Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Trial Balloon Over Mindanao: The Philippines Weighs US UCAVs in Counterinsurgency

From The Diplomat (Aug 9): A Trial Balloon Over Mindanao: The Philippines Weighs US UCAVs in Counterinsurgency (By Blanchard E. Neuman)

Would U.S. unmanned combat aerial vehicles change the game in Mindanao counterinsurgency?

The U.S. proposition to conduct unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) airstrikes against Islamic State-affiliated militants in the Philippines, if ultimately accepted by the host government led by President Rodrigo Duterte, will alter both the military and political character of the ongoing counterinsurgency campaign in Mindanao.

There is no question that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is straining from simultaneous battles with Islamic State (ISIS) affiliates, communist rebels, and various outlaw groups. The country is a formal military ally of the United States under a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

Filipino nationalists are deeply sensitive to foreign soldiers on their soil, although these are not strictly prohibited by the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Successive Filipino presidents have had to manage public opinion carefully when cooperating with the United States on security matters. Duterte’s popularity does not exempt him from the same basic dilemma.

Unnamed Pentagon officials intimated their thinking to NBC’s national security reporter in Washington DC less than 12 hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s warm audience at the presidential palace in Manila. The Philippine broadsheets, awash with the pageantry of the ASEAN Regional Forum and past press time, did not cover it the next morning.

Philippine online coverage later in the day carried official caveats that no such agreement was in place, but neither the defense secretary nor the AFP chief of staff rejected the idea outright. Their equivocation reflects a basic uncertainty about the merits as well as a desire to gauge public reaction.

At this point in the battle to retake Marawi City on Mindanao Island, the Duterte administration has already accepted U.S. small arms, battlefield advisers, and overflights by U.S. and Australian surveillance aircraft. Political opposition to this has so far been muted by the shock of seeing a city captured by ISIS and prospect of the country sliding into chaos.

U.S. UCAV deployment will redraw perceptions just as it promises to deliver new capabilities to the AFP. Strategically, it becomes even easier for ISIS to frame the Philippines as a new front against the United States. There is no shortage of latent anti-outsider sentiment in Mindanao.

Tactically, insurgents will seek to maximize perceptions of danger and civilian casualties from overhead. Clerics may question the morality of inflicting death by remote control. And in the ruthless arena of Philippine elite competition, both old resentments and the latest UCAV strikes may become weapons.

Against this, Duterte’s government must balance potential advantages. As pointed out earlier in The Diplomat, UCAVs are unlikely to be strategically decisive in urban counterinsurgency. Their main utility will be in the rural and mountain settings to which most insurgents will return after the bombing finally stops in Marawi.

Past AFP operations have evidenced a capability to track the movements of both groups and particular individuals of interest. However, the time needed to deploy ground forces often meant such information became stale. Insurgents have also learned to track the AFP’s platoons and helicopters, and know generally how often they must move.

With a population density of about 240 persons per square kilometer, Mindanao is similar to the U.S. state of Maryland (the fifth densest). Most infantry operations thus entail advance coordination with local power centers, including well-armed but non-ISIS groups who are partners in a critical ongoing peace process. This makes surprise all but impossible to achieve.

The United States clearly hopes to employ its 15 years of experience with a much shorter kill chain. A loitering UCAV could be quickly tasked at targets identified by it or other assets. To take one example UCAV, the MQ-1 Predator’s 14-hour loiter, more than double that of the AFP’s manned OV-10 aircraft, means that just one pair can provide round-the-clock coverage within a certain radius.

The challenge will be killing only legitimate targets. The highest value targets will be employing tactics honed elsewhere, as they have to the AFP’s dismay in Marawi. These may include tactics specifically intended to undermine the political legitimacy of UCAVs and of U.S. involvement in general.

Another issue is the security of UCAV bases. U.S. personnel, facilities, and aircraft will be priority targets for ISIS. Secondary targets will be the power lines and other support.

A final issue is whether UCAV missions will be limited to ISIS-affiliated fighters only. Fighting with the New People’s Army (NPA) has intensified recently, and includes clashes on Luzon, where Manila is located, and other islands.

The Duterte government can probably afford to limit any UCAVs to Mindanao. But the question it must be weighing carefully is whether it can afford to decline the United States altogether, caught as it is between stalemate in Marawi, escalation from ISIS, budgetary limits, and the passions of its own people. Duterte did not have to swallow his pride this week, because he already did so in July. Thus, when welcoming the emissary from Donald Trump, it was perhaps with resigned irony that he called himself “your humble friend in Southeast Asia.”

[Blanchard E. Neuman is the pseudonym of a Philippine-based analyst of military affairs]

Avail of Duterte offer, Aying urges Negros' NPA groups

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 9): Avail of Duterte offer, Aying urges Negros' NPA groups

A package of benefits being offered by President Rodrigo Dutertefor New People's Army groups or individuals in Negros Island who give up their armed struggle and return to the folds of the law, which includes free housing in resettlement villages and livelihood opportunities, is now available.

This was announced by Maj. Gen. Jon Aying, Army 3ID commander, at a press conference held at the provincial Capitol in Bacolod City yesterday.

Aying said the president is calling on NPA members or groups composed of entire platoons or front organizations to surrender and they will be provided with resettlement areas or villages, free house and lots with livelihood trainings for skills development.

The president said this will empower the former rebels to live normal lives, Ayingadded.

The president also said the firearms of the returning rebels will not be confiscated, they will be allowed to keep them for community protection and self-defense, Aying said. The firearms will only be profiled or accounted for, he added.

The rebel returnees at resettlement areas will also be provided with community security forces from the governmentto protect them from possible retaliation from their former comrades, Aying said.

Individual rebels will be provided assistance of P65,000 each under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program, free house and lots in resettlement villages, and an additional P50,000 for each high powered rifle that they bring with them, he added.

The president announced the package of benefits in a meeting with law enforcement officers in Dumaguete City on July 27, after he visited the wake of policemen slain in an NPA ambush in Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental, Aying said.

The Negros Occidental provincial government is also offering an additional P100,000 to each rebel returnee, plus another P300,000, depending on the caliber of the firearms they bring with them, Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said.

Aying also said a reward of P100,000 will also be given to whoever can give information that will result in the surrender, imprisonment and the killing of an NPA rebel, Mindanao-based ISIS extremists and local terrorists, private armed groups and other groups with high powered and illegal firearms.

Aying said the NPA Negros currently has about 200 armed rebels who are kept as a maintaining force to justify the continued existence of the rebel movement.

Since 2010, the NPA rebels in Negros have killed more than 100 persons, most of whom were defenseless and innocent persons, he said.

The latest of which was the killing of six policemen in an ambush in Guihulngan on July 21; and the liquidation of planter Norberto Lumayno and his driver,Danilo Braga, in Calatrava, Negros Occidental on June 22, retired Staff Sergeant Ronnie Montejo in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental on June 20, and civilian Eliodoro Alvarado in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental on May 26, Aying added.

He said the NPA members today are nolonger theidealistic revolutionary fighters of the past, they are bandits, terrorists, thieves and extortionists.

In the last 50 years, the NPA rebels have remained blind and deaf to the changes government has brought to the lives of people for the better, he said.

Aying said those interested to avail of the offer of government to the rebel forces may call 0935-852-5490or0999-109-2829.

Col. EliezerLosañes, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said the people should unite and make a stand against the NPA to hasten the end of their existence.

Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil Jr., Negros Occidental police director, said that after the Guihulngan ambush, the people have been more active in reporting the presence of rebel forces in their areas, which they validate.

Aying said people should peacefully reject the NPA when they go to their barangays, refuse to give them food and pay taxes to them, and to report the presence of rebels.

‘No imminent terror threat inVisayas'

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 9): ‘No imminent terror threat inVisayas'

There is no imminent threat. Attack is possible, but not likely.

The assessment was made yesterday by the Army's 3rd Infantry Division on the threat posed by the Mindanao-based extremist groups on the Visayas, that is considered at Level 2 category in peace and security.

“That is why, we have to improve our structures, coordination and resiliency to insulate our provinces and regions from the Mindanao spill over,” Maj. Gen. Jon Aying, ID commanding general, who supervises the security of 10 provinces in Western and Central Visayas, as well as Negros Island Region, said.

Three months ago, the 3ID and police managed to contain the expansion of operations of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in Bohol. Eleven ASG members were killed, and two others arrested, including a policewoman with the rank of superintendent.

This prompted the Armed Forces of the Philippines to organize task forces in 10 provinces of the three Visayas regions, to address possible spillover of terrorist groups from Mindanao.

In a security briefing held at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City yesterday Aying said that the newly-created Task Force Buglas can be a medium for making all sectors come together and become active and responsive in addressing all security threats.

Task Force Buglas was given a budget of P25 million by the provincial government of Negros Occidental for the training of security personnel and to buy equipment to combat terrorism, with the bulk of the security effort focused on the coastal areas of southern Negros.

Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, yesterday said he is proposing additional training for SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) personnel, such as in hostage negotiation, and creation of K9 units, to support the Task Force Buglas.

Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and Col. Eliezer Losañes, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, Police Regional Office 18, Regional Public Safety Battalion 18, Philippine Navy and Coast Guard, as well as the Maritime Command, also assured their all-out support to the task force.

Citing the Bohol experience, Aying said their campaign against the terrorists would not have succeeded, if there was no critical collaboration from the community.

Troops push to rescue Marawi hostages in 'last lap' operations

From Rappler (Aug 9): Troops push to rescue Marawi hostages in 'last lap' operations

'Father Chito and the rest are still being kept as hostages and utilized as human shields inside the main battle area. Part of our priorities is the safe rescue of Father Chito,' says Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año

The Philippine military is poised to rescue hostages in Marawi City as it announces the "last lap" of its operations against local terror groups linked with the Islamic State (ISIS).

The clashes that erupted on May 23 are now on its 3rd month. The military estimated that the terrorists have kept about a hundred hostages, including Catholic priest Father Teresito Soganub.

"Father Chito and the rest are still being kept as hostages and utilized as human shields inside the main battle area. Part of our priorities is the safe rescue of Father Chito," Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año told Rappler when asked about the situation of the hostages.

The military has information on the hostages based on reports from village officials and relatives of missing residents, according to Colonel Edgard Arevalo, chief of the military Public Affairs Office.

Arevalo said the objective is to rescue them before troops launch a final push to eliminate the terrorists, particularly its leaders.

"Ang atin pong action sa ngayon ay to ensure na bago tayo dumating sa mismong concluding part ng ating operation ay ma-rescue muna natin ang hostages na ito (Our course of action is to ensure that we rescue the hostages before we push for the concluding part of our operation)," Arevalo said.

Last week, Año and President Rodrigo Duterte made back-to-back visits to the main battle area and spoke of the war supposedly nearing its end. They did not issue a timeline but instead told troops to take it slow to avoid more casualties.

Stockholm syndrome?

Arevalo said the military is aware that some of the hostages may have been turned by their captors to join the battle. He said troops will still aim to rescue them, knowing that they may be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or acting under duress.

"May mga balita din na talagang tumutulong na rin si Father Chito at kanyang parishioners [sa mga terorista] (There are raw reports that Father Chito and his parishioners are already aiding the terrorists). There is a possibility they are doing so under duress. Hopefully we are able to rescue them notwithstanding the possiblity that they are already fighting us," said Arevalo.

"We’d rather err on the side of caution, by treating them as non-combatants who are turned combatants by force of circumstances," Arevalo said.

The military has reported on the second month of the clashes that the hostages were forced to bear firearms and carry explosives to various target areas. They have also supposedly been ordered to loot buildings for guns, gear, food, money, and jewelry.

The battle area is now reportedly less than one square kilometer. But it's a densely commercial area and the buildings are made of hard concrete, factors that slow down the advance of troops.

The terrorists are also heavily armed despite the clashes dragging on for over two months. Recently, the military said it has suffered a growing number of deaths in the battle area due to improvised explosive devices that terrorists leave behind buildings they have been forced to abandon due to military advances.

Don't tell us what to do, PH tells countries on sea dispute

From Rappler (Aug 9): Don't tell us what to do, PH tells countries on sea dispute

'The problem of territorial disputes between China and the Philippines is between China and the Philippines,' says Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano

The Philippines criticized the United States, Japan, and Australia for releasing a joint statement that urged both Manila and Beijing to heed a 2016 international ruling on the South China Sea.

"We expect nations not to tell us what to do," Cayetano said in a press conference on Tuesday, August 8.

It was only 3 days after Cayetano and other Southeast Asian ministers told North Korea what to do: to stop its missile tests.

Cayetano said: "Japan, Australia, and the US are our friends. The US is our treaty ally. But we have told all countries around the world: We are a sovereign nation. We will decide what is good for us, what strategy is good for us, because we are a sovereign nation."

The Philippine foreign secretary was reacting to a joint statement issued by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Monday, August 7.

In the joint statement issued after a trilateral meeting in Manila, the 3 foreign ministers "called on China and the Philippines to abide by the Arbitral Tribunal's 2016 Award in the Philippines-China arbitration, as it is final and legally binding on both parties."

The ruling, issued by a Hague tribunal in July 2016, invalidated China's expansive claim over the South China Sea, parts of which the Philippines claims as the West Philippine Sea.

"We respect their views," Cayetano said. "But the problem of territorial disputes between China and the Philippines is between China and the Philippines."

The Philippine foreign secretary made these remarks at the end of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Meeting and Related Meetings hosted by the Philippines.

After their meeting, the ASEAN foreign ministers released a statement that cited criticism of China's island building activities and also urged the "non-militarization" of the disputed South China Sea.

Cayetano admitted that the Philippines initially wanted to exclude China's reclamation and militarization activities from the joint statement, because "it's not reflective of the present position."

No rants this time: Duterte tells Tillerson he’s a ‘humble friend’ of America

From InterAksyon (Aug 8): No rants this time: Duterte tells Tillerson he’s a ‘humble friend’ of America

President Duterte welcomes US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at Malacañang Palace Monday (Aug. 7, 2017). REUTERS

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called himself a “humble friend” of the United States on Monday, taking a break from his notorious hostility towards Washington to grant a warm reception to visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Duterte’s often profanity-laden tirades against the United States has become his trademark during his year-old presidency, but he appeared happy to meet Tillerson, who was in Manila to attend a regional security meeting dominated by North Korea’s missile tests, and maritime squabbles.

“I am happy to see you … and you have come at a time when the world is not so good, especially in the Korean peninsula, and of course, the ever nagging problem of South China Sea,” Duterte told Tillerson at the presidential palace.

“I know you’re worried there, because you also have domestic problems … We are friends. We are allies,” said Duterte.

“I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia,” he said.

The maverick leader makes no attempt to hide his grudge against the United States, which he has repeatedly chided for what he says is a history of hypocritical foreign policy, and for treating the Philippines like a dog.

He last year announced to China his “separation” from Washington, has complained about being given “hand-me-down” US military hardware, and once invited American investors jittery about his remarks to pack their bags and leave.

But Duterte’s biggest anger was directed at former President Barack Obama, whose administration spoke out against his signature war on drugs, a fierce crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos.

Duterte’s warm words for Tillerson indicates Philippines-US ties under US President Donald Trump may be in better shape.

Though Duterte still vents about Washington, he has spoken positively about Trump, who praised him for doing “an unbelievable job on the drug problem”.

Trump in an April phone call told Duterte he would invite him to the White House. But when a US lawmaker recently said he would try to block that, Duterte said he would never go to the United States because “I’ve seen America and it’s lousy”.

Duterte said he and Tillerson discussed “many things” on Monday, but he did not give details.

The defense treaty alliance between the two countries remains strong and US forces have been providing the Philippines with technical assistance to fight militants allied with Islamic State. He last year repeatedly threatened to eject US military trainers and advisers.

Asked prior to his meeting if helping the Philippine military meant the United States was endorsing the government’s bloody anti-drugs campaign, Tillerson said the two were unrelated.

“I see no conflict, no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of other human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counter-narcotics activities,” he said.

P3-M reward in Roxas blast case remains unclaimed: city

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 8): P3-M reward in Roxas blast case remains unclaimed: city

THE P3 MILLION reward dangled by the local government for the successful prosecution of the suspects in the Roxas night market bombing has not been awarded yet as the first year of the tragic terror attack is quickly approaching.

City Legal Office head Raul Nadela, Jr., in an interview, said it’s the Office of the City Prosecutor that will decide to whom the P3 million cash would be awarded. “But this will depend on the successful prosecution of the suspects of the blast,” Nadela said.

There are currently 14 suspects identified in the case. Two were dropped from the list of suspects after they submitted extrajudicial confessions. Seven of the identified suspects have been apprehended.

Charges of multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, and terrorism have been filed against the 12 suspects.

The cases of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder are being tried at the Branch 33 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) here, while the cases of terrorism will be handled at RTC’s branch 10.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, in earlier interviews, said the local government and private investors have passed the hat and raised the amount to expedite the justice for the 15 slain victims and 69 injured.

The prosecutors, meanwhile, will base their decision on the recommendation of the police and military.

Meanwhile, the local government will be distributing livelihood and cash assistance to the survivors and families of the casualties of last year’s blast.

Nadela said the distribution will be on Friday, August 11, at 10 a.m. at the Grand Men Seng hotel.

According to Nadela, the local government has so far collected around P8 million to P9 million from the bank account set up for the purpose. Around P7 million has already been spent for the families of the 15 slain victims and around 69 survivors who were injured in the blast last Sept. 2, 2016.

Among the recent assistance given by the government was for follow up surgery of some of the survivors. National and local labor agencies have also assisted in linking the victims with jobs.

The victims will receive at least P50,000 in cash, as well as livelihood assistance in a simple ceremony this Friday.

Commander escapes dragnet but NPA driver caught for gun

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 7): Commander escapes dragnet but NPA driver caught for gun

AN ALLEGED member of New People’s Army (NPA), believed to be the driver of a top commander, was arrested after a gun was found in his possession at a Task Force Davao (TFD) checkpoint in Barangay Lacson, Calinan District on Saturday.

Davao City Police Office (DCPO) director Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum identified the suspect as Fernando Artiz, 40, with no permanent address in the city.
Tagum said Artiz is the driver of Kumander Bobby of Front Committee 54 who was the initial target of the dragnet.
The DCPO director said they received information that Kumander Bobby was onboard a vehicle that passed the city in going to Lorega, Bukidnon on Saturday.

“We received the tip late so we intercepted them on their way back to the city,” Tagum said.

When the vehicle passed by at the TFD checkpoint in Purok 9, Barangay Lacson around 6:30 p.m. that day,

TFD personnel flagged down the vehicle.

Only the driver, later identified as Artiz, was inside the city-bound vehicle, a gray pick-up with plate no. LGY 317.

During the inspection, a Mark IV .45 caliber pistol, serial number FLO3656, loaded with magazine and ammunition, was found inside the vehicle.

Artiz was turned over to the Calinan police station as he will be charged for violating RA 10591 (illegal possession of firearm).

Photo: Kadayawan Security Exercise

From the MindaNews (Aug 8): Photo: Kadayawan Security Exercise

Combined elements of the Davao City Police Special Weapons and Tactics and Task Force Davao participate in a simulation exercise on Tuesday ( 8 Augusto 2017) as part of the security preparation for the Kadayawan Festival next week. MindaNews Photo

200 Chinese-made M-16 rifles now with Region 12 cops

From the MindaNews (Aug 9): 200 Chinese-made M-16 rifles now with Region 12 cops

The anti-terrorism campaign and efforts to ensure public safety in Region 12 received a big boost with the distribution of 200 new Chinese-made M-16 rifles to police personnel across the region.

Chief Supt. Cedrick Train, Police Regional Office-12 (PRO-12) director, confirmed Wednesday the M-16 rifles manufactured by China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) have been turned over to various Provincial Public Safety Companies (PPSC) in the region.

A 7.62 mm Dragunov sniper rifle was also distributed to the Regional Public Safety Battalion-12, he added.

“These firearms and ammunition package will be a big help in PRO-12’s capability build up and in enhancing security measures,” Train said.

Twenty-nine M-16 rifles were distributed to the South Cotabato PPSC, 25 pieces to the Sultan Kudarat PPSC, 40 pieces to the Sarangani PPSC, 26 pieces to the North Cotabato PPSC and 40 pieces to the General Santos City public safety company, said Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr., PRO-12 spokesperson.

Included in the distribution were three reloading machines for the police stations in the cities of Kidapawan, Tacurong and Koronadal, he added.

Galso said 72,000 rounds of ammunition and 400 magazines accompany the 200 units of Norinco M-16 rifles.

The 7.62 mm Dragunov sniper rifle goes with 400 rounds and three magazines, Galgo said.
Train thanked the Philippine National Police (PNP) higher headquarters for beefing up PRO-12’s security capability.

He said the distribution of the M-16 rifles was part of PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa’s campaign to fight terrorism and criminality across the country.

The distribution of the new M-16 and sniper rifles came on the heels of the deployment of hundreds of new cops across the region.

Last month, about 500 new cops joined the Region 12 police force.

Train said that 378 men and 111 women, or a total of 489, have taken their oath as PNP members in Region 12 after surviving the rigid police officers’ training.

“They are expected to serve and protect the people from whom they derived their power and authority to enforce the laws of the land without fear or favor,” the official said.

“They are (tasked) to look after the general welfare of the people and ensure that peace and order is maintained at all times, and act as the protector of the weak, defender of the innocent and advocates of human rights,” he added.

Military casualties mounting in Marawi City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 9): Military casualties mounting in Marawi City

20726940_1737328589628785_1589285505_o copy

20727120_1737328242962153_498902641_o copy

Military photos released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show an abandoned armoured vehicle used by local ISIS militants in one of the building previously held by jihadists in Marawi City. And the 4 men – three from Zamboanga City and a native of Iligan City – who escaped recently from ISIS in the besieged city.

The number of military casualties continue to mount as security forces battle local ISIS militants nearly 3 months after jihadists occupied Marawi City in southern Philippines.

Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said some 122 soldiers had died since fighting broke out on May 23 that also killed 45 civilians. It said 539 militants were allegedly slain, but most of the reports came from unverified intelligence sources and not based from bodies recovered in the battlefield.

Petinglay did not disclose the total number of soldiers wounded in the fighting despite efforts to get the information from her, but security sources said more than 1,000 soldiers had been injured in fierce clashes with ISIS. Troops had rescued over 1,700 civilians – including four men, three of them from Zamboanga City and other a native of Iligan City, who recently escaped from ISIS – in the besieged city since fighting began, according to military reports.

Security officials have repeatedly said about 5 dozens militants are still fighting troops in Marawi despite heavy aerial bombings and army artillery fire on their hideouts.

Petinglay said troops were getting closer to the ISIS group which is holding dozens of civilian hostages, including a Catholic priest. “Fighting continue in about a square kilometer general area where the terrorists are currently held up. It is also believed that there are still hostages with the group numbering to an estimated 50 to 70 people,” she said.

Soldiers also occupied a fortified building previously under ISIS control and recovered an abandoned armoured car used by militants. “The building where it was found was believed used by the terrorists as a storage area and temporary base that houses most of their wounded. Found also in the building is a tunnel where the Maute remnants store their food, bullets, and weapons,” Petinglay said.

“The recent capture of one of the terrorist’s strongholds connotes that the troops are advancing towards the battle positions of Maute remnants, signifying that the terrorists are already contained in a narrower engagement area,” she added.

The United States said armed drones are ready to strike ISIS positions in Marawi. In June, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would order the military to carpet bomb the besieged city to finish off the ISIS militants once and for all.

Army, PNP nab 2 NPA bandits in Bukidnon clash

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 8): Army, PNP nab 2 NPA bandits in Bukidnon clash

Two suspected New People’s Army (NPA) bandits were apprehended early Wednesday in an armed clash between the NPA and the combined troops of 1st Special Forces Battalion, 8th Infantry Battalion, and the Bukidnon Provincial Public Safety Company of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The encounter occurred around 6:30 a.m, 02 August 2017, near Zone 8 of Kiburiao village in Quezon, Bukidnon after the government troops conducting security patrol received a tip from residents of the presence of more or less seven NPAs in the area.

The five-minute battle resulted to the apprehension of two NPA members after the troopers found them lurking in the grove of young trees within the encounter site.

The two NPAs were identified as Ruel Calolot, a known IED-making expert, and his younger brother Ramil Calolot.

Found in their possession were one 57mm recoilless rifle (rocket launcher), three laptops, electrical wires, a switch box, an ANAK PAWIS ID card owned by Ruel Calolot, and various subversive documents.

After a thorough search, the troops also uncovered 24 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs); 51 rounds of caliber 30 ammunition; two .38 caliber revolvers; 200 meters detonating cord; 10 meters safety fuse; five blasting caps; and other IED paraphernalia in the encounter site where the two bandits were found in hiding.

The apprehending troopers immediately turned over the said bandits to PNP for filing of criminal charges, while the 403rd Infantry Brigade’s operating units continuously conduct focused military operations in order to secure communities and pre-empt threats feigned by NPAs.

No reported casualties on the government troops, while it is believed that the firefight wounded the bandits with the bloodstains found on their escape routes.

In a statement, Col. Eric C. Vinoya, 403rd Infantry (Peacemaker) Brigade Commander, 4ID, PA, emphasized Brigade’s commitment to continuously secure the communities against NPA threats.

He denounced the NPA's utmost disregard to the provisions of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the NPA’s continued use of violence against the government and the peace-loving people of Bukidnon.

"The NPA's recent provocations and threats to continue with their violent attacks against government troops and civilians have only inspired our troops to work even harder in order to hit them before they could launch any atrocity. The 403rd Infantry Brigade is always committed to perform our mandate of serving the people and securing our communities, particularly in the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin. We denounce the deceitful acts NPA rebels and all their cohorts for committing themselves to the peace process while continuously fueling their violent armed struggle. The recovery of these numerous Improvised Explosive Devices and other IED paraphernalia are but a semblance of their insincerity and disrespect to the provisions of Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law. These IEDs would have put the lives of not only soldiers but also innocent civilians in grave jeopardy. Most importantly, they prepared for war and violence while we talked about peace," Col. Vinoya said. (Norman M. Tagros, CMO, 403rd Infantry Peacemaker Brigade, 4ID, PA)

New multi-role response vessel from Japan now in Manila

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 9): New multi-role response vessel from Japan now in Manila

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) received on Monday its newest Multi-Role Response Vessel – Suluan (MRRV-4406) from Japan at the Headquarters Philippine Coast Guard, South Harbor, Port Area in Manila.

Commodore Joel S. Garcia PCG Ph.D., H.D., Al-Haj, Officer-in Charge of the Philippine Coast Guard lauded the men of BRP Suluan for bringing the ship safe inspite of typhoon in Southern Japan.

The MRRV- Suluan with assigned bow number 4406 is a 44-meter multi-role response vessel which was built and delivered by the Japan Marine United Corporation (JMUC) Yokohama shipyard in Japan.

She (ship) is named after the Suluan Lighthouse situated in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. She will be an additional floating asset to the search and rescue vessels being utilized by the Philippine Coast Guard to further strengthen the agency’s capability in the performance of its mandated functions such as the maritime law enforcement, maritime security, maritime search and rescue, marine environmental protection, and maritime safety administration within the country’s maritime domain.

According to PCG, five more brand new MRRVs will be built and will also be named after primary lighthouses in the country to denote its significance as one of the navigational aids in the maritime industry.

54th IB turns-over rehabilitated school buildings, supplies

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 9): 54th IB turns-over rehabilitated school buildings, supplies

Building peace through education is one of the many strategies employed by the 54th Infantry (MAGILAS) Battalion stationed here for the promotion of peace and stability in the region.

The 54th IB recently turned-over two rehabilitated school buildings including school equipment and supplies to Mount Pulag Elementary School of Sitio Babalak, Bashoy, Kabayan, Benguet last July 29. This is part of the Development Support and Security Plan dubbed “Kapayaan”.

The turn-over ceremony was graced by Lt. General Romeo Tanalgo, commander, Northern Luzon Command and Major General Paul Atal, 5th Infantry Division Commander.

Part of the program was the distribution of awards to the military personnel of the 54IB, 5ID, PA and civilian partner stakeholders who took part in the construction and rehabilitation of the said school.

Lt. Colonel Nicolas Quemada, 54th IB commanding officer, commended the ­troops involved in the said project. He also encouraged the teachers and the parents to maintain and preserve the school buildings as a symbol of good partnership of the soldiers, the stakeholders and the community.

“I and my men are very much honored to become an instrument in rehabilitating your school building. For these buildings will hone young minds and will serve as their foundation as they go along in their studies. I also encourage civilian stakeholders to engage in projects like this to support the government programs especially in far flung areas.” Quemado said.

USAID donates learning materials to public schools

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): USAID donates learning materials to public schools

Dr. Susan Brems (top, sixth from left), USAID mission director for the Philippines, Pacific Islands, and Mongolia, joins Minglanilla Municipal Mayor Elanito Peña (top, seventh from left) and principals of the different public schools in Cebu Province during the turnover of learning materials on Wednesday. (USJR intern Levirose Caballero/PNA)

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) handed out teaching and learning materials to several Department of Education (DepEd) schools in the province of Cebu on Wednesday.

Dr. Susan Brems, USAID mission director for the Philippines, Pacific Islands and Mongolia, said all learning materials are product of the friendship between the Philippines and the United States.

"All of these were donated by the people of America, from the US government and the American people's taxes. Our goal is to improve the future generation’s reading skills," Brems said.

Irenita Navarro, principal of Vito Elementary School in Minglanilla town where the turnover of learning materials was held, said they have been using high-quality learning materials for the past three years because of the USAID.

"We are empowered with the learning materials given by USAID. Thank you for investing for these children and for their future," Navarro said.

Ellen Villacencio, principal of the neighboring Cadulawan Elementary School, for her part, said this was the first time for them to receive teaching materials from the USAID.

She said they are very grateful because books are a big help to their pupils, most especially if they are of good quality and very nice, which can easily attract the students’ attention because of their colorful contents.

The US government have donated almost PHP2 billion to the Philippines through this project which started in 2013.

All DepEd school members in the province of Cebu and in Mandaue City are among the beneficiaries of this USAID program.

DFA: Joint communique on South China Sea reflects ASEAN sentiment

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): DFA: Joint communique on South China Sea reflects ASEAN sentiment

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday said the joint communiqué that called for non-militarization and self-restraint in South China Sea (SCS) activities reflects the sentiment of majority members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Cayetano issued this statement even as the Philippines initially did not want to include land reclamation and militarization activities in the document.

“I didn’t want to include it. It’s not reflective of the present position. They (China) are not reclaiming land anymore. So why will you put it again this year?,” he said in a press briefing here at the end of the 50th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings.

Cayetano said the joint communiqué is a “negotiated document” agreed by all member states.

“It does not matter what we put, what we don’t put at the zero draft because what matters reflect what the majority wants…The strength and weakness of the ASEAN is the centrality meaning, we decide on consensus. It has to be 10-0,” he said.

ASEAN members and China on Sunday approved the framework for a code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea and targeted to start the negotiations on the actual code by the end of the year.

The DFA chief also agreed with China’s proposal to have “generally stable and no major disruption from outside parties” before they could announce the official start of the COC consultation during the ASEAN leaders meeting in November.

“I look it at more as a prerequisite and it is a logical prerequisite for me. What’s why, if you look at our statement, it is directed to all states that we shouldn’t do anything in the area unilaterally and shouldn’t do anything that will make us regret and lose trust and lead to conflict,” he added.

Duterte abolishes Negros Island Region

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): Duterte abolishes Negros Island Region

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) abolishing the Negros Island Region (NIR) that was created during the term of his predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III.

EO No. 38, which was signed by the President on August 7, repealed Aquino’s EO No. 183 which the latter signed in 2015.

In abolishing the NIR, Duterte stressed that there is a need to ensure that priority government programs and projects are sufficiently funded.

“The establishment of regional offices of departments and agencies in the NIR requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus competing with government priority programs and projects funding,” Duterte said.

As provided by EO 38, which takes effect upon publication in a newspaper of general publication, the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental shall revert to Region VI and Region VII respectively.

All regional offices and regional councils established under EO 183 are likewise abolished.

All affected personnel are ordered to return to their previous units of deployment or reassigned to other offices within their respective departments or agencies.

Furthermore, the winding up of operations of the NIR regional offices, including the final disposition of their functions, positions, personnel, assets and liabilities, shall be done immediately and completed not later than 60 days from the effectivity of the EO.

All orders, proclamations, rules, regulations and issuances, or parts thereof, inconsistent with the provision of EO 38 are likewise repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

On May 29, 2015, Aquino signed EO 183 that separated Negros Occidental from Region 6 (Western Visayas) and Negros Oriental from Region 7 (Central Visayas).

The creation of one region for Negros was supported by then Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.

Roxas said the creation of the NIR would hasten the development of the two Negros provinces.

But last December, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the appropriation for the NIR has not been included in the 2016 and proposed 2017 national budgets.

The 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA) was the last national budget signed by Aquino.

In an ambush interview in Malacañang, Diokno told reporters that the NIR would cost the government at least PHP19 billion, and called it an “expensive exercise” for two provinces.

However, he also said then that the abolition of the NIR would not affect basic services in the two Negros provinces.

“The services will be provided by existing regions before the creation of NIR. We go back to the status quo,” Diokno said.

No military officials protecting drug, crime gangs

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): No military officials protecting drug, crime gangs

As far as the military is concerned, none of its ranking military officers are providing protection to the Parojinog clan's illegal businesses in Ozamiz City.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo made this statement in wake of claims that a former military general has a relationship with Ozamiz Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog and one of the family's protectors.

Nova is the daughter of slain Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog who was killed along with 14 others during an anti-drug operation in their family's house in San Roque Lawis last July 30.

Her father was earlier pinpointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the country's top narco-politicians.

During the operation, the vice mayor was arrested along with brother Reynaldo Jr. They are now both at the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

In line with this, Arevalo urged the PNP to identity the alleged military officer so that appropriate actions can be taken.

Arevalo stressed that the AFP is not tolerating such actions from any officers or enlisted personnel, and that sanctions await personnel found collaborating with illegal drug syndicates or crime gang for that matter.

Kins of 5 troops killed in Marawi gets P1-M each from philanthropist

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): Kins of 5 troops killed in Marawi gets P1-M each from philanthropist

The families of five soldiers killed in the ongoing fighting in Marawi City against Maute Group remnants, have received PHP1 million each, from an anonymous philantropist, Wednesday.

The donation is part of the PHP98 million the latter earmarked for military troops killed in the fighting.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said the five families were formally handed the money by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año during short ceremonies at the General Headquarters Conference Room in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Last Aug. 2, the AFP chief handed PHP1 million each to the families of three soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division, who were killed in action in Marawi City, during his visit to Camp Evangelista in Cagayan De Oro City.

Arevalo said the PHP90 million will be turned over to the Major Services for distribution to other beneficiaries.

“What is immensely admirable with this anonymous donor, apart from his or her selflessness in giving away such an enormous sum of money, is the continuing commitment to provide PHP1 million each to the family of soldiers who may be KIA (killed-in-action), God forbid, in the continuing crisis in Marawi. The number of soldiers KIA has now reached 122 from 98 at the time of the pledge,” he added.

The donation was deposited in the account name "AFP Marawi Casualty" in Land Bank of the Philippines. The account was opened in June for those who have expressed desire to help the families of soldiers who died in battle.

“On behalf of the AFP, our soldiers, and their families, I wish to commend the generosity of our benefactor who chose to remain anonymous despite the enormity of this gesture,” Año said.

“This, and the countless other gestures of goodwill, sympathy, and support that we have received in this time when our resolve is being challenged manifest the true spirit of Bayanihan that is kindled in each one of us,” the AFP chief said.

Sanctions await AFP members in PRRD's narco-list

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): Sanctions await AFP members in PRRD's narco-list

While still to review President Rodrigo Duterte's latest narco-list, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) assured the public that sanctions will be meted out to military personnel found in cahoots with the illegal drugs syndicates.

But prior that, a detailed investigation will be conducted against these individuals found in the Chief Executive's narco-list, said AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo on Wednesday.

If found guilty, these personnel will be subjected to summary dismissal proceedings after which they will be charged and prosecuted by authorities.

"We will not allow the AFP to be tainted by personnel involved in the illegal drugs trade," Arevalo said in Filipino.

AFP says nothing new on alleged plot to kill 'Joma'

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): AFP says nothing new on alleged plot to kill 'Joma'

This was the apparent sentiment of the military following claims made by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria "Joma" Sison that government forces, with the assistance of the US Central Intelligence Agency, is planning to assassinate him.
"I believe Sison needs professional psychiatric help to treat his hallucinations. His statement is another (figment) of his imagination,"
said AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año in a statement Wednesday.

The CPP founding chair also alleged that the military is planning to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

"If I remember right, 'yan din ang kuwento nya nung 1999 during the time of former President (Joseph) Estrada where he also alleged that a hit team was sent to Netherland(s) by President Estrada and former Chief PNP Director Gen Panfilo Lacson to kill him using former ABB and RJ Faction operatives," Año emphasized.

This is almost, if not the same plot, Sison is claiming now, the AFP chief said.

"Exactly the same plot as narrated by Sison. Sison is not only a criminal and master of deception but a congenital liar," he said.

DWDD: Pangulong Duterte, ginawaran ng parangal ang mga natatanging pulis sa pagdiriwang ng 116th Police Service Anniversary

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Aug 9): Pangulong Duterte, ginawaran ng parangal ang mga natatanging pulis sa pagdiriwang ng 116th Police Service Anniversary

Pangungunahan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang pagbigay ng karangalan sa mga natatanging opisyal ng Philippine National Police (PNP) ngayong araw, Agosto 9,2017.
Ang mga sumusunod ay ang mga Unit Awards na natanggap sa 116th Police Service Anniversary Rites
  1. Best Police Regional Office – Police Regional Office 1 na pinamumunuan ni Regional Director PCSupt. Charlo C. Collado.
  2. Best Police Provincial Police – Sorsogon Police Provincial Office, PRO 5 na pinamumunan ni Provincial Director PSSupt. Ronald R. Cabral.
  3. Best City Police Office – Iligan City Police Office? PRO 10 na pinamumunuan ni City Director PSSupt. Leony Roy G. Ga
  4. Best City Police Station – Vigan City Police Station, PRO 1 na pinamumunuan ni Chief of Police PSupt. Marlo Castillo Jr.
  5. Best Municipal Police Station – San Jose De Buenavista Municipal Police Station, Antique Police Provincial Office, PRO 6 na pinamumunuan ni Chief of Police PCInsp. Juvy E. Cordero
  6. Best Regional Public Safety Batallion – Regional Public Safety Batallion 12, PRO 12 na pinamumunuan ni Batallion Commander PSupt Michael F. Lebanan
  7. Best Provincial Public Safety Company – Bukidnon Provincial Public Safety Company, PRO 11 na pinamumunuan ni company Commander, PSupt. Gervacio O. Balmaceda, Jr.
  8. Best City Public Safety Company – Davao City Public Safety Company, PRO 11 pinapinamumunuan ni Psupt Ireneo G. Caburnay
  9. Best National Operational Support Unit – Maritime Group na pinamumunuan ni Director, PSupt. Marcelo C. Morales.
  10. Best National Administrative Support Unit – Information Techonology Management Service na pinamumunuan ni PCSupt. Edwin Jose G. Nemenzo.
  11. Best Women and Children Protection Desk – Regional Children and Protection Desk, PRO 7 na pinamumunuan ni PCInsp. Marilou A. Cuizon.
  12. Best Regional Police Human Rights Desk – Regional Police Human Rights Desk, PRO 7 na pinamumunuan ni PSupt. Maribel B. Getigan.
  13. Best Police Strategy Management Unit – Regional Police Strategy Management Unit, PRO 13 na pinamumunuan ni Chief, PSSupt. Gimili L. Macaraeg.
Nagbigay  rin ng mga Special Unit Award sa PNP Counter-Intelligence Task Force sa ilalim ni PSSupt Jose Chiquito M. Malayo para sa magaling na pagsasagawa ng mga Counter-Intelligence Operations.

Kasabay nito, mayroong tatlong Regional Director na nakatanggap ng parangal para sa Accounting ng mga Illegal Drug Personalities. Ang mga Regional Director ay sina
  1. PDir Oscar D. Albayalde ng National Capital Region Police Office,
  2. Aaron N. Aquino mula sa PRO 3, at si
  3. Mao R. Aplasca ng PRO 4A.
Ang mga sumusunod ay ang mga indibidwal na parangal na ibinigay  naman sa 116th Police Service Anniversary Rites:
  1. PSSupt Jonnel C. Estomo, ang Directorate for Controllership Management Division Chief, bilang Best Senior Police Commissioned Officer for Administration.
  2. Rene P. Pamuspusan, ang Directorate for Operations Executive Officer, bilang Best Senior Police Commissioned Officer for Operation.
  3. Ford B. Sudaypan, ang SAF Strategy Review Scorecard Chief, bilang best Junior Police Commissioned Officer for Administration.
  4. Ritchie Y. Yandug, ang PRO 10 Manolo Fortich MPS Officer-in-charge, bilang Best Junior Police Commissioned Officer for Operation.
  5. SPO4 Francisco L. Alfeche, ang PRO 12 Malapatan MPS Municipal Executive Senior Police Officer, bilang Best Senior Police Non-Commissioned Officer for Administration.
  6. SPO2 Harold V. Nicolas, ng PRO 1 Intelligence PNCO, bilang Best Senior Police Non-Commissioned Officer for Operation.
  7. PO1 Juan Carlos C. Ventura, ng PRO 1 Regional Public Information Office, bilang Best Junior Police Non-Commissioned Officer for Administration
  8. PO2 Jhan Lay P. Apostol, ng PRO 1 Investigator PNCO, bilang Best Junior Police Non-Commissioned Officer for Operation.
  9. NUP Grace W. Abalde, ang PRO 10 Admin Officer V, bilang Best Non-Uniformed Personnel for Supervisory Level.
  10. NUP Sheena Lyn B. Montiero, isang Police Community Relations Group Communication Development Officer 1, bilang Best Non-Uniformed Personnel for Non-Supervisory Level.
  11. Jovie E. Espinido, ang PRO 10 Ozamis City Police Station OIC, na bibigyan ng Individual Award for Anti-Illegal Drugs Operation.
  12. Rolando B. Anduyan, ang PRO ARMM Deputy Regional Director for Operations, na bibigyan ng Individual Award for Crisis Management sa Marawi City.
Ginawaran din ng Pangulo ang mga PNP Personnel na natatangi dahil sa kanilang pagtulong sa pagpapatupad ng batas sa Marawi City. Sila ay ang mga sumusunod:
  1. Rex Arvin T. Malimban, ang Deputy Chief ng Logistics Management Division ng PNP-SAF.
  2. Lambert A. Suerte, ang Commanding Officer ng Rapid Deployment Battalion ng PNP-SAF.
  3. SPO1 Erwin V. Garalde, ang Company Executive Senior Police Officer ng 84th Special Action Company, RDB, PNP-SAF.
  4. SPO1 Jethro L. Amengan, ang Senior Counter Terrorist Operative and Extended Range Support Team ng 83rd Special Action Company, RDB, PNP-SAF.



Kumpiyansa ang mga kasundaluhan na kanilang mababawi ang mga bihag na nasa kamay ng mga ISIS-inspired Maute sa itinakda nitong “last lap” ng sagupaan sa Marawi City.

Matatandaang pumutok ang labanan ng mga kasundaluhan kontra Maute noong Mayo 23 at nasa ikatlong buwan na ito ngayon.

Ayon sa mga kasundaluhan na naroon sa Marawi, umabot na sa daan-daan ang mga bihag na nasa puder ng teroristang grupong ito.

Ayon kay Armed Forces Chief General Eduardo Año, nasa kamay pa rin ng mga terorista si Father Teresito Soganub at iba pang mga sibilyan na ginagawang human shield ng mga Maute sa kasagsagan ng bakbakan.

Sinabi naman ni Chief of the Military Public Affairs Office Colonel Edgard Arevalo na kanilang sinisiguro ang pagkakabawi sa mga bihag bago magtapos ang labanan sa Marawi.

Sa mga ulat na nakalap ng mga kasundaluhan sa Marawi, tumutulong na sina Father Chito at ang iba pang mga bihag sa mga terorista dahil sa tinatawag na Stockholm Syndrome o ang pagsanib sa grupong bumihag sa kanila na dulot ng stress o takot.

Kaugnay nito, sinabi ni Arevalo na ituturing na ng mga kasundaluhan na “combatants” ang mga bihag dahil sa hindi inaasahang sitwasyon na pagsanib ng mga bihag sa mga terorista.

Samantala, nagpapatuloy ang bakbakan sa Marawi City at inaasahang humupa na sa susunod na mga araw.

DWDD: ACCOMPLISHMENT | Airlifters Fly more than 100% Flying Time

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Aug 9): ACCOMPLISHMENT  |  Airlifters Fly more than 100% Flying Time

COL JESUS VILLAMOR AIRBASE, Pasay City (DWDD) – Through the years, your 220th Airlift Wing has remained committed in its mandate to provide tactical airlift operations in support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Apart from that, the airlifters have also proven their responsiveness to their stakeholders, particularly when there are missions that contribute to socio-economic development.

As a proof of this commitment, the airlifters have accomplished more than100% flying time for the first semester. From January to July this year, the 220th Airlift Wing has flown a staggering 6,272.1 flying hours compared to the program of 3,745.76 or roughly 167% flying time accomplishment.

Of all the Wing’s assets and in terms of “program vs actual flying time”, the N-22 aircraft is leading the pack with 195% flying time accomplishment followed by the C-130 aircraft with 169%. Coming in closely are the C-295 and F-27 aircraft with 158% and 148%, respectively.

This substantial increase in the actual flight time was largely brought about the heavy airlift operations of the Wing such as troops deployment and reinforcements, particularly the ongoing military campaign in Marawi, AFP and PAF logistic flights, humanitarian and disaster relief missions, support to fighter aircraft operations or territorial defense operations, aero-medical evacuation sorties, maritime patrols, support to national development efforts and socio-economic initiatives, international flight missions and VVIP/VIP flights.

This trend shall continue and may increase rapidly depending on various circumstances and military campaigns. Records revealed that this early, the Wing has, in fact, reached more than the annual flying time accomplishment in recent years. Thus, the Wing is expected to break the 10,000 flying hours mark or more at the end of the year and will be the highest ever recorded than any other time.

One may say that these are just mere numbers. However, keep in mind that behind these numbers are our people. These accomplishments speak highly of the quality of our human resource and the systemic improvements we put in place. Our keen understanding of logistics and maintenance enabled us to push our aircraft to the limits without breaking down.

The Wing’s pilots fly 24/7 to ensure that missions are carried out. Our maintenance personnel work for prompt maintenance operations to keep all the aircraft flying. Our logisticians continuously monitor aircraft spares and ensure these are up to date and accurate. Our personnel work on innovative maintenance equipment to enhance our maintenance capabilities and lastly, our diligent staff who labor for the extensive preparation of all administrative and logistical requirements. It’s no doubt that without our excellent personnel, these sustained flight operations would not have been possible. Courtesy of 220th AW / MCAG

DWDD: UPDATE | JTF Marawi releases latest report

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Aug 9): UPDATE  |  JTF Marawi releases latest report 

JOINT TASK FORCE MARAWI, Camp Ranao, Marawi City (DWDD) – As of last night, it is with grief that we report 122 soldiers were already killed due to the continuous fighting in the Main Battle area.

JTF Marawi have recorded 539 terrorists killed and the recovery of 607 firearms. A total of 45 civilians were killed by the terrorist and 1,728 civilians were rescued. Fighting continuous in about a square kilometer general area where the terrorists are currently hold up. It is also believed that there are still hostages with the group numbering to an estimated 50 to 70.

“Dasia” security Armored Vehicle recovered

A blue armored vehicle with the word “DASIA” printed in front, was recovered by soldiers last week in one of the structures being cleared by soldiers in the main battle area.

The vehicle was recovered by troops of the Joint Task Force Marawi, following heavy gunfire with Maute remnants in a strategic structure previously held by terrorists.

During the first month of fighting, a picture was posted in the internet showing Abdullah Maute riding the vehicle in one of the streets of Marawi with an ISIS flag in front of the vehicle.

Soldiers also said that they have seen terrorists using the same armored car when attacking soldier’s positions. Last Week, the car was found in one of the strategic structures believed to be utilized as a stronghold of the Daesh-inspired Maute terror Group.

Further, the building where it was found is believed to be used by the terrorists as a storage area and temporary base, that houses most of their wounded. Found also in the building is a tunnel where the Maute remnants store their food, bullets, and weapons. The recent capture of one of the terrorist’s strongholds connotes that the troops are advancing towards the battle positions of Maute remnants, signifying that the terrorists are already contained in a narrower engagement area.

Rescue of four (4) civilian hostages from the MBA

Last August 4 at 4 in the morning, four (4) civilian hostages who were able to escape from the main battle area (MBA) were rescued in vicinity of Lake Lanao.

The rescued civilians were immediately brought to the nearest army headquarters and were given immediate medical attention. They were however found healthy and unharmed. Three of them are from Zamboanga City and the one from Iligan City.

Their escape and rescue was made possible due to the close coordinations made by the wife of one of the civilians to the our Navy in Zamboanga and eventually coordinations with the units under JTF Marawi.

Rescued civilian hostages were immediately attended to by medical personnel and are now in a safe area for the conduct of a debriefing and other necessary procedures. JTF Marawi / MCAG

DWDD: DND CIRCULAR NO. 13 | Enforce Drug-Free Workplace Policy

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Aug 9): DND CIRCULAR NO. 13  |  Enforce Drug-Free Workplace Policy

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), General Eduardo Año directed all AFP uniformed and non-uniformed personnel to strictly follow the newly-approved drug-free workplace policy effective in all military camps and facilities nationwide.

“I am directing all Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, and Civilian Employees of the AFP to affirm their commitment to unconditionally abide by the rules provided in the Department of National Defense (DND) Circular No. 13 or the Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Policy,” General Año declared.

Approved last 17 July 2017 by the Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the policy provides for the institutionalization of the drug-free workplace policy and the adoption of the uniform guidelines on drug testing program.

The circular also stipulates procedures in the disposition of personnel found administratively liable of using illegal drugs and/or committing any prohibited acts under RA9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Under DND Circular No. 13, all personnel regardless of status are required to undergo annual mandatory drug testing as a requirement for retention in the government service. It will also apply to applicants and outsourced service personnel.

“The DND Circular requires all persons in decision-making positions from the Secretary of National Defense to all Generals and Flag Officers of the AFP, down to Division Chiefs of the DND and all its attached Bureaus to undergo the annual drug test,” said Colonel Edgard Arevalo, AFP Public Affairs Office Chief.

“Further, drug testing will be part of the requirements for promotion, schooling, and designations to key positions of all our members in the military, including our Civilian Employees,” Colonel Arevalo added.

Any personnel found positive for use of dangerous drugs will first undergo confirmatory testing, the result of which – if positive – may be challenged by the subject. If the person is found positive, he/she will be endorsed to the appropriate investigating body for the conduct of disciplinary or administrative proceedings.

Imposable penalties include dismissal or termination from government service (if Civilian Employee), discharge from military service (if Enlisted Personnel), and separation from service (if Military Officer).

“While the AFP has been conducting regular mandatory and random drug testing to its members, the implementation of DND Circular No. 13 shall reinforce our ongoing campaign against drug abuse,” Colonel Arevalo said.

“As we continue to support our administration’s thrust against illegal drugs, it is only appropriate that all of us in the Armed Forces of the Philippines are drug-free, and in the best physical, mental, and psychological condition,” said General Año.

“This will ensure that no one in the rank and file of the AFP is a drug dependent. It will manifest that AFP personnel are role models of discipline and propriety as public officers,” General Año concluded. / MCAG

DWDD: AFP Statement On Reported Plan of US to use Drone Strikes against Daesh Inspired Groups within the Philippines

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Aug 8): AFP Statement On Reported Plan of US to use Drone Strikes against Daesh Inspired Groups within the Philippines

“As reported in Media, this is “a plan” being considered. We at the AFP is yet to receive any formal notice or offer for such air capability deployment.
The existing Mutual Defense Treaty provides that only technical assistance and training may be allowed under the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB).
Direct military actions may only be allowed during actual invasion of the Philippines by another state actor.
We appreciate Pentagon’s reported desire to help the Philippines in the fight against Daesh-inspired Maute Group because terrorism is a global menace that the community of nations must unite to fight against.
However, such proposition if any has to undergo a process. And a covenant must be had between the Commanders-in-Chief of both nations before that option I am adopted.”

MNLF-Misuari: Photo: Ustadz Ibrahim and other Muslims attend Thanksgiving rite sponsored by Davao City Mayor, Hon. Sara Carpio

From the Facebook page of Ustadz Murshi Ibrahim, Secretary General of the Moro National Liberation Front-Misuari faction (Aug 8): Photo: Ustadz Ibrahim and other Muslims attend Thanksgiving rite sponsored by Davao City Mayor, Hon. Sara Carpio

Image may contain: 11 people, people smiling, people standing and child

Taken during Thanksgiving rite in Grand Mensing Hotel, Davao City, Aug. 6, 2017 which was attended by over one thousand Muslim from 6 tribal communities residing in Davao City. The City Mayor, Hon. Sara Carpio, conveyed her thanks to Ustadz Murshi D. Ibrahim, SecGen of the MNLF , for accepting her invitation. In her brief message, she said: "Davao City is a multicultural community united for peace and prosperity". She expressed her utmost thanks and gratitude to all the Muslims for their cooperation and support to her leadership in sustaining the reign of peace and security in Davao City.

MILF: Editorial -- The drug war and its menace!

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Aug 8): Editorial -- The drug war and its menace!

The drug menace in this country is worse than what one can imagine and what is appearing in the media. It is like an itch in one’s body that the more one scratches it the more it becomes itchy – and is expanding.

Will this not effectively put the future of this country in bleak condition? The answer is certainly a “yes”.

The problem with addiction is that once it is embedded in the blood it stays there forever. And suppose the head of the state is a drug dependent or was once, what can we expect of him as our leader? Nothing! Surely, only wrong or dangerous decision that can put the country and people in harm’s way. In this country, that possibility is not remote, because of the power of the three Gs (gold, guns, and goons). Many people vote a candidate because of material, emotional, and personal considerations.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is right in making the war on drugs as a priority of his administration. Despite of the criticisms, rightly or wrongly, he is succeeding. We feel the positive impact at least in our areas.

President Duterte needs the support or at least encouragement of the people. But when the campaign oversteps what is legally or morally forbidden, he must be told. And the excesses, if there are, must stop immediately and the guilty must be brought to justice.

Frankly, the MILF has always wanted to check and stop this evil practice and trade long time ago. This is the reason that despite our limitations, the MILF had created the task force in 2015 to address the worsening drug addiction and trafficking among Moros. We may not have achieved so much in this undertaking but at least we have done something.

Like water seeking its own level, the common dislike for drug resulted in signing by the government and MILF of a protocol on anti-drug trafficking in June his year. The agreement regulates the manner of their joint operation against drug users and trafficking in MILF areas and communities.

By the way, the MILF had also banned cigarettes especially inside its camps and communities since 1987 when the late MILF Chair Salamat Hashim came home from abroad. The government had banned the same in public places only recently.

However, the bases of their decisions differ. For government, it is based mainly on health reasons, while the MILF looks at it not only on health consideration but more on moral or religious grounds. Anything that intoxicates like alcohol and drugs is haram or forbidden in Islam, because it is harmful (to the brain) and in the Day of Judgment the doer is punished for it.

Moreover, the seriousness of this drug problem encompasses not only in the number of dugs confiscated, burned or destroyed or deaths, directly or indirectly, attributed to this campaign, but more so in the manner of conducting it. Leaders are highly divided on the approach.

But minding all, there is no such thing as perfect approach. The most important thing is to build on the gains of every undertaking and always stand ready to rectify any shortcoming.

MILF: IMT visits wounded BIAF fighters

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Aug 8): IMT visits wounded BIAF fighters

(Left to Right) Maj Gen Datuk Masrani Paiman, Mr. Butch P. Malang and BGen Earl D. Baliao AFP with Saladin Muhamad

In a press release issued by the International Monitoring Team (IMT) says that Maj Gen Datuk Masrani Paiman, IMT Head of Mission– M12 along with Chairman of the MILF CCCH Mr. Butch P. Malang and Chairman of the GPH CCCH BGen Earl D. Baliao AFP visited three MILF-BIAF fighters in Cotabato City Regional Medical Center on August 7, 2017.

The three fighters were wounded during an operation against elements of BIFF/IS in Barangay Andavit, Datu Saudi-Ampatuan, Maguindanao. 

The three wounded fighters were identified as Abdul Fattah, Harun Bato and Saladin Muhamad. They were wounded because of IED set up by BIFF/IS. Five other MILF-BIAF fighters died during the operation, according to the press release.
 The IMT initiated the visit as part of Confidence Building Measures effort among the stakeholders of the GPH-MILF peace mechanism.

During the visit, BGen Earl D. Baliao AFP presented baskets of fruits to the wounded fighters as token of appreciation. He expressed hope that all MILF-BIAF fighters wounded in the operation against lawless, violent extremist will recover very soon.

MILF: HII holds Educational Peace Advocacy

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Aug 8): HII holds Educational Peace Advocacy

The Hikmatul Ijtimaaey Institute (HII) held Educational Peace Advocacy inside its own compound last August 3, 2017.
Muslimin Abdul, School Principal and one of the founding members of HII said, “This activity is the first advocacy conducted by HII attended by unexpected great number of participants.”

“We thank you very much for your presence,” added Abdul.

“This advocacy is an initiative of HII with the aim in view of strengthening the awareness, understanding and support of teachers, parents, concerned communities and all participants in promoting quality education through preparing the Bangsamoro children and equip them with appropriate knowledge, skills and good attitude as they grow older,” explain Abdul.

“Also, this activity aims at winning over the strongest support of the entire barangay of Muti, Guindulungan, Maguindanao and all its neighboring localities to maintain and sustain peace and protect the HII from all forms of extremism, radicalism and terrorism from any individual, group or organization to ensure the provision of quality education to our pupils,” Abdul further explained.

“Let us make the HII not just center of quality education but center of sustainable peace,” Saiden Antok, MPAIM, HII President said.

“It is because education and peace are inseparable as there can be no quality education if we cannot sustain peace and sustainable peace is unreachable if we fail to educate correctly our children,” hinted Antok.

“The activity was attended by important personalities from both the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” said Engr. Rasul Piang, HII Chairman.

“We indeed thank them for their positive response to our invitation because their attendance with their commitment of supports strengthen our advocacy to sustain peace in our community while protecting the HII against anybody, group or organization from all kinds of extremism, radicalism and terrorism,” added Piang.

HII, based in Sitio Balas, Barangay Muti,Guindulungan, Maguindanao is an academic institution newly founded by a group of young professionals from diverse fields of educational discipline sometimes in early part of 2014 and started academic operation in school year 2014-2015 from kindergarten. Through the years, the HII has now grade-3 pupils in elementary with a total of over 100 pupils while expecting another increase in number of pupils next school year 2018-2019.

MILF: Halal Social Enterprise can be a Model in Bangsamoro Communities

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Aug 9): Halal Social Enterprise can be a Model in Bangsamoro Communities

The Strengthening Civil Society Participation in Social Enterprise Education and Development (CSO-SEED) Multi-stakeholders delegation to United Kingdom have returned home to their respective communities following a series of meetings and roundtable discussions including workshops on social enterprise model and community cooperatives successfully ended.
The long week UK study trip was productive and fruitful undertakings to engage on new institutional models and organizational methods to understand and use the potential of social enterprises and cooperatives in the management of general interest services.

The delegation from the Bangsamoro to explore how civil society groups represented by social enterprise in the UK have achieved policy change and influence on how this learnings can be applicable to the country which continue to experience various socio-economic challenges.

The community of UK have implemented care reform program of the early 1990s that the government supported the third sector organizations that public money took the form of contracts and the third party payments instead of grants.

UK cooperatives and social enterprises model can use different legal forms. The UK government keeps on responding the social entrepreneurship support activities and allows people to make profit for social enterprises.

Social Enterprise (SE) defines an organization that applied business strategies to achieving philanthropic social goals. It is essential to recognize that SE can be structured as for profit or non-profit. The SE as businesses created for a social purpose to mitigate a market failure and to generate social value while showing innovation.

While, Social Cooperative (SC) is a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their shared benefits. Any profit generated by the SC was distributed to members commensurate with the amount of patronage each member provided. Some profits were used for the common good of enhancing member education and welfare.

Many commercial social enterprises would consider themselves to have social objectives. The economy is oriented on solving issues of poverty, unemployment, unstable peace and local development. It is developed on the base of concept of triple bottom line such as Economic, Social and Environmental benefits (ESE). These can be applied to all forms of entrepreneurship to support identifying solutions to many challenges where they turned ideas into action and achieved the goals of sustainability. Other SEs contributes by helping a specific group to achieving sustainable development.

Tristan Ace, Global Social Enterprise Partnerships and Development Manager, British Council, emphasized that the role of social enterprises and government in UK is to generate more jobs contributing significantly to the economy and its gives social value for the community.

Social enterprise in UK is best organized and has common interest through job creation.

Ms. Angel Flores, Head of Society, British Council, realized that achieving peace requires everyday work. More than twenty years since the Good Friday Agreement, the peace process and dialogue continues to iron out the power sharing. There are dips now and then but the talks keep the peace. What we have seen is the possibility that someday ARMM and the proposed Bangsamoro region will also get on its journey the hope that a stable and prospering communities.

“There is space for everyone to lead better lives,” she said.

In the case of situation in Belfast, Northern Ireland has similar with the “Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro” (CAB) with a new crafted Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to inspires from the Belfast’s experience with the “Good Friday Agreement” (GFA) that social enterprises have played a role in building community cohesion and was responded to various deprivation issues. Community businesses provided people with jobs and have helped ensure that the people secure better futures. As post-conflict, social entrepreneurship was introduced to starts from a grant culture to move on to a business and encouraging the community participation. Flores said.

Jay Lacsamana, Executive Director, Foundation for a Sustainable Society Incorporated (FSSI) shared their reflection of the UK experience in Bangsamoro, Philippines, one can start in small pocket of communities where social capital and basis of unity among local stakeholders is strong and where those communities have significant command of local resources.

“Social Enterprise to be sustainable will have to strike a balance between two contending realities in the Philippine context- producing cash income for basic needs of the economically deprived communities; and accumulating savings for investment in enterprise facilities that serve as the sustainable pathway for total human development.” Lacsamana said.

The social enterprise model would be most effective in the Bangsamoro communities when the new enabling Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is passed by the lower house and the upper house of congress. The new crafted BBL was submitted to the Office of the President and now in congress.

The CSO-SEED project is a 3-year program led by British Council and co-funded by the European Union (EU) in the Philippines which aims to strengthen and improved civil society capacity participation in policy reforms to develop an environment conducive to decent work, job creation and SME development via social enterprise.

CSO-SEED works through a consortium with Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. (BMFI), Foundation for a Sustainable Society Inc, (FSSI), Philippine Social Enterprise Network (PhilSEN), and the British Council in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the ARMM and the Civil Society Leaders as partners in the Bangsamoro communities for peace and development.