Saturday, April 22, 2017

Army, jihadists clash anew in Lanao Sur

From the Manila Times (Apr 22): Army, jihadists clash anew in Lanao Sur

Government forces and jihadists aligned with the notorious Islamic State (IS) clashed anew in Lanao del Sur before dawn on Saturday in Piagapo town near the camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Zamboanga-based Western Mindanao Command (WestMincom), confirmed the clashes but did not provide further details about the “ongoing engagement.”

She said they were still identifying the “armed group” that clashed with the troopers.

The Manila Times’ sources from the intelligence communities said the encounter occurred at around 3 a.m. when the military, using air strikes, bombed a site in the village of Gakap.

The sources said a local group of militants, jihadists who have pledged allegiance to the IS and known to authorities as the Maute group, converged in the town recently.

The militants were joined by non-Maranaos, including Maguindanaoans, Tausugs and “Balik-Islam” or Muslim converts who went to the area for hijra or migration in what they call the “land of jihad,” the sources said.

It was not immediately known whether the military was alerted of their presence in the area, but the sources said efforts were made by civilians, local leaders and the MILF to ask the jihadists to leave town.
The MILF rebels, who have signed peace accords with the government, had disowned members involved in the Maute group’s activities.

Hundreds of families in Gakap and other nearby villages were displaced by the recent firefight.

The relief team of Lanao del Sur and other humanitarian organizations dispatched groups to attend to the needs of the evacuees.

Last month, the military clashed with the same group in Ragayan, Poona-Bayabao. A detachment was installed in the area following last year’s firefights in Butig, which was briefly taken over by the jihadists.

Cops recover motorbike used in Maguindanao town mosque bombing

From the Sun Star-Davao (Apr 23): Cops recover motorbike used in Maguindanao town mosque bombing
Police in Maguindanao recovered a motorbike used by two men, who lobbed grenades at the Talayan mosque Friday noon, April 21.

Eight persons, including Mayor Nathaniel Midtimbang of Datu Anggal Midtimbang town, his father, former mayor Kagi Midtimbang and six others, were hurt in the blast as they emerged from a noon prayer.

The Regional Darul Ifta (Islamic House of Opinion) condemned the terror attack while worshippers were leaving the Mosque premises after the Friday congregational prayer.

“We call upon the authorities to investigate to ascertain the motive and to arrest the perpetrators,” the Darul Ifta said in a statement.

Maguindanao Police Director Agustin Tello, said police are determining the owner of the motorbike.

Tello said the attackers fled on two motorcycles, one of which was recovered later along the national highway.

The elder Midtimbang sustained shrapnel wounds in both legs and was airlifted, along with his son Mayor Nathaniel to Davao City for further medical treatment.

Police said the other grenade failed to explode and was properly defused by army bomb experts.

The attackers abandoned the motorbike at the highway and boarded a waiting white Toyota Innova with no license plates, said residents who ran after them.

Talayan has been subjected to grenade and improvised bomb attacks in recent years after it hosted a Peace Summit denouncing extremism in town.

Police eyed the involvement of religious fanatics who attended extremism and jihadist talks by suspected foreign terrorists in Maguindanao.

Tello said also considered persons of interests were members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters operating in Talayan and nearby towns.

Maguindanao clans end 20-year conflict

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 22): Maguindanao clans end 20-year conflict

Warring clans in Maguindanao province ended two decades of armed hostilities involving family members by signing a peace pact in an Army camp in Sultan Kudarat province last week.

The settlement of “rido” (clan war) and reconciliation of the Balindong and Montaner clans at the Army’s 603rd infantry brigade headquarters came after years of efforts to convince the clans’ elders to settle their misunderstanding “for the sake of their children.”

Col. Jesus Sarsagat, 603rd brigade commander, and Lt. Col. Ruben Aquino, 6th Infantry Battalion commander, initiated the negotiations early this year until the families agreed to forge peace.

The animosity involving the clans was triggered by misunderstanding over politics and other personal issues, reports said.

More than two dozen supporters and family members from both clans had died in sporadic clashes that spanned 20 years.

Military, terror groups engage in gun battle in Lanao del Sur

From ABS-CBN (Apr 22): Military, terror groups engage in gun battle in Lanao del Sur

Military forces engaged joint members of the Maute and the Abu Sayyaf groups in a gun battle in Barangay Gakap, Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur on Saturday morning.

No casualties were reported as of posting time.

The firefight was the result of continuous military operations against the terrorists, the army said.

Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herera, Tabak 1st Division spokesperson, confirmed that the Maute and Abu Sayyaf have joined forces as both groups are historically allies.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines used airstrikes to overwhelm the two groups.

Herera said Joint Task Force Kampilan, led by Brigadier Generals Joselito Bautista and Nixon Fortes, has been conducting operations to contain the terrorists in the area, adding that the military is following directives from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Herera said they are also confirming whether the Abu Sayyaf is still led by Isnilon Hapilon, who was first reported killed in Butig 2 months ago.

The military has also secured vital installations that may be targeted by the terrorist group to divert the authorities' attention.

The local government unit has evacuated about 200 families.

'Collusion' between Abu, NPAs eyed

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 22): 'Collusion' between Abu, NPAs eyed

Navy Capt. George Ibarra, Task Force Deter commander, theorized that Abu Sayyaf Group bandits may be talking with the New People's Army in a bid to pursue their mission to kidnap prominent personalities in the Visayas.

Ibarra does not discount the possibility of a situation where NPA rebels will do the kidnapping and then sell their victims to the ASG, who will in turn demand for millions of pesos in ransom money from the families of their victims.

Ibarra is hoping the situation will not reach to this point while the task force is validating and processing intelligence information about sightings of armed individuals in parts of Sta. Catalina.

Gov. Roel Degamo was told that the armed individuals, who were sighted in Fatima and Omanod, Sta. Catalina, are NPA rebels who fled Bohol after the encounter, and on their way to Negros Occidental through Payaw-payawan.

Degamo stressed during a meeting yesterday with coastal barangay captains from Basay to Manjuyod, including their mayors, that the ASG threat is not only the concern of the governor, the mayor or the law enforcers, but for everybody to unite so the province will be sealed from this group of terrorists.

Lorenzana to Gina Lopez: Ask your NPA friends to 'lay down their arms'

From Rappler (Apr 22): Lorenzana to Gina Lopez: Ask your NPA friends to 'lay down their arms'

The defense department is still awaiting official communication on how it can help the DENR establish E3 (ecological, economic, and educational) zones across the country

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Saturday, April 22, urged Environment Secretary Gina Lopez to encourage her friends from the New People's Army (NPA) to "lay down their arms, stop all their criminal and terroristic activities, and become legitimate citizens of the Philippines."

"Kung gusto talaga tumulong ng CPP-NPA, bitawan na nila ang kanilang mga armas, itigil ang extortion, at magbalik-loob na sa lipunan," Lorenzana said on Saturday. (If the CPP-NPA really wants to help, they should lay down their arms, stop extortion, and return to society.)

His statement comes after Lopez was quoted this week as saying she already asked President Rodrigo Duterte if she can work with the NPA, whom she "likes."

According to an Inquirer report, the environment secretary plans to develop Agusan del Sur into an E3 (ecological, economic, and educational) zone.

In August 2016, Lopez said addressing social injustice is needed to bring peace to Mindanao.

Back then, she said she considered the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and former NPA members she had met as "really good people" who are, in fact, "better than some businessmen" who "just want to rape the country."

Lorenzana on Saturday commended Lopez for her commitment to protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development in the country.

He said the Department of National Defense is still awaiting official communication on how it can help the Department of Environment and Natural Resources establish the E3 zones across the country.

"The Department of National Defense welcomes all initiatives that will help uplift the lives of our countrymen and bring livelihood to our communities. In fact, the main goal of our Philippine Defense Transformation Roadmap 2028 is the attainment of a more credible defense posture that will lead to national development,” Lorenzana added.

Duterte in February scrapped the peace talks after the NPA halted its ceasefire, but he changed his mind and the camps agreed to reopen negotiations in March. (READ: PH, NDF reopen talks after bitter impasse)

Cop hurt in Masbate blast

From the Cebu Daily News (Apr 22): Cop hurt in Masbate blast

A policeman was wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by communist rebels hit a unit of local police which was on its way to respond to a shooting incident in Uson town in Masbate province on Friday, police said yesterday.

Police Officer 1 Celito Amistad suffered shrapnel wounds when the IED exploded on the side of the road in Barangay Badling, Uson, at around 4 a.m.

After the explosion, the nine-man police team was engaged in a 20-minute firefight by more or less 80 suspected members of the New People’s Army, SPO4 Manny Marcaida, the team leader, said.

On edge in Inabanga

From the Sun Star-Cebu (Apr 23): On edge in Inabanga


Army soldiers and police reinforcements take shelter in one of the houses in Barangay Napo in Inabanga town, Bohol in the middle of an air strike directed at Abu Sayyaf fighters. Residents were evacuated and told to stay away from their homes at night. (SunStar Photo/Alex Badayos)

A SOLDIER, whose tired arms clutched a high-powered rifle, kept nodding gently in what seemed to be a troubled sleep.
A six-year-old child, looking silently in the glare of the hot afternoon, gazed at the mountains where her village sat, still impassable.
These were among the scenes that greeted anyone brave enough to be in that moment in Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Napo, Inabanga, Bohol when government forces clashed with Abu Sayyaf members during the Holy Week.
“When we heard about the encounter, we felt excited. But we cleared our heads to know our enemy, to catch them, and to protect the residents,” a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) told SunStar Cebu.
 Local police, who had just reached home after being de-ployed in Cebu City for international meetings, were sent to Inabanga as reinforcements to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Near the abandoned houses in Ilaya, one could hear the chirping of birds and noises of hungry farm animals, left in a hurry when the gunfire started.
 “Pagkadungog namos nirakrakay, nanagan nami (When we heard the gunshots, we ran),” said Lauriana Jamil. She showed a wound that marked her knee after she fell on the ground while fleeing.
Supt. Mark Solero, chief of the Regional Health Service who was tasked to check on the evacuees, said that the Police Regional Office 7 will send, apart from a doctor, a psychologist who can help the local government’s social workers de-brief the residents stressed by the encounter.
“We are concerned about the evacuees in case they have to stay longer here in the center. (We’re concerned) especially about the psychological aspect,” he said while visiting the Southern Inabanga National High School, one of the 12 evacuation centers.
Children suffering from fever and stomach aches worried parents. “They were traumatized by the bullets and bombs. They don’t belong in our land,” said Rosemarie dela Torre said.
As a way to flush out the bandits, the Air Force dropped bombs on part of Inabanga town.
The military advised the residents to go back to their houses in the morning to feed their animals but not to linger until nighttime. “Because that is when the Abu Sayyaf move,” a military official said.
After the clash, the whole stretch of the Inabanga River was dotted by soldiers and local police, who searched for eight other Abu Sayyaf fighters, who were heavily armed with guns made in the United States.
“Ma’am, if you value your life, please don’t cross the river,” a soldier called out when journalists tried to go to the scene where three members of the Abu Sayyaf, including Abu Rami, lay dead. Rami was described as the group’s leader.
Two elderly residents were among those killed, and an investigation is ongoing to find out whether they had helped the ASG or were caught in the crossfire.
Three military officials and a policeman were killed in the first encounter last Holy Week. (As of 11 last night, at least four persons were reported killed in another clash, this time in Clarin town.)
Despite the encounter in Inabanga, a conference of Southeast Asian officials took place without any incident last week in Panglao, Bohol Province’s popular resort town.
For now, government troops are still tracking down the ASG starting from Sitio Ilaya where they docked their boats last April 11, straight to Barangay Napo where the encounter happened.
 The Abu Sayyaf were situated in Canlinte, surrounded by tall coconut trees and a lush forest.
“They are constantly moving around Inabanga but we as-sure the public that they are contained,” the military official said.
 Wounded, they sought refuge in an abandoned house in Barangay Lumboy after the residents had evacuated.
 “They used some of my medicines and their blood was all over my backyard,” Silvestre Millares said.
 After he alerted the Army, troops bringing a K-9 unit followed the scent of the blood leading to Cawayan and final-ly to Lonoy Cainsican, where Joselito Melloria, the guide, had reportedly made contact with a friend. (Melloria was among those killed in yesterday’s encounter in Clarin, a town near Inabanga.)
A few meters from his house was another suspected Abu Sayyaf member, buried in a shallow grave.
Lonay Cainsican also has two caves known to be passable, although dangerous, which lead all the way to Lonoy Roma. The fighters were suspected to have passed through these caves and were reportedly sighted in Dagohoy by some residents.
Their last known location was in Ilihan.
 “Maynta’g madakpan na sila para mahusay na ang among pamuyo (I hope they will get caught soon so that we can go back to our lives),” Jamil said, as she her child closer. “Pero di na gud mausab ilang gibuhat diri sa Bohol (But what they did to Bohol will never change),” she added.

Troops clash with 2 Abu Sayyaf members in Bohol

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 22): Troops clash with 2 Abu Sayyaf members in Bohol
The body of Abu Sayyaf leader Joselito Melloria has been recovered inside a cave in Barangay Bacani, Clarin town, Bohol where the bandit group was believed to have stayed after they were pursued by government troops. -Leo udtohan, INQ

The body of Abu Sayyaf leader Joselito Melloria has been recovered inside a cave in Barangay Bacani, Clarin town, Bohol where the bandit group was believed to have stayed after they were pursued by government troops. Photo by Leo Udtohan/INQUIRER VISAYAS
It was thanks to a habal habal (motorcycle for hire) driver that the police and the military learned of the presence of two Abu Sayyaf Group members in Clarin, the town adjacent to Inabanga in Bohol.

The two were among the eight fighters of the bandit group who managed to escape from government troops responding to a siege on April 11 that killed six of their comrades, according to Clarin deputy police chief SPO4 Romeo Petecio.

READ: Hunt on for Abu Sayyaf bandits in Bohol clash

As of this writing, the firefight in Clarin is still ongoing, with at least one of them was reported to have been killed.

Petecio, in an interview over dyLA Cebu, said the habal habal driver alerted the town police at around 7 a.m. that two disheveled men, both around 25 to 30 years old, rode his motorcycle in Barangay Bacani of the town.

Soldiers are hunting down the remaining six Abu Sayyaf members who have fled to Barangay Bacani, Clarin town, Bohol after their leader, Joselito Melloria and another member were killed. Photo by Leo Udtohan/INQUIRER VISAYAS
He said he immediately suspected that they could be some of the ASG remnants the police and military were hunting as they were speaking in mix dialects and smelled a lot as though they had not taken a bath in ages.

READ: Hunt for Abus in Bohol clash reaches Cebu island

The body of Abu Sayyaf leader Joselito Melloria has been recovered by the military following a clash in Barangay Bacani, Clarin Bohol on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Provincial Administrator Alfonso AE Damalerio

The two men asked to be brought to the adjacent town of Tubigon because they wanted to buy bread. The driver then suggested that it would be better to buy the bread in the town center of Clarin since it was closer.

According to Petecio, the driver waited for the two men who bought around P400 worth of bread and brought them back to Bacani.

From there, the habal habal driver proceeded to the town police station and told them about the two men he drove to Bacani.

The Clarin police alerted the Bohol Provincial Police Office, which, in turn immediately coordinated with the military.

Abu Sayyaf deaths up to 3 in new Bohol battle with gov’t troops

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 22): Abu Sayyaf deaths up to 3 in new Bohol battle with gov’t troops

Map showing Clarin in Bohol

Map show Clarin town (shaded in red), where the clash took place, in Bohol. (Image from Google Maps)
CLARIN, Bohol — Three more members of Abu Sayyaf were killed in another battle with government troops who had been pursuing them since noon on Saturday (April 22).

The suspects were killed during the clash in the mountain village of Caboy in Clarin past 8 p.m., a military source said.

Caboy is at least 3 km from Barangay Bacani where government troops shot and killed Joselito Melloria, an Abu Sayyaf leader, while they were fleeing.

READ: Gov’t troops kill Abu leader in new clash with bandits in Bohol

One of the bandits was shot in the neck while two others were hit in the body.

The three bodies were retrieved from the clash site past 10 p.m. and brought to Clarin Funeral Homest.

Melloria is a native of Barangay Napo in nearby Inabanga town who left the village a few years back to marry a daughter of an Abu Sayyaf leader

He returned last April 10 with a group of 10 other Abu Sayyaf members. They were purportedly planning to set up a base from where they could conduct terror activities in nearby provinces and disrupt the ongoing Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Panglao town in Bohol.

The summit, however, ended on Saturday.

Four Abu Sayyaf members were earlier killed during the gunbattle in Barangay Napo, which lasted for about 24 hours and involved at least 10 airstrikes by the Philippine Air Force.

The government troops were still hunting down the remaining four other Abu Sayyaf members who fled with Melloria to Clarin. They are believed to have hidden inside a cave in the town’s Barangay Bacani.

The military had cordoned off the cave and the surrounding areas in an attempt to prevent the bandit group from escaping.

Authorities find the body of slain Abu Sayyaf leader Joselito Melloria following a clash in Barangay Bacani in Clarin, Bohol on Saturday, April 22, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Bohol provincial administrator ALFONSO A.E. DAMALERIO)

Bodies of the three Abu Sayyaf members killed in a clash in Clarin town, Bohol are brought to the funeral parlor for processing. Leo Udtohan, Inquirer Visayas

TINGNAN: Kweba sa Bohol kung saan umano nagtago ang mga Abu Sayyaf

From ABS-CBN (Apr 23): TINGNAN: Kweba sa Bohol kung saan umano nagtago ang mga Abu Sayyaf

Courtesy of Municipality of Inabanga

Sa maliit na kwebang ito sinasabing nagtago umano ang mga bandidong Abu Sayyaf sa Bohol.
Ito'y matatagpuan sa Sitio Lagsing, Barangay Bacani sa boundary ng mga bayan ng Clarin at Inabanga.
Natagpuan din sa labas ng kweba ang mga bote ng softdrinks, sako at tsinelas.

Unang inilabas sa publiko ang mga larawang ito sa Facebook page ng lokal na pamahalaan ng Inabanga.

Natagpuan 100 metro mula rito ang bangkay ni Joselito Melloria, tinaguriang sub-leader ng teroristang grupo.

Ayon kay Military Central Command chief Lieutenant General Oscar Lactao, napatay si Melloria bago makarating sa Inabanga kung saan nagkasagupa ang militar at Abu Sayyaf nitong nakaraang linggo.

China gravely concerned, dissatisfied with DND chief's visit to Pag-asa Island

From GMA News (Apr 22): China gravely concerned, dissatisfied with DND chief's visit to Pag-asa Island

China is gravely concerned and dissatisfied with the visit of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to the disputed Pag-asa Island on Friday.

"Gravely concerned about and dissatisfied with this, China has lodged representations with the Philippine side," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a press briefing on Friday.

Lu said the visit of Lorenzana and top military officials, including Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año, to Pag-asa Island "runs counter to the important consensus reached between the two leadership which is to properly deal with the South China Sea issue."

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), meanwhile, insisted in the statement that Pag-asa Island is part of Palawan.

"The Chinese have conveyed their sentiments. We have already stated our position that Pag-asa, and the larger Kalayaan Group, is a municipality of Palawan and that our visits there are part of the government mandate to ensure the safety, well being, livelihood and and personal security of our citizens there," the DFA said.

The disputed island near Palawan province is called Zhongye Dao by China. It belongs to the Spratly Group of Islands, called Nansha Islands by the Chinese.

During his visit on Friday to Pag-asa, the Defense chief said the Philippine government has allocated P1.6 billion for the development of the disputed island.

Lorenzana also announced that even President Rodrigo Duterte plans to stay overnight in the disputed island.

"We hope that the Philippine side could cherish the hard-won sound momentum of development the bilateral relations are experiencing, faithfully follow the consensus reached between the two leadership, maintain general peace and stability in the South China Sea, and promote the sound and steady development of China-Philippine relations," Lu said during the briefing.

During the visit, the Defense chief revealed that his aircraft was challenged by Chinese authorities four times while they were on their way to Pag-Asa Island.

He, however, clarified that it was a normal reaction from the Chinese authorities.

Former President Fidel Ramos, who had resigned as the Philippines' special envoy to China, said that the Philippines should ignore the incident.

During the briefing, Lu said that China and the Philippines have been "keeping good communication" to address maritime issues since Duterte's visit to their country last year.

China and the Philippines are scheduled to start bilateral talks on the South China Sea disputes in May.

NCRPO chief: No terror threat in Manila Asean Summit

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 23): NCRPO chief: No terror threat in Manila Asean Summit

There are no validated threats of terrorist attacks on the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Meetings to be held in Manila starting next week, a ranking Philippine National Police (PNP) official yesterday said.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde, however, assured the public that civilian security forces are not complacent in tracking down state enemies, especially Mindanao-based extremists.

The PNP has not received “any report of any imminent danger” connected to terrorism, he told an interview with state-run dzRB rdio.He added they continue to monitor “threat groups” from Metro Manila as well as certain areas in Mindanao.

Albayalde also said the NCRPO will get additional troops from nearby PNP regional offices to maintain order and security for the Asean summit.

“Starting Monday, about 41,000 uniformed personnel all from NCRPO will be deployed in major central areas. We have augmentation from the different regions, particularly in Regions I, II, III, IV-A and V,” he said.

Deputies are tasked to provide security for the summit delegates and as well as securing that no violence would spark in expected demonstrations by militant groups.

High profile personalities to arrive in the country this week include Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Sultan Hussein Bolkiah of Brunei. Representatives and ministers from other Asean states are also expected to join the regional event.

The 30th Asean Summit and Related Meetings will be held on April 26 to 29 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

The meeting comes days after the military and police foiled a suspected terror attack by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Bohol.

The Philippine hosting of Asean in 2017 is a total number of 137 meetings, two summits, 17 ministerial meetings, 42 senior officials meetings and 76 technical working group meetings.

The country’s hosting of the Asean will culminate on its leaders’ summit in November.

Prominent political and economic figures are expected to arrive that include US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) has ordered all military intelligence units to intensify their operations against the terrorists and their sympathizers in the country.

“In fulfillment of President Rodrigo Duterte’s to address that concern, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been directed to intensify its intelligence gathering activities on ISIS inspired groups and their supporters not only within our borders but also beyond,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

He added these efforts were inspired by the Chief Executive’s concern that after the illegal drug menace, terrorism has became the next greatest threat in the Philippines, citing stronger IS connections with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits and the Maute Group who are planning to conduct fresh atrocities against civilians in Mindanao.

Just recently, the AFP had conducted several hard-hitting operations against Abu leader Isnilon Hapilon, the professed IS leader in the Philippines in his Butig town, Lanao del Sur enclave, severely wounding the bandit chief apart from causing numerous casualties among his followers last January 26.

The wounded ASG leader is notorious for beheading captives, bombing population and business centers and other atrocities in various parts of Mindanao.

For the IS not to gain concrete foothold in the Philippines, Lorenzana has also instructed the country’s intelligence community to coordinate closely with the Asean counterparts.

20-year-old Abu Sayyaf member surrenders

From the Business World (Apr 21): 20-year-old Abu Sayyaf member surrenders

A LISTED member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) under top leader Furuji Indama surrendered to military troops in Basilan on April 19, the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) reported yesterday.

The ASG member was identified as Nasser “Sinbad” Sagap, a 20-year-old resident of Barangay Limbu Upas in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan.

He also surrendered his Caliber .30 rifle and ammunition.

As of yesterday, Mr. Sagap was undergoing a custodial debriefing by the troops of the 18th Infantry Batallion.

“This only manifests that our troops are already graining grounds with the combat operations launched by the units and the growing support of the local government and the people in Basilan. The Abu Sayyaf bandits are now compelled to leave their bailiwicks as we work closely with the local government and our partners to turn the strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf into a peaceful community,” said Lieutenant General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., WesMinCom commander.

Mr. Sagap is the 17th ASG member who surrendered since the start of the no let-up operation against the group in January this year. He is the 5th to surrender in Basilan.

MILF: BIAF Chief of Staff expresses grave concern on recent PNP raids of its members

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Apr 22): BIAF Chief of Staff expresses grave concern on recent PNP raids of its members

In a statement issued recently by the leadership of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIAF-MILF), Sammy Al Mansour, BIAF Chief of Staff viewed with grave concern and alarm the recent spate of operations conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) against legitimate officers and members of the BIAF in various places in the Bangsamoro Homeland.
Al Mansour said that while the GPH-MILF Peace Process is back on the political track, the occurrence of such PNP raids or operations cast a shadow of doubts and insecurity on the part of the BIAF rank-and-file even as its sends troubling signals to the political leadership of the MILF.

Disappointed on the recent spates of PNP operations, Al Mansour asked if such raids are concerted plan to sabotage the on-going peace process between the GPH and the MILF.

Al Mansour asserted that the GPH-MILF have various security protocols that were mutually agreed in order to prevent armed encounters such as the International Monitoring Tam (IMT), Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

“When coordination mechanisms were faithfully observed, peace and order was maintained on the ground. If not, as in the case of the Mamasapano encounter, armed clashes eventually happened and put as risk the gains of the peace process”, Al Mansosur said further in the statement.

“The MILF-BIAF reiterates its policy of keeping the primacy of the peace process. It is firm in its belief that the implementation of the negotiated political settlement, leading to the establishment of the Bangsamoro ministerial government is the best assurance of achieving lasting peace for all”, Al Mansour emphasized.

He strongly requested the GPH, particularly the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to look seriously and urgently into these alarming actions of the PNP, saying such operations might negatively affect the peace process.

He as well called on the relatives of the victims of those raids to avail of redress that can be offered by the established mechanisms.

MILF: Mindanao Trust Fund to be extended by 2 years

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Apr 22): Mindanao Trust Fund to be extended by 2 years

Proponents of the 11-year-old Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF), a multi-donor grant facility, have agreed to extend its duration by two more years, or until 2019, to sustain ongoing projects and to serve as a bridge between now and the planned launching of a bigger funding program.

At the supposed closing program for the MTF Tuesday, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza said the MTF extension is intended “to ensure that the projects would be sustained” as these are considered key to resolving peace concerns.

The amount for the extended MTF fund has yet to be determined, but Mara Warwick, country director of World Bank (WB), the MTF’s implementing agency, said they are now in discussions with previous and potential new donors.

“It is our commitment while the government is putting in place the bigger facility,” said Ms. Warwick.

After the two year period, the MTF will be replaced by the Bangsamoro Normalization Fund, according to Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan, Chair of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA).

The BDA, the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), serves as a conduit in the MTF implementation.

Mr. Dipatuan said some of the MTF projects “are not yet ripe to be abandoned.”

The WB and the European Union (WB) have assured continued support to Mindanao peace and development initiatives as the 11-year-old MTF Reconstruction and Development Program was formally closed in ceremonies held in Davao City last Tuesday.

In a press statement, the EU said a fresh P200-million fund for the next 18 months has been approved to support the peace process, including helping the government monitor the situation, diffuse tensions on the ground, and to create a more inclusive political platform that will bring together Mindanao’s diverse population.

“Peace is fundamental for economic development,” said EU Ambassador to the Philippines Fran Jessen.

The EU is the largest contributor to the MTF at P1.17 billion out of the P1.4 billion total funding.

Further, the EU “is developing a comprehensive peace and development programme to push for peace and development in Mindanao.”

In an interview with BusinessWorld in Davao earlier this year, Mr. Jessen said: “We believe this (assistance) is necessary, especially now when the peace initiatives have taken a better shape.”

Ms. Warwick also said the bank is planning new “supported programs for Mindanao to sustain efforts toward attaining peace and development, generating jobs, building strong institutions, and supporting social cohesion on the ground. So much needs to be done to address poverty and vulnerability in the Bangsamoro and Mindanao in general.”

Aside from the EU, other supporters of the WB-administered MTF are Sweden, Australia, Canada, the United States, New Zealand.

On the government’s part, Mr. Dureza said the MTF was also instrumental in building confidence between the government and the MILF whose communities have benefited from the implementation of the project.

“The Mindanao Trust Fund has helped a lot to improve the access of Bangsamoro communities to basic services such as clean water, roads, farming equipment and community centers,” said Mr. Dureza.

Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, MILF chair, said the project has been among the key instruments in the peace process as it helped the people in conflict-affected areas improve their lives.

“This is why we are thankful to the Philippine government and the international community for working with the MILF through programs like the Mindanao Trust Fund to make people in conflict-affected areas feel that the peace process is moving,” said Mr. Murad.

In the past 11 years, the MTF funded 573 infrastructure projects, livelihood and functional literacy programs in 315 conflict-affected communities across 75 municipalities in Mindanao, benefiting about 650,000 people, about half of them women.

DWDD: Sec. Lorenzana tiniyak na magsasampa ng protesta laban sa China

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Apr 21): Sec. Lorenzana tiniyak na magsasampa ng protesta laban sa China

del pagasa

Tiniyak ni Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana na magsasampa ng protesta ang Pilipinas laban sa China.

Ito’y kung mapatunayang totoo ang balitang hinaras ng chinese coast guard ang mga mangingisda mula bataan na lumaot sa pagkakaisa bank o union reef sa West Philippine Sea.

Una nang sinabi ni Lorenzana na kailangang magprotesta ng pilipinas kapag may ganitong uri ng insidente upang ipakitang pumapalag ang bansa at mapanindigan ang ating pagmamay ari sa mga teritoryo ng bansa.

Hinikayat naman ni AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año ang mga mangingisdang pilipino na magsumbong agad sa mga otoridad sakaling makaranas ng ganitong klaseng panghaharass sa karagatang sakop ng pilipinas.

Sa ngayon ay ipinag utos na ni ano sa nolcom ang pagsisiyasat sa insidente.

Makabubuti aniyang makuhanan mismo ng pahayag ang mga Pilipinong mangingisda na nakaranas ng umanoy pananakot na ito upang malinawan ang buong pangyayari at maipaabot sa dfa kung kinakailangan para agad na maaksyunan.

DWDD: TAGALOG NEWS | Chinese coast guard tinangkang paalisin ang aircrafts ng AFP

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Apr 21): TAGALOG NEWS | Chinese coast guard tinangkang paalisin ang aircrafts ng AFP

Sec. Delfin Lorenzana

Sec. Delfin Lorenzana

Tinangka ng Chinese coast guard na itaboy ang dalawang aircraft ng militar na nagtungo sa Pag-sa Island ngayong araw.

Ito ang kinumpirma ni Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sa harap ng pagbisita nito kasama si AFP Chief of Staff Gen Eduardo Año at iba pang opisyal ng militar, gayundin ng media, sakay ng isang c 295 at c 130 plane ngayong araw sa pag asa island na sakop ng kalayaan group of island.

Gayunpaman,sinabi ni Lorenzana na normal routine o protocol na aniya ito ng china sa tuwing may namamataan silang aircraft na lumilipad sa may subi reef.

Base sa radio call ng china, sinasabi rito ang mga katagang, “you are flying over sub-air space. We are monitoring a phil aircraft. Pls go away.”

At tulad din aniya ng palagiang ginagawa ng ating mga tropa sinabi ni Lorenzana na sinasagot nila ito ng mga katagang, ” we are flying over our territory.”

Sinabi ni Lorenzana na hindi naman ito dapat ikabahala sapagkat pangkaraniwan na aniya ang ganitong eksena sa tuwing may lumalapag na eroplano sa pag asa island.




Ikinatuwa ng 10th Infantry Division matapos ang pagpapalaya ng dalawang sundalo na dinukot ng komunistang grupo noong ika-dalawa ng Pebrero.

Agad namang dinala sa Camp Panacan Station Hospital para sa physical and medical evaluation at stress debriefing matapos silang dalhin sa Matanao Municipal Hall kung saan sila’y sinalubong ni Matanao Mayor Vincent Fernandez.

Sinabi naman ni Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla na wala naman nang rason na para hindi pakawalan ang dalawang sundalo maliban na nga lang kung may iba pang dahilan o may propaganda pa ang komunistang grupo.

Matatandaang noong dinukot si Private First Class Samuel Garay at Sgt. Solaiman Calocop ng 39th Infantry Battalion nang sila ay naka-sibilyan at hindi armado at mayroon pang umiiral na unilateral ceasefire at umuusad pa noon ang ikatlong bahagi ng usaping pangkapayapaan.

Nagpahayag din ng simpatiya ang opisyal sa trauma na sinapit hindi lamang ni Calucop at Garay kundi pati na rin ng kanilang pamilya.

Samantala, binigyan naman ng oras ang dalawang sundalo upang maka-recover mula sa physical and psychological trauma na kanilang sinapit sa tulong na rin ng muling pagkaka-balik nila sa kani-kanilang mga pamilya. – EPJA


From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Apr 20): DALAWANG SUNDALONG DINUKOT NG NPA, NAKALAYA NA


Laking pasasalamat ng dalawang sundalong dinukot dahil nakalaya na sila mula sa mga kamay ng komunistang grupo na New People’s Army o NPA kahapon matapos ang tatlong buwan na pagkakabihag sakanila.

Pinalaya ang dalawang sundalo sa Sitio Datal, Pitak, Baranggay Colonsabak, Matanao, Davao del Sur.

Sinabi ni Sgt. Solaiman Calocop, isa sa dalawang bihag na pinalaya, ito na ang pangalawang buhay nila at nagpahayag ito ng pasasalamat sa mga tumulong upang sila’y makalaya.

Samantala, nagpasalamat din si Private First Class Samuel Garay, sa mga kasamahan niyang sundalo na hindi tumigil hanggang sa sila ay mapalaya.

Matatandang nanindigan ang Armed Forces of the Philippines na hindi ito magiisyu ng Stoppage of Military Operations o SOMO na hinihingi noon ng mga komunistang grupo alinsunod na rin sa mga ‘compelling reasons’ na binanggit ng Pangulo upang umusad ang peace talks.– EPJA

MNLF-IIO: A private meeting of Chairman Nur "Maas" Misuari eldest son and MNLF VC - Ustadz Abdulkarim Misuari with President Rodrigo Duterte.

From the Moro National Liberation Front-International Information Office Facebook page (Apr 22): Photos: A private meeting of Chairman Nur "Maas" Misuari eldest son and MNLF VC - Ustadz Abdulkarim Misuari with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Image may contain: 1 person

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting and text

A private meeting of Chairman Nur "Maas" Misuari eldest son and MNLF VC - Ustadz Abdulkarim Misuari with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Also present during the meeting is one of the Chairman Nur Misuari's daughter from the late Desdemona Tan [RA]

May Allah make this meeting fruitful and beneficial to the Ummah, Ameen Ya Rabb!

NDF: Solidarity message on the 33rd Celebration of Cordillera Day

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Apr 22): Solidarity message on the 33rd Celebration of Cordillera Day  

Balantoy, Balbalan, Kalinga
April 23 – 25, 2017

Photo Artemio A. Dumlao
In the name of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), I bring you red greetings on the occasion of the 33rd year of celebrating Cordillera Day.

This celebration has been held for the past three decades to bring to the fore the burning issues confronted by the Cordillera peoples and unite their ranks to enable them to firmly address these.

This year, the theme is on intensifying the struggle to advance the rights of the Cordillera peoples to self-determination and defend their ancestral lands, life and honor. The Cordillera peoples must step up the struggle against the massive seizure of their ancestral lands and natural resources by imperialists and the local exploiting classes, which further creates widespread poverty in the Cordillera and worsens the discrimination and abuse of its people.

The ongoing peace talks is very relevant to this year’s theme.

Currently, both parties – the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the NDFP – are forging a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms. An important part of the agreement being advanced by the NDFP is the particular section on the rights of national minorities. The section on national minorities was completed after special consultations with their representatives, including leaders of the Cordillera People’s Alliance which organized this celebration. We assure you that the NDFP Negotiating Panel will advance these proposals in the peace negotiations.

In the long term, the 10th point in the NDFP’s 12-Point Program calls for upholding the rights of the Bangsamoro and the Cordillera peoples and other indigenous peoples to self-determination and democracy. Here, the NDFP declares its aspiration to build a Philippines where there is unity, equality and brotherhood of all peoples and nationalities and to forge a nation that is founded upon real independence from imperialism, democracy for the people, and genuine autonomy for the Bangsamoro, the Cordillera peoples and other indigenous peoples.

Genuine autonomy will be guaranteed within the framework of the people’s democratic republic of the Philippines, wherein the structure of government will ensure full participation and decisive say by the people of the autonomous areas on all matters affecting their lives, recognition of their right to ancestral land, priority in employment and economic opportunities, with returns from the economic development of their areas mainly accruing to them to hasten their social progress, while respecting their tradition and culture.

Thus, whether in the short or long term, on or outside of the negotiating table, the national-democratic revolution that the NDFP represents is advancing the interests of the Cordillera peoples.

It would be fine if the lives of the Cordillera peoples can be uplifted through the peace talks. But whatever is accomplished in the peace negotiations, your decisiveness to intensify your struggle for self-determination, ancestral land and honor will certainly pave a clear path towards the fulfillment of the great aspirations of the heroic peoples of the Cordillera.

Long live the Cordillera peoples!

NDFP Negotiating Panel

NDF: NDFP welcomes inputs of DENR Sec on environment protection, conservation, rehab

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Apr 22): NDFP welcomes inputs of DENR Sec on environment protection, conservation, rehab 

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (NDFP RWC-SER) sees environment secretary Gina Lopez’s openness to work with the New People’s Army (NPA) and the revolutionary movement as a ‘positive gesture towards implementing genuine social and economic development programs in mining areas.’

“The willingness of Secretary Lopez to coordinate and possibly work with the NPA could help address the plight of peasant and indigenous peoples communities affected by destructive large-scale foreign mining, especially in Mindanao,” said NDFP consultant and RWC-SER member Randall Echanis.

“The NDFP can act as a go-between Secretary Lopez and the NPA,” Echanis added.

NDFP consultant and RWC-SER member Alan Jazmines said the NDFP is willing to discuss with Secretary Lopez how she could actually work with the NPA in territories of the revolutionary movement.

“Her inputs and suggestions on how to protect, preserve and rehabilitate the environment for use in rural and national industrialization could also be considered in the next round of formal talks,” Jazmines said.

A major part of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) currently being negotiated by the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines concerns environmental protection, conservation and compensation.

“Environmental protection and conservation and the wise use of natural resources are necessary components of socio-economic development policies. The DENR could consider adopting such policies to ensure the conservation and rehabilitation of the environment for future generations.”

“Under the CASER, we want to craft a comprehensive and balanced national policy for the country’s natural resources to redress the pattern of neocolonial exchange of raw materials and manufactures which has resulted in the depletion and intensified extraction of the country’s natural resources,” Echanis said.

A bilateral team meeting on agrarian reform and rural development between the NDFP and GRP is scheduled on April 25 as part of the acceleration of the talks. ###

Alan Jazmines
Contact no. +31 949-137-7260

CPP/NPA-Camarines Sur: AFP’s Strike Operation, Foiled by the NPA

NPA propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 22):
AFP’s Strike Operation, Foiled by the NPA

Michael Robredo, Spokesperson
NPA-Camarines Sur (Norben Gruta Command)

22 April 2017
Press Release

A unit of the the Norben Gruta Command (NGC), NPA-West Camarines Sur foiled a strike operation attempted by the 92nd Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) last April 20 in Barangay Bagong Silang, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur.

At around 7:00 am, April 20, the 92nd DRC raided the temporary base being built by the NGC unit for its military training. Due to skillful defense, no NPA elements were wounded nor killed. On the other handed, no less than two were wounded on the the side of the AFP. According to the residents, an AFP helicopter went back to the site twice after the encounter.

According to friends from the media, an earlier report from the 9th ID, AFP stated that ten NPA elements were wounded during the said operation; this was allegedly the report first received by the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Del Gallego. However, it was immediately recalled and the 9th ID released a new official statement.

This is another huge blow for the 9th ID. Even though they initiated the operation, in the end, they were placed at a disadvantage. The Norben Gruta Command calls on the people to continue to be vigilant against the schemes of the 9th ID. It is likely that the residents will be the ones to bear the brunt of the 9th ID’s recent loss, as evidenced by the previous fake encounters where civilians were victimized. The masses, even the media, are now aware of the habitual
lies of the AFP. Continue the critical analysis of future fake news and fake statements from the AFP regarding the supposedly weakening of NPA forces in the Bicol region.

Amidst the ongoing peace talks, AFP militarists continue their devious schemes to besmirch or belittle the revolutionary movement’s standing in the negotiations. On the other hand, the New People’s Army extends its full support to the peace talks. The Norben Gruta Command encourages the people to unite in supporting the peace talks while advancing the people’s war to achieve genuine peace based on progress and justice.

CPP/NPA-Camarines Sur: Tangkang Pagkubkob ng AFP sa Camarines Sur, Bigo

NPA propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 22):
Tangkang Pagkubkob ng AFP sa Camarines Sur, Bigo (Attemptef siege by AFP in Camarines Sur failed)

Michael Robredo, Spokesperson
NPA-Camarines Sur (Norben Gruta Command)

22 April 2017
Press Release

Bigo ang tangkang pagkubkob ng 92nd Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) sa isang yunit ng Norben Gruta Command (NGC), NPA-West Camarines Sur, noong Abril 20 sa Barangay Bagong Silang, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur.

Bandang alas syete ng umaga, Abril 20, sinalakay ng 92nd DRC ang pansamantalang baseng itinatayo ng yunit ng NGC habang naghahanda ito sa paglulunsad ng pagsasanay-militar. Dahil sa mahusay na pagdepensa, walang napatay o nasugatan sa hanay ng NPA. Sa kabilang
banda, tinatayang hindi bababa sa dalawa ang nasugatan sa hanay ng AFP. Ayon sa mga residente, dalawang beses na bumalik ang helikopter ng AFP sa lugar pagkatapos ng labanan.

Ayon sa mga kaibigan sa midya, may naunang ulat ang 9th ID, AFP na sampung elemento ng NPA ang nasugatan sa labanan; ito rin diumano ang unang ipinaabot sa Philippine National Police (PNP)-Del Gallego. Subalit binawi din agad ito at naglabas ang 9th ID ng bagong opisyal na pahayag.

Ang pangyayaring ito ay malaking sampal sa 9th ID; sa kabila ng paglulunsad ng operasyon, sila pa ang nadehado. Nananawagan ang Norben Gruta Command na patuloy na maging mapagbantay ang mamamayan sa mga pakana ng 9th ID. Dahil sa huling kabiguang ito, maaaring ang mga residente naman ang muli nitong pagbalingan, katulad sa mga naunang pekeng engkwentro kung saan mga sibilyan ang biniktima nito. Nalantad na sa masa, at maging sa midya, ang kinagawian nang pagsisinungaling ng AFP. Patuloy na suriing mabuti ang ilalabas pa nitong mga pekeng balita at mga pekeng pahayag ng paghina ng pwersa ng NPA sa rehiyong Bikol.

Sa gitna ng ginaganap na usapang pangkapayapaan, patuloy ang mga mapanlinlang na pakana ng mga militarista sa hanay ng AFP na siraan o paliitin ang katayuan ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa negosasyon. Sa kabilang banda, buo ang suporta ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan sa usapang pangkapayapaan. Hinihimok ng Norben Gruta Command ang mamamayan na magkaisa sa pagsuporta dito habang patuloy na isinusulong ang digmang bayan upang makamit ang tunay na kapayapaang nakabatay sa kaunlaran at katarungan.

4 suspected ASG members killed in Bohol clash

From Rappler (Aug 22): 4 suspected ASG members killed in Bohol clash

(4TH UPDATE) The Philippine military confirms 'a firefight between combined government forces and lawless elements' in Clarin, Bohol

The Boholano who led the Abu Sayyaf to Inabanga for an alleged Holy Week attack was killed in a military operation on early Saturday afternoon, April 22, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.

Colonel Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office, confirmed the death of Joselito Melloria and 3 of his companions who have yet to be identified.

"It's a law enforcement operation between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police. We also credit the intelligence information coming from the citizens and local government," Arevalo said.

Government forces were tipped about the presence of armed men hiding in a cave, according to a source involved in the operations. The government forces immediately responded but the Abu Sayyaf members were able to escape.

The troops tracked the bandits, leading to the clashes in Barangay Bacani in the town of Clarin that killed Melloria early afternoon on Saturday.

The body of Melloria was recovered with an M16 rifle beside him and an M203 on him, one source involved in the operation told Rappler.

Pursuit operations led to the clashes around 8 p.m., where 3 of Melloria's companions were killed. Three more high-powered firearms were also recovered.

The firefight comes as the Philippine military searches for Abu Sayyaf members who escaped a recent military operation in Inabanga, Bohol.

Bohol was the target of a foiled terror plot allegedly by the Abu Sayyaf Group. (READ: Bad or good intel: 5 questions on Abu Sayyaf presence in Bohol)

President Rodrigo Duterte offered a P1-million bounty for the apprehension, "dead or alive", of each Abu Sayyaf member behind the foiled attack.

Arevalo said they have no information yet about the possible recipients of reward money.

Misuari’s temporary liberty ends April 27; MNLF working on extension

From MindaNews (Apr 22): Misuari’s temporary liberty ends April 27; MNLF working on extension

The six-month temporary liberty granted by the court to Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) ends on April 27 but the MNLF is working for its extension.

“Ma-extend Maas” (Misuari’s temporary liberty will be extended), Randolph Parcasio, chair of the peace implementing panel of the MNLF-Misuari faction, said in a text message to MindaNews Friday afternoon. MindaNews asked if he had filed a motion to seek extension but he has not responded as of 6 p.m.

The court gave Misuari temporary liberty “to allow him to attend peace talk sessions with the

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Prof. Nur Misuari at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City on March 27, 2017. RENE LUMAWAG/Presidential Photo

Parcasio and the government’s implementing panel chair, Underscretary Nabil Tan, the Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, have yet to meet formally although they have met informally at least four times.

Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said the panels will meet in early May.

“There’s a plan for that mechanism that engages the MNLF of chairman Nur Misuari and the government panel to officially make a call on the President so that they get some marching orders from the President in accordance with the President’s peace roadmap,” he told MindaNews on Thursday.

“There are two dates in early May that are proposed, depending on the availability of the President,” he said.

Judge Ma. Rowena Modesto-San Pedro of the Pasig Regional Trial Court in Pasig City in an order dated October 27, 2017 granted the “motion to suspend proceedings and enforcement of warrants of arrest against Misuari” for a period of six months from October 27, “unless sooner lifted by the court.”

Warrants of arrest had been issued against Misuari and 59 others for rebellion and violation of Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity following the September 2013 stand-off in Zamboanga City between his followers and government troops that left 137 persons dead, 251 injured and 118,889 of the city’s 807,000 population displaced, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s October 2, 2013 report.

The Department of Justice, the City of Zamboanga and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process made no object to Misuari’s motion to the court.

San Pedro said the Court “acknowledges that the matter of peace talks is exclusively within the realm of the Executive Department,” and that as manifested by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), it is a “top priority of the current administration.”

Misuari signed the December 23, 1976 Tripoli Agreement under the Marcos administration and the September 2, 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) under the Ramos administration.

The MNLF split into three factions — MNLF under Misuari, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under Salamat Hashim and the MNLF Reformist Group under Dimas Pundato — after then President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., using his martial law powers, set up two autonomous regions – in Central and Western Mindanao – instead of one as agreed upon in the 1976 Tripoli pact.

The agreement provided for the creation of an autonomous region comprising 13 provinces and nine cities in Mindanao and Palawan; in Mindanao — Basilan, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur – and Palawan and its Puerto Princesa City.

With the creation of new provinces and conversion of towns into cities, that autonomy area now comprises 16 provinces and 16 cities – 15 provinces and 15 cities of that out of Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 33 cities.

When Marcos was ousted and President Corazon Aquino took over, she went to Sulu to meet with Misuari and re-start the peace process. No peace agreement was forged but the 1987 Constitution under the Aquino administration provided for the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras.

The “Final Peace Agreement” was finally forged under the Ramos administration, on September 2, 1996.

Running under the administration’s party, Misuari was elected governor of the ARMM a week later, on September 9, 1996. He served as Governor starting September 30 that year and was supposed to have ended his three-year term in March 1999 but stayed on on holdover capacity until November 2001 becasue Congress failed to pass the law that would have amended RA 6734, the Organic Act creating the ARMM, to incorporate provisions in the 1996 peace pact.

Congress reset the ARMM polls several times, and Misuari sat as ARMM Governor on holdover basis from March 1, 1999 until he was arrested off Sabah in November 2001, days before the ARMM election, for alleged illegal entry, following a rebellion he allegedly led in Zamboanga City and Sulu. He has since called for the reclamation of Sabah.

Earlier, in April 2001, 15 top MNLF leaders stripped Misuari of the chairmanship of the MNLF, set up the Executive Council to lead the MNLF but made him Chairman Emeritus. Misuari called them traitors.

RA 9054, the law that amended RA 6734 and was supposed to have incorporated provisions of the 1996 FPA, lapsed into law in March 2001 under the Arroyo administration, even as the MNLF had opposed its passage as it would, according to them, render the ARMM even less autonomous than the ARMM under RA 6734.

Parouk Hussin, MNLF Foreign Affairs chief and one of the members of the MNLF Executive Council, was elected ARMM Governor in November 2001.

In 2006, a decade after the signing of the FPA, a Tripartite Review among the government, MNLF and Organization of Islamic Cooperation which brokered the talks in the 1970s and 1990s, was launched to review the implementation of the FPA.

The first Tripartite meeting was held in Jeddah in November 2007 and subsequent reviews were done until January 2016, with 42 consensus points reached on provisions that would be amended in RA 9054.

Only three issues are to be resolved under the Duterte adminstration: the authority of a regional government to supervise and control strategic minerals; transitional mechanism and territory.

The other factions of the MNLF, led by Muslimin Sema of Maguindanao and now by Yusoph Jikiri, also of Sulu like Misuari, have agreed on incorporating the consensus points into the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will be drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) composed of representatives from the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The MILF signed with government the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in October 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in March 2014.

In 2015 at the MILF’s Camp Darapanan, Maguindanao, the MILF and MNLF-Sema faction. signed a Joint Declaration that the provisions of the 1996 peace pact with teh MNLF be fully implemented and that the MNLF and MILF peace acgreements be converged.

The Duterte administration’s peace and development roadmap proposed by the OPAPP and approved by the President in July pushed for the expansion of the BTC membership from 15 to 21 supposedly to get the MNLF factions into the drafting body that would craft a draft “converged” or “harmonized” law.

The BTC has three members from the MNLF under Sema-Jikiri.

In November, Dureza announced a separate peace implementing panel for Misuari’s MNLF faction.

Military, terror groups engage in gun battle in Lanao del Sur

From ABS-CBN (Apr 22): Military, terror groups engage in gun battle in Lanao del Sur

Military forces engaged joint members of the Maute and the Abu Sayyaf groups in a gun battle in Barangay Gakap, Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur on Saturday morning.

No casualties were reported as of posting time.

The firefight was the result of continuous military operations against the terrorists, the army said.

Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herera, Tabak 1st Division spokesperson, confirmed that the Maute and Abu Sayyaf have joined forces as both groups are historically allies.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines used airstrikes to overwhelm the two groups.

Herera said Joint Task Force Kampilan, led by Brigadier Generals Joselito Bautista and Nixon Fortes, has been conducting operations to contain the terrorists in the area, adding that the military is following directives from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Herera said they are also confirming whether the Abu Sayyaf is still led by Isnilon Hapilon, who was first reported killed in Butig 2 months ago.

The military has also secured vital installations that may be targeted by the terrorist group to divert the authorities' attention.

The local government unit has evacuated about 200 families.

2 new clashes in Bohol: 4 more Sayyaf members dead

From The Freeman (Apr 22): 2 new clashes in Bohol: 4 more Sayyaf members dead

Authorities retrieve the body of Joselito Melloria, the point person of the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol, following an encounter in Clarin town yesterday afternoon. Hours later, three more members of the terrorist group were killed in a separate encounter. Photo Courtesy Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio

CEBU, Philippines - Four more members of the Abu Sayyaf were killed in a firefight between the group and government troops in Clarin town in Bohol yesterday.

The first encounter occurred early afternoon while the second one occurred hours later at around 8 p.m.

Clarin is situated next to Inabanga town where soldiers and police clashed during the Holy Week. That encounter led to the death of five Abu Sayyaf members and four government troops.

Bohol Provincial Police Director Felipe Natividad identified the fatality in the afternoon clash as Joselito Melloria a.k.a Ali, the Abu Sayyaf’s point person in the island.

Melloria reportedly suffered a wound to his left ear and right part of his chest, said Fernando Peroramas, the chief of the Clarin Police Station. He also reportedly had older wounds, which he may have incurred in the previous encounter.

“The combined troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police successfully conducted law enforcement operations that resulted to the death of one lawless element in Bohol and the recovery of one high-power firearm. The encounter took place eleven days after the first skirmishes with the same group in a remote barangay in Inabanga, Bohol,” reads the joint statement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

“In the encounter that took place in Sitio Lagsing, Barangay Bacani, Clarin, Bohol at 12:50 p.m. today, April 22, 2017, Joselito Melloria a.k.a. Abu Ali was killed. After the death of Muammar Askali a.k.a. Abu Rami on April 11, 2017 in Sitio Yraya, Barangay Napo, Inabanga of same province, Melloria, being a native of the province assumed command and led the group in its attempt to escape the pursuing government troops. His death led the group with no leader and direction,” the statement reads further.

Late last night, Peroramas confirmed to The Freeman that three more Abu Sayyaf members were killed in a second encounter at around 8 p.m. But the names of the fatalities were not yet available as of press time.

The second encounter occurred in Barangay Caboy, still in Clarin town.

It was early yesterday morning when authorities received a report from a resident in Clarin about the presence of alleged Abu Sayyaf members in the town.

After validating the information, a group of soldiers and policemen proceeded to the area at midday.

At 2 p.m., the Clarin police received a message from the field that said, “Ok, chief. Ongoing pa ang bakbakan.”

By 3 p.m., the firefight subsided and police would confirm later that Melloria got killed. However, six Abu Sayyaf members managed to flee and government troops continued to pursue them until in the evening.

Ike Mascarin from the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (NDRRMO) said an estimated 1,000 people were evacuated from the six barangays, including Nahawan, Kantuyok, Villaflor, Bacani, Ihan, and Uob.

Mayor Allen Ray Piezas of Clarin facilitated the evacuation to the Cultural Center in the town.

Government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also released aid to the affected barangays and provided food to the residents evacuated.

Several health stations were also opened.

Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto said the group was reportedly hiding in a cave in Barangay Bacani following the encounter in Inabanga last April 11.

He said the group reportedly planned on entering Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol, to disrupt the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit meetings there but was too weak to carry its operation out. Aside from this, security in the island was heightened and the group reportedly did not get support from residents.

“Weak na gyud ang ilang grupo kay wala naman ang ilang lider. Aduna say samad ang uban,” Chatto said.

Despite this positive development, Chatto urged the public to continue being vigilant.

“Be vigilant lang gyud ang katawhan, mabinantayun dili lang mukumpiyansa… ug adunay unfamiliar faces nga makit-an, i-report dayon kay anaa man ang atong kapulisan nga mo-validate sa mga information,” Chatto said.

In the same statement the AFP and PNP issued yesterday, the agencies said:

“The vigilance of the community played the vital role in thesuccess of the operations. The continuous flow of information coming from the civilian communities led the government forces to the exact location where the armed (group) was temporarily hiding. With their support, we are confident we can totally eliminate the threat in Bohol.”

At the height of the encounter yesterday, roads in Sagbayan town leading to Clarin and Inabanga were closed to avoid having motorists being caught in the crossfire.

Chatto said it is not impossible that Abu Sayyaf members from outside Bohol will attempt to rescue their comrades but assured authorities are prepared.

“Gi-presume nato nga naay mo-rescue nila nga mga kauban pero mas gipahugtan pa nato ang security ug ang ang atong intelligence unit adunay technology nga mo-trace sa ilang movements. Ang ato usab katawhan, nitabang kanato sa pag-report dayun sa mga makuhang impormasyon,” he said.

3 more Abu Sayyaf members killed in nighttime encounter in Bohol

From ABS-CBN (Apr 22): 3 more Abu Sayyaf members killed in nighttime encounter in Bohol

 Soldiers on the lookout for possible Abu Sayyaf activity during a military operation in Clarin town, Bohol, Saturday afternoon. At the end of the day, the military said 4 Abu Sayyaf members were killed, including Joselito Melloria, a terrorist sub-leader. Dave Responte

Three more Abu Sayyaf group members were killed in Clarin town, Bohol on Saturday night, the military has confirmed.

Their remains were delivered to Clarin Funeral Homes for identification.

At about 9 p.m., soldiers of the 2nd Light Reaction Company encountered the group in Barangay Catuyok, and killed 3 of its members and recovered weapons.

Captain Jojo Mascariñas, spokesperson of the 302nd brigade, said the three initially escaped the gunfight and their bodies were later found on a hill in Barangay Caboy.
Authorities have advised residents to remain vigilant, as the military pursues Abu Sayyaf members still at large in Bohol.

On Saturday afternoon, Joselito Melloria, an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader, was killed in a firefight with troops in Barangay Bacani in Clarin.

Melloria, alias Abu Alih, was said to have guided the Abu Sayyaf in Inabanga town, Bohol for a known kidnap-for-ransom plot. Abducting foreign nationals and locals have been the group's main source of funding.

NPA’s bomb shop uncovered in Masbate

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 20): NPA’s bomb shop uncovered in Masbate

The military has uncovered a bomb workshop of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay San Antonio, Milagros, Masbate recently.

Lt. Col. Redentor E. Cabanizas, commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the army’s 9th Infantry Division, said the bomb facility of the NPA was found last Saturday during clearing operations after a gun battle with the rebels in the area.

Cabanizas reported to the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) that the facility has the capacity to produce hundreds of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), including landmines.

He said the NPA’s use of landmines is a clear violation of the Ottawa Convention (Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention), prohibiting any group from using anti-personnel mines or bombs that cause death and injury of people.

Russian Warships in the Philippines Put Military Ties in the Spotlight

From The Diplomat (Apr 21): Russian Warships in the Philippines Put Military Ties in the Spotlight

A look at what a recent goodwill visit means within the context of a budding defense relationship.

On Thursday, two naval vessels from the Russian Pacific Fleet arrived in Manila for a four-day goodwill visit that will last until April 23. The arrival of the guided-missile cruiser Varyag and the large sea tanker Pechenga, which are on a broader naval mission across the Asia-Pacific, has once again drawn attention to the warming defense ties between Russia and the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte.

Warship visits are frequent and routine occurrences for several of the Philippines’ other partners, and Russian vessels have docked in Manila a few times before even before Duterte was inaugurated as president last June. But such interactions are scrutinized now more so in the past because Duterte, a self-avowed socialist, has been looking to diversify his country’s ties away from Washington and towards other countries, including Beijing and Moscow (See: “The Limits of Duterte’s US-China Rebalance”). The would be quite striking if it occurs: the Philippines has not been a traditional defense partner for Russia in the past given its decades-long alliance with the United States as codified by the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951.

This is the second time that Russian warships have arrived in the Philippines under the Duterte administration, following the visit of Russian anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs and sea tanker Boris Butoma for a five-day port visit in early January, which Duterte toured (See: “Why Are Russian Warships in the Philippines?”). This visit will feature several Russian interactions with Philippine counterparts, along with a shipboard tour of the Varyag over the weekend and a concert at a park.

The development comes ahead of Duterte’s visit to Moscow, which has been scheduled for May 25. The trip is expected to feature discussions on defense, including the potential signing of a defense agreement between the two sides. Given how little Moscow and Manila were doing before and how much both sides have been rhetorically playing up the potential for closer ties, the trip will be watched closely. Ahead of the visit, Russian ambassador to the Philippines Anatolyevich Khovaev said earlier this month that Russia was willing to share its “experience, arms, weapons, and other necessary equipment” as well as training and joint military exercises to help the Philippines cope with threats including terrorism, piracy, and drug trafficking.

That said, as I have emphasized before, it is still early days and there are some clear limits inherent in strengthening ties on the defense side, whether it be interoperability when it comes to arms or costs with respect to certain kinds of equipment (See: “The Limits of Russia-Philippines Military Relations”). That is why, at least thus far, rhetoric has often outpaced reality. Given the momentum in the bilateral defense relationship we have seen thus far though, that could change sooner rather than later.