Tuesday, May 19, 2015

US may give PHL more support to counter pressure from China over sea dispute

From GMA News (May 20): US may give PHL more support to counter pressure from China over sea dispute

A think tank believed to be influential in the Obama administration has hinted of more support by the United States to the Philippines in order to counter further pressure from China over the Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin Shoal) in the Spratlys in South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
Patrick Cronin, senior director for Asia Pacific security program of Washington-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS), said there is need for the Philippines to “shore up” BRP Sierra Madre, a Navy ship that was deliberately run aground in 1999 and has since then deteriorated into its present decrepit condition. 
Patrick Cronin of the Washington-based Center for a New American Security said the Philippines needs to 'shore up' the BRP Sierra Madre stationed on Ayungin Shoal. Sandra Aguinaldo
The BRP Sierra Madre serves "as a permanent Philippine installation in response to China's illegal occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995," the Deparment of Foreign Affairs previously said.

In a briefing with Asian journalists visiting Washington D.C., Cronin said the Philippines needs "to do more than just resupply food and water” to the small group of Marines stationed on the ship. 
“It would have to shore up the structure in order to preserve it (BRP Sierra Madre),” Cronin said.
He warned that making improvements on the ship would certainly be opposed by China which has constantly maintained patrol ships near Ayungin Shoal. However, he also hinted of support from the US government.  
"The United States would probably be in a stronger position soon to make sure that we can give more backing to the Philippines… I suspect more forward leaning in terms of trying to give Philippines support against potential coercion or actual coercion on this issue. It (the United States) is trying again to signal to China that is not a good behavior,” Cronin said. 
CNAS is said to have provided security and military analysis for the White House and that some of its former officials have been appointed to various posts in the Obama administration. 
Air Defense Identification Zone
Cronin also sees the possibility of China declaring the West Philippine Sea as an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
“They (China) are already basically building these artificial islands to give them the de facto capability to enforce an ADIZ. I believe that’s why China has not announced (the ADIZ) because it would be opposed by most ASEAN countries, if not all. They wanna make sure they have the positioning right when they announce it,” Cronin said.  
Should this happen, Cronin said the United States would likely challenge China’s claim of control of the airspace as it had done in the East China Sea. 
In a separate briefing, Michael Fuchs, Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs of the US State Department, reiterated Washington’s "strong interest” in maintaining freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. 
“Without a doubt, our presence and freedom of navigation will continue. We do believe that it is welcomed by the countries in the region, and contributing factor to peace and stability,” Fuchs told journalists from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand currently on a reporting tour in Washington, DC. 
He added that China, the second largest economy in the world, is not totally unaffected and has even backed down on some issues due to international pressure. 
"China is paying a reputational cost for their actions in the South China Sea. You can look at other instances where China has taken an action or perhaps taken a step back or not fully implemented its previous action. For instance the Hainan fishing regulations, or the ADIZ  over the East China Sea. Examples of areas where I think the Chinese have recognized that their actions are assertive,” Fuchs said.

China, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia lay claim on parts or virtually the entire South China Sea with its islands and reefs where undersea gas deposits have been discovered in several areas.

Analysts have feared the conflicts could be Asia's next flashpoint.

7ID, nangangailangan ng 152 bagong sundalo

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 18): 7ID, nangangailangan ng 152 bagong sundalo

FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY – Ipinahayag ng 7th Infantry Division- Philippine Army ang pangangailangan ng karagdagang kasundaluhan na magsisilbi sa bansa.

Ayon kay Division Public Affairs Officer Captain Mark Anthony Ruelos, aabot sa 152 na bagong kasundaluhan ang kailangang marecruit ng dibisyon sa kasalukuyang pagtanggap ng mga bagong aplikante.

Matatandaang sinimulan nitong ika-11 ng buwan ang pagpaparehistro sa mga nagnanais pumasok sa pagkasundalo.

Kasunod aniya nito ay isasagawa sa darating na ika-27 hanggang ika-29 ng Mayo ang Pre- Medical Checkup para sa mga nakapagsumite ng kanilang mga papel.

Dagdag pa ni Ruelos, ang bawat nagnanais maging miyembro ng Hukbong Katihan ay dadaan din sa Trade Test upang suriin ang taglay na kaalaman at kakayanan na angkop sa pagiging sundalo.

Ang makakapasa aniya rito ay didiretso sa Physical at Medical Examination na kailangan para sa pagsisimula ng kanilang pagsasanay.

Bago ang kanilang unang salang sa pagtitraining ay sasailalim muna ang mga aplikante sa balidasyon na pangungunahan ng Headquarters, Philippine Army upang matiyak na kanilang naabot ang panuntunan ng pagiging sundalo.

Samantala, inaasahang magsisimula sa darating na ika-28 ng Setyembre, taong kasalukuyan ang Candidate Soldiers  Course sa 7th Division Training School sa loob ng kampo Magsaysay.

Army official condemns ambush of unarmed soldiers in Samar

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 19): Army official condemns ambush of unarmed soldiers in Samar

While Samar province was conducting a Peace and Order Council meeting on Friday, Lt Col Antonio Dulnuan received a report that his men were ambushed and two of them were admitted at the Samar Provincial Hospital.

Dulnuan, Battalion Commander of the 87th Infantry Battalion based in Calbiga, Samar strongly condemned the incident.

According to him, it was treacherous on the part of the NPAs to kill troops who were unarmed and not in combat operation.

“This act of NPAs is murder in the highest degree,” he said.

“It should be condemned by the peace-loving people as we are now in the path towards peaceful resolution of the 45 years of NPA insurgency,” Dulnuan added.

Based on a report, six of 87th IB troops were on board three motorcycles and were traversing the Lokilokon-San Jose de Buan road from a marketing errand in Catbalogan City when they were waylaid by alleged NPA rebels.

The ambush resulted to the death of two unarmed soldiers and the wounding of another two. The identities of the fallen soldiers are being withheld pending notification of their families.

After the incident, troops were immediately dispatched to track down the perpetrators, believed to be NPAs. Pursuit operation is still ongoing as of press time.

Maj. Gen. Jet B. Velarmino, Commander of the 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army expressed his condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers. “Their sacrifice is the highest form of heroism that a Filipino soldier can render to the country. They died as heroes, and they will always be remembered,” he said.

Zambo communication students undergo USAID-Engage training on peace journalism

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 18): Zambo communication students undergo USAID-Engage training on peace journalism
Eighteen communication students from Ateneo De Zamboanga University (ADZU), Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) and Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College (ZCSPC) recently underwent a 3-day intensive training in Peace journalism at a local hotel at Barangay Tetuan here, sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Engage Project in partnership with the City Government of Zamboanga.

USAID-Engage’s municipal and community engagement officer Ryan Victor Miranda welcomed the speakers, facilitators, organizers and the students to the activity. Sheila E. Covarrubias, Public Information Officer of the City Government highlighted the first day training review on the straight news writing and incorporated their understanding of Peace and Conflict based in the news printed in local newspapers.

On the other hand, Frencie L. Carreon, a Ph. D candidate for Peace and Conflict Studies, spearheaded the lectures on Peace Journalism which was critiqued by the participants.

On the second day, Christian Olasiman, executive assistant of the office of the Mayor gave a review on feature news writing. The Sun Star Davao’s editor Stella A. Estrella also lectured the participants on the Mindanao Peace Lens.

For the last day of the training, USAID-Engage’s municipal and community engagement officer Jules Benitez facilitated on a workshop on envisioning peace journalism through drawing.

The 18 students have already been deployed to different media outfits in the city and will have their 20-day internship. They are provided by Engage with meals and transportation allowance for the duration of the internship.


Military captures ASG boats, IEDs in Basilan operations

From the Philippine News Agency (May 20): Military captures ASG boats, IEDs in Basilan operations

Military units have captured 13 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) boats and several improvised explosive device (IED) components during law enforcement operations at Barangay Tuburan, Hadji Mohammad Ajul town, Basilan last Sunday, May 17.

Reports forwarded Wednesday by Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Capt. Ben June Cerbo said the operation took place at 1:35 p.m.

He said that composite elements of the Marines Special Operations Group and Naval Special Operations Unit 6 made the capture while conducting pursuit operations against ASG leader Ustadz Abbas Alam and Malaysian Jihadist, Mohammed Najib Bin Husein.

He added that the boats were utilized by the ASG in distributing improvised explosive devices in Basilan and Zamboanga Peninsula.

Earlier, Army troops discovered several IED components, a firearm, and rounds of ammunition at the encounter site in Barangay Tuburan.

On the same day, elements of the 39th Explosive Ordnance Disposal successfully detonated the IED components.


MILF: Editorial -- ‘Come what come may’

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (May 16): ‘Come what come may’

“Come what come may” originated from William Shakespeare's Macbeth, 1605. Usually used just as “come what may”. It has a version in Spanish "que sera sera”; its English rendering is: "what will be, will be". Both have the same sense and meaning. In another sense, it is brinkmanship, as in the conduct of international relations, foreign policies, etc.

 This is the situation the MILF is in now! But this is not borne out of frustration; not at all. The tradition of the MILF is that if it has decided on things especially major matters, after a thorough and concrete analysis of concrete situation --- and not violating any tenet of Islam – it will only say: “Tawwakkaltu al-Allah”; meaning, in God we trust and it will proceed with clear conscience and hope that it will succeed. Fittingly, in its search for a political solution to the armed conflict in Mindanao, there is no turning back anymore. The way of peace is the only available option now. (Thinking of other choice is not an option).

It is this decisiveness that brings the MILF to new heights. When it organized itself in 1977, it did not know what is in the future; when it agreed to hold peace negotiation in 1997, it did not know that the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) would ever cross its path and signed. The only thing known and clear to the men and women in the MILF is that they believe that what they are doing is the right thing for their people. They are also fully aware that death is part of it, which can come at any moment without warning.

Moreover, when the MILF agreed to allow the Philippine government to undertake its internal legal process to implement these political documents (FAB and CAB) into what is now the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), it has virtually allowed itself to the “mercy” or “tyranny” of that process. This process follows several layers of complex and meticulous processes: crafting of the basic law, deliberation in Congress, ratification by the people, and a possible intervention of the Supreme Court, etc. But the MILF has taken the risk and remains very certain that the BBL has a bright future.

Right now, the BBL is battered from all sides. It appears it is already doomed. But for us, all these rumblings and noises are part of the process. It is the nature of things that big ones that matter cannot be achieved hands down. Always the price for that is high, and only those who persevere, not the brave, will stay and endure the hardships and tribulations and reap the fruits of victory.

In the end, we believe the BBL will be ours. Why are we saying these? First, we believe in the collective wisdom of Congress that they will pass a good BBL. Second, the voices of reason and peace will eventually overpower the yelling of war freaks and deviants. Third, we believe and had seen that once President Benigno Aquino III committed something, he will fulfill it. Finally, we believe that Almighty God will hear the prayers of those who want the BBL to pass and peace to reign in our lands. God is most merciful!


Navy officer in murder of classmate nabbed in Zamboanga Sibugay

From InterAksyon (May 19): Navy officer in murder of classmate nabbed in Zamboanga Sibugay

A junior officer of the Philippine Navy is being held by intelligence operatives who took him in Monday afternoon in Imelda, Zamboanga Sibugay, in connection with the murder of a classmate whose body was found inside her car inside Fort Bonifacio in November last year.

According to Captain Roy Trinidad, chief of staff of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM), suspect Lieutenant Junior Grade Benjie J. Chico was arrested around 2 p.m. at Sitio Boulevard in Barangay Poblacion.

Apparently to disguise himself, Chico was "sporting a long mustache and always wearing a hat before and during his arrest,” Trinidad said.

Chico was discovered to have been staying at the back of the so-called "Bagsakan" Boulevard near the Public Market and cockpit arena in a house "adjacent to the house of Councilor Dacanay,” Trinidad said.

Chico is the primary suspect in the murder of Marine 1Lt. Shelina Calumay, who was then assigned at the Naval Inspector General based at the Naval Station Jose Francisco, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Based on records of the Navy, Chico went AWOL (absence without official leave) in November a day after the body of Calumay was found inside her car parked in front of the main building of the naval station.


Ex-PNP officer tagged in 2011 kidnapping of Australian nabbed in Malaysia

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 18): Ex-PNP officer tagged in 2011 kidnapping of Australian nabbed in Malaysia
 SPO2 Jun Malban

SPO2 Jun Malban
A former member of the Philippine National Police who allegedly negotiated for the Abu Sayyaf group during the release of their Australian captive in 2011 has been arrested in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group announced on Monday the arrest of SPO2 Jun Malban, a known relative of Abu Sayyaf leaders, for his involvement in the abduction of Warren Rodwell, who was held captive by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Ipil, Zamboanga, in December 2011.
Using the alias Michael Zue, Malban had acted as the negotiator and spokesperson for the ASG when Rodwell was released on March 23, 2013, Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo, PNP AKG acting director, said in a press briefing.
Malban was assigned at the Police Security and Protection Group of the PNP from 2005 to 2012.
Fajardo said he is a cousin of ASG leaders Khair and Borhan Mundos.
In June last year, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group arrested Khair in Paranaque City. Khair was tagged in several bomb attacks as he was allegedly the ASG’s financier and middleman for the group’s transaction with Al Qaeda terrorist network.
Five months after Khair’s arrest, Borhan, allegedly the ASG’s solicitor of foreign fund and armaments, was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Last Friday, PNP AKG and National Bureau of Investigation operatives went to Kota Kinabalu to serve his standing arrest warrant for Kidnapping for Ransom issued by Judge Josefino Bael of Regional Trial Court branch 24 of Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.
Fajardo said the joint operatives arrested Malban at the immigration office in Lahad Datu in Sabah after the Malaysian Police nabbed him on April 28 for violating the immigration law for illegal entry.
When Malban escaped and tried to seek refuge in Malaysia, the AKG director said Malban was with his Canadian wife Megan Collins.
“Nasa NBI na siya ngayon for the immigration part. Wala naman siya sa warrant of arrest so nasa NBI siya, ininterview (He’s with the NBI now for the immigration part. He has no warrant of arrest so he’s being interviewed at the NBI now),” Fajardo added.

Govt troops clash with ASG men holding captives in Sulu

From InterAksyon (May 19): Govt troops clash with ASG men holding captives in Sulu

Some Abu Sayyaf members are seen with high-powered weapons in this News5 videograb.

Naval troops encountered Monday an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf members believed to be holding several kidnap victims in Barangay Panducan, Pangutaran, Sulu, the commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu said Tuesday.

Colonel Alan Arrojado said there were no casualties on both sides in the brief encounter that began 10:20 a.m. and the government forces “were so careful" about firing on enemy positions "because they’re mindful of the safety of the kidnap victims.”

Although the objective was to recover safely the victims, the situation did not make this feasible.
“The enemy with their kidnap victims in tow withdrew towards the north,” he said.

Arrojado said the troops are still pursuing the bandits, believed to be holding both local and foreign victims.


Iqbal warns non-passage of BBL could spark Muslim radicalism

From InterAksyon (May 19): Iqbal warns non-passage of BBL could spark Muslim radicalism

Mohagher Iqbal: warning, appeal in an open letter. INTERAKSYON.COM FILE

Failure to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) could have the effect of portraying the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as weak and wrong in believing in the peace process, and encourage Muslim radical groups to flex their muscle, thus plunging Mindanao into more conflict, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said Tuesday.

The House of Representatives ad hoc panel on the BBL is conducting three days of voting, on a per-provision process, on the draft BBL, using as basis what critics called the "Malacanang" version, or the second draft that replaced the committee chairman's working draft, distributed last week to the panel members. That first working draft had incorporated all the changes sought by Committee members, based on results of hearings and consultations over the past few months.

The voting in Congress began Monday and ends Wednesday, with those who criticized the sudden introduction of the "Palace version" worried that the majority will use the tyranny of numbers to "railroad" the bill, several provisions of which had been deemed unconstitutional by experts whom the lawmakers invited to hearings. The original chairman's working draft had eight key provisions deleted or substantially re-worked, but the "Palace version" had this down to only three.

Iqbal, however, said there is a bigger stake in letting the BBL pass: the future of peace in Mindanao.

Vacuum for radical groups

“If the BBL is disapproved, the MILF will eventually weaken and those espousing for radical agenda will become stronger, because they have proved the MILF wrong in pursuing the path of peace,” Iqbal warned in his open letter to his “countrymen” on Tuesday.

The MILF and the government had a come a long way over 17 years to build confidence for the sake of peace. But with the rise of radicalism in the Muslim world, Muslim Mindanao is not an exception to the threats, and the sooner the government consolidates all the forces that champion peace, the easier it can fortify the nation against the threats from extremists, he said/.

He explained that if the opportunity presented by the BBL is missed, it will be another story of war and peace.

“I don’t think the MILF would ever agree—or is capable—to negotiate again for such a long period of time. If we miss this opportunity, I don’t think a similar opportunity will ever present itself again in a generation or two from now. The next generation of Moro leaders, young and idealistic, would be expected to be more radical than the contemporary Moro leaders, who, as a consequence of their 43 long years of struggle, are more pragmatic and reasonable,” he said.

Iqbal showed some exasperation as lawmakers clashed on the BBL for voting.

“The truth is that up to this moment, there is no clear unanimity of opinion about the necessity and urgency of passing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress. Some doubted seriously the need for such a law.  This calls for this brief rejoinder,” he said.

The BBL had been submitted to Congress after the Bangsamoro Transition Committee finished drafting it, but its contents only drew closer attention when the MILF got involved in a 10-hour firefight with police commandos on a mission last January 25, to apprehend Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marawan.

At the end of the Mamasapano debacle, 44 members of the police's Special Action Force (SAF) lay dead; as did 17 MILF fighters and three civilians.

The attackers, composed of MILF and fighters from its faction, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and some private armed groups (PAGs) opened fire on the SAF men after they had shot dead Marwan within MILF territory.

Congressional hearings on the Mamasapano mission, as well as parallel investigations by other agencies, surfaced critical comments against the MILF's sincerity as peace partners, as well as some provisions of the BBL, which were found unconstitutional. But government chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles have strongly defended it

“The BBL is a menu for the unity of this country and antidote to secession. What sends people to secede is if they are deprived, oppressed, and persecuted. A contented, happy and developed population will think twice or thrice before they would embark on a bloody adventure where everybody is a loser,” Iqbal said.

'BBL addressed most grievances'

“The BBL has addressed most if not all of the legitimate grievances of the Moros against the government. Therefore, any armed group especially new ones will have no reason or cause to fight the government. They will not succeed, because the people will not support them anymore,” he added.

He believes the BBL will promote peace and security, progress, and development not only in the Bangsamoro and Mindanao but also the entire country.

“Those monies used to buy weapons and ammunition will be used to build roads, irrigations, clinics, etc. Once the BBL is passed, the MILF, which is the largest and strongest revolutionary organization in this country, will rejoin the mainstream society and they will become productive. More importantly, they can be a very reliable and effective partner of the government both in nation-building and defending this country,” he said.

Iqbal also stressed that failure to pass the BBL will trigger frustration and possible new anti-government activities/ This could happen even granting the MILF will stay faithful to what it had stated time and again - that even if the BBL will not pass Congress, it will always pursue the path of peace in the resolution of the Moro Problem or Question in Mindanao.

Even if the MILF were to stay on the course of peace, local and foreign radical groups will make Mindanao their safe havens, he said.

“There is no other option except the option of peace that is almost equal to the passage of the BBL. War to the government and the MILF is not an option. I am sure Congress will not also consider war as an option,” he said.

“On the issue of whether or not the MILF can be trusted, one has to examine the track records of both the government and the MILF from the time they started their negotiations in January 1997. The truth is that most of the violations of the ceasefire, especially the declaration of two all-out wars (2000 and 2003) were committed by the government. Then, the ceasefire and the peace negotiation were holding and moving, respectively,” he added.


AFP hunts Abu Sayyaf captives

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 19): AFP hunts Abu Sayyaf captives

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is working double time to verify reports the two Malaysian nationals who were kidnapped by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf in Sandakan town in Sabah, Malaysia, last week have been transported to Sulu.

Abducted from the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant were Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, co-owner of the seaside restaurant, and Bernard Then Ted Fen, 39, a tourist from Sarawak, according to online reports.

Malaysian authorities earlier said the kidnappers and their victims fled toward the Philippines on a motorized boat.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, chief of the AFP public affairs office, said the report posed a new challenge for the Philippine Army, which has been trying to rescue several foreign and local hostages in Sulu, including Dutchman Elwold Horn who was snatched in Tawi-Tawi in February 2012. Horn’s fellow wildlife photographer Lorenzo Vinciguerra was also kidnapped but escaped his captors last December.

“We have heard various reports about them being brought to Sulu but we could not confirm it. We could not validate it as of this time,” Cabunoc said.

Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, AFP spokesman, said there still was no proof of life received by the Malaysian intelligence units with regard to the reported hostages.

Rear Adm. Reynaldo Yoma, commander of Joint Task Force Zambasulta (Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu-Tawi Tawi), said they were looking into reports the hostages were brought to Parang then transferred to Indanan, both in Sulu.

Meanwhile, a former policeman was arrested in Malaysia over the weekend for the abduction of an Australian national by the Abu Sayyaf in 2011.

SPO2 Jun Malban was taken into custody in Kota Kinabalu last month for violation of immigration laws but was arrested by Philippine authorities only last weekend.

Senior Supt. Roberto Fajardo, chief of the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG), said the former lawman served as a negotiator when Australian national Warren Rodwell was abducted in December 2011.


‘Fearless’ minors recruited as Abu Sayyaf gunmen

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 19): ‘Fearless’ minors recruited as Abu Sayyaf gunmen

abu-sayyaf 2

AFP file photo

The Abu Sayyaf, particularly the group in Basilan, has apparently found fresh strength in its young recruits, military and civilian officials said.

This theory came to the fore following claims by soldiers wounded in the recent clashes in Mohammad Ajul town that they clashed with bandits estimated to be as young as 15.

In interviews with some of these soldiers, the Inquirer learned that the young Abu Sayyaf gunmen were “fearless.”

“It’s as if they do not die. They were aggressive in attacking us,” Private First Class Mario Amancio, 27, one of the seven injured members of the 9th Scout Ranger Company (SRC) during last week’s clashes in Mohammad Ajul, said.

Amancio said these young bandits, some barely out of their teens, were armed with high-powered rifles.

Private First Class Charlie Benoy, 24, also of 9th SRC, said in his years in the army, it was his first time to encounter such “fierce fighters.”

“I had been into a lot of clashes but this was the worst. Maybe because the enemies were so young,” he said.

Mohammad Ajul Mayor Talib Pawaki said they learned that Ustadz Abbas Alam, the local Abu Sayyaf leader who figured in the clashes, had been recruiting minors from as far as this city.

“The recruitment is done through social media,” he said.

Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Salazar said the city government received similar information and this was being verified by the police.

But authorities needed the cooperation of parents to prevent their children from becoming bandits, according to Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, the city police director.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, chief of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the recruitment by the Abu Sayyaf of minors had become a major concern for the military.

“The more they recruit young people, the more dangerous for us because the enemies were getting more aggressive,” he said.

In Cotabato City, the United Nations International Children’s Fund has also launched the “Children, not Soldiers” awareness campaign.

Unicef country representative Lotta Sylwander said “No child under the age of eighteen should be engaged in any form of military activity or be involved with armed groups.”

“We are all part in the Mindanao-wide campaign for peace, making sure that children have the chance to be strong and become a positive force for a brighter future and non-violent life,” said Sylwander, as she led in the distribution of campaign materials to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other community leaders.

Like the Abu Sayyaf, the MILF was also once accused of using minors as fighters.

“Let us spread the message of peace by educating parents, elders, and MILF commanders the hazards of war among minors,” said the Unicef official of the basic rights of children being violated.

Sylwander said through manipulation, young recruits were lured into early violence putting them at risk.

Sammy Al-Mansour, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces chief of staff, said the rebel group has a similar campaign also and this was intensified when MILF chair Murad Ebrahim signed a joint communiqué with then Unicef country representative Nicholas Alipui in June 2007.

It was followed with the UN-MILF Action Plan that he signed along with former Unicef country head Vanessa Tobin and UN representative Jacqui Badcock in August 2009, he said.

“Yes, the BIAF is fully committed to abide to its obligation under the international humanitarian law and international human rights law, specifically on the convention of the rights of children as embodied in UN Security Council Resolutions 1539 and 1612 that mandate involved parties to prepare action plans to halt recruitment and use of children in any military-related activities,” Al-Mansour said.


Ex-cop who helped Abu Sayyaf kidnap Aussie in 2011 arrested

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 18): Ex-cop who helped Abu Sayyaf kidnap Aussie in 2011 arrested

A FORMER policeman was arrested in Malaysia over the weekend for helping the Abu Sayyaf in the abduction of an Australian national in 2011.

Former senior police officer 2 Jun Malban was initially taken into custody in Kota Kinabalu last month for violation of immigration laws but it was only last weekend that Philippine authorities arrested him.

Senior Supt. Roberto Fajardo, chief of the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG), said the former lawman served as the negotiator when Australian national Warren Rodwell was abducted in December 2011.

“He was held in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, for illegal entry. We served the arrest warrant on him when we got there,” said the police official in a press briefing in Camp Crame on Monday.

Malban is a wanted fugitive based on an arrest warrant issued by Judge Josefino Bael of the Regional Trial Court Branch 24 in Ipil, Zamboanga, Sibugay, for the crime of kidnapping for ransom.

The policeman used to be assigned to the Police Security and Protection Group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and became absent without official leave shortly after the victim was released.

After his release, Rodwell identified Malban as the negotiator and spokesperson of the Abu Sayyaf group during his captivity from December 2011 to March 2013.

At that time, the ex-policeman used the alias Michael Soo or Zue when dealing with authorities and the victim’s family. Rodwell was released on March 23, 2013.

According to Fajardo, Malban is the cousin of Abu Sayyaf leaders Khair Mundos, who was arrested in 2014, and Borhan Mundos.

The policeman went into hiding until he was apprehended in Malaysia last April 28 in Lahad Datu, Sabah, for violation of immigration laws.

“He was arrested there and he was almost released if not for our coordination with our Malaysian counterparts and the Interpol,” Fajardo said.

The AKG and the National Bureau of Investigation went to Kota Kinabalu last May 15 where they served the arrest warrant on Malban.

Fajardo added that at the time of arrest, Malban was with his Canadian wife, Megan Collins, whom he married in April 2013 in Cotabato City.

Collins is also in the country and is in the NBI’s custody, according to the PNP, while Malban is detained at the AKG awaiting a commitment order from the court.

AFP to go after private armed groups

From the Philippine Star (May 18): AFP to go after private armed groups

The AFP, together with PNP, aims to run after 'private arms group' to maintain peace and order in the coming 2016 national elections.

Chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the military, in cooperation with the Philippine National Police (PNP), vowed to neutralize the so-called “private armed groups” (PAGS) to secure peace and order in the 2016 national elections.

"And come election day, we will run after the PAGS, the private armed groups in coordination with the PNP. We will not hesitate, if we know where the firearms are kept, we will inform the Philippine National Police and we will ask them to issue through the judges a search warrant and we will run after them," Catapang said.

Catapang said their planned operation with police counterparts is the only way to ensure peace in the coming elections.

Catapang said bearing of arms is a privilege that should be given to duly constituted armed services only.

The chief-of-staff also said the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is currently in check in Basilan and Sulu since there is an ongoing government law enforcement operation against them.

On May 14, ASG bandits were forced to release their teacher captive due to current law enforcement operations.

Based on the report, the victim identified by Joint Task Group Sulu head Col. Alan Arrojado as Reynadeth Bagonoc-Silvano, was released by the ASG around 7:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Bagonoc-Silvano, 31, is married and a school teacher. She was immediately brought to the task group headquarters for debriefing and medical check-up but her 22-year-old brother Russel, was left with the bandits.

The victims were snatched by suspected ASG men on their way to Tuburan Elementary School last March 15 at Baranga Moalboal, Talusan town, Zamboanga Sibugay.


Leaders of 2 MNLF factions attend Senate hearing on BBL

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 18): Leaders of 2 MNLF factions attend Senate hearing on BBL

Leaders of the Moro National Liberal Front (MNLF) from its two factions attended on Monday the Senate hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Present in the hearing of the Senate local government joint committees on peace, unification, and reconciliation, and constitutional amendments and revision of codes were officials of the MNLF faction headed by Muslimin Sema and another faction headed by former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Nur Misuari.

The two factions had earlier expressed their differing views on the BBL when they faced the hearing of the House of Representatives on the same issue.


MNLF proposes 3 options for Bangsamoro independence

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 18): MNLF proposes 3 options for Bangsamoro independence

mnlf Alonto

MNLF chairman Datu Abul Khayr Alonto. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

While backing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is proposing three more options in which the Bangsamoro can achieve independence “in a purely peaceful, non-violent, and democratic process without resorting to war.”

MNLF chairman Datu Abul Khayr Alonto presented the three options during the hearing of the Senate committee on local government together with the committees on peace, unification, and reconciliation, and constitutional amendments.

The first option, Alonto said, is for Congress to craft a law adopting the “Malaysia-Singapura” formula that he said would “finally and grudgingly separate the Bangsamoro from the Philippines.”

“Perhaps, like Malaysia and Singapore, we can both rise up to becoming leaders of the Asean,” he said.

The second option, he said, is to call on the “full engagement of the United States of America to right the wrong they have committed and correct the infamy they made in including our territories in their grant of independence to the Philippines.”

“And if that too is not still possible, then the third option is to take the final and newest option available to the Bangsamoro: “remedial secession” … the restoration of our freedom, sovereignty and independence as a people following the peaceful example of the people of Kosovo,” Alonto said.

“All options above stated are through completely peaceful, non-violent, and democratic processes. There is no need for the Philippine government to wage war on the Bangsamoro from hereon. To do so would simply be an act of barbarism on the peoples of Mindanao; and if you dare wage war again after this, then as in 494 years, the Bangsamoro will remain standing on its shores and its ancestors Lapu-Lapu and Sultan Kudarat, et al, did, to defend Islam and its homeland at all times,” he added.

Before this, Alonto reiterated the MNLF support for the BBL based on Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro or CAB, which he said obliged the Philippine government to negotiate with the good Muslim leadership of Southern Philippines, including their group.

The MNLF expressed dismay on the results of the latest executive sessions of the ad hoc committee in the House of Representatives on the BBL.

“Dismayed frustration is the least of the emotions we felt. If this ‘end product’ were to go through, then this Philippine Congress is merely perpetuating the 494 Colonial Policy of the Philippine government towards the first nation of this country, your brethren, the Bangsamoro people,” he said.

Alonto earlier said MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim has intimated to him that the harmonized version of the BBL merely contained 20 percent of the CAB.

“Which means that the BBL being deliberated upon in the two houses of the Philippine Congress is already 80 percent diluted, over the years of negotiation between the GPH and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front),” he said.


MNLF chairman asks Congress: Pass BBL now

From GMA News (May 19): MNLF chairman asks Congress: Pass BBL now

The chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) central committee on Monday asked for the immediate passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
In an address at the Senate public hearing on the BBL, MNLF central committee chairman Datu Abul Khayr Alonto said they stand with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in calling on the legislature to pass the controversial bill. 
"We stand together with the MILF for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law," Alonto said, pointing out that the said piece of legislation "goes beyond personalities and politics."
"The people of Mindanao no longer want war... The BBL must be passed and implemented as a model for the country," he added. 
In an impassioned part of his speech, Alonto said further: "Carpe diem! Do it now! Pass the BBL while the veterans of [the] Mindanao war are still around to help."
According to Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., representatives from the MNLF were invited to the hearing as their group has been "at the forefront from the beginning."
"Wala sa BBL 'yan, hindi problema sa loob ng BBL 'yan, pero sa konsepto ng framework agreement, kaya 'yung mga prinsipyo, 'yung mga assumptions na ginawa nila para isulat 'yung BBL, kailangan rin nating pag-aralan, kung ano 'yung relasyon ng iba't ibang agreement, paano sila kasapi ng peace movement," Marcos told GMA News TV's News To Go last week.

400 Army soldiers join Metro Manila's 'Brigada Eskwela' activities

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): 400 Army soldiers join Metro Manila's 'Brigada Eskwela' activities

At least 400 Philippine Army (PA) troopers are participating in the ongoing "Brigada Eskwwela" activities in Metro Manila this week.

This was disclosed by Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato in a statement.

He added the 400 soldiers will be coming from Army’s Civil Military Operations Group, Army Support Command, Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group and Army Reserve Command.

They were deployed to 18 schools in Taguig City, Makati City, Pasig City, Muntilupa City, Pasay City and Pateros and Tondo in Manila from May 18 to 23 to help teachers and parents in cleaning schools, repair school facilities and do maintenance work like repainting.

"Brigada Eskwela" is also known as National Schools Maintenance Week.

This year's activity has a theme of “Tayo Para Sa Kalinisan at Kahandaan ng Ating mga Paaralan.”

Detoyato said that the activity is also the PA’s way of communicating with the school children as embodied in the Army’s Transformation Roadmap -- an Army that is more responsive, reliable, capable and committed to its mandate of serving the people and securing the land.

"Brigada Eskwela" is a yearly joint undertaking of concerned government agencies a month before the official opening of classes nationwide.

In the spirit of "Bayanihan," various groups and organizations, including the Philippine Army and PNP, join hands to make this year's "Brigada Eskwela" a success and ensure that the schools are child-friendly and conducive to learning.

This is one of the civilian-initiated programs actively supported by the PA as part of its "Bayanihan" activities.


PAF S-70A up for repair & maintenance

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): PAF S-70A up for repair & maintenance

A Sikorsky S-70A medium helicopter of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is now up for maintenance.

In line with this, a total of Php2,301,260 is allocated for the acquisition of spare parts and maintenance of the said aircraft.

The Air Force is known to operate three units of the S-70A.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled on May 21 at 1 p.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

Submission and bid opening is on June 4 at 9 a.m. also on the same venue.

Prospective bidders should have an experience in similar project within the last five years.

The Sikorsky S-70 is a medium transport helicopter family manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft.

It was developed for the US Army in the 1970s, winning a competition to be designated the UH-60 Black Hawk and spawning a large family in U.S. military service.

New and improved versions of the UH-60 have been developed since. Civilian versions, and some military versions are produced under various S-70 model designations.


Navy hosts 40 wards of Asilo De San Vicente De Paul

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): Navy hosts 40 wards of Asilo De San Vicente De Paul

Showing a more human and compassionate side, the Philippine Navy hosted 40 wards of the Asilo De San Vicente De Paul Friday and gave them a first-hand look on how officers and enlisted personnel of the PN operate and secure the country's vast maritime territories.

The activity was dubbed "Experience the Navy Dream," PN public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna said.

The headquarters of Philippine Marine Corps in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City became the first stop of the activity where participants were welcomed by Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets who would serve as their guardians for the rest of the tour.

A single squad of Marines in battle dress attires/camouflage standing as the foreground for battle tanks and light amphibious resupply cargo vehicle kick-started the morning for the children.

Still in awe upon seeing soldiers and artillery pieces at close range, they hesitantly approached and boarded the armored vehicles.

But their fear went to naught when the vehicles started and drove them around.

Packed with new experience and of course, breakfast, the children proceeded to Sangley Point, Cavite.

Upon arrival at Naval Air Group hangar, NAG personnel gave a brief background of the PN's force in the air through audio-visual presentation.

PN personnel wearing various unit uniforms were also introduced to the participants.

The atmosphere became more exciting when the children were divided into five groups for the dream flight. After a thorough briefing and aboard a Navy Islander aircraft.

Complementing the aircraft experience was the shipboard tour.

Like small packs of wolves, they eagerly swarmed into PN ships to have a firsthand knowledge of the different parts of the ship.

They also saw some of the Naval Special Operations Group personnel aboard a rigid-hulled inflatable boat roaming around the waters of Sangley.

Nearing the end of the tour, it was not a typical trip going back to Manila as the children were ferried via a bay cruise aboard a naval vessel, AM-701, while having lunch on board to Headquarters Philippine Navy (HPN) in Roxas Boulevard.

The tour wrapped up at HPN with a short program. Plaques of recognition and souvenirs were given to the most behave, courteous and friendly children.


Tanay-based 2nd ID joins 'Brigada Eskwela'

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): Tanay-based 2nd ID joins 'Brigada Eskwela'

In line with its community development efforts, the Philippine Army's 2nd Infantry Division aided the Department of Education personnel in "Brigada Eskwela" activities held at three public schools in Barangay Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal on Monday.

These schools are the Jose Fabella Memorial School, Sampaloc National High School, and Camp Mateo Capinpin Elementary School.

"Brigada Eskwela" is also known as National Schools Maintenance Week.

This year's activity has a theme of “Tayo Para Sa Kalinisan at Kahandaan ng Ating mga Paaralan.”

The activity is part of the 2nd Infantry Division’s community-based peace and development efforts which is aligned with the Internal Peace and Security Program "Bayanihan" and Army Transformation Roadmap imperatives.

“The Jungle Fighters (nickname of the 2nd Infantry Division) are always eager to participate and help the community through this kind of activities as it showcase our sincerity in promoting and sustaining peace and development within our area of responsibility,” 2nd Civil Military Operations Battalion head Lt. Col. Eric C. Guevarra said.

Likewise, it also aims to support the advocacy of the DepEd to organize volunteers to help in repairing, repainting and cleaning of school campuses/premises before the start of classes on June 1.


(Feature) No plans yet to decommission BRP Rajah Humabon --PN

From the Philippine News Agency (May 17): (Feature) No plans yet to decommission BRP Rajah Humabon --PN

Despite the arrival of new ships and other naval assets, there are no plans yet to decommission the BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11), the Philippine Navy's oldest operational warship.

"As of this time, there are no plans to decommission her yet," PN public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna told the PNA.

As of this writing, the World War II era destroyer-escort has gallantly served the PN for 36 years.

BRP Rajah Humabon is currently assigned to the Manila-Cavite area of operations.

Lincuna said that the engineering, weapons and navigation systems of the ship are still in good conditions.

Sources said that the reluctance of the Navy to decommission its aging vessels can be attributed to its need of more hulls to conducts its various missions.

The PN is now engaged in acquiring newer and more capable ships for its fleet.

In line with this, the Department of National Defense (DND) is bidding out a contract for two missile-armed frigates worth PhP18 billion.

As of this posting, only four shipbuilders have successfully passed the first stage of the bidding for the PhP 18-billion frigate project.

These are Navantia Sepi (RTR Ventures) of Spain, South Korean firms STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. and Hyundai Heavy Industries Inc.

These involve the inspection of company eligibility documents.

Three other shipbuilding firms joined the bidding but the DND declared their documents to be deficient.

These companies, identified as Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. of India, STX France SAm and Thyssenkrupp Marine System, have filed a motion for reconsideration at the DND.

Specifications of these ships include capability to conduct air-to-air warfare (AAW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and electronic warfare (EW).

Aside from this, these naval vessels should be able to do extended maritime patrol with an embarked helicopter and operating up to Sea State 6.

It must also have a range of 4,500 nautical miles at 15 knots, endurance of 30 days in tropical condition, and capable of running up to 25 knots of continuous speed.

Navigation equipment of the two ships, at a minimum, must consist of two navigation radars; GPS; depth sounding set; and vessel tracking system compatible to PN's existing system.

The frigates' weapon system, at a minimum, should consist of a 76-mm gun; stabilized secondary gun; four .50-caliber machine guns; surface-to-surface missile launchers; surface-to-air missile launching system; and anti-submarine torpedoes.

Prior to the arrival of the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) in 2011 and BRP Ramon Alcaraz in 2013, the BRP Rajah Humabon together with the three Jacinto-class patrol vessels (formerly the Royal Navy's Peacock class patrol ships) served as the backbone of the PN and acted as its flagship.

BRP Rajah Humabon started life as the US Navy destroyer escort, the USS Atherton (DE-169), in 1943.

She was mostly assigned at the Atlantic theater doing patrols and anti-submarine missions.

The USS Atherton was credited with having destroyed a German U-boat, the U-853 off the coast of Rhode Island, on May 9, 1945.

She served in the Pacific theater in the middle of 1945 until she was decommissioned and placed in reserve on Dec. 10 of the same year.

She was transferred to the Japanese government as JDS Hatsuhi (DE-263) on June 14, 1955.

Together with her sistership JDS Asahi (DE-262), they became one of the first warships of the newly organized Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces.

As newer ships became available to the JMSDF, both ships were decommissioned and returned to the US Navy on June 1975.

After remaining laid-up in Japan, she was transferred to the Philippine government on Sept. 13, 1976 and was sold as excess defense article on Dec. 23, 1978.

She was then renamed as the RPS Rajah Humabon (PS-78), and was towed to South Korea for an extensive refit and modernization in 1979.

Since then, she has remained in service with the PN for 34 years as of this writing, sustained by periodic overhauls and upgrades.

BRP Rajah Humabon is armed with three Mark 22 3"/50 caliber guns, the ship's primary weapons, which has a range of up to 14,600 yards (13,400 meters) and are also capable of being used as limited anti-aircraft weapon.

The guns were directed by a Mark 52 gun fire control system with a Mark 41 rangefinder, but this appears to be non-operational.

She also carries a total of three twin Mark 1 Bofors L/60 40 mm anti-aircraft guns directed individually by Mark 51 gun fire control system, six Mark 4 20 mm Oerlikon cannons, and four M2 Browning .50 caliber machine guns.

The BRP Rajah Humabon is powered by two EMD 16-645E7 turbo-blown diesel engines with a combined power of around 6,140 bhp (4,580 kW) driving two propellers.

The main engines can propel the 1,620-ton (full load) ship at a maximum speed of around 18 knots (33 kilometers per hour).

It has a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,110 kilometers) at a speed of 14 knots (26 kilometers per hour.

It replaced the original four EMD 16-278A diesel engines during the ship's overhaul in 1996.

The ship is equipped with a Raytheon AN/SPS-64(V)11 short range surface search and navigation radar and a Furuno navigation radar, replacing the SPS-5 surface search radar and the RCA/GE Mark 26 navigation radar.


2 cops wounded in clash with NPA rebels in upland Legazpi village

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): 2 cops wounded in clash with NPA rebels in upland Legazpi village

Two policemen were wounded Tuesday morning in an encounter between Philippine National Police (PNP) forces and an undetermined number of suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Sitio (sub-village) San Jose, Barangay Maslog, an upland village of this city, a PNP officer said.

Wounded in the clash were Police Officer 2 (PO2) Ronald Bondad and a policeman who is yet to be identified. The two were rushed to the Aquinas Hospital, Police Senior Supt. Marlo S. Meneses, PNP Albay provincial director, said.

Meneses said in a text message that two teams from the Albay Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) were on security patrol at around 9:15 a.m. Tuesday at a mountainous area of Purok 5, Sitio San Jose when they encountered the undetermined number of NPA rebels.

The incident led into a 45-minute firefight where the two police officers were seriously injured.

A report said the NPA rebels were positioned at a vantage point when they fired at the police patrol team but its members were able to retaliate.

The communist rebels immediately fled the scene when they were outnumbered upon the arrival of the reinforcing policemen.

Meneses said the two patrol teams, composed of 16 men led by led SPO4 Alfredo Bolanos and SPO1 Perfecto Rojas, were on a security patrol as they were tipped of the presence of armed men in the area.

Sitio San Jose residents were celebrating their village fiesta.

Fiesta visitors claimed that upon hearing gun shots, they immediately ducked to the floor of the residences with their faces on the floor and stayed in that position for almost two hours.

As of press time, the police officers were still in still in hot pursuit of the rebels who, Meneses said, could have been carrying wounded comrades during their escape.

They also put up check points in the area as a precautionary measure.


US soldier: Pemberton admitted he might have killed Laude

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): US soldier: Pemberton admitted he might have killed Laude

The four US Marine soldiers who were with US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, charged with murder for the death of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude last year in this city, on Tuesday testified before the court.

One of them, Lance Corporal Jairn Michael Rose, testified that he noticed Pemberton’s uneasiness when they met after going out with Laude and asked what was bothering him. He said Pemberton replied saying, “I think I killed a he or she.”

In a press briefing, lawyer Harry Roque, the lead private counsel for the family of Laude, said that Rose and the three others - Lance Corporal Bennett Eric Dahl, Sergeant Daniel Fabian Pulido and Corporal Christopher Miller - took the witness stand, their first court appearance since the trial began.

The four soldiers and Pemberton were at the Ambyanz Disco Bar in Magsaysay Drive, this city when Pemberton met Laude.

Minutes later, Pemberton went out of the bar and went inside the nearby Celzone Hotel.

Rose reconfirmed what he and Miller stated in their sworn affidavits made before the Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier this month.

The duo said that Pemberton told them what happened that night, including the death of Laude.

Meanwhile, Laude’s sister Malou described the testimonies of the four US soldiers as fair and reasonable.

“They are okay and they are fair. Even though it is their friend who is involved in the case, they remain to the code to tell the truth,” Malou said.

Meanwhile, lawyer Virgie Suarez said that the prosecution panel has until June 30 to present all its evidence and witnesses. On July 6, the defense will proceed with its witnesses.

“We are confident that we will finish our presentation as scheduled,” Suarez said.


Kidnappers demand Php 100-M ransom each for barangay official, 2 coast guard men seized in Dapitan City

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): Kidnappers demand Php 100-M ransom each for barangay official, 2 coast guard men seized in Dapitan City

The identities of the abductors of a barangay official and two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel in the nearby Zamboanga del Norte province two weeks ago remained unknown.

This, despite calls received by the victims' families demanding for huge amount of ransom in exchange for the release of the three captives.

The victims, namely Rodolfo Boligao, the barangay captain of Aliguay, SN1 Rod Pagaling and SN2 Gringo Villaruz were seized by gunmen at dawn on May 4 in Aliguay, an island barangay of Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.

Pagaling and Villaruz were stationed in Aliguay to monitor the arrival and departure of watercraft ferrying visitors since the island, located 10 nautical miles from the mainland, is one of the tourist destinations in Dapitan City.

Supt. Divin Ceriales, Dapitan City police chief, in an interview, said that the families of the captives confirmed the kidnappers contacted them through mobile phone last week.

Ceriales said that according to the victims’ families, the kidnappers have demanded Php100 million each in exchange for the release of the captives.

Ceriales added that the kidnappers also allowed the victims to talk to their families to ensure they were in good condition.

However, Ceriales said that the victims’ whereabouts were also unknown.

The Crisis Management Committee (CMC) is continuously working in coordination with the victims’ families to ensure the safety of the captives.