Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dutchman still captive after assault on Islamic militants in Philippines

Netherlands Times (Aug 20): Dutchman still captive after assault on Islamic militants in Philippines

Ewold Horn has been held by Abu Sayyaf since February 2012 (Source: Screenshot/Eagle Eye Security Risk Advisor)

Ewold Horn has been held by Abu Sayyaf since February 2012 (Source: Screenshot/Eagle Eye Security Risk Advisor)

The Netherlands is working intensely on the release of Ewold Horn, who was kidnapped in the Philippines in 2012.

Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs said this on Thursday, the Telegraaf reports.

 “We are in close contact with the Philippine authorities and have been for a while”, he said. “This is a very tragic case of someone who has been kidnapped for a long time and where we make many attempts to get him free.”

Horn, from Groningen, was kidnapped in the Philippines in February 2012 by extremist group Abu Sayyaf. The BBC reported on Thursday that two hostages managed to escape Abu Sayyaf during a military raid on the group on Tuesday night.

Horn was not one of the two. Up to 15 Abu Sayaff militants died in the raid. Minister Koenders could not confirm this report.

Concerns for Horn’s safety spiked in September last year when Abu Sayyaf threatened to kill two German hostages. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would not comment at the time, for fear that this would frustrate behind the scenes negotiations for his release.

MILF: ICRC, BLMI hold Seminar on International Humanitarian Law

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 20): ICRC, BLMI hold Seminar on International Humanitarian Law

ICRC, BLMI hold Seminar on International Humanitarian Law

The International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) in partnership with the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) conducted a two-day Seminar on International Humanitarian Law and Islamic Law related to armed conflict and Humanitarian Affairs from August 17-18, 2015 at the BLMI Training center at Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Thirty participants comprising heads and members of different line agencies and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from Central Mindanao, Lanao Region and Davao Region.

The objective was to provide an in-depth understanding and awareness of the basic concept and principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in secular and religious perspectives were the centerpiece of the two-day seminar.

Sheikh Bajunaid Ibrahim opened the program with an Islamic Invocation followed by opening remarks by Ms. Sabine Gralla, Head of ICRC in Cotabato City who hails from Germany. She welcomed the participants and stressed the ICRC programs and interventions wherever armed-conflicts and calamities occurred.

A special message was also delivered by Mr. Andrew- Bartles Smith, a British National and ICRC Regional Advisor for Humanitarian Affairs. He said that the ICRD is also enhancing people’s understanding and awareness on certain laws and concepts of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Economic law, Arm conflict and Violence.

Sheikh Mahmod S. Ahmad, BLMI Executive Director said that the engagement with ICRC has been sought by BLMI during their series of meetings with ICRC to gain appropriate knowledge on IHL which is deemed necessary to Bangsamoro Leaders.

Resource person was Atty. Evecar Cruz, ICRC Legal Adviser who talked about IHL and its principles. She also presented the ICRC overview and its concepts by emphasizing the application of IHL in armed conflict situation.

Mr. Zezen Zaenal Mutaqin, from Indonesia and ICRC Program Officer for Global Affairs lectured on General Introduction on IHL. He expounded on the concept and application of IHL in consonant with Islamic Law related to armed conflict by emphasizing the Law of Peace and the Law of War as well as the concept of Jihad (Struggle) in Islamic perspective by quoting some verses in the Noble Qur’an and Hadiths (Sayings & Practices) of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W)

During the afternoon session, Sheikh Adulsalam Alabat presented the basic principles on rules of engagement in Islamic perspective and its corresponding mechanisms.

Summing up its broad spectrum, Sheikh Mahir Loderson, ICRC Global Affairs Consultant and Sheikh Nhurol Am Abdullah, Chairman, Committee on Dawah and Masajid Affairs in Cotabato City gave emphasis on Rules for the Preservation of Humanity in Islamic Law and IHL by stressing its significant concepts and their comparisons.

The following day, Mr. Andrew Bartles-Smith explicated the Principles and Practices of Humanitarian Affairs: Conflict and emergency related challenges faced by humanitarian actors.  

Ms. Lany Dela Cruz, ICRC Communications Officer, Cotabato City also presented the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements and their basic differences. She vividly presented its respective convergence in matters of intervention during armed conflict and post- conflict situation as well as its interlinking with ICRC.

Dr. Rahmawatie Husein, from Muhammadiyah University of Yogyakarta, Indonesia and Vice Chair for Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Center (MDMC) articulated on the experience of humanitarian NGO’s in tackling Disaster and Emergency Situations. She also presented a brief overview of Muhammadiyah Organization and its Movements in social philanthropic programs with other existing NGO’s without focusing mainly on religious aspects but also actively promoting the welfare of humanitarian affairs.

The Participants were also engaged in group discussions and presentation of group collective outputs on the issues discussed by Mr. Al Arba, Ms. Lany Dela Cruz and other ICRC officials. The staff of BLMI facilitated the program.

In his culminating message, Mr. Smith expressed his appreciation to the participants and to the BLMI, looking forward to more engagements with the BLMI; the dawning of Bangsamoro and smooth-sailing of the GPH-MILF Peace process.

BLMI Executive Director Ahmad expressed his profoundest gratitude to ICRC and to the dynamic resource persons of different nationalities who came all the way to Mindanao to impart valuable knowledge to the Bangsamoro people on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Islamic Jurisprudence related to armed-conflict, protection and prevention.

The International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) is based in Geneva, Switzerland - is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect lives, and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situation of violence and to provide them with assistance. The ICRC also endeavors to provide prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening Humanitarian Law and Universal humanitarian principles. ICRC is at the origin of the Geneva Convention, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It directs and coordinates the International activities conducted by the Movement in Armed conflicts and other situations of violence.

CPP/NDF: NDF-NCMR Expresses Openness in Starting Negotiation with Misamis Oriental Local Crisis Committee for the Release of POW Pfc. Lupiba

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Aug 19): NDF-NCMR Expresses Openness in Starting Negotiation with Misamis Oriental Local Crisis Committee for the Release of POW Pfc. Lupiba

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
The National Democratic Front-North Central Mindanao Region (NDF-NCMR) expresses its gratitude to the Local Third Party Facilitators in the region composed of Christian religious leaders as well as the Local Crisis Committee (LCC) of Misamis Oriental for their assistance to the family of Prisoner of War (POW) Pfc. Adonis Jess Lupiba. He still is under custody of a New People’s Army unit since July 11, 2015. We are hopeful their efforts would succeed in securing the necessary conditions to effect the safe and orderly release of the POW.

At present, the ensuing “rescue operations” of the 58th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces Company of their captured trooper further delays his early release. Up to nine rounds of harassment operations were launched by adjoining Sub-regional Commands of the NPA—the Eastern Misamis Oriental-Northeastern Bukidnon (EMONEB) and South-Central Bukidnon (SCB) Sub-Regional Command, against troops of the 403rd Brigade since July 19. Twelve of the latter e killed and scores were wounded as a result.

Last August 12, another seven trooper of the 58th IB were killed and a number suffered wounds in this latest clash between a unit of NPA-EMONEB ug the reactionary soldiers in San Roque, Aposkahoy, Claveria, Misamis Oriental. A Red fighter heroically succumbed to death in here.

Despite the “rescue” operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the concerned custodial unit of the NPA observes the proper rules in combat and the international humanitarian laws regarding the handling og POWs.

Once again, we maintain our openness in negotiating with the Local Crisis Committee which represents the Government of the Philippines in the local level regarding the date and place of the release of Pfc. Lupiba through the Local Third Party Facilitators.
The POW’s family can be assured of his early and safe return through the said negotiation between the NDF of the region and the LCC of Misamis Oriental.

Cesar Renerio

Elite PNP teams pulled out of Zambo after shootout with soldiers

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 20): Elite PNP teams pulled out of Zambo after shootout with soldiers

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ricardo Marquez  has ordered the recall of elite police teams in Zamboanga City following the shootout with lawmen and Marine commandos on Tuesday.

The move was apparently to diffuse the tension as two policemen and a Marine commando were killed in the shootout in Barangay Labuan where intensified government presence was ordered to prevent kidnappings.

Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, PNP spokesman, said the chief PNP has also ordered an investigation of the shootout and come up with measures to prevent the repeat of the incident.

“The PNP and  the AFP are in full control of the situation there. But there will be an investigation to determine who could be liable for that unfortunate incident,” said Mayor.

Military sources said the shootout started when Marine commandos, manning the checkpoint in Barangay Labuan, apprehended two policemen for carrying guns in civilian clothes.

They were eventually released after they identified themselves as policemen assigned to the Regional Public Safety Battalion.

But the two policemen were reportedly slighted by the incident, prompting them to get back at the Marines. This led to the shootout.

Mayor said the investigation will be a joint undertaking by both the police and the military.

Part of the investigation is to determine who fired first that eventually led to the shootout.

“The chief PNP assured the full cooperation of the PNP Police Regional Office 9 in the investigation,” said Mayor.

“Close coordination with the AFP was made to ensure the public that the PNP and the AFP Marines are in control of the situation and those responsible will be sanctioned,” he added.

Aside from kidnapping activities, police and military forces have been on alert in Zamboanga City to prevent the repeat of the failed Zamboanga City siege in 2013 when hundreds of disgruntled Moro rebels attacked the City to protest the peace deal between the government and  the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

MILF apprehensive over proposed new name for BBL

From the Philippine Star (Aug 20): MILF apprehensive over proposed new name for BBL

Rallyists appealed to Congress to resume deliberations on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law and not let the January 25 encounter between policemen and Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao stifle the now 18-year government-MILF peace deal. John Unson/File photo

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has reservations over the change of the name of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) in the substitute bills filed in Congress. 

In an editorial posted on its website, MILF said rebels and soldiers are aware that BAR also stands for Browning Automatic Rifle used by the United States (US) and other countries during the 20th century.

“The legislators failed to realize how strong the effects of symbolism (are) in determining the mindsets and attitudes of people,” the editorial read.

“By using BAR, it continuously reminds the Moros of their martial history as an unconquered people and the BAR as a very reliable weapon in their wars with government forces in early 70s,” it added.

MILF noted that the BAR, which was originally designed by John Browning for the US Expeditionary Corps, was also used during the Vietnam War.

“The imposed wars from the Spanish period to the advent of the Americans in the 19th century and onto the declaration of Martial Law in 1972 have compelled the Moros to defend and arm themselves or perish,” the group said.

“Consequently, as warriors, their psyche is easier to sway to take the path of war than to embrace the so-called path of peace. It is only now under the Aquino dispensation that they see the peace process as genuine,” it added.

The BBL will form a new Bangsamoro entity with greater economic and political powers. It will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim and Mindanao (ARMM), which President Aquino called “a failed experiment.”

The measure creating the BBL is now being deliberated in Congress. Critics of the measure, however, are questioning some of its provisions including the nature and the extent of the powers of the Bangsamoro government.

MILF also believes that lawmakers are “overstressing what is obvious” when they renamed the measure BAR to emphasize the autonomous character of the entity as part and parcel of the Philippine state.

“They want to erase any hint of so-called sub-state status for the Bangsamoro new entity, and finally, any justification for secession. Fear has now become the prime enemy of peace through the BBL,” MILF said.

“Well and good! But they are only overstressing what is obvious. Redundancy is never the best practice in writing and in law-making,” it added.

MILF stressed that its peace negotiators as well as those of the government have seen to it that the BBL does not contain any provision that violate the Constitution.

“The BBL has passed through various discussions including long sessions with constitutional experts like Fr. Joaquin Bernas, former Supreme Court Justice Hilario Davide Jr., and many others to ensure that it is compliant to the Constitution,” it said.

MILF also reiterated that a diluted BBL would not solve the decades-old problem in Mindanao.

“What then is the use of a law passed by Congress only to prolong the miseries and sufferings in Mindanao, because it violated the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro - and the MILF is forced to reject it?” the group said.

Red leader faces charges on firearms, explosives

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 20): Red leader faces charges on firearms, explosives

Add illegal possession of firearms and explosives to the charges filed against high-ranking communist leader Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala.

Bocala, 64, spokesperson of the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) on Panay Island, has been detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in the capital town of Kalibo in Aklan province following her arrest on Aug. 1 in Iloilo City.

She is facing a murder charge in Aklan and a rebellion case in neighboring Antique province.

Senior Supt. Peter Naboye, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Western Visayas, said a separate criminal complaint of illegal possession of firearms and explosives had been filed against Bocala at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 38 in Iloilo.

The charges stemmed from the police recovery of a fragmentation grenade, a .45 cal. handgun, a .22 cal. pistol and assorted ammunition when Bocala was arrested at a rented house in the city’s Molo District.

Bocala has claimed that the firearms, bullets and grenade were “planted” by the raiding team, an allegation denied by police officials.

Naboye said the police would request the court presided by Judge Juana Judita Panigbatan-Nafarrete to order the detention of Bocala at the provincial jail of Iloilo in Pototan town during her trial because the facility has more personnel and is more secure.

“She is a high-risk and high-profile detainee so we will request for her transfer here,” he told the Inquirer.

The NDF has demanded the release of Bocala, alleged head of the Panay Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, saying she is a consultant in the Visayas for the peace negotiations.

Army chief calls on NPA to surrender but admits rebels won't be beat without 'social pressure'

From InterAksyon (Aug 20): Army chief calls on NPA to surrender but admits rebels won't be beat without 'social pressure'

NPA guerrillas in the Caraga region ( file by Erwin Mascarinas)

Saying 46 years of armed struggle has gotten them nowhere, Army commander Lieutenant General Eduardo Ano again urged the New People’s Army to surrender but, at the same time, acknowledged that military might alone would not be enough to defeat the communist rebels.

Which is why Ano said they would continue to intensify both “military and social pressures” as a strategy.

“Eventually that is going to be the final solution. With only 4,000 of them remaining it is impossible to kill all of them … very costly. All you have to do is really to provide the pressure so that they will realize that there is no sense in fighting, the armed struggle is no longer relevant, it’s already a farce,” he said.

Over the years, all chiefs of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines began their stints with promises to eliminate or decisively defeat the communist rebels. All have retired with the NPA still a force to reckon with despite billions of pesos spent yearly by government for its counterinsurgency programs, including the current administration’s Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan.

When he took over the 90,000-strong Army, Ano admitted that the threats posed by the NPA and other armed groups in some areas of Mindanao, such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Abu Sayyaf remained their priority.

This ran counter to previous statements of AFP and Department of National Defense officials that the military was ready or has been transitioning to external defense in the face of China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

Ano also admitted the Army is still struggling to modernize its equipment and capability to deal with internal threat groups.

In fact, AFP chief General Hernando Irriberi earlier recommended the realignment of funds intended for external defense projects – among these the P6.5-billion Shore-Based Missile System -- to prioritize the upgrading of equipment and capabilities of soldiers in battling internal threats.

The move earned Irriberi and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin flak from security experts.

Still, earlier this week, Gazmin admitted the AFP cannot achieve the minimum credible external defense posture President Benigno Aquino III promised before he steps down in 2016.

Also recently, notwithstanding predictions of victory over the rebels, the government issued new rules handing back to the military the main responsibility for internal security and relegating the Philippine National Police to a supporting role, notwithstanding the declaration of many provinces as “insurgency-free.”

Ano also urged all sectors, including media, to work with government to convince the rebels to abandon armed struggle.

He said military pressure through focused operations should work in tandem with social pressure through the support and cooperation of all stakeholders.

“The social pressure includes alternative options like developmental projects, engaging the rebels through peace negotiations, convincing them to lay down their arms in exchange of alternative livelihoods, among others,” Ano said.

2 Coast Guard personnel who escaped from Abu Sayyaf arrive in Zamboanga

From ABS-CBN (Aug 21): 2 Coast Guard personnel who escaped from Abu Sayyaf arrive in Zamboanga

The two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel who were able to escape from their captors in Indanan, Sulu arrived in Zamboanga City Thursday evening.

Seaman First Class Rod Pagaling and Seaman Second Class Gringo Villaruz were escorted by top military and PCG officials as they arrived at the Naval Forces Western Mindanao's Majini Pier.

The two Coast Guard personnel did not sustain any injuries.

Pagaling said they were able to escape as military forces raided the Abu Sayyaf's hideout.

He said he jumped into a ravine and ran away from the Abu Sayyaf Group's camp until he reached a civilian community where he sought for help.

Commodore Joel Garcia, head of Task Force Sagip, denied speculations that ransom was paid in exchange for the release of the two Coast Guard members.

Garcia said the negotiations with the kidnappers stopped more than a month ago, when the Task Force Sagip was created.

Lieutenant General Rustico Guerrero, commander of Western Mindanao Command, congratulated Joint Task Force Sulu headed by its commander, Brigadier General Alan Arrojado, for a job well done in its effort to rescue the two kidnap victims.

Guerrero said Pagaling and Villaruz saw several other kidnap victims in Abu Sayyaf hideouts in Indanan and Patikul, Sulu areas.

This information will be used in rescue attempts of other kidnap victims, Guerrero added.

Meanwhile, Commodore Pablo Gonzales, commander of the PCG in Western Mindanao district, said Pagaling and Villaruz will be brought to Manila on Friday morning to reunite with their families.

They have yet to decide whether the two will be re-assigned to other areas or will be ordered to go back to their previous assignment.

The PCG personnel were abducted along with Aliguay barangay chairman Rodolfo Boligao who was killed last week following an alleged failure of negotiations between the family and the bandits.

Photo: Joint maneuvers

From The Standard (Aug 21): Photo: Joint maneuvers

Members of the police special forces jump from an Air Force helicopter at Poro Point in La Union during joint maneuvers with Air Force personnel on Thursday. Christine Junio

AFP battles Abu

From The Standard (Aug 21): AFP battles Abu

GOVERNMENT troops clashed with some 200 Abu Sayyaf fighters  Thursday  in an hour-long firefight in Indanan, Sulu, that left 15 bandits and a soldier dead and scores wounded on both sides.

The huge number of Abu Sayyaf fighters involved in a single firefight seemed to contradict the repeated assertions by military officials that the numbers of the Abu Sayyaf were dwindling, and that the “remnants” were fewer than 400.

But Col. Noel Detoyato, head of public affairs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said the Abu Sayyaf bandits might be consolidating.

Capt. Antonio Bulao of the Joint Task Group Sulu added that they were reinforced by fighters belonging to the Nur Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Military and police officials say the number of Abu Sayyaf fighters has dropped from a peak of 1,500 in the early 2000s to just a few hundreds.

On Thursday, at around  5:20 p.m., a company from the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion stormed the Abu Sayyaf lair in Barangay Buanza.

“At first, we estimated there were about 80 of them, but as the fighting continued, their numbers increased to an estimated 200,” Detoyato said.

The pursuing soldiers recovered at least five dead bandits.

The military pressed the attack against the escaping bandits that led to the rescue of Seaman 1st Class Rod

Pagaling and Seaman 2nd Class Gringo Villaruz, both belonging to the Coast Guard.

Pagaling and Villaruz together with Roldolfo Boligao, village chief of Aliguay, Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in May. Just recently, the bandits beheaded Boligao and left his body in Maimbung, Sulu.

The two Coast Guard men sprinted through gunfire to freedom as government forces raided the bandit hideout, the Army said.

Villaruz and Pagaling slipped separately from the Abu Sayyaf camp  on Wednesday  night and raced through the jungle as their captors engaged in a gunbattle with the military, Detoyato said.

“Apparently at the height of the encounter, the two Coast Guard men were able to flee,” he said.

The men sought refuge at a village about 1.5 kilometers away, said Bulao, the spokesman of the unit involved in the clash.

Found an hour apart, they did not know the other had escaped until they saw each other  Thursday  at a local hospital where they were being treated for bruises.

Yasser Igasan, one of the Abu Sayyaf Group’s most senior leaders, was believed to have escaped after the firefight, Detoyato said.

Fifteen Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed, but the remains of only five were recovered as the rest were carried away by their comrades, he said. Several soldiers sustained minor injuries.

The fighting was so fierce that the military had to use artillery to drive the bandits back, Detoyato said.

“It was a long fight: one hour and 35 minutes. That is unusual because they normally disengage immediately,” he said.

Bulao said Villaruz and Pagaling told authorities four other hostages were held with them, including a Malaysian and a Korean. He said the military would continue efforts to free all the hostages.

Separate fighting in neighboring Basilan island  on Wednesday  left five Abu Sayyaf members and one soldier killed, the military said.

Impoverished Jolo and Basilan are known strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf, a loose band of several hundred armed men set up in the 1990s with seed money from the Al-Qaeda network of Osama Bin Laden.

The group engages in kidnappings to finance operations, often targeting foreigners and sometimes beheading captives if ransom is not paid.

It has also been blamed for the worst bomb attacks in the country, including the firebombing of a ferry off Manila Bay in 2004 that killed more than 100 people.

The Palace commended the AFP for conducting operations to free the two Coast Guard personnel held captive by the Abu Sayyaf.

“We believe that operations are still ongoing in Sulu, and the military troops have succeeded in breaking the areas that were previously held by the Abu Sayyaf Group,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

Mayor gets 79th IB Gawad Masaligan Award

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 20): Mayor gets 79th IB Gawad Masaligan Award

Dumaguete City Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria received yesterday the “Gawad Masaligan” award from the 79 th Infantry Battalion (Masaligan), based in Siaton, Negros Oriental.

City Administrator William Ablong posted on Facebook that Sagarbarria was deeply moved upon learning that he's going to receive the award, adding it is not only for him but to honor Dumagueteños, too .

He said the award, that was received by Ablong, is the 26 th for the city under the present administration, and has given him a sense of pride, and of humility, that will forever be treasured.

The award was in recognition of Sagarbarria's support in raising the level of capability and quality of service of the Masaligan Battalion. It was presented by Major Gen Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commander of the 3 rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army; 302 nd Brigade commander Alan Martin, and Masaligan Battalion commander Harold Anthony Pascua.

The Visayan Forum Foundation Inc. and Oriental Negros Children's Advocacy Network were also given certificates of appreciation for their valuable service to the community.

Entrepreneur Soldiers, Livelihood Training on the Go

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 19): Entrepreneur Soldiers, Livelihood Training on the Go

The 701st Infantry (KAGITINGAN) Brigade conducted an In-House Livelihood Training at 701st Brigade Headquarters, Sitio Magay, Don Martin Marundan, City of Mati, Davao Oriental on August 11-13, 2015. The livelihood training has been conducted so that our men in uniform will have the knowledge and in the future they will also teach our civilian populace.

The three (3) days training which was facilitated by the 701st Brigade in partnership with the Rural Entrepreneurship Advocacy for Change (REACH) headed by Ms. Thelma C. Tajore, REACH Coordinator was held at the Headquarters of 701st Brigade. The training was entitled “Level 2 – ENTREPFARM” that was attended by eighteen (18) participants.

On the first day of the training, the facilitators gave problems and exercises that the participants have to solve. Participants were given five hundred pesos (P500) and three (3) land titles to be the turn-around money and to budget for livelihood business and family obligations.

During the second day, another five hundred pesos (p500) and 3 land titles. However, at this time, the facilitators added additional exercise. They need to budget it for their root crops, corn, vegetables, fruits, taxes to be paid and family obligations.

On the third day, same capital but need money for processing the results of the root crop and other plants that they harvested until the business will grow.

Exercises are made harder each day so that participants need to think of solutions to the problem. From this livelihood training, attendees learned how to budget and manage the capital and interest of the money. They have also learned how to become a good entrepreneur even investing a little amount of money.

There can be two results of business. Business can be successful or it can be a failure to one’s life. Business can be successful if it’s only pure business, which it doesn’t have any anomalies, and that the entrepreneur will focus on the business alone. It can be a failure if the entrepreneur doesn’t know how to manage the business. (4th Civil Military Operations Company, PA)

Family confirms escape of kidnapped coastguards

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20):  Family confirms escape of kidnapped coastguards

The teary-eyed wife of the kidnapped coastguard on Thursday confirmed that her husband has escaped from the hands of their captors--Abu Sayyaf--in Sulu.

Judy, the wife of Seaman First Class Rod Pagaling, said she would be flying to Manila anytime soon to meet her husband.

“The coastguard in Manila has called us and took my name along with our 1-year-old child. We will be flying to Manila to meet and fetch my husband,” Judy said.

She said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) confirmed that Pagaling and another coast guard Second Class Gringo Villaluz have been safely secured by the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Task Force Sulu.

Pagaling hailed from Cagayan De Oro City while Villaluz came from Davao.

Both are with the PCG District based in Cagayan De Oro City when they, along with village chief Rodolfo Buligao were kidnapped by the terrorist group on May 4 this year in the Aliguay Island in Dapitan.

The ASG has threatened to execute their three captives if a Php1-million ransom each would not be given.

Last week, the terrorist group killed Buligao and recorded the execution that went viral to social media.

“I trembled in fear when I saw the live execution in the social media,” Judy told reporters.

Judy said she was happy and relived now that her husband was able to escape the terrorists.

The Philippine Marines and the ASG locked in a fierce battle last Wednesday in Indanan town in Sulu.

At least 15 ASG terrorists have been killed while allowing the two PCG personnel to flee from their captors.

In Malacanang, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma commended the AFP for conducting successful operation that allowed the PCG men to escape.

Security heightened as blast kills soldier, injures another in Cotabato City

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Security heightened as blast kills soldier, injures another in Cotabato City

A red alert status has been raised across the city following the grenade attack on Thursday night on the headquarters of the 5th Special Forces (SF) Battalion along Sitio Dapdap, Barangay Rosary Heights 2 here.

The blast, which occurred around 7:30 p.m., hit the roadside station of the SF unit killing Pvt. Philip Palino, 24, and wounding Pfc. Marvin Ona, who were both manning the post at the time of the incident.

The explosion, believed to have come from a shoulder-fired M-79 explosive, also damaged the roof of the outpost.

Col. Ranulfo Sevilla, 5th SF Battalion commander, said the explosive could have been fired only a few meters from their settlement.

For several years now, the 5SF Battalion has been helping local authorities in running after criminals and similar offenders as part of the city’s internal security force.

Police probers are still coordinating with 5th SF Battalion to determine the motive behind the attack and identities of the culprits.

3 NPAs surrendered

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 20): 3 NPAs surrendered

THREE members of New People’s Army surrendered to soldiers in Barangay Esperanza in Agusan del Sur on Sunday afternoon and in Comspostella Valley Province last Tuesday.
Captain Alberto Caber, information officer of Eastern Mindanao Command, identified the surrenderee   as alias Wendel, who brought along with him one US Carbine cal. 30, M1 rifle with magazine and ammunitions.
Wendel surrendered to the 8th Special Forces Company of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Regiment in Brgy. Agsabo in Esperanza.
Meanwhile, two NPA members have surrendered to the soldiers of the 10th Infantry Division, in Compostela Valley Province.
Wendel, along with two NPA surrenderee will be enrolled to the Comprehensive Local Integration program (CLIP) of the government in Agusan del Sur.
They will receive livelihood and appropriate training assistance from the government.
Since January 1, there were 191 NPA members who returned to the folds of the law through the units of Eastern Mindanao Command under Lt. Gen. Aurelio B. Baladad.

Medical collaboration provides world-class care during PACANGEL Philippines

From DVIDS (Aug 19): Medical collaboration provides world-class care during PACANGEL Philippines

Medical collaboration provides world-class care during Pacific Angel Philippines

Rayian Carazon and daughter Trica, of Lila, Bohol province, Philippines, receive medication proscribed during the Health Services Outreach provided as part of the Pacific Angel Philippines mission taking place in Lila, Bohol province, Philippines, Aug. 16, 2015. Efforts undertaken during Pacific Angel help multilateral militaries in the Pacific improve and build relationships across a wide spectrum of civic operations, which bolsters each nation’s capacity to respond and support future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich/Released)

TAGBILIRAN, Philippines - Rayian Carazon slept soundly for the first time in weeks Aug. 16.

Already caring for energetic 1-year-old Trica and four months pregnant with her second child, Carazon constantly worried about the health of her young family. Until this day, she had no way to know if there was anything wrong.

Through word of mouth, she heard about the Health Services Outreach provided as part of the Pacific Angel 15-1 Philippines mission taking place near her small home in Lila, Bohol province, Philippines.

“I came to see what the medical mission was all about,” Carazon said. “I now know my family is in good health. I am grateful for this medical mission, and it is very nice you had it here in Lila."

Her story is common among the approximately 3,000 citizens of Bohol province set to receive free health screening and treatment during PACANGEL-Philippines.

Individuals from all over the tropical island braved weather ranging from tremendous downpours to intense heat for their chance to see military doctors, dentists, optometrists, physical therapists and pharmacists from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy along with military from the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea.

Providing world-class care to patients such as Carazon is a valuable byproduct of the real intent of the exercise, which is to build partnerships between the U.S. and its Indo-Asia-Pacific partners.
“It is very enlightening working with other military healthcare providers,” said Philippine Air Force Capt. James A. Robert Honculada, an orthopedic and family practice physician. “There really are different styles in management for different illnesses. Now, I have confirmed what I have only read is genuinely being practiced by my counterparts from other countries. I can take this knowledge back to my patients in my country.”

These partnerships strengthen relationships that are relied upon during humanitarian assistance operations.

“It has been an extremely positive experiences working with the other national doctors from the different partner nations,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Timothy Hiyra, a physician from the Hawaii Air National Guard. “We are all teaching and learning, not only are we learning new techniques and new types of treatment we are also getting a changes to teach what we do in the U.S. as well. It is a two way collaboration which has been a huge benefit of this exercise.”

Partnership building aside, at least one satisfied patient is just grateful the medical providers were here this week.

“I want to say thank you to the barangi (neighborhood) officials, the local government unit of Lila and all the military people,” Carazon said. “Today was very easy, my family was able to see a doctor, receive medications and be reassured that my family is in good health.”

2-day AFP offensive helps Coast Guard men escape; MNLF fighters said to have helped ASG

From InterAksyon (Aug 20): 2-day AFP offensive helps Coast Guard men escape; MNLF fighters said to have helped ASG

Map of Sulu

(UPDATE, 3:40 P.M) The military operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group that began Wednesday and resulted in the rescue of two Coast Guard personnel and the death of 15 bandits continued Thursday, amid a claim by an Armed Forces spokesman that some Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members were beefing up the ASG.
Malacañang Palace commended the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the operations, which began with a major offensive targeting an ASG stronghold on Wednesday to rescue hostages, including the two PCG men seized in May.

"We commend the AFP' Task Force Sulu for conducting operations that have led to the fleeing from captivity of two Coast Guard personnel, namely Seaman First Class Rodlyn Pagaling and Seaman Second Class Gringo Villaruz," said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in a statement.

Coloma quoted PCG spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo as saying the two men were abducted about 2 a.m. last May 4 at the barangay hall near the port area of Barangay Aliguay in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.

Captain Roy Trinidad, chief of staff of Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said Pagaling and Villaruz slipped through the flank of Abu Sayyaf gunmen who were withdrawing during a heavy firefight with assaulting troops in Barangay Buanza, Indanan town.

It was in the same village where the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion began its assault, killing 15 gunmen and reportedly wounding scores more, while losing one soldier, with almost 10 others injured.

“The two PCG personnel were rescued by assaulting soldiers at around 7 a.m. today. Before the contact, our operating troops had started to maneuver as early as around 6 a.m.,” Trinidad said.

He said Pagaling and Villaruz were immediately brought to a hospital by a medical team.

“Firefight is ongoing and we’ve yet to get confirmatory reports on the ground about the casualties on the side of the bandits,” Trinidad said, adding that “dozens” of Abu Sayyaf fighters were involved in the fighting.

Pagaling and Villaruz were abducted with Rodolfo Boligao, chairman of the island barangay of Aliguay, Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, were abducted in May.

On August 11, the ASG beheaded Boligao and his body was found in Maimbung, Sulu.

MNLF men joined Abu forces - military

A military spokesman said Thursday some Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members identified with the Nur Misuari faction had joined some 200 Abu Sayyaf bandits in Wednesday’s heavy firefight with soldiers in Indanan, Sulu, that led to the rescue of two Coast Guard men whom the ASG had seized in May.

Meron talagang nakahalo dun sir. Kasi unang-una, paano nakapunta ‘yung ASG sa community nila, dun nakatambay [Some MNLF elements were mixed with thhem, sir. In the first place, how could the ASG men have ended up, and roamed, in their community]?” asked Captain Antonio Bulao of the Joint Task Group Sulu in a phone interview. He was replying to queries of some MNLF presence in the Abu area and the encounter site.

At least 15 Abu Sayyaf bandits and one soldier were killed; scores were wounded on both sides after hostilities flared past 5 p.m. Wednesday in the vicinity of the MNLF community in Baragnay Bauzan.

Five of the ASG fatalities were recovered, said Bolao, while soldiers were still trying to bring out their bodies from the war zone. Bolao explained this wasn't easy, "because there are so many MNLF men in the community. The encounter happened right in the vicinity of the MNLF community.”

He could not say, though, if some of the recovered bodies were MNLF members.

The Scout Ranger and Infantry were still in hot pursuit Thursday, operations that led to the rescue of Seaman 1st Class Rod Pagaling and Seaman 2nd Class Gringo Villaruz, the two PCG men seized in May by the ASG together with Rodolfo Boligo, chairman of Barangay Aliguay, Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.

The bandits earlier beheaded Boligao, whose body was found August 11 in Maimbung, Sulu.

Pagaling and Villaruz were able to escape from their guards in the middle of the firefight, and were rescued unharmed by assaulting Scout Rangers, Bolao said.

“Based on their statement there were six of them there in ASG captivity,” Bolao said.

Among the remaining four kidnap victims still in the hands of the ASG were a Malaysian and a Korean.

Gingoog folk rally for peace in the face of NPA attacks

From InterAksyon (Aug 20): Gingoog folk rally for peace in the face of NPA attacks

Participants in the Gingoog Peace Parade denounce armed conflict and attacks by the NPA. Photographed by Erwin Mascarinas,

About 2,500 people from various sectors here marched for about three kilometers in what they called a "Peace Parade" on Tuesday afternoon to denounce armed conflict and the series of attacks carried out by the communist New People's Army (NPA) last month.

"The peace parade is a way for us to condemn the series of attacks and atrocities done by the NPA against our people, especially in the hinterland barangays of our city. This is also a gathering to promote unity for our people, to call for peace, especially since we fear that violence could intensify as the election season comes closer," said Mayor Marie Guingona of Gingoog City.

Guingona said she hopes the local government would be able to avert more violence among the city's communities.

"It's been a month after the incidents that have wounded and killed several of our residents and the abduction of one soldier. Right now, I still hope that we will be able to find peaceful means to resolve this conflict with the NPA, proceed with our peace keeping efforts for the city and for the protection of our people," said Guingona.

The largest contingent of the Peace Parade came from the students of five participating schools, namely: Bukidnon State College, Gingoog Christian College, Gingoog City Colleges, Christ the King College and Gingoog City Comprehensive National High School.

Cheruben Llobia, a 23-year-old sociology student of BSU, expressed optimism for peace, together with her schoolmate during the march: "We are happy to participate. I was excited to experience a peace rally and be part of something bigger for our city. We hope that just being here would help stop the violence and conflict in Gingoog."

Llobia added that, since the attacks started, they became afraid of going out or coming home from school in the evening, with police officers and soldiers on alert and keeping watch.

Last July 11, the NPA attacked an army squad in Barangay Alagatan, right in the heart of the village while children and civilians were watching a basketball game and others going through their Saturday afternoon routine.

The attack resulted in injuries to two civilians, including a 14-year old, a child and the capture of army man Pfc Adones Jess Lupiba. 

Barely a week after that, another NPA attack happened at Barangay Hindangon, which led to the death of three members of the community militia who their family members claimed to be unarmed and on their way to the army detachment.

Henny Lupiba, the wife of the abducted soldier, was hopeful for a peaceful resolution and safe release of her husband.

"It has been a prolonged agony for us, but I am still thankful for everyone who prayed and showed their support to our family. We are hoping that, amid the long wait, my husband will come home to us, I can't say more except to emphasize that our goal here is to achieve peace for everyone," said Lupiba, who traveled from Cagayan de Oro City to attend the activity.

Among those taking part in the march for peace was the wife of one of the slain civilian active auxiliary or community militia killed in the attack in Hindangon.

"We hope that the armed group in the mountains would think and realize that the persons they killed had children and a wife who is now pregnant. What future is there for our children and me as they killed my husband who has not done anything wrong? Peace can be achieved, but we also ask for justice," said Annalyn Abao, who shed tears while expressing her grief.

The NPA, in a statement after the July incident, said the incident would have been avoided if the soldiers did not stay in the communities, even as it also condemned the "military occupation" of villages.

All photographs below by Erwin Mascarinas,

About 2,500 people join the Peace Parade that culminated in a rally along the seaside boulevard of Gingoog City.

The majority of the Peace March participants were students from five colleges and high schools in the city.

Students carry placards with peace slogans under the heat of the afternoon sun.

The wife of one of the slain militiamen cries out in grief during the testimonial for peace.

Peace Parade participants release sky lanterns to signify lighting the way to peace.

Karapatan-Sorsogon Chapter spokesman gunned down

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): Karapatan-Sorsogon Chapter spokesman gunned down

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City -- An undetermined number of unidentified armed men shot dead the spokesman of the Karapatan-Sorsogon chapter while he was on his way home at Barangay Tagdon, Barcelona, Sorsogon at about 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Police Senior Supt. Ronald Cabral, Sorsogon provincial police director, said Theodoro Escarilla, married, was dead on the spot.

Cabral said Escarilla had just attended a meeting of their group's proposed activities in the next few days when men armed with 45-caliber pistol blocked his way and shot him in the head and body.

The suspects escaped towards an unknown direction.

Five rebels killed in Bukidnon encounter, 2 army soldiers wounded

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): Five rebels killed in Bukidnon encounter, 2 army soldiers wounded

Five rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed as fresh fighting erupted anew in the hinterlands of Bukidnon Wednesday, the military reported Thursday.

Lt. Col. Jessie Alvarez, the commanding officer of the Army’s 403rd Brigade based in Bukidnon, reported that the armed skirmishes took place in the mountains of Pangantucan, 161 kilometers, south of here.

In a report monitored from here, Alvarez said that two government troopers suffered slight wounds in an hour firefight that started about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

He said that the pursuing army troopers recovered the unidentified bodies along the withdrawal routes of the communist rebels.

Alvarez said that the military brought the bodies to the funeral homes in Valencia City, about 50 kilometers southeast of the municipal town of Pangantucan.

He said that the intelligence community has monitored unidentified persons buying large quantities of medical supplies in the local pharmacy.

Alvarez said that the military has suspected that the medical supplies were intended for some wounded persons that resulted in a series of armed skirmishes with the NPA rebels in Bukidnon in the past weeks.

“Our men surreptitiously monitored and followed the buyers of medical supplies who delivered the supplies to a group of fully armed rebels in the mountains of Pangantucan,” Alvarez said.

Aside from recovering the bodies, the military also recovered AK 47, handheld radios, backpacks, and other subversive materials of high intelligence value along the withdrawal route of the communist rebels, Alvarez said.

Disarray, panic brought by military offensive allowed 2 Coast Guard men to escape from ASG

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): Disarray, panic brought by military offensive allowed 2 Coast Guard men to escape from ASG

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) attributed the successful escape of the two Coast Guard personnel to the disarray and panic that hit the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) ranks when pounded by units of Joint Task Group Sulu Wednesday.

Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs office chief, said that this was statement given by SN2 Gringo Villaluz and SN1 Rod Pagaling to rescuing military units.

"During the height of the firefight, the ASG ranks were in disarray, giving opportunity for Villaluz and Pagaling to escape from their captors," he said in Filipino.

Adding to the panic of the bandits were the heavy volume of fire poured on them by attacking military units which include artillery support.

And during their escape, Detoyato said the escaping Coast Guard personnel became separated.

Villaruz was found at the vicinity of Buansa, Indanan, Sulu at around 7 a.m. Thursday while Pagaling was found around the same area an hour later.

The two Coast Guard personnel were abducted by the ASG with Rodolfo Buligao, barangay captain of Aliguay, last May 4.

Buligao’s body was found last Aug. 11 in Barangay Laum Maimbung, Sulu after he was mercilessly beheaded when their abductors’ demands were not met.

"The AFP is continuously conducting focused military operations which resulted to the series of encounters with members of New People’s Army and ASG within the past two days," Detoyato stressed.

Last Wednesday, 15 ASG bandits were killed while five high powered firearms, a substance believed to be “shabu” and an improvised explosive device (IED) were recovered in Sitio Marang, Barangay Buansa, Indanan, Sulu after some 200 ASGs engaged the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion.

Five bodies, believed to be members of ASG, were recovered in the area.

PA now using social pressure to beat rebel threat

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): PA now using social pressure to beat rebel threat

Aside from focused military operations, the Philippine Army (PA) is now using "social pressure" as part of its efforts to totally neutralize the insurgency threat in the countryside, according to Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año.

Año defines social pressure as efforts exerted by stakeholders and government organizations in convincing rebel fighters to abandon the insurgency movement, voluntarily surrender their arms and return to mainstream society.

And in return, these former rebels will be provided with livelihood opportunities and development projects for their communities.

Año said that once these former insurgents got prosperous living, then they were sending a message that living in peace was much better than conducting crimes and atrocities to the communities.

The PA chief said that this initiative was much better than hunting down and killing the estimated 4,000 rebel fighters remaining in the country.

Palace commends AFP for rescuing 2 PCG personnel from ASG kidnappers

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): Palace commends AFP for rescuing 2 PCG personnel from ASG kidnappers

Malacanang commended on Thursday the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Task Force Sulu for conducting operations that led to the fleeing of two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel from their Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) kidnappers.

The military attributed their effort to rescue PCG’s Seaman First Class Rodlyn Pagaling and Seaman Second Class Gringo Villaruz to its operation in Sulu last Wednesday that led to the death of at least 15 ASG members.

”We commend the AFP and its task force that succeeded in enabling the fleeing from captivity of two Philippine Coast Guard personnel,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press briefing.

Coloma said the military troops have also succeeded in breaking the areas that were previously held by the Abu Sayyaf Group.

According to PCG spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo, the two personnel were abducted last May 4 at around 2 a.m. at the Barangay Hall near the port area of Barangay Aliguay in Dapitan City.

With the support of the citizenry, government troopers had tracked and raided the known lairs of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

According to the AFP, military operations are ongoing to secure the safety of other persons being held captive by the ASG.

PA gets new chief public affairs officer

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): PA gets new chief public affairs officer

Col. Benjamin Hao, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1990, was appointed as the Army's new chief public affairs officer Thursday.

He replaces Major Enrico Gil C. Ileto, who acted as head of the said office for more than a month.

Hao is the former commander of Army battalion based in Mindanao.

His assumption of office was presided over by PA chief-of-staff Major Gen. Rafael C. Valencia.

Prior to his designation, Hao was the commander of a Civil Military Operations Battalion based in the National Capital Region.

He was also a former faculty member of the AFP Command and General Staff College

“After 18 years since I first stepped in the realm of military public affairs, I am now given the chance to lead it for the Army,” Hao said.

“I will try to provide the best public affairs service that our Army deserve to have,” he added.

Ileto, who have done a remarkable job of taking care the Army’s obligation of informing the public even for a short period of time, will go back to his old post as the Commandant of the Army CMO School, also based here.

Hao also served as a key figure in the organization of the defunct AFP National Development Support Command from 2007 to 2009 and as CMO officer of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division during the post-Maguindanao massacre incident from January to November 2010.

Troops verifying death of ranking ASG leader in Sulu clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): Troops verifying death of ranking ASG leader in Sulu clash

Joint Task Group Sulu operatives are still determining the veracity of the report that Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) sub-leader Alden Bagadi was among the 15 bandits slain during a pitched battle in Indanan, Sulu Wednesday.

This was revealed Thursday by Capt. Antonio Bulao, Joint Task Group Sulu spokesman.

But they also have reports that Bagadi's cousin, Arafat, was among those killed in the encounter.

In the confusion resulting from the battle, two kidnapped Coast Guard personnel managed to give their captors the slip.

Soldiers found SN2 Gringo Villaruz in Barangay Buanza around 7 a.m. and SN1 Rod Pagaling around 8:30 a.m.

"Villaruz was able to escape from his captors at the height of firefight," Bulao said in a text message.

Both Villaruz and Pagaling were not injured but have been taken to the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Trauma Hospital in Jolo for medical examination.

The rescue of the two came hours after troops battled about 100 Abu Sayyaf members led by sub-commanders Yasser Igasan and Alhabsy Misaya in Barangay Buanza.

Members of the Army's Scout Rangers, backed by artillery fire, stormed a bandit lair in that barangay from 5:25 p.m. to 7 p.m. in an operation aimed at rescuing kidnap victims.

Fifteen ASG bandits were reportedly killed in the clash though only five bodies have so far been recovered.

On the other hand, four members of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion were slightly wounded.

Villaruz and Pagaling were abducted along with Barangay Aliguay chairman Rodolfo Buligao in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, last May 4.

ASG members threatened to behead the three if the Php1-million ransom demand for each of them was not given.

Buligao's severed head and body were found at a road junction in Maimbung town last Aug. 11.

Bulao said nine kidnap victims, four of whom are foreigners, remain in the hands of ASG members in different parts of Sulu.

Villaruz and Pagaling had been spotted with 200 bandits and four other captives, three of whom have foreign-sounding surnames, three days before the assault in Indanan.

The foreign captives who had been with Villaruz and Pagaling are Malaysian and Korean nationals.

Slain, wounded ASGs identified - military

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): Slain, wounded ASGs identified - military

The military on Thursday has released the names of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits killed and wounded during the clash with troopers of Joint Task Group Sulu Wednesday afternoon.

However, Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said that the names were subject to confirmation and validation.

Reported killed in the pitched battle at Barangay Buanza, Indanan town, Sulu were ASG bandits identified as Joy Juliyon, Arapat Bagadi, a certain Majindi, Sarman Aidarud, one Mandi, Arapat Hadjiri, Dunni Ammin, Salman Wahid, Majindi Kamlun and Runni Said.

While the five other brigands are still unidentified as of this posting.

Wounded ASG members were identified as Abdel Dela Cruz,Sherwin Dela Cruz, Mawalil, Duni, Bidah, Lasis Jihiliand Kapatud Sarman

Arrojado said that they now have coordinated with the Sulu Provincial Police Office for the processing and proper disposition of slain ASGs.