Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Village councilor gunned down in Negros Orietal

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): Village councilor gunned down in Negros Orietal

Undetermined number of armed men gunned down an incumbent barangay (village) councilor and former Civilian Armed Auxiliary (CAA) of the Philippine Army in Barangay Aya, La Libertad town, northern Negros Oriental Monday night.

Police identified the victim as Jorlan Baylon, of legal age, and a barangay councilor of Aya, who sustained multiple gunshot wounds in his body.

Initial investigation showed that Baylon was riding his motorcycle at about 7 p.m. Monday, some 200 meters away from his house, when undetermined suspects, armed with high-power firearms, shot him.

A certain Michael Himpayan, 31 years old, an active CAFGU member, and a certain Billy Santa Ana, 44 years old, a neighbor of the victim, told police they heard six successive bursts of gunfire at around 7 p.m. of the same date and immediately went to the place of the incident to verify what happened.

Upon reaching Sitio Manghuya, specifically along the barangay road more or less 200 meters away from the house of the victim, they saw Baylon on the road beside his motorcycle, lifeless and bathed in his own blood.

The victim sustained five gunshot wounds on different parts of his body, police said.

Recovered at the crime scene were two live ammunition of 12-gauge shotgun, one empty shell of caliber 45, three empty shella of caliber 7.62 (M-14), one slug of caliber 7.62 (M-14), one piece of sling holder of unknown rifle and one motorcycle. (


CHR clears Army battalion, puts closure to double murder case

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): CHR clears Army battalion, puts closure to double murder case

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has put a closure to the double murder and arson case against a couple in Barangay Tacpao, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, and has also cleared members of the 11th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army based in the same city who were tagged as the alleged perpetrators of the crime.

The CHR’s findings through Dr. Jesus Cañete disclosed that documents found at the crime scene showed otherwise, that the couple, Rosalie and Endric Calago were killed and burned by members of the Leonardo Panaligan Command of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Cañete appeared before the regular meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) Tuesday afternoon to exonerate the 11th IB of any responsibility as claimed by the family of the victims, particularly the two Calago children.

Part of the findings showed leaflets found at the crime scene, all written in Ilonggo, which hinted at the couple being “punished” for acts contrary to the interest of the NPA.

Cañete said giving weight to the assertion of the family that the Philippine Army is responsible for the crime in spite of the claim of the LPC, would be ridiculous.

Another evidence recovered by police investigators is a leaflet found along Magsaysay Street, in Guihulngan City, printed in the Ilonggo dialect, referring to the deaths of the Calago couple as similar to the attack against George Sadagnot, a barangay captain, and his wife, for crimes committed against the NPA.

Sadagnot was killed while the wife survived the attack, Cañete said.

The leaflet further read in Ilonggo that Sadagnot and Calago and other officials are actively supporting the Oplan Bayanihan of the government.

The CHR field investigator said the statements are manifestations of condemnations to politicians who abused and exploited the farmers of Tacpao and failed to address their welfare, as well as dislike to the concept of peace and development brought about by the military, Rosalie Calago being a barangay health worker and Endric being a barangay kagawad who supports the program of government.

According to Cañete, the manner by which the crime was committed portrays a “personalized” hatred, condemnation, and intense indignation which could not possible come from a formal governmental organization, an over-kill, cruelly-detailed, barbaric and time-consuming, which ran counter to a quick, operationally viable and personnel-secured operation.

He said the perpetrators are not concerned that their identities will be known and that the leaflets could not have been strewn around by them while the house was still burning as these could have been also burnt.

The perpetrators waited until the fire died down and placed the leaflets around the burnt area. This means the culprits stayed in the area for not less than 30 minutes, said Cañete in his presentation to the Provincial Peace and Order Council.

The testimony of Marcela Madroniro, sister of Endric Calago, that she did not see anyone except having heard voices at the time the crime was committed, is doubtful.

To recall, more than 60 empty shells or two full loads of the banana-type of magazines of an M16 Armalite rifle were recovered by police at the crime scene.

In an area noted for its insurgency problem, any combatant would be stupid to waste ammunition on a target that only needs two rounds. It is probable that there were more or less 10 perpetrators instead of just two or a few more, Cañete added.

Furthermore, a burning house made of cogon could light up the entire place, therefore it was impossible for Marcela not to see anyone. Marcela could have seen them and she knows them but is fearful to tell the truth, he added.

Cañete went on to say there is a hint of a pattern when the documents found relate to another previous crime describing the same motive, the same underlying reasons and almost the same manner of commission, i.e. the murder of another barangay official of the same locality.

Canete’s report will now form part of the report being submitted to the regional office, to be furnished the central office of the CHR, of which the United Nations Special Committee may ask copies of the same, to erase impressions made by cause oriented groups the brutal act was perpetrated by the Philippine Army.

However, Canete made it clear, he cannot force the cause-oriented groups to refrain from making statements contrary to the findings which is evidence-based. He reiterates that unless the Leonardo Panaligan Command will issue a disclaimer that will necessitate another investigation, the findings will stay.


Abu Sayyaf brigands execute captive barangay official

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12): Abu Sayyaf brigands execute captive barangay official

The Abu Sayyaf brigands have executed one of the hostages they kidnapped almost four months ago in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, a top military official disclosed Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said the decapitated remains of Rodolfo Boligao was found in around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday in Barangay Lunggang, Maimbung, Sulu.

Arrojado said Boligao’s remains was found with a written note stating “Rodolfo Boligao barangay chairman of Aliguay Island, Dapitan City.”

The Abu Sayyaf brigands kidnapped Boligao along with two members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) last May 4 in Aliguay, Dapitan City.

The two PCG personnel were identified as SN1 Rod Pagaling and SN2 Gringo Villaruz, who were detailed in Aliguay Island to monitor the arrival and department of motorboats ferrying tourists from and to the island.

Arrojado quoting a police report said the Abu Sayyaf brigands have executed Boligao “when the negotiator did not meet the amount of ransom demanded by the captors.”

There is no word yet as to the fate of Pagaling and Villaruz.

Arrojado said the remains of Boligao was taken to the provincial hospital and will be transported Wednesday to Dapitan City via this city through a Navy vessel.


SOLCOM provinces now ready for socio-economic activities, development

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12): SOLCOM provinces now ready for socio-economic activities, development

All provinces under the protection of the Lucena City-based Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) are capable of hosting activities favorable to socio-economic activities and development.

"In general, the peace and security situation in Southern Luzon remains favorable to socio-economic activities and development," SOLCOM head Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya said.

"Our quest for genuine peace is no longer a purely military endeavor but a shared responsibility by all stakeholders," he added.

As of this posting, SOLCOM units has so far neutralized, arrested, and killed 56 New People's Army (NPA) fighters and recovered 54 firearms for the first seven months of 2015.

Also, the declaration of the Provinces of Catanduanes, Camarines Norte and Sur, Albay and Rizal as "Conflict Manageable and Ready for Further Development" indicates that the civil authorities now recognize their role as the lead in orchestrating peace and security in their localities.


6th ID joins month-long IHL commemoration

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12): 6th ID joins month-long IHL commemoration

The Maguindanao-based 6th Infantry Division joins the rest of the nation in the month-long commemoration of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

Under Executive Order 134, the IHL is commemorated annually during the month of August and every 12th day of August thereafter, as IHL Day to heighten public consciousness, awareness and respect for IHL.

With the theme, “Pagkakilala at Pagpapahalaga sa IHL, Responsibilidad ng Lahat,” the celebration was highlighted by 6th Infantry Division personnel reciting the Pledge of Reaffirmation of Commitment and Support to International Humanitarian Law.

6th Infantry Division head Major Gen. Edmundo R. Pangilinan reminded the troops to always respect IHL, human rights and the rule of law, in response to terrorism and in the discharge of duties at all times.

“Let us continue to be the soldiers that the people can trust, to protect their rights anytime and at any place. Let us respond to the cries of the exploited when the need arises and uphold the right to human dignity for all,” he added.


ASG bandits behead male kidnapping victim

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12): ASG bandits behead male kidnapping victim

Government security forces are conducting pursuit operations against suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits who beheaded one of their male kidnapping victims at Barangay Lunggang, Maimbung, Sulu Tuesday night.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, identified the victim as Rodolfo E. Buligao. He said that Buligao's headless remains were discovered by residents at 9:45 p.m.

Based on a note recovered from the body, Buligao was allegedly the chairman of Barangay Aliguay Island, Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.

No other details were available regarding the case.

Initial investigations indicated that the victim was beheaded after his family failed to pay the ransom demand

Arrojado said they will facilitate the transfer of Buligao's remains to his family via a Navy vessel.


Ranking Indonesian Air Force leader visits PAF

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): Ranking Indonesian Air Force leader visits PAF

A ranking Indonesian Air Force (IAF) officer, Air Chief Marshal Agus Supriatna, is in the Philippines for a two-day visit.

The visit of Supriatna, the IAF's chief-of-staff, started on Monday and will end on Wednesday.

Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya said the Indonesian officer was accorded arrival honors at the PAF quadrangle at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City. PAF chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey F. Delgado served as military host.

It was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument of Fallen Airmen and the awarding of honorary PAF Gold Wings Badge to Supriatna who then visited the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The latter's visit to the PAF is one way of continuing the mutual relationship and some form of consultation on matters pertaining to training exchange programs between the two Air Forces.

At present, there are eight Indonesian students with the rank of major (one Navy, one Air Force and six Army) who are undergoing schooling at the Command and General Staff College in Camp Aguinaldo.

An Indonesian Air Force officer with a rank of captain is also undergoing a four-month Squadron Officer Course schooling since Aug. 10 at the Air Force Officer School located in Fernando Air Base, Lipa City, Batangas.

A Philippine-Indonesia Cadets Exchange Program is als underway.

Earlier, five Indonesian Air Force Academy cadets visited Fernando Air Base at Lipa City last Aug. 2-7 to observe the conduct of training at the PAF Officer Candidate School (PAFOCS) to expose every cadet and let them observe the best practices in the military organizational system of the Philippines.

In return, five PAFOCS cadets will also be sent to observe the conduct of training at Indonesian Air Force Academy on Sept. 8-11 at Yogyakarta, Indonesia.


Indonesian Air Force chief in 3-day visit to PH

From Rappler (Aug 11): Indonesian Air Force chief in 3-day visit to PH

PAF regularly hosts Air Force chiefs in the ASEAN region in a bid to improve relationships

Indonesian Air Force

Air Chief Marshal Agus Supriatna, commander of the Indonesian Air Force, is in the Philippines for a 3-day visit.

Philippine Air Force (PAF) chief Lieutenant General Jeffrey Delgado awarded him the honorary PAF Gold Wings Badge on Tuesday, August 11.
He also visited the general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo for a courtesy call.
PAF regularly hosts Air Force chiefs in the ASEAN region in a bid to improve relationships, said PAF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Enrico Canaya.
"The visit of ACM SUPRIATNA in the PAF is one way of continuing the mutual relationship and some form of consultation on matters pertaining to training exchange programs between the two Air Forces," Canaya said.
A Philippine-Indonesia Cadets Exchange Program is underway. Earlier in August, 5 Indonesian Air Force Academy cadets visited Fernando Air Base in Lipa City to observe the conduct of training at the PAF Officer Candidate School (PAFOCS).
This was aimed at exposing them to the best practices in the military organizational system of the Philippines. In exchange, 5 PAFOCS cadets will also be sent to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in September to observe the conduct of training at Indonesian Air Force Academy.
Eight Indonesian students with the rank of major are also currently enrolled at the Command and General Staff College in Camp Aguinaldo.
An Indonesian Air Force officer with a rank of Captain recently started a 4-month Squadron Officer Course schooling at Air Force Officer School in Fernando Air Base, Lipa City Batangas.

MILF's Iqbal says Bangsamoro bill reaching plenary is 'progress'

From Rappler (Aug 11): MILF's Iqbal says Bangsamoro bill reaching plenary is 'progress'

'OPTIMISTIC.' MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal. Rappler photo

'OPTIMISTIC.' MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal. Rappler photo

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal considered as "progress" the submission of the substitute Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to the Senate plenary in spite of the overhaul made by Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr to their original version.

"Personally, I want to commend Senator Bongbong Marcos for coming out with the committee report. It was signed by 17 senators," Iqbal said on Tuesday, August 11, a day after Marcos submitted the substitute bill.

"That is already an achievement by itself. It is a good indication that we are moving forward," Iqbal added.

The submission of the substitute bill to the plenary means the proposed law creating the new Bangsamoro region in Mindanao is now in the hands of the 24 senators, who may agree or disagree with the version submitted by Marcos' committee. It will now undergo the period of interpellation and, later, the period of amendments.

"I cannot comment on the substitute bill sponored by Senator Bongbong Marcos. First, I have not read it in full, just the title. Secondly, I do not want to preempt the discussion in the Senate," said Iqbal.

Iqbal said he and other members of the negotiating panel will attend Senate deliberations on Wednesday, August 12, to "observe." He said they are willing to meet the senators individually to answer whatever questions they have.

He remains "optimistic" that an acceptable BBL will be passed within the term of President Benigno Aquino III. "I'm quite confident it will be delivered within the term of the Aquino administration."

Iqbal also met on Tuesday with members of the House of Representatives, where the BBL is also being deliberated in the plenary.

The MILF opposed the draft law submitted by the House ad hoc committee on BBL because of 28 provisions that were removed from the original version.

"The discussion was in-depth. The understanding of certain issues has deepened. I think that is important in conflict resolution," said Iqbal.

Iqbal said they seek to restore, above all, powers of the regional government over natural resources.

"There can be no real autonomy if there is no fiscal autonomy and if there is no access to resources," Iqbal said.


House panel chief doubts prospect of undoing BBL deletions as MILF requests

From InterAksyon (Aug 11): House panel chief doubts prospect of undoing BBL deletions as MILF requests

Representative Rufus Rodriguez.

The head of the panel in the House of Representatives that deliberated on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) said it would be difficult to give way to the request of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to restore the 28 deleted provisions in the measure.

"We will discuss it first, of course, but, frankly, this has gone through 51 committee hearings and through debates in the ad hoc committee, by a vote of 50 in favor. These particular amendments and deletions were approved. I'd say it would be difficult to accede," Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez said.

"We always appeal to them to accept these amendments because these are, in fact, beneficial to them. We are confident that this substitute bill will be constitutional, it will conform to the 1987 Constitution," he added.

On Tuesday, leaders of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. met with MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal and Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles to discuss the MILF request contained in a letter with 14 signatories led by Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.

Among the provisions deleted which they want restored: 

• the limitations on budget and auditing;

• the opt-in provision for other adjacent areas to join the Bangsamoro territory after a plebiscite;

• the presence of a "wali" or figurehead...

• the formation of their own internal police and military command.

In Iqbal's view, that kind of a  committee report will leave them with a Bangsamoro that is "lesser than the ARMM," referring to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which was created by law as an offshoot of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), from which the MILF broke away.

Still, Iqbal stressed, they have no plans to back out of the peace process despite their disagreements with lawmakers.

"We are not going to that extent. We are not discussing about that; peacemaking is a continuing dialogue and you cannot cut corners."

For his part, Rodriguez explained that the leadership decided to remove all the opt-in provisions as it expected rough sailing for the bill - what with congressmen coming from arreas adjacent to the Bangsamoro becoming so worried "this provision might reach them over the years."

He stressed that the amendments are being made to make the final outcome constitutional, a point that Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales weighed in on, saying "we in the House...[want a law that is] constitutionally compliant."

Plenary debates in both chambers

Plenary debates on the BBL are expected to resume on the House floor.  At least 15 lawmakers are listed to interpellate. Plenary debates among senators are also expected soon.

In the Senate, the majority of two panels, or 17 senators, signed on the draft committee report prepared by the office of Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., allowing him to file the report and have it scheduled for plenary deliberations.

Marcos explained on Monday that several of the signatories stressed it did not mean they were approving of the revised bill, but only wanted to speed up the process so it can finally be tackled in plenary.

Marcos described the report as reflecting revisions in "80 percent" of the original.

[News 5 video report]


‘Hero’ of Zambo siege among COPS awardees

From The Standard (Aug 11): ‘Hero’ of Zambo siege among COPS awardees

A policeman declared as hero in the 2013 Zamboanga siege   and   also  a member of the assault team in Oplan Exodus in Mamasapano was among the  10 of the Country’s Outstanding Policemen in Service (COPS) for 2015 feted recently by Metrobank.

Police Officer 2  Adolfo Andrada and nine others bested the 157 policemen nominated for  this  year’s 13th   COPS awardees, said Anicerto Sobrepena, Metrobank Foundation president.

Andrada was  chosen  for his heroic actions in the 2013 Zamboanga City siege where he    took part in the arrest of 163 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) r members and   the rescue of 13 hostages during the same incident.

He also donated food to keep his comrades fit and healthy, a gesture labeled as heroic at the height of the Zamboanga crisis.

Andrada was then a member of the 84th    Company of the Special Action Force, the main assault  team during the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident that claimed the lives of 44 SAF commandos.  

He left SAF last May  to join  the PNP Training Center in Cordillera Administrative Region as tactical and disciplinary officer.                  

The other COPS 2015 awardees are Senior Supt. Marlo Meneses, Albay Police Provincial Office chief; Senior Insp. Maricris Mulat, Tagoloan (Misamis Oriental) Municipal Police Station chief; Senior Supt. Camilo Cascolan, deputy regional director for operations-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Police Regional Office; and Senior Supt. Valfrie Tabian, deputy regional director for operations-Central Visayas Police Regional Office; and SPO4 Florante Ubina, engineering staff, PNP Engineering Service; SPO1 Aurora Manuela, chief clerk, Police Strategy Management Unit in Region 1; SPO3 Dino Sagayo, chief of investigation section, La Trinidad Municipal Police Station; SPO2 Dominador Canlas, intelligence operative, Tarlac Police Provincial Office; and PO2 Mary Catherine Demontano, police community relations officer, Buenavista (Guimaras) Municipal Police Station.

The Metrobank  gave P400,000 cash for each of  the winners  apart   from the medallion, a trophy and a plaque of merit from the PNP.

“They are fine examples of exemplary deeds and selfless pursuit of duties and responsibilities as true public servants of our people.    In doing so, they give honor to the police profession and the Philippine National Police,” Sobrepena said.

Commenting on the granting of medals of valor to his former comrades at SAF, Andrada said he was leaving it up to the higher-ups  to determine if the fallen SAF 44 deserved  the  honor.


Malaysian diplomats visit MILF leaders, vow to invite investors to Bangsamoro

From InterAksyon (Aug 11): Malaysian diplomats visit MILF leaders, vow to invite investors to Bangsamoro


Malaysia will continue to invite Malaysian businessmen to invest in Mindanao even as it expressed continued support to the Mindanao peace process, Malaysia's ambassador to the Philippines said Sunday.

His Excellency Dato Mohammad Zamri Mohammad Kassim made the commitment during his visit to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) stronghold in Barangay Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao Sunday.

Kassim met with MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and MILF Vice Chair for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar in the MILF chair's office in Barangay Darapanan.

He was accompanied by Malaysian Consul Zawawi Tahir and General Sheikh Mohksin, head of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) Mission 10, and their delegation.

Murad warmly welcomed the Malaysian delegation and expressed appreciation for their coming to Mindanao and at Camp Darapanan.

Ambassador Kassim reiterated his government’s strong commitment and support to the peace process as well as to continue acting as peace process facilitator and head of the IMT as long as both parties need it.

Malaysia has been the lead country in the six-nation IMT that has monitored the implementation of the GPH-MILF ceasefire agreement since 2003.

The Malaysian envoy told Murad his government will continue to extend to the Bangsamoro and Filipino people in general their assistance in the field of education and human resource development through their institutions and programs.

He also said Malaysia will continue to assist in developing the economy through inviting and encouraging private investors to invest in the Bangsamoro and other parts of the country.

"We continue to hope and pray for the early passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is acceptable to all parties and the Bangsamoro people and to continue to monitor the situation and progress of the peace process,” he said.

MILF thanks Malaysia

Murad in behalf of the MILF and the Moro people thanked Malaysia for its active participation in the peace process, including the facilitation of the peace talks, heading the IMT, and extending educational and human resource development training to selected Moro individuals particularly on capacity-building, among others.

These capacity-building programs Malaysia has been providing to Moro participants in Kuala Lumpur are in preparation for the upcoming establishment of the Bangsamoro new political entity once the BBL is passed by Congress and ratified by the people in proposed areas of Bangsamoro in a plebiscite.

The passage of the BBL is seen as a step to resolve the decades-old Bangsamoro conflict.
The proposed law is still pending in Congress and expected to be passed within the year.

In a separate statement, the MILF and the government peace panel, as well as prominent individuals including influential Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, and civil society groups and non-government organizations supportive of the peace process and the Bangsamoro people, have urged Congress to pass the original version of the proposed law agreed between President Benigno Aquino II and the MILF submitted to Congress on September 10, 2014.

The draft law was based on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).


North Cotabato cops arrest 4 suspected BIFF hit men

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): North Cotabato cops arrest 4 suspected BIFF hit men

Police authorities here, acting on a tip from a civilian informant, arrested on Monday four persons, believed to be "hit men" of an outlawed Moro armed group, for possession of unlicensed firearms.

The suspects were arrested at a checkpoint in Barangay Bagontapay, Mlang, North Cotabato past 3 p.m., Mlang police chief Senior Inspector Jenamiel Tonacao said.

Tonacao identified the individuals as Notke Talaga Makmod, 30, of Barangay Kabuling, Pandag, Maguindanao; Norjehad Manday Utto, 31; Faizal Utto, 19; and Bilay Utto, all from Datu Paglas, Maguindanao.

The suspects, who all claimed to be farmers from Maguindanao, could not say why they have in their possession high powered firearms.

Police officers confiscated from Makmod and Norjehad two unlicensed 9 mm pistols with 19 bullets while Faisal yielded a cal. 45 pistol with 17 bullets.

Also, a homemade Uzi machine pistol with seven bullets was collected from Bilay.

Tonacao said the suspects were on board separate motorbikes when they were flagged down at a police checkpoint. When frisked they yielded guns.

Before the suspects were arrested, the authorities received an intelligence report about a possible entry to Mlang, North Cotabato of a four-man hit squad.

Investigations are on going to determine if the group belong to a hit squad of outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which the Army blamed for the series of attacks and liquidation against civilian members of the military along the Maguindanao-North Cotabato highways.

They are now detained at Mlang Police Station and charges for illegal possession of firearms are being prepared against them.


Troops, ASG clash in Patikul, Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): Troops, ASG clash in Patikul, Sulu

Troops have recovered several war paraphernalia following a clash against members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the hinterlands of Sulu, a top military official said Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said the clash occurred around 5:50 a.m. Tuesday in Barangay Langhub, Patikul, Sulu.

Arrojado said the clash ensued while the troops were pursuing the ASG members behind the ambush on Sunday in Barangay Latih, Patikul that resulted to the death of two soldiers.

Arrojado said the firefight lasted for about 20 minutes after which the ASG members numbering to around 20 fled to different directions.

He said no one among the troops from the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion were either killed or wounded during the clash.

He said the troops recovered backpacks and other war paraphernalia abandoned by the ASG members at the clash site.

He said that around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday another group of soldiers from the same battalion have recovered war paraphernalia in Barangay Anuling, also in Patikul town.

He said the items they recovered are the following: six short aluminum magazines for M-16 rifle; 24 of live ammunition for M-16 rifle; a unit to two-way radio; one military GPS; explosive electrical wirings, three backpacks; 3 holsters for caliber .45 pistol; hammock; military and police uniforms; ammunition magazine pouch; and, subversive documents.

He said clearing operations continue in the hinterlands of Patikul, Sulu.


US Navy man awed by his native province

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): US Navy man awed by his native province

A member of the United States (US) Navy from Calasiao town expressed admiration to his beloved province of Pangasinan when he made a visit for the first time in 25 years in line with his work.

Lieutenant Commander Elmer Jimenez, a native son of Barangay Bued in Calasiao town, said he was very impressed to see a lot of improvements in his native province.

"The governor and the leadership here is prioritizing health as one of their main programs and it is very apparent in the capabilities of its health workers," he said.

Further, he noted he's privileged to have come back " in the capacity to deliver some types of subject matter exchange here in Pangasinan and help build the capacity of the provincial government and provincial health office."

The 43-year-old navyman is the Pacific Partnership 2015 medical planner for Philippines, a humanitarian mission that arrived in Pangasinan last August 10.

He is one of the four Pangasinan natives who are part of the 70-man US navy team undertaking the Pacific Partnership 2015..

The group engaged in various activities related to medical, health, veterinary, and disaster-preparedness in partnership with the provincial government from August 10 to 12 in Pangasinan.

According to Jimenez, a lot of them in the group love Pangasinan's bangus and " puto" (rice cake), a product of his native Calasiao town.

Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region, starting in 2006.


(News Feature) AW-109Es, Navy's fastest helicopter in service

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): (News Feature) AW-109Es, Navy's fastest helicopter in service

For Lt. Cmdr. Ariel Coloma, the AgustaWestland AW-109E "Power" naval helicopter and its armed counterpart, is the most maneuverable and fastest aircraft in the inventory of the Philippine Navy.

He said the AW-109E can cruise at 140 knots or 20 knots better than Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 they used to fly.

The last two and armed version of the AW-109E were commissioned Monday.

This is part of the five-helicopter deal, worth Php1.33-billion, signed by the Philippines with AgustaWestland early 2013.

Coloma, a Navy Air Group pilot with 750 flying hours, also said that their newest helicopter can also be made fly at a sizzling 160 knots.

But he will not recommend it during normal operations as this is close to their never-exceed 168 knot limit which can seriously damage or destroy the AW-109E if persisted.

Another interesting feature of this aircraft is the autopilot feature which "can be use in three axis" of flight which can greatly help the pilot in controlling the helicopter.

Coloma also said that the AW-109Es have a ferry range of 300 nautical miles and is very maneuverable for its size.

The AW-109 is a three-ton class eight seat helicopter powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW206C engines.

The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

The aircraft’s safety features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW-109 has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions.

It's superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective maritime helicopter in its class.

For shipboard operations the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures.

The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW-109 to perform its mission when many others helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.

Over 550 AW-109 "Power" and AW-109 light utility helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers in almost 50 countries.


Army chief nurse lauded by PRC

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): Army chief nurse lauded by PRC

The Philippine Army's chief nurse, Col. Nelia F. Valmonte, was feted Monday after beingrecognized by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) as one of the country's "Outstanding Professionals."

Valmonte received a Plaque of Recognition from PA chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año in grateful recognition of the honor and pride that she has given to the organization.

Valmonte advocated for the enhancement of nursing care services provided to soldier-patients and their dependents. She initiated the conduct of trainings and continuing education to develop the Army Nurses' clinical skills.

Her efforts helped increase the quality of nursing care delivered to PA personnel and their dependents.

"The Philippine Army stands proud each time a member of the force is recognized for his or her accomplishments in the service. These exemplars bring honor to our organization, and embody the brand of excellence that we hope to see in our soldiers," Año said.

The "Outstanding Professional of the Year Award" by the PRC is given to professionals who have excelled in their respective fields of professional endeavors.

For an individual to be conferred with this Award, "one must have demonstrated professional competence of the highest degree and conducted himself with integrity in the exercise of his profession, participated meaningfully in professional activities through the accredited professional organization, contributed significantly to the advancement of the profession and to the effective discharge of the profession's social responsibility through meaningful contribution/participation in socio-civic related activities."

"Our Army chief nurse's achievement is an inspiration for all of us to strive for excellence in our own ways, with the end-view of contributing significantly to our Army Transformation Roadmap," Año said.


New PN chief to stay focused on 'Active Archipelagic Defense Strategy'

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): New PN chief to stay focused on 'Active Archipelagic Defense Strategy'

Newly-appointed Philippine Navy (PN) flag officer-in-command Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad has vowed to remain focused on the "Active Archipelagic Defense Strategy" formulated by his predecessors.

The strategy refers to the ongoing PN efforts to enhance its maritime situational awareness capabilities and operations.

“It is worth noting that we have already established the direction of our organization as contained in our Philippine Navy Sail Plan and Active Archipelagic Defense Strategy. This is because of the efforts of my predecessors. I intend to stay focused in this direction and I would like to highlight the advocacies of those who led ahead of me," Taccad said.

He added that under his watch, the PN will continue with its "3Cs Program" which stands for capacity, capability and credibility building.

"To be galvanized to act by the 4Ps to predict, plan, prepare, and perform; and guided by the principles of living our core values, keeping the basics of the naval profession, revisiting and prioritizing our policies, working for simplicity," Taccad emphasized.

He also vowed to lead with vision and excellence, working together as a team.


MILF meets BBL panel to restore 28 slashed items

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): MILF meets BBL panel to restore 28 slashed items

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) vowed to look for all avenues to restore the 28 items that the House Ad Hoc committee on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has struck down, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said on Tuesday.

Iqbal, together with government chief negotiators Miriam Coronel Ferrer and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, met with the panel chairman and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and other senior members of the panel to appeal to the lawmakers to bring back the 28 items, most importantly the issue of natural resources and the preamble.

“If there is no real autonomy, there is no fiscal autonomy if there is no access to resources,” Iqbal told reporters after the meeting. “The preamble is the soul of the basic law. Can you imagine a man and a woman without a soul, that’s how important is the preamble.”

He admitted that there was no agreement yet but insisted that they would not stop and further explore other avenues until they achieve the common ground which are acceptable to both parties.

“I am very hopeful that if the BBL is passed into law, it will address the four decades of conflict in Mindanao,” he pointed out.

He described his meeting with the House leaders that “it was well engaged, straight forward, and what is important there is we are partners in the search for peace, the discussion become very in depth, the understanding of various issues is very important in conflict resolution.”

He claimed that they had already communicated also to the senators to meet them individually and discuss various issues to bring back the lost 28 items.

He said the only agreement was to continue discussions and look for the resolutions.

Iqbal said that there were 3 levels – committee, plenary and bicameral- that can lobby until they see "light at the end of the tunnel."

“The template for peace in Mindanao is the passage of a good law in the form of BBL,” he noted. “Peacemaking is a continuing dialogue and cannot cut corners.”

In a separate interview, Rodriguez said he did not see how the panel would accede to the request of the MILF, noting the lengthy and heated deliberations at the committee level.

"We always appeal to them to accept the amendments. With these amendments we're confident the substitute bill will be constitutional," he explained.

Rodriguez said he will move to delete the controversial “opt in” provision in the proposed measure which is infamous to the majority of lawmakers.

"Those adjacent to Bangsamoro are so afraid, it might reach them over the years," he said.

Rodriguez said the House is gearing up for the resumption of the deliberations on the BBL at the House, with 20 more congressmen lined up to ask questions.

He urged his colleagues to show up for the deliberations, expressing concerns the House debates maybe overtaken by the Senate debates.