Tuesday, August 9, 2016

US summons Philippine envoy over Duterte’s remarks

From the Philippine Star (Aug 9): US summons Philippine envoy over Duterte’s remarks             

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, greets U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg, left, as Secretary of State John Kerry looks on during his visit at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. AP Photo/Aaron Favila, Pool

The US State Department summoned Philippine embassy Charge d’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto on Monday to seek clarification of what it said were  “inappropriate remarks” made by President Duterte against US Ambassador Philip Goldberg.

Elizabeth Trudeau, director of the State Department press office, said Chuasoto was called in for an explanation of Duterte’s remarks but declined to give further details. Duterte has openly called Goldberg “gay” and “a son of a bitch.”

Duterte’s dislike for Goldberg dates back to the campaign period when the diplomat called him out for making a joke about the rape and murder of an Australian missionary during a 1989 Davao City prison riot.

At a news conference, Trudeau said the State Department was concerned about the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers urged the Duterte administration to ensure law enforcement efforts do not violate human rights.

She said US officials were in discussions with Filipino authorities to emphasize the importance of the rule of law, a fundamental democratic principle.

“We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts comply with its human rights obligations,” she said.

In reply to a query, she said a $32-million assistance package announced by Secretary of State John Kerry during a recent visit to Manila to support the Duterte administration’s intensified law enforcement efforts was meant to promote human rights through training as well as promote professionalism, due process and rule of law. The money should not be used in activities involving extrajudicial killings, she said.


NDF: Better to Resume Formal Peace Talks Than Not To Do So

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Aug 7): Better to Resume Formal Peace Talks Than Not To Do So  

When the JASIG-protected NDFP consultants are released and get travel documents before August 20, it would be better than not to resume formal peace talks on August 20-27, 2016 because it is during the formal talks that the GPH and NDFP negotiating panels can discuss the mode of ceasefire and how best to arrange this.

Concerning President Duterte’s statement in Davao last night, we address him in his official capacity and not at a personal level. We understand that as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines he has the duty to show official and personal concern for his troops and mourn their death as casualties of war.

However, we wish to point out that the use of command-detonated land mines is not violative of the Geneva Convention and the Ottawa Treaty.

The New People’s Army can use these weapons in its military operations inasmuch as there is yet no ceasefire of any kind which is valid and effective between the NPA and the AFP.

Thus the resumption of formal talks is necessary to allow both negotiating panels to take up the mode of ceasefire, as stated in the Joint Statement signed in Oslo on June 15, 2016.

Luis G. Jalandoni
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel


US destroyer in Subic to complete voyage repair mid-deployment

From Update.Ph (Aug 9): US destroyer in Subic to complete voyage repair mid-deployment

USS Momsen

United States Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Momsen (DDG 92) is currently in Subic for her midway point as part of US 3rd Fleet Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG).

The PAC SAG – comprised of the embarked staff of Destroyer Squadron 31, guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance (DDG 111), USS Decatur (DDG 73) and USS Momsen (DDG 92) and embarked “Devil Fish” and “Warbirds” detachments of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49 – was deployed to conduct routine patrols, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation activities to enhance Western Pacific regional security and stability.

“Momsen’s presence here sends a powerful message to the world about our commitment to the stability of the region,” said Cmdr. Elaine Brunelle, Momsen’s executive officer. “We are skilled professionals committed to enhancing maritime security through bilateral cooperation with our partners throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”

The US Navy said while in Subic, Momsen will complete a voyage repair period while her crew participate in community outreach events and take advantage of various Morale, Welfare and Recreation tours.

The crew aboard Momsen will also focus on mission essential maintenance during the voyage repair.

“Sometimes there is special equipment required that the ship does not have on board to calibrate gauges, valves, tools and so on,” said Chief Interior Communications Electrician Justin Hohlbein, Momsen’s maintenance manager. “Pulling into a port like Subic Bay offers us the chance to have these types of jobs completed and the accomplishment of corrective maintenance of mission essential items is necessary for a ship to deploy or to continue on its deployment.”


China building hangars capable to accommodate jet fighters, bombers in West Philippine Sea

From Update.Ph (Aug 9): China building hangars capable to accommodate jet fighters, bombers in West Philippine Sea

Recent satellite photos reveal that China is building up its military presence at the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea, according to media reports.

The photos, collected and studied by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, showed that China constructed reinforced aircraft hangars at Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs, which are part of the disputed islands, The New York Times daily newspaper reported.

“They [hangars] are far thicker than you would build for any civilian purpose. They’re reinforced to take a strike,” Gregory Poling, director of the center’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, told The New York Times.

Such hangars can reportedly accommodate any Chinese fighter jet and even some types of bombers.

Beijing’s territorial claims to the Spratly Islands, which are believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves, run counter to those of the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

Last July 12, a UN-appointed arbitration court in the Hague ruled that there was no basis to Beijing’s claim to extensive territories in the South China Sea, after the Philippines filed a case in January 2013, accusing Beijing of violating the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea by its actions in the South China Sea.


US summons PH diplomat after Duterte called Goldberg ‘bakla’

From Update.Ph (Aug 9): US summons PH diplomat after Duterte called Goldberg ‘bakla’ (gay)

Duterte Us Amba

United States State Department Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau said in a press briefing dated August 8 that the State Department has summoned Philippines’ Chargé d’Affairés in Washington to clarify President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘inappropriate comments’ about US Ambassador to Philippines Philip Goldberg.

“I would say two things on that. The first, specifically on the remarks, we’ve seen those inappropriate comments made about Ambassador Goldberg,” Trudeau said when asked regarding the issue.

She added that Goldberg is the most senior American diplomat and was assigned to different posts. “He’s a multi-time ambassador, one of our most senior U.S. diplomats.”

“We have asked the Philippines charge to come into the State Department to clarify those remarks (which happened today),” Trudeau said without giving further details.

President Duterte, last week before the soldiers at Camp Lapu-Lapu in Cebu City, called the American envoy ‘bakla’. “Buwisit ako diyan. Nakikisali doon sa eleksyon, giving statement here and there. He was not supposed to do that.”


Gov’t to subsidize expenses of Reds set to fly to Norway

From the Sun Star-Manila (Aug 9): Gov’t to subsidize expenses of Reds set to fly to Norway

THE government will shoulder portion of the expenses of communist leaders who will participate in the peace talks in Oslo Norway on August 20, a Palace official said on Tuesday.

“I think it’s a shared expense [between the government and] their counterparts [once the peace dialogue resumes,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told reporters.

“I don’t have exact number [about how much will be spent] but it’s sizeable,” he added.

Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza had said President Rodrigo Duterte already ordered the temporary release of some leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army, and National Democratic front (NDF) who will take part in the talks.

CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon, CPP finance chief Wilma Tiamzon, and NDF peace negotiating panel chair Luis Jalandoni are the key personalities expected to take part in the peace talks.

The Duterte administration and the militant groups are expected to tackle the affirmation of both parties on the signed agreements, the interim ceasefire, and the activation of the joint agreement on safety and immunity guarantees that has been stalled.

Abella said the government is now doubling its effort to make sure that individuals needed for the resumption of peace deal will be able to join.

“I know there have been efforts to make sure that those who need to be in Norway have been allowed or being allowed to have travel passes – as far as I know,” he said.
“The President seems to be confident that the peace talks can proceed.”


LUMADS' WOES | In Talacogon, soldiers occupy village, displacing residents

From InterAksyon (Aug 9): LUMADS' WOES | In Talacogon, soldiers occupy village, displacing residents

Richard Coguit (2nd left) watches as a fellow displaced lumad shows his mobile message to Kasalo Caraga Julito Otacan (2nd right) for an update on the situation of the displaced Indigenous People in Talacogon. Photographed by Erwin Mascariñas, InterAksyon

Butuan City - Residents in an indigenous people (IP) community are asking for support after they were displaced in early July from their hinterland village in the town of Talacogon in Agusan del Sur by the arrival of troops from the Philippine Army's 26th Infantry Battalion.

On August 4, 2016 196 IPs comprising some 48 Manobo families trekked 14 kilometers from their settlement toward the barangay center of Zillovia, Talacogon, Agusan del Sur, recounting the request of the soldiers that they be allowed to stay for several days.

"Soldiers started coming to our village on July 11, they explained that they were here to help facilitate projects on water supply, road-building and even the construction of toilets. We requested that they stay about 500 meters away from where the main population is living. But, they decided to live in the village and stayed in two of the houses," said Richard Coguit, village head of Purok 8, Barangay Zillovia.

Coguit a father of six, pointed out that the village started to be alarmed when the soldiers stayed longer than what was agreed upon.

"The people in the village started to feel that their daily activities are being hampered by presence of the soldiers, who had proceeded to get census data and taking pictures, asking question like whether there are family members who are associated with the New People's Army (NPA).

Our community members couldn't anymore freely go out at night or stay overnight out in their farm for fear that the soldiers would start questioning and interrogating them a day after," said Coguit.

Coguit said the people in the village became more alarmed when the number of soldiers increased.

"By July 30, the number of soldiers in the village had increased without consultation with us. People started to worry that we might be caught in the crossfire there will be an exchange of gunfire between the NPA and the soldiers right in the village. What spooked the villagers even more was that fear and uncertainty started to grow in our once peaceful community. And then, we found out that several families had decided to leave," he said.

Coguit elaborated that they are asking for help and intervention from the local government to make arrangements for the soldiers to leave their community.

"We are farmers and our lives have been affected much. Our wish for peace and progress should not be in exchange for fear for our lives. We want to go back home. Our livelihood, livestock and farm animals are left behind with no one to take care of them," concluded Coguit.

The 25 year old farmer Mariel Lintao, recalled: "We were living in fear, you have fully armed men living among you and we cannot even gather together without alarming the soldiers.

"We are used to gathering at the end of the day and talk. Now would question us as though we are a threat for them. If we go out and come back a day after, they would interrogate us. Of course, there have been instances when we are too tired to hike several kilometers, so we had to resort to sleeping in our small huts in the mountains. We are a peaceful community and we are not used to having our movements scrutinized."

Ferdausi Cerna, Municipal Administrator of Talacogon, said the local government unit is extending every means to help.

"The evacuees generally are in good physical condition except that there are at least six of them suffering from diarrhea, and the Municipal Health Officer is treating them now. They have requested to elevate the issue to the Municipal Peace and Order Council, and we will find ways to help resolve the issue," said Cerna.

Cerna said he is hoping the matter gets threshed out soon, and that an agreement will be arrived at between the soldiers and the displaced community.

Captain Jeffrey L Batistiana, Civil-Military Officer of 26th IB, explained that the presence of soldiers in the village is part of the government program.

"We have a program, which the Armed Forces of the Philippines has coined Bayanihan Team Activity, in which we have soldiers conducting needs assessment survey and to see identify what are the issues in the barangays and then help them address these issues, which, based on experience, are mostly basic services," said Batistiana.

Batistiana added that before the soldiers take steps to get into the village, "they forge a memorandum of agreement with the LGU and the barangay for the conduct of Bayanihan. The conversations and interview by our troops are basically part of them trying to get to know the people in the community, we can't be too complacent in working in the hinterlands, and that's the very same reason why we have our firearms with us when we talk to them, besides we are first and foremost soldiers and our weapons are part of us," he said. 

Military sets terms for demilitarization

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 10): Military sets terms for demilitarization

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez  INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA
ENVIRONMENT Secretary Gina Lopez has taken up the cudgels for the lumad or indigenous people who had fled their communities out of fear of military and paramilitary groups, assuring them she would push for the demilitarization of their communities.

The military however put a condition to her pledge.

Lopez visited some 300 lumad encamped at the United Church of Christ of the Philippines compound in Davao City, where they had taken shelter after fleeing their communities in Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, and Compostela Valley last year when military and paramilitary groups came and allegedly killed their leaders.

“I will take care of it,” Lopez told the lumad.

“Let us help give them their land back. This would be good for character formation,” Lopez said in a statement over the weekend.

She said she coordinated with Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division (ID), which had troops deployed to some lumad communities.

Rebels must leave

Lopez said Valencia agreed to withdraw the troops this week but in a phone interview, 10th ID spokesperson Capt. Rhyan Batchar said that what Valencia had agreed to was a pullout on condition other armed groups in the area, namely the communist New People’s Army (NPA), also withdrew their forces.

“We are willing to demilitarize the area any time, provided the other armed groups leave the area. That’s our condition – that the rebels leave the area because they are the cause of the problem in the communities, they are the harassers. As part of our mandate, we have to be there to address the armed threat of the NPA because they are threatening the people,” Batchar said in English and Filipino.

“We want the political structure of the lumad to succeed, with the tribal leaders and local government officials talking to each other. They could come up with a resolution for the army to leave when there are no more armed groups,” Batchar added.

Gov't peace panel ready to resume talks with NDF in Oslo

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): Gov't peace panel ready to resume talks with NDF in Oslo

Members of the government peace panel are ready for the resumption of the formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front in Oslo, Norway on Aug. 22 with the National Democratic Front (NDF) brokered by the Royal Norwegian Government as third party facilitator.

We are ready to take that trip,” Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said in a press conference Tuesday at the Apo View Hotel. The members of the panel composed of Angela Librado, Noel Felongco, Rene Sarmiento, Hernani Braganza and Chair Silvestre Bello III, travel to Oslo on Aug. 20 while the talks officially starts Aug. 22.

The government, Dureza said, were doing all preparations towards the resumption of negotiations and ensure that it would happen. They are also working on the release of the other political prisoners, whose participation in the talks is also crucial for the NDF.

The President earlier ordered concerned agencies to work on the temporary release of key political prisoners to attend the peace talks in Oslo, Norway. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process named Tirso Alcantara, Alex Birondo, Winona Birondo, Maria Concepcion Bocala, Reynante Gamara, Alan Jazmines, Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Adelberto Silva, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, party-list Representative Satur Ocampo and NDF panel members Randall B. Echanis and Vicente P. Ladlad. Three of them – Ocampo, Echanis and Ladlad have been allowed by the Supreme Court to attend the talks.

Dureza said they have to be released on the basis of official processes and for those whose cases not pending with the Supreme Court, they are now dealing with the judicial processes in the local regional courts where their cases are pending.

Dureza was hopeful to get them (the said political prisoners) ready for the Aug. 22.

On Sunday, Duterte issued an ultimatum to communist movement that the GRP peace panel would pull out if there is another explosion targeting the government forces. He issued the warning after four members of the 25th Infantry Battalion and the 75th Infantry Battalion died in a landmine explosion planted by the NPA in two separate incidents in Compostela Valley.

Dureza admitted however that traveling the road to peace is not well-paved but despite the humps and bumps everything stays the course given the recent skirmishes in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley between the government forces on the ground and the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels that prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to lift the unilateral ceasefire he declared on July 25.

It may be recalled that Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) last July 25 but lifted it after two militiamen of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) died in an attack by the NPA rebels in Gupitan, Davao del Norte.

Dureza said the President’s latest ultimatum was unequivocal that if there is a landmine explosion, the government would pull out from the talks.

In a press statement, the NDF declared to better resume formal peace talks on Aug. 20 to 27 as this would be the venue to discuss the mode of ceasefire and how to arrange it.

Luis Jalandoni, chair of the NDF peace panel, said he understood Duterte’s statement on Sunday as the commander-in-chief of the AFP, thus had the duty to show official and personal concern for his troops.

In the resumption of talks in Oslo, both panels are expected to fast track the remaining three substantive issues namely the socioeconomic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

They will discuss the affirmation of previously signed agreements; accelerated process for negotiations, including the timeline for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks, socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces; reconstitution of the (JASIG) list; Amnesty Proclamation for the release of all detained political prisoners subject to concurrence by Congress; and the Mode of Interim ceasefire.


Navy to acquire 2 lots of .50 caliber ammunition

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 10): Navy to acquire 2 lots of .50 caliber ammunition

The Philippine Navy (PN) has allocated the sum of PHP34,700,000 for the acquisition of two lots of .50 caliber ammunition.

Lot 1 consists of 6,000 rounds of .50 caliber (Aerial) rounds while Lot 2 is for 141,630 rounds of linked .50 caliber linked ammunition.

Winning bidders are required the items within 240 calendar days, according to the bid bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled on Aug. 15, 1:00 p.m. at the Office of the PN Bids and Awards Committee, Naval Station Jose Francisco, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.


Manila RTC sets hearing of urgent motion for release of 3 NDF consultants

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 10): Manila RTC sets hearing of urgent motion for release of 3 NDF consultants

The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Wednesday set the day of the hearing for the urgent motion for release on bail for the three consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF).

The Manila RTC set the hearing on Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

Manila RTC Branch 32 Presiding Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina will hear the motion of the spouses Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, and Adel Silva.

The three petitioners are among the members of the peace panel of the NDF who needed to participate in the conduct of the peace talks in Oslo, Norway this month.

They are facing multiple murder charges before the Manila RTC in connection with the discovery of an alleged “mass grave” in the province of Leyte in 2006.

The prosecution has continued with the presentation of evidence against the three and other accused where the witness was asked to examine the human skeletal remains dug up in the “mass grave”.

The Tiamzon couple were clad in color orange T-shirts while Silva wore yellow T-shirt when they attended the hearing.


3 rebels in Pampanga surrender

From the Sun Star-Pampanga (Aug 8): 3 rebels in Pampanga surrender

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO - Three alleged members of the Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan (RHB) yielded their firearms and surrendered to Governor Lilia "Nanay" Pineda on Monday through the initiative of Sta. Ana Mayor Norberto "Ka Ross" Gamboa, a former rebel commander.

The three rebels were comrades of the 44 rebel who surrendered last July 18.

Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Recomono Jr., Pampanga police provincial director, recognized Gamboa's efforts in helping the peace and order program of the police and the Provincial Government.

Colonel Filemon Santos of the 703rd Infantry Brigade said the surrender "is a step closer in achieving peace in Pampanga."

"I am very happy because of the cooperation of Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the local government," Santos said.

He also noted that there are no armed encounters between the rebels and the Armed Forces of the Philippines since the start of Governor Pineda's administration.

Governor Pineda stressed that the surrenderees will be under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program where they will be given assistance as they go back to mainstream society.


Air Force Weightlifter NABS Silver In Rio 2016, First Pinay Olympic Medalist In 20 Years

From the Asia Journal (Aug 8): Air Force Weightlifter NABS Silver In Rio 2016, First Pinay Olympic Medalist In 20 Years

Air Force Weightlifter NABS Silver In Rio 2016, First Pinay Olympic Medalist In 20 Years

AW2C Hidilyn F Diaz PAF makes history for the Philippines as she bagged the silver medal in the women’s 53-kg division of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 7, 2016.

A native of Zamboanga City, AW2C Diaz is the country’s first female athlete to win an Olympic medal for the Philippines. The last time the Philippines won a medal in the Olympics was in 1996 when Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco competed in the light-flyweight category in boxing in the Atlanta Olympic Games.

In the snatch event, the PAF athlete only tallied 88 kg but recovered in the clean and jerk lift, successfully lifting a 112 kg lift in her second attempt, for a total of 200 kg, against Hsu Shu-Ching’s 212 kg.

The 25-year old silver medalist is assigned at Philippine Air Force Personnel Management Center and on detached service with the Philippine Sports Commission. Prior to her road to the 2016 RIO Olympics, she has already won bronze in the 2015 World Weightlifting Championships and a gold medal in Asia.

The presence of strongly founded PAF core values and the excellence in INSTEP serve as contributing factors to the development of PAF athletes.

With this, the PAF lauds AW2C Diaz for bringing honor and pride to the country.
Mabuhay ka AW2C Hidilyn F Diaz PAF!


Photos taken from PAF Website and Rappler.com


Duterte to award medals to 11 troops hurt in clashes with NPA

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 9): Duterte to award medals to 11 troops hurt in clashes with NPA

President Rodrigo Duterte meets with military commanders. (FILE PHOTO FROM THE DAVAO CITY INFORMATION OFFICE)

President Rodrigo Duterte meets with military commanders. (FILE PHOTO FROM THE DAVAO CITY INFORMATION OFFICE)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – President Duterte is expected to arrive here Tuesday afternoon (Aug. 9) to visit Camp Evangelista in Barangay Patag here, the headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID.

According the Major Joe Patrick Martinez, the 4ID spokesperson, President Duterte will be visiting the troops.

The 4ID commander, Major General Benjamin Madrigal, will also be presenting to the President some 25 firearms confiscated by the military from the New People’s Army (NPA) in various encounters in the Caraga and Northern Mindanao regions.

Mr. Duterte will also award Gold Cross Medals to nine soldiers for gallantry in action during an encounter with about 80 NPA members in Sitio Kambangon, Barangay Lilingayon, Valencia City, Bukidnon on August 5.

He will also pin Wounded Personnel Medals to two enlisted personnel who were wounded in action during a clash with the rebels on August 6 in the same area.

Philippines says Miss Universe ISIS threat is 'serious'

From Rappler (Aug 9): Philippines says Miss Universe ISIS threat is 'serious'

A pro-ISIS social media channel shows a video on how to 'create a bomb for Miss Universe,' referring to the beauty pageant to be held in Manila in January 2017

ISIS THREAT? File photo shows Steve Harvey asking Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach her Top 5 Final Question during the 2015 Miss Universe pageant. Photo courtesy of HO/The Miss Universe Organization

ISIS THREAT? File photo shows Steve Harvey asking Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach her Top 5 Final Question during the 2015 Miss Universe pageant. Photo courtesy of HO/The Miss Universe Organization

Philippines tourism officials on Tuesday, August 9, said a threat by an Islamic State (ISIS)-related group to bomb the Miss Universe beauty contest was "serious," but insisted the country would be ready to hold the pageant next year.

A pro-ISIS social media channel tracked by the terror-monitoring SITE Intelligence Group showed a video on how to "create a bomb for Miss Universe," referring to the beauty pageant to be held in Manila in January 2017.

The video, posted on Monday, appeared to show how to make an explosive belt for suicide operations.

"We consider this as serious," said the tourism department, which last month announced it won the contest to host the 2017 pageant.

It cited the country's successful hosting of Pope Francis last year, as well as world leaders for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, as proof that it was ready for the expected influx of visitors for Miss Universe.

The threat would be referred to an intelligence group assigned to the pageant, national police spokesman Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos told AFP.

"That's going to be looked at," he said, without giving details.

Filipino Muslim terrorists operating in the south of the country have in recent years pledged allegiance to ISIS, though security officials and analysts said they were more focused on raising ransom from kidnappings than propagating an ideology.


Southern Mindanao NPA claim wins in week of actions as rights group decry military ‘atrocities’

From InterAksyon (Aug 9): Southern Mindanao NPA claim wins in week of actions as rights group decry military ‘atrocities’

Communist rebels in Southern Mindanao claimed to have inflicted casualties on military units in a series of “counter-offensives” in Monkayo town, Compostela Valley last week as human rights groups accused government forces of atrocities against peasant and lumad communities in the province.

A statement from the New People’s Army operations command in the region called the actions of the 8th Pulang Bagani Company on August 2, 4 and 5 “just reprisal” for the alleged atrocities committed by the Army’s 25th Infantry Battalion.

Karapatan-Southern Mindanao initially reported that on August 7, Rose Em Sayson was killed when soldiers fired on a truck whose passengers they had mistaken for members of the New People’s Army.

However, the rights group later issued a correction, saying Sayson had died in a fall from the truck.

But, it said, the soldiers, from the 25th IB, did strafe the vehicle, wounding Adam Tawede, a laborer of a logging company "who is now under medical custody of the 10th Infantry Division."

Karapatan also said a number of families in Monkayo, Maragusan and New Bataan towns have also been forced to flee their homes after military aerial bombardment destroyed farms in Barangay Parasanon, Marasugan.

Troops of the 66th Infantry Battalion have also reportedly occupied Sitio Pongpong in Barangay Andap, New Bataan even before the short-lived unilateral ceasefire declared by President Rodrigo Duterte and “hamletted” another community in Purok 4, Kilometer 56, Barangay Rizal, according to Jay Apiag, information officer of the human rights group.

Food blockades have also been reported.

“The military has been staying in the community until now and there are already reported incidents of food blockade, hamletting and harassments affecting 80 families in the said area," Apiag said.

Aside from this, farmer Ronie Escuardo, 29, of Barangay Parasanon, Mawab was seized by soldiers of the 71st Infantry Battalion and allegedly “misrepresented as a NPA member” at the headquarters of the 10th Infantry Division.

Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesman of the NPA in Southern Mindanao, said there had been no let-up in military combat and psychological warfare operations, which were launched in June, even during Duterte’s ceasefire.

In reprisal, Sanchez said, the NPA “neutralized,” a euphemism for killed, a Corporal Castro, who he described as “an intelligence operative of the 25th IB who was caught conducting combat intel(ligence) operations in the communities of Barangay Baylo, Monkayo.”

“Seized from him were a 9mm caliber and .22 caliber pistols,” he said.

“Two days later, the Red fighters engaged a platoon of the 25th IB in Barangay Pasian, Monkayo, killing two Army soldiers and wounding three others,” Sanchez added.

And around 7:30 a.m. on August 5, “the Red fighters successfully ambushed a company of the 25th IB in Sitio Inuburan, Brangay Rizal, killing five AFP troops, seizing two M203 grenade launchers, one M4 rifle, Harris radios, and … other military hardware.”

Even as they wait for “positive developments” in formal negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, scheduled to start August 20, “the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command has directed all Red fighters in the region to remain on alert status, intensify its base building and base defense work, expand its services in the guerilla bases and guerilla zones, punish AFP troops operating in civilian communities, and pursue revolutionary justice for the basic masses who are victims of repression and fascist abuses,” Sanchez said.

For its part, Karapatan urged Duterte to “act on these attacks on farmer communities” and to “rein in his army who are acting as human rights violators and spoilers of peace.”

The human rights groups, along with other organizations will conduct a fact-finding mission in affected areas of Compostela Valley.


One soldier killed in NPA clash

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 9): One soldier killed in NPA clash

ONE SOLDIER was killed in a clash with members of New People’s Army (NPA) at Sitio Kambangon, Barangay Lilingayon, an outskirt community of Valencia City, over the weekend.
Meanwhile, nine high-powered firearms and improvised explosive devices were recovered on the scene.
Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), said troops under 1st Special Forces Battalion (1SFBn) under the 403rd Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Division acted to the report.
Balagtey said the encounter transpired after the troops and Philippine National Police in the area responded to the report from the citizen that armed men have been frequenting their community and demanding food and money.
The NPAs pulled out after two hours of firefight.
Upon the clearing operation, troops recovered two AK47 rifles, two M653 rifles and five M16 rifles, three handheld radios, five gallons of gas and subversive documents. They also found one bomb on the scene (along with) eight AK47, three M14, and one M16 Magazines; one Rifle grenade; five gallons of gas; three Handheld radios, NPA personal belongings and subversive documents of high intelligence value.
Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero, commander of EastMinCom, expressed his grief for the loss of one soldier while also commending the troops for their prompt action in protecting the communities.
“The reports of the civilian led to the incident are a reminder on the part of the lawless armed group that they are not welcome in the communities,” Guerrero said.
“That the peace-loving populace do not support armed struggle is enough reason for the NPA to heed the President’s call, lay down their arms and abandon armed struggle for lasting peace and inclusive development,” he added.

4 Sayyaf men killed in MNLF clashes

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 9): 4 Sayyaf men killed in MNLF clashes

Former Muslim rebels, who signed a peace deal with Manila, killed at least 4 Abu Sayyaf militants – tagged in the kidnappings of Indonesian sailors – in fierce clashes Tuesday in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, security officials said.

Officials said among those killed were a lieutenant of Abu Sayyaf leader Alhabsy Misaya, whose group was tagged by the military as behind the spate of ransom kidnappings in Sabah, Malaysia.

The fighting erupted in the town called Kalingalan Caluang where the Abu Sayyaf was believed holding several Indonesian hostages, but there were no reports whether any of the captives had been rescued or killed during the clashes in Tanjung village between the ISIS-affiliate militants and the larger Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Nur Misuari.

It was unknown what triggered the fighting or whether the MNLF launched an operation to rescue the hostages.

Security officials said the four slain militants, including their automatic weapons, had been recovered by the MNLF fighters headed by commanders Taib Sahibad, Alih Kipli and Abraham Joel.

There have been no reports of casualties on the side of the MNLF, which signed a peace deal with the government in September 1996.

One of those killed by the MNLF forces had been identified by the military as Jennor Lahab, alias Commander Jim Dragon, and probably his son. Lahab was reported to be one of the aides of Misaya, a notorious militant leader.

Misaya was a former MNLF member, but had split with the group and joined the Abu Sayyaf several years ago after Misuari reportedly ordered his execution, according to military intelligence reports.

The MNLF has previously negotiated with another Abu Sayyaf faction for the safe release of kidnapped Indonesian sailors in Sulu just this year.


President Duterte to visit “Tabak” Division on Wednesday

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 9): President Duterte to visit “Tabak” Division on Wednesday President Duterte to visit “Tabak” Division on Wednesday

President Rodrigo R. Duterte is slated to visit the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, the premiere division of the Philippine Army at Camp Major Cesar Sang-an, Pulacan, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur on Wednesday, August 10.

Being the commander-in-chief, President Duterte will visit the camp for two events: situation briefing and “talk to men.”

An initial meeting was held yesterday at the 1ID headquarters with the Presidential Management Staff, Media Affairs Relations Office, Presidential Security Guard and 1ID officials to beef up security measures.

This will be the 7th visit of the president to military camps in the country. He has made camp visits at the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City and the 104th Infantry Battalion in Isabela City, Basilan on July 21;  Camp Siongco, Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao on July 22; Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija on July 26; Camp Guillermo Nakar, Lucena City, Quezon on July 28; and the 60th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Asuncion, Davao del Norte on July 29.

The president will be welcomed by officers of the 1ID during his arrival at the headquarters.

Duterte’s  military camp-hopping is a way to the soldiers heart and a boost to their morale.

He is expected to have a command conference with the camp’s highest officials and deliver a speech in front of the troops as soon as he arrives.


President’s visit to 1ID draws optimism among ZamboSurians

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 9): President’s visit to 1ID draws optimism among ZamboSurians

President Rodrigo R. Duterte is scheduled to visit the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division, the premiere division of the Philippine Army, in Camp Major Cesar Sang-an, Pulacan, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur on Wednesday, August 10.

Lt.Col. Hubert Acierto, commanding officer of the 1st Field Artillery Battalion, Army Artillery Regiment said “it's a great honor and privilege for us (troopers) to meet our commander-in-chief in the ground.”

“We will listen to the pronouncement of the president especially on the internal security policies and counter-insurgency campaign,” Acierto, who will be attending the arrival ceremony along with his fellow officers, declared.

Deputy Provincial Director Supt. James A. Turbela of the Zamboanga del Sur Police Provincial Office stressed that they are one with the military in the fight against illegal drugs, which is the battle cry of the president’s administration.

The PNP will likewise assist in providing security to President Duterte.

Meanwhile, Aida Ascabano, a bakery cashier said the president’s camp visit will boost the soldiers’ morale.

“As the country’s leader, it is very important for President Duterte to visit the camps of the soldiers because they are our protectors,” she said.

“Kinahanglan nga ipatuman usab sa presidente ang AFP modernization program aron makabaton ang atong mga sundalo sa state-of-the-art military equipment pagpakigbatok sa mga terorista nga maoy naghatag kasamok sa atong nasud,” she added (The president should also implement the AFP modernization program for the soldiers to possess state-of-the-art military equipment in fighting against terrorists and those who wreak havoc in our country.)

 “I am grateful that the president will visit Tabak division for him to see and assess the needs of our soldiers,” Rosalina Cane, a fruit vendor said in the local dialect.

Cane describes the president as a simple and humble person who is true to his word. He also has a heart for the wounded soldiers. “Duterte is the only president in our country who declared total war against drugs and criminality,” she added.

Sonia Inferido, a plain housewife is optimistic that the president’s visit will surely bring good news to the soldiers.

Duterte’s pronouncement to increase the salaries of soldiers, giving scholarships to military dependents, and other incentives would  encourage the soldiers to perform their duties with utmost sincerity and honesty.

“I believe that with the reforms introduced by the president in the AFP, we can no longer see scalawags in the organization,” she added.

It can be recalled that for 6 years, the province has not been visited by the highest official of the land.


Government calls for convergence and inclusivity in all Moro factions in the pursuit for peace in Mindanao

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 9): Government calls for convergence and inclusivity in all Moro factions in the pursuit for peace in Mindanao

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza confirmed meeting with the faction of the Moro National Liberation Front headed by former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema as part of the government’s effort to reach out to all key players to attain a sustainable peace in the Bangsamoro.

He said that earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte affirmed the roadmap for peace in Mindanao which aims   convergence, inclusivity amongst Bangsamoro People.

Dureza revealed meeting with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front chair Al Hajj Murad two weeks ago, and other groups involved in the works for the realization of peace in the Bangsamoro.

“Today I met with the group headed by Muslimin Sema and will still be meeting with other groups that have something to do with the peace in the Bangsamoro,” he said.

Dureza said that it was the guidance of President Duterte to implement all signed agreements as a move towards convergence.

“The Moro National Liberation Front headed by Sema and the MILF headed by Al Hajj Murad Ibrahim, express willingness to converge and make all efforts for the realization of peace inclusive,” he said.

Dureza said the government is open to talk with other groups so that their concerns aside from that of the Moro groups will be heard.

He said the government looks forward to meeting the MNLF faction headed by chair Nur Misuari until all his legal constraints like the pending cases and pending unserved arrest warrant are resolved.

Dureza said the legal issues facing Misuari must be addressed in order for government to talk to him on a person-to-person basis.

“The president and I have been in touched with Misuari by telephone,” he said.


Pres. Duterte reiterates peace talks with Reds

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): Pres. Duterte reiterates peace talks with Reds

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar -- President Rodrigo Duterte would love to see the Armed Forces of the Philippines and New People’s Army (NPA) talking about peace instead of fighting for as long as insurgents will stop using landmines.

Talking to 500 soldiers at the covered court of the Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Division in Camp Lukban, this city late Monday afternoon, Pres. Duterte said he really wanted to end the four decades of fighting between government troops and NPAs.

“I want to show to them the good faith on the part of the government by going ahead with the ceasefire. I would insist to talk with the rebels with or without their leader (Jose Maria) Sison,” he said.

However, peace negotiations will only proceed if rebels will completely stop using landmines.

“If you will continue to use landmines, I will withdraw from the talks and there will be no ceasefire. I am prepared for another 45 years (of fighting). Do you want to fight for another 45 years?” he asked.

“I am just saying if you will use landmine again, I will forego peace talks and forget about it.”

“My job as a President is not to look for fight and to allow people die. My job is to seek peace with everybody so that we can move on to the next generation. The next generation after us has no more problems with insurgency. They can go anywhere through the country and develop the Republic for their children,” he said.

Pres. Duterte noted the communist insurgents were quick to invoke the Geneva Conventions when it is to their favor. “When it is not, then you invoke on it. If you are caught, you file cases against soldiers.”

The 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva specified the use of landmines, booby traps, incendiary weapons and blinding laser weapons, among others, as “excessively injurious” or “to have indiscriminate effects.”


Pres. Duterte to visit government troopers in Cagayan De Oro

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): Pres. Duterte to visit government troopers in Cagayan De Oro

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan De Oro City -- President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to visit this largest military camp in Northern Mindanao Tuesday to boost the morale of about 6,000 government troopers in the region.

Secretary Martin Andanar, of the Presidential Communication Office (PCO), has confirmed the scheduled visit.

“President Duterte is coming to Cagayan De Oro City Tuesday, but I could not divulge the details of his visit for security reason,” Andanar told the local press.

Military sources, however, said that Duterte is scheduled to arrive at 1:30 Tuesday to visit the government troopers and meet with top military and police officials in Camp Evangelista.

Duterte would also visit and pin medals to the wounded soldiers who are undergoing treatment at the military hospital in the military camp.

Provincial Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano, of Misamis Oriental, was at the Laguindingan Airport in Misasmis Oriental to meet Duterte and his party.

From the Laguindingan Airport, Duterte would take a military helicopter that would fly him directly to Camp Evangelista.

As of 11:00 Tuesday morning, about 400 government troopers and military officials have been waiting at the grandstand of the military camp sprawling parade ground here.

Police Supt. Ronnie Cariaga, the chief of the city’s police force here, said that the military and the police have adopted an elaborate security contingency that includes the deployment of a K-9 team inside and outside the military camp.

On Monday, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) has already taken the names of the local media who were scheduled to cover Duterte’s visit here.

A military official said that the PSG would no longer issue an identification card to the media, but would only obtain the names of the local media personnel.

From the military camp, Duterte would reportedly fly back to Laguindingan airport and back to Manila, the military said.


President Duterte arrives at Camp Evangelista

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): President Duterte arrives at Camp Evangelista

President Rodrigo Duterte arrived at the 4th Infantry Division here, the largest military camp, at about 4:20 Tuesday afternoon on board a civilian helicopter.

The President arrived at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental about 4:00 p.m. where he was welcomed by provincial government officials led by Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano.

Duterte, clad in a checkered blue polo shirt, off-white pants, and a pair of rubber shoes, walked toward the military headquarters after disembarking from a civilian helicopter that landed on the military ground a few meters away from Philippine Army headquarters.

The visit, dubbed as “Talk to Troops”, is among the regular visits of President Duterte to military camps in the country where he personally interacts with government troopers, a military official said.

The Presidential Security Group has barred the taking of photos and television footage of the President as the helicopter landed and while he was walking toward the army headquarters where he will have a close-door conference with top military and police officials in Northern Mindanao.

The photo ops and television footage would be allowed only in the military gymnasium where the President would deliver a message to the military personnel and the few invited local officials.

Capt. Patrick Martinez, the spokesperson of the army’s 4ID, said the President would also pay his last respect to the army trooper who was killed in action in an armed encounter with the communist rebels in Bukidnon last week.

He said from the camp mortuary, Duterte would visit the wounded soldiers who are undergoing treatment at the army station hospital in the military camp.


Army probes shooting of civilian in Tagum City

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): Army probes shooting of civilian in Tagum City

The 10th Infantry (Agila) Division of the Philippine Army is investigating the alleged involvement of a trooper in the fatal shooting of a civilian last Aug. 7 in Tagum City.

In a statement to the media in Davao City, 10th ID chief information officer, Capt. Rhyan Batchar, said Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia has already directed the commander of the 60th Infantry Battalion (IB) to cooperate and support the investigation being conducted by the Tagum City Police regarding the incident.

Last Sunday, Private 1st Class (PFC) Ian Paul Pascua was reportedly involved in the fatal shooting of Juan Clarion Alcarez, 62, a civilian and a resident of Barangay Cuambogan, Tagum City.

The incident took place at about 12:45 noon in Purok Maaharlika, Barangay Cuambongan.

The victim died on the spot while Pascua fled after the incident. Pascua is a member of the Alpha Company of the 60th IB, Batchar added.

Batchar said a manhunt was immediately launched against Pascua but he surrendered to his company commander at about 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“We will fully support and cooperate with the investigations that the Philippine National Police and other concerned agencies will undertake. The command does not condone any misbehavior or participation in criminal acts of our soldiers,” Batchar said.


Military's 10th ID supports police probe vs Army trooper

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): Military's 10th ID supports police probe vs Army trooper

The Compostela Valley-based 10th Infantry Division has assured it will cooperate with an ongoing police probe on the fatal shooting incident involving one of its troopers in Tagum City last Aug. 7.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, identified the suspect as Pfc. Ian Paul Pascua, a member of the 60th Infantry Battalion.

Pascua is held by police and undergoing investigation for the shooting and killing of Juan Clarion Alvarez, 62, at Purok Maharlika, Barangay Cuambugon, Tagum City after a heated spat.

Batchar said Pascual initially escaped but decided to surrender to his company commander later that day.

"We will fully support and cooperate on the investigations that the Philippine National Police and other concerned agencies undertake. The command does not condone any misbehavior or participation in criminal acts of our soldiers," Batchar said.


DBP supports vision to transform country into shipbuilding hub in Asia

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): DBP supports vision to transform country into shipbuilding hub in Asia

One of the leading players in the construction industry in Region 8, the Chua Group of Companies, recently inaugurated a new ship repair and shipbuilding facility in Albuera, Leyte.

The 3,000 DWT capacity shipyard with port facility of Megaship Builders, Inc. (MBI) was partially financed by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

During the inauguration ceremony, Engr. Francis Lloyd T. Chua, president of Megaship Builders, Inc., said the new shipyard is the first in the Visayas to use marine airbag technology.

It has the capacity to simultaneously repair three to five vessels with 2,500-3,000 gross tons in size. The facility can repair more than 40 vessels per year excluding new vessels for construction.

Since Albuera is only 111 kilometers away from Cebu City, shipping operators based in Cebu and nearby areas will not have to go far for the dry docking of their fleet.

MBI’s primary target market includes shipping companies that are based in the neighboring island of Tacloban, Cebu and Bohol.

There are about 25 operational ports in these islands where ships and boats from the Northern and Southern regions mostly dock, deliver, load and upload their cargo or passengers.

The first two customers that entered into a shipbuilding contract with MBI for the construction of steel-hulled cargo passenger LCT are Camotes Ferry Services and Banton Liner Transport Services.

Chua anticipates that more operators of wooden-hulled vessels will avail of their services as they are forced to modernize their fleet in consonance with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Circular on the progressive/ gradual phase out of wooden-hulled ships in domestic trade.

Engr. Manuel A. Chua, chairman of the Chua Group, said that establishing the shipyard facility was first borne out of the need for the regular repair and maintenance of their own fleet of vessels hauling aggregates for their construction business.

He added that after years of availing of the services of Cebu-based shipyards for the regular dry docking of their vessels, which takes at least three months before they are serviced, they saw the opportunity to help the industry and decided to put up their own shipyard facility.

Based on MARINA’s latest data, the ratio of shipyard to number of vessels is 40 vessels to one shipyard.

In his message during the inauguration ceremony, DBP senior assistant vice president Raymond Valdez emphasized that the bank supports the vision of MARINA to transform the Philippines into a shipbuilding hub in Asia by continually expanding DBP financing for transport infrastructure and logistics facilities.

He emphasized that such projects are high on DBP’s priority thrusts as it is a way forward to economic development.

Being a country composed of thousands of islands, the Philippines requires efficient and modern transport infrastructure and logistics facilities to accelerate and sustain socio-economic growth, improve global competitiveness, and promote physical integration.

To address the financing requirement for such capital-intensive projects, DBP offers special long-term credit facilities with significant advantages that may not be found in other financing vehicles, ie. a fixed interest rate for the duration of the loan, and a longest payment term of 15 years.

MBI is one of the beneficiaries of this special lending program.


President Duterte to pay his last respects to slain army troopers in CDO

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): President Duterte to pay his last respects to slain army troopers in CDO

President Rodrigo R. Duterte will visit the wake of slain soldiers at the camp mortuary during his brief visit here Tuesday, a military spokesperson has said.

President Duterte would speak to the families of the slain soldiers as part of his itinerary when he visits Northern Mindanao's largest military camp, spokesperson of the army’s 4th Infantry Division, Capt. Patrick Martinez, said.

Martinez, in an interview with a radio reporter, did not identify the slain army troopers, but said they were killed in action in one of the latest encounters with communist rebels in Bukidnon.

He said that from the camp mortuary, President Duterte will proceed to the army station hospital, where wounded soldiers are confined.

According to Martinez, President Duterte's visit to various military camps in the country has boosted the morale of government troops.

“As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, President Duterte’s visit to the military camps and installations always boost the morale of the government troopers,” Martinez said.

With about 6,000 personnel, the 4th infantry division is the largest military camp in north and northeastern Mindanao, covering the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Camiguin, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur.


(Update) 4 ASG bandits killed, 4 high-powered weapons seized in Sulu encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): (Update) 4 ASG bandits killed, 4 high-powered weapons seized in Sulu encounter

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters have shot and killed four Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits and recovered four automatic rifles folllowing a clash in Kalinggalang Caluang town, Sulu Tuesday morning.

The encounter took place 7 a.m. in Barangay Tanjung of the said locality, said Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Filemon Tan.

Among the four ASG bandits slain were one Jennorr Lahab alias "Kumander Jim Dragon" and another terrorist believed to be his son.

The cadavers recovered by the MNLF were brought to Barangay Masjid Punjungan, Kalinggalang Caluang and will be turned over to the local government unit for proper disposition.

A known follower of ASG sub-commander Alhabsy Misaya, Lahab is believed to be involved in the kidnapping of 10 Indonesians last March 20 and in the armed confrontation against the group of former Kalinggalang Caluang Mayor Jerry Misuari on April 15, 2015.

Also recovered were two M-14 rifles, one M-16 automatic rifle, and one M-4 carbine.

The clash between the ASGs and the MNLF fighters headed by Commanders Taib Sahibad, Alih Kipli and Abraham Joel ensued as the MNLF tried to retrieve hostages being held by the terrorists.


4 ASG bandits killed during clash with MNLF in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): 4 ASG bandits killed during clash with MNLF in Sulu

Four Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits were killed following a clash with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters in Kalinggalang Caluang town in Sulu Tuesday morning.

The incident took place 7 a.m. in Sitio Panas, Barangay Tanjung in the said locality.

Involved in the fighting were ASG bandits reportedly under sub-commander Alhabsy Misaya and MNLF leader Ali Julkipli.

The clash reportedly took place during efforts of the MNLF to recover kidnap victims being held by the terrorists.

No other details are immediately available regarding this matter.

Four of the bandits were killed in the gunfight, with one of them identified as Jennor Lahab alias "Jim Dragon."

Also recovered were two high-powered ASG firearms, one M-16 automatic rifle and a M-14 carbine.
Remains of the slain bandits were taken to Barangay Masjid Punjungan.


PA increases security in Libingan ng mga Bayani

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): PA increases security in Libingan ng mga Bayani

The Philippine Army (PA) has increased security at the "Libingan Ng Mga Bayani" (LNMB) in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City as part of security efforts for scheduled internment of former president Ferdinand E. Marcos.

This is in anticipation of possible protest actions that might mar the proceedings and groups planning to bring rocks, said Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao.

"We have increased (the) security (for) the LNMB to maintain its peace, sanctity and tranquility after receiving reports that some groups are planning to conduct protest actions and put rocks (at the site of Marcos' burial plot). This is not the place for this," he said in Filipino.

The PA spokesman said they have been receiving such reports since last July ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte's order to intern Marcos at the LNMB.

"We understand (protesters' sentiments) but (the LNMB) is a place for families and relatives of fallen heroes so they must be given the solemn opportunity," Hao stressed.

He added that while protesters are welcome to stage their protest outside LNMB premises, they cannot do the same inside the cemetery proper.

"Remember this is a national shrine, this is not a place to express their sentiments on whatever political issues they have. We ask for understanding (that as) a national cemetery, everybody should give proper response," Hao stressed.

As this develops, the Army spokesman said Marcos representatives are now cleaning and making initial digs at the regulation 100 square meter plot former presidents are allocated in the LNMB's 5,000 square meter Presidential Section.

As of this posting, the remains of three presidents -- Carlos P. Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal and Elpidio Quirino -- are now interred there.

Hao said the Presidential Section still has room for 46 more.


Japanese FM Fumio Kishida to call on President Duterte, DFA Secretary Yasay, in Davao on Thursday

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 9): Japanese FM Fumio Kishida to call on President Duterte, DFA Secretary Yasay, in Davao on Thursday

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will undertake an official visit to the Philippines from Aug. 10 to 12, 2016. He will meet with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr. on Aug. 11.

The Philippines will be FM Kishida’s first official visit following his reappointment to the position of Foreign Minister of Japan after a cabinet reshuffle on Aug. 3, 2016.

The Philippines was also the first country he visited after his first appointment as Japan’s Foreign Minister in 2012.

In his meeting with President Duterte, Kishida will be treated to a merienda cena.

The Philippines and Japan are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations this year.

In 2015, the Philippines and Japan signed the Joint Declaration, A Strengthened Strategic Partnership for Advancing the Shared Principles and Goals of Peace, Security, and Growth in the Region and Beyond.