Monday, June 5, 2017

Reduced Maute Group resistance now being noted in Marawi City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 6): Reduced Maute Group resistance now being noted in Marawi City

Slackening of fire is now being noted in the remaining Maute Group positions in Marawi City, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said on Monday.

He added that resistance among the remaining terrorists is now considerably less compared to the first few days of fighting.

The conflict in Marawi City started when government security troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, an ally of the terrorist band, last May 23.

"That (lessening of resistance and lower of volume of fire) means that they are low on supply, low on everything," Padilla added.

Despite this observation, the AFP spokesperson declined to give estimate on the number of the remaining Maute Group terrorists and the timeline on when the lawless group will be totally neutralized and Marawi City cleared and ready again for civilian living.

"(It) depends on the ground commander, its not on us, we will wait for the ground commander's assessment of the situation," he added.

As of this posting, Maute Group losses are now at 120, government security forces at 38, civilians executed at 20, 98 firearms recovered and 1,467 civilians rescued from the hands of the terrorists.

Recovery of cash, checks in Marawi home disprove 'looting by troops' - AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 6): Recovery of cash, checks in Marawi home disprove 'looting by troops' - AFP

The recovery of PHP52.2 million in cash and PHP27 million in checks shows that Filipino soldiers, battling Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City, are not engaged in looting.

This was stressed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto in a message to PNA Tuesday in response to claims stating soldiers are responsible for looting incidents in the conflict-hit city.

The money and checks were recovered by Philippine Marine Corps units in a house near the Mapandi Bridge Monday afternoon.

Allegedly, the house was also being used as machine gun position by the terrorists.

"(The money and checks were) duly secured and turned over to Headquarters Task Force Marawi for safekeeping. This debunks claims that troops have been involved in looting as claimed by some quarters," Padilla stressed.

He added that recovery of the money and checks and subsequent turned over to authorities by military shows that the AFP is doing its job with honor, integrity, and on high morale ground.

Military unsure of meeting Du30’s 3-day deadline to end Marawi crisis; 20 more foreign ‘terrorists’ aiding Maute

From InterAksyon (Jun 5): Military unsure of meeting Du30’s 3-day deadline to end Marawi crisis; 20 more foreign ‘terrorists’ aiding Maute

Soldiers stand guard along the main street of Mapandi village as government troops continue their assault on insurgents from the Maute group, who have taken over large parts of Marawi City, Philippines June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
The military is unsure if it would be able to meet the three-day deadline imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte to get rid of terrorists in Marawi City.

Armed Forces spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla on Monday said meeting the deadline by Tuesday, June 6, would be based on the assessment of those on the ground.

“The basis for determination of any military action on the ground will be the call of the commander. They are the ones who are fully aware of the situation,” Padilla told reporters.

“Complications have been coming out. And complications, what we mean by this is the continued use of civilians, potential hostages that may still be in their hands – the use of places of worship for one which prevents us from going all out and other factors that complicates the battle,” the military spokesperson added.

On Saturday, Duterte promised that by Tuesday, government forces would be able to quash Marawi’s takeover by members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.

But presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Monday that while “the President has promised to end the Marawi conflict within the shortest possible time,” his vow was “consistent of course with due regard for the protection of innocent lives and avoid of abuses.”

On Sunday, thousands of civilians hoping to flee fighting in Marawi remained trapped after a four-hour truce to evacuate residents was disrupted by gunfire. Only 134 were freed on Sunday, less than on previous days, despite government hopes that more than 1,000 would be able to leave a city battered by 13 days of intense fighting.

Last Friday, Padilla said rebels had continued to “occupy commercial buildings as their defensible enemy lairs,” which he said “is the subject of military action being conducted for the past few days until now.”

Earlier, Defense chief and martial law administrator Delfin Lorenzana said government troop movements in Marawi were being hampered by difficult enemy terrain and rebels who frequently moved and changed positions within concrete houses and other structures that were close to each other.

“They are actually holed up in reinforced buildings. And pati ‘yong mga kanyon natin parang hindi tumatalab eh. So ‘yon ang hirap doon [And even our cannons don’t seem to take effect. So it’s difficult there],” Lorenzana said on Thursday.

“(I)t is a built-up area and kung minsan ‘yong line of fire ng ating mga kanyon hindi rin makita dahil na-o-obstruct ng ibang building ‘yon eh [It is a built-up area and there are times we can’t see our cannons’ line of fire because it’s being obstructed by buildings],” he added.

Also, according to residents, enemies can easily get off the hook because they have built tunnels as escape routes. The Defense chief likewise said Maute “have so many snipers around shooting at our soldiers” and mosque were also being used as “nests” of these snipers.

Worsening problems in troop movement is the Maute Group’s use of civilians, including children, to deter attack by government forces.

“Compounding the situation on the ground is the use of these forces, these armed elements, of children and civilians as human shields,” said Padilla.

20 more foreign terrorists aiding Maute

On Monday, during a separate press briefing in Lanao del Sur capitol building, Armed Forces Western Command chief Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Jr. said there were 20 more alleged foreign terrorists aiding Maute rebels in fighting against government troops in Marawi.

Galvez said this was in addition to the eight other foreign rebels from Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Chechnya believed to be members of ISIS, who died during earlier clashes with the military.

The foreign terrorists were able to enter the Philippines during the Ramadan period, according to Galvez.

Meanwhile, the Westmincom chief denied reports quoting Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu that there were about 1,200 ISIS operatives in the Philippines, who came from Indonesia. Galvez said these ISIS terrorists went to Syria.

For his part, Padilla said “the revelations” of the Indonesia defense minister “is something that came as a surprise to us because as was mentioned by senior defense officials, in truth, we don’t have those numbers.”

He said the claim of the Indonesian official “needs to be subjected to inquiry. “We may address this because we have networks with the nations who are fighting against terrorism.”

Padilla added that Maute rebels might have been reinforced by “sympathetic individuals and groups” whose numbers could have “swelled” because of the “release of the prisoners from the city jail.”

“So this was something that we are mentioning all along as potential sources of warm bodies,” he said.

AFP: Gov't-MNLF alliance vs Maute 'unlikely' to happen

From the Sun Star-Manila: AFP: Gov't-MNLF alliance vs Maute 'unlikely' to happen

THE possible coalition of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters with government forces to combat members of Maute terror group in Marawi City is unlikely to happen, the spokesperson of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Monday.
Speaking to reporters, AFP spokesperson Restituto Padilla Jr. explained that both parties have to first thoroughly discuss the appropriate parameters and protocols before they could join forces in quelling Marawi crisis.
“The mechanisms for any kind of this arrangement need to be discussed thoroughly prior to its implementation. So right now, we don't have the appropriate protocols, we don't have the appropriate coordinative elements on the ground to make this happen,” Padilla said.
“So this may come later after the resolution of the Marawi incident but not during this time because we are not able to sit down and talk how it will be implemented,” he added.
Padilla's statement came after President Rodrigo Duterte said last Sunday in Subic Bay, Olongapo City, that he is willing to accept the offer of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari to allow 2,000 of his fighters to help in the ongoing fight against Maute militants.
The President said he sees no problem if thousands of MNLF fighters will serve as “integrees,” bandits who will be enlisted to the AFP.
“I’m willing to take in 2,000 as regular troops of the Armed Forces of the government,” Duterte said. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, who was with Padilla in the press conference, said the government welcomes support from the MNLF as it goes about the “long-term cleansing and rebuilding effort” in Marawi City.
“We welcome the continuing support of the MNLF, the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), and other civil society groups now finding common cause with the government in fighting a terror threat to all Filipinos,” Abella said.
Padilla said the Moro combatants can only aid assistance to government troops if the situation in Marawi City “prolongs a little bit more.”
“For the moment, that is the way we see it – [it’s not going to happen]. And if this prolongs a little bit more, then perhaps we can do it, but hopefully not,” he said. “During this period, yes [the MNLF cannot join state forces]. It could be because it is already ongoing and it’s almost nearing to solution.”
Padilla said the Chief Executive’s intent to enlist MNLF fighters as integrees is still possible but only after the government forces is able to totally wipe out the lawless activities in Marawi City. “If it will really be pushed through, many issues have to be discussed so it will be settled accordingly and will not cause any complications,” he said.

NDF: NDFP sets the record straight on political prisoner releases

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Jun 4): NDFP sets the record straight on political prisoner releases 

NDFP Media Office
Press statement
June 4, 2017

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) would like to make the following factual clarifications in the face of repeated claims by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) that the majority of the political prisoners listed by the NDFP have already been released.

The NDFP submitted a list of 411 political prisoners to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte in May 2016 for release on various grounds or through amnesty (as proposed by him) in connection with the agreement to resume peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP upon his formal assumption to office in June.

Of this number, only nineteen (19) or barely 5% were released on bail in August 2016. Of these, 17 were covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and two (2) were freed for humanitarian reasons in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

They are Tirso Alcantara, Concha Araneta, Ariel Arbitrario, Renato Baleros, Kennedy Bangibang, Alexander Birondo, Winona Birondo, Pedro Codaste, Renante Gamara, Eddie Genelsa, Alan Jazmines, Ernesto Lorenzo, Loida Magpatoc, Alfredo Mapano, Ruben Saluta, Adelberto Silva, Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Tiamzon and Porferio Tuna.

Three (3) other JASIG-protected persons were not released then and are still in detention now. They are Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan and Leopoldo Caloza.

In the 9 October 2016 Oslo Joint Statement signed by the parties after the second round of formal talks, the GRP agreed and committed to expedite their release through pardon. Therefore, their continued detention is both a blatant violation of the JASIG and in betrayal of trust and the GRP’s express commitment.

After August 2016, sixteen (16) more political prisoners were released from detention based on the merits of their respective cases, including one who should have been automatically released for having overserved his sentence.

Four (4) additional political prisoners were pardoned in December 2016, namely, Dindo Absalon, Rico Bodino, Bonifacio Suyom and Martin Villanueva. Their applications for pardon were initially approved during the time of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but were only signed by the current regime with the revival of the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance, and Pardon (PCBReP).

In the meantime, one ailing political prisoner, Bernabe Ocasla, died in jail last November.

Thus, out of the list of 411 political prisoners submitted to President-elect Duterte in May 2016, only a total of 39 or less than 10% have been released: 19 in consideration of JASIG and CARHRIHL and 20 based on the merits of their respective cases and through grant of pardon.

Not only has President Duterte failed to deliver on his promise to release all political prisoners. His regime has, in fact, added 39 more political prisoners to the roster! This includes three JASIG holders of Documents of Identification signifying that they are consultants of the NDFP. They are Ferdinand Castillo, Rommel Salinas and Promencio Cortez.

This now brings the number of political prisoners to 410—almost the same figure the NDFP started with in May last year. ###

Fidel V. Agcaoili
NDFP Panel Chairperson
Contact No. 0031-64-1324348

MILF: Editorial -- To Save Lives Is The Issue

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jun 3): Editorial -- To Save Lives Is The Issue

The real issue that is at stake in the current Marawi City crisis is how to save lives especially those of civilians including children, women, the ailing and sickly, and the aged who are still trapped inside the battle zone. Other issues take back seat or secondary consideration.
This is the reason the MILF only offered humanitarian intervention to the raging inferno in Marawi City, as contrasted to the positions taken by the MNLF faction under Nur Misuari and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Misuari offered 5,000 of his so-called MNLF fighters to reinforce government troops battling the so-called Maute group. On the other hand, the NDFP offer was to fight terrorism alongside government forces.

The most that government can do vis-à-vis these offers is not to say anything. Keeping mum on them is as good as rejecting the offers.

Clearly, the reasons behind this MILF decision are anchored more on both moral and practical considerations --- and not on rhetoric and pure propaganda hallucination.

It is the moral responsibility of every human being to help one another especially during the hour of extreme need. And this responsibility is incumbent whether those involved are Muslims or not. On the practical side, the decision does not involve making elaborate or sensitive security arrangements with government, say transporting weapons and combatants. This is virtually impossible for those armed groups which do not have formal ceasefire agreements with the government. Even those groups with ceasefire agreement with the government, the high-profile display of weapons is generally not encouraged or allowed.

More seriously, stopping a conflagration will not succeed by pouring more gasoline into it, so to speak. Also sending more weapons and combatants will only enlarge the battle arena and increase the collateral damage to the non-combatants.

However, even without thinking of it, the necessary consequence of such sincere concerns to the safety of the civilians would be an add-on legitimacy, say to the MILF.

In this regard, what is also consoling and encouraging is the equally high interest and earnest concern of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for the safety of the civilians. He readily supported the idea of creating the “peace corridor” which is supposedly a pathway for relief such as food, medicines, and other extremely need supplies. It would also provide safe-way for civilians who are fleeing the battle zone.

Right now, after the meeting of the peace corridor committee today (June 1), the ceasefire committees and AHJAG of the government and MILF have emplaced in Marawi City and Malabang, Lanao del Sur joint task forces to plan for the start of the implementation of relief operations and rescue of civilians still in the battle zone. Their coordination with the military is of primary consideration.

The meeting between leaders of the MILF and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in Davao City last May 29 had this issue as the main agenda. Of course, other agenda were also discussed such as the issue of martial law and the peace process as well as all its peace mechanisms.

The last words uttered by the president when the MILF leaders bid good bye were: “Thank you for the visit and the offer to help.”

MILF: GPH-MILF Set Up Joint Peace Corridor

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jun 3): GPH-MILF Set Up Joint Peace Corridor

In speech on Monday (June 02), Ms. Irene Santiago, Chair of the GPH Peace Implementing Panel said that, President Duterte approved the creation of a Peace Corridor, a safe and secure corridor for women, men and children fleeing the crisis in Marawi as well as a reliable space for humanitarian assistance to pass through.

On behalf of Secretary Jesus Dureza, I am pleased to announce that today the Peace Corridor has been set up by a composite team of the AFP, PNP and MILF who are, as we speak, travelling from Malabang to Marawi to set up the Joint Coordinating, Monitoring and Assistance Centre or JCMAC. There will be two Centres, one in Marawi and one in Malabang and a mobile centre plying the corridor, Santiago said.

The Peace Corridor is being jointly implemented by the Implementing Panels of the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. It is a testament to how far the Bangsamoro peace process has come and the partnership that has been established between the government and the MILF.

More than 300 trained members of the Joint Peace and Security Teams are being deployed throughout the length of the corridor and will be augmented as the need arises.

The government and MILF Peace Panels are supervising the peace corridor. On the part of the government, we have designated Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso, a retired colonel of the Philippine Army, who has been a pioneer in setting up this effective ceasefire mechanism, tried and tested for more than 12 years now.

The JCMACs will be cooperating with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or ARMM which is tasked with delivering humanitarian assistance in these areas.
It is significant to point out that Malabang is considered the oldest settlement in mainland Mindanao. Malabang comes from the Maranao word “mala” meaning big and “bang” meaning call to prayer. It is where the Arab missionary, Sharif Kabunsuan, arrived in the 14th century to Islamize the people of mainland Mindanao.

Malabang is also known in history as a place that resisted conquest from the Spanish to the Americans to the Japanese.

At the Monday meeting, President Duterte assured the MILF and the Bangsamoro people that he will honor all signed peace agreements and implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro starting with the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Santiago also reported that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission is holding plenary sessions in Davao to finalize the draft law which will be submitted to the President by mid-June.

The Peace Corridor is a manifestation of the shared vision of government and MILF of what our society should look like — one that is open, inclusive, compassionate, just, and cooperative. This is the complete opposite of the kind of society the terrorists want in Marawi — a closed, isolationist, violent, ruthless society ruled by fear with total disregard for human life and the integrity of our government and our diverse Philippine society.

The Peace Corridor is more than a safe passage way for people and goods. In working jointly to deal with this humanitarian crisis, the government and the MILF are also building a major corridor to peace.

MILF: Solidarity With Marawi, Support The Filipino People, No To Martial Law : Samidoun

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jun 4): Solidarity With Marawi, Support The Filipino People, No To Martial Law : Samidoun

The Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stands in solidarity with the Filipino national democratic movement and the Filipino people, especially those in Marawi and Mindanao, and joins that movement in condemning the recent declaration of martial law by President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement released on June 2, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network said, “The Filipino people's history with martial law is one of devastating confiscation of rights and subservience and alliance to U.S. imperialism. A new declaration of martial law in Mindanao will only enhance the suffering of Moro, Lumad and Filipino workers and peasants on the island, where some of the highest rates of poverty, concentrations of U.S. military involvement and levels of foreign corporate exploitation of resources in the country prevail.”

“Despite stated intentions to confront armed reactionary groups responsible for attacks on the people, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with U.S. backing, arms and training, have been responsible for ongoing violence against the people of Mindanao. Airstrikes and bombing threaten civilian life in the Philippines, while suspending the writ of habeas corpus allows for mass arrests. Even more, the militarization of Mindanao causes even more displacement of thousands of people without support for shelter, food and other basic needs”, it said in the statement.

Samidoun also said that, “They join the national democratic movement in the Philippines in calling on the Filipino government to address the root causes of the armed conflict on Mindanao - poverty, inequality and the violation of rights, including the denial of self-determination to the Moro people - which requires moving beyond militarism to a true just and lasting peace for the people of the Philippines, outside the framework of U.S. imperialism, militarism and exploitation.”

It also took note of the warning of "possible US involvement in exploiting the ISIS threat to justify fascist measures and foreign military intervention, in the name of 'fighting terrorism.'"

“This is especially urgent in light of President Duterte's recent speech in which he threatened to "throw [into] the slammer" the consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the revolutionary democratic movement, who are participating in peace negotiations with the government. If put into action, these threats would fundamentally act to scuttle the peace talks and present new opportunities for U.S. involvement in the further militarization of the Philippines”, it said.

Moreover, the Solidarity Network said, “The United States has consistently urged militarization under the guise of "counter-terror" and "counter-insurgency" in the Philippines, a major focal point for U.S. imperialism for over 100 years. At the same time, it has done its best to sabotage the peace talks and any attempt to prioritize the national goals and aspirations of the people of the Philippines, free of imperialist domination of exploitation. The announcement of martial law in Mindanao was accompanied by the cancellation of the fifth round of the peace talks, scheduled to address agrarian reform, land rights and a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms. It also comes only shortly after the Trump administration's declarations of support to the Duterte government.”

Grassroots organizers have warned of severe threats to the lives and liberties of Filipino agricultural workers, organizers and Moro social movements.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is engaged in struggle side by side with our Filipino comrades in cities around the world in the struggles for liberation in Palestine and the Philippines, and through the International League of People's Struggle. Our members were honored to be present alongside Leila Khaled for the launch of the Philippines-Palestine Friendship Association in 2015.

They witnessed for themselves the impact of state repression and U.S. imperialism for the benefit of global corporate exploiters, major landlords and narrow elites throughout the Philippines and particularly on Mindanao.

From Palestine to the Philippines to the indigenous land of North America, "counter-terrorism" is used as a mechanism to run rampant over the rights of indigenous peoples, confiscating wealth, resources and the land itself.

We express our solidarity with Marawi, the people of the Philippines and the social movements struggling for justice and liberation, and join their call to end martial law.

MILF: New BBL More Autonomous Than ARMM

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jun 5): New BBL More Autonomous Than ARMM

Ghazali Jaafar, Chair of the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) tasked to craft a new enabling law for Bangsamoro described the draft BBL as “far autonomous” than the current ARMM. However, Jaafar refused to give further details on the provisions of the draft BBL.
“The Preamble and Articles I up to VIII essentially vest the Bangsamoro government with powers that make it far more autonomous than the present ARMM,” he said during a press conference on June 4 at Park Inn Hotel in Davao City, Davao Today quoting Jaafar saying.

In its report on June 4, Davao Today said that during the conference, Jaafar also announced that the new Bangsamoro Law is close to its completion.

Jaafar also told reporters that they are eyeing to submit the proposed BBL to President Rodrigo Duterte by the first and second week of June.

Jaafar said the Bangsamoro government is granted with a fiscal autonomy that is “less dependent on the central government in the field of revenue generation and control over the use and disposition of the natural resources.”

He added that the Bangsamoro can “genuinely exercise control” the exploration, development and utilization of resources under Article XIII on Economy and Patrimony.

He also said the interest of Christian settlers will be protected under the Article IV on General Principles and Policies and Article IX on Basic Rights.

Jaafar said non-Moro and Christians will also occupy seats on the Bangsamoro Parliament.

“As for the sectors of the women, youth, traditional leaders and the other sectors, they have the right for participation in governance even in the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority and in the regular Bangsamoro Government,” Jaafar added.

Under Section 6 of Article VI on Intergovernmental Relations, he said traditional leaders shall be represented in the Council of Leaders which will be created once the BTA is formed.

Meanwhile, he said democracy is guaranteed as all affected residents of the territories and contiguous areas shall be consulted whether they shall join the new Bangsamoro government.

Jaafar said the BTC will hold another plenary session to finalize the draft which they will submit to Duterte,

The BTC approved to adapt the previous BBL as its working document which Jaafar said helped a lot in crafting the new BBL.

MNLF-IIO: Photos - Ramadan Meeting With The President

From the Moro National Liberation Front International Information Office (Jun 3): Ramadan Meeting With The President

MNLF Founding Chairman Nur Misuari meeting with President Duterte Presidential Communications (Government of the Philippines) to discuss the MNLF role in preserving the peace and security in Mindanao.

The president expressed his gratitude to the MNLF leadership for their support in maintaining the peace and stability during this many events unfolding.
Part of the discussion in this meeting with PRRD is to evaluate how the President and his government could accomodate the selfless offer of the MNLF Chairman to support in restoring peace in Marawi and nearby areas.

Attending the meeting with the Chairman are top MNLF integress senior officers who are committed to support the PRRD peace agenda.

Image may contain: 10 people, people standing
Image may contain: 5 people, people standing

DWDD: Marines receives counter terrorism equipment from US

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 5): Marines receives counter terrorism equipment from US

Commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat accepted new counter-terrorism weapons and equipment from United States Embassy military representatives during a transfer ceremony at PMC Headquarters in Taguig, June 5.

Officials from the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) turned over weapons and equipment delivered recently under the U.S. government’s Counterterrorism Train and Equip Program at a ceremony at PMC Headquarters. This equipment will enhance the PMC’s counterterrorism capabilities, and help protect Philippine Marines actively engaged in counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines.

The weapons and equipment include 300 M4 carbines, 200 Glock 21 pistols, 4 M134D Gatling-style machine guns, and 100 M203 grenade launchers delivered May 18-22 to Clark Air Base. JUSMAG also delivered 25 new Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC) with outboard motors May 30 to PMC Headquarters. The PMC’s Inshore Boat Battalion and Marine Special Operations Group have already employed previous U.S. Counterterrorism Train and Equip gear in ongoing combat operations in the southern Philippines.

Since 2007, representatives from JUSMAG have delivered and programmed Php7.3 billion of military equipment to the Philippine Marine Corps and other branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to enhance counterterrorism capabilities. In addition, the AFP has procured small-arms weapons, water craft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and personal protective equipment as part of the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales system and other programs.

Over the last five years, the U.S. government has allocated Php15 billion of grant funding to provide the AFP with equipment, including corresponding upgrades and training. The equipment transfers and continued bilateral training and exercises demonstrate the commitment of the United States to work with the Philippines towards building safer communities and eradicating global terror networks....

LOOK: Japan, PH vessels operate together

From Update Philippines (Jun 4): LOOK: Japan, PH vessels operate together

 PCG photo

Vessels from Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and a large patrol ship from Japan Coast Guard (JCG) have conducted an interoperability exercise at vicinity waters off Talicud Island, Igacos, Davao Del Norte on June 3.

The activity was in line for 12th Maritime Law Enforcement Exercise (MARLEN) participated by PCG, JCG, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).

BRP Pampanga (SARV-003), BRP Tubbataha (MRRV 4401), BRP Capones (MRRV 4404), rubber boats of PCG and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Monitoring, Control & Surveillance (MCS) ship 3003 being manned by PCG participated in the interoperability exercise.

PCG photo
JCG Patrol Vessel-Large With Helicopter (PLH-08) Echigo with its embarked helicopter took part in the exercise.

“Prior the said exercise, a Rubber Boat Operation Training was conducted by the JCG MARLEN Experts to 20 PCG personnel from the crew of participating PCG vessels and personnel of Coast Guard District Southeastern Mindanao in Davao City slated last 30 May and had their culminating ceremony yesterday, 02 June,” PCG said.

Air Force C-130 provides aero-medevac for soldiers wounded in Marawi

From Update Philippines (Jun 4): Air Force C-130 provides aero-medevac for soldiers wounded in Marawi

One of the five military transport C-130 aircraft of Philippine Air Force operating under 220th Airlift Wing (220AW) has provided aero-medical evacuation for soldiers who sustained wounds from the ongoing operations against Maute terrorist group in Marawi City.

Twenty wounded troops from Laguindingan airport in Misamis Oriental were transported to Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base in Pasay City midnight of June 2.

“The aircraft was instantly reconfigured for aeromedical evacuation,” 220AW said. “The patients were transferred to military treatment facilities in Manila where it housed advanced equipment and specialized doctors.”

220AW said much of the improvement in the aeromedical evacuation survival rates can be attributed to the very quick response time of the C-130 aircrew including the member of the S-7 team on-board to support similar missions.

“The significant impact of these airlift missions will result to the increased morale of our troops, knowing that in these unfortunate circumstances, your airlifters will provide the fastest possible means of air evacuation to ensure that our injured troops will receive the best medical care they deserve,” 220AW said.

Duterte accepts 2000 MNLF fighters to fight terrorists

From Update Philippines (Jun 4): Duterte accepts 2000 MNLF fighters to fight terrorists

President Rodrigo Duterte, during his visit to Japan’s biggest warship, announced that he accepted Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari’s offer of 2,000 fighters who are still physically fit to fight terrorists in Mindanao.

“I accepted the offer,” the President said as quoted by “We have always been accepting integrees from the MNLF.”

MNLF fighters will be joining the Armed Forces of the Philippines as integrees.

Duterte and Misuari met on Saturday at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City. Misuari was accompanied by his wife and son.

The President said NPA rebels are also welcome to be integrated to the AFP or they could surrender and receive benefits under the government’s reform program.

“That offer also goes to the NPAs. Kayong ayaw na ninyo mag-away, I’m not asking you to join my force. You just surrender and I’ll give you the houses and I will expand the land reform program of the government. Ako yung maghanap ng pera,” he said.

But Duterte said the offer does not extend to NPA commanders.

“Yung gustong magsundalo, kung ano ‘yung ranggo mo do’n, ‘yun ang ranggo mo dito. I’m not taking ‘yung mga generals. The rank and file, if they desire to surrender and be with the – to fight with the government forces, I am taking them in as soldiers of the Republic,” he said.

Fresh battle ends bid to free civilians

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 5): Fresh battle ends bid to free civilians

Efforts to rescue up to 2,000 civilians trapped by fighting between troops and Islamist militants in Marawi City failed yesterday when a proposed truce ended in a hail of gunfire and explosions, authorities and witnesses said.

The civilians were pinned down nearly two weeks ago in the center of Marawi on Mindanao island, where gunmen loyal to the Islamic State group are holding out against a military assault.

The government said 178 people have been killed, so far.

Local authorities said government officials, working through intermediaries, had reached agreement with the militants to observe a four-hour ceasefire yesterday to let the trapped civilians leave.
But the officials failed to secure agreement from their own military for the truce, provincial crisis management committee spokesman Zia Alonto Adiong told AFP.

He said the military only allowed rescuers to access areas on the fringes of zones held by the militants, and barred them from entering bombed-out city blocks.

As a result, only some 170-plus trapped residents were led to safety, according to the military.

“We felt a bit disappointed and betrayed. We're talking about lives of people, my God!" Adiong said. “There are 2,000 people who need immediate help (after) 13 days without food."

Gunfire and explosions, including from several artillery shells, later forced the rescuers to retreat, AFP journalists saw. There were contradictory reports on who was firing.

“The military... did not approve entry into high-risk areas to avoid putting our humanitarians in danger and any possibility that may complicate the situation," President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

The chief delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross in the southern Philippines told AFP those rescued yesterday were mostly men and appeared to be in relatively good health.

By contrast, 14 of the nearly 200 rescued on Saturday had to be hospitalized, Roberto Petronio said.

"These were mostly children who were suffering from diarrhea and malnutrition," he added.


The military has bombarded Marawi with air strikes and waged fierce street-to-street battles with hundreds of gunmen since they began a rampage through residential areas waving the black flags of the IS.

A total of 120 gunmen, including eight foreign fighters, 38 soldiers and police, and 20 civilians have been killed, officials said, giving lower figures than previously for civilian deaths.

Scores of people made a daring dash for safety on Saturday, including one of Marawi's most respected politicians who had hidden 71 Christians in his home and led 144 people through downtown streets strewn with rotting corpses.

Yesterday's ceasefire deal was initially reached following a meeting last week between Duterte and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the nation's biggest rebel organization which offered to broker a halt in hostilities using contacts with the fighters in Marawi, Adiong told AFP.

Unarmed MILF rebels were to have escorted the civilians to safety during a four-hour period ending at noon.

The main Muslim rebel groups, like the MILF, have signed accords with the government aimed at forging a final peace, giving up their separatist ambitions in return for autonomy.

But small hardline groups, including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf, which are involved in the Marawi battle, have refused to negotiate and sought to unite behind IS.

Indonesia's Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said yesterday there are about 1,200 IS operatives in the Philippines.

He was speaking at a security forum in Singapore. Philippine Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David, speaking at the same event, put the figure at about 250-400.

The clashes in Marawi erupted when security forces raided a house to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, a veteran Filipino militant regarded as IS' leader in the Philippines. He is on the US government's list of most-wanted terrorists.

Authorities said they were taken by surprise when many gunmen emerged to protect Hapilon and then went on a rampage through Marawi, which has a population of 200,000.

Shortly after the violence erupted, Duterte imposed martial law across the southern region of Mindanao, home to 20 million people, to quell what he said was an IS bid to establish a base in the mainly Catholic Philippines.

NPA- Maute alignment denied

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 5): NPA- Maute alignment denied

The 303rd Infantry Brigade yesterday said there is no truth to reports of an alleged alignment between a group of New People's Army and the Maute terror group in the Negros Island Region.

Capt. Eduardo Precioso, 303rd Infantry Brigade Civil Military Operations officer,said yesterday “The current security situation in Negros Island Region is manageable”.

“We do not have reports of terror groups in the NIR, nor an alliance of NPA and terror groups”, Precioso stressed.

“However, as part of our additional preemptive security measures in the region against terror attacks, we have been enhancing our security patrols, particularly in the coastal and maritime areas,” he said.

Senior Supt. Henry Biñas, provincial police director of Negros Oriental, described as “false” a report noted to have circulated during the first and second weeks of May.

Binas said it was further verified by the municipal officials of Basay City in Negros Oriental, that the alleged group of NPA and the personalities mentioned, did not exist.

Meanwhile, Precioso said that, coordinating conferences with the different security sectors, local government units, and government agencies, as well as civil organizations are being conducted to further enhance the preemptive measures against terrorism and lawless activities in the region.

At the same time, Precioso also said he was not the source of the information, that was published in a local newspaper,quoting him as saying that the NPA faction had pledged allegiance to a faction of the Maute Group under a certain Commander Ayman Salaam in Basay City, Negros Oriental.

“These statements are not true, nor are they being confirmed by the Army,” he said.

Precioso lamented that the statements attributed to him had brought confusion and alarm in Negros.

He also said that the state security forces in Negros are only confronting NPA groups.

But with the ongoing government actions against terror groups in Mindanao, Precioso said “ We cannot discount the possibility that terrorism might spillover to the region or they might create a scenario to divert the attention of the government”.

We are appealing to the public to take part in monitoring any unusual activities in the region as part of their social responsibility.

Negros, Panay soldiers killed in Marawi battles, Army says

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 5): Negros, Panay soldiers killed in Marawi battles, Army says

Four Army soldiers from Negros and Panay,have died in the series of gunbattles with the Maute terror group in Marawi City, Lanao del Norte.

The 15th Infantry Battalion, that had been dispatched by the 3rd Infantry Division to Mindanao several years ago, suffered three casualties in the ongoing clearing of Marawi City of ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group.

Killed were SSgt. Joseph Villanueva of Brgy.Puso, La Castellana in Negros Occidental, Sgt. ThrolenLago of Mambusao,Capiz and PFC Anthony Capulot of Leon,Iloilo, all members of the 15th Infantry Battalion, military records show.

A C-130 Air Force cargo plane delivered the bodies of the three slain Army soldiers to Negros Occidental,Iloilo and Capiz on Saturday. They are now with their families.

The three Army soldiers, as well as Army 2Lt. MacGlenAbuyabor, a member of the elite Light Reaction Company, of Bais City, Negros Oriental, died in the Marawigunbattle, that has been raging for more than a week now.

Aside from the 15IB, the 11th Infantry Battalion had also been dispatched last year by the 3rd Infantry Division to Zamboanga City, as ordered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Ma. Gen. Jon Aying, 3ID commander, however, said that there is no advice to pull out more troops from Negros Island Region, to be displayed inMarawi siege.

Late last year, the the 302nd Infantry Brigade and the 47th Infantry Battalion were also pulled out from Negros, as the 3ID area of operations was expanded to Central Visayas, including Cebu and Bohol.

This prompted the 3ID to organize the 1st and 2nd Negros Island Geographical Battalions, that are composed of about 1,000 members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit and Philippine Army reservists, to augment regular Army soldiers in the conduct of non-traditional military activities.

The dates of that burials of the four Army soldiers have yet to be determined. But they are expected to be accorded full military honors, the 3ID Public Affairs Division Office said.

Terrorists wound 2 soldiers during Marawi 'humanitarian pause'

From Rappler (Jun 5): Terrorists wound 2 soldiers during Marawi 'humanitarian pause'

During the 4-hour humanitarian pause, 179 civilians are rescued from Marawi City   

ONGOING CLASHES. A policeman shows a .50mm caliber bullet from the Maute Group sniper who fired at them. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

ONGOING CLASHES. A policeman shows a .50mm caliber bullet from the Maute Group sniper who fired at them. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Terrorists in Marawi City wounded two soldiers during the 4-hour humanitarian pause declared by the government on Sunday, June 4.

"It is saddening to note that, despite the efforts of 3rd party facilitators, there were violations committed by criminals in the area. They caused the wounding of two of our men who were escorting the humanitarians into the area," said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla on Monday, June 5.

He was holding a press conference at the Palace alongside Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella.

The humanitarian pause from 8 am to noon on Sunday was facilitated by Bangsamoro peace process government panel chairperson Irene Santiago, with the help of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The pause is an implementation of the "peace corridor" established by President Rodrigo Duterte.

According to Abella, during the pause, 179 civilians were rescued from Marawi City where Maute Group members continue to hold certain areas.

There was never a "100%" guarantee that armed elements of the group would respect the humanitarian pause, said Padilla.

"The risks are really high so we salute all the men and women involved in the humanitarian pause yesterday," he said.

The military will continue helping aid groups reach civilians in need of rescue and assistance.

Abella said that, as of 6 pm on June 4, the government has provided P45.3 million worth of food and non-food assistance to those affected by the Marawi crisis.

A total of 37,640 families or 185,878 persons have been displaced in Northern Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Of these, 3,768 families or 18,065 persons are in 29 evacuation centers.

Civilian casualties rose to 20 as of June 4, after a terrorist sniper shot a civilian on Saturday, June 3. The number of enemies killed remains at 120 while the number of government casualties is at 38. Ten of the casualties on the government side were soldiers killed in a botched military air strike.

Padilla said the Maute Group holds only around 10% of the city. Efforts of the military to flush them out completely are being hampered by the terrorists' use of civilians as human shields and mosques and madrasas as attack staging areas. (READ: Military won't meet June 2 deadline to end Marawi siege)

AFP chief General Eduardo Año has instructed ground commanders to "do everything to avoid" bombing these mosques.

The clashes in Marawi City began on May 23 and prompted Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao that same day. The 1987 Constitution states martial law must not exceed 60 days and any extension has to be approved by Congress. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know)

Military studying possibility of attacking Marawi mosques

From Rappler (Jun 5): Military studying possibility of attacking Marawi mosques

Maute Group members continue to stage attacks from Marawi mosques and madrasas, which are protected by international laws on cultural property during armed conflict

MARAWI CRISIS. Smoke rises near a public market after military attack helicopters fired rockets on the positions of Muslim extremists in Marawi City on May 25, 2017. Photo by Ted Aljibe/Agence France-Presse

MARAWI CRISIS. Smoke rises near a public market after military attack helicopters fired rockets on the positions of Muslim extremists in Marawi City on May 25, 2017. Photo by Ted Aljibe/Agence France-Presse

The Philippine military is considering bombing mosques where Maute Group members are staging attacks on troops as pressure mounts for them to end the Marawi crisis.

“That is a matter we are studying carefully,” he said on Monday, June 5 during a chance interview in Malacañang.

The use by terrorists of mosques and madrasas as areas from which to stage attacks on government forces is a major reason why they continue to hold around 10% of the city under their control, said Padilla.

Some of these religious buildings are being used as “sniper nests” by terrorists, affording them good vantage points and protection, given the international laws against attacks on places of worship and other cultural property.

These same conventions are why the military is considering targeting mosques as a last resort.

“Our Chief of Staff has instructions to ground commanders to do everything to avoid this course of action,” said Padilla.

The military continues to call on terrorists to surrender and avoid occupying places of worship.

There are exceptions to the rule against attacking cultural property during an armed conflict, said Padilla.

“Any person who is armed who harbors a certain area, be it a hospital or places of worship, if they insist on staying in that place there are provisions internationally that say they can be targeted,” said Padilla.

The 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict calls on countries to refrain from “any act of hostility directed against such property.”

However, the accord, signed by the Philippines, says such a rule can be waived in cases of “imperative military necessity.”

This waiver can only be invoked if an officer commanding a force the size of a battalion or larger determines there is imperative military necessary to target a cultural property.

Hague Convention rules also require that the military give advance warning when the cultural property will be attacked.

The Marawi crisis enters into its 14th day on Monday, June 5. The martial law in Mindanao declared by President Rodrigo Duterte due to the crisis also enters into its 14th day.