Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Supply chain disruption across the Philippines caused by the Islamist extremist Abu Sayyaf Group

From the American Journal of Transportation (Feb 14): Supply chain disruption across the Philippines caused by the Islamist extremist Abu Sayyaf Group

  •  The Sulu faction of the ASG kidnapped more than 50 foreign victims in 2016, compared with five known victims in 2015

  •  Successful offshore kidnaps-for-ransom trebled in frequency between October and December 2016, compared with the first nine months of the year

  •  In 2016 the Isnilon Hapilon-led Basilan faction of the ASG aligned with Islamic State (IS) and Hapilon was appointed as IS’s South-east Asia emir, which has increased the group’s profile among regional Islamist extremists and resulted in the use of more extreme tactics.

  • Two abductions from general cargo vessels in October and November were the first offshore kidnaps in the region in the past ten years from larger merchant vessels

  • London - The Philippines-based Islamist extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has been responsible for a surge in offshore abductions in the southern Sulu and northern Celebes Seas over the last 12 months. The group kidnapped more than 50 foreign victims in more than 20 separate attacks during 2016, compared with five known foreign victims in 2015.

    The change in kidnapping tactics by the ASG has significantly impacted the number of incidents recorded. Between February and September, ASG kidnappers exclusively targeted local fishing vessels and tugs, exploiting the relative lack of on board security measures to successfully abduct crew members. From October, Control Risks recorded a notable increase in the targeting of general cargo vessels, bulk carriers and chemical tankers. When compared with February to September, kidnapping rates trebled in frequency between October and December. This surge in maritime attacks is significant and has started to affect regional supply chains.

    A temporary moratorium was imposed on coal transports from Indonesia to the Philippines amid ongoing fears of crew abductions, while the security of crew on tanker and cargo ships transiting between Australia and North Asia has also been called into question.

    Sebastian Villyn, Maritime Risk Analyst at Control Risks comments that, “The regional governments and the shipping industry were understandably quite unprepared for this sudden change in the security environment, and many thought it was a fleeting trend. However, recent successes have emboldened the kidnapping group, and we can see that it’s impacting the wider supply chain. Some vessels sailing from Australia to East Asia are now rerouting to avoid the area. Indonesia’s moratorium on coal transports to the Philippines has been revised, but continues to apply to vessels of a certain size.”

    https://www.ajot.com/news/supply-chain-disruption-across-the-philippines-caused-by-the-islamist-extre

    NPAs seize militiaman in Davao Oriental

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 15): NPAs seize militiaman in Davao Oriental

    A member of the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) was seized by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in a checkpoint set up by more or less 30 armed guerillas in Purok Upper Waywayan, Barangay Don Mariano, Lupon, Davao Oriental Tuesday.

    Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division, identified the abducted militiaman as Rene C. Doller, who was assigned at 1st Platoon, 4th CAAC, Davao Oriental, Ligadan Detachment in South Ligadan, Barangay Don Enrique Lopez, Mati City. His motorcycle was burned by the rebels, Batchar said.

    This developed as the troops from the 28th Infantry Battalion engaged NPA rebels in a clash in Purok 2 in Barangay New Visayas, Lupon, Davao Oriental earlier on Tuesday.

    Batchar said no casualty was reported from the military side but the NPA may have suffered the same based on the blood stains seen in the area.

    Batchar said after an hour of encounter, the troops took from the area 40 backpacks, medical paraphernalia, several personal belongings and subversive documents left by the fleeing NPA rebels.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=964009

    Gunmen ambush passenger bus in Zamboanga, 8 wounded

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 15): Gunmen ambush passenger bus in Zamboanga, 8 wounded

    Authorities have further strengthened security while troops were deployed to track down the gunmen who ambushed a passenger bus that injured eight people in this city.

    The local police reported the incident occurred around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boundaries of Barangays Buenavista and Muti.

    Investigation showed the bus of the Rural Transit Management Inc. (RTMI) with body number 9554 was traveling to Pagadian City from this city with 34 passengers on board when ambushed by around five gunmen.

    Police identified the injured passengers as Noel Lopez, 45; John Baynosa, 36; Jaman Alam, 53; Ednalia Gilla, 20; Raniel Abeng, 22; Christopher Cagan, 35; George Elnas, 35; and, Genevie Lopez, 35.

    Police said Seledonio Sugabo, the bus driver, asked for assistance at a nearby military detachment.

    The troops at the detachment rushed but the gunmen were gone when they reached the ambush site.

    The wounded passengers were taken to the hospital while another RTMI bus fetched the other passengers to their destination in Pagadian City.

    Investigation is ongoing.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=964061

    Army official in Masbate vows decent burial for enemies

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): Army official in Masbate vows decent burial for enemies

    Wednesday one of the four New People's Army (NPA) rebels killed in a clash with government troopers on Monday morning here in Barangay Pangle, Aroroy, Masbate, as a certain “Commander Jaypee.”

    Lt. Col Red Cabanizas, commander of the 2nd IB, in an interview, said a scout platoon led by 1Lt. April John S. Del Rosario was conducting patrol operation in Barangay Pangle at 6:30 a.m. when the encounter with the government troops occurred.

    Cabanizas said the government soldiers brought the bodies to the police station in Aroroy town.

    “The dead rebels will be given decent burial,” he said.

    Aroroy Mayor Arturo Virtucio has shouldered the funeral expenses of the communist guerrillas whose remains will be given a three-day funeral at the police station here while waiting for their families to claim the bodies.

    “If no one claims (the bodies), it will then be buried,” said Virtucio.

    It was the second reported encounter in the province following the termination of ceasefire agreement between the government and the Communist New People’s Army and the NPA, its armed wing, early this month.

    On February 6, Cpl. Mark Alfred Repol of the 93rd Division Reconnaisance Company was reported by police authorities in the province as wounded in an encounter in Barangay Amotag, 21 kilometers away from the poblacion of Aroroy.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=963856

    4th ID condemns NPA attack on military escorts of relief convoy for quake victims

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 15): 4th ID condemns NPA attack on military escorts of relief convoy for quake victims

    The Cagayan De Oro-based 4th Infantry Division slammed the New People's Army (NPA) for firing on the military escort of a non-government organization delivering relief goods to quake-battered communities in Surigao Del Norte Tuesday night.

    The incident took place 8:30 p.m. at Barangay Linunggaman, San Francisco town, of the above-mentioned province.

    "We condemn in the strongest terms possible the recent harassment of the NPA. There is no way we can really trust these terrorists. They have deceived the entire nation when they fired upon the team that is composed of Army and civilian volunteers who have just delivered relief goods to the earthquake-stricken communities. Their (NPA) recent declaration of ceasefire in that area is nothing but lie and deception," 4th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Benjamin Madrigal said.

    The unit fired was the civil-military operations platoon of the 30th Infantry Battalion. It was escorting the ABS-CBN Foundation relief team, which had just finished delivering relief goods and supplies, and headed back to Surigao City when the military lead vehicle was shot by the rebels, fortunately causing no casualties.

    "While we are in the area helping our people to rise up again after they were badly hit by the recent earthquake, the NPA terrorists are also busy in making our people's lives miserable," Madrigal added.

    "The NPA's attack will not deter us to continue our efforts in helping the LGUs to bring back the normal situation in the entire province," the 4th Infantry Division commander stressed.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=964099

    NDF/NUPL: Pithing peace

    Propaganda response to Philippine Daily Inquirer article (Brew Point: “The path to peace, PDI 13 Feb 2017) posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Feb 14): Pithing peace

    Some quick initial personal take to GRP Communications Secretary Martin Andanar’s alternative facts (cf. Brew Point: “The path to peace, PDI 13 Feb 2017):

    By Edre U.Olalia
    President, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)

    1. The NDFP did not “fail to cajole” President Duterte to release political prisoners.

    The NDFP demanded the same as a matter of justice since they have all – yes, all 392 of them- been wrongfully charged with trumped-up or false common crimes instead of political offenses and arrested, detained and some already convicted in violation of the GRP’s own Hernandez jurisprudence, binding bilateral agreements like CARHRIHL and JASIG which the Parties reaffirmed, multiple pledges and promises over time from the GRP President himself and by his GRP Panel (as reflected in the Oslo and Rome Joint Statements) and his own admission as a former prosecutor that criminalization of political offenses is wrong and must be abandoned.

    2. The NDFP did not withdraw their unilateral ceasefire just because the political prisoners were not released.

    After officially submitting to the GRP Panel at different times and places (both during informal and formal meetings and in the presence of and copy furnished the Norwegian representatives as facilitators) well-documented violations of the CARHRIHL and the spirit of the unilateral ceasefires (e.g. military occupation of civilian structures like schools, health centers, residences; killings and disappearances of farmers and civilians; labelling and threatening civilians allegedly for being NPA supporters or sympathizers or falsely as drug users; forward deployment in areas the NDFP considers as their territories under the guise of “civil relations” or “peace and development operations”), the NDFP has asserted that its hand was forced to withdraw its own ceasefire as the same has become “untenable” despite assuming an active defense mode to make the truce hold for the longest time.

    3. The “quick series of attacks” on AFP personnel appear, under international humanitarian law, to be legitimate acts of defensive warfare and exercise of belligerent power against legitimate military targets and not on non-combatant civilians.

    4. The records show that the NDFP did not fail to meet the deadline to reciprocate the first GRP ceasefire.

    The ultimatum to declare a unilateral ceasefire was inappropriately “ordered” by one Party to the other. The GRP “jumped the gun” a few hours before when the NDFP was about to declare its own after consulting their principals.

    5. The NDFP has yielded time and time again and has become flexible in the peace negotiations.

    It has overextended its forbearance in relation to the release of the political prisoners first from amnesty then to selective or piecemeal modes, unprecedentedly agreed to a prolonged interim ceasefire even before the end of the conflict, opened to the idea and possibility of a more stable and principled bilateral ceasefire for the benefit of the people, agreed to simultaneous and accelerated negotiations or discussions on substantive reforms, openly though qualifiedly supported the GRP’s initiatives to shift to federalism, bended to “tempered” language indicting the GRP for continuing violations of CARHRIHL etc.

    6. Not all political prisoners are “convicted.”

    Simple fact check would disclose that roughly only 50 detainees have been convicted, with all the rest facing trial at different stages. These wrongly convicted prisoners are all candidates for presidential pardon but only three have been released so far under this mode.

    7. The NDFP never raised nor rightfully demanded off or on the table during any stage or round of the peace negotiations the prejudicial question of terrorist listing by the US of the CPP-NPA.

    It was the GRP Panel Chair that surprisingly but pleasantly unilaterally announced to the international media in Rome that the GRP will work for the removal of the NDFP’s Chief Political Consultant Prof. Jose Ma. Sison from the US so-called terrorist list so that he could purportedly go home. He also announced in advance to the media that such fact will be placed in the Rome Joint Statement. The GRP never proposed it to be included in the Statement though and nothing of that sort appears therein.

    https://www.ndfp.org/pithing-peace/

    CPP/NPA: NPA active defense amid AFP all-out war gone berserk in Southern Mindanao

    NPA propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Feb 14):
    NPA active defense amid AFP all-out war gone berserk in Southern Mindanao

    Rigoberto F. Sanchez
    Spokesperson
    Regional Operations Command
    Southern Mindanao
    New People's Army
    14 February 2017

    Red fighters around Southern Mindanao have successfully defended base areas and guerilla zones around the region in a series of active defense actions in the onset of the militarist all-out war of the AFP.

    In these AFP-initiated aggressive incursions in Red territories, NPA units were able to inflict 14 casualties against the enemy.

    During the 10-day period between the formal notice of lifting of the CPP-NPA unilateral interim ceasefire last February 1 and its subsequent effective termination on February 10, NPA units launched preemptive strikes against enemy combat troops operating in the provinces of North Cotabato, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

    On February 1, Red fighters successfully deflected the 4-column assault of the 67IB in Brgy. Lambog, Manay, Davao Oriental, killing 2Lt. Victor Alejo and wounding Pfc Diokno Sumatin. On February 6, operating troops of the 71IB were hit in Brgy. New Cortez, New Corella, Davao del Norte, resulting in the death of one enemy and the wounding of 7 others. Edwin Hijara, a CAFGU member of the 39IB meanwhile was killed in Brgy. Balite, Magpet in North Cotabato while conducting intelligence work as his troops were in combat operation.

    Reinforcement troops of the 67IB were again hit by command-detonated explosives in Brgy. San Jose, Caraga, Davao Oriental on February 9. That same day, four troopers of the 60IB conducting combat operations were severely wounded when hit by an attritive action launched by Red fighters in the hinterlands of Brgy. Langtud, Laak, Compostela Valley.

    The so-called all-out war is nothing new for the NPA and the revolutionary masses in the region; as even during the GRP’s supposed ceasefire, AFP troops have not let-up their offensive operations in the countryside. But with both ceasefires presently lifted, the AFP knows that its aggressive forward deployment of troops can no longer conveniently hide behind the pretext of civil-military activities or
    anti-criminality operations.

    This early, the all-out war against the NPA forcibly ordered by the hawkish generals of the AFP is taking its toll on their foot soldiers in the Southern Mindanao. On February 11, the frantic full-scale
    operation of 60IB in Brgy, Bullocan in Laak figured in an hour-long misencounter where enemy troops fired at and severely wounded each other and hitting another civilian.

    Meantime, AFP and PNP troops in Southern Mindanao have gone berserk in their fascist attempts to supposedly “hit hard” the region’s NPA units, all the while victimizing civilians and activists in their
    wake. Already, in the same period when the NPA deflected attacks in the countryside, the Duterte government’s armed forces have managed to summarily kill four civilians: two farmers in Manay, one activist in Davao City and a purok chairman in Tagum City. They have wounded several others as collateral damage.

    The fascist enemy also trampled upon the JASIG and CARHRIHL in arresting NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario and his two companions while threatening to arrest the other consultants. In the thoroughfares of Davao City, it has launched psywar and red-tagging that essentially render civilian activists and legal progressive organizations as open targets of the all-out war.

    All told, the all-out war and all its attendant human rights violations mock the AFP and the PNP’s grandstanding of advocating peace. The NPA in the region, meanwhile, having gone through the brunt of the monumental failure Oplan Bayanihan, is ready to defend the masses and the victories of the people’s war in the face of the Duterte government’s all-out war under the current Oplan Kapayapaan.

    CPP/NPA: NPA disarms guards of land-grabber in Mindoro

    NPA propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Feb 13):
    NPA disarms guards of land-grabber in Mindoro

    Ka Madaay Gasic
    Spokesperson
    Subregional Operations Command
    Mindoro
    NPA-Southern Tagalog
    New People's Army

    13 February 2017
    Press Release

    RIZAL, OCCIDENTAL MINDORO—Red fighters of Lucio De Guzman Command/New People’s Army-Mindoro (LDGC/NPA-Mindoro) successfully disarmed guards of land-grabber in Occidental Mindoro, midnight, Feb. 13.

    The NPA’s military action is a response to a violent demolition of a village of poor fisherfolk in Bgy. Salvacion, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro, said Comrade Madaay Gasic, spokesperson of LDGC/NPA-Mindoro.

    The Red fighters siezed in the said action three (3) shotgun, ammunitions and other devices. Meanwhile, there was no report of any casualty.

    According to a letter of the LDGC/NPA-Mindoro addressed to land-grabber Annaliza Pojas-Lopez and to other accused of the said crime against the people, “Malinaw na ikaw, Gng. Annaliza Pojas-Lopez at ang inyong mga kasapakat at inupahang goons at mga security guards mula sa Sidekick Security Agency, ay lumabag sa karapatang tao ng mga residenteng naging biktima ng inyong marahas na demolisyon at paghahamlet sa kanilang pamayanan. (It is clear that you, Annaliza Pojas-Lopez and your accomplices, hired goons and security guards from Sidekick Security Agency, committed violations of human rights of the people who fell victim of your violent demolition and hamletting of their village.)

    Pojas-Lopez, abetted and aided by Pedro Gamil, a former jail guard of the Occidental Mindoro Provincial Jail, ordered the demolition of about 16 houses of poor fisherfolk in the said area last year. Pojas-Lopez hired more or less 40 prisoners to carry out the demolition in October 2016, and burn down the residents’ makeshift tents a month after. Ten of the fisherfolk were arrested on December 7 due to trespassing charge filed by Pojas-Lopez against them.

    The military action is also LDGC’s response to the order of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines to “achieve just peace through the peace talks and people’s war,” Ka Madaay added.

    “Rodrigo Duterte became disinterested towards the peace talks amid advances on some of the content of the agreement on socio-economic reforms. However, the termination of the talks cannot curb the People’s Government because we advocate People’s War as our primary weapon to achieve genuine justice and peace for the people,” Ka Madaay
    ended.

    Philippine Marine Corps opens recruitment

    From Update.Ph (Feb 14): Philippine Marine Corps opens recruitment

     

    “The Few, The Proud, The Marines”. The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) is conducting a mobile recruitment for those who are interested to join the Marines in Northern and Central Luzon. PMC is a naval infantry force under the command of the Philippine Navy.

    “The PMC Mobile Recruitment Team is currently at Naval Reserve Center-Central Luzon, Det Bonuan, Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan City to conduct mobile recruitment of candidate soldiers (CS),” the Philippine Navy said.

    Screening of applicants will be from February 20 to March 2. Examinations will be on March 2 to 7.

    Applicants must be 18-23 years old, male, single with no child to support, at least 5’4″ in height, must have 72 units in college and if High School graduate must have TESDA Certificate (NCII).

    The PMC also provided contact numbers: 0930-062-4046 / 0927-958-5840 for inquiries.

    The Philippine Marines conduct amphibious and expeditionary warfare, as well as special operation missions.

    http://www.update.ph/2017/02/philippine-marine-corps-opens-recruitment/14402

    2 young Amazons yield to army

    From the Mindanao Times (Feb 12): 2 young Amazons yield to army

    TWO NEW People’s Army amazons returned to the folds of the law following a community dialogue initiated by 67th Infantry Battalion in Caraga, Davao Oriental on Friday, Feb. 10.
     
    Meanwhile, soldiers from the 60th Infantry Battalion engaged communist rebels in a firefight in Laak, Compostela Valley on the same day.
     
    Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, identified the two amazons only by their aliases as Joy, 20, and Rose, 17, and both members of Guerilla Front 15.
     
    The soldiers of 67th IB have just finished talking to the 150 displaced families temporarily housed in Caraga municipal gymnasium when the two NPA amazons approached them.

    The displaced families from Barangays Don Leon Balante and PM Sobrecarey of Caraga, Davao Oriental earlier left their homes due to NPA presence in their communities.

    Earlier, six NPA members already surrendered in Davao Oriental through the 67IB, while two others yielded to the 73IB in Davao Occidental.
     
    The latest surrender brought the total of rebel returnees to 10.

    Meanwhile, soldiers of 60th IB engaged in a 30-minute gunbattle with an undetermined number of rebels belonging to the NPA’s Guerilla Front 34 and Pulang Bagani Company (PBC) 4. No soldier was hurt in the incident.
    Meanwhile, another member of the NPA sought the help of the 36th Infantry Battalion in Surigao del Sur around 7 p.m. on Sunday so he can lead a normal life again.


    Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of 4th Infantry Division, said the 23-year-old manobo from San Miguel, Surigao Del Sur chose to be with his family. He surrendered his M16 rifle with one fully loaded magazine.

     
    Lt. Col. Randolph Rojas, 36th IB commanding officer, guaranteed to facilitate all the benefits and programs for the surrenderee.

    “I welcome our brother who finally decided to take the right path. Just like his other comrades who also made the same decision earlier,” Martinez.

    Under the 4th ID area of responsibility covering Northern Mindanao and Caraga, the NPA’s regular members mostly come from the indigenous people.
     
    “While we are happy for the decision of our brother as he finally embraced peace, we are still saddened by the grave violation of the NPA leaders on the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) Law, Human Rights, and International Humanitarian Law when they continue to arm our Indigenous Peoples to exploit our IP communities and force them to join their money-making and extortion activities,”Maj.Gen Benjamin Madrigal Jr., the 4ID commander, said.

    http://mindanaotimes.net/2-young-amazons-yield-to-army/

    2 rebels caught; 2 surrender

    From the Mindanao Times (Feb 12): 2 rebels caught; 2 surrender

    TWO NPA members were caught by troops of the 73rd Infantry Battalion, while two others surrendered in Sarangani and Compostela Valley on Sunday, Feb. 12.
     
    Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, said pursuing troops of 73rd Infantry Battalion captured suspects Nonoy Sanama and Morelo Sanama in Sitio Solutan, Barangay Datal Anggas, Alabel, Sarangani at around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.

    Soldiers also recovered one M16 Armalite rifle one M1 Garand rifle from the two rebels.

    On the other hand, another NPA member, identified only as alias Kaloy, brought along a Garand rifle when he surrendered to the 73rd IB with the help of local officials. The three NPA are all members of Guerrilla Front 71.
     
    Meanwhile, alias Dodoy of Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) 4 surrendered to the 60th Infantry Battalion at 11 a.m. of the same day. He claimed to be part of the rebels who clashed with soldiers a day later.
     
    Dodoy revealed that he left behind an AK-47 rifle with five rounds ammunition, an improvised explosive device, improvised hand grenade, blasting caps, detonating switch, batteries and a 150-meter wire at the encounter site in Barangay Bollucan, Laak, Compostela Valley on Saturday, Feb. 11.

    He said 15 of their platoon members escaped, leaving only four rebels to fight it out with the soldiers. He sought help from a civilian who in turn accompanied him to the army headquarters.

    Also on Sunday, six other NPA members in possession of five high-powered firearms were captured by troops of 73rd IB in Barangay Datal Anggas, Alabel, Sarangani.

    Based on the 10th ID report, eight NPA members were already captured and seven high powered firearms recovered; two brought along their firearms when they surrendered, and three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were recovered in Alabel, Sarangani and Laak, Compostela Valley.

    Maj. Gen.Rafael Valencia, the division commander, reiterated his call for other NPA members to leave their group.

    “The full force of the law will sooner or later caught you, thus while you still have the time, turn yourself in and embrace our offer for peace,” he said.
     

    Abu Sayyafs threaten to execute German hostage

    From the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 14): Abu Sayyafs threaten to execute German hostage

    unnamed (1) copy

    The military's Western Mindanao Command releases photos of the German yacht 'Rock All' recovered by security forces at sea off Pangutaran Island in southern Philippines. The boat was hijacked by the Abu Sayyaf on November 6, 2016 off Sabah in Malaysia and seized German yachter Juegen Kantner, 70, and killed his companion Sabine Merz, 50, that officials claimed was probably raped. (Mindanao Examiner)

    The military’s Western Mindanao Command releases photos of the German yacht ‘Rock All’ recovered by security forces at sea off Pangutaran Island in southern Philippines. The boat was hijacked by the Abu Sayyaf on November 6, 2016 off Sabah in Malaysia and seized German yachter Juegen Kantner, 70, and killed his companion Sabine Merz, 56, that officials claimed was probably raped. (Mindanao Examiner)

    Abu Sayyaf rebels tied to the Islamic State have threatened to behead a German yachter kidnapped last year off Sabah near southern Philippines if their ransom demand is not paid.

    The rebels, who are holding Jurgen Kantner since November, have set their deadline on February 26. The 70-year old Kantner was kidnapped while with his wife Sabine Merz, 56, when Abu Sayyaf gunmen intercepted them just several nautical miles from the southern province of Tawi-Tawi, in the Philippines Muslim autonomous region.

    The woman was killed and naked when found by soldiers in the boat. A shotgun was also recovered near her body, according to the military’s Western Mindanao Command. It said an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Muamar Askali phoned a media organization in Zamboanga City to say that they are holding Kantner and demanding P500 million for his safe release.

    The Abu Sayyaf demand was contained in a video released on February 14 on Telegram Messenger where it showed Kantner pleading to his government to save his life. The rebels were now demanding P30 million ransoms.

    In April 2014, Askali’s group also kidnapped two German yachters – Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Henrike Diesen, 55, while heading to Sabah from a holiday in the Philippines and demanded P250 million in ransoms in exchange for their lives.

    Askali originally demanded from Germany – on top of the ransoms – to cease all support to U.S. coalition campaign against Islamic State which is fighting for a caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The duo was freed six months later after the German government paid the ransoms delivered by Filipino security officials. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding about two dozen Malaysian, Indonesian and Vietnamese sailors kidnapped last year in Sabah and Basilan province, also in the autonomous region.

    The Philippines is hunting down at least 23 people who were identified and wanted by Malaysian authorities for the string of ransom kidnappings and attacks at sea off Sabah.

    Six of the 23 individuals, mostly Abu Sayyaf members, have arrest warrants against them in the Philippines, and that they and 15 others are being pursued by law enforcement and military authorities in the hinterlands of Sulu and Basilan, the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur also said.

    The six individuals are Apo Mike, alias Majan Sahidjuan; Hatib Hayan, alias Sawadjaan; Alden Bagde, alias Sayning; Muamar Askali, alias Abu Rami; Idang Susukan and Alhabsi Misaya.

    Philippine authorities have killed the notorious Muktadil Brothers Gang with the deaths of Mindas Muktadil in May 2015, and Nikson and Brown Muktadil in September 2016. Khadafy, one of the individuals named by Malaysian authorities, was arrested in November 2015 and is detained at the Zamboanga Del Norte Provincial Jail.

    The Eastern Sabah Security Command recently released the names of 23 people sought for involvement in kidnapping incidents in the coastlines and waters of eastern Sabah.

    The 16 people who are at large and being pursued by Philippine authorities are Salvador, alias Badong Muktadil; Salip Sosong, alias Mohamad Apsa Abdulla; Halipa, Ibrahim, Sabri Madrasul, alias Salip Jul; Las Pangit, Marajan Asiri, Raden Abuh, Bocoi, Sangbas, Berong Sairol, alias Boy Master; Bensaudi Sairol, alias Boy Pangit; Boy Intel, Atai Susukan, Durog Hussein and Saidul Idul.

    President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak agreed to deepen collaboration in stemming the kidnapping incidents in the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas.

    The Abu Sayyaf group, formed by Ustadz Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani in 1992, continues to recruit members to fight the government in their attempt to set up a strict Islamic caliphate in Mindanao.

    It now has hundreds of members in the Muslim autonomous region and the military had failed to stop the growing influence and violent campaigns of the rebel group because it did not sustain the combat operations needed to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf in the restive region. Much of the military’s huge budget goes to combat operations and its modernization program.

    http://mindanaoexaminer.com/abu-sayyafs-threaten-to-execute-german-hostage/

    Rebels, troops clashed in Davao, civilians use as shield

    From the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 14): Rebels, troops clashed in Davao, civilians use as shield

    New People’s Army rebels clashed with government troops on Tuesday in the southern Filipino province of Davao Oriental as security forces continue its offensive against the communist group in the restive region.

    The fighting erupted in the village called New Visayas in Lupon town, according to the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command. It also accused the rebel group of hostaging a chapel and civilians, including women and children and using them as shield against pursuing soldiers. Rebel forces also blocked a highway, preventing motorists from passing the village.

    “We lament the NPAs conduct of road block disturbing the economic activity of the area and the use of children and women and a chapel as part of their diversionary act against pursuing troops,” said army Major Ezra Balagtey, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command. “These condemnable acts are manifestation of the gross disregard of the NPAs of human rights, especially that of the children and the elderly.”

    Balagtey did not say whether the civilians had been safely freed or not, but the clashes broke out after patrolling from the 28th Infantry Battalion ran into a huge group of rebels and a fire fight ensued.

    There were no immediate reports of casualties from both sides, but soldiers recovered at least 14 backpacks left behind by insurgents.

    Rigoberto Sanchez, a rebel spokesman, said NPA forces have successfully defended base areas and guerrilla zones around the region in a series of active defense actions in the onset of President Rodrigo Duterte’s all-out war against them following the collapse of the peace talks.

    “The all-out war and all its attendant human rights violations mock the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) grandstanding of advocating peace. The NPA in the region, meanwhile, having gone through the brunt of the monumental failure Oplan Bayanihan, is ready to defend the masses and the victories of the people’s war in the face of the Duterte government’s all-out war under the current Oplan Kapayapaan,” Sanchez said.

    “This early, the all-out war against the NPA forcibly ordered by the hawkish generals of the AFP is taking its toll on their foot soldiers in southern Mindanao. Meantime, AFP and PNP troops in southern Mindanao have gone berserk in their fascist attempts to supposedly hit hard the region’s NPA units, all the while victimizing civilians and activists in their wake,” he added.

    The rebels have been fighting for many decades now in an effort to establish a communist state in the country.

    http://mindanaoexaminer.com/rebels-troops-clashed-in-davao-civilians-use-as-shield/

    Government troops overrun suspected NPA camp in Ifugao

    From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 14): Government troops overrun suspected NPA camp in Ifugao

    Government  troops overran a suspected  New People’s Army(NPA)  camp at sitio Pinugao, Brgy Namal here after an encounter  night of  February 12.

    Soldiers  from the 54th Infantry Battalion  recovered a power generator set,  bullets for AK 47 and M-16 rifles, three laptop computers, two rifle grenades, one roll of undetermined length of detonating cord, several pieces of blasting caps, assorted medical supplies and paraphernalia, pile of foodstuffs and personal belongings.

    The NPA members reportedly belonged to the Nona del Rosario Command of the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee.

    One soldier was wounded in the gun battle that lasted for about an hour, the Army reported.

    Lt Col Nicolas J Quemado Jr, 54th IB commander, appealed to the rebels to let their wounded comrades be treated army doctors.

    “We are appealing to the rebels to help us help their wounded comrades. They can tap the soldiers or leave their wounded members in the community for them to be evacuated by helicopters. Our differences should not stop us from helping each other, after all, we are all Filipinos. ”Quemado added.

    http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/161487039376/government-troops-overrun-suspected-npa-camp-in-ifugao

    Soldiers work for peace, economic growth

    From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 14): Soldiers work for peace, economic growth

    Soldiers are closely working with the various stakeholders toward peace, security and inclusive economic growth.
    Public Affairs Spokesperson Lt. Col. Ericson Rosana of the 3rd Infantry Division, Philippine Army disclosed that all activities are geared towards the normalization in the provinces in Western Visayas and Negros Island Region, specifically in Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.


    Recently, a three-day mission planning was held and attended by the 3ID commanders and their staff with some selected stakeholders from the Philippine National Police, Local Government Units, government agencies and non government organizations from Western and Central Visayas and NIR.

    Rosana said that the campaign focused on creating a more secure and stable environment in areas affected by the New People’s Army (NPA), support to law enforcement operations particularly in the drive against illegal drugs, anti-terrorism and violent extremists.

    The three-year plan covering the period 2017 to 2019 likewise crafts programs and activities in support to the LGUs and other agencies in delivering the basic services and development programs in the conflict-affected areas.

    “We are banking on a people-oriented, whole-of-nation approach in the crafting and implementation of this plan,” Rosana said, stressing that the campaign will be utilizing the various strategies that are people-centered and human security approach in partnership with the multi-sectors in the society.

    He said that the people’s welfare including the respect for human rights will always be on top of their every program and operation particularly in promoting local security and safety based on the needs and realities of communities on the ground.

    In the delivery of public service and performance of their duties as government soldiers, Rosana said that they are guided by their Army Transformation Roadmap which is a reform initiative to professionalize the 3ID personnel to become more credible, reliable and responsive to their mandate of securing the regions and protecting the people.

    http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/991487057237/soldiers-work-for-peace-economic-growth

    Palace welcomes the NPA's decision to declare a unilateral ceasefire in quake-affected areas

    From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 14): Palace welcomes the NPA's decision to declare a unilateral ceasefire in quake-affected areas

    Communications Secretary Martin Andanar welcomed the decision of the NPA to declare a unilateral ceasefire in the earthquake-stricken areas.

    "We are glad that the NPA heeded the call of the military for a ceasefire in earthquake-affected areas. We welcome their declaration and hope they do not renege on it as they have previously done," Secretary Andanar said in an official statement.

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is presently conducting damage assessment and rescue, evacuation and rehabilitation activities. These should be continuous and remain unhampered so we can deliver immediate aid to the victims of this natural calamity, the statement added.

    The Government and its forces lean forward to provide the fastest and most expeditious assistance our suffering citizens in Surigao need at this time and distractions from criminal activities by armed groups would not be in their best interest.

    "Sa panahong ito kailangan magkaisa ang sambayanang Pilipino," Secretary Andanar concluded. 

    http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/1141486993955/palace-welcomes-the-npa-s-decision-to-declare-a-unilateral-ceasefire-in-quake-affected-areas

    Gov’t troops arrest top Sorsogon rebel leader

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): Gov’t troops arrest top Sorsogon rebel leader

    A ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) in Sorsogon was arrested by government troops as attempts to end the decades-old insurgency through peace talks failed.

    Senior Supt. Ronaldo Cabral, director of the Sorsogon Provincial Police Office (PPO) in an interview Monday, said Emmanuel Alindogan More alias “Ka Cris,” 53, was nabbed by joint operatives of Sorsogon PPO and 31st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in Barangay Tughan, Juban at around 1:50 p.m. on Sunday.

    “More is currently the secretary and finance officer of Larangan 1 of CPP-NPA-NDF operating in the province, particularly in Sorsogon City, Barcelona, Casiguran, Gubat, and Prieto-Diaz,” he said.

    Cabral, however, did not state the circumstances surrounding the arrest, whether the rebel leader resisted or gave up peacefully.

    More’s arrest, by virtue of a warrant issued by Judge Victor C. Gella, Regional Trial Court Branch 52, Sorsogon City for attempted murder under Criminal Case No. 2007-6945, occurred just a day after the rebel group officially terminated its unilateral ceasefire following the withdrawal of the government peace panel from the peace talks.

    The government had earlier formally served notice to the CPP-NPA-NDF peace panel on the official termination of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee or JASIG.

    Cabral added that earlier during the week, two armed clashes between the government and rebel forces had occurred in Sorsogon within a span of only four days.

    NPA rebels and Army troopers clashed at Sitio Burabod, Barangay Trece Martirez, Casiguran town on February 6 while another encounter occurred at Barangay Tula-Tula Norte, Magallanes in the morning of February 10.

    Two army personnel were reported injured in the Casiguran clash but none was reported in the encounter in Magallanes.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=963597

    NPA rebel surrenders to military in Surigao

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): NPA rebel surrenders to military in Surigao 

    A 23-year-old fighter of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the military in Surigao Del Sur Sunday, the military said Monday.

    Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the army’s Fourth Infantry Division (4ID), did not divulge the identity of the surrender who turned over an M-16 assault rifle with one fully loaded magazine.

    He said that Ltc Randolph Rojas, 36IB Commanding Officer, welcomed the surrender Sunday night at the 36IB command with an assurance that the rebel returnee could enjoy all benefits intended for him.

    Martinez said that the surrender was a member of the Manobo tribal group from San Miguel, Surigao Del Sur, who expressed frustration over the futility of the insurgency struggle.

    “Just like his other comrades who also made the same decision earlier, we will facilitate the benefits based from the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) of the Provincial Government of Surigao Del Sur,” Martinez said.

    He said that the program was designed to help all members of the NPA who may wish to return to the mainstream society and start a new and peaceful life with their family.

    According to Martinez, the NPA records showed that the NPA regular members in the 4ID area of responsibility, which covers Northern Mindanao and Caraga Regions, are Indigenous Peoples (IPs).

    In reaction to the latest surrender, Maj. Gen Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr., 4ID Commander, urged all tribal leaders and IP communities, the peace-loving people of Mindanao, and all Human Rights Advocates, to ask the NPAs to put an end to all atrocities and heed the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for unity and nation healing.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=963639

    Military says NPA forcing IPs to extort

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): Military says NPA forcing IPs to extort

    The military on Monday accused the New People’s Army (NPA) of forcing the indigenous peoples (IP) to extort in the hinterlands of Northern Mindanao.

    Maj. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, Jr., commander of the army’s Fourth Infantry Division (4ID) based in Cagayan De Oro City, made the statement as the IP groups accused the government of committing “ethnocide” against leaders of the IP communities.

    In a text message sent to reporters, Madrigal accused the NPA of arming the Lumads and forcing them to join in the extortion operations of the communist insurgents.

    “We are still saddened by the grave violation of the NPA leaders on the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) Law, human rights and international humanitarian law when they continue to arm the IP exploits the tribal communities and force them to join the extortion activities,” Madrigal said.

    During the press conference Monday, Jomorito Goaynon, the chair of the Kalumbay, an IP group, said that IP leaders who are actively demanding possession and assertion of ancestral lands are killed.

    “The tribal leaders who are demanding for the ancestral lands are killed on charges that they are NPA rebels, which made them vulnerable to violent reprisals like assassinations, strafing, and physical, harassment,” Goaynon said.

    He cited the February 3 killing of local Lumad leader Renato Anglao in Botong, Quezon, Bukidnon as an example.

    Goaynon said that up until his death, Anglao had been actively campaigning for the Manobo-Pulanginons’ ancestral domain in his village, which is currently being used as a pineapple plantation.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=963638

    Troops drop 4,000 surrender leaflets for NPA rebels in Sarangani

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): Troops drop 4,000 surrender leaflets for NPA rebels in Sarangani

    Army troopers dropped some 4,000 leaflets on Monday over Sarangani Province urging the surrender of New People’s Army rebels operating in the area.

    Lt. Col. Marion Angcao, commanding officer of the Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion, said they dropped the leaflets aboard a Philippine Air Force UH-1 or Huey chopper while delivering relief goods to evacuees in a remote village in Alabel town in Sarangani.

    More than 100 individuals evacuated last week following clashes between troops and the NPA’s Front 71 in parts of Barangay Datal Anggas in Alabel.

    Eight alleged NPA rebels were captured while another has surrendered as a result of the operations.

    Angcao said the dropping of the leaflets is part of the strategies adopted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in line with the implementation of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).
    “This is aimed to promote peace and encourage the surrender of NPA rebels based in Sarangani,” he said in a press conference.

    Each leaflet carried the phrase “Manag-uban Kita sa Tul-id nga Dalan (Let’s join together in the straight path)” on one side.

    The other side details pictures of firearms and monetary benefits that may be availed by the surrenderers.

    Under the CLIP, Angcao said each rebel returnee is entitled of support assistance amounting to PHP65,000.

    If they yield along with their firearm, he said they could get additional compensation.

    “More or less, a returnee could receive about PHP100,000. That’s for livelihood assistance,” he said.

    CLIP reintegrates former rebels into the social mainstream and uplifts their socio-economic conditions to enable them to become active partners in the local development.

    The program also seeks to contribute in the achievement of the goal of permanent peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state armed groups.

    Col. Tyne BaƱas, commanding officer of the Army’s 1002nd Brigade, urged NPA rebels in the area to surrender and avail of the government’s reintegration program.

    “Now is the time to turn your backs from the violent means of your cause. Join us and we’ll talk about these needed reforms,” he added.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=963785

    PNP Region 8 on alert for possible rebel attacks

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): PNP Region 8 on alert for possible rebel attacks

    The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Eastern Visayas has raised alert over possible attacks of New People’s Army (NPA) in town centers after the termination of unilateral ceasefire between the government and communist rebels.

    “We have strengthened forces of different police stations by augmenting them with personnel from the Police Public Safety Company and the support system from the Philippine Army,” said PNP Eastern Visayas Regional Director Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar.

    Beltejar feared that the recent clash in the mountains of Albuera between soldiers and rebels groups may also happen in populated areas.

    “With our army counterpart operating in hinterlands, we will fortify our police stations against possible attacks. We have prepared for that by all means,” Beltejar told reporters.

    The police regional chief ordered policemen to fight back if their police stations will be raided by rebel groups.

    “I always remind them to always carry their guns and by all means defend their police stations,” Beltejar said, citing an in incident last year when NPA rebels raided the police station of Balangkayan, Eastern Samar and took 17 firearms.

    Col. Francisco Mendoza, Army 802nd brigade commander said police stations and military camps are targets of rebel attacks in Leyte province.

    The army official believes that armed rebels are not capable to launch massive attacks but their sporadic force may still conduct raids on vital facilities of law enforcement groups.

    On Feb. 10, Army 8th Infantry Division Commander Major General Raul Farnacio announced the resumption of military combat operations against NPAs in Eastern Visayas.

    “The 8th Infantry Division will pursue its combat operations as per guidance by our Commander-in-Chief to stop the violent atrocities being perpetrated by the NPA. In the conduct of offensive operations against this terrorist group, rest assured that the militaries will strongly adhere to our sworn duty of serving and securing the people against all threats and instilling among our troops the respect for human rights, rule of law and international humanitarian law,” the statement said.

    The military official also solicits support from communities on the campaign against rebels and terrorist groups to pursue and achieve the lasting peace in the region.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=963790

    Top Army field commander in Bicol extends hand of peace to NPA rebs

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): Top Army field commander in Bicol extends hand of peace to NPA rebs

    A top official of the 903rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army said Tuesday that even if they are on full military operation following termination of the ceasefire agreements between the government and the communist rebels early this month, they are encouraging the New People’s Army to return to the mainstream of society.
    Col. Fernando Trinidad, commanding officer of the 903 Infantry Brigade under the 9th Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army based here in Barangay Sagurong, Pili, Camarines Sur, extended the hand of peace to the NPA as he expressed sympathy to the bereaved families of the four still unidentified rebels killed in an encounter in Barangay Pangle, Aroroy, Masbate on Monday morning.

    He said even that even if the Army is in full military operation, they encourage the communist guerrillas “to avail of the government’s programs for the NPA surrenderees.”

    The clash in Barangay Pangle, which also resulted in the recovery of assorted firearms, including two M14 rifles, two M16 rifles, one M203 grenade launcher and one improvised explosive device, was the second to occur in Aroroy town this month.

    On February 6, Cpl. Mark Alfred Repol of the 93rd Division Reconnaisance Company was reported by police authorities in the province as wounded in an encounter at 1:40 p.m. in Barangay Amotag, 21 kilometers away from the poblacion of Aroroy.

    In Sorsogon province, however, top police authorities scored gains in the government’s anti-insurgency campaign with the arrest of Emmanuel Alindogan More alias “Ka Cris,” 53.

    According to Senior Supt. Ronaldo Cabral, director of the Sorsogon Provincial Police Office (PPO) Alindogogan was nabbed by joint operatives of Sorsogon PPO and 31st Infantry Battalion in Barangay Tughan, Juban at 1:50 p.m. on Sunday.

    Cabral alleged that Alindogogan is the secretary and finance officer of Larangan 1 of CPP-NPA-NDF operating in the province, particularly in Sorsogon City, Barcelona, Casiguran, Gubat, and Prieto-Diaz.

    On February 8, Nida Barcenas, secretary-general of Karapatan-Bicol, in an interview, said they expect busy days ahead documenting and conducting more fact-finding missions should the fighting between the government’s security forces and the NPA escalate.

    She said in a recent fact-finding mission, she described as “intense” the alleged violations committed by the military in the towns of Dimasalang and Cawayan in Masbate.

    “The villagers experienced interrogation from the military which made them flee their homes and camp out at the municipal halls for one week,” Barcenas.

    She said the fact-finding mission in Masbate was witnessed by Renante Gamara, a consultant of the NDF consultant who attended the first and second round of peace talks between the government and CPP-NDFP panels in the Netherlands and in Rome in the past months.

    Barcenas said they were able to hold a dialogue with the local chief executives of Dimasalang and Cawayan before the villagers were allowed to return to their homes.

    She said at present, there are 37 political detainees in the Bicol region because of suspicions they are NPA supporters or members of the communist rebel movement.

    Barcenas said the 37 were charged in court with criminal offenses ranging from illegal possession of firearms to murder.

    President Rodrigo Duterte, who initially promised to release all political detainees before the start of the peace talks last year, recently said he could not release some 400 political detainees because of opposition from the military and police.

    Maj. Gen. Manolito Orense, commanding officer of the 9th ID, said the "Spear troopers" will relentlessly go after the NPA to ensure the safety and security of the Bicolanos.

    "Every Bicolano is assured of our full commitment in imposing the law against these people continuously committing crimes against the public," Orense added.

    The Southern Luzon Command under Lt. Gen. Ferdinand Quibilla, in a statement, said the military favors localized peace talks at the grassroots level and encourages the NPA to stop resorting to violent means by attacking civilians.

    President Duterte terminated the government’s ceasefire agreement with the CPP and NPA, its armed wing, on Feb. 3 after the NPA announced lifting of its unilateral ceasefire with the government on Feb. 1.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=963855

    Palafox is new PA CMO assistant chief-of-staff

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): Palafox is new PA CMO assistant chief-of-staff

    Col. Facundo O. Palafox IV was appointed the new assistant chief-of-staff of the Philippine Army (PA)'s Civil Military Operations (G-7) Monday morning

    He replaced Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Jr. who was appointed to command of the 202nd Infantry Brigade based in Southern Tagalog.

    Brig. Gen. Rodel Mauro Alarcon, PA acting chief-of-staff presided the change-of-office ceremony in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City

    Palafox is the former deputy and executive officer of the G7 prior to his new position.

    He also served as 2nd Cavalry Squadron squadron commander and Armor School commandant.

    Both units are under the Mechanized Infantry Division based in Capas, Tarlac.

    A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1990, Palafox also holds a Master’s degree in Public Management major in Development and Security from the Development Academy of the Philippines.

    Meanwhile, Burgos replaced Col. Glorivine Dida as commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade who was appointed assistant division commander of the 2nd Infantry Division.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=963772

    Planes, helis, naval craft help in Surigao City quake relief efforts

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): Planes, helis, naval craft help in Surigao City quake relief efforts

    Assorted aircraft, helicopters and naval craft of the military are now helping in the ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) efforts in quake-ravaged Surigao City.

    These include three to four gunboats assigned to Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM), Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said in a message to the PNA.

    "As of now (these) gunboats are now working with the Office of Civil Defense and Provincial Risk Response and Management Council about their respective deployment," he added.

    "The PN is always ready to perform HADR operations to help and alleviate the condition of the victims brought by the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that hit Surigao (City)," Lincuna pointed out.

    Meanwhile, Philippine Air Force (PAF) assets deployed for the Surigao City quake relief efforts include all available Lockheed C-130 cargo planes of the 220th Airlift Wing, of which there five, six W-3A "Sokol" rescue helicopters and assorted UH-IH "Huey" combat utility helicopters in the CARAGA region.

    PAF spokesperson Col. Antonio Francisco said these air assets are helping in the transport of relief and medical goods in Surigao City and other quake-ravaged areas.

    As of this posting, the tremor which struck Surigao City 10:03 p.m. Friday has so far killed eight people and wounded 202 others, aside from causing infrastructure damage initially placed at PHP108. 45 million.

    Damaged houses were placed at 1,034, with 155 severely damaged by the earthquake.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=963765

    BI blocks entry of alleged Al Qaeda man at NAIA

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): BI blocks entry of alleged Al Qaeda man at NAIA

    A suspected member of the Al Qaeda terrorist group was denied entry to the country by Bureau of Immigration (BI) authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

    BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said Muhammad Arif, 43, a Pakistani national was intercepted on Saturday at the NAIA 1 terminal upon his arrival aboard a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok.

    He explained that the foreigner was denied entry upon confirming that he is in the BI database of blacklisted aliens and suspected foreign terrorists and in the Interpol’s database of “Al Qaeda Sanction List” of individuals.

    Arif was immediately turned back and booked on the first available flight to his point of origin.

    "We were informed that his purpose in coming here was doubtful because he could not pinpoint the places that he wanted to visit. He also could not tell why he was traveling alone,” Morente said.

    The BI chief added, “Our immigration officers had no choice but to exclude him for posing a threat to our national security and risk to public safety.”

    At the same time, the BI database showed the Pakistani was the subject of a blacklist order issued by then BI chief Ricardo David Jr. in Sept. 2011, also for being an alleged Al Qaeda member.

    During the interview with immigration supervisor, Arif claimed he owns the Dawn pharmaceuticals store in Islamabad and is a distributor of Novartis Pharmaceutical Company.

    He added that he intends to have a vacation in the Philippines and will stay for four days at the Malayan Plaza Hotel in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

    Immigration authorities also noticed a resemblance between the passenger’s passport picture and the photographs of a Muhammad Arif stored in the Interpol database.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=963823

    AFP willing to partner with NPA in delivering relief aid to quake victims

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): AFP willing to partner with NPA in delivering relief aid to quake victims

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is more than willing to partner with the rebels in the delivery of relief goods and services to Filipinos severely affected by the magnitude 6.7 earthquake in Surigao City and nearby provinces.

    This was stressed by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo in an interview Tuesday.

    He said this announcement serves as an invitation to New People's Army (NPA) forces who earlier declared a unilateral ceasefire in Surigao Del Norte and Agusan Del Norte to facilitate the relief efforts of the government.

    "This is an open invitation to show to the people that if for a good cause, if it is to benefit our people we can work together," Arevalo added in Filipino.

    The AFP, he stressed, is willing to cooperate with groups or organizations, who can bring peace, order, and prosperity to the nation.

    "(Should NPA accept the invitation to help in relief efforts), there will be no restriction on how long these activities can be done. But we hope that they will join us, they can tell us, and probably we could make arrangements for them," Arevalo said.

    Last Sunday, the Regional Command of the New People’s Army in North Eastern Mindanao Region (ROC-NPA-NEMR) declared a unilateral ceasefire in Surigao Del Norte and the municipalities of Cabadbaran, Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte.

    "This temporary ceasefire in areas covered by NPA Front 16, which started last Feb. 11, 2017 and will end at 11:55 in the evening of February 20, 2017, is being declared because of the intensity 6.7 earthquake on the night of Feb. 10, 2017," said ROC-NPA-NEMR spokesperson Ka Ariel Montero.

    He added the ceasefire is declared to give NPA fighters in Front 16, all government agencies, including the police and the AFP, and non-government organizations, the opportunity to inspect the areas affected, especially the mountain areas, for damages resulting from the earthquake.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=963810

    Napolcom launches public assistance unit

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): Napolcom launches public assistance unit

    The National Police Commission (Napolcom) has launched a public assistance unit (PAU), under the Inspection, Monitoring and Investigation Service (IMIS), to respond to calls for emergencies or to report members of the Philippine National Police (PNP)
    .
    ACCORDING TO THE COMMISSION, THE UNIT WILL OPERATE 24 HOURS A DAY, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. IT WAS LAUNCHED LAST FEBRUARY 3.

    “THE PAU WAS CREATED TO MONITOR AND INVESTIGATE POLICE ANOMALIES/IRREGULARITIES IN LINE WITH THE COMMISSION’S THRUST TO ATTEND MORE PROMPTLY AND ACT EXPEDITIOUSLY ON ALL COMPLAINTS EMANATING FROM ALL MULTI-MEDIA PLATFORMS,” NAPOLCOM VICE CHAIRMAN AND EXECUTIVE OFFICER ROGELIO CASURAO SAID.

    CASURAO EXPLAINED THAT REPORTS WILL BE INVESTIGATED WITHIN 24 HOURS.

    “THE COMMISSION IS AT THE FOREFRONT OF ITS CAMPAIGN IN PROFESSIONALIZING THE PNP. IF THE POLICE BECOME MORE AWARE THAT THE NAPOLCOM IS DISCHARGING ITS CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY MANDATES, DISCIPLINED MEMBERS WITHIN THE RANKS WILL INCREASE. EVENTUALLY, TIME WILL COME THAT WITHIN THEMSELVES, SELF-DISCIPLINE WILL PREVAIL, SERVING THE COMMUNITY BETTER IN THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE, PEACE AND SECURITY,” HE ADDED.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=964002

    Abu Sayyaf militants threaten to behead German man on Feb 26, demand RM2.6mil

    From The Star Online (Feb 14): Abu Sayyaf militants threaten to behead German man on Feb 26, demand RM2.6mil



    Islamist militants operating along the Philippines' porous southern borders with Malaysia have released a new video threatening to kill an elderly German hostage on Feb 26 if they are not paid 30 million pesos (RM2.6mil) in ransom.

    In the video released on Tuesday via the chat app Telegram, Juerguen Kantner, 70, can be seen speaking in German, apparently pleading for his life.

    A caption in the video said this was a "final ultimatum" from the militants holding Kantner, who was abducted last year.

    "If their demand of 30 million pesos is not met by Feb 26, at 3pm, they will behead the hostage and post it on social media," it read.

    Kantner was abducted by Abu Sayyaf militants while he and his wife Sabine Merz were cruising a dangerous area of the Philippines last year. His wife was killed, purportedly when she tried to fight back with a shotgun.

    The couple had been sailing the oceans for many years aboard their 53-footer, the Rockall. They were held for 52 days in Somalia in 2008 before their captors freed them, reportedly after a six-figure ransom had been paid.

    The Abu Sayyaf, an insurgent group known for kidnapping foreigners for ransom, has defied more than a decade of US-backed military offensives against it and has conducted a lucrative kidnapping spree in recent years.

    In 2014, the militants abducted another German couple off a yacht in the southern Philippines. They released the pair six months later after receiving what they said was the full ransom demand of US$5.1mil (RM22.68). - The Straits Times/Asia News Network

    http://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2017/02/14/abu-sayyaf-threatens-to-behead-german-man/

    Abu Sayyaf threatens to kill German hostage

    From Rappler (Feb 14): Abu Sayyaf threatens to kill German hostage

    (UPDATED) The Abu Sayyaf Group is reportedly asking for P30 million in ransom, based on a video   

    ABDUCTED. German nationals Juerguen Kantner and his wife Sabine Merz (R) pose for a photograph on May 5, 2009 in Berbera. File photo by Mustafa Abdi/AFP

    ABDUCTED. German nationals Juerguen Kantner and his wife Sabine Merz (R) pose for a photograph on May 5, 2009 in Berbera. File photo by Mustafa Abdi/AFP
     
    A German hostage of the Abu Sayyaf Group appeared in a new video to say that the local terrorist group threatened to kill him if ransom is not paid soon, according to a non-government counterterrorism organization.

    SITE Intelligence Group said the kidnap gang has given an ultimatum on the hostage, threatening to kill him in less than 2 weeks.
    Various news sites said the same, citing the release of a video, supposedly on chat app Telegram, showing 70-year-old Juerguen Kantner pleading for his life.

    He said in German that he will be executed in less than 2 weeks – 3 pm on February 26 – unless P30 million ($600,000) is paid, according to Singapore's Straits Times.

    The Philippine military deferred comment on the video. It still has to be validated, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office chief Colonel Edgard Arevalo.

    Arevalo said the military discourages payment of ransom and said they will do their best to rescue him. (READ: PH military keeps eye on ISIS-linked terror groups amid NPA clashes)

    "We will exert all efforts to rescue him, especially now that we have a continuing operation against the Abu Sayyaf Group. Our operations have been yielding good outcomes. We are still positive that we will be able to rescue him," he said.

    "We discourage payment of ransom because we believe it continues to embolden them. It continues to capacitate them. They can even buy the loyalty of the community," he added.

    Chief presidential peace adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza also appealed for the release of all hostages.

    "I will never stop appealing to the captors to spare the lives of those innocent victims for the sake of their families and loved ones," Dureza said. (READ: Lorenzana: Abu Sayyaf still holding 25 hostages)

    The video follows one that was released only last month to show that Kantner is alive.

    The military on November 7 last year reported finding Kantner's yacht, Rockall, adrift off the southern Philippines.

    The body of a woman with a bullet wound, later identified by the hostage as his partner, Sabine Merz, was found on board the vessel.

    The group also kidnapped a German couple in 2014. They were released after supposedly paying P250 million in ransom.

    Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016, the Abu Sayyaf has beheaded 2 Canadian hostages, after ransom payment deadlines lapsed.

    Upon Duterte's orders, the military has shifted its focus back to its counter-terrorism campaign.

    The Abu Sayyaf is a notorious kidnap-for-ransom gang based in the southern Philippines that has pledged allegiance to the international terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS).

    It is made of up several small armed bands based in the mainly Muslim southern islands of Basilan and Jolo, where they are also holding a Dutch and foreign crew members of several other vessels.

    It is blamed for the Philippines' deadliest bombing attacks as well as dozens of kidnappings-for-ransom.

    http://www.rappler.com/nation/161452-german-hostage-abu-sayyaf-video-ransom

    AFP discourages payment of ransom to ASG for release of German captive

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): AFP discourages payment of ransom to ASG for release of German captive

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is strongly discouraging the payment of ransom to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as videos of 70-year-old German captive, Juergen Kantner, urging his government to pay the bandit's PHP30 million ransom demand, were spread all over the Internet.

    Payment of the ransom will further embolden the terrorists and give them more funds to buy the loyalty of the communities they are hiding in, said AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo on Tuesday.

    In the same vein, he said the government does not pay ransom or negotiate with terrorists.

    Arevalo stressed the military will exert all efforts to rescue Kantner from his ASG captors.

    "We will exert all efforts to rescue him (Kantner), especially that we now have continuing operation against the ASG which has been yielding good outcomes, so we are still positive that we will be able to rescue him," he added.

    Kantner, in the video, said the bandits are threatening to behead him this coming Feb. 26, around 3 p.m. if the PHP30 million ransom are not paid before that date.

    Kantner was kidnapped by the ASG bandits while his yacht "Rockall" was cruising off Sulu waters last November.

    His companion, 56-year-old Sabine Mertz, was allegedly raped and killed by the bandits.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=964000

    Japan committed in helping PHL, 2 others in curbing piracy

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): Japan committed in helping PHL, 2 others in curbing piracy

    Japan has expressed its commitment to contribute in the efforts of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia to curb down piracy and kidnapping in the common maritime areas of the three nations.

    This was expressed by Japan Vice Minister for International Affairs Ro Manabe during the 5th Philippine-Japan Vice Ministerial Meeting held in Tokyo last Feb. 10.

    Representing the Philippine side was Defense Undersecretary for Defense Policy Ricardo David Jr.

    In the meeting, Matanabe assured the Philippines of Japan's support for its ASEAN chairmanship this year and reiterated Japan's intention to promote defense cooperation with other ASEAN member states.

    He added that Japan is ready to pursue deeper defense cooperation with the Philippines through exchanges and defense equipment transfer.

    Meanwhile, David acknowledged Japan's contribution to the capability upgrade of Philippine defense forces specifically the lease of 5 TC-90 aircraft for maritime surveillance, the first two to be delivered in late March.

    Japan likewise provides capacity building assistance particularly in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

    The robustness of Philippine-Japan defense is manifested through the increasing exchanges between the two defense ministries as well as service-to-service interactions.

    As Japan is interested to undertake exercises with the Philippines, David stressed the need for the two countries to conclude a status of visiting forces agreement.

    Prior to the meeting, the Japanese side briefed the Philippine delegation of the latest developments in the South China Sea which Japan has monitored, assuring the Philippines that Tokyo will continue to share with Manila timely information specifically violations of the rule of law, in reference to the decision issued by Permanent Court of Arbitration in July last year.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=963875

    PMAAAI adopts President Duterte as honorary member

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): PMAAAI adopts President Duterte as honorary member

    The Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association, Inc. (PMAAAI) has adopted President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as an honorary member.

    This was confirmed on Tuesday by PMAAAI chair (retired) Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Director General Anselmo Avenido Jr.

    ”(President) Duterte is an adopted member of PMA Class 1967 and during the parade, he will be formally adopted as an honorary member of the entire PMAAAI,” Avenido said in an ambush interview in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

    The parade will be held on Saturday (Feb. 18) at the PMA grounds in Fort del Pilar, Baguio City.

    ”During the parade, we will have the formal awarding of the 12 Cavalier Awardees for the Year,” Avenido said.

    The 12 awardees will be representing the 12 different categories ranging from command administration, to staff supervision to best in service operations.

    ”We also have awardees for public administration, business enterprise, special field, and contribution to alumni affairs,” Avenido said.

    ”We will also formally present to the President the manifesto of support of the association to his administration,” he added.

    Avenido noted that it is the tradition of the PMAAAI that whenever there is a new president, “we invite him to talk to the alumni and this is a very good chance for him to give his guidance to us cavaliers, the PMAers.”

    “We are fully behind him (Duterte) in his efforts to maintain peace and order in the country and his efforts towards the developments of the country,” he said.

    ”So on Feb. 18, we will formally present to him his certificate of membership,” he added.

    The PMAAAI has previously adopted former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; former Prime Minister Cesar Virata; former Vice President Jejomar Binay; former House Speakers Ramon Mitra and Manny Villar; former Chief Justice Reynato Puno; former Senators Robert Barbers, Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Orlando Mercado, Alberto Romulo, Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Miriam Defensor Santiago; Secretaries Carlos Romulo and Gilbert Teodoro; Washington Sycip; and Max Soliven.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=963867

    FVR to launch latest book Wednesday

    From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14): FVR to launch latest book Wednesday

    Former President Fidel V. Ramos will launch his latest book “FVR XYZ Files” at the RCBC Plaza in Makati City on Wednesday.

    In an interview, Ramos popularly known as FVR said his newest book is “an Anthology of Controversies &, Anecdotes & Trivia” about him all these years spanning over six decades, starting as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, as a soldier, as Philippine president and as a statesman and ordinary citizen.

    Ramos graduated from West Point, class 1950 and was commissioned as second lieutenant.

    Eighteen days after graduation, he, together with 114 newly graduated cadets volunteered for combat during the Korean War.

    It was in Korea where the young 2nd Lt. Ramos got his baptism of fire.

    As a member of the famed Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK), Ramos led a reinforcement reconnaissance patrol from the 20th Infantry tasked to capture the most crucial ground called Eerie Hill occupied by Chinese communist troopers.

    Eerie Hill’s landscape is like the plains of Central Luzon where the imposing Mount Arayat is located. Whoever occupies the strategic hill controls the roadways down the slopes and the connecting arterial roads spread over a mile and a half.

    Despite being at the disadvantaged point, Ramos and his men fought a bloody close quarter battle against the Chinese troopers.

    Before assaulting Eerie Hill, PEFTOK artillery pounded Chinese position. Seven United States F-86 Sabre fighter jets dropped bombs on Chinese position.

    As soon as the bombing stopped, Ramos led his troops in assaulting the hill where they were met with heavy resistance from some Chinese who stayed put.

    This triggered a fierce gun battle between Ramos’ group and the Chinese, but the Filipinos prevailed and captured the strategic Eerie Hill.

    After returning from Korea, Ramos was given various assignments in fighting the Huks in Luzon.

    Then he was assigned at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) before he was promoted and held various positions in the AFP as Constabulary chief and concurrent AFP vice chief of staff, later as AFP chief of staff and defense secretary.

    Gen. Ramos is highly remembered during the People Power revolution in February 1986 when he defected to the military rebels of then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan that toppled the 20-year strongman rule of President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

    It was during his military career, and later as the 12th President of the Republic of the Philippines that he had a vast experience in public service.

    Ramos has plenty of jokes in his pocket and always a cynosure in any occasion when he tells jokes to make everyone laugh.

    During his active duty, Ramos was always hands-on in his job. He always made it a point to visit his troops in far-flung areas in the country, particularly Sulu, Basilan, mainland Mindanao during the war in the 1970s and 1980s against the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF), and also in Eastern Visayas where the New People’s Army (NPA) had its headquarters.

    As President he continued his travel to various points in the country to feel the people’s pulse and especially during disasters, including terrorist attacks, particularly in Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur where the Abu Sayyaf burned the town.

    His new book “FVR XYZ Files will be a fascinating book for the public to read.

    http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=12&sid=&nid=12&rid=963883