Friday, June 2, 2017

Terrorism and ISIS at Resorts World attack?

From Rappler (Jun 3): Terrorism and ISIS at Resorts World attack? (By Maria A. Ressa)

Key to analyzing the threat accurately is understanding terror networks in the Philippines and Southeast Asia

The gunman enters the casino, shoots indiscriminately, then sets fire to the gambling tables. Ultimately, smoke from the fire kills at least 36 people.

Philippine police quickly discount terrorism: “We cannot relate it to terrorism because he did not shoot anybody,” National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde told reporters on Friday, June 2. (READ: Police: Resorts World Manila shooting not act of terrorism)

Yet, instead of escaping with a backpack of casino chips worth P113 million, the gunman killed himself in a manner reminiscent of suicide attacks.

“He burned himself inside the hotel room 510,” Philippine police chief Ronald dela Rosa told reporters. “He lay down on a bed, covered himself in a thick blanket and apparently doused himself in gasoline.”

Hours before authorities spoke, however, alleged ISIS member Semion Almujaheed, a member of the group that has taken parts of Marawi, claimed responsibility on a pro-ISIS channel.

This is the same account that posted the video of a priest held hostage in Marawi appealing for a troop pull-out on Tuesday, May 30.

Written in English and repeated in Arabic, the post said: “The lonewolf soldiers of the Khilafah attack the heart of Kufar city of Manila in Resort World.”

When asked about this, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana contradicted police statements, telling Rappler that “the police and intel people are investigating.” He added, “We are not yet ruling out that this is an ISIS act.”

Key to analyzing the threat accurately is understanding terror networks in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

Lorenzana explained that in 2016, ISIS in Syria recognized Filipino groups as part of the terror group, the Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIL or Daesch.

As early as January 2016, Rappler outlined the consolidation of extremist groups pledging allegiance to ISIS in the Philippines under the leadership of former Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, then based in Basilan.

“He was ordered to Lanao del Sur in early January to set up a wilayat (Islamic province) there,” Lorenzana told Rappler. “ISIS thought that Lanao del Sur was a better place for expansion because the area is bigger than Basilan, and there are more Muslims there. Since their recognition as part of ISIS, Hapilon has received funds from ISIS.”

In 2016, the groups consolidated in central Mindanao with a direct link to Syria.

Classified documents obtained by Rappler name the Filipino in ISIS in Raqqa: Mohammad Reza Kiram. In June 2016, he appeared in a video released in pro-ISIS telegram accounts. Kiram, along with a Malaysian and an Indonesian, beheaded 3 Caucasian males, and told jihadists that “if you cannot go to [Syria], join up and go to the Philippines.” (READ: Filipino millennial joins ISIS in Syria)

Capturing territory

Intelligence reports from the Philippines and at least two other nations show that foreigners and others who came to the Philippines in response to ISIS’ calls converged around the Butig area. Some of the foreigners were already in the country as part of what was then known as Jemaah Islamiyah, once al-Qaeda’s arm in Southeast Asia.

What separates ISIS from al-Qaeda is its successful capture of territory – a physical caliphate. As its forces weakened in Iraq and Syria, its propaganda pushed homegrown groups in other parts of the world to take territory.

The Maute Group, which calls itself “IS Ranao” held territory twice in 2016:
This set the stage for the taking of parts of Marawi, prompting the Philippine government to declare martial law in Mindanao on May 23. The Philippine military still has to regain full control of the city after more than 10 days of fighting.

“This is not a failure of intelligence; this is a failure to appreciate intelligence,” Rohan Gunaratna told Rappler. Gunaratna, the author of Inside al-Qaeda, is the head of the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research Centre in Singapore.

“We have written many reports about the developments of ISIS in Mindanao,” he said, “it’s time to plan, prepare, and to build a strategy to control, contain, isolate, and eliminate ISIS.”

From 2012 until today, we've shown the evolution of terror networks in the Philippines – from its links to al-Qaeda and evolution to ISIS.

Rappler documented ISIS’ moves in the Philippines, including ISIS-style beheadings of Filipinos, prison escapes, bomb plots, assassination attempts, and recruitment in universities in Marawi.

By early 2017, Filipinos and foreign nationals were training in the Butig area. By March, former Abu Sayyaf spokesman Muammar Askali, who had also pledged allegiance to ISIS, had moved from Jolo to central Mindanao. From there, a joint group traveled by sea to Bohol to try to mount an attack last April, coinciding with high tourist arrivals and an ASEAN meeting. That was foiled by authorities.

ISIS in Raqqa documented a lot of these, like this slick propaganda video released on ISIS channels soon after the Bohol plot was foiled. It plants the ISIS flag on the Philippines, and in Filipino declares, “Ang mga Sundalo ng Khilafa sa Silangang Asya” or the Islamic fighters in East Asia.

It's followed by video of training and fighting in central Mindanao – including the Maute Group’s brutal beheading of two Filipino sawmill workers in April, 2016. (This video was taken down on May 5).

Indonesian extremists in chat rooms were pushing each other to travel to the Philippines, with one saying, "Don't be a lion in the virtual world and a rabbit in the real world."

Several hours after martial law was declared in Mindanao, ISIS in Syria released this video claiming its solders controlled parts of Marawi. What’s striking is that the photos show the Maute Group wearing helmets and vests and operating high-powered equipment.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Lorenzana call homegrown groups ISIS. When will the rest of the country’s security forces do the same and align around a vision that can neutralize this threat?

Extortion threats from 'rebel' alarm Tacloban businessmen

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 1): Extortion threats from 'rebel' alarm Tacloban businessmen

A group of businessmen confirmed recent extortion threats in this city from a person claiming to be a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Wilson Uy, president of Tacloban-Leyte chapter of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said on Wednesday that business owners had been receiving threatening calls since early May from someone claiming to be to be a communist rebel demanding for money.

A lot of businessmen fear that something bad may happen to them if they won’t give in to demands, Uy said in an interview.

The suspect, who would introduce himself as Ronald, has been using different mobile phone numbers in making the calls. p>The police has yet to release information on how many people have reported the threats or if there’s any money paid out.

City police chief Sr. Supt. Rolando Bade, Jr., believes there is no reason for businessmen in the city to panic. “In most cases we have investigated, it has been found that the calls came from one person only and there’s a possibility that he is not really an NPA, but someone who just pretended to be one,” Bade said in an interview.

For Uy, whether the caller is a rebel or not, the wave of alarm and fear cannot be denied. However, he asked his fellow businessmen to remain calm and vigilant.

“We are training our businessmen here in the city how to handle extortion calls. We want those victims and potential victims to know how to protect themselves and to understand what to do if they are being targeted,” Bade said.

The city police, needs public cooperation by immediately reporting extortion incident and share information that would lead to the arrest of suspects, said the police official.

4 NPA rebels in Maguindanao yield

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2): 4 NPA rebels in Maguindanao yield

Four communist rebels in Maguindanao decided to surrender today and join the mainstream after they were demoralized by lip service of communist leaders.

Four New People's Army (NPA) rebels voluntarily surrendered to Lt. Colonel Lauro Oliveros, commander of 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion, Mechanized Division, Philippine Army in Barangay Kamasi, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Capt. John Ervin Encinas, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, identified the NPAs as Winel Oyon alias Bernie Oyong, 20; Kalas Ebus Mulok alias Nardo, 25; Mintes Ebus Sidula alias Minte, 42; and Bonie Sabnol Tumbalay, 34.

Encinas said all of them are members of the Manobo Tribe in Barangay Kabanalian, Esperanza and Barangay Bugso, Senator Ninoy Aquino, both in Sultan Kudarat province.

He said the four rebels turned over one M14 US rifle, two long barrel shotguns, one Springfield rifle, and assorted magazines and ammunition.

Col. Oliveros said the NPAs in Sultan Kudarat are losing members due to demoralization in their ranks caused by the unfulfilled promises of the NPA leaders.

Oliveros quoted one of the NPA as saying that they were tired of running away from government forces and their being rebels prevented them from farming and feeding their families.

Major General Arnel Dela Vega, 6th Infantry Division chief and Joint Task Force Central Commander, believed the Army’s sustained military operations in the area was a major factor in the surrender.

He added massive awareness campaign by the Army on Indigenous Peoples communities, especially the Manobo tribe, helped in the rebel’s decision to take another path, the right path.

"The IPs were actually victims of deception and their surrender greatly reduced the NPA-influenced areas thereby limiting their maneuver space," Dela Vega said.

He said a livelihood package will be provided by the provincial government of Sultan Kudarat as part of the efforts to encourage other victims of the NPAs to return to the mainstream society.

300 peacekeepers to secure peace corridor in Marawi

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2): 300 peacekeepers to secure peace corridor in Marawi

Over 300 peacekeepers have been deployed to secure the "peace corridor" to ensure safe passage of humanitarian aid to families displaced by the Marawi City conflict.

The peacekeepers consist of soldiers, policemen and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Irene Santiago, chair of the government's Implementing Panel, announced that the deployment of peacekeepers came after President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved last Monday the creation of a Peace Corridor, to provide "a safe and secure corridor for women, men and children fleeing the crisis in Marawi as well as a reliable space for humanitarian assistance to pass through."

"On behalf of [presidential peace adviser] Secretary Jesus Dureza, I am pleased to announce that today [Friday] the Peace Corridor has been set up by a composite team of the AFP, PNP and MILF who are, as we speak, traveling from Malabang [Lanao del Sur] to Marawi to set up the Joint Coordinating, Monitoring and Assistance Center (JCMAC)," she said in a statement.

"There will be two centers, one in Marawi and one in Malabang and a mobile center plying the corridor. More than 300 trained members of the Joint Peace and Security Teams are being deployed throughout the length of the corridor and will be augmented as the need arises," she added.

The 73-kilometer "Peace Corridor" has been set-up after top officials of the MILF met with President Duterte and offered their assistance to the present crisis in Marawi City.

Santiago said establishment of the peace corridor "is a testament to how far the Bangsamoro peace process has come and the partnership that has been established between the government and the MILF."

Both sides agreed to use the ceasefire mechanisms to manage the peace corridor.

"This ceasefire agreement remains in effect to this day and the ceasefire mechanisms are in place and working to prevent any armed conflict between the two parties," Santiago said.

"The ceasefire agreement states that the MILF does not condone and, in fact, rejects all kinds of terrorist acts. It has also committed not to provide sanctuary or assistance to terrorists and other lawless elements. The fact that no major violations have been reported in the last three years is a testament to the effectiveness of the mechanism," she said.

The government designated retired Colonel Dickson Hermoso, assistant secretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), to head the JCMAC.

Hermoso has been a pioneer in setting up this effective ceasefire mechanism, tried and tested for more than 12 years now.

"The JCMACs will be cooperating with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which is tasked with delivering humanitarian assistance in these areas," Santiago said. "The Peace Corridor is a manifestation of the shared vision of government and MILF of what our society should look like--one that is open, inclusive, compassionate, just, and cooperative. This is the complete opposite of the kind of society the terrorists want in Marawi--a closed, isolationist, violent, ruthless society ruled by fear with total disregard for human life and the integrity of our government and our diverse Philippine society."

Santiago said the Peace Corridor is more than a safe passage way for people and goods.

"In working jointly to deal with this humanitarian crisis, the government and the MILF are also building a major corridor to peace," she said.

Santiago said President Duterte reassured the MILF and the Bangsamoro people that he will honor all signed peace agreements and implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro starting with the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

"Today, I am pleased to report that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission is holding plenary sessions in Davao to finalize the draft law, which will be submitted to the President by mid-June," she said.

Palace calls attention of netizens over 'fake news' on Resorts World attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2): Palace calls attention of netizens over 'fake news' on Resorts World attack

Malacañang on Friday called on netizens to exercise prudence over the release of unverified statements or comments regarding the Resorts World Manila attack in Pasay City that killed 37, including the perpetrator, and wounded at least 54 people.

“We’d like to enjoin, especially the netizens, to please exercise responsibility. I believe this is a particular historic moment for all of us to be able to come together that in spite of all the differences that we all work towards the preservation of peace and unity in the country,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said at a Palace briefing.

He issued the call amid reports circulating in social media that the Resorts World incident was a terror activity undertaken by Islamic State (IS) militants.

The Palace official said that at times like this, people should show unity and love for country.

“Siguro panahon po siguro ‘yung ipairal ang ating pagmamahal sa bayan, a sense of patriotism; that we aim to build and to bring people together instead of trying to separate. No matter what our political colors are, we still have just one nation, one country,” Abella said.

Earlier, Malacañang stressed that the incident at the Resorts World Manila was a criminal act carried out by an emotionally disturbed individual.

Citing information from authorities at the scene, Abella pointed out that although the still unidentified perpetrator gave warning shots, there apparently was no indication that he wanted to harm or shoot anyone.

Except for the attacker, who supposedly committed suicide by setting himself on fire before shooting himself, the other 36 people fatalities died due to suffocation at the gaming area which was torched by the perpetrator.

“The only other individual who sustained a gunshot wound was the security guard who accidentally shot himself,” Abella noted.

Japan's biggest ship "Izumo", escort to arrive in Subic for goodwill visit on Sunday

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2): Japan's biggest ship "Izumo", escort to arrive in Subic for goodwill visit on Sunday

As part of the growing military ties between the Philippines and Japan, the Japanese helicopter carrier, the JS Izumo (DDH-183) and the guided missile destroyer JS Sazanami, will arrive in Subic Bay, Zambales on Sunday for goodwill visit.

The two ships are part of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Escort Flotilla One, Navy spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said Friday.  "Welcome ceremony and port briefing will be conducted upon arrival of the JMSDF Escort Flotilla One at Port of Subic Bay, Olongapo after a customary meeting procedure with (a) Philippine Navy designated vessel at the vicinity of Subic Bay," he added.  The JS Izumo is the biggest ship in the JMSDF as it weighs about 27,000 tons and measures 248 meters long.  She was laid down on Jan. 27, 2012 and launched on Aug. 6, 2013. The ship began sea trials on Sept. 29, 2014 and was commissioned on March 25, 2015.

AFP: Commensurate military power being used in Marawi

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2): AFP: Commensurate military power being used in Marawi

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday assured that government forces continue to apply commensurate military power on existing threats and pockets of resistance in Marawi, including the use of airstrike.

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Friday (June 2), Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the AFP is determined to clear Marawi of armed elements.

“Even if they want to keep this fight up to the end of this month, or this week, or whatever, we are determined to take care of all these forces that have brought and disturbed the peace, brought violence and disturbed the peace to the peace-loving community of Marawi,” Padilla said.

“The current focus of operation of our military forces remains to be the clearing of Marawi from armed elements that have still holed up in the area; the continued rescue operations for trapped residents; the continued recovery of civilian victims and potential casualties who have been victimized from atrocities from the armed elements; and the continued assistance that we can provide to the LGUs, the NGOs, CSOs who are conducting white helmet or relief operations,” he said.

“Continued efforts also are being exerted in our collaboration and coordination with other concerned agencies to ascertain the status of victims whose families continue to ask for assistance on their whereabouts, as well as those of the hostages that are known to us,” he added.

Padilla also called on the terrorists to surrender to the government or face the consequences.

“Kami po ay nanawagan na sana this armed bandits will come to their senses, surrender or face the dire consequences of military action and that means sure death,” he said.

In the same briefing, Government of the Philippines Peace Implementing Panel chairperson Irene Morada Santiago said that the peace corridor has been set up by a composite team of the AFP, PNP, and MILF.

The peace corridor is a safe and secure corridor for women, men, and children fleeing the crisis in Marawi, as well as a reliable space for humanitarian assistance to pass through.

Santiago said there are more than 300 trained members of the joint peace and security teams that are being deployed throughout the length of the corridor and will be augmented as the need arises.

Santiago also said the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is finalizing the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is expected to be submitted to Congress by President Rodrigo Duterte in the middle of June.

Santiago said the BTC is currently holding plenary sessions in Davao to finalize the draft law.

Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Police Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde said that NCR remains terrorist-free.

“Generally, Metro Manila, we enjoy peace and order. Maganda ‘yung prevailing peace and order dito sa Metro Manila… We have not monitored any threat on terrorism dito sa Metro Manila,” Albayalde said.

He, however, said the PNP, especially the NCRPO, remains on full alert status.

“While wala naman tayong namomonitor na threat ‘no, hindi naman din talaga tayo pwede mag-relax ‘no. Our intelligence community is in constant monitoring of the possible na mga threat groups who could be possibly here in Metro Manila, although wala tayong namomonitor na ganon,” he said.

In the same briefing, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella noted that initial findings on the Resorts World incident indicate that it is not connected to a terrorist activity or in the Marawi crisis.

“All indications point to a criminal act by an apparently emotionally disturbed individual. Although the perpetrator gave warning shots, there apparently was no indication that he wanted to harm or shoot anyone,” Abella said.

“The situation in Marawi is no longer considered a law enforcement situation but a matter of national security. And this includes taking care of the process with the MI, MN, pursuing the peace talks with CNN, which will be addressed with undistracted force the AFP, PNP elements should they refuse to pursue the talks; and also, fourthly pursuing development of Mindanao,” he added.

Maute death toll now at 120 as fighting goes on in Marawi City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2): Maute death toll now at 120 as fighting goes on in Marawi CityMaute death toll now at 120 as fighting goes on in Marawi City

Ongoing military operations against the remaining Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur has so far neutralized 120 of the lawless elements, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported on Friday.

The enemy death toll was as of 6 p.m. of June 1, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a statement.

Ninety of the Maute Group dead were confirmed through body count while the remaining 30 through eye witness reports.

Recovered terrorists weapons are 98 as of this posting with government losses at 36.

Civilians killed by the terrorists are placed at 19 with government security forces rescuing 1,024.

"Compounding developments in the battle remain as follows: (a) that the enemy is using children /civilians as human shields; (b) that the enemy is using Madrasahs as staging areas and mosques as sniper nest," Padilla added.

President Duterte to soldiers: We will win vs extremism

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2): President Duterte to soldiers: We will win vs extremism

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday expressed confidence that government forces will win in its fight against extremists in Marawi.

The President made the pronouncement as he visited the 102nd Infantry Brigade in Zamboanga Sibugay.

“Dito naman sa extremism, mananalo tayo. But we will have losses, ganon lang talaga ang buhay. That is how life is governed in this universe," Duterte said in his speech.

“Pero sabihin mo matalo tayo, imposible ‘yan. It will just take a longer period,” he said.

The Chief Executive also said that soldiers will be protected and will have more modern military aircraft, sea vessels and equipment during his time.

“Kung buhayin pa ako ng Panginoon Diyos, you will have about 24 jet planes. Mag-acquire pa ako ng 12. Subukan ko,” Duterte said, adding that instead of secondhand vessels, he will acquire brand new ones.

“Hindi na ako tatanggap ng mga equipment ng military na secondhand… Even I have to spend double the money,” he said. “And you have the best equipment now maski sa Jolo, Cagayan, kinumpleto ko na.”

Duterte likewise assured support for children of soldiers particularly on their education.

“I have already a part of the funds that will guarantee na ‘yung anak ninyo, edukasyon will continue even if you are somewhere,” the President said, noting that he already has an initial 20 billion of the 50 billion trust fund for the education of the troops' children.

“If I can have a 50 billion trust fund para lang sa edukasyon ng mga anak ninyo, even if you fight or you are somewhere else in this universe, sagot na ang edukasyon lang ha, sagot na ang edukasyon. So wala kayong problema. I have already the 20 of the 50 billion. Maski interes na ‘yan,” Duterte said.

The President also appealed to the soldiers to stay loyal to the flag and to the Constitution.

“I am not appealing for a personal loyalty. Hindi ko type ‘yung ganon. I just want you to fight for the Republic and maintain your loyalty to the Constitution. Period,” he said.

“During my time, as your President, I can give you only the inspiration and the protection that you would need. And I will attend to your needs and during my time, you will have the best,” he assured.

Following his visit to the 102nd Infantry Brigade, the President then proceeded to visit the wake of Corporal Nilo Donato, Jr., who was killed-in-action in Marawi.

CPP: Martial Law in Mindanao: Atrocities and fake news (Update 2)

Anti-Martial Law propaganda posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (May 24-Jun 1): Martial Law in Mindanao: Atrocities and fake news (Update 2)

 New slides added to the slide show:

Communist Party of the Philippines

27 May 2017

On March 23, 10 p.m., officials of the Duterte regime announced GRP Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration placing the entire Mindanao under martial rule while in Moscow at 5 p.m. (Russian time). Since then, progressive organizations, concerned agencies and ordinary individuals have documented increasing cases of atrocities and human rights violations, including aerial bombings of civilian communities. Bearing the brunt of these bombings are the residents of Marawi City which the AFP have overran with armed personnel and tanks. Undemocratic measures, such as checkpoints, searches and arbitrary detentions, are intensified in Davao City and other centers of Mindanao. The violations are as follows:

#NotoMartialLaw #StoptheBombings #LiftMartialLawNow

Day 9, June 01

11 soldiers killed in airstrikes.

46th IBPA illegally arrested a farmer, Cesario de Rosa in Compostella Valley.

Day 8, May 31

Air strike in Sirawai town, Zamboanga del Norte by 42nd Infantry Battalion.

Duterte to NDF Consultants: Do not attempt to come home. I will arrest all of you and throw you to the slammer.

Davao City government orders Barangay Captains to check on visitors, new faces.

Lorenzana: We can defeat Maute without Martial Law.

Restituto Padilla: Military can recommend extension of Martial Law.

Day 7, May 30

Farmer couple Kidjol Marcelo Antay Sr. and Noeme Antay were illegally arrested by combined elements of 60th IBPA and BAGANI force in Barangay Andap, Laak, Compostela Valley.

Day 6, May 29

Aerial bombing in Barangay Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

Continued indiscriminate bombing in Marawi City.

Iligan City lockdown.

Day 5, May 28

Mira Digaynon, Mandaya woman from Baganga, Davao Oriental was killed by 67th IBPA elements.

On May 24, Daniel Lasid, a Barangay Kagawad in Matanao, Davao del Sur was killed by 39th IBPA.

Day 4, May 27

Panay units send in initial reports of intensified widespread 3rd ID, PA combat operations on May 23 in Maasin, Alimodian, Leon, Tubungan, Igbaras, and Miag-ao, all in Iloilo, Sibalom and San Remegio in Antique and Tapaz in Capiz.

Tacloban city government put up checkpoints in entry and exit points for arbitrary searches supposedly “in solidarity with the declaration of martial law.” Said checkpoints will stay for the duration of martial law in Mindanao.

AFP carries out “surgical airstrikes” in Marawi using guided rockets fired from helicopters, hitting civilian homes, including that of a lawman

Curfew implemented in Kabacan, Cotabato, requiring citizens to carry “identification cards” at all times.

Elements of 66th IB who occupied the premises of Shin Sun Company in Compostela, Comval Province since May 26, barged into the picketline of the striking workers today (May 27) and threatened the workers that their “illegal” strike will be dispersed tomorrow (May 28) as ordered by their higher command.

KMP reports two peasant leaders arrested by 66th IB, PA in Maragusan, Compostela Valley.

Residents discover bodies of dead civilians inside homes destroyed by military air strikes in Marawi.

Restituto Padilla clarifies that the AFP “will enforce the law uniformly such that all violators of the law, regardless of group affiliations, will be dealt with accordingly.” This is after announcing “peace-inclined groups such as the MILF, MNLF and the NPA will not be affected by the ongoing military operations.”

Day 3, May 26

AFP aerial bombing by MG250 attack helicopters, shelling by 105 Howitzer cannons, firing by .50 cal machine gun in Sitios Pedtobawan, Campo, Apulan, and Centro in Brgy Salat, So. Libpas, Brgy. Tuael, all in President Roxas, and Brgys. Tangkulan and Anggaan in Dumulog, Bukidnon. One civilian killed, 5 wounded, more than 2,000 affected. This is 90 kilometers from Marawi.

Duterte to MLBT2: Trabaho lang kayo, ako na ang bahala… Pagnaka-rape ka ng tatlo, aminin ko na akin ‘yon [Just go to work, I’ll take charge… if you rape three, I’ll take the blame]…During martial law, your commanders, you can arrest any person, search any house, wala nang warrant. Kagaya noon, ASSO lang [no more warrant. Like before, just ASSO (Arrest Search and Seizure Order].

Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, announces AFP will exercise the right to censure (sic), especially in social media. To netizens: control of posts in social media necessary.

Police Regional Office 11: Leaders and organizers of “anti-goverment” rallies will be arrested, more so if this will cause public disturbance. Under Martial Law, the writ of habeas corpus is suspended and they can directly arrest anyone who breaks the law.

News outlet GMA7 clarifies that Amay Pakpak Medical Center was never overrun by the Maute group, contrary to AFP report of a takeover on May 24

Day 2, May 25

Task Force Davao and PNP launched Oplan Bulabog at Brgy. 23-C, Davao City arresting 260 civilians only because they could not present IDs.

Davao City government releases 30-point guidelines for the curtailment of civil liberties.

1,800 families from Marawi who have evacuated since May 22 to the municipality of Sagiuaran, Lanao del Sur are suffering from hunger despite availability of food supply from DSWD because of tight and strict military checkpoints.

30 women composed of Lumad, women, Moro, pastors and churchworkers who gathered for an ecumenical forum were put under interrrogation for an hour by 6th Marine Landing Battalion in Brgy. Domulon, Sulatan Kudarat.

LaSurECo (Lanao del Sur Electric Company) management clarifies that the Lasureco office was never overran by the Maute, contrary to AFP report.

Sr Inspector Romeo Enriquez, Police Chief, Malabang, Lanao del Sur clarifies that he was never beheaded by the Maute, contraty to Duterte declaration

Day 1, May 24

Massive bombing of Marawi City, 1 child killed. Disorganized, massive evacuation of civilians ensue.

Shelling and bombing in Matanao, Davao del Sur, more than 120 kilometers from Marawi.

CPP/NDF-FSM: Mainitong pagsaludar kay Ka Vergel ug Ka Jan, mga martir nga batan-ong Lumad

NPA-Far South Mindanao propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 2): Mainitong pagsaludar kay Ka Vergel ug Ka Jan, mga martir nga batan-ong Lumad

Dencio Madrigal, Spokesperson
NPA-Far South Mindanao (Valentin Palamine Command)

1 June 2017

Human nga gideklara sa rehimeng Duterte ang martial law sa Mindanao, ang 73rd IB-PA mipahigayon og mas kusganon nga opensibang operisyon batok sa katawhan ug ilang mga rebolusyonaryong pwersa sa utlanan sa mga probinsya sa Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato ug North Cotabato.

Niadtong Mayo 25 sa alas 12:30 sa kaudtohon, gibirahan sa sapper team sa NPA ang usa ka grupo sa nagapatrolyang tropa sa 73rd IB. Kahaponon niadtong adlawa, mibalos ang AFP pinaagi sa paturagas nga artillery shelling.

 Sa misunod nga adlaw, Mayo 26, nahitabo ang armadong panagsangka tali sa mga tropa sa Army ug sa buffer squad sa NPA. Narekober sa mga pasista ang eksplosibo, walo ka bakpak ug mga personal nga butang sa mga Pulang manggugubat apan napugngan sa mga kauban ang ilang pagpahigayon og mas dakung atake.

Niadtong Mayo 27, duha ka pasistang sundalo ang namatay dihang gidasmagan sa usa ka tim nga Pulang manggugubat ang usa ka kolum sa nag-operisyong 73rd IB bandang alas 3:30 sa kahaponon. Nasundan kini sa nahitabong panagsangka sa tali sa harassment team sa NPA ug mga militar sa alas 9:00 sa buntag niadtong Mayo 29 nga miresulta sa kamatayon sa duha ka mga Pulang manggugubat ug usa ka sundalo sa 73rd IB. Duha ka high power nga mga armas ug mga kabtangan sa namatayng mga kauban ang narikober sa pasistang tropa. Laing engkwentro ang nahitabo bandang alas 3:30 sa hapon sa mao gihapong adlawa diin usa ka sundalo ang gikaingong namatay.
Gisaludar sa VPC-ROC ug tanang rebolusyonaryong mga pwersa ug mga masa sa Far South Mindanao ang mga martir nga batan-ong Lumad nga nakigsangka hangtod sa katapusan. Si Ka Vergel (Arginel Catan) nga naggikan sa kaliwatang Bagobo sa North Cotabato, ug si Ka Jan (Jovani Tewaro) nga usa ka Lumad nga B’laan sa Davao del Sur, misampa sa NPA aron suklan ang pagpanglapas sa mga multinasyunal nga agribisnes ug large-scale mining sa ilang yutang kabilin.

Sa pagpahamtang og martial law sa Mindanao, mahimong mas dayag ang paggamit og mga pwersang militar ug pulis sa mga dagkung lokal ug multinasyunal nga agribisnes ug mga kompanya sa large-scale mining aron sumpoon ang pakigbisog sa mga Lumad ug mga mag-uuma alang sa yuta, panginabuhi ug pagpanalipod sa kinaiyahan.
Samtang nagkagrabe ang mga pagpangabuso sa tawhanong katungod tungod sa pagpahamtang sa martial law, mas daghang katawhan sa Mindanao ang matukmod sa pag-armas batok sa magun-obong sistema nga nagatulak kanila sa kumunoy sa grabeng pag-antos, pangdaugdaug ug inhustisya.

CPP/NDF-Mindoro: Aerial bombing sa Marawi City, Martial Law ni Duterte—tunay na terorismo laban sa mamamayan, kundenahin!

NDF-Mindoro propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 2): Aerial bombing sa Marawi City, Martial Law ni Duterte—tunay na terorismo laban sa mamamayan, kundenahin!

Ka Maria Patricia Andal
NDFP Mindoro

2 June 2017

Mariing kinukundena ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa isla ng Mindoro ang walang habas na pagbobomba ng Armed Forces of the Philippines sa Marawi City na nagdudulot ng walang katumbas na pang-aapi at kahirapan sa ating mga kapatid na Moro, at iba pang mamamayan sa Mindanao.

Nailalantad mismo ng AFP ang sarili nitong kahibangan sa pinakahuling pagkakapaslang ng 11 nilang tropa at pagkasugat ng ilang iba pa dahil sa miskalkuladong pagbagsak ng bombang nagmula sa kanilang aircraft.

Sa katunayan, hindi na mabilang ang mga sibilyang napapaslang at nasusugatan dahil sa aerial bombing at iba pang anyo ng paglapastangan ng mga sundalo sa karapatang tao mula pa noong unang araw ng Martial Law sa Mindanao. Pilit na ikinukubli ng mga opisyal na ulat ng AFP-PNP ang mga kaswalting ito. O kaya naman, ibinibintang nila ang mga ito sa bandidong grupo.

Ang aerial bombing, ang strafing, ang maraming anyo ng pang-aabusong militar sa Marawi City na dulot ng Martial Law ni GRP President Rodrigo Duterte ang tunay na terorismo laban sa mamamayan.

Kinukundena rin ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa Mindoro ang paghahasik ng lagim ng bandidong grupong tinaguriang “Maute group”. Hindi natin kailanman kinukunsinti o pinahihintulutan ang paglapastangan sa mamamayan upang isulong ang kanilang pampulitika o pang-ideolohiyang adhikain.

Ngunit sa halip na mawakasan ang paghahasik ng lagim na ito ng mga bandidong grupo, prinoklama ni Duterte ang Martial Law na nagpapasidhi ng kaguluhan sa Mindanao.

Sa Mindoro, isang de facto Martial Law ang umiiral mula nang ideklara ni Duterte ang all-out war laban sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Ang mga inosenteng sibilyan ang silang labis na inaatake ng mga berdugong militar sa paniniwalang masusugpo umano nila ang armadong pakikibaka ng mamamayan kung maghahasik sila ng takot sa kanilang hanay.

Tampok rito ang kaliwa’t kanang paglapastangan sa karapatang tao sa serye ng mga todo-todong operasyong militar noong Pebrero hanggang Mayo: pagdukot at pagpaslang sa isang sibilyan sa Bgy. Pinagturilan, Sta. Cruz, Occidental Mindoro noong Peb. 4-5; todo-todong operasyong kombat sa Victoria, Oriental Mindoro noong Pebrero na nagdulot ng sapilitang paglikas ng 43 pamilyang katutubong Mangyan-Tadyawan; aerial bombing sa Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro noong Marso 30 na malubhang nakaapekto sa humigit-kumulang 250 pamilya ng mga katutubong Mangyan-Hanunuo;
todo-todong operasyong militar sa Bgy. Barahan, Sta. Cruz noong Mayo 8; at ang pinakahuli ay ang pagpaslang sa isang sibilyan na si Mario Versosa sa So. FF Cruz, Bgy. Cambunang, Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro noong Mayo 21.

Dapat salubungin ng dumadagundong na protesta ang pakanang Martial Law ni Duterte. Singilin siya sa pangako niyang pagkakamit ng pangmatagalang kapayapaan. Dapat na itulak ito na humarap sa peace talks sa NDFP at kagyat nang pag-usapan ang substantibong adyenda para sa sosyo-ekonomikong reporma.

Nagiging karagdagang ang Martial Law ni Duterte sa arsenal ng dahilan ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan upang mapukaw, maorganisa at mapakilos ang mamamayan para palakasin ang armadong rebolusyon.

Sa nayon at sentrong urban ng Mindoro, dapat na masinsing ipatupad ang pakikidigma laban sa AFP-PNP upang parusahan sila sa kanilang krimen sa mamamayan. Pabukadkarin ang mga rebolusyong agraryo sa buong isla. Padagundungin ang pakikibakang masa ng mga magsasaka, manggagawang bukid, mangingisda, katutubo, sektor ng transportasyon, kababaihan, kabataan at estudyante at iba pang aping sektor sa mga sentrong pampulitika sa kabayanan. Palakihin ng ilang ulit ang ilampung libong baseng masa ng rebolusyon sa isla ng Mindoro.

Sa tumitinding terorismo ng estado, hinog ang mga kalagayan upang mag-ambag ang rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa Mindoro sa pagtataas ng antas ng digma sa buong kapuluan.

UNICEF Philippines Humanitarian Situation Update – May 31, 2017

Posted to ReliefWeb Philippines (May 31): UNICEF Philippines Humanitarian Situation Update – May 31, 2017

Report from UN Children's Fund
Published on 31 May 2017


On 23 May, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law for the entire Mindanao region in the Philippines. This followed the outbreak of armed conflict between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Maute Group, a local non-state armed group that has claimed allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur Province, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Mass evacuations took place as local residents left and sought refuge in identified safe areas in Marawi City and adjacent areas of Lanao del Sur (ARMM), and Lanao del Norte including Iligan City as well as in Cagayan de Oro City (Region X). As of May 30, 140,1551 individuals, half assumed to be children are seeking shelter in local government run evacuation centers or are being hosted by relatives and friends in surrounding areas. Approximately 24,000 individuals are estimated to be in recognized evacuation centers with the greatest majority of individuals (109,510) in host arrangements. By all indications, the numbers of those displaced is expected to continue to climb as the military continue their operations in the area. No current information disaggregates numbers by gender or age, but a disproportionate number of those in evacuation centers are reported to be women.

Currently, Marawi City is under the control of government but with some areas on the outskirts still subject to armed clashes. Assessments in areas surrounding Marawi City and in evacuation centers have been initiated. Access to areas affected by direct conflict is limited and as a consequence the humanitarian needs there are unknown. It is assumed that in these areas food stocks and water supplies maybe limited. Children left behind and separated from caregivers and family members in these communities have been identified as especially vulnerable.

Philippines Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 5 | June 2017

Posted to the ReliefWeb Philippines (Jun 1): Philippines Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 5 | June 2017

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 01 Jun 2017
In this issue
Marawi humanitarian crisis P.1

Sabah deportees in Tawi-Tawi P.2

Reproductive health in emergencies P.4

Philippines-US Disaster response simulation P.6


• Conflict in Marawi City continues, with over 100,000 displaced as they flee to nearby provinces. Martial law has been declared in Mindanao.

• Sabah deportees repatriated to the Mindanao island provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Sulu find education and livelihood options are limited.

• The Philippines continues the momentum to deliver on a pledge made during the World Humanitarian Summit to provide sexual and reproductive health services in emergencies.

• UN agencies and IFRC participate in the USPhilippines Balikatan exercise, which focuses this year on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Over 100,000 displaced in Marawi as conflict continues and martial law in effect in Mindanao

Armed conflict continues in Marawi City, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where as of 31 May, more than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes to seek safety in nearby provinces. According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), out of the displaced, more than 13,000 are in evacuation centres while over 79,000 are staying with family and loved ones. The firefight started on 23 May between the Government army and the Maute Group, a local non-state armed organization. Two weeks into the clash, media are reporting that fatalities are close to 100, including 19 civilians. Airstrikes by Government forces continue to target remnants of the Maute Group who have occupied a number of buildings in the city.

Government response and relief assistance

On the evening of 23 May, the national government signed Proclamation no. 216, declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for the entire island of Mindanao. Human rights groups and local Mindanao political leaders have appealed to the government to uphold rights of civilians during this period. The ARMM government is continuing to evacuate people trapped in Marawi City, and has delivered relief items such as food and water within the city. Local authorities also continue to provide relief items and health services to those who have fled the fighting. The ARMM government reports an estimated 2,300 people caught in the conflict zone as of 29 May.

National and regional authorities set up the Regional Coordination Center in Iligan City on 29 May. Chaired by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region X, OCD ARMM, and the ARMM Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, it is serving as the main sub-national coordination hub until further notice.

In Manila, the Departments of Health and Education have called respective cluster meetings on 31 May and 1 June and invited the Humanitarian Country Team, composed of UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations. The Department of Foreign Affairs also held a briefing to the diplomatic community on the overall situation in Mindanao.

Humanitarian coordination and response

As the situation continues to evolve, protection is an increasing concern, especially in evacuation centres.

According to UNHCR’s protection update, as of 30 May, access to food and other basic items such as drinking water and medicine remain a priority need for those who are in evacuation centres as well as those staying with their families. Initial protection concerns have been identified in evacuation centres, such as shelter from heat and rain, insufficient latrines, water and sanitation facilities which could trigger health risks.

On 29 May, the ARMM government made a request for assistance to the Mindanao Humanitarian Team, which consists of UN agencies and international and local non-governmental agencies. The request was to support water and sanitation needs at evacuation centres and host municipalities. There was also an expressed need for assistance to help track IDPs.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Philippine Red Cross have had teams operating between in and between Iligan and Marawi Cities since 26 May. They are supporting evacuation centres in Marawi City and Saguiaran and are transporting people from Marawi City to the centres and other places outside the city.

The Red Cross is also augmenting the Government’s response activities, including the provision of several water treatment plants and water bladders. Other assistance includes delivering medical supplies to hospitals, and providing psycho-social support to evacuees.

ACTED, IOM, OCHA, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP and Community and Family Services International are in Iligan City coordinating with the Regional Coordination Center. UNHCR has a team on the ground and have distributed tarpaulins to one municipality and to ARMM-HEART for shelter use. OCHA has deployed a team to Iligan City to support coordination and information management with the Government’s Regional Coordination Center. Limited movement in Iligan City makes it a challenge to monitor the situation, and affects the humanitarian response. Presently, members of the Humanitarian Country Team are responding to requests for assistance using prepositioned stocks and other resources available in the country.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit

ACAPS Briefing Note – Philippines: Displacement in Marawi city, Lanao del Sur, 01 June 2017

Posted to ReliefWeb Philippines (Jun 1): ACAPS Briefing Note – Philippines: Displacement in Marawi city, Lanao del Sur, 01 June 2017

Published on 01 Jun 2017 View Original
Since 23 May, fighting has erupted in Marawi city, Lanao del Sur on Mindanao island, between armed forces of Philippines and Maute fighters, allegedly supported by elements of the Abu Sayyaf and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). As of 1 June, over 100,000 IDPs have been registered by the regional authorities since 23 May but up to 90% of the 201,000 residents of Marawi are estimated to have fled. According to the authorities, at least 177 people have been killed, including 19 civilians, 120 Maute and allied group members, and 38 security forces personnel. Use of airstrikes by military forces, along enforcement of martial law increase protection concerns.

Surrender or die, military tells Maute

From Malaya Business Insight (May 31): Surrender or die, military tells Maute

THE Armed Forces yesterday told remnants of the Maute Group who are occupying some areas in Marawi City to surrender or end up dead.

“We call on the remaining terrorists to surrender while there is an opportunity,” said AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, as the armed conflict entered its eighth day.

Padilla expressed confidence government forces will defeat the Maute men who numbered around 100 when the clashes started Tuesday last week.

“We will come out victorious. We stand by the people of Marawi whose interests and safety we are protecting. For the terrorists, not surrendering will mean their sure death,” Padilla said.

Padilla also said the military establishment is calling for the surrender of the terrorists “in the hope of ending this (conflict) soon and reducing any more loss of lives and property.”

As of yesterday, the conflict has already resulted in the death of 65 Maute members, 17 soldiers, three policemen, and 19 civilians. Sixty-nine soldier and three policemen have been wounded.

Padilla said the terrorists continue to put up resistance thus, precision air strikes continue.

As helicopters circled the lakeside city where smoke billowed out of some buildings, troops cleared rebel positions amid explosions and automatic gunfire, moving house by house and street by street.

Nearly 85,000 displaced people are staying in 38 shelter areas outside Marawi.

Brig. Gen. Custodio Parcon, who is leading hundreds of Marines in clearing operations, said there were still sporadic firefights yesterday.

Marines are tasked to clear Barangay Mapandi of Maute members. Parcon could not say how many barangays are still affected by the violence but placed the strength of the Maute men in the barangay at 50 men the most.

Asked to describe the enemy resistance, Parcon said: “It’s not commensurate to the combat power that we are giving. They are on the run and we hit them. Then they’ll run again and we hit them again.”

“There are less than 50 (Maute) in our area. They are not that strong. They are not fighting us frontally,” said Parcon.

Parcon said soldiers are trying to accomplish their mission of flushing out the enemy “very carefully.”

He disclosed that eight Maute members surrendered to Marines last Sunday. 

“When you realize that you are not capable of fighting anymore and it’s not worth it (to continue fighting), it’s either you are going to die or you surrender,” said Parcon.

A video of Maute captive Fr. Teresito “Chito” Sunganob spread through social media. In the video, Sunganob asked President Duterte to withdraw government troops from the city and to cease air strikes and bombardments.

Wearing a black shirt and trousers, the vicar general of the Marawi prelature said the militants had the right to practice their faith and enforce Islamic laws in the city.

He also said about 240 others, including female church workers and teachers, are being held as “prisoners of war.” The video was apparently shot in the conflict area which showed debris and ruins in the background and the sound of gunfire.

“We are the in midst of this war. We are asking your help to please give what your enemies are asking for. They simply (are asking) to just withdraw your forces away from Lanao del Sur and Marawi City and to stop the air strikes, your air attacks and cannons,” said Sunganob.

“From our heart, please consider us. Your know it’s hard, Mr. President, (that) from time to time we hear bursts of gun fire from the ground of your enemy, heavy firearms from your side,” he said.

Padilla said the military was aware of the video.

“This is pure propaganda. The Maute group is using this to stop our clearing operations,” he said.

Padilla said he was confident the militants would not harm the priest because they wanted to use him to gain concessions.

Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña said he has seen the video and coordinated with the government with regards to the appeal.

He expressed hope the administration will put a premium on the safety of the hostages.

A politician involved in efforts to evacuate residents, Zia Alonto Adiong, said authorities had cleared 85 percent of the city but reclaiming the rest would be a challenge because they were dense urban areas with trapped civilians.

“There’s an intensifying military operation that’s going on,” Adiong told a media briefing.

Though most people have left, thousands are stranded, worried they could be intercepted by militants if they tried to flee.

Martin Thalmann, deputy head of delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said he tried, but failed to convince government and the Maute to halt the violence so it can deliver aid.

“It’s so intense, it’s not possible,” Thalmann told reporters, referring to the fighting.

“There’s still a lot of people in there and of course it’s a concern that they suffer under this shelling and we wonder if all the precautions are taken.”

 The government believes the Maute carried out their assault before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to capture the attention of Islamic State and earn recognition as a regional affiliate.

At the House, National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Oscar Albayalde told the committee on Metro Manila development that the police are monitoring relatives of the Maute Group, who are living in Metro Manila.

Albayalde clarified that while they are related to the terrorists by blood, they are not necessarily radical.

“Just because they are relatives of the Maute, they are already violent,” said Albayalde, adding that the police are in contact with the relatives of Maute Group in different Muslim communities.

Manila Rep. Manny Lopez urged Albayalde to closely monitor the Muslim area in Quiapo especially because of its proximity to Malacañang.

PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa ordered his men to locate a still undetermined number of policemen who have lost contact with their mother units due to the skirmishes.

In an interview in Marawi City after visiting police combatants, he said reports that reached him showed a number of local policemen were unaccounted for since the fighting erupted.

He said he has no information if the missing were captured or could be trapped inside buildings of establishments having Maute members in the vicinity.

He also ordered his men to recover an armored personnel carrier from the Special Action Force, which was rendered immobile after it was hit by a landmine.

Dela Rosa also said he could still not confirm if one of the three slain policemen was beheaded, as reported by President Duterte when he arrived from Russia   last week.

He also said had he known the Maute was to attack last week, he would not have joined Duterte on his official trip to Moscow.

Defense agreement signed with Czechs

From Malay Business Insight (Jun 1): Defense agreement signed with Czechs

THE Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday said a defense cooperation agreement was recently signed by the country with the Czech Republic to cover the procurement of equipment, defense logistics and military training and education among others.

DFA spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said the bilateral agreement was signed last May 29 at the Ministry of Defense in Prague by Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David Jr. and Czech Deputy Minister Jakub Landovsky, the head of Defense Policy and Strategy Division of the Czech Ministry of Defense.

Aside from military equipment and logistics, the agreement also covers cooperation in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, compliance with international treaties of defense, security and arms control, personnel management and defense and security policy.

The Czech Republic manufactures armored vehicles, artillery, sniper and automatic rifles as well as attack aircraft.

A Czech-made aircraft, the L-39 developed by Aero Vodochody, is one of three contenders under the Philippine Air Force program to acquire six close air support aircraft.

Manila had earlier signed a defense cooperation agreement with Moscow that will pave the way for the procurement of military hardware from Russia, Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said.

Sorreta said the agreement will also expand training exchanges between the two countries’ military forces.

Among the equipment that the country is looking to acquire from Russia includes unmanned aerial vehicles, sniper rifles, precision guided munitions and combat aircraft.

Being a treaty ally of the United States, the Philippine military has long relied on American made equipment to fulfill its defense needs.

The AFP’s recent acquisition of military equipment under its modernization program are from Israel (upgraded M-113 armored personnel carriers), South Korea (FA50 aircraft), US (R-4 automatic rifles, Coast Guard cutters, armored personnel carriers, Harris tactical radios, radars for the Coast Watch System, C-130T cargo aircraft), Canada (Bell 412 combat utility helicopters), Spain (C295 transport plane), and Poland (Sokol helicopters), among others.

Maute members confined to 4 barangays, says AFP

From Malay Business Insight (Jun 1): Maute members confined to 4 barangays, says AFP

THE military yesterday said the armed conflict between government forces and the Maute Group in Marawi City is now confined to four barangays, from a high of 10 in the initial days of the firefight that erupted on Tuesday last week.
On Day 9 of the conflict, government forces continued to flush out remnants of the group.

Casualty figures rose. The Maute suffered 24 more dead, bringing the total to 89. On the government side, there were 21 slain soldiers and policemen (from 19) and 72 injured. As to civilians, there were 19 killed while at least 950 have been rescued during the clearing operations.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday government was targeting to clear Marawi City of Maute men by today.

Yesterday, national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon said he sees the crisis ending in about one or two weeks.

“Our security forces only need to cross three bridges to take over the heart of the city. That’s what our troops want to hurdle. Once it’s done, all of these will end,” he told reporters after a briefing at the House of Representatives.

Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said there are 30 to 40 Maute members in the four barangays -- Bangolo, Lilod Madaya, Raya Madaya 1 and Raya Madaya II. The city has 96 barangays. Initial reports said there were at least 100 Maute men battling government forces.

“The (number of) affected barangays is down to four, from a high of nine to 10 before... This is apparently their last hurrah, they are pinned down in these battle positions that we are clearing,” said Herrera.

On the number of remaining Maute men, he said, “The others laid low, escaped, left their firearms and mixed with the civilians.”

He also said measures are in place to prevent the Maute members from escaping by mixing with civilians.

Asked when they will be able to clear the city, Herrera said: “The  battlefield is very dynamic. We are not putting a deadline... They are still resisting. They have high-powered firearms. They’ve occupied vantage positions so they will see the approaches of government forces. That is what they are doing.”

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, during the Mindanao Hour briefing in Malacañang, said government troops have cleared about 90 percent of the city but said he could not divulge the exact location of the “pockets of resistance within Marawi.”

“They (forces on the ground) estimate that they are reaching about 90 percent completely cleared and a little bit more than 10 percent more to go. However, that 10 percent is most likely going to be the area that will be heavily guarded and defended by any of these armed men if they are protecting any individual of high value,” he said.

Herrera said while troops are continuing with clearing operations, the rescue of trapped civilians is still a priority. “As of now, there are still firefight in areas where they have consolidated.”

Herrera said they have information that around 2,000 civilians are “trapped” inside their houses in the conflict areas, based on information gathered by the provincial crisis committee and the military, and distress calls.
Marawi City has some 200,000 residents.

Padilla, in an interview, said the military on Monday started using SF-260 planes in the fight against the Maute, aside from attack helicopters used since last week.

He said the SF-260s are small aircraft with rockets and guns and capable of dropping bombs on enemy positions.

“As we have said, we employ commensurate force against whatever resistance there is in the area. We don’t bomb a building just because there is one sniper on top of it. It doesn’t work that way,” said Padilla.

Padilla said the Maute members are “most likely” using weapons and ammunition they’ve stolen from police and jail personnel.

“They previously burned the jail, freed prisoners and got what they can use, including weapons and ammunition, to include those in the captured APC (armored personnel carrier) of the PNP,” he said.

Padilla said government troops are continuing with operations despite an appeal from Fr. Chito Suganog, vicar general of the Marawi prelature, for the military to pull out from the city and cease fire and air strikes and artillery bombardment.

Suganob, who made the appeal in a video that spread through social media last Tuesday, is being held captive by the Maute Group. He said 240 other civilians are being held with him.

“We are having that (video) authenticated. Granting it’s authentic, we cannot subscribe to it because we will just be (giving in) to the propaganda of the enemy,” said Padilla.

Herrera said the enemy is good at propaganda. “But as of now, we continue to conduct surgical air strikes in the stronghold of the enemy.”

President Duterte is alarmed by the strength of the Maute and intelligence reports suggesting it has teamed up with other extremist groups and has recruited foreign fighters.

“I specifically warned everybody there is more dark cloud ahead of us. I was referring specifically to the contamination of ISIS slowly creeping towards our shores,” Duterte told navy personnel in Davao City.

The military believes the Maute group staged the Marawi attack to prove itself to Islamic State and try to win its endorsement as its affiliate in Southeast Asia.

Duterte said he would not allow Islamic State to gain traction in the Philippines and inflict murder on the scale of Syria and Iraq.

He changed his mind on last week’s offer of dialogue with Maute and said he “will not talk to the terrorists.”

“They are trying to correct the way of living for everybody. They do it by killing people, invoking the name of God and that is a very terrible ideology,” he said of Islamic State.

“It does not know anything except to waste human lives.”

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said President Duterte has approved the creation of a “peace corridor” that would be jointly implemented by the peace panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in a bid to fast track rescue and humanitarian operations for civilians affected by the armed conflict.

The corridor will cover 11 areas from Malabang in Lanao del Sur to Marawi City.

Abella said the peace corridor will be a secure space for humanitarian groups to bring wounded and trapped civilians, and goods for the evacuees, among others.

The Department of Education said it has postponed the opening of classes in elementary and high schools in Marawi City by two weeks.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the affected schools may have classes on weekends to keep up with the school calendar.

UP says Hapilon not an alumnus

From Malaya Business Insight (Jun 2): UP says Hapilon not an alumnus

THE University of the Philippines yesterday said Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon did not graduate from the university, contrary to the claim of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

UP’s Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs said the Office of the University Registrar and the Office of Alumni Affairs did not find any record of Hapilon.

ARRM Gov. Mujib Hataman said Hapilon is a high school drop out.

The FBI, in its list of “Most Wanted Terrorists,” said Hapilon graduated from the UP School of Engineering. 

The FBI also said Hapilon’s place of birth is Bulana, Latawan, Basilan. It could be referring to Barangay Bulan-bulan, Lantawan town in Basilan.

The US Rewards for Justice is offering $5 million for information that will lead to Hapilon’s arrest. It did not provide an educational background for  Hapilon. It said Hapilon’s birth place is “Possibly Lantawan, Basilan.”

Hapilon, a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf and previously based in Basilan, is the supposed leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Philippines. He is among those being pursued by government forces in Marawi City.

Defense officials said Hapilon went to Lanao del Sur late last year to establish an ISIS caliphate in the province. He was reported to have been seriously injured in an air strike in Butig town, Lanao del Sur last January.

Hapilon, 51, was involved in the kidnapping of 20 individuals, including three Americans, from the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan in 2001. One of Americans, Guillermo Sobero, was beheaded in Basilan.

The second American, Martin Burnham, was killed in a rescue operation in Zamboanga del Norte The third, Burnham’s wife Gracia, was rescued in the same rescue operation.

“Hapilon was indicted in the District of Columbia for his alleged involvement in terrorist acts against US nationals and other foreign nationals in and around the Republic of the Philippines,” the US Rewards for Justice said.

Duterte: Mindanao rebellion not Maute but ‘purely ISIS’

From Malaya Business Insight (Jun 2): Duterte: Mindanao rebellion not Maute but ‘purely ISIS’

PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday said the conflict in Marawi City is not the work of the Maute Group but of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Marawi conflict, which involves clashes between government forces and the Maute since Tuesday last week, prompted Duterte to place the entire Mindanao under martial law.

Duterte noted he had long warned that ISIS may eventually come to the Philippines -- which he said is now happening -- after Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon was supposedly named as ISIS head in the country.

Alam mo iyang rebellion ngayon sa Mindanao, it’s not Maute, it’s purely ISIS with different branch... Noong si Hapilon na ipinadala sa Central Mindanao and he was anointed as the emir, doon na ako nakaamoy na something terribly wrong is going to happen (The rebellion in Mindanao, it’s not Maute, it’s purely ISIS with different branch. When Hapilon was sent to Central Mindanao and he was anointed as the emir, it was then I sensed something terribly wrong was going to happen),” he said.

Duterte issued the statement in Malacañang after administering the oath of office to new government officials.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, asked about Duterte’s statement, said, “Maute is already ISIS. So they are one and the same.”

Duterte said Islamist militants being driven out of Iraq and Syria were looking for a new base and the siege of Marawi City was planned a long time ago.

He also reiterated that the radicals in the South were getting funding from the illicit drugs trade, and said the Maute brothers, who the militant group is named after, were involved in narcotics.

Duterte also said he would lift martial law in Mindanao once the situation in there becomes stable.

But unless the military and the police tell him the situation is already stable, martial law should continue and Congress should be able to understand in case there is a need to extend it.

Duterte also said he is saddened that he is losing soldiers and policemen in the situation in Marawi City.

“I lose about three, four (soldiers, police a day). It keeps on increasing everyday for as long as that war rages on. I am one of those who are really hurrying it up. The earlier we attain the equanimity of the community, the stability, I’d be the first to clamor for the lifting of martial law,” he said.

Lorenzana, in a briefing earlier in Malacañang, confirmed members of the Maute family are being investigated in connection with illegal drugs.

Lorenzana said one of the family members of the Maute was in fact included in the “narcolist” of the President.

He said one of them is a mayor.

“So we believe that the narco-politics there is working. The proceeds of the narcotics are being used for this terroristic activity there,” he said.

He added that some of the illegal drugs, particularly shabu, that are being distributed to parts of Mindanao like Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Zamboanga, Cotabato, are coming from Lanao del Sur.

Duterte rejects secondhand military hardware from US, other nations

From GMA News (Jun 2): Duterte rejects secondhand military hardware from US, other nations

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said his administration will no longer accept secondhand military equipment from other nations, including the United States, even as he told troops that they would win the war against terrorists.

"During my time, wala na akong secondhand [na] mga barko-barko. It has to be brand new. Hindi na ako tatanggap ng mga equipment ng military na secondhand," Duterte told soldiers of the 102nd Infantry Brigade in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

"Iyong ibinibigay ng Amerikano, ayaw ko na 'yan. Even I have to spend double the money," he added. Duterte said he would source the brand new firearms from two countries which he did not identify, although he has been exerting efforts to seek closer ties with Russia and China.

"You have the best equipments, ‘yung – ang sources natin sa baril ninyo is just two nations. I will not mention the names," he said.

Duterte also expressed confidence that the government forces would crush terrorism, even if it would take them more time and more lives.

"Dito naman sa extremism, mananalo tayo. But we will have losses, ganoon lang talaga ang buhay. That is how life is governed in this universe. You would never know when," he said.

 "Pero sabihin mo matalo tayo, imposible 'yan. It will just take a longer period," he also said, adding that as signatories to the Geneva Convention, they are bound to ensure that there will be no civilian casualties during armed operations.

Government security forces are currently battling members of the local terrorist group Maute in Marawi City.

As of June 1, the government suffered 36 losses including 10 soldiers who were killed in a friendly fire.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 after the ISIS-inspired Maute group attacked Marawi City.

He told Congress that gaining control of Marawi City would be an important step for the terrorists to take over the entire Mindanao.

Hapilon group using civilians as human shields amid military offensive

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 2): Hapilon group using civilians as human shields amid military offensive

The Islamic State (IS)-inspired terrorists, led by Isnilon Hapilon, are now using children and other innocent civilians and even mosques to gain advantage against government troops in Marawi City.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), yesterday said the terrorists continued to put up a fight at press time yesterday — the timeframe earlier given by the Department of Defense to address the siege.

“The enemy continues to occupy commercial buildings as their defensible enemy lairs and this is the subject of military action being conducted from the past few days until now,” he stressed.

Hapilon and his IS-inspired followers from the Abu Sayyaf andMaute group have launched wide-scale atrocities in Marawi City last May 23 after government troops attempted to arrest him.

Military forces have been pounding identified positions of the terrorists at the heart of Marawi City with air strikes and ground assaults.

Apart from occupying vantage positions, Padilla said the terrorists are now using innocent civilians as human shields.

“Compounding the situation on the ground is the use of these forces, these armed elements of children and civilians as human shields,” he noted.

“Apart from that, they have also been turning into the madrasahs as staging areas and the mosque as sniper nest thereby hoping to limit the movement of our forces and their capability to neutralize them,” he added.

Padilla stressed the military continued to apply “commensurate military power” on these existing threats and pockets of resistance.

He said the AFP will continue to conduct air strike against the terrorists even after Wednesday’s friendly fire that killed 10 Army soldiers and wounded seven others.

Padilla clarified only 10 soldiers, not 11 as earlier reported, were killed in the friendly fire. He said another soldier was killed in a firefight with the terrorists also on Wednesday.

As of yesterday, Padilla said a total of 120 terrorists have been killed since the atrocities started while the government suffered 36 casualties. More than 80 others were wounded.

Padilla said civilian death toll remains at 19, pending the continuing clearing operations despite reports that more were likely killed.

“The reports remain for validation and until such time that these are validated accordingly, we cannot include them,” he added.

Civilians rescued in the ongoing operations have also increased to 1,024.

Maute to blame for ‘friendly fire’

Allies of President Rodrigo Duterte in the House of Representatives, meanwhile, blamed the Maute group for the “friendly fire” that killed 10 soldiers in Marawi City.

House Deputy Minority Leader Alfredo Garbin cited the legal principle of “proximate cause” in pinning the blame on the Maute for the soldiers’ death.

“He who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the evil cause,” he stressed.

A Philippine Air Force plane was doing bombing rounds to flush the terrorists out of the city when the incident happened.

According to Garbin, under the proximate cause tenet, the person who caused something bad to happen is the person who should be charged in court.

“But then again AFP should be extra cautious and improve its capability and intelligence on the ground to avoid similar incidence and the continued loss of precious lives, including our soldiers,” he said.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles also believes the guilty party is the Maute.

“Casualties resulting to unexpected mishaps are certainly something that we should frown on but in war, things like these can happen. Miscommunication can happen amid the chaos of war and our soldiers in the field, no matter how hard they train, may commit mistakes,” he said.

Nograles, who is a lawyer like Garbin, added: “We have no one else to blame for his incident but the terrorists who are spreading this wickedness.”

The lawmakers came out with the statement even as the AFP started its own investigation on the incident.

Sources of terrorist weaponry

The military, for its part, said it will trace the source of the Maute group’s high-powered firearms and ammunition once Marawi City has been cleared of terrorists.

“On the firearms they are using against government security troops, it looks like they have stockpiled them for some time, and we have captured a lot of them in the past few days. We will know where they acquired them once our investigation starts,” Padilla said in Filipino.

While he did not identify any possible supplier, the military official said they are not discounting the possibility that the group’s weapons and ammunition are sourced from the black market or from undisciplined government security force personnel.

He added some of these weapons could have come from police and jail facilities that they attacked, looted and set afire after freeing the prisoners last week.

Military-civilian task force to be formed to protect Visayan waters

From Business World (Jun 2): Military-civilian task force to be formed to protect Visayan waters

A VISAYAN Sea Safety and Security Inter-Agency Task Force will be formed to protect the waters of the Visayas group of islands from terrorists and other criminal elements.

Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd L. Dino said the task force will be formed through a Memorandum of Understanding that stakeholders will sign on June 5.

At the frontline of the security task force would be the military’s maritime forces as well as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources through its patrol boats used in anti-illegal fishing monitoring.

Civilians, including fishermen, would also be tapped.

“We have to protect the Visayan seas especially Cebu because it is a mega city. It is the heart of the Philippines,” Mr. Dino told participants of a forum on marine safety participated in by stakeholders in the region.

“We should not allow a repeat of the Bohol incident. We should not wait for another local terrorist group from coming over and sowing fears to the Visayan people,” he added.