that we had very close coordination and engagement with the local government officials whether as a group or individually.”

Coronel-Ferrer said that the concerns and interests of local government units are addressed in the BBL. She clarified that incumbent local government officials will not be removed from office.

“All local elected government officials will serve their full term until 2016, until the next election in 2016,” Coronel-Ferrer said. “What will be abolished is the ARMM—which means the elected officials, the governor and the vice governor of the ARMM, and the Regional Legislative Assembly—in order to give way to the Bangsamoro Parliament and the executive (office) that will be created in the form of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.”

“The BBL is not blind to the interests of local governments,” she added. “If you look atthe provisions, you'll find that there are very specific provisions such as the principle of devolution and subsidiarity, and the Council of Leaders that can make for a cohesive and cooperative leadership at all levels."

She noted that these provisions would solve the current disconnect between the ARMM regional government and the LGUs. The Council of Leader will be made up of the chief minister, provincial governors, city mayors and sectoral representatives.

Subsidiarity refers to the exercise of power where it us most effectively exercised and is premised on mutual respect for each other.(

Malacanang confirms receiving information about assassination plot on Pope Francis

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 24): Malacanang confirms receiving information about assassination plot on Pope Francis

The Palace confirmed receiving unverified information about the assassination attempt on Pope Francis when he was in a five-day visit to the Philippines.

"We were able to speak to those in the security establishments on that and I was told that they were aware of that particular piece of unverified information that was passed on," Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday.

"Aware po sila, although they did make it a point to establish that the information had no details and was unverified, but because of the situation, it was passed on anyway," Valte told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan.

The report was raw information that was passed on and that was received, without much details, she added.

The country's security establishment exercise prudence and authorities look into those things and they take it into account, the Palace official said.

Asked whether the measure to turn off cellphones signals related to the threat, Valte said it was not the reason. The decision to turn off the signals was made even prior to the reception of the raw and unverified information.

A former military intelligence officer claimed there were two attempts to assassinate the pope during his visit in the Philippines – one in Manila and another in Tacloban, Leyte.

Few months ago, the Iraqi government warned that the Islamic State, which has been sowing terrorism in the Middle East wanted the pope killed, and that the threats against Pope Francis were credible.

(Update) ASG behind Zambo bomb explosion; 2 killed 52 wounded

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 24): (Update) ASG behind Zambo bomb explosion; 2 killed 52 wounded

Authorities have tagged the Abu Sayyaf brigands as those responsible in the powerful bomb explosion Friday that killed two people and injured 52 others in this city.

Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar in a press conference Saturday at City Hall said the incident was related with last Monday’s foiled plan of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members to escape from the local detention facility.

The bomb exploded around 3:15 p.m. Friday in front of a pub house located across the bus terminal in Barangay Guiwan, this city. It was placed aboard a car that was parked in front of the pub house.

Salazar said the ASG plan was to set off the bomb to divert the attention of the security forces while the ASG detainees will stage jail break while another group would storm the detention facility to rescue their comrades.

“Their target was really to destabilize the government by creating a diversionary tactic,” Salazar added.

She said the main target was to rescue from the Zamboanga City Reformatory Center (ZCRC) the two brothers of Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama, namely, Benzar and Musang.

Chief Insp. Julius Arro, ZCRC warden, disclosed there are 56 suspected members of the ASG, including the two Indama brothers, who are detained at the detention facility.

Salazar said that the ASG pushed through with their intention to set off the bomb although the plan to rescue their comrades last Monday was foiled.

“They were unsuccessful with the plan to rescue but they pushed through their intention,” she said.

The rescue plan was foiled when the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) personnel detailed at the ZCRC managed to confiscate Monday three caliber .45 pistols and 140 rounds of ammunition delivered to an ASG detainee.

The guns and bullets were concealed at the bottom of the two home-made concrete charcoal stoves delivered to an ASG detainee by three people, including two women, at the ZCRC.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rodelin Agbulos, City Health Officer, said the latest count of wounded victims totaled to 52 people.

Agbulos said that 10 of the 52 wounded victims were admitted in different hospitals in this city.

Agbulos said the number of fatalities remained at two.

One of the two fatalities, Reynaldo Tan, 38, expired at the hospital several minutes after the explosion while the other, Dennis Valente, died Friday night.(

2 killed, 47 injured as car explodes in Zambo; local execs blame Abu Sayyaf

From InterAksyon (Jan 24): 2 killed, 47 injured as car explodes in Zambo; local execs blame Abu Sayyaf

A tricycle drives past a burning car where a bomb that killed at least one person and injured 48 others is believed to have been planted in Zamboanga City. (photo courtesy of BNFM Zamboanga)

UPDATE 2 - 11:40 a.m., January 24, 2015) Two persons were killed and 47 others injured Friday as a parked car exploded in the southern Philippines, with the local authorities blaming the blast on al-Qaeda-linked Islamic militants.

Dr. Rodelin Agbulos, city health office, identified the second fatality as Dennis Valente, who was earlier listed in critical condition. The first fatality, Reynaldo Tan, 38, died at a hospital several minutes after the explosion.

Agbulos added that 10 of the wounded remained in hospitals as of Saturday morning.
Witnesses told police a parked car went up in flames and was torn to pieces in a powerful mid-afternoon blast that shattered glass panels in a commercial section on Zamboanga city's outskirts.


A bomb squad member suits up by the car where an IED is believed to have been planted. (BNFM Zamboanga)

"There was a suspected bomb in the car," Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro, the city police chief, told reporters.

The explosion occurred in front of a pub and across the street from a bus terminal, he said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, he said.

Most of the other casualties were cut from flying glass shards and are being treated at nearby hospitals, Casimiro added.

Emergency responders give first aid to a victim (BNFM Zamboanga)

Zamboanga city Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco alleged the blast was linked to a plan by the Abu Sayyaf armed group to spring 57 comrades detained at the city jail.

She demanded that the national government remove the prisoners from the city and transfer them to a detention facility elsewhere so the city would not be targeted by bombings.

"This is an SOS call for the 57 inmates to be removed and transferred for the safety and protection of the city," Climaco told reporters.

Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao condemned the explosion, with Governor Mujiv Hataman calling the perpetrators "cowards."

The Abu Sayyaf, a loose band of a few hundred militants founded with seed money from Al Qaeda, has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history.

These have included the bombing of a ferry in Manila in 2004 in which more than 100 people died, and repeated kidnappings of foreigners in the southern Philippines who are usually ransomed off for huge amounts.

Emergency responders carry off a victim on a gurney (BNFM Zamboanga)

Many foreign governments warn their citizens against travelling to the southern Philippine areas, including Zamboanga, which are regarded as strongholds for the Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic militants.

The Abu Sayyaf claims it is fighting to establish an independent Islamic homeland in the Muslim populated south of the mainly Catholic Philippines.

The Zamboanga city jail warden, Julius Arro, told reporters that prison authorities foiled an attempt by unknown supporters to slip at least one gun and 100 bullets to Abu Sayyaf detainees on Monday.

No arrests were made, he added.

Since 2002, US troops have been helping train and advise Filipino troops fighting Abu Sayyaf militants, and the group has been mostly contained in recent years.

In September 2013, Zamboanga was attacked by another Muslim armed group loyal to former Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari.

The attack triggered three weeks of street battles that left more than 240 people dead and large parts of the city of nearly one million in smouldering ruins.

Debris lies on the street as security personnel and bystanders look at a building damaged by the blast. (BNFM Zamboanga)

During the fighting, in which the rebels also used civilians as human shields, about 10,000 homes were destroyed by fires, forcing 116,000 to flee.

Misuari remains at large and faces rebellion charges alongside 57 detained attackers.

Alleged NPA 'collector' falls in Camarines Sur

From InterAksyon (Jan 24): Alleged NPA 'collector' falls in Camarines Sur


Military and police personnel arrested an alleged “collector” of the New People’s Army in Camarines Sur late Friday afternoon.

A report from Camarines Sur police director Senior Superintendent Primo Golingay Jr. said a joint patrol of the provincial police and troops of the Army’s 42nd Infantry Battalion captured Angelito Ramos, alias “Ador,” around 5:45 p.m. in Barangay San Roque, Tinambac town.

Golingacy said an M-1 carbine was seized from the suspect.

NPA attacks DOLE plantation in Bukidnon

From InterAksyon (Jan 24): NPA attacks DOLE plantation in Bukidnon

New People’s Army guerrillas attacked a banana plantation of a multinational firm in Valencia City, Bukidnon on Tuesday, torching facilities and cutting around 770 plants, belated reports reaching Camp Crame over the weekend said.

The reports estimated the damage caused by the attack on the DOLE plantation in Lalingayon, Valencia at P1.4 million.

Soldier killed in Maguindanao shooting

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jan 24): Soldier killed in Maguindanao shooting

A lone gunman shot dead a government soldier in a broad daylight attack Friday in Shariff Aguak town in the restive province of Maguindanao in the Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said Private First Class Richard Indoso, a member of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, was driving his motorcycle in the village of Kurimtem. The soldier was heading to Cotabato City when the gunman attacked him.

The assailant escaped after the shooting and it was unknown whether the attack was carried out by rebels or not.

No other details were made available by officials about the fatal shooting, but the town has been marred by gun attacks in recent months.

Maguindanao is also a stronghold of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters who are battling for an independent state in the southern region if Mindanao.