Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Soldier slain, two others hurt in clash with NPAs

From the Manila Bulletin(Apr 12): Soldier slain, two others hurt in clash with NPAs

A soldier was killed while two other government troopers were wounded in an encounter between Army soldiers and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Cotabato Province on Monday afternoon.
Army Captain Alexander Cabales, spokesman of the 10th Infantry Division, said the encounter happened at Sitio Kimampang, Barangay Balite, Magpet, Cotabato Province, at about 5:10 p.m. Monday.

It was learned that troops from the 39th Infantry Battalion were scouring the area when it encountered more or less 40 armed men believed to be members of the Guerrilla 53, Southern Mindanao Regional Command.
Cabales said troops were moving toward their objective when it chanced upon by the enemy and resulted in the firefight, killing one soldier and wounding two others.

Immediately, the Mortar Section based at Temporan Civilian Armed Auxiliary (CAA) Detachment in Barangay Temporan, Magpet, Cotabato, provided indirect fire support and delivered four rounds of 81mm caliber to the enemy location.

Cabales said the firefight lasted for almost one hour, followed by sporadic exchange of gunfire that lasted until about 6:20 p.m. the same day.

The enemy then withdrew toward the southeast direction.

Westmincom: Intelligence sharing helped thwart Bohol terror threat

From the Philippine Star (Apr 11): Westmincom: Intelligence sharing helped thwart Bohol terror threat

Intelligence sharing from Western Mindanao Command led to the discovery of the supposed Abu Sayyaf kidnapping plot in Bohol.
Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of Westmincom, said that prior to the incident in Inabonga, Bohol on Tuesday, they had alerted the Central Command, the counterpart command in the central Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf plot.
Petinglay disclosed that military intelligence learned of the plot as a result of Westmincom's relentless tracking operations.
"So, we alerted Central Command. That’s why they raised the alert. We can not just ascertain the exact date as to when the Abu Sayyaf group will hatch their plot," Petinglay said.
According to Petinglay, Westmincom chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. also took noted past kidnappings in Sipadan, Malaysia and Dos Palmas in Palawan that the Abu Sayyaf also staged during the Easter holidays.
She said the Abu Sayyaf might have tried to abduct victims in Central Visayas because of the relentless operations in the south, including along the border of Malaysia and the Philippines.
"That’s why we are on alert during this Lent," Petinglay added.
On Sunday, the US Embassy issued a warning to American citizens of potential kidnapping threats in Central Visayas. The Australian Embassy did the same on Monday.
'Boholanos defended themselves'
AFP Central Command and Police Regional Office 7, both based in Cebu, said Tuesday that a joint operation was launched Tuesday morning "against the suspected members of Abu Sayaff Group who reportedly entered the Visayas region by boat."
Security forces said five gunmen were killed in the firefight, which began at around 5:20 a.m. However, three soldiers and a police officer were also killed. 
"Clearing operations" were ongoing Tuesday afternoon.
The AFP and PNP commended the local governments of Bohol for making "a brave stand to defend themselves against the threat of terrorism."
They said government security forces "simply reinforced the vigilance of the Boholanos, who organized themselves into a strong force to keep the province safe from any threat group."

Voiding of passport to hasten deportation of Kuwaiti 'ISIS member' -- BI

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): Voiding of passport to hasten deportation of Kuwaiti 'ISIS member' -- BI

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said the deportation of Hussein Al-Dhafiri, an alleged member of terrorist group Islamic State Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), would be faster following the cancellation of his passport.

BI Spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang said they have received a confirmation from the Kuwaiti Embassy regarding the revocation of the suspect's passport.

She explained that the cancellation of a foreigner's passport by the issuing country, is one of the grounds for summary deportation.

"The bureau's board of commissioners can issue a summary deportation order because he is an undocumented alien," she said.

Under the BI’s regulation, summary deportation proceedings only apply to foreigners who are either overstaying, improperly documented or undocumented, or a fugitive from justice.

Mangrobang added that they are looking to deport Al-Dhafiri within the month.

"That is a possibility," the BI official said.

She noted that the working visa of Kuwaiti which is valid for three years, is now invalid since his passport has been cancelled.

"Kung cancelled na passport niya wala na 'yun visa niya. The visa is valid but the passport the document kung saan nakaattached 'yung visa niya wala ng bisa, wala na effect because he is already an undocumented foreigner," Mangrobang said.

She added that the Kuwaiti government have reiterated its request for the immediate deportation of Al-Dhafiri, who is also facing charges in his home country.

Al-Dhafiri was arrested last month in Taguig City with Rahaf Zina, a female Syrian national.

As for the female foreigner, who is also awaiting deportation, Mangrobang said they will be coordinating with the Syrian Consulate General in the country.


BI orders deportation of Syrian national

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): BI orders deportation of Syrian national

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has ordered the deportation of Rahman Zina, one of the suspected members of terrorist group Islamic State Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who was arrested in Taguig City last March 25.

In a summary deportation order signed by the three-man board of commissioners headed by BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, it has directed to deport Zina to Syria.

"Wherefore, finding the charge to be sufficient and well substantiated, we hereby order the deportation of Rahaf Zina (Rahaf) to Syria, subject to the submission of her National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance," said the order which was also signed by Deputy Commissioners Estanislao Canta and Jose Carlito Licas, who are also members of the board.

The order has also included the Syrian's name in the bureau's blacklist as undocumented/undesirable.

"Respondent's presence in the country poses risk to public interest," the summary deportation order added.

No schedule has been set yet for her deportation.

Zina, together with a Kuwaiti national Husayn Al-Dhafiri, were apprehended in Bonifacio Global City last month by the BI Fugitive Search Unit in coordination with Intelligence and Security Unit-Intelligence Security Group, Philippine Army and Intelligence Group Philippine National Police.


(5th Update) Military, police prepare to neutralize remaining bandits in Bohol

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): (5th Update) Military, police prepare to neutralize remaining bandits in Bohol

Government forces are now preparing for a possible assault to finish off or neutralize the suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels who are believed to be holed out in a house in the interior sub-village of Sitio Ibaya, Barangay Napo in Inabanga town, Bohol.

In a telephone interview with Lt. Col. Dodie Belloga, commander of the 47th IB, late Tuesday afternoon, he disclosed that right now, efforts are being made to retrieve two of his men who were killed in action from the site of the clashes.

Meanwhile, the third soldier and the police officer who were also killed during the first volley of gunfire early Tuesday could not yet be removed from the site as they are in the proximity of the house where the suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits are holed in.

Unfolding events throughout the day revealed that hundreds of civilians were evacuated to safer ground, in coordination with local officials and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as the government troops prepare to launch assault during the night.

The motorboats that the rebels used in going to Bohol were also destroyed by the government forces.

Media reports vary on the number of casualties on the side of the armed group, some saying there were at least 11 killed, but the 47th IB commander said he based his report on body count, or the retrieval of five bodies of dead armed men.

Lt. Col. Belloga also denied reports that a military chopper was shot down by the rebels.

He said the choppers are being used for troop insertion and delivery of provisions.

Augmentation forces have arrived and they have now contained/cordoned the area where the rebels are.

A military tank has been deployed to the encounter site while air support is on standby.

Belloga said that before the night is over, he is hoping that the joint police and military operations would result in the capture or neutralization of the suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels.


Fifteen killed as Philippine forces and Abu Sayyaf militants clash in Bohol

From the Gulf News (Apr 11): Fifteen killed as Philippine forces and Abu Sayyaf militants clash in Bohol

11 bodies of the Daesh-linked group recovered during a little lull in the firefight

Police and soldiers take position as they engage with the Abu Sayyaf group in the village of Napo, Inabanga to

The area in Bohol, central Philippines, where a firefight with Daesh-linked Abu Sayyaf erupted on Tuesday.

Three armymen, one policeman and 11 members of the Daesh-linked Abu Sayyaf group, were reportedly killed in clashes in Bohol, central Philippines, on Tuesday.

Members of the 47th Infantry Battalion, Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO), the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) and the regional Philippine National Police (PNP) clashed with members of the Abu Sayyaf group at So Ilaya, Napo Village, Inabanga mountain town in Bohol province, at 3 early in the morning, according to Senior Police Officer Edwin Melicor of Inabanga Police Station, in a report that reached PNP headquarters in Metro Manila’s suburban Quezon City.Abu Sayyaf group has been waging a terror and kidnap-for-ransom campaign for the last 19-years, but mostly in southern Philippines on the island of Mindanao. Residents' tip-off The Bohol incident is one of a few attempts by Abu Sayyaf group to carry out a bold snatch-cart-away attack in central Philippines.

Residents reported to the police on Monday the presence of 10 armed men on board three strange-looking pump boats (an outrigger canoe) along the river of So Ilaya, Melicor said.Emerging from their boats, the armed men occupied three houses near the river where they remained trapped, said PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa. Bodies recoveredSoldiers and policemen recovered 11 bodies of the group during a little lull in the firefight, said Dela Rosa, adding that four high-powered firearms, including three M16s and one M15 and a sack with improvised explosive devices were seized from them.There is no clearing operation yet, dela Rosa said.Additional forces from the Army, Air Force and the Navy were sent at the national highway away from where the military and policemen have been engaged in a firefight with the Abu Sayyaf at So Ilaya since 3am on Tuesday, said Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen Eduardo Año.“Clashes are ongoing,” Inabanga Mayor Roygie Jumamoy said.Several conflicting intelligence reports said that Abu Sayyaf members were seen at So Ilaya’s river at 10 Monday morning.Another report claimed that southern Zambales del Norte-based Abu Sayyaf subleader Abu Rami arrived at Inabanga town around 5pm Monday. Embassy warnings In a statement on its website on Sunday, the US Embassy warned it has “received unsubstantiated yet credible information that terrorist groups may attempt to conduct kidnappings in Central Visayas, which includes both Cebu and Bohol provinces”. The Australian Embassy issued a similar warning on Monday. At the time, Police chief De La Rosa assured So Ilaya’s residents, “Don’t be afraid. I am giving assurance that the police force in central Visayas is ready [to protect everyone there].”


FAST FACTS: Inabanga, Bohol: Abu Sayyaf eyeing new targets?

From ABS-CBN (Apr 11): FAST FACTS: Inabanga, Bohol: Abu Sayyaf eyeing new targets?

Government forces clashed Tuesday with suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the town of Inabanga in Bohol, just two days after the US Embassy warned its citizens about "unsubstantiated yet credible" reports of kidnappings in Central Visayas. 

Abu Sayyaf, a local terror group known for kidnapping foreigners in Mindanao, lost 5 members in the clash. Four government forces were killed.
Below are some facts about Inabanga:

Location: Northwestern coast of Bohol, 71 kilometers from the provincial capital of Tagbilaran City.

Major Industries: Farming, Mat-weaving, Fishing, Mat-weaving, Nipa Thach-making.

Tourist attractions: 
- Inabanga River, the largest river of Bohol
- Ilihan Falls
- Macavan Cave
- Inabanga Church
- Inabanga Nature Park and Fishing Village

Dialect: Boholano

Population: 43,291 as of 2016

Religion:Roman Catholic

Mayor: Josephine Jumamoy, Liberal Party

Vice Mayor: Ronie Jumanoy, Liberal Party

Number of barangays: 50

Income classification: 3rd Class

Average LGU annual income: P68 million

Number of Primary/Elementary Schools: around 20

Number of Secondary Schools: 5

Number of Higher Education Institutions: None

Number of Hospital:    None

Number of Municipal Health Center:    None

Local history: 

According to folklore, the town's Inabanga River was once infested with crocodiles, which killed at least one person every year.

The townsfolk believed that the yearly loss of life was a rental (abang) for the use of the river, hence the name Inabangan River or "Rented River."

Spanish colonizers, who had difficulty in pronouncing "Inabangan," called the town "Inabanga."

Inabanga is the hometown of Francisco Dagohoy, a Boholano hero who led the longest Philippine revolutionary movement against the Spaniards.


Abu Sayyaf attacks tourist province of Bohol

From Business World (Apr 12): Abu Sayyaf attacks tourist province of Bohol

NINE PEOPLE as of this reporting, including four members of Philippine security forces, were killed Tuesday in clashes with 10 suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf terror group on the resort island-province of Bohol, authorities said.

Tourists flock to Bohol for its white-sand beaches, like the ones found in Panglao island.

The incursion would be the first on a key Philippine tourist destination in recent years by the group which pledges allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) and often targets foreigners in the lawless southern Mindanao region.

Five gunmen were killed, and four assault rifles and an improvised explosive device were recovered in the fighting, officials said.

The incident took place in a remote area, with local officials saying the bandits had used fast boats to reach a village where they squared off against security forces who went to investigate.

US and Australian embassies had warned their citizens this week about possible kidnappings by “terrorist groups” specifically on Bohol and Cebu islands.

Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte himself had been warning of terror threats in the country, although this concern was low in the public radar, according to a poll this week.

Also on Tuesday, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) ordered the deportation of nabbed Syrian national Rahaf Zina, who is believed to have links with IS. Ms. Zina and Kuwaiti national Hussein Aldhafiri were arrested by Philippine authorities in an operation last March 25.

The military’s spokesman, Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, said security forces have been on alert for “potential activity on the part of some lawless elements” during the peak Easter tourist season.

“Our forces who were acting on this information were able to engage these lawless armed groups that are believed to be part of the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) from Mindanao,” he said on ABS-CBN television.

Bohol is a mere 30 minutes’ boat ride away from the major port of Cebu on Cebu island, which is also among the country’s top tourist draws. The attack came as millions of Filipinos head to resort locations for the holidays.

Bohol is famous among foreign tourists who swim with docile whale sharks and marvel at tiny primates called tarsiers, go on cruises aboard boats on crystal-clear rivers and lounge on its beaches.


Three soldiers and one policeman were killed in the fighting, according to a joint statement of the region’s military and police.

“Security forces reported that the armed group is well-armed with heavy-caliber weapons, but now cornered in an isolated section” of Bohol, military chief of staff General Eduardo Año said.

“The clearing operations are ongoing and we are pouring in more forces to help and assist. We hope to finish this by the end of the day,” Mr. Padilla, the military spokesman, added.

The gunmen sailed into the Bohol town of Inabanga on Monday, going upriver toward a remote section of the island aboard three fast boats, Inabanga police officer Edwin Melicor told AFP by telephone.

Residents told police the type of boats were used only in Mindanao -- where the Abu Sayyaf is based.

A clash broke out as police went to investigate early Tuesday, Mr. Melicor added. The military later poured in reinforcements.

Bohol provincial governor Edgar Chatto said the fighting was isolated in one village outside Inabanga, which he described as a farming and fishing community.

An unspecified number of residents had already fled to safety in nearby areas, he added.

“I am very disappointed that these elements coming out of nowhere are trying to destroy the lives of people living in peace,” Mr. Chatto told AFP.

Over the past year the Abu Sayyaf has been expanding its activities, boarding commercial and fishing vessels off their southern island stronghold of Jolo, near Malaysia, and abducting dozens of foreign crew members.

They beheaded a German tourist earlier this year and two Canadian tourists last year, all three of them having been seized at sea.

“This is a dangerous development,” Herman Joseph S. Kraft, University of the Philippines associate professor for political science, said in a text message when sought for comment about the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol.

“On one hand it shows how badly AFP ops (Armed Forces of the Philippines operations) are pressuring them in their stronghold that they are expanding the scope of their operations to try to ease the pressure,” Mr. Kraft said. He also warned that the Abu Sayyaf might engage in terror attacks, going beyond their usual “guerrilla tactics.”

“On the other hand it means that ASG might expand their operations beyond guerilla tactics and engage in acts of terror such as attacking population centers elsewhere in the [P]hilippines,” Mr. Kraft said.

As of last Monday, before the attack in Bohol, at least three members of the Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) were killed and 11 others wounded following an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sumisip, Basilan province.

A statement by the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) late Monday said personnel of the 4th Special Forces Battalion had encountered the terrorists while they were conducting a security patrol in the said area early that day.

Lt. Gen. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., Wesmincom Commander, said: “Our engaged troops have recently established a detachment in Barangay Cabcaban, in the Municipality of Sumisip, in response to the call of the local government... to secure the area....”

“This incident will not stop us from doing our mandate, in order to free the community from the terror these bandits are causing the people,” Mr. Galvez also said.


LOOK: PNP releases photo of Abu Rami

From ABS-CBN (Apr 11): LOOK: PNP releases photo of Abu Rami


The Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Regional Office 7 on Tuesday released a photo of Abu Sayyaf leader Muamar Askali, alias Abu Rami, who was tagged as the leader of the group which clashed with government forces in Barangay Napo in Inabanga, Bohol Tuesday.

As of 2:00 p.m., a policeman and three soldiers have been killed while 5 bodies of armed men have been recovered in Inabanga town, the Armed Forces of the Philippines told ABS-CBN News.
The firefight, which began at 5 a.m., was still ongoing in some areas of in the sitio, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in an interview with ANC's News Now.


Army alert up vs. terror threat: Aying

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 11): Army alert up vs. terror threat: Aying

Brig. Gen. Jon Aying, 3rd Infantry Division commander, yesterday said Army troops under his command have been directed to strengthen security measures amid intelligence reports of terror threats in Central Visayas.

The US Embassy in Manila has issued an advisory to its citizens to avoid visiting the region.

The 3ID command covers Negros Island Region, and Western and Central Visayas.

Army troops have been directed to coordinate with the Philippine National Police to step up security measures during Holy Week in churches where crowds are expected to converge, and to augment checkpoints, Aying said.

Aying said he has also directed Army battalion commanders to strengthen their coordination with the Navy, Philippine Coast Guard and Maritime Police for joint operations.

They have also been directed to meet with local government officials who are being asked to report the presence of new faces in their areas as a precaution, Aying said.

Brigade and battalion commanders have also been directed to conduct coastal operation to secure resorts and residences of foreigners, Aying said.

PNP chief, Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, in a press conference in Camp Crame, said the regional director of the Police Regional Office 7 informed him about the terror threats.

He assured though that the PNP has taken appropriate actions.


Lawmakers link alleged ISIS member to OFW medical service provider

From Rappler (Apr 11): Lawmakers link alleged ISIS member to OFW medical service provider

Lawmakers urge the Department of Justice to probe deeper into the operations of Winston Q8  

Lawmakers have linked a recently-arrested Kuwaiti national suspected to be a member of the Islamic State (ISIS), to a firm that once monopolized the provision of medical services to Kuwait-bound overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Several legislators called for a press conference on Tuesday, April 11, to remind OFWs to avoid availing of medical services from clinics associated with Winston Q8 Certification Solutions International Incorporated. They suspect the company is linked to alleged ISIS member Hussein Al-Dhafiri, who was nabbed by authorities a week ago.

They are Pangasinan 3rd District Representative Rosemarie Arenas, interparliamentary relations and diplomacy committee chairperson; Gabriela Women’s Party Emmi de Jesus; ANGKLA Representative Jesulito Manalo; and Kabayan Representative Harry Roque.

They said Al-Dhafiri shared the same name as the registered operations manager of Winston Q8.

“Ang raket po ng Winston Q8, ito po ay kumikita ng P5 million to P6 million daily dahil ang sinisingil niya, P5,480 na bukod pa sa ibabayad doon sa 8 clinics na mandatory mong pupuntahan kung gusto mong magtrabaho sa Kuwait (Winston Q8’s scheme leads it to earn P5 million to P6 million daily because they ask for P5,480 apart from the payment to be given to the 8 clinics that should be mandatorily visited if you want to work in Kuwait),” said Roque.

“At ‘yung balita nga po ngayon na itong si Husayn Al-Dhafiri na hinuli dahil siya ay diumano’y ISIS, siya po ay operations manager ng Winston Q8. Ang kanyang address po ay address ng Winston Q8. So apparently, hindi lang po sila naninikil at pinagsasamantalahan ang ating OFWs. Ngayon, diumano sila po ay miyembro rin ng ISIS,” added Roque. (And Husayn Al-Dhafiri, who is reportedly part of ISIS, is the operations manager of Winston Q8. His address is that of Winston Q8. So apparently, they’re not just abusing our OFWs. They are also alleged members of ISIS.)

The lawmakers also claimed Al-Dhafiri is the brother of Winston Q8 president Robandar Al-Dhafiri. They identified the other Winston Q8 officials as Ahmad Almutairi, treasurer; and Bienvenido Amora Jr, corporate secretary.

In mid-2016, a new system was introduced for Kuwait-bound OFWs in getting medical services for their visa application. Under the scheme, OFWs were only able to to get medical services through 8 accredited clinics in Metro Manila by Winston Q8. (READ: OFW rights groups decry Kuwait's new medical screening system)

The law, however, allows all aspiring OFWs to choose any medical testing center or clinic that is accredited by the Department of Health (DOH), not just by Winston Q8.

Winston Q8’s scheme then became the subject of a probe by the House committee on overseas workers affairs. Last month, the DOH ordered the closure of Winston Q8's 8 medical clinics.

Deeper Winston Q8 probe urged

Arenas is urging the Department of Justice to further look into Winston Q8’s operations in the Philippines.

“Kahit naipasara na namin [‘yung mga clinics], kailangang malaman ng ating mga OFW na ‘wag na silang pumunta diyan dahil napapadlock na namin ‘yan. Kaya nga ‘yung mga kababayan natin galing sa ibang baryo, hindi nila alam,” said Arenas. (Even if we managed to shut down the clinics, the OFWs need to know they shouldn’t visit them anymore because we have padlocked them. But we have countrymen coming from the barrios who don’t know about this.)

“Hindi namin alam na ‘yan naman pala, may ka-link-link na [sa ISIS]. Para namang nakakataka: Ano naman ang ginagawa ng ibang branch ng government? Kami naman ay mambabatas lang,” she added. (We didn’t realize they have links to ISIS. Now we’re wondering: What are the other branches of government doing? We are just lawmakers.)


FVR to Duterte: Americans are Filipinos’ ‘most sincere, patriotic allies’

From Rappler (Apr 11): FVR to Duterte: Americans are Filipinos’ ‘most sincere, patriotic allies’

During the commemoration of the Bataan Death March, former President Fidel Ramos emphasizes the need for PH to maintain its relations with other countries, particularly the US

REMEMBERING HEROES. Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos addresses participants of the Freedom March, the last leg of the 3-day trail that commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March. Photo by Jun A. Malig/Rappler

REMEMBERING HEROES. Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos addresses participants of the Freedom March, the last leg of the 3-day trail that commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March. Photo by Jun A. Malig/Rappler

TARLAC, Philippines – In time, President Rodrigo Duterte will realize the importance of Philippine-American relationship.

President Fidel Ramos expressed this hope on Tuesday, April 11, during the 10-kilometer “Freedom March” from the Bataan Death March Monument along MacArthur Highway to the Capas National Shrine in Cristo Rey village in Capas town here.

On the 3rd day of commemorating the Bataan Death March of 1941, Ramos led several hundred marchers, composed of local government officials and employees, contingents from the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard, boys and girl scouts, descendants of World War II veterans, and other participants.

“He (Duterte) may not know it, but I’m sure he will know it very quickly that the Americans have always been our most sincere, devoted, patriotic, and fearless allies in war and peace,” Ramos said to the loud applause of the audience.

In his speech, the former president said the public should not believe what they read and hear in the media about the coming end to Philippine-American relation under the current administration.

PH needs Int'l cooperation
Ramos emphasized the need for a country like the Philippines to maintain its diplomatic and socio-economic relations with other countries, particularly the United States.

“We must work towards closer cooperation among nations. The world is too dangerous if left to itself,” he said.

He added that threats to the environment and human health, like global warming and diseases, could be solved only through international cooperation.

Ramos said the world should not be divided by race, religion, or political ideology to achieve the numerous goals beneficial to the human race.

The former president said the surrender of some 80,000 death march victims in Bataan in 1941 was not the end of the war against the Japanese invaders. He said American and Filipino soldiers continued to fight the enemies through guerilla warfare.

He said the most successful guerilla movement in the country was initiated in Davao City, where an American mining engineer, Colonel Wendell Fertig of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East, was able to mobilize 30,000 members armed only with vintage guns, bolos, and knives.

“It was their bravery, their determination to fight the enemy, their desire to see the Philippines liberated once more that made them so successful,” he said.

Duterte should attend next time

Ramos also asked the Department of National Defense, through retired Lieutenant General Ernesto Carolina, administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, to invite Duterte to attend next year’s commemoration of the suffering and endurance of thousands of Filipino and American soldiers at the Capas National Shrine.
President Duterte is in the Middle East for official visits to 3 countries. He graced the commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan or Bataan Day over the weekend before leaving.

The 3-day Freedom Trail that started from the “Freedom Run” on April 9 and “Padyak para sa Kagitingan” on April 10, commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March.

Former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor, one of the organizers of the events, said they want to rekindle people’s memory about the heroes of World War II and to remember their sacrifices.


9 killed as gov't forces foil Abu Sayyaf attack in Bohol

From Rappler (Apr 11): 9 killed as gov't forces foil Abu Sayyaf attack in Bohol

(UPDATED) 3 soldiers, a cop, and at least 5 of the armed men are killed in clashes that started at 5 a.m. on Tuesday

(4th UPDATE) – The military and the police on Tuesday, April 11, exchanged gunfire with "heavily armed lawless elements" in Bohol. They are believed to be members of local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

Three soldiers, a cop, and at least 5 of the armed men were killed in the clashes that started at 5 am on Tuesday, according to a joint statement issued by the police and the military.

"Tactical victories have been accomplished, with 5 body counts and a number of high powered firearms recovered as of 1 p.m. today.... Four of our brave troops, however, made the supreme sacrifice of giving their lives during the course of the operation," reads the statement signed by military Central Command chief Lieutenant General Oscar Lactao and police regional director Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño.

Residents on Tuesday morning alerted the police of the presence of 3 pumpboats along the riverside of Sitio Ilaya of Barangay Ilaya in Inabanga town.

The encounter comes a week after the government downplayed a travel warning from the US embassy which discouraged its citizens from visiting Bohol and neighboring Cebu.

"We want to congratulate our people in Bohol.... The government security forces simply reinforced the vigilance of the Boholanos who organized themselves into a strong force to keep the province safe from any threat groups," the joint statement added.

The first clash occured at 5:20 am At about 7 am, Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año announced that the armed group was "well armed with heavy caliber weapons" but have already been cornered in "an isolated section of the sitio."

Año also announced that they had boosted the presence of local police and the military, deploying additional ground troops and sea and air assets to repel the armed group.

Later on Tuesday morning, Philippine National Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters that a soldier was the first casualty of the clashes against the armed men believed to be members of the local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

Colonel Edgard Arevalo of the military's Public Affairs Office also confirmed this.

The clashes were reportedly over by 1 p.m. Four government forces and 5 of the armed men were killed. The military began clearing operations.

The Abu Sayyaf Group is notorious for its kidnap-for-ransom activities. It is also known to conduct operations in the waters of southern Philippines, but Dela Rosa said the police had earlier gotten raw reports of kidnap threats in Central Visayas.

The miltary has stepped up operations against the Abu Sayyaf in southern Philippine islands Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi as they work to meet a self-imposed target to significantly weaken the group by June 30.


US Embassy in Manila launches Lights for All Project

From InterAksyon (Apr 11): US Embassy in Manila launches Lights for All Project

Access student volunteers show off the solar-powered lamps they assembled as part of the Lights for All Project. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE U.S. EMBASSY IN MANILA

Chargé d’Affaires Michael S. Klecheski of the United States Embassy in Manila recently launched the Lights for All Project at Taguig National High School. 

During the launch, CDA Klecheski joined more than 100 volunteers, including students and alumni of the US Embassy’s English Access Microscholarship Program, in assembling 100 solar-powered lamps.

The Lights for All Project, funded by the United States government and in partnership with MyShelter Foundation, Inc., will assemble and subsequently donate a total of 1,100 solar-powered lamps to communities in conflict-affected and disaster-prone areas throughout the Philippines.

The US Embassy in the Philippines will also donate 15 large solar-powered lights to a community baseball field in Upi, Maguindanao. Over the next several months, volunteers, including US government program alumni from 10 provinces, will assemble and distribute the remaining lamps.

The US Department of State English Access Microscholarship Program provides a foundation of English language skills to economically disadvantaged 13- to 20-year-olds through two-year programs of afterschool classes and intensive summer learning activities. Participants are also able to compete for and participate in future exchanges and study in the United States. The English Access Microscholarship Program celebrates its tenth anniversary in the Philippines this year; over 1,500 Filipino students have participated in the Access Program since 2007.

Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. (CDA) Michael Klecheski thanks MyShelter Foundation, Taguig National High School, and Access Program scholars, alumni, principals, and teachers for being part of the Lights for All Project launch.

CDA Klecheski assembles solar-powered lamps with Access Program students at the Lights for All Project launch in Taguig.


Govt forces clash with suspected Abu Sayyaf fighters in Bohol

From InterAksyon (Apr 11): Govt forces clash with suspected Abu Sayyaf fighters in Bohol

Government security forces are battling “heavily armed” gunmen suspected of being Abu Sayyaf fighters in the town of Inabanga, Bohol, authorities confirmed Tuesday.

The clash broke out around 7 a.m. when troops from the Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion led by 2nd Lieutenant Estelito Saldua, joined by police, acted on intelligence information on the presence of gunmen by the riverside in Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Napo, Armed Forces chief of staff General Eduardo Año confirmed.

Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa also told journalists at least one soldier was killed and another wounded in the clash.

The gun battle came a day after Dela Rosa confirmed what the US embassy in Manila, in an advisory on Sunday, had warned of Sunday “unsubstantiated yet credible information that terrorist groups may attempt to conduct kidnappings” in Central Visayas.

“The security operation was launched in relation to the monitored presence of 10 armed men with three pumpboats” sighted by residents in Ilaya, the statement from Año said.

An earlier report from the 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion on Monday said three unidentified speedboats were seen near the home of a Normal Millorya in Ilaya, which tended to bolster separate information from the intelligence unit of the 3rd Infantry Division that an alleged Abu Sayyaf ,e,ber under Muammar Askali, alias Abu Rami, who had been monitored in Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte, “was already in Inabanga.”

Another suspected Abu Sayyaf member was also reported to have been monitored in Siquijor province.

The forces that engaged the group described it to be “well armed with heavy caliber weapons” but reported that the gunmen were “now cornered in an isolated section of the sitio.”

More troops have been sent to reinforce those involved in the ongoing firefight.



NPA seizes 32 guns from village chief in Cotabato province as 10th ID raises Red tag vs Karapatan

From InterAksyon (Apr 11): NPA seizes 32 guns from village chief in Cotabato province as 10th ID raises Red tag vs Karapatan

Assault rifles are laid out on bamboo poles in this file photo on the Communist Party of the Philippines website (https://www.philippinerevolution.info/).

Communist rebels, disguised as government troops, disarmed a barangay captain and his men in Magpet town, Cotabato province over the weekend, seizing 32 firearms and other military hardware then spent at least two hours explaining their action to residents, a rebel spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the Army’s 10th Infantry Division openly tagged the Southern Mindanao office of the human rights organization Karapatan among legal organizations supposed allied to the rebel National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The claims aired by Captain Alexandre Cabales, acting public affairs chief of the unit, was in reaction to allegations of military involvement in a recent series of killings of peasant activists in Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte provinces.

Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesman of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao said Sunday morning’s disarming of Michael Lingaro, chairman of Barangay Mahongkog, and the paramilitary unit he led was carried out without a single shot being fired.

Sanchez also dismissed military claims the rebel unit used Lingaro and his men as “human shields.”

He said the guerrillas of the Mt. Apo Sub-regional Command took two M16 rifles, one M4 Bushmaster assault rifle, two M14 rifles, two M1 Garand rifles, four carbines, two M79 grenade launchers, four .45 caliber pistols, two 9mm pistols, an Uzi sub-machinegun, 12 shotguns, 91 assorted magazines, 12 vests and four military radios during the 9 a.m. raid.

They then “talked to the masses and explained the purpose of the successful disarming before they safely withdrew from the barangay,” he added.

An earlier advisory from the Communist Party of the Philippines’ information bureau said the guerrillas stayed until 11 a.m. before withdrawing.

Sanchez said Lingaro and his group “are being used by the Army’s 39th (Infantry Battalion) to conduct counterrevolutionary terror on civilians in the hinterlands.”

Meanwhile, in his own statement, the 10th ID’s Cabales condemned the “unfounded allegations of several NDF-allied organizations attributing the deaths of several people in Davao Region” to the unit and challenged “these organizations to file the necessary complaints or cases against the perpetrators of these killings, they be soldiers or not, before the appropriate government investigating or judicial bodies, so that justice could be served.”

If the suspects are 10th ID troops, he said, “we will welcome, cooperate and support the investigations and judicial process,” because the military does “not condone any misbehavior or abuses of its members and will be very grateful to those who will help us purge our ranks of misfits and abusive members.”

Cabales said the 10th ID’s own “investigation and research” as well as reports from the police have yet to identify the suspects or motives behind the murders of Ramon and Leonila Pesadilla in Compostela town, and of Arlene and Arman Alcominar and Cora Lina in Laak, all in Compostela Valley province; Pedro Pandagay in Mabini, Danilo Nadal and Edwin Catog in Pantukan, and Elias Pureza in San Isidro, all in Davao del Norte.

All the victims were members of peasant or indigenous people’s organizations involved in campaigns for land and opposing the entry of large-scale mining and other extractive industries. These organizations have often been tagged rebel “legal fronts” by the military.

Cabales dared Karapatan Southern Mindanao’s Jay Apiag to “man up” and present proof of military involvement in the murders of “confirm the notion that the existence of Karapatan is to support the CPP-NPA armed struggle by undermining the successful efforts of the government against the communist violent insurgency through all these baseless and unfounded allegations.”


Army calls NPA to free POWs

From the Mindanao Times (Apr 11): Army calls NPA to free POWs

THE ARMY’S 10th Infantry Division (ID) has called on the communist groups to immediately release Sgt. Solaiman Calucop and PFC Samuel Garay who were abducted last Feb. 2 while the unilateral ceasefire was in effect.

Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, 10th ID commander, said there is no hindrance for the release of the two soldiers as there are no military operations being undertaken against the abductors.

“We believe that any group who is sincere in talking peace with the government should rectify the treachery committed by their armed group i.e. abducting soldiers while ceasefire is in effect,” Valencia said. “Thus, this call for the immediate release of the two abducted soldiers.”

Capt. Alexandre Cabales, acting chief of the division’s Public Affairs Office, said that ever since the “treacherous abduction” by the New People’s Army (NPA) in the midst of the unilateral ceasefire, the 10th ID has not conducted any offensive military operations against the abductors.
“This was done in order not to compromise the safety of the two soldiers and believing that they should be released unconditionally as their abduction was done by an armed group of a party involved in formal peace talks with the government and a ceasefire was still in effect,” Cabales said.

Duterte will certify for urgent passage only one draft Bangsamoro law

From MindaNews (Apr 11): Duterte will certify for urgent passage only one draft Bangsamoro law

President Rodrigo Duterte will call all Moro revolutionary leaders to a meeting to come up with a consensus on how to move forward in implementing the legislation aspect of their peace agreements as he acknowledged he will certify for urgent passage in Congress only one draft Bangsamoro law.

“That is what we want,” Duterte said at the press conference Monday afternoon after his pre-departure statement on his state visits to the Middle East’s Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar.

Duterte inherited from previous administrations since Marcos four major peace agreements with the Moro revolutionary fronts — the Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF) Tripoli Agreement of 1976 and Final Peace Agreement of 1996 and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2014.

At the press conference Monday, 10 April 2017 at the Davao International Airport, President Rodrigo Duterte says he will call to a meeting all leaders of hte Moro revolutionary fronts that signed peace agreements with the government. The President left for state visits in the Middle East from April 10 to 16, 2017. MINDANEWS PHOTO

Both peace agreements are on their implementation phase — the 1996 FPA which is a continuation of the 1976 agreement, with only three major issues the MNLF hopes will finally be resolved and implemented under the Duterte administration — and the 2014 CAB, a continuation of the 2012 FAB, which is on its early stage of implementation.

The MNLF under Misuari is drafting a law to amend RA 9054, the law that was supposed to have translated the 1996 political agreement into a legal document, to expand and strengthen the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) while the MILF, along with the other MNLF factions under Yusoph Jikiri (formerly under Muslimin Sema), are in the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that is crafting a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the ARMM.

Both drafts — amendatory law for the MNLF-Misuari and the BBL for the MILF and other factions of the MNLF — are to be submitted to the President who will study the drafts and certify for urgent passage in Congress only one draft Bangsamoro law when he delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 24.

Separate meetings

Duterte has been meeting separately with the Moro revolutionary leaders who forged peace agreements with the government — the MNLF and MILF — in the last 11 months — two as presumptive President and President-elect, and nine as President.

But he has yet to call all of them to a meeting.

President Rodrigo Duterte answers questions from the media at the Davao International Airport before leaving for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Monday, April 10, 2017. MINDANEWS PHOTO

“So are you going to meet with all the Moro revolutionary leaders?” MindaNews asked during the press conference. “Yes,” he replied.

Asked when he would meet with them, Duterte gave no specific date. “The ideal is that meron si Misuari dito, meron ang MI(LF), sila Murad. Then we meet government panel and we come up with one .. consensus.”

Asked if he will certify as urgent only one draft Bangsamoro law, Duterte replied, “Yes. Yes. You are correct there. Yes.”

“I want the wars between the Filipinos ended. … besides .. I cannot wage a war against my own people,” he said.

Peace and Development roadmap

Under the Bangsamoro Peace and Development Roadmap presented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and approved by the President in July last year, the BTC membership was expanded from 15 to 21 to make it more inclusive and MNLF factions are supposed to be represented there.

The MNLF under Sema-Jikiri has three representatives in the BTC.

In November, the roadmap changed course when Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced the creation of a separate five-member peace implementing panel for Misuari’s MNLF because “hindi mo naman puwede silang isama dito sa MILF na umbrella kasi may sarili rin siyang panindigan.”

“I know whereof (Misuari) speaks .. because he doesn’t want to get involved with the MILF at all,” Dureza said, adding Misuari “doesn’t want to be subsumed in the BTC and I did not even suggest that at all to him because the BTC is a mechanism out of the MILF peace agreement.”

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Prof. Nur Misuari at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City on March 27, 2017. RENE LUMAWAG/Presidential Photo
Misuari in his speech in Malacanang on November 3 lambasted the MILF and the other factions of the MNLF for being “traitors” to the Bangsamoro cause.

Misuari’s temporary liberty ends on April 27 but the chair of his peace implementing panel, Randolph Parcasio, had earlier told MindaNews they would seek an extension.

 Misuari was in hiding from September 2013 to November 3, 2016 when warrants of arrest were issued against him and 59 others for rebellion and violation of RA 9851 (Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity) following the September 2013 stand-off in Zamboanga City between his followers and government troops that left 104 persons dead, 192 injured and 110,000 of the city’s 807,000 population displaced.

On October 27 last year, Judge Rowena Modesto-San Pedro of the Regional Trial Court in Pasig City granted Misuari’s motion to suspend “proceedings and enforcement of warrants of arrest” against him to allow him “to attend peace talk sessions with the government.”

The suspension was for six months from October 27 to April 27.

“I know that he’s (Misuari) supposed to be in prison but you know at some point in time. … we cannot be forever quarreling with our enemies,” the President said, adding the armed conflicts with the Bangsamoro and communist fronts have been going on for nearly half a century.

“So ang sinasabi ko sa kanila, ano ba mag-usap tayo? It’s been 50 years. Or we prepare for another 50 years of fighting? Ako, I get sick in the stomach just thinking of it really. Makes me giddy. Gusto ko makipag-usap para to end (the conflicts) to everybody’s satisfaction.”

Implementing all signed peace pacts
Duterte on Monday said Misuari “has talked to me and he asked me to give him time to craft an agreement within the MN(LF) pareho rin sa MI(LF) so they can firm up their minimum barest demands within the infrastructure of federalism.”

In his inaugural speech on June 30, Duterte said his administration is “committed to implement all signed peace agreements in step with constitutional and legal reforms.”

Duterte’s peace roadmap for the Bangsamoro has two tracks: legislative and federalism.

The legislative track aims to “consolidate and converge all peace agreements and legislations, the ‘parking’ of constitutional issues in the proposed enabling law for inclusion in the deliberations for the shift to federal system, new BTC will call for an inclusive All Bangsamoro Assembly to consult on the new draft, new BTC will submit to Congress the new version of enabling law.”

Under the federalism track, the BTC “will call for an All Bangsamoro Assembly to discuss its submission to the Constitutional Change deliberation body, and new BTC will submit proposals compliant with peace agreements to the CC Congressional body within six months.”

May 18 deadline
The BTC in its first session on March 6 and 7 agreed on a May 18 target date for submission of the draft BBL to the President, as proposed by a government nominee.

In its second session on April 3 to 5, the BTC moved the deadline to May 15, as Commissioner Hussin Amin said this was the date mentioned by government peace implementing panel chair Irene Santiago during a televised interview.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told MindaNews on Friday that it was President Duterte himself who set the May 18 deadline when they sat at the same table at the formal launch of the BTC on February 24 in Davao City.

Duterte on Monday said May 18 “was not an imposition by me. They were shooting the breeze at one time.”

Still, the government and the MILF have agreed that the draft BBL be submitted to the President early enough.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte sits with (from left to right) Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Al Hadj Murad Ebrahim and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chair Gadzali Jaafar during the launching of the expanded BTC at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City on February 24, 2017. SIMEON CELI JR./Presidential Photo

What is not openly said is the President needs to study the draft BBL of the government, MILF and other factions of the MNLF, and the draft amendatory law of the MNLF under Misuari.

Dureza in November said Congress will do the convergence of these two drafts, an announcement criticized by Moro leaders and civil society groups as “disastrous”

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel had earlier told MindaNews that if leaders of the Moro revolutionary fronts cannot agree, then the Office of the President or Congress can do the convergence. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr. told MindaNews he hopes Dureza can act on the matter.

Murad said convergence can be done at the level of the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The BCF was set up during the the 37th meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on May 18 to 20, 2010, where the Secretary-General got Misuari and Murad to sit down set up the BCF to “harmonize” the peace agreements.

Six committees

The BTC last week set up its six committees to begin drafting the BBL and are presently holding committee meetings from April 10 to 12 and will meet in plenary again on April 17 to 19.

As of April 10, the Department of Budget has yet to release the BTC’s budget.

The 21 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) with President Rodrigo Duterte (center) at the launch on 24 February 2017 at the Garden Pavilion of the Waterfront Insular Hotel. TOTO Lozano / Presidential Photo

“Baka mag-iba na naman ‘yung mukha ni (Budget Secretary Benjamin) Diokno. Kausapin muna natin kung may pera ba. (Diokno might make a face again. I have to talk with him if there is money), Duterte said.

The MNLF-Misuari’s peace implementing panel has met informally with its government four times but have yet to meet formally. Undersecretary Nabil Tan, chair of the government’s peace implementing panel, told MindaNews there willbe no formal launch of their panels like the BTC, but they will make a formal call on the President supposedly first half of April.

President Duterte is on state visits in the Middle East and will return to the country on April 16.


Soldiers, cops search NorMin for Abus from Bohol

From MindaNews: Soldiers, cops search NorMin for Abus from Bohol

Police and Army units on Tuesday afternoon started searching hospitals in four provinces and five cities in Northern Mindanao for Abu Sayyaf members who may have survived the clash in Bohol province earlier on the same day.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 10 spokesperson Supt. Lemuel Gonda said security forces are carefully monitoring hospitals and clinics just in case some of the bandits were able to escape Inabanga town in Bohol.

He said the entire PNP regional command and the 403rd Infantry Brigade were on full alert after receiving reports of the clash between the Abu Sayyaf bandits and government troops in Inabanga.

“We are monitoring any movements here in case some of the bandits were able to escape,” he said.

The clash in Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Napo, Inabanga town left three three soldiers dead.

Five bandits were also reported dead, according to a report reaching the PNP Region 10.

A soldier identified as Corporal Porlas and a policeman identified as PO2 Nazareno were wounded.

The dead soldiers were identified as 2Lt Saldua, Sgt Duero and Cpl Cahaban.

The report said five bodies of the bandits were recovered along with three M16 and a M4 assault rifles, and several improvised explosive devices.

Citing the report, Gonda said ten bandits on three motorized boats arrived at the river of Inabanga on Tuesday night.

He said the Philippine Air Force staged a bombing sortie in Ilaya.

Bohol, an island in Central Visayas, is a famed tourist destination. Among its attractions are the Chocolate Hills, Panglao Beach and Spanish-era churches.

The Abu Sayyaf is known to target foreign tourists for its kidnap-for-ransom activities.


NPA rebels admit North Cotabato raid

From the Mindanao Examiner (Apr 10): NPA rebels admit North Cotabato raid

Communist insurgents negotiating peace with Manila have claimed responsibility Monday for the disarming of a village chieftain and pro-government militias in a daring raid in the province of North Cotabato in the Philippines.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the New People’s Army, said rebels, disguised as government soldiers, seized 32 assorted weapons from village chieftain Michael Lingaro and his men in the village of Mahongkog in Magpet town during weekend raid.

“Without firing a single shot and posing as enemy troops, Red fighters of the Mt. Apo Sub-Regional Command-NPA in Southern Mindanao disarmed a barangay captain and his men, confiscating 32 firearms and other military hardware in Barangay Mahongkog,” he said.

Philippine media, quoting military commanders, reported that Lingaro and some of his men were seized by rebels, but Sanchez strongly denied this and accused the army of spreading fake news.

“There is absolutely no truth to the AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) pathetic and desperate claims that the NPA unit abducted Barangay Captain Michael Lingaro and his men or used them as human shield following the successful disarming,” Sanchez said. “In fact, Lumad and peasant masses, rejoice the NPA’s punitive action against the paramilitary group that has long been used by the AFP in its counter-insurgency and anti-people campaign.”

Lingaro also denied the report and said neither he nor his men had been seized by the NPA.

Sanchez said rebel forces confiscated two M16 automatic rifles, one M4 Bushmaster assault rifle, two M14 rifles, two Garand rifles, four Carbine rifles, two M79 grenade launchers, four .45-caliber pistols, two 9mm pistols, one Uzi sub-machine gun, a dozen shotguns and 91 assorted magazines, including 12 vests and four military radio sets.

He said rebels also held a dialogue with villagers, explaining to them the purpose of the raid before withdrawing from the area where the military has stepped up recruitment of spies and launched anti-insurgency operations.

“It is evident that the fascist enemy is weaving tales in the media in order to smokescreen its direct recruitment of civilians for counter-insurgency and anti-people campaign. Lingaro and his group are being used by the army’s 39th Infantry Battalion to conduct counter-revolutionary terror on civilians in the hinterlands,” Sanchez said.

“It is in the interest of pursuing just and lasting and peace that the AFP is prevented from further arming and using civilians against their fellow Lumad and peasants in the countryside. The NPA, especially in Southern Mindanao, will continue to launch disarming operations as part of its duty of protecting the masses and defending its territories under the auspices of the People’s Democratic Government,” he added.

There was no immediate statement from the military on Sanchez’s accusations. Peace negotiators have recently signed an interim ceasefire deal during the resumption of talks in The Netherlands, but this has to be approved by the president and the NPA before it could take effect.


11 Sayyafs, 3 soldiers killed in Bohol clashes

From the Mindanao Examiner (Apr 11): 11 Sayyafs, 3 soldiers killed in Bohol clashes

Security forces killed at least 11 Abu Sayyaf fighters in fierce clashes that also left 3 soldiers dead and two more injured on Tuesday in a coastal town in Bohol province in central Philippines, officials said.

Officials said the fighting erupted in the village of Ilaya in Inabanga town where civilians reported to the police the presence of heavily-armed Abu Sayyaf jihadists who arrived in several speedboats.

The military’s Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City also provided intelligence to its counterpart in the Visayas on the movement of the Abu Sayyaf.
It said continuous military operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and Sulu provinces in southern Philippines constricted or limited the capability of the ISIS-affiliated group to mount ransom kidnappings or terrorism in the restive region and forced the jihadists to strike in other areas.

It said at least 11 Abu Sayyaf had been killed in the fighting. The clashes came after the U.S. Embassy warned it citizens to avoid central Philippines due to threats of kidnapping and terrorism. It was unknown whether the Western Mindanao Command share the same information to the U.S. Embassy or not. Or whether the U.S. Embassy provided intelligence to the Western Mindanao Command.

In May 2001, Abu Sayyaf fighters also raided a posh resort called Dos Palmas in Palawan province and seized over a dozen tourists, including an American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham and California man Guillermo Sobero. They brought the hostages in Basilan, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region, and ransomed off some of their wealthy victims.

Guillermo and Martin were killed separately while Gracia – although shot and wounded during a firefight between troops and jihadists – was rescued in Zamboanga del Norte province where the Abu Sayyaf hid their hostages.


Heroes are born not only in war

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 11): Heroes are born not only in war

April 9 of every year has been declared as a national holiday in observance of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) by virtue of Executive Order No. 203 series of 1987, while Proclamation No. 4660 series of 1989 designated April 5 to 11 of every year as Philippine Veterans Week.

Araw ng Kagitingan commemorates the heroism of Filipino and American soldiers when the Japanese occupied the Philippines during World War II. MGen. Edward P. King of the United States Army was forced to surrender with more than 769,000 Filipino, Chinese and American soldiers to the Japanese at dawn of April 9, 1942. The soldiers were forced to take the 90 mile (about 145 kilometers) hike to Camp O’Donell in Capaz, Tarlac.
The Death March

ousands of prisoners died during the hike also known as the “Bataan Death March” due to starvation, dehydration and diseases before they could reach the camp. The prisoners were beaten randomly and often denied food and water for several days. Some were tortured to death. Those who fell behind were usually executed through various means: shot, beheaded or bayoneted. The commonly used “sun treatment” was when they were forced to sit silently in the blazing sun without water or even shade of his helmet.

American and Filipino forces regain Bataan

Despite the trials of defeat, the captured soldiers stood strong and heroes emerged from the event. The surrender of Bataan hastened the Fall of Corregidor. However, without this stand, the Japanese might have quickly overrun all of the US bases in the Pacific. Bataan forced them to slow down, giving the allies valuable time to prepare for engagements such as the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, which followed closely thereafter. American and Filipino liberation forces eventually retook the Bataan Peninsula on February 8, 1945.

The annual celebration honors all Filipino heroes, patriots, martyrs and defenders who fought and died for the country’s freedom and liberty from the time of Lapu-Lapu to the Philippine Revolution against Spain, the Filipino – American War and World War II.

It also honors Filipino defenders who fought in the Korean War, Vietnam War, veterans of military campaigns, members of the humanitarian contingents to other countries and modern day veterans who have rendered honorable military service in defending our beloved Philippines in time of war and in faithfully upholding their duty to preserve sovereignty and national security.

Tribute to honor sacrifices of war heroes

This year’s 75th year commemoration bears the theme, “Parangal sa mga Beterano, Tungo sa Bayan na Nararapat sa mga Pilipino, mga Pilipino na Nararapat sa Bayan,” – echoing the message of being the deserving Filipinos for our freedom today which has been bravely fought by our Veterans of World War II. Today’s celebration is a loving tribute to honor and take pride of the war heroes’ sacrifices for our country 75 years ago.

Indeed, Araw ng Kagitingan should be a very important event for every Filipino because it reminds us of our duty to fight for the liberty of our country against invaders. It also gives recognition and value to those who have done heroic acts but are never recognized.

First Zamboanga del Sur Veterans District Commander Claudio F. Porio in his message during the 75th Araw ng Kagitingan reminds every Filipino to become a part of what the war heroes have fought for.

“I challenge the Filipinos of this generation to be vigilant against foreign invasions. Never again will we allow sufferings and death,” he added.

In this day and age, “heroes are born not only in war. One can be a hero even in the simple act of bringing smiles and comfort to a fellow countryman in distress,” Commander Porio underscored.


CAFGU sa Rehiyon Bicol nagdiriwang ng ika-66th na Founding Anniversary

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 11): CAFGU sa Rehiyon Bicol nagdiriwang ng ika-66th na Founding Anniversary

Masayang ipinagdiriwang ng Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) ang ika-66th na anibersaryo ng pagkakatatag ng 22nd Valor Battalion sa rehiyon Bicol.

Sa pamagitan ng mga aktibidad na isinagawa gaya ng Fun Shoot, Sports Fest at iba pang kasiyahan ang linahukan ng mga sundalo at pamilya nito na ginanap sa kampo ng 22nd Valor Battalion sa barangay Caroyroyan, Pili, Camarines Sur.

Samantala, inihayag ni 22nd Valor Battalion Commander Col. Joselito Pastrana, malaki ang papel ng CAFGU sa operasyon ng Philippine Army, dahil sila ay karagdagang puwersa at katuwang ng Philippine Army.

Sinabi ni Pastrana na aabot sa 4,000 na miyembro ng CAFGU sa buong rehiyon na nakatalaga sa halos 100 na detachment. Taon-taon ay nagkakaroon ng training para sa mga gustong pumasok na maging sundalo.

Sa kasalukuyan ay may 1000 na bagong recruit ang 22nd IB (Valor) na nagsasanay sa kanilang kampo. Sa loob ng 40 days ang isinasagawang training para maging regular na enlisted men at kapag na kompleto ang kanilang mga resikitos.

Noong nakaraang linggo ay ipinagdiriwang din ang 120th Founding Anniversary ng Philippine Army na ginanap sa SM City Naga.

Ang okasyon ay pinangunahan ni Brig. Gen. Claudio L. Yucot , Commander ng 901st Infantry Brigade na siyang representante ni 9th ID Commander Maj. Gen. Manolito P. Orense.

Ayon kay Yucot, malaking pasasalamat niya sa mga ninunong sundalo na nagbuwis ng buhay at nagsakripisyo para sa kalayaan na tinatamasa natin hanggang sa kasalukoyan.

Nagkaroon din ng ibat-ibang programa na nagbigay ng aliw at kasiyahan s alahat na manunuod tulad ng live band, dance presentations, concert band, duet singing at martial arts exhibition.

Nagpakita naman ng gilas ang mga sundalo sa kanilang Squad Kinetic Display at display ng mga sasakyan na Armored vehicle at K9 Dog Display, Photo exhibit, Recruitment Booth at kasabay nito ang pamimigay ng 9ID Army Transformation leaflets.


Death toll in Basilan clash rises to 8

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): Death toll in Basilan clash rises to 8

The death toll on Monday’s encounter between the military and suspected Abu Sayyaf Group members has climbed to eight.

“Last night, we received a report that the total number of those killed in the encounter was eight. Seven are Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) and the other one is a member of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team,” Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) told the Philippines News Agency on Tuesday.

Eleven others were also wounded, including six soldiers, she said.

Two military officials were among the wounded soldiers, she added.

Troops under the Army’s 4th Special Forces were conducting a patrol when they chanced upon the suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf group. Three militiamen were instantly killed in the initial gunfight.

The succeeding firefight between the reinforcement troops and the retreating bandits left five more militiamen killed.

Petingaly said there are about 40 militiamen assigned to a special forces company.

“Our militiamen are for territorial defense, meaning they are also trained in accordance with military procedures,” she said.

She said the militiamen, who are mostly natives of Basilan, are rendering duty on rotational basis.


Samar families displaced by armed conflict not neglected - DSWD

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): Samar families displaced by armed conflict not neglected - DSWD

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) In Eastern Visayas insisted they did not neglect the thousands of residents in Calbiga, Samar who fled their homes last week for fear of getting caught in the crossfire between the military and the New People's Army (NPA) rebels.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Restituto Macuto, DSWD regional director, denied claims of a militant group that their agency did not provide meal assistance to families who took shelter at the town’s covered court for several days.
The conflict between government troops and communist rebels last week displaced 837 families or 2,182 individuals, including 933 children, 35 pregnant women, 112 senior citizens, and six persons with physical disability.

These families returned home on Sunday after hours of dialogue with the local peace and order council.

Militant group People Surge claimed on Sunday that the national government failed to attend to the basic needs of the displaced families.
“It’s not true that they were neglected because we have distributed food packs to each family. The food packs contain four kilograms of rice, eight canned goods, coffee packs, bottles of water and blankets,” Macuto said.

The DSWD regional chief said it is their job to ensure the welfare and security of vulnerable sectors, especially children, pregnant women, senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

“If there are evacuees, we will always provide them with relief goods,” Macuto added.

The local government provided transportation assistance to the evacuees who returned to their respective villages. The Army’s 87th Infantry Battalion assured them of their safety.

The displaced families claimed that the NPA rebels asked them to leave their communities. Militant groups, on the other hand, accused the government troops of militarization in Calbiga’s upland villages.

Calbiga town is about 63 kilometers north of Tacloban City, the regional capital. It is a fourth class town in Samar province with a population of 22,982 people.


Gov't troops, suspected Abu Sayyaf clash in Bohol

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): Gov't troops, suspected Abu Sayyaf clash in Bohol

The 47th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and suspected members of the notorious kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf group clashed early Tuesday in Inabanga, Bohol.

Authorities are still confirming reports of casualties as firefight continues, an Army intelligence source said.

This came following intelligence reports over the weekend of the presence of the Abu Sayyaf in the Visayas, purportedly to carry out kidnap activities but with no specific targets.

Security measures have been stepped up in many areas in the Visayas, including Negros Oriental and Siquijor following the reports.

The encounter came as Bohol prepares for the upcoming ASEAN Summit meetings scheduled there this month onwards.