Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Agcaoili: 39 released, 39 arrested political prisoners under Duterte admin

Posted to the often pro-CPP Davao Today (Jun 5): Agcaoili: 39 released, 39 arrested political prisoners under Duterte admin

National Democratic Front negotiating panel chairperson, ​Fidel Agcaoili, ​visited 34 political prisoners at the Davao del Norte Provincial Jail last June 9, 2016 to get update on their situation. (Ace R. Morandante/davaotoday.com)

Except for one political detainee who died while in prison, the numbers of political prisoners released and those arrested under the present government are equal, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines said.

In a statement Sunday, Fidel Agcaoili, chairperson of the NDFP panel said out of the 411 political prisoners they submitted to the president for release, a total of 39 detainees were released, 20 of whom were freed based on the merits of their case while 19 were in consideration of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

Even with the releases of political prisoners to participate in the peace talks, the NDFP said they are back to the almost exact figure of political prisoners since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office

“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,” Agcaoili said.

He said the number composed less than 10 percent of the total count of political detainees.

“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 19 or barely 5 percent were released on bail in August 2016,” Agcaoili said.

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.
He said 17 of those released by the government to participate in the talks were covered by the JASIG and two were freed for humanitarian reasons in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Both the JASIG and CARHRIHL are agreements signed by the government and the NDFP. JASIG grants immunity to peace consultants while they participate in the peace negotiations.

Meanwhile, three of the other JASIG-protected persons are still in detention namely Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan and Leopoldo Caloza.

Agcaoili said the parties agreed to release the three through pardon in their Oslo Joint Statement on October 9, 2016.

“Therefore, their continued detention is both a blatant violation of the JASIG and in betrayal of trust and the GRP’s express commitment,” he said.

Sixteen more political prisoners were released after August last year. But Agcaoili said their release was based on the merits of their cases.
In December last year, four political prisoners namely, Dindo Absalon, Rico Bodino, Bonifacio Suyom and Martin Villanueva, were granted pardon.

“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),” said Agcaoili.

But the demand for the release of the prisoners resounded louder after ailing political prisoner, Bernabe Ocasla, died on November 25 last year.

The NDFP said the grant of amnesty to all political prisoners will serve as an incentive to push the talks forward.

The communists said the political prisoners were “unjustly detained” and are facing trumped up charges, which violates the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Duterte in June last year, said if the New People’s Army is ready to surrender the arms, he might grant all political prisoners amnesty.

“If they are ready to surrender the arms, and resume their normal role in the society, then I might consider with Congress, amnesty,” he said.

“But there will be no mass release of NPAs who are in our custody. They will only be released, if things go good, fine…Amnesty is given to a group of persons. Yan ang sinabi ko. Wala akong sinabi na i-release ko lahat (That’s what I said. I didn’t say that I will release all of them),” he said.

In December last year, Duterte said he wants the government and the NDFP to sign a ceasefire agreement first before he releases political prisoners. However, he did commit to release old and sickly political prisoners before Christmas time.

“Alam mo, we have to continue and even now they’re asking for the release of 130 political prisoners. Sabi ko, I cannot. I cannot give you that. I’m sorry but I have already conceded so much on the side of the government,” Duterte said in a speech during the lighting of the Malacañang Christmas tree on December 5, 2016.

GRP still committed to release prisoners

In an interview with Davao Today during the announcement of the GRP that they do not wish to participate to the fifth round of the formal talks on May 28 in The Netherlands, GRP peace panel member Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad said the government remains committed to comply with its obligation to release the prisoners.

“We will continue to comply with that commitment, in fact, even before the fifth round started, we have been exerting our effort to cause the release of those who are already qualified for pardon. In fact, the PCBREP secretariat already released the resolutions recommending for the release of those whose documents are already in order,” Librado-Trinidad said.

As of December last year, she said there were 21 political prisoners already have clearances, 18 of whom are eligible for pardon.

Librado-Trinidad also added there are 200 political prisoners who are on the process of clearing pending cases from different offices.

Commentary: The infraculture behind Abu Sayyaf, Maute

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 6): The infraculture behind Abu Sayyaf, Maute

Tapusin na natin ito.” Let’s finish this. Thus did police spokesperson Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos echo his Commander-in-Chief and give voice to why many—especially those in Mindanao—silently acquiesce to the declaration of martial law there. Four decades of armed secessionist movements, and now the threat of a link to the Islamic State through small bands of terrorists like the Maute and the Abu Sayyaf, have sapped the long-suffering patience of the people of Mindanao with the violence and mayhem that characterize their lives.

But worth asking is whether the all-out military solution will actually end this protracted state of war and disorder. The Estrada administration tried it at the turn of this century, and failed. The various armed elements and the socioeconomic forces that support them have proven resilient, and the rivalry for hegemony among them has been a factor in stalling or spoiling efforts at a political settlement. Adding now to the mix is the naked ploy to appeal for support from the ummah, whose presence on the world’s stage is unfortunately being increasingly defined by extremist elements.

Many studies have shown that conflicts that start out as wars of grievance, like the separatist movements in the South, are complex and require winning hearts and minds more than strength of arms. Moreover, hot spots like Syria or older flashpoints like the Horn of Africa soon mutate into a multisided war of free-forming alliances with global power interests that profit from the perpetuation of the conflict.

In the case of Mindanao, we need to factor into the analysis the subterranean infraculture that explains, for the most part, the futility of a merely military or political solution.

A local source tells me of the layers of power that operate in Mindanao and serve as an enabling environment for the continuing conflict. The most visible are those who carry arms and engage the government in open conflict, namely the MILF/MNLF and their marauding offshoots like the Abus and the Maute. But behind these is the old tribal system, where the authority of the datus or the imams parallels that of formally elected officials, and is often more compelling. At the base is the support of grassroots communities whose loyalties, based on kinship networks, interlock with those of rebel elements.

This infraculture has yet to be sufficiently engaged. Government attempts to negotiate a peace agreement fail partly because of the tribal undercurrents that continually serve as static between the Maguindanao-based MILF and the mainly Tausug faction of Nur Misuari.

As well, behind the scenes are traditional leaders with enough clout to broker a political settlement, but do not figure at all in official negotiations. I got to see the force of this kind of authority while working among the Tinggian in Abra who were cut off by landslides during the great earthquake of 1990. Since all hands were needed to clear the roads, the tribal elders admonished members of the New People’s Army, most of whom were relatives, to come down from the mountains and help.

Similarly, no amount of bombing in Marawi City can flush out the Abus or the Maute who are embedded in their communities by ties of blood or marriage. Mr. Duterte’s call to the MILF/MNLF to join forces with the government in stamping out the runaway lawlessness of the Abus and the Maute smartly engages the realities on the ground. The Maute brothers—Abdullah and Omar—were once members of the MILF, and are first cousins to the wife of the MILF vice chair for military affairs, now dead. But such ties can be double-edged. While useful in connecting with these intractable cells of terror, blood usually runs thicker than watery sentiments about right and wrong, and there is no telling which way their loyalties will go when push comes to shove.

Ideologically, Muslims in this country have never felt part of that construct called the “Filipino nation.” Globalization has all the more sidelined nationality and given rise to primal identities—usually culturally or religiously defined. The Abus and the Maute are instinctively riding this wave.

[Dr. Melba Padilla Maggay is a social anthropologist and author of “Rise Up and Walk, Culture and Religion in Empowering the Poor,” published in Oxford, UK]


AFP troops capture 3 armed NPAs in Agusan del Sur

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 6): AFP troops capture 3 armed NPAs in Agusan del Sur

Combat maneuvering troops of the Army’s 26th Infantry Battallion (26th IB) nabbed three heavily armed members of New People’s Army (NPA) in Sta. Maria, Veruela, Agusan del Sur.

A military report sent to The Manila Bulletin early Monday evening said 26th IB troops captured from the NPA war materials such as two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with blasting caps and wires, 1 M16 Armalite rifle, 1 M1Garand rifle, 1 caliber .45 pistol, a caliber .38 revolver and several rounds of assorted live ammunitions.

In his initial report to Col. Cristobal N. Zaragoza, commanding officer of the Army’s 401st Infantry (Unity) Brigade, Lt. Col. Rommel Pagayon, 26th IB commander, identified the arrested alleged NPA rebels as Bernie S. Perez, alias “Ka Ariel”; Joel S. Perez, alias “Ka Jo” and Nino S. Perez, alias “Ka Onin”.

“Research done by the intelligence operatives and Philippine National Police revealed that Bernie S Perez, alias ‘Ka Ariel’ has a standing warrant of arrest for the crime of murder,” Col. Pagayon disclosed.

However, the 26th IB commander did not mention in his report if the captured Perezes are related by blood, affinity or connection.

Col. Pagayon said the three alleged NPAs were members of guerilla-Front Committee 3 of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

“The trio crossed path with our troops on Saturday who were on patrol. The soldiers noticed that one of the sacks they were carrying revealed an outline of a rifle which prompted them to accost the trio. Ka Onin tried to escape but was seized later,” the 26th IB commander added, in his report.

Along with the police in Veruela Municipal Police Station, the arrested NPAs are still under tactical investigation in preparation for filing of appropriate charges in court in Veruela, Agusan del Sur, Col. Pagayon added.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal, commanding general of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4thInfantry (Diamond) Division on Tuesday congratulated the field troops as he extorted them to be more cautious and vigilant in the advent of the NPAs plan to wage more attacks on AFP and PNP forces and uncooperative business entities.


Dads want more military troops in Davao

From the often pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (Jun 6): Dads want more military troops in Davao

Scores of police officers in full combat gear patrol along Roxas Avenue in Davao City on the first day of Martial Law in Mindanao on Wednesday, May 24. President Rodrigo Duterte, through Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella announced the declaration on Tuesday evening after a series of clashes erupted between government troops and members of the Maute in Marawi City. (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The city council here is set to pass a resolution requesting President Rodrigo Duterte to deploy an additional army battalion to secure the city.

This was announced by City Councilor Nilo Abellera Jr. to reporters on Tuesday, June 6.

He added that they will also be requesting for two fast boats to guard the coastlines of Davao City.

Abellera, who chairs the council’s committee on peace and order said Davao City used to have three battalions as security contingent.
Of the three, two battalions were pulled out upon the orders of President Duterte.
Earlier requests resulted in the return of one battalion, but Abellera insisted the city council wanted to put Davao City into its former state of security.

He also told reporters that a separate resolution which is still pending for the approval of the City Legal Office will allow City Mayor Sara Duterte to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the 10th Infantry Division to organize, train, and employ additional Special Civilian Armed Forces Auxiliary Units.

Abellera expects for the passage and approval of said resolution next week.

For his part, Public Safety and Security Command Center Chief Benito De Leon said the additional forces will likely be deployed in the city’s uptown and midtown areas.
The uptown area covers Paquibato District, where several skirmishes between government troops and the New People’s Army have occurred..

The midtown area, he added, include Mandug, where security presence is considered sparse.

On April 29 this year, NPA guerrillas burned the packing plants of Lapanday Foods Corporation located in Barangay Mandug and Barangay Bunawan.

De Leon reiterated that the Task Force Davao only covers the downtown area of Davao City.
“We need more forces to cover that. In the meantime that there is a want for an infantry battalion, the mayor has directed the activation of special CAFGUs to put more manpower on the ground and help the military in its anti-insurgency campaign,” De Leon said.

NPA unlikely to join fight vs Maute group, says analyst

From the Philippine Star (Jun 6): NPA unlikely to join fight vs Maute group, says analyst

Members of Philippine Marines advance their positions as they prepare to assault the Maute group in Marawi City. Erik De Castro, Reuters

Having communist rebels join the fight against Maute terrorists in Marawi City is a good but unlikely idea since New People's Army (NPA) fighters are far from the battleground, a scholar said Tuesday.
Francisco ‘Pancho’ Lara Jr, country director for International Alert, said at most, communist rebels could help by ordering their armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to cease from committing atrocities that would require a redeployment of state troops away from battle-torn Marawi City.

“I think at the most what could happen that could help is what the President has been asking for in the first place: for the NPA to stand down while the government is moving against the terrorist in Marawi. And if that will happen, that will be their contribution to the fight against terrorism,” Lara said in an interview on ANC’s “Early Edition.”

President Rodrigo Duterte in a previous speech said fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and NPA may help the government fight the Maute group and other rebels.

READ: Duterte asks separatists, Maoists to join fight against Maute group

A joint statement from the government and MILF quoted MILF chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim as saying that they welcomed President Duterte’s idea for their forces to extend “humanitarian assistance to civilians which are still trapped” in Marawi City.

Duterte earlier said MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari had already agreed to send some of his troops to help government forces in Marawi.

READ: MILF ready to assist gov’t in Marawi crisis

Lara said he thinks that the offer of Misuari demonstrates the MNLF leader's willingness to keep his word of supporting the President, and also because the terrorists are seen as a threat to areas where Misuari's faction is operating.
Lara, who also chairs the government ceasefire committee with the National Democratic Front (NDFP), added that he does not see “any actual possibility” that the NPA would join government forces in clearing Marawi City of terrorists due to geographic and operational reasons.
He explained that geographically, the NPA is far away from the battleground against Maute terrorists which is in Lanao del Sur.

“It is good in the sense that the government can concentrate its attention on the Abu Sayyaf and Maute group but that is if both the fronts, the MILF, the MNLF and the New People’s Army do not move during this incident still going on in Marawi,” he said.

NPAs remain active in Mindanao

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 6): NPAs remain active in Mindanao

A soldier was wounded after New People’s Army (NPA) rebels ambushed a military vehicle in Kaimba, Sarangani on Monday.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Leander, 27th Infantry Battalion commander, said elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion (27IB) were on their way to Barangay Lomuyon, Kiamba to conduct community immersion when they were waylaid by at least seven NPA rebels.

He said the soldiers were able to return fire which prompted the rebels to withdraw toward the mountaneous area ,” Leander said.

Col. Tyne Banas, 1002nd Army Brigade commander, said additional troops were dispatched in the area to track down the fleeing rebels.

Meanwhile, in Sta. Maria, Veruela, Agusan del Sur, troops of the 26th Infantry Battalion (26IB) captured three Communist insurgents and recovered improvised bombs, high-caliber rifles, pistols and several rounds of live ammunition.

In his initial report to Col. Cristobal N. Zaragoza, commanding officer of the Army’s 401st Infantry (Unity) Brigade, Lt. Col. Rommel Pagayon, 26th IB commander, identified the alleged NPA rebels as Bernie S. Perez, alias “Ka Ariel”; Joel S. Perez, alias “Ka Jo” and Nino S. Perez, alias “Ka Onin”.

“Research done by the intelligence operatives and Philippine National Police revealed that Bernie S Perez, alias ‘Ka Ariel’ has a standing warrant of arrest for the crime of murder,” Col. Pagayon disclosed.


Army general denies 1,200 ISIS fighters in PH

From Rappler (Jun 5): Army general denies 1,200 ISIS fighters in PH

Western Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez says the hundreds of fighters are in Syria, not here

SUSPECTED MAUTE. Several man were arrested by authorities Saturday morning, June 3, as they swim across Agus River in Marawi City. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

SUSPECTED MAUTE. Several man were arrested by authorities Saturday morning, June 3, as they swim across Agus River in Marawi City. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

The Philippine general who has jurisdiction over areas notorious for the presence of terrorists denied there are up to 1,200 Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in the country.

Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, the chief of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) that covers Marawi City, said the report he got is there’s over a thousand Indonesian and Malaysian fighters in Syria right now that governments fear “will be coming back here [in the region].”

“What the Malaysian President told us is there are more or less 1,000 Indonesians and 300 Malaysians over there in Syria,” said Galvez on Monday, June 5.

“They are not here. They’re in Syria,” Galvez said.

Galvez said the military has been cooperating with the Bureau of Immigration to make sure they do not come to the Philippines.

Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu on Sunday, June 4, there are 1,200 ISIS fighters in the Philippines.

Galvez said there are “foreign fighters” in the country but they only number “maybe two dozen or even more” but “not more than 30.”

At least 8 foreigh fighters are believed to have been killed, based on official reports. But Galvez estimated that at least 12 were already killed in Marawi City.

ISIS previously called on its followers in Southeast Asia to fight for the terror group either in Syria or in the Philippines.

Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon is supposed to be the “emir” of ISIS in Southeast Asia.

According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, ISIS formally recognized Hapilon in December 2016. The international terrorist group supposedly instructed Hapilon to establish a caliphate in Central Mindanao.

Galvez doesn’t believe the ISIS sympahtizers in the Philippines – the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Maute Group – have been recognized, however. He said the attack in Marawi City was their bid to gain that recognition.

According to former regional vice governor Norodin Alonto Lucman, a traditional leader who was trapped here at the height of the fighting, there are up to 700 enemies inside the combat zone.


Hundreds still trapped in Marawi as crisis enters 3rd week

From Rappler (Jun 6): Hundreds still trapped in Marawi as crisis enters 3rd week

Air strikes, looting, and daily gun battles that do not seem to be ending soon take their toll on Marawi residents

BURNED HOUSES. A Philippine Marines truck speeds away as black smoke billows from burning houses after military helicopters fired rockets at militant positions in Marawi on May 30, 2017. Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

BURNED HOUSES. A Philippine Marines truck speeds away as black smoke billows from burning houses after military helicopters fired rockets at militant positions in Marawi on May 30, 2017. Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

(Updated) Many residents have grown impatient and wary as clashes between government forces and terrorists approach the 3rd week and civilians remain trapped in the combat zone.

There are 1,500 to 1,700 residents trapped in remote villages here, according to the local crisis management committee.

A resident crashed a press conference at the capitol here on Monday, June 5, to appeal for the rescue of his wife trapped inside Banggolo, the business district that has turned into a war zone.

He got an audience with a 3-star general, but wasn't pacified and later found himself wailing in front of television cameras by the flagpole where the local terrorists planned but failed to raise the black flag of the Islamic State (ISIS).

He asked for war to end, saying Muslims, Christians, and even reporters have had enough.

Even Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza was visibly under pressure, snapping at a reporter during Monday's press conference here.

"Mukhang 'di 'nyo tina-trust ang military natin. Bakit negative ang approach sa military? They are here to protect the civilians. Bakit ganoon ang tonada ng tanong?" Dureza said. (It looks like you don't trust the military. Why do you have a negative approach to the military? They are here to protect civilians. Why is your tone like that?)

Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), was almost in tears. In the thick of combat, he said soldiers are dying and have no time to loot.

"The ISIS-inspired group already looted everything. Bukas na lahat ng mga iyon (All those houses were ransacked). Ang mga sundalo namin (Our soldiers), before they operated, we told them already that those who will loot will be discharged. I ordered the battalion commander responsible for that," he said.

A day earlier, an air strike hit a border town. Provincial Crisis Management Committee spokesperson and regional assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong raised alarm and demanded an explanation over what happened in his hometown.

Galvez said the military will investigate. Rumored fatalities turned out to be false.

Peace corridor
Calls to end military air strikes continued as authorities scrambled for information on the fate of hostages, including Father Teresito "Chito" Soganub. Galvez said he believes the priest is still alive.

"Only 134 were rescued yesterday (Sunday), which shows many more are still stranded in Marinaut, Lilod, and various impassable areas of the city," said Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, the former member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission who resigned over President Rodrigo Duterte's recent rape joke before soldiers.

A "peace corridor" allowed members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the dominant Muslim rebel group that is talking peace with the government, to enter the combat zone and rescue trapped hostages.

DISPLACED. While most Marawi City residents have fled, many are still trapped inside the combat zone. File photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler
Malacañang clarified that a total of 179 were rescued, not 134, correcting numbers reported the previous day.

But the initial target was to rescue about 500, according to Adiong. Bangsamoro implementing panel chair Irene Santiago said they are reviewing tactics to make the rescue plan more effective.

It's a tough balancing act, said Dureza. The military is hesitant to impose temporary ceasefires to allow rescuers to go because it allows the terrorists to reposition.

But Galvez said their priority is the safety of trapped civilians and hostages.

3rd week

The Marawi clashes erupted on May 23 following a military raid that attempted to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was said to have brought his forces to the Lanao area late last year to link up with the Maute Group. (READ: How a military raid triggered Marawi attacks)

The clashes prompted Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao, but this has done little to immediately address the conflict in the city.

In areas already declared "cleared of Maute presence," residents want to return. But the military said it's still not safe.

Looting is also a big cause of concern, but Galvez blamed professional looters. "Kukuha talaga 'yan. Naka-van pa," he said.

Vehicles packed with luggage have attempted to enter the city, but are turned away at checkpoints.

Barangay defense system
After a meeting with Dureza, Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra announced coordination with the military is underway to allow barangays to boost the presence of security forces in already cleared areas.

"Yesterday, we had a meeting with our barangay officials over the concerns of constituents, especially about securing their properties and house. Nagkaroon po tayo ng (We had) coordination with the military and now we are processing an organization composed of barangay officials," the mayor said.

"Sila po ang magiging countepart ng ating Armed Forces sa pag-secure ng kanilang respective barangays," he added. (They will be the counterpart of our Armed Forces in securing their respective barangays.)

Galvez called it the "barangay defense system," essentially tapping private armed groups to become force multipliers. He assigned the 1st Infantry Battalion to do this.

It serves two purposes. The volunteers will guard properties from looters while helping make sure terrorists do not penetrate the military's dragnet.

The provincial capitol, previously empty and quiet, is back in business as more and more local officials show up to assert their power over the military that has practically taken over governance in the city the past two weeks.


Marines recover P52.2M cash in house occupied by Maute

From Rappler (Jun 7): Marines recover P52.2M cash in house occupied by Maute

Checks amounting to P27 million were also recovered


The Philippine Marines recovered P52.2 million in cold cash after a successful clearing operation in a house previously controlled by Maute terrorists last Monday, June 5.

The bundles of P1,000 were presented to the media on Tuesday, June 6.

"Members of the Joint Task Force Marawi, while fighting in house-to-house battle, recovered voluminous P52.2 million in Marawi yesterday," said Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera on Tuesday.

Checks amounting to P27 million were also seized from the house, located in Barangay Mapandi. Some are paid to "cash," Herrera said.

One M16 rifle was also recovered.

Herrera called the recovery "interesting." He said financial analysts will be tapped to analyze where the money came from. It is clear, he said, that it funds the operations of the Maute Group.

"It (the house) was under the control of Maute Group. There was a gun mount in the area. Our troops were being fired upon while clearing the area. We neutralized and occupied that position," said Marines operations officer Major Rowan Rimas.

The clashes in Marawi enter their 3rd week this week. Hundreds of civilians remained trapped on Tuesday. (READ: Hundreds still trapped in Marawi as crisis enters 3rd week)


Lanao del Sur top cop relieved of post

From Rappler (Jun 6): Lanao del Sur top cop relieved of post

The relief is triggered by orders from the national headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City

RELIEVED. Senior Superintendent Oscar Nantes is replaced by Superintendent Restituto Lacano in an OIC capacity. Photo from the Facebook page of Oscar Nantes

RELIEVED. Senior Superintendent Oscar Nantes is replaced by Superintendent Restituto Lacano in an OIC capacity. Photo from the Facebook page of Oscar Nantes

The provincial police chief of Lanao del Sur has been relieved, at least 3 high-ranking officials from the police force confirmed on Tuesday, June 6.

Senior Superintendent Oscar Nantes was relieved from his post following orders from the national headquarters based in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Nantes was provincial police chief when local terror groups who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) attempted to take over Marawi City, the capital of Lanao del Sur, on May 23. The attempted siege followed a "surgical operation" by military and police against Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is believed to have direct contact with ISIS.

Replacing Nantes as officer-in-charge is Superintendent Restituto Lacano.

"[Lacano] is only 'holdover' until the regular [provincial director] arrives. And he's a very good 'holdover' at that," Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) regional director Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said in a text message.

Martial law has been imposed in Mindanao since May 23, following the Marawi attack. President Rodrigo Duterte also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus over the island, paving the way for warrantless arrests by military or police.

Duterte cited the ISIS threat as among the reasons for his declaration. Police deployed to assist in Marawi operations – local police, public safety battalions from ARMM and nearby regions, and the Special Action Force – are under the operational control of the military in the area.

Martial law is in place for a maximum of 60 days, unless Duterte wants it extended and gets congressional approval. The Supreme Court may review the basis for the declaration if a petition is filed questioning it. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know)


U.S. provides 'technical assistance' to troops in Marawi – AFP

From Rappler (Jun 6): U.S. provides 'technical assistance' to troops in Marawi – AFP

'We have an agreement with our US counterparts in terms of combating terrorism,' says Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, military spokesman on the Marawi crisis

MILITARY OPERATIONS. The Armed Forces of the Philippines continues operations against terrorists in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

MILITARY OPERATIONS. The Armed Forces of the Philippines continues operations against terrorists in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

The United States is providing "techical assistance" to Philippine troops battling local terrorists in Marawi City, the Philippine military confirmed on Tuesday, June 6.

Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, military spokesman on the Marawi crisis, made the statement in response to questions in a news briefing in Marawi City on Tuesday.

Asked whether there was "US presence" in Marawi, Herrera said, "Some visited here for technical assistance."

He said that the Philippines and the US have a standing agreement on fighting terrorism.

"Well sa US, meron tayong agreement with the US counterparts in terms of combating terrorism. Katatapos lang ng Balikatan. These are all pertaining to exercises, training, technical assistance. 'Yan po ang ating cooperation with our US counterparts," Herrera said.
(Well, with regards to the US, we have an agreement with our US counterparts in terms of combating terrorism. Balikatan recently ended. These are all pertaining to exercises, training, technical assistance. That's our cooperation with our US counterparts.)

The 2017 Balikatan was the first annual Philippine-US military exercises under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte earlier threatened to scrap the annual event because he wanted the Philippines to "realign" with countries like China and Russia.

When asked, Herrera neither confirmed nor denied if the US technical assistance included the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in Marawi.

"Masyadong detalyado na 'yun (That's going into too much detail)....They [US counterparts] provide technical assistance. Meron tayong cooperation in terms of training, subject matter experts exchange. ‘Yan lang po ang ginagawa namin (We have cooperation in terms of training, subject matter experts exchange. That's all that we're doing)," he said.

On Saturday, June 3, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said the US stands with the Philippines in its "heartbreaking fight" in Marawi.

The US has been helping the Philippines in its campaign against terrorism. In 2002, the US helped Philippine authorities track down Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya, who was killed in that operation.

There were also 6 Americans who helped in the operations to nab Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in 2015.

The Board of Inquiry said in its report on the Mamasapano operation that the Americans provided the Philippine National Police Special Action Force "real-time information on the actual movements of friendly and enemy forces in the area of operations" through "special technical equipment and aircraft, which they themselves operated."


Video shows terrorists planning Marawi attack – report

From Rappler (Jun 7): Video shows terrorists planning Marawi attack – report

The Associated Press has confirmed with the military that some of the men in the video are Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon and Abdullah Maute

MAUTE GROUP. Residents take photos of suspected members of the Maute Group from their house windows. Photo by Mohammad Manshawi

MAUTE GROUP. Residents take photos of suspected members of the Maute Group from their house windows. Photo by Mohammad Manshawi

"We need to capture a highway so the people will get scared."

Leaders of local terrorist groups that clashed with government troops in Marawi City were seen in an undated video planning their attack, even sketching the city's main streets on the back of a paper calendar using pentel pens.

In an exclusive report published Tuesday, June 6, the Associated Press (AP) described what was happening in the video and posted separate screenshots of the meeting.

After confirming with the military, the report identified some of the men in the video: Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon, Abdullah Maute and his brothers Omarkhayam and Maddi, and a certain Abu Humam.

The video was reportedly discovered on a cellphone seized during a May 23 raid on a safe house in Marawi where Hapilon and other terrorists were hiding. (READ: How a military raid triggered Marawi attacks)

The AP said the military identified the "long-haired man" in the video addressing "other militant leaders gathered around a white plastic table" as Abdullah Maute, the leader of the Maute Group which has pledged allegiance to international terrorist group Islamic State.

According to the report, Maute was speaking in Tagalog and Maranao as he pointed to their sketch of Marawi City.

"We'll take this first and then here," the AP reported Maute as saying. "Or we can go here first. We seal this off so you'll have a passageway. But we need to capture a highway so the people will get scared."

Hapilon, who was the target of the military operation in Marawi City, was seen in the video sitting with the rest of the men, "wearing a yellow and black headscarf with a pistol beside his folded arms," the AP said.

The AP said Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Eduardo Año confirmed the identities of those in the video, including Hapilon.

The AP also quoted Año as saying that, based on the video, the terrorist groups' alliance "has this intention of not only rebellion, but actually dismembering a portion of the Philippine territory by occupying the whole of Marawi City and establishing their own Islamic state or government."

It has been two weeks since the clashes between the military and the Maute Group erupted on May 23 in Marawi City.

President Rodrigo Duterte has since declared martial law in Mindanao, and offered a P10 million bounty for Hapilon, as well as P5 million each for the Maute brothers Abdullah and Omarkhayam.


Mautes' father, 4 others arrested in Davao City (Photos)

From Rappler (Jun 6): Mautes' father, 4 others arrested in Davao City

(3rd UPDATE) The 5 are intercepted at a Task Force Davao checkpoint in Davao City, hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte

NABBED IN DAVAO. File photo of Cayamora Maute.

NABBED IN DAVAO. File photo of Cayamora Maute.

(3rd UPDATE) – Police and military on Tuesday, June 6, arrested in Davao City the father of the Maute brothers and 4 other individuals believed to be linked to the local Maute terrorist group.

In a report, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said policemen and soldiers intercepted Cayamora Maute, "father of Abdullah Maute, the eldest of the Maute brothers" said to be behind the attacks in Marawi and nearby areas. (READ: Who is Cayamora Maute?)

The arrests were made at a checkpoint in Toril, Davao City, around 10 am on Tuesday.

The others arrested were identified as Benzarali Tingao, Norjannah Balawag Maute, Kongan Alfonso Balawag, and Aljon Salazar Ismael.

ARRESTED TOO. File photo of Norjannah (or Norhana) Maute.

Norjannah Balawag Maute is said to be Cayamora Maute's daughter.

According to initial reports, Benzarali Tingao is Norjannah's husband while Kongan Alfonso Balawag is Cayamora Maute's wife. Ismael was identified as the driver of the black van they were riding.

Both Cayamora and Norjannah Maute are in the "wanted" list released by the Philippine police.

The 5 were brought to the Davao City Police Office.

Medical treatment?

Benito de Leon, Davao City public safety and security command center chief, told Rappler that Cayamora Maute was reportedly seeking medical treatment in Davao City.

From a hotel in Cotabato, he was reportedly picked up by a van and was supposed to be brought to the regional hospital in Tagum. They left Cotabato at about 5 am.

The vehicle caught the attention of authorities manning the checkpoint when it turned on hazard lights and overtook several vehicles. Cayamora was seated in the backseat in between his wife and daughter when their vehicle was flagged.

The arrest of the alleged Maute Group members was announced in a joint police and military press conference Tuesday afternoon in Davao City.

The Maute Group, said to be linked to the Islamic State (ISIS), is behind the clashes that erupted in Marawi City, which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law over the whole of Mindanao.


Who is Cayamora Maute?

From Rappler (Jun 6): Who is Cayamora Maute?

WANTED. Cayamora Maute is part of the Wanted list of the PNP supposedly handling the Maute Group's finance and logistics.

WANTED. Cayamora Maute is part of the Wanted list of the PNP supposedly handling the Maute Group's finance and logistics.

MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Cayamora Maute, the father of the notorious Marawi-based Maute brothers, provided funding and logistical support for the activities of his sons, authorities said.

He was arrested on Tuesday, June 6, in Davao City along with 4 other individuals who are said to be members of the family. (READ: Maute's father, 4 others arrested in Davao City)

"Historically the father provides funding and logistical support in terms of the operations of the Maute Brothers," according to Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, military spokesman on the Marawi crisis.

"We also received reports that the father is part of the recruiting arm of the Maute," he added.
His arrest is a blow to the group.

It is expected to affect the morale of the Maute brothers who are fighting government forces in Marawi City. (READ: How a military raid triggered Marawi attacks)

Government clashes with the local terrorist groups entered their 3rd week. The crisis prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao on May 23.


High powered firearms, IED components, black flags seized in Datu Odin Sinsuat

From InterAksyon (Jun 6): High powered firearms, IED components, black flags seized in Datu Odin Sinsuat

Datu Odin Sinsuat firearms raid

Troops gather assortment of firearms seizied at the Datu Odic Sinsuat raid. Photograph from 6th Infantry Division PA Office.

An assortment of high-powered firearms, components for making improvised explosive devices and other paraphernalia including black flags, were seized early Tuesday at Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao after a raid conducted by government security forces comprising units from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 19th Infantry Brigade, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and law enforcers from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Two persons were arrested after the raid, conducted just before dawn at Sitio Nabilan, Barangay Dimapatoy, which is situated not far from the location of the 6th Infantry Division camp at Brgy Awang beyond the Awang Airport complex.

Map shows location of Bgy Dimapatoy in Cotabato.

Datu Odin Sinsuat PNP Office’s Chief Inspector Akmad Alibonga identified the suspects as Kamarodin Butukan Rajab and Akmad Ginta Acob.

The raid’s main objective was to take in a higher-ranking person of interest, Iskak Mohamad, on the strength of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Bansawan Ibrahim.

Among the items seized were high caliber weapons such as the AK47 assault rifle, five M16 armalitte rifles, two carbines, one caliber .45 pistol, two shotguns, an improvised rocket-propelled grenage launcher, a caliber .50 caliber Barrett rifle with scope, and an assortment of components for assembling improvised explosive devices and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a black flag.
The two suspects have been taken by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Cotabato City, and processed for appropriate charges, even as a pursuit operation against Iskak Mokamad is ongoing.

The affiliations of the arrested suspect are among the information being sought in the interrogation and investigation process.


Car bomb alert

From the Mindanao Times (Jun 6): Car bomb alert

AUTHORITIES are on alert against seven vehicles coming from Western Mindanao suspected to be transporting explosives.

The car bomb alert came from the Police Maritime Group in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte. The vehicles are said to be bound to Manila purportedly to spread terror. However, the destination of the cars could be diverted to any other places in the country.

Col. Erwin Bernard Neri, Task Force of Davao, confirmed they received the report last week and have already alerted all the concerned units.

Based on the report, authorities are alerted that the vehicles may slip into Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) in seaport terminals in Mindanao, which has been placed under Martial Law following the Marawi Crisis.

The police intelligence report said the seven vehicles allegedly rigged with explosives are Black Toyota Hilux, White Nissan Sentra, Black Toyota Land Cruiser, Black Honda Civic, Grey Toyota Vios, Black Isuzu DMax, and Black Toyota Innova.

The vehicles allegedly carry fake plate number.

In an interview with Supt. Joel Salcedo, chief of the Maritime police in Davao region, confirmed receiving their report but said it is still subject for validation.

Salcedo said they are not discounting any the possibility, thus they alerted all their personnel in the security measures in the port areas.

He said authorities are putting extra efforts so terrorists could not penetrate into the region.

“We also ask the cooperation of the community to report any suspicious group or individual so we can react immediately,” Salcedo added.

In a separate interview, Sr. Insp. Maria Theresita Gaspan, spokesperson Of Davao City Police Office (DCPO), said they are intensifying the conduct of checkpoint in the highways and in the coastal and port areas.

Last Friday, the DCPO conducted a surprise massive road security and safety operation, under its Oplan: Lambat Bitag Sasakyan, in the city’s major highways to get rid of carnapped, undocumented and delinquent vehicles.

The operation resulted to the impounding of 259 vehicles — 14 units of four-wheeled vehicles (three Hilux vans, four SUVs, 4 jeepneys and three other cars) and 245 motorcycles for serious traffic violations and the issuance of 634 temporary operators permits to minor traffic violators.

Mindanao is under Martial Law for 60 days following the attacks of the Maute bandits in Marawi City.


Soldiers escape unscathed after attack by Abu Sayyaf

From the Mindanao Times (Jun 6): Soldiers escape unscathed after attack by Abu Sayyaf

TROOPS of the 68th and 69th Infantry Battalion were attacked by alleged sub-leaders of the Abu Sayyaf group in their camp in Barangay Katian, Indanan, Sulu on Saturday around 6:20 p.m.

The two battalions were sent to Jolo, Sulu last Sept. 6, 2016 to help in the fight against the terror group in the area, according to the report of the regional police of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (PRO-ARMM).

Investigation conducted by Indanan Municipal Police Station showed that the troops were attacked believed to be under ASG sub-leader Aldrin Bagadi alyas Shining and Mujakkal Bagadi.
No casualties on the government side were reported.

The said attack was believed to be a retaliation for the military operation conducted by military forces last June 2 at the vicinity of Barangay Langpas, Indanan which resulted to the apprehension of two sons of Mujakkal.
The operation also resulted to the confiscation of four motorcycles at nearby house of said ASG group.

COMMENTARY: Why Cosmopolitan Islam will Defeat Islamic Fundamentalism

Posted to MindaNews (Jun 6): COMMENTARY: Why Cosmopolitan Islam will Defeat Islamic Fundamentalism (By Patricio N. Abinales)

HONOLULU  — Folks in this island state I live in ask whether it is dangerous to go visit the home county in the light of what is happening in Marawi and elsewhere. My response is always the same. The violence in Moro Mindanao is real but it is not what Moro Mindanao is all about. In fact what draws me always to Moro Mindanao is just how diverse and cosmopolitan the place is, and how open-minded and pragmatic people are when approaching issues like religion, national politics, and life in the ummah.

And in many a conversation with these American-Filipinos, many of them completely ignorant of Mindanao and its complex histories, I always end up painting to them this portrait of what being a Moro, a woman, and someone living in the alleged violent parts of the country look like. I also posed the same question to political scientists having their annual association gathering in Cebu a month back.

To wit: What would Philippine history look like if you encounter a Moro woman with the last name Tan, sitting in her Panglima Sugala hut, sorting out knocked-off iPhones and Blackberries from southern China, malong from Indonesia, 5-in-1 coffee sachets from Malaysia, copies of a digitized version of a famous Japanese porn film and bullets for the Fabrique National Carabine the Belgian-made rifle stolen from the Indonesian army?

Bai Tan is doing all this while watching reruns of her favorite Indonesian drama series, Love in Paris, featuring the hunk and Leloy Claudio look-alike Dimas Anggara, on a rewired Japanese-made TV she bought cheap from a Filipino crew member of a Panamanian-owned cargo ship passing through her area. Occasionally she glances at her cell phone expecting a text from her Saudi Arabia-based daughter, who will tell her how much she will remit to the Philippine National Bank branch in Tawi-Tawi. She hopes to get the text before 1 p.m., because past that time, the currents will shift and if she takes her motorized banca then she will most likely end up in Bukaan, Gorontalo province, northern Sulawesi.

So, here we have a citizen and a felon by livelihood, a Filipino cedula holder whose mental world is global: northern Sulawesi, Saudi Arabia, Panamanian cargo ship, Japanese television, Indonesian telenovela, Malaysian coffee, Indonesian malong, southern China, and most surely – Singapore. She is a Muslim comfortable with marketing the most un-Islamic of goods (porn film, bullets).

She lives at the edge of the national territory (Panglima Sugala an islet east of Tawi-Tawi), a site, the Sulu Zone, which state leaders (and dare I say political scientists?) regard with trepidation because it is where the political disorder is at its most intense and the national state at its weakest.

She is Moro and Chinese – the spawn of the two minority groups that people in the center mistrust the most: recall the racist rants of the national artist F. Sionil Jose regarding the Chinese, and the 2004 Philippine Human Development Report survey that showed 48% of Filipinos still believing Moros are terrorists and amok.

How would you place Bai Tan the story of the Philippines?

This is not an easy task especially since as a matter of habit, we always assume that history is defined by the metropolis and that national politics is nothing but the institutional and political combat of national elites at the national capital. Political engagements outside of the capital are ancillary if not insignificant especially if they fail to fit this national (nationalist?) prism. This is a point of view that also represents conventional approaches of local politics which tend to replicate the analytical lenses by looking at provincial and town elites while marginalizing other actors like Bai Tan and many others from their local/ethnolinguistic narratives and typologies.

And it is in the predominance of this national(ist)–read Manila-based and Western (American-Filipino)-fear that we also end up misunderstanding the Marawi tragedy. It is this failure to recognize that Filipino Islam is an extremely diverse set of interpretations of the Koran, many of these thought of and argued within the specific context of Moro Mindanao.

It is easy to banner ISIS out there as it simplifies the conversation and stokes up the fear, but in the long-run, because it is often based on lies and myths, it will end up causing far-serious damage to an ummah that – going by the description I laid up above – is more cosmopolitan and complex than even some parts of the imperial capital.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Lunghay nga Ozamiznon kini si P.N. Abinales)


Suspected Maute members nabbed in Davao City

From MindaNews (Jun 6): Suspected Maute members nabbed in Davao City

Suspected members of the Maute Group, including its alleged top leader Cayamora Maute, 67, were arrested at the checkpoint of Task Force Davao in Sirawan, Toril, Davao City at around 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Police identified the other suspected Maute members as Cayamora’s second wife Kongan Alfonso Balawag, Norjannah Balawag Maute and her alleged partner Benzarali Tingao, and Aljon Salazar Ismael, the driver of the van they were using.

Police said they recovered a grenade and a .45 caliber pistol from the suspects’ vehicle.

In a press conference, Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, martial law spokesperson for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said Cayamora himself confirmed his identity as father of the Maute brothers.

The Maute Group has been battling government forces in Marawi City since May 23 in a siege that triggered a mass evacuation of residents.

The suspects were heading for Davao City on board a black Toyota Grandia for Cayamora’s medical checkup.

Upon checking, Gapay said authorities found an aged man wrapped in a blanket that partly covered his face lying on a passenger seat.

He said the man bore resemblance to the Maute’s top leader upon verification.

He said the police brought the suspects to the Davao City Police Office for investigation.

He said police recovered from Cayamora several identifications (IDs) with different names but admitted his true identity during the investigation.

He said Cayamora will be charged with rebellion and Balawag with violation of Presidential Decree 1866 for alleged possession of blasting caps and triggering devices.

Police Regional Office 11 director Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan said the arrest was a big blow to the Maute Group as Cayamora is considered one of the brains of the terrorist group.

He said there is a standing warrant of arrest against 89 other Maute members including Cayamora for five counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in Lanao del Sur.

He said they are still verifying reports on the presence of Maute members in the city.

“There are various information being confirmed. They are attempting to enter the city. As to the exact identifies we cannot ascertain it. We are assuming they have sympathizers here,” he said.

In an interview with reporters, driver Salazar denied involvement with the Maute Group.

He said he picked up Tingao and Norjannah at Hotel Filipino in Cotabato.

He said Tingao, a friend from college, told him that they would pick up passengers in Sultan Kudarat before they would head to Tagum City.

Upon reaching Sultan Kudarat, he said they picked up another unknown couple.

He said the instruction to him changed. Instead of Tagum City, he said he was told that they were going to Davao City.

Gaerlan said they are still studying whether they will include the driver in the rebellion case, given the evidence.

He said Cayamora was attended to by Central 911 because he had cough.


Rebels attack another Cafgu detachment in North Cotabato

From MindaNews (Jun 6): Rebels attack another Cafgu detachment in North Cotabato

Suspected communist guerrillas harassed a paramilitary detachment under the 72nd Infantry Battalion in Makilala town in North Cotabato around 8:30 p.m., Monday, an Army official said.

Lt. Col. Harold Argamosa, commander of the 39th Infantry Battalion, said the attack was the fifth since Mindanao was placed under a state of martial law and took place a day before President Duterte’ scheduled visit in the province.

Argamosa said the rebel attack in Barangay Kisante, Makilala lasted only five minutes.

“We did not reply to it. Our troops decided to stay put and did not retaliate. They knew it was just pure harassment,” said the Army colonel.

Makilala falls under the area of responsibility of the 39th IB but the 72nd IB built a detachment of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) in Kisante.

Argamosa identified the attackers as members of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) Front 51 which operates in Makilala and in the towns of Bansalan and Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur.

The attack by the NPA in Kisante was the fifth since May 22.

On May 26, two roadside bombings by suspected communist rebels took place in Kidapawan City wounding four policemen.

On May 29, alleged rebels attacked two members of a K9 unit, and on May 31, a Cafgu detachment.

Duterte was expected to arrive at the headquarters of the Army’s 602nd Brigade in Carmen, North Cotabato for his regular troop visitation, around 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The families and relatives of soldiers killed in the siege in Marawi City would be given an opportunity to talk to the President.

At least five of the government casualties in Marawi came from North Cotabato – two from Kabacan, and one each from Pikit, Aleosan, and Libungan towns.


ISIS releases video of desecration of Marawi cathedral

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 5): ISIS releases video of desecration of Marawi cathedral

An ISIS propaganda video has surfaced on social media on Monday that showed its fighters desecrating the Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi City in the southern Philippine province of Lanao del Sur.

The clip, believed to have been taken during the first week of the ISIS siege of Marawi, showed militants stomping and smashing statues of the Virgin Mary and other saints, including a huge statue of Jesus Christ nailed on the wooden cross.

They also tore and burn pages of the holy Bible and photographs of Pope Francis at the Cathedral’s altar. Militants also destroyed and burned the Credence Table, Tabernacle, the Ambo and Presider’s Chair while chanting “Allahu Akbar” or “God is Great” before retreating away from the church. They also abducted its priest Father Chito Suganob along with other church workers.

The video lasted about 1 minute and 45 seconds and also appeared on the ISIS website. There was no immediate statement from the military on the desecration of the church.

Sporadic clashes also continue in Marawi and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said more than 2,400 civilians are still stranded and trapped in the fighting, although over 3,700 people had been safely rescued, according to Governor Mujiv Hataman.

He said over 235,000 people were affected by the violence and that some 130,000 have been assisted served by social workers in different evacuation areas in Iligan and Marawi cities, and in the towns of Baloi, Bubong, Pantar and Saguiaran, all in Lanao del Sur, including house-based civilians. Humanitarian assistance continues, he said.

But at least 5 dozen people were also reported missing and 22 had been killed since the clashes began on May 23 when armed militants occupied the city in an effort to establish a “wilayah” or province of the Islamic State in the restive region.

Hataman said more than 22,000 students and over 2,000 teachers were also affected by the fighting which is now on its third week.


While the number of evacuees continues to increase, donations from various individuals and organizations are also pouring in to help ease the plight of those displaced by the hostilities, according to Hataman. “Hanggat may IDPs, patuloy and pagbibigay natin ng relief goods,” he said.

Hataman said while the regional government continues to call for donations, it has also earmarked some P100 million in relief assistance to families adversely affected by the crisis.

Myrna Jo Henry, a spokeswoman for the ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency and Action Response Team (HEART), said that most of the donations come from private individuals, small organizations and government offices from all over Mindanao and the rest of the country. “These donations are distributed by the ARMM-HEART to internally displaced persons who are staying either at homes of relatives or in designated evacuation centers,” she said, adding, even ARMM employees have also been active in raising funds and donations since the crisis broke out.

She said they have distributed a total of 20,000 bottles of water and 10,000 relief packs to evacuees in Iligan City during the early days of the crisis. So far, she said a total of 26,082 families or 130,410 people have been provided with food and non-food items.

A 20-year old student in Cotabato City, Amino Sahabuddin, also launched a donation drive with his classmates and urged their professors to do the same. He said even small donations will make a big difference for those affected by the fighting.

“We cannot help them all, but at least we could help some of those who are affected by the war. Kahit ‘yung isang araw na maitawid mo ang gutom ng (isang evacuee) ay malaking bagay na,” Sahabuddin said.

He now collects small amounts of money and gathers food packs and used clothing for the refugees and delivers all these to the operation center of the ARMM HEART.

Just over the weekend, security forces battling local ISIS fighters rescued over 180 civilians trapped in the war-torn city, but one villager was shot dead by a sniper while running to his freedom, according to Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, adding troops continue to brave the dangerous streets on Marawi to rescue the civilians.

Petinglay said troops continue battling militants and were searching house-to-house for jihadists and civilians.

Brigadier General Rolando Joselito Bautista, commander of military forces fighting the militants, also renewed appeals to the public and urged citizens to help authorities fight terrorism. “We call on our people to stand and unite against terrorism. The fight against terrorism is not the sole duty of the security sector but the responsibility of everyone,” he said.

The military said troops had killed at least 120 militants, but only recovered 42 bodies of jihadists, including 98 assorted weapons, from an automatic rifle to machine guns, left behind by the ISIS fighters, mostly members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups. But over 3 dozen soldiers also perished in the violence with dozens more injured in fierce urban and close-quarter clashes.


Duterte puts up P20 million bounties for heads of ISIS leaders in Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 5): Duterte puts up P20 million bounties for heads of ISIS leaders in Philippines

Wanted posters show photographs of Isnilon Hapilon, who is the emir of ISIS in the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

Wanted posters show photographs of Isnilon Hapilon, who is the emir of ISIS in the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)


The Philippine military on Monday announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has offered P20 million bounties for the heads of leaders of the local ISIS group battling security forces in the war-torn city of Marawi in the Muslim province of Lanao del Sur.

It said Duterte offered P10 million for the head of Isnilon Hapilon, chieftain of the notorious Abu Sayyaf group and emir of the local ISIS; and P5 million each for brothers Abdullah and Omar Maute, the leaders of the Maute group.

“The President is offering P10 million reward money for the neutralization of Isnilon Hapilon, who is believed to be leading the terrorist Maute-ISIS group in attacking Marawi City,” said Philippine military chief, General Eduardo Año.

In 2006, the government offered P11 million bounty for Hapilon’s capture. And this is on top of the $5 million bounty the United States also offered for Hapilon.

Hapilon and the brothers Maute led the May 23 siege of Marawi that had killed at least 22 civilians and left dozens of casualties on the military side. And fighting still continue between security forces and ISIS fighters.

Clashes were so fierce that the military launched air strikes to support ground troops, but 11 soldiers had been killed after a wayward bomb dropped from an air force plane hit a group of infantrymen.

The air strikes and artillery that pounded the city have turned Marawi into a virtual Alepo, a city in Syria now in ruins due to fighting between government and rebel forces. And there is no sign the fighting in Marawi is subsiding with Duterte telling the ISIS fighters that he will not negotiate with them even if they kill all their civilian hostages.

Jihadists are still holding at least 240 hostages, according to Catholic priest Fr. Chito Suganob, himself a hostage who earlier appealed – in an ISIS propaganda video – to Duterte to immediately withdraw all security forces in Marawi and Lanao del Sur, a demand set by the militants who threated to execute the captives.


Jihadists attack army post in Maguindanao province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 5): Jihadists attack army post in Maguindanao province

Jihadists attacked a military post sparking a firefight that left 4 people dead on both sides in the troubled province of Maguindanao in southern Philippines, the army said Monday.

It said weekend attack occurred in Tukanalipao in Mamasapano town where Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) opened fire on a detachment that killed the soldier, who was a member of the 40th Infantry Battalion.

Three of the raiders were also killed, according to Captain Arvin Encinas, a spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division, but he did not say whether soldiers recovered the bodies of the slain jihadists or not.

The fighting lasted over 45 minutes, Encinas said, adding, troops also recovered four .45-automatic caliber pistol, one 9mm pistol and improvised explosives, including ammunition.

“The troops fought back with mortar and artillery fires support that lasted for 45 minutes,” he said.

The town is a known lair of the BIFF and Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels. Both groups were also behind the January 2015 brutal killings of 44 police commandos in the village of Tukanalipao.

The commandos, members of the Special Action Force, were in a secret mission deep inside MILF territory to arrest a Malaysian bomber, Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, who was eventually killed by the raiders. But MILF gunmen and BIFF – alerted by the clandestine mission approved by President Benigno Aquino – caught up with the commandos and engaged them in a daylong battle until all the members of the Special Action Force were brutally killed and stripped of their weapons and uniform.


A soldier’s unforgettable boodlefight with his Commander-in-Chief Pres. Duterte

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 5): A soldier’s unforgettable boodlefight with his Commander-in-Chief Pres. Duterte

Chief Master Sergeant Vicente Palo patiently waited for the arrival of his commander-in-chief as he sat on a white mono bloc chair along with other soldiers and policemen on Sunday afternoon.

Palo, a Philippine Army soldier who has served more than three decades, every now and then glanced at the set of long table set-up by his other colleagues for their traditional boodle fight, a type of communal eating on a banana leaf with rice topped with different viands.

On Sunday afternoon, they were scheduled to share a boodle fight with President Rodrigo Duterte in his third visit to Cebu this year.

He honestly told the Philippine Information Agency (PIA-7) that this would be the very first time in his entire life in the Army that he gets to dine together with their commander-in-chief.

“Dako nako nga dungog nga ang presidente nagakuyog siya sa mga gikan sa highest ranking to lowest ranking sa AFP. Proud ako sa sarili ko at sa personnel sa Central Command nga nasabay nako siya sa pagkaon (This is a big honor for me that the president will join us from the highest ranking to lowest ranking in the AFP. I am proud of myself and the personnel of Central Command that he will be dining with us),” he said in an interview prior to President Duterte’s arrival.

Palo returned to his seat after the brief interview with PIA-7. Together with the rest of the uniformed men and women, who were there at the hangar of the 220th Airlift Wing inside the Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base, he patiently waited for President Duterte to arrive.

The President arrived at past 7p.m. where he was greeted by the top officials of the military and the police force here in Central Visayas.

The program began with a message from Centcom chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao who also shared the same enthusiasm with that of Palo.

He explained the boodle fight was held as a thanksgiving to the troops, who bravely fought the members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in an encounter last month in Bohol.

Lactao also asked a moment of prayer and silence as he mentioned those who died during the clash.

In his talk to men, President Duterte in turn thanked them for “remaining true” to their mandate to fight the enemies of the State.

After his 22-minute speech, he was led by Gen. Lactao to the left side of the stage, where he was shown a display of photos and firearms that were recovered by the government after their encounter with the ASG.

This was followed by a brief group photo and then the boodle fight.
President Duterte shared the meal of rice, grilled fish, grilled chicken, lechon, tortang talong, and banana with the troops.

PIA approached Palo after the dinner.

He said the sumptuous meal made him full but more than that, he said he feels his military service wouldn’t be that complete without that boodle fight with President Duterte.

Two years from now, Palo will be hanging his uniform and he will make his final salute to the service.

But that boodle fight with the president, according to Palo, will be the most memorable experience that he will hold close as a military man.

“Kini siya dili na gyud ni siya mawala sa akong pagka-sundalo kay bihira lang sa isang sundalo nga makasabay ang isang presidente, ang amoang commander-in-chief (This experience will never be lost with me as a soldier since it is rare for a soldier to be with a president, our commander-in-chief),” he said.