Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New PAF chief is military’s No. 3 man

From Malaya Business Insight (Mar 9): New PAF chief is military’s No. 3 man

PRESIDENT Aquino has designated Lt. Gen. Edgar Fallorina as chief of the Philippine Air Force, replacing Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado who is stepping down today.

Fallorina, current Armed Forces deputy chief of staff (No. 3 man in the Armed Forces), is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983. He bested three other contenders for the top Air Force position, according to AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.

Padilla named the three other contenders as Maj. Generals Raul del Rosario (PMA Class 1984), 1st Air Division chief; Salvador Mison (PMA Class 1984), chief of the Air Education and Training Command; and Galileo Kintanar Jr. (PMA Class 1985), Chief of Air Staff.

Fallorina, the 34th Air Force chief, will assume his new post today in rites to be presided by President Aquino at the Fernando Air Base in Lipa City.

Delgado is relinquishing his post 11 days before his retirement date in consideration of the appointment ban in relation to the May 9 elections.

Padilla said Fallorina, who served as Air Force vice commander, “is one of our most proficient helicopter pilots.”

Fallorina also previously served as commander of the 1st Air Division, deputy commander of the 3rd Air Division, commander of the 520th Air Base Wing, commander of the Tactical Operation Group, commander of the 450th Maintenance and Supply Group, and commander of the 206th Tactical Helicopter Squadron.

Fallorina is a recipient of  military medals and decorations, including three Distinguished Service Stars, a Distinguished Aviation Cross, a Silver Wing Medal, and numerous Military Merit Medals.

Delgado reminisced about his 38-year service in the military, including the four years he spent in the PMA.

An attack pilot, Delgado recalled how he figured in two mishaps while flying T-28 planes, also known as the Tora-tora. One was in 1989 during a training flight off Manila Bay and the second one a year later in Cavite also during a training flight.

“My unforgettable experience was when my plane crashed,” said Delgado on his first crash, while still a captain.

“Habang nagka-crash ako, pinapagalitan pa nga ako nung nasa isang aircraft. ‘Ano na namang pinaggagawa mo diyang kalokohan na naman diyan?’ (While my plane was crashing, someone from another plane was scolding me, asking me what foolishness I was doing again),” he said.

He said he was then so tired so he let go and closed his eyes, thinking, “Goodbye cruel world na to.”

“Dun ko lang nakita na manumit dun as ilalim nag Manila Bay...Tapos nagawa naman ako sa sarili ko, di lumangoy ako pataas. Kasi pagpikit ko, nalulungkot na ako, nagpa-flash back na ako,” he said.

He said when he reached the surface, he learned his co-pilot was looking for him. They were later rescued by fishermen.

Delgado said his co-pilot was one Captain Betita who is now with the Philippine Airlines.

He said his second crash was in 1990 while landing in Sangley, Cavite. He said the plane’s gears failed to descend, the plane suffered “electrical failure,” and there was a power outage in Manila and Cavite. “Confluence of full malas, malas talaga,” he said.

“Sabi ng (nasa) ambulance sa akin, ‘Sir, suki ha,’” said Delgado. “Oo, napansin ko nga.”

Delgado said his best day in the Air Force was when two FA-50 fighter jets arrived in Clark Air Base in Pampanga last November. The jets are part of the 12 planes being acquired from Korea Aerospace Industries for P18.9 billion.

He said he was part of the team that planned the acquisition of such kind of aircraft in 1995, to replace the F-5 fighters which were subsequently decommissioned in 2005.

“Twenty years is a long time,” Delgado said adding he was teary-eyed when the two FA-50s touched down at Clark Air Base.

About two weeks ago, Delgado said he made his last flight as an Air Force officer. He said the aircraft he flew was a T-41 trainer plane, which is the same aircraft he flew while a student pilot.

“It brings back old memories, when you were student,” he said.


Of Regional Terrorism Interest: Malaysia says Islamic State militants plotted to kidnap PM Najib last year

From ABS-CBN (Mar 8): Malaysia says Islamic State militants plotted to kidnap PM Najib last year

Malaysian police foiled a plot by the Islamic State (IS) militant group to kidnap Prime Minister Najib Razak and other senior ministers last year, the country's deputy premier said on Tuesday.

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also the home minister, said the militants also planned to carry out attacks in the administrative capital, Putrajaya, for which explosives had been prepared and tested.

"On Jan 30, 2015, there were plans by 13 people linked to Daesh (Islamic State) to kidnap the country's leaders including the prime minister, the home minister and the defense minister," Ahmad Zahid said in response to a question about the government's efforts to tackle the threat posed by IS.

"There was also a plan to carry out an attack in Putrajaya. To this end, the group had prepared and tested explosives," Zahid said.

"Although there is no proper Daesh (IS) establishment in the country, those here (in Malaysia) were being influenced and have been receiving orders from the IS network in Syria," he added.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has not experienced any significant attacks, but it has arrested at least 160 people since January 2015 suspected of being involved in militant activities, including seven believed to have been part of an IS cell.

The country has been on high alert since IS-linked militants carried out an armed attacks in Jakarta, Indonesia on Jan 14.

Zahid said between Sept 2014 and May 2015, IS members had planned four major attacks across the country, including in the capital Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, and the state of Kedah.

The plans had included stealing weapons from military camps, the making of bombs and explosives, stealing cash for funding attacks and kidnapping state leaders for ransom, Zahid said.

The targets for attacks included entertainment centers and religious buildings including a Shiite mosque, a Buddhist temple and a Freemasons' lodge.


MILF: BIAF holds Assembly for Peace Advocacy

Posted to the MILF Website (Mar 8): BIAF holds Assembly for Peace Advocacy

DAMALUSAY, PAGLAT, MAGUINDANAO----In a bid to manage the frustration of the Bangsamoro people brought by the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a Peace Advocacy Assembly that gave vital information on the status of the Government of the Philippines (GPH)-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Process was held at Damalausay, Paglat, Maguindanao on March 5, 2016 that gathered around 200 participants from sectors of women, youth, Political Committee of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

The activity was spearheaded by the BIAF in coordination with Kalilintad Peacebuilding Institute Inc. (KPI) with the support of the local government units of Paglat and the local Philippine National Police (PNP).
Among the speakers, Ustadz Abdulfatah Delna, who tackled Islamization, said Islamization has three purposes, namely love of Allah, seeking lasting peace and entry to paradise.
“Islam means peace and Islamizing ourselves is the best way of achieving peace,” he stressed and added that “obeying all the commands of Allah is the key to enter paradise.”
Discussing the topic about unity, in his message Ustadz Esmael Dalinan said, “Unity is an important tool for sustaining peace and development in our community.”
Joining the pool of speakers, Ustadz Rahib Lamundaya, stressed that “Islam is an ideology that governs all aspects of life that includes socio-economic, political system and religion.”
The women sector was represented by Ustadza Halima Utto Hamza. She expressed her support for peace advocacy. Ustadza Halima said, “We women strongly support and shall work hard for peace advocacy towards unity and development of our community.”
Paglat Municipal Vice-Mayor Abdullah Talusan expressed LGU’s message of support for the peace advocacy. “As local officials, we are working hard for unity and solidarity of people in our community in coordination with other sectors,” he said. “We resolve emerging conflict in our community to prevent hostilities,” Talusan added.
Prof. Esmael A. Abdula, KPI Executive Directorand BLMI Steering Committee member explained the stages of Bangsamoro Struggle for Right to Self-Determination. 
He related that the Bangsamoro shifted from the armed struggle to political struggle or peace negotiations that resulted in the signing of peace agreements and the establishment of institutions that serve as mechanism for peace and development in Mindanao.
“These are the most important gains of the GPH-MILF peace process that the MILF values most”, Abdula said. 
“The MILF is resolve in democratic participation once the BBL is passed. The FAB and the CAB are the political documents that provide political solutions to the Bangsamoro struggle for the right to self-determination,” he said. 
He explained that the BBL, if only it was passed, would have been the answer to the Bangsamoro question and the Normalization Annex is the security aspect in implementing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which was signed by the two parties.  
“But non passage of BBL by Philippine Congress is a great challenge to the Bangsamoro People,” he pointed out and urged the Bangsamoro people to “continue and uphold the peace process and ensure that all its gains are preserved.”
Ustaz Abdulkahar Muhammad Taha thanked all the people that supported the activity particularly  Paglat Municipal Vice-Mayor Abdullah Talusan and the PNP who secured the area. 
Among the important personalities in attendance were Abdulaziz B. Talib EKII Admin Staff, ABC President and Barangay Chairman of Damalusay, Paglat, Maguindanao, the Honorable Bai Faudzia Mangelen with her mother Bai Faidza Mangelen, wife of former Paglat Municipal Mayor Datu Conte Mangelen, Brigade Commanders and Field Commanders of Front Guard Base Command of the National Guard Front with some members of their families and some Moro professionals.

US Navy guided-missile cruiser arrives in Manila

From Update.Ph (Mar 8): US Navy guided-missile cruiser arrives in Manila  

United States Navy Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) arrived in Manila for a scheduled port visit Tuesday, March 8. The warship’s crew will participate in community service events and tours, and have time to enjoy Manila.

While many of the crew members are first timers, some are taking this chance to come home.

“I’m excited to go to see my family,” said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Virgilio Minimo. “I’m going to visit the Navy base close to where I grew up.”

“My friend is having a baby shower, so I’m so happy I get to be here for that,” said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Jamie Jacob, from Manila. “I’m also happy that I’ll get to see my friends and family.”

Antietam is on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. She is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.


Top rebel leader falls in Davao City

From the Sun Star-Davao (Mar 8): Top rebel leader falls in Davao City

A TOP ranking leader the New People's Army (NPA) who was charged with murder in Davao del Norte was captured in a military operation in Calinan District in Davao City on Tuesday.

Troops belonging to the Army's 84th Infantry Brigade conducted an operation on Tuesday following an information from a concerned citizen that a suspected rebel was roaming around Purok 22 in Barangay Sirib in, Calinan.

The operation resulted to the arrest of 35-year-old Ruditha Gaylawan Rosete, whom police claim is the secretary general of the Guerilla Front 54, at around 10:30 a.m.

The suspect who was turned over by the 84th IB to Calinan Police Station was endorsed by the station to the Investigation and Detective Management Branch (IDMB) for proper disposition.

Calinan police chief Inspector Randy Sambalod said the suspect has a warrant of arrest for a murder case at sitio Kapatagan in Kapalong, Davao del Norte which was issued by the Tagum City Regional Trial Court.

Police said the suspect is the sister of the commanding officer of the Sub-Regional Committee 3 of the (Communist Party of the Philippines) CPP-NPA Guerilla Front 54, Roberto Rosete alias Bobby.

"When we first asked her of her identity, she said she was Judith Rosete but later on she claimed that her name is Rowena and just now she said that her name is really Ruditha Rosete, Nonetheless, we identified her as the secretary general of the Guerilla Front 54," Sambalod said.

Seized from her possession were two hand grenades, two improvised explosive devices, .45 caliber, and some medical kits.

Rosete will also be charged for violating the Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act” and the Comelec gun ban.

As of Tuesday presstime, the police are still waiting for the decision of Davao City police director Vicente Danao Jr. whether where to detain the arrested NPA leader.


Marines warned about Zika in Philippines ahead of Balikatan

From the Stars & Stripes (Mar 8): Marines warned about Zika in Philippines ahead of Balikatan

Japanese submarine to visit Philippines

From Japan Today (Mar 8): Japanese submarine to visit Philippines

A Japanese submarine will visit the Philippines for the first time in 15 years, along with two warships that will then sail on to Vietnam, in a show of support for nations opposed to Beijing’s ambitions in the South China Sea, a person familiar with the matter said.

The Japanese submarine, which is used for training, and the destroyers will arrive in the Philippines in April. The escort vessels will later sail to Vietnam’s strategic Cam Ranh Bay base on the South China Sea, the source said.

“It sends a message. It is important for Japan to show its presence,” the person with knowledge of the plan said on Monday. He asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

A Japanese Ministry of Defense spokesman declined to comment on any submarine visit but said the navy normally conducted training voyages in March and April.

“But we are still in the planning stage, so are unable to provide details,” he said.

The visits were first reported by Japanese media, including the Sankei newspaper, on Sunday.

Asked about the visits, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Japan occupied the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea during World War Two so China was on “high alert” for Japan’s military moves there.

“The cooperation of relevant countries should benefit regional stability and should not be directed at third parties or harm another country’s sovereignty or security interests,” he told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Of the countries bordering the South China Sea, the Philippines and Vietnam are most opposed to China expanding its influence in the region by building bases on reclaimed islands.

The Philippine military had not received any official notification of a visit by a Japanese submarine, a military spokesman said, though a visit to the Subic Bay naval base was expected.

“Informally, we know a Japanese submarine is visiting Subic in April,” said the Philippine spokesman, Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla.

Rich in natural resources, the South China Sea is also a major thoroughfare for global trade worth up to $5 billion a year, much of it coming to and from Japanese ports.

The United States, which has asked China to halt reclamation work that could destabilize the region, has irritated China by conducting naval patrols close to the man-made outcrops in what are known as freedom-of-navigation operations.

Rather than confronting China in such a direct way, Japan instead wants to build the capacity of nations in the region to improve their surveillance of Chinese forces.

Japan’s Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani is due to travel to the Philippines in April to discuss cooperation.

Japan has already offered to supply the Philippines with aircraft that will help bolster patrols over the disputed sea. Japan wants to give the Philippines a handful of Beechcraft TC-90 King Air training planes that could be fitted with basic surface and air surveillance radar.

The Philippines has also asked the United States to hold joint naval patrols.

Japan and Vietnam agreed in November to hold their first joint naval exercise.

The United States has no South China Sea claim and says it takes no sides, though it has been highly critical of China’s assertiveness and says it will protect freedom of navigation.


Gov’t soldiers clash with suspected Abu Sayyaf in Sulu; one rebel captured

From GMA News (Mar 8): Gov’t soldiers clash with suspected Abu Sayyaf in Sulu; one rebel captured

One suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf group was captured after Philippine Army soldiers had an encounter on Monday in Sulu with an undetermined number of armed men believed to be with the rebel group.

The firefight occurred Monday afternoon in Brgy. Latih, Patikul in Sulu and lasted for about 10 minutes, Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, said.

The armed men withdrew southward with an undetermined number of casualties on their side.

No casualty was reported among the government soldiers. Recovered from the captured rebel was one cal.-45 pistol.

The captured rebel is currently undergoing debriefing as of posting time. He will then be turned over to the Philippine National Police for filing of appropriate charges and for violation of the election gun ban.


Church leaders urged to back release of political inmates

From UCA News (Mar 8): Church leaders urged to back release of political inmates

Prisoners receive unjust treatment while in jail, activist says

A Philippine political prisoner has urged church leaders visit him and others in jail to back their bid to free all political inmates in the Philippines, citing the unjust treatment they receive in detention.

"A united message of the political prisoners to the visiting church people was for them to join the calls for the release of all political prisoners in the country," said Alan Jazmines, a member of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Panel's Socio-Economic Reforms Committee.

He said detained NDFP peace consultants like him have been imploring the administration, both past and present, for the release of more than 500 political prisoners nationwide.

"To the visiting church people and others, in the country and abroad, dedicated to the pursuit of respect for human rights, social justice, lasting peace, and substantive progress in the country, the detained NDFP peace consultants and other political prisoners expressed their call for solidarity and support in the efforts toward these goals," he said.


Army security up for NPA anniversary

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 8): Army security up for NPA anniversary
The Army's 303rd Infantry Brigade now covers the whole island of Negros, its commander, Col. Francisco Delfin, said yesterday in anticipation of possible terroristic activities by the New People's Army during its 47th founding anniversary on March 29.
Delfin said this is coupled with security operations against NPA remnants in Negros and complimented by their Bayanihan Team Activities in facilitating the delivery of basic services to residents of remote areas in the province.
The NPA recently claimed responsibility for the ambush in Candoni, that claimed the lives of two policemen and caused injuries to four others, including two civilians.
Delfin said the Candoni ambush may have been among the highlights of the NPA anniversary, or was aimed at projecting to candidates in the May 9 elections that they are still a force to reckon with.
He said the Philippine Army has adequate security forces to beef up the police in maintaining peace and order during the election in remote areas.
Delfin, however, admitted that the NPA is an immediate threat to the election. To avert this, their security operations are being done without let-up, he added.
He reiterated his call for the NPA to abandon the armed struggle, and instead, join the electoral process
Instead of pursuing the armed struggle and espousing violence, Delfin said it would be a welcome move, if they join the election


NPAs raid, seize FAs, ammos of Balangkayan town police

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 8): NPAs raid, seize FAs, ammos of Balangkayan town police

Approximately 25 armed men believed to be members of the New People's Army (NPA) raided the Balangkayan Municipal Police Station (MPS) in the evening of March 07, 2016 at around 7:30.

According to Eastern Samar Provincial Police Office (ESPPO), the NPA rebels rode two public utility vehicles (PUV) named Duptours — which they chartered — and made  surprise attack to the elements of the Balangkayan MPS who were having their dinner.

Balangkayan is about an hour drive from the province capital, Borongan city, from where the two vans originated, ferrying the rebels.

In a separate interview, it appeared that the two drivers of the chartered passenger vans did not suspect of any wrong-doing that was to transpire on their passengers.

At a certain point of the national highway, it surprised the drivers why they were ordered to get out of the driver’s seat and off the vehicles sped-off, leaving them in the open road.

Later the drivers knew, that the group took a different route and proceeded to the next town  where they held up the  municipal police station.

In the initial report of the ESPPO however, no fire fight ever ensued in the incident as the policemen were likewise caught by surprise by the rebels, some of them were non-Visayan speaking men, said the police report.

The report added that the rebels bound the policemen on duty and carted away nine units of M16 rifles,  four  units  of 9MM pistol with magazines, one  shot gun, assorted ammunitions, one  unit  desktop computer set, two   laptop computers, cellphone of the Balangkayan MPS hotline, personal cellphones, two books on the Revised Penal Code,  police uniforms and other personal belongings of the PNP personnel.

As of this writing, the van was found abandoned in brgy. San Gabriel, Maydolong, E. Samar, the report added.

The Balangkayan  MPS is headed by Police Senior Inspector (PSI) Gilbert B. Colima, Chief of Police and under him are SPO-4 Honorato B. Montero, Jr. Deputy, Chief of Police; SPO2 Edward Anthony Elardo, SPO1 Bimbo Monico B. Marasigan, Jr.. PO3 Jeffrey B. Voloso, PO3 Elmer Opriasa, PO2 Dexter B. Cernal, PO2 Joecel Obedientes, PO1 Luis Philip Azura, Jr., PO1 Glen Edsel C. Operario, PO1 Jelfer Baris, PO1 Jazel Globio,  PO1 Groway M. Globio and Non-Uniformed Personnel (NUP) Annabele Capones.

There is now an ongoing hot pursuit operation and a thorough investigation of the ESPPO and PNP-Regional Office No. 8.

Meanwhile, all police stations were alerted and directed to conduct checkpoints.


PH-US Balikatan exercises set in Antique

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 8): PH-US Balikatan exercises set in Antique

The Antiqueños will experience  real war situations when the Philippines-Unites States (PH-US) Balikatan exercises kick-off on March  28-April 16, 2016, here.

Big war ships will dock in San Jose seaport, helicopters, fighter planes hovering in the Antique skyline and other modern war machines will be arriving on April 11, 2016.

LTC  Enriqueto Deocadez of the 82nd IB, Philippine Army, said during the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) Meeting that the three sites of the Balikatan exercises war are at the San Jose seaport, Evelio B. Javier Airport, and Camp Fullon.

“The scenario is to seize back Panay island as the 3rd ID Philippine Artmy Heaquarters in Jamindan was captured by the foreign enemies, and Antique will be the assembly area of all the forces coming from Nueva Ecija, Zubic and Palawan,” Deocadez said during the Provincial Peace and Order Council Meeting held at the Provincial Capitol.

The scenario’s military operations will launch a counter attack to retrieve Jamindan from the enemies and this will enhance the army’s crisis capability in the territorial defense operations.

The Balikatan joint military operations between the Philippine and the United States militaries will be participated in by some 300 US Forces composed of US army, marines and airforce and 300 Filipino soldiers from the army, marines and airforce, aim to  maintain and develop mutual defense relationships and enhance capacity of both the military and civilian agencies for humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, among others.

Deocadez urged Governor Rhodora Cadiao during the PPOC Meeting to tap various government leaders, local government units, NGOs, the media to help inform  the public in order to prevent panic during the Balikatan exercise.


USAID Be Secure Project, Deped to hand over water facilities to Palo school

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 8): USAID Be Secure Project, Deped to hand over water facilities to Palo school

The Department of Education (Deped) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Be Secure Project is set to hand-over a water infrastracture facilities to Palo 1 Central School and Palo National High School tomorrow, March 9, 2016 at 8:00 o’clock in the morning.

This is in line with the  four-year activity of the USAID Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) Project that seeks to promote good governance and build capacity for long-term water security, improve access to water and wastewater treatment services and build more resilient communities.

It focuses on delivering an increased sustainable access to water supply and wastewater treatment services and increased resilience to climate-related water stress and hydrological extremes.

Said project aims to operate not only in Leyte but also in Basilan, Iloilo,Maguindanao, Misamis Oriental and Zamboanga.

It is expected that the project will assist in the rehabilitation of 1.2 million people gain access to improved drinking water and 400,000 others gain access to improved sanitation facilies.

The USAID Be Secure Project is rehabilitating water systems for 17 public schools in Leyte, to include 4 health facilities and 6 local government units - all were severely damaged by the typhoon.


Bangsamoro peace process forum at PMA today

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 9): Bangsamoro peace process forum at PMA today

A forum on the Bangsamoro peace process will be held today at the Philippine Military Academy at Fort del Pilar here.

Spearheaded by the MindaNews and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Mindanao Cluster in cooperation with PIA Cordillera, the activity aims to enlighten the participants on the peace process and issues in Mindanao. 

For even as the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was not passed by the 16th Congress, the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) from which the proposed BBL was created, remains binding for the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to end hostilities and promote peace and stability in the Bangsamoro area.

Professor  Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chairperson of the GPH Peace Panel and Mr. Mohahger Iqbal, Chair of the MILF Peace Negotiating  Panel, and Bangsamoro Transition Committee, are the resource persons in this forum from 9:00-11:30 AM.

Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan is also expected to give reaction on the Bangsamoro peace process vis a vis   the pursuit of Cordillera autonomy and development. The 1987 Constitution provides for the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordillera.

 Participants are PMA officers and cadets who would likely be assigned in Mindanao in the future, media, representatives from the line agencies and students from the different universities in the city.

PMA Superintendent MGen. Donato B. San Juan II  will welcome guests and participants to this event.


No 'horse trading' in Misuari's endorsement of Duterte, aide says

From the Philippine Star (Mar 8): No 'horse trading' in Misuari's endorsement of Duterte, aide says

Nur Misuari is the founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front, a secessionist political organization which started in 1969. In this March 5, 2013 file photo, Misuari gestures during a press conference in Taguig, Philippines. AP/Aaron Favila, file

Fugitive Nur Misuari's support of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's presidential run was not given in exchange for the full implementation of the peace compact between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Philippine government, his legal aide said Tuesday.

Misuari, founding chair of the MNLF, which fought the government for more than 30 years, endorsed Duterte’s candidacy last Sunday.

Lawyer Randolph “Bong” Parcasio, Misuari’s designated representative in engagements with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said Misuari's support for Duterte was voluntary and that it was his first time to endorse a presidential candidate.

The OIC, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including petroleum-exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa, helped broker the 1996 final peace agreement between the rebel group and the Philippine government.

Parcasio said Misuari and Duterte are long-time friends.

Misuari is hiding somewhere in Sulu and is wanted for having allegedly instigated the siege of several barangays in Zamboanga City by a faction of the MNLF in 2013. The fighting exacted heavy casualties on the military and the MNLF and dislocated more than 100,000 residents.

RELATED: Duterte, MILF want to bring peace in Mindanao

Parcasio said Misuari’s support for Duterte may have come because of the mayor's overt recognition of the Moro issue as a political problem and his “patriarchal style” of serving Davao City’s Muslim communities.

“He has not endorsed any presidential candidate before,” said Parcasio, who was Misuari’s regional executive secretary when he was governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao from 1996 to 2001.

Misuari first endorsed Duterte’s bid for the presidency on Sunday via phone patch from Sulu. The endorsement was aired over a public address system during a gathering of senior MNLF members in Kidapawan City, the capital of Cotabato province.

Misuari’s statement was immediately reported by Central Mindanao radio network Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation, which operates the influential Catholic stations dxND, dxMS and dxOM in the cities of Kidapawan, Cotabato and Koronadal, respectively.

"Do not fear, give your vote to our brother Rodrigo Duterte. He is the candidate of the MNLF," Misuari reportedly said.

Sources in Sulu, among them senior MNLF officials, said Misuari’s support for Duterte was not a “horse trade” either for exoneration from rebellion cases against him if the mayor is elected president.

“It was neither something in exchange for the full implementation, in 'letter and spirit', of the 1996 final peace agreement between the government and the MNLF,” Parcasio said.

RELATED: After 8 years, government-MNLF peace pact review ends

The government, the OIC and MNLF completed the tripartite review of the now 19-year-old agreement in late January.

The three-way effort was prompted by misunderstandings on the implementation of many of the agreement's sensitive provisions. The tripartite review, which started in 2007, resulted in the three parties agreeing to implement four key areas, including the establishment of the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund for socio-economic development projects in MNLF communities.

The parties also agreed to the referral of the agreement on the co-management of strategic minerals to the Oversight Committee created by Republic Act 9054, the MNLF's participation in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission for the Bangsamoro territory proposed by the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the creation of a tripartite implementation monitoring committee.


US Air Force to keep flying over disputed seas

From the Philippine Star (Mar 9): US Air Force to keep flying over disputed seas             

The US Air Force will continue to fly daily missions over the South China Sea despite a buildup of Chinese surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets in the contested region, with both nations’ militaries in discussions to avoid any miscalculations, a top US general said Tuesday.

Gen. Lori Robinson, the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, also urged other nations to exercise their freedom to fly and sail in international airspace and waters claimed by China in the South China Sea “or risk losing it throughout the region.”

“We’ve watched the increased military capability on those islands, whether it’s the fighters, whether it’s the missiles or the 10,000-foot runways. We will continue to do as we’ve always done, and that is fly and sail in international airspace in accordance to international rules and norms,” Robinson told reporters in Australia’s capital, Canberra, where she will address the Royal Australian Air Force’s biennial Air Power Conference next week.    


Philippines, Japan, US hold talks to enhance defense cooperation

From the Philippine Star (Mar 9): Philippines, Japan, US hold talks to enhance defense cooperation

U.S. troopers stand beside their national flag on the USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), the lead ship of the two Blue Ridge-class command ships of the United States Navy and command ship of the United States Seventh Fleet, at Manila's pier, Philippines, Sunday March 6, 2016. The USS Blue Ridge is on its third day in Manila Bay as part of a routine visit. AP Photo/Aaron Favila

The Philippines, Japan and the US have conducted talks aboard the USS Blue Ridge, the US 7th Fleet command and control ship, which docked at the Manila South Harbor three days ago.

In a statement released on Monday night, the 7th Fleet Public Affairs Office said the meeting was aimed at hastening cooperation among the three countries to ensure peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea.

“The peace and stability in this region depends on the unified efforts of our countries,” 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin was quoted as saying to his Filipino and Japanese counterparts during the talks.

“This is a tangible example of the unified commitment of our countries to the stability and security of this region,” Aucoin said during a reception following the trilateral conference.

Military leaders from each country expressed concerns about the tension in the South China Sea as well as the impact of natural and man-made disasters on operations.

They discussed ways to collectively promote peace and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific.

“Discussions focused on lessons learned from past cooperative training efforts with an eye toward maximizing future opportunities, which included expanding the scope and complexity of multilateral engagements, exercises, and humanitarian and disaster response efforts that will allow countries to rapidly respond to a crisis.”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines downplayed the trilateral meeting, describing it as routine.

“They are constantly talking,” AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.

The Blue Ridge (LCC-19), flagship of the US 7th Fleet and one of only two such ships in the inventory of the US Navy, docked at Manila Bay on March 4 for a port call.

The visit came as the US John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG), was patrolling in the South China Sea.

The JCSSG armada that included three destroyers and a cruiser ended its South China Sea freedom of navigation operations two days ago.

On March 2, Japanese minesweeper Division 51 also docked at South Harbor for a three-day goodwill visit. It was followed by the signing of the defense cooperation between Japan and the Philippines.

The minesweeper, led by Capt. Toshiro Takaiwa, is composed of two ships - Uraga (Minesweeper Tender 463) and JS Takashima (Minesweeper Tender 603).

Meanwhile, the Stennis strike group has wrapped up its six-day operations in the South China Sea and transited into the Philippine Sea through the Luzon strait.

The strike group said the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) ships remained around Stennis, but all “bridge-to-bridge interactions between the sailors of both navies remained professional.”

“Based on the communications of USS Chung-Hoon had with the PLA(N) ships, the Chinese Navy prides itself with professional communications and interactions,” Chung-Hoon commanding officer Tom Ogden said.

Chung-Hoon was one of two destroyers in the service of the Stennis strike group.
Rear Admiral Ronald Boxall, the strike group’s commander, said he was not surprised by the interest of other countries in the strike group.

“We’re exercising our right to operate in international waters. Our presence here promotes peace and stability in the region,” Boxall said.


China says it won't budge on South China Sea sovereignty

From the Philippine Star (Mar 8): China says it won't budge on South China Sea sovereignty

China's foreign minister took a hard line Tuesday on the country's claims to virtually all the South China Sea, saying it won't permit other nations to infringe on what it considers its sovereign rights in the strategically vital area.

Wang Yi, speaking to reporters at an annual news conference in Beijing, said another nation's claim to freedom of navigation in the region doesn't give it the right to do whatever it wants — an apparent reference to the U.S., which has sent naval ships past reefs where China has engaged in island-building.

Wang sought to deflect allegations China is militarizing the region by building military facilities on the artificial islands. He said China's development there was defensive and that other nations were being militaristic — not China.

"China cannot be labeled as the most militaristic. This label is more suited to other countries," Wang said.

In addition to reaffirming that South China Sea islands are an "integral" part of China's territory that "every Chinese is obligated to defend," he reiterated Beijing's refusal to cooperate with an International Court of Arbitration case brought by the Philippines over disputed claims in the area.

China says it is not bound by the arbitration because it filed a statement in 2006 that it would not accept "compulsory procedures entailing binding decisions" in regard to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Tensions have risen in recent months over China's ongoing project of building islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago by piling sand atop reefs and then adding airstrips, ports, radar stations and other military infrastructure. China has also deployed surface-to-air missiles on at least one of its holdings in another island group to the west and is expected to station warplanes on its new islands in the Spratlys, at least on a temporary basis.

Neighbors have complained that the work has raised tensions by changing the status quo in the area, where six Asian governments have overlapping claims and which include some of the world's busiest sea lanes.

Asked whether China would allow foreign journalists to visit those islands, Wang stressed that they also were intended for civilian uses and that once they are completed, foreign journalists would be invited.

China regards the U.S. and its allies as unwanted interlopers in the South China Sea and regards all actions by the U.S. Navy in the area as provocative, despite the force's presence in the region dating to well before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The South China Sea includes sea lanes through which more than $5 trillion in global trade passes each year, along with rich fishing grounds and potential oil and gas deposits.

Wang's tone changed considerably when questioned on the South China Sea by a reporter from Cambodia, China's strongest ally within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which also includes disputants Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.

China, Wang said, wants to boost cooperation with countries in Southeast Asia on issues such as the ocean economy, marine wildlife protection and maritime security.

To that end, Beijing is exploring the possibility of establishing a "South China Sea littoral states cooperation mechanism" under which the countries involved would "work together to maintain and build our common home, the South China Sea," he said.


Basilan explosion kills 1, injures 4 others

From the Mindanao Examiner (Mar 7): Basilan explosion kills 1, injures 4 others

A homemade bomb explosion killed a boy and injured four other family members in Basilan, one of five provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region, police said Monday.

Police said the explosion occurred before dawn Sunday in the house owned by the Jimmy family on the island of Malamawi, just several nautical miles from Isabela City. Among the injured was the boy’s father and three of his children.

Initial investigation showed that an unidentified man lobbed the improvised explosive in the house. He escaped with another man, who acted as a lookout.

Police were still investigating the attack believed to have stemmed from a family feud.

Family feud or clan war is not uncommon in the Muslim region that also covers the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu. Many of the feuds were traced to land conflict and politics.


Military holds Sayyaf man in Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (Mar 8): Military holds Sayyaf man in Philippines

The Philippines military is holding an Abu Sayyaf rebel after troops captured him following a firefight in the southern province of Sulu.

The fighting erupted in Latih village in Patikul town on Monday after patrolling troops ran into a small group of rebels. The military did not release the name of the rebel, saying, it is still interrogating the man.

It said a .45-caliber pistol was recovered from the rebel. It was unknown if any of the soldiers were injured or killed in the clash. Town officials also did not give release any statement about the fighting, but military operations were going on against the Abu Sayyaf.

Authorities have tagged the Abu Sayyaf in the spate of terrorism and many kidnappings in the southern region. The group, which pledged allegiance with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is still holding about a dozen foreigners and Filipinos kidnapped on Mindanao and brought to Sulu, one of five provinces under the volatile Muslim autonomous region.


Army, PNP hunt down suspects in ambush of passenger bus in N. Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): Army, PNP hunt down suspects in ambush of passenger bus in N. Cotabato

PIKIT, North Cotabato -- Police and military authorities here have launched manhunt against three men believed to be extortion gang members who shot dead a bus driver and a passenger Monday afternoon.

Supt. Bernard Tayong, North Cotabato police director, said follow-up operations are still ongoing against three suspects who shot the bus driver of Mindanao Star bus company at 3 p.m. along a busy national highway here.

"Our police have the identities of the suspects, the long arm of the law will soon catch up with them," Tayong told the Philippine News Agency.

A retired soldier, sitting behind the bus driver, and a male passenger, were also injured by stray bullets.

The Pikit Police office said killed were Mindanao Start (MWB-935) driver Ticson Tigas, 33, resident of Sitio Daniel, Barangay Galakit, Pagalungan, Maguindanao and passenger Magdalena Chavez Cabaya, 43, of Midsayap, North Cotabato.

Injured was Mohammad Piling, an ex-Army, and an unidentified passenger who sustained minor injury, as listed by the police. Several other passengers were also hurt after the bus slammed on a dump truck in front of it following the shooting.

Tigas died on the spot while Cabaya was declared dead on arrival at the Cruzado Hospital.

Tayong said the bus was heading to Cotabato City from Davao City with about 40 passengers on board.

"Our initial investigation showed the suspects had acts to grind against the bus driver," he said.

Tayong said the suspects shot the bus driver using cal. 45 pistol. Several empty shells were recovered at the crime scene, particularly in front of National Irrigation Administration (NIA) provincial office in Barangay Batulawan.

The crime scene was about 800 meters away from two Army and para-military detachments.

Following the incident, the suspects sped away toward the interior portion of Batulawan. Witnesses described them as about 20 to 25 years old, who wore face masks and bull caps on board a motorbike without license plate.

Tayong said police visibility and Oplan Lambat Sibat has been intensified.


Rebels overrun Eastern Samar police station; seize firearms

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): Rebels overrun Eastern Samar police station; seize firearms

About 30 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebel group raided the police station of Balangkayan, Eastern Samar Monday night, carting away several weapons.

All five policemen on duty were not harmed during the raid that lasted for 30 minutes around 7 p.m. on Monday, according to Eastern Samar police provincial director Sr. Supt. Romeo Campomanes.

Campomanes said in a phone interview that at least 14 assorted firearms were carried away by rebels after they overrun the police station.

“The police officers were caught by surprise. They did not attempt to fight back since the NPAs threatened to shoot them if they would move,” Campomanes told PNA.

Balangkayan town has 22 police officers; 11 were on duty on Monday, but only five were inside the police station since others were either conducting patrol or having dinner.

The rebels fled towards Balogo village on board a rented van owned by Duptours. The attackers abandoned the vehicle in the remote San Gabriel village in Maydolong town.

There is an ongoing probe on the incident looking into possible lapses on police operation procedures, according to the provincial police chief.

“We ordered hot pursuit operations against the NPA rebels behind staging the raid,” Campomanes added.

Balangkayan, a fifth class town in Eastern Samar is about 160 kilometers away from Tacloban, the regional trade center and 30 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Borongan City.


Army division commander honors soldiers hurt in fight with BIFF

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): Army division commander honors soldiers hurt in fight with BIFF

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th Infantry Division based here lauded Tuesday the gallantry showed by elements of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion wounded in the battle against lawless Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Speaking in a radio interview, Pangilinan said the soldiers are more dedicated now to finish the job after about 30 of them were wounded in the month-long skirmishes against the BIFF in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

They offered their lives for the sake of peace, they may have lost lives and limbs but the soldiers’ determination remain,” Pangilinan told reporters after awarding the wounded soldiers with “Wounded Personal Medal.”

The Army general said the foot soldiers are working harder to achieve the mission despite some of them perished in line of duty.

Four soldiers were killed and 30 others were hurt in the armed hostilities. More than 20 of the injured were hit by BIFF improvised bombs in Barangays Tee and Butalo.

Pangilinan sympathized with the wounded soldiers, many of whom were determined to return to combat once they have fully recovered.

Pangilinan talked to the wounded soldiers one by one inside the “Battle Casualty Ward” of Camp Siongco Hospital inside the 6th ID headquarters.


OPAPP, Zambo Norte distribute insurance, livestock to an MNLF community

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): OPAPP, Zambo Norte distribute insurance, livestock to an MNLF community

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and provincial government have provided health insurance and livelihood assistance to a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) community in this province.

The beneficiaries of the assistance is the MNLF community in the “hard-to-reach” Barangay Panganuran, Sibuco municipality.

The town is within the third congressional district of this province.

Howard Cafugauan, OPAPP assistant secretary for programs, personally handed over the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) cards to 64 MNLF members.

Cafugauan also turned over farm animals that included 15 heads of goats and eight heads of cows to boost the livelihood of the Panganuran Farmers’ Association.

The association is headed by Hadji Asbirin Kahaluddin, the MNLF state chairman of this province.

Cafugauan told the Philippines News Agency that the distribution of health insurance and livelihood assistance are part of OPAPP’s program through the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) program.

The provincial government also turned over livestock to the farmers’ association 10 heads of goats and four heads of cows.

Eng’r. Dioscoro Endad, provincial executive assistant IV, said that assorted vegetable seeds were also given to the association aside from livestock.

“The given livestock signified the sincerity of Gov. Roberto Uy to help alleviate the plight to our Muslim brothers,” Endad said.

Last month, 10 heads of high-breed goats were given to the group of Asbirin as promised by Uy to help them in their livelihood.

OPAPP has identified the barangay of Panganuran in Sibuco town as among the conflict-affected communities in the Triple “SB” areas.

Aside from Sibuco, the towns of Sirawai, Siocon, and Baliguian comprise the Triple SB areas.


6th Infantry Division hosts Army combat skills enhancement trainers' training

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): 6th Infantry Division hosts Army combat skills enhancement trainers' training

To improve the combat skills of officers and men of the 6th Infantry "Kampilan" Division, Maj. Gen. Emundo Pangilinan, 6th ID chief, on Tuesday opened the Army Soldiers' Combat Skills Enhancement Trainers' Training (ASCSETT).

Eleven officers and 22 enlisted men from nine Infantry Division, the Mechanized Infantry Division Army Reserved Command (Arescom) participated in the course which includes Warfighting Competency Training, a compilation of innovations conceptualized by 6th ID for the Kampilan troops.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the ASCSETT is intended to produce trainers who will also soon re-echo what they have learned to their own soldiers in their respective units come 3rd quarter of the year where the implementation of the Combat Skills Enhancement Training (WCT) of higher headquarters is expected to be in full throttle.

Leading the opening program was Col. Bernie Langub, commander of the 6th Division Training School. He is known as the division's "father of Warfighting Competency Training."

He welcomed the participants and said in his speech that 6th ID was lucky to be chosen by the Philippine Army to host and lead the ASCSETT.

He also gave a brief background how WCT started in 6th ID and how it had been changing the way soldiers react and address the battlefield.

Maj. Gen. Pangilinan, in his speech, said that 6th ID gives full priority to training that is why soldiers are ensured to undergo quality time with the Division Training School in order to equip them not only with the traditional military skills and knowledge but also with innovations that will keep the alive and well when they are sent to battle field.

"In 6th ID, we do not only train our soldiers in order for them to fight in war, but we train them in order to ensure that they go home safe and unscathed," Pangilinan said.

Also present during the opening is the assistant division commander, Brigadier Arnel B Dela Vega, and the members of the General, Technical and Personnal Staff of the division.

Petinglay said the training is set to finish after ten days and will start with the first activity the following day. The group is just the first batch of trainers and another batch is set to be trained by mid-April this year.


DOLE-7 halts work on Mactan Air Base hangar after truss fall killed worker

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): DOLE-7 halts work on Mactan Air Base hangar after truss fall killed worker

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 7 has suspended construction work on a hangar inside the Benito Ebuen Mactan Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City after the fall of a truss killed a worker on Sunday.

DOLE-7 Director Exequiel Sarcauga said the agency automatically stops work in a site where a fatal accident has taken place.

The hangar is one of the structures being built by the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) under a PHP820-million project to replicate Philippine Air Force (PAF) facilities which were demolished to pave the way for construction of the new second Mactan airport terminal (T2).

It was scheduled for turnover to the MCIAA and the PAF on March 31.

Major Vivien Valerio of the 560th Air Base Wing said the hangar will be for the 5th Fighter Wing and 15th Strike Wing of the PAF.

Engineer Pedro Adonis Compendio, an MCIAA consultant, said the hangar is the last structure of the MCIAA replication project for the PAF, which includes eight structures, a 10-hectare ramp and a road network.

Compendio said the other sub-projects were completed after the contractor Pamatong Grandby cleared the area last Dec. 31, 2015.

Granby Project Engineer Benuardo Maralit said the company will not resume construction of the hangar pending an investigation of the accident.

The contractor has promised to shoulder the expenses of the family of Benjamin Muñez, as well as the families of two other workers injured last Sunday.

Mary Flor Rañola, Muñez’s live-in partner, said the family will not file a case against the company.

Muñez, 35, died after trusses collapsed past 11 a.m. last Sunday, while two of his co-workers, welders Celso Gestopa, 56, and Roel Omolon, 36, were injured.


Army, civic groups extend assistance to remote schools in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): Army, civic groups extend assistance to remote schools in Compostela Valley
Around 681 schoolchildren from four remote villages in Mawab and Maco towns in Compostela Valley province on Monday received various school assistance from the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion and the civil groups Kiwanis Club Golden from Tagum City and Pag-asa of Davao City.

The combined efforts handed around 200 school bags; 681 school kits with notebooks, pencils and papers; and 314 pairs of shoes to elementary pupils of Panibasan Elementary School in Maco town; and to Concepcion Elementary School; Salvacion Elementary School; and Tan-awan Elementary School in Mawab.

In a statement to the media, Lt. Col. Davice Christopher Mercado, commander of 71st IB, said the activity was an expression of the command’s commitment to support the education of the school children in their areas.

He also extended his gratitude to the support groups that made the activity a successful one.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to help the community in a simple way by providing school bags and supplies to our pupils as a source of encouragement to study well,” Mercado said.

In time with the distribution of school supplies, the 71st IB and the support groups also signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to ensure the sustainability of the activity to benefit more far-flung schools in Maco and Mawab.

The signing of agreement was witnessed by the local officials and school officials of the beneficiary schools.

“The 71st IB in collaboration with various stakeholder remains committed to help these communities through investments in education and development of the local people. Through our involvements in a number of community care initiatives, our unit seeks to ensure that indelible volunteer efforts will contribute towards peace and development in these communities,” Mercado said.


(News Feature) Children of war captured through the lens

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): (News Feature) Children of war captured through the lens

Often caught at the crossroads of a vicious war are the most innocent, leaving countless of children exposed and vulnerable to its horrors.

Photographer Jun de Leon, known for capturing the glitz and glamour of celebrity life, sheds light on the war-torn Mindanao through a photo exhibit called “Children at the Crossroads” held at Fisher Mall in Quezon City from Mar. 7 to 8.

Over 50 profound photographs, encapsulating the struggle of Filipino children caught in the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao, were featured at the walkthrough exhibit.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary Luisito G. Montalbo urged the public to vicariously witness the consequences and atrocities of war.

“Hopefully, through his photos, the Filipinos could see the truth behind a war and how much damage it has caused to our fellow countrymen,” said Montalbo at the exhibit’s launch on Monday.

The photos, accompanied with a brief narrative, are based on the Mamasapano tragedy that occurred on the eventful day of Jan. 25, 2015.

The 11-hour-long deadly clash between the Special Action Forces (SAF) and rebels at the Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, resulted in the deaths of 44 SAF members, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants, and 7 civilians.

One riveting picture shows the family of Badrodin Langgalin, a civilian found among the SAF men killed during the bloody encounter. In the picture, Sara Lawanian Langgalin, now a widow, takes her children, 3-year-old Sadiya and 1-year-old Samira, back home.

The photo’s caption recounted how Badrodin left on his bike at dawn to get cellphone load while Sara heard a rupture of gunshots. She grabbed her children and ran, but she never saw her husband again, not even to bury him.

Another picture illustrates eleven children evacuees huddling under a farm wagon, which is the only cool space they have settled in to escape the pounding heat of the sun and the military operations.

Through the lens of de Leon, we see the faces and costs of this long-running conflict in the South.

“I hope that every person viewing the exhibit will be enthralled by the photos they see. Each picture has a story—each picture has a name, a family, a loved one affected by war,” said Montalbo.


Suspected Abu Sayyaf member captured in Sulu clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): Suspected Abu Sayyaf member captured in Sulu clash

A suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) brigand was captured by troopers of the 35th Infantry Battalion during an encounter in Patikul town, Sulu Monday afternoon.

Joint Task Group Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado identified the bandit as Hatib Ullai Usman.

He said Usman was captured as patrolling troops engaged suspected ASG bandits in a 10-minute firefight around 3:45 p.m. in Barangay Latih.

Usman was arrested after he lagged behind his companions while they retreated towards the southern direction. Seized from Usman was a .45 caliber pistol.


President Aquino appoints new Napolcom commissioner (Bio data)

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): President Aquino appoints new Napolcom commissioner

President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed retired Police Director Felizardo M. Serapio Jr. as commissioner of the National Police Commission (Napolcom), representing the law enforcement sector, for a term of six years.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary and Napolcom Chairman Mel Senen S. Sarmiento said that the President signed on Feb. 11, 2016 the appointment of Commissioner Serapio to replace former Commissioner Luisito T. Palmera whose term of office ended on Jan. 7, 2016.

Napolcom Vice Chairman and Executive Officer Eduardo U. Escueta said that prior to his appointment as Napolcom commissioner, Serapio was the undersecretary and head of the Law Enforcement and Security Integration Office under the Office of the Executive Secretary. He was also the Executive Director of the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime.

Commissioner Serapio also served as head of the Interpol National Central Bureau Secretariat, officer-in-charge of the ASEAN Senior Official on Transnational Crime-Philippines, and head of the Working Group on Trafficking in Persons, ASEAN Senior Official on Transnational Crime.

Serapio retired from the police service in June 2010 where he held various key positions, such as head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Western Mindanao, regional director of Police Regional Office 12, and director of the Special Action Force.

Serapio was known in the PNP as a crisis manager. He was a graduate of the RP-UK Crisis Management Assistance Program (CMAP) and various crisis management courses held in the United States of America, United Kingdom and Thailand. He shared his expertise by serving as resource person in CMAP trainings conducted by the PNP.

He was also known as the “Father of Police Intervention Training” as he was among the few who introduced it in the PNP.

At present, the Napolcom is chaired by Secretary Sarmiento with Vice Chairman Escueta, Commissioner Alejandro S. Urro, Commissioner Constancia P. De Guzman and Commissioner Serapio as regular members and PNP Chief PDG Ricardo C. Marquez as ex-officio Commissioner.

“The Napolcom welcomes the well-deserved appointment of Commissioner Serapio. His vast experience in law enforcement and participation as resource person in international law enforcement integration and cooperation will definitely be an asset to the Commission,” Escueta said.


4 Compostela Valley elementary schools get aid from military, NGOs

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): 4 Compostela Valley elementary schools get aid from military, NGOs

In line with the military's community engagement missions, the 71st Infantry Battalion in partnership with Kiwanis Club of Golden Tagum and Pag-asa, Davao distributed educational supplies to four elementary schools in Compostela Valley Monday.

These schools are the Panibasan Elementary School in Macotown and Concepcion Elementary School, Tan-awan Elementary School in Sitio Tan-awan, Barangay Malinawon and Salvacion Elementary School, all in Mawab town.

A total of 200 bags, 681 school kits (notebook, pencils, and papers), and 314 shoes were distributed to 681 pupil beneficiaries.

The school bags included supplies that would help lessen the expenses of pupils and their parents for this year’s opening of classes, but also keep them motivated on important aspects of growth and development as they prepare to enter into the next school level.

The donation activity was done on behalf of the Children’s Hour, in an effort to support the growth and educational development of students in the country.

“This donation is the fruit of the concerted effort between 71IB, Children’s Hour, and Kiwanis International to express our commitment to education,” said 71st Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Davice Christopher G. Mercado

“We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to help the community in a simple way by providing school bags and supplies to our pupils as a source of encouragement to study well,” he added.

The activity was followed by the signing of memorandum of agreement between 71st Infantry Battalion and Kiwanis Club International with the school heads and barangay officials for the continuous support of the activity.