Saturday, May 6, 2017

Series of attacks vs police in Parang, Sultan sa Mastura town: 1 killed, 1 wounded

From MindaNews (May 7): Series of attacks vs police in Parang, Sultan sa Mastura town: 1 killed, 1 wounded

A police photographer from the regional office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the latest victim in what is believed to be a series of retaliatory attacks against members of the regional police in Parang and Sultan Mastura towns following a series of law enforcement operations against illegal drugs and other forms of criminality.

At round 7:15pm on Saturday, P02 Faustino Berdadero Jr. was shot to death by assailants while walking to his home in Barangay Sarmiento, Parang, Maguindanao.

He was rushed by local responders to the Cotabato Regional Hospital but died along the way.

Berdadero suffered a headshot bullet wound, according to Senior Inspector Marcille Manzano, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office of the ARMM.

“We are deeply saddened by his death,” Manzano said, adding that Berdadero’s last task was during President Duterte’s visit in the PRO-ARMM in Camp Salipada Pendatun in Parang, Maguindanao a day earlier.

Shortly after the shooting incident, policemen stationed in in Barangay Tapayan Macabiso Compac Detachment in neighboring Sultan Mastura town was also harassed while a police mobile patrol was also fired upon by armed men that resulted to one wounded policeman.

Policemen are in full alert in the villages of Landasan (also known as Sarmiento) in Parang, Tapayan in Sultan Mastura and Simuay, Sultan Kudarat Highway Saturday evening.

Troops from the Army’s 603rd brigade were also sent to reinforce the police.

On Wednesday afternoon, Police Officer 2 Jonard Clarino was shot to death by riding-in-tandem suspects in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat while aboard his single motorcycle.

He was wearing the green police combat uniform of the Regional Public Safety Battalion when killed.

2 roadside explosions hit Maguindanao in less than 24 hours

From the Philippine News Agency (May 7): 2 roadside explosions hit Maguindanao in less than 24 hours

Suspected members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) set off an improvised explosive device (IED) along the national highway in Datu Hofer, Maguindanao Sunday morning, the second roadside bombing in the province in less than 24 hours.

“The roadside bombs were meant for government forces cruising the road network,” Capt. Arvin John Encinas, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said.

Encinas said the Army had launched artillery attacks toward nearby Datu Salibo town in Maguindanao where the BIFF is planning to overrun an Army base in the village of Pagatin.

Datu Salibo and Datu Hofer are about 15 kilometers apart.

The roadside bomb this morning missed a convoy of soldiers under the 57th Infantry Battalion conducting road security patrol, Encinas said.

At about 6 p.m. Saturday, suspected BIFF elements set off an IED in Barangay Pagatin that damaged two tires of a Simba armored personnel carrier, Encinas said.

Encinas said the troops did not suffer any casualties.

DSWD gives additional aids to PAF men killed in action in Tanay

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6): DSWD gives additional aids to PAF men killed in action in Tanay

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is providing additional burial assistance to the three members of Philippine Air Force who died in helicopter crash in Sitio Hilltop, Sampaloc, Tanay, rizal during a disaster preparedness and response exercise last Thursday.

DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said Saturday that the agency was also providing medical assistance to the lone survivor, who is now confined in V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City.

Taguiwalo expressed her deep sympathy to the families of three fatalities.

"The entire DSWD leadership and staff salute the three PAF members and mourn their deaths as it happened in the conduct of their duty," said Taguiwalo.

The Welfare Chief added that PAF had always been a strong and supportive partner of the DSWD in its disaster response actions and campaigns.

She described the value of PAF men and women in their role and commitment in assisting them on the undertakings and efforts to provide immediate assistance to Filipinos caught in emergency situations and affected by calamities.

Killed in action were Cpt. Christian Paul T. Litan PAF (Pilot); SSg Byron Tolosa PAF; and A1C Joseph De Leon PAF.

Wounded in action was 1LT Cesar Rimas PAF (co- Pilot). 1Lt. Rimas was air lifted to the AFP Medical Center.

"We salute PAF officers Christian Paul, Byron, and Joseph and thank them for their contributions to our government's efforts to help those in immediate need of disaster relief, " the Welfare head said.

2 dead, 6 hurt in 2 Quiapo blasts; terror ruled out

From the Philippine News Agency (May 7): 2 dead, 6 hurt in 2 Quiapo blasts; terror ruled out

Two explosions rocked a busy area in Quiapo, Manila Saturday, killing two persons and injuring six others.

The first blast took place at around 5:55 p.m. in a strip of stalls along Norzagaray Street corner Elizondo Street, near the Barbosa Police Community Precinct.

Less than three hours later, another blast happened just a few meters from the first explosion site at around 8:32 p.m. near Quiapo's Golden Mosque.

The first explosion reportedly left 2 people dead and four others wounded,, including a child while, the second one sligjtly injured two responding personnel from the Explosives and Ordnance Division and Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO).

Investigators identified the policemen as Chief Inspector Eliza Arturo of the Manila Police District (MPD) SOCO, who was brought to the Medical Center Manila, and Police Officer 2 Aldrin Resos of MPD’s EOD, who was administered first aid.

National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Agbayalde, in an earlier interview on ANC Saturday night, said that in the first blast, the explosive was contained in a package that was intended for a "specific person".

“There are no indications that this is a terrorist attack. The package was intended for a specific person," he said.

The two fatalities were the person who delivered the package and the one who received it, he said. 

Dead on the spot were a certain Mohamad Bainga, who was carrying the package containing the explosive and the unidentified stall caretaker who received it.

Police identified three other injured victims from adjacent stalls as Jaber Galum of Lanao del Sur, Datu Sohair Adapun of Marawi City, and Hajhi Ali of Gunao, Quiapo.

Galum and Adapun were brought to the Mary Chiles Hospital while Ali is now being treated at the UST Hospital.

According to SPO3 Dennis Insierto of MPD-District Special Operations Unit (DSOU), the explosions were believed to be caused by warring Muslim clans.

Insierto said the bomb was meant for a Muslim lawyer, leader of Sia clan – which is allegedly one of the lowest class of Muslim clans – but accidentally went off while still in the hands of a courier of the Sunni group, which is reportedly considered as an elite Muslim group.

He also ruled out the possibility that the incidents were the handiwork of terrorists.

It can be recalled that the terrorist group (International State of Iraq and Syria) claimed responsibility for the April 28 explosion in Quiapo, on the eve of the opening of the 30th ASEAN leaders summit in Manila.

Police assurance

Meanwhile, the NCRPO chief urged the public to be vigilant and cooperate with the police as he mourns the loss of lives in the twin blasts.

“While our team assess and investigate the situation in Quiapo, I urge everyone to remain vigilant and provide cooperation to our policemen especially those living the area of explosion,” Agbayalde said in a statement. “Your authorities are on top of the situation, while there is no reason for the public to be alarmed.”

“I request everyone especially those on social media to please refrain from posting and passing on unconfirmed information so we do not sow fear or mislead the public,” he added.

He also urged the public to report immediately to the police anything out of the ordinary.

“We will update you on the case as soon as our team will complete assessment in the area,” he said.

He assured everyone that the police will leave no stones unturned until arrests are made and justice given to the victims.

Agbayalde said he has also ordered all policemen on the ground to stay alert and focus 
on securing their areas of responsibility.

"Please allow us to do our job and we will inform everyone on the progress of the investigation,” he said.

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, NTG 80.5 to participate in 50th anniversary celebrations of RSN

From the Philippine News Agency (May 7): BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, NTG 80.5 to participate in 50th anniversary celebrations of RSN

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15) and Naval Task Group (NTG) 80.5 on Saturday sailed to participate in the 50th anniversay celebrations of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) which is scheduled from May 11 to 19th.

Capt. Donn Anthony Miraflor, NTG 80.5 head, said the theme for the RSN event is “RSN50: Maritime Nation, Maritime Force”.

After the activity, NTG 80.5 will be deployed to Sasa Wharf, Davao City to augment the Philippine Navy (PN) contingent preparing for the service's 119th founding annivesary there.

PN chief-of-staff Naval Staff Rear Admiral Allan Ferdinand V. Cusi presided over the send-off ceremony for the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, the country's first Hamilton-class cutter, and NTG 80.5.

This International Defense and Security Engagement will be highlighted by the attendance of PN flag officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph S. Mercado in the Singapore’s 1st International Maritime Review (IMR); International Maritime Defense Expo (IMDEX) Asia 2017; and 5th International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC) which will serve as an opportunity to solicit modernization initiatives that could best benefit the Navy and the Philippines.

Additionally, PN contingent will engage into friendly discussions and exchanges with other participants of IMDEX 2017 through 6th WPNS Multilateral Sea Exercise (WMSX); 3rd International Naval Engineering Conference (INEC); and Maritime Information-Sharing Exercise (MARISX).

Likewise, this mission will also provide training opportunity for the 35 students of the Naval Officers Basic Officers Course (NOBC) who will have the opportunity to undergo shipboard training onboard BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and visit the state-of-the art training facilities of the RSN, and also a chance to interact with the Filipino communities in Singapore.

The PN recently participated in the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition last March this year.

PNP to look for alternative sources of firearms

From the Philippine Star (May 7): PNP to look for alternative sources of firearms

“If we would no longer have those firearms, then we have to shift our focus to other sources of firearms,” PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said. AP/Bullit Marquez

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will have to look for other sources should the US government pursue its plan to restrict the export of firearms to the country amid concerns over President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“If we would no longer have those firearms, then we have to shift our focus to other sources of firearms,” PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said.
He said China and Russia, among other countries, are offering to sell firearms to the Philippines.

Dela Rosa added Russian President Vladimir Putin had promised Duterte to provide the firearms needed by the police.
“We will look for ways to procure these firearms,” Dela Rosa said.

Two American lawmakers on Thursday filed a bill seeking to restrict the export of firearms from the US to the Philippines.

Sens. Ben Cardin and Marco Rubio expressed concern over the alarming number of deaths under President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.

The two senators proposed to restrict the export of firearms from the US government to the PNP over concerns of violation of human rights in the killing of drug offenders.

Cardin last year opposed the planned sale by the US of some 26,000 assault rifles to the PNP over concerns of human rights violations being committed in Duterte’s drug war.

This prompted the US State Department to stop the transaction.

Dela Rosa, however, insisted the purchase of some P1.7 billion worth of assault rifles from Sig Sauer Inc. will continue.

If the PNP acquires the firearms, it would enhance the firepower capability of its elite units like the Special Action Force.

“Our fight against terrorism will be affected but not our fight against drugs,” Dela Rosa said.

President Duterte, on the other hand, promised to support the families of PNP personnel killed in action in the war against drugs.

“Your children are assured of education and your spouses will receive insurance benefits immediately. That’s automatic,” Duterte told the regional policemen of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Friday.

Duterte noted the peculiar working situation of the policemen in the ARMM, owing to the presence of armed drug lords and extremists such as the Maute group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

He promised the ARMM police of logistical support to boost their law enforcement operations in the region.  

Man linked to Sayyaf slain in Sarangani

From the Manila Times (May 6): Man linked to Sayyaf slain in Sarangani

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: A suspected member of a terrorist group allied with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was killed during a police operation in Kiamba, Sarangani, police said.

Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr, spokesman of Police Regional Office-12 (PRO-12) said Jukarno Espadilla was killed when he tried to throw a hand grenade at policemen serving search warrants in his home in Barangay Badtasan, Kiamba at 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The operatives recovered from Espadilla his mobile phone that contained text messages to a certain Ali, purportedly an ASG member killed in Bohol last month, and to Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, alias Commander Tokboy.

Maguid was the founding head of Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines, a Sarangani-based terror group allied with the Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State.

Joselito Melloria, alias Ali, a Boholano member of the ASG, was killed during military operations in Inabanga, Bohol two weeks ago.

Melloria served as guide of ASG members who went to Bohol on a kidnapping mission during the Holy Week.

Galgo said joint police units were to serve warrants against Espadilla and Basir Sahak.

However, Sahak escaped, leaving Espadilla alone who “resisted by trying to throw a hand grenade toward police personnel,” Galgo added.

Government forces brought Kiamba to a district hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival by attending physicians.

Galgo said the operatives recovered a hand grenade, six sachets of shabu, ammonium nitrate contained in a plastic sealed container, seven mobile phones, a bullet for a 12-gauge shotgun and an unregistered motorcycle.

‘Great leap’ in PHL’s antiterror drive

From the Business Mirror (May 7): ‘Great leap’ in PHL’s antiterror drive

In Photo: This January 15, 2013, file photo shows armed members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Patikul, Jolo.

With two of the most decorated and best commanders of the military leading the operations on the ground, the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and other terrorist groups in Mindanao is making a decisive gain as shown by the recent killings of two of the ASG’s most active, elusive and dreaded leaders.

While the Armed Forces usually measures the results of its campaign on the number of enemy casualties, which is not necessarily the yardstick for the overall success of any operation, the deaths of ASG subleaders Muamar Askali alias Abu Rami and Alhabsy Misaya were a “great leap” in the anti-terrorism campaign.

After all, the two terrorist leaders, who have managed to elude the massive and continuing operations of the military until their deaths, have taken the notoriety of the ASG to new heights by perfecting the bloody and lucrative art of kidnapping and resurrecting it for their group, which, in the process, have enriched the ASG by way of ransom money.

Misaya and Askali were notoriously feared since they have the habit of decapitating their captives once their demand for ransom is not met. Both belonged to the second and third generations, respectively, of leaders of Mindanao’s most notorious group.


Various reports from the military have tagged Misaya and his group as responsible for some of the daring kidnappings that were perpetrated at sea by the ASG, with most of the cases carried out on Mindanao’s border waters with Malaysia and Indonesia, by intercepting and boarding transiting vessels.

Misaya and his followers even traveled to Sabah to take captives, whom they would later move to Sulu where they negotiate for their victims’ freedom by way of ransom money.

The military said that in March last year, Misaya and his group kidnapped 10 Indonesians aboard a tugboat and a barge in the waters of Sulu, while the sailors were bringing in coal to the country from Borneo. A ransom of P50 million was demanded for the release of the foreigners.

The kidnapping, which followed the same pattern of cases against a number of Malaysian sailors, temporarily jostled the country into an energy crisis as Jakarta briefly halted its coal exports to Manila in protest.

The series of kidnappings at sea, for which the government has struggled to find solutions, has prompted the Department of National Defense to seal a joint air and sea patrols agreement with Malaysia and Indonesia.

Before his killing on April 28 at Barangay Silangkan, Indanan, Sulu, by Marine forces, Misaya, a bomb expert and a native of Barangay Bunot in the same town, has logged a number of cases.

Further reports on the terrorist subleader showed he was involved in other high-profile cases, such as the October 2002 Malagutay bombing that killed US serviceman Sgt. Mark Jackson and wounded 23 others that included another US serviceman.

He was also involved in the January 2009 bombing of the Salaam Bridge at Barangay Bato-Bato, Indanan, Sulu, and the March 2011 bombing of the Dennis Coffee Shop at Barangay San Raymundo, Jolo, Sulu, which killed four civilians and wounded 11 others.

On the other hand, Askali and his group were responsible for the beheading of Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel last year and German Jurgen Gustav Kantner in February this year.

The two Canadians were snatched, along with Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipino Marites Flor, from a resort on Samal Island, Davao Oriental, which was the Askali’s group first recorded foray outside Mindanao for its kidnapping activities.

Sekkingstad and Flor were later released after Askali received P50 million in ransom as he had admitted in some reports.

Askali, also the spokesman of the ASG, had also claimed he received P250 million for the freedom of German couple Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen.

On April 11 Askali and three of his men were killed after they sauntered into Bohol, apparently for kidnapping activities, while Asean officials were meeting in the province.

Four other terrorists were also killed in subsequent operations.

While fears heightened that Askali’s foray in Bohol was to initialize the ASG’s presence in the province, military officials, however, maintained he was there purely for kidnapping activities and to cool off from the continuing military operations in Sulu.

The plan for an atrocity by Askali’s group in Bohol while the Asean meeting was ongoing, had it been carried out, could have been reminiscent of the ASG’s act of beheading Malaysian Bernard Then while Apec leaders were meeting in Manila in November 2015.

Battle-tested commanders

The killing of Misaya heralded positive developments to the shift in tactics taken by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana by putting the once-sputtering Mindanao antiterrorism campaign in the hands of topnotch ground commanders such as Brig. Gens. Cirilito Sobejana and Custodio Parcon.

Sobejana, head of the Joint Task Force Sulu, and Parcon, who steers the Joint Task Force Tawi-tawi, are battle-hardened soldiers and dyed-in-the-wool commanders. They belonged to the crop of the “finest warriors” in the Armed Forces, being both recipients of the Medal for Valor, the highest award in the military.

The two commanders, who were hunting terrorists in their operational areas “like rats”, were veterans of the early campaign against the ASG in Mindanao, wherein they also got their awards.

Sobejana got his Medal of Valor award for leading his men, then as a company commander of the Army’s First Scout Ranger Regiment, in four hours of firefight against more than 150 ASG bandits in January 1995 in Basilan, which left 30 terrorists dead.

The story on Sobejana’s exploits has it that during the firefight, bullets from the ASG have nearly cut off his right arm, but he held it from falling by biting his right thumb while using his left arm to continuously fire at the enemy as he gave battle orders to his men.

On the other hand, Parcon, then a captain and the commander of the 61st Marine Company, led his men in the assault of Camp Al Madinah, ASG’s fortified camp in Basilan.

With Tawi-tawi now under Parcon, the province has stopped from being used as a launching pad for ASG’s kidnapping activities in Sabah, by continuously neutralizing the remnants of the terrorist group in the island province.

It was under Parcon’s watch that also saw the surrender of more terrorists in the province. Parcon is also a 1994 Ten Outstanding Young Men awardee.

ASG leadership vacuum

While military officials believed that the killings of Misaya and Askali may lead to a leadership vacuum and a demoralization among the ranks of the terrorists, Sobejana also disclosed of the infighting among the existing leaders of the ASG.

The military commander said this was confirmed by ASG sub-leader Udon Hashim and Haidal Kimar, who yielded to him on Monday at Barangay Jinggan, Panglima Estino, Sulu.

Sobejana said Hashim, who operates in Panglima Estino and Pata Island under senior leader Berham Lutian, and closely associated with Misaya, has been involved in the delivery of fake ransom money for the release of three Malaysian kidnap victims.

“On March 26 the groups of Lutian and Jamir Sawadjaan planned to attack the group of Alhabsy Misaya and Udon Hashim, who were then consolidating at Barangay Jinggan, Panglima Estino, due to the fake ransom money for the release of the three Malaysian kidnap victims that was delivered by [the] latter,” said Sobejana.

However, Misaya reportedly appealed to Radulan Sahiron, the emir of the ASG, to mediate for the settlement of fake ransom money. Sahiron called Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan to pacify his nephew Jamir Sawadjaan.

Sobejana said Sahiron, who is past his prime, has also been sending surrender feelers.

Maute on the run

In Lanao del Sur at least 38 members of the Maute Group, including three Indonesians and a Malaysian, were also killed late last month as the military continued its operations against the ISIS-affiliated group.

The three-day operation in the town of Piagapo was also carried out as troops continued to search for Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the ASG and the recognized leader of the ISIS in Southeast Asia.

The military said Hapilon has been ambulatory as a result of the wounds he sustained in an earlier operation by the military, also in the province.

Military fires mortars against Bangsamoro rebels in Maguindanao town

From ABS-CBN (May 6): Military fires mortars against Bangsamoro rebels in Maguindanao town

DATU SALIBO, Maguindanao — The Armed Forces of the Philippines launched a mortar attack on Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in this town late Friday night, a military official said.

Major General Arnel dela Vega, the 6th Infantry Division Commander, confirmed the mortar shelling last night after receiving reports that BIFF members were sighted in the area.

Residents of Barangay Sambolawan said they heard a series of explosions which, according to Barangay Tee chairman Chos Manunggal, came from military artillery and aimed at the boundary of barangays Tee and Andavit in this town.

Manunggal believes the shelling targeted lawless elements seeking refuge in the marshlands. No one was hurt in the said mortar shelling, according to the barangay chairman.

As of posting time, government forces remain alert on possible harassment of militants.

2 dead, 6 injured in twin Quiapo blasts

From Rappler (May 6): 2 dead, 6 injured in twin Quiapo blasts

(3RD UPDATE) A second explosion takes place near the first blast site, less than two hours later

Authorities check out the site in Quiapo where an explosion occured at around 5:55 pm on May 6. Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

Authorities check out the site in Quiapo where an explosion occured at around 5:55 pm on May 6. Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

(3RD UPDATE) – Two people were killed and 6 others injured in two explosions in Quiapo, Manila, on Saturday, May 6.

The first blast happened along Norzagaray Street corner Elizondo Street in Santa Cruz, Manila, near the Manila Golden Mosque at 5:55 pm on Saturday, killing two people and hurting 4 others, police said.

A second explosion happened near the first blast site, less than two hours later. ABS-CBN reported that a member each of the Explosives Ordinance Disposal and the Scene of the Crime Operatives teams, who were securing the first blast site, were hurt in the second explosion.

According to Philippine National Police National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) spokesperson Major Kimberly Molitas, the victims have already been rushed to the hospital.

Explosive ordinance disposal teams were deployed to secure the Islamic Center in Quiapo and investigate the cause of the blast.

NCRPO chief Director Oscar Albayalde, meanwhile, said the explosion might have been caused by a homemade bomb.

Authorities are currently checking if the said blast is connected to an earlier explosion in Quiapo on April 28 that injured at least 14 people. (READ: Quiapo blast victim loses leg, alone in hospital)

Police said that a pipe bomb caused the April 28 blast, and insisted it was not a terrorism incident related to the gathering of political leaders. Manila was hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings when that blast happened.

Police did not immediately give any explanation for Saturday's explosion.

The police, however, are denying the blast had anything to do with the two explosions, which occurred in areas roughly one kilometer away from each other.

Military rewards man for crucial Abu Sayyaf information on terrorist leader

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 6): Military rewards man for crucial Abu Sayyaf information on terrorist leader

A photo released by the military’s Western Mindanao Command shows Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Jr., handing over some P1 million in reward money to a masked man in Zamboanga City. The man allegedly tipped off the military on the presence of Abu Sayyaf leader Alhabsi Misaya who was killed in Sulu province on April 29, 2017.

The Philippine military said it has rewarded an alleged informant who tipped off soldiers that led to the killing of a notorious Abu Sayyaf leader in the southern province of Sulu.

The masked man received some P1 million that the military claimed was raised by civilians in Sulu as a reward for the April 29 killing of Alhabsi Misaya in the village of Silangkan in Parang town.

The Western Mindanao Command claimed that Misaya, a former Moro National Liberation Front rebel, was killed by soldiers in a firefight, but other reports in Sulu said the militant leader was slain by one of his followers after he allegedly doubled-crossed them over ransom money. One report said he was killed by an MNLF member over an old feud. After Misaya was killed, the assailant handed over the body to soldiers in exchange for the reward money.

Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Jr., chief of the Western Mindanao Command, personally handed the reward to the unidentified informant in Zamboanga City on May 5 and announced this the next day. “A reward was voluntarily generated by concerned individuals from Sulu who were elated of the confirmation by the Joint Task Force Sulu of Misaya’s death,” Galvez said.

“The group who requested that their identity be kept anonymous, wish to recognize the assistance extended by the informant to the Government troops as well as encourage other residents of Sulu to do the same,” he added.

In a profile released by the military, it said Misaya was involved in the October 2002 roadside bombing near an army base in Zamboanga City that killed a U.S. soldier, Sergeant Mark Jackson. Another American soldier training Philippine troops in anti-terrorism and 22 other Filipinos were also wounded in the attack. Misaya was also blamed for the January 2009 bombing of Salaam Bridge in Sulu’s Indanan town that previous military commanders said was perpetrated by the MNLF.

The military said Misaya was also behind the kidnapping of a Japanese treasure hunter, Katayama Mamaito in July 2010 in Sulu’s Pangutaran town and the deadly bombing of a coffee shop in Jolo town that killed 4 civilians and injured 11 more.

And was linked by the military to the November 2012 kidnappings of Malaysians Tung Wee Jie and Tung Wee Wei in a cross-border raid in Sabah in Malaysia, and also the February 2014 kidnapping of Sugar Dianne Esperanza Buenviaje in Tawi-Tawi’s Mapun town, among other heinous crimes, including the beheading of foreign and Filipino Abu Sayyaf captives.

Senate bill addresses abuse, corrupt ROTC practices

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6): Senate bill addresses abuse, corrupt ROTC practices

The controversies involving abuse and corrupt practices that have marred the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in the past will be addressed in a Senate bill that seeks to reintroduce the defunct program in universities and colleges.
Under Senate Bill No. 1322, Senate Pres. Aquilino Pimentel III seeks to institute a Citizen Service Training Course (CSTC), establishing a Citizen Service Corps (CSC) and creating a Citizen Service Mobilization Commission (CSMC).

The proposed measure is designed “to establish a comprehensive framework for the training and mobilization of the youth in order to instill a sense of patriotism and develop their love for country.”
The CSTC mandates a Basic Citizen Training Course for all tertiary-level students enrolled in baccalaureate degree courses or technical vocational courses in all public and private colleges, universities and similar learning institutions.

Pimentel assured that his measure will include the institution of safeguards to prevent abuse and corrupt practices.

The CSMC will audit the utilization of fees collected for the CSTC and investigate cases of corruption, graft, hazing, sexual harassment, and other abuses in the program.

His measure would also retain external and territorial defense training as a foundational component, akin to envisioned goal on the creation of the ROTC under Republic Act 7077, as amended.

Moreover, the course would be expanded to include trainings in internal security, law and order and disaster risk reduction and management similar to the NSTP under RA 9163.

He filed the measure to support the plan of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to reintroduce ROTC noting it has become indispensable for the government to mobilize the youth in the service of the country due to growing calamities and security threats that have confronted the people.

Head of AFP's munition control center to retire Monday

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6): Head of AFP's munition control center to retire Monday

Brig. Gen. Gerry Amante, the military officer responsible for developing the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) capability to deal with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats, will retire from service on Monday.

He will step down after 37 years in the AFP, public affairs office chief, Col. Edgard Arevalo, has said.

Amante's retirement ceremony will take place at the AFP Commissioned Officers Club.

“A retirement ceremony befitting a dedicated military officer will be held on Monday afternoon in honor of Brig. Gen. Amante. Lt. Gen. Salvador Melchor Mison Jr., the AFP vice chief of staff, will preside over the ceremony,” he added.

Amante has been the head of the AFP Munitions Control Center (AFPMCC) since 2014.

He also represented the Department of National Defense (DND) and the AFP in the meetings of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

The AFPMCC is charged with ensuring the reliability and adequacy of the AFP’​s​ munitions, and the development of the military's defense capabilities against CBRN threats.

“We in the AFPMCC created a core philosophy as a creative team of dedicated professionals who will see to it that munitions of soldiers are reliable adequate and accounted for,” Amante said.

He also said that developing the AFP’s CBRN capability, slowly but surely, has been one of the priorities of the AFPMCC during his stint as commander.

“We already created a CBRN unit in the AFP that is one of the standards in our region. The CBRN platoon is already doing headway and it is being deployed in national events, even being recognized as one of the best in the country,” Amante stated.

Prior to commanding the AFPMCC, Amante held key positions that contributed to the AFP modernization, logistics and transformation initiatives.

In 2012, then a colonel, Amante was tasked to organize and lead the newly created Army Governance and Strategy Management Office, which was tasked to pursue the implementation of the Army Transformation Roadmap.

“Brig. Gen. Amante is a dedicated military officer who has worked tirelessly in contributing to the AFP’s goal of becoming a more credible and modern military force. His dedication to his duty is worth emulating by our men and women in the Armed Forces,” AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año said.

Brig. Gen. Noelito Albano, Northern Luzon Command deputy commander, is set to assume headship of the AFPMCC.

NPA raids private security firm, abducts soldier in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6): NPA raids private security firm, abducts soldier in Bukidnon

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City --The military on Saturday condemned the abduction of an off-duty soldier by the New People’s Army (NPA) after a raid on a private security compound in Valencia City, Bukidnon, Friday evening, the military reported here.

Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, the spokesperson of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the unarmed soldier of the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion was riding a motorcycle with his wife when flagged down by the NPA disguised as members of the Philippine National Police.

Martinez identified the army soldier as Technical Sergeant Joseph Paredes, of the army’s 8IB based in Impasug- ong, Bukidnon.

He said that the armed men earlier stormed the security compound of Dasia Security Agency, a Davao-based security agency, in Juanilla Subdivision, Poblacion, Valencia City, Friday evening.

The NPA clad in PNP uniform took the agency's firearms and stole some of their valuables and placed it inside the agency's two armored vehicles sending panic among residents in the peaceful community, Martinez said.

As of press time, the PNP troops who are in pursuit successfully arrested the NPA informant, whose name is still being withheld, at his rented boarding house after his location was tipped-off by a concerned civilian in the area.

Recovered from his possession are subversive documents, four pieces chargers 1NVG Scope, a camouflage raincoat, sniper veil, surveillance eyeglasses, a black jacket, a jungle hammock, mountaineering pants, a pair of black gloves, five pieces of dry batteries, medical kits, and mobile phone.

The suspect is temporarily detained at Kalasag, Valencia City Police Station for proper disposition.

Martinez said the attack perpetrated by the NPA on a peaceful community showed the blatant display of “insincerity and callousness” of the communist rebels amid an ongoing peace talk with the government.

"We decry this another dastardly act committed by the NPA. We promise everyone that there will be no let up on our rescue operation to put pressure on the NPAs for them to immediately release our soldier and to put an end to the violence they committed in the area," Major General Benjamin Madrigal, commander of the Army’s 4ID said.

19 alleged ASG members surrender to Joint Task Force Basilan

From UNTV (May 6): 19 alleged ASG members surrender to Joint Task Force Basilan

Nineteen (19) alleged Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members have surrendered to Joint Task Force Basilan.

The surrenderers include two ASG sub-leaders namely Nur Nassan Lahaman and Mudz-ar Angkun.

Other surrenderers are four members of the ASG sub-group Salappudin who are involved in the seajacking of MV Shuttle tugboat-1 last March 23.

The surrenderers gave up their twelve firearms.

On April 27, four other members of the ASG surrendered to Joint Task Force Sulu.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines says 40 ASG members from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi have surrendered since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the “no let up operations” against the Abu Sayyaf Group in January this year. — UNTV News & Rescue

Informant gets P1-M reward for tip on Abu sub-leader

From ABS-CBN (May 6): Informant gets P1-M reward for tip on Abu sub-leader

The military has handed over a P1-million reward to an informant who helped the Philippine Marines hunt down a sub-leader of extremist group Abu Sayyaf.

In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command said the informant's tip led Marines to the successful offensive by the Joint Task Forces Sulu, where Alhabsy Misaya was killed.

Read: Abu Sayyaf sub-leader killed in Sulu: military

Misaya died in an encounter with pursuing soldiers in the remote town of Indanan, Sulu last week.

The Abu Sayyaf sub-leader was said to have been involved in the 2002 attack in Malagutan, which killed a US serviceman and left 23 others wounded.

Misaya was also involved in the kidnapping of Japanese-American treasure hunter Katayam Mamaito in Pangutaran, Sulu in 2010 and the abduction of Vietnamese sailors off Basilan in November.

Suluanos pooled contributions for the reward money after the military neutralized Misaya in their province.

40 Abu Sayyaf members surrendered since January 2017

From the International Business Times (May 6): 40 Abu Sayyaf members surrendered since January 2017

Philippine troops kill 4 Abu Sayyaf militants in Bohol

The Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) yesterday announced through an official press release that a total of 40 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members have submitted and surrendered to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) since January 2017.

Lt. General Carlito Galvez told newsmen that most of the surrendered rebels also turned over their firearms to the military including high-powered firearms such as M16 and Garand rifles. Most of those surrendered were from Basilan and Sulu, the known cradle of the ASG.

Four of those who surrendered belong to the ASG Kidnap for Ransom Group (KFRG). They were identified as Patta Salapudding, Asbi Salapuddin, Sayyadi Salapuddin and Arci Salapuddin. The Salapuddin brothers have reportedly involved also in maritime piracy including the seajacking of MV Super Shuttle T/B1 this year.

The surrendered ASG members underwent processing and will undergo further investigation. The military reported that they also expect more ASG members to surrender as a result of the military pressure in the known hideouts of the ASG in Basiland and Sulu.

The AFP earlier sent 10,000-foot soldiers to pursue the ASG. The US government tagged the ASG as a terrorist group in its FBI list of terrorist organizations.

Earlier, two of ASG leaders, Abu Rami and Abu Misaya, were killed in a separate encounter with military forces. A policewoman colonel was also arrested after she was suspected of rescuing some ASG members in Bohol. The policewoman was identified as Police Superintendent Maria Cristina Nobleza who happens to be the wife of ASG member Reenor Lou Dongon.

Both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to eradicate the ASG by June 2017. The ASG started in 1991 as a small group of the separatist revolutionary organization but eventually evolved into becoming a bandit group involved in diverse clandestine activities such as maritime piracy, kidnapping and extortion. A faction of the ASG also pledged allegiance to the ISIS group based in Syria.

In a related development, the military also reported that one of ASG's top pioneer leader ,74-year-old Radullon Sahiron, has also sent feelers to surrender. The US government has offered US 1 million dollars reward to anyone who can provide information that will lead to his arrest.

Saranggani cops prepare for terrorists' reprisals

From the Philippine Star (May 6): Saranggani cops prepare for terrorists' reprisals

 Authorities are anticipating possible retaliations by a fanatical jihadist group that lost a senior member in a shootout with police on Wednesday.

Superintendent Romeo Galgo, Jr., spokesman of the Police Regional Office-12 (PRO-12), told The STAR on Saturday the slain Jukarno Espadilla of the Ansa’r Al-Khilafa Philippines (AKP) also had links with the Abu Sayyaf.

The AKP and the Abu Sayyaf both boast of loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and are using the black ISIS flag as their revolutionary banners.

Espadilla was shot dead by policemen who tried to serve him a warrant for his arrest when he pulled out a grenade as they entered his hideout in Barangay Badtasan in Kiamba, Sarangani before dawn Wednesday.

He was a henchman of the founder of AKP, Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, now facing criminal cases in different courts in central Mindanao.

Agents of PRO-12 had killed six key followers of Maguid, among them a Sudanese bomb-maker, in a continuing crackdown that started in late 2016.

Galgo said units of PRO-12 are now guarding against possible retaliations by groups sympathetic to Espadilla.

He said there is a possibility that the AKP will avenge his death.

"We are not taking chances. Our units will do everything to thwart any such move from them," Galgo said.

Investigators found in Espadilla's possession a mobile phone with exchanges of text messages between him and Joselito Melloria, an alleged Abu Sayyaf member based in Bohol province in the Visayas region.

Galgo said the target of Wednesday’s operation in Barangay Badtasan was Espadilla and a companion, Bashir Sahak, also wanted for heinous offenses.

Sahak escaped when he sensed that policemen were approaching their lair from different directions, leaving Espadilla behind.