Wednesday, May 31, 2017

New 10th ID commander to assume post starting today

From the Mindanao Times (May 31): New 10th ID commander to assume post starting today

THE 10th Infantry “Agila” Division based at Barangay Tuboran, Mawab, Compostela Valley will welcome its new commander today.
 
Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia will relinquish his command to Maj. Gen Noel S. Clement of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class ’85 coming from J3 or the assistant chief of Joint Staff for Operations of the Philippine Army (PA)

Valencia served as division commander for one year and eight months starting in September 2015. He also served as the Joint Task Force Haribon (JTF) commander earlier this year.

“We have performed well our mandate in keeping a peaceful and secured environment, (as well as) achieved most of our targets,” Valencia told TIMES yesterday.

He said they have already declared most of the barangays as conflict manageable and ready for further development, except for 33 villages. The 10th ID recently declared Compostela Valley, municipality of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat, Trento in Agusan Del Sur and Lingig in Surigao del Sur.

“We facilitate of the delivery of development project in coordination with local government,” he added.

Under his command, he said they neutralized, arrested and effected the surrender of communist guerrillas, and reduced the force of the New People’s Army.

Valencia assumed as the inspector general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) effective May 22. The inspector general is the personal staff of the Chief of staff of the AFP.
 
The turnover ceremony will be presided by commanding general of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, to be held at the Sgt. Demerin grandstand in Tuboran around 10 a.m. today.

The 10th Infantry Division is composed four infantry brigades and 14 battalions, including the Task Force Davao and Task Force General Santos City, covering the areas of Region XI and Region XII, except most parts of Sultan Kudarat.
 
It also covers Kidapawan city, one district in North Cotabato, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat and 10 barangays of Region X and Lingig, Agusan Del Sur.
 

Japan-Philippine maritime law enforcement exercises today

From the Mindanao Times (Jun 1): Japan-Philippine maritime law enforcement exercises today

THE 105-METER Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel (PHL208) Echigo will be visiting the Philippines to participate in this year’s conduct of the 12th Maritime Law Enforcement Exercise with the Philippine Coastguard.
 
They will be welcomed through an arrival ceremony today at Sasa Wharf.

Commodore Hostilio Cornelio, deputy commander of the Coastguard district South Eastern Mindanao, told reporters yesterday during the AFP-PNP Press conference held at Royal Mandaya hotel that the purpose of the visit is to strengthen the cooperation between Japan and the Philippines.

“At the same time, (this will include) upgrading the capability of our personnel because we are receiving BRP Capones (MRRV 4404) that was delivered last week from Japan. Its length is 44 meters and it can travel with a speed of 37 knots,” Cornelio said.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against ships in Asia will conduct the exercise in Talicud Island, Igacos, Davao del Norte on June 3.

The Maritime Law Enforcement exercise is a part of the Memorandum between the Philippine Coast Guard and Japanese Coast Guard which aims to promote capacity enhancement of both participants especially the crew of multi response vessels and other participating PCG personnel in the conduct of MARLEN.
 
Cornelio said the maritime exercise will also showcase the interoperability in responding to incidents in the sea.

The 105-meter JCG patrol vessel, Echigo (PLH 08), equipped with a helicopter onboard, JA9161A will be deployed together with PCG vessels of BRP Pampanga (SARV-003); BRP Tubbataha (MRRV4401); BRP Capones (MRRV 4404) with rubber boats of two MRRVs and PCG manned BFAR vessel MCS 3003, will be participating in various communication exercise.
 
The PCG rubber boats demonstration includes also maneuvering and counter piracy exercises.

A total of 20 PCG personnel of CGDSEM and crew members of PCG multi-response vessels from Japan, BRP Tubbataha and Capones will participate in the rubber boat’s exercise.

They will participate and train in various rubber boat drills, including changing course, transferring, high speed maneuvering, and different regulations followed in engaging a target vessel.

The participants will be assisted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) maritime law enforcement experts of the JCG headed by Commander Akita Kuramoto.

The exercise will be attended by Vice Admiral Shuichi Iwanami, vice commandant operations of JCG and Capt. Oscar Endona Jr., commander of Coast Guard District South Eastern Mindanao, JICA experts and representatives from JCG and ReCAAP-ISC.
 

Close scrutiny

From the Mindanao Times (Jun 1): Close scrutiny

Eastmincom requests advisory group to monitor ML implementation

THE EASTERN Mindanao Command has asked the multi-sectoral advisory group (MSAG), which was organized last Tuesday, to advise the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on the implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao.

The MSAG is composed of business, religious, academe, lawyers and government media representatives. It is expected to look into the proper implementation of Martial Law to prevent human rights abuses and ensure the rule of law.

Speaking in yesterday’s AFP-PNP Press conference held at Royal Mandaya hotel, Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, the spokesperson for Martial law in Eastern Mindanao Command said that AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano provided general guidelines in the implementation of Martial law.

These were based on the guidelines released last week by the Department of National Defense.

The memos to the AFP require the military units to implement martial law but with human rights and the rule of law in mind, despite terrorism as the primary target.

“We will be putting up martial law coordination centers up to the Brigade level of our command,” Gapay said.

Since the declaration, a series of meetings have been conducted to discuss the legalities and mechanism and dos and don’ts on the conduct of security operations.

Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commander of the EastMinCom is the implementer of the Martial law in entire area.

He will be assisted by the deputy implementer and martial law coordinating center where all the agencies and members of security sectors can coordinate.

It will be assisted by the Directorate for Police Integrate Operations (DIPO) Eastern Mindanao, as they are mandated to support the AFP in the implementation of the Martial law.

Members of the MSAG are: Sebastian Angliongto, Chairman/Business Sector; and members Prof. Antonio Obsioma, Academe; Ms. Susan Palad, Religious; Mr. Antonio dela Cruz, Business; Mr. Jerry Francisco; Most Rev. Fernando R. Capalla, Religious Sector (Catholic); Prof. Hadji Balajadia, Academe; Datu Mussolini Sinsuat Lidasan, Religious (Islam)/Academe; Atty. Romeo T. Cabarde, Jr., Legal; Ms. Akhzanuniza M. Alonto, MinDA; Dir. Efren Elbanbuena, Media (PIA XI); Atty. Rogelio Largo, Legal (IBP-Davao); and Atty. Mary Ann M. Arnado, Legal/NGO.

The meeting was also attended by officers of Eastern Mindanao Command.

The purpose of MSAG for MIL is to advice, comment, and provide recommendations and inputs to ensure accountability and transparency over the implementation of Martial Law adherent to the Rule of Law and Human Rights.

Its core group is the multi-sector governance council in Eastern Mindanao.

He said during the meeting on Tuesday the deliberations centered on the legal aspects of the implementation and the basic provisions of the law that are already integrated on the guidelines they initially handed down to the units.

Their partners on the legal sector will also be forming Quick Response Teams, who will assist the military in the Martial law function.

“So if there are any incidents or complaints they will be the one who will react and go to the incident area and provide advice to see what actions need to be done, “he said.

The QRTs will be formed in the Municipal and Provincial level over Eastern Mindanao area.

During the meeting, the Church sectors also emphasized the role of interfaith groups and how they can engage with the military in the prosecution to give premium on cultural sensitivities and some issues pertaining to faith.

“Alam nyo naman extremism yung sa Maute group that disgraced the Islam religion that is why interfaith groups are important,” he added.

“The difference between now and Martial Law in 1972 is that not everybody will be Martial law functions,” he said.

http://mindanaotimes.net/close-scrutiny/

NPA rebels harass CAFGU outpost in NorthCot

From MindaNews (May 31): NPA rebels harass CAFGU outpost in NorthCot

Suspected communist guerillas harassed on Tuesday night a paramilitary outpost in a village in the municipality of President Roxas, North Cotabato.

It was the fourth incident since martial law was declared in Mindanao, a military official said.

Lt. Col. Harold Argamosa, commander of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion, said the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) strafed the detachment of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Barangay Labu-o around 10:15 p.m.

The rebels used high-powered guns, including M203 and M16 rifles, based from the empty shells the police recovered in the area, according to Chief Insp. Romy Castanares, municipal police chief.

He added that before the attack, the suspects detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) planted just few a meters away from the CAFGU outpost.
The CAFGUs reportedly suffered no casualties and the rebels failed to snatch the former’s guns. However, the explosion and the brief exchange of gun fire sent residents to panic, according to Castanares.

“We call this nuisance harassment. They were firing their guns up in the air, from afar,” said Argamosa.

The attackers, according to Argamosa, were few in numbers and were not regular troops of the NPA but belong to what they called “militia.”

The military official said the attack, which was the fourth in North Cotabato province since martial law was declared on May 23, was part of the NPA’s retaliation of the offensives the 39IB and 72IB launched against them in Barangay Salat, President Roxas.

“The NPAs were surprised of the attack. They did not expect we will conduct military offensives against them. They suffered heavy casualties. There were deaths and injuries on their side,” said Argamosa.

After the military offensives on May 26, the NPAs launched two roadside bombings in Kidapawan City that wounded four policemen, and shot two handlers of bomb sniffing dogs who were manning the national highway in the city.

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2017/05/npa-rebels-harass-cafgu-outpost-in-northcot/

BTC commissioner resigns over Marawi siege

From MindaNews (May 31): BTC commissioner resigns over Marawi siege



Samira Gutoc-Tomawis with MILF implementing panel chair Mohagher Iqbal in a press conference last March. Mindanews Photo

Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, human rights advocates and resident of Marawi City, resigned from her post as a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) following the siege of her hometown.

The BTC is tasked by the government to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, or the enabling policy of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on 2012 and 2014, respectively.

Tomawis, in a phone interview, said her resignation was “driven by the overwhelming situation” of the crisis in Marawi and the “declaration of martial law.”

Furthermore, she said she was turned off by the “statement of President Rodrigo Duterte on rape that is offensive to the Bangsamoro women.”

Maisara Dandamun, also a member of the BTC, said in a Facebook post that in Tomawis’s communication to the MILF Central Committee and to the chair of BTC, her resignation was prompted by personal reasons.

Tomawis’s staff further said that her resignation was due to her frustration on the violence in Marawi “that resulted to the destruction of civilian houses and displacement of majority of the city’s residents.”

Tomawis was last seen with the BTC pro-actively engaged in public dialogues for the drafting of the bill. She was among prominent Bangsamoro personalities supporting the legislation of the BBL since 2016.

She reportedly did not anymore attend the BTC meeting held in Cotabato City Tuesday.

Since her resignation, Tomawis was seen in solidarity with local humanitarian institutions working for internally displaced Bangsamoro communities and has been attending meetings of local Bangsamoro civil society who has decided to prioritize the rescue of remaining civilians caught in the crossfire.

She likewise supported the need to tap the traditional leaders of Marawi and Lanao Sur to resolve the hostage crisis that victimized the vicar general of the St. Mary’s Prelature in Marawi, teachers of Dansalan College Foundation, and other civilians.

Meanwhile, Bangsamoro civil society leaders have been posting on social media their anxieties on the ongoing military operations in Marawi.

“You don’t understand. Stop the bombardment and let us go home so we can save whatever is left in our destroyed place,” said Drieza Lininding of the Bangsamoro Movement for Peace and Development.

Lininding used to be an avid supporter of President Duterte, even actively campaigning for him.

Mindanao Peaceweavers, a network of peace advocates, called on the President see the face of humanitarian crisis.

The group has called on the military to “immediately stop the airstrikes, indiscriminate firing and artillery shelling directed at civilian dwellings and public structures.”

They also appealed for a half-day “cease and desist from all forms of armed action” and invoke universally-accepted protocols on displacement and civilian protection accorded to internally displaced persons and at the same time with deference to the observance of the Holy Month of Ramadhan.

The group likewise urged the military, in coordination with the city government and local mediators, “to address the hostage situation and secure the safety of Fr. Teresito Suganob, his staff, parishioners and any other residents who are still being held captive by the Maute militants.”

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2017/05/btc-commissioner-resigns-over-marawi-siege/

Duterte okays creation of a ‘peace corridor’

From MindaNews (May 31): Duterte okays creation of a ‘peace corridor’



Army soldiers inspect a truck loaded with relief goods at the entrance to Marawi City on Wednesday (31 May 2017), the ninth day of fighting between government forces and the Maute group. MindaNews photo by H. Marcos C. Mordeno

A “peace corridor” will be created to expedite the resource and humanitarian operations for the affected civilians who are affected by the clashes between government forces and Maute group in Marawi City

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), in a press statement issued Wednesday, said President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the creation of a peace corridor after Monday’s meeting between the government (GPH) peace implementing panel, headed by Irene Santiago, and their counterparts from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – chair Murad Ibrahim and implementing panel chair Mohagher Iqbal.

OPAPP said the GPH and MILF implementing panels will spearhead the operations of the peace corridor and will formalize within the week the modalities and parameters of the peace corridor.
Citing GPH implementing peace panel chair Irene Santiago, the statement said this will “ensure the safety of the civilians and delivery of the needed humanitarian aid for the displaced persons” due to the sporadic clashes between government forces and members of the Maute Group.

During the meeting, the MILF vowed to cooperate with government in securing the areas where the peace corridors will be established.

Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, martial law spokesperson for Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), said in a press conference Wednesday that the MILF members will assist in the humanitarian assistance.

“As far as I’m concerned, all I know is MILF chair Murad had a discussion with the President the other day. One of the agenda was how MILF could help us in the Marawi incident but I am not privy to the details on what was discussed. There is initial coordination on how they would help, but generally this would be in the area of humanitarian assistance,” he said.



Smoke billows up in a portion of Marawi City that was hit by rockets fired from a gunship as fighting between government forces and the Maute group entered its ninth day on Wednesday (31 May 2017). MindaNews photo by H. Marcos C. Mordeno

Santiago said the implementing panels would utilize existing peace mechanisms, particularly the Joint Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCHs), for the establishment of a peace corridor, a “secure space where humanitarian groups may evacuate wounded and trapped civilians and retrieve dead bodies for burial.”

“The corridor is also a safe space for goods to reach hungry people in the rural areas whose access to Marawi’s markets have been cut off,” she added.

“Both the government and the MILF implementing panels are strongly committed to work as partners in finding creative ways to address the root causes of violent conflict in Mindanao at the soonest possible time, starting with the passage of the Bangsamoro enabling law,” Santiago said.

Duterte said in Sulu on May 27 that he is willing to recruit Moro rebels and even members of the New People’s Army and offered them the same benefits government soldiers are receiving to fight against terrorism.

According to Santiago, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission also briefed the President on the developments of the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

She said President Duterte emphasized the need to fast-track the drafting of the bill for it to be submitted to Congress in June.

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2017/05/duterte-okays-creation-of-a-peace-corridor/

Catholic priest held by ISIS fighters appeals to Duterte, wants troops out of Marawi

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 30): Catholic priest held by ISIS fighters appeals to Duterte, wants troops out of Marawi

A screenshot from a video posted on social media shows Catholic priest Chito Suganob appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to pull out security forces in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur province. Suganob said he and 240 others, including mostly Christian civilians and children, are being held by local ISIS fighters. (Mindanao Examiner)

A screenshot from a video posted on social media shows Catholic priest Chito Suganob appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to pull out security forces in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur province. Suganob said he and 240 others, including mostly Christian civilians and children, are being held by local ISIS fighters. (Mindanao Examiner)

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A Catholic priest, who was among 240 civilians being held by local ISIS fighters in southern Philippines, has appealed on President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately withdraw thousands of soldiers from Lanao del Sur province where security forces continue Tuesday its assault on dozens of jihadists still holed out in the war-torn Marawi City.

Father Chito Suganob made the appeal in a video that surfaced on Facebook and the 5-minute clip went viral on social media. In the video, Suganob, the Vicar General of the Marawi prelature, said militants seized him, along with other church workers, including children and adults, mostly Christians, when members of the Maute group attacked the city on May 23.

Behind the ruins of buildings destroyed in fierce clashes and the sound of sporadic gunfire, Suganob made an emotional appeal to Duterte to save all of them, saying, the militants are ready to die for their religion. He asked Duterte to stop military assaults, both in air and on the ground, and for security forces to quickly leave Marawi and Lanao del Sur, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

Below is the transcript of Suganob’s appeal:

“Mr. President, I was taken as a prisoner of war together with one MSU female professor – the Mindanao State University – two lady church workers, two male teachers of Dansalan College Foundation Incorporated and five female teachers of Dansalan College Foundation Incorporated, along with us are about 200 carpenters, household helpers, children and youth and ordinary Christian settlers and other Subanon tribes with us as captives and as prisoners of war.

Mr. President, we are in the midst of this war, we are asking your help to please give what your enemies are asking for – this simply am not asking for anything just to withdraw your forces away from Lanao del Sur and Marawi City and to stop the air strikes, your air attacks and to stop the canons.

Mr. President, from out heart, please consider us. You know it is hard Mr. President from time to time we hear bursts of gunfire from the ground of your enemies, heavy firearms from your side, it’s hard. And Mr. President, we do not ask for anything, we just ask that you leave this place peacefully, do not give so much attack, the city in my background is ruined like this and Mr. President if you are in our place, you will really consider us because you’ll hear the outburst of gunfire and everything, bombs and canons. We are victims and Mr. President, if you have a good heart for us considering, Mr. President, about 240 prisoners of war are asking your good heart, please consider us, we want to live another day, we want live another month, we want to live few years, and in your heart, we know you can make something, they do not ask anything Mr. President after all this is their place give them the land and Mr. President, you are attacking from your heart, do not use violence because your enemies they are ready to die for their religion, they are ready to die and their laws will be followed in this place.

Mr. President you are from Mindanao, you know the conflict in Mindanao, you know the problems and I hope Mr. President you understand them. I am also saying these things Mr. President because you know the history; they have the right to live here, they have the right to their own laws be respected and Mr. President, you cannot use force because they have their commitments, they will die for this, they are ready to die for this, Mr. President we ask you please consider us, we are in the midst of war, we are victims, do not be happy Mr. President that we are the collateral damage of war, we are already victims of heavy gunfire for seven days.

Mr. President, if you want me to kneel before you just to have your heart in favor of our families, who are crying out there in different places, for our relatives and for those other 240, Mr. President we will do that. So Mr. President, I am asking you consideration.”


There was no immediate statement from the military on Suganob’s appeal, but there were no signs troops were pulling out from the city as clashes continue without letup.

The army claimed at least 65 militants had been killed since the fighting began and that 42 bodies were allegedly recovered by soldiers, although journalists covering the war have not confirmed this report.

But over a dozen civilians, mostly Christians, had been killed by militants as ground troops, backed by army tanks and air force planes, were searching for jihadists hiding in buildings and houses. More than 500 civilians had been rescued by troops since the start of the battle, but 20 soldiers also perished in the fighting with many more wounded in the clashes.

 http://mindanaoexaminer.com/catholic-priest-held-by-isis-fighters-appeal-to-duterte-wants-troops-out-of-marawi/

After MNLF, rival rebel group now offers to help troops rescue ISIS hostages in Marawi

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 31): After MNLF, rival rebel group now offers to help troops rescue ISIS hostages in Marawi

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Philippine Navy photos released to the Mindanao Examiner regional newspaper show soldiers and equipment sent to support troops fighting local ISIS group in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province.

Philippine Navy photos released to the Mindanao Examiner regional newspaper show soldiers and equipment sent to support troops fighting local ISIS group in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province.

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Philippine Muslim rebels have offered to help the government rescue hundreds of civilians, including a Catholic priest, being held by local ISIS fighters in the war-torn city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur province.

Ghazali Jaafar, vice chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, made the offer during a recent meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City. Jaafar was with Murad Ebrahim, the MILF chieftain, and other senior rebel leaders when the met with Duterte at a military base to discuss the crisis in Marawi where militants are holding at least 240 hostages.

“We have offered our help to our beloved president to help facilitate the coming out of civilians from their residences and the good president granted our request,” Jaafar said.

MILF members, who were joined by armed civilians, had clashed with ISIS fighters in Marawi after militants tried to blow up a bridge connecting several villages there. It was unknown whether the MILF offer to help in the crisis would affect similar offer by the rival group Moro National Liberation Front, whose chieftain, Nur Misuari, said he is ready to deploy thousands of fighters to help security forces battle the ISIS militants

Security forces have already rescued over 500 civilians trapped in Marawi since the clashes erupted on May 23 when heavily-armed members of the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf militants attacked the city which caught soldiers and policemen by surprise. The military claimed dozens of militants had been killed, but many soldiers and civilians also perished in the violence with jihadists executing Christian villagers and Muslims alike who they accused as “munafiq” or traitors to their faith.

On Wednesday, Duterte approved the setting up of so-called “peace corridor” which will be implemented by the government and MILF to “hasten the rescue and humanitarian operations for civilians still trapped in the conflict zone in Marawi.”

The MILF vowed to cooperate with government in securing the areas where these peace corridors will be established and utilize existing peace mechanisms, particularly the Joint Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities. The peace corridor is a secure space where humanitarian groups may evacuate wounded and trapped civilians and retrieve dead bodies for burial

The Naval Forces Western Mindanao also sent off two vessels to Marawi on Tuesday to support troops fighting the militants. Both ships – Landing Craft 288 (BRP Waray) and 298 (BRP Ivatan) – were carrying Fleet-Marine Team composed of combat service support elements and K9 units, including relief goods for civilians affected by the conflict.

“These troops and equipment are being sent to augment the military in the continuous fighting between the government forces and Maute group in Marawi City. The AFP is positive that these additional personnel and logistical support will strengthen the military stronghold in the area and will eventually crush these lawless elements,” said Rear Admiral Rene Medina.

http://mindanaoexaminer.com/after-mnlf-rival-rebel-group-now-offers-to-help-troops-rescue-isis-hostages-in-marawi/

3 Sayyafs killed in Sulu; three more captured in Zamboanga City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 1): 3 Sayyafs killed in Sulu; three more captured in Zamboanga City 

Government troops on Wednesday killed 3 Abu Sayyaf militants and captured 3 more in separate operations in Sulu province and Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, officials said.

Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said soldiers clashed with militants in the village of Sukuban in Sulu’s Omar town and killed 3 of them. Troops also recovered 8 high-powered firearms left by fleeing Abu Sayyaf members.

There were no military casualties, she said.

Police, backed by soldiers, also captured 3 militants in Zamboanga, one of them – Kimhar Asusi – at the pier shortly after he disembarked from a boat that came from Sulu and the two others – Al Hamed Manalas Abdurahman, 37, and Murasidol Abdurahman, 32, – in the village of Maasin.

Security forces also seized ammunition and a grenade from the duo.

http://mindanaoexaminer.com/3-sayyafs-killed-in-sulu-three-more-captured-in-zamboanga-city/

Martial law needed to deal with all Mindanao security threats

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): Martial law needed to deal with all Mindanao security threats

Martial law is needed to decisively deal with all security concerns in Mindanao.

This was stressed by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a statement Wednesday.

"Martial Law is imperative for once and for all to address security concerns in the entire Mindanao immediately and decisively," he added.

Lorenzana said government troops are currently dealing with the situation in Marawi City.

Fighting started in the city last May 23 when government troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon who was reportedly hiding and seeking treatment for his wounds in the locality.

"President (Rodrigo) Duterte’s imposition of Martial Law aims to put an end to the long running rebellion in various provinces in the south, as evidenced by the incidents that happened in Zamboanga, Davao, Bohol, Lanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi and Maguindanao," he added.

"As the President has repeatedly said, 'kung magde-declare ako ng Martial Law, tatapusin ko nang lahat ito,” referring to threats posed by ISIS-linked local and foreign terrorist groups whose network covers the entire Mindanao.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992370

300 families displaced by armed conflict in Marawi get aid from DSWD

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): 300 families displaced by armed conflict in Marawi get aid from DSWD

More than 300 families displaced by the fighting in Marawi City and currently living with relatives in three barangays in Iligan City in northern Mindanao have received relief goods from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The families, consisting of about 2,000 persons, who fled to barangays Santiago, Bagong Silang and Ibanga in Iligan City, received food packs, each containing 5 kg. of rice, assorted canned goods and coffee, from DSWD personnel led by Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

Taguiwalo headed to Mindanao Tuesday to check the status of relief operations for families who escaped to nearby provinces to avoid the ongoing military operation to flush out the terrorist Maute Group from Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province.

According to a DSWD news release, Taguiwalo met with Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia and DSWD-Northern Mindanao regional director, Nestor Ramos, to discuss the provision of assistance to displaced families taking refuge in evacuation centers, staying with relatives and friends, and those stranded in Marawi City.

She also checked the condition of the evacuees and distributed non-food items, such as basins, cooking pots, and water buckets.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has put the number of people affected by the Marawi clash at 21,150 families, consisting of some 91,460 people.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992421

Twitter account bashing Uson not AFP’s, officials say

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): Twitter account bashing Uson not AFP’s, officials say

Tweets made by the "@AltTeamAFP" do not reflect the official stand and sentiments of the military organization.

This was disclosed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla when sought for comments regarding the account's post last May 29 where it scored Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson for uploading photos of Honduran police.

Rappler on Tuesday reported the "unofficial" AFP Twitter account has called out Uson over such post.

The same post, which was later deleted, was used by some individuals and groups to bash Uson.

"AltTeamAFP is not a recognized, official and legit Twitter account of the AFP. It does not reflect the official stand of the organization nor the sentiments of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and civilian personnel," said Padilla in a text message to the Philippine News Agency Wednesday.

Padilla also cautioned the public to be wary of this "malicious account and refer only to the official website of the AFP and social media account of the AFP for factual news and updates regarding your Armed Forces."

The military's official Twitter account is @TeamAFP while its official FB page is http://facebook.com/armedforcesofthephilippines

The same sentiment was echoed by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo.

"The AFP has nothing to do with the operations and the contents of the said account. Hence, the views expressed therein should not and cannot be attributed to the AFP," he said.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992445

Gov't forces secure 90% of Marawi City — AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): Gov't forces secure 90% of Marawi City — AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said that government forces have already secured about 90 percent of Marawi City following more than a week of clashes with Islamist militants who sowed terror in several parts of the city since May 23.

"Our fighting forces estimate that they are reaching about 90 percent completely cleared and a little bit more than 10 percent more to go," AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said during the Mindanao Hour press briefing in MalacaƱang.

Mindanao Hour, launched last Monday, seeks to provide regular authoritative updates on what is happening on the ground in Marawi City and relevant regions in Mindanao that aims to provide the public with carefully vetted news from authoritative sources.

The AFP official said however that though only pockets of resistance remain, government forces expect fierce resistance in the remaining places where the militants, who are believed to be holding some civilian hostages, are holding out.

The military believes that the notorious leader of the extremists, Isnilon Hapilon, is still in the area.

“That 10 percent is most likely going to be the area that will be heavily guarded and defended by any of these armed men if they are protecting any individual of high value,” Padilla said.

“We believe he (Hapilon) is still there and we believe that is why they're putting up a very stiff resistance in the areas that they are still being held up and being cleared,” he added.

In the meantime, Padilla said that official reports show that there continues to be a very positive development in the area of Marawi.

Official figures released by MalacaƱang showed that 89 militants were killed in eight days of fighting that also led to the recovery of 91 firearms, 81 of which are high-powered.

On the other hand, the government has lost 21 of its security forces while 19 civilians were killed.

“The recovery of these high-powered firearms continues to reduce the capability of these armed groups to do the violent activities that they have been doing for quite some time,” Padilla pointed out.

He also confirmed that eight members of the Maute terror group holed out in Marawi have surrendered to the AFP.

“These individuals have been talked to and debriefed and have provided very, very valuable intelligence,” the military spokesman said.

In the meantime, Padilla assured residents who are trapped in the area that security forces are doing everything to avoid any collateral damage that may ensue from the ongoing clashes.

He estimated the number of residents trapped within the areas of fighting to be around 1,000 persons.

“Our rules of engagements have not changed. We put priority on civilian lives and private property. The amount of force that we are using right now in the area is commensurate only to the resistance and the enemy force that we are facing,” he said.

So far, the AFP spokesman said that the judicious use of military force, which included airstrikes, have not killed any civilian.

“We are confident that we have not had any collateral damage in the use of airstrike. Based on the reports that we have got, we have not had any collateral damage to that effect on lives. On property, yes; but on lives, none,” Padilla said.

He also assured the families of those believed to have been taken hostage by the militants that security forces are doing everything to secure their safe release.

“Our assurance to the families of all those who may still be hostage in the hands of these armed men is the assurance that we are doing all our best to keep them safe, to guarantee their safe release as much as possible, and within the parameters for which we are trying to operate now,” Padilla said.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992487

France offers aids to civilians displaced by armed conflict in Marawi

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): France offers aids to civilians displaced by armed conflict in Marawi

The Embassy of France has expressed concern over the imposition of martial law in Mindanao, as it offered assistance to civilians affected by the armed conflict in Marawi City.

“We are closely monitoring the situation. We are concerned about what is going on the ground there in Mindanao and the security situation of our French nationals. We are also concerned about the fate of civilians affected by conflicts,” Embassy of France in Manila’s Deputy Head of Mission Laurent Le Godec said in an interview.

Le Godec noted France has been helping Filipinos affected by different conflicts in Mindanao or natural disasters.

“We will try as we did it in the past to offer our assistance when we can. We have some NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on the ground trying to support the relief efforts. We will continue (to do so) because we, French, believe on the value of solidarity,” he said.

Le Godec said France can provide the country financial, technical and food assistance, as well as financing for its NGOs.

“…We are not so sure as of now of what is going really on the ground and how many people would need help but definitely, this is something that we are considering and we will be ready to help,” he added.

President Duterte on May 23 declared martial law in the entire Mindanao island, which would effect for 60 days.

Meanwhile, the Embassy of France to the Philippines and the Film Development Council of the Philippines on Wednesday formally opened the 22nd French Film Festival in Manila.

The film festival remains one of the year’s most anticipated events of “PhilFrance: Feel French!”, a year-long festival launched by the French Embassy last January to celebrate the 70th year anniversary of French-Philippine diplomatic relations.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992545

Terrorist ideology ruining inter-faith friendship in Mindanao - Quevedo

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): Terrorist ideology ruining inter-faith friendship in Mindanao - Quevedo

A high-ranking official of the Roman Catholic Church in the country said that terrorist ideology is destroying the relationship of individuals in Mindanao particularly Muslims, Christians, and indigenous peoples.

"The friendship of Muslims, Christians, and indigenous peoples in Mindanao, a friendship shown in the streets and markets, in offices and schools, is being destroyed by a terrorist ideology, that asserts the morality of killing another in the name of God. This is a demonic ideology," said Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo in his Homily during the Canonical coronation of Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu at the Our Lady of Aranzazu Shrine, San Mateo, Rizal on Wednesday.

"The true believers in Islam have condemned this ideology, and this violence of terrorism is creating the greatest of fear and anxiety in Mindanao," added the Cotabato prelate.

He also asked the faithful to respond to the appeal of Our Lady of Aranzazu to provide “loving service” to those who need help especially “divided and broken family, homeless street children, evacuees in Marawi, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro and Maguindanao as well as the young people who are traumatized by violence and those who are suffering from the conflict.

“See where the kind of loving service is needed. Service is needed in divided and broken family, in homeless street children, in evacuees of the Marawi, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Maguindanao, in children traumatize by violence, service is needed in the poor of your own neighborhood," he said.

"And Our Lady and her son are calling us to help them in any way we can. Do not wait for summon to help. Volunteer your talent. Volunteer your treasure. This is the practical implication of crowning our Lady of Aranzazu," Quevedo added.

The Cardinal urged the people to pray and hold on to Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu for them survive the on going conflict, fear, darkness and struggles.

“The true believers in Islam had condemned this ideology and this violence of terrorism is creating the greatest of fear and anxiety in Mindanao. Hundreds die in Mindanao in the hands of rebel of different types, in the hands of terrorists, of drug lords and drug pushers, powerful people against the law of the land through corruption and dishonesty aggravating poverty and development. We need our Lady, we need her son and yet we need also to look our self brothers and sisters," he said.

Quevedo also called on the public to pray to the Our Lady of Aranzazu and her infant son to heal the brokenness and violence in the country.

“Let us thank the Holy Father for this extraordinary blessing. Return to our lady and her infant son. Let us beg them to heal the brokenness and violence in our land. Let us beg them to bring peace, unity, and integrity to our country. Let them be the queen and the king of our minds and hearts. Give us the grace to power them in serving you to do what love demands for the sake of our brothers and sisters,” the Mindanao bishop added.

The conflict between government forces and the Maute group started over a week ago and has resulted to the death of civilians and from both camps. It also affected thousands of residents who sought refuge in neighboring towns.

This prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the enitre Mindanao region under martial law.

 http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992506

DND: Martial law in Mindanao necessary

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): DND: Martial law in Mindanao necessary

The Department of National Defense said that President Duterte’s imposition of martial law in Mindanao is imperative stressing it is necessary to solve the security concerns in the region once and for all.

During the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, May 31, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said that while the government security forces can address the situation in Marawi City without martial rule, martial law is imperative to once and for all address security concerns in the entire Mindanao immediately and decisively.

“The situation currently being dealt with by the state security forces goes beyond Marawi City. President Duterte’s imposition of martial law aims to put an end to the long-running rebellion in various provinces in the south,” Padilla said quoting the clarificatory statement of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

This is evidenced by the incidents that happened in Zamboanga, Davao, Bohol, Lanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Maguindanao, Padilla said citing the statement.

“As the President has repeatedly said, 'Kung magde-declare ako ng martial law, tatapusin ko nang lahat ito,’ referring to the threats posed by ISIS-linked local and foreign terrorist groups whose network covers the entire Mindanao',” he said.

Also during the same press briefing, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella announced that President Rodrigo Duterte approved the creation of a “peace corridor,” in coordination with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to hasten the rescue and the provision of humanitarian assistance to civilians trapped in Marawi City.

“President Duterte approved the creating of a peace corridor to ensure the safety of the civilians and the delivery of the needed humanitarian aid for the displaced persons in the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi, according to Irene Morada Santiago, chairperson of the Government’s Implementing Panel,” Abella said.

The establishment of a peace corridor was agreed following the meeting with President Duterte, the members of the joint implementing panels, and top officials of the MILF on Monday, Abella said quoting Santiago.

Evacuees receive government aid

Abella also reported that to date, a total of PHP36,377,610 worth of augmentation assistance has been provided to affected families in ARMM by the Department of Social Welfare and Development through DSWD-Field Office 10 and Field Office 12.

“As of today, there have been 18,609 families or 92,628 persons displaced in Regions X and ARMM. Of which, 2,722 families or 13,194 persons are still staying in 22 evacuation centers and 15,887 families or 79,434 persons are staying outside the centers,” he said.

Both the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Energy imposed a price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities as well as kerosene and LPG in Mindanao.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre sent Undersecretary Renante Orceo to Iligan City on May 30 to oversee the creation of Panel of Prosecutors for Maute cases, Abella reported.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Leonor Briones postponed opening of classes on June 5, 2017 in Marawi and move it to a later date to ensure the safety of children for the school opening.

Recovery of high-powered weapons

Padilla also said there is a very positive development in Marawi especially with the recent recovery of numerous high-powered firearms used by the terrorists.

“The recovery of these high-powered firearms continues to reduce the capability of these armed groups to do the violent activities that they have been doing for quite some time,” Padilla said.

The AFP has so far rescued 960 individuals from the conflict zone, he said, advising those residents who are still trapped to raise a white flag or cloth in order for soldiers to bring them to safety.

The Armed forces will continue to work with all the NGOs and CSOs in the area to facilitate the entry of much needed humanitarian help in areas where evacuees are staying and in areas where IDPs are located, Padilla said.

The AFP official also made an assurance that the Armed forces will continue to abide by all the established rules and protocols in the ongoing conflict in Marawi City.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992505

Maute Group terrorists likely using captured police, jail weapons

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): Maute Group terrorists likely using captured police, jail weapons

It is very likely that remaining Maute Group terrorists are augmenting their weapons and ammunition from the stocks they captured after overrunning various police and jail facilities in Marawi City last May 23.

This was bared by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla in an interview Wednesday.

"They previously burned the jail, freed prisoners and got what they can use including weapons and ammunition to include those in the captured APC (armored personnel carrier) of the Philippine National Police," he added.

Number of firearms recovered after nine days of fighting are now placed at 91 with 81 high-powered and 10 low-powered.

Padilla said that application of commensurate military power on existing threats and pockets of resistance will continue along with efforts on collaboration/coordination with concerned agencies to ascertain status of victims and hostages and initiate relevant action to rescue and save them.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992534

18 Maute clan members in Metro Manila surrender to NBI

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): 18 Maute clan members in Metro Manila surrender to NBI

Some 18 members of the Maute clan surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday to clear their names and deny links to the group responsible for the attacks in Marawi City, the Department of Justice said on Wednesday.

”Meron pong 18 na Muslim na sumurrender sa NBI ang dahilan po ng kanilang pagsuko ay para i-clear nila ang kanilang pangalan. Kung halimbawa sa inyong mga sumuko ngayon wala kayo sarilng abogado hilingin natin sa Public Attorneys Office (PAO) na-aasist kayo kung may problemang legal. Dahil sa sila'y voluntary na sumurrender, dadaan po sila sa ordinary process dito sa NBI kukunan sila ng mga katanungan,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II told reporters during a press conference at the NBI headquarters in Manila.

Aguirre ordered the NBI to conduct a probe on the identities of the surrenderers.

”I tasked the NBI to conduct the investigation on the surrenderers pursuant to the arrest order no. 1 signed by martial law administrator Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana orders arrest of 125 Maute group members for rebellion,” Aguirre said.

”Hihilingin natin sa kanila na kung wala naman silang dahilan para sila'y idetain, baka po pauwiin sila at hilingin na sila'y bukas (Thursday) bumalik para magawa SOP ng NBI,” the DOJ chief added.

The group, which include women and children, were accompanied by National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) South Luzon Regional Director lawyer Dalomilang Parahiman.

According to Parahiman, the group includes some of his relatives who are also from Lanao del Sur.

“They are law abiding citizens. Their only crime is their surname is Maute,” Parahiman told reporters, adding that most of these Mautes have been residing in Manila for more than 30 years.

The NCMF official lamented among them are boys aged two and 10 who are even included in the arrest order of the government for having namesakes of Maute group members.

Parahiman suspects intelligence informants might have mistook them as a group of Maute members who have infiltrated Metro Manila.

He noted that they flew to Manila just days before the fighting in Marawi City and were supposed to go to Saudi Arabia for an Islamic Umrah pilgrimage.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992543

Eastern Mindanao Command publishes brochures on martial law

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29): Eastern Mindanao Command publishes brochures on martial law

The Eastern Mindanao Command has started distributing two brochures, "Declaration of Martial Law" and "Martial Law and Violent Extremism" which will be initially available in all military and police checkpoints.

Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) spokesperson Maj. Ezra Balagtey said they were printing 10,000 copies of the two brochures for distribution. It is part of Eastmincom’s advocacy to explain martial law and violent extremism.

The first brochure "Declaration of Martial Law" explains invasion and rebellion as ground for the declaration.

The brochure defines "invasion and rebellion" as acts of rising publicly and taking arms against the government for the purpose of removing allegiance to the government and its laws as what is taking in Marawi City.

The first brochure also quotes Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code, the Article VII of Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution which provides the need for the president to report to Congress within 48 hours, for Congress to act on the martial law proclamation and the need to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

It also points out that martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution while the Judicial and Legislative branches would continue to function headed by civilians.

Under the rights of civilians in checkpoints, the public must see to it that checkpoints are well-lit, properly identified, and manned by uniform personnel. Upon approach, drivers must slow down, dim headlights and turn on cabin lights.

The public are advised not to step out of the vehicle and to lock all doors. Likewise, only visual search is allowed and no need to submit for a physical or body search.

People are not obliged to open the glove compartment, trunk or bags but ordinary or routine questions may be asked.

The public is also advised to be courteous but firm with answers and to keep driver’s license and registration handy and within reach.

The second brochure are FAQs on the Marawi incident: What is Maute Group; what is ISIS; how crucial is Marawi City, what does suspension of writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao mean; what does martial law means for the residents of Mindanao; what are acts being committed by extremists that constitute rebellion; why martial law is necessary; and what are the safeguards during martial law.

 http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/991852

Navy, PAF kick off ‘DAGIT 2017’ exercise in Palawan

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29): Navy, PAF kick off ‘DAGIT 2017’ exercise in Palawan

The Philippine Navy (PN) and the Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Monday morning opened in this city their annual inter-operability exercise dubbed "DAGIT 2017" to improve joint operations against maritime threats.

"DAGIT", the abbreviation for “Dagat and Langit,” said Col. Nestor Florente Rayos, deputy wing commander of the PAF’s 570th Composite Tactical Wing (CTW) in Palawan, would be combined with exercises “Pagsasama” and “Pagsisikap” 2017.

"Pagsisikap" is an inter-operability exercise specifically conducted to train the PN’s fleet and marine forces in amphibious operations, while "Pagsasama" targets to improve the readiness between the reserve units of the two branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“These exercises are now very relevant to the present condition of our country. It calls for a single progressive effort to strengthen the relationship, inter-operability, and enhance mutual cooperation between the PAF and the PN,” Rayos said during his welcome address.

He added that the combined exercise aims to improve proficiency and naturally support the unified command in responding to internal security and territorial defense operation.

For his part, Lt. General Raul del Rosario, commander of the WESCOM, and the guest of honor and keynote speaker of "DAGIT" opening, said that aside from DAGIT’s target to improve and standardize PN-PAF capacity in joint maritime operations for both internal security and territorial defense strategies, “at present the AFP really needs more effective air and naval inter-operability as it acquires new equipment and develop new capabilities.”

“We have to harmonize these new capabilities. Standardization will provide for a better utilization of equipment and resources that shall result to combined operational effectiveness; improved cooperation will eliminate duplication in research, development, production, procurement, and logistic support. Inter-operability will likewise enhance doctrines, training, communication, and the systems that support them,” Del Rosario said in his keynote address.

The WESCOM commander said the "DAGIT" would allow the pulling of resources synergy.

“This is what we want to achieve in 'DAGIT', 'Pagsisikap', and 'Pagsasama 2017'. We, here at WESCOM, are proud that we were chosen as the venue for this exercise,” said Del Rosario, who announced that it was the first time the exercises would be done in Palawan.

He added he believes the province is the right venue considering the maritime nature of WESCOM’s operations.

Navy Captain Chappy Reyes, one of the course directors, said the joint and unilateral exercises will be held from May 29 to June 9 in different areas of Puerto Princesa and southern Palawan.

He said participating assets of the PN will include a frigate, two patrol crafts, one landing craft utility, a naval helicopter, a rigid hull inflatable boat, and personnel from the Philippine Marines Corps (PMC), Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG), Naval Air Group (NAG), and PN reservists.

PAF, on the other hand, will participate with seven aircraft and personnel from the 710th Special Operations Wing (SPOW) and 300th Air Intelligence and Security Group (AISG).

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/991781

ARMM allots PHP77-M for Marawi humanitarian assistance

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): ARMM allots PHP77-M for Marawi humanitarian assistance

The regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has earmarked about PHP77 million for emergency response to the crisis in Marawi City, Gov. Mujiv Hataman said Tuesday.

Speaking in a radio interview, Hataman said the regional government is making it sure nobody among the internally displaced persons go hungry.

"No one should be left without food and water, we should show to our IDPs that the government is here to protect them," Hataman said in Filipino.

As of Monday afternoon, the ARMM Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (HEART) has recorded 17,007 families or 84,460 individuals affected by the hostilities after terrorists stormed Marawi City a week ago.

Of this number, 67,870 persons are housed in 38 designated evacuation centers in Lanao del Sur and Iligan City while 2,633 families or 16,590 individuals are staying in the houses of their relatives in the province.

When human exodus was reported in Marawi City the morning after the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf Group stormed the city, Hataman immediately formed a Health Team, headed by DOH-ARMM Regional Secretary Dr. Kadil Sinolinding Jr, to address the health needs of displaced families while government forces were pursuing the armed men.

The regional governor said the funds use in emergency response and post-conflict intervention came from the ARMM Special Purpose Fund of the Office of the Regional Governor (ORG).

Hataman said the ARMM humanitarian response is being conducted in partnership with other government agencies in Northern Mindanao.

ARMM crisis management center has also confirmed at least 3,717 stranded individuals and 59 missing persons.
It also recorded at least 100 persons dead as fighting entered its 8th day Tuesday.

This includes 61 Maute and Abu Sayyaf extremists, 20 government troops and 19 civilians.

He said 33 soldiers were injured and are now being treated in various hospitals in Iligan City.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/991971

Gunman wounds 2 members of anti-bomb squad in Kidapawan City

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): Gunman wounds 2 members of anti-bomb squad in Kidapawan City

An unidentified gunman shot and injured Monday night two "K-9" bomb-sniffing dog handlers in front of the city's public market.

Supt. Leo Ajero, Kidapawan City police director, said the shooting that occurred at around 8 p.m. injured Ryan Simpao, 29, and Ryan Solatorio, 23.

Ajero said the two were standing beside a K-9 unit patrol vehicle in front of the Kidapawan City mega market when a lone gunman opened fire on them.

The suspect fled on board a motorbike driven by an accomplice.

Bystanders rushed the two K-9 handlers to the hospital.

The motive of the attack remained unknown as of posting time.

Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista condemned the attack and directed the police to speed up the investigation.

In the face of martial law declaration, the city is considering imposing a "no ID, no entry" to ensure the safety of civilians.

He also stressed the need to strictly enforce safety measures so the people of Kidapawan City could sleep soundly.

The two members of the anti-bomb squad were deployed in the city's public market after two roadside bomb attacks occurred over the weekend, injuring four police officers blamed by authorities on communist rebels.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992015

Troops arrest suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit at Zamboanga port

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): Troops arrest suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit at Zamboanga port

Joint military and police operatives arrested early Tuesday morning a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) who was about to sneak into this city by mixing up with inbound passengers.

Arrested was Kimhar Asusi alias Abu Kimar, 32, the first ASG member who was arrested since the “No ID, No Entry” policy took effect on Friday, May 26.

The city government imposed the “No ID, No Entry” policy in a bid to prevent terrorists and lawless elements from entering the city.

The move is part of the intensified security measures implemented in this city following the Marawi City incident that prompted President Duterte to declare martial law over Mindanao.

Col. Leonel Nicolas, Joint Task Force Zamboanga commander, said Asusi was arrested at around 6:05 a.m. Tuesday just as he disembarked from a passenger ferry that arrived at the local port coming from Jolo, Sulu.

Nicolas said that Asusi, a resident of Barangay Bawisan, Parang, Sulu, has a standing warrant of arrest for two counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with ransom.

He said Asusi was involved in a firefight with the First Scout Ranger Battalion in Sitio Marang, Barangay Buanza, Indanan, Sulu, where the two kidnapped coastguard personnel were recovered in August 2015.

The two coastguard personnel, together with a village official, were kidnapped in May 2015 in Aliguay Island, Dapitan City. The Abu Sayyaf killed the village official for his family's alleged failure to pay ransom.

Nicolas said Asusi was taken to the headquarters of Police Station 11 for appropriate action. A fragmentation grenade was recovered in his possession.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992046

Davao mayor open to 'localized peace talks' with Reds

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): Davao mayor open to 'localized peace talks' with Reds

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio welcomed moves to hold "localized peace talks" with the New People’s Army (NPA) as long as the rebels will put aside their firearms and stop their offensive operations.

She issued this statement Tuesday morning after the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) fifth round of talks in The Netherlands hit a snag, as a result of the Communist Party of the Philippines's call for the NPA rebels to step up attacks on government forces in opposition to the declaration of martial law.

The mayor said she is "setting aside personal feelings towards the rebels over her pursuit towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict."

“I have no choice... I'll push things that I think can make the city better and (one) of them is the localized peace talks,” she said.

She emphasized on the need for the rebels to set side their firearms and stop offensive operations before any localized peace talks can start.

“I am always open, but we cannot sit down if they continue their offensive operations against the people, against the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” she said.

The mayor stressed it would be hard to start talking with the rebels when there are still people killed due to the "indiscriminate planting of improvised explosive device (IED)."

Duterte-Carpio said the NPA should also show its sincerity by stopping attacks while talks are ongoing. She added she has been continuously receiving reports of atrocities in the hinterlands.

Earlier, the mayor even offered to talk with the NPA rebels and jobs to the NPA as an organization.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992082

4 Army soldiers survive landmine blast in Camarines Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): 4 Army soldiers survive landmine blast in Camarines Sur

Four soldiers of the 83rd Infantry Battalion survived a landmine blast that hit their military vehicle while they were crossing Goa, Camarines Sur early Monday morning, said a belated report that reached the Police Regional Office (PRO) in Bicol on Tuesday.

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of PRO5 here in Camp Simeon Ola, said the soldiers were returning to their camp after a physical fitness test when the landmine exploded around 5:45 a.m. on Monday at Barangay Pinaglabanan, Goa.
The soldiers were identified as Cpls. Benjamin Hernandez and Mark Wilson Ledesma, Pfcs Jeffrey Base and Darwin Otilla, all based at the Hiwacloy Detachment of the 83rd IB in Goa.

The soldiers were able to jump off their vehicle and were prepared to fight the suspected New People's Army rebels believed to be responsible for the explosion, Calubaquib said.

“But there was no firefight that ensued,” she said.

Army and police investigators said the rebels, who had fled to the hinterlands of the village, were out to harass the government troopers.

An Explosive Ordnance Team from the Goa Municipal Police Office led by Insp. Joennel Legazpi rushed to the scene to help the soldiers.

Investigation showed a metal barrier on the roadside was destroyed by the impact of the explosion which also created a crater-like hole in the ground nearby.

Investigators also found an orange-colored battery and a roll of cable wire that were used for the explosion.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992085

President Duterte gives green light to GPH, MILF's ‘Peace Corridor’

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): President Duterte gives green light to GPH, MILF's ‘Peace Corridor’

President Rodrigo Duterte approved the setting up of a “peace corridor” spearheaded by the implementing panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to hasten the rescue and humanitarian operations for civilians still trapped in the conflict zone in Marawi.

President Duterte approved the idea of creating a ‘peace corridor’ to ensure the safety of the civilians and the delivery of the needed humanitarian aid for the displaced persons in the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City,” Irene M. Santiago, chairperson of the Government’s Implementing Panel, said.

Santiago, who was designated by President Duterte to oversee the humanitarian efforts, said the establishment of a "peace corridor” was agreed following the meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, members of the Joint Implementing Panels, and top officials of the MILF on Monday here.

During the meeting, the MILF vowed to cooperate with government in securing the areas where these peace corridors will be established.

Santiago said members of the implementing panels will meet within the week to formalize the modalities and parameters of the peace corridor.

She said the implementing panels would utilize existing peace mechanisms, particularly the Joint Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCHs), for the establishment of peace corridor.

“The peace corridor is a secure space where humanitarian groups may evacuate wounded and trapped civilians and retrieve dead bodies for burial,” Santiago said.

The corridor is also a safe space for goods to reach hungry people in the rural areas whose access to Marawi’s markets have been cut off,” she added.

“Both the government and the MILF implementing panels are strongly committed to work as partners in finding creative ways to address the root causes of violent conflict in Mindanao at the soonest possible time, starting with the passage of the Bangsamoro enabling law,” Santiago said.

President Duterte noted the ongoing efforts to sustain the peace process between the government and the MILF.

President Duterte has earlier called on Moro fronts to help the government in the fight against terror groups.

According to Santiago, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission also briefed the President on the developments of the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

She said President Duterte emphasized the need to fast track the drafting of the bill for it to be submitted to Congress in June.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992371

Officials deny presence of Maute Group from Marawi in Sarangani town

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): Officials deny presence of Maute Group from Marawi in Sarangani town

Police and hospital authorities in the coastal town of Glan in Sarangani Province denied Wednesday a published news report that wounded terror group members from Marawi City had sought treatment at a government-run hospital in the area.

Dr. Eden Rose Malanao, chief of the Glan Municipal Hospital, debunked a report published online on May 29 by The Manila Times that armed suspected terror group members earlier barged into the facility and demanded immediate treatment for their wounded comrades.

The Manila Times report said the “fully armed” suspects also “threatened doctors and (hospital) employees not to report their presence to the authorities or they will be mercilessly killed.”

“That never happened,” Malanao said in a statement issued through the Sarangani Information Office on Wednesday.

She acknowledged that there were some people who came to the hospital on Monday, May 29, but they were “gays selling cosmetics” and not armed terror group members.

Citing an “intelligence report” she received at 10 a.m. last Monday, the official said that men aboard a Starex van en route to Malapatan were allegedly looking for the nearest hospital, which is located in Glan.

Malapatan is the last municipality to pass through before reaching Glan if taking the route via this city.

“I immediately alerted the hospital’s watchmen and (ordered) gates to be closed, A vehicle arrived 15 minutes after, not a Starex, but an Innova,” she said.

She said a gay man then approached her and introduced himself as member of Feel Care Company who would like to conduct make-up demo.

But when asked for identification, the gay man went back straight to the vehicle supposedly to get an identification card but eventually left for unknown reasons, she said.

Malanao said she immediately alerted the Glan municipal police station about the incident and the vehicle was later intercepted in Barangay Ilaya, about a kilometer away from the town center.

Senior Police Officer Alexander Jugarap said the group, which was composed of four gays and a male driver from Davao City, was eventually released after yielding negative of any illegal item or link to terror groups.

The black Toyota Innova with license plate YDY 756 was also cleared, he said.

“Only cosmetics were inside the vehicle and they supposedly wanted to offer them as promo items to the hospital’s nurses,” Jugarap said.

Insp. Danilo Abayata, acting deputy chief of the Glan police station, said there were no confirmed reports on the presence of terror group members from Marawi in their area.

He admitted that their office had received some prior “false information.”

Abayata said they are continually monitoring parts of the municipality, especially the coastal areas, as part of their intensified security operations.

He said they have established additional checkpoints and activated Barangay Intelligence Networks composed of local volunteers.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992394

MILF to assist gov't on humanitarian aid for Marawi evacuees

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): MILF to assist gov't on humanitarian aid for Marawi evacuees

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) announced it will help the government in providing assistance to civilians affected in the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City.

In a statement, MILF Chairperson Al Haj Murad Ebrahim “welcomed the idea of PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) for the MILF forces to help in extending necessary humanitarian assistance to civilians who are still trapped in areas of Marawi (City) where sporadic fightings still happen.”

The MILF, who has a standing peace agreement with the government, said the “modalities of cooperation would be established between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF” to carryout the humanitarian effort.

The MILF released the statement following a meeting between President Duterte and MILF leaders on Monday in Davao City.

Irene Santiago, chairperson of the government’s implementing panel, also attended the meeting, which lasted for about two hours, where the President approved the setting up of a GPH-MILF “peace corridor” to hasten the rescue and humanitarian operations for civilians still trapped in the conflict zone in Marawi.

The MILF said they are now working with the peace mechanisms such as the Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCHs) of both the GPH and MILF, which would be utilized for planning and implementing the ways on how to immediately and safely extend humanitarian assistance to the affected families.

During the meeting, President Duterte has assured the MILF leaders that the implementation of martial law is not against the Moro fronts -- the MILF and Moro National Liberation Front -- or the New People’s Army (NPA) but to quell the Maute group rebellion and other terrorist groups.

The President has earlier urged the rebel groups, which are talking peace with the government, to help in the fight against terror groups in Mindanao.

The Chief Executive made the statement following the offer of MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari to allow its fighters to pursue the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

On Monday’s meeting, President Duterte also assured the MILF of the government’s sincerity to sustain the peace process.

MILF First Vice Chairperson Ghazali Jaafar said they informed the President “that the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would be completed by next month.”

The President has urged the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to accelerate the drafting of the BBL for submission to Congress.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992410

MNLF helps government forces fight Abu Sayyaf in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): MNLF helps government forces fight Abu Sayyaf in Sulu

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), even before President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeal for the Moro fronts to help the government fight terrorism, has been helping the military in neutralizing members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu province, officials said.

Yusop Jikiri, MNLF Central Committee chairperson, on Wednesday said their fighters have been running after ASG members, particularly in “MNLF-dominated” areas in Sulu.

Jikiri cited an incident where MNLF fighters launched its "Anti-kidnapping and Terrorism Task Force" in the towns of Talipao, Parang and Indanan with proper coordination with the Brigade Command in Sulu last May 18 to 20.

"In short, even without the presence of the military, our command is ready to face any challenges against terrorist groups,” Jikiri said.

Jikiri, who took over the helm last February from Muslimin Sema as the new MNLF Central Committee chair, said they will continue to exert pressure against the ASG and deny them areas for refuge.

During his recent visit in Sulu, President Duterte has called on the members of the MNLF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and even the New People’s Army to join the government in fighting terrorism.

The President made the statement following the offer of MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari to help the government address the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City.

The armed conflict started on May 23 when the Maute Group members laid siege in Marawi City.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejan Jr., commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, confirmed the MNLF’s efforts to address the problem of the ASG in Sulu.

“We welcome their positive gesture towards the resolution of the Abu Sayyaf problem,” Sobejana said.

He said the military allowed the MNLF to operate in specific area.

“We gave them area to clear. We are also amendable to the option that they can operate alongside with us,” Sobejana said.

Despite the absence of ceasefire mechanisms, Sobejana said both the military and the MNLF have established a strong coordination system.

The MNLF-Misuari wing has a designated person who coordinates with the military, especially during operations against the ASG.

“We see the importance of the [peace] mechanisms. We have established contact persons in the MNLF,” Sobejana said.

The MNLF and the government have signed a peace agreement on September 2, 1996.

At least 7,000 MNLF combatants have been integrated to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as part of the peace pact.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/992430