Monday, May 15, 2017

NDF/NPA-NCMR: Technical Sergeant Joseph Valmores Paredes Padayong Giimbestigahan

New People's Army propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (May 14):  Technical Sergeant Joseph Valmores Paredes Padayong Giimbestigahan

Mayo 15, 2017

Padayong gidetenir si Technical Sergeant Joseph Valmores Paredes (S/N: 777490 (INF) PA) sa custodial unit sa South Central Bukidnon (SCB) Sub-Regional Command. Mahinumduman nga kaniadtong Mayo 5, 2017 sa may 6:30 sa hapon, nadakpan si T.Sgt. Paredes sa gimontar nga checkpoint sa unit sa SCB atol sa operasyong pagdis-arma sa DASIA Security Agency didto sa Valencia City. Sa kasamtangan, padayon siyang ginaimbestigar ug ginasubay ug ginatuki ang mga tawo nga adunay kasayuran sa iyang pagkatawo ilabina panahon sa iyang pagserbisyo isip membro sa Philippine Army. Aduna nay nakuhang pipila ka kasayuran bahin sa iyang kalambigitan sa pagpanglapas sa tawhanong katungod, mga pagpangilkil ug uban pa nga kinahanglan pang dugang subayon. Sa milabayng mga adlaw human siya nadakop, nagkadaghan ang mga tawo nga naghatag og mga impormasyon batok kang T.Sgt. Paredes. Kahimtang nga gikinahanglan ang mainampingong pagsubay ug pagtuki.

Alang sa pamilya ug kahigalaan ni Paredes, laumi ninyo nga ginatratar ug trataron siya pag-ayo sa iyang custodial unit hangtud anaa pa siya sa ilang mga kamot. Tubagon ang iyang mga batakang panginahanglan aron pabiling himsog ug luwas sa unsa mang kadaut sa iyang kaugalingon ug kinabuhi.

Niini nga yugto sa panahon, sayo pa ang unsa mang paningkamot ni kinsa mang hingtungdan ang mangandoy o pagbuhat sa ingon alang sa iyang hinanaling kagawasan. Tugutan una nato ang mga kauban nga gitugyanan sa pagsubay ug pagtuki sa pagkatawo ni T.Sgt. Paredes ug paghatag og rekomendasyon pinasikad sa mga kasayuran nga ilang makuha.

Ka. Malen Mabini

MILF: Punitive action byNDF/NPA-EMR: NPA-NEMR against the Lademora family in Agusan del Sur, 21 firearms confiscated

New People's Army propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (May 14):  Punitive action by NPA-NEMR against the Lademora family in Agusan del Sur, 21 firearms confiscated

Press statement
May 14, 2017

About 21 firearms were confiscated by the New People’s Army-Front 14 in North Eastern Mindanao Region (NEMR) when it raided, without a single shot fired, the mine owned by the Lademora family in Sitio Sinug-ang, Bayugan 3, Rosario, Agusan del Sur at around 7 o’clock in the morning of May 13, 2017. The 21 firearms included 2 M16, 1 AK47, 1 BAR, 1 M14, 1 Garand, 4 Carbines, 3 M79 launcher, 3 shotguns and 4 caliber .45 handguns and 1 .38 revolver. The NPA also confiscated assorted ammunitions, magazines and other military supplies.

The confiscation of firearms from the armed forces of the Lademora family is a punitive action of the NPA for the long record of abuse, crime, destruction of people’s livelihood and exploitation of small miners committed by the Lademora family. This also served as justice for the victims.

Through the continuing control of said armed forces and the remaining notorious Lost Command forces, the Lademora family monopolize mining in Sinug-ang, Bayugan 3 and deprived other people of livelihood. Residents feared the existence of said armed group controlled by the Lademoras.

The NPA also arrested Abud Lademora, son of former Colonel Carlos Lademora who currently controls the armed group, to face the charges filed by victims.

The Lost Command is the armed group organized by then Philippine Constabulary Colonel Lademora in the late 1970’s. It was composed of his former PC colleagues and criminal elements. It functioned as a private army of the National Guthrie Plantations Inc. (NGPI) and Agusan Plantation Inc. (API) to grab land from farmers in the towns of Rosario and San Francisco, Agusan del Sur for oil palm plantations. Thousands of farmers were victimized and forced to sell or abandon their lands in fear of the harassment and brutality of the armed forces of the Lost Command.

Through the Lost Command, former Col. Lademora controlled two mining areas, in Sinug-ang, Bayugan 3, Rosario, Agusan del Sur and in Tambis, Barobo, Surigao del Sur, since 1979. Many abuses and killings recorded were connected to the group led by Col. Lademora. These does not include the massacre of 40 civilians when he was assigned in Las Navas, Samar in the 1970’s, during the US – Marcos dictatorship.

No justice has been attained by the victims of the Lost Command and Col. Lademora. The AFP/PNP supported the continued existence of the armed group during that time and until now, because they use it for counter-insurgency campaigns, expansion of oil palm plantations and as source of funds.

Despite the death of Col. Lademora in 2015, the painful scars he and the Lost Command Group inflicted to the people remains fresh in the minds of the victims and residents. It can never be erased from the history of the masses in Agusan and Surigao del Sur. Especially as his children continued his brutal acts and grave exploitation of the people by using the armed group.

Thus, the NPA-NEMR, with the people’s support, conscientiously endeavors to dismantle armed groups in the region used to abuse and destroy the livelihood of residents. The NPA is determined to defend the interests and welfare of the people against the oppression and exploitation of the capitalists and local ruling class.

Long live the NPA!

Ka Ariel Montero
Regional Operational Command

MILF: North Cotabato Provincial Committee holds Forefront Leaders Assembly

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Central Committee Website (May 16): North Cotabato Provincial Committee holds Forefront Leaders Assembly

With the theme “Unity, Solidarity for Dignified and Just Peace”, the North Cotabato Provincial Committee organized a one-day Leaders’ Assembly at Magatos, Kabacan, Cotabato on May 14, 2017.

About 1,185 people from different sectors participated actively in the activity. The activity became more informative as two of the known Bangsamoro leaders served as the Resource Speakers.

Among the invited resource persons was Sheikh Said Salendab, General Secretary, Hayatul Ulama. He centered his speech on strengthening the spiritual, intellectual, physical and moral aspect of Bangsamoro people as one way of showing our fear to the Almighty God.

Atty. Ali Lanang, Jr., representative of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Peace Implementing Panel explained the status of peace implementation with the government.
“The Philippine Government signed an administrative order that urge the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to set free political prisoners, among them are 32 members of the MILF held in various prisons”, Atty Ali said.

He also elaborated the 8 components of Normalization Annex of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed between the GPH-MILF and updates on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law being crafted by the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

“Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) is mandated to undertake a study and recommend appropriate mechanisms such as legitimate grievances, historical injustices, human rights violations and marginalisation through land dispossession”, he pointed out.

“Convergence and harmonization of Bangsamoro peace agreement is the main goal of the Bangsamoro Coordinating Forum (BCF) spearheaded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), he added.

Board member Mohammad “Khellie” Antao mentioned in his speech that he indorse the incoming consultation that will be held at Midsayap, North Cotabato on May 19, 2017. “The North Cotabato Provincial Office assures to sponsor and host the said program”, he added.

The Chairman of Local Monitoring Team, Jabib Guiabar, Al Haj assumed that the Bangsamoro now days are headed for being fearless and united since facing challenges, behind those images are the ideal composition/structure of organization.

The Vice Chairman of the MNLF Eastern Kutawato Revolutionary Committee also joined the said activity. He stressed that participation of people is very important part of a struggle and he reminded everyone to prepare for war in times of peace.

Abdulnasser Mustapha, Vice Chairman of North Provincial Committee centered his closing remarks informing the Bangsamoro people on his desire to achieve the undying peace that we are aiming for.

” We are Bangsamoro, we are united, we are bind by strong brotherhood, unity and Solidarity, Calling the attention of the Philippine Congress for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that maybe drafted and certify as urgent bill, for the resolution of the decades Bangsamoro struggle for Right to Self-determination (RSD)”, he said.

DVIDS: Balikatan aids Ormoc City with new classrooms

From the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (May 14): Balikatan aids Ormoc City with new classrooms

Balikatan 2017 participants conduct community relations, health engagements in Leyte

ORMOC CITY, Leyte -- As this year’s iteration of Balikatan draws closer to completion, combined efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, U.S. armed forces, Australian Defence Force, and Japan Self-Defense Forces will be remembered by the citizens of Ormoc City for many years to come.

Four multi-purpose classrooms were built at Don Carlos and Margen elementary schools, which will be ready to use for this upcoming school year.

“Balikatan is aiding our community, with regard to education,” Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez said. “We have a shortage of classrooms in Ormoc [City] and the classrooms that were built will be very helpful to us.”

A top priority of Exercise Balikatan 33-2017 is focusing on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

In November 2013, the Philippines suffered devastating loss in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda. Shortly thereafter, the locals realized the importance of disaster preparedness.

“Super Typhoon Yolanda was really a game changer,” Gomez said. “Most of the houses in Ormoc were destroyed. As a result, [Ormoc City residents] understood the importance of working with each other in building back the community.”

Disaster preparedness symposiums were held throughout Leyte that educated local communities about what supplies to prepare and how to properly evacuate should another natural disaster occur.

“Intellectually, Balikatan is helping our people with regards to health and disaster preparedness,” Gomez continued.

Gomez shares that something much deeper was accomplished in the hearts and minds of the residents of Ormoc City.

“I am very happy about the outcome of Balikatan,” Gomez said. “What’s important is what we bring to the community, and at the end of the day, the only feedback I get is that Balikatan is working for the community.”

Gomez recognizes that Balikatan is a good way to exchange ideas, techniques and culture.

“I am glad and really hoping that Balikatan will come back here in Ormoc [City] soon.”

Balikatan’ forces simulate responses to disasters

From the Manila Bulletin (May 15): ‘Balikatan’ forces simulate responses to disasters

Philippine and United States troops conducted Civilian Military Activities from the Sea (CMA-S) and simulated precise responses to a powerful typhoon, similar to Yolanda, that could hit the province and other areas in Luzon.

United States Military Troops with combined forces from the Armed Forces of the Philippines help each other on building classrooms and a grandstand in Surok Elementary School in Guiuan, Samar as part of the combined joint civil military operation task force activities of the Balikatan 2017. (Photo by: Juan Carlo de Vela) Manila Bulletin File Photo
Major Celeste Frank Sayson, Balikatan 2017 spokesman for the Philippines, said the CMA-S, part of the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations for this year’s Balikatan exercises, utilized air and sea assets coming from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)and from the U.S.
On the Philippine side, assets used included the Philippine Navy’s strategic sea lift vessel (LD-601) BRP Tarlac, two UH-ID Huey transport helicopter, a Landing Craft Utility (LCU), a type of boat used by amphibious forces to transport equipment and troops to the shore, and also capable of transporting vehicles and troops from amphibious assault ships to beachheads or piers and a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (HRB) or rigid inflatable boat (RIB), a lightweight but high-performance and high-capacity boat constructed with a solid, shaped hull and flexible tubes at the gunwale.

The US air and naval assets used in the exercise included a Sacagawee (T-AKE-2), a Lewis and Clark-class type dry cargo ship; a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, an American multi-mission, military aircraft with both vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities; a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, a four-bladed, twin-engine medium- utility helicopter and a Boeing CH-47 Chinook is an American twin-engine tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter.

Sayson said Balikatan aimed to provide support to the communities devastated by typhoons through the conduct of health education and first responder Bilateral Subject Matter Exchange Events (SMEE) in order to increase readiness of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Local Government Units (LGU), local populace, and other participating government agencies and civil society volunteers.

“Balikatan 33-17 providd high-impact training to synchronize government actions during natural calamities,” he said.

More than 500 Filipinos and US troops participated in the HADR activities.

Balikatan 2017 smaller, but not 'downsized'

From the Philippine Star (May 15): Balikatan 2017 smaller, but not 'downsized'

This year's Balikatan exercises focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster response. Toledo IV

The Balikatan exercises between the Philippines and the US are smaller this year but the sizes of forces involved change yearly, military leaders said.

"We have not downsized (the exercises)," Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, said after a disaster response exercise in Aurora province on Monday.

He said the exercises last year, which included maritime defense drills, involved four military area commands while this year only involves the Northern Luzon Command and some elements of central command.

He said this was due to guidance from the government, which wanted Balikatan to focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) this year.

He clarified that HADR has been an alternating focus of the exercises, since disasters like typhoons are inevitable in the Philippines.

"What we do as a military is always with the guidance from our political leaders," he said.

He said the administration sees disasters as an imminent threat and that militaries should not just defend the country but save lives as well.

US Marine Brig. Gen. John Jansen, in the same briefing, said that there were "no orders to 'downsize" the exercises this year.

He said, however, that the nature and objectives of the exercises depend on negotiations between the Philippines and the US, which are done every year.

He said that because the Philippine side wanted to focus on HADR this year, the scenario - a powerful typhoon hitting parts of the Philippines - and training objectives required a somewhat smaller force, around two thirds of the usual size.

"There was no policy that stipulated for it to be smaller," he said.

The drills in Casiguran involved the Philippine Navy's BRP Tarlac, Philippine Air Force helicopters and Army soldiers. The US was represented by helicopters, a V-22 Osprey and the USNS Sacagaewa, a dry dock cargo ship.

Jansen said the Balikatan shows the two countries' commitment to each other as allies.

Relations between the Philippines and the US have been strained over human rights concerns over the government's war on drugs.

The Philippines has also announced an independent foreign policy that includes seeking better ties with China, Russia and with regional neighbors.

Philippines-China exercises

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been cultivating better relations with China despite tension over a dispute in the South China Sea, has said the two countries can hold joint drills.

Although a Visiting Forces Agreement has yet to be signed between the Philippines and China, Padilla said Chinese involvement in HADR would be welcome since it is a "universal concern" with a "multilateral atmosphere."

He said that multilateral response efforts after Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 showed that the "aspect of having more participants (in HADR) is relevant."

He pointed out that China assisted in post-Yolanda relief efforts too.

No bells and whistles as Philippines, U.S. hold Balikatan

From Rappler (May 15): No bells and whistles as Philippines, U.S. hold Balikatan

Despite the Duterte administration's shift in foreign policy, officials deny the military exercises with the United States were downsized

BALIKATAN. Philippine Marines alight from a landing craft utility boat onto the shores of Casiguran, Aurora. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

BALIKATAN. Philippine Marines alight from a landing craft utility boat onto the shores of Casiguran, Aurora. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

AURORA, Philippines – It was an odd command to hear as a landing craft utility boat carrying Filipino soldiers was about to dock onto the sandy shores of Casiguran town for military exercises between the Philippines and the United States.

"Lakad, wag kayong tumakbo (Walk, don't run)!" said a commander, one of the many Philippine Marines stationed aboard the BRP Tarlac.

There was no need to be on guard, after all.

The military drills in Casiguran, Aurora were meant to simulate a joint response to the aftermath of a catastrophic typhoon or earthquake – not a country invasion, as in the previous year.

On Monday, May 15, the two militaries staged a Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response (HADR) exercise in the disaster-prone coastal town of Casiguran, one of the highlights in this year's Balikatan exercises.

The joint drills, a yearly tradition of the two allies, are aimed at strengthening coordination in times of distress.

But this year, the distress came months before the scheduled exercises, after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in October 2016 said there would be no war games during his term. He also threatened to "forget" an existing defense agreement that would expand American military presence in the Philippines.

Duterte was eventually convinced to let the Balikatan continue, but with major changes. The Balikatan this year does not include an exercise to counter an invader on Philippine shores – a potentially touchy issue given the dispute between the Philippines and China over the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

What downsizing?

Even if this year's exercises only involve two-thirds the American troops as last time, and only two Philippine area commands instead of 4, military and government officials from both countries insisted there was no downsizing at all.

Up to 2,600 American soldiers are in the Philippines for the Balikatan with more than 2,800 Filipino military men and women.

"I'd like to correct that impression. We have not downsized," said Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in an interview on the sidelines of the disaster response exercise.

"Same thing. There was no direction to downsize. Nobody told us that there had to be fewer people, there had to be smaller exercises," echoed US Marines Brigadier General John Jansen.

A Philippine government official insisted the same thing.

"Did we downsize?" quipped the Philippine foreign department's Cesar Ramboanga, executive director of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, when asked in a separate chance interview.

He added: "Of course, this year we're stressing the importance of humanitarian assistance and disaster response, so we adjust to that. You don't just dump all the troops there."

Disaster response exercises were also held in Eastern Samar, Isabela, Cagayan, and Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija. In Casiguran, American troops conducted first aid seminars for locals as well.

Duterte has promised to forge an "independent foreign policy" that sees the country moving away from the US and closer to China and Russia. As the Balikatan exercises were taking place, Duterte was in China for the forum promoting the Asian powerhouse's massive economic plan.

"What we do as a military is always dictated by guidance from our political leaders and we comply with that, and I believe the US can also speak the same way," explained Padilla, expounding on the 2017 Balikatan setup.

Ramboanga downplayed any effect Duterte's rhetoric against the US may have on the long-standing relationship between the two countries.

"That's the president. So we have to adjust to our new president because he declared that we'd have an independent foreign policy. And it's very acceptable among Filipinos, isn't it?"

Bohol free of Abu Sayyaf terrorists – military

From Rappler (May 16): Bohol free of Abu Sayyaf terrorists – military

(UPDATED) Security forces kill two remaining Abu Sayyaf bandits in Bohol, the last of the daring gang of local terrorists that sailed from Sulu to take foreign hostages

(UPDATED) – Bohol's nightmare is over.

The two remaining Abu Sayyaf bandits in Bohol were killed on Monday, May 15, in a chase that followed their foiled attempt to take a resident hostage.

"All the Abu Sayyaf Group members who landed in Bohol province aboard 3 bancas in early April 2017 were all neutralized. Bohol is now cleared of Abu Sayyaf Group elements," said Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

They were the last of the daring gang of 11 Abu Sayyaf bandits who escaped military operations in Sulu a month ago and planned to launch a Holy Week attack in Bohol, a world famous tourist destination.

Their plans were foiled by the police and the military. (READ: Bad or good intel: 5 questions on Abu Sayyaf presence in Bohol)

Earlier on Monday, the two Abu Sayyaf bandits identified as Abu Ubayda and Abu Asis were able to take a hostage. But a police report said they were forced to release the unnamed civilian when the military found their trail.

"The remaining two ASG members in Bohol were spotted at Barangay Cahayag [in] Panggangan Island, Bohol. [They] initially took hostage a resident of said barangay but later left the hostage and commandeered a motorcycle upon sensing army troops are nearing," stated the report.

The two bandits parted ways when they approached a police checkpoint, the report added. Residents who spotted the outsiders alerted the police. A chase ensued, leading to the firefight that killed Ubanda early afternoon on Monday and Asis later in the afternoon.

Among those killed in the first salvo of operations in Bohol last month was Muamar Askali, a subleader of the Abu Sayyaf Group who also served as its spokesman. He was among those killed in clashes with government forces in Bohol. (READ: ASG leader behind foreigners' kidnap killed in Bohol)

More soldiers deployed to Davao

From the Mindanao Times (May 15): More soldiers deployed to Davao

THE ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has deployed a battalion of soldiers as additional force in Davao region, particularly in the city.
Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has requesting the AFP for additional force in the city to combat insurgency and terroristic attack.

General Eduardo Año, AFP chief of staff, told TIMES yesterday that the troopers of the 16th Infantry (Maglilingkod) Battalion (IB) will serve as an additional troop to the 1003rd Infantry Brigade (IB) under the 10th Infantry Division (ID), which covers the whole area of Davao.
“So far, that’s the additional force until we will hold our security assessment this June,” Año said.

Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, 10th ID commander, said some of the Maglilingkod troopers arrived in the region last Friday from Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom).
Valencia said they are still conducting evaluation on where to deploy the additional battalion.

“No specific area (where to assign them) but we will adjust accordingly,” Valencia said, adding that the additional soldiers will possibly be deployed to areas without security forces in the city.

The 16th IB is under the 2nd ID, the Army’s Jungle Fighter Division based in Tanay Rizal. Before coming to Davao, they were assigned at the WesMinCom based in Zamboanga City.
At WesMinCom, the Maglilingkod soldiers served under the operational control of 1st ID in Sulu in running after Abu Sayyaf Group in the area.

The Maglilingkod also served in Surigao del Sur under the 4th ID, helping pressing the insurgency situation in the area.

For now, the 16th IB will augment the 1003rd IB of 10ID.
The Davao-based 10 ID (Agila) is composed of one task force, four brigades, 11 battalions and two engineer battalions, covering the Region XI and parts of Region 12. It has a capacity of around 6,000 soldiers.

Each battalion is composed of about 500 soldiers.

Valencia said they already requesting to recall back to Davao three 10th ID battalions that have been detailed Sulu since last year.
“Through the cooperation with the local government and businessmen, we will activate additional SCAAs (militias) and later on, we will return the troops that we sent to Sulu here (in Region XI),” Año said.

The additional deployment of government troopers in Davao came after the recent attacks staged by the New People’s Army (NPA) in the city.

Security forces raid terrorists’ hideout in Lanao Sur, 11 people arrested

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 15): Security forces raid terrorists’ hideout in Lanao Sur, 11 people arrested

Security forces raided a hideout of a Filipino jihadist Maute group and arrested 11 people in Lanao del Sur on Monday as operations continue against their companions in the troubled province, officials said.

Officials said policemen and soldiers also seized assorted weapons, including a machine gun and an anti-tank rocket from the hideout in the village of Romagondong in Marogong town. The operation was so carefully hatched that all those arrested were caught by surprise by the raid and were not able to fight back security forces.

Those arrested have been identified as Abdullah Daos, Nasif Esmael, Gutingon Alah, Tayro Mamanoc, Ekmad Esmail, Alvin Adam, Monib Gutumongan, Ibrahim Caronan, Cayrodin Ditarongan, Camsi Lao, and Gaso Mazo Badua. All of them were being interrogated by authorities and initial investigations showed that the group may be planning to launch fresh attacks.

“As per initial debriefing from the arrested personalities, the Maute group is using the place as staging areas whenever they plan to conduct atrocities and bombing of different targets. They also revealed that most of the time, they provide and prepare the logistical requirements of their fellow Maute group members when planning for a specific terror act,” said Major General Arnel dela Vega, commander of the 6th Infantry Division.

He said the raiders seized one 60mm mortar, one M60 machine gun, one Barrette sniper rifle, one B40 rocket-propelled grenade, one M14 rifle, one M16 rifle, one Garand rifle, and one Carbine rifle.

Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, praised the capture of the militants and lauded troops for the successful mission. He said the Maute group continues to recruit members, especially the youth, and is believed to be working with other militants from the Ansar Khilafah Philippines operating in Mindanao.

Just over the weekend, Governor Mujiv Hataman, of the Muslim autonomous region, convened some 300 Ulama or Islamic scholars and religious leaders to seek help in an effort to fight extremism and terrorism, especially the violent influence of the Islamic State.

The three-day summit held in Cotabato City was also attended by police and military officials and other peace advocates and other stakeholders not only in the autonomous region, but also in Mindanao. Hataman said terrorists use inappropriate interpretations of Islamic principles to strengthen their cause and encourage the commission of vicious acts.

“We urge our Ulama that if we are on the right position, we should move to show what is right, and let’s condemn what is wrong,” he said, adding, the Philippines now ranked 12th among the countries heavily affected by terrorism according to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index of the Institute for Economics and Peace.

He said the presence of the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group, including other terrorist groups in the region brings the whole of ARMM at the forefront of the fight against terrorism in the country. Hataman said Muslim scholars can contribute to the advocacy against terrorism by educating people about the true teachings of Islam most especially on the principles of justice, compassion, peace and harmony.

Hataman emphasized that Islam means peace “and this can automatically counter terrorism and extremism, because peace in Islam is a key of association not isolation; it is a key of accommodation not marginalization.”

Capiz nakabenepisyo sa ‘Balikatan’

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 15): Capiz nakabenepisyo sa ‘Balikatan’ (Capiz benefits from "Balikatan"

Duha ka mga pampubliko nga eskwelahan sa Capiz ang nakabenepisyo sa programa sang Balikatan Exercise sini nga tuig.

Ang Duran Elementary School sa banwa sang Dumalag kag Malitbog Elementary School sa banwa sang Tapaz ang nakaagom sang tag-isa ka bag-o nga school building.

Ang konstruksyon sang amo nga mga classroom building ang ginpatigayon sang mga soldado gikan sa Estados Unidos sang Amerika kag sang pungsod Pilipinas.

Ginpahayag ni 1st Lt. Hazel Joy Durotan, tagpamaba sang 61st Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, nga kalakip sa mga ginpatigayon sa idalom sang Balikatan Exercise 2017 ang paghatag ihibalo kag paghanas sa mga pumoluyo, lideres sa komunidad, health workers kag iban pa nga mga service providers tuhoy sa pagpanghanda sa tion sang kalamidad.

Kalakip man sa amo nga paghanas ang sa Basic Life Support, basic hand washing, food storage, food safety kag DRR management and response.

Tinutuyo man sang amo nga Balikatan Exercise ang paghatag sang ila ihibalo sa mga pumoluyo tuhoy sa humanitarian assistance kag disaster relief, counter-terrorism kag ang madasig nga pagresponde sa emerhensya.

Sang nagligad nga tuig, ang buluthuan sa Barangay Jaena Norte sa banwa sang Jamindan kag sa San Nicolas sa Tapaz ang nabuligan man sang Balikatan Exercise 2016 para sa pagpakaayo sang ila eskwelahan kag iban pa nga mga programa subong sang pagpanghanda sa kalamidad kag para sa ikaayong-lawas.

Troops nab Abu Sayyaf bandit in Tawi-Tawi

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Troops nab Abu Sayyaf bandit in Tawi-Tawi

Government troops nabbed a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Tawi-Tawi province following a tip from residents during a community meeting over the weekend.

In a statement Monday, the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi said that soldiers under the Marine Battalion Landing Team-10 (MBLT-10) on Saturday nabbed Sahidul Bandhala Jikiri in Sitangkai town.

“The MBLT-10 troops were having a ‘pulong-pulong’ among the local populace when the information on the identity of Jikiri was volunteered by one of the concerned residents,” Brig. Gen. Custodio Parcon, Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, said.

“In coordination with the PNP (Philippine National Police), we immediately invited Jikiri for an interview. In the course of questioning, Jikiri confessed to be an ASG/KFRG (kidnap-for-ransom group) member under ASG/KFRG sub leaders Idang Susukan and Sihata Latip, whose groups are operating in Sulu Province,” Parcon said.

The suspect eventually admitted to have participated in “the crafting of plans for kidnapping and cross-border seajacking, targeting mostly foreign nationals and vessels,” the military said.

The suspect is now in the custody of the police for documentation and the filing of appropriate charges.

“This is a very good example of a community that is united in fighting the Abu Sayyaf,” Parcon said.

“We urge other towns and communities all over the BaSulTa (Basilan, Sulu Tawi-Tawi) area to do the same, so that the Abu Sayyaf and their supporters will be forced to surrender,” he added.

Last month, 11 Abu Sayyaf bandits surrendered to the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi and turned over seven high-powered firearms.

Army arrests 11 Maute terror group members in Lanao Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Army arrests 11 Maute terror group members in Lanao Sur

Eleven suspected members of the Lanao del Sur-based Maute terror group were arrested by the military Monday morning, an official said.

The raiding team, composed of personnel from the 6th Infantry Battalion (IB), also confiscated eight unlicensed high-powered firearms during the 5:15 a.m. raid on three houses in the village of Maragondong, Marogong town in Lanao del Sur, said Major General Arnel dela Vega, commander of the 6th Infantry "Kampilan" Division

Dela Vega said the military received a tip from local residents about the presence of "new faces" in their communities who were "armed to the teeth."

After receiving the information and verified through a week-long surveillance, a law enforcement operation was carried out.

Dela Vega said the guns recovered from the arrested suspects include a homemade sniper Barret rifle, 60 mm mortar launcher, a cal. M-60 machine gun, M-14 rifle, M-16 rifle, M1 Garand rifle, carbine and ammunition.

Dela Vega said the operation "was bloodless because the suspects were caught by surprise and failed to react."

The names of the arrested suspects were not available as of posting time, as follow-up operations are still ongoing.

Dela Vega said the suspects are now undergoing interrogation at the 6th IB's main camp in Malabang, Lanao del Sur.

Also seized from the suspects were flags used by the Maute Group -- which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria --- mobile phones and military fatigue uniforms. The Maute Group is also allied with the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Army vows to maintain rebel-free status in Eastern Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Army vows to maintain rebel-free status in Eastern Samar

The Philippine Army based in this province has intensified their monitoring in upland communities to deter activities of the New People’s Army (NPA), especially in poverty-stricken communities.

Lt. Col. Manuel Leo Gador, commander of the Army 14th Infantry Battalion based in Dao village in this town, said the entire Eastern Samar province was peaceful as military took full control of areas considered to be rebel-infested in the past.

Of the 22 towns in Eastern Samar, only four (Jipapad, Maslog, Mac Arthur, and Giporlos) were not yet declared as manageable conflict-affected and development-ready by the provincial government and military.

“The peace and order of Eastern Samar is manageable compared to other provinces in the region where the NPA rebels have been waging war against government troops over the past years,” Gador told PNA on Monday.

The official made the statement days after fresh clashes between the military and communist rebels in neighboring Northern Samar and Leyte provinces as NPA makes effort to renew presence in Eastern Visayas region.

Meanwhile, the army official assured the safety of members of the United States Armed Forces in Eastern Samar for the Balikatan military exercise focused on humanitarian works.

More soldiers have been deployed to secure Guiuan town where post-disaster rehabilitation activities have been conducted as part of this year’s Philippines-US Balikatan.

“We do value our relationships with the US Armed Forces and we are working together to accomplish common objectives of the Balikatan in Guiuan. Our intent is to do what is necessary to improve the stability and security of the province. It’s by working together that we can achieve our goal of lasting peace,” Gador added.

Gen. Gentiles gets two-star rank assignment as DIPO head for 3 Mindanao regions

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Gen. Gentiles gets two-star rank assignment as DIPO head for 3 Mindanao regions

Two months short of turning a year old in his former post as director of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO 6), Chief Superintendent Jose L. Gentile has been promoted to head the Directorate of Integrated Police Operations (DIPO) in Eastern Mindanao on Monday.

He was tasked to oversee the operations of the regional police offices of Regions 10, 11 and 13.

“I will be executing all the requirements of the Chief PNP as far as the operational activities of these three regions,” he said in an interview from the sidelines of Monday's turnover of command to the incoming PRO 6 director held at the Camp Martin Delgado here.

Along with his promotion is an additional star on his shoulders, making him a two-star general. He will be based in Camp Crame but will maintain satellite offices in Butuan, Cagayan De Oro and Davao City.

His promotion was due to the retirement of the DIPO chief last Friday. Gentiles, once assigned in these three assignments during his lieutenant days, was handpicked as replacement.

Gentiles described his new assignment to be more challenging given the huge coverage when compared with Western Visayas.

He said that he has to deal with problems on insurgency as well as Muslim extremist activity, different from the issues in Western Visayas.

“I was already resigned to the thought that I will be retiring here because I have already mastered PRO 6, may comfort zone. I would like to interpret it that the CPNP would like to give me a job,” he added.

Ulama to help reform former Abu Sayyaf bandits

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Ulama to help reform former Abu Sayyaf bandits

Muslim clerics and scholars (ulama) have vowed to help former members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) become productive citizens.

Alih Aiyub, Ulama Council of the Philippines secretary-general, said Monday efforts are underway to help reform the ASG members who surrendered to the government.

Aiyub said they will help in the “aspect of psychological” needs of the former Abu Sayyaf members.

“Our approach will mainly (focus) on the debriefing process, especially in the orientation and reeducation,” Aiyub said.

He said they are looking at various mechanisms where the Ulama can play an active role in the fight against radicalism and extremism particularly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where there is a heavy presence of the terror group. Aiyub said the ASG surrenderers, who numbered to 50 individuals, can “effectively convince those active members to turn in themselves" and become productive citizens.

Aiyub, however, admitted that the long-term solution to counter and totally eradicate terrorism is a challenging task.

During the summit, the Ulama council has issued a declaration against terrorism, saying that “It is Haram (forbidden and unlawful) to use Islam to justify or legitimize violent extremism and terrorism.”

The Ulama also challenged themselves “to reeducate our constituents to rediscover our Islamic faith for justice, compassion, harmony and peace.” “It is imperative upon us all to cooperate and collaborate with the stakeholders in preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism in its many forms and manifestations,” the declaration said.

To operationalize the declaration, among the efforts are to adopt a uniform or central theme of Khutbah (sermon) and reform curriculum in Islamic schools.

“We are coming up with uniform Khutbah, especially during dhuhr (noon) congregation prayer on Fridays,” Aiyub said, adding that “there should be a standard messaging on the Khutbah, so that there will be no hate speeches.”

During the summit, the workshops were focused on seven thematic concerns since there are different dimensions of the drivers and causes of terrorism.

Aiyub said these include the issues of poverty, political, socio-cultural and injustices.

Efforts are also underway to reach an agreement with different line agencies on how to “spread the message of peace and harmony.”

Gov’t troops pursue rebels who attacked hydro power plant in Majayjay, Laguna

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Gov’t troops pursue rebels who attacked hydro power plant in Majayjay, Laguna

Government troops are still pursuing on Monday the fleeing undetermined number of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who were out to burn and destroy equipment of a hydro power plant project in this town.

Reports from the Philippine Army 2nd Infantry Division (PA-2ID) in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal disclosed Monday that the Army troopers engaged the subversives in gun battle when the rebels launched their attack around 6:30 p.m.

The NPAs attempted to torch a hydro power equipment owned by the Global Heavy Equipment and Construction Corporation which is commissioned by the Department of Energy (DOE) to undertake a hydro power project in Majayjay, Laguna.

Military authorities said the company has been the target of extortion activities by the NPAs since the start of the project.

According to the Army camp, the company has received several threats from the NPAs since March this year.

However, instead of giving up to the NPA's demand, the company sought help from the Army units of the 2ID through the 202nd Infantry Brigade in the area for protection.

Reports from the 2ID said the NPAs tried to attack the three project sites of the company simultaneously in the area but their attempts were foiled by government troops.

A soldier and one CCA were slightly wounded, but no civilian worker of the construction company was harmed nor hurt in the firefight. Also, no heavy equipment was burned or damaged during the attack.

Majayjay Mayor Carlo Invinzor “Jojo” Clado also confirmed that the military operations continued on Monday morning although no casualty was reported.

He said that the NPAs have been extorting the company allegedly in the amount of Php 9 million.

Clado also reported that there was no civilian displaced during the firefight. The site of the attack is located in the outskirts of the highland town.

He also advised his constituents to remain vigilant, report any tension and never compromise their security and safety, especially as seven barangays are set to celebrate their fiesta in honor of the patron saint of the farmers, “San Isidro de Labrador.”

Two suspected Abu Sayyaf members killed in Bohol firefight

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Two suspected Abu Sayyaf members killed in Bohol firefight

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army have confirmed the deaths of the last two remaining members of the terror group Abu Sayyaf in Bohol during a firefight in Pangangan Island, Calape on Monday.

Major Sandro Sereño of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army based in Bohol said the alleged Abu Sayyaf bandit who was first killed during an encounter with government troops Monday afternoon was identified as alias "Ubayda". The other suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit, alias "Asis", was wounded but eluded arrest during the initial exchange of gunfire.

However, hot pursuit operations later resulted in the killing of Asis around 5:25 p.m. in Lawis, Pangangan in Calape, Bohol, said Maj. Sereño.

The Army major said Ubayda was identified through a wedding ring on his left forefinger as well as from a description from an informant.

Both Asis and Ubayda were reportedly the last two alleged Abu Sayyaf bandits in Bohol from among at least 10 armed men who arrived in the town of Inabanga early last month to purportedly carry out kidnapping activities.

The others were killed in separate encounters with government troops since they arrived in Inabanga, Bohol.

Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, PNP Regional Office 7 (PRO-7) regional director, said that at around 12:30 p.m. Monday, two suspected ASG members were spotted at Barangay Cahayag in Pangangan Island, Bohol.

They initially took hostage a resident of the said town, who was later released.

They commandeered a motorcycle upon sensing that government troops were nearing, said Taliño. After noticing a PNP checkpoint, the two parted ways, he added.

A blocking force of both PNP and Army personnel arrived and a firefight ensued. Apart from the body of the first slain suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit, government troopers also recovered an M-16 armalite rifle and two magazines.

CMA-S activities off Aurora unrelated to Benham Rise issue

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): CMA-S activities off Aurora unrelated to Benham Rise issue

The decision to hold Civil-Military Activities from the Sea (CMA-S) off Casiguran town, Aurora has nothing to do with the country's decision to highlight its jurisdiction of the resource-rich Benham Rise.

This was stressed by "Balikatan" Philippine spokesperson Major Frank Sayson Monday during the sidelights of the CMA-S activities which was held off Barangay Dibacong which was hypothetically devastated and isolated from help by a "Category 5" typhoon.

The latter event is one of the key features of the 33rd iteration of the "Balikatan" exercises which started May 8 and will end on the 19th.

This year's maneuvers are heavy on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions as per the request of the Philippine government.

Sayson said the area was selected by planners for the CMA-S exercises as it is one of the most easily isolated areas in the country in the event of major calamity as roads leading to it are cut down the mountains and could be easily blocked by debris, making it the ideal location for the exercise.

He said that aid and resupply to Dibacong could only be done through air and sea hence Monday's exercises centered on using naval and air assets of American and Filipino to relieve the hypothetically devastated area.

Assets used by Philippine and US troops in Monday's CMA-S activities off Barangay Dibacong, Casiguran town include the brand-new strategic sealift vessel, the BRP Tarlac (LD-601), AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" combat utility helicopters, landing craft utilities, and rigid-hull inflatable boat for the Filipino side and the USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE-2), a Lewis-and-Clark class dry cargo ship, the Bell Boeing V-22 "Osprey" tilt-rotor aircraft, Sikorsky UH-60 "Blackhawk", and Boeing C-47 "Chinook" helicopters.

These assets were used to bring relief goods, aid, medical and dental care and other necessaries which are instrumental in stabilizing the typhoon devastated community of Dibacong, Sayson pointed out.

He also said the above-mentioned operations are seamless as they are inter-service in nature.

Prior to the exercise, Sayson said US subject matter experts briefed their Filipino counterparts on various tactics and strategies which can expedite in providing relief aid to the typhoon devastated community.

PNP thwarts NPA attack on Pahiyas eve

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): PNP thwarts NPA attack on Pahiyas eve

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has thwarted an attempt of the New People's Army (NPA) to disrupt a town fiesta in Majayjay, Laguna on the eve of the celebration of the annual Pahiyas Festival in the nearby town of Lucban, Quezon.

PNP Public Information Office (PIO) chief and spokesman Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos on Monday reported that the tactical units of the Quezon Provincial Public Safety Company and the Alpha Company of the Philippine Army's 80th Infantry Battalion are now conducting "hot pursuit operations" against the NPA terrorists who had an encounter with the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Barangay Piit, Majayjay, Laguna on Sunday night.
The responding Army and CAFGU exchanged gunfires during the attack of the NPA in a construction site in the area where they burned a heavy equipment of the construction company, with whom they were allegedly extorting money.

The encounter created monstrous traffic in the Majayjay-Lucban Road, which inconvenienced the motorists going to Lucban for the Pahiyas Festival.

Carlos said that as of Monday, the Majayjay-Lucban Road is now "cleared", adding that, the Police Regional Office (PRO) Calabarzon (Cavite/Laguna/Batangas/Rizal/Quezon) are already conducting "mobile checkpoints" in support of the ongoing "hot pursuit operations" against the fleeing NPA terrorists.

DND chief signs letter of intent with Chinese arm exporter Poly Group Corporation

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): DND chief signs letter of intent with Chinese arm exporter Poly Group Corporation

The Department of National Defense (DND), representing the Philippine government, has signed Monday a letter of intent (LOI) for the purchase of weapons and other equipment from China's arms exporter, Poly Group Corporation.

This was confirmed by DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana saying this is separate from the USD14 million grant given to the Philippines last year.

"Yes, I signed a letter of intent with Poly Group. No specific equipment or arms yet. We'll let the services decide what they went to acquire from China. This is not the USD14 million grant. It is a separate deal," he said.

Signing on behalf of Poly Group Group was it's president, Zhengao Zhang.

When asked whether it is in the interest of the Philippines to acquire Chinese-made weapons when most of the equipment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is Western made, the DND chief said it will not be a problem.

"Weapons (nowadays) are all similar. They are used the same way. They can also be tailor-made for our specific requirements. Doctrine and training is peculiar to an Army so it won't be affected," he said.

Military denies spying on Tiamzon couple

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Military denies spying on Tiamzon couple

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) strongly denies allegations that its operatives are tailing or spying on National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.

This was disclosed by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo in an interview Monday.

"For the record, we deny effort being alluded to the military that we are tailing or spying on the Tiamzon couple," he said.

The Tiamzon couple were among the jailed 21 peace consultants who were granted conditional bail so they can participate in the peace talks.

Arevalo stressed that the AFP, as a whole, remains committed to primacy of the peace process and will not do anything to sabotage this.

He also called the NDF accusation as baseless as the group does not have enough basis or evidence to support their accusations other than that they saw two riders aboard aboard a motorcycle allegedly tailing them.

Arevalo also said the AFP is focused on ensuring the safety and security of the Filipino people against terrorism and other threats to just tail members of the NDF consultants for no apparent reason.

Sole surviving ASG bandit in Bohol to be bagged soon -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Sole surviving ASG bandit in Bohol to be bagged soon -- AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday expressed confidence that the sole surviving Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandit, out of the 11 that landed in Inabanga town, Bohol last April 10 for a kidnapping foray, will be arrested very soon.

This was after government forces shot and killed his companion during an encounter at Barangay Kahayag, Calape town 12:30 p.m. Monday.

"Following a tip off from a concerned Boholano, combined elements from the AFP Central Command and the PNP encountered at Barangay Kahayag, Calape, Bohol at around 12:30 p.m. today the last two remaining lawless elements who entered Bohol early in April this year," said AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.

These bandits were headed by ASG sub-leader Muamar Askali alias "Abu Rami" and Joselito Milloria.

During containment efforts of the military and police from April 11 upwards, nine of them were killed along with three soldiers, a police officer and an elderly couple.

"One of them was killed, and the other, though reportedly wounded, was able to elude and now the subject of pursuit operations. The remains of the killed bandit was recovered along with an M-16 rifle. No one among the government forces were hurt. The identity of the bandit killed is still subject for validation," he added.

The AFP spokesperson also expressed belief that the sole survivors will be either arrested soon.