Sunday, May 1, 2016

NPA rebels detain, free 6 candidates

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 1): NPA rebels detain, free 6 candidates

Reds enforce campaign fee rule on bets

Communist rebels separately and briefly held six politicians running for seats in the Sangguniang Bayan of this town. They also blocked the path of other politicians in La Paz town as the rebels enforced their brand of taxation on candidates in the coming elections.

A rebel leader said candidates had to pay permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees to enter rebel-influenced territories.

The incidents, which all happened on Monday, were confirmed by a New People’s Army (NPA) leader in an interview over a local radio station here.

Ka Ian of the NPA’s Front 19A said rebels held for about an hour six councilors of this town who were running for reelection—Bong Bandong, Lerriza de Leon, Aramis Ananoria, Reny Tulio, Ondoy Ellorimo and Genden Dayondon.

But he said the NPA target was actually incumbent councilors Rodelito Ranoco, Arth Ryan Palabrica and independent town council candidate and former vice mayor Joselito Bleza, who had not yet paid PTC fees despite repeated reminders by the rebels.

Armed civilians
He did not say how much the rebels were demanding but added that the six councilors running for reelection were freed unharmed after the rebels seized weapons from their bodyguards.

Reacting to Ka Ian’s claim, Bleza said he had not received any message from any NPA courier but he assured the rebels that he was willing to talk to them.

Chief Insp. Sandro Santillan, San Francisco police chief, said the PTC fees demanded by the NPA was plain extortion.

In La Paz town, another group of rebels blocked local candidates, led by councilor Juanito Jumonong, to remind them not to engage in vote buying on May 9 elections.

Last week, Ka Ian said his group also blocked local candidates in Prosperidad town from campaigning in the remote village of Libertad as a form of warning and reminder to Mayor Albin Magdamit to deliver his commitments to the NPA.

He said Magdamit owed them P100,000 as PTC fees in the 2013 elections. Ka Ian said the mayor also promised three rifles to the rebels.

Magdamit could not be reached for comment.

More attacks
As the elections draw near, the NPA has become more active in many Mindanao areas.

In Talakag town, Bukidnon province at least 100 families fled their homes in Barangay Lirongan after soldiers and NPA rebels clashed there on Wednesday.

Albert Bigcas, Talakag administrator, said three people, two of them civilians, were killed. The third casualty was a rebel.

In Sta. Cruz town, Davao del Sur, at least 200 families also fled their community in Barangay Astorga following a clash between rebels and soldiers on Monday that left two soldiers and a farmer dead. Chris Panganiban, Jigger Jerusalem and Orlando Dinoy,

Abu Sayyaf frees 10 Indonesian sailors

Posted to the Eruasia Review (May 1): Abu Sayyaf frees 10 Indonesian sailors

Location of Philippines. Source: CIA World Factbook.

Location of Philippines. Source: CIA World Factbook.

An ecumenical church group in the southern Philippines announced that it is facilitating the release of soldiers and policemen who have been held captive by communist rebels.

Protestant Bishop Felixberto Calang, convenor of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, said his group is coordinating with the rebels and government authorities for the handover of the captives.

“I have already talked with the governors to order the police and the military to suspend operations in areas where the rebels will free the captives,” Calang told on April 29.

The communist New People’s Army had earlier asked state forces to order the suspension of military and police operations to ensure the safe release of the captives who were captured by the rebels on April 3.

The rebels said in a statement that they would release their captives during the first week of May.

Abu Sayyaf frees 10 Indonesian sailors (Photos)

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 1): Abu Sayyaf frees 10 Indonesian sailors

Sulu Gov. Totoh Tan speaks on the phone while feeding the 10 Indonesian sailors who were freed by the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo town in the southern Philippines on May 1, 2016 after more than a month in captivity. (Mindanao Examiner)

Abu Sayyaf militants have freed Sunday 10 Indonesian sailors after more than a month in captivity in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said the hostages – Peter Tonsen Barahama, Julian Philip, Alfian Elvis, Repi Mahmud, Suriansyah Surianto, Wawan Saputka, Rilandi Bayu, Octaviayanto Wendy and Rakhadian – were abandoned near the house of Governor Toto Tan in the capital town of Jolo.

Tan’s security guards noticed the men and asked who they were and upon learning they are Indonesians, the governor was immediately informed.

He ordered the men inside the house where they had been fed. A video of the freed hostages was also taken for documentary purposes while they were feasting on fried chicken and fish, and rice.

Tan told the Indonesians: “This (video) is only a proof to show that you are together with me, so when you go back to Zamboanga, when you go back to Indonesia, I will be the one to tell them that you are free. The (army) general is coming to pick you up and to bring you to the hospital for medical check up and then you fly (back home.)”

The governor quickly phoned the military and police about the Indonesians and handed them over to the authorities and brought to an army base where doctors examined them.

It was unknown if ransoms had been paid for the safe release of the hostages – who were all crew members of the tugboat Brahma 12 kidnapped on March 26 off Tawi-Tawi province in the troubled Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Indonesian media reported that the company that owns the tugboat – Patria Maritime Lines – was willing to pay ransoms in exchange for the hostages, believed being held by Alhabsi Misaya, a rebel commander also tagged as behind the recent kidnappings of 4 Malaysian seamen – Wong Hung Song, 44, Wong Teck Pang, 41, Wong Teck Chi, 39, and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21 – all from Sarawak in the oil-rich state of Sabah in Malaysia.

Television giant GMA 7 reported that the Moro National Liberation Front helped in the negotiations for the safe release of the hostages, but this could not be independently confirmed, although the former rebel group previously negotiated for the freedom of Malaysian hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf.

Jakarta was said to have monitored the progress of the private negotiations between the kidnappers and the ship owner. Indonesia earlier said that it is ready to send police commandos to the Philippines to rescue the hostages.

“There have been a lot of efforts by the local and provincial government and the military and police in securing the safe release not only of the Indonesians, but other hostages as well. The recovery of the ten Indonesians is good news. We hope and pray that the others may also walk freely away from their captors,” Tan told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

The release also coincided with the ongoing military operations against the Abu Sayyaf which pledged allegiance with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. There were no immediate statement from the military’s Western Mindanao Command and the police authorities in the Muslim autonomous region about the release of the hostages.

The Abu Sayyaf beheaded a Canadian hostage John Ridsdel on April 25 after his family and government failed to pay P300 million ransom. The jihadist group is also holding Dutchman Ewold Horn, who was kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi; Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad – who were all seized from the posh resort of Samal Island in Davao del Norte province; and Japanese treasure hunter Toshio Ito also known as Amir Katayama Mamaito.

Abu Sayyaf releases 10 Indonesian hostages (Photo)

From Update.Ph (May 1): Abu Sayyaf releases 10 Indonesian hostages  

Ten Indonesian hostage were freed by terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group, reports from and GMA News Online said.

GMA News reporter Chino Gaston said on Twitter that the hostages were released in Indanan, Sulu after Moro National Liberal Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari reportedly interceded. However, source in Inquirer’s report said hostages were freed after P50-million ransom was paid.

“We were informed there were anonymous people who dropped the Indonesians just in front of the house of Sulu Governor Toto Tan,” Sulu police chief Supt. Wilfredo Cayat said as quoted by

The Abu Sayyaf terrorist group abducted Indonesian workers from a tugboat and a barge late March off the coast of the Philippines, and demanded ransom.
View image on Twitter
Chino Gaston ‎@chinogaston
Indonesian hostages released in Indanan reportedly through help of MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari.

Bombardments continue vs Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Sulu

From the Zamboanga Today Online (May 1): Bombardments continue vs Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Sulu

Government forces have continued to attack Daesh-linked Abu Sayyaf militants in a mountainous area in Sulu, the military reported Friday afternoon.
"Result of indirect fire weapons (105mm howitzers) and reports are coming from civilians," Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Mindanao Command, said in a text message.
Earlier, the military reported 14 Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed in air strikes in the vicinity of Mt. Sinumaan in Patikul, Sulu, four days after the beheading of a Canadian hostage, John Ridsel.
The report said government forces rained artillery fire on the Abu Sayyaf gunmen as planes and helicopters flew low over the jungle terrain dropping bombs on the militants believed to be holding 20 foreign hostages.
"But these figures are for further validation and confirmation," Tan said. "What is important here is that operations are continuing and gaining headway."
President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday vowed to “neutralize” the bandits, who have declared allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group, a day after the severed head of Ridsdel was dumped near Jolo’s City Hall.
Military spokesperson Col. Noel Detoyato told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo in Queszon City that as a result of the bombardments, troops were able to occupy the former places occupied by the Abu Sayyaf.
According to him, the offensive, which began last Saturday and  targeted at veteran one-armed Abu Sayyaf commander Radullan Sahiron, was proving a success.
Security officials on Wednesday said the hostages, including a Canadian, a Norwegian and a Filipino woman abducted with Ridsdel from yachts at a beach resort on Samal Island, Davao del Sur province, seven months ago, were being held by Sahiron on Jolo.
The militants are also holding 18 Indonesian and Malaysian sailors kidnapped from waters south of the Philippines over the past month, as well as a Dutch bird watcher abducted in 2012.
Since 1991, the group -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.

10 Indonesian hostages freed by Abu Sayyaf in Sulu

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 1): 10 Indonesian hostages freed by Abu Sayyaf in Sulu

abu sayyaf

A file picture of alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf group. (via The Star/ANN)

Ten Indonesians were freed by their Abu Sayyaf captors in Sulu on Sunday noon.

Supt. Wilfredo Cayat, police chief of Sulu, confirmed the release of the 10 Indonesians but could not give details.

READ: Abu Sayyaf gunmen abduct 10 Indonesians, demand P50M

“We were informed there were anonymous people who dropped the Indonesians just in front of the house of Sulu Governor (Abdusakur) Toto Tan (II),” Cayat said.

“They were brought inside, they were fed. Governor Tan called me and they turned over the 10 to our custody. We are preparing now to bring the 10 to Zamboanga and turn them to their consular official,” Cayat told the Inquirer by phone.

Cayat said the freed captives were crew members of a tugboat. They were abducted off the waters of Sulu on March 28.

Police earlier identified the crew members as Peter Tonson, Julian Philip, Alvian Elvis Peti, Mahmud, Surian Syah, Surianto, Wawan Saputria, Bayu Oktavianto, Reynaldi and Wendi Raknadian.

A source said a P50-million ransom was paid to the kidnappers.

“They were supposed to be freed between Friday and Saturday somewhere in Luuk town,” the source said.

10 Indonesians taken from tugboat released by militants in the Philippines: Report

From the Straits Times (May 1): 10 Indonesians taken from tugboat released by militants in the Philippines: Report

Islamist militants in strife-torn southern Philippines on Sunday (May 1) released 10 Indonesians they snatched from a tugboat on March 26.

Superintendent Wilfredo Cayat, police chief of Sulu, 1,000km south of the capital Manila, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the hostages were dropped off in front of the house of Sulu Governor Abdusakar Mahail Tan at around noon.

"They were brought inside (the house). They were fed. Governor Tan called me, and they turned over the 10 to our custody. We are preparing now to bring the 10 to Zamboanga and turn them to their consular office," said Supt Cayat.

The Indonesians were released purportedly after their ransom was paid on April 29.

Abu Sayyaf, the group said to be behind the abduction, had demanded 50 million pesos (S$1.42 million) for all 10.
The Indonesians were ferrying coal from Jakarta to Manila when they were taken near the Malaysian border.
The Indonesians were released after the Abu Sayyaf beheaded Canadian John Ridsdel, 68, a former mining executive and journalist, on April 25.

Abu Sayyaf, known for kidnappings, beheadings, bombings and extortion, is one of the most hardline Islamist militant groups, with strongholds in the largely lawless Sulu archipelago, over 1,000km south of the capital Manila.

Four other Indonesians, four Malaysians, another Canadian, a Norwegian, and a Dutchman are believed to be still being held by the Abu Sayyaf.

Palace rejects anew Beijing’s call for bilateral talks over sea dispute

From GMA News (Apr 30): Palace rejects anew Beijing’s call for bilateral talks over sea dispute

The Philippines will remain firm in its stance on the sea dispute with China, MalacaƱang said Saturday, as it awaits the ruling of the The Hague-based international arbitral tribunal handling Manila's case.

Earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping revived calls for “friendly consultation and negotiation" to resolve the maritime row in the South China Sea, parts of which Manila calls West Philippine Sea.

"Well, panatag tayo pagdating sa tibay at sa pagiging tama ng ating kaso. At habang palapit na talaga ang desisyon na ‘to, katulad ng palagi nating sinasabi, ang paglilinaw ng mga issue  ng mga karapatan ng mga overlapping claims at ang ating posisyon ay makatutulong ... hindi lang sa Pilipinas kung ‘di sa Tsina ... at sa buong Southeast Asia," Presidential Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said on state-run dzRB radio.

China has refused to participate in the arbitration process and pressed for bilateral negotiations, which the Philippines earlier turned down.

Beijing's bold moves to assert its territorial claims over almost the entire South China Sea had prompted Manila to turn to international arbitration.

The Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims over areas in the South China Sea, where $5 trillion in annual world trade passes through.

Quezon said Manila will abide by the arbitral court's ruling, even as it stressed that the Philippines has a strong case.

"We would take that whatever statements are being issued from Beijing are reflecting the Chinese position which, of course, they have every right to ventilate," he said.

"But ... we are firm in our stand that we have a strong case and, more importantly, that having trusted the system, we will abide by whatever is decided," he added.

The hearing on the Philippine case against China was held last November at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

Next month, the arbitration panel will announce the court's ruling.