Thursday, October 19, 2017

AFP confident Malaysian terrorist killed in Marawi

From the Philippine Star (Oct 19): AFP confident Malaysian terrorist killed in Marawi

Wanted Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Ahmad is believed to have been killed in Marawi city following continued operations by the Philippine military. Associated Press/Bullit Marquez, File

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said it is becoming confident that Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Ahmad is one of the 13 militants killed in Marawi City.

AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año however said they have yet to confirm the terrorist’s death as the identities of the 13 militants killed on Wednesday have yet to undergo validation process.
Año said the information on Ahmad’s death were received from the rescued hostages.

“AFP is increasingly becoming confident that he was among those who have been killed during [Wednesday's] operations. The process to confirm this with finality, however, is still ongoing,” Año said.

Deputy Commander Joint Task Group Ranao Romeo Brawner said the authorities have yet to retrieve the bodies of the 13 militants killed.

Once these bodies are retrieved, he said the forensic experts of the Scene of the Crime Operatives will then determine the identity of the cadavers through analysis.

The task force commander clarified that they are not sure if Mahmud is the last foreign terrorist target of the authorities but he said he is one of the “high value individuals” being pursued.

Mahmud reportedly provided more than $600,000 to finance the siege in Marawi City, which started last May.
'Relentless' operations in Marawi

Año said the military's operations Wednesday evening had “very positive” results. He cited that they were able to neutralize 13 rebels.

“Our operations to flush out and deal with terrorist stragglers [have] been continuing relentlessly,” he said.

Among those rescued is a 16-year-old girl who sustained splinter wounds but is now out of danger.

The AFP chief added that six military men sustained minor wounds.

“Troop morale remains very high and motivation to finish the fight is as its highest,” Año said.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the liberation of besieged Marawi City from terrorists. His announcement came after Marawi siege leaders Hapilon and Omar Maute were killed in a military operation on Monday dawn.

Leyte Gulf Landings commemoration to highlight bravery of veterans

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): Leyte Gulf Landings commemoration to highlight bravery of veterans

Leyte province will hold a simple celebration of the 73rd anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landings on Friday with several foreign dignitaries coming to remember the historic event which ended the Japanese occupation in the country.

Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorezana will not make it to the celebration but he will be represented by Lt. Gen Oscar Lactao, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command, according to the provincial government.

To deliver solidarity messages are Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines John Holmes, Australian Embassy to the Philippines Deputy Chief of Mission Mathieson Kimberley, and US Embassy in Manila Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Klecheski.

From the Japanese Embassy, joining the commemorative program are Deputy Chief of Mission and Head of Political Section Minister Takehiro Kano and First Secretary and Defense Attaché Mr. Kazunobu Akutsu.

Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said several activities had been lined up to celebrate the country’s liberation from Japanese occupation during the World War II and recognize the heroism of war veterans.

“We have to remember the veterans’ bravery, their gallantry, and their love for the nation. We should learn from them. After these years, we still have many battles to win such as poverty, criminality and drugs, diseases, teenage pregnancy and human trafficking,” Petilla said on Thursday.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf is remembered as the largest naval battle ever fought in modern history. It was fought in four separate engagements near the islands of Leyte, Samar and Luzon from October 23 to 26 in 1944.

“This is one of the biggest events in Leyte province. In our tourism and our trade, we mainly promote Leyte with the theme of Leyte Gulf Landings, but beyond tourism what is more important is the message, of what had happened 73 years ago,” Petilla said.

On Oct. 20, 1944, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, as the head of the largest US fleet of transport and warships, and accompanied by Commonwealth President Sergio Osmeña and Gen Carlos P. Romulo, landed at Red Beach of this town to reclaim the Philippines from the Japanese.

Army holds more peace fora in south Palawan towns

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): Army holds more peace fora in south Palawan towns

The 18th Special Forces Company (SFC) of the Philippine Army (PA) on Wednesday again led a security forum in southern Palawan to further strengthen the military’s ties with the locals and to maintain momentum in the fight against insurgency.

The forum for security, which was held in the far-flung municipality of Rizal, was an offshoot of two similar activities organized by the Joint Task Group South (JTGS) on May 16 and on October 3 this year, said Captain Wanel Ansa, environment unit and civil military officer of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4) on Thursday.

Captain Anthony Macatual, commander of 18th SFC, headed the first-ever security forum in Barangay Punta Baja, Rizal in partnership with the municipal government and other local stakeholders.

Ansa said the forum engaged the said town’s business sector, discussing with them updates on the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CNN), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), crime index, and other action plans.

“Rizal Mayor Norman Ong also delivered his message and answered questions during the open forum. He gave emphasis on the LGUs projects and programs to address the current security threats,” said Ansa.

Lt. Col. Danilo Facundo, commanding officer of MBL-4 and head of the JTGS, was at the event and expressed his appreciation to the organizers, partners, and participants.

He appealed to the audience “to strengthen relationships and cooperation through information sharing,” emphasizing that “security is a shared responsibility and that everybody must do their part to support the economic development of Rizal.”

Jose P. Rizal, a first class town in the southern part of Palawan, has a population of 50,096 people, based on a 2010 census.

Prior to its creation as a separate municipality, the place was known as Tarumpitao Point and was part of the town of Quezon.

BIFF harassment foiled in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): BIFF harassment foiled in Maguindanao

Government troops foiled an attempt by an outlawed armed group to overrun an Army detachment in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao past midnight Thursday.

Capt. John Arvin Encinas, Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said an undetermined number of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attempted to attack the Alpha Company Detachment of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Meta at around 1 a.m.

“They just wanted to show they are still a force to reckon with,” said Encinas.

At present, soldiers manning detachments along the Cotabato-Maguindanao-Isulan, Sultan Kudarat highway have been placed on heightened alert following the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute in Marawi City.

Encinas said prior to the attack, soldiers using night vision devices noticed movement of people in the dark and moving toward the Army base.

This prompted the government forces to open fire and a brief encounter ensued. Nobody was hurt on the government side but Encinas could not say if the attackers suffered casualties.

The foiled attack came after joint Army and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) arrested Tuesday a BIFF bomb expert and seized from him bomb-making materials.

On Wednesday, soldiers belonging to the 22nd Mechanized Company of 2nd Mechanized Battalion also recovered high-powered guns and ammunition from a certain BIFF Commander Abunawas Bayawak.

On the same day, joint police and military operatives raided the house of a Maguindanao town councilor but missed him.

Sr. Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police director, said elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), backed by the Provincial Public Safety Battalion, had raided the house of Councilor Jayton Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, but was not in his home during the operation.

The councilor is a brother of Datu Saudi Ampatuan Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom who was killed in an anti-drug police operation in Makilala, North Cotabato, last year.

Armed with the search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 13, Tello said the raiding units search Dimaukom’s house and found an unlicensed cal. 45 pistol and ammunition.

Police and CIDG operatives said the raid was conducted after intelligence reports confirmed he was keeping unlicensed guns.

Dimaukom is the chair of Barangay Salbo, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao and president of the local Association of Barangay Captains. He sits in the town council as ex-officio member.

13 Maute terrorists killed in Marawi clearing ops

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): 13 Maute terrorists killed in Marawi clearing ops

Some 13 Maute group remnants were killed in the latest military operations aimed at clearing Marawi City of terrorists, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced Thursday.

“Our operations to flush out and deal with terrorist stragglers has been continuing relentlessly since yesterday (Wednesday). Last night's operations has been very positive. We were able to neutralize 13 rebels and we confirmed this,” AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año said in a statement.

The AFP chief, however, said they had yet to confirm if Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Ahmad was among those who were killed in the operation.

“The AFP is increasingly becoming confident that he was among those who have been killed during yesterday’s operations. The process to confirm this with finality, however, is still ongoing. Earlier information regarding this was received from the rescued hostages. We are now working on getting full confirmation,” Año stressed.

Ahmad was earlier spotted by government forces as among Maute brigands led by slain terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute in Marawi City.

Año also confirmed the rescue of seven more hostages, among them a wounded teenage girl.

Meanwhile, six members of the troops were wounded in Wednesday’s operations but they are now out of danger, the AFP chief added.

Based on the military’s estimates, there are around 20 remaining hostages trapped in the city.

He assured the military’s strong will to end the almost five-month long conflict.

“Troop morale remains very high and motivation to finish the fight is at its highest,” he stressed.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi City liberated from terrorists’ hands following the death of Hapilon and Maute.

Joint observance of Leyte Landing, Ricarte's birth anniversary bared

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): Joint observance of Leyte Landing, Ricarte's birth anniversary bared

The Philippines will jointly observe on Friday the 73rd anniversary of the historic Leyte Landing by allied forces led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur that liberated the country from Japanese occupation in World War II and the 151st birthday anniversary of Gen. Artemio Ricarte, hero of the Philippine revolution against Spain and the Philippine-American war.

The Leyte Landing will be observed at MacArthur Park in Palo, Leyte where the Americans and allied forces landed on that memorable day of Oct. 20, 1944 that paved the way for the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese occupation.

Retired Maj. Gen. Alfredo S. Cayton Jr of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) will represent Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Defense Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina, PVAO administrator, in the Leyte landing ceremony at Palo Beach.

Coinciding with the Leyte landing celebration on Friday is the commemoration of the 151st birth anniversary of Ricarte, hero of two Philippine revolutions – against Spain and the United States to be held at the Ricarte National Military Shrine in Batac City in Ilocos Norte.

 Retired Brig. Gen. Restituto L. Aguilar, chief of PVAO historical records, will be the guest of honor and speaker at the Ricarte rites.

It may be recalled that it was on Oct. 20, 1944 that MacArthur fulfilled his solemn pledge to the Filipino people three years before when he said “I shall return” to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation.
The landing was preceded in what is dubbed as the “Battle at Leyte Gulf”, the greatest naval battle in history the world has known that remained unequalled to date in terms of the number of warships, aircraft and submarines involved and the huge number of war casualties.
It was during the great battle at Leyte Gulf that the once powerful Japanese Navy was destroyed by the US 3rth and 7th fleet.

The naval warfare involved four sea battles at Sibuyan Sea, Surigao Strait,Cape Engaño and the island of Samar in the Pacific Ocean.

It was during the Battle at Leyte Gulf that the Japanese deployed its first “kamikaze” or suicide pilots in attacking US warships.

Kamikaze pilots sunk 47 Allied warships and damaged 300 others. But a total of 4,000 Kamikaze pilots were killed during the Second World War.
The US had in its arsenal eight aircraft carriers, 24 small carriers, 1,712 warplanes, 12 battleships, 24 cruisers and 141 destroyers.

In the historic Battle at Leyte Gulf, the Japanese Navy lost nine carriers, more than 500 combat planes and a big number of smaller ships.

Before Bataan fell on April 9, 1942 MacArthur made a daring sea escape from his headquarters on Corregidor Island to Australia.

Aboard a convoy of lightly armed PT boats, MacArthur successfully broke the Japanese lines and arrived in Australia safely.

But before he boarded the PT boat, Gen. MacArthur uttered the now famous three-letter word: “I shall return” to liberate the Philippines and crush the Japanese invaders.
It came to pass on Oct. 20, 1944.
To remember that historic landing, the Philippine government built memorials of ranking military officials led by Gen. MacArthur and Filipino Brig. Gen. Carlos P. Romulo.
The memorial called MacArthur Park is one of the tourist attractions in Leyte.
In his speech shortly after US and allied forces landed at the Red Beach in Leyte, MacArthur said:

“I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil - soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed, to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring, upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people.

“At my side is your President, Sergio Osmena, worthy successor of that great patriot, Manuel Quezon, with members of his cabinet. The seat of your government is now therefore firmly re- established on Philippine soil.

“The hour of your redemption is here. Your patriots have demonstrated an unswerving and resolute devotion to the principles of freedom that challenges the best that is written on the pages of human history. I now call upon your supreme effort that the enemy may know from the temper of an aroused and outraged people within that he has a force there to contend with no less violent than is the force committed from without.

“Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. As the lines of battle roll forward to bring you within the zone of operations, rise and strike. Strike at every favorable opportunity. For your homes and hearths, strike! For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of divine God points the way. Follow in His Name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory!”

DWDD: OPERATIONS DEMO | Australia, Philippine Navies show joint capabilities

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 18): OPERATIONS DEMO |  Australia, Philippine Navies show joint capabilities

SUBIC BAY, Olongapo City (DWDD) – The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Philippine Navy (PN) showcased their capabilities during a joint humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations demo last October 15.

This was conducted in the vicinity waters of Subic Bay.

The activity was the last activity between RAN and PN before Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) HMAS Adelaide (LO1) and Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate HMAS Darwin (FFG-04) left the country after completing a 5-day goodwill visit.

The visit was part of the Australian Defense Forces – Joint Task Group of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017 which focuses .

Endeavour 2017 focuses on enhancing military cooperation with some of Australia’s key regional partners including Brunei, Cambodia, the Federated States of Micronesia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste.

HMAS Adelaide (L01) is the lead ship of the task group which will be joined by different types of frigates and a replenishment ship at various stages of the deployment. NPAO/MCAG0

PN shows the joint ability of the Australian Navy


DWDD: SELFLESS SERVICE | Naval Forces Western Mindanao @ 21

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 18): SELFLESS SERVICE  |  Naval Forces Western Mindanao @ 21

BAGONG CALARIAN, Zamboanga City (DWDD) – Naval Forces Western Mindanao celebrated its 21st Founding Anniversary last October 13, 2017 with the theme “NFWM: 21 Years of Selfless Service Towards a Prosperous and Secure Western Mindanao” graced by the Flag Officer In Command, Philippine Navy, Vice Adm. Ronald Joseph S Mercado AFP as the Guest of Honor and Speaker.

The highlight of the event was the awarding of the officers, enlisted personnel, civilian employees, OpCon Units and NFWM partner stakeholders who rendered meritorious services and greatly contributed to the mission accomplishment of the command for the past year.

The Flag Officer In Command said on his anniversary message, “A lot of challenges may have crossed our path this past year but I am proud to say that NFWM never faltered or ceased to deliver desired results and render only the highest standard and most honorable service to our maritime nation.”

Furthermore, the Commander Naval Forces Western Mindanao reiterates that, “No mission will ever be successful, no undertaking a success, if there are only few people dealing with it. It is imperative that we work as a team, and always put our best foot forward in carrying out our tasks.”

Indeed, the NFWM Officers, Enlisted personnel, civilian employees and OpCon units had lived up with its theme and have made the Philippine Navy a strong and credible organization. NFWM/NPAO/MCAG

DWDD: CHANGE OF CHIEF OF OFFICE | PA installs new Vice Commander and Chief of Staff

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 18): CHANGE OF CHIEF OF OFFICE  |  PA installs new Vice Commander and Chief of Staff

MG Arevalo             MG Gapay

FORT ANDRES BONIFACIO, Taguig City (DWDD) – The Philippine Army has installed a new Vice Commander and Chief of Staff last October 5 and 9, 2017, respectively.

Major General Robert M. Arevalo was assigned as the new Vice Commander of the Philippine Army in a Change of Chief of Office Ceremony held here on October 5. He replaced Major General Harold N. Cabreros who retired on October 7.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Gilbert I. Gapay replaced Arevalo as the Army Chief of Staff in another ceremony held Monday, October 9.

Arevalo, an expert logistician, is a member of the Philippine Miltary Academy (PMA) “Sandiwa” Class of 1985. He has a Master’s degree in Management. Before his stint as the Army Chief of Staff, he was the Commander of the Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group, PA in 2013 to 2016, Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics, G4, PA in 2010 to 2013, and the Assistant Chief of Staff for Comptrollership, G6, Training and Doctrine Command in 1999 to 2001.

Gapay, a decorated officer, is the topnotcher of the PMA “Sinagtala” Class of 1986. He has a Master’s degree in Management. Prior to his post, he was the Deputy Commander of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command, Commander of the Joint Task Force Harribon that secured Davao City and the rest of Davao Region, and the spokesperson for the Martial Law implementation in Mindanao. He was also the Assistant Division Commander of the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID), PA in 2016, and the Commander of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, MID, PA in 2014 to 2016. OACPA/MCAG

DWDD: SEASONED OFFICER | Expert intelligence officer new 7ID Commander

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 19): SEASONED OFFICER  |  Expert intelligence officer new 7ID Commander


FORT ANDRES BONIFACIO, Taguig City (DWDD) – The 7th Infantry “Kaugnay” Division of the Philippine Army was installed with a new Commander in a Change of Command Ceremony held here last Saturday, October 7, 2017.

Major General Felimon T. Santos Jr is now the Commander of the 7ID, PA. He replaced retired Major General Angelito M. De Leon, who served in the Army for 37 years.

Santos is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sinagtala” Class of 1986. He has a Master’s Degree in Management. He is also a Scout Ranger, Field Artillery Officer, and an Intelligence Officer.

Prior to his post, Santos was the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, J2 at the General Headquarters, Armed Forces of the Philippines from November 2016. He held various command positions in the Army the such as the Assistant Division Commander of the 6th Infantry Division, Commander of the 703rd Infantry Brigade, Group Commander of the Intelligence and Security Group and Group Commander of the Civil-Military Operations Group.

Santos is a seasoned combat officer who was honored with numerous awards which include Gold Cross Medals for gallantry in action, Bronze Cross Medals, Distinguished Service Stars, an Outstanding Achievement Medal, Military Merit Medals, Military Commendation Medals and numerous letters of commendations and appreciation from the military and civilian organizations. 7DPAO/MCAG

DWDD: ENGAGING THE PUBLIC | Digital Media Summit 2017

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 19): ENGAGING THE PUBLIC  |  Digital Media Summit 2017

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – The Presidential Security Group (PSG) together with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and Civil Relations Service, AFP (CRSAFP) successfully held the “Digital Media Summit 2017” October 18, 2017 at the AFP Commissioned Officer Club at Camp Gen Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

The theme for the event: “Engaging the Public for a Successful 31st ASEAN Summit” that was attended by more than 500 participants from various organization.

The event was graced by PSG Commander BGen Lope C. Dagoy, PCOO chief Sec. Martin Andanar and other distinguished speakerers.

The Digital Media Summit 2017 aimed to provide information on the responsible use of digital media in the everchanging landscape and the benefits the country will derive from the government’s hosting of the 31st ASEAN Summit in November.

It also aimed to educate the public on the importance of security and each person contribution to the country, using digita media, for the successful holding of the ASEAN Summit 2017. AES

Arrest of alleged Pinay ISIS recruiter shows need for vigilance – Palace

From News5/InterAksyon (Oct 19): Arrest of alleged Pinay ISIS recruiter shows need for vigilance – Palace

Malacañang said Thursday, October 19, that the arrest of Karen Aizha Hamidon, who authorities accuse of seeking recruits for ISIS, “underscores that we cannot let our guard down in the fight against terrorism as some remnants of the forces of evil are still at large.”

Hamidon, 36, was arrested in Taguig City a week ago but she was presented to media by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday.

She has been charged with 14 counts of inciting to rebellion or insurrection and violation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 for allegedly using social media and messaging apps to call on foreigners to join extremist gunmen who battled government forces in Marawi City.

After nearly five months, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the Islamic city liberated this week and military officials said he battle of Marawi was finally winding down following the deaths of extremist leaders Isnilon Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf commander said to have been designated ISIS’s leader in Southeast Asia, and Omar Maute.

But presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said although the two extremist leaders have been killed, they have followers who are still on the loose.

Hamidon, a Muslim convert, was married to Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, alias Tokboy, who led the pro-ISIS Ansar Al-Khilafa and is said to have led the deadly bombing of Davao City in September last year. Maguid was killed in a gunfight with police in Sarangani January 5 this year.

She also allegedly became the wife of Singaporean security guard Muhammad Shamin Mohamed Sidek, who was detained in 2015 after making pro-ISIS Facebook posts inciting readers to religious violence. Hamidon is also said to be close to Musa Cerantino, an Australian jihadi extremist and ISIS supporter.

Duterte: CIA wants me out of government

From Update Philippines (Oct 19): Duterte: CIA wants me out of government

President Rodrigo Duterte said that the United States’ civilian foreign intelligence service Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) wants him out of the government.

The President made the statement during the Anniversary of Buhay OFW and Anti-Trafficking OFW Movement (ATOM) Launch.

“They say that the CIA wanted me out of the government. I believe so but not really killing but they could have – they would have prepared another one,” Duterte said.

“But one thing is very sure is they do not like me and I do not like them also,” he said.

“I was invited by Trump to go there and here comes the two Senators from the US Congress, they were here saying: Oh we will protest if he goes there. And I answered: Who told you I will go there?” he added.

PH nears in sealing deal for acquisition of 6 Super Tucanos

From Update Philippines (Oct 19): PH nears in sealing deal for acquisition of 6 Super Tucanos

The Philippine government through the Department of National Defense (DND) is nearing to seal a deal with Brazilian manufacturer Embraer for the purchase of six EMB 314 Super Tucanos for Philippine Air Force (PAF), IHS Jane’s Defence Industry said in a report.

IHS Jane’s cited DND public affairs chief Arsenio Andolong saying the contract is expected to be finalized before this year ends.

These aircraft to be procured will act as Close Air Support (CAS) aircraft for PAF and will replace/complement PAF’s Rockwell OV-10 “Bronco” turboprop attack planes.

According to MaxDefense, the plan under the second horizon of AFP modernization is to acquire 18 more Super Tucano to “ultimately replace the OV-10A/C/M Broncos and SF-260TP with the PAF’s 15th Strike Wing.”

The DND confirmed in June that Embraer was declared as the lowest calculated bidder.

“Embraer was determined as the lowest calculated bidder for the Close Air Support Project, but they still have to undergo and pass the post-qualification inspection to be awarded the contract,” DND told Update Philippines.

Military checks reported death of Malaysian replacement of Hapilon

From Update Philippines (Oct 19): Military checks reported death of Malaysian replacement of Hapilon

The Philippine military is now checking the reported death of Malaysian terrorist Dr. Mahmud Ahmad during an encounter on October 18.

Mahmud Ahmad was perceived as the possible replacement of terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon.

“Dahil hindi pa po natin nakukuha [ang bangkay], nakakapasok sa kinaroroonan ng mga kalaban, hindi pa po natin makumpirma ito 100 percent,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla said over radio DZMM.

“Pero tumataas po ang porsyento at nagiging kampante po kami, increasingly confident na ito na nga po iyun,” he added.

Padilla earlier said that Dr. Mahmud is an academic and not a fighter and his experience in fighting is not as extensive as anyone like Hapilon or the Maute brothers.

“Hence his ability to tactically lead the fight is not there essentially and so we don’t see this as a problem,” Padilla noted.

After Marawi terror, military heightens alert on PH-Indonesia maritime border

From Rappler (Oct 18): After Marawi terror, military heightens alert on PH-Indonesia maritime border

The Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao says it's doing this 'to prevent possible spillover' of the threat since the Marawi terrorist leaders were killed

MARITIME COOPERATION. In this file photo, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa (left) and then Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario finish signing a historic maritime deal between their countries. Behind them, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III as witnesses. File photo by Rey Baniquet/PCOO/Malacañang Photo Bureau

MARITIME COOPERATION. In this file photo, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa (left) and then Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario finish signing a historic maritime deal between their countries. Behind them, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III as witnesses. File photo by Rey Baniquet/PCOO/Malacañang Photo Bureau

The Philippine military is keeping an eye on its maritime boarder with Indonesia for possible movement of persons tied with terror activities in Southeast Asia, even as they say the area is only often crossed by fishermen from both countries.

We’re doing this to prevent a possible spillover,” Lieutenant James Reyes, spokesperson of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao, told Rappler in an interview on Wendnesday, October 18.

Reyes was referring to a potential attack from terrorist groups following the death of the top leaders of armed groups behind the prolonged war in Marawi City.

But he explained that the military’s efforts to guard the said maritime border has always been high priority even though the area is relatively of low risk in terms of the movement of terrorist groups.

“Technically, crossing from another area of responsibility is considered a breach of security,” he said.

The Philippines and Indonesia have been coordinating in guarding the said area in a renewed military cooperation.

In 2014, both states signed an agreement that drew a boundary between Indonesia and the Philippines’ overlapping exclusive economic zones, which would help fishermen from both countries in the long run.

Major Ezra Balagtey, public affairs officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao Command, said among those who often encounter trouble at the border are fishermen who do not intend to cross territories.

“Usually the cases are Filipino fishermen whose boats drift into another terroritory. But Indonesian border patrol would help them return back to the Philippines,” said Balagtey.

But as security risks in Mindanao have been heightened since the Marawi siege, they said they are always on the watch against terror activities.

In September, the military renovated two of its Philippines-Indonesia border crossing stations in Tibanban, Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental, and another on the island of Balut in the province of Davao Occidental.

Military wants to wipe out CPP-NPA by 2018

From Rappler (Oct 19): Military wants to wipe out CPP-NPA by 2018

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Eduardo Año: 'Gusto nating mangyari, sa katapusan ng 2018, wala nang CPP-NPA kahit isa, sa buong Pilipinas'

FIGHTING THE CPP-NPA. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Eduardo Año at the AFP General Headquarters in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on December 7, 2016. Malacañang photo

FIGHTING THE CPP-NPA. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Eduardo Año at the AFP General Headquarters in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on December 7, 2016. Malacañang photo

The commanding general of the Philippine Army said the rebels of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA) are their next target after the military wraps up its operations in Marawi.

“Gusto nating mangyari, sa katapusan ng 2018, wala nang CPP-NPA kahit isa, sa buong Pilipinas,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Eduardo Año said in his speech at the Eastern Mindanao Command on Tuesday evening, October 17. (What we want to happen, at the end of 2018, is for there to be no more CPP-NPA in the whole of the Philippines)

Año said the entry of some 13,000 new recruits into the AFP will bolster the government’s anti-insurgency drive. This, while it also recruited some 300 Lumad from different provinces in Davao region.

The military chief, also known as the “rebel hunter” for his achievement in arresting communist leaders including CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon, said wiping out their next target would allow the government to “start the positive economic development especially in Mindanao.”

The goal, according to Año, comes from the orders of President Duterte. Duterte had earlier called the NPA “terrorists” after he announced that he would be scrapping peace talks with them.

In February, Año said the AFP will hit hard against NPA to prevent them from conducting atrocities and criminal activites.

This month, around 70 NPA fighters attacked the facilities of the Davao Agricultural Ventures in Bukidnon.

The NPA said it did so to remind the company “not to aggressively expand in agricultural areas where staple food crops such as rice and corn are cultivated.”

Incidents like this have prompted exporters, including the Pilipino Banana Growers & Exporters Association (PBGEA) to call on government to protect them from further attacks.

On October 17, PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig appealed the military to deploy Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit members in banana plantations.

They say these attacks stunt the growth of the banana export industry which is already saddled by calamities, export regulations, and competition from other exporting countries.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Marawi terrorists raped 15-year-old hostage in front of mother

From Rappler (Oct 19): Marawi terrorists raped 15-year-old hostage in front of mother

Another female hostage fears the terrorists killed her husband because he worked for the government, according to a documentary of the government

BATTLE AREA. Local terrorist groups in Marawi used hostages as human shield. Rappler photo

BATTLE AREA. Local terrorist groups in Marawi used hostages as human shield. Rappler photo

 The Maute Group made a mother watch her 15-year-old daughter being raped inside the battle area, according to a government documentary.

The mother and daughter were among the hostages taken by the local terrorist group that sought to carve their own territory in the city. The women were separated from the men, who were tasked with various jobs to help the terrorists. (READ: The life of a Maute hostage in Marawi)

Her daughter got pregnant but suffered a miscarriage, the weeping mother narrated. The mother was not identifed in the video and her face was blurred to protect her and her daughter's identity.
"Sabi niya, 'Bakit ganito nangyari sa akin, Mama?'" the mother recalled her daughter asking her. (She asked, "Why did this happen to me, Mama?")

She forbade her daughter from having a boyfriend so she could focus on her studies.

"Kaya nandito kami kasi mag-aral siya sa pilot (public) school. Nandito kami kasi enrolment," she said. (We're here because she was going to study at the public school. It was enrollment period.)

"Ito pa nangyari. Ginahasa nila anak ko (And this is what happened to us. They raped my child)," she said.

They were among 17 hostages recently rescued in Marawi City after troops killed the top leaders of the siege – Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute past midnight on October 16.

Another female hostage spoke of how her husband suddenly disappeared. She fears they've killed him only because they found out that he worked for the government.

"Bawal daw magtrabaho sa gobyerno, sabi nila... Nalaman nila na diyan sila nag-work sa construction. Pinatay nila. Wala na sila nagbalik," she said.

(They say it is wrong to work for the government. They found out that he was among those involved in construction work. They killed them. They did not return anymore.)

It is unclear if her husband was among the supposed hostages that the terrorists executed early on in the war.

In the video, Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año promised they will look for her husband's remains.

Hapilon’s kin, 2 more Abu Sayyaf members surrender in Basilan

From Rappler (Oct 19): Hapilon’s kin, 2 more Abu Sayyaf members surrender in Basilan

For this year, a total of 124 Abu Sayyaf members have surrendered to government forces   


BASILAN, Philippines – A relative of slain terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon and two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group under top leaders Furuji Indama and Nurhasan Jamir surrendered as combat operations are being intensified in Basilan.

Ben Salina Sapilin, a.k.a. Ben, a cousin of Hapilon, and two other Abu Sayyaf members identified as Rami Ben Sapilin and Muhamadendeng, yielded to the troops in Barangay Macalang, Albarka, Basilan last Tuesday, October 17.

Also surrendered by the group of Sapilin were an M16 A1 rifle, a Caliber .30 M1 Garand rifle, and an M79 rifle.

Sapili, a.k.a. Attik, is listed in the records of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a follower of Nurhasan Jamiri, while Muhamadendeng, a.k.a. Aburayhad, is a follower of Furudji Indama.

The surrender was facilitated by operating troops of the 74th Infantry Battalion led by 1st Lieutenant Ali Kagui under the supervision of Lieutenant Colonel Jonas Templo, according to Colonel Juvymax Uy, commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan.

“Sapili and his companions are currently in the custody of the 74IB for the debriefing to be facilitated by our intelligence units,” Uy said.

For this year, a total of 124 Abu Sayyaf members have surrendered to government forces. Of this, 68 yielded in Basilan, 33 in Sulu, 21 in Tawi-Tawi, and two in Zamboanga City.

“Our Joint Task Forces will continue to sustain their security operations to bring about the eventual defeat of the Abu Sayyaf operating in the ZamBaSulTa area,” said Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

“With the neutralization of the Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, we believe more of the bandits will surrender and return to the folds of law in the coming days.”

More than a dozen terrorists killed in Marawi

From Rappler (Oct 19): More than a dozen terrorists killed in Marawi

(UPDATED) At least 27 terrorists have been killed thus far in heavy fighting. Colonel Brawner says that because they 'don't have all the cadavers yet', they could not confirm if Malaysian militant Dr Mahmud is among them.

ASSAULT. The military stages another assault in Marawi. Rappler photo

ASSAULT. The military stages another assault in Marawi. Rappler photo

(UPDATED) – More than a dozen more terrorists were killed in Marawi City in latest military operations as troops continued their assault to flush out what they call "stragglers" inside the battle area.

Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Group Ranao, said Thursday, October 19, 13 terrorists were killed in Wednesday night's operations.

A Rappler source on the ground said up to 27 fighters have been killed in heavy fighting that started Wednesday, October 18. 14 more bodies were reported retrieved Thursday, October 19.

The military is checking if Malaysia's top militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad was among the fighters troops killed.

Brawner said they could not yet confirm the death of Mahmud as the information came from two hostages rescued Wednesday night. They said Mahmud "could have been killed," according to Brawner. "But in the absence of bodies and SOCO [Scene of the Crime Operatives] report, the military could not say if Mahmud is really killed."

He added that some of the terrorists killed were hit by sniper fires but their bodies have not yet been retrieved. "We don't have all the cadavers yet, so no confirmation on Dr Mahmud," Brawner said.

Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año, however said, the AFP is "increasingly becoming confident that he was among those who have been killed during yesterday's (Wednesday's) operations."

Entrenched resistance
"Enemy resistance is still organized and well entrenched," Brawner also said. Improvised explosive devices or IEDs and unexploded ordnance in the military battle area still number in the thousands, Brawner said, and the military does not have a timeframe for clearing all of them.

Terrorists, who are willing to die, have been "using hostages as human shields." The military is unsure who their leader is.

Año said that early Thursday they were able to rescue a mother and her teenaged daughter. Both are safe and out of danger, even as about 20 more hostages remain in the area.

About 6 soldiers were wounded in the operation but they are safe too, suffering only superficial wounds.

Malacañang, for its part, said it is still "verifying reports" of Mahmud's death and can give "no official confirmation" until the military identifies the terrorist leader's body.

TOP MALAYSIAN TERRORIST. Mahmud Ahmad reportedly channeled at least P30 million ($600,000) to finance the attack in Marawi City, Philippines.

Mahmud is reportedly among the top financiers of the attack. He supposedly channeled at least P30 million ($600,000) to finance the attack in Marawi City, the military said.

Mahmud survived the assault on Monday, October 16, that killed the top leaders behind the siege. Abu Sayyaf subleader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute of the family-led Maute Group were shot by government snipers as troops assaulted enemy position to rescue remaining hostages. (READ: The life of a Maute hostage in Marawi)

These terrorist leaders pledged allegiance to international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS).

President Rodrigo declared the "liberation" of Marawi from "terrorist influence" on Tuesday. Año said, "Troop morale remains very high and motivation to finish the fight is at its highest."

Be more vigilant

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 18): Be more vigilant

AUTHORITIES in the region have intensified watch against terrorists by boosting border control operations following the death of top extremists Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute on Monday in Marawi City.
The Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Regional Office (PRO) XI directed its subordinate units to heighten operations to prevent atrocities by different terror groups.

In a memorandum issued yesterday, the PRO also directed provincial and city offices to be “more vigilant and enhance coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) counterparts through the Joint Peace Security Coordinating Council (JPSCC) mechanism.”

Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum, director of Davao City Police Office (DCPO), said they maintained to place the city under terror alert level three, which has been effective since the declaration of Martial Law on May 23 for the entire Mindanao.

This means, Tagum said, that the terror threat level is still high.

Under alert level three, Tagum told the TIMES in a text message that there exists “imminent threat of terrorist and communist attack, on progress attack of terrorists and communist rebels and combat operations or hot operations on these threats.”

The AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) also directed its subordinate units to raise the alert level to prevent retaliation from the rebel groups after the death of the top extremists.

The EastMincom is also strengthening the borders in Balut Island in the southern tip of the region in Sarangani town, Davao Occidental and Cape San Agustin in the western tip of the region in Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental to ensure that sympathizers would not pass through the area in Celebes Sea.

EastMincom spokesperson Maj. Ezra Balagtey, in an interview yesterday at Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Camp Panacan, said they received directive to intensify the security operations in the region.

“Recently there was a signing of agreement on the strengthening of the borders,” he said.

An Inter-Agency Border Security Coordinating Council in Region XI was operationalized after a memorandum of understanding was signed by member agencies on Sept. 15 at Naval Station Felix Apolinario.

Balagtey said they are also doing advocacy awareness so they can monitor any possible entry of terrorists.

Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Eastmincom commander, said in a statement that they needed to strengthen border security as a pro-active measure to prevent the terrorists from using it as their mobility corridor.

Guerrero urged for the continuous support from the different stakeholders to prevent terrorism attack in the region.

“We recognize the importance of the support coming from the populace. We therefore ask everyone to be vigilant and to report to the authorities any suspicious activities in their respective communities,” Guerrero said.

Martial Law stays

Despite the fall of the top extremist leader, the Department of National Defense (DND) said Martial Law will remain in effect in Mindanao

“No, we are not talking about lifting Martial Law yet, tingnan pa natin, we are only looking in the immediate aftermath of the killing of these two leaders, we may, sabi ko nga we may be lifting, I mean announcing the cessation of hostilities within this week and then after that we will find out,” Lorenzana told reporters during a press conference as reported by the Philippine News Agency.

President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 on May 23 declaring Martial Law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao. This was a result of the attack of the Maute group in Marawi City, which is still ongoing and is subject to military operations.

The DND chief said they had yet to assess the situation in order for them to determine whether they can recommend the lifting of Martial Law to President Duterte.

“We will find out, we will assess the entire Mindanao if there is a need to recommend to the President the lifting of Martial Law,” he noted.

When asked on the possible retaliation of Maute remnants, Lorenzana said “We are prepared, our troops are prepared, alam naman natin that it is the modus operandi of the enemy to make, to create diversion dito, diversion dyan, retaliation din, so our troops are prepared.”

As of Monday, the number of slain Maute terrorists was placed at 822. The government suffered 162 fatalities.

Military to Marawi bakwits: “Please be patient”

From MindaNews (Oct 18): Military to Marawi bakwits: “Please be patient”

The spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) urged Marawi residents displaced by the nearly five-month war to “please be patient” as they still have to clear the areas to ensure nothing untoward will happen to the residents when they return to the city.

Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, told the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday that the return of the evacuees (internally displaced persons or IDPs) to Marawi will still take some time because “there is a need to clear all these buildings of all unexploded ordnance (UXO) as well as IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that may have been left by these retreating terrorists.”

The press briefing was held late Tuesday morning, a few hours before President Rodrigo Duterte declared in Marawi that the country’ s lone Islamic city is now “liberated from the terrorist influence,” marking the “beginning of rehabilitation for the people.”

A boy scratches his head in one of the evacuation centers in iligan City in this photo taken Saturday, 08 July 2017. President Rodrigo Duterte on October 17 declared Marawi “liberated from the terrorist influence” but the displaced population will have to wait some more before they could return to Marawi. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

“We want to ensure the safety of all our citizens, particularly the residents of Marawi who will want to visit the areas of their residence and recover whatever it is that remains from the damage that has been caused by this terrorist group,” Padilla said.

“We must be 100 percent sure that no bomb, no IED, no booby trap is left in these areas,” he stressed, noting it would be “untenable and unacceptable to us” if the displaced residents survived nearly five months in the evacuation centers but would be killed or wounded on their return to Maraw because of an IED left behind

Water and electricity, too

“Please be patient. We ask for our citizens to understand the predicaments that we still face. But rest assured that our soldiers, our airmen, our sailors, our marines, and our policeman and coastguards men who continue to be in this fight are determined and focused to finish it as soon as possible,” Padilla said.

“We hear you General, we only need to be there in safe zones along the national highway to protect what’s left from looters,” Samira Gutoc of the Ranao Rescue Team, herself an evacuee, told MindaNews.

“That’s good,” said Adman Poro Rasuman, another member of RRT who evacuated to Cagayan de Oro City. But he expressed hope they could recover what they lost, appliances, his wife’s jewelry, etc.. “Kanino namin maitatanong kung saan napunta or sino kumuha?” (From whom do we ask where they went and who got them?”) asked Rasuman, who ran a fried chicken business in Marawi.

Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson of the Provincial Crisis Management Committee, said Padilla’s appeal is “understandable because of the presence of unexploded ordnance and the absence of basic services like water supply and electricity. It is not feasible and even conducive for our residents in the main battle area to return to their homes. There’s also the mopping and clearing operations going on.”

Adiong added that residents whose houses are within the cleared or controlled areas “should be allowed to return to their houses once we’re done coordinating with barangay captains.”

78,466 displaced families

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has recorded 78,466 families or 359,680 persons from Marawi and neighboring areas who were displaced by the armed conflict in Marawi. Most of the evacuees are home-based or those who sought refuge in relatives’ houses.

Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra last week told MindaNews that 40,000 families were displaced from his city whose population, according to Philippine Statistics Authority records was 201,785 as of 2015 and was, until May 23, 2017, the most populous area in the five-province, two-city Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The daytime population of Marawi was much higher — as the city is the trading center of Lanao del Sur. The first shots of the Marawi Crisis, which reached Day148 on the day of Duterte’s liberation declaration, were fired in Barangay Basak Malutlut on a Tuesday afternoon.

“Ground Zero” or what was the main battle area was the commercial district of Marawi and the most populated part of the city.

Post-conflict needs assessment

Also at the Mindanao Hour press briefing, Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima, Deputy Administrator for Administration of the Office of Civil Defense reported that five OCD-led teams composed of 145 members from 15 agencies, accompanied by representatives of the Marawi City government, were deployed to Marawi City by Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) to conduct a post-conflict needs assessment (PCNA) starting October 16.

He said each team was assigned to assess a number of barangays declared cleared by the military and referred to as Zones 0 to 12. He did not say what barangays comprise each zone.

Purisima said they expect a report on the PCNA by October 27.

The damage and losses assessment (DALA) in the still uncleared areas identified as Zones 13 to 17 will start as soon as the AFP’s clearing operations are completed, he said.

On housing and reconstruction, Purisima said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPHW) has completed site development for areas 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in Barangay Sagonsongan totaling 9.9 hectares while road concreting is still ongoing and is set to be completed by end of November.

Purisima did not say how many houses have been installed in Barangay Sagonsongan.

As of Tuesday noon, 10 October 2017, workers at the transitional shelter site in Barangay Sagonsongan in Marawi City had yet to complete the flooring for four houses. MIndaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

The first four units of the 22-square meter transitional shelters made of sandwich panels — pre-fabricated light metal sheets with styrofoam as core — were supposed to have been installed by October 10, Korean contractor Danny Seo told MindaNews on October 6. But only one flooring was finished as of noon on October 10. The foreman told MindaNews on October 12 that while the floorings have been finished, installation would be done only after a seven-day drying up or curing of the concrete floor.

According to the TBFM, an initial 1,175 houses are to be installed on the 14 hectare-site (earlier announcements said initial 1,100 houses on an 11-hectare site) in Sagonsongan. Seo’s firm, a partner of the Iligan City-based Golden Gate Construction, is installing 265 units which Seo said will be inaugurated by December 8.

Gandamra said their initial recommendation was 6,300 transitional shelters for residents at Ground Zero. He said priority for the transitional shelters will be those who have no more homes to return to in Ground Zero, have no capabilities of finding refuge elsewhere, and are willing to stay in the temporary shelters.

Bahay Pag-asa in Barangay Bitu Buadi Itowa in Marawi City, has 50 houses made of bamboo, nipa and PVC pipes. The transitional shelter project is a partnership of the private sector and the military. Twenty-six of these 50 huts have been turned over to selected evacuees. MindaNews photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

Purisima mentioned in his update Bahay Pag-asa in Barangay Bito Buadi Itowa in Marawi City, a partnership of the Tarlac Heritage Foundation, Chinese Filipino Business club, Ic., and the 1st Infantry Division. President Duterte graced the inauguration of the village on October 2.

Purisima said 26 of 50 transitional shelters — huts made of bamboo, PVC pipes and nipa — have been turned over to selected evacuees.

The city government of Marawi and the provincial government of Lanao del Sur have developed and presented their rehabilitation plans and Purisima said these are being “reviewed, validated and refined” with the assistance of the Task Force.

He said the Marawi City government is working with the military in identifying barangays that are already declared safe and families returning to these areas “at the soonest possible time” will be assisted by troops. But residents will be allowed to return “by barangay clusters,” he said.

TFBM deploys PCNA Teams in Marawi City

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 16): TFBM deploys PCNA Teams in Marawi City

Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) sent out Post Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA) teams composed of various national and local government agencies in 24 barangays in Marawi City.

According to Assistant Secretary Kristoffer Jame Purisima, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Deputy Administrator and TFBM spokesperson, each team was assigned to assess a number of barangays declared cleared by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and which were referred to as Zones 0 to 12.

The team left the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) in Iligan City on October 16 to assess the damages and losses incurred due to the still-ongoing conflict.

Purisima said that before the field deployment, security briefings and re-orientations on the PCNA process were conducted at the NEOC on 14 and 15 October 2017.

The target date of completion for the field deployment, including data analysis, consolidation, and report development is on 27 October 2017.

He also said Damage and Losses Assessment (DALA) in uncleared areas identified as Zones 13 to 17 shall commence immediately once the AFP’s clearing operations are completed.

The Human Resource Needs Analysis (HRNA), as part of the PCNA, was already completed as early as August 2017. TFBM awaited for the clearance from the AFP in order to proceed with the DALA.

While the conflict was ongoing, TFBM focused on providing assistance for the internally displaced persons (IDPs), both home-based and in evacuation centers.

This was made possible through the TFBM member agencies in partnership with affected local government units and stakeholders.

Five OCD-led teams is composed of 145 members from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB), Technical Skills and Education Development Authority (TESDA), National Electrification Administration (NEA), National Housing Authority (NHA), Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), Social Housing Finance Corporation (SFHC), Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and Marawi City Local Government Unit.

PCNA result will be the basis for comprehensive recovery and reconstruction program for Bangon Marawi. (TFBM)

SE Asia’s top terror leader Hapilon killed as Marawi siege nears end

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 17): SE Asia’s top terror leader Hapilon killed as Marawi siege nears end

After 16 years of dodging military dragnets and spreading terror in southern Philippines, Isnilon Hapilon, Southeast Asia’s most notorious IS-linked terrorist leader, was killed Monday dawn during a gun battle with government forces making their final offensive against Maute terror group gripping Marawi City since May 23 this year.

Hapilon’s second in command, Omar Maute was also killed, leaving the terror group leaderless, although there are about eight foreign terrorists still fighting the government forces.

After 147 days of close quarter fighting as of today, the Maute terror group suffered 824 dead while the military sustained 162 killed.

During the same period, the military has rescued 1,771 civilians held hostage by Maute terrorists. The military also recovered 837 high-powered firearms in the main battle area.

There were 17 hostages, including a two-month child rescued by soldiers during the fighting.

The offensive launched by the military and police forces has drastically reduced Maute’s occupied area from about 30 hectares at the start of the fighting to just two hectares at present.

The gun battle has been confined right at the city’s once bustling business district which is now in ruins.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año said during a press conference in Marawi City which was broadcast live on radio and television that the Marawi crisis would end soon.

Marawi City is some 750 kilometers from Manila.

The 51-year old Hapilon, the “emir” anointed of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, was killed while trying to flee to another building in the area. He was armed with an M4 automatic rifle when he was killed.

On the other hand, Omar Maute was killed by an army sniper while fleeing with Hapilon and other terrorists and their hostages at the height of the fighting from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Friday.

Año said the military has a hard time crushing the Mautes holed up in the city because soldiers have to be extra careful not to hit civilians held hostage by the terrorists.

The hostages, including women and children were used by the terrorists as human shields, preventing the soldiers from an all-out offensive.

Año also said that had there been no hostages, the fighting could have been ended in a few days.

But he said the military values innocent human lives, hence the counter-offensive is carefully planned so that no hostages would be hit in the crossfire.

During the initial stage of the fighting, some 900 Maute terrorists occupied the city of Marawi last May 23 this year when a military-police team tried to serve a warrant of arrest on Hapilon, who was reported to be hiding in the area.

This triggered the fighting that continued to rage to date, though now in pockets of resistance unlike the previous months wherein the IS-linked Maute terror group put up a strong resistance against government forces backed up by warplanes, helicopter gunships, tanks and armored vehicles.

By all indication, the Mautes had long prepared to fight the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) as the terror group has secretly stored high-powered weapons, ammunition, bombs and improvised explosive devices (IED) the past months or even years without being detected by military and police intelligence units, apparently because of the connivance of civilian-sympathizers in Marawi.

The terrorists also utilized the underground tunnels constructed by wealthy residents as part of their security measure in case a “rido” (family feud) erupts which is common among Muslim communities.

During the assault Monday dawn, the military launched the operation following reports given by an informer that Hapilon and Omar Maute were holed up in one of the buildings in the main battle area.

Fighting immediately erupt as the troops cautiously inched toward the building where the two terrorists were hiding, tagging along with their some 37 hostages and 39 members of the Maute families.

During the fighting, a sniper fatally hit Omar Maute. The killing of the two terrorist leaders practically left a leadership vacuum in the Maute terror group.

Año said the military would intensify their operation to end once and for all the terrorist threat posed by the Maute terror group out to establish a Caliphate in the Philippines.

He said a total of nine Maute terrorists, including Hapilon and Omar were among those killed in the fighting on Monday.

There are still some 22 hostages in the hands of the terrorists.

The United States has put up a USD5 million on the head of Hapilon for his capture dead or alive, while the Philippine government has allocated USD200,000.

Hapilon was involved in the kidnapping of 20 tourists, including three Americans in Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan on May 27, 2001.

The three American held hostages by the Abu Sayyaf were Guillermo Sobero, Martin Burnham and his wife, Gracia, an American missionary couple.

But on June 11, 2001, Sobero was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf. His execution was announced by Abu Sabaya, the Abu Sayyaf spokesman, as a “birthday present” to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Sabaya was later killed in a running sea gun battle with government forces off the coast of Basilan Island in southern Philippines.

In June 2002, Martin Burnham died in the crossfire between government forces and the Abu Sayyaf during a rescue operation in Basilan. Gracia Burnham was wounded during the fighting but soldiers rescued her.

It was this kidnapping incident that Hapilon was indicted in the District of Columbia for kidnapping involving US nationals.

Since the Dos Palmas abduction, Hapilon and other terrorists were the object of massive manhunt by Philippine military and police forces..

But the wily Hapilon managed to escape from pursuing government forces.

There had been reports that Hapilon was killed but all were fake news as the terrorist leader mounted attacks after attacks, and continued his kidnapping spree.

But this time, Hapilon is really dead, a victory of the Philippine government in crushing terrorism in the country.

Police, military remain on high alert

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18): Police, military remain on high alert

Following the death of two terrorist leaders in Marawi City, a military official said government forces have remained on guard against armed extremists who continue to wage war against the government.

“We cannot let our guard down” despite the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute leader Omarkhayam Maute, said Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson for the Phil. Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID).

Noting that two of Northern Mindanao's major cities—Cagayan de Oro and Iligan—are geographically close to Marawi, Martinez said they are monitoring "suspicious personalities” who are still in the Lanao del Sur area.

In Iligan City, police said they will continue to strengthen security measures even after Hapilon and Omar Maute's death.

Police Director Leony Roy Ga described the threat on Iligan City as "still present and high."

“Since the start of the attack, we have already heightened the security all over Iligan City because almost all the displaced families who fled their homes in Marawi City are seeking refuge in Iligan City. There are reports that some sympathizers of the Maute are inside Iligan,” Ga said.

Meanwhile, Martinez said the remaining members of the extremist groups who are on the government watch list have been considered at-large "unless proof of their death has been established."

“We need to verify if those on the watch list were killed, otherwise we have to assume that they are alive,” he said, adding that many of those on the rouge’s gallery were already killed since the fighting in Marawi started on May 23.

BIFF bomb expert arrested in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18): BIFF bomb expert arrested in Maguindanao

Government forces and its ally, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), arrested Tuesday a bomber of ISIS-inspired local jihadists in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.
Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police director, identified the suspect as Mahdi Abdulla, 27, of Barangay Pagatin, Datu Salibo.

Abdulla is believed to be a member of outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) special operations group responsible in setting off explosives against soldiers and MILF members.

Government forces acted on intelligence information provided by the MILF and local residents who have gone tired of BIFF atrocities to capture the suspect.

Capt. John Arvin Encinas, Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesman, said Abdulla was collared at the vicinity of a floating restaurant establishment in Barangay Sambolawan.
He did not resist arrest.

Tello said Abdullah, also known as “Rok,” was a bomb expert and believed to be one of the students of slain Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Abdullah was tagged by military and police intelligence operatives as member of the BIFF hit squad, targeting off duty soldiers along Maguindanao highways.

Tello said the 5 p.m. joint police, Army and MILF operation led to the recovery of a fragmentation grenade, illegal drugs and bomb making components from Abdullah’s house.

Abdullah was turned over to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group for the filing of appropriate charges.

After Marawi, AFP to focus on fight vs NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18): After Marawi, AFP to focus on fight vs NPA

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will focus on the fight against New People’s Army (NPA) after their success in battling Maute Group in Marawi City.

AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año, in a speech during his visit at the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) Tuesday, said that there will be more Army battalions deployed in the Eastmincom area since most of the places are NPA infested.

“Ngayon natapos na yung Marawi crisis, mag-re deploy na tayo ng presence, may ibabalik na tayong pwersa dito (Now that the Marawi crisis is over, we will re deploy more military presence, we will return the troops here ), ” he said.

Año also said the Philippine Army (PA) will activate additional 10 Infantry Battalions, six of which will be deployed in Eastmincom areas.

“Ito’y para tuldokan na natin yang CPP-NPA na yan (We want to end the CPP-NPA),” he said.

He said this new mandate came from the order of President Rodrigo Duterte who early pronounced the war against the communist groups.

Año said the 8,000 new recruits for the Army will be completed by November this year. Majority of the new recruits will be deployed in Eastmincom.

“By January, additional 5,000 troops will be recruited sapagkat gusto natin mangyari na sa katapusan ng 2018, wala ng CPP-NPA kahit isa sa buong Pilipinas (because we want to happen that by the end of 2018 there will be no CPP-NPA in the whole Philippines),” he said.

“And we can start the massive economic development especially in the area of Mindanao,” he said.

He said the government will be constructing big highways, bridges and railway stations in different parts in Mindanao and this will not be attained if there is peace and order problem.