Monday, November 23, 2015

BBL’s fate must be decided now — PNoy

From the Journal Online (Nov 23): BBL’s fate must be decided now — PNoy

WHY wait to decide the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) until the next administration?

President Benigno S. Aquino III, who is obviously not giving up on the passage of the BBL, renewed his appeal to Congress to push for peace in Mindanao now and not delay it until the  next administration.

The BBL, the legal framework of the peace accord between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is still pending approval both in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“Ako I don’t want to risk it ‘di ba? Walang guarantee na next time, when we get around to it, nandyan pa rin ‘yung mga nagne-negotiate in good faith na talagang totoong—ito ang end point na gusto nila,” Aquino said in a coffee meeting with reporters on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The timeline on the enactment of a Bangsamoro law was obviously affected and moved owing to the January 25 massacre of 44 elite police forces by the MILF, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and private armed groups.
Aquino said the BBL’s fate will be left hanging until after the next president assumes his position in June 30 and Congress opens session thereafter.
“And so many things might happen. And ulitin ko, are we sure that we will always have this combination of factors that has gotten us to the point that we really have a law that we are debating that can substantially change the situation?” said Aquino.

State Department issues worldwide travel alert

From CNN (Nov 23): State Department issues worldwide travel alert

The United States issued a worldwide travel alert for Americans amid concerns that terror groups and individuals plan more attacks after the Paris massacres.

The State Department warned that groups like ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram "continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions."
It also warned of the possibility of individuals carrying out their own attacks.
"These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests," the department said in issuing a travel alert that expires on February 24, 2016.
The alert does not instruct Americans to avoid travel, but it does urge U.S. citizens to "exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation."
"Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events," the State Department said in the alert.
The department said that terrorist attacks remain likely as ISIS members return from Iraq and Syria.
It warned that "there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis," pointing specifically to large sporting events, theaters, open markets and airlines.
In July, the State Department issued a "Worldwide Caution" that also warned ISIS and others continued to plan terrorist attacks against the United States and Western interests in Europe.
An "Alert" is time-limited, often for 90 days, at which it can be reviewed. An alert is not necessarily stronger or weaker than a caution. The most recent worldwide travel alert was issued in December 2014, and prior to that in August 2013, September 2011, and May 2011.

Agusan Sur church leaders threatened over text messages

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Nov 21): Agusan Sur church leaders threatened over text messages

SOME church bishops are crying foul over about hundred text messages they received which contains threats and insinuations on their alleged connection on the death of Loreto town, Agusan del Sur mayor Dario Otaza on October 19 this year.

[Read: Agusan del Sur town mayor, son found dead]

Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Rhee TImbang said he received 244 text messages with the same content.

The messages include: "Para sa alaala ni Datu Malampuson, Mayor Otaza na pinatay nga mga kasama mo. Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A MAN REAPS WHAT HE SOWS."

The same text messages were also received by IFI bishop Romeo Tagud, two pastors, and two Catholic priests.

All of them are convenors of the International Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM) held for the lumad (indigenous people) killings in Surigao in October this year.

[ALSO Read: Lumad teacher, 2 others dead in Surigao rampage]

The IFFM was composed of support groups that stand for the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) plight, which aims to validate, strengthen, and amplify the bases for the calls of lumad people who are victims of human rights violations.

Timbang said the text messages have something to do with their involvement of the IFFM and their advocacy standing for the lumads.

"The text appears likewise as veiled threat to extract revenge with an idiotic use of a scriptural verse," Timbang posted on social media.

He said the text messages were a form of harassment, threat and intimidation in view of his advocacy and stand for the lumad as a bishop.

The bishops said the military might be the group behind these threats as IFFM findings indicate the military and paramilitary groups operations in Surigao del Sur for allegedly being the responsible perpetrators of the crimes against the lumad.

Tagud said the texts were similar to military's series of press release which maligned, vilified, and discredited the organizers of IFFM.

"Makita nimo na pareha ang mensahe sa ilang press release, makaduda gyud. Pero hinuon, we are yet to release our statement on this issue," Tagud added.

Tagud said they already filed a police blotter immediately after they received the said text messages.

The texts came from six different mobile numbers: 09062940162; 09326743816; 0906473 7285; 0921746 2585; 09235227730; and 09235227304.

"Kung ma-identify namo kinsa sila, we will file appropriate cases, especially na harassment baya ni," Tagud said.

Military to secure bishops

But Captain Jo Patrick Martinez, 4th Infantry Division (4ID) spokesperson, denied the military's involvement with the text messages.

"We are saddened sa statement ng ating mga kaparian, kasi unang-una, we have high respect for them, kasi sila itong mga partners natin sa ating advocacy for peace," Martinez said.

Martinez instead offered security to the bishops who received threats adding that they are willing to participate in the investigation.

"Kung nasaan man yung area ni Bishop Timbang, we can request for security to prove na for peace lamang po kami, at para maprotektahan natin siya," Martinez added.

Almost finished

From the Philippine Air Force Facebook page (Nov 23): Almost finished

PAF NC-212

Japan defense chief intends to visit Philippines at early date

From Kyodo (Nov 24): Japan defense chief intends to visit Philippines at early date

Japan defense chief intends to visit Philippines at early date

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani speaks to reporters in Hawaii on Nov. 22, 2015.

Nakatani said he intends to visit the Philippines at an early date to have talks with his counterpart Voltaire Tuvera Gazmin to follow up on the recent agreement on the transfer of defense equipment and technology, a move to step up their cooperation over China's muscle-flexing in regional waters.

AFP destroys crashed chopper

From Malaya Business Insight (Nov 24): AFP destroys crashed chopper

THE Air Force blew up its UH-1D or Huey helicopter that crashed in Sarangani last November 7 because it was beyond economic repair and it is costly to retrieve it.

The crash injured two pilots and seven other military personnel on board.

AFP spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said that as part of military standard operating procedure, probers took parts of the aircraft that were vital in the conduct of the investigation and the rest were either blown up or burned. He could not categorically say when the procedure was done.

“They determined that the cost of retrieving the aircraft from the mountainous area is not commensurate… So they executed what we call the SOP (standard operating procedure) …They have to destroy it by blowing it up and burning,” he said.

He explained that parts of the chopper got burned when it crashed. “The other parts which are hard, which cannot be burned, were blown up so that they can’t be used by others for other purposes,” he said.

The chopper was one of seven UH-1Ds the military has. The UH-1Ds are complementing a fleet of at least 20 UH-1H helicopters performing various missions, including casualty evacuation. Both types of aircraft are also used in the transport of top defense and military officials.

Don’t go, Kalayaan mayor warns voyagers

From Malaya Business Insight (Nov 24): Don’t go, Kalayaan mayor warns voyagers

MAYOR Eugenio Bito-onon of Kalayaan town in Palawan yesterday cautioned the group Kalayaan Atin Ito on their planned 30-day voyage to the Philippine-held islands in the West Philippine Sea, saying they will be facing very rough December seas.

“It’s very risky, especially December when weather is bad,” Bito-onon said.

Kalayaan Atin Ito’s journey begins November 30 (Bonifacio Day) and ends on December 30 (Rizal Day).

Bito-onon said it is very difficult to sustain 10,000 people on such a voyage.

He said he has been travelling to and from the Philippine-held territories over the past 10 years and “the risk and the cost of going there is not that easy.”

Kalayaan town is composed of the nine Philippine-held territories, including Pag-asa Island which serves as the seat of government of the town.

The town was created in June 1978 by President Ferdinand Marcos by virtue of Presidential Decree 1596. It is under the political jurisdiction of Palawan but under the custody and administration of the Armed Forces

The group, led by former Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon, said 10,000 people, mostly youths, will participate in the voyage which aims to assert the country’s claims to the disputed areas, on board 81 boats representing the country’s provinces.

“I’ve been on a boat. There were 500 of us. We have to fall in line just to go to the toilet, to the bathroom. The sea is rough during this time, it’s difficult,” said Bito-onon, adding that the Philippine-occupied islands have no ports.

Bito-onon said he is not actually against the voyage but the organizers should consider the risks that go with the endeavor.

“I am not opposed to the idealism of the youth…We do not deny them (of the chance to go there) but should anything untoward happens, who would help them…They should consider all the issues because it’s far and they’ll go there at their own risk,” he said.

Bito-onon said the best advice on whether to proceed with the voyage should come from MalacaƱang and the Department of Foreign Affairs because “they all know about the diplomatic row.” He also noted that Kalayaan town is not totally controlled by him.

On whether the group should postpone the voyage to a period when the sea is not rough, the mayor said: “I really don’t know. The organizers do not talk to me…The thing is they should consider the risk and the cost.”

Earlier, AFP Western Command chief Vice Adm. Alexander Lopez said he is opposed to the voyage, describing it as “ill-advised,” because of the “traitorous” sea.

AFP: No need to avoid malls, other public places

From Malaya Business Insight (Nov 24): AFP: No need to avoid malls, other public places

THE Armed Forces yesterday there is no need for the public to avoid crowded places, including malls, as government forces wage an intensified campaign against the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

“Please continue on with your usual schedule, with your normal lives…We must not allow ourselves to do that. Instead go on with our ordinary lives,” AFP spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla told a press briefing.

He issued the statement after reports quoted presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda as urging the Filipino people to avoid places like malls, where large crowd gather because “terrorism knows no border.”

Padilla said Lacierda may have been “taken out of context when he was quoted as calling on the public not to go to public places” during the military’s intensified campaign against the Abu Sayyaf.

“If we change our daily normal activities, refrain from ordinary things that we do everyday, it’s like the terrorists have already achieved their objective which is change our way of life and avoid our daily activities,” he said.

Lacierda was asked Sunday how the public can contribute to the global war against terrorism in the aftermath of the Paris attacks and the beheading by Abu Sayyaf bandits of a Malaysian they kidnapped last May.

Lacierda said it is important for the public to be “vigilant.”

“May mga media advisories po tayo, may mga warnings po, lalo na in areas na parati pong paboritong i-target na be wary po, especially in areas where the public mill, tulad ng malls, ‘yung mga ganito po.

Dapat bantayan po natin ang ating mga kagamitan, and if there any suspicious items, let’s report it to the proper authorities po,” he said.

Padilla said the military has not received any “credible threat regarding terror groups who are planning to launch attacks in the country.”

Padilla also said the AFP likewise has no information on any presence of members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the country “or legitimate sympathizers” in the country.

“There is no authentic link or relationship between the ISIS and the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) in Mindanao,” he also said.

However, Padilla asked the public to be “vigilant and watchful against terrorism and terror attacks,” citing the November 13 Paris attacks that left over a hundred people dead and the November 19 hostage-taking in Mali that left 27 people dead.

President Aquino ordered the military to intensify operations against the Abu Sayyaf after the beheading of Malaysian Bernard Then in Indanan, Sulu on Tuesday last week.

The Abu Sayyaf is still keeping several foreign and Filipino hostages in Sulu province, including Dutch Elwood Horn – one of the two wildlife photographers abducted in Tawi-Tawi in February 2012.

The group is also believed to be holding in Sulu two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina abducted from a resort in Samal Island in Davao del Norte last September 21. The Abu Sayyaf is demanding P1 billion ransom for each of the hostages.

Former rebs support peace in DavOr

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 23): Former rebs support peace in DavOr

The 701st “Kagitingan” Brigade organized a Summit dubbed as PEACE Camp from 20 to 21 November 2015 at Menzi Beach Resort in Mati City, Davao Oriental with the theme: “Panaghiusa alang sa kalinaw ug kalambuan sa Davao Oriental.”

The objectives of the activity are to provide the FRs the identity and belongingness as an organization and to empower them to become the point of convergence of all government agencies in pursuit of peace and development. During the summit, fifty five (55) Former Rebels (FRs) expressed their support in sustaining the peace and development in Davao Oriental.

The participants had undergone a series of lectures, workshops, and fun games. On the first day, lectures regarding the rationale of PeACE were given. FRs physical security, disaster resiliency and roles during disasters were also discussed. On the evening, moral recovery lecture was given by Pastor Ruben Colmo and a group session for values formation was provided by Honorable Delfin Miones, City Councilor of Mati City.

On the second day, participants were taught how to craft an effective livelihood proposal through the Provincial Public Employment Services Office. The event was also graced by Mayor Justina MB Yu of San Isidro, Davao Oriental. She talked about how her municipality supported the endeavors of FRs in their area. They even provided the FRs with livelihood and employment opportunity. On the other hand, Mr. Miguel Trocio also shared opportunities in tourism. During the summit, different fun games and team building activities were facilitated by the Youth for Peace Movement Davao Oriental to break the monotony of a classroom type lectures.

After the lectures the participants took their Oath of Commitment spearheaded by Daniel Con-el of the Provincial Social Welfare and  Development Office  signifying their pledge of support to the peace efforts as well as the improvement and growth of their organization. Part of this pledge is the submission of their project proposals to the different LGUs for their livelihood activities.

During the closing ceremony, one of the participants gave his impression on the activity and said “Hugot na panaghihusa ang atong kinahilangnan, pag makita nila ang atong panaghihusa sila mismo ay ganahan na manaog at muuban sa ato para sa pag palambo ng kalinaw (pointing to active NPA members). Ang atong organisasyon ay dakong epekto sa ato tungod sa pag implementar ng mga proyekto para sa kalinaw at kalambuan. Ang summit ay isa ka gagway sa pagbago, isa ka gagway sa pagkahihusa. Ang problema dili masulbad sa isa pa ka problema, dili sa bala, dili sa kumo, kung dili sa pag istorya at pinagsinabtanay. Magtinabangay kita og suportahan ang pagpalig-on ng kalinaw at kalambuan.”  (We need unity to show to them that they would be motivated to go down and join us in peace and development, our organization have a great impact because we implement projects for peace and devleopment. This summit is a way of change, a way of unity. The problem cannot be solved with another problem, not with bullets or fists but thru dialogue and understanding. We should help one another in supporting the strengthening of peace and development.)

Likewise, Colonel Bienvenido R. Datuin Jr, Brigade Commander of the 701st “Kagitingan” Brigade said during one of the programs, “The 701st Brigade always puts premium to the welfare of our FR’s. This Summit is intended to empower the FRs to further help them improve their lives. Col Datuin Jr added that, “Christmas is fast approaching and this yuletide season may serve as an invitation and encouragement to active NPA members to go back to the mainstream society.” (4th CMO Coy.,Public Affairs Office, PA AFP)

1FAB plants 1,500 mahogany seedlings in Tukuran town

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 23): 1FAB plants 1,500 mahogany seedlings in Tukuran town

TUKURAN, Zamboanga del Sur – The 1st Field Artillery Battalion (1FAB), Army Artillery Regiment, Philippine Army on Saturday planted 1,500 mahogany seedlings during the tree planting activityconducted in barangay Tinotongan.

1FAB commanding officer LtCol. Hubert S. Acierto in his message said the activity was in partnership with the local government unit of Tukuran and Barangay Tinutongan which carries the theme “Kaabag sa Kalinaw ug Kalamboan ngadto sa maayong Kaugmaon.” (Partner of peace and development towards a brighter future)

Acierto said the activity was in support to the National Greening Program (NGP), a massive forest rehabilitation program of the government which seeks to grow 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares nationwide within a period of six years, from 2011 to 2016.

“With this program, we can restore our denuded forest back to its original state,”he said saying that trees are very important and valuable to our very existence.

“The trees that we have planted today will help prevent the occurrence of natural calamities such as floods, landslides, among others,” Acierto said.

On the other hand, Vice Mayor Michelle Rota said the LGU enacted and implemented ordinances that build local resilience action plans to address climate change disaster.
“We have enacted ordinances to protect our environment,” Rota said.

She encouraged everyone to participate in tree planting activity because it does not only give benefits to our environment but it also provides livelihood opportunities to residents.

“As simple as planting trees can help stop climate change,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, Acierto also thanked the active participation of the Mutual Benefits Association Incorporated, barangay officials, barangay response emergency team (BERT), and local residents for making the activity successful.

Extortion, terrorism angle eyed in van blast

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 23): Extortion, terrorism angle eyed in van blast

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte looks at terrorism and extortion to be the primary angles being pursued by authorities behind the explosion inside a passenger van last Wednesday at Eco-west Drive in Matina.

He said the operator had been receiving extortion demand from unknown perpetrators and continued to resist from giving.

Duterte said he does not also discount the possibility of terrorism to be behind the incident.

“At this early, we already have a tracking device and we would know.  Maybe the police is in the position to announce its findings on the incident,” he said.

Last Friday, the Davao City Police Office released the composite sketch of the suspect in the van blast.

The unidentified suspect is male, 5'1-5'2 in height, medium built, age between 35-40 yrs old, white complexion, wearing black jacket and blue maong pants with black ball cap.

The public is urged to report immediately and Dial 911 or Isumbong mo kang CD DCPO text Hotline 09258233276 any sighting of the suspect.

Herman Daag, the van driver recalled that before arrival at the SM Van Terminal, three passengers remained.

He said a male passenger disembarked in front of the terminal, while his two other passengers, a male and a female got off inside the terminal.

Investigation continues as of press time.

14 Ifugao former rebels receive government assistance

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 23): 14 Ifugao former rebels receive government assistance

Fourteen former rebels (FRs) from this town and the  municipality of  Asipulo who decided to returned back to the folds of the law were given immediate cash and livelihood assistance recently.

The assistance granted to the FRs is thru the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) and the provincial local government unit who facilitated the release of the said  aid  to the beneficiaries.

According to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), 19 FRs were profiled, however only 15 were qualified for the CLIP. Four  were eligible for the regular program of the provincial government who received P10,000 each as immediate cash assistance.

For the CLIP beneficiaries, three received a total amount of P65,000 as  immediate and livelihood assistance. The  seven received only the P15,000.00 immediate assistance  in the  meantime while waiting  for the livelihood assistance in the amount of P50,000.

Meanwhile, the PSWDO is also working for the release of the immediate and livelihood assistance to the five  remaining profiled FRs qualified for the CLIP.

The implementation of the CLIP in the province is through the CLIP committee chaired by the provincial governor  with the heads of PSWDO, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Ifugao, 54th IB PA, PNP-Ifugao and federation of Ifugao Senior Citizens as members.

CLIP committee will ensure the convergent effort in the delivery of the identified services of the program and the proper documentation and referral of the needs of FRs to appropriate agencies and other partner institution; coordinate and monitor the CLIP implementation and assist the beneficiaries in the preparation of his/her individual re-integration program.

Suspected rebel killed as fighting rages between NPAs, Army troops in Davao City

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 23): Suspected rebel killed as fighting rages between NPAs, Army troops in Davao City
A suspected communist rebel was killed in a clash with government troops in a hinterland village in Davao City on Sunday, police and military officials said.

Pursuit operations have been going on against an undetermined number of New People’s Army guerrillas who fled after a firefight with soldiers at the foot of Mt. Apo in Toril district, said Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno, commander of the Philippine Army’s 1003rd Infantry Brigade based in Davao del Norte.

The fighting erupted after soldiers from the Army’s 84th Infantry Battalion encountered a band of guerrillas from the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 54 led by Roberto Rosete alias Ka (Comrade) Bobby in Sitio (Sub-village) Upper Immaculate, Tagurano village around 2:50 p.m., Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz, Davao City police spokesperson, said.

“These rebels were responsible for the recent burning of several pieces of heavy equipment and the abduction of 11 civilians there,” Nepomuceno told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by mobile phone.

Aside from the body of the slain rebel, Nepomuceno said troops also recovered at the scene of encounter an M-16 assault rifle and 13 backpacks.

No one from the government troops was wounded, he said.

NPAs leave body of fallen comrade after clash with AFP

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 23): NPAs leave body of fallen comrade after clash with AFP

A New People’s Army (NPA) cadre was killed after government forces and communist rebels clashed Sunday afternoon in Sitio Upper Immaculate near the boundary of Barangays Tagurano and Tungkalan in Toril this city, the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) reported.

DCPO spokesperson Chief Supt. Milgrace Driz, in a statement sent to the Manila Bulletin here  Monday, said that Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troopers, led by First Lt. Joey Tesoro of Bravo Company of the Eighth Infantry Battalion (8IB) were on security patrol in the area when they were fired upon by around 60 rebels at around 2:50 p.m.

The soldiers were responding to earlier reports from civilians, who complained of the presence of armed men conducting extortion activities and harassments in the area.

The brief encounter claimed the life of an NPA member whose body was left behind by his comrades.

The rebels were led by Ka Bobby Roberto Rosete of the guerrilla front 54 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) of the NPAs operating in the area, the police report added.

No casualties were reported on the government side while authorities suspect casualties from the attacking rebels as evidenced by the bloodstains found in their abandoned position after nearly two hours of armed encounter, according to Capt. Rhyan Batchar, chief of information of 10th Infantry (Agila) Division.

An M-16 rifle was also recovered by the soldiers in the encounter site.

Civilians also told the soldiers seeing at least five rebels killed, but whose bodies were dragged by their comrades as they withdrew from their position the report added.

Pursuit operations are still on-going in the area.

Soldier dies from electrocution

From the Philippine Star (Nov 23): Soldier dies from electrocution

The victim was immediately rushed to the Mindanao Central Sanitarium Hospital for treatment but was declared dead on arrival.

A soldier was accidentally electrocuted and died Sunday inside a military camp in Zamboanga City, police said.

Police identified the victim as Corporal Eduardo Reynante-Talanayan, 29, a native of Barangay Pag-asa, Echage, Isabela and assigned with the Alpha Company under the 21st Infantry Battalion based in Sitio Malasugat, Barangay Sangali.

1st Lt. Ian Kier Oliveros-Inot, the company executive officer, immediately reported the incident to the police for investigation.

Responding police authorities disclosed that the victim was hanging his laundry in the clothesline outside his bunk quarter when it accidentally touched a live wire and accidentally electrocuted him.

The victim was immediately rushed to the Mindanao Central Sanitarium Hospital for treatment. However, the attending physician declared Talanayan dead on arrival.

Zamboanga City Police Station 3 is conducting an investigation to determine if there was foul play on the death of the victim.

Talanayan was the second soldier to die in the same camp within a month when Ssgt. Edgardo Mina-Bagingan, a native of Cagayan Province, allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with an automatic rifle.

MNLF rebel slain in clash with Army troopers

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 24): MNLF rebel slain in clash with Army troopers

Government security forces shot dead an alleged follower of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari and wounded five others for disrupting a road project in Sultan Mastura town in this province.

Authorities have yet to identify the slain MNLF member.

The firefight erupted when the group of MNLF commander Kamlon shot at soldiers escorting construction workers to the project site in Barangay Bungabong.

Reports said Kamlon’s group is opposing a multimillion-peso road project that would connect villages to the town proper.

Kamlon and his men initially prevented the construction workers from going to the project site.

The workers returned with a team of soldiers from the Army’s 37th Infantry Battalion.

The firefight lasted more than five hours, according to village officials.

Two soldiers were wounded in the encounter. Their names were not immediately available.

Kamlon’s group was reportedly asking for protection money from the contractor of the road project.

NPA belongings recovered in Masbate

From the Philippine Star (Nov 24): NPA belongings recovered in Masbate

Army soldiers recovered an M16 rifle, an improvised explosive device and a generator set following a clash with New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in Monreal, Masbate on Sunday.

The troopers of the Army’s 9th Infantry Batallion encountered at least 15 armed rebels at the boundary of the villages of MacArthur and Malambong, according to Col. Cesar Idio, chief of the 903rd Brigade based in Castilla, Sorsogon.

Idio said no soldier was hurt in the firefight while the Army believes the rebels suffered casualties.

Citing intelligence reports, Idio said there were at least 41 communist rebels operating in Sorsogon and Masbate.

He said the military pursued the fleeing rebels and the municipal police set up roadblocks in Barangay Real to prevent the rebels from leaving the town.

PH sends delegation to sea row hearing

From ABS-CBN (Nov 24): PH sends delegation to sea row hearing

The Philippines has sent a 48-man delegation to The Hague, Netherlands for the first round of hearings on the merits of the country's case against China before the Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

In a press bulletin released by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, the Palace said that the hearings are expected to begin on November 24 and end on November 30.

The Philippine delegation is headed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, together with Solicitor General Florin Hilbay and principal counsel Paul Reichler.

The Philippine contingent is composed of representatives from the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

The official delegation includes Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justice and former Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, Representative Rodolfo Biazon, chair of the committee of national defense and security of the House of Representatives, Political Affairs Secretary Ronald Llamas, Security Cluster Executive Director Emmanuel Bautista and Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

According to Valte, the Philippine embassy at The Hague, headed by Ambassador Jaime Victor Ledda, will provide support and assistance to the delegation, which also includes six Philippine ambassadors from different posts in Europe, counsel, advocates, expert witnesses and support staff.

The Palace clarified that out of the 48 individuals included in the official delegation, only 17 are from the home offices of the different departments in Manila.

Intel agency: Govt offices should boost their security

From The Standard (Nov 24): Intel agency: Govt offices should boost their security 

The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency has reminded government offices to step up security measures in state-owned facilities.

Speaking to government officials on the sidelines of Regional Development Council’s Development Administration Committee  on Monday, NICA assistant regional director Eustacio Bacabac noted that most government agencies have no “organic security guards.”

“Most government agencies don’t have security program and no security officer responsible for the security of the office. Some agencies rely on blue guards for the security needs and requirement,” Bacabac said.

Blue guards, according to NICA official, are not organic and they have limited access to offices.

“They don’t have the right mindset to secure our office since most of them don’t receive just compensation,” Bacabac added.

The meeting included an hour-long orientation on the basic concepts on security and Executive Order 608, mandating the establishment of a national security clearance system for government personnel with access to classified matters.

NICA also warned government officials against some groups and individuals trying to access documents to be their source of intelligence and other relevant information, in order “to accomplish their unlawful objectives.”

NICA urged agencies to launch a good security program, taking into consideration the personnel, document, communication and physical securities.

Palace, AFP differ on ISIS threat

From The Standard (Nov 24): Palace, AFP differ on ISIS threat

THE Palace advice to stay away from crowded places is a sign of an increased security threat, an intelligence source said Monday after revealing that at least two known jihadists were in Metro Manila recruiting for the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The military, however, played down the threat, saying they did not receive any information that terrorist groups, including ISIS, were planning to launch attacks in the country.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Sunday urged the public to avoid malls and other areas where large crowds gather and to report any suspicious activities to the authorities. The statement was issued after President Benigno Aquino III ordered the military to intensify operations against the Abu Sayyaf and other terror cells in the wake of the beheading of a Malaysian national in Mindanao and the  terrorist attacks in Paris.

An intelligence source said at least two jihadists left Sulu last Oct. 29 for Manila at the height of the intensive security preparations for the conduct of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting.

The source also disclosed the mysterious entry of three Syrians in the country who were spotted in Cararao complex in Lanao province in recent weeks.

But the chief of the Public Affairs Office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Col. Noel Detoyato, said they have no validated reports of an impending terrorist threat.

“We have not received any report pertaining to the presence of ISIS elements or sympathizers in the country. There is no authentic link or relationship between the ISIS and the ASG in Mindanao,” he said.

But he supported Lacierda’s call for the public to be vigilant and watchful against terror attacks.

“We enjoin the people to cooperate with us in preventing any untoward incident related to terrorism by reporting to authorities suspicious situations or behaviors by persons they believe to be out of the ordinary,” he said.

World leaders condemned the Paris attacks in two separate international summits—the Apec and the recently concluded Asean Summit in Kualu Lumpur.

In the Asean Summit, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak condemned the beheading of his compatriot electrical engineer Bernard Then, abducted by ASG in Sabah last May 15 and taken to Jolo, Sulu.

US President Barack Obama also vowed to hunt down leaders of ISIS and cut off the group’s financing.

 “We will destroy them. We will take back land they are currently in, take out their financing, hunt down leadership, dismantle their networks, supply lines and we will destroy them,” the US president said.

Rappler Talk: ISIS in Southeast Asia

From Rappler (Nov 23): Rappler Talk: ISIS in Southeast Asia

Why should Southeast Asia be alarmed over ISIS?

Rappler talks to Zachary Abuza, a policy analyst specializing on Southeast Asian politics and security issues. 
With the recent attacks in Paris, France, Southeast Asia should be alarmed over the looming threat of terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The threat posed by ISIS in Southeast Asia is comparatively small, but real, and it has the potential to become larger if not addressed properly. (READ: 4 things you need to know about ISIS in Indonesia)

Watch this interview with Abuza on Rappler.