Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Operatives nab 4th suspect in foiled bomb plot in Manila

From The Standard (Dec 8): Operatives nab 4th suspect in foiled bomb plot in Manila

(CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: Elmer Romero, fourth suspect in the attempted bombing near US Embassy arrested.)

The fourth suspect in the foiled plot to bomb an area near the US Embassy in Manila was nabbed by police intelligence operatives in Subic, Zambales.

The arrest of the suspect was disclosed by PNP National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde.

He did not identify the terror suspect but a source identifed the 'person of interest' as Elmer Romero y Cabuhat.

He was arrested on Wednesday night.

“Romero tried but failed to escape,” the source said.

During the press briefing led by Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Thursday morning, police presented an improvised explosive device (IED), the second bomb to be recovered since the discovery of the first one along Roxas Boulevard.

Dela Rosa said the IED was made using the ammunition for a 105mm Howitzer canon.

“This is more lethal than any mortar round,” dela Rosa noted.

Albayaldle said it was the fourth suspect (Romero) who led the police to the place where the bomb was hidden at Doña Juanita Subdivision in Barangay Sta. Ana, Bulakan, Bulacan.

Philippines interested in importing weapons from Pakistan

From Update.Ph (Dec 7): Philippines interested in importing weapons from Pakistan

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III informed Pakistani Ambassador to Manila Safdar Hayat that the Philippines Department of National Defense is interested in importing weapons from Pakistan, which has a robust and advanced defense industry.

“I spoke with the (Pakistani) Minister of Defense and my understanding is that the defense industry in Pakistan is very advanced, and that maybe we should look at purchasing military equipment from them and he said that he definitely would look at it,” Dominguez said.

“I spoke right away with [Defense Secretary Delfin] Lorenzana. He says the equipment in the Pakistan Defense Ministry is very good,” Dominguez added.

“My efforts from the very beginning have been to concentrate on enhancing trade between the two countries,” Hayat said.

Hayat said Pakistan is also interested in exporting rice along with weapons, tanks, aircraft and submarines to the Philippines. Pakistan, he said, could also export textiles to, and import chemicals and manufactured goods from, the Philippines.

The country’s top exports to Pakistan include corn, vehicles and vehicle parts, cigarette paper, malt extract and processed fruits and nuts. The Philippines, in turn, imports packaged medicaments, refined petroleum, alcohol, raw tobacco, non-retail pure cotton yarn, and textiles, among other items, from Pakistan.

Philippines’ 2nd Japan-made coast guard vessel arrives

From Update.Ph (Dec 8): Philippines’ 2nd Japan-made coast guard vessel arrives

The Philippine Coast Guard welcomed its second Parola-class 44-meter multi-role response vessel, BRP Malabrigo (MMRV-4402) at the Headquarters Coast Guard Ready Force Pier 13, Manila today, December 8. Transportation Undersecretary for Maritime Sector, Felipe A. Judan attended the occasion as the Guest of Honor and Speaker.

She was named after the Malabrigo Point Lighthouse situated in Lobo, Batangas. BRP Malabrigo is the second of ten ordered Parola-class patrol vessel.

The Coast Guard named these vessels after the primary lighthouses in the country to denote their significance as one of the navigational aids in the maritime industry. Parola-class patrol vessels are 44-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRV) being built by Japan Marine United under the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the Philippine Coast Guard Phase 1 (MSCIP).

MSCIP I was awarded to Japan Marine United last year. BRP Tubbataha, the first Parola-class patrol vessel was delivered in August 2016, deliveries are expected every quarter until completion of 10 units in 2018.

The said project was funded through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Official Development Assistance (ODA) Loan signed in 2013.

Government Arsenal receives machines that can produce 25 million rounds a year

From Update.Ph (Dec 8): Government Arsenal receives machines that can produce 25 million rounds a year

Government Arsenal photo

The Government Arsenal, Department of National Defense took the delivery of Rotary Ammunition Loading Machines from Vasini Corporation, the Government Arsenal (GA) said. According to GA, these machines are now undergoing commissioning.

“These are GA’s first rotary loading machines, and will increase production output by another 25 million rounds of ammunition,” GA said.

These machines will bring GA’s annual production by 75 million rounds of ammunition.

Vasini is an Italian corporation. It is a world leader for the manufacturing of automatic equipment for cartridges and ammunition.

Government Arsenal is an agency under Department of National Defense providing government security forces from Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police with basic weapons, ammunition and other munitions.

Hugpong Federal Movement inks partnership with MNLF

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 8): Hugpong Federal Movement inks partnership with MNLF

The Hugpong Federal Movement has forged a partnership with the Moro National Liberation Front in one-on-one talks between chairman Nur Misuari and Hugpo national legal counsel Joel Obar Monday night in Manila.

Obar said the partnership is geared towards the advancement of the federal movement, in quoting President Rodrigo Duterte as saying “no one should be left behind.”

This is the reason why government is talking to rebel forces and was fortunate to be given the chance to talk with Misuari who is very emotional and sensitive as far as the Sabah claim is concerned. They believe that the only means to reclaim their old Sultanate of Sulu is through a federal form of government, he added.

During the talks, Obar said Misuari threw his full support to the Federal Movement and even suggested that the definition of the territory of the Moro State should include Sabah and Sarawak, which legally and historically belong to the Sultanate of Sulu.

Obar said it's been more than half a century struggle of the Moros before they can see the light of independence via Federal form of government.

Hugpong Federal Movement is very thankful of the all-inclusive support of the MNLF, Obar told Misuari.

On the other hand, Hugpong Federal Movement has also forged ties with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation for a transfer of technology, knowledge and experience and lessons from the German model of a federal government.

The first lesson that Hugpong Federal Movement learned from the talks is that the people had already refused a centralized power by Hitler during the war and moved to a federal state.

The same is happening in the Philippines where regions really wanted more freedom, and more autonomy to develop their own resources, Obar said.

Duterte fears ISIS caliphate in Southeast Asia

From Rappler (Dec 7): Duterte fears ISIS caliphate in Southeast Asia

ISIS wants to establish 'a caliphate, a kingdom that would comprise Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei,' says the Philippine President

FOREFRONT OF FIGHT. President Duterte speaks to military forces fighting Maute group in Lanao del Sur on November 30, 2016. Photo from Presidential Photographers Division

FOREFRONT OF FIGHT. President Duterte speaks to military forces fighting Maute group in Lanao del Sur on November 30, 2016. Photo from Presidential Photographers Division

President Rodrigo Duterte warned that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) plans to establish a caliphate encompassing the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.

"Yung mga ISIS diyan ngayon, mga extremists they're fighting it out in Aleppo and Mosul in Syria and Iraq. Once mawalan ng landbase 'yan, paatras nang paatras sa dagat, magsibatan na 'yan, and they have this dream of a caliphate, a kingdom that would comprise Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei," said Duterte on Wednesday, December 7. (The ISIS, the extremists, they're fighting it out in Alepoo and Mosul in Syria and Iraq. Once they lose a landbase and move back close to the sea, they will leave, and they have this dream of a caliphate, a kingdom that would comprise Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.)
The President was giving a speech at the Urban Poor Solidarity Week celebration in Mandaluyong City.
Because of this threat, Duterte said his next priority will be to crack down on terrorism.
"The next adventure I will embark on is terrorism. Be prepared for that...'Yan ang kinatatakutan ko (That is what I'm afraid of)," said the President.
An exclusive Rappler report showed that ISIS may have plans to establish a wilayat or province of a caliphate in Mindanao. It would be the first recognized satellite extension of the caliphate in Southeast Asia.
Local terrorist groups like the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf have pledged allegiance to ISIS. There have been recent terror incidents like the September Davao City bombing, occupation of a Lanao del Sur town by the Maute group, and attempt to plant a bomb near the US embassy in Manila.
Terror incidents led Duterte to declare a state of national emergency and the Philippine National Police to put themselves under terror alert level 3.
Duterte repeated his observation that the supply of drugs seems to be decreasing due to his administration's campaign against illegal drugs. But this does not mean he will be complacent.
"Itong droga pa-kaunti na lang. Pero hind ibig sabihin na it is watering down that I would not – sabi ko nga, hanggang [huling] araw ng aking pagka presidente, yayariin ko talaga kayo," he said, addressing drug lords and pushers. (The drug supply is being lessened. But that does not mean, just because it is watering down that I would not – as I said, until the last day of my presidency, I will go after you.)
"Why? Because you destroyed my country. It is not a matter of shabu for me. Sinira niyo ang bayan ko (You destroyed my country)," Duterte added.
Duterte warned about terrorism on the day the Philippine military welcomed a new leader. Later that day, army commander Lt General Eduardo Año was named new Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff.

Duterte: I will never tinker with promotions in the military

From Rappler (Dec 7): Duterte: I will never tinker with promotions in the military

President Rodrigo Duterte says he couldn't keep the same promise to the police, however   

KEEPING A PROMISE. President Rodrigo Duterte reiterates his promise not to tinker with promotions in the military. Rapper photo

KEEPING A PROMISE. President Rodrigo Duterte reiterates his promise not to tinker with promotions in the military. Rapper photo

President Rodrigo Duterte said he never intervened in military promotions and he intends to keep it that way until the end of his term.

The commander-in-chief made the statement after leading the ceremony installing new Armed Forces chief Lieutenant General Eduardo Año on Wednesday, December 7, at the military headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo. (READ: Rebel hunter Año is new AFP chief)
"I did not tinker as I promised with the Armed Forces. I kept the promise to the Armed Forces and it will remain to be so until the end of my term," Duterte said to the applause of the audience at the grandstand.
Duterte said it was his campaign promise to stay away from promotions both in the military and the police. But he was unable to keep his promise to the police because he said the organization turned out to be so "fractured" that he was forced to intervene.
"Of the many things that I promised the people of this nation, one was that I would not tinker with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the matter of promotions and assignments. I gave the same statement ot the Philippine National Police, but you know, as it turned out, after I assumed office, that the PNP was a fractured organization. I realized that there were so many men and officers involved in the drug industry. I had to take the bull by the horns," Duterte said.

Duterte was expected by many in the military to appoint the Lieutenant General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the commander of the military command based in his home region Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom).

The Board of Generals (BOG), the body that vets promotions in the military, recommended Año. The BOG is led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

LIVE: Armed Forces of the Philippines turnover ceremony

From Rappler (Dec 7): LIVE: Armed Forces of the Philippines turnover ceremony

Watch the turnover ceremony live on Rappler

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) holds a turnover ceremony Wednesday, December 7 to welcome the new chief of staff, Philippine Army commanding general Eduardo Año.

Watch the ceremony live on Rappler.

Maute Group not involved in Iligan grenade blast that hurts 3 teens: official

From InterAksyon (Dec 8): Maute Group not involved in Iligan grenade blast that hurts 3 teens: official


A local government official in Iligan City has discounted the possibility that a grenade explosion in the public plaza Wednesday evening that slightly injured three teenagers was connected with the terrorist Maute Group.

“I don't think so, although it was reported earlier that Iligan is one of the places they want to bomb,” city administrator Dexter Sumaoy told in a phone interview when asked who may have been involved in the explosion.

Sumaoy further allayed fears that the incident could be the handiwork of the terrorists.

The Maute Group has lost 63 of its fighters as the military continued its offensive against the extemists in neighboring Lanao del Sur.

“As we initially assessed it's not terrorism. It was some kind of just to scare the public because if it is terrorism bakit doon inilagay sa lugar na hindi naman pinag-uumpukan ng mga tao? Ang aming plaza ay palaging matao everyday,” Sumaoy said.

He said the three teenagers were about 20 meters away when the explosion happened at around 6:30 p.m. about 500 meters from the Police Station. 5.

“The site of the explosion was in between the PS5 and Philippine National Bank. The grenade was placed in between two electric posts,” Sumaoy said.

Fortunately no one was killed by the explosion but three teenagers were slightly wounded by shrapnel - two boys and a girl.

“I've yet to get their names as rescuers rushed them to the nearest hospital for medical treatment,” Sumaoy said.

Sumaoy said the two male victims were students but he was still checking if they were from the Iligan Medical Center College (IMMC).

Sumaoy said that a day before the explosion, a police operation reportedly netted a Muslim personality.

“Wala pa akong detalye kung anong operasyon. Aalamin ko pa,” he admitted.

CPP blasts Duterte’s ‘total disdain for human rights’

From InterAksyon (Dec 8): CPP blasts Duterte’s ‘total disdain for human rights’

Communist rebels blasted President Rodrigo Duterte’s “total disdain for human rights,” not only in the war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives but also by using his powers 'to sow fear and demand obeisance' from state forces and politicians and 'as a tool to persecute his rivals.'

In a scathing statement Wednesday, the Communist Party of the Philippines said: “All democratic forces must stand and defend civil and political rights and demand justice for the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings as well as military abuses in the countryside and continuing political repression and persecution.”

It also urged “the friends and loved ones of victims of extrajudicial killings, including those killed in the course of the war against drugs,” to “raise their voices and demand justice and reparation from the Duterte government.”

Although formal peace negotiations have resumed between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the rebels have lately become increasingly critical of Duterte over issues ranging from alleged military violations of the government’s unilateral ceasefire, the continued detention of some 400 political prisoners, and the mounting drug-related deaths that various counts indicate have breached the 5,000 mark, either in police operations or in street shootings and vigilante style executions.

“This orgy of drug killings has been set forth by Duterte’s display of total disdain for human rights,” the CPP said.

Duterte, it said, has “has brazenly encouraged the police to carry-out gangland-style killings of suspected criminals with impunity” and citing his order to reinstate the head of the police unit that killed Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., which the National Bureau of Investigation has concluded was murder.

The rebels also accused him of fanning “extreme prejudice against drug users whom he has adjudged as social dregs and openly encourages their summary killing” while choosing to be “blind to the deep social and economic roots -- unemployment, low wages, poverty and hunger -- behind the problem of widespread drug addiction and insists on his killing spree.”

Duterte, the CPP said, “has arrogated judicial powers by coming-up with a so-called narco-list of supposed big drug lords and coddlers” and “practically upturned the universally accepted principle of the criminal justice system: he makes the accusations and demands those he accuse to prove their innocence.”

It called his “drug-tagging” a “virtual death sentence which only he can lift.”

On issues affecting the peace process, the CPP accused Duterte of allowing the military to “continue its war of suppression with impunity” by occupying communities suspected of being rebel bases, where “several hundred thousand people have been subjected to various forms and degrees of military harassment.”

Not only are activists still “subjected to surveillance and harassment,” with almost 20 arrested recently, “there are at least 16 cases of extrajudicial killings against activists, including peasants demanding land reform,” including that of Compostela Valley anti-mining activist Joselito Pasaporte, who police described as a “drug personality.”

The CPP also said the military has been increasingly using the war on drugs to harass dissenters, citing the case of retired NPA fighter Marcos Aggalao, 73, of Kalinga who was “arrested and accused of possession of illegal drugs” and four peasant activists in Bulacan arrested on similar charges.

Lately, another wrench has been thrown into the peace talks after Duterte demanded that the rebels agree to a bilateral ceasefire before he will order the release of political detainees, except for the sick and elderly who he promised to free by Christmas.

The NDFP has protested this and demanded that Duterte not use the political detainees as “hostages.”

Another IED similar to US embassy, Davao bombs found in Bulacan

From InterAksyon  (Dec 8): Another IED similar to US embassy, Davao bombs found in Bulacan

A police officer carries the improvised explosive device, seen in close-up in right photo, found in Bulakan, Bulacan Wednesday. The bomb was similar to those in the US embassy bomb scare and the September 2 Davao City attack. (contributed photos)

(UPDATE - 11:03 a.m.) Another improvised explosive device similar to the ones found near the US embassy and used in the September 2 Davao City bombing was found in Bulakan, Bulacan.

The town is where two of the suspects arrested over the embassy bomb scare -- the imam Rayson Sakdal Kilala, alias “Rashid,” and X-ray technician Mohammad Jumao-as -- come from.

The bomb was found Wednesday in Barangay Sta. Ana, where Jumao-as lived, and safely defused by the Bulacan police’s explosives and ordnance division, local officials who participated in the operation but asked they not be named for lack of authority to discuss the matter told InterAksyon.

Asked about the circumstances surrounding the recovery of the bomb, the sources said “this would be the subject of explanation” at a press briefing Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa gave at Camp Crame on Thursday.

In the televised briefing, Dela Rosa said unlike the US embassy and Davao bombs, which were made from mortar rounds, the one found in Bulakan was more powerful, crafted from an 105-mm howitzer shell that could have a "casualty radius" of 80 meters, enough to kill 300 people in a crowd.

He said the shells were most likely unexploded military ordnance recovered during battle or obtained from "pilfering" of government stocks.

Dela Rosa said the location of the bomb, which was found "ready to explode," was disclosed by Jumao-as.

At the same briefing, Dela Rosa also said another "person of interest," the fourth to be associated with the embassy incident, had been found in Zambales and was being questioned. This, he said, left one more of the five-man cell he said was behind the incident still at large.

Following the arrest of Kilala and a third suspect, Jiaher Guinar, Dela Rosa said the original plan was to detonate the bomb at the Luneta Park but, when this failed, the imam was supposedly bothered by his conscience and convinced his companions to dump it in a garbage bin about a hundred meters from the US embassy where it was found by a street sweeper who immediately reported to police.

He said the botched bombing last Monday was supposed to divert attention and ease pressure on the Maute Group, which was being pounded by a military offensive in Butig, Lanao del Sur last week.
The bomb, which the PNP chief said had been transported by land from Mindanao, was safely detonated by the Manila Police District’s bomb squad.

While presenting Jumao-as to media Wednesday, National Capital Region Police Office director Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde said the suspect was the third man seen with Kilala and Guinar in closed circuit television footage at the Luneta and US embassy area Monday last week.

Kilala and Jumao-as are described as converts to Islam while Guinar is a Maranao from Butig.

Authorities said all three are members of the Ansar Al-Khalifa in the Philippines, a group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and reportedly has ties to the Abu Sayyaf, Maute Group and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Grenade blast kills 1 soldier

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 8): Grenade blast kills 1 soldier

A SOLDIER died after a grenade exploded inside the headquarters of 73rd Infantry Battalion, Barangay Felis, Malita, Davao Occidental at 6:57 a.m. yesterday.
Lt. Daryll Cansancio, public information officer of the 73rd IB, told TIMES that the explosion was heard inside the bunker of T/Sgt. Nolito L. Marano.
Troops immediately cleared and checked the bunker and found the body of Marano. There was no other reported wounded during the explosion.
Troops of 73rd IB coordinated with the local police in Malita, Davao Occidental for further investigation.
But Cansiano said they noticed recently that the soldier seemed to be troubled. “We still can’t say that it was suicide or accident because nobody witnessed the incident.”

Opinion: MIND DA NEWS: Bangsamoro in Grave Peril

From the MIND DA NEWS column by Patricio Diaz in MindaNews (Dec 7): MIND DA NEWS: Bangsamoro in Grave Peril

Unknown to the media, last November 5, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Nur Misuari coursed through Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza a letter to the President naming his MNLF faction’s five-member implementing panel led by his man-Friday Lawyer Randolph Parcasio. MindNews (December 2: 5-member Misuari panel named) learned this from Parcasio, who presented the MNLF-Misuari position and plan at the Kusog Mindanaw conference on federalism in Davao City last November 30.  

The MNLF-Misuari talking plan:

 [1] The MNLF-Misuari panel will work on a new autonomy law that would adhere to the letter and spirit of the 1996 FPA with the following as points of reference: (a) the 1976 Tripoli Agreement; (b) the 1996 FPA; (c) the executive summary during the proceedings (of the peace negotiations) from 1993 to 1996; and, (d) RA 9054.

 [2] No explicit reference was made to the MNLF-GRP-OIC (Organization of the Islamic Cooperation)  Tripartite Review but by Parcasio’s recapitulation of the Review, the GPH-MNLF-Misuari talks will most likely be a revival of the Review. Parcasio recapitulated:
  • The Tripartite Review had found 46 infirmities in RA 9054, the law that amended RA 6734, the Organic Act creating the ARMM. As an amendatory law, RA 9054, as an “expanded” ARMM law, was supposed to incorporate the 1996 FPA into it.
  • The GPH panel refers to the 42 provisions of R.A. 9054 that need to be revised as “42 consensus points”; but there was a consensus to delete four other provisions in RA 9054 that did not adhere to the 1996 FPA – hence 46 infirmities.
  • Thirty-two consensus points were agreed upon under the Arroyo administration; 14 under the Aquino administration. (NOTE: President Arroyo agreed to call for the Tripartite Review in in June 2006 but the first meeting was held in November 2007. Parcasio’s figures differ from the official reports we have on file; they are contradictory.)
  • Three issues have yet to be resolved: territory in reference to the plebiscite that would be held to ratify the law; the transition mechanism which is similar to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but “ours was the 1976 (Tripoli Agreement) version with some points coming from the 1996 (FPA) transitional mechanism; and revenue-sharing on strategic minerals or energy-based minerals.
[3] The MNLF-Misuari panel referred to as “committee” will sit with the government’s peace implementing panel “to draft a new autonomy law”, work on the executive doables as agreed upon during the Tripartite Review, and establish the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund that will be headed by the MNLF chair, among others.

[4] The draft bill will be submitted to the President who will then submit it to Congress.

[5] The MNLF has “agreed to a federal republic with five rich and big states” – Mindanao, Visayas, Southern Luzon, National Capital, and Northern Luzon.

[6] The Bangsamoro Autonomous Government (BAG) which shall be governed by the new autonomy law, be approved before the ratification of the constitution of the Federal  Republic. It said the BAG “shall be part of the Regional State Government of  Mindanao.”

It can be inferred from Parcasio’s presentation of the MNLF-Misuari talking plan that the Bangsamoro is in grave peril.

Will the OIC be involved? In what capacity? In the 10-year Review, the OIC did not just facilitate but was in control of the proceedings. And the agreements were submitted to the OIC Conference of Foreign Ministers. If this happens, the timeline for the submission of the MNLF-Misuari draft to the Congress will be adversely affected.

There was a draft containing the 42 consensus points to amend R.A. 9054, the submission of which to the Congress Misuari vetoed pending the resolution of the three contentious deemed not within the purview of the Review,  according to then PAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos – Deles. The adoption of the draft, even if revised, will save time; but the negotiation on the three contentious issues can upset the timeline for the submission of the MNLF-Misuari draft to the Congress.

The MILF-led BTC may be able to submit its draft to the Congress on or before July 2017. However, legislative action has to wait for the MNLF-Misuari draft.

But here’s the bombshell! Parcasio stated the MNLF-Misuari position: Letting Congress do the convergence of the draft laws of the MNLF and MILF would be a disaster. He knew that the MNLF-Misuari draft and that of the MILF-led BTC with MNLF-Sema, MNLF-Alonto, IPs and LGUs would have contradictory provisions. Even if the Congress would try to converge the two drafts, the law will be unacceptable to both parties.

He told the conference participants of his wishing for the moon. There must be “one common proposal of the MNLF and MILF” but how that can be done, “yan dapat natin pag-isipan” (that we should think about).

He is asking Allah for a miracle of mixing oil and water. “Let us pray to Allah that the MNLF and MILF will come up with a common proposal.”

Can the OIC and Mr. Duterte do what Allah is being implored to do? But for forty years the OIC has failed to unite the MNLF and MILF. After the signing of the 1996 FPA, the MNLF splintered into several factions. And, Mr. Duterte? He failed to use EO No. 08 to unite MNLF-Misuari, other MNLF factions and the MILF in one track according to his BPDR – imperiling the more the Bangsamoro.

[Author’s Note: Mind da News, the alternate of COMMENT, is a comment on current news. The author may be contacted at]

Rebels raid quarry site in Koronadal City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 7): Rebels raid quarry site in Koronadal City

Suspected communist rebels swooped down on a quarry site in Koronadal City in southern Philippines and torched heavy equipment in a daring attack that was undetected by security forces.

There were no reports of casualties, but the rebels belonging to the New People’s Army ransacked the area and escaped with their loot, including weapons taken from the quarry in the village of Concepcion. The attack occurred despite a unilateral truce and ongoing peace talks with Manila.

The NPA did not issue any statement, but has been active in collecting so-called revolutionary taxes from business establishments and those that refused to pay were threatened by rebels, who are fighting for a separate state in the country.

UPDATE: Relief distribution for affected families of military ops in Lanao del Sur still ongoing

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 8): UPDATE: Relief distribution for affected families of military ops in Lanao del Sur still ongoing

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its Field Office XII continues to assist families affected by military operations against the Maute  group in  Butig , Lanao del Sur.

Social workers from the Field Office are still detailed in the area for relief distribution.

As of Wednesday, some 1,203  family food packs have been distributed  to  evacuees who sought temporary shelter in neighboring barangays and evacuation centers, broken down as follows:
Barangay Samer- 123 family packs
Barangay  Bayabao - 500 family packs
Mipantao Primary School - 140 family packs
Raya Timbab Madrasah - 360 family packs
Raya Timbab  Multi-Purpose Center -  80 family packs

Field Office XII Director Zorahayda Taha  who  leads the relief operations in the area said, " We ensure that all families who were affected by the armed conflict are provided  with appropriate assistance and  interventiions apart from the family food packs. We ask that our military partners will help us ensure that families in the evacuation centers are able to return safely to their communities."

She added , "Our call is for the clashing forces  to respect the rights of the civilians and spare them from harm, especially the children."

DSWD Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo said that it is now part of the DSWD's mandate to address the immediate needs of Filipinos caught in the middle of incidents of armed conflict. "It is the humanitarian duty of the DSWD to provide emergency assistance to families and communities affected by armed conflict. We are especially concerned with the plight of children, the elderly, and ill individuals. We make an appeal for their safety and security," she said.

"DSWD Field Office XII and the Central Office will continue to monitor the situation in Butig. We are prepared to assist the LGU in addressing the needs of the affected residents," she said. (DSWD)

Filipino Youth Unite for YSEALI YOUnified

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 8): Filipino Youth Unite for YSEALI YOUnified

Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) members in the Philippines marked the third anniversary of YSEALI by conducting youth-led community outreach projects in 33 locations across the country.

YSEALI YOUnified, held on December 3, engaged 640 youth volunteers and more than 4,400 participants nationwide to advance the key YSEALI advocacies of civic engagement, economic development, education and the environment.

Projects included a mental health awareness program in Albay; outreach to survivors of Typhoon Lawin in Ilocos Norte; an underwater clean-up on Danjugan Island in Negros; a leadership camp with indigenous youth in Iloilo; English literacy sessions for out-of-school youth in Sulu; and an agri-entrepreneurship workshop for recent drug surrenderees in North Cotabato.

In Manila, the culminating YSEALI YOUnified event brought together almost 200 university student leaders to look at ways to work together to address challenges and opportunities for youth in marine conservation, social media, education and social entrepreneurship.

Addressing the audience, U.S. Ambassador-Designate to the Philippines Sung Kim reminded the students that “leadership also means public service and public welfare.”  He praised the determination of YSEALI members in the Philippines saying, “I think what you did today, engaging in various public service activities throughout the country, is a tremendous model of what leadership really means.”

YSEALI members from the other nine Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states also participated in the celebration by conducting additional 70 youth-led projects across Southeast Asia, engaging more than 9,000 participants. 

Launched in 2013, YSEALI is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia.

Through a variety of programs and engagements, including U.S. educational and professional exchanges, regional workshops, in-country programs, and seed grants, YSEALI seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia, and nurture an ASEAN community. 

YSEALI focuses on critical topics identified by youth in the region, such as civic engagement, environmental and natural resources management, and entrepreneurship and economic development. 

YSEALI now has more than 100,000 members across ASEAN and more than 15,000 in the Philippines alone.

More than 200 Filipinos have participated in YSEALI exchange programs to the U.S. and other Southeast Asian countries.

More than 20 Filipino YSEALI members have also received grant funding to implement their project ideas. (US Embassy)

New AFP chief supports fight vs illegal drugs

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 8): New AFP chief supports fight vs illegal drugs

Newly appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo Eduardo Año said the military will continue supporting police in the campaign against illegal drugs.

"In line with the President (Rodrigo Duterte)'s call to protect the future generations of Filipinos, the AFP shall extend all necessary military capabilities to support the lead of the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies in bringing down drug syndicates and eradicating illegal drugs," he said.

Año took over from Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983 classmate Gen. Ricardo Visaya who retired on Dec. 7 after 37 years of military service.

He said the entire military hierarchy remains committed to support the various national development programs which includes environmental protection, preservation of natural resources, peace and development.

Año will serve as the AFP chief until he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Oct. 26, 2017.

He served as Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines from 2012 to 2014 before becoming commander of the Compostela Valley-based 10th Infantry Division.

Año was also credited with the capture of Communist Party of the Philippines chair Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma in Alonguisan, Cebu last March 22, 2014.

He was also responsible for the killing of rebel commander Leonardo Pitao alias Kumander Parago in June 28, 2015.

IS setting up base in Philippines

From the Jakarta Post (Dec 7): IS setting up base in Philippines

The Islamic State (IS) group’s attempt to create a fully pledged wilayat or province in the southern Philippines poses a serious security threat to Indonesia, the Indonesian Military (TNI) has warned.

The group, which is currently falling back in Iraq and Syria against internationally backed anti-IS forces, is building its base in Mindanao, a restive area that borders with Kalimantan and Sulawesi, TNI commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said on Tuesday.

The number of abductions carried out by terrorist groups from commercial vessels passing through southern Philippines’ waters indicated that IS militants in the area are raising money to build the base, Gatot said.

“I have raised concerns about this issue for six months. IS can enter Indonesia from there [the southern Philippines],” he said on the sidelines of a seminar on terrorism in Central Jakarta.

Armed militants believed to be linked to terrorist group Abu Sayyaf have kidnapped dozens of Indonesian and Malaysian sailors and demanded millions of dollars in ransom. It is unclear how much ransom money the group has collected so far, but the Philippines’ reported in October that Abu Sayyaf pocketed at least 353 million peso (US$7.1 million) in ransom from January to June.

Of this money, some is thought to have been paid in exchange for the release of 14 Indonesian and four Malaysian citizens, although the Indonesian government has denied paying any ransom for their release.

Abu Sayyaf has pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, IS supreme leader, or “caliph”, who has appointed former Abu Sayyaf commander Isnilon Totoni Hapilon, aka Abu Abdullah Al-Filipini, as leader of IS forces in Southeast Asia.

Gatot argued that the IS group, which he said was motivated more by economic factors than ideology, had chosen Southeast Asia as its future headquarters because its lucrative financial sources in the Middle East had been severely reduced.

Terrorism analyst Al Chaidar said that it was Al-Baghdadi himself who chose the southern Philippines as the IS base in Southeast Asia.

The IS caliph had planned to appoint Indonesian firebrand cleric and Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) leader Aman Abdurrahman as IS leader in the region, but Aman is currently in jail, he added.

“It is Al-Filipini who will give orders to all [IS] members here in Southeast Asia,” Al Chaidar said.

The analyst said the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar could escalate the security threat in the region as IS could use it as a pretext to call on its foreign fighters to flock to Southeast Asia to wage violent jihad against the government in Myanmar. “If the Rohingya Muslims fight back, then there is a legitimate reason [for IS] to send help,” Al Chaidar said.

The persecution by the Myanmar military of the Rohingya Muslim minority has already triggered protests from some Muslims in Indonesia. Last month, thousands of people from various Islamic organizations took to the streets in Jakarta to protest against what they described as “a genocide against the Rohingya”.

Meanwhile, the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) said that Aman’s JAD was currently the most dangerous terrorist organization in the country. “JAD is the [group we are] most wary of but there are still other networks too. But the one that has a direct connection with global networks is JAD,” BNPT head Comr. Gen. Suhardi Alius said at the seminar.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said JAD was more radical than terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the al-Qaeda-linked group that orchestrated the first Bali bombing in 2002, since the former targeted not just non-Muslims and the West but also Muslims who do not follow its tenets.

“IS is more powerful than al-Qaeda,” Tito said, adding that although Amman was being held in prison, ideologues in the organization could still plot terrorist attacks.

A number of terrorist attacks in the country are believed to have been linked to JAD, including the attacks on Jl. Thamrin in Central Jakarta in January and an attack at Oikumene Church in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, last month.

Sison to Duterte: We will cooperate but…

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 6): Sison to Duterte: We will cooperate but…

Joma Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), on Tuesday said his group will cooperate with the government if President Rodrigo Duterte will uphold his promise to release all political prisoners within 48 hours of the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement.
“If he will really amnesty and  release all political prisoners 48 hours after the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement by the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) panels, then the NDFP negotiating panel will work hard and fast and cooperate with the GRP negotiating panel to forge such an agreement within December,” Sison told
“During the third round of formal talks in Rome in third week of January, President Duterte and I as CPP founding chairman and as authorized representative of the CC (Central Committee) of the CPP shall approve the (ceasefire) document,” he said.
Duterte on Monday told media that he will not release the 130 political prisoners.
“I’m sorry but I have already conceded so much on the side of the government, he said.
However, government negotiator Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Duterte told him that they may still push through with the release once the bilateral ceasefire agreement is signed.
Release all or fighting resumes
However, Sison said the number of political prisoners to be released should not change or else they will cancel the ceasefire agreement.
“The GRP must keep its word of amnestying and releasing all the 434 political prisoners. Otherwise the CPP, NPA and NDFP would terminate any ceasefire agreement even if already signed at the level of the panels and shift to the mode of negotiating while fighting,” he said.
Human rights groups claim that there are more than 400 political prisoners languishing in Philippine jails but the latest reports said the government is only willing to release 130 individuals.
Nevertheless, Sison said, “I agree with President Duterte that it is definitely better that we cease the fighting and concentrate on making the comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms.”
Meeting the Pope
“The GRP and NDFP delegations can jointly and separately have an audience with the Pope,” Sison said, referring to their meeting in Rome.
The two parties will be transferring peace talks to Rome, from Oslo, Norway, because of the warmer climate.

Activists fear more rights violations under new military chief

From ABS-CBN (Dec 7): Activists fear more rights violations under new military chief

Activist groups on Wednesday criticized the Duterte administration for appointing a general involved in various operations targeting communist rebel leaders as the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces.

ABS-CBN sources said Wednesday that Lieutenant General Eduardo Año has been appointed the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, replacing General Ricardo Visaya.

Año’s reported appointment did not sit well with party-list group Kabataan, which said that the Army commanding general’s rise to the top of the military hierarchy “signals the Duterte administration’s intent on forging a brutal, unapologetic, and violent armed forces.”

“To appoint Año as head honcho of an already bloodstained institution is to underline a future wherein summary killings and abductions continue unabated,” Kabataan party-list group said in a statement.

“To appoint Año as AFP chief of staff is to condone his record as human rights violator, and to rub salt on the wounds of his victims, including the Burgos family," the group added, in reference to the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos.

Año was implicated in the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos in 2007, when he was chief of the Philippine Army's intelligence service group.

Jonas' mother Edita Burgos, filed a case against Año and other military officials. Año was later cleared of all charges, but the Court of Appeals ruled that the AFP was indeed answerable to Burgos' disappearance.

Meanwhile, Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said Año’s appointment “only forecasts more human rights violations with the continuing implementation of the counterinsurgency campaign Oplan Bayanihan.”

Oplan Bayanihan is the anti-insurgency program implemented during the time of former president Benigno Aquino III.

“Gen. Año implemented Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan which sowed terror in the countryside. No doubt with him as AFP Chief of Staff, the massacres, military occupation of civilian communities, and harassment of activists will continue,” Crisostomo said.

“We urge Duterte to reconsider Año’s appointment, stop the continuing military operations, illegal arrests, killings, and harassment of activists under the Oplan Bayanihan, and immediately pull-out AFP troops from the countryside.”

Año served as brigade commander of the 201st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and as commanding general of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division with operational responsibility over Davao Region, parts of Region 12, and two other areas.

Under his leadership, the 10th ID launched an operation that resulted in the killing of Leoncio Pitao aka Kumander Parago, the highest NPA official and most influential leader in the Davao region.

Parago is also considered a friend of Duterte, who served as Davao City mayor for two decades.

Año also served as assistant chief of staff for intelligence of the Army, and then moved up to assistant chief of staff for intelligence of the entire Armed Forces.

During this time, top NPA leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, and Andrea Rosal - alleged NPA commander and daughter of the late NPA spokesman ka Roger Rosal - were captured.

SoKor ready to boost AFP capability

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 7): SoKor ready to boost AFP capability

South Korea expressed its willingness to help boost the Philippines’ armed forces modernization plan.
This came following the first official talks between the two countries’ top defense and military officials in Seoul.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was accompanied by Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Ricardo Visaya, and Philippine Air Force (PAF) Commanding General Lt. General Edgar Fallorina when he met recently with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo and their counterparts at the Ministry of Defense in Seoul.
During the meeting, Secretary Lorenzana, who assumed his post upon the inauguration of President Duterte in June, proposed broadening current defense and military engagements in the field of personnel training and education, and exploring possible joint exercises on disaster response and terrorism.
The suggestion was warmly received by Minister Han who instructed his Joint Chiefs of Staff to look into this matter.
Han also expressed appreciation to his counterpart for the Philippines’ support during the Korean War and subsequent reconstruction, as well as Korea’s current diplomatic efforts to counter the provocations of North Korea at the United Nations and other forums.

Philippines, Russia to explore military logistics cooperation

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): Philippines, Russia to explore military logistics cooperation

The Philippines and Russia are looking at possible "military logistics cooperation" as the two countries expand their defense and economic ties, a government statement said on Wednesday.

The Philippines is upgrading its modest defense capability and is keen on engaging Russia in military logistics, including possible procurement of defense equipment, training and technology transfer.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana met with Alexander Fomin, director of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation in Moscow on Monday.

On the instruction of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Lorenzana visited Moscow to explore prospects for military-technical cooperation between the Philippines and Russia.

This is the first ever visit of a Philippine defense secretary to Russia since the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic relations in 1976, according to the statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila.

"Fomin warmly welcomed Lorenzana, stating that his visit is indeed a good follow-up to the fruitful meeting between Duterte and (Russian) President Vladimir Putin in Lima, Peru on November 19, at the sidelines of the (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit," the statement said.

It noted that Fomin emphasized that Russia is ready to cooperate with and supply the Philippines with whatever defense products it needs, adding that Russia can offer "a wide range of quality and reasonably priced defense products."

The Philippine foreign department said that Lorenzana and Fomin have agreed to continue inter-agency discussions to move the cooperation forward.

3 hurt in Iligan City grenade explosion

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): 3 hurt in Iligan City grenade explosion

Three persons were wounded when a grenade exploded in Iligan City, 88 kilometers west of here, around 7 p.m. Wednesday.

A sketchy police report monitored from here identified the wounded as Cheryl Paquet, 22, of Kaugmaran, Suarez, Iligan City, Laureto Carabantes, Jr., and Cristine Macaderos, all of Iligan City.

The three suffered only minor injuries on their arms when the grenade exploded not far from where they were standing, the police said.

An initial police investigation disclosed that an unidentified person, wearing a bonnet, lobbed the grenade in the city’s public plaza near where the victims were standing.

Police said that the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras mounted around the public plaza could possibly provide the identities of the suspect.

A statement from the office of the City Mayor in Iligan City, said that the police were investigating on the motive behind the explosion.

Joe Pantoja, spokesperson of the office of the City Mayor in Iligan City, said that all activities set for the observance of the Christmas celebration in the city would proceed as scheduled.

He said that the weekly “Night Café” in Iligan City, which is scheduled every Friday and Saturday, would continue unhampered.

The “Night Café” with a semblance of a “night market", was patterned after Cagayan De Oro's where local traders sell various commodities, food, and drinks in the city’s downtown district starting 5 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Suspects in murder of Maguindanao town mayor now in MILF custody

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): Suspects in murder of Maguindanao town mayor now in MILF custody

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said Wednesday it has in its custody the seven gunmen who shot dead the vice mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao last November 27.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chair for political affairs, said the suspects who he did not identify will undergo investigation in Camp Darapanan, the MILF stronghold in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

The suspects were allegedly involved in the planning and execution of the murder plot against Vice Mayor Anwar Sindatok, 53, in his home in Barangay Madia, Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

Jaafar said the suspects all belonged to the MILF 118th base command. They were turned over to the MILF central committee by 118th base commander Ustadz Wahid Tundok.

Sindatok was in his home on Nov. 27, a Sunday, and had early morning visitors he entertained in a makeshift visitors' receiving area in his residential compound.

While the vice mayor and his guests were in the middle of discussion over cups of coffee, gun bursts were heard, according to Sindatok's household members who asked not to be named.

The vice mayor sustained gunshot wounds in his head and body and died on the spot, according to Senior Insp. Rasul Pandulo, Maguindanao police spokesperson.

Witnesses said the gunmen quickly fled on board a privately owned multicab vehicle. Sindatok, elected as the town's No. 1 councilor, was named vice mayor after the town's elected vice mayor, Arnida Dimaukom, assumed the post of her late husband, Mayor Samsodin Dimaukom.

Mayor Dimaukom who was tagged by President Duterte as one of Maguindanao's narco-politicians was killed in a police anti-drug operation in Makilala, North Cotabato.

Police investigators believed the murder of Sindatok was a result of political instability in the town.

The MILF also deployed peacekeepers in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, in coordination with the military, to help restore normalcy in the troubled municipality.

Newly-appointed AFP chief Año vows to turn military into more credible force

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): Newly-appointed AFP chief Año vows to turn military into more credible force

Newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año on Wednesday vowed to focus on transforming the military into a strong, modern, and credible one.

"But to effect change, (it) must start within us, as your AFP chief, I will lead our transformation with fervor to realize our vision of a strong modern and credible Armed Forces as source of national pride of the Filipino people," he noted.

Año took over from Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1983 classmate Gen. Ricardo Visaya who retired today after 37 years of military service.

In line with his focus to modernize the AFP, the newly-appointed military head said this is necessary as they are mandated to protect the Philippines' sovereignty and integrity of our national territory.

"I am determined to lead the AFP in this endeavor by pushing forward the parallel and complementing modernization or our internal security and territorial defense capabilities, thereby establishing a credible defense posture," he said.

"Unity is always determinant of organizational success thus we shall enhance the inter-operability of the major services towards effective and efficient joint operations, we shall breathe new life into research and development to a viable self reliance development program, supported by advanced military technologies from our allies and other countries," Año said.

The new AFP chief added the military shall be the relentless force in ensuring that the Philippine flag "is the only flag waving and flying across our land, air and seas."

"(While) we have been trained to fight, let us never forget as an organization that our fight will always be the fight for peace for every Filipino for the AFP is committed as it has always been to support the government's initiative for a peaceful resolution to all ideologically based armed conflicts. But even as we uphold and respect the primacy of peace, make no mistake about it. We shall remain to be a lethal force capable of destroying any threat to our nation for we will not let our people cower in the face of lawlessness and terrorism," he added.

In the same vein, Año said the AFP remains unwavering and unfaltering in its pursuit of neutralizing every element that desires to inflict fear and harm to innocent citizens.

"With the guidance of our commander in chief, I shall lead the AFP in the sustainment of focused military operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and other local and foreign terrorist groups like the Maute Group," he added.

Año will be serving as AFP chief until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Oct. 26, 2017.

He served as Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) from 2012 to 2014 before becoming commander of the Compostela Valley-based 10th Infantry Division.

Año was also credited with the capture of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chair Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma in Alonguisan, Cebu last March 22, 2014.

He was also responsible for the killing of rebel commander Leonardo Pitao alias Kumander Parago in June 28, 2015.

Año was named Philippine Army commander in July 15, 2015.

The new AFP chief is a recipient of two Distinguished Service Stars; a Gold Cross medal for gallantry in combat action; a Silver Cross Medal; 24 Bronze Cross medals for intelligence operations; 38 Military Merit Medals, three of which were with Spearhead Device for accomplishments in combat actions against armed enemies; nine Military Commendation Medals; a Silver Wing Medal, and other various awards and Command Plaques to include the most coveted Philippine Military Academy Cavalier Award in recognition as outstanding PMA Alumnus in the field of Army Operations in 1996.

Duterte offers 'any position' to outgoing AFP chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): Duterte offers 'any position' to outgoing AFP chief

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday thanked outgoing Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya for a job well done and offered him to choose any position he wants after his retirement, even the position of Defense secretary.

Visaya, who was replaced by Philippine Army Chief Lieutenant General Eduardo Año as new AFP chief, retired on the eve of his 56th birthday after 37 years of distinguished military service.

In his speech during the change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo, President Duterte told the outgoing chief of the 125,000-strong military that he can have any position he wants.

“I would like to express the gratitude of, for and in behalf of the Filipino people to Gen Visaya for a job really well done. Sir, Gen Visaya, mamili ka ng pwesto dyan sir,” he told the general.

“Choose your position. That is how grateful the nation is to you. Gusto mo kausapin mo si Delfin (Lorenzana), okay din yan” Duterte said.

Lorenzana is the incumbent Defense secretary.Visaya, who is part of the Matikas Class of the Philippine Military Academy of 1983, was appointed as the AFP chief-of-staff last July.

Prior to his appointment, he was head of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM).

A native of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, Visaya, is a highly decorated military officer, earning four Distinguished Service Stars, 11 Bronze Cross Medals, two Silver Wing Medals, and numerous Military Merit and Commendation Medals.

He was also awarded the Cavalier Award for Army Operations, a highly coveted award for PMA alumni, in 2008.

Besides an outstanding military record, he has also excelled in various civilian and military training that included the Executive Course on Security Studies in Hawaii, Pacific Army Management Seminar in Tokyo, Professional Managers Program of the Ateneo De Manila University, and Financial Statement Analysis at the University of Asia and the Pacific among others.

Visaya also has a Master's degree in Project Management at the Australian Defense Force in Canberra, Australia.

2 more bomb suspects in hiding—PNP

From The Standard (Dec 6): 2 more bomb suspects in hiding—PNP

POLICE are in pursuit of two more jihadists involved in the foiled bombing of the US Embassy, after agents arrested three suspects, multiple sources told the Manila Standard Tuesday.

“We won’t stop until we find and arrest them dead or alive,” a police intelligence operative involved in the manhunt said on condition of anonymity.

“We believe these two jihadists have with them broader knowledge or information about plans of terrorism here in Metro Manila,” the source added.

On Wednesday, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa is expected to present before the media a third suspect who was arrested Saturday in Bulacan.

The suspect was earlier identified by Manila Standard sources as Mohammad Jomao-as, a returning convert to Islam.

Before his arrest, Rayson Kilala Sandal alias Rashid and Jiaher Guinar were arrested in two separate operations in Caloocan City and Bulacan.

Rashid is said to be a practicing Imam, a religious leader, but was radicalized by the principles of terrorism.

Dela Rosa said all the suspects have links with the Maute group based in Butig, Lanao del Sur.

On Tuesday, security forces raided five houses of Farhana Maute, mother of the leaders of the terrorist Maute group. A policeman was injured when he set off a bomb by stepping on a trip wire inside the compound, ABS-CBN reported.

Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the raid took place at 1:30 a.m., and led to the recovery of a firearm and several explosive materials.

He said the raiding team was composed of members ofthe Regional Public Safety Battalion and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group supported by the 65th Infantry Battalion under the Joint Task Force ZamPeLan.

He said the team served the search warrant against Farhana.

Tan reported a shootout, but a TV report from ABS-CBN showed vootage of the raid as it happened inside the Maute matriarch’s compound in Marawi.

“A policeman from the raiding team was wounded after stepping on a trip wire inside the compound,” the TV report said without mentioning any shootout.

The network said “water and power bills bearing Farhana’s name” were found during the raid.
The CIDG said Farhana might have been financing the operations of her sons and that her houses served as safe houses of the terrorists.

The CIDG added that Farhana is a former government contractor and was able to send her sons to study in the Middle East where they were radicalized.

On Monday, a member of the 1st Scout Ranger Company was killed when his team encountered about 20 members of the Maute group, Tan said.

“Troops were able to recover an RPG, several RPG ammunition, and a steel chainsaw,” Tan said.
Recently, the military dislodged Maute group members who had occupied an abandoned municipal hall in Butig town.

To date, Tan said a total of 63 terrorists have been killed and 17 have been wounded. Troops suffered one killed and 38 wounded.

“The military continues to intensify the conduct of focused military operations to neutralize members of the Matue group,” he said.

X-ray technician presented as 3rd suspect in US embassy bomb scare

From InterAksyon (Dec 7): X-ray technician presented as 3rd suspect in US embassy bomb scare

Muhamad Umao (in yellow shirt) is presented to media by NCRPO director Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde at Camp Crame. (photo by Boy Santos,

An X-ray technician was presented by police Wednesday as the third suspect who left a bomb near the US embassy in Manila last week.

National Capital Region Police Office director Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde said closed circuit television footage showed Mohammad Jumao-as, alias “Modie,” a convert to Islam from Sta. Ana, Bulacan, in the company of Rayson Kilala alias “Rashid” of Bulakan and Jiaher Guinar of Caloocan City, who were arrested on November 28, two days after leaving the bomb in a garbage bin a hundred meters from the embassy.

Police explosives experts safely detonated the bomb, which was found and promptly reported by a street sweeper.

The footage showed the three at the Luneta Park and near the embassy.

Earlier, Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa said the original plan was to detonate the bomb at the Luneta. However, when this failed, Kilala reportedly was bothered by his conscience and convinced his companions to dump the explosive in the garbage bin.

Dela Rosa said the bomb plot was intended to ease pressure and divert government attention from the Maute Group, which was the target of a military offensive in Butig, Lanao del Sur at the time.

Albayalde said like the other suspects, Jumao-as is also a member of the Al-Khalifa in the Philippines, a group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and reportedly has ties to the Abu Sayyaf, Maute Group and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

He said police who arrested Jumao-as on December 3 seized a .45 caliber pistol and a fragmentation grenade from him. He has been charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

NEW LEADERSHIP | Año is the new AFP Chief of Staff

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 7): NEW LEADERSHIP | Año is the new AFP Chief of Staff


Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City — Army chief Lieutenant General Eduardo Año is now appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines following the retirement of General Ricardo Visaya upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Furthermore, Visaya and Año both attended the Philippine Military Academy under the “Matikas” Class of 1983.

It has been a tradition in the previous administrations that the next in line for the said position will only be nationally revealed during the day of the turnover.

Año led the Army’s 10th Infantry Division covering Davao region and other parts of SOCCSKSARGEN before being named as the chief of the Army last July 2015. He was the one in charge of pursuing and killing the New People’s Army commander Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago, the most prominent rebel leader in Southern Mindanao.

The new AFP chief of staff, being a seasoned intelligence officer, was also the former chief of Intelligence Service of the AFP during the arrest of the leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines named, Benito and Wilma Tiamson.

On Oct. 26, 2017, Año will be reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56, giving him a service of not more than a year.

VICTORIOUS | PH Army Shooting Contingent Bags 23 Gold, 14 Silver and 26 Bronze in AARM 2016

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 7): VICTORIOUS | PH Army Shooting Contingent Bags 23 Gold, 14 Silver and 26 Bronze in AARM 2016

1  aarm-2016-logo

CAPAS, Tarlac (DWDD) – The Philippine Army shooting team bagged 23 gold, 14 silver and 26 bronze as per medal counts after the 10-day ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet (AARM) 2016 held at Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac from November 28 to December 7, 2016.

Task Force AARM Commander Brig. Gen. Herminigildo Francisco C. Aquino said that the achievement of the Philippine Army shooting contingent is a quantum leap against the ASEAN heavyweights.

“We bagged more gold than expected, always at the top three competing for the top spot. Always slugging it out with ASEAN’s heavyweights, Indonesia and Thailand. All contenders having a good time competing nonetheless, with mutual respect and friendship”. BGen. Aquino said. PIO TRADOC / MCAG