Wednesday, December 2, 2015

8 soldiers wounded in action feted for heroism, sacrifice

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 3): 8 soldiers wounded in action feted for heroism, sacrifice

Eight soldiers from 8th Infantry Division, who were wounded in three separate clashes November and October, were feted last Dec. 1 for their bravery and dedication to the service.

This was disclosed by 8th Infantry Division spokesperson Capt. Isagani Viernes in a statement Thursday.

Two of the soldiers are from the 63rd Infantry Battalion; while the other two are from the 87th Infantry Battalion; and four from the 14th Infantry Battalion.

All eight personally received the Wounded Personnel Medal and cash assistance from 8th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Jet Velarmino in a ceremony held at Camp Lukban Station Hospital, Catbalogan City, Samar.

The two wounded personnel of the 87th Infantry Battalion were identified as Cpl. Jonas C. Autor and Pfc. Nico Basibas.

The two were wounded during an encounter with an estimated 15 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Barangay Buluan, Calbiga, Samar at 6 a.m. last Nov. 25.

The encounter resulted to the death of one unidentified NPA member, seizure of an enemy encampment with 18 enemy bunkers, one multi-purpose hall and one classroom and the recovery of 200 rounds of K-3 squad automatic weapon ammunition, one memory card, one binocular and other subversive documents.

While Pfc. Pablito Pomarca and Pfc. Eric Lazara of 63rd Infantry Battalion were wounded during an NPA ambush at the vicinity Barangay Washington, Catarman, Northern Samar at about 3:28 p.m., last Nov. 24.

Four other soldiers identified as 1st Lt. Cherwin B. Lapura, Pfc. Rey D. Calabroso and Pfc. Jack O. Macatantan of the 14th Infantry Battalion were wounded during an ambush with more or less 20 NPA members in Barangay Lagundi, Catbalogan City, Samar last Nov. 27 and Staff Sgt. Wilfredo T. Irasga of the 20th Infantry Battalion who was wounded in enemy attack in Barangay Bonifacio, Gamay, Northern Samar while conducting peace and development operations last Oct. 20.

ASG camp seized in Sulu operations

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 3): ASG camp seized in Sulu operations

An Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) encampment was captured after a short bombardment by Joint Task Group Sulu units in Darayan, Sulu Thursday morning.

The operation took place at 8:30 a.m., Joint Task Group Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado said.

Troops who made the capture of the ASG lair were from the 35th Infantry Battalion.

The camp is believed to be operated by ASG sub-commander Radullan Sahiron and is capable of hosting 300 bandits.

Blood trails were found by scouring troops.

Also seized were an AK-47 rifle butt and cooking paraphernalias.

Bombardment took place midnight, Arrojado said.

Six rounds of 81 mm mortar and six 105 mm shells were fired on the ASG position, causing undetermined casualties on the side of the bandits.

Pursuit and clearing operations are still ongoing.

Another killed in Cauayan, cops beefed up

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 3): Another killed in Cauayan, cops beefed up

The Cauayan police force has been beefed up by police mobile troopers after another former member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit was shot and killed by five suspects believed to be members of the New People's Army Tuesday in Sitio Pinamay-an, Brgy. Camalandaan of the town.

The killing of Ex-CAFGU member Rene Villar brought to three the number of fatalities assassinated by suspected rebels Dec. 1 and 2 in Cauayan town alone.

Ex-CAFGU member Jimboy Nalagon was also executed by four armed suspects on Tuesday in Sitio La-a, Brgy. Camindangan, Cauayan, a day after CAFGU member Romualdo Dollente was gunned down by four alleged members of the NPA Special Partisan Unit at the town public market.

Supt. Frederick Mead, Cauayan police chief, said Nalagon, who was linked to hold-up and theft incidents, had already been warned by alleged NPA members to stop his illegal activities and to leave the barangay.

Villar and Nalagon were both shot dead outside their homes in hinterland areas of Cauayan on Tuesday, Mead said.

Col. Leopoldo Galon, deputy commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, said yesterday that the resumption of NPA violent activities, by targeting former and active CAFGU members, indicated that they were badly affected by their ongoing Oplan Bayanihan activities in insurgency-affected areas.

Senior Supt. Samuel Nacion, Negros Occidental PNP officer-in-charge, said that there is an ongoing operation against the perpetrators of those killings in Cauayan, in tandem with the 79th Infantry Battalion.

Military and police officials yesterday held a security conference to thwart possible violent activities of the NPA in Cauayan and neighboring areas.

Green light to question Kadafi

From the Star Online (Dec 3): Green light to question Kadafi

Nabbed: Kadafi seen in this exclusive picture, in a hospital in Jolo, in the southern Philippines following a bike accident.

Nabbed: Kadafi seen in this exclusive picture, in a hospital in Jolo, in the southern Philippines following a bike accident.

Manila is ready to allow the Malaysian police to question captured cross-border kidnapping suspect Kadafi Muktadil and a second suspect linked to the beheading of Sarawakian hostage Bernard Then.

“In the spirit of partnership, the Philippines side is open to granting access to the Malaysian police to these two suspects once a formal request has been made and the parameters for the access are finalised,” the Philippines embassy in Kuala Lumpur said in a statement yesterday.

The arrest of Kadafi, also known as Kadaffy Kamsa, and Saddam Jailani was a significant breakthrough in the continuing efforts to achieve justice in the death of Then in Jolo, a southern Philippines island, on Nov 17.

The embassy statement comes after Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the police wanted the duo extradited to Malaysia for their roles in cross-border kidnappings.

The embassy said it looked forward to closer and enhanced cooperation between Philippines and Malaysian police in addressing the menace of kidnapping and other types of crime.

Malaysia and the Philippines do not have an extradition treaty, but they could work together under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

Kadafi and his twin brother Mindas were involved in the kidnapping of Then and restaurant manager Thien Nuk Fun from the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan on May 14.

Mindas was killed a week later by Philippines police in Jolo.

Thien was released unharmed on Nov 8, but the militant Abu Sayyaf group under Alhabsi Misaya beheaded Then following what was believed to be failed negotiations over the ransom.

Kadafi was arrested by the Philippines security forces at a Jolo hospital after he was injured in a motorcycle accident on Saturday.

Two other brothers – Nikson and Badong, the masterminds in the kidnap group – escaped. Saddam was arrested on Nov 25 in Jolo.

Meanwhile, all enforcement agencies have been asked to identify and arrest enemies within the Eastern Sabah Security Zone.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said these enemies who are involved in helping criminals and terrorists from across the border should be identified and acted against.

“We want them (enforcement agencies) to identify these enemies within and we will pick them up one by one,” he said after co-chairing the National Action Planning Committee meeting in Tawau yesterday.

He said there was a need to solve this problem because it was among the main threats to peace-loving Sabahans.

On the identification of Bernard Then, who was beheaded by Abu Sayyaf gunmen on Nov 17, Khalid said the authorities had sent DNA samples from the family to the Philippines for confirmation.

Armed Forces chief Jen Tan Sri Dr Zulkifeli Mohd Zin said among the issues discussed at the meeting were tackling obstacles during operations to increase their effectiveness.

Troops seize Abu Sayyaf camp in Sulu

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Dec 3): Troops seize Abu Sayyaf camp in Sulu

Government forces have seized a camp of a top Abu Sayyaf leader early Thursday in the hinterlands of Sulu province, a top military official said.

Brigadier General Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said the camp was seized around 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Barangay Darayan, Patikul, hours after they shelled the encampment.

Arrojado said the camp, seized by the troops from the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion, belongs to the group of one-armed Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron.

Sahiron is the oldest among the existing leaders of the Abu Sayyaf brigands based in the province of Sulu.

Arrojado said the newly-abandoned camp can accommodate around 300 people.

He said some of Sahiron's followers were wounded during the artillery shelling, as bloodstains were found in their withdrawal path toward Barangay Danag, also in Patikul.

The troops have recovered cooking utensils and parts of an AK-47 rifle, he added.

Philippine embassy: Kadafi arrest justice for kidnapped victims

From The Star Online (Dec 2): Philippine embassy: Kadafi arrest justice for kidnapped victims

The Philippine Embassy views the arrests of Kadafi Muktadlil, aka Kadaffy Kamsa, and Saddam Jailani as significant breakthroughs in the sustained efforts to achieve justice in the death of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then (pic) and the sufferings of the freed kidnapped victims and their families.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Embassy said it looked forward to closer and enhanced cooperation between Philippine and Malaysian police authorities in addressing the menace of kidnapping and other forms of criminality.

"In the spirit of partnership, the Philippine side is open to granting access to Malaysian police authorities to these two suspects once a formal request has been made and the parameters for the access finalised," it said.
The Star reported that Kadafi (pix) has been detained by Filipino police.

According to Jolo police chief Major Junpikar Sitin, Abu Sayyaf member Kadafi, who was involved in a vehicular accident, was receiving treatment at a hospital when he was arrested by Panamao police.

"Yes, he was involved in a vehicular accident and Panamao police department is handling the case," Major Sitin told The Star Sunday.

He said that Kadafi checked into Sulu Provincial Hospital using the name Amin Maing and was later arrested by Filipino authorities on Saturday evening.

Major Sitin said that Kadafi was still in hospital receiving treatment.

According to the Philippine Inquirer, two of Kadafi's cohorts who were also confined in the same hospital managed to elude arrest by escaping the facility.

Commander of Joint Task Group Sulu Brig Gen Alan Arrojado told Philippine Inquirer that the arrest was planned and carried out after authorities received information about the presence of three Abu Sayyaf members in the hospital.

The three reportedly met an accident when their vehicle collided with another vehicle in Old Panamao town in Sulu.

“These are the men utilised by subleaders Alhabsy Misaya and Angah Adji in kidnappings in Sabah, Malaysia,” said Arrojado.

Kadafi was reportedly charged with illegal possession of firearms and reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injury for the accident he was involved in.

This comes in the wake of an arrest of another Abu Sayyaf member Saddam Jailani on Friday at the Port of Jolo.

Jailani together with Kadafi and his brother Mindas were involved in the kidnapping of restaurant manager Thien Nyuk Fun and Sarawakian tourist Then from the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan in May.

Thien has since been released on Nov 8, and Then was beheaded on Nov 17.

The Muktadil brothers were born to a life of violent crime, specialising in cross-border kidnapping.

The brothers were part of the southern Philippines’ Tawi-Tawi island-based kidnap-for-ransom group.

They are believed to have over 40 men for their kidnap-for-ransom activities and four boats equipped with 40HP to 70HP outboard engines.

Police have sent Bernard's DNA to Philippines authorities

From the Sun Daily (Dec 2): Police have sent Bernard's DNA to Philippines authorities

Police have sent Bernard Then Ted Fen's deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sample to the Philippines authorities to verify the results obtained in the country.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said Malaysian police were also waiting for feedback as well as a full report on the DNA test.

When contacted by theSun, Khalid said police will receive the results soon and was confident that the authenticity of the headless body found in Philippines can be confirmed.

Khalid added that the police had requested to extradite two of Abu Sayyaf terrorist believed to have been involved in killing Then.

On May 14 this year, Then, an electrical engineer, was one of two victims who were abducted by four armed men from southern Philippines who stormed the Ocean King Restaurant in Sandakan at 7.45pm.

The other kidnap victim was Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, who was also the restaurant manager.

However, on Nov 8 this year, Thien was released by the abductors as a result of talks between the Malaysian Government and the terrorist group.

Philippines Prioritizes Diplomacy in South China Sea Disputes

From the World Politics Review (Dec 1): Philippines Prioritizes Diplomacy in South China Sea Disputes

[Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the South China Sea territorial disputes and the various claimant countries' approaches to addressing them.]

Protesters gather at the Chinese Consulate to protest island-building by China in the South China Sea, Manilla, Philippines, Aug. 31, 2015 (AP Photo by Bullit Marquez)

The Philippines received its first new fighter jets in a decade over the weekend. The acquisition is the country’s latest move to strengthen its military amid growing tensions with China over disputed claims in the South China Sea. In an email interview, Aileen Baviera, a professor of Asian studies at the University of the Philippines, discussed the Philippines’ claims in the South China Sea.

WPR: What are the Philippines’ territorial claims in the South China Sea, and with what other countries do they overlap or conflict?

Aileen Baviera: Philippine claims in the South China Sea involve the part of the Spratly Islands that is nearest to the island of Palawan. While Philippine interest in this area can be traced back to the 1930s, it was pursued more seriously after the government of Ferdinand Marcos directed the occupation of some of the features in the late 1960s, and after legislation was passed in 1976 declaring the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) as part of the Philippines. This claim overlapped with those of Vietnam, China and Taiwan and partially with a Malaysian claim that emerged later.

Aside from the KIG, Bajo de Masinloc—also known as the Scarborough Shoal, a coral reef off the coast of Zambales province—has long been considered part of the Philippines. Its name derives from the town of Masinloc, established by Spanish colonizers in 1607. The shoal had been subject to control by Philippine authorities until a 2012 standoff with China. China and Taiwan claim sovereignty and historic rights over the shoal.

Since the entry into force of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1994, the Philippines, as a coastal state, asserts sovereign rights over an exclusive economic zone, a continental shelf and other maritime zones in the South China Sea consistent with the law. 

WPR: What political strategies has the Philippines pursued to defend its South China Sea claims, including bilateral, multilateral and legal approaches?

Baviera: The Philippines has used all peaceful and legal means within its reach both to defend its claims and to find long-term solutions to the disputes. It tried, in vain, to negotiate after China occupied the Mischief Reef, or Panganiban, in 1995. Between 2004 and 2008, the Philippines explored the feasibility of joint energy development in disputed areas with China and Vietnam, at great cost in terms of domestic public opinion. It participated in various multilateral initiatives intended to promote peaceful settlement or management of territorial and maritime disputes, including a workshop series led by the Indonesian Foreign Ministry called “Managing Potential Conflicts in the South China Sea.” It has sought, and continues to seek, support from ASEAN member states for finding a common approach to managing the disputes, including proposals for a “Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation” and establishing a code of conduct between ASEAN and China.

Having made little progress on these fronts, while encountering setbacks such as the loss of Mischief Reef and the Scarborough Shoal and facing an increasingly assertive adversary, the Philippines is now focused on defending its claims by maintaining its garrisons and civilian presence on islands that it occupies. It has resorted to arbitration under Annex VII provisions of UNCLOS to defend its rights to maritime zones and their resources.

WPR: How has the South China Sea issue impacted the Philippines’ security posture and relationships in the region and beyond?

Baviera: The Philippines is now working with partners and allies to help develop maritime law enforcement capabilities in order to promote and defend its sovereign rights, as well as to attain a minimum credible defense posture. Even so, it continues to work hard to find diplomatic and legal solutions, and remains hopeful that all claimants, as well as external parties, will remain committed to the non-use of force or threat of force, self-restraint and adherence to international law.

In the South China Sea, the national interests of surrounding states, including the Philippines, must be balanced with the need for regional peace and stability. Even beyond the context of its territorial disputes, however, improved defense and maritime law enforcement capabilities are important for an archipelagic state such as the Philippines, which is both blessed with marine wealth and cursed with nontraditional security challenges at sea. Such capabilities will also enable the Philippines to better fulfill its regional responsibilities.

US military aircraft spotted at Clark Air Base

From the Philippine Star (Dec 2): US military aircraft spotted at Clark Air Base

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, left, and Armed Forces Chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri wave from a newly-acquired FA-50PH fighter jet, upon its arrival Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 at Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez

Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri said American military aircraft spotted at Clark Air Base are part of a maritime security training with United States forces.

An American Lockheed C-130 cargo plane and a Boeing P-8 maritime patrol aircraft were seen last weekend at the former US military facility in Angeles City, Pampanga.

"[The two American aircraft are] part of the maritime security bilateral training between our forces and the US. It's part of the activities approved by the MDB-SEB (Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board) for 2015," Iriberri said.

The Philippines and the US have long been defense allies, forged by the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951 dictating that both armed forces would come to each one's aid when either is attacked by external parties.

Iriberri said the ongoing training is similar to the yearly Balikatan and PHIBLEX amphibious exercises with US counterparts.

"Maritime security training is meant to upgrade our capabilities and expose our forces to new equipment," Iriberri said.

The top military official, however, declined to comment on questions on whether the training is linked to the country's maritime dispute with China, which has conducted widespread reclamation in areas in the West Philippine Sea claimed by the Philippines.

"[The bilateral training is] not directed against any country or any activity, it is just for the purpose of upgrading and the capability also of the Armed Forces," he said.

The US planes were spotted during the welcoming ceremony for the Philippine Air Force's new FA-50PH light-interim fighter jets arriving from South Korea.

WATCH: Philippine Air Force's new fighter jets arrive

The Clark Air Base was a US Air Force facility from 1903 to 1991, the year the Philippine Senate rejected the bases treaty allowing American forces to operate in the country.

The Philippines remains the largest recipient of maritime security assistance from the US, receiving a record $79 million, or about P3.73 billion, of the funds allocated this year for developing capabilities in the Southeast Asian region.

Sayyafs shoot ‘intelligence agent’

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Dec 1): Sayyafs shoot ‘intelligence agent’

A MAN, who was mistaken to be a government intelligence agent, was shot and wounded by gunmen believed to be Abu Sayyaf bandits in the province of Sulu.

Brigadier General Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said the incident occurred around 2:15 p.m. Tuesday at the wharf of Jolo town.

Arrojado identified the victim as Teodymar Lee, 34, a resident of airport road in the village of San Raymundo, Jolo.

Investigation showed that Lee was standing at the roadside when shot by one of two men riding tandem in a motorcycle that passed by.

Lee was rushed to the Integrated Provincial Health Office for treatment.

Arrojado said the gunmen were believed to be followers of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Ajang-Ajang.

Global terrorism highlights need to pass Bangsamoro bill

From Rappler (Dec 2): Global terrorism highlights need to pass Bangsamoro bill

The Philippines is prone to threats like ISIS, says former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani

BBL CHAMPIONS. From left to right: activist Cheng Rasul, former Constitutional Commission chairman Atty. Christian Monsod, former senators Aquilino Pimentel and Leticia Ramos-Shahani.

BBL CHAMPIONS. From left to right: activist Cheng Rasul, former Constitutional Commission chairman Atty. Christian Monsod, former senators Aquilino Pimentel and Leticia Ramos-Shahani.

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and other parts of the world highlight the importance of passing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) soonest, a former senator said.

Former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani made the statement in a news briefing after a meeting of BBL advocates with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and other lawmakers on Tuesday, December 1. Her group urged the House of Representatives to pass the proposed measure.

"There is indeed a radicalization of ISIS in the world. [And] the Philippines is a very good candidate for that radicalization," Shahani said in the news briefing.

Also noting the migrant crisis in Europe, the former senator said that the Philippines "as a nation should think of unity and undivision."

"I think the passage of the BBL will show the political will of the Filipinos – who are Christians by religion – that we are one with our Muslim brothers and sisters in making one nation," she said.

Shahani and her fellow BBL advocates, former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr and 1986 Constitutional Commission chairman Christian Monsod, met with Belmonte on Tuesday. Known BBL critic BUHAY party-list Representative Lito Atienza was also at the meeting.

The group called for the passage of the BBL, which both the House and the Senate promised to pass by December 16.

Rule on quorum

The advocates cited one obstacle to deliberations on the BBL – the strict rule on quorum. The lack of quorum has been cited as a major hurdle in discussion of the bill in the plenary.

But Atienza remained firm on the House rule, saying that they are not changing their position. "If there is no quorum, we cannot tackle BBL," he said in Filipino.

Pimentel said his group does "not expect the House to just disregard the rules" but argued that there are "higher objectives" to exempt the BBL discussions from the rule on quorum.

"Why cannot it be accepted as an exception to the general requirement because of the higher objectives in the search for peace in Mindanao? Because otherwise, more lives will be lost," the former senator said.

With less than 10 sessions left before Christmas break, there are concerns that Congress would not meet its deadline.

But Pimentel wanted to remain positive, as further delay in the passage of the measure would mean a major setback for peace efforts in Mindanao.

"What we would like to see actually is that the BBL will get through the process of Congress at this particular session, before the Christmas break. Anything beyond that will push the peace efforts backwards and we'll be back to square one all over again."

Despite the dimming possibility of the bill's passage, Belmonte told Rappler in a text message that they still assured the supporters they "are trying their best to pass it."

It’s CPO’s turn to present proof vs bombing suspect

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 2): It’s CPO’s turn to present proof vs bombing suspect
THE CITY Prosecution Office is set to present its evidence on Dec. 4 in relation to the motion filed by Abdul Manap Mentang, the suspect in the 2005 Davao City Overland Transport Terminal bombing.

Regional Trial Court Branch 33 Presiding Judge Lope Calio set the presentation of the prosecution’s evidences on Friday at 10 a.m.

The prosecution will first present the fingerprints of the accused which was cross-matched with the latent prints of the database of the Philippine National Police in the hope of revealing his real identity.

The legal counsel of Mentang on Tuesday already finished presenting all the evicence and witnesses to prove that his client’s real identity is Abdullah P. Hamsa.

Based on the motion, Mentang asked the court to junk the case because of the questionable manner in which the warrant of arrest was served and to declare his arrest and imprisonment as unconstitutional, wrongful, unreasonable, mistaken and false.

On the other hand, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-ARMM) earlier prepared the affidavits of the three witnesses who are ready to testify in court and prove that he is Mentang.

Mentang was arrested at Barangay Panatan, Pigcawayan, North Cotabato on Nov. 11 by virtue of arrest warrant issued by Judge Wenceslao Ibabao former presiding judge of RTC Branch 33 for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder. The accused has also a standing warrant before the RTC 12 Branch 14 in Cotabato City for multiple murder.

Photo: Continue the Struggle

From MindaNews (Dec 1): Photo: Continue the Struggle


Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga urges Moro civil society groups to continue asserting the rights of the Moro people to keep the peace process going in a forum Monday (30 Nov 2015) in Davao City. MindaNews photo by H. Marcos C. Mordeno

Army to lead youth leadership summit in Nueva Vizcaya

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 2): Army to lead youth leadership summit in Nueva Vizcaya

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – A series of Youth Leadership Summits (YLS) will be undertaken by the Philippine Army here to develop the positive potentials of the youth as responsible citizens in their respective communities.

Lt. Colonel Eugene Batarra, commanding officer of the army’s 5th Infantry Batallion in Dupax del Sur town said the YLS is part of their Civil Military Operations (CMO) activities in its covered municipalities.

The YLS, he said will be conducted from December 11 to 13 in the towns of Kasibu, Dupax del Norte and Dupax del Sur.

The YLS has been reported during the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting yesterday at the provincial capitol here.

Batarra said the YLS will provide significant lectures for the youth ranging from drug abuse prevention and control, environmental protection/climate change adaptation and mitigation activities, health sanitation  community development, among others.

“These activities are geared towards  molding the character and attitudes of our youth as God – fearing, law abiding and responsible assets of our communities,” he said.

Army brings medical-dental mission to Antique's remotest barangays

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): Army brings medical-dental mission to Antique's remotest barangays

The Philippine Army's 82nd Infantry Battalion is bringing its services, particularly the medical-dental mission, for three days to Antique’s remotest barangays in San Remigio and Sibalom towns.

LTC Enriqueto Deocadez, Jr., 82nd Infantry Battalion Commander, said the mission, which began Tuesday, were brought to barangays Osorio I and II of San Remigio town and in barangays Tubudan and Nagbangi and the nearby Barangay Cabanbanan of Sibalom.

He said that they will hold the mission in barangays Igpanulong, Imparayan and Bugnay of Sibalom tomorrow, Thursday.

Deocadez said that residents availed of the free medical and dental checkups and haircut during their first day.

The provincial government of Antique headed by Gov. Rhodora Cadiao and her Vice Gov. Edgar Denosta also had relief goods distribution and assistance to indigents in crisis situation (AICS) extended through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office.

Other agencies that are members of the Provincial Peace and Order Council also supported the medical-dental mission initiated by the Philippine Army.

PHL flag now flies in ISIS-inspired lawless elements' camp in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): PHL flag now flies in ISIS-inspired lawless elements' camp in Sultan Kudarat
The Philippine flag is now hoisted in a 50-hectare camp used by lawless elements belonging to Ansar al-Khalifa after combatants of the Philippine Marines captured the training camp on Tuesday, a Marine official on Wednesday said.

Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade based in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat, said elements of the 6th Marine Battalion Landing Team and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Sultan Kudarat have occupied the camp without resistance following a week-long manhunt and pursuit operations against Mohammad Jaafar Sabiwang Maguid alias Commander Tokboy in Sitio Sinapingan, Barangay Butril, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.

Salamat said Commander Tokboy remained at- large and believed to be hiding in the hinterlands of Palimbang and Maitum towns, both coastal towns in Sultan Kudarat.

”In due time we will get him and his men,” Salamat told reporters. “We continue our relentless campaign,” he added.

On Nov. 26, the Marines and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) went to Sitio Sinapangan, Barangay Butril to serve the arrest warrants against Commander Tokboy for various crimes, including bombing in Gen. Santos City.

As the soldiers were approaching the village, about 40 heavily armed lawless elements opened fire on government forces at 5:30 a.m., triggering a four hour running gunbattle.

When the smoke was cleared, eight men were found dead, including suspected Indonesian bomber Ibrahim Ali, alias Hudzaifa who was earlier arrested for gun possession in Zamboanga City but later freed.

Salamat said Ali, who carries several other names, was a senior member of the Mujahideen Indonesian Timur (MIT). He was believed to be training local militants on bomb making in Palimbang mountains.

Commander Tokboy was not among the fatalities. He was believed to have fled at the height of the fire fight.

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division commander, told a news conference Friday that the Indonesian national was first arrested in Zamboanga City for illegal possession of firearms in 2005 but was released from detention in 2013 due to lack of merit of the case filed against him.

He said Ibrahim Ali had since been monitored to be with Commander Tokboy after his release, teaching bomb making.Pangilinan identified the other fatalities as Abdul Halil, Tatuh Sumail and Kira Sabiwang, all resident of Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat. Four others remained unidentified.

Marine forces recovered one cal. 50 sniper rifle, 20 rounds of ammunition for cal. 50, an M-16 Armalite rifle, a cal. 45 pistol, bomb making materials, ATM cards, Philhealth cards and six ISIS flags.

Pangilinan said Commander Tokboy has four standing warrants of arrest and was involved in a series of atrocities and violence in the South Cotabato area since August 2008.

He was previously apprehended in 2009 by the security forces at Maasim, Sarangani Province. However, he managed to escape from Bulantay Jail, Alabel, Sarangani after seven months of imprisonment.

He had been a fugitive for half a decade and was engaged in various crimes that included cattle rustling, extortion, highway robbery and murders.

Salamat said about 250 families have fled the village of Butril but the local governments and the Philippines Marines are attending to their needs.

Both Pangilinan and Salamat maintained that government forces are still seeking additional pieces of evidence that would directly link the lawless armed group to ISIS.

"Except from ISIS flags, no other concrete proof the group was indeed legitimate member of ISIS," Pangilinan said.

He surmised the ISIS flags could be used by the group to show sympathy to the international terrorist group.

ISIS flags were also found in Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters camps captured by the 6th Infantry Division operating troops in Datu Saudi Ampatuan and Datu Unsay in Maguindanao early this year. The same flags were found in areas where Maguindanao bomber Basit Usman used to stay in the Liguasan marshland.

Usman was killed by combined government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces in Maguindanao in May.

Pangilinan lauded all the operating troops involved in the operation.

Leyte village gets solar dryer from US gov’t

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): Leyte village gets solar dryer from US gov’t

Prior to the construction of a solar dryer and grain warehouse in Sta. Elena village, this town, farmers like Arnel Dacuyan use vacant lots and basketball courts to dry grains.

“Now, that we already have the facility, rice farmers will no longer need to dry their palay (unhusked rice) anywhere and they also have safe warehouse to store their grains,” Dacuyan said.

Sta. Elena village, a rice producing community, is located about two kilometers from the national road of Tanauan-Dagami Road.

Indeed, Sta. Elena is the top rice producing area in the town with 8.5 tons harvest per hectare, higher than the total rice production of the town at 3.5 tons per hectare. This can be attributed to established irrigation system, allowing farmers to harvest rice twice a year.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the construction of post-Yolanda Rebuild Project assistance.

The project costs USD57,356 and will benefit a total of 108 farmers, cultivating a more than 120 hectares of rice fields in the village.

Mayor Pelagio Tecson Jr. said that Sta. Elena residents are lucky to receive the project from the USAID. “Restoring livelihood is just as equal as restoring houses damaged by super typhoon Yolanda,” the mayor added.

The USAID also provided technical assistance to Sta. Elena farmers by teaching them new rice farming techniques.

Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla urged farmers to think of their future by forgetting what had happened during Yolanda.

Petilla also expressed gratitude to the USAID for helping farmers in the province in the form of provision of technical assistance, farm inputs and post harvest facilities aimed at raising output.

“With dryers, farmers will no longer dry their grain along roads, which is prohibited by the Department of Public Works and Highways,” the governor added.

USAID Deputy Mission Director Clay Epperson said that their donation in Sta. Elena is part of the 30 agri-fishery support facilities for areas affected by the 2013 catastrophe.

Army probers discover identity of Samar ambush attackers

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): Army probers discover identity of Samar ambush attackers

Investigators of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division (8th ID) are now digging up the identities of those behind the ambuscade of 14th Infantry Batallion soldiers.

Two soldiers were killed and three others were injured during the attack on Nov. 27 in Socorro village, this city.

Among the prime suspect of the attack is Kumander Murad, the secretary of the New People’s Army (NPA) Central Front Samar 1, sub-regional committee.

Murad’s group operating from the area of Tinambacan district in Calbayog City to Paranas town, has been closely monitored by the military.

Capt. Isagani Viernes, 8th ID public affairs office acting chief said that once they are done with the investigation they will file criminal charges against the suspect.

“We are still validating of what criminal cases can be filed against them considering that they violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and they also act some robbery,” Viernes said

The suspect carted away the PhP1.8 million subsistence allowances for soldiers of the 14th Infantry Battalion based on Oras, Eastern Samar.

Murad’s group was also linked to the July 11 attacked at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Catbalogan City. The incident killed an inmate and wounded jail guards. The group also took away some personal belongings and firearms.

Viernes added that they already forwarded a request and coordinated with the finance center of the Philippine Army for the possible replacement of the money robbed by rebels.

The official assured that the attack launched by suspected NPA members will not affect the on-going internal security operations of the military.

Top army officials instructed all field personnel to take extra careful and follow the operational security to avoid ambuscade. Rebels are expected to launch more attacks in time for the celebration for their anniversary on Dec. 26.

Army joins bloodletting activity in Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): Army joins bloodletting activity in Samar

The Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division, represented by the Restructured Reenlistment Training (RRT) students of the Division Training School (DTS), participated and provided assistance to the bloodletting activity organized by the city health office here on Tuesday.

The activity, in support to the World AIDS Day celebration of this city, was dubbed as "Zero HIV Transmission Through Safe Blood Donation: Be a Blood Donor."

Local government units, city police office, reservist from Samar College and villagers from the city also joined the activity. It was facilitated by the city health office as organizers.

Major Gen. Jet B. Velarmino, 8th ID commander encouraged everyone to participate in activities like this in order to strengthen the spirit of bayanihan (heroism), which is the trademark of every Filipino.

This activity is just part of the efforts of the city health office for its continuing community relation service in cooperation with local government units, private sectors and other stakeholders.

Cops arrest ex-NPA rebel for murder

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): Cops arrest ex-NPA rebel for murder

Joint elements of seven law enforcement units in Bicol arrested a former member of the propaganda unit of the Front Committee “Pluto” of the Komite Pamprobinsya Albay of the New People’s Army at Barangay San Antonio, Tabaco City at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

A police report identified the suspect as Herminio C. Borromeo, 42, a resident of Purok 2, Barangay Soa, Malinao, Albay.

Police arrest Borromeo by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Alben C. Rabe of Regional Trial Court Branch 15, Tabaco City for the crime of murder docketed under Criminal Case No. T- 3934.

The operation was jointly conducted by operatives of the Tabaco City Police Station, Albay Police Provincial Office, 5th Regional Public Safety Battalion; 97th Military Intelligence Company, COLT 2nd Infantry Battalion and Provincial Intelligence Team 3 of the Regional Intelligence Unit 5.

Borromeo is now at the Tabaco CPS for proper disposition.

Suspected ASG sympathizer guns down man in Jolo

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): Suspected ASG sympathizer guns down man in Jolo

A suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) sympathizer shot and wounded a 34-year-old man whom they believed was a military intelligence agent in Jolo, Sulu province Tuesday afternoon.

The incident took place at around 2:15 p.m. at Port Area, in Jolo.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, identified the victim as Teodymar Lee, a resident of Airport Road, Barangay San Raymundo, Jolo.

Arrojado said Lee was standing by the roadside when a still unidentified member of the Ajang-Ajang Group, an affiliate of the ASG, appeared out of nowhere and shot the victim once with a .45 caliber pistol.

The suspect quickly fled aboard a motorcycle while Lee sustained a gunshot wound at his right cheek.

The victim is now undergoing treatment at Integrated Provincial Health Office in Jolo.

Pursuit operations are still ongoing. Recovered from the crime scene were a .45 caliber shell and slug.

USS Emory S. Land makes routine visit to Subic Bay

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): USS Emory S. Land makes routine visit to Subic Bay

The submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) arrived in the Republic of Philippines, last week, for a port visit at Subic Bay.

Emory S. Land’s visit to the Philippines continues the U.S. Navy's ongoing commitment to theater security, cooperation and bilateral partnership.

During its 30-day visit, the ship’s crew is having the opportunity to participate in multiple subject matter expert exchanges with the Philippine Navy, community relations events and some well-deserved liberty.

Emory S. Land is a forward-deployed expeditionary submarine tender on a routine deployment conducting coordinated tended moorings and afloat maintenance in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.

6 Davao Del Sur barangays declare NPAs persona non grata

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): 6 Davao Del Sur barangays declare NPAs persona non grata

Six barangays in Malita, Davao Del Sur have declared all members of the New People's Army (NPA) persona non grata in their respective localities.

These barangays are identified as Little Baguio, Kinangan, Manuel Peralta, Demoloc, Pinalpalan and Datu Danwata.

Philippine Army (PA) spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said the resolution was passed by the barangays councils of the six communities.

"The barangay councils of the above mentioned barangays inked a resolution prohibiting the NPAs to enter their respective barangays. All of the councilmen that include the indigenous people mandatory representative unanimously affixed their signatures to show their support in calling for the NPAs to enter their ancestral lands/barangays," he added.

All six barangays are predominantly populated by Tagakaolo Tribes and are located in the boundary of Davao Del Sur and Sarangani Province.

These barangays were once infiltrated by NPA’s Guerrilla Front 75 that were already dissolved.

"Further, the residents of these barangays were forcibly subjected to extortion that worsens their lives," Hao added.

Some of them had fallen victim to the communist group’s atrocities that includes Ramon Danwata, killed on 2010, a former barangay captain of Barangay Datu Danwata, Henry Dasal of Barangay Pinalpalan, Lindo Dioya of Barangay Pangaleon and Linda Tiwado, pregnant when she was brutally killed, of Barangay Little Baguio, among others.

Olongapo RTC orders PCVF to file MOA on Pemberton's detention within 5 days

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): Olongapo RTC orders PCVF to file MOA on Pemberton's detention within 5 days

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) has ordered the Philippine Commission on the Visiting Forces (PCFV) to submit the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Philippines and the United States of America regarding the confinement of convicted United States Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton.

The Olongapo City RTC Branch 74 has found Pemberton guilty of homicide for the killing of Filipino transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude on Oct. 11, 2014.

In a two-page order, Olongapo City RTC Branch 74 Presiding Judge Roline M. Ginez Jabalde directed PCVF Executive Director Eduardo Oban Jr. to submit to the court within a period of five days from Tuesday the MOA entered into between the Philippines and the United States of America on the confinement of accused Pemberton after conviction.

The RTC said that pending submission of the MOA and the written agreement between the Philippines and the United States of America, Pemberton is temporarily confined or detained to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Custodial Center at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City under the supervision of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

Otherwise, the RTC added, the commitment order dated Dec. 1, 2015 shall be enforced.

The said commitment order stated that Pemberton should be incarcerated at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.

Court’s ruling on Pemberton won’t affect PHL, US relations – Drilon

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): Court’s ruling on Pemberton won’t affect PHL, US relations – Drilon

Senate President Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said the decision of the Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) on the case of US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton won’t affect the bilateral and diplomatic relationship between the Philippines and the United States.

”I am confident that the decision will not in any way affect the bilateral and diplomatic relationship of the Philippines and the United States of the America,” Drilon said in a press statement.

Last Tuesday, the Olongapo RTC Branch 74 ruled that Pemberton was guilty of homicide for the killing of Filipino transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.

Pemberton is sentenced to minimum of six years to maximum of 12 years imprisonment.

Drilon is expecting the US to comply with and respect the decision, saying Pemberton “given equal opportunity to defend himself before a court of law.”

”The crime was committed by an individual through his own acts in Philippine territory. The country has to uphold and promote respect for the laws of our nation,” Drilon said.

Drilon said he fully support the court decision which is “based on applicable laws and jurisprudence, and according to what is just and right.”

”I also laud the Court’s ability to render its judgment within a reasonable time. Any further delay would have been prejudicial to both parties. Hence, I admire the Court for its perseverance, fairness, probity, and complete independence in handling the case,” he said.

On the place of detention, Drilon said Pemberton should be detained at the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

”The place of detention should be cleared in the Visiting Forces Agreement. But for me, it should be Muntinlupa because he was already convicted and that’s the place of detention for convicted prisoners,” Drilon said in a radio interview.

Drilon said the Philippines and the US should agree where Pemberton should be detained based on the VFA.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV agreed with Drilon that the detention should be a joint decision by both countries as provided by the VFA.

”Now that Pemberton has been convicted, both the Philippines and the US should find prison or jail that will be agreed on by both parties. It’s not arbitrary decision,” Trillanes said during Wednesday’s Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum at the Luneta Hotel.

Former Justice Secretary says Pemberton can still post bail

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): Former Justice Secretary says Pemberton can still post bail

1-BAP Party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday said US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton can still post bail and be freed to go anywhere he can be protected, including the US Embassy or any American ship docked in Philippine waters.

The former justice opined that Pemberton, having been convicted of homicide by a lower court can be granted bail because the crime he now faces has been downgraded from murder.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, also a lawyer, confirmed that Pemberton may, indeed, be granted bail as a result of the decision.

Convicted of killing transgender Jeffrey Laude, alias Jennifer, in Olongapo City last year, Pemberton’s lawyers have vowed to appeal the decision of Regional Trial Court Branch 74 Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde.

“You know, his conviction is homicide which is a bailable offense,” Bello told reporter during a minority bloc press conference.

He pointed out that because Pemberton will contest the decision before a higher court, presumably the Court of Appeals, he now faces the offense which under Philippine laws is bailable.

“Now, his conviction for the record, is not yet final In other words, he still enjoys the constitutional presumption of innocence,” Bello explained.

The former justice secretary, who also used to be the chief legal counsel under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, added that the convicted US military man can go anywhere within the country but must be present when the court summons him.

“He can go anywhere, provided that he is with leave of court. But if he wants to go abroad and somebody will object, the court may issue a hold departure order,” Bello answered when asked if Pemberton can stay in the US Embassy or an American ship docked in Philippine waters.

No WESCOM assets involved in shooting incident with Vietnamese fishermen

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): No WESCOM assets involved in shooting incident with Vietnamese fishermen

No Western Command (WESCOM) assets took part in a shooting incident involving Filipinos and Vietnamese fishermen off the Spratly Islands last Nov. 26, WESCOM head Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez said Wednesday.

"No info yet on the incident. (and) No WESCOM assets are involved," Lopez said.

The shooting resulted in the death of one Vietnamese fisherman identified as Truong Dinh Bay.

Reportedly, a Filipino fishing boat with eight crewmen armed with three guns, boarded the Vietnamese vessel and shot dead the victim for still unknown reasons.

Lopez said they had no idea on how the Vietnamese managed to identify Filipino fishermen as the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, Philippine Navy spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said they had yet received a report on the incident.

MID gets new commanding officer (Bio data)

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 2): MID gets new commanding officer

The Tarlac-based Mechanized Infantry Division (MID) was appointed on Wednesday a new commanding officer in the person of Brig. Gen. Edgar F.Gonzales.

He replaced Major Gen. Mayoralfo M. Dela Cruz who was appointed to command the Zamboanga City-based Western Mindanao Command last month.

Prior to his appointment, Gonzales served as MID acting commander and assistant division commander.

His change-of-command ceremonies at Camp O' Donnell, Tarlac was presided by Army commander Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año.

The new MID head was born in Cebu City on Dec. 27, 1961, and a member of Philippine Military Academy "Maharlika" Class of 1984.

Gonzales held different Staff positions, to include Chief of the Office of Ethical Standard and Public Accountability (OESPA), Mechanized Infantry Division; Chief of Staff of the 6th Infantry Division; Heads of the Academic Department and JCTC of the AFP Command and General Staff College; and Chief of the Unified Command Staff, Southern Luzon Command, among others.

He also commanded the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, MID stationed in Mindanao.

Gonzales also headed the 60th Infantry Battalion and 1st Platoon, 23rd Infantry Battalion under the 4th Infantry Division, which is also based in Mindanao.

As a young officer, he served in infantry units during the height of Muslim secessionist groups, particularly the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in Mindanao and Luzon, respectively.

Meanwhile, he also undergone various military and civilian schooling.

He graduated with honors when he took up his General Staff Course in 2003 at the Command and General Staff College.

Gonzales also finished two Masters Degree, such as Masters of Science in National Resource Strategy at National Defense University, USA; and Masters in Public Management Major in Development and Security at the Development Academy of the Philippines.

In his military career, he is a recipient of numerous awards and decorations.

Gonzales is happily married to Jerissa H. Gonzales and they are blessed with four children, Paul Ernest, Edgar Jeric, Jerille Gay and Jeris Grace.