Thursday, July 21, 2016

Heavy equipment ng gobyerno sinunog ng mga NPA

Posted to the 6th Civil Relations Group Facebook page (Jul 21): Heavy equipment ng gobyerno sinunog ng mga NPA (Government heavy equipment burned by the NPA)

Sa kabila ng pagsusumikap ng pamahalaang national na isulong ang usaping pangkapayapaan, sinunog ng mga New People’s Army (NPA) ang Dalawang heavy equipment ng provincial government na kinabibilangan ng isang dump Truck at Isang Bulldozer sa Pulot Interior, Espanola, Palawan noong ika 13 ng July 2016.

Ang dalawang heavy equipment ay ilan lamang sa mga kagamitan ng Provincial Government para sa construction ng potable water syste...m ng bayan ng Espanola na maaring maantala dahil sa insidente.

Patunay lamang na ayaw ng mga NPA na umunlad ang kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayan lalong lalo na yung mga nakatira sa liblib na lugar kagaya ng Pulot interior sa bayan ng Sofronio Espanola, Palawan.

Military tackles release of political prisoners

From the Philippine Star (Jul 21): Military tackles release of political prisoners

In line with the coming resumption of peace talks between the government and communist rebels, the military is now discussing the release of political prisoners in support of the Duterte administration’s peace initiative.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Ricardo Visaya met Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año and other top Army officers during his visit to the Philippine Army (PA) headquarters at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City yesterday morning.

“The AFP chief reiterated the guidance of the President on the government peace program. He talked about the pending release of political detainees,” said Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao.

The top communist leaders currently under police and military custody and facing various criminal charges include Benito Tiamzon, head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) military arm, the New People’s Army and his wife Wilma, and Celso Alcantara, commander of the NPA in Southern Tagalog.

The Tiamzons are detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, while Alcantara is at the Army’s detention facility in Fort Bonifacio.

Visaya also emphasized to the troops the government’s anti-drug drive, an effort continuously being conducted by the Army leadership to cleanse its ranks of illegal drug users.

“The chief of staff also explained the importance of the anti-drug campaign of the government as well as our efforts in getting rid of illegal drug users in the service,” Hao said.

Joining the soldiers in a boodle fight at lunchtime, Visaya also told the troops that they would subsequently get their most awaited pay increase.

“Have patience. What the President says, he always makes it happen,” Hao quoted Visaya as saying.

During the campaign period, the President promised soldiers that once he gets elected, he would double their pay.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had earlier said that the increase in the soldiers’ salaries is not possible to implement immediately because it’s not included in this year’s national budget.

Militiamen reinforce troops in Basilan

From the Philippine Star (Jul 21): Militiamen reinforce troops in Basilan

Militiamen have been deployed to Basilan to reinforce government troops fighting Abu Sayyaf bandits.

An official, who has know-ledge of the military operations but refused to be identified, said government forces sealed the area to prevent Abu Sayyaf supporters from slipping in food or logistics.

Basilan Gov. Jim Hataman-Saliman requested mayors and other local government officials to send members of their Citizens Armed Force Geographical Units to assist the military in the offensive.

Marines were also deployed in the coastal areas to prevent the bandits from escaping.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the troops have to deal with sniper attacks aside from improvised explosive devices planted on the routes leading to the Abu Sayyaf stronghold.

Tan gave assurance that government troops are doing their best to ensure the hostilities will not affect more civilian communities.

The provincial government said at least 2,913 families or about 14,000 individuals in Tipo-Tipo, Al-Barka and Ungkaya Pukan towns have been displaced in the encounter, which started two weeks ago.

DWDD: Be patient on salary increase—AFP Chief

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jul 21): Be patient on salary increase—AFP Chief

QUEZON CITY—Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Ricardo Visaya told the soldiers to be patient on their salary increase, as promised by President Rodrigo Duterte during his campaign.

Philippine Army spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said Gen. Visaya assured Army soldiers that “what the President says, he always makes it happen,” adding up soldiers should be patient on the pending salary increase.

Meanwhile, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno said military and police salary increase were not included in the 2017 budget.

Duterte administration’s first national budget proposal focused on education, infrastructure, and health. Reports said it may take 5 years to amend the amount of salary for military and police officers, according to the budget department.

Duterte has promised the salary increase on security forces, as higher wage may help prevent military and police officers to accept bribes and conduct illegal activities that would generate additional income for them.

DWDD: HEALING AND UNITY | CSAFP Visits the Philippines Army

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jul 20): HEALING AND UNITY | CSAFP Visits the Philippines Army

FT ANDRES BONIFACIO, Taguig City (DWDD) – The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Ricardo R Visaya yesterday visited the Philippine Army and addressed its Officers, Enlisted Personnel, and Civilian Employees.

Gen Visaya was accorded full military honors conplete with a 19 gun salute.

In his speech, Gen Visaya urged men and women of the army to heed the call for healing and unity of President Rodrigo Duterte. He echoed the thrust the commander-in-chief to help rid illegal drugs, criminallity, and corruption.

The 47th Chief of Staff of the AFP stressed the Commander in Chief’s willingness to be “called for help in times of extreme need for money” because the chief executive understands the situation even if he is reminded of the difference between “extreme need as opposed to extreme greed”.

Gen Visaya likewise echoed the president’s stern warning against any military personnel engaging in gambling. He also called to mind the first instruction of the then incoming President Mayor Rodrigo Duterte when the latter summoned him to Davao City a week after elections to remain professional and observe the rule of law in the performance of their duties.

“I exhort you to give your level best in every task given to you. Let not the constraints and limitations of the service deter you from attaining your mission. Not even personal considerations should dampen your spirit to achieve the objective. And you will get the reward you may not be expecting for.” AES / MCAG / Photo by COL EDGARD A AREVALO


From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jul 21): GROUND-BREAKING CEREMONY | MCAG building new hope

Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City — A Ground Breaking Ceremony was conducted by the Media and Civil Affairs Group (MCAG) and Civil Relations Service (CRS) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the new building of MCAG and DWDD Katropa Radio, at AFP Civil-Military Operations School, 21st of July 2016.

The 5 million budget for the construction of the new building was funded by Sen. Antonio Trillanes III. Manuel Cabochan represented Sen. Trillanes in the said event.

The MCAG and CRS staffs, military officers and all the partners from PNP counterpart and stockholders attended to witness the said ceremony. It started with the invocation led by Chief Chaplain Brigadier General Tirso Dolina, followed by the welcome remarks conveyed by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Aquino and also some remarks from Brigadier General Rhoderick Parayno.

As the representative of the Chief of Staff General Ricardo Visaya, Vice Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Glorioso Miranda congratulated the personalities who have made the project possible. The delivered speech also emphazised that this project will strengthen military’s passion for public service.

“We did realize that it’s not entirely on a military dimension, not entirely on tactical dimension… It’s not entirely doon sa tapang namin in being a ranger, sipag at tiyaga sa pakikipag-digma, pagpasok sa mga kagubatan. Later did we realize that indeed, it is more of a social dimension,” said LTGEN Miranda.

He added, CMO has been “a primary pillar” in the development of AFP, and is worthy to be commended.

Consequently, the Ground Breaking ceremony was officially performed by LTC Michael Aquino, BGEN Rhoderick Parayno, and LTGEN Glorioso Miranda. The entire ceremony lasted for approximately an hour.

MILF: Speech by Mohagher Iqbal: MILF will always be guided by protocols and mechanisms

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 20): Speech by Mohagher Iqbal: MILF will always be guided by protocols and mechanisms

The peace process in Mindanao, and perhaps elsewhere in the world, has been likened already to a journey. Prof. Paul D. Hutchcroft’s book, titled as “Mindanao: The Long Journey to Peace and Prosperity”, is obviously a work that also subscribes to that metaphor.

In 2007, Mr. Salah Jubair (perhaps he may be known personally to some of you) also came up with a book of quite similar title as the one we are launching today. His book was entitled “The Long Road to Peace: Inside the GRP-MILF Peace Process.”

Journey. Road. Undoubtedly these two words are most fitting descriptions to our aspiration and endeavor we call peace, and the process we undertake to achieve that.
For those who have journeyed this road for more than 40 years, like myself and countless others, we have come to mark the milestones by the advent and exit of Philippine presidents – from Marcos, Aquino the mother, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo, Aquino III and the new President Rodrigo Duterte.

Each of them has made indelible marks on the peace process, with the exception yet of Pres. Duterte with whose administration the MILF has yet to engage FORMALLY in the continuation of the peace process.

By FORMALLY, I mean the engagements must be done by the Peace Panels of the MILF and the GPH. The MILF Peace Panel remains constituted as to its authority and membership. We are waiting for our counterparts in the GPH side.

Of course, there were already non-official, informal, backchannel dialogues made by and between the new President and MILF key officials, including our Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.  These low-key talks are, as in the past, proving to be very useful in establishing mutual confidence and hastening continuity of the process.

As may be clear already to all, the MILF will always be guided by protocols and mechanisms established by signed agreements. The continuity of the peace process will, in great respect, proceed along lines already mutually agreed upon, most essentially those stipulated in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

We are aware though of the lessons of history and experience. Almost every administration from Marcos onwards had peculiar approaches towards the Bangsamoro Problem or Question. With the exception of Marcos and Estrada, and Arroyo to a certain extent, everyone else showed concrete measures to achieve negotiated political settlement rather than going to war as a national policy. Even then, it was during Marcos’ time that the 1976 Tripoli Agreement was signed; it was in Estrada’s time that MILF camps were officially acknowledged and recognized by the government; and it was to Arroyo’s credit that we signed with government the Tripoli Agreement on Peace in 2001, considered the mother of all agreements signed with government by the MILF.

We are fortunate that under the leadership of former Pres. Benigno Aquino III, the peace negotiations between the MILF and GPH that started in 1997 were technically completed with the signing of the CAB on March 27, 2014.

The implementation though of the signed agreements is proving to be as difficult, or more difficult, than the negotiations.

I would surmise this new book by Prof. Hutchcroft has delved on issues related to the under-achievement of the projected stages of implementation mechanisms we all commonly and conveniently referred to as the roadmap. I say under-achievement because we have yet to have a Bangsamoro Basic Law, a plebiscite for that, the establishment of Bangsamoro Transition Authority, the regular Bangsamoro government and finally the conclusion of the Exit Agreement.

Of course, we in the MILF are also aware that the new President is embarking on a shift to a federal form of government for the entire Philippines. The implications of this policy towards the implementation of the CAB are already being studied carefully by the MILF. Even this early, however, we already know that the shift to federalism, WHILE WE ARE SUPPORTIVE OF IT, is not one of easy picking. The powers of the status quo and those enjoying by it will always have a hard stare at it. Anent this, it is our firm view that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) should be passed first, as promised by the President during his campaign for the presidency and make it as template for federalism in this country. I am upbeat that the President can do it smoothly for several reasons. He is extremely popular, the time factor is on his side, and he is not anti-Moro; in fact, he has a Moro blood running in his veins; and finally he has shown so far that he is a decisive leader. As the old adage says, “there is no rocky hill for an iron will.”

Truly, the peace process is once again in an interesting time and on the spotlight.
It is thus opportune that a new book on this old topic is coming off the press.

As Mindanao, in particular, continues on its hard and winding journey to peace and prosperity, there would always be events that would pose as issues and challenges. Sometimes they are so surprising and overwhelming that we are momentarily lost for explanations, such as what transpired in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.

There are confluences, nay divergences, of interests, forces and events that call for sober, methodical, and dispassionate analysis that oftentimes are within the luxury of those in the academe. The direct actors or participants in this unfolding of events would do so well as to reflect on the works and contributions of those in the academe.
I believe this book of Prof. Hutchcroft would be another useful volume towards a better and objective grasp and understanding of the Bangsamoro Problem or Question.

Certainly, we in Mindanao have a long journey to take. We don’t know when and where it ends. But as the same Salah Jubair also wrote in his book, “Success, including that in the peace talks, always takes the long and winding road: this is the only way.”

In closing, I congratulate Prof. Hutchcroft and the other contributors for coming out with this book. We appreciate the interest you’ve taken on a subject that is so close to our hearts.

Thank you.
Mohagher Iqbal Message during the book launch of "Mindanao: The Long Journey to Peace and Prosperity" on 19 June 2016 at Discovery Primea, Makati City.

MILF: Signed agreements would be MILF’s guide for peace process continuity

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 22): Signed agreements would be MILF’s guide for peace process continuity

Protocols and mechanisms established by signed agreements will remain to be the guide of the MILF in the continuity of the peace process, according to its Chief Peace Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.

Speaking during a book launch in Makati City on Tuesday (July 19), Iqbal stressed that the “continuity of the peace process will, in great respect, proceed along lines already mutually agreed upon, most essentially those stipulated in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).”

Iqbal said that the MILF has not yet engaged the Government of the Philippines (GPH) “formally” as they still await their counterparts in the GPH Peace Panel.

As of now, the peace panel of the government in talks with the MILF has not yet been reconstituted by the Duterte administration.

Formal engagements between the two parties can only be done by the peace panels, Iqbal said.

A day earlier, Malacanan announced the approval of a “peace road map” by Pres. Duterte which will “address the Bangsamoro issue, the impending resumption of peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF), and the implementation of closure agreements with other rebel groups in the country.”

OPAPP Undersecretary for Operations Diosita T. Andot, who represented Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Jesus G. Dureza during the book launching, mentioned in her speech that “the new proposed Bangsamoro enabling law will be done simultaneous with the moves to shift to a federal set-up,” with the latter “expected to come later in the planned time line.”

Andot also said that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) will be reconstituted and strengthened to make it “more inclusive”. It will also be mandated to propose amendments to the Philippine Constitution that are pertinent to the Bangsamoro as inputs towards eventual federalism in the country.

New book on the peace process

Iqbal and Andot were the invited speakers during the launching of “Mindanao:The Long Journey to Peace and Prosperity”, a collection of essays edited by Australian National University (ANU) Prof. Paul D. Hutchcroft.

Former GPH Peace Panel Chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorley also gave messages for the event.

MILF: OPAPP Sec. Dureza meets MILF Chair Al Haj Murad at Camp Darapanan

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Jul 22): OPAPP Sec. Dureza meets MILF Chair Al Haj Murad at Camp Darapanan

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front met yesterday (July 21) at the MILF’s Function Hall in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. The meeting is considered as their first ever engagement after the assumption to the presidency by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, who himself a Mindanaoan.

During their meeting, Dureza and Murad talked about the prospects of the government and MILF’s bilateral peacebuilding efforts under a Duterte presidency, Philstar said in its report.

Dureza and Al Haj Murad agreed to help each other protect the dividends of the peace process.

Also present at the meeting were Dureza’s deputy, the now retiring Army Col. Dickson Hermoso, who was former inspector general of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division based in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, and other senior MILF officials, Philstar also said in its report.

In their two-hour dialogue, Dureza reassured Murad of Duterte’s commitment to abide by agreements signed between the past administrations and the MILF particularly the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed on March 27, 2014.

“We will continue what had been started and we will have open communication lines to ensure the success of this peace process,” Dureza said as quoted by Philstar.

“We were elated by Dureza’s visit, and we are always ready to work with Pres. Duterte in finding a negotiated solution to the Bangsamoro Question, Al Haj Murad said.

He said the MILF is always ready to work with Duterte in seeking a lasting negotiated solution to the Mindanao Moro issue.

“We in the MILF are always for a peaceful resolution of the problem,” the Philstar quoted Murad saying.

Bayan Muna awaits release of political prisoners

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 22): Bayan Muna awaits release of political prisoners

Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate has lauded incoming House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez for signing House Resolution 17 that seeks the release of 519 political prisoners languishing in various jails nationwide.

“Speaker Bebot’s support is most welcome. This is definitely a boost in fast-tracking the release of all political prisoners and augurs well for the scheduled resumption of the formal peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP),” Zarate said.

“A number of these political prisoners are already old and ailing and they were slapped with charges for crimes they did not commit. They should be freed immediately,” added the progressive solon.

Last week, Zarate also thanked Alvarez for co-authoring House Resolution 16 that calls for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDF and for the release of NDF consultants participating in the talks.

“With the support shown by the incoming Speaker, we hope that more of our colleagues in Congress would also support the resolution as our share in the quest to finally address the roots of the armed conflict and for the attainment of a  just and lasting peace in our country,” Zarate said.

China taunts RP, US on maritime ruling

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 22): China taunts RP, US on maritime ruling

China thumbed its nose on its rivals at the South China Sea dispute saying that despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling that largely favored the Philippines, nothing had changed in the contested area.

One of China’s English mouthpiece Global Times said the South China sea has kept its tranquility one week after the arbitration award was issued.

“China is continuing with its island construction activities. It has conducted trial test flights at two newly established airports in the Nansha Islands and carried out a combat air patrol over Huangyan Island. On Wednesday, eight Taiwanese lawmakers visited Taiping Island in a move to reassert sovereignty,” it said.

“Despite all this, there has yet to be any strong backlash by the US, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. The arbitration result, which is merely a piece of paper, failed to yield any actual effects,” it noted.

The opinion article, however, said the US and Japan have engaged in some petty tricks.
“US Vice President Joe Biden has won over endorsement of the arbitration result from his Australian host during a recent visit. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tried to make an issue of the award at the just concluded Asia-Europe Meeting, to no avail,” it said.

It added that in a statement on its official website, the Vietnamese government denied that Vietnam’s top leader agreed on China’s position on the South China Sea arbitration award.

Foreign Affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay said last Tuesday, the government has turned down a Chinese proposal to start bilateral talks on the South China Sea dispute because of Beijing’s pre-condition of not discussing the arbitration result.

“The stance of Vietnam and the Philippines is not unexpected, nor is it provocative. This is not an indication that the pressure on China over the South China Sea is mounting. Other external powers, save the US and Japan, have no interest in stirring up the South China Sea arbitration. The US interferes in the South China Sea out of its hegemonic ambitions, while Japan can’t accept a rising China,” it added.

“Even though (Vietnam and the Philippines) are unwilling to admit it’s (PCA Award) just a piece of paper, they understand the award is only an illusion created by the US and Japan. They also clearly know that the US and Japan use them as pawns. Solving disputes through peace talks falls in line with their genuine interests,” it said.

“The US presidential campaign is in full swing. Will President Barack Obama take the plunge of a showdown with China in the South China Sea? Probably not. China believes the US can abide by the bottom line of rationality. Democracy is supposed to prevent silly decisions. But it’s believed the Chinese government will make contingency plans,” the article added.

China warns GOP

China also warned the Donald Trump-fronted US Republican Party against making “groundless accusations” after it accused Beijing of cultural genocide and said its economy was based on piracy.

The GOP (Grand Old Party) said in its 2016 platform that Beijing made “a preposterous claim to the entire South China Sea”, adding that “cultural genocide continues” in the regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.

“The currency is manipulated, our technology is stolen and intellectual property and copyrights are mocked in an economy based on piracy,” it added.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang called on the party to “stop their groundless accusations against China and interference in China’s domestic affairs”, in a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

“All political parties in the United States should view China’s development in an objective and rational manner,” he added, in Beijing’s first comments on the Republican Party since Donald Trump’s nomination as its presidential candidate on Wednesday.

Chinese Coast Guard drives away Pinoy fishermen from Panatag Shoal

From GMA News (Jul 22): Chinese Coast Guard drives away Pinoy fishermen from Panatag Shoal

The Chinese Coast Guard keeping watch over the disputed waters of West Philippine Sea are still driving away Filipinos headed to fishing grounds in Panatag Shoal (international name: Scarborough Shoal), a report of Bam Alegre on GMA News said on Friday.

The GMA News team, at around 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, accompanied some Filipino fishermen aboard a fishing vessel to Panatag Shoal, called Huangyan Island by the Chinese. Its old name was Bajo de Masinloc, a Spanish name meaning "lower Masinloc."

Bajo de Masinloc is part of the municipality of Masinloc, Zambales. It is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales, within the Philippine Continental Shelf.

About three nautical miles away from Bajo De Masinloc, the GMA News team observed that the Chinese Coast Guard had three vessels in the area.

[Video report]

When the Filipino fishing vessels decided to maneuver back to Masinloc in Zambales, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel tailed them and activated its Long Range Acoustic Device, a siren used for crowd dispersal.

Using a megaphone, the Chinese guards told the Filipino fishermen, “Go back, go back!”

The Filipino vessels were also pursued by two speedboats. One had Chinese guards taking photos of the Filipino fishermen.

The Filipino fishermen told GMA News that there has been Chinese presence over the area as early as 2012.

The fishermen claimed that since July 12, when the international arbritration tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in the maritime case it filed against China, the Chinese have allegedly been more aggressive in driving away Filipino fishermen.

Earlier reports said the China also flaunted a picture of its nuclear-capable bomber plane flying over the disputed Panatag Shoal, three days after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) released the ruling on the maritime case the Philippines filed against China.

The official account of People’s Liberation Army Air Force posted photos of the H-6K long range nuclear-capable bomber on a Chinese social media site Weibo.

In a news release posted on its website on July 12, the PCA said, "The  Tribunal  concluded that  there  was  no  legal  basis  for  China  to claim  historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line.’"

The ruling was handed down more than three years after the case was filed by the Philippines in January 2013.

NDF calls for DAR action on Neg. Occ. land

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 22): NDF calls for DAR action on Neg. Occ. land

The NDF-Negros Island welcomed in its press statement yesterday the “order of business” set by newly installed Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano for his 100 days in the DAR.

The NDF-Negros Island called on the masses and farm workers to actively support and participate in the “Duterte government's rough journey of realizing genuine agrarian reform in the island.”

“The stark reality of disparate land distribution in the island among its citizens is a century-old problem. Negros Island is one of the strongholds of landlordism in the country. The harsh everyday experience of hunger and deprivation of the majority of the population of Negros who are peasants and farm workers must again be brought to the door of the social conscience of the landed elite in Negros Island,” it said.

The NDF also called on the “landed elites of Negros Island, the sugar barons and the neo-liberalists to refrain from resisting or sabotaging the implementation of a genuine agrarian reform program of the government.”

It asked the DAR look into the 3,773.5 hectare Cojuangco landholdings in Negros Occidental covered by Certificate of Land Ownership Awards that has been subjected to a joint venture agreement/corporative scheme through the Voluntary Land Transfer scheme of the DAR in October 1998.

The farm workers identified as beneficiaries of the land have become sham owners of the Cojuangco property in the towns of La Castellana, Isabela and Hinigaran in Central Negros, the NDF said.

The NDF also asked the DAR to look into what it called the forcible eviction of 66 farmer-beneficiaris of the CARP in the 155 hectares in Hacienda Ilimnan and Hacienda Arlocs, in Barangay Sta. Rosa, Murcia, Negros Occidental purchased by the provincial government.

It also asked for an investigation into the alleged massive reclassification and conversion of lands in Kabankalan City covering 5 barangays and victimizing farmer beneficiaries.

In other areas of Negros Island, widespread land use conversions and cancellations of CLOAs are victimizing farmer-beneficiaries, the DAR said.

US guided-missile destroyer in Philippines

From Update.Ph (Jul 22): US guided-missile destroyer in Philippines

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) arrived in Manila on July 20 for a routine port call that highlights the strong historic, community, and military connections between the Philippines and the United States.

During the visit, service members from the American ship will participate in a series of community relations projects and sporting events, while experiencing Filipino culture.

Although some USS Curtis Wilbur sailors will be experiencing the Philippines for the first time, some of its crewmen, such as Senior Chief Gas Turbine System Technician Fitz Dasal, are looking forward to seeing the country again because they are Filipino-American.

“I was born in Bacolod, Philippines, which is south of Manila,” Dasal said.

“My wife and children are all US citizens, but they currently live in Bacolod. I’m very excited and grateful to see them. I’m thankful that the Navy granted me the opportunity to see my loved ones. The Philippines is a great country and I encourage everyone to get out and experience the culture to the fullest,” he added.

The Philippines is a longstanding treaty ally of the United States and became a major non-NATO ally in 2003.

With a partnership spanning more than 70 years, the American and Philippine militaries have worked closely in regional security, counter-terrorism, and combating transnational crime.

USS Curtis Wilbur is on patrol with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 in the US 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

BIFF splits in two factions

From Update.Ph (Jul 22): BIFF splits in two factions

The estimated 500-strong Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has split into two with the new faction renouncing the association of BIFF leaders with Daesh.

The BIFF is a faction of the mainstream Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that bolted out several years ago following the death of MILF founding chair Hashim Salamat.

The BIFF, operating solely in the peripheries of Maguindanao province, is not included in the ongoing government–MILF peace accord.

Speaking over local radio outlets here Friday, the new faction’s self-proclaimed spokesman is Abu Amir who have parted from the ISIS-leaning ideology of BIFF leader Imam Bongos and his spokesman Abu Misry and his bunch of loyal field commanders.

“We are not to be swayed by the ISIS ideology because we adhere to the cause of the Moro struggle and teachings of the Koran,” Amir said.

He said their faction, whose appellation remains unknown, has recognized Imam Minimbang, also known as Ustadz Karialan, as their new leader.

Both Bongos and Karialan are wanted by the law for various crimes ranging from multiple murder, harassment, and collection of revolutionary taxes from poor farming communities in the province.

Misry, in a separate interview, denied the split of the BIFF hierarchy and has pointed to the military as the one behind the move to cast a scenario of power struggle within their organization.

Misry did not elaborate on the matter.

Zamboanga City on red alert after entry of MNLF members

From CNN Philippines (Jul 21): Zamboanga City on red alert after entry of MNLF members

Tension rose as members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) passed through Zamboanga City on their way to Sulu.

Security officials have raised a red alert for Zamboanga City following the entry of members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), officials said Tuesday.

Mayor Beng Climaco said 300 MNLF members entered the city early Monday without prior notice or coordination with her office. They came from cities and provinces in the Zamboanga Peninsula and the Caraga region.

The MNLF members were intercepted by authorities at a checkpoint and escorted by soldiers to the seaport. They were scheduled to leave for Sulu late Monday. 

The MNLF members were unarmed. Travelling with them were a number of women and at least one child.

The police, however, did not cite any official reason for the security alert.

Climaco advised residents to remain calm and stay vigilant and report any untoward incident to authorities.

Meanwhile, City Legal Officer Jesus Carbon said he saw nothing wrong with the MNLF passing through the city on their way to Jolo as long as they follow the law.

An MNLF member who refused to be identified said they were on their way to Indanan, Sulu, for a meeting between MNLF leader Nur Misuari and President Rodrigo Duterte.

Misuari is facing an arrest warrant for rebellion in connection with the Zamboanga siege in 2013 when MNLF rebels attacked government forces in the city and took about 300 civilian hostages. The military said more than 200 people were killed during the fighting which lasted for almost a month.

The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996 but its members have held on to their weapons.

Notorious Muktadir siblings said to be behind latest kidnapping after months on the run

From The Star Online (Jul 21): Notorious Muktadir siblings said to be behind latest kidnapping after months on the run

Wanted men: Nikson (left) and his brother Badong.
Wanted men: Nikson (left) and his brother Badong.

The shadow of the notorious Muktadir brothers looms over the latest disappearance of five Malaysian sailors whose tugboat was found listing in waters off Lahad Datu on Monday.

According to Filipino sources based in Jolo, the other Tawi-Tawi-based brothers known as Badong @ Brown and his brother Nikson @ Nelson are said to be back in business after a few months on the run.

The sources said the two were suspected to be behind the kidnapping of the Malaysian sailors.

Officials here and in the Philippines are not sure whether the sailors had been brought to Jolo.
Badong, who now calls himself Commander Brown, and Nikson were said to be assisted by the men of another Abu Sayyaf sub-commander, Al Habsi Misaya.

The sources believed the gunmen and their captives arrived in Jolo on Tuesday, but the Philippines military said they were still verifying the report.

In Manila, Philippines presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said they had received reports of the kidnapping, and indicated that the Abu Sayyaf might be involved.

The five sailors have been identified as Abd Rahim Summas, 62, Tayudin Anjut, 45, Fandy Bakran, 26, Mohd Zumadil Rahim, 23, all from Tawau, and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32, from Pahang.

The five were reported missing from their tugboat at 3pm on Monday by its owners after other vessels’ crewmen spotted it listing in Dent Haven waters in Lahad Datu an hour earlier.

Jolo-based activist Prof Octavio Dinampo said Al Habsi was in the thick of the kidnappings, with his men guarding the four Indonesian tugboat crewmen who were abducted at international waters on June 27 and were now held at a mountainous jungle hideout in Indanan.

He said that the Indonesian fishermen who were snatched from a Malaysian fishing vessel near Sinakut, Lahad Datu on July 9 were being held by another Abu Sayyaf sub-commander, Indang Susukan, in Talipao.

The Indonesians – Lorence Kotten, 34, Teo Dorus Kopong, 42 and Emanuel, 46 – were held with Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad.

The Muktadir brothers numbering between five and eight siblings led by Nikson have been keeping a low profile, with one brother, Mindas Manda, killed in Jolo in May last year while another, Kadafi, was arrested by Philippines police on the island.

They said that Nikson was keeping a low profile following the beheading of Malaysian hostage Bernard Thien on Nov 17.

In Kuala Lumpur, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said police received information that the five Malaysian sailors who were missing were kidnapped and brought to Southern Philippines.

They are believed to have been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf-linked gunmen.

“We have received information that they were kidnapped and brought to Southern Philippines,” he told reporters.

Noor Rashid added that so far there was no ransom demand from the kidnappers.
Noor Rashid said police had yet to ascertain the identity of the group of perpetrators.
“It may be a splinter group,” he added.

Sources said the recent spate of kidnappings involving some two dozen Indonesian and Malaysian sailors in six incidents along the Sabah Tawi-Tawi sea border since late April also involved Apo Mike.

Octavio said the kidnap-for-ransom groups preferred to keep their hostages in Indanan as the mountainous area was a stronghold of the Moro National Liberation Front led by Nur Misuari.

Family members of the missing Malaysians believe that the five were kidnapped and were praying for their save return.

Hasnavati, the daughter of Abd Rahim, said her father’s employer informed them on Tuesday that a call purportedly from the abductors was made to him late Monday.

She said they had claimed they were in Basilan, another Philippine island close to Jolo, where Abu Sayyaf also operated from.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said there were no calls from the kidnappers.

BRP Andres Bonifacio to arrive in Philippines by November

From Update.Ph (Jul 21): BRP Andres Bonifacio to arrive in Philippines by November

The Philippine Navy (PN)’s second frigate bearing the revered name KKK founder Andres Bonifacio, will be arriving home by November. This was confirmed by PN acting public affairs chief Cmdr. Marineth Domingo in an interview Thursday.

The second BRP Andres Bonifacio (PF-17) is the former USCGC Boutwell, which was retired last March 16 and scheduled to be handed over to the PN on Thursday (American time) during turnover ceremonies at Coast Guard Base Alameda, California.

Domingo said BRP Andres Bonifacio prospective commanding officer Capt. Brendo J. Casaclang and his crew will train on how to operate the ship’s systems before starting their voyage home by October.

She added that the ship will be used in maritime security and sovereignty patrols.

BRP Andres Bonifacio will be the third Hamilton class cutter in PN service after the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) which were acquired in 2011 and 2013, respectively. The former was acquired through the US Excess Defense Articles program.

The second BRP Andres Bonifacio is armed with a 76mm Oto Melara autocannon like her sisters and has cruising speed of around 29 knots.

The first BRP Andres Bonifacio (PF-7) was commissioned by the PN on July 27, 1976 and decommissioned on Sept. 30, 1993.

The first BRP Andres Bonifacio was the lead ship of the Andres Bonifacio class frigates of the PN which consists of the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-8), BRP Diego Silang (PF-9) and BRP Francisco Dagohoy (PF-10). These ships, during that time were the largest and most heavily-armed frigates of the PN.

Marines raid Sayyaf hideout, capture 3 men, speedboats near Sabah border

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 21): Marines raid Sayyaf hideout, capture 3 men, speedboats near Sabah border
Marines raided a suspected Abu Sayyaf hideout on Thursday and captured 3 people and three speedboats in a daring operation near the Sabah border in the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi, officials said.

Officials said members of the elite Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) under Colonel Fernando Gomez launched the operation near Sitangkai Island. A shotgun and ammunition were also seized from the men, who are currently being interrogated to determine if they were involved in cross-border kidnappings.

It was not immediately known whether the speedboats are being used in kidnapping activities in Sabah in Malaysia. No other details were made available by security officials on the raid because the operation is going on, but the ARG includes the BRP Tarlac, the newest ship of the Philippine Navy.

The capture of the trio coincided with the arrest late Thursday afternoon of an Abu Sayyaf militant – Bads Adjam alias Abu Jihad – in Santa Maria village in Zamboanga City.

Adjam has been linked to the 2002 kidnappings of six members of the Jehova’s Witness in Patikul town in Sulu province and 21 mostly European holidaymakers in Sipadan Island off Sabah in 2000.

Officials did not say if Adjam’s arrest was connected to the military operations in Tawi-Tawi, but both provinces are part of the Muslim autonomous region.

New cutter to be called Bonifacio

From The Standard (Jul 22): New cutter to be called Bonifacio

THE Philippine Navy will officially took possession of its its third Hamilton-class cutter on Thursday after it commissioned the United States Coast Guard Cutter “Boutwell” and renamed it Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas “Andres Bonifacio.”

Commander Marineth Domingo, acting chief of the Navy public affairs office, said the Bonifacio was commissioned at the OSCG base in Alameda, California in a ceremony witnessed by Philippine Fleet commander Rear Admiral Bayani Gaerlan and Offshore Combat Force commander Commodore Robert Emperad.

The crew of the Bonifacio, led by Capt. Brendo Casaclang, will undergo training for three months before its maiden voyage to the Philippines in October. The vessel is expected to arrive in November.

Before its transfer to the Philippine Navy, the Boutwell served in the US Coast Guard for 48 years and was only decommissioned last March.

It is the country’s third Hamilton-class cutter after the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, both donated by the United States under its Excess Defence Articles program.

“They will be primarily important for the Philippine Navy’s maritime security and sovereignty patrols in line with our mandate to protect the people and the state,” Domingo said.

The Hamilton-class cutter was the largest class of vessel in the United States Coast Guard until it was replaced by the National Security Cutter, aside from the Polar-class icebreakers.

The cutters are powered by two diesel engines and two gas turbines and have controllable-pitch propellers. They are equipped with a helicopter flight deck, retractable hangar, and the facilities to support helicopter deployment.

Domingo did not indicate if the ship still had its navigation and weapons systems upon its transfer, but the Del Pilar and Alcaraz were both transfered bare, spurring the Armed Forces of the Philippines to undertake contracts with several international weapons suppliers.

Domingo said the acquisition of the Bonifacio will boost the Navy’s assets after the delivery of a brand-new sealift vessel from Indonesia, now called the BRP Tarlac, the first of its class. The country also acquired five new landing crafts from Australia last year.

Gov’t may tap GSIS to handle military pension

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 21): Gov’t may tap GSIS to handle military pension

The Duterte administration is considering tapping the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to arrest the ballooning pension cost of the soldiers and policemen, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said.

On the sidelines of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) meeting, Diokno disclosed an impending crisis in the military pension system that the new administration needs to immediately address.

According to Diokno, under the present system, military personnel do not contribute to their own pension fund, instead it is being subsidized by the national government.

“We really need to address that immediately, because otherwise, the problem will continue to balloon. My projection is, the time will come that the amount budget for pension will be about 80 percent of the budget of the military,” Diokno told reporters.

The pension costs of the military are rapidly increasing every year, Diokno pointe out, adding the problem mainly is due to the features present in all existing retirement laws of the military.

 To date, pension entitlement of a retiree is automatically adjusted based on the prevailing scale of base pay for similarly ranked active personnel. Their pension is also non-contributory in nature hence budget comes from the annual general appropriations of the government.

 According to the latest actuarial study conducted by GSIS, if no reforms are introduced to the existing military pension system, the seed fund shall require an amount equivalent to P5.57 trillion.

 However, if reforms are implemented, specifically the deletion of the automatic indexation feature, the formulation of a mandatory contribution and the designation of a minimum pensionable age—then the amount required for the seed fund is significantly lowered to P2 trillion.

 However, Diokno said that all existing military members and pensioners will continue to enjoy there benefits, saying the administration’s proposal, once passed into law, would only affect future members.

“The new pension system will apply to the new recruits,” Diokno said. “If they don’t like the new system, then they should not join the service.”

 “We really have to find a way to integrate the military pension system to GSIS,” he added.

 Diokno also said that the government will infuse additional capital into the state pension fund to accommodate the military servicemen.

“In the past administration, the pension of the military and the police is indexed in the salary of the incumbent. With the Increased salary of the military and police, the pensioners got higher pension,” Diokno said.

“In fact, this time, the pension of the military is much higher than the salaries of incumbents. In the police, it’s almost equal. Next year, we are appropriating something like P80 billion just to pay for the pension of the military,” he added.

Duterte satisfied with military ops vs Abu Sayyaf in Basilan

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 21): Duterte satisfied with military ops vs Abu Sayyaf in Basilan
President Rodrigo Duterte said he was satisfied with the ongoing military operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan.

Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the President, during his visit there on Thursday, “[has] expressed satisfaction” with the operations along with the accomplishments of the military units in the area.

Duterte made his first official visit to the province but it was only limited to Isabela City, where the headquarters of the 104th Brigade of the Philippine Army is located
“I am with you in the punitive and law enforcement actions against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group,” Duterte was quoted as saying.

The President told the troops to “just do your job.”

“If you will fall into trouble, or face cases due to such lawful performance of your duties, ako ang bahala sa inyo (I’ll take care of you),” he said.

Duterte was scheduled to return to Zamboanga City to meet with the Western Mindanao Command.

Surigao Norte town strengthens support to Army’s peace, development outreach program

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 22): Surigao Norte town strengthens support to Army’s peace, development outreach program

The municipality of Malimono in Surigao del Norte through its Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) has intensified the implementation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP’s) Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) to end conflicts and pursue peace, order and security in its locality.

It can be recalled that residents from Brgy. Tinago had evacuated to Malimono Municipal Gymnasium upon order by the NPA commander who also threatened them to suffer from the planned attack if they will refuse. However, the circulated reports deceptively appeared to be that residents were afraid of soldiers and that they wanted the military men to withdraw their presence in the barangay.

To verify the veracity of the situation, 1Lt Ryan Layug, Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer of 30IB led a Quick Reaction Team to engage the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on July 12-13, 2016. "When I asked Tinago residents if it is true that they wanted the soldiers out of their barangay, majority vehemently denied the allegations," Layug said.

Meanwhile, reports were tipped to the soldiers, policemen and local government unit (LGU) that a rally was being organized secretly on July 13 to support the demanded pull-out of soldiers in Malimono by the IDPs. Media outlets were invited by Naghiusang Mag-uuma sa Surigao del Norte (NAMASUN) to cover the rally that was simultaneously conducted with the scheduled MPOC meeting.

"Some barangay chairpersons are now being manipulated by the NPAs. I will commit one company of soldiers here in Malimono to remove your fear and maintain security,” addressed Lt Col Rico Amaro, 30IB commander before the members of the MPOC.

"It's time to put an end to the presence of NPAs in Malimono. This is a 5th class municipality, we will not move forward with their presence because we don't want to be referred as red flagged municipality. Investors already denied us and we must not allow for the next generations of our kin to face difficulty in finding a job just because they came from an NPA-influenced town. We will implement and support PDOP,"

Mayor Wallace Sinaca said after soliciting the views of barangay chairpersons and the MPOC.

According to reports from concerned residents, the NPA is desperate to maintain its hold in Malimono because of the small-scale illegal mining where they usually got a share. Also, the farmers, fisherfolks, store owners, jeepney operators, government employees and other businesses in Malimono are  being collected with revolutionary tax.

Malaysian government in negotiations with kidnappers of 5 sailors

From the International Business Times (Jul 21): Malaysian government in negotiations with kidnappers of 5 sailors

Philippines had confirmed two days ago that the Isis-linked Abu Sayyaf is behind this kidnapping.

The Malaysian government has initiated negotiations with the abductors of five of its sailors on Monday (18 July), deputy home minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed has said. Mohamed added that the government had identified the kidnappers. This comes after the Philippines Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza confirmed on Tuesday (19 July) that Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was behind this latest kidnapping.

The militant group, which is accused of a series of kidnappings and sea crime in the Philippines and Malaysian waters, was reported to have abducted these five sailors from a tugboat in the bay of Dent Haven off Lahad Datu in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Monday.

Mohamed said the government had taken over the negotiations to release the five abducted sailors after their kidnappers contacted their families. He, however, has advised the families to not divulge any details about the ongoing negotiations to the media as that may prompt the militants to commit more such crimes. "We know the people involved and we are negotiating with them. I hope any discussions made would not be highlighted in the media or any other form; what is more important is to secure the release of the victims," he was quoted by New Strait Times Online as saying.

The abducted sailors were on their way back to Semporna from Sandakan, both cities in Sabah state. Abu Sayyaf militants intercepted them off Lahad Datu and authorities came to know about the kidnapping when the empty tugboat was found with its engine still running.

Abu Sayyaf is an Islamic State (Isis)-linked militant group that operates from Philippines. The group were reported to have abducted three Indonesian fishermen about two weeks back and fled into the Philippine waters. They were also said to have abducted another seven Indonesian fishermen at Sulu Sea in the Philippines about a month ago.

"I heard today that they took five more Malaysians in Lahad Datu and the Indonesians are still there," Dureza was quoted by GMA News Online as telling a news conference on Tuesday in Malacañang, the official residence of the Philippines President. He also told the media that Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), led by founding chairman Nur Misuari , has offered to help the military in its operations against the Abu Sayyaf.

"They like to do coordination with military forces on the ground. They want to help in addressing the criminal acts by Abu Sayyaf," he noted.

Indonesia seeks help from MNLF leader to release hostages

From the Jakarta Post (Jul 21): Indonesia seeks help from MNLF leader to release hostages

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari poses for photograph together with MNLF supporters. (Courtesy of

Indonesian intelligence personnel are communicating with Nur Misuari, the founder of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), in an effort to release 10 Indonesian sailors abducted by Philippine militant groups, a minister has said.

The MNLF leader is assisting the Indonesian government negotiate with Abu Sayyaf splinter groups suspected to be holding the sailors hostage on two separate islands in southern Philippines, Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said.

"Historically, Nur Misuari has close relations with Indonesia. We're basically contacting everyone [who can help], not only him," Luhut said on Thursday.

Nur also has good relations with both Philippine officials and Abu Sayyaf militants and Indonesia should take any means possible to release the hostages, Luhut said, adding that Jakarta should maintain its close cooperation with Manila also.

State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Sutiyoso has also assured the public that negotiations to release the sailors, seven of whom were kidnapped in southern Philippine waters in late June and three others who were abducted in Malaysia’s Sabah waters less than a month later, was going well.

After death of Indonesia's top terrorist, comrades 'may join Abu Sayyaf'

From Rappler (Jul 21): After death of Indonesia's top terrorist, comrades 'may join Abu Sayyaf'

A terror expert warns the supporters of Santoso may move to the Philippines following his death   

santoso tewas
santoso tewas

Indonesia – Following the death of Indonesia's most wanted terrorist, a terrorism expert warned that members of his network may join the Abu Sayyaf.

On Tuesday, police said one of the two men they killed in a gunfight was Santoso, alias Abu Wardah, who has been called the "symbolic heart of the jihadi movement."

While the news was welcome, terrorism expert Al Chaidar warned this could mean members of Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT or East Indonesia Mujahideen), which Santoso formed, may opt to go to the Philippines.

He said they could choose to join Abu Sayyaf, which is similar to the MIT, now that the police forces are familiar with their whereabouts in Poso, the jungle area where the group is based.

"Like the MIT, Abu Sayyaf is also based in one place. Both share the same nature," he told The Jakarta Post.

"Thus the remaining MIT followers may go to Abu Sayyaf, if they manage to get out of Poso."

The MIT came to the attention of authorities when they killed two police officers in 2011, propelling Santoso to the top of the most wanted list.

The MIT engaged in more deadly attacks against security forces in the years that followed and, as Santoso's reputation grew in jihadi circles, militants flocked to the training camps.

MIT has pledged allegiance to ISIS. (READ: 'Go to hell Philippines': Indonesian workers ask Duterte to act on Abu Sayyaf kidnappings)

Meanwhile, Abu Sayyaf has caused significant problems to the region following their consecutive kidnappings of foreigners.

The Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of a few hundred Islamist militants based in the southern islands of the Philippines. It was formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, and has earned millions of dollars from kidnappings-for-ransom.

Its leaders have also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Duterte wants more soldiers, police for fight vs urban terrorism

From Rappler (Jul 21): Duterte wants more soldiers, police for fight vs urban terrorism

The Philippine president gives law enforcers in Mindanao a pep talk: 'Take solace in my statement, I’ll be there for you.'

'100-PERCENT SUPPORT.' President Rodrigo Duterte is welcomed by officers of the Western Mindanao Command during his arrival at Edwin Andrews Airbase in Zamboanga City on July 21, 2016. KIWI BULACLAC/PPD

'100-PERCENT SUPPORT.' President Rodrigo Duterte is welcomed by officers of the Western Mindanao Command during his arrival at Edwin Andrews Airbase in Zamboanga City on July 21, 2016. KIWI BULACLAC/PPD

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he will need more soldiers and policemen to fight the phenomenon of urban terrorism.

“It’s about 20. Wala akong pera (I don't have money). Mga 10 siguro (Around 10) for additional soldiers on the ground,” he said to an audience of law enforcers on Thursday, July 21, at the Western Mindanao Command Headquarters in Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City.
"Plus, I would need about 3,000 policemen to meet the challenges of urban terrorism. We are in a transition," Duterte added.
It’s not clear if he meant 20,000 new law enforcers and 10,000 additional soldiers or he was referring to the budgets needed for the additional manpower.
But he said more law enforcers are needed in order to put an end to “embarrassing” terrorism in the Philippines.
“As a nation, it has started many, many years ago – para tayong sinasampal (It's like we are being slapped). Every time there is foreigner executed or local…It embarrasses the country and all soldiers and the policemen,” said Duterte.
“One day, we’ll just have to decide, and one day, we just have to say we’ll finish everything. ‘Di pwedeng araw-araw sampalin tayo nang ganito (We can't be slapped like this everyday),” he added.
SECURITY MATTERS. President Rodrigo R. Duterte presides over the command conference at the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City on July 21. KIWI BULACLAC/PPD
SECURITY MATTERS. President Rodrigo R. Duterte presides over the command conference at the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City on July 21. KIWI BULACLAC/PPD
At the start of his speech, he said his administration “will go ahead with increases of soldiers, police, and military including PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) and law enforcement agencies like NBI.”
But it may have also been possible that Duterte was referring to increases in the salary of these law enforcers.
Whatever the “increase” he was referring to, he said it could take effect this year, 2016.
Dahan-dahan tayo. Wala masyado pera. (Let's take it slow. We don't have much money) I entered the presidency midstream, I have to make do with what’s available pero uunahin ko kayo (but I will put you first),” he said.
Improved AFP hospital
The President reminded soldiers of his promise to sell the presidential ship BRP Ang Pangulo, although he used the ship’s old name, BRP Pag-asa. The old name was used during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Duterte said he planned to sell the ship in order to rebuild the AFP Medical Center, also known as V. Luna General Hospital.
“If somebody is willing to sell it (BRP Ang Pangulo) – you can be sure the proceeds will go directly – I will rebuild V. Luna (General Hospital),” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
With the money from the ship’s sale, Duterte may order the construction of another building.
“It will have everything – CT Scan imaging. I’ll spend the money. We will improve the hospital, what is needed for immediate and urgent needs will be there,” he said.
BACK IN MINDANAO. President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at the headquarters of the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City on July 21for a command conference with army officials led by WestMinCom chief Lt. Gen. Mayoralgodela Cruz (right). KIWI BULACLAC/PPD
BACK IN MINDANAO. President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at the headquarters of the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City on July 21for a command conference with army officials led by WestMinCom chief Lt. Gen. Mayoralgodela Cruz (right). KIWI BULACLAC/PPD
If no one wants to buy BRP Pangulo, he will order it converted into a hospital ship to be sent to conflict areas.
Gagawin ko ‘yung hospital, lagay ko wherever the fighting is. Siraan ko yung loob, lagyan ko lang ng operating room,” he explained. (I will turn it into a hospital, I'll put it wherever the fighting is. I'll destroy what's inside and put an operating room there.)
'100% support'
During his shorter than usual speech, only around 12 minutes long, Duterte also gave law enforcers a pep talk.
“In the fulfilment of duty or the performance of your task or mandate, you will have my support – 100%,” he said.
He reminded them of his promise to protect them should they face law suits in the course of doing their duty, particularly in the war against drugs.
“I will not allow you to go to jail. Ako ang mauna. Akin ‘yan… Wag kayo matakot. (I will go first. It's my responsibility. Don't get scared.) You may be charged. Take solace in my statement, I’ll be there for you,” said the President.
After his speech, Duterte visited 16 soldiers at the Camp Navarro General Hospital due to wounds from encounters in Basilan and Sulu.
Before visiting WESTMINCOM, Duterte visited Basilan to attend a briefing with military and police and to meet with local government officials.
There, he pleaded for peace with Mindanao-based groups, including terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

Abu Sayyaf wants P200M ransom for 5 Malaysians

From the Manila Times (Jul 21): Abu Sayyaf wants P200M ransom for 5 Malaysians

Abu Sayyaf militants have demanded a P200 million ransom for the release of five Malaysian sailors they kidnapped in Sabah.

Borneo Post reported that one of the hostages, Tayudin Anjut, 45, phoned his employer to say that they are being held captive in Basilan, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

Anjut said the kidnappers were demanding the ransom for their freedom, but Philippine military and police authorities could not immediately confirm nor deny the report.

The sailors – Abd Rahim Summas, 62, Fandy Bakran, 26, Mohd Zumadil Rahim, 23 and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32, crew members of the tugboat Seruduna 3, disappeared at sea off Lahad Datu town on July 18.

Their tugboat was recovered by Sabah authorities with its engine still running. The boat was set to return to Semporna after its barge delivered a cargo of stones in Sandakan City also in Sabah, according to the Malaysian media.

The Abu Sayyaf also seized seven Indonesians on June 22 in the Sulu Sea near the Philippines border. The hostages — Ferry Arifin, the tugboat skipper; M. Mahbrur Dahri, Edi Suryono, Ismail, M.Nasir, M.Sofyan and Robin Piter — were last reported seen in Luuk town, local military intelligence reports said.

Their boat – owned by PT Rusianto Brothers – was heading to Samarinda in East Kalimantan following a trip from the Philippines when gunmen on speedboats intercepted it. Indonesian media reported that Arifin phoned his wife and told her that they were intercepted at sea by gunmen who introduced themselves as Abu Sayyaf and were also demanding over P200 million for their safe release.

The Abu Sayyaf previously kidnapped 14 Indonesian tugboat crewmembers in separate attacks at sea off Sabah and brought them to Sulu province. They were eventually released through the intercession of the Moro National Liberation Front.

On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte flew to Zamboanga City and Basilan to inspect troops fighting Abu Sayyaf rebels.

Security officials briefed the president on the progress of military operations against the bandits.