Saturday, May 28, 2016

SAYYAF TARGETS DOCTOR IN SULU: Foiled kidnapping kills soldier, wounds 3

From the Manila Times (May 28): SAYYAF TARGETS DOCTOR IN SULU: Foiled kidnapping kills soldier, wounds 3

Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels killed a government soldier and wounded three others in an aborted kidnapping of a lady doctor in Jolo town, Sulu.

Police said doctor Maryann Lao was shot and wounded on Friday inside her clinic along Scott Road by her would-be abductors who killed her security escort and seriously wounded another soldier and a policeman during the attack.

The rebels were targeting Lao, but failed to get the doctor after her escorts engaged the gunmen in a firefight.

No other details were made available by the police and the military, except that the kidnappers escaped following the incident.

Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin did not release any statement on the foiled kidnapping.

In September 2003, Abu Sayyaf rebels also kidnapped Romeo Lao, a dentist, and his 16-year-old nephew in downtown Jolo. They were freed two months later in Parang town, Sulu but it was not disclosed if ransom was paid for their release.

The following year, rebels also kidnapped an 11-year-old son of a prominent medical doctor and three other companions, also along Scott Road in the town and were freed later.

Recently, Abu Sayyaf gunmen also killed a soldier and wounded at least eight others in separate attacks in Jolo, the capital town of Sulu, one of five provinces under the restive Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The spate of Abu Sayyaf attacks in Jolo have been largely blamed by traders to the failure of the municipal police force and military authorities in preventing violence from erupting despite the large presence of security men in the province.

MNLF fisherfolk get P8.3M livelihood aid

From the Manila Times (May 27): MNLF fisherfolk get P8.3M livelihood aid

COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) gave a total P8.3 M Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan PAMANA-ARMM fisheries assistance to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) communities in a ceremonial turnover recently at the Parang Wharf in Maguindanao.

The beneficiaries were represented by three MNLF commanders, leaders in cooperatives based in MNLF communities. Michael Talib of the Kasanyangan Fishnet Producers Cooperative expressed his thanks to the regional government, PAMANA and the BFAR-ARMM.

Also present in the ceremony were Commander Abdul Jabbar Ambal, chairman of the Darussalam Producer Cooperative based in Lanao del Sur. Their cooperative was among the beneficiaries who earlier received similar assistance through PAMANA.

NDF, not us, walked out of peace talks—Aquino

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): NDF, not us, walked out of peace talks—Aquino
After the historic meeting of President Benigno Aquino III with Moro secessionist group chieftain Murad Ebrahim in 2011 to jump-start the peace process, the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) has expressed its willingness to engage in a similar kind of talk, with its founder Jose Ma. Sison as its representative.

But President Aquino told Inquirer editors and reporters on Tuesday that while he did hear about that proposal, it was never formally presented to him.

“Formally, I don’t think I ever received that (proposal)… But you phrased it correctly, that it was after the Murad meeting, sometime after that. But what was on the table had no significant change so we thought it was just propaganda,” Mr. Aquino said.

The President said his administration did not abandon the peace process with the NDF.

‘Envious’ of MILF

“They walked out. How do we proceed with the peace process if we go back to the long dragged out and no-compromising position?” Mr. Aquino said.

From a well-placed source, the Inquirer learned that the NDF felt “envious” of the Aquino-Murad meeting that its leaders sent word to emissaries soon after and thought of proposing a special track that would include a meeting between the President and Sison.

Sison’s team, in fact, timed a travel to Indonesia from Europe to coincide with President Aquino’s trip to another Southeast Asian country in case the Chief Executive agreed to the proposal to meet.

Mr. Aquino’s successor, Rodrigo Duterte, has been posturing to strike peace with the communist rebels, offering their compatriots Cabinet posts.

Duterte is also set to grant amnesty to all political prisoners in a bid to end the four-decade-old communist insurgency, the longest in Asia.

The peace talks between the Aquino administration and the communist rebels broke down in 2013.
Proposal for talks

Mr. Aquino recalled that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) had a “proposal supposedly coming from Jose Maria Sison that talked about how to resolve this issue, such as employment for their fighters, something like five items and all of those proposals were very doable.”

“And the people we sent all came back and basically said he (Sison) looked very sincere that they wanted this to happen. I am quoting from my memory and how I understood it,” the President said.

But he recalled that “the line broke down” after Sison took back the proposal when the two parties clashed on the implementation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).

The Jasig protects NDF consultants from arrests by the state. Earlier, the NDF saved in a diskette its list of consultants—with their real names, photographs and aliases
—which was kept in a vault but got corrupted over time.

The government declined the NDF’s proposal to reconstruct the list.

“They wanted to repopulate the list, but they were going to put in too many names. They used that as a pretext to walk out of the talks. I want to emphasize that we didn’t stop the talks, they stopped it,” Mr. Aquino said.

5 wounded in Sulu clinic shooting

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): 5 wounded in Sulu clinic shooting

Five persons were wounded in a shooting incident in Jolo, Sulu on Friday.

Supt. Wilfredo Cayat, the Sulu provincial director, said injured were Dr. Marian Lao, Radem Maman, SPO4 Tubadjir Mandangan and two members of the Philippine Marines identified as Privates First Class Omar Somcio and Marlon Banayag.

Cayat said three armed suspects barged into Lao’s clinic on Scott Road in Barangay San Raymundo around 2:40 p.m.

Her security escorts put up a fight.

Maman, a civilian, was passing by when hit in the crossfire, Cayat said. The suspects also shot Mandangan, who was in the area.

The motive and identities of the suspects, who immediately fled, remained unclear, Cayat said.

Soldier killed, 2 hurt in clash with rebels in Negros Occidental

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): Soldier killed, 2 hurt in clash with rebels in Negros Occidental

A soldier was killed while two others were wounded in a firefight with communist rebels in Barangay (village) Mabini, Escalante City, in Negros Occidental on Saturday.

Members of the 61st Infantry Brigade were conducting joint pursuit with the Philippine National Police against New People’s Army (NPA) members, who raided a bunkhouse in Sagay City on May 22, when they ran into a band of rebels about 6:10 a.m., said 2nd Lt. Ma. Revekka Roperos, public information officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade.

The firefight resulted in the death of one soldier and the wounding of two others.

Their names, however, had been withheld because their families had not been notified, said Roperos.

She said there were rebels who were also injured as seen by the civilians in the area.  Pursuit operations of the fleeing rebels were ongoing, she added.

Two farmers were killed during an NPA raid on the bunk houses of agrarian reform beneficiaries on May 22 in Barangay Luna, Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

The Roselyn Pelle Command of the NPA Northern Negros Guerilla Front has claimed  responsibility for the bunkhouse raid that killed Dionesio Ebañez, 44, and Jose Pios, 51, both agrarian reform beneficiaries.

The same group also owned up the ambush on Army soldiers in Toboso town on May 14 that killed.

 Private First Class Teddie Alcallaga, Reggie Taleon, and Ramel Perasol, all members of the 62nd Infantry Battalion.

Two others—Corporal Rosevil Villacampa and PFC Jethro Niervo—were wounded in that ambush.

Retired Army sergeant hurt after being shot by unknown gunmen

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): Retired Army sergeant hurt after being shot by unknown gunmen
A retired Army sergeant was critically wounded after he was repeatedly shot by still unidentified suspects here on Friday evening.

Supt. April Mark Young, the city police chief, said Francisco Rosales, 56, suffered multiple gunshot wounds when motorcycle-riding suspects peppered him with bullets as he was cooking food inside his rented house on Luna Ext. here around 6:50 p.m.

Young said the motive and identities of the suspects had not been determined as of yet.

The police chief also said they were also investigating the retired soldier’s activities to find possible leads that could help solve the incident.

Gov’t troops kill 22 terror group members in Lanao del Sur

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): Gov’t troops kill 22 terror group members in Lanao del Sur

At least 22 members of a local terror group based in Butig, Lanao del Sur, had been killed in a series of clashes with government troops there since May 26, the military said on Saturday.

Two soldiers were also slain and nine other government troopers had been injured in the clashes, according to Maj. Filemon Tan, the spokesperson of the military’s Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City.

Tan, whose unit has jurisdiction over Lanao del Sur and other areas of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said government forces launched a massive military operation in Butig against the Maute group.
“The combined military forces from the 5th Mechanized Battalion, 51st Infantry Battalion and Philippine Air Force have been conducting intense military operations against a notorious LTG (local terror group) in Barangay Ragayan, Butig, Lanao del Sur since May 26, 2016 that resulted in a series of encounters, the deaths of two Army soldiers, and the wounding of nine others while 22 were killed on the LTG based on intelligence reports,” Tan said.

Government forces were still pursuing the armed group in the area, he said.
In Marawi City, the Lanao del Sur police said it was helping in the operation by blocking possible entry and exit areas.

“Our role is to ensure that no other armed group could provide support to the local terrorists and to ensure that none of its members could escape from the ongoing firefight,” Senior Supt. Rustom Duran, the Lanao del Sur police chief, said.
Duran said the massive military operation also involved air and ground assets.

The Maute group was blamed for the series of kidnappings in the province and was also said to be responsible for the beheading of two sawmill workers in Butig last month.

It was also the subject of intense operations between February and March, during which some of its leaders had been slain.

The group had allegedly professed allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or Isis.

PH honoring ‘face-saving’ deal on Scarborough Shoal

From the Manila Bulletin (May 28): PH honoring ‘face-saving’ deal on Scarborough Shoal

President Aquino yesterday lamented the failure of China to honor a “face-saving” agreement brokered by the United States that urged both Manila and Beijing to pull out their vessels from the disputed Scarborough Shoal to resolve a standoff in 2012.
“America brokered and there was an agreement for all parties to depart the shoal and finish… There was a concept of ‘saving face’ by everybody,” Aquino told reporters during a visit in Tarlac last Thursday.
The Philippines, Aquino said, withdrew its vessels but China has kept its presence in local waters.
“Now, their continued presence is something that we have continuously objected,” Aquino added, referring to the intrusion of the Chinese ships in the shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal.
Aquino then pointed out the difference between the behavior of the Philippines and China in terms of dealing with the maritime conflict.
“What we are trying to tell the whole world is: There was a deal, which we observed religiously. We hope the other side will do what we have done,” he said.
A maritime clash between the Philippines and China started in April, 2012 when a Philippine Navy ship, two Chinese maritime vessels and several Chinese fishing boats were involved in a standoff at the Scarborough Shoal, which lies about 118 nautical miles west of Zambales.
When the Philippine ship tried to stop Chinese fishermen from taking illegally hauled marine resources, two Chinese boats intervened. The standoff only ended when all ships headed back to their original ports due to the arrival of the typhoon season.
The President, in the media interview in Tarlac, shared his side of the story about the controversial standoff in Scarborough Shoal four years ago.
At the time, Aquino recalled that the Philippine Navy ship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, was sent to the country’s eastern coast to monitor the North Korean launch. On the way to the area, the Navy intercepted eight Chinese fishing vessels and found illegally fished marine resources.
“As part of our anti-poaching activities within our 200-mile economic zone, our ship accosted these eight ships and found that two of them were engaged in fishing in our waters and they were fishing – parang includes species that are covered by another treaty called CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species): corals, baby sharks, giant clams,” Aquino recalled.
Two Chinese maritime ships soon arrived, resulting in a two-month standoff with the Philippine ship. Both nations have conflicting claims over ownership of the area.
“So nagkaroon tayo ng standoff doon. We replaced the Navy ship with a BFAR vessel precisely to protect our interest and our rights,” Aquino said.
Meanwhile, the President said there was no indication that China was doing reclamation work on Scarborough Shoal. He insisted that the shoal remains part of the Philippine territory.
He said the government is committed to pursuing a peaceful and rules-based approach to resolve the territorial dispute. Resorting to war with China is not an option since the Philippines will never win, he added.
The Philippines is working closely with the United States to preserve international law, freedom of navigation and overflight in the West Philippine Sea. The two nations recently agreed to conduct joint maritime patrols in the disputed territory amid the aggressive claims by China.
As part of its defense cooperation pact with the Philippines, the United States also intends to regularly deploy troops and aircraft to the country to prepare the groundwork for future air patrol and increased military training.

6 soldiers hurt after truck loses brakes

From ABS-CBN (May 28): 6 soldiers hurt after truck loses brakes

Six soldiers were injured after the brakes of the military truck they were riding failed along Barangay Baracatan in Davao del Sur on Friday morning.

According to Private First Class Jaypee Juanitez, the truck lost its brakes while it was going down the road along Purok 6 around 4 a.m.

The truck fell into a canal but fortunately did not hit the house of a resident, Isidra Gamale.
Gamale said she and her children were sleeping when they heard a crash.

The injured soldiers were brought to the Camp Panacan Field Hospital for treatment.

Four hurt in Sulu kidnap try, military says

From ABS-CBN (May 28): Four hurt in Sulu kidnap try, military says

Four people were hurt after a bungled kidnapping in the remote, strife-torn island of Jolo sparked a brief shootout, a military spokesman said Saturday.

Medical doctor Marian Lao, who was reportedly being targeted by the extremist group Abu Sayyaf, was injured along with her two escorts and a policeman, said the regional military spokesman, Major Filemon Tan.

Two motorcycle-riding suspects fired at Lao and her security men at her clinic, prompting the policeman, who was on duty on the other side of the road to return fire, Tan said.
The assailants escaped. It was not immediately known if they were members of the Abu Sayyaf, a rag-tag group of several hundred militants who recently beheaded a Canadian hostage.

The group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria, is believed to be holding several other foreigners including another Canadian and a Norwegian.

Jolo, on the country's southwestern tip, is a known lair of Abu Sayyaf militants.

PAF gets combat pilot as No. 2

From Malaya (May 27): PAF gets combat pilot as No. 2

PRESIDENT Aquino has designated a combat support pilot as the new vice commander or the No. 2 man of the Philippine Air Force.
Maj. Gen. Condrado Parra, commander of the 3rd Air Division, initially assumed the post last May 20 in an acting capacity because his papers have yet to be signed by the President.

Air Force spokesman Col. Robert Araus Musico said Parra was recommended by the Air Force leadership to acting Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda.

Parra replaced Maj. Gen. Emeraldo Magnaye, his classmate at the Philippine Military Academy class of 1983, who bowed out of the service upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Musico described Parra as a “very experienced and a seasoned” pilot.

“He is a combat support pilot flying the UH-IH (Huey helicopters). He led a lot of air missions nationwide, flying in combat areas to provide support in terms of insertion and extraction of troops in battle areas and at the same resupply.”

Parra was among the senior Air Force officers recommended to become the Air Force chief with the retirement of Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado of PMA class 1982 last March.

Bomber hawak na ng pulisya

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 27): Bomber hawak na ng pulisya

Hawak na ngayon ng pulisya ang isa sa umano’y nasa likod ng pambobomba ng mga bus sa Mindanao matapos itong madakip sa lalawigan ng Maguindanao sa magulong Muslim autonomous region sa Mindanao.

Nadakip si Kamad Makauyag kamakalawa sa bahay umano ni Barangay Penfarm chairman Mahal Matalam sa bayan ng Datu Paglas. Maging si Matalam ay hinuli ng pulisya matapos na mabisto ang ibat-ibang armas sa bahay nito.

Hindi naman mabatid kung bakit nasa pangangalaga ni Matalam si Makauyag na umano’y pangunahing suspek sa pambobomba ng Metro Shuttle Bus sa Digos City noon Abril 2008 na kung saan ay 6 katao ang nasawi at marami ang nasugatan.

Ayon sa ulat ng pulisya, miyembro umano ng Al-Khobar Gang si Makauyag. Ang grupo nito ang siyang nasa likod ng maraming extortion at kidnappings for ransom sa central Mindanao at karamihan sa mga miyembro nito ay dating mga rebelde ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Walang pahayag si Governor Esmael Mangudadatu ukol sa pagkakadakip ng dalawa at kung bakit hindi nito natunugan na nasa kanyang lalawigan si Makauyag na matagal ng wanted ng batas. Itinanggi umano ni Makauyag ang lahat ng bintang sa kanya.

2 minors hurt in Maguindanao rifle grenade attack

From the Philippine News Agency (May 28): 2 minors hurt in Maguindanao rifle grenade attack
Two minors were slightly injured when unidentified armed men fired a rifle grenade on Saturday dawn toward the house of one of the siblings of late Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr, police said.

The rifle grenade, fired from nowhere, landed beside the house of Datu Pandag Ampatuan, younger brother of Ampatuan Sr.

Shattered window glasses injured the children who were still asleep, according to Chief Inspector Reynato Mauricio, Maguindanao provincial police spokesperson.

Mauricio said the grenade attack occurred at past 4 a.m. in Datu Pandag's home in Barangay Poblacion 2, Shariff Aguak.

Police are still determining the motive of the attack, one of the many rifle grenade attacks in Shariff Aguak before, during and after the May 9 polls.

Mauricio said pursuit operations are still on going in Shariff Aguak and nearby municipalities.

Cops, Marines hunt down killer of Maguindanao reelected town councilor

From the Philippine News Agency (May 28): Cops, Marines hunt down killer of Maguindanao reelected town councilor

Police and Marine troopers are now hunting down two men believed to be behind the murder of a reelected town councilor here, the second elected official killed by gunmen in the province since May 9 elections.

Chief Insp. Roel Villarin, South Upi police chief, identified the victim as incumbent town Councilor Warlito Pinuela, 52, of Barangay Timanan.

Police said Pinuela, a former police officer before joining local politics, was standing in front of his home in Barangay Timanan when two men riding on a motorbike arrived and without provocation opened fire on the reelected official at about 8 p.m. Friday.

Pinuela died from multiple gunshot wounds in various parts of his body. The suspects fled on the same motorbike.

Pinuela was reelected to his third term in May 9 local polls. Responding cops recovered empty shells for cal. 45 pistol.

Requesting anonymity, his relatives claimed he has been receiving death threats from still unidentified men after his reelection.

They were convinced his death was election related. He belonged to the ruling Liberal Party.

About a week ago, two farmers were separately killed in the villages of Bongo and Kigan, also in South Upi. Both were campaigners of one of the mayoral candidates in town.

On May 16, unidentified gunmen killed Tito Balinto, Barangay Kigan chairperson and his aide, only identified as Sambren.

On May 2, unidentified armed men ambushed another village official of South Upi, killing him on the spot and his two aides.

The fatalities, Perfecto Travilla, chairman of Barangay Pandan, and his bodyguards, Alex Dumaga, and Jason Mundo, were riding a jeepney en route to the town proper of South Upi when gunmen opened fire, killing them on the spot.

Pinuela was the second elected town councilor in Maguindanao gunned down after the May 9 elections.

Town Councilor Hadie Malaguial of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao was also killed by unidentified gunmen in his home in Barangay Poblacion. His wife claimed it was election related.

On April 14, South Upi Vice Mayor Remegio Sioswon, then running for mayor, survived a road side bombing in Barangay Pandan. He belonged to presumptive President Rody Duterte's PDP-Laban party.

Police said joint police and Philippine Marines have been searching for the suspect whose identities were revealed by several witnesses.

Members of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 7 (MBLT-7) have established more checkpoints along major streets in South Upi.

Residents also urged the police to help put a stop to the series of killings that they believed were carried out by partisan armed groups.

Duterte changes mind, DENR will not go to progressive left

From the Philippine News Agency (May 27): Duterte changes mind, DENR will not go to progressive left

Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing for another person to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and not from the progressive left as earlier planned citing serious and sensitive issues on mining operations.

But Duterte remains committed to give the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), might even consider to put leftists in some agencies. He said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) went to Silvestre Bello III, who is also the choice of the left.

Duterte said he reconsidered to give the DENR to the progressive left after going through all some papers. But Duterte said he has already explained to Fidel Agcaoili, the emissary of the Communist Party of the Philippines – National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF), why he would not concede the DENR post to them during their meeting on Tuesday night.

Agcaoili met with Duterte on Tuesday night to submit the list of nominees from the progressive left for government offices reserved for them.

“It is an impressive list…about less than ten,” Duterte told reporters. He said he already submitted the list of the nominees mostly from the University of the Philippines, to the screening committee.

“If you are identified with the left - that is not an issue with me. Once upon a time I was a left of center,” Said Duterte.

He emphasized he only wanted a peaceful country.

“Hopefully when I step down wala na yung (there is no more) left…right…Moro…lumad…Christian. I want to build a strong nation for the next generation,” he said.

In explaining why he cannot give the DENR to the leftists, Duterte said there are serious issues there that he may need someone to strongly oversee.

The mayor has been strongly criticizing the mining operations in the country because of abuse of resources.

“Mainit ako diyan kasi talagang sinira nila ang ating lupa (I am really furious to that…they really destroyed our land), he told reporters in a midnight conference on Wednesday.

Gov't remains serious in fighting cybercrimes, says Palace official

From the Philippine News Agency (May 28): Gov't remains serious in fighting cybercrimes, says Palace official

Malacanang made an assurance on Saturday that the government continues to fortify the country’s banking system against hackers who have been trying to penetrate the banking system.

There were reports saying that foreign hackers tried to breached the country’s banking system.

Just recently, a breach in the banking industry resulted in millions of dollars being stolen from the central bank in Bangladesh, with the money ending up in Philippine banks and casinos.

In a radio interview, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said that government fight against financial hacking has two aspects: creating institutions against cyber crimes and strengthening the anti-money laundering system.

The government has been strengthening the training of the personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to boost their capability against cybercrimes.

“Kailan din lang ay naipasa ang batas na bubuuin na yung isang bagong Department of Information and Communications Technology,” he told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

“Sa pamamagitan nito, mapapag-ugnay o mai-integrate lahat nang iba’t ibang ahensya na may partisipasyon diyan sa daloy ng digital information na siya nang kalakaran sa ating modernong daigdig.”

The other aspect is the Anti-Money Laundering system, and the government already put up the Anti-Money Laundering Council. Its main task is to fight corruption particularly those who are doing illegal money transfers, he said.

There is also a package of reforms being carried out by the government to strengthen the country’s banking rules especially the bank secrecy law, he said.

“At tinitingnan na kung paano ito mapapalakas, at yung mga tinatawag na loopholes sa batas ng Anti-Money Laundering, kung paano mapa-plug yung loopholes sa batas.”

“Kaya yan din naman ang resulta nang pagkamulat at yung tumaas na antas ng kamalayan ng mga mamamayan hinggil sa perwisyo at kasamaan na dulot nitong cybercrimes.”

“At patuloy sanang pagtulungan ng lahat ng mga stakeholders, hindi lamang ng pamahalaan, yung pagsabat sa cybercrime para maiwasan ang mga katiwalian katulad nito,” Coloma added.

Soldier killed, 2 hurt in clash with rebels in Negros Occidental

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): Soldier killed, 2 hurt in clash with rebels in Negros Occidental

A soldier was killed while two others were wounded in a firefight with communist rebels in Barangay (village) Mabini, Escalante City, in Negros Occidental on Saturday.

Members of the 61st Infantry Brigade were conducting joint pursuit with the Philippine National Police against New People’s Army (NPA) members, who raided a bunkhouse in Sagay City on May 22, when they ran into a band of rebels about 6:10 a.m., said 2nd Lt. Ma. Revekka Roperos, public information officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade.

The firefight resulted in the death of one soldier and the wounding of two others.

Their names, however, had been withheld because their families had not been notified, said Roperos.

She said there were rebels who were also injured as seen by the civilians in the area.  Pursuit operations of the fleeing rebels were ongoing, she added.

Two farmers were killed during an NPA raid on the bunk houses of agrarian reform beneficiaries on May 22 in Barangay Luna, Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

The Roselyn Pelle Command of the NPA Northern Negros Guerilla Front has claimed  responsibility for the bunkhouse raid that killed Dionesio Ebañez, 44, and Jose Pios, 51, both agrarian reform beneficiaries.

The same group also owned up the ambush on Army soldiers in Toboso town on May 14 that killed Private First Class Teddie Alcallaga, Reggie Taleon, and Ramel Perasol, all members of the 62nd Infantry Battalion.

Two others—Corporal Rosevil Villacampa and PFC Jethro Niervo—were wounded in that ambush.

Islamic State-loyal groups claim attacks on Filipino military

From the Long War Journal (May 28): Islamic State-loyal groups claim attacks on Filipino military (By Caleb Weiss)


Fighters, including some children, shown in a training camp belonging to the Islamic State in Lanao group

Over the past two months, both the Islamic State and several groups in the Philippines loyal to the Islamic State have claimed responsibility for multiple attacks on Filipino troops.

In the past two days, social media accounts belonging to Islamic State groups in the Philippines have claimed three attacks, but gave no dates for the purported violence.

On May 26, the accounts said that there was a “clash between the soldiers of Dawlah Islamiya (party of Allah) and Soldiers of government (party of shaytan)” and that a tank was captured in Butig. Additionally, the accounts claimed that fighters from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, engaged with soldiers in Maguindanao. CNN Philippines reported that the town of Datu Salibo in Maguindanao sees almost daily skirmishes between Filipino troops and BIFF and that Butig suffers the same reality with jihadists.

In another claim, jihadists reportedly ambushed a Filipino military truck in Lanao Del Sur. The last reported ambush of its kind happened back in February when an army convoy traveling between Marawi and Cotabato was ambushed, which left one soldier dead. However, suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) fighters ambushed a military truck in Sulu, wounding seven Filipino rangers on May 26. ASG is also suspected to be behind the killing of a soldier in Sulu, also on May 26.

On May 20, the Islamic State released an official claim of attack on Filipino troops, saying its forces wounded a group of soldiers in Basilan. The Islamic State also claimed an attack on a Filipino army position in Maluso, Basilan, on May 9. According to the statement, fighters loyal to the Islamic State killed one and injured another. The jihadist group also claimed capturing weapons during the raid. In late April, the Islamic State in Lanao released photos showing the beheadings of two purported spies of the Philippines.

The Islamic State did not give a location, but last month the jihadist organization claimed that its fighters in the Philippines have killed more than 100 Filipino soldiers in recent clashes. The Filipino government vehemently denied the obviously high number saying that only 18 of its soldiers have been killed in the southern Philippines area of Basilan. The Philippines also reported that 28 militants from ASG, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, were killed in the clashes.

Other groups allied with the Islamic State in the Philippines have not yet released media showing clashes with the Filipino government. ASG is the largest group to pledge to the Islamic State, as well as the most experienced and capable in confronting the Filipino security forces. However, the Philippines claimed it killed two members of Ansar Khilafah, another group that has sworn its loyalty to the Islamic State, recently in the southern Sarangani province. In response, Ansar Khilafah claimed an IED attack in General Santos City, which caused minimal damage. It also released photos of the two fighters killed a few days later.

In Maguindanao, the Filipino government blames most IED’s on BIFF. In March, it said over 20 IED attacks were the responsibility of the group. One of those IED blasts killed five civilians, including a young child.

[Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.]

Duterte: Beneath tough talk, is he a potential peacemaker?

From the Straits Times (May 28): Duterte: Beneath tough talk, is he a potential peacemaker?  (By Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff)

Duterte's personal ties with the communists and the Mindanao Muslims offer hope for a lasting peace agreement.

The election of the Philippines' President-elect Rodrigo Duterte signals an important shift in the country's internal politics.

A lot has been made of Mr Duterte's tough-speaking, no-nonsense approach to crime in Davao. His two decades as mayor of Davao City in Mindanao have seen a drop in violent crime. This drop is attributed partly to his support of the "Davao Death Squad", a vigilante group that conducts extrajudicial killings of criminals.

In a region where violence (criminal and political) is part of the local history, Mr Duterte's approach was widely supported. However, beyond the tough, warrior-like front, he has also cultivated another persona - as a peacemaker. And ironically, he is possibly one of the best hopes for lasting peace in the Philippines.


A Maoist-inspired Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) rebellion that seeks social and political reform has lasted more than 40 years and claimed about 30,000 lives.
The CPP is supported by its military wing, the New People's Army (NPA) while the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is the political front.
It seeks the removal of US influence and dismantling of traditional power structures that dominate relations between the peasantry and political elites. At its height in the 1980s, the CPP numbered more than 25,000 members. Its membership has dwindled to about 4,000, mainly from the peasant and indigenous communities.

Negotiations between the CPP and the government have repeatedly broken down amid accusations of bad faith and insincerity. In 2013, negotiations were called off after the CPP demanded that its rebels held in detention be released. The Philippine government rejected the demand, citing difficulty in ascertaining a rebel from a criminal.

Mr Duterte, who supports the Davao Death Squad, may be brash, but his ties with rebels may actually end the rebellions.  PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Mr Duterte's longstanding relationship with the CPP's founder and ideologue, Jose Maria Sison, may provide a solution to the conflict.
Sison, who was Mr Duterte's lecturer at Lyceum University, has been in a self-imposed exile in the Netherlands after the Philippine government cancelled his passport while he was on a European lecture tour.
Mr Duterte's overtures to the CPP have been received positively by its leadership. Soon after his election, he met NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili and committed to peace talks and amnesty for political prisoners.
He further offered the CPP four Cabinet posts in the labour, agrarian reform, environment and social welfare departments.
This offer does not mean the CPP would necessarily be part of the administration.
As Sison has made clear, the offer can only be accepted once there is a negotiated truce. With Mr Duterte due to be sworn in on June 30, it is unlikely that any CPP members would be part of the Duterte administration for now.
It, however, strengthens the hand of CPP leaders who are more inclined towards peaceful negotiations over armed rebellion.
The rapprochement has, however, been rejected by some members of the Filipino military and political establishment.
Former navy officer and coup plotter Senator Antonio Trillanes, and former police intelligence chief Rodolfo Mendoza have both discussed the possibility of a coup if Mr Duterte proceeds with his plans to bring the communists into his administration.
The Muslims in Southern Philippines (Bangsamoro or Moro nation) have resisted Spanish and American colonisation for 300 years. Since independence, that resistance is focused on the Philippine state.
At stake is the autonomy of Mindanao and its surrounding islands.
In 1989, an Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao was created as part of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
As mayor of Mindanao's largest city and with family members from among the Bangsamoro, Mr Duterte's candidacy was strongly supported by the Bangsamoro groups.
His backing for the enactment of the Halal Ordinance in Davao City, which facilitates and regulates halal food compliance, and his support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) have won him favours in the restive region.
The basic law would have resulted in the creation of a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, granting greater autonomy for the region and a demilitarisation of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
There are, however, other complications.
Mr Duterte's running mate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, is opposed to the basic law, saying it would lead to civil war and strengthen the MILF.
The weakening MNLF has thus far rejected the basic law while the MILF has declared that its demilitarisation is conditional on the BBL being passed into law.
Mr Duterte now appears to have moved away from his support for the basic law and is pushing for federalism of the Philippines. While federalism would potentially grant local autonomy to the Mindanao (among others), they would remain as just another region within the Philippine state.
Still, the Bangsamoro appear to be hopeful of Mr Duterte's next moves. Having worked closely with him over the years, there is optimism that he will be an honest broker and help initiate peaceful settlements.
While Mr Duterte appears to have the force of personality and longstanding relationships with leaders of the CPP and the Bangsamoro, he still needs to navigate a political system that has failed to find a solution.
Sections of the military that have spent decades fighting the CPP and MILF appear to reject any settlement with the two groups.
The failed negotiations over the years have also created a distrustful environment among political elites on each side.
His challenge is not merely to negotiate a workable agreement but to convince every party to let go of the legacies of conflict and distrust. At the same time, he needs to assure the elements within the military and political elites and the rebel groups that they will remain relevant and influential.
While his extending the olive branch to the CPP and MILF is a positive start, Mr Duterte still needs to convince his administration that lasting peace is the best hope for the country. And hope that the CPP and MILF keep to their end of the deal.

[The writer is a final-year PhD candidate at La Trobe University, Australia (International Relations). He researches International Institutionalism with a focus on Asean.]

‘I’ll free ASG victims’

From the Manila Bullein (May 28): ‘I’ll free ASG victims’

Duterte says he has plans for Abu Sayyaf
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte vowed to work for the release of the remaining foreign nationals and a Filipina kidnapped by armed men from the Island Garden City of Samal held captive by the Abu Sayyaf, in a midnight press conference Wednesday.
Duterte said he already has his plans for the Abu Sayyaf which he will put it into action once he assumes the presidency.
“I have something in my mind but nobody would be privy to that except the military and police. I intend to do it when I am there in the Office of the President,” he said.
The latest video released by the Abu Sayyaf showed Samal kidnap victims Canadian Robert Hall and his Filipina girlfriend Marites Flor, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad appealing for Duterte’s help.
“We have a hundred people heavily armed around us all the time that dictate to us and talk to us like children. We’ve been humiliated in every way possible. One of us has already been murdered. We hope that you can work on our behalf as soon as possible to get us out of here. Please, the sooner the better. We’re three-quarters dead right now. Thank you,” Hall said in the video.
Hall, Sekkingstad, Flor, and Canadian John Ridsdell were kidnapped by armed men from the Ocean View Marina on Samal near Davao City on Sept. 21, 2015. Ridsel was beheaded last April 25 after the Abu Sayyaf did not receive P300-million ransom demanded from the Canadian and Philippine governments.
The Abu Sayyaf has threatened to behead one of the remaining Samal Island hostages if their ransom demand for them amounting to P600 million is not paid by 3 p.m. on June 13.
Meanwhile, Duterte is set to meet his friend Nur Misuari, chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), over reports of a supposed snub to Misuari’s emissary Rev. Absalom Cerveza at the Matina Enclaves,where Duterte has been staying,  last May 16.
Duterte said he was getting in touch with Misuari’s camp for his planned visit to Jolo since the latter cannot come out in public because he is considered a fugitive.
Duterte’s impending Jolo visit raised speculations he might asked Misuari’s help for the release of the kidnap victims. The MNLF facilitated the recent release of Indonesian nationals taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf.
Duterte would not confirm this, saying only that he wanted to personally talk with Misuari over the snub issue. The mayor said there was no intention to snub Cerveza or the MNLF because no information had reached him or his office about Cerveza’s coming to see him/

MNLF prepares for Digong visit in Sulu turf of Nur Misuari

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): MNLF prepares for Digong visit in Sulu turf of Nur Misuari

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is now preparing the venue in Sulu province, where incoming President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte and Moro leader Nur Misuari are expected to meet, a senior MNLF official said.

Duterte and Misuari are known to be close friends.

Dr. Samsula Adju, designated MNLF spokesperson, said the exact time and date of the meeting had not been set. The location of the meeting would be kept under wraps, said Adju.

“Duterte is coming over to Sulu,” Adju said in a phone interview.

On Wednesday, Duterte said he planned to visit Misuari in his hideout in the jungles of Sulu.

Duterte said he hoped to clarify with Misuari, who is now wanted for alleged involvement in the 2013 Zamboanga siege, a misunderstanding over his failure to meet with an MNLF delegation that came to Davao City on May 16 to meet the incoming ruler.

The MNLF delegation, headed by Rev. Absalom Cerveza, earlier said some people around Duterte blocked the delegation’s request to meet the mayor.

“You said you were snubbed, but believe me, I don’t do that. I was there for 21 hours,” Duterte said, addressing the MNLF.

Duterte said he was also considering whether or not to convince Misuari to surrender.

Among the subjects that Duterte said he planned to discuss with Misuari was the terror group Abu Sayyaf.

“Those involved in criminality will have to answer,” Duterte said.

Adju said the MNLF was committed to support Duterte in ridding Sulu, Basilan and other provinces of kidnappers.

“And right now, we are talking with authorities about how to go about it, how to realize this plan,” said Adju.

But he made it clear that the MNLF had no plans to get involved in an armed confrontation with the Abu Sayyaf.

“It will not be in a violent or bloody way, it will be (through) dialogue, negotiation and Islamic persuasion,” said Adju.

An armed confrontation, he said, “is not necessary.”

“It’s haram for one Muslim to fight another Muslim,” he added.

He said MNLF was also “trying to reach out to (Abu Sayyaf) commanders and subleaders” in the hope of securing the release of at least 15 kidnap victims who were still held by the group.

“Everyone (has to be freed). Maas Misuari will negotiate for the release of all the hostages,” said Adju.