Thursday, July 20, 2017

Marawi inspired, strengthened pro-ISIS fighters in region – report

From Rappler (Jul 21): Marawi inspired, strengthened pro-ISIS fighters in region – report

The Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict says the Marawi conflict has long-term repercussions for extremism in Southeast Asia, including greater cooperation among extremists, and more violent attacks

The Marawi conflict has changed the face of terrorism in the region and will have long-term repercussions for extremism in Southeast Asia.

This is one of the findings of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), in a report released on Friday, July 21, titled “Marawi, the ‘East Asia Wilayah’ and Indonesia.”

The report said that the success of pro-ISIS fighters in occupying an entire Philippine city for an extended amount of time has inspired violence in other places in the region.

It said this could lead to a higher risk of violent attacks in other Philippine cities and in Indonesia and Malaysia; greater cooperation among Southeast Asian extremists; and new leadership for Indonesian and Malaysian pro-ISIS cells from among returning fighters from Marawi.

“The risks won’t end when the military declares victory. Indonesia and Malaysia will face new threats in the form of returning fighters from Mindanao, and the Philippines will have a host of smaller dispersed cells with the capacity for both violence and indoctrination,” said IPAC director Sidney Jones.

The report also said that Southeast Asian ISIS supporters in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, may see the Philippines as an attractive alternative as ISIS is pushed back in the Middle East.

“The initial photographs from Marawi released over social media as the ISIS assault began – smiling fighters hold guns aloft on trucks – seemed to have the same impact as the iconic ISIS victory photos from Mosul in 2014. They generated a shared sense of triumph and strengthened the desire of ISIS supporters in the region to join the battle,” the report said.

Marawi, said IPAC, has "defied all expectations of when it would end" and "has lifted the prestige of the Philippine fighters in the eyes of ISIS central," although it has not yet earned them the coveted status of wilayah or province of Islamic State.

"It has inspired young extremists from around the region to want to join. In Indonesia, it has helped unite two feuding streams of the pro-ISIS movement, inspired 'lone wolf' attacks and caused soul-searching among would-be terrorists about why they cannot manage to do anything as spectacular."

The attack of terrorists in Marawi prompted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao region for 60 days since the clashes started on May 23. He has also asked the Philippine Congress to extend the imposition of martial law to 5 more months, or until the end of the year.

Cooperation crucial
IPAC said that given the increased threat, it is crucial for improved cooperation in the region – and that there is no room for distrust, which inhibits information-sharing. It urged for a better integrated watchlist of terrorist suspects as a quick fix that can be implemented immediately.

Another would be a sort of crash course on the terror groups in the region.

“The cross-regional aspects of the Marawi siege underscore the need for Southeast Asia countries to develop more systematic expertise on each other’s extremist networks, so that Philippine police and military know the difference between JAD and JI, Indonesians know the difference between the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers and the Abu Sayyaf pro-ISIS factions and Malaysians know the differences among the various Darul Islam factions, including the ones that extend into Sabah,” the report said.

“It would be worth thinking about a series of short courses, building on real case studies of cross-border extremism, which would involve officials from all 3 countries but in small classes where useful discussions could take place. One concrete outcome to aim for would be an up-to-date and more detailed mapping of transnational extremist networks, with particular attention to the role of women.

It also emphasized the need for the Philippine government to take good care of the Marawi evacuees and to help them rebuild the city, to ensure the area will not be a more fertile ground for extremist recruitment.

Negros cop chief, 4 others slain in NPA ambush

From InterAksyon (Jul 21): Negros cop chief, 4 others slain in NPA ambush

(image from

The chief of police of Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental and four of his men were killed, while two others were wounded, in an ambush believed staged by the New People’s Army Friday morning, the military said.

Lieutenant Colonel Eliezer Losañes, commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade, told Aksyon Radyo-Bacolod that Superintendent Arnel Arpon and his men were attacked between 10-10:30 a.m. in Barangay Magsaysay while responding to a call from Councilor Edison Dela Rita, who reported that he and his driver had also been attacked.

The rebels have yet to issue a statement on the incident.

Thursday night, in Calatrava town, Negros Occidental, troops of the 62nd Infantry Battalion also clashed with rebels, the unit’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Darrell Bañez told the radio station.

No more talks with Reds, NPA next target after Marawi – Duterte

From InterAksyon (Jul 21): No more talks with Reds, NPA next target after Marawi – Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to troops in Marawi City. (photo y Ace Morandante, Malacanang)

(UPDATE 2 – 1:53 p.m.) President Rodrigo Duterte practically slammed the door on further peace talks with communist rebels and ordered the Armed Forces to train its sights on the New People’s Army once it defeats extremist gunmen in Marawi City.

Duterte bared his decision in a speech to government forces during his visit to Marawi on Thursday, his first to the war-torn Lanao del Sur capital since the start of the fighting that prompted him to place Mindanao under martial law on May 23.

Earlier, he had ordered government negotiators to drop backchannel talks scheduled this weekend with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which represents the communists, after five personnel of the Presidential Security Group were wounded and a militiaman killed in an incident involving the NPA in Arakan, Cotabato Wednesday.

From an earlier offer to help combat extremists, which security and defense officials turned down, the communists have since taken a more belligerent attitude and ordered more attacks on government targets citing intensified military operations against the NPA and even hinterland civilian communities since Duterte declared martial law.

“Ayaw ko nang makipag-usap sa kanila. Marami na akong sundalo na pinatay nila. Marami na akong pulis na pinatay nila (I don’t want to talk to them anymore. They have killed many of my soldiers. They have killed many of my police) …” Duterte declared in Marawi.

“Huwag kayo masyadong magkumpiyansa kasi there is a strong resurgence. Nabubuhay na naman ang NPA (Do not be complacent because there is a strong resurgence. The NPA is resurrecting again),” he told the troops.

“Pagkatapos nito … pagkatapos niyong makuha ‘yung mga ulol d’yan (sa Marawi), mag-reorient tayo, NPA naman kasi marami silang utang sa atin (After this … after you get the fools there, we will reorient and it will be the NPA’s turn because they owe us a lot),” he added.

Pointing the recent killing by rebel assassins of two Marines returning from marketing in Palawan, Duterte said: “Mabuti na lang nasa Republika tayo kung hindi (It’s good we are in a Republic) — we’re bound to obey the rules of — kung hindi, putulin ko na sila ng ulo (otherwise I would cut off their heads).”

Reacting to Duterte’s statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines, through its information bureau, noted that, “in the first place, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) did not stop attacking the NPA.”

“Napakarami nang masang pinatay dahil lang pinaparatangang sumusuporta sa (So many of the masses have been killed because they were accused of supporting the NPA),” it added.

The CPP acknowledged that the NPA was picking up the pace of attacks across the country but said this was “dahil nagpapatuloy ang kaapihan at pagsasamantala sa kanila sa ilalim ng rehimeng Duterte (because the oppression and exploitation of the people has continued under the Duterte regime).”

At the same time, the CPP doubted Duterte would see the end of the violence that began in Marawi.

“Masuwerte siya kung matapos niya ang giyera niya sa Marawi. Ngayon pa lang napakaraming Moro ang nag–aarmas sa paghahangad na labanan ang ginawang pangwawasak sa kanila (He will be lucky if he can finish his war in Marawi. As of now many more Moros are taking up arms to resist the destruction inflicted on them),” the CPP said.

It also reminded Duerte that “kahit sa panahon ng idolo niyang si (Ferdinand) Marcos hindi napigilan ang pagsulong ng armadong rebolusyon ng mamamayang Pilipino at Moro (even during the time of his idol Marcos the progress of the armed revolution of the Filipino people and the Moro could not be stopped).”

But Duterte’s peace adviser, Jesus Dureza, cautioned against interpreting the chief executive’s words to mean the peace talks were being scuttled.

“Take his exact statement as is please,” Dureza said in a statement. “Let’s not interpret.”

“I have not heard him say categorically ‘talks over or terminated,’ did he? What is clear now is that the scheduled backchannel meeting to work on (the) possible resumption of (the) suspended fifth round was cancelled,” Dureza said.

The government peace panel decided not to sit at the negotiating table for the fifth round of formal talks, scheduled for May 27-June 2 in The Netherlands after the Communist Party of the Philippines ordered the NPA to intensify attacks in reaction to the declaration of martial law.

“If there will (be) a new officially announced position, then let’s all wait for a categorical statement coming from the President no less,” he added.

This will not be the first time a government official has had to explain what Duterte may or may not have meant, although earlier, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella even invited journalists to apply “creative imagination” to get the real meaning of the President’s words.

SM Foundation turns over renovated hospital to navy

From the Mindanao Times (Jul 20): SM Foundation turns over renovated hospital to navy

THE OFFICIAL turnover of the newly renovated Camp Panacan Station Hospital in Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan yesterday was seen as another step in improving the health services for the country’s uniformed personnel.

The facility is a 30-bed capacity hospital which was initially assigned to the Philippine Army and was transferred to the Philippine Navy under the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM).

It will provide healthcare programs for about 5,000 military personnel, as well as conduct health information drive.

The military facility was renovated and refurbished by the SM Foundation which will then be accredited as a Department of Health (DOH)-Level 1 facility aside from its accreditation as PhilHealth member.
It is a one-story facility which houses an operating room, emergency room, seven hospital ward (officer’s ward and heroes ward for battle casualties), a physical therapy room, an out-patient department, a pharmacy, and rooms for storages, administrative office and commanding officers.

With its renovation, it is now equipped with basic ancillary services such as the 12-lead ECG, radiography with clinical laboratory and an x-ray room.

The station hospital is the 22nd military health facility that was renovated by the SM Foundation out of the 128 renovated health facility all over the country.
Two other health facilities located in Davao Region that were renovated by the Foundation are the Out-patient Department of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) and the Tagum Health Center.
Vice Admiral Joseph Mercado, flag officer-in-command of the Philippine Navy, said the renovation would provide quality health care services not only to the Philippine Navy but to the entire members Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“We now have a hospital rehabilitated in an operational area. If anything happens to them (military forces) they will have a facility that will cater their needs. There is now a hospital that will provide their needs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Connie Angeles, the executive director for health and medical programs of the SM Foundation said their “medical and health advocacy is not confined to the conduct of medical, dental, and diagnostics missions to needy barangays nor to the renovation and upgrade of equipment of health centers and public hospitals.”

She noted that they are extending their support to benefit the three branches of the AFP, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Marines and the Scout Rangers.

“We are deeply honored to be able to contribute in our own little way, to those who serve the country, specifically with this project, the improvement of the Camp Panacan Station Hospital,” Angeles said.

Cop dead in clash with NPA

From the Mindanao Times (Jul 20): Cop dead in clash with NPA

A POLICE officer assigned to the Provincial Public Safety Company of Bukidnon was killed in an encounter, together with the Special Forces Battalion, against the communist rebels in Barangay Concepcion, Pangantucan, Bukidnon on Wednesday afternoon.

Supt. Lemuel Gonda, spokesperson of Police Regional Office (PRO) X, said that around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, joint personnel of PPSC Bukidnon and one section of Special Forces Battalion were conducting combat operation when they encountered an undetermined number of New People’s Army rebels.
The NPAs are believed to be members of Guerrilla Front 68 operating in Barangay Concepcion.

The firefight lasted for about 30 minutes before the rebels fled. The encounter also resulted to wounding PO1 John Herbert C. Pingol who sustained a gunshot wound in the back. The operating troops provided first aid to Pingol but he later died.

Photo: PRRD in Marawi

From MindaNews (Jul 20): Photo: PRRD in Marawi

President Rodrigo Duterte at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental on his way to board the helicopter to Marawi City Thursday (20 July 2017) to talk to soldiers engaged in the battle against the Maute Group. The media, who are gathered at the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol a kilometer away from the military headquarters in Campo Ranao, were not invited. He gave out food packs and wrist watches to soldiers. Photo by Ace Morandante / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Body of suspected NPA involved in PSG ambush found in NorthCot town

From MindaNews (Jul 20): Body of suspected NPA involved in PSG ambush found in NorthCot town

Army soldiers pursuing a group of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels found a cadaver which the military claims to be part of the NPA group that ambushed a Presidential Security Group (PSG) convoy along the Davao-Cotabato-Bukidnon highway.

Arakan Mayor Rene Rubino said soldiers belonging to the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion brought the cadaver to a funeral parlor in the Poblacion around 7 p.m. on Wednesday, two hours after his body was recovered at Sitio Bugasong, Barangay Napaliko.

Rubino said the suspected rebel was apparently not from the area. “No one from Barangay Napaliko knew who the person was. I believe he came from the other town,” he added.

The rebels, according to Rubino, withdrew to Barangay Napaliko after 39IB soldiers and other military units assigned near Barangay Gambodes arrived at the ambush site to rescue trapped PSG members.

The mayor, citing as basis information from some barangay officials in Napaliko, said the communist guerillas used as “human shields” some villagers as they exited towards White Kulaman Valley in nearby Kitao-tao town in Bukidnon while they were being pursued by government troops.

The hostages were later released by the rebels, according to Rubino.

Lt. Col. Harold Argamosa, 39IB commander, claimed the NPAs lost a number of lives and many of them wounded during the pursuit operations as evidenced by traces of blood in the area.

He said they used two Huey helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles or drones in their pursuit operations.

Reports from the Arakan PNP said the NPAs, clad in military uniforms, set up a checkpoint in Barangay Gambodes around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

A certain Ben Padian, who identified himself as member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) assigned at Paquibato District in Davao City, was killed after he was flagged down along the highway.

The armed men also snatched a retired Marine soldier identified as Rogelio Genon and his Ford Ranger was used by the NPAs as getaway vehicle.

Rubino said he has yet to check on Genon’s whereabouts. However, a text message coming from one of the leaders of the NPA Front 53 informed media in North Cotabato that they still have Genon in their custody.

The PSG convoy – a black Nissan and white Ford E-150 – were riddled with bullets when they were stopped at the checkpoint.

The black Nissan reportedly sped towards Bukidnon but was also flagged down along the road.

The bulletproof Ford E-150 remained at the ambush site and the wounded PSG members were pulled out from the vehicle by 39IB soldiers who responded to the area. The injured were rushed to a German Hospital in Barangay Buda, Paquibato District for treatment.

Wounded were Staff Sergeants Matunhay, Lisondra, and Garry Torsak, and Corporals Ayam Aliao and Rodel Ledesma, all members of the Philippine Army who are deployed with the PSG.

In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines said that fighters of the First Pulang Bagani Company manning a checkpoint at Barangay Katipunan in Arakan flagged down a “white unmarked and heavily-tinted armored vehicle” later identified as belonging to the PSG. It was reportedly part of their campaign “to fight martial law in Mindanao.”

“The vehicle’s driver rolled down his window and introduced himself as an Army man. Upon realizing the checkpoint was not being manned by AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] soldiers, he immediately drew his gun and stepped on the gas while rolling up his window. NPA fighters fired at the vehicle, hitting its tires and disabling it,” the CPP said.

A second PSG vehicle, apparently referring to the black Nissan, reportedly raced through the highway while firing at the NPA fighters and managed to get past the checkpoint, leaving the disabled van behind with trapped PSG members.

“The NPA approached the disabled armored vehicle and ordered its passengers to alight. The passengers declared they are not going to resist but insisted they could not come out of the autolocked vehicle. Ordered to withdraw, the NPA unit left the site before 7 a.m.,” the CPP said.

Backchannel talks with NDF delayed anew after NPA attack in NorthCot

From MindaNews (Jul 20): Backchannel talks with NDF delayed anew after NPA attack in NorthCot

The attacks the communist guerillas launched in North Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao were among the reasons why the Philippine government decided to suspend the backchannel talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Europe, a top government executive said on Thursday.

In an interview over Catholic-run radio station DXND here on Thursday, Secretary Jesus Dureza, of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), said it was a collective decision of the Philippine government to postpone the informal talks with the NDF scheduled this week in Norway.

Dureza said that the peace panel led by Labor Secretary Sylvester Bello II was told not to proceed to Norway hours after the incident in Arakan, North Cotabato, wherein members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) were injured.

Dureza said five PSG members were wounded when fired at by communist guerillas that set up road blocks and highway inspection in Barangay Gambodes in Arakan town Wednesday.“The incident in Arakan, North Cotabato has a great impact [on the peace talks]. The PSGs don’t usually engage with the NPAs,” he said.

The PSG convoy on its way to Cagayan de Oro City when flagged down by the rebels along the Cotabato-Bukidnon highway. The presidential guards suffered only minor injuries, according to OPAPP secretary.

Dureza said they already informed their counterpart in the NDF and the third party facilitator in Norway about the postponement of the exploratory talks.

“I called up our third party facilitator in Norway. This is the group that supports some of the expenses for the talks. I explained to them that in the meantime we won’t pursue with the backchannel talks,” he stressed.

Dureza, however, clarified that the government is not closing its doors for the possible resumption of peace talks with the NDF.

“If the atmosphere is already conducive for the peace talks, yes, we will resume our engagements with the NDF,” said Dureza.

The fifth round of formal peace talks with the NDF scheduled last May 27 to June 2 in The Netherlands was also called off by President Rodrigo Duterte.

22nd military medical facility gets new look

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 20): 22nd military medical facility gets new look

The renovation of Camp Panacan Station Hospital inside the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao in Panacan, Davao City is now completed giving the 22nd military facility a new look.

It also earned the military hospital an accreditation from the Department of Health (DOH) as Level 1 Health Care Facility in addition to the accreditation as PhilHealth member.

The renovation and refurbishment were courtesy of the SM Foundation, Inc. (SMFI) in its aim to make the facilities more responsive and conducive for the benefit of the uniformed men and women who risk their lives for the defense and security of the country.
In her brief message during the blessing of the facility on Wednesday, SMFI senior assistant vice president and executive director for Health and Medical Program Connie Angeles said, “Our advocacy has extended to benefit the three branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and to the Philippine National Police with the latest of which are the Marines and the Scout Rangers whose activity centers and station hospitals we have inaugurated.”

"We are deeply honored in our own little way to contribute to those who serve the country specifically with this project on the improvement of Camp Panacan Station Hospital in this city," she added.

Angeles said SMFI also committed support for the maintenance and upkeep of the facility.

The Camp Panacan Station Hospital is of 38-bed capacity with an operating room, emergency room, seven hospital wards including an Officers Ward, Heroes Ward for battle casualties, a physical therapy room, an outpatient department, a pharmacy, an EG room, a reception, a waiting area, a storage room, an administrative office and the commanding officers room.

It is now equipped with basic ancillary services such as the 12-lead ECG, radiography with complete clinical laboratory and an x-ray room.

Meanwhile, Angeles said they will have more similar projects for the military, their dependents and authorized civilians emphasizing "the renovation and refurbishing of military hospitals throughout the country is a gift of Mr. Henry Sy and his family to all of you who risks your lives and limbs for us to enjoy the power of freedom and this is the reason why we came in full force to honor you today".

According to her, the other health facilities in Davao which were renovated and refurbished by SMFI are the out-patient department of the Southern Philippines Medical Center and the Tagum Health Center.

Among the naval station hospitals in the country, SMFI renovated and refurbished the Naval Station Leovigildo Gantioqui Hospital, Camp Aquino Station Hospital, First Scout Ranger Regiment Dispensary, Fort Del Pilar Station Hospital, Fort Magsaysay Station Hospital, Air Force City Hospital, Camp Nakar Station Hospital, Fernando Airbase Hospital and the AFP Medical Center.

For his part, Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado, Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy, said there is a great impact on the improvement of their medical facilities as it would boost the morale of the soldiers.

First to the soldier, he said is having a treatment facility which caters to their needs to regain strength before going back to the mission.

As flag officer of the Philippine Navy, Mercado said, "I am the one who gave direction to our ships to be out at sea or marines to go out in the field on harm's way hoping that I will not receive a report of any of our personnel wounded worst killed in action".

"We know the perils of our job and at the end of the day we are assured what SM has done that here in Eastern Mindanao, Davao to be exact when I direct the commander to send out ships in our borders and when I direct the commander to send our marines in operations in areas where they are exposed to high risks, I know that when anything happens to them we have a station that will provide them with very nice medical service," he said.

He said their donors like SMFI keep them going to protect the people.

"We do not mind to be in harm's way in protecting you as long as at the end of the day we get not the recognition but at least the appreciation that we had been doing our tasks properly," he said. "You are also our fellow comrades," he added.

"You may not be directly involved in protecting our people in this country but I can assure you that the efforts you are doing to us are in no way rank lower than all my combat soldiers are doing because at the end of the day what keeps us moving is people like you who continue to give us love and support of what we are doing," he added.

Abu Sayyaf bandit dies, soldier wounded in clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 20): Abu Sayyaf bandit dies, soldier wounded in clash

A member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was killed while a soldier was wounded in a clash in the province of Sulu early Thursday, the military reported.

The Joint Task Force Sulu said the clash took place in Sitio Kabbon Latih, Barangay Latih, Patikul municipality at about 6:50 a.m. Thursday.

The task force said the troops were conducting focused military operations when they clashed with a group of Abu Sayyaf bandits, who scampered to different directions.

The bandits who figured in the clash were followers of Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders Jamiri Jaong Jawhari alias Amah Bers; Basaron Arok; and Amah Ollah.

The troops recovered the remains of a slain Abu Sayyaf member and three high-powered firearms at the clash site.

Joint Task Force Sulu withheld the identity of the wounded soldier but said he belongs to the Army’s 21st Infantry Battalion.

The task force said the focused military operations continue in a bid to rescue the hostages in the island province of Sulu.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits are still holding 24 hostages, including 16 foreigners.

They consist of eight Vietnamese, seven Indonesians, one Dutch, and eight Filipinos.

Three of them -- all Vietnamese sailors -- are held captive in Basilan province.

Police file charges vs rebel captured in clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 20): Police file charges vs rebel captured in clash

The police on Thursday announced criminal charges have been filed against a captured New People’s Army rebel in the province of Zamboanga del Norte.

Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) identified the captured NPA rebel as Joy Andang Talip, 32, a resident of Sitio Kalawit, Barangay Tinaplan, Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte.

Police said the criminal charges filed against Talip, who doubles as a “habal-habal” driver, included murder and multiple frustrated murder.

The charges were filed on Tuesday before the Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Dipolog City.

Government troops captured Talip during a clash on Sunday in Sitio Lubi, Barangay Tinaplan, Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte.

Two of Talip’s comrades were killed in the clash. On the government side, two soldiers died while 10 others were wounded.

The troops were detailed to secure a government road construction project linking the town of Leon Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte to the municipality of Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur.

On Tuesday, government troops manning a checkpoint intercepted two wounded persons believed to be companions of Talip in Barangay Tiogan, Leon Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte while being transported to the hospital by an ambulance of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

They were identified as Joseph Aradillos, 28, and Jun-Jun Anta, 18.

AFP to lead rehab of Marawi City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 20): AFP to lead rehab of Marawi City

Once all the remaining Maute Group terrorists are eliminated from Marawi City, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be on the forefront again --- this time spearheading the relief and reconstruction efforts for the war-torn locality.

This was emphasized Thursday by military public affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo even as he assured the public that the ongoing conflict will be over soon.

"As decisively the AFP was an instrument in containing and defeating the Maute Group terrorists and their supporters and allies, the AFP will once again be at the forefront of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City," he added in Filipino.

Earlier, the AFP announced that it will be deploying its 52nd and 54th Engineering Brigades to help in rehabilitation of Marawi City once the all Maute Group remnants are eliminated.

These units will also be joined by other engineering units of the Air Force and Navy.

The AFP added that these engineering outfits have constructed and completed around 2,000 community projects nationwide since 2007.

These include school buildings, farm-to-market roads, rural electrification projects, water systems, day care and health centers.

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016

From US Department of State (Jul 2017): Country Reports on Terrorism 2016

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 is submitted in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f (the “Act”), which requires the Department of State to provide to Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of the Act.

Beginning with the report for 2004, it replaced the previously published Patterns of Global Terrorism.


Chapter 1. Strategic Assessment
Chapter 2. Country Reports: Africa
Chapter 2. Country Reports: East Asia and Pacific
Chapter 2. Country Reports: Europe
Chapter 2. Country Reports: Middle East and North Africa
Chapter 2. Country Reports: South and Central Asia
Chapter 2. Country Reports: Western Hemisphere
Chapter 3: State Sponsors of Terrorism
Chapter 4: The Global Challenge of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, or Nuclear (CBRN) Terrorism
Chapter 5: Terrorist Safe Havens (Update to 7120 Report)
Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Chapter 7. Legislative Requirements and Key Terms


National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism: Annex of Statistical Information [Get Acrobat Reader PDF version   ]
Terrorism Deaths, Injuries and Kidnappings of Private U.S. Citizens Overseas in 2016

Full Report

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 (PDF)

PH taking war against terror seriously — Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 20): PH taking war against terror seriously — Palace

Malacañang on Thursday said that Philippines is taking the war against terror seriously and has in fact expanded the anti-terror campaign by also addressing the root cause of radicalism.

In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella pointed out that the government has been fighting terrorism in the Philippines for many years, and as early as August last year, President Rodrigo Duterte already told the Philippine military to be ready with ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria).

“A month and a half into his presidency, the President had already warned the military of what he termed the ISIS disease,” he said.

The Palace official said that as the government continue to confront terrorism, it has also taken a holistic approach in the campaign by also addressing one of the root causes of radicalism -- poverty.

“We recognize that poverty in Mindanao and the sense of hopelessness it brings spawns terrorism. It is for this reason that while we are fighting terrorism, we are also fighting poverty. The President has already approved the Comprehensive Peace Roadmap which aims to provide peace and development by addressing the issue on the Bangsamoro,” Abella said.

“As they say, we can sign a hundred peace agreements but if those on the ground do not immediately feel the dividends of peace, those agreements will [not] be sustainable. In other words, what we are doing is we are really confronting it, engaging the situation with the whole systems approach,” he added.

His statements were issued following reports that the Philippine campaign against terror has taken a backseat due to President Duterte’s focus in the war against drugs.

On Wednesday, the US State Department released a report which named the Philippines as among five countries where the highest number of terror attacks were recorded in 2016.

In its 2016 US Country Reports on Terrorism, the agency said more than half of the 11,072 worldwide attacks last year took place in Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

"The emergence of ISIS-affiliated extremist groups, persistent kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), attacks on government forces, and bombings, all indicated that domestic and international terrorism remained a serious problem," the report said.

The report said Philippine security forces kept up pressure on terrorist organizations but were unable to prevent numerous attacks against government, public, and private facilities, primarily in central and western Mindanao.

The US government report also said that President Duterte's war on drugs has shifted manpower and resources of security forces away from the fight against terrorism.

"The focus on counter narcotics has increased workload and operational tempo for security forces. Specialized law enforcement units possess some necessary equipment, but numerous unfulfilled needs remain, and sustainment and maintenance of equipment often exceeds fiscal and human resources," the report read.

However, the same report noted that Duterte has pursued a federal system of government and peace talks with rebel groups in a bid to curb the spread of radicalism in Mindanao.

"The government’s goal is to reduce radicalization and the attraction of terrorist groups by providing greater political and economic autonomy for Muslim-majority areas of Mindanao," the agency said.

It also noted that Philippine agencies have enhanced investigative, crisis response and border security capacity.

The US State Department likewise assured that Washington continues to work with Manila to monitor terror activities, and provide training and equipment to troops.

Pres. Duterte's visit to Marawi boosts morale of PH troops

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 20): Pres. Duterte's visit to Marawi boosts morale of PH troops

President Rodrigo Duterte's Thursday visit to Marawi City, where Filipino troops are currently locked in battle with remaining Maute Group terrorists, has greatly boosted the morale of military personnel currently deployed there.

Thus, declared by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año who was among the ranking military and defense officials who accompanied the Chief Executive there.

The visit took place "amidst the sound of gun and artillery fires on the background," he added.

The President also set foot in Marawi as the troops launched a daring assault from the other end of Mapandi Bridge-- site of one of the fiercest gun battle in downtown Marawi heavily defended by Maute Group.

He was given the latest situations update on the ongoing operations at the Tactical Command Post of Joint Task Force Marawi on the 59th day of rebellion.

Año said the President had the opportunity to shake hands with the troops, talked to, and exchanged pleasantries with them.

And while the visit was very successful and memorable for the troops, the AFP chief said it was not easy as shots started coming in at the landing zone where the helicopter carrying Duterte and his party was supposed to land.

Aside from Año, the President was accompanied by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., Presidential Adviser for Military Affairs Undersecretary Arthur Tabaquero, and Philippine Army commander Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda.

Rebel in clash with PSG killed

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 20): Rebel in clash with PSG killed

Government forces pursuing communist rebels involved in an ambush on President Duterte’s security personnel in Arakan, North Cotabato Wednesday killed a New People's Army member in a separate encounter, police and military authorities said.

Army Captain Silver Belvis, spokesperson for the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion, said Thursday that the body of the still unidentified NPA, who carried a bag containing an improvised explosive device, is now in the custody of the Arakan local government unit.

Belvis said the slain rebel was among the more than 50 NPA men under Commander Bobby who fled to Barangay Naplico, Arakan after engaging members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) near a rebel-manned checkpoint in Bukidnon-Davao highway in Barangay Katipunan, Arakan, North Cotabato.

As they fled toward Barangay Naplico, they clashed with joint 39th IB troopers, militiamen and Arakan police units. The scene of encounter was about five kilometers from Barangay Katipinan.

Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr, speaking for police in Region 12, said personnel of the Arakan municipal police are still trying to identify the NPA fatality.

Citing intelligence information, Belvis said the rebels belonging to NPA’s Guerilla Front 56 gathered in Barangay Katipunan before dawn and set up a checkpoint to flag down public transport vehicles.

Residents first noticed they were in military fatigue uniform with patches of 3rd Infantry Battalion. But Belvis said the locals noticed they arrived on foot and not on military KM-45 vehicle the Army regularly use.

They became suspicious and tried to alert village officials when automatic gun fires were heard.

Belvis said the PSG personnel noticed something wrong with the checkpoint so its driver decided to pass through, hitting the Task Force Davao signage followed by automatic gunfire.

Galgo said as the rebels fled toward Naplico on board two vehicles, they picked a militiaman along the way, used him as human shield and executed him later. A man later named Rogelio Genon, a police civilian agent, was also abducted. His fate remained unknown.

NPA owns attacks in Surigao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 20): NPA owns attacks in Surigao

Communist guerillas claimed responsibility over the series of attacks launched all in one day on Tuesday, July 18, in reaction to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s intention to extend Martial Law in Mindanao until the end of this year.

Ka Ariel Montero, spokesperson for the New People's Army Regional Operational Command, said in a statement Wednesday the offensives included the disarming of Vice Mayor Emmanuel Suarez of Cortes town in Surigao del Sur.

In that attack, rebels carted away two caliber 45 pistol, a shot gun, a sub machine gun, two grenades, a VHF radio and four boxes of bullets for .45 pistol initiated by NPA Front 30 in his home at around 6 a.m.

At noon on the same day, the NPA Front 19 attacked the Dole-Stanfilco banana plantation in nearby Tago town where they destroyed some six hectares of banana hills and torched the company’s six elf mini-trucks.
In Surigao City at around 9 a.m., the NPA Front 16 torched the equipment and vehicles of Mamsar Construction including a forklift, backhoe and multi-cab cars.
In Butuan City later in the evening, the NPA-Front 21 killed militiaman Oning Lumacang, a resident of Anticala village for his alleged involvement in anti-insurgency offensives. Montero said Lumacang was a former NPA cadre who left without consent and brought firearms.

Montero said the “punitive action” against Dole-Stanfilco was for their “continued grabbing” of farmlands of poor farmers and the use of chemicals for aerial spray that supposedly causes damage to the environment and the health of the populace.

He added they also burned down the company equipment and vehicles for the company’s failure to recognize and follow the revolutionary policies like benefits of its workers.
The statement said the series of offensives were “necessary to protect the interest of the masses and the revolutionary movement from the ferocity of Martial Law of President Duterte and the all-out military offensive under Oplan Kapayapaan.”

Reacting to the attacks, the Provincial Police Office in Surigao del Sur condemned the NPA attacks which it said “have only sown terror and fear to innocent civilians.”

“Is this what they boast of being the soldiers of the masses? To rob properties and instill fear to the civilians? And when their demands are not met, they just burned down properties hardly earned by residents?” reads a statement issued by the Police Provincial Office in Tandag City.
The police has called on residents to reach them on their hotline numbers if they have any information about the presence of communists guerrillas in their communities.