Friday, September 9, 2016

‘Massacre in Jolo: US’ extra-judicial killings’

From The Standard (Sep 10): ‘Massacre in Jolo: US’ extra-judicial killings’

PAYBACK time, so it seemed.

This, when President Rodrigo Duterte unreeled before newsmen, on the eve of his departure for the Asean Summit this week in Laos, what he described as extrajudicial killings in the country’s far south by Americans in the 20th century rollover.

The President was giving context to his reaction to reporters’ queries in the event US President Barack Obama would raise the issue of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines less than 100 days after he assumed the presidency on June 30.

Duterte, the first head of state from Mindanao where the extrajudicial killings occurred during the pacification campaign on the Muslim dominated island, replied to questions:
SHAMELESS MASSACRE A photo from titled ‘US soldiers pose with the bodies of Moro insurgents, Philippines, 1906’ is captioned: The bodies of Moro insurgents and civilians killed by US troops during the Battle of Bud Dajo in the Philippines, March 7, 1906.
“Who is he [Obama]? At the turn of the century, before the Americans left the Philippines, there were 600 Moros who died. If you (sic) can answer this question and apologize, I will answer him [the US President],” Duterte said.

Duterte was referring to the Battle of Bud Dajo in 1906, when US Commander Woods ordered his officers to gather 800 of his men from the 6th and 19th Infantry, the 4th Cavalry, the 28th Artillery Battery, the Sulu Constabulary, and sailors from the gunboat Pampanga led by Col. Duncan to proceed to Jolo.

According to Duterte, the Americans were armed with mountain guns, rifles, bayonets, fast-firing pistols and grenades while the Moros, who sought refuge in Bud Dajo, were armed with just kris, baromngs and spears.

The Moros were ruthlessly wiped out.

And then Duterte, his usual defiant self, said “The Philippines is not a vassal state, we have long ceased to be a colony of the US...I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Republic of the Philippines.

“Who is he (Obama) to confront me. As a matter of fact, America has one too many to answer for the misdeeds in this country.”

It was in 1898 when Washington signed a treaty with Madrid, under which the Philippines was acquired for $20 million, but the Filipinos refused the takeout and waged a war.

On July 4, 1902, US President Theodore Roosevelt declared the war over after subjugating the insurrectionist Filipino forces, and in his own proclamation said, “except in the country inhabited by the Moro tribes, to which this proclamation does not apply.”

The Moro Province was created in 1903, comprising the southern Mindanao and the Sulu islands.
Unlike the other provinces, the Moro Province was to be staffed by US Army officers, simply because Washington believed the Moro Province was backward and needed to be civilized and educated on democracy.

The Americans capitalized on the tribal divisions of the Moro Province and subdued them that way.
Except those in Jolo. Despite three years of persuasion by Woods, the leader of the Jolo tribes refused to recognize the US as the ruler of the country.

In 1906, hearing words that the Americans were going to invade, the Jolo people fled to the 15-hectare wooded crater of Bud Dajo, an extinct volcano, believing that the spirits of the volcano would protect them.

The “victory” earlier celebrated in the US was immediately tainted with shame after the US Congress realized there were women and children among the dead.

Authorities conduct strict inspection of ship passengers in

From GMA News Online (Sep 9): Authorities conduct strict inspection of ship passengers in Zamboanga

[Video report}

Passengers disembarking from ships docking in Zamboanga City have been undergoing strict inspection from authorities, a report on Unang Balita on Friday said.

Aside from manual inspection, authorities have also been using bomb-sniffing dogs.

The Philippine Coast Guard and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have intensified security measures at the port following the military's operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu and Basilan.

Authorities are also inspecting the passengers to check if any of them are wounded to avoid a repeat of the Zamboanga Siege in 2013, the report said.

The Philippine Navy has deployed its newest and largest vessel, the BRP Tarlac, to lead the naval blockade against the Abu Sayyaf Group in its reported plan to escape via the Sulu Sea.

De la Rosa orders round-the-clock checkpoints

From InterAksyon (Sep 9): De la Rosa orders round-the-clock checkpoints

Police checkpoint in Kitcharao, Agusan del Sur. Photographed by Erwin MascariƱas, InterAksyon

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Director General Ronald "Bato" de la Rosa on Friday directed all police units in the country to launch 24/7 joint checkpoint operations and visibility patrols alongside their counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

De la Rosa's order came following a letter of intent from President Rodrigo Duterte hinting at the possible declaration of a state of emergency on account of lawless violence.

President Duterte declared a state of lawless violence hours after the bombing of a night market in Davao City last week that killed at least 14 people and injured scores of others. The bombing is being blamed as the handiwork of the Al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos said that the order of the PNP chief aims to intensify the checkpoint operations already being implemented, as hardening measures to protect key cities and urban centers from terrorist activity.

Carlos said that the PNP Chief has instructed all local PNP commanders to coordinate with their local AFP counterparts for organizing the needed augmentation forces for this purpose.

"Police intelligence units and personnel are likewise required to double their efforts in intelligence gathering to prevent incidents similar to the recent Davao City explosion from occurring," Carlos told Camp Crame reporters.

Carlos added that the PNP Chief also appealed to the public to cooperate with law enforcers during the conduct of checkpoints, so as to hasten the procedure.

De la Rosa assured the public that PNP and AFP personnel manning checkpoints will adhere to policies and procedures prescribed in the Revised Police Operational Procedures (POP), and will uphold citizens' basic rights.

Cops deploy in metro amid terror plot

From The Standard (Sep 10): Cops deploy in metro amid terror plot

METRO Manila police Chief Oscar Albayalde on Friday  ordered the deployment of SWAT and K-9 units to schools and universities in the area due the series of bomb threats following the bomb attack in Davao City that killed 14 people and wounded 70 others.

He gave the order even as National Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa ordered his men to intensify their checkpoint operations to protect key cities and urban centers from criminals and terrorists.
Oplan Sita. Members of the Quezon City Police District’s Task Force Oplan Sita conduct a random checkpoint at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City as part of the police’s nationwide full alert following the Davao City bombing that killed 15 people and injured 70.
Manny Palmero
In Davao City, the police are still studying all clues that will lead to the arrest of the suspect behind the bombing of the Roxas night market on Sept. 2.

The terrorist group Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the attack, but Chief Inspector Andrea dela Cerna said they were looking at all the possible suspects.  

“We are not focusing on a single group.”

Albayalde ordered all police units to help the military secure the cities and provinces.

He said the deployment of security personnel in schools and universities was a response to the request of the Education Department to help secure Metro Manila.

He ordered his men to coordinate with  school authorities and to deploy bus marshalls.
“The police are on top of the situation,” Albayalde said.

“However, we request that any information, any observation must be reported immediately to the nearest police stations so that we can respond correctly and appropriately.”

Duterte confirms China building rehab center in Fort Magsaysay

From Update.Ph (Sep 9): Duterte confirms China building rehab center in Fort Magsaysay

“China offered to build the rehab. I think they have already started in Magsaysay. They are bringing the materials there already – only China ang magtulong sa atin,” President Rodrigo Duterte told the Filipino community in Indonesia today.

“I would like to thank China for being so generous to us,” he added.

Fort Magsaysay is the largest Military Reservation in the Philippines, with area of 35,000 hectares, and is one of the key training areas of the Philippine Army.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella revealed September 1 that China has started initial works on construction of a drug rehabilitation in Northern Luzon.

“That was mentioned by the President, right? It was mentioned. Actually, there is – the groundwork has begun. Groundwork, initial groundwork has begun,” the Presidential Spokesperson told the press last week. He added that “as far as I know, it’s in Northern Luzon.”

In August, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that he has opened all military camps, especially the big ones, for the establishment of drug rehabilitation centers, as stated by the President in his first State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA).

Camps under this category are Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecja; Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz; Camp Kibaritan in Bukidnon; and Camp Tomas Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.

Duterte attacks US, praises China in Indonesia

From Rappler (Sep 9): Duterte attacks US, praises China in Indonesia

(2ND UPDATE) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte also says he does not 'give a shit' about what the international community thinks of him   

THANK YOU, CHINA. President Rodrigo Duterte thanks China for its generosity. Photo by Rappler

THANK YOU, CHINA. President Rodrigo Duterte thanks China for its generosity. Photo by Rappler

JAKARTA, Indonesia (2nd UPDATE) – In his first engagement in Indonesia, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte defended himself from recent international criticism and denied cursing at US President Barack Obama.
But in the same speech in front of the Filipino community on Friday, September 9, he also attacked the United States for previous brutalities and praised China.
On Friday, September 9, Duterte said, “I never confronted Obama here. I do not know him.”
He was referring to news headlines that said he cursed at Obama and called him a "son of a whore," when he was asked by media about the possibility of being questioned on extrajudicial killings by the United States. The statements prompted the US side to cancel the bilateral talks on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Laos.
“It’s like this. These yellow [allies]....and those from the [US] State Department, when you see the Philippine news, they were trying to crucify me for the extrajudicial killings. Sabi [They said] I will be investigated by the International [Criminal] Court."
"Yellow" is used in Philippine politics to refer to supporters of former president Benigno Aquino III and his allies.
He said that his actual response was “I will not answer to anybody but the Filipino people." (READ: Transcript: Duterte on Obama)
“That’s all I said," he said.
Duterte went on to explain that the translation of his cussing was not “son of a whore” but "son of a gun" or “son of a bitch," and was used in the same context as Americans say it in everyday language.
"Pangkaraniwan 'yan (It's common). Everybody, whether American, African who knows English would say, 'son of a bitch,' 'son of a gun.' It is not 'son of a whore,' that is never the translation," he said.
He added: ‪"At itong mga Amerikano, mahusay talaga (These Americans are really good). The Americans can spin a story. They use the predicate or the adjective that is really worst to hear."
Duterte also blamed the media who, he said, spun the story, and has helped in giving him a negative reputation among world leaders – not that he cared, he added.
“They can spin everything. Me? I don’t give a shit. Because I’m not the president of the international community," he said.
He said he denied having cursed Obama when he had that brief interaction with the US leader prior to the ASEAN gala on Wednesday.
"Kaya sinabi ko doon sa (I told him at the) holding room, 'President Obama I'm President Duterte. I never made that statement, you can check it out.' [Obama said] 'My men will talk to you.' Sabi ko (I said), 'Okay,'" Duterte recalled their exchange.
Duterte said he just wanted the issue to be over, as he maintained that he never cursed Obama. He then made a derogatory remark against the US State Department.
"Ito kasing State Department, para itong mga ulol na nagsama-sama diyan (Those in the State Department are like a bunch of fools gathered together)," he said.
The UN chief, whom he personally met for the first time and shook hands with in Laos, did not escape the Philippine leader's acid tongue. In early June, before Duterte assumed the presidency, Ban strongly condemned the then incoming president's apparent support of extrajudicial killings, voicing particular concern over his comments seen as justifying murdering journalists.
"Pati si Ban Ki-moon nakihalo. Several weeks ago, he said [something] about the human rights violations. Sabi ko, 'Isa ka pang tarantado' (Even Ban Ki-moon got involved. Several weeks ago, he said [something] about the human rights violations. I told myself, 'You're another fool')," he said.
Photos of massacre
Duterte also confirmed previous reports that he presented photos of the massacre of Filipinos in Mindanao at a plenary of the East Asian Summit on Thursday, September 8 – photos from when the Philippines was a US colony. (READ: Obama, Duterte clash over brutal crime war)
Among those at the meeting were Obama and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
He said he was handed a speech but he dropped it to show photos, since he said the issue on human rights was raised anyway.
These were pictures of corpses during the US pacification campaign in Mindanao that killed Muslim Filipinos in the early 1900s, he said.
He said he told the body: "This is human rights. What do you intend to do? Do not tell me that is water under the bridge. Human rights violation, whether committed by Moses or Abraham is still a violation of human rights."
Duterte said there was just silence. He said he was “waiting for Obama to respond” but he did not.
He went on to blame the Americans for continued suffering in Mindanao.
“Why has there been no healing in Mindanao? Because they were slaughtered by the imperialists!” he said.
Duterte said none of the Philippine officials who were with him at the EAS plenary knew he would cast aside his speech. "They were squirming at first," the Philippine leader said.
Thank you, China
After attacking the United States, Duterte then went on to praise China for what he called its "generosity" to the Philippines.
Duterte did not give any specifics on amount or dates, but reiterated China's pledge to help the country in its drug war.
"What am I supposed to do? China helped to build rehab (centers). They're bringing materials. Only China is helping us," he said.
He went on, “Next year there will be (rehabilitation centers). We’re preparing it now. China is helping us,” he said. “I would like to thank China for being so generous.”
Duterte said there are currently no rehabilitation centers because the budget he inherited from the Aquino government was small.
He also mentioned the South China Sea.
"It seems to me that everybody’s scared, there is not even a decisive move in the South China Sea. There, we can only have two options there: We talk or we fight. Philippines to fight China, it will be slaughter so we talk. We cannot match," he said.
He then "thanked" the US for its defense assistance, but the statement was tinged by sarcasm, as he quickly added that it was all for show.
"We have received so many things from America. Thank you for your generosity. What they sold us, two, only two FA-50 (fighter jets). It’s FA-50 but they never gave us the missiles and the bullets and the cannons to fight. For ceremonial lang (only)," he said of the help of the Philippines' treaty partner.
Duterte said the US "just gave you principles of law and nothing else."
Duterte's attitude towards the US and China is markedly different from his predecessor, former president Benigno Aquino III, under whose administration the Philippines inked with the US the PH-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which was upheld by the Philippine Supreme Court in January this year.
EDCA is an executive agreement that gives US troops, planes and ships increased rotational presence in Philippine military bases, and allows Washington to build facilities to store fuel and equipment there.
It was signed against the backdrop of the Philippines' maritime dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), and America's commitment to come to its ally's defense in case this escalates.

The verdict by an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands said China's claims to most of the waters – through which $5 trillion in global shipping trade passes annually – had no legal basis.

It also said that a massive burst of artificial island-building activity undertaken by China in recent years in a bid to bolster its claims was illegal.

China angrily vowed to ignore the ruling, describing it as "waste paper," even though it had legal force through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

China was at odds with the Aquino administration for bringing the case before an arbitral tribunal – and even winning the case. China has expressed optimism of forging better ties with the Duterte administration which has taken a different approach in its dealings with the regiona giant.

Incoming TFD head vows to strengthen intel capability (COL Neri Bio Data)

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 9): Incoming TFD head vows to strengthen intel capability

THE NEWLY assumed Task Force Davao commander has vowed to strengthen the intelligence capability of the military.
“I intend to strengthen intelligence monitoring to cover all areas of concerns,” said Col. Erwin Bernard Neri, in his speech during the change of command ceremony at the TFD headquarters at Sta. Wharf yesterday.
Neri said he will involve the public not only in informing about terrorism but also making them more vigilant in monitoring, reporting and the practice of personal security and safety.
“In light of the latest terror attack in the city, let us be with the strong people of Davao in overcoming the incident and turning it into opportunity,” Neri said.
The new TFD chief said he will also enhance the level of awareness through the conduct of drills and exercises and engage all sectors in the community to encourage cooperation.
“We really have to raise the awareness of everyone to detect and deter various threats,” said Neri, the 12th TFD commander.
Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said she is expecting the new TFD commander to do more on his job in protecting the city from terror attack and keeping it safe.
The mayor, in his speech during the ceremony, thanked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in helping secure the city.
Mayor Duterte attended the turnover ceremony as the guest of honor and speaker, with Major General Rafael Valencia, commander of 10th Infantry Division and Lieutenant General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commander of Eastern Mindanao Command, in attendance.
Neri replaced outgoing TFD chief Col. Henry Robinson who was axed by Mayor Duterte following the Sept. 2 Roxas night market bombing that killed 14 people and wounded 70 others.
Neri, a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class 1988, said he will be bringing in his vast experience in handling various major positions in the military service throughout his career.
Before assuming the TFD post, he was the chief of the unified command staff of Eastern Mindanao Command based in Panacan.
His junior officer days were spent in Eastern Mindanao Command, particularly in 28th Infantry Battalion as platoon leader, company commander, and staff officer.
From 1995-1999, Neri became a military instructor in PMA before he was deployed as member of the first batch of the Philippine contingent of peace keeping forces in East Timor.
In 2002, he handled various positions during his stint with the Presidential Security Group that enhanced his skills in VIP protection, events security and crisis management. He later commanded the Presidential guard’s battalion of the PSG.
Further, Neri became the battalion commander of 79th Infantry Battalion and subsequently as operations officer of the 3rd Infantry Division based in Capiz in Western Visayas.
He was then assigned as executive officer of the office of the assistant chief of staff for Civil Military Operation, both in headquarters Philippine Army.
Neri finished various military and civilian schoolings such as the joint transition course and joint and combined warfighting course at Joint Forces Staff College in Virginia, USA; and Masters in Public Management at University of the Philippines-Baguio.
The TFD, the elite group tasked to protect the city from terrorism, was created in 2003 right after the so-called twin bombings that hit the Davao International Airport and the Sasa Wharf that killed a total of 38 people and wounded some 210 others.

Abu Sayyaf gunmen on the run with Malaysian captives

From the Jakarta Post (Sep 9): Abu Sayyaf gunmen on the run with Malaysian captives

Five Malaysian hostages are on the run with their Abu Sayyaf captors in the mountainous jungles of Jolo amid an intense sustained Philippines military offensive against the gunmen.

Jolo anti-kidnapping activist Prof Octavio Dinampo said the five Malaysians who were among 13 Abu Sayyaf captives were constantly on the move in the jungles of the southern Philippines island.

“The Abu Sayyaf are facing problem of keeping their captives. They move around at night and by first daylight the military is already tracking them down,” he told The Star.

“It is a tough situation for the captives because they are always on the move and food for them will be scarce. It is hard to say if all these hostages can survive their ordeal,” Octavio added.

He said the Abu Sayyaf were known to be constantly moving around the jungles of Patikul, Indanan and Parang and were facing a problem of holding on to their captives.

Octavio said the five Malaysians - Abd Rahim Summas, Tayuddin Anjut, 45, Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32, Fandy Bakran, 26 and Mohd Zumadil Rahim, 23 - were being by held by gunmen sub commander Majan Sahidjuan, or more commonly known as Apo Mike.

The five were kidnapped from a tugboat near Dent Haven in Lahad Datu on July 18.

Three of the seven Indonesian captives were being held by gunmen under the command of Indang Susukan who was reportedly injured in a gunfight with Philippine soldiers in late August.

Also in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf gunmen known as the Sawadjan brothers were four Indonesians and a Norwegian captive.

Three of the Indonesians - Lorence Kotten, 34, Teo Dorus Kopong, 42, and Emanuel were abducted from a Malaysian fishing boat off Sinakut in Lahad Datu on July 9.

Another Indonesian fishing boat skipper Harman Mangga, 30, who was reportedly “abducted” on Aug 3 off Kinabatangan waters, has not been seen among the Abu Sayyaf kidnap victims.

It is believed that he had been freed after a private deal between the abductors and the Sandakan-based owners of the fishing vessel.

Octavio said the Philippines military had dispatched 9,000 soldiers to Jolo for the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf that was expected to last until at least December.

“Jolo is flooded with soldiers at the moment,” he said, adding that military operations were focused on five municipalities - Indanan, Parang, Patikul, Maimbung and Talipao.

The military offensive against the gunmen came amid Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte warning to the Abu Sayyaf that he would eat them “alive” as they were “beyond redemption.”

Duterte’s threat against the Abu Sayyaf, linked to the al-Qaeda terror group, was in response to the bomb blast that killed 14 people and injuring 67 others in the his hometown of Davao last week.

Police probe explosion in front of Zamboanga police station

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 9); Police probe explosion in front of Zamboanga police station

The police are conducting a thorough probe to unmask the suspect behind the grenade attack at a police headquarters in this city.

The incident occurred around 4:30 a.m. Friday at Police Station 3 located in Barangay Sangali, 25.34 kilometers east of City Hall.

No one was either killed or injured as the grenade fell and exploded near the steel gate of the Police Station 3’s compound.

Chief Insp. Garry Bahoy, Police Station 3 chief, disclosed they are reviewing the video since the suspect was captured by the closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera of his office.

Bahoy said the suspect stood behind a parked vehicle 30 meters away from the Police Station 3 compound and tossed the grenade.

Bahoy said the suspect’s face was concealed since he was wearing a black hooded jacket at the time of the incident.

Senior Insp. Chester Natividad, Bahoy’s deputy, said he strongly believed the grenade attack was related to their intensive anti-drug campaign.

Sangali is known to be among the barangays with a high number of drug personalities in this city.

3 suspected Abu Sayyaf members arrested in Zamboanga City

From InterAksyon (Sep 9): 3 suspected Abu Sayyaf members arrested in Zamboanga City

Abu Sayyaf bandits holding three foreigners and a Filipina hostage in Sulu. (Screenshot from News5 video/File)

Military and police operatives have arrested three suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Barangay Pasonanca, Zamboanga City on Friday.

Major Felimon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), identified the arrested terrorists as Jamar Musa Maing, 41; Ahmad Tandih Lawisan, 33, and Omar Kumbing Tandih, 36.

The three suspects were arrested at around 3:20 a.m. at their hideout in a house near the motor pool of the Zamboanga City Water District (ZCWD), Chief Supt. Billy Beltran of the Zamboanga regional police said.

Beltran said that based on intelligence information, the suspects were tasked to conduct bombing operations in Zamboanga City.

“They are all members of the Ajang-Ajang group believed to be responsible for liquidation of troops and other criminal acts in the area,” Tan said. The Ajang-Ajang group is led by Ben Saudi, one of the sub-leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group based in Sulu.

Recovered from their possession were two fragmentation grenades, a caliber .38 revolver with six live rounds of ammunition, and two cellular phones.

“The military and police continue to intensify intel monitoring and security operations to thwart and neutralize the Abu Sayyaf Group,” Tan said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered intensified military operations against the Abu Sayyaf to crush the group, which has beheaded three hostages - two Canadians and a Filipino - and is holding at least 10 more, including seven foreigners, in the hinterlands of Sulu.

Bombing plan foiled, 3 Abu Sayyaf members nabbed in Zambo

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Sep 9): Bombing plan foiled, 3 Abu Sayyaf members nabbed in Zambo

A COMBINED police and military operations foiled a bombing plot of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as they have arrested three ASG members around 3:20 a.m. Friday, September 9 at a rented house in the village Pasonanca, north of Zamboanga City.

Chief Superintendent Billy Beltran, Police Regional Office-Zamboanga Peninsula (Western Mindanao) identified the arrested suspects as Jamar Musa, 41; Omar Kumbing, 36; and, Ahmad Tandih, 33.

Beltran said the suspects were tasked to conduct bombing operation in Zamboanga City as monitored by the intelligence community since Sunday, September 4.

Beltran added the suspects were reportedly followers of the Ajang-Ajang Group led by Ben Saudi, one of the sub-leaders of the ASG based in Sulu.

The police confiscated a caliber .38 revolver with six live ammunition, two fragmentation grenades, and two mobile phones.

The arrest of the suspects was the result of the intensified law enforcement operation against the ASG members who continued to seek terror in the region, according to Beltran.

The government troops are continuously pursuing the ASG brigands in the province of Sulu aimed to rescue the remaining hostages.

The ASG is still holding hostage more than 10 people, including seven foreigners, in the hinterlands of Sulu.

Duterte, Widodo sign treaty on maritime security

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 9): Duterte, Widodo sign treaty on maritime security

President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesia President Joko Widodo release a joint statement during Duterte's working visit to Indonesia on Friday. GIL CABACUNGAN

President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesia President Joko Widodo release a joint statement at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Sept. 9. GIL CABACUNGAN
President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesia President Joko Widodo on Friday signed a treaty which would allow Indonesia to chase and blast pirates inside Philippine seas.

Duterte had asked for Widodo’s help and sought a note verbale to address piracy in the high seas.

The President is in Indonesia for a working visit following his attendance to the Asean summit in Vientiane, Laos.
Last month, a group of armed men abducted an Indonesian sailor in the Sulu Sea while in June, Abu Sayyaf militants seized seven crew men of an Indonesian boat.

AFP to personnel on checkpoint duty: Follow operational procedures

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 9): AFP to personnel on checkpoint duty: Follow operational procedures

Military personnel manning checkpoints are reminded to follow the operational procedures or face administrative sanctions.

Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo reminded troopers not to touch or open any vehicle or order any occupant to go outside.

Check points must also be well lighted and personnel manning it in full uniform.

Also, baggage can only be inspected if the owner or passenger gives permission, he added.

Failure to comply could result in the filing of administrative sanctions and other charges, Arevalo said.

"We would like to ensure that as we respond to the Commander-in-Chief's call for the AFP to help suppress lawless violence in Mindanao and prevent its spread in other areas of the country, the execution of our tasks will always be proper and with due regard to every citizen's entitlements under the bill of rights," Arevalo said.

A "State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao" was declared by President Rodrigo Duterte in wake of the bombing attacks in Davao City which killed 14 and wounded more than 60 persons last Sept. 2.

Piracy falling fast across Asia, figures show

From Nikkei Asian Review (Sep 9): Piracy falling fast across Asia, figures show

Filipino Coast Guard personnel arrest mock pirates during a combined maritime exercise by Philippine and Japanese Coast Guards in the waters off Manila Bay on July 13. © AP          

Maritime piracy attacks in Asia fell by more than two-thirds in the first half of 2016 compared to a year ago, suggesting that regional efforts to reduce the number of incidents are making headway amid a global decline in the number of ships seized or ambushed.

Even so, Indonesia remains a hotspot that in the first half of the year saw about one quarter of all piracy attacks reported worldwide take place in its waters. In addition, the waters between Malaysia and Indonesia remain dangerous because of kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, which recently executed two Canadian hostages and is holding at least 10 more for ransom.
"A search on our database shows 141 incidents [worldwide] this year until Sept. 5," said Natasha Brown, an official at the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency. There were 223 incidents in the comparable period of 2015, indicating "a downward year on year trend," Brown told the Nikkei Asian Review.

The International Maritime Bureau, part of the International Chamber of Commerce, also reported that pirate attacks were down significantly in 2016 compared with a year ago, with only 98 attacks worldwide in the first six months of 2016 -- the lowest in 21 years.

"[A] reduction in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and the continued reduction in attacks off Somalia accounts for this," said IMB director Pottengal Mukundan. After years of kidnappings and hostage-taking by Somali pirates -- in some cases providing material for Hollywood movies -- a NATO-led security operation has resulted in much-reduced levels of piracy around East Africa.

The IMB's Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur, set up in 1992, is often the first to hear of pirate attacks, with a team standing by around the clock to field reports from distressed captains.

"All information received is immediately relayed to the local law enforcement agencies, requesting assistance. Information is also immediately broadcast to all vessels in the ocean region, providing vital intelligence and increasing awareness," the IMB says on its website.

Many of the calls received by the IMB come from vessels passing through strategically and economically-important waters such as the South China Sea and the 900km Straits of Malacca, where pirates have for centuries posed a threat to shipping and commerce.

Other key organizations involved in monitoring piracy have lauded the trends in Asia. Among them is the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, an intergovernmental body representing 20 countries that was set up a decade ago to improve anti-piracy coordination across the continent.

"There has been an improvement in the piracy and armed robbery situation in Asia, with the largest decrease in number of incidents during January-June 2016 compared to the same period in the past four years of 2012-2015," said the organization, which is referred to as Recaap.

Philippines says Indonesia can enter its waters to fight pirates

From the Business Standard (Sep 9): Philippines says Indonesia can enter its waters to fight pirates

The Philippines will grant the Indonesian navy access to its territorial waters if they are chasing pirates, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said during an official visit here on Friday.

"If the chase begins in Indonesia and continues in the international waters, and inside Philippine waters, they can go ahead and blast them off," Efe news quoted Duterte as saying while interacting with the Filipino community in the Indonesian capital.
Piracy is a major concern for leaders of the region, who fear a Somalia-like rise in maritime insecurity in southeast Asia.

Duterte said he has already discussed the issue with his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo during the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit that concluded on Thursday in Laos.

Duterte arrived in Indonesia overnight after attending the Asean conference and is scheduled to meet Widodo to discuss matters of maritime security.

In March, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to set up joint patrols in the Sulu Sea, a region from where Filipino militant group Abu Sayyaf has kidnapped several Indonesian and Malaysian sailors in recent months.

Navy's largest ship now serves as command-and-control vessel in Sulu sea denial mission

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 9): Navy's largest ship now serves as command-and-control vessel in Sulu sea denial mission

The BRP Tarlac (LD-601), the Philippine Navy (PN)'s largest ship, is now serving as the command-and-control vessel in the ongoing sea denial operations being conducted off Sulu waters as part of government efforts to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) threat.

"(BRP Tarlac) is now serving in Sulu as command-and-control vessel for (ongoing sea denial) missions," PN spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna in a message to the PNA Friday said.

The government offensive in Sulu started last Aug.25, shortly after the bandits beheaded 18-year-old Patrick Almodavar after the latter's family failed to pay the PHP1 million ransom.

Around 32 terrorists were killed in the ongoing operations with 15 soldiers slain in the series of clashes with the ASG.

BRP Tarlac was commissioned during short ceremonies at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor last June 1.

She arrived in the Philippines last May 14 after a five-day journey from PT PAL (Persero)'s shipyard in Surabaya which started on May 9.

The Philippines has a two SSV order with the Indonesian shipbuilder worth PHP3.8 billion.

She was formally presented to the public at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor last May 16.

BRP Tarlac was assigned to the Philippine Fleet's Sealift Amphibious Force.

The ship has an overall length of 120 meters, breadth of 21 meters, draft of five meters and carry a payload of 2,800 tons.

She has a cruising speed of 13 knots and maximum speed of 16 knots and a minimum operating range of 7,500 nautical miles.

Her sister-ship is expected to be delivered by May 2017. The ship has a complement of 121 officers and enlisted personnel.

She can carry 500 troops, two rigid-hull inflatable boats, two landing craft units and three helicopters.

President Duterte to meet with Indonesian President Widodo at Merdeka Palace Friday afternoon

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 9): President Duterte to meet with Indonesian President Widodo at Merdeka Palace Friday afternoon

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet on Friday with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to cap his two-day working visit to Indonesia.

Before his meeting with his Indonesian counterpart, President Duterte met with members of the Filipino community in Jakarta at the Shangri-la Hotel over lunch.

In the afternoon, he will attend the wreath-laying ceremony at the Kalibata National Heroes Cemetery, the Indonesian military's memorial park that was built in 1953. More than 7,000 military casualties and veterans are buried there.

He will then visit the Tanah Abang market, a subdistrict in Central Jakarta known for hosting the biggest textile market in Southeast Asia. On his way to Merdeka Palace, he will pass by the National Monument, a 132-meter tower at the center of Merdeka Square symbolizing the fight for Indonesian independence.

At about 4 p.m., President Duterte will be given arrival honors at the Istana Merdeka, one of the six presidential palaces in Indonesia. Merdeka Palace is the official residence of the Indonesian president. There the two national leaders will have a tete-a-tete at the Jepara Room.

A joint press statement is expected from the two leaders at the Istana Merdeka's Credential Hall before they proceed to the Dining Hall of the Istana Negara.

Right after the state dinner, President Duterte and his entourage will proceed to the Halim Perdenakusuma International Airport for his flight back to Davao City.

AFP makes mark in regional peace and stability

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 9): AFP makes mark in regional peace and stability

Despite its modest resources, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has more than made its mark in regional peace and stability despite its modest resources.

This was stressed by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya during the recently concluded Chief of Defense (CHOD) Conference where 29 ranking military leaders from Indo-Asia Pacific region.

"We've marked modest achievements in the realization of our aspirations as far as regional peace and stability are concerned. Through this, we are optimistic in the cooperative ties that we have forged together to address terrorism, trafficking in person, drug trafficking, and other transnational crimes. We will emerge empowered still despite our own preoccupations with our mandates at home," Visaya said in a statement Friday.

"As for the AFP, this conference became a venue for us to showcase our capacity for regional leadership, as we continue to promote trust, cooperation, and the peaceful advancement of our individual and common interests in the Indo-Asia Pacific region," he added.

CHOD was co-hosted by the AFP and the United States Pacific Command.

Defense chief and senior military leaders from Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, India, Nepal, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Chile, Colombia, France, Mexico, Peru, United Kingdom, and the United States of America participated in the three-day event held Sept. 5 to 7.

AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said the CHOD aims to strengthen military cooperation, promote collaboration, and discuss security challenges across the Indo-Pacific maritime and geopolitical sphere.

The discussion centered on regional military cooperation and challenges, as highlighted by discussions on "Future Regional Order in the Indo-Asia-Pacific," "Military Cooperation in Transnational Security," and "Prospects for Maritime Shared Awareness, Technology, and Innovation."

Separate programs were also held for the Senior Enlisted Leaders (SEL) and the Spouses Network comprised of professional development conferences, capability demonstrations and static displays for the SEL and guided tours, and humanitarian visits for the spouses.

This year’s hosting of CHOD took its cue from the 2014 conference in Brunei, where former AFP chief-of-staff Gregorio Catapang, Jr., agreed to the request of USPACOM to co-host.

Started in 1998, CHOD became a platform for multilateral military dialogue and sharing of regional and global perspectives on common security challenges.

DSWD monitors situation of displaced families in conflict-affected areas in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 9): DSWD monitors situation of displaced families in conflict-affected areas in Basilan

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Friday it is continuously monitoring and assisting local government units (LGUs) in Basilan that have been affected by the ongoing clashes between government troops and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

To date, a total of 3,423 families or 18,783 persons from the towns of Albarka, Tipo-Tipo and Ungkaya Pukan have been affected.

The clashes between military troops and the terrorists group in these towns first occurred on July 2 and 6 and escalated in August.

Meanwhile, a total of 1,729 families or 6,218 persons from four other municipalities in Basilan, namely: Sumisip, Tuburan, Moh Ajul and Akbar have been advised by the provincial government to take preemptive evacuation even if there is no encounter between the ASG and the military in their areas.

However, no evacuation centers have been opened since the displaced families opted to stay with their relatives and friends.

DSWD's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) personnel in the province continue to assist the provincial government in checking on the condition of the displaced families.

At present, disaster teams from DSWD-Field Office IX are continuously coordinating with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) which is directly in contact with the affected families, for updates on the status of their needed augmentation support.

“We want to ensure the safety and to immediately provide for the needs of the civilians living in the conflict- affected areas. Most often, innocent civilians are the ones who suffer because of military operations,” DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said.