Thursday, May 4, 2017

NPA rebel dies in Zamboanga del Sur clash

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (May 4): NPA rebel dies in Zamboanga del Sur clash

A NEW People’s Army (NPA) rebel was killed in a clash with government troops in the province of Zamboanga del Sur, the military reported on Thursday, May 4.
Lieutenant Colonel Virgilio Hamos, Jr., commander of the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion, said the clash ensued around 12:40 p.m., Wednesday, at Sitio Sirawag in the village of Lison Valley, Pagadian City, the capital of Zamboanga del Sur province.
Hamos said the troops from his battalion’s Charlie Company led by First Lieutenant Roderick Alcantara were conducting security patrol when they clashed with the NPA rebels led by a certain Ka Marlon.
Hamos said the clash, which lasted for about 15 minutes, resulted to the death of a follower of Ka Marlon, who belong to the Seksyon Yunit Pangpropaganda-KARA (SYP-KARA) of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC).
He said Marlon’s group fled to the hinterlands leaving behind the cadaver of their slain comrade.
He said the troops recovered from the slain NPA rebel, who remain unidentified, were fragmentation grenade, NPA flag, two mobile phones, ammunition for 12-guage shotgun, NPA uniform and subversive documents of high-intelligence value.
“The position of the grenade strongly indicates they tried to make the cadaver of their slain comrade as booby trap to inflict injuries to the troops,” he added.
The troops sustained no casualty during the firefight.

NPA rebel surrenders in Kalinga

From ABS-CBN (May 4): NPA rebel surrenders in Kalinga

An active member of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in Mountain Province surrendered to the battalion commander of the 503rd Infantry Brigade in Tabuk City.

According to Colonel Leopoldo Imbang, the rebel identified only by his pseudonym, "Eddie," voluntarily surrendered last Monday afternoon.

"Eddie" was an active member of the Kilusang Larangang Guerilla Marco before deciding to quit the armed struggle.

He also turned over a caliber .30 carbine rifle, magazine, and 9 pieces of ammunition.

He said the decision to surrender was because of frustration.

“The things that they are doing, terrifying the people of Mountain Province, are not humane,” Eddie said in the vernacular.

Major General Paul Atal expressed delight over Eddie’s surrender.

“Your decision to renew your life is a manifestation that the communist terrorists bring nothing but misery to the lives of their members and the community,” Atal told Eddie.

Atal also encouraged other rebels to surrender and return to their community.

Meanwhile, Imbang assured Eddie that he will receive all the benefits intended for surrenderers under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) of the government.

NPA rebel slain, 2 others surrender in Pagadian

From the Manila Times (May 5): NPA rebel slain, 2 others surrender in Pagadian

A communist rebel was killed in a clash with government troops in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur on Wednesday while two others surrendered in Sindangan town in Zamboanga del Norte.

Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, identified the slain New People’s Army (NPA) rebel as Diego Becsala, whose group clashed with members of the 53rd Infantry Battalion in Lisson Valley.

Troops recovered from Becsala a hand grenade and a flag of the rebel group.

In another report, soldiers captured a rebel who was wounded in the fighting in Lisson Valley, led by 1st Lt. Roderick Alcantara after a clash with at least 15 rebels.

Police did not identify the captured rebel. Two NPA members – Christopher Saplid and Joliber Candao – surrendered to the 44th Infantry Battalion in a village in Sindangan.

Army, NPA clash in Pagadian; 1 dead

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 5): Army, NPA clash in Pagadian; 1 dead

In a report, the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division said the clash took place in Barangay Lisson Valley past 12 p.m.

The military said the slain rebel was identified only by his surname, Becsala.

Soldiers found Becsala’s body with a hand grenade, a communist flag and documents after the clash, the military said.

Soldiers belonging to the 531st Battalion, under the 103rd Brigade, clashed with at least 15 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) led by a certain Marlon in Pagadian City.

According to the military report, Becsala, alias “Ka Diego,” was killed during the clash, which lasted for about 15 minutes.

The rebels withdrew to different directions, leaving behind Becsala’s body.

In another report, the military claimed that two members of the NPA’s Mobile Regional Guerrilla Unit, of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee, surrendered to soldiers in Zamboanga del Sur.

Brig. Gen. Rolando Bautista, Tabak Division commander, said the military welcomed NPA rebels who “want to return to the folds of the law and live a normal life.”

He said for rebels who continued to fight, “there will be no letup in focused military operations.”

Top official of CPP/NPA in Region 2 captured

From the Manila Bulletin (May 5): Top official of CPP/NPA in Region 2 captured

The highest ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CNN) in Region 2 was apprehended Thursday (May 4) afternoon in Penablanca, Cagayan province, by joint operatives of 17th Infantry Battalion of Philippine Army in Cagayan ,Intelligence Support Unit, 5th ID of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the police.


The Philippine Army said David Soriano, Regional Secretary, Komiteng Rehiyon ng Hilagang Silangan ng Luzon of the CNN’s Northern Front, was captured at Barangay Camasi, Penablanca, Cagayan. Arrested with Soriano was Jude Malana Cipriano, driver of their van, with plate no. WML500.

They were traversing the provincial road in Penablanca when intercepted by the joint police and military operatives who were tailing them.

Confiscated from them were two 9mm pistols, which were found to be PNP – issued properties; one fragmentation grenade; one rifle grenade and various subversive documents.

David Soriano is Cagayan Valley’s most wanted person and believed to be involved in several high-profile crimes in the region. Police Regional office said Soriano was the mastermind in the ambush of police personnel in Baggao in February 2016 during which six policemen, who were on their way to investigate CNN atrocities in Baggao, were killed while 10 others were wounded.

Soriano was also the principal suspect in the murder of Gonzaga, Cagayan, Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr in 2015.

Meanwhile, in what was deemed a diversionary tactic by the CNN in the region, at least 30 rebels attacked a police sub-station in nearby Amulung town in Cagayan, almost simultaneously with the arrest of Soriano.

The armed men took away four M16s and two PNP-issued 9mm pistols. The armed men also burned the police Mahindra patrol vehicle before escaping.

Arrested Abu Sayyaf member gave vital info on group's plan –officials

From GMA News (May 4): Arrested Abu Sayyaf member gave vital info on group's plan –officials

Authorities on Thursday said the suspected Abu Sayyaf member arrested in Bohol had given them vital information regarding the group's plan in the province.

The suspect was identified as Saad Samad Kiram, 36, a resident of Tulayan, Luuk, Sulu.

He was nabbed around 7 a.m. in Barangay Tanawan, Tubigon, Bohol, by the combined police, military, and village security forces.

"When asked, Samad volunteered valuable informations about their plan, composition and capabilities. His revelations confirm [sic] the dissolution of the threat in the Province of Bohol," a joint military-police statement said.

The statement was shared by Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Restituto Padilla.

It said Saad, weakened by hunger and exhaustion, was easily subdued by the arresting team who responded to the information provided by a tipster. Seized in his possession are a cal. 45 pistol with two magazines, a hand grenade, a cellphone, and personal belongings.

It was Saad who was the subject of “rescue” operation by Supt. Maria Cristina Nobleza and Abu Sayyaf member Renoor Lou Dongon. Nobleza and Dongon were arrested in April and are now detained in Camp Crame.

Number of Abu Sayyaf intruders in Bohol down to 2 after Saad’s death

From GMA News (May 5): Number of Abu Sayyaf intruders in Bohol down to 2 after Saad’s death

Authorities are now searching for just two wounded Abu Sayyaf members in Bohol province, after the death of Saad Samad Kiram alias Abu Saad, a police official said Friday.

"May dalawa pa according to Saad pero parehong may sugat," Region 7 police director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño said in a text message to GMA News Online when asked if there are other bandits they are hunting down on tourist island province of Bohol.

Saad was killed earlier in the day as he was trying to escape while being transported to the Bohol District Jail (BDJ).

Taliño said Saad was supposed to be temporarily transferred to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology's BDJ. At about 2:30 a.m., after his interrogation at the Bohol Provincial Police Office.

Along the way nagpaalam, magdumi at nag-LBM (loose bowel movement), medyo malayo pa ang jail (kaya) pinayagan but he tried escaped," the police chief said in a text message.

He said the police looked for Saad for two hours after he disappeared.

"Nag-hot pursuit pa for two hours, madilim sa area," he said.

He said Saad suddenly emerged around 4:30 a.m. and tried to grab the firearm of one of his police escorts, and that it was during the grappling that Saad was shot.

"Around 4:30 a.m. Nag-attempt agawan ang isang tropa ng baril, kaya nag-agawan, nabaril," he said.

Saad was arrested Thursday in Tubigon, Bohol.

In a joint statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and PNP said they gathered important information from Saad.

"When asked, Saad volunteered valuable information about their plan, composition and capabilities. His revelations confirm the dissolution of the threat in the Province of Bohol," the statement read.

Saad was the subject of a foiled "rescue operation" launched by Supt. Maria Cristina Nobleza and her lover Renoor Lou Dongon.

But police arrested the couple last month as they tried implement the rescue mission.

Abu Sayyaf member killed in Bohol hours after escaping – police

From CNN Philippines (May 5): Abu Sayyaf member killed in Bohol hours after escaping – police

An arrested Abu Sayyaf member was killed Friday morning in Bohol, more than two hours after he allegedly escaped authorities.

Police said Saad Samad Kiram, 36, managed to escape at around 2:30 a.m. while on their way to the Bohol District Jail in Tagbilaran City, where he was supposed to be detained. He was initially held at the Bohol Provincial Police Office (PPO) for questioning.

After around two hours of pursuit operation, police killed Saad because he "fought back," Bohol PPO Director Felipe Natividad told CNN Philippines.

Saad was brought to the provincial hospital but was declared dead on arrival at around 5 a.m., Natividad added.

Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Noli Taliño told CNN Philippines he ordered the provincial police to investigate the attempted escape.

Initial reports show Saad asked to use the restroom but ran away instead. At around 4:30 a.m. he attempted to snatch a gun from one of the policemen, which resulted in his death, Taliño said.

Saad was arrested in Barangay Tanawan, Tubigon, Bohol at around 7 a.m. on Thursday.

He was among the Abu Sayyaf members who sneaked into Bohol last Holy Week, and engaged in deadly firefights with government forces.

Authorities are still hunting down two more Abu Sayyaf members in Bohol, who according to Saad were wounded.

Supt. Maria Cristina Nobleza, who married Abu Sayyaf bomb expert Reneer Lou Dongon, earlier claimed they were attempting to rescue a certain "Saad" in an attempt to gain the rebel group's trust and extract information for the government.

Carpio hopes e-book on disputed seas reaches Chinese audience

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 5): Carpio hopes e-book on disputed seas reaches Chinese audience
From left, Philippine Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Mel Velasco Velarde and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario unveil the original copy of the 1734 Murillo-Velarde Map which shows the disputed Spratlys group of islands and the Scarborough Shoal during the launching of his e-book titled "The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea" in the financial district of Makati city east of Manila, Philippines, Thursday, May 4, 2017. A Philippine Supreme Court justice launched a book on Thursday that questions China's historic claims to most of the South China Sea and said he will distribute it online to try to overcome China's censorship and reach its people. AP PHOTO

From left, Philippine Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Mel Velasco Velarde and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario unveil the original copy of the 1734 Murillo-Velarde Map which shows the disputed Spratlys group of islands and the Scarborough Shoal during the launching of his e-book titled “The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea” in the financial district of Makati city east of Manila, Philippines, Thursday, May 4, 2017. A Philippine Supreme Court justice launched a book on Thursday that questions China’s historic claims to most of the South China Sea and said he will distribute it online to try to overcome China’s censorship and reach its people. AP PHOTO

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio launched a book on Thursday that questions China’s historic claims to most of the South China Sea and said he will distribute it online to try to overcome China’s censorship and reach its people.

Carpio said his e-book can be downloaded for free in English now and will be made available later in Mandarin, Vietnamese, Bahasa, Japanese and Spanish to help more people understand the basis of the Philippines’ stand against China’s territorial claims.

Carpio said public opinion, including in China, can help pressure Beijing to comply with an arbitration ruling last year that invalidated China’s historic claims based on a 1982 maritime treaty. Carpio helped prepare the arbitration case, which the Philippines largely won.

China has dismissed the ruling and continued to develop seven artificial islands in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago. China’s construction of the islands on disputed reefs has alarmed rival claimants and the United States.

“This book in its printed form can never be distributed in China. It will be banned,” Carpio said at the launch of his book in Manila. “The only way this e-book can reach the Chinese people is in electronic format through the internet.”

“I believe that like all other people of the world, the Chinese people are inherently good, but their government has drilled into their minds that they own the South China Sea since 2,000 years ago. This is, of course, utterly false and the world will never accept this,” he said.

Chinese Embassy officials were not immediately available for comment.

In the book, titled “The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea,” Carpio uses old maps, photographs, excerpts from the arbitration ruling, Chinese government statements and documents to question the validity of China’s claims.

Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who spearheaded the filing of the arbitration case against China in 2013, praised Carpio for promoting the rule of law and how that worked well for a small country standing up to a superpower, saying “international law is the great equalizer.” He gave a speech at the launch of Carpio’s book and said they stood together with most Filipinos in agreement that international rule of law applied to all.

Carpio’s studies on the South China Sea disputes are not part of his work on the Supreme Court. He said he asked the court’s permission in 2015 to give lectures in 17 countries to explain the territorial conflicts, which many fear could become Asia’s next flashpoint.

Carpio warns in the book that China may be planning to build more island outposts at Luconia Shoal off Malaysia and Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines.

If it constructs an island base at Scarborough, China would have enough radar coverage of the South China Sea to be able to impose an air defense identification zone similar to what it did a few years ago in the East Sea in a region where it has territorial rifts with Japan, he said.

China and the Philippines, along with Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims to parts or all of the South China Sea that straddle busy sea lanes and are believed to be atop undersea deposits of oil and gas.

2 suspected NPA rebels nabbed at checkpoint in Cagayan

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 5): 2 suspected NPA rebels nabbed at checkpoint in Cagayan

Two suspected members of the New People’s Army operating in Cagayan province were caught at a checkpoint on Thursday afternoon at Penablanca town, according to a report from the Philippine Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion.

David Soriano, allegedly the secretary-general of the NPA Kilusang Larangang Gerilya-Hilagang Silangang, and an unidentified companion, were detained by the police and soldiers in connection with the death of a Cagayan mayor in 2014, said Lt. Col. Rembert Baylosis, 17th Infantry Battalion commander.

Soriano was charged in court as one of 8 armed men who shot dead Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. on April 21, 2014 during a flag raising ceremony at the Gonzaga town hall. The communist rebels had issued a statement admitting they were behind the attack.

Soriano was also seen in footage recorded by closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed at the Gonzaga town hall grounds, the army claims.

He was also among the 69 people charged for the abduction and murder of Privates First Class Victor Balao and Jayson Tugao, and Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) member Jayson Santor at the Zinundungan Valley at Rizal town in Cagayan province on July 2, 2015.

NPA attacks police outpost in Cagayan as cops nab rebel leader

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 5): NPA attacks police outpost in Cagayan as cops nab rebel leader

About 30 armed men on Thursday attacked a police outpost at Amulung town in Cagayan province right after government forces arrested an alleged rebel leader in the town of Peñablanca.

In a report, Chief Supt. Eliseo Rasco, Cagayan Valley police director, said the group of New People’s Army rebels stormed the police post in Annafatan village at 5:45 p.m., and seized four M16 rifles and two 9mm pistols from police personnel stationed there.

They also reportedly burned the station’s Mahindra police patrol vehicle.
No one was reported hurt in the attack, which was staged four days after about 70 armed rebels raided the police station in Maddela town, killing a police officer.

Rasco said the attack on the Amulung police outpost was the rebels’ “diversionary move” following the arrest of David Soriano, an alleged rebel leader, in Barangay (village) Camasi in Peñablanca, also on Thursday afternoon.

Soriano and his driver, Jude Cipriano, were flagged down while on board a Starex van at a checkpoint.

READ: 2 suspected NPA rebels nabbed at checkpoint in Cagayan

The police did not say whether Soriano was arrested by virtue of a standing warrant, but said he is the main suspect in the ambush-slay of six policemen in Baggao last year, and the killing of Gonzaga mayor Carlito Pentecostes, Jr. in 2014.

Soriano and his companion were detained at the Peñablanca police station and were later transferred to the Cagayan police office in Tuguegarao City.

Security tightened for President Duterte’s 4th visit to Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (May 5): Security tightened for President Duterte’s 4th visit to Maguindanao

All is set for the visit here Friday of President Rodrigo Duterte, who will preside over a closed-door command conference with military and police officials on the government’s drive against terrorism and illegal drugs.

Personnel from the Police Regional Office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-ARMM) and soldiers from the 6th Infantry Division, both based in Maguindanao’s first district, have been placed on heightened alert.

Perlita Tiangco, of Philippine Information Agency (PIA-12), said the President will also preside over the ceremonial awarding of certificates of completion to police graduates of a motorcycle riding course.

Chief Supt. Reuben Sindac, PRO-ARMM director, said the police and the military have been on alert to secure VIPs attending the President’s visit, his fourth in Maguindanao since assuming the presidency.

Duterte visited the Army’s Camp Siongco headquarters in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao and Buluan town, also in Maguindanao, last year. He also visited Cotabato City, located within the province of Maguindanao, last year where he launched an anti-poor program.

Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police director, said all roads leading to Camp SK Pendatun are secured.

Maj. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, ordered the deployment of Army personnel around the police regional headquarters starting Thursday as well as the Philippine Air Force choppers for aerial security.

The President is expected to arrive at Camp SK Pendatun at around 2 p.m.

Captured Abu Sayyaf shot dead in escape try

From the Philippine News Agency (May 5): Captured Abu Sayyaf shot dead in escape try

One of the Abu Sayyaf stragglers, who was nabbed on Thursday without resistance in hinterland Barangay Tanawan, was shot dead while attempting to escape at past 2:00 a.m. on Friday.

Bohol Police Provincial Director PSSupt Felipe Natividad confirmed that suspect Abu Sayyaf member Saad Samad Kiram, alias “Abu Saad” 36, a native of Tulayan, Luuk, Sulu, was being transported by police escorts to Bohol District Jail in Barangay Cabawan, Tagbilaran City less than 24 hours after his capture.

Natividad said that Abu Saad requested his escorts to allow him answer the call of nature while in transit to jail and was allowed to take off his handcuff.

Abu Saad then took the opportunity to run and hot pursuit ensued.

Hours later the police tracked Abu Saad’s location somewhere in Cortes town and rearrested him. The suspect tried to take the firearm of one of the arresting police officers but failed. The police officer shot Abu Saad in an apparent self defence, Trinidad said.

Cortes police office said in interview Friday morning said the bandit was brought to a hospital in the city where he died shortly.

Trinidad told media during the governor’s weekly press conference that his office based in Camp Dagohoy would conduct further investigation on the escape attempt.

Abu Saad was nabbed on Thursday morning without resistance in hinterland barangay Tanawan, about seven kilometers from town proper.

Police said formal charges of “illegal possession of firearms and explosives” against Abu Saad were set to be filed on Friday.

Following Abu Saad’s death, the security forces are still scouring the hinterlands for two other bandits. Military officer said there could be only two remaining stragglers left and a possibility that one of them had died due to wounds during the encounter in Inabanga town in Arpil 11, 2017.

Air Force chopper crashes in Tanay, 3 dead

From the Philippine Star (May 4): Air Force chopper crashes in Tanay, 3 dead             

A military chopper crashed in Tanay, Rizal this afternoon, killing two soldiers and injuring two others, the military confirmed. Alexis Romero/File
Three soldiers died while another was seriously injured when an Air Force chopper crashed in Tanay, Rizal on Thursday afternoon, the military confirmed.

Speaking on ANC, Col. Antonio Francisco, the spokesperson of the Philippine Air Force, said that a military helicopter crashed in Sitio Hiltop in Tanay, Rizal around 3 p.m., killing two soldiers and injuring two other military personnel. The number of personnel killed was updated to three on Thursday evening.

“As of now, what I can give you is it happened at around 3 o’clock this afternoon in Sitio Hiltop in Tanay. We are still trying to confirm those who are injured in the incident,” Franciso said. “There were two soldiers who are in very serious situation right now. That is all we know right now.”

The spokesperson said that the chopper was carrying two military pilots and two crew members. He did not clarify who among the four were killed and who were injured pending the notification of their families about the incident.

Franciso said that the PAF chopper was maneuvering during air-to-ground operations being conducted together with soldiers from the Philippine Army when it crashed. These exercises were part of the disaster relief preparations being conducted by the Army 2nd Infantry Division together with some police personnel from CALABARZON, according to a DZMM report.

The spokesperson clarified that based on initial reports, no risky maneuvers were involved when the aircraft went down.

The chopper experienced trouble during the practical exercise that led to the accident, a DZMM reporter said.

Francisco said that the helicopter came from Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal and crashed in a village just several minutes away from the military base.

Because of the incident, all Air Force aircraft and choppers will be barred from flying pending the results of an investigation.

He said that before the Air Force flies a chopper they first ensure that it is airworthy, dousing possible speculations that the accident was because of problems with the aircraft.

“Whenever we fly our helicopters, it’s always air worthy. We make sure that before we fly our helicopters, it’s always air worthy,” Francisco said.

Russia, PH defense chiefs meet for the first time

From Update Philippines (May 3): Russia, PH defense chiefs meet for the first time

National Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu met at the sidelines of VI Moscow Conference on International Security in Moscow April 26.

The meeting between two officials was first. Secretary Lorenzana first visited Russia in December 2016 as preliminary for President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Russia later this month.

According to Department of Foreign Affairs, the two officials welcomed the positive developments in the bilateral relations and agreed to further bolster cooperation in the defense and security sphere.

“It is only now that we are set to substantiate our relations especially in the area of defense” since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1976, Secretary Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana also noted that the DND is ready to conclude a framework agreement with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte visits Moscow next month. The Philippines looks forward to enhanced security and defense engagement in terms of training, exchange of information and expertise, and port calls, among others.

“We are encouraged by the progressive development of Russian-Philippine relations in the defence field. The key event in this context was the meeting of Presidents of the two countriesat the APEC Summit in Lima last November”, Defense Minister Shoygu said.

Army leader confident of neutralizing Abu Sayyaf

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 4): Army leader confident of neutralizing Abu Sayyaf

Army vice-commander, Maj. Gen. Harold Cabreros, expressed confidence that the Abu Sayyaf will be neutralized within the six-month period, ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Cabreros told 3rd Infantry Division troopers, “I am confident that we can do it as long as we work as one team, and as one Army, with the cooperation of the community”.

He noted that the quick response of the 3ID against Abu Sayyaf bandits in Bohol last month indicated that the ASGs are feeling the pressure in their former bases of operations in Mindanao.

Two ASG leaders and five others were killed in a series of armed clashes with 3ID troops and the police in Bohol. Three Army soldiers and a policeman also died.

Cabreros said the ASG decided to move elsewhere as they are running out of places to hide.

“Let us keep it that way, until they and other terrorist groups as well as lawless elements are totally defeated,” he further told 3ID troopers during his visit at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz on May 1.

Cabreros added that the implementation of AFP Development Support and Security Plan “Kapayapaan” will complement the gains achieved under the Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan”.

“We will sustain our CMO (Civil Military Operations) efforts, Community Support Programs, and stakeholder engagement to encourage further support for the AFP's peace initiatives from the locals, and make them resilient against the influence of threat groups,” he also said.

Abu Sayyaf member captured in Bohol

From Rappler (May 4): Abu Sayyaf member captured in Bohol

(UPDATED) Saad Samad Kiram is captured by authorities in Tubigon, Bohol on Thursday morning   

Another suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf, the same one a police officer allegedly tried to rescue, was captured by local military, police, and government forces on Thursday, May 4.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Central Command chief Lieutenant General Oscar Lactao confirmed the news to Rappler.

LOCAL HELP. Thanks to the help of Tubigon locals, alleged Abu Sayyaf member Saad Samad Kiram is captured by authorities. Sourced photo

According to a police report, Saad Samad Kiram, 36, was captured by authorities at around 7 am on Thursday after he approached a Tubigon, Bohol resident. The resident said Kiram was asking for clothes and food.

The Tubigon resident allowed Kiram inside his home while he reported the alleged Abu Sayyaf member's presence to local authorities.

"Weakened by hunger and exhaustion, [Kiram] was easily subdued by the arresting team," local police and military said in a statement.

According to a police report, recovered from Kiram's posession were a caliber .45 pistol, two magazines with 12 rounds of ammunition, a hand grenade, a cellphone, and personal belongings.

Kiram is allegedly among the Abu Sayyaf members who traveled via pump boat from Sulu in Mindanao to Inabanga in Bohol. On April 11, police and military launched operations against the group, which had supposedly intended to kidnap tourists during the Holy Week break.

"When asked, [Kiram] volunteered valuable information about their plan, composition, and capabilities. His revelations confirm the dissolution of the threat in the province of Bohol," local police and military said.

At least 9 Abu Sayyaf members have since been killed in operations in the province, including the Bohol native who supposedly led the kidnap plan there.

Another alleged Abu Sayyaf member, Ren-ren Dongon, and his wife, Superintendent Maria Cristina Nobleza, were arrested by authorities late April after they tried to evade a checkpoint during a military encounter in Clarin, Bohol.

Nobleza, who was once assigned to handle anti-terrorism efforts, had apparently married Dongon, brother-in-law to several top terrorists. Dongon and Nobleza were apparently trying to bring medicine and eventually, rescue Kiram. (READ: How a cop and an alleged terrorist 'let the love begin')

IN PHOTOS: PH Coast Guard off to Benham Rise for maritime security check

From Rappler (May 4): IN PHOTOS: PH Coast Guard off to Benham Rise for maritime security check

 The operation will monitor the Joint Fisheries Research activity in the waters near Aurora, and which the UN declared as part of the Philippines' continental shelf   


BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403), together with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (MCS-3001), departed the headquarters of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday, May 3, to conduct maritime security operations at the vicinity waters of Benham Rise.

Benham Rise is a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau located near Aurora. (READ: Fast Facts: What you should know about Benham Rise)

The operation aims to monitor the Joint Fisheries Research activity in the said waters.

In 2009, the Philippines claimed Benham Rise as part of its continental shelf in a claim lodged with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

This claim was approved under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 2012.

Marine experts say Benham Rise is about 2,000 to 5,000 meters deep, and is rich in natural gas and other resources.

MRRV 4403 BRP Malapascua is under the helm of Commander Gary Dale Timotea of the PCG, while MCS 3001 is skippered by Captain Luisito Sibayan.

NDFP orders indemnification of fish vendor hurt in NPA hit

From the Mindanao Times (May 4): NDFP orders indemnification of fish vendor hurt in NPA hit

THE NATIONAL Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has ordered the payment of damages to the family of fish vendor Larry T. Buenafe, who was hurt during the April 29 attack on a Lapanday-owned box plant in Barangay Mandug, Buhangin District.

The regional council of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Region ordered the indemnification of Buenafe in a statement sent May 2.
Buenafe during the attack by the 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion-New People’s Army Southern Mindanao against the Lorenzo-owned Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC).

“The NDF hereby requests Third Party Facilitators from the church people, medical practitioners, civil libertarians and other advocates to expedite the public dispensation of indemnification the soonest possible time in Davao City,” NDFP southern Mindanao region spokesperson Rubi del Mundo said.

“The 1st PBB reported that a team of its red fighters carried out the demolition action against the reinforcing troops of Task Force Davao in Brgy. Tigatto after the NPA unit assaulted the LFC box and plastic plants in nearby Brgy. Mandug,” del Mundo said.

“The blaster-operator saw that Mr. Buenafe was far from the target military vehicle and proceeded to detonate the explosives. The shock waves and splinter, however, hit and injured him.”

Del Mundo relayed the organization’s apologies to the family of Buenafe.
“The NDF-SMR deeply apologizes to the family of Mr. Buenafe and to the public for this occurrence,” del Mundo said.

In a statement, Lapanday said the damage to the box plant alone was already worth P2 billion, with around 130 workers directly affected by the incident.

Around 100 are direct employees of Lapanday, while 30 others were contractuals.

At least five homes inside the Rice Mill compound were razed during the incident, with around seven families affected by the incident.

The City Social Services and Development Office is taking care of the families who were affected.

Earlier this week, both Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte called out the actions of the NPA for injuring a member of the sector the rebels supposedly represented.

However, Mayor Duterte said that local peace talks were still among the options if the rebel group was willing.

Slain suspect was a member of Abu Sayyaf group: police

From the Mindanao Times (May 4): Slain suspect was a member of Abu Sayyaf group: police

AUTHORITIES yesterday confirmed that the slain alleged terrorist last May 2 was an active member of the Abu Sayyaf group.
City police spokesperson, Sr. Insp. Maria Theresita Gaspan, told reporters yesterday during the AFP-PNP press conference held at Royal Mandaya hotel that the Intelligence Division confirmed the identity of the suspect who went by the name alias Bin Laden.

“However, we could not determine his identity as of now because no family has come forward to claim the body in the funeral parlor,” Gaspan said.

The suspect was said to have transported components of improvised explosive device (IED) into the city but was intercepted at checkpoint while on board a motorcycle along with another passenger. He was killed in a shootout with authorities around 3 a.m. on May 2 in Barangay Magtuod, Talomo District. A .38 revolver and grenade were recovered from his possession.

Gaspan said they are still conducting follow-up investigation if the attempt of the suspect to enter the city is related to the arrest of Supt. Maria Christina Nobleza, the police officer who allegedly tried to help her terrorist boyfriend evade authorities in Clarin, Bohol.

But she quickly added that they received information about members of the Abu Sayyaf group who will enter Davao City. These members were identified as Saqdat, Omar and Bin Laden. The slain suspect was accompanied by two others who managed to escape.
She said the successful operation was “a consequence of our intensified intelligence monitoring and the information gathering from other intelligence community.”

Meanwhile, Benito De Leon, chief of the Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC), said they could not yet draw conclusions about the latest incident, specifically on whether or not Davao City is the target of Abu Sayyaf.

“Although the threats are there, and our police and military have been preparing for everything,” he said, adding that the intelligence community is also continuously monitoring internal and external threats.

Meanwhile, Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, said that the terrorist group is always seeking to take advantage of any gaps in security mechanisms of the city. “The bottom line is how fast the security forces can react, of course, with the help of the community,” he added.

City on lockdown after rebel attack, slay of alleged terrorist

From the Mindanao Times (May 4): City on lockdown after rebel attack, slay of alleged terrorist

THE POLICE and military yesterday said they are strengthening security measures to prevent a repeat of what happened this past Saturday when New People’s Army torched equipment and structures of Lapanday.
Speaking in yesterday’s AFP-PNP press conference held at Royal Mandaya hotel, Benito De Leon, the chief of Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) , said the city has already crafted a new security plan .

“The military and police have already executed it like the redeployment of forces, augmentation of forces and you will note that part of it is additional personnel,” De Leon said.

“We review our security protocols continuously to find the gaps, and fill those (gaps),” he added, explaining that Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has already given them the authority to put the city on lockdown.

The mayor wants an extensive security plan that will involve not only the law enforcement agencies, but also other stakeholders as well in order to “build resilient communities,” and not just focus on the security aspect.

“Like in the plantation, we can to involve them in coming up with appropriate security structures, and even their personnel have even tied up with us already,” De Leon said.

By involving the communities, the military and police can strengthen their reporting mechanisms coming from the communities themselves.
De Leon said they will also help the companies to I improve their facilities in terms of security measures to resist any attacks.

The private security of plantations and businesses that are vulnerable to attacks will be retrained on firearm handling and security tactics.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, said that they are still waiting for the result of joint briefing of military and police officials for additional deployment of troops in the city.

“These bad elements are always seeking gaps where they can take advantage,” he said. “We are already strengthening our security measures with the help of the Police.”

He also cited the recovery of the improvised explosive device on Tuesday in Barangay Malagos as a foiled attempt of the armed group.
“It is another attempt of the lawless elements to conduct another atrocity here in the city but a civilian gave information to recover the items,” he said. “Even very little information is vital.”

Cop killed in Maguindanao province

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 4): Cop killed in Maguindanao province

Motorcycle gunmen shot dead a police officer in a broad daylight attack in the troubled province of Maguindanao in southern Philippines, officials said Thursday.

Officials said PO2 Jonald Clarino was driving his motorcycle when the assailants, who were tailing him, shot him repeatedly in the village of Simuay around 1.30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The 24-year old policeman, assigned with the 15th Regional Public Safety Battalion, was killed on the spot, according to Inspector Razul Pandulo, a spokesman for the provincial police force.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the murder.

Gun attacks and killings are not uncommon in Maguindanao, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region. Police said it is investigating the killing.

Sultan Kudarat coastal towns get P39.5 M DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS projects

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 4): Sultan Kudarat coastal towns get P39.5 M DSWD  Kalahi-CIDSS projects

Dahil sa layo ng aming lugar sa bayan, hindi na umabot ng buhay ang aking isang anak habang papunta kami sa pinakamalapit na ospital dahil sa sakit na diarrhea,” says Aurelio C. Candado, 56, a resident of Barangay Villamonte, Lebak, Sultan Kudarat.  (Because our village is far from the town proper, I lost my child while on our way to the nearest hospital.)

Villamonte is located in the northeastern part of town, which is 42 kilometers from the town proper and considered as the farthest and hardest-to-reach village among 27 barangays of Lebak.

Aggravating the situation of Candado and the rest of the villagers of Villamonte, is the fact that they need a huge amount for vehicle rental -- ranging from P6, 000 to P7, 000 -- to bring a person who needs immediate medical care to the nearest hospital.

The struggles of Villamonte’s villagers will soon to be a thing in the past after their proposed one unit rescue vehicle with amenities amounting to P1.35 million was chosen as one of prioritized projects during the town’s recent municipal inter-barangay forum (MIBF) conducted under DSWD-Kalahi-CIDSS Program in towns of Lebak and Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat.

MIBF is a prioritization process employed by DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS in which instead of local officials that determine which villages will avail the funds and projects; it is given in the hands of ordinary people of barangays.

Other community projects that will be funded under the Program in Lebak town include garbage compactor truck of Poblacion III (P.62 M), T-breakwater inTibpuan (P4.24 M), health centers of  Christiannuevo (P1.2 M) and Bolebak (P1.57 M) and an evacuation center in Barurao 1 (P1.87 M).

Village of Poloy-Poloy will also soon have rescue vehicle (P1.35M), solar street lights for Pasandalan (P2.22 M) and Pansud (P1.71 M) while Purikay villagers will soon have water refilling station (P1.31 M) and water system for Nuling amounting to P502,000.

Pearly Santillana, the town’s area coordinator said that these projects, which are in far-flung communities , are considered to be most pressing needs with the total amount of P20.65 million.

“We hope that these projects will address the struggles of villagers and be the vehicles to access other government services and programs,” Santillana said.

Meanwhile, Genelyn Concemino, the town’s program area coordinator in Kalamansig said that some P18.85 million of community projects will be benefited by 11 villages under DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS Program.

Concemino said that villagers of Santa Maria will soon have training center with amenities (P2.10 M), a rescue vehicle with amenities (P1.34 M) for Hinalaan, while darkness will soon to be thing in the past for villagers of Obial and Cadiz with solar street lights amounting to P1.69 M and P1.68 M, respectively.

Solar driers will also be constructed in villages of Datu Wasay (P2.05 million) and Sangay (P2.95 M), birthing clinic in Limulan (P1.49 M), sanitary toilets and pitcher pumps in Dumanggas Nuevo (P1.47 M), and nutrition health posts with amenities in Datu Ito Andong (P1.29 M).

Concemino added that villagers of Nalilidan and Santa Clara will have potable water system amounting to P1.44 M and 1.30 M, respectively.

Kalahi-CIDSS, which stands for Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-A Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services, is a national community-driven development program of DSWD in partnership with the local government units.

The program aims to bring together different stakeholders so that grassroots communities work cohesively and transparently to move toward progress, leaving no one behind in terms of development.

Like in Candado village, their long-awaited rescue vehicle has finally come into reality. At the least, he hopes that no more father to feel the excruciating  pain he experienced because of the absence or lack of government project to help them.

NPA attack incurs P2-billion losses, hundreds of workers displaced

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 4): NPA attack incurs P2-billion losses, hundreds of workers displaced

The New People’s Army attack last April 29 on Lapanday’s box and manufacturing plant in Mandug destroyed about P2-billion worth of investment and displaced 700 to 1000 workers.

The rebels simultaneously attacked the box and plastic plant in Mandug, the Lapanday ranch in Calinan and the Macondray Plastic Plant in Bunawan.

In a press conference held by the company last May 3, Manolito Dangatan chief financial officer of Lapanday Foods Corporation said the destroyed facilities was the company’s biggest investment in Davao City and will take two to three years to rebuild the plant.

The boxing plant has about 20,000 square meters of floor area and is said to cost P1.5-biliion to P2-billion.

Dangatan said the company has contributed P600-million to various stakeholders for the last five years, including P130-million to its employees.

“It’s really unfortunate that this investment in Davao City will suffer in this damage,” Dangatan said.

“The fact that they become jobless, this made it more difficult for them now, give that in a next couple of weeks school time opens.” Says Hernani Geronimo strategic and shared human resource services officer of Lapanday.

 “We will do everything we can to help cushion the impact as we have done in other instances where calamities have struck we were there to provide not just to the workers but also the community.” Geronimo added.

Meanwhile the City Government of Davao has promised aid to the displaced workers like providing skills training to the employees. The Davao City Police Office had also distributed relief goods to the families of affected workers.

Free tuli benefits 107 boys in SurSur town

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 4): Free tuli benefits 107 boys in SurSur town

TANDAG CITY, Surigao del Sur – One hundred seven (107) school-aged boys benefited a free circumcision dubbed "summer operation tuli" held on Tuesday at the Cagwait Elementary School in Cagwait town of this province.

According to 36th Infantry Battalion spokesperson Captain Al Anthony Pueblas, aside from circumcision, other services such as shoe repair and haircut were also offered to the local residents.

Pueblas said the activity was aimed to cater to the physical needs and holistic development of school-aged boys.

Pueblas added that it was realized thru the sponsorship of the Cagwait Teachers and Employees Cooperative (CAGTEC) in collaboration with the 402nd Brigade and the 36th Infantry Battalion, Phil. Army.

U.S. Embassy, CHED renew scholarship agreement

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 4): U.S. Embassy, CHED renew scholarship agreement

CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan and US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim  (Twitter / MANILA BULLETIN)

The United States Embassy in the Philippines and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) recently renewed its agreement for the Fulbright-CHED Scholarship Program.
United States Ambassador to the Philippines, Ambassador Sung Kim, an honorary Philippine-American Educational Foundation Board Chairperson and CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan led the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that continues the Fulbright-CHED Scholarship Program for Graduate Studies in the United States.

Fulbright-CHED Scholarships enable faculty and staff from higher education institutions to pursue masters and doctoral studies, including thesis or dissertation research, in higher education institutions in the United States.

In 2016, CHED and the Philippine-American Educational Foundation (PAEF) formally established the Fulbright-CHED Scholarship to build capacity for higher education in the Philippines and strengthen people-to-people ties between our two countries.  The 2016 MOA provided scholarships for 17 faculty and staff to pursue graduate degrees in fields including Socio-Cultural Anthropology, Agricultural Education, Fisheries Technology, and Maritime Law and Policy in the United States during the 2017-2018 academic year.

The renewed MOA will offer additional graduate education scholarships to college faculty for the academic year 2018-2019.

Davao mayor expresses sadness over death of fish vendor hit by NPA landmine

From the Philippine News Agency (May 4): Davao mayor expresses sadness over death of fish vendor hit by NPA landmine

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio expressed sadness Thursday over the death of a fish vendor, who was hit by a landmine explosion planted by the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels during their attack of the box and plastic plants of Lapanday Foods Corp. last Sunday.

"I am sorry we lost Larry, a victim of delusional people living in an alternate universe who are now celebrating their so-called victory against oppression. But it is a celebration that means nothing except grief for the true victims,” the mayor said in a statement.

Fish vendor Larry Buenafe succumbed to multiple wounds in the head early morning Thursday, four days after he was hit by a landmine that exploded while he was passing through Tigatto road to sell fish. The landmine was planted by the NPA rebels who launched the attack against Lapanday.

Mandug was Buenafe’s usual route in selling fish. He's a resident of Agdao in downtown area.

Dr. Ricardo Audan, chief of clinic of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), said Buenafe died "due to severe head injury secondary to blast injury."

Also contributory to his condition was the hypovolemic shock, an emergency condition in which severe blood or fluid loss makes the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body, the physician said.

The mayor said Buenafe was "murdered by people who think that it will make a difference if they punish the Lorenzos by burning their factories."

It did make a difference, but definitely not to the Lorenzos because their wealth is still there, tucked safety somewhere, she said.

Duterte-Carpio expressed sympathies to Buenafe's family as well as to the hundreds of workers who lost their jobs because of the NPA attacks.

2 suspected Abu Sayyaf members nabbed in Bohol

From the Philippine News Agency (May 4): 2 suspected Abu Sayyaf members nabbed in Bohol

Two men suspected to be the remnants of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members who entered Bohol were arrested on Thursday morning in Barangay Tan-awan in Tubigon town, Bohol.

PO2 Ronald Manlangit, desk officer of Tubigon Police Station, said the two armed men were sighted at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday in Barangay Tan-awan asking for food and clothes.

One of the men was identified as suspected ASG member Saad Samad Kiram, 36, who is now detained in the Bohol Provincial Police Office.

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 Deputy Chief Hector Amancia said Kiram and his companion were fed in one of the houses in Tan-awan.

While the two were eating, the owner of the house called the attention of troops from the 41st Infantry Brigade to apprehend them. The two did not resist arrest.

Amancia said the authorities seized a loaded handgun and a hand grenade from the suspects.

Police said they were still verifying the identity of the other suspected ASG member.

Tubigon is a town next to Clarin, where the second clash between the ASG and government troops took place on April 22, which led to the death of sub-leader Joselito Melloria, an Inabanga, Bohol native who joined the bandit group and three others.

The first clash between suspected ASG members and government troops in Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Napo, Inabanga, Bohol on April 11 resulted in the death of five suspected ASG members, three soldiers and a policeman.

PHL Navy's second SSV now headed for home

From the Philippine News Agency (May 4): PHL Navy's second SSV now headed for home

The country's second strategic sealift vessel (SSV), the BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), has left PT PAL (Persero)'s shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia and started her voyage home Wednesday afternoon.

Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna in a message to the PNA said the SSV's departure was witnessed by Philippine Fleet commander Rear Admiral Gaudencio C. Collando and his party.

Departure of BRP Davao Del Sur took place 12 noon Wednesday. She is expected to arrive at the Manila South Harbor on May 8.

The SSV and her 120-strong crew will be most likely welcomed by PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado on May 10, Lincuna added.

Commissioning ceremonies will be announced later.

The PN spokesperson said the second SSV would boost the Navy's capability to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions alongside with its troop and cargo missions.

The BRP Davao Del Sur was launched last Sept. 29. She is the sister ship of the BRP Tarlac (LD-601), currently the largest Filipino warship in commissioned.

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

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

BRP Davao Del Sur is also a Makassar-class landing platform dock like her sister ship BRP Tarlac.

Its delivery to the Philippines, tentatively scheduled this coming May, will complete the two-unit SSV procurement project with an approved budget contract of Php 4 billion sourced from the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund.

Just like the BRP Tarlac, the PN's latest SSV will serve as a floating command-and-control ship, especially in the conduct of humanitarian assistance and disaster response and will also serve as a military sealift and transport vessel.

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

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

BRP Davao Del Sur can carry 500 troops, two rigid-hull inflatable boats, two landing craft units and three helicopters.

One more ASG bandit bagged in Bohol operations

From the Philippine News Agency (May 4): One more ASG bandit bagged in Bohol operations

One of the three remaining Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) stragglers in Bohol were arrested by government security forces in Bohol Thursday morning.

This was confirmed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, citing reports coming from Central Command head Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao and other ranking military commanders in the area.

The arrest of the ASG bandit took place around 7 a.m. in Barangay Tanawan, Tubigon town, he added.

This was made possible thanks to the cooperation of civilians in the locality.

Identity of the arrested bandit is still determined as of this posting.
Padilla said that the suspect is among the 11-man team ASG sub-leader Muamar Askali alias "Abu Rami" took to Inabanga town, Bohol last April 10 in a bid to raise havoc in the province's tourist trade.

However, prompt government response resulted in Askali's death and three other bandits last April 11 along with three soldiers, one police officer and an elderly couple.

Pursuit operations in Barangay Bacani, Clarin town resulted in the death of ASG contact Joselito Milloria and three other brigands last April 22.

Joint patrols with China requires treaty -- Esperon

From the Philippine News Agency (May 4): Joint patrols with China requires treaty -- Esperon

National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Thursday clarified that joint exercises military with China could not be immediately implemented without the presence of a visiting forces agreement (VFA) or a treaty.

Esperon made the clarification during a press briefing in Malacañang following statements made earlier by President Rodrigo Duterte allowing joint exercises with China.

Last Monday, Duterte said that China can have joint military drills with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Mindanao particularly the Sulu Sea.

"When the President gives out a pronouncement, we take that as an order from him. How to implement it? And as we see it we now have to look at the requirements for us to be able to do that," Esperon said.

"In joint exercises, you must have a visiting forces agreement and probably a treaty, if there need be, and other requirements like delineation of exercise areas," he said stressing that China could not just enter internal Philippine waters without the required agreements.

"But we will, together with the Department of National Defense and other agencies in the security cluster, we will study that. Because if that is the desire of the President, then we will do it," Esperon said.

In the meantime, the Security Adviser said that joint patrols in the Sulu Sea would be beneficial to the country given the threats of ISIS and kidnapping in the area.

He added that with the recent launching of the Davao-General Santos-Bitung roll-on roll-off (RoRo) ferry service, potentials for other trade routes are huge.

“Halimbawa, kasabay nung ano, kasabay nung Ro-Ro line ng Bitung-Gensan-Davao ay magkakaroon din tayo ng linya dito sa Tawi-Tawi, Sabah, Labuan na barter trade. So kung matahimik ‘yung area na ‘yun, you can just imagine the commerce and trade that will be generated in that area,” he said.

“If we have enough patrols there, then you will be assured that that Ro-Ro trip will be secured and will bring prosperity to the area,” Esperon said.

3 killed, one hurt in UH-IHD crash in Tanay, Rizal

From the Philippine News Agency (May 4): 3 killed, one hurt in UH-IHD crash in Tanay, Rizal

A Philippine Air Force (PAF) pilot was killed along with his two crewmen while another one was injured when their UH-IHD "Huey" combat utility helicopter crashed in Tanay, Rizal Wednesday.

1st Lt. Xy-zon Meneses, 2nd Infantry Division public affairs office chief, said the mishap took place 3 p.m. at Sitio Hilltop, Barangay Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal.

He declined to identify the casualties pending the notification of their loved ones and families.

Initial reports indicated that the UH-IHD had just finished conducting air-to-ground and disaster rescue operations training with troops stationed in 2nd Infantry Division headquarters in Camp Capinpin along with some 12 police operatives when it encountered some mechanical trouble, forcing it to crash-land.

Investigations are still ongoing to determine exact cause of the mishap as of this posting.

MILF: Editorial -- Historic ties revived

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 1): Editorial -- Historic ties revived

The historic ties between the Philippines particularly Mindanao and Indonesia have been revived and strengthened anew. This came about by the recent agreement between Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo to open up a new shipping route, which links the Philippine cities of Davao and General Santos to the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi.

This new trade route will reduce both travel time and cost for nationals of both countries. It can also make both peoples closer to each other. It came also at a time countries in Southeast Asia are facing challenges brought about multiple and conflicting claims over various islands or islets in the South China Sea. China, which is no longer a sleeping giant, is lording it over all other claimants.

For centuries, relations between the peoples of the Philippines especially Moros and Indonesia have been very warmth and close. During the Moro-Spanish War, the Indonesians especially those of Ternate were helping the Moros battle the Spaniards, and much of the supplies of gunpowder, brass cannons, and some warriors emanated from Indonesia. Makassar was an ordinary marketplace for the Moros in olden times; in fact, one very popular type of rice among them was called “Makassar”, which was obviously brought from there by Moro traders or “pirates”.

In physical features, Moros are nearer to the Indonesians. This is not surprising because it is believed that most of the Moro tribes came from the Indonesia. In fact, the Sangils of Sarangani and Davao are “moroized” or “Filipinized” Indonesian. They speak an entirely different dialect from other Moros. However, in some aspects, their dialect resembles much with those of the Sama of Tawi-Tawi.

Philippine-Indonesian relations came to sore during Martial Law during the hated Marcos dictatorial regime when hundreds of Sangils including those who were still Indonesian citizens were massacred by blood-thirsty Philippine troops accusing them of aiding the MNLF in its war of secession against the Philippine state.

We hail both heads of state for another milestone in their careers as presidents. This agreement will certainly help small to medium traders.

However, the only worry is that chances that big time businessmen will monopolize this trade opportunity. In fact, the Davao mafia, which is composed of elites of society who are mainly in energy, mining and big corporations, will control this trade route. If this happens, then the good intention of both heads of state will be in vain.

But our worry is held aback by our trust and confidence that President Duterte will not allow this monopoly to prosper under his administration. We know how he thinks and acts.

Let us hope for the best!

MILF: 1st UBJP Eastern Mindanao Region General Assembly held in Panabo, Davao del Norte

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 2): 1st UBJP Eastern Mindanao Region General Assembly held in Panabo, Davao del Norte

The 1st General Assembly of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) Eastern Mindanao Region was held in Maahad Panabo Al-Islamie, Barangay Datu Abdul Dadia, Panabo, Davao del Norte on April 29-30, 2017.

The said regional event was participated by five hundred eighty four (584) UBJP officers and members coming from the provinces of Davao Occidental, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and city of Davao. There are also some invited guests including Atty.

Benedicto “Benny” Bacani, Executive Director of the Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG), and some other personalities in the government sector.

Atty. Bacani, on his part, restated his commitment to continually extend technical support to the party.

The said event was also blessed by some invited MILF Central Committee members. However, Ghazali Jaafar was not able to come to witness the success of the event due to hectic schedule and previous commitment.

The highlight of the program was the discourse of Sammy Al-Mansour, the UBJP Secretary General, who was invited to deliver his Keynote Speech. During his speech, he highlighted some major points as to why UBJP exists and encourage members of the UBJP in the region to continue its struggle of expanding its membership and geographical coverage.

BTC Commissioner and UBJP Eastern Mindanao Region Vice President Hussein Muñoz, on one hand, emphasized the need of the officers and members of the organization to keep moving for the “winner never quits”, he said.

During the organizing effort, a number of civil society organizations extended their willingness to help and assist in the facilitation of the program. At the end part of the program, the five (5) Provincial Executive Officers and one (1) City Executive Officer strongly gave their commitment and support to the cause of the party.