Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Investigation focus: How did Abu Sayyaf infiltrate Bohol

From the Manila Bulleting (Apr 19): Investigation focus: How did Abu Sayyaf infiltrate Bohol

The Police Regional Office (PRO) in Central Visayas has launched an inter-agency investigation on last week’s clash between the Abu Sayyaf and government troops in Inabanga, Bohol, that will focus mainly on how the terrorist group was able to infiltrate the province and kept a covert presence there.

The PRO regional director, Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, said the military and the police were still conducting follow-up operations in Inabanga.

The sweep has already netted Joselit Melloria, said to belong to the extremist group ISIS.

Taliño said the encounter in Barangay Napo, Inabanga, is an isolated case and that Bohol remains safe and secure.

Chief Insp. Hector Amancia, deputy regional director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), one of the agencies involved in the investigation, said they are looking for evidence that the Abu Sayyaf group in Bohol was planning to detonate bombs.
Among the items seized from the group were an 81-mm mortar cartridge, three detonating cords, 49 blasting caps, blasting caps with cords, and eight improvised explosive device assemblies.

Amancia said murder charges will be filed against the Abu Sayyaf members and residents who connived with the terrorist group by letting them to stay in their houses.

The clash in Inabanga killed government troopers 2nd Lt. Estilito Saldua, Sgt. John Dexter Duero, PO2 Rey Anthony Nazareno, and Cpl. Meljune Cajaban.
Four members of the terrorist group were also killed: Mouamar Askali alias Abu Rami, a sub-leader; a certain alias Abu Sufyan, a bomb expert; a certain Edimar Isnain; and an unidentified armed man.

Based on latest information, eight out of 12-member Abu Sayyaf are still at large.

The incident in Inabanga has sent officials in Central Visayas scrambling to assure visitors and the local populace that they are safe.

In Cebu province, Vice Governor Agnes Magpale said she has received assurance from Cebu Provincial Police Office director Senior Supt. Eric Noble that his men are securing coastal towns in Cebu that face Bohol.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has also said it is confident the military and the police were on top of the security situation in Central Visayas, following the recent travel advisory issued by the Korean Embassy warning its citizens against traveling to Bohol.

“We are actively coordinating for updates with our local and national security and law enforcement agencies who are fully capable of putting travelers concerns ease,” said DOT regional officer-in-charge Judy Gabato.

Early this week, the consulate of South Korea in Cebu had issued a travel advisory for Bohol, citing the fighting in Inabanga.

P1M for every Abu captured, ‘dead or alive’

From the Sun Star-Cebu (Apr 20): P1M for every Abu captured, ‘dead or alive’

On top of the situation. President Rodrigo Duterte is briefed by local officials on the peace and order situation in Bohol during his visit yesterday. (SunStar Foto/Alan Tangcawan)
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte offered a bounty of P1 million for each of the eight remaining Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members who engaged government troops in a gunfight in Barangay Napo, Inabanga, Bohol last week.
 In a visit to Bohol yesterday, Duterte ordered the capture of the seven bandits “dead or alive.” “My order to the police, sa lahat, even civilians to fight. And my order is dead or alive,” he said.
Duterte said that any report given to the police or military that will lead to the bandits’ arrest will earn the tipster a P1-million reward, per ASG member. “Sabihin nyo lang kung saan sila, police at military na ang bahala,” he added.
The president was in Bohol yesterday and was briefed on the current situation in the province, particularly on the security aspect since the ministerial meetings of the Asean 2017 officially start today.
On the concerns that the incident in Inabanga, Bohol may result in the presence of more Abu Sayyaf Group members in the Visayas, Duterte said he intends to arm the civilians.
 Duterte has yet to reveal the full details of his plan to arm the civilians, saying there are still ongoing discussions on this.
Despite what happened, Duterte assured the public that Bohol is safe because there are enough law enforcers in the area.
 The clash in Inabanga left three soldiers and a policeman dead. Four Abu Sayyaf members were also killed.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) is taking charge of the humanitarian efforts in Barangay Napo in Inabanga, to make sure the lives of the residents return to normal.
In an interview with SunStar Cebu, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino said they are closely working with the local government unit of Inabanga and the line agencies to address the concerns of those affected by the gunfight.
 “Definitely we want everything to go back to normal,” he said.
One of the concerns that OPAV is focusing on is the livelihood of those affected by the gunfight.
Dino said they’re in the process of downloading funds for loom weavers in Napo who were affected by the conflict. Dino, who accompanied the president yesterday, said the visit of the president yesterday will show that Bohol is safe.

Info on ASG trickle in after offer of reward

From the Sun Star-Cebu (Apr 20): Info on ASG trickle in after offer of reward
POLICE Regional Office 7 Director Noli Taliño said they received several information about the eight suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf after a P100,000 bounty was put up for each of them. The official said they are verifying the tip-off.

Before the reward money was put up by an anonymous individual, Taliño said they received information on the whereabouts of the Abu Sayyaf members.
Intelligence units of the military and the police are tracking the location of the bandits, who escaped during their gunfight with government troops in Inabanga, Bohol last week.

Taliño said the investigators are validating reports that Joselito Melloria, an Inabanga native who joined the ASG, was the leader, and not Maumar Askali, also known as Abu Rami.

The official said their security is tight in Bohol, Cebu and Siquijor. Over 3,200 police and military personnel were deployed in Bohol to secure the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit meetings in Panglao Island, which ends on Saturday.

‘Abu Rami of ASG had contacts in Cebu’

From the Sun Star-Cebu (Apr 20): ‘Abu Rami of ASG had contacts in Cebu’

MAUMAR Askali, also known as Abu Rami, reportedly studied in a university in downtown Cebu City nearly two decades ago.
An intelligence official believes that Askali had classmates who served as his contacts in Cebu when he was still alive.
 The official said they still have to trace where Askali lived in Cebu when he was in college.
The alleged sub-leader of Abu Sayyaf Group took up Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy in the first semester of school year 2000-2001, according to the document obtained by Superbalita Cebu.
The dean certified that Askali took up pharmacy, but did not finish the course.
The school official was stunned to learn of Askali’s involvement with the ASG.
He reportedly enrolled in two other universities, but the officials of these schools did not certify he was their student.
Askali, a native of Jolo, was killed during the gunfight between his group and government troops in Barangay Napo, Inabanga, Bohol last week.
Askali’s name surfaced sometime in September 2015, after the police and intelligence units received information that his group planned to kidnap foreigners in Central Visayas, particularly Dumaguete City.

Roadside bomb explodes in Maguindanao

From ABS-CBM (Apr 19): Roadside bomb explodes in Maguindanao

Photo courtesy of Shariff Saydona Mustapha Municipal Police

SHARIFF SAYDONA MUSTAPHA – A roadside bomb exploded in the national highway along Barangay Nabundas, Wednesday morning.

Nobody was hurt in the blast, said Maguindanao Deputy Provincial Police Director, Police Superintendent Jibin Bongcayao.

Maguindanao police said the target of the bomb might have been police officers and soldiers who regularly patrol the area.

According to Bongcayao, Barangay Nabundas, Shariff Saydona Mustapha in Maguindanao is an area occupied by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

However, BIFF spokesperson Abu Amir said they are not involved with explosions in South Central Mindanao because bombing is against the policy of their organization.

Know how C-130s support FA-50PHs operations

From Update Philippines (Apr 19): Know how C-130s support FA-50PHs operations

Philippine Air Force 220th Airlift Wing is providing support every time FA-50PH Fighting Eagles conducts operations. The latest is sorties conducted April 18 held at Clark Air Base.

“Whether familiarization flights or air strike missions anytime the FA-50ph aircraft will conduct its sorties, the C-130s led by the Airlifters are expected to support and ferry all the ground equipment which also includes the operators and other maintenance crew,” the Air Force said.

“This kind of activity is part of the Transformation Road Map of the PAF Flight Plan 2028 which is to basically perform a supporting roles to territorial defense operations,” the Air Force explained.

The 220th Airlift Wing’s main role is to provide tactical airlift and air transport to all Armed Forces of the Philippines units, and government agencies. It also provides airlift for para-drop/airdrop of personnel, equipment and supplies.

220th Airlift Wing also conducts aero-medical evacuation, long range maritime patrol, air reconnaissance and aerial searches.

Duterte offers P1M reward for suspects behind foiled Bohol attack

From Rappler (Apr 19): Duterte offers P1M reward for suspects behind foiled Bohol attack

During a security briefing in Bohol, the President orders security forces to contain the terror threat    

JOLO 'INVASION'? President Rodrigo Duterte warns he will 'invade' Jolo if the terror threat in the country spins out of control. Malacañang file photo

JOLO 'INVASION'? President Rodrigo Duterte warns he will 'invade' Jolo if the terror threat in the country spins out of control. Malacañang file photo

President Rodrigo Duterte is ready to give P1 million as reward for the apprehension, "dead or alive", of each Abu Sayyaf member behind the foiled terror attack in Bohol.

"I have a P1-million offer, per person. Even just a tip, give it to the police and military, no questions asked," he said on Wednesday, April 19, during a chance interview in Tagbilaran, Bohol.

He was there to attend a security briefing for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. Some ASEAN 2017 events will be held in Bohol this week.

"Dead or alive man 'yan, may reward, pero mas gusto ko 'yung dead kasi 'yung alive, magpakain pa ako ma'am, magastos masyado," said the President.  (Dead or alive there will be a reward, but I prefer dead because you'd have to feed the living, it's more costly.)

He said 6 Abu Sayyaf members are thought to have escaped during a clash between government forces and their group on April 11.

Military and police, with the help of locals, were able to foil a terror attack by the group.

Duterte said the terror attack was targeting ASEAN meetings to be held in Bohol this month.

Arming civilians

The President also intends to empower civilians to carry arms so they can effectively carry out his orders against the terrorists. If they end up facing legal cases for having killed someone, Duterte said he would pardon them. It's the same promise he gave to military and police who will face cases as they implement his drug war.

"I intend to also arm the civilians and I will include the civilians, if you kill, you do not have to worry, you just go to the police and make a report and state your truth and you won't have any problem, I'll take care of you. I'll pardon you," he said.

But he said he still has to consult local government officials who may have issues with such an order.

"I have to talk to local officials, they might have some objections," he added.

Contain terror threat

During the security briefing, Duterte gave orders to security forces to contain the terror threat in Mindanao.

"They must not reach the places well beyond the Mindanao Sea, dapat doon lang sila (they should just stay there)," he said.

The foiled terror attack in Bohol has sparked concern about Abu Sayyaf presence in regions outside Mindanao. (READ: Bad or good intel? 5 questions on Abu Sayyaf presence in Bohol)

Duterte expressed confidence with the capability of cops and soldiers to monitor the movements of terrorists using a satellite-based tagging system.

If the terror threat spins out of control, he warned that he would not hesitate to take his "last option": to invade the terrorist-infested areas of Jolo, Sulu.

"'Pag naipit na ang bayan, I will order the invasion of Jolo. Lahat ng army, lahat ng navy magpunta doon," he said. (If the country is pushed against a corner, I will order the invasion of Jolo. All of the army, all of the navy will go there.)

Jolo is a stronghold of terror groups, with the Abu Sayyaf known to be hiding in its mountains and jungles.

New Duterte EO clips DND chief's powers on defense deals

From Rappler (Apr 19): New Duterte EO clips DND chief's powers on defense deals

Executive Order Number 18 repeals an Arroyo EO that 'resulted in bureaucratic impediments and unnecessary delays' in the procurement process at the defense department, says Malacañang   

CLIPPED POWERS. President Rodrigo Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana attend the 75th Commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan and Veterans Week in Bataan on April 9, 2017. Malacañang file photo

CLIPPED POWERS. President Rodrigo Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana attend the 75th Commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan and Veterans Week in Bataan on April 9, 2017. Malacañang file photo

President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order removing the authority of the defense chief to sign defense contracts.

Executive Order (EO) Number 18, released on Monday, April 17, intends to "streamline" rules and procedures governing defense contracts entered into by the Philippine government by repealing EO 235, signed by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2003.

In issuing EO 18, Duterte blamed EO 235 for "bureaucratic impediments and unnecessary delays" in the procurement process at the defense department.

Arroyo issued EO 235 in 2003 to streamline procedures on defense contracts by authorizing the defense secretary to sign contracts except for those that, by law, only the president can approve.

EO 235 also allowed the secretary to "delegate in writing" officials he has empowered to sign contracts below P50 million. For Philippine military contracts below P50 million, the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was given the authority to sign.

EO 235 also established a single Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) for the AFP.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella could not give examples of the supposed delays and impediments caused by EO 235 that convinced Duterte to repeal it.

He only said, "The President wants effective and efficient delivery of service which runs contrary with the setup of EO 235."

EO 18 noted that EO 235 "limited" the defense chief's authority "to delegate approvals of procurement contracts."

Under EO 18, the defense secretary was tasked to "effectively monitor the operations of the separate Bids and Awards Committees" which may be created under Republic Act (RA) No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act for transparency and accountability purposes.

In a text message to Rappler, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said EO 18 "merely gives SND (Secretary of National Defense) the flexibility to create and/or delegate other Bids and Awards Committees (BAC) in the DND or its agencies in accordance with RA 9184."

Malacañang earlier issued Memorandum Circular No. 16, reminding agencies under the executive department to secure approval from the President before signing or negotiating international agreements, and foreign grants or borrowings.

Child amazon surrenders to army battalion in Kapalong

From the Mindanao Times (Apr 19): Child amazon surrenders to army battalion in Kapalong

A 15-YEAR-OLD girl rebel and 18-year-old New People’s Army member surrendered to the Bravo company of the 60th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Patil, Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong in Davao del Norte on Monday.

2Lt. Amadeuz Vj Celestial, civil-military operations (CMO) officer of 60th IB, identified the girl only as alias Rose, medic of the Pulang Bagani Command 4. Prior to his surrender, alias Junjun was the squad leader of Primera, Abe, Carlos of Pulang Bagani Command 4, Sub-Regional Committee of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command.

They both belong to the Dibabawon tribe. They initially made contact with a tribal leader in the area and the commander of a Cafgu Active Auxiliary Detachment in Kapalong.
Accordingly, Junjun was recruited by certain alias Pai and Rose was recruited by certain Emilies Bat-ao who promised to support their schooling in Davao City.

Rose claimed that she grew tired of always escaping the authorities, and she didn’t fully grasp the ideology of the NPA. Junjun claimed that he experienced abuse at the hands of the senior rebel leaders. He was made to carry heavy packs and personal belongings from the time he was 15.

He also claimed to have stayed in UCCP Haran in Davao City for about a month. They both revealed that there are four still four Lumad child-soldiers in their command.

Lt. Col. Emmanuel Canilla, the battalion commander, said that recruiting Rose and Junjun only showed that the NPA continues to disregard international laws on the use of child soldiers.

Based on their records, Rose was the fifth underage rebels who surrendered to their battalion.

Two more members surrender in Bukidnon

Meanwhile, two NPA members are set to participate in the 3rd Infantry Battalion’s Arm-to-Farm program after their surrender on Sunday in Impasugong, Bukidnon. Under the program, the two would be working in the farm for their initial subsistence.
Lt. Erwin Bugarin, civil-military operations (CMO) officer of 3rd IB, said the two rebel returnees, whose names are withheld for security purposes, brought with them four firearms with bullets.

“Despite of the holidays, we work to keep threats away from the community,” he said. “We may be mandated to go after armed groups but we never get tired of helping those who saw a brighter path and are seeking a better future.”

NPA frees 2 Army soldiers in Davao Sur

From MindaNews (Apr 19): NPA frees 2 Army soldiers in Davao Sur

Two non-commissioned officers of the Philippine Army regained their freedom on Wednesday, after almost three months of captivity in the hands of communist rebels.

Sgt Soliman Calocop and Pfc Samuel Garay, who were captured by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, were released to their wives and relatives somewhere in Matanao, Davao del Sur.

Sgt Solaiman Calocop (2nd from left, partly hidden) and Pfc Samuel Garay (2nd from R) of the 39th Infantry Battalion are reunited with their wives after the two soldiers were turned over and released to government officials and peace advocates in the hinterlands of Matanao, Davao del Sur on April 19, 2017. Garay and Calocop were abducted by the New People’s Army on February 2, 2017 in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat while they were on their way to Makilala, North Cotabato. MindaNews photo by Manman Dejeto

Garay’s wife Jessa Mae and Calocop’s wife Normalia wept as they embraced their husbands when they were presented and released to local government officials. Both sat on the laps of their husbands wiping their tears and then thanked the custodial unit of the NPA Mt. Alip Command for sparing the lives of their loved ones.

Calocop and Garay, members of the 39th Infantry Battalion, when they were ‘arrested’ by the NPA in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on Feb. 2 this year on their way to their headquarters in Makilala, North Cotabato.

Their capture came days after the NPA General Command headed by Jorge Madlos alias Ka Oris announced it was withdrawing the unilateral ceasefire it declared when the peace talks with the Philippine government were resumed in August last year.

Ka Macario Dilaab, spokesperson of the Mt. Alip Command of the NPA Far South Mindanao Regional Command said they release the two soldiers on humanitarian grounds and in support to the peace talks between the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Ka Macario said the NPA would have released their captives earlier had their been a suspension of police and military operations in the area.

He said the two were actively engaged in gathering information on the movement of the rebels but showed remorse and thus were spared from punishment.

The captives were turned over to Columbio Vice Mayor Edwin Bermudez, South Cotabato Board Member Romulo Solivio and members of the peace advocacy group Sowing the Seeds of Peace represented by Bishop Redeemer Yañez, who facilitated their release.

Also present were Davao del Sur provincial administrator and former representative Marc Douglas Cagas who represented his father Gov. Douglas Cagas.

Calocop thanked the NPA for releasing them unharmed. Garay, on the other hand, thanked the NPA for letting them return to their respective families.

Garay added: “Wala mi nila gipasagdan sulod sa hapit mi mag-tulo ka bulan sa ilaha. Wala gyud mi katilaw ug mga pasakit sa ilaha. Bisan gamayng istorya nga pasakit sa amoa, wala mi nila gihilabtan (They took care of us in the close to three months that we were with them (NPA). They never harmed us. They did not even say words that would hurt us, they never touched us).”

Garay’s wife said it was the longest period that she was away from her husband who she said would visit their home in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur at least once a month.

“When I learned they were to be released I couldn’t sleep. I was just waiting for the moment we were to travel to meet them,” said Jessa Mae, who is five months pregnant with their first child.

Ka Macario defended their continuing collection of “revolutionary taxes” as an authority of the revolutionary movement which is similar to the government’s practice of collecting taxes from the people.

President Rodrigo Duterte had told the rebels to stop collecting “revolutionary taxes” as a precondition for the resumption of peace talks.

The government and the NDF have resumed negotiations after these were terminated in February following allegations of violations of the unilateral ceasefire declared by both sides last year.

But in The Netherlands last month, both parties agreed to explore the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire agreement after defining its mechanics and parameters.

The fifth round of peace negotiations will take place in late May, also in The Netherlands.

Kidapawan City beefs up security against terror plot

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 19): Kidapawan  City beefs up  security  against  terror plot

City government here  has stepped  up  security  measures  in its  urban center  against  terror threats.

Following the  twin improvised explosive device  blast in  Tacurong  City on Monday evening,  Kidapawan  Mayor Joseph Evangelista  ordered the City Philippine National Police  Station and the  Public Safety Office to further intensify its bomb awareness campaign, Oplan Paalala, especially  in the urban  center.

The bomb awareness  campaign that  took  off during the  celebration of the Holy Week, has police patrol with a public announcement system  roaming around the city reminding the residents to be extra careful  and  be  vigilant  against terror threats.

Mayor Evangelista’s call  for an  increased  security measures  also came after  Kidapawan City figured in an intelligence report as  targets of bombing plot.  The same report  also named other cities in SOCCSKSARGEN Region as targets of the plot.

Evangelista called on the public to take the threats  seriously.

“Immediately  report  to  authorities  suspicious persons  and unattended bags in your villages and public places,” he said, advising them  to immediately keep a  distance from  suspected  IEDs.

On Monday,  two  IEDs  exploded  at  the Dragon Mart along the national highway in Barangay New Isabela in  Tacurong  City in Sultan Kudarat province  and  wounded 15  persons, including  3 army soldiers, 3  police officers and 9 civilians.

According to  a  report  from the Tacurong  City PNP, the  first IED exploded inside the comfort room  of Dragon Mart  at 6: 45 p.m. The  second went  off  outside the store at 7:10 p.m. when  emergency  responders  were already in the area.

Listed as  wounded in the incident report  were the  following:
1. Logen Presaldo, 42, AFP
2. Ramil Garde, AFP
3. Alvin Jimenez, 44, AFP
4. Danica ila Ballaran, 14, student, Brgy. San Pablo, Tacurong City
5. Reymart del Rosario, 21, student, Brgy. Calean, Tacurong City
 6. Saulsauto Manoy, 47, CDRRMC 
7.Joseph Liba, 33, driver, Brgy. San Pablo, Tacurong City
8. Leo Cueva, 34, teacher, Tantangan, South Cotabato
9. Roger Bamo, 47, ambulance driver, Brgy. New Isabela, Tacurong City
10. P02 Gerard Martin San Pedro
11. SPO2 Jasper Garcia
12. Micheal Pon
13. P01 Eleazar Sustiguer
14. Ryan Omar Ali, 27, Brgy. Poblacion, Tacurong City
15. Richard Piñeda, 36, tinsmith , Brgy. New Isabela, Tacurong City.

According to Sultan  Kudarat  provincial social  welfare and development officer  Henry  Albano, the  provincial  government  has already  extended  P10,000  aid to each of the  blast  victims while the  Department of Social  Welfare and Development and the  city government of Tacurong  will  foot the bill  for their  hospitalization.

In a separate  interview,  PSupt. Romeo  Galgo, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office 12 confirmed  that full alert is observed in all cities of Region 12 due to terror  threat.

Galgo said local peace and order councils need to implement security measures to ensure safety of their respective residents as police and military units prepare to respond to any contingency.

Proyektong tulay ng PAMANA-OPAPP, pinasinayaan sa Basud, Camarines Norte

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 19): Proyektong tulay ng PAMANA-OPAPP, pinasinayaan sa Basud, Camarines Norte

Pinasinayaan ang tulay ng barangay Caayunan sa bayan ng Basud sa isinagawang ribbon cutting and turn-over of Caayunan Bridge Project cum Multi-Services and Peace Caravan kamakailan dito.
Pinangunahan ito ni Asst. Secretary Rolando B. Asuncion ng Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) kasama sina Gobernador Edgardo A. Tallado, Board Member Jay Pimentel ng Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Mayor Adrian Davoco ng bayan ng Basud, Provincial Administrator Alvin Tallado, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Arnulfo Salagoste, Philippine Army (PA), Philippine National Police (PNP) at mga opisyal ng barangay.
Ito ay proyekto ng PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) ng Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) na ipinatutupad ng pamahalaang panlalawigan ng Camarines Norte.

Ayon kay Asst. Secretary Rolando B. Asuncion ng OPAPP, ang PAMANA ay programa ng OPAPP ay hindi lang layunin na paangatin ang kabuhayan ng mga mamamayan sa komunidad kundi kasabay ng pag-angat ng mga kabuhayan ay ang pagsusulong natin ng kapayapaan.

Aniya, habang ginagawa ang mga proyekto ay nararamdaman natin ang kahalagahan na dapat na maayos at mapayapa ang ating mga komunidad, at kung patuloy ang pag-aaway at hindi magtutuloy-tuloy ang kaunlaran.

Ayon pa kay Asuncion na kailangan rin na mayroong kapayapaan sa sarili at sa pamilya ganundin ang komunidad ay mayroong pagkakataon na ilabas kung ano ang kanilang kalagayan at dapat na nagkakaisa at nagtutulungan.

Dagdag pa niya na hangad ng PAMANA ang kaunlaran para sa mga komunidad at isang mataas na antas sa pagsusulong ng kapayapaan at mapalakas ang kakayahan ng mga barangay, lokal na pamahalaan at lalawigan na magawa nila ng maayos ang kanilang mga gawain.

Ang OPAPP ay may hangarin na makamit na makita ang isang mapayapang komunidad na may kakayahan na sabihin na ayaw na ng karahasan o kaguluhan at nais ng mapayapang buhay ayon pa rin kay Asuncion.

Ayon kay Gobernador Tallado, ang ilang mga kalsada sa mga barangay ng bayan ng Basud ay madali na ring mapapakonkreto sa tulong ng OPAPP at may nakalaan na proyekto para dito na may pondong P53 milyon at madali na rin itong umpisan.

Sa pahayag naman ni Mayor Davoco, ang bagong tulay ng Caayunan ay matagal ng hinahangad na magkaroon nito dahil kapag umuulan ay hindi sila makadaan dahil sa taas ng tubig at magbibigay rin itong oportunidad sa mga mag-aaral na makapunta sa paaralan kahit tag-ulan dahil hindi na nila mararanasan ang pagbaha.

Sinabi rin ni Barangay Kagawad Orlando Garido, noong panahon na wala pa silang tulay ay nahihirapan ang kanilang mga estudyante na nasa sekondarya dahil kapag dumating ang panahon ng tag-ulan ay hindi sila nakakapunta sa paaralan dahil sa baha ganundin ang mga sasakyan ay hindi na rin nakakatawid at maayos na rin s ngayon ang kanilang kalsada dahil sa proyektong farm-to-market road.

Sa panayam kay Janet Raro, punong-guro ng Caayunan Elementary School na napakaimportante ang ibinigay ng OPAPP sa barangay lalo na sa mga guro dahil mula pa sa ibang lugar ang mga nagtuturo sa paaralan dito at malaking tulong ito sa kanilang pagbibiyahe tuwing pupunta sa paaralan.

Dagdag pa niya na ligtas na makakarating ang mga estudyante sa paaralan hanggang sa pag-uwi, katulad ng dati ay inaabutan sila sa loob ng klase at hindi rin nakakapasok dulot ng baha at malaking obligasyon rin ito sa mga guro dahil hindi makakauwi ang mga mag-aaral kung hindi sila susunduin ng kanilang mga magulang.

Ayon kay Henry Rada, 56 taong gulang, may asawa at siyam na anak at Jeanette Abierta, 52 taong gulang, may asawa at apat na anak na kapwa magsasaka ng niyog at pinya na maayos na silang nakakatawid at malaking tulong ito dahil madali na nilang nailalabas ang kanilang mga produkto.

Ang mag-aaral na si kay Jimboy Abo na nasa ika-anim na baitang ng naturang paaralan na nagsasabi na hindi na siya mahihirapan at ang kanyang mga kamag-aral at kaibigan dahil maayos silang makakatawid kahit pa panahon ng tag-ulan.

Samantala, kaalinsabay rin nito ang peace education ng OPAPP kung saan ang mga bata ay iminulat sa konsepto ng kapayapaan at ang mga ina naman sa karapatan ng mga kababaihan at ang mapayapang komunidad.

Matapos ang pagpapasinaya ay isinagawa ang Multi-Services Caravan ng pamahalaang panlalawigan na nagbigay serbisyo sa pamamagitan ng libreng medikal at dental, libreng gupit, cosmetology, pamimigay ng salamin sa mata, pamamahagi ng mga bitamina at gamot ganundin ang iba pang serbisyo ng caravan.

Ang naturang tulay ay may sukat na 4x40 metro kuwadro na may pondong P20 milyon mula sa OPAPP-PAMANA sa ilalim ng proyektong Construction of Concrete Bridge ng Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

DSWD execs join Pres. Duterte in Batangas to visit family of soldier killed in Bohol encounter

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 19): DSWD execs join Pres. Duterte in Batangas to visit family of soldier killed in Bohol encounter

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary for Special Concerns, Jose Antonio Hernandez, together with Field Office (FO) CALABARZON Regional Director Leticia T. Diokno, joined President Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier today to give comfort and assurances of the government's support to the family of slain 2Lt. Estelito Saldua, Jr.

The 23-year-old soldier from Barangay Mojon Tampoy in San Jose, Batangas was killed-in-action (KIA) while conducting combat operations against members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Inabanga, Bohol on April 11.

Dir. Diokno informed DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo that DSWD-FO CALABARZON has provided the bereaved family with burial assistance and food subsidy in the amount of P10,000. The FO will also provide educational assistance to the soldier’s younger siblings.

“I spoke with the parents of 2Lt. Saldua and I have learned that he was the breadwinner of his family. He was the major source of family support, especially on the education of his two younger siblings, who will become 4th Year Bachelor of Science in Education (BSEd) and Senior High School students this coming school year,” Dir. Diokno shared.

The FO will also include the soldier’s sister to the Government Internship Program (GIP) of the DSWD this summer to be deployed right in the Municipality of San Jose. She will work with the Field Office’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) team.

Moreover, Dir. Diokno said that the FO would also coordinate with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Education (DepEd) for other services that they need. The regional directors of DILG and DepED were also present during the visit.

“The mother of 2Lt. Saldua who is selling vegetable and other food products will be assessed for livelihood assistance, while his father is being offered a job by DILG on a job-order basis, subject to renewal after six months. Meanwhile, his sister who is taking up BSEd will be offered a job at DepEd once she completes her course,” Dir. Diokno added.

For his part, Asec. Hernandez said, “The DSWD is offering its deepest sympathy to the bereaved family of 2Lt. Saldua and the families of other soldiers killed-in-action in Bohol who defended the province against the threat of terrorism. The bravery and heroism of these soldiers will forever be engraved in our hearts. The DSWD will provide all the assistance it can to the bereaved families of the soldiers to help them cope with their loss.”

On April 11, government troops clashed with suspected members of the bandit group Abu Sayyaf as the group tried to attack Sitio Ilaya, in the remote village of Napo in Inabanga town. The incident killed ten people, including four soldiers and six members of the terrorist group; and displaced hundreds of residents.

The military continues to hunt for other members of Abu Sayyaf who escaped the encounter.

Also present during the visit were Presidential Adviser for Southern Tagalog, Dennis Hernandez, and Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas.

AFP welcomes President Duterte offer of PHP1-M for info on arrest of remaining ASGs in Bohol

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): AFP welcomes President Duterte offer of PHP1-M for info on arrest of remaining ASGs in Bohol

President Rodrigo Duterte's willingness to give PHP1 million cash reward to anyone who can pinpoint the exact location and whereabouts of the remaining Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits in Bohol will help expedite the neutralization of these brigands.

This was disclosed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla in an interview Wednesday.

In the same vein, the military official expressed its thanks to the Chief Executive and called the reward announcement a welcome move.

"The offer of the President was a welcome move and we thank the Commander-in-Chief for this. Hopefully, this will encourage informants and other concerned citizens to help expedite the arrests of these bandits," Padilla said.

As of this posting, around five to seven ASG stragglers are believed to be roaming in Bohol.

Military patrols are still ongoing in a bid to arrest and neutralize these stragglers.

These are the survivors out of the party of 11 led by ASG sub-leader Muanmar Askali alias "Abu Rami" who were intercepted by military forces at Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Napo, Inabanga town last April 11.

In the clash, Askali and three other bandits were killed along with three soldiers and a police officer.

Two elderly civilians were reported killed in the firefight.

The AFP earlier said Askali's group was out to kidnap local and foreign tourists in the province as part of their fund raising efforts.

NPA leader killed in encounter in Oas, Albay

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): NPA leader killed in encounter in Oas, Albay

A suspected New People’s Army (NPA) leader operating in Albay province was killed in an encounter with government troops in a mountainous area in Oas, Albay Wednesday morning, said a sketchy report that reached Camp Simeon Ola here, the headquarters of the Police Regional Office in Bicol.

The report, which was confirmed by Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, chief of the investigation division of Albay Provincial Police Office (PPO), said the clash occurred in Barangay (village) Talisay, Oas town at 6:30 a.m.

He said the report has reached the Albay PPO, which was asked to help erect chokepoints in the province against the fleeing rebels, as government troops are still conducting hot pursuit operations.

According to the report, troops from Bravo Company of the 83rd Infantry Batallion and 97th Military Intelligence Company led by a certain "1st Lt. Catuday" were on combat patrol when they encountered around five NPA guerrillas operating in the area.

The NPA leader slain in the 10-minute encounter between the Army troops and communist rebels, was identified as Deomides Apiniado alias Ka Delio. The four other rebels had escaped towards the hinterland portions of Talisay.

Apiniado is allegedly a unit commander of a section of the NPA rebels operating in the hinterland areas of the towns of Guinobatan, Ligao, Oas, Pio Duran, Polangui and Libon.

A .45-caliber pistol, hand grenade, anti-government documents and some personal belongings were recovered from the slain NPA leader.

No one was hurt from among the government troops.

Iligan City beefs up firepower to counter terror threat

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): Iligan City beefs up firepower to counter terror threat

The City of Iligan, 88 kilometers west of here, is beefing up the armament of the local police to boost their capability to counter terror threats from neighboring areas.

“The City Council of Iligan has approved the acquisition of two armored personnel carriers (APC), five 60 caliber light machine guns, and one 50 caliber Barret (a high-powered sniper weapon with an effective range of 1,000 meters),” Jo Pantoja, the city’s spokesperson, said Wednesday.

In a telephone interview, Pantoja told the Philippine News Agency that the items would likely be delivered by mid-year after the Department of National Defense (DND) gave the city government the clearance to acquire the military asset.

Aside from the APCs and the high-powered weapons, the city government has also approved the purchase of a Helicopter that would conduct regular aerial patrol in the borders and the outskirts of the city, Pantoja said.

He said that the helicopter is expected to be delivered early next year as the DND and the city government exchanged notes on who and how the helicopter is going to be maintained.

Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia has been using his approved PHP 70 million “peace and order fund” to acquire the war materiel to beef up the capability of the local police in the fight against all forms of criminality, Pantoja said.

According to Pantoja, the local police in Iligan City has a fleet of 18 newly acquired patrol cars that conduct regular patrol around the city.

Last February, a carnapped pickup vehicle from Cagayan De Oro City was recovered in the outskirts of Iligan City after the local police gave chase when alerted of the incident.

One suspect was killed and another arrested and was charged in court, Pantoja said, adding the suspects thought that only one police patrol vehicle was chasing them.

He said that the suspects were taken by surprise when they were cornered by about a dozen police patrol cars, before they could escape to the neighboring city of Marawi in Lanao Del Sur, 39 kilometers southwest of Iligan City.

“The carnapped pickup, a Ford Ranger, was recovered and turned over to the rightful owner,” he said.

Pantoja said that since the filing of charges against one of the suspects, the city government and the city’s Hall of Justice had been receiving threats of terror attacks by the Lanao del Sur-based Maute terror group.

While the city’s peace and order situation remains stable, the terror threats prompted the city government to be extravigilant and decided to acquire the war materiel to deter any attempts by criminal elements to sow terror in the city, Pantoja said.

Reds free 2 captive soldiers in Davao del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): Reds free 2 captive soldiers in Davao del Sur

The communist New People's Army (NPA) released in Matanao, Davao del Sur two soldiers they seized in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on February 2, police said.

Senior Inspector Bernard Francia, police chief of Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, said Sgt. Solaiman Calocop and Private First Class Samuel Garay, both from 39th Infantry Battalion, were turned over to the Columbio Crisis Management Committee headed by Columbio Mayor Amirh Musali.

Accompanying Musali were Francia, Columbio Vice Mayor Edwin Bermudez and the soldiers’ wives and other family members.

Also present during the release were Davao del Sur administrator Mark Cagas and Bishop Redeemer Yanez of peace advocacy group Sowing the Seeds of Peace.

“They said they were treated well while in captivity. They were in good health condition,” Francia told the Philippine News Agency.

The two infantrymen are now in the custody of their mother unit, the 39th Infantry Battalion, in Makilala, North Cotabato.

Francia said a brief statement was released by the families addressed to crisis committee members and Sultan Kudarat Gov. Pax Mangudadatu.

They also thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for raising the release of their loved ones as conditions for the resumption of peace negotiations.

Garay and Calocop were on board a motorbike heading to their detachment in Columbio when abducted by the NPAs.

Their firearms, mobile phones and other valuables were not turned over when they were released at around 10 a.m. today.

Last week, the 10th Infantry (Agila) Division, in a statement, criticized the NPA for their failure to release the soldiers. The 10th ID said these soldiers were forcibly taken at the height of the unilateral ceasefire.

Another NGCP tower in North Cotabato bombed

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): Another NGCP tower in North Cotabato bombed

Unidentified men set off an improvised explosive device on a steel tower of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Aleosan, North Cotabato on Tuesday night, an NGCP official said.

Milfrance Capulong, speaking for NGCP southern Mindanao, said the tower was not toppled.
The bomb attack did not affect power transmission in the area, she said.

It was the second bombing of NGCP tower this year in North Cotabato.

Citing a police report, Capulong said an improvised explosive device went off on Tuesday night at Tower 68 of the Kibawe-Kabacan 138KV line in Barangay Pagangan, Aleosan town.

She said repair works will commence once security in the area is assured. The same Tower 68 had been bombed last year.

Last March 1, unidentified men also tried but failed to topple NGCP Tower 138 of the Kibawe-Kabacan 138KV line located in Barangay Kayaga, Kabacan, North Cotabato.

The North Cotabato police and the Army's 602nd Infantry Brigade have launched manhunt operations against the suspects of the latest bomb attack.

In a statement, the NGCP appealed to the public to help secure NGCP lines to prevent power outages and inconvenience to the locals.

Due to the series of bombings of steel towers last year in this town, the local government of Aleosan and the police had put up bamboo perimeter fences on 10 of 17 electric transmission towers in the town.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Last year, at least 17 steel towers were destroyed across Mindanao due to bombings, which inconvenienced power consumers in the region.

The outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and extortion groups were blamed for the bombings.

2 NPAs in Bukidnon surrender with 4 firearms

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): 2 NPAs in Bukidnon surrender with 4 firearms

Two combatants of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Bukidnon surrendered to the Army’s 8th Infantry Brigade in Impasug-ong, Malaybalay, bringing with them four firearms, a belated Army report said Wednesday.

Lt. Erwin P. Bugarin, spokesperson of the Impasug-ong-based 8IB, did not identify the surrendered NPAs, but said they underwent processing in order to avail the livelihood assistance under the government's Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

The NPA rebels surrendered on Easter Sunday, bringing with them two high-powered assault rifles and two short weapons, Bugarin said.

During the debriefing, the NPA rebels revealed they surrendered because of the hardship in the mountains and that they were disenchanted with the NPA leadership’s empty promises, Bugarin said.

He said that aside from starvation, the NPA rebels also surrendered because they wanted to enjoy a peaceful life together with their loved ones and families.

Bugarin said the NPA surenderees would participate in the 8IB's “arms to farm” program in order to rehabilitate and equipped them with basic livelihood tools and skills.

He said that the “arms to farm” program is a "sustainable program of the government intended" to make former rebels have a better life in mainstream society.

Westmincom advises sailors to be always vigilant

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): Westmincom advises sailors to be always vigilant

Sailors of merchant vessels plying the seas off Western Mindanao should be vigilant to protect themselves from piracy and terrorist attacks.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, on Wednesday issued the advice to merchant sailors in a bid to reduce the atrocities committed at sea by lawless groups.

“Our sailors plying these waters [in Western Mindanao] should be vigilant all the time since these threat groups will be trying to hijack vessels and conduct atrocities,” Galvez said.

“It is only when all of us will do our share of fighting this common enemy that we will surely defeat and disallow the bandits to continue sowing fear and terror in our seas and our communities,” Galvez added.

On Tuesday, troops aboard patrol gunboats and helicopters foiled a hijack attempt on cargo vessel M/V Anabelle, which was manned by 21 crewmen, off Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

The crew of M/V Anabelle sent distress calls when they noticed that gunmen aboard three motorboats were attempting to board their ship en route to this city.

The gunmen sped off upon sensing the arrival of the Navy ships and Air Force helicopters.

“Our naval assets are ready to render the necessary assistance to deter hijacking and abduction at the seas,” Rear Adm. Rene Medina, Naval Forces Western Mindanao commander, said.

Tuesday’s incident was the second hijacking attempt the troops have thwarted.

The first was on February 22, where Navy ships foiled the attempt of suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits to hijack M/V Dong Hae Star off Tawi-Tawi province.

The bandits immediately aborted their plan upon sensing the arrival of Naval ships and helicopters.

AFP more than able to secure prospective PHL nuclear facilities

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): AFP more than able to secure prospective PHL nuclear facilities

Should the Philippines restart its nuclear power program in a bid to achieve energy sufficiency, the military is more than ready and capable to secure the sensitive infrastructure.

"Yes, the AFP is capable of securing our key facilities and critical infrastructures if tasked to do so," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said when asked if the military is capable of securing such facilities from various threats.

Earlier, Department of Energy (DOE) undersecretary Jess Posadas stressed the importance of nuclear security as among the 19 infrastructure issues that need to be prioritized by countries embarking on a nuclear power program.

He made the statement at the Seminar on Security of Radioactive Sources went underway Monday to kick off the 7th Annual Meeting of Nuclear Energy Cooperation Subsector Network (NEC-SSN).

The seminar, held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, aims to reaffirm the importance of international and regional cooperation in nuclear security, and promote ASEAN member states’ enhancement of security of radioactive sources.

The seminar was jointly organized by the ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE) and the Integrated Support Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Safety (ISCN) of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), with the Philippines as host.

The delegates to the meet include representatives of other ASEAN member states (Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as members of the Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization (NEPIO) from the Philippine nuclear network, such as the DOE, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), the National Power Corp., the UP National Engineering Center (NEC) and other stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

The 7th NEC-SSN meeting and its associated events is in line with the Philippine hosting of the 50th Founding Anniversary of the ASEAN.

Russian guided-missile cruiser Varyag, tanker to visit PHL

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): Russian guided-missile cruiser Varyag, tanker to visit PHL

In line with ongoing efforts to beef up Philippine and Russia defense cooperation, two Russian naval vessels, one the guided-missile cruiser Varyag, will be arriving at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila Thursday for a four-day goodwill visit.

Their visit is expected to last until April 23.

Capt. Lued Lincuna, Navy spokesperson, said the Varyag will be accompanied by the large sea tanker Pechenga,.

Both ships are assigned to the Russian Pacific Fleet.

The Varyag is the third ship of the Slava-class of guided-missile cruisers built for the Soviet Navy now serving the Russian Navy.

She was launched in July 1983 and commissioned on Oct. 16, 1989 and presently commanded by Capt. Alexsei U. Ulyanenko.

Varyag has a displacement of 11,490 tons and has length of 611.5 feet and a draft of 27.6 feet.

The ship's propulsion system consists of four COGOG gas turbines, with two shafts giving it a top speed of 32 knots and a range of 10,000 nautical miles.

It is armed with a variety of anti-ship, anti-aircraft and anti-submarines missiles and gun systems.

PHL beefs up security preparations for ASEAN meetings

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): PHL beefs up security preparations for ASEAN meetings

Due to recent events, the Philippines has beefed up security preparations in Bohol, where an ASEAN trade meeting is underway, and in Manila ahead of the 30th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings which will be held from April 26 to 29, an official said Wednesday.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr, ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council (NOC) Director-General for Operations, said security has always been the top priority of organizers given the participation of heads of states and other top government officials in the various meetings and summits throughout the year.

“Philippine hosting of ASEAN in 2017 is a total number 137 meetings, two summits, 17 ministerial meetings, 42 senior officials meetings, and 76 technical working group meetings,” Paynor said.

But due to the recent incident in Bohol, security preparations has become a special concern even among delegates.

Last week, suspected Abu Sayyaf members engaged government troopers in a gunfight in Inabanga town that resulted to the killing of six suspected members of the bandit group, three soldiers, and one policeman.

The area is some 71 kilometers from the capital Tagbilaran City and the adjoining Panglao Island where ASEAN traders are attending the Intercessional Regional Economic Partnership Trade Negotiating Committee from April 19 to 21.

“When the incidents unfolded last week, we, of course, had an emergency meeting and as part of the NOC, we have a Committee on Security and Disaster Preparedness. So they went to Bohol, I did go also and we had a brief meeting,” Paynor said.

He said the Security Committee felt that the situation has been contained and therefore, the meeting should go on adding that “it was natural, of course, for some of the Embassies to ask us our plans.”

“We have, of course, alternate plans and that meeting would have been held here in Manila had it been necessary to do so. But we always say we will not be coerced or held hostage by these actions. But at the same time, we need to be sure that we can assure the safety of the delegates. So as of now, the meeting is a go,” Paynor said.

As for the upcoming leaders’ summit in Manila, the official said that their number one priority is to have a sense zero-incident type of meeting.

“It’s very difficult to prepare for something that you are not really totally and fully aware of. So we try as much as we can to hardened venues... in our security preparations, keeping in mind also the President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive that we should not hamper or hinder the normal flow of daily activities here in the Metro Manila area,” he said.

“So we’re doing all that and because of this most recent incident, we are beefing up our security elements,” Paynor said.

The April and November summits will be particularly heavy in terms of security.

The April 29 summit to be attended by leaders of all 10 ASEAN member-states.

Meanwhile, the November summit will be attended by over 22 VIPs -- all 10 ASEAN states plus their dialogue partners, the heads of state or heads of government of the United States, Russia, India, China, Japan, Korea, European Union, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and East Timor, and the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Paynor said that they expect 100 percent attendance in these sort of multilateral meetings.

He said that even US President Donald Trump is expected to attend.

“As of now, President Trump for instance, when President Duterte called him up to congratulate him, had already indicated that he was coming in November. So at least verbally he said he was coming. I am almost sure that the nine other ASEAN member states will also be coming back in November,” he said.

“The usual dialogue partners -- Japan, Korea -- China, Japan, Korea, I am sure, Australia and New Zealand, they have never missed any of these meetings. So there will be one or two who may not be able to come but this is because of let say internal issues with their individual countries,” Paynor said.

PHL expects framework on Code of Conduct in WPS concluded during chairmanship year -- DFA

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): PHL expects framework on Code of Conduct in WPS concluded during chairmanship year -- DFA

Optimism is high that a framework on the Code of Conduct on the West Philippine Sea will be completed during the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.

“As President Rodrigo Duterte and (DFA) Secretary (Enrique) Manalo have mentioned a few times, we are hopeful that we will have a framework on the Code of Conduct within our chairmanship year,” acting DFA spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said during a Palace briefing.

“First and foremost, we are more hopeful now than we were maybe a year or two years ago that we would have significant progress and there’s a commitment from ASEAN and China to complete the framework, in fact, by middle of this year,” Bolivar said.

He likewise pointed out that there had already been two previous meetings of the Joint Working Group to discuss the framework -- in Bali, Indonesia and in Siem Reap, Cambodia -- and said that there will be succeeding meetings all throughout the year.

“So we hope that ASEAN and China will make more significant progress. There has been increasing level of trust and confidence among the parties. And we are very hopeful that we will complete the framework by 2017,” Bolivar said.

As to the how the Philippines will tackle the maritime row given the UN tribunal ruling on the West Philippine Sea, Bolivar said the Philippine position is well known.

“The President has stated on numerous occasions that the primary consideration for his foreign engagements is the national interest. Going into this and other negotiations, the primary consideration is the national interest and the President has clearly enunciated the national interest on several occasions,” the DFA official said.

“Well, of course, the ruling is there, it is part of international jurisprudence on maritime zones. And definitely that’s always in our minds,” Bolivar said.

Suspected ASG killed, 34 others bagged in law enforcement ops in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): Suspected ASG killed, 34 others bagged in law enforcement ops in Sulu

Fulfilling their law enforcement role, troopers from the Joint Task Force Sulu have shot and killed a suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandit and arrested 34 other drug suspects in a joint operation with police in Patikul Wednesday early morning.

This took place 4 a.m., according to Joint Task Force Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.

Troops from the 45th Infantry Battalion conducted the operation at Barangay Danag, of the above-mentioned town.

Sobejana said his men were aiding local police officers in the serving of search and arrest warrants against a known drug enclave in the area when a short firefight took place, killing a suspected ASG bandit and captured of 34 suspects, of which 33 are male and one female.

A trooper identified as one Cpl. Maramat was hit in the gallbladder in this 15 minute encounter, he added.

The former is now in stable condition while the slain bandit was identified as Jah Adul.

Also recovered were an M-16 automatic rifle, three .45 caliber pistols, assorted drug paraphernalias and three large heat-sealed satchets containing suspected shabu along with five grenades.