Friday, July 1, 2016

Counsel: International response to Philippine case crucial

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 1): Counsel: International response to Philippine case crucial

In this Friday, June 10, 2016, file photo, a protester has her cheek painted with a slogan outside the Chinese Consulate during a protest against China's occupation and island-building in the disputed Spratly Island group in the South China Sea, in Makati city's financial district east of Manila, Philippines. A case brought by the Philippines against China in an international tribunal deciding the claim, represents a diplomatic dilemma for far-flung nations as Washington and Beijing rally support for their respective positions on the use of international arbitration in South China Sea disputes. AP FILE PHOTO

In this Friday, June 10, 2016, file photo, a protester has her cheek painted with a slogan outside the Chinese Consulate during a protest against China’s occupation and island-building in the disputed Spratly Island group in the South China Sea, in Makati city’s financial district east of Manila, Philippines. A case brought by the Philippines against China in an international tribunal deciding the claim, represents a diplomatic dilemma for far-flung nations as Washington and Beijing rally support for their respective positions on the use of international arbitration in South China Sea disputes. AP FILE PHOTO
The lead counsel for the Philippines in a high-profile case challenging China’s sweeping claims in the disputed South China Sea says the response of other coastal states will be crucial in the aftermath of an upcoming ruling by an international tribunal.

China is boycotting the case brought before The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, which announced this week its verdict will come July 12. The court has previously determined it has jurisdiction in the case.

READ: Decision on PH-China sea row out on July 12 – tribunal

The Philippines, a U.S. ally, is challenging the validity of the so-called nine-dash line that China uses to demarcate its claims to most of the South China Sea, where tensions have been mounting. China has built artificial islands in disputed areas and has been angered by periodic U.S. military patrols nearby.

Paul Reichler, counsel for the Philippines, told The Associated Press late Thursday he was optimistic the court would rule in his client’s favor, and while the court has no enforcement mechanism, international opinion would weigh on China.

“China has made very strong public statements that it does not intend to comply with the judgment of the arbitral tribunal, but that is not the end of the story,” said Reichler, an expert on international litigation and arbitration at the Washington-based private law firm Foley Hoag LLP.

READ: China says ahead of UN ruling: ‘We’re not afraid of trouble’

“What China may ultimately do in six months, or a year or two years, may be very different than what it says on July 12 or July 13. I think a lot will depend on the reaction to the award of the international community as a whole, particularly China’s neighbors that have coasts along the South China Sea,” he said.

The case was brought in 2013 by the previous Philippine government of Benigno Aquino III. Reichler declined to comment on how the policy of the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who was sworn in Thursday, might shape the aftermath of the ruling. Duterte has shown readiness to mend frosty ties with China.

Southeast Asia’s regional bloc appears to be divided on the issue, with smaller pro-China nations complicating efforts to forge a consensus. China has been stepping up its public messaging as the ruling date approaches, and garnering support among far-flung nations, mostly in Africa and Mideast. It asserts that its sovereignty over land features scattered around the South China Sea is indisputable, although several other governments have territorial claims or interests there.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Thursday said the Philippine case was “an abuse of international law and the international arbitration mechanism” and reaffirmed China would not accept its verdict, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

China contends the case addresses a question of sovereignty and so lies outside mandatory dispute settlement procedures under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, the tribunal determined in October 2015 that the Philippine case was about interpretation of the convention, not sovereignty, and so it had jurisdiction.

Reichler said the ruling would be binding only on China and the Philippines but would affect other coastal states. He said those states would be unlikely to acquiesce in China’s claims if the court ruled against it.

“If the nine-dash line is unlawful as applied by China against the Philippines, then logically it is equally unlawful as applied by China” against other states, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Reichler said. He said if China persisted in trying to enforce illegal claims, it would impact relations with its neighbors.

Councilman, militiaman die in Zambo Sur ambush

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Jul 1): Councilman, militiaman die in Zambo Sur ambush

A VILLAGE official and a militiaman were killed in an ambush by suspected lawless elements in the province of Zamboanga del Sur, the police reported Friday.

Senior Micheal Nicolas, Zamboanga del Sur police director identified the victims as Rodelio Digan and Angelito Pampangan. Both died on the spot.

Digan is a councilman in the village of Guiniculalay while Pampangan is a militiaman in the village of Nian, all in the town of Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur.

Nicolas said the ambush took place around 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, at Purok 1 in the village of East Migpulao, Dinas municipality.

Nicolas said the victims were driving motorcycles when the suspects, Anwat Ansang and Fermin Muhamar, both members of the Nohr Ambul crime group, ambushed them.

He said the suspects fled and are subject of a police manhunt.

DWDD: THE GALLANT ILOCANO | Lt Gen Ricardo Visaya, 47th AFP Chief of Staff

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jul 1): THE GALLANT ILOCANO | Lt Gen Ricardo Visaya, 47th AFP Chief of Staff

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) His wholehearted commitment, progressive thinking and meritorious achievement as a military professional earned him the admiration of his men and fellow officers in the organization. His good track record earned him the favour of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who decided to name him as the first Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under his administration.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL RICARDO RAMORAN VISAYA AFP will be the AFP’s 47th Chief of Staff when he will be officially installed by President Duterte, today, July 1, 2016.

LT GEN VISAYA is the 28th Commander of the Southern Luzon Command or SOLCOM (Sept. 8, 2014 – July 1, 2016). He commands the entire Army Navy and Air Force units in Region 4-A (CALABARZON), Region 4-B (except Palawan) and Region 5 (Bicol Region).

He started his military career when he entered the Philippine Military Academy in 1979 and graduated as a proud member of PMA “Matikas” Class on1983. He was born on December 8, 1960 in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.

At an early age of his military service, he has earned his mark as a leader and firmly established the foundations of his career by ably holding key positions in the junior level of command in the Philippine Army. Among the position he held as a junior military leader were Platoon leader and Company Commander of the Bravo Company, 28th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, and Commanding Officer of the 3rd Intelligence and Security Unit, Intelligence and Security Group. PAO SOLCOM / AES / MCAG

DWDD: INTENSIFIED ATROCITIES | NPA Continue Offensive Despite Peace Efforts

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 30): INTENSIFIED ATROCITIES | NPA Continue Offensive Despite Peace Efforts

MANILA (DWDD)Despite the new administrations peace offering, the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has already killed 18 soldiers, and counting, since May 9, 2016.

The rebel group has been more aggressive in their campaigns against government forces (military, police, etc.), killing mostly unarmed, off-duty soldiers and civilian volunteers, despite the peace-talks offered by the Duterte administration.

According to sources, most of the atrocities like ambushes, assassinations, and terror attacks through the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were in done in Central Visayas and Eastern Mindanao, were rebel forces consolidated their remaining members in the hope of regaining their lost cause.

Last May 16, the NPA launched a deadly attack on a group of soldier from the 62nd Infantry Battalion while on patrol  in Sitio Carbon, Barangay San Isidro, in Toboso, Negros occidental which led to the death of four soldiers and the wounding of two personnel. The incident was eventually claimed by the Roselyn Pelle Command of the rebels Northern Negros Guerilla Front.

Just recently, the rebel group murdered in cold-blood Cpl Anthony R Sumaoy and Cpl Aldrin Cris Ogatis of the 67th Infantry Battalion based in Trento, Agusan Del Sur.

Concerned groups are raising doubt if the leadership of the CPP-NDF in the Hague, Netherlands has any control over its members in the Philippines. Security experts has expressed concerns on the issue and has suggested the implementation  of backchannel negotiations or localized peace talks in the hpe of ending the more than four decades of hardship, suffering and grief brought by the CPP-NPA. AS / MCAG

DWDD: TRANSITION CEREMONY | Change of Leadership at the DND

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 30): TRANSITION CEREMONY | Change of Leadership at the DND

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – The lobby of the Department of National Defense (DND) was filled with tears and laughter after the send-off ceremony for  outgoing Secretary Voltaire T Gazmin.

Sec Gazmin was at the forefront of major changes in the department and was instrumental with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program
Tomorrow, a Welcome Ceremony will be given to incoming Secretary Delfin N Lorenzana

The DND Transition Ceremony between Sec Gazmin and  Sec Lorenzana was held a day early, June 29, 2016, at the DND lobby, where the former secretary handed over his Tour of Duty and Technical Report to the new secretary.

Present during the ceremony were the Defense Department officials and personnel including the outgoing and incoming Undersecretaries, top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and DND Civilian Bureaus, and members of the media.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazminand incoming Secretary of National Defense MGEN. Delfin N. LorenzanaAFP(Ret) leads the DND community in the singing of the National Anthem during the Department of National Defense (DND) Transition Ceremony. AES / MCAG

China's president talks tough ahead of tribunal ruling

From InterAksyon (Jul 1): China's president talks tough ahead of tribunal ruling

China will never compromise on sovereignty, President Xi Jinping said Friday ahead of an international tribunal ruling over Beijing's maritime claims, as he celebrated the Communist Party's 95th anniversary.

The ruling party must maintain absolute power in the country, strengthen its military and establish a greater role in world leadership, Xi told serried ranks of top officials in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, to rapturous applause.

"No foreign country... should expect us to swallow the bitter pill of harm to our national sovereignty, security or development interests," Xi said, adding: "We are not afraid of trouble."

His remarks come as regional tensions rise over Beijing's claims to nearly all of the West South China Sea, with the US sending naval patrols close to artificial islands Beijing has built in the disputed waters.

Xi took an apparent stab at the US, saying: "We will not show up at other people's front doors to flex our muscles. That does not show strength or scare anyone."

An international tribunal in The Hague will rule on July 12 in a case brought by the Philippines challenging China's claims in the strategic waterway.

Beijing insists that the Permanent Court of Arbitration has no jurisdiction over the issue and has boycotted the proceedings.

Since assuming the party's top post in 2012, Xi has rapidly consolidated power while overseeing a more assertive foreign policy and a tighter authoritarian stance at home.

Chinese wisdom

In his speech, Xi heaped praise on the ruling party and vowed to maintain the country's centralized Communist-led political system.

"All party comrades must remember what we are constructing is socialism with Chinese characteristics, and not any other ideology," he said.

The Communist party, which had some 88.7 million members at the end of last year, must maintain "absolute leadership," he said.

Xi has won popularity with a much-publicized anti-corruption campaign that has claimed the scalps of several former top-ranked officials.

"The biggest threat to our ruling party is corruption," he said, calling for a "complete purification of the party's political environment".

He credited the Communist party with expelling "imperialism" from Chinese soil, and stressed the country's economic growth in recent decades.

Mao Zedong thought

He stressed the need for "Mao Zedong thought" but did not refer to the tens of millions killed in famines and political campaigns under the founder of the People's Republic founder.

The speech contained more than 20 references to "Marxism" and ended with a rendition of the left-wing anthem "The Internationale" by a brass band.

He also issued a warning to Taiwan's newly elected Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ying-wen -- saying: "we will resolutely oppose all Taiwanese separatist forces".

Shortly before the ceremony began, a Taiwanese warship mistakenly launched a supersonic "aircraft carrier killer" missile towards the mainland, which landed in the Taiwan Strait, Taipei's navy said.

Xi vowed to "build, in line with our global status and in accordance with national interests, a strong army and consolidate national defense".

He also said that China would take an active role in what he called "global governance", suggesting it was seeking a weightier role in international affairs.

"China will actively participate in building a global governance system, and will contribute Chinese wisdom to perfecting such a system," Xi added.

‘Mass wedding’ opens army battalion’s founding anniversary celebration

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 1): ‘Mass wedding’ opens army battalion’s founding anniversary celebration

In celebration of the 43rd founding anniversary, in June 25, of the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, the army unit opened it with a mass wedding rite.

Ten soldiers tied the knot with their long time love and brides in holy matrimony officiated by Maj. Juan Jerome C. Daluro, CHS (PA), at Municipal Tree Park Function Hall in Impasugong town.

Known in the Philippine Army as the "Dependable Battalion," the unit’s celebration is anchored on the theme "Ika-43 taon ng paglilingkod bayan; sandigan at lakas ng kawal na maaasahan (43rd year of public service; foundation and strength of a reliable soldier)."

Likewise, a mass baptism also took place later after wedding ceremonies, where the Rite of Baptism for troops’ children concluded the church rites.

The activity is part of the 8th Infantry Battalion's thrust on marriage enrichment and family planning, which are all anchored at the principles of the Army Transformation Roadmap.

Meanwhile, at 3:00 p.m. on same day, a short ceremony opened the anniversary sports fest participated by the different Infantry Company personnel of the 8th Infantry Battalion because it is around this time of year that soldiers get brief rest from the rigors of security operations and patrols as they engage in fun games, recreational activities, and other sports events in order to commemorate the rich history of the battalion.

In a statement, Lt Col Lennon Babilonia, commanding officer of the battalion, underscored the importance of commemorating the 8th Infantry Battalion's founding anniversary.

"The 8th Infantry Battalion is one of the finest battalions of the Philippine Army. Every commander of this unit knows this fact and realizes that the very moment that he takes command; he is emboldened by the truth that he has to lead the men in maintaining the high standards of the unit," said Babilonia.

This is the reason why we commemorate this event and it is very important to always remind our soldiers of both this burden and privilege of working here in this battalion. Hence, although our troops are here celebrating this momentous event, we are still doing our security operations and security patrols in our area of operations if only to secure our communities, most especially the Lumad communities, from the abuses, threat, and exploitation of criminal organizations such as the New People’s Army.

Army, young people lead ‘joint youth leadership’ seminar in Bukidnon

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 1): Army, young people lead ‘joint youth leadership’ seminar in Bukidnon

Seventy-two aspiring youths from across the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon—including Cagayan de Oro City—participated and spent an intense, exciting three days at the headquarters of Peacemaker Brigade at Camp Osito D. Bahian in Impalambong, Malaybalay City.

The three-day Youth Leadership Seminar (YLS) spearheaded by the army’s 403rd Brigade in partnership with the Propelling Our Inherited Nation Through our Youth (POINTY) Inc. aims to impart to the youths the best practices of leadership to inspire them as they journey to become leaders of future generations.

The young leaders representing the in-school youth, out-of-school youth, and young professionals have been campaigning for the Filipino youth to be more responsible, productive, and well-informed members of society.

Col Jesse A Alvarez, 403Bde commander said there is a need for our youths to be involved and be part of any organization that will enrich their capacity and passion to do it.

“Hence, their leadership potential should be enhanced in order to increase their support to the government’s efforts in the ongoing campaign for peace, progress, and development,” Col Alvarez said.

With the theme “Kabatan-onan Magtinabangay para sa Kalinaw ug Kalamboan (Youths cooperation for peace and development),” Bukidnon provincial administrator lawyer Nestor E. Cajes—who talked in behalf of Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri—emphasized that youth should be reminded on the common goals and their roles and responsibilities in the society.

For their part, POINTY youth leaders expressed gratitude for this YLS program of the Philippine Army.

“We won’t forget our learning experience here Sir, and for that we are very grateful for being an ally in our advocacy to inform our fellow youth groups on the security situation and its implications to national development,” said one of the participants of the Joint Provincial YLS.

Full military honors for Duterte at the AFP change of command rites

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 1): Full military honors for Duterte at the AFP change of command rites

President Rodrigo R. Duterte oversaw the turnover ceremonies of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the General Headquarters grandstand in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Friday.

Accompanied by Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana and AFP Acting Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, Duterte was given arrival honors by the Philippine Military Academy cadets complete with a 21-gun Salute.

Among the activities lined up for the event were the presentation of command and honors, inspection of the troops, honors to the nation, as well as the reading of relief and designation orders by AFP Adjutant General BGen. Reuel Sorilla.

During his campaign, President Duterte proposed the use of the military and the Philippine National Police in the war against drugs and criminality. Duterte is also firm on his stand that he does not want to unnecessarily sacrifice the nation’s soldiers by fighting wars that we cannot win like in the case of foreign invasion or the current row in the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte is also in favor of holding peace talks with the New People’s Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The President affirmed his stand on AFP modernization and other matters of sovereignty and national defense, as a commitment to protect the country and its jurisdiction.

Military, police capture ASG bomb expert-leader, follower in Basilan province

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 1): Military, police capture ASG bomb expert-leader, follower in Basilan province

Joint military and police operatives have captured two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) brigands, including an explosive expert and an ASG mid-level leader in the province of Basilan, a military official announced Friday.

Arrested were Mudzrih Abih Adjalan alias Idol, and a certain Yasir, according to Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman.

Tan said Adjalan and Yasir were arrested by joint military and police operatives during a law enforcement operation around 5:15 a.m. Friday in Sitio Nangka-Nangka, Barangay Sungkayot, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan province.

Tan said Adjalan, a mid-level ASG leader, is well-trained in manufacturing Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and is involved in the conduct of surveillance for probable targets of several bombing incidents in this city and in the cities of Isabela and Lamitan, both in Basilan.

He said Adjalan was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest for kidnapping and serious illegal detention. Yasir is an ASG follower.

He said Adjalan is responsible for the killings on June 25, 2013 of two residents of Lamitan City namely Godofredo Oraw Jr. and Homer Dela Fuente.

He said the military and police forces continue to exhaust all efforts to neutralize the ASG in the province of Basilan.

Army presses offensive against NPAs in North Cotabato following clash that kills 2 rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 1): Army presses offensive against NPAs in North Cotabato following clash that kills 2 rebels

The military here has intensified its pursuit operations against a band of communist guerillas who have been harassing farmers in a remote village in North Cotabato.

Government forces belonging to 39th Infantry Battalion and New Peoples Army (NPA) clashed Friday dawn in Barangay Balite, Magpet, North Cotabato that left two rebels killed, according to Capt. Danny Boy Catapang.

Catapang, speaking for the 39th IB, said two high powered firearms were also seized during the 5 a.m. clash in Sitio Lukuakon, Balite and in nearby Sitio Boay-Boay, Barangay Basak, also in Magpet, one of the towns in North Cotabato infiltrated by communist rebels.

Tapang said residents of two sub-villages tipped off the military about the presence of heavily armed NPAs asking food supplies from farmers at gun point.

As the military was responding, they were fired upon by about 40 NPAs, triggering a brief fire fight.

Another fire fight erupted in nearby village when retreating guerillas clashed with another group of soldiers.

Government forces recovered one high powered firearms and improvised bomb making materials from slain rebels who remained unidentified.

No casualty was reported on government side, Catapang said.

Clearing operations are still on going after reports that NPAs from nearby villages in the borders of North Cotabato and Davao City have been massing.

All DND co-terminus officials, employees to stay until further notice - Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 1): All DND co-terminus officials, employees to stay until further notice - Lorenzana

Newly-appointed Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said all co-terminus officials and employees will stay on their respective posts until further announcement.

He made this statement during the welcome ceremonies held for him at DND headquarters, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Friday morning.

"I would like to retain some (co-terminus employees and officials) and I will make some announcement later (on who will stay or not), we still have to to review the line-up," Lorenzana said.

The new DND chief, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1973 and a retired major general, also served as the Special Presidential Representative and Head of the Office of Veteran Affairs (OVA) at the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC, USA from 2004-2009 and 2010 until his selection by President Rodrigo Duterte as defense head.

He is responsible for developing and implementing the Philippine lobby effort to secure veterans benefits for Filipino soldiers who served under the US Army during World War II, which includes the grant of the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) and the equipment grant to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.

"He (Lorenzana) knew that the DND is in good hands, it is up to him to make the DND much better," former DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said.

Gazmin added that when the incoming DND chief made his first visit, all relevant documents and books were presented for his inspection.

Gazmin is hopeful that Lorenzana will continue all the reforms, including the military modernization, started during his term.

"I am sure he will implement all these things for the good of the department, for the government and for everyone," the outgoing DND chief said.

Prior to his post as OVA Head, Lorenzana served as the Defense Attaché in Washington from 2002-2004, during which he helped craft the Terms of Reference for the Balikatan Exercise in Basilan between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US Pacific Command.

As a career soldier, Lorenzana headed the Special Operations Command of the Philippine Army from 2001-2003 after serving as the Commanding General of the Philippine Army Light Armor Brigade and concurrent Ground Commander of the Task Force Libra in 2001.

His military career included a posting at the Presidential Security Group and as Deputy Presidential Assistant for Military Affairs.

Lorenzana also held a number of command and staff positions at the Headquarters of the Philippine Army and later, of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, following his assignments at the Southern Command and the Visayas Command. He also served as instructor of ranger tactics at the Scout Ranger School and infantry tactics at the Philippine Army Training Command.

Lorenzana’s highly-decorated military career involved leading anti-terrorist operations and trainings, securing the Malacañang Palace from coup attempts, commanding campaigns against insurgents, and capturing notorious kidnap-for-ransom group leaders.

Lorenzana earned his post-graduate degree of Master of Business Administration, major in Operations Research, from the Ateneo Graduate School of Business.

He also finished a number of courses and trainings both here and abroad, including strategic studies at the Australia University in Canberra, a seminar for Senior International Leaders at Harvard University, and crisis management at the US Department of State.

Lorenzana was born on Oct. 28, 1948 and hails from Midsayap, Cotabato. He is married and has four children.

Visaya formally takes over helm of AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 1): Visaya formally takes over helm of AFP

Former Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) head Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya was formally installed as the next Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff on Friday afternoon.

Visaya, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1983, replaced classmate Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, who served as AFP chief in acting capacity since April.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte presided in the AFP's change-of-command ceremony which was held at the GHQ Grandstand in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Also present were former President Fidel V. Ramos, Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and other ranking military leaders.

Miranda was appointed as AFP vice chief-of-staff last March and this paved the way for his designation as acting AFP chief-of-staff due to the ban on appointments in connection with the May 9, 2016 national and local elections.

Prior to his appointment, he was the commander of the Northern Luzon Command.

Miranda led the AFP when it accomplished its mission for a Safe and Secure Fair Elections during the 2016 national and local elections, allowing Filipinos to exercise their right of suffrage as safely and orderly as possible.

Meanwhile, aside from his stint at SOLCOM, Visaya commanded the Cagayan De Oro-based 4th Infantry Division which is responsible for covering and protecting Regions X and XIII.

He also commanded the 104th Infantry Brigade that operated in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Lanao, and Basilan; and the 901st Infantry Brigade in Bicol Region.

Visaya, who is from Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, is a highly decorated military officer, earning four Distinguished Service Stars, 11 Bronze Cross Medals, two Silver Wing Medals, and numerous Military Merit and Commendation Medals.

He was also awarded the Cavalier Award for Army Operations, a highly coveted award for PMA alumni, in 2008.

He has sterling performances in the field, complemented by his excellence in various civilian and military trainings and courses he undertook, including the Executive Course on Security Studies in Hawaii, Pacific Army Management Seminar in Tokyo, Professional Managers Program of the Ateneo De Manila University, and Financial Statement Analysis at the University of Asia and the Pacific.

Visaya acquired his Master in Project Management at the Australian Defense Force in Canberra, Australia.

New AFP chief vows unrelenting pressure against ASG, allied terror groups

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 1): New AFP chief vows unrelenting pressure against ASG, allied terror groups

In the coming days, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will focus unrelenting pressure against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and its allied terrorist cells.

This was stressed by newly-appointed AFP chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya during his assumption speech at GHQ Grandstand, Camp Aguinaldo on Friday.

Present were President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, newly-appointed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, former president Fidel V. Ramos and other ranking military leaders.

"We will be unrelenting in our focused military operations against terrorist groups like the ASG and all its allied terrorist cells. We will reallign military resources to their identified bailiwicks and sanctuaries and apply our military strength to suppress them, hunt them down and finish them," Visaya stressed.

"We will continue to apply the full force of the law 24/7 to go after these criminals and profit-seeking elements who operate under the guise of religious fervor and holy war," he added.

And to ensure this, Visaya said the AFP will have to think its armament acquisition program to further beef up its capacity and capability to search and engage these rogue and lawless elements.

"Over and above our role to run after the terrorists, we will also intensify our support to law enforcement agencies, particularly the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in their mission to eliminate widespread criminality and the wanton destruction of lives brought about by the spread and use of illegal drugs," he added.

"We will start the same advocacy with our ranks by continuously weeding out those scalawags who use drugs, who have links with illegal groups and activities. Then we will proceed to build alliances with our counterparts to bring down syndicates and other organized crime groups," the AFP chief pointed out.

Duterte to rebels: “We cannot fight forever”

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 1): Duterte to rebels: “We cannot fight forever”

Saying his first job as President is to bring peace in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday reiterated his intention to reach out to the enemies of the state particularly the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the Moro rebels in Mindanao.

”It is not a war to be fought forever. We cannot fight forever. We might have the weapons, the armaments, and the bullets, mortars, but that does not make a nation,” President Duterte said in his speech during the change of command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

”The first job of a president is not to go to war but rather to bring peace to his land. My job is to talk to the enemies of the state,” he said.

President Duterte was referring to the CPP and the two rebels groups in Mindanao -- the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

”Even before I was already proclaimed but before assumption of office, I was busy going around Mindanao and talking to a lot of people to bring about peace in our land. Started with the left and with the NPAs (New People’s Army), and we got a favorable answer from the leaders, including Jose Maria Sison,” the President said.

President Duterte said he is set to talk next week with MILF chair Murad Ebrahim and vice chair Ghadzali Jaafar and might travel later to Jolo, Sulu to sit down and talk with MNLF leader Nur Misuari whom he called his friend.

For the kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf Group, President Duterte said the ASG is closely connected with the issue of Mindanao but “we cannot be whipping boys of the few who wants nothing but maybe money and power in their hands.”

”You know, the truth is, we can only take so much. I am not warning Abu Sayyaf but I said there will always be a time for reckoning,” he said.

While he is reaching out to the rebel groups to achieve peace, President Duterte said he would continue to wage war against criminals, drug traffickers and corrupt officials.

He warned the drug lords who continued to operate even behind bars at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa to stop their illegal activities.

”You know there is always a time for everything. There’s always a time for you to make money and make a mockery out of our laws. There’s always a time for you to be in control even if you are inside the prison. But there is always a time to rest and to die. Ganoon ang buhay (That is life). As you are born, there’s also death,” he added.

President Duterte asked the AFP to help him put a stop to criminality and illegal drugs.

”In the final days of the campaign at Luneta, I gave this statement and I said I will put at stake my honor, my life and the presidency,” the President said.

”I told you criminals, all of you: If you destroy my country, I will kill you. If you destroy our children, I will kill you. If I am asked by anybody, including the Commission on Human Rights, I do not know you,” he added, drawing applause from the audience that includes Vice President Leni Robredo.

If he could bring peace and unity in the country, Duterte said: “I can retire happy and I can look back and say that I did my duty in nation building.”

Change to be felt in the way AFP conducts internal, territorial security operations

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 1): Change to be felt in the way AFP conducts internal, territorial security operations

Newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya on Friday said change will be felt in the way the military conducts its internal and territorial security operations.

"We are now in the final push as we approach the culmination of Internal Peace and Security Plan 'Bayanihan' by the end of this year. By stroke of fate, this six-month duration also coincides with the beginning of a new era of change as we lay down the bedrock foundation for security and defense under the new (Duterte) administration," he said during his assumption speech.

"It is in this context that I set the direction of our force allowing our Commander-in-Chief's paradigm shift in military operations," Visaya said.

Aside from the way it conducts internal and territorial security operations, change will also be felt in the AFP on how it assist law enforcement agencies in their fight against terrorism, drugs, and criminalities and by timely humanitarian assistance and disaster response under the banner of genuine transformation

"The AFP will continue to embark on a people-centered approach as we involve even various rebel factions in our aim towards nation building. We will support the expanded peace process with rebel groups and participate in consensus-building so we can already proceed forward in unity and harmony with our fellow Filipino citizens. Our impact in far-flung communities and even in urban centers will be felt as we gear for peace as we shun hatred and fear, and as we slowly break down the barriers of animosity and bigotry that have gripped our nation for decades," Visaya said.

Dela Rosa names new PNP officials

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 1): Dela Rosa names new PNP officials

Newly-installed (Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, on Friday ordered a reorganization of senior officers occupying key positions in the PNP Command Group, Directorial Staff, Regional Police Offices and National Support Units.

”Upon my assumption today I have ordered a reorganization of senior officers occupying key positions in the PNP Command Group, Directorial Staff, Regional Police Offices and National Support Units,” he said.

He said that the reorganization followed the time-honored tradition in the police service that recognizes merit, seniority and competence in the selection process.

”I have designated three of my respected upperclassmen to compose the members of my Command Group because I know fully well that I will need their expertise in command management,” said Dela Rosa.

He noted that the newly reorganized Directorial Staff has been constituted to assist the Command Group in operational management of the different functions and activities of the PNP.

The PNP Chief said that some Regional Directors, meanwhile, had to be reassigned to other equally-important positions in different levels of command.

”I urge the entire 170,000 strong officers, men and women of the PNP to rally behind the newly reorganized Team PNP.

The reorganization was recommended by the Senior Officers Placement and Promotion Board (SOPPB) for immediate implementation by the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management (DPRM).

Designated to new positions effective July 1 were:

•Deputy Director General Francisco A. Uyami – as Acting Deputy Chief for Administration;

•Director Benjamin B. Magalong – Officer-in-Charge, Deputy Chief for Operations;

•Chief Supt. Ramon C. Apolinario – Officer-in-Charge, Chief for Directorial Staff;

•Chief Supt. Fernando H. Mendez Jr. – Acting Director, Directorate for Personnel and Records Management;

•Chief Supt. Nestor F. Quinsay – Officer-in-Charge, Directorate for Intelligence;

•Chief Supt Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan – Acting Director, Directorate for Operations;

•Chief Supt. Maria Victor DF Ramos – Acting Director, Directorate for Logistics;

•Chief Supt. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa – Acting Director, Directorate for Comptrollership;

•Chief Supt Augusto M. Marquez Jr. – Acting Director, Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management;

• Director Victor P. Deona –Acting Director, DIPO-Northern Luzon;

• Director Moro Virgilio M. Lazo – The Acting Director, DIPO-Visayas;

•Sr. Supt. Dionardo B. Carlos – Spokesperson/Officer-in-Charge, Chief PIO;

•Chief Supt. Oscar D. Albayalde – Acting RD, NCRPO;

Chief Supt. Gilbert C. Sosa – Acting RD, PRO 2;

•Chief Supt. Wilben M. Mayor – Acting RD, PRO 4B;

•Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon G. Buenafe – Acting RD, PRO 5;

•Chief Supt. Jose L. Gentiles – Acting RD, PRO 6;

•Chief Supt. Noli G. Taliño – Acting RD, PRO 7;

•Chief Supt. Elmer C. Beltejar – Acting RD, PRO 8;

•Chief Supt. Agripino G. Javier – Acting RD, PRO ARMM;

•Chief Supt. Elmo Francis O. Sarona – Acting RD, PRO COR;

•Sr. Supt. Roberto B. Fajardo – Acting DD, Northern Police District;

•Sr. Supt. Romulo E. Sapitula – Acting DD, Eastern Police District;

•Sr. Supt. Joel Napoleon M. Coronel – Acting DD, Manila Police District;

•Sr. Supt. Tomas C. Apolinario Jr. – Acting DD, Southern Police District;

•Sr. Supt Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar – Acting DD, Quezon City Police District;

•Chief Supt. Roel B. Obusan – Acting Director, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group;

•Chief Supt. Federico L. Dulay Jr. – Acting Director, Civil Security Group;

•Chief Supt. Benjamin M. Lusad – Acting Director, Special Action Force;

•Sr. Supt. Antonio N. Gardiola Jr – Acting Director, Highway Patrol Group;

•Sr. Supt. Ma. OR Aplasca – Acting Director, Aviation Security Group;

•Sr. Supt. Edmund A. Gonzales – Acting Director, Maritime Group;

•Sr. Supt. Charlo C. Collado – Acting Director, Intelligence Group;

•Sr. Supt Rene O. Aspera – Acting Director, Police Security Protection Group;

•Sr. Supt Gilbert DC Cruz – Acting Director, Police Community Relations Group;

•Sr. Supt. Manolo N. Ozaeta – Officer-in-Charge, Anti-Kidnapping Group;

•Sr. Supt Albert Ignatius D. Ferro – Officer-in-Charge, Anti-Illegal Drugs Group;

•Sr. Supt. Reczon Tito T. Acabado – Officer-in-Charge, Anti-Cybercrime Group;

•Chief Supt. Lyndon G. Cubos – Acting Director, Finance Service;

•Chief Supt. Edwin C. Roque – Acting Director, Legal Service; and

•Chief Supt. Prudencio Tom T. Bañas – Acting Director, Police Retirement Benefit Service.

Dela Rosa said a regular assessment of the performance of the police commanders, from regional directors to town police chiefs would be conducted to determine if they still have to stay on the job.

Mayroon kami gawin target that should be hit in every units para doon sa mga RD (Regional Director) dapat imonitor nila yung kanilang chief of police, station of commander dapat mahit nila yung target otherwise sila na bahala to relieve and sad to say mga regional directors natin if they fail to hit the target ganun din kayo dahil after six months ako naman mananagot kay Presidente so mapipilitan magtrabaho yung mga commanders natin otherwise hindi natin mahit yung target,” Dela Rosa said in first command conference held at PNP headquarters in Camp Crame Quezon City.

Isabela folk ‘living in fear' after assassination: mayor

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 1): Isabela folk ‘living in fear' after assassination: mayor
Mayor Enrique Montilla III yesterday said that the people of Isabela are now “living in fear”, because of the assassination of Councilor Crispin Posadas on Wednesday, and children and other witnesses to the incident are traumatized.

Montilla called on military and police officials to speed up his request for augmentation forces, in the wake of the killing of Posadas, who was on his third term as councilor of Isabela, when he was killed.

The Leonardo Panaligan Command of the New People's Army has claimed responsibility for the death of Posadas, whom it accused to be a military intelligence asset, among others.

Condemning in the strongest terms the murder of Posadas by the NPA, Montilla assured his fellow Isabeleños that “We are on top of the situation. Rest assured that we are doing everything to address the situation.”

During the election period, two barangay captains allied with Montilla were also harassed and warned by the NPA not to return to their respective barangays.

Posadas was also an ally of Montilla, who said the people of Isabela condoles with his family. "We grieve for the loss of a good man, a dedicated public servant". Montilla said.

In previous months, the Isabela police force got augmentation from the Negros Occidental Police Public Safety Company and Regional Public Safety Battalion 18.

Posadas was on his way home, on board his motorcycle, when he was shot by two of three suspects, who finished him off with a shot to the head.

Police gathering evidence in Isabela councilor’s slay

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Jul 1): Police gathering evidence in Isabela councilor’s slay 

POLICE investigators are gathering statements from potential witnesses in the death of Councilor Crispin Posadas Jr. of Isabela, Negros Occidental who was gunned down in the town’s public market Wednesday.

Senior Superintendent William Señoron, acting director of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, said they have yet to establish the motive on the killing of Posadas.

Even if the New People’s Army had already claim responsibility on the assassination of the town official, Señoron said the police will continue to investigate to identify the suspects and to file a case.

The NPA claimed that the victim was sentenced to death by the so-called People’s Court after he was found guilty of his crimes.

The rebels alleged that the councilor was involved in illegal activities, including cattle rustling and drugs deals, and also accused him of being an active asset of the military.

However, the police said there were no records that showed Posadas’ involvement in illegal activities.

Meanwhile, Isabela Mayor Enrique Montilla III condemned the killing of Posadas.
“We grieve for the loss of a good man and a dedicated public servant,” he said in a statement.

Due to the killing, town residents are living in fear especially those who were in the area when the incident happened, he added.

The mayor assured his constituents that authorities are on top of the situation.
“Rest assured we are doing everything to address the situation,” he added.

Philippines' Duterte urges communists to kill drug traffickers

From Asia One (Jul 1): Philippines' Duterte urges communists to kill drug traffickers

Photo: AFP

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday (July 1) urged communist rebels to start killing drug traffickers, adding another layer to a controversial war on crime in which he has warned thousands will die.

Duterte won May's election in a landslide after a campaign dominated by his pledge to end crime within six months, promising to do so by unleashing security forces with shoot-to-kill orders.

In his inauguration speech on Thursday, Duterte insisted his adherence to the rule of law was "uncompromising", apparently seeking to assuage concerns from human rights groups that he planned to orchestrate mass extrajudicial killings.

But on Friday, Duterte called on communist rebels waging one of Asia's longest insurgencies to hold their own guerrilla court hearings and then carry out executions.

"Drugs have reached the hinterlands... what if you use your kangaroo courts to kill them to speed up the solution to our problem," Duterte, a lawyer and former city prosecutor, said in a speech before the military's top brass in Manila.

The communists' armed wing, the 4,000-strong New People's Army, is known for assassinating civilians deemed to have committed so-called crimes against the people.However its courts and summary executions are illegal.

In a late-night speech on Thursday to a slum community in Manila attended by only a few journalists, Duterte called on ordinary Filipinos to kill drug addicts, which is also illegal.

"If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself," Duterte told a crowd of about 500 people.

Duterte also vowed to kill drug traffickers, using foul language he promised in recent weeks to "tone down" as president.

"These sons of whores are destroying our children. I warn you, don't go into that, even if you're a policeman, because I will really kill you," said Duterte, 71.

Before dawn on Friday a bullet-riddled body was found in a Manila slum with a sign on it saying: "I am a Chinese drug lord", local police said.

The murder bore all the hallmarks of an extrajudicial killing, which would make it the first of Duterte's presidency.

Manila police district deputy director for operations Marcelino Pedroso told AFP the death was being considered a summary execution because the victim was apparently killed due to alleged involvement in drugs. He said there were no suspects.

With Duterte's encouragement, police had already killed dozens of alleged or suspected drug traffickers between his May 9 election victory and Thursday's inauguration.

Island focus: TNI waits for joint agreement

From the Jakarta Post (Jul 1): Island focus: TNI waits for joint agreement

Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said that his side was ready to rescue seven seamen taken hostage by militants in the Philippines, pending an agreement between both countries to enable the military to enter the waters of the neighboring country.

Gatot told reporters at the Mulawarman Military Command (Kodam) in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Wednesday night that the cooperation with related institutions in the Philippines was needed to rescue the crew members taken hostage by militants of Abu Sayyaf and Al Habbsy, a separatist group in the southern region of the Philippines.

Gatot said that constitutionally, the Philippines would not let a foreign military operate in its jurisdiction.

“We need an official cooperation between the Indonesian and Philippine governments should a military operation be needed to free the hostages,” he said.

Indonesia Unlikely to Ask Terrorist to Help With Hostage Negotiations: Sources

From Benar News (Jun 30): Indonesia Unlikely to Ask Terrorist to Help With Hostage Negotiations: Sources

 Indonesia doesn’t need to involve convicted terrorist Umar Patek in efforts to negotiate the release of seven Indonesians being held hostage in the southern Philippines, a senior counterterrorism official and a military historian said Thursday.

Patek is currently serving a 20-year sentence for his role in the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people. He fled to the Philippines after the bombing and joined Abu Sayyaf, a ruthless group known for taking foreigners hostage and killing some of their captives.

“Involving Umar Patek right now is not so effective. A team representing the government is already there,” Wawan Purwanto, a staff expert at Indonesia's National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), told BenarNews on Thursday.

Patek was arrested in Pakistan in 2011 and repatriated to Indonesia the same year.
A plan to use his help negotiating with Abu Sayyaf following the kidnapping of 14 Indonesian sailors in March and early April was dropped after being leaked to the media, a source told BenarNews. The men were freed in May.

“I knew them well. Based on a sense of humanity, I offer myself to help the government. This is because the Indonesian government’s calls to the group, with support from the Philippine government, will not be effective. Abu Sayyaf considers the Philippines an enemy,” The Jakarta Post quoted Patek as saying in April.

Armed men snatched seven Indonesian sailors from their tugboat on June 20 in waters near Tawi-Tawi island, as they sailed home after making a coal delivery.

In Jakarta on Monday, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo told reporters that the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of 200 million Philippine pesos, the equivalent of almost 65 billion Indonesian rupiah (U.S. $4.9 million).

He said the hostages were likely being held on Jolo island in the southern Philippines. Authorities believe two different groups are involved.

Iwan Ong, an author and expert on military history, outlined initial steps usually taken in hostage negotiations: establishing contact with hostage-takers, gaining their trust while researching who they are, and demanding evidence that the hostages are still alive.

"While this is going on, there should be media management and a single information source that can satisfy public curiosity without jeopardizing the rescue operation," Iwan told BenarNews.

He dismissed the idea of Indonesia turning to Umar Patek for help.

"There are many people as qualified as Umar Patek with the ability to understand the dialect and the local conditions in the southern Philippines,” he said.

Boundary crossing clarification

Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi travelled to the Philippines Thursday to discuss efforts to release the seven sailors.

She delivered a letter of congratulations from Indonesian President Joko Widodo to the new leader of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who was sworn in Thursday. Duterte said earlier this week he would consider negotiating with the Abu Sayyaf, which recently beheaded two Canadian hostages after ransom deadlines passed.

"The letter also mentioned the hope that the two countries can work together more strongly in the future, including cooperation on the safety of the vessels sailing through Sulu waters," an Indonesian foreign ministry statement said.

On his last day in office, outgoing Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin clarified that the Philippines had not given Indonesia permission to enter its territory to free the sailors.

"They can only conduct operations of pursuit within our area if the incident occurred within their waters, based on the principle of hot pursuit," Gazmin said Wednesday, according to

Gazmin was responding to a comment by his Indonesian counterpart Ryamizard Ryacudu after the two men met in Manila on June 26, according to Indonesian media outlet

"The Philippine government allows the pursuit of pirates and terrorists in the southern Philippines and crossing the sea border between Indonesia and the Philippines. All will be conducted within the framework of ASEAN spirit, namely the security and stability of the region," Ryamizard reportedly said at the time.

The 1975 Border Crossing Agreement between the two countries allows Indonesia’s military to enter Philippine waters when chasing pirates from Indonesian waters, and vice versa.

3 alleged Abu Sayyaf bandits nabbed in Zamboanga City, Basilan

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 1): 3 alleged Abu Sayyaf bandits nabbed in Zamboanga City, Basilan
Three suspected Abu Sayyaf members, one of whom reportedly belongs to a group that holds a foreign hostage, were separately arrested here and in Basilan on Thursday and Friday, the military said.

Major Filemon Tan Jr., the spokesperson of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, identified those arrested in Basilan on Friday as Mudzrih Abih Adjalan, alias Idol, an alleged Abu Sayyaf sub-leader; and a certain Yasir.

He said the two suspected bandits were arrested Friday by elements of the Joint Task Group Basilan in a village in Ungkaya Pukan. Adjalan has a standing warrant of arrest for kidnapping, he said. He did not provide additional details for Yasir.

On Thursday afternoon, another suspected bandit, who earlier escaped from police custody here, had been recaptured.

Superintendent Luisito Magnaye, the city police director, said Alhnur Usup—also known as Arab-arab, Arab Puti and Aldin Usup—who faces murder charges in connection with the August 2014 Talipao, Sulu massacre had been rearrested.

Usup escaped from police custody last June 21, while being brought to the Zamboanga City Reformatory Center.

Magnaye said Usup’s group in Sulu was reportedly holding European bird watcher Ewold Horn.

Duterte to talk with MILF leaders next week

From GMA News (Jul 1): Duterte to talk with MILF leaders next week

President Rodrigo Duterte will meet leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front next week to follow through on the peace negotiations with the rebel group, the newly installed Chief Executive said on Friday.

In a speech before top officials and soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines , Duterte said he would also "eventually" meet with Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari, who's facing criminal raps in connection with the Zamboanga Siege in 2013.

"Next week, we are to talk to the MI[LF] and eventually I think I’ll have to travel to Jolo to talk to Nur [Misuari]. I’m willing to give them safe conduct passes, only the leaders," Duterte said during the turnover of command ceremonies in Camp Aguinaldo.

Duterte's appointee Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya took over as chief of staff from acting chief Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda.

"Baka matyambahan ko na magkaroon tayo ng mapayapa. And if that happens really, I can retire happy and I can look back and say that I did my duty in nation building," Duterte said.

Dutere reiterated the need for peace in southern Philippines.

The Aquino administration struck a peace deal with the MILF in 2014 but failed to have the embodiment of the pact—the Bangsamoro Basic Law—pass Congress.

The BBL seeks the creation of a new autonomous region that will replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, the entity created after the government reached a peace deal with Misuari's MNLF.

"It is not a war to be fought forever. We cannot fight forever. We might have the weapons, the armaments, and the bullets, mortars... My job is to bring peace but hand in hand I must also bring order in my country," Duterte said.

The peace deal with the MILF suffered a setback in 2015 after the Mamasapano incident in Maguindanao in January. Police commandos went into alleged MILF territory in Mamasapano to neutralize international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan and Abu Sayyaf Group leader Abdul Bassit Usman. They neutralized Marwan but 44 commandos were killed when, during the troop pullout, the policemen encountered MILF, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private groups.

Over 60 people died in the incident, including 44 Special Action Force commandos, 18 MILF members, five Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and three civilians.

The Mamasapano incident caused national outrage and affected the peace negotiations between the government and the MILF. It also caused many lawmakers to withdraw support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that hoped to create an autonomous political entity in Mindanao.

Indonesia to consider 'military option' if diplomacy fails to free hostages

From the Straits Times (Jul 1): Indonesia to consider 'military option' if diplomacy fails to free hostages

The Indonesian military has received President Joko Widodo's green light to mount a rescue operation if diplomatic efforts fail to free the Indonesian hostages being held by Abu Sayyaf militants.

The Indonesian military has received President Joko Widodo's green light to mount a rescue operation if diplomatic efforts fail to free the Indonesian hostages being held by Abu Sayyaf militants. PHOTO: EPA

The Indonesian military (TNI) has received President Joko Widodo's green light to mount a rescue operation if diplomatic efforts fail to free the Indonesian hostages being held by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines.

According to Tempo news, Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said he has the President's permission for the "military option". But he added that the government would still attempt to resolve the crisis through diplomatic channels, while standing firm in not paying any ransom to the hostage-takers.

His comments comes after the Philippines on Wednesday agreed to allow TNI troops to enter its territorial waters as part of efforts to rescue the seven Indonesian hostages.
Mr Ryamizard, who was speaking at the Defence Ministry on Friday (July 1), said that such an operation however, will only be conducted under extraordinary circumstances and troops from the two countries will have to undergo drills before proceeding with the rescue.

"We have to hold drills to avoid confusion," he said, "Or friendly fire incidents could happen," said Mr Ryamizard.
The TNI, he added, is ready to mobilise if necessary but it will not "interfere" for now because the Philippine armed forces has already deployed six to ten thousand troops in response to the latest incident. "If the hostages are lost and the Philippines asks for our cooperation, we'll do it," he said.
The seven Indonesian seamen were taken hostage in the Sulu Sea on June 20, allegedly by Abu Sayyaf militants, in the third such incident involving Indonesians in recent months.

A high-level meeting is set to take place on Friday night to discuss Indonesia's next course of action in the crisis, said Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan.

The crisis centre meeting follows the return of Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi from the Philippines, where she met with her new counterpart Perfecto Yasay following the inauguration of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration on Thursday, reported The Jakarta Post.

TNI chief General Gatot Nurmantyo, National Intelligence Agency head Sutiyoso and National Police Chief General Badrodin Haiti are expected to join Mr Luhut, Ms Retno and Mr Ryamizard at the meeting at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs in Jakarta.

The Abu Sayyaf, notorious for kidnapping people and demanding millions of dollars in ransom for their return, in April abducted a group of Malaysian sailors in the same waters, releasing them early this month.

The militants also abducted 10 Indonesian sailors on March 29, and another four on April 15. All were released last month.

The latest abduction has prompted Indonesia to extend a moratorium on coal shipments to the Philippines, saying the move will remain in place until Manila can improve security in its waters. Indonesia supplies 70 per cent of the Philippines' coal import needs.

Indonesia's Transportation Ministry has also issued a notice informing all harbour masters that they are "strictly prohibited from issuing permits to all Indonesian-flagged vessels bound for the Philippines, without exception".

‘Iron-hand policy won’t solve Sayyaf problem’

From the Manila Times (Jul 1): ‘Iron-hand policy won’t solve Sayyaf problem’

SULU: Amid continued speculation on whether martial law remains an option for the Duterte government in fighting the Abu Sayyaf insurgency, former Sulu Vice Governor Sakur Tan said an iron-hand policy alone will not help solve the kidnappings and criminality problem in the province.

Instead, Tan said peace and development efforts are also needed to address the threats posed by the Abu Sayyaf and other criminal groups.
Tan, who was with Duterte in Davao City recently, said he personally heard how passionate the President was about the changes he wants to see in the country, and how angry he was—as he had always been—about the evils of drugs and criminality. And Duterte is deadly serious about it, Tan observed.

“We in Sulu have to attune ourselves to the dare and challenge of the new President if only to take them as opportunities to mend the new damages done to the image of our province because of incidences of kidnapping, the drug trade and other criminal activities by a few in our midst. No one can block the wave of changes,” Tan said.

“The imposition of martial law by the new leadership is being considered in areas known to be lairs of kidnap-for-ransom and other armed groups. We are of the opinion that we should tread light and with utmost care on the matter of imposing martial law. Even the mere mention of it reawakens the stigma of the bygone era more than four decades ago.Many us personally experienced that dark episode which was punctuated by abuses of the military authorities, and ignited a devastating and destructive rebellion,” he added.

Tan said that if and when martial law is imposed as the only option left to take, then it must be well-defined and limited only to target areas. The emergency powers, he said, that goes with it should not be intrusive on the civil rights of the people and should maintain, protect and respect the mandate of the duly-elected local government.

“We will not get in the way of the law against those who are proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt whatever their positions in the government or stature in society may be,” Tan, who supported Duterte’s presidency in the elections, said.

He stressed that incidences of criminality cannot find solution in an iron-hand policy alone. The causes of such crimes and the emergence of armed groups trading in what has been termed as a “thriving industry” of kidnapping and drug trade, Tan said, should be seriously looked into.

He said there should be parallel actions by the national government to the military operations and law enforcement, in the form of social, economic and livelihood programs, and the necessary infrastructures that are basic and prerequisites in nation-building such as roads, schools and hospitals, seaports, post-harvest facilities and so forth.

Tan said on hindsight, that if the huge allocations to the region were prudently and diligently spent for which they were earmarked, development would have served as a formidable deterrent to any form of adventurism from any group.

“We take exception to the tirades of some sectors that the proliferation of crimes, specifically the kidnappings, as indicative of the failure of local governance. The local government is not in the chain of command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police where competency lies in the maintaining peace and order. People should not be barking up the wrong tree and instead let those who are mandated with responsibilities do so with due diligence and they should be held to account for any dereliction of duties and tasks,” Tan declared.

“We have always maintained the position that law enforcement operations, to be more effective, should entail the involvement of the community and local leaders. It is not fair to pass judgment that local leaders and the people in the communities are coddling criminals and in one way or the other alleged to be committing the crimes themselves.
We must bear in mind that this outlook is not healthy and may aggravate the situation further and ignite the flame of resistance against the authorities. The peace-loving and the exponents of the rule of law are still in the majority. Where will true justice be if we bundle the good and the bad together and judge the entire province to be in cahoots with criminals? Let the law take its course and do not let the innocent be the collateral damage to over-zealousness or self-agenda of some players in the field,” he added.

Philippines: Abu Sayyaf bomb expert captured in south

From Anadolu Agency (Jul 1): Philippines: Abu Sayyaf bomb expert captured in south

Military says sub-leader of Daesh-affiliated group nabbed alongside follower in Basilan island province

Philippines: Abu Sayyaf bomb expert captured in south
File photo

The Philippines’ military announced Friday that a bomb-maker from a Daesh-affiliated militant group was captured in a majority Muslim southern island province.
Soldiers and police nabbed Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Mudzrih Abih Adjalan -- alias “Idol” -- and a suspected follower, identified as Yasin, during a joint operation around dawn in Ungkaya Pukan town in Basilan, according to a military statement.
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command spokesman, described Adjalan as being well trained in manufacturing improvised explosive devices and involved in surveying possible bombing targets in major cities in the area, including predominantly Catholic Zamboanga.
"The subject was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest for kidnapping and serious illegal detention," Tan said.
Tan blamed Adjalan for the killing of two men in Lamitan City in June 2013.
"The military and police continue to exhaust all efforts to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf Group in the province," he said.
Last month, the Abu Sayyaf beheaded a second Canadian hostage in nearby Sulu island province after a deadline set by the group for the delivery of a 600 million peso ($13 million) ransom was missed.
The militants later released his Filipina partner, but a Norwegian national who was kidnapped alongside them from Samal Island last September remains in captivity.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf 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 province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.