Friday, July 14, 2017

Detained Philippine Maute family members not linked to terrorism: Security source

From Channel News Asia (Jul 13): Detained Philippine Maute family members not linked to terrorism: Security source

Seven Malaysia-bound Maute family members detained on Monday (Jul 10) on suspicion of having links with the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in the Philippines are not involved in terror activities, according to a regional security source.

The group was intercepted at Manila's international airport when they were about to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur.

According to a senior regional security source who spoke to Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Jul 13), the seven passengers are distant relatives of the Maute militant group which has been battling Philippine government forces in the southern city of Marawi for weeks.

“The Mautes who were held at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino’s International Airport are distant relatives of the Maute Lawless Terror Group. They are not allowed to leave Manila,” said the security source following preliminary investigations.

“Their records have been checked and they have no derogatory (criminal) record. They also are not involved in the Marawi incident."

The group - four men and three women - have since been released from immigration custody. They have been handed over to the National Bureau of Investigation and the police for further investigation,” according to the source.

The men were identified as Alnizar Palawan Maute, Abdulcahar Rachman Maute, Yasser Dumaraya Maute and Ashary Palawan Maute.

"We presume they have relatives in Malaysia. This has yet to be verified," said the source, adding that they had all acquired their flight tickets before the Marawi siege.

The fighting in Marawi, led by brothers Omarkhayam Romato Maute and Abdullah Maute of the Maute group, began on May and has since killed more than 500 people, including soldiers, militants and civilians.

The Maute group, aided by the pro-Islamic State faction of the Abu Sayaf group led by Isnilon Hapilon, wants to establish an Islamic state in Marawi city.

A former Malaysian university lecturer, Mahmud Ahmad, is involved in the siege and is believed to be the right hand man of Abu Sayaf’s Hapilon. Malaysian intelligence sources say Mahmud is the brain behind Abu Sayaf’s pro-IS faction. He is believed to be alive and is said to have escaped from Marawi.

4 warring Moro families end rido

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 13): 4 warring Moro families end rido

Buluan, Maguindanao – Four warring Moro families have peacefully settled their seven-year old rido or clannish feud that has claimed the lives of nine people, including two prominent political dignitaries in the Iranun community of this province.
Followers and leaders including elected officials in the combined Tomawis and Simban clans and their counterparts in the allied Dagalangit and Malambut families traded hugs and handshakes after swearing before the Holy Qur’an to bury the hatchet during a solemn ceremony here on Tuesday.

Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, chair of the Maguindanao Task Force on Reconciliation and Unification (MTFRU), presided over the emotion-packed rites where all protagonists in the feud signed a covenant binding them to revive peaceful co-existence nurtured for decades by their ancestors in Barira, one of the four Iranun towns in this province.
Lt. Col. Florencio Politud, head of the Barira-based Army’s Infantry Battalion, a Moro Islamic Liberation Front liaison officer, an imam and intervening traditional leaders signed the covenant as witnesses alongside the governor.

Sources from both camps said the four-family rido or clannish feud began largely from a political rift that erupted after the killing of Iranun Development Council Chair Alex Tomawis in November 2010. He was shot dead near his rest house in Davao City by two unidentified assailants believed to be hired assassins.

Eight more members of the warring camps were subsequently killed in separate shooting incidents, sources said.

At their settlement rites, incumbent Barira Mayor Abdulrajak Tomawis and Vice Mayor Amirsalam Dagalangit said they had conceded finally to months of mediation by Gov. Mangudadatu and MTFRU negotiators, admitted having realized that their feud, if kept unsettled, would not only stunt growth in their community but also erode their Islamic faith.

Jaafar appointed as Amirul Hajj; Del Rosario as housing czar

From the Sun Star-Manila (Jul 13): Jaafar appointed as Amirul Hajj; Del Rosario as housing czar

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Moro Islamic Liberation Front vice chair for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar as Amirul Hajj (head of the Philippine Hajj Mission) for Hajj Mission 2017 to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In an operations manual released by National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), an Amirul Hajj is the one who heads the Muslim Filipino pilgrimage delegation to Mecca, Saudi Arabia who, by law, shall be the head of the Commission.

The NCMF said the appointed Amirul Hajj shall be knowledgeable on hajj rituals and with established and administrative and managerial skills.

Jaafar is the chair of 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Committee who drafted the new enabling Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is expected to be passed under Duterte’s watch.

Jaafar was among those who broke away from the Moro National Liberation Front in 1977 and created a breakaway group recognized as MILF in 1984. He led efforts to start peace negotiations with the past administrations.

The Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro was signed on March 27, 2014 between the government and MILF but failed to get off the ground after the proposed BBL, implementing law for the agreement, was not passed in 16th Congress.

Apart from Jaafar, Duterte also released appointment papers of five other newly-appointed government officials.

On July 12, the President appointed Eduardo del Rosario as chairperson of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

In December last year, Duterte named Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. as housing czar after Vice President Leni Robredo quit the post.

Prior to his appointment as HUDCC chair, Del Rosario was designated in July 2016 as Defense Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans and Retiree Affairs. He also served as former chairperson of National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Center.

Duterte also tapped lawyer Raul Lambino as administrator and chief executive officer of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, in replacement of Jose Mari Ponce.

The President likewise assigned Water Besas as deputy executive director of Dangerous Drugs Board; Eric Distor as Director III of National Bureau of Investigation; and Metodio Turbella as Director IV of Environmental Management Bureau.

Army foils S. Mindanao reb attack

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 14): Army foils S. Mindanao reb attack
Military officer urges troops to stay alert as Duterte prepares for State of the Nation Address

 New People’s Army fighters from its North Central Mindanao regional command gather in a village in Misamis Oriental province for the Communist Party of the Philippines’ anniversary in 2016. —JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
The military on Thursday said it thwarted a plan by communist rebels to stage a major attack in southern Mindanao ahead of President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) after government soldiers clashed with insurgents in Compostela Valley province that left nine dead.

Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, 10th Infantry Division (ID) commander, said the fighting in the upland town of Laak was a reminder for troops “not to lower our guard down against any armed threat that could harm our people.”

The clash in LS Sarmiento village happened as soldiers from the 25th and 60th Infantry Battalions were pursuing a group of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who fled following the collapse of a rebel encampment in Casoon village in nearby Monkayo town early this week, said Capt. Alexandre Cabales, acting spokesperson for the 10th ID.

Cabales said their reports indicated that the rebels were massing up at the Laak-Monkayo border, prompting the military to conduct an operation that led to an encounter on July 10.

Military officials believe the rebel buildup in Compostela Valley is part of the NPA’s plan to intensify attacks as Mr. Duterte prepares to address the nation on July 24.

At least eight rebels died in the firefight, one of the biggest losses of the NPA in Mindanao in recent years. A soldier also died in the clash, Cabales said.

“It was a consolidation for a tactical offensive they would be conducting as part of their so-called compliance to a directive to intensify attacks leading to the Sona,” he said.

Soldiers also recovered five assault rifles, an M-60 machine gun and several improvised explosives from the clash site.

A day before the clash, rebels also abducted PO1 Alfredo Basabica Jr. of the Davao Oriental public safety company. Basabica was on a Davao City-bound bus that the rebels blocked at a checkpoint in Compostela town.

Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, Southern Mindanao police chief, said Basabica was on his way to Davao to visit his family.

The rebels also took Basabica’s service pistol, said Senior Insp. Catherine dela Rey, southern Mindanao police spokesperson.

1st Infantry “Tabak” Division to enlist 350 IPs

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 14): 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division to enlist 350 IPs

The 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army announces the opening of Candidate Soldier Course that seeks to enlist 350 Indigenous Peoples (IPs) to be integrated in the regular force of the Philippine Army.

Lt. General Glorioso V. Miranda, commanding general of the Philippine Army has approved the recruitment of 1,000 IPs all over Mindanao. Out of the 1,000 Candidate Soldier quota for IPs this year, 1ID was allocated with 350 slots.

BGen. Rolando Joselito D. Bautista, commander of the 1ID, PA, said the initiative of integrating IPs in the regular force is to allow their communities to completely eliminate the influence of the CPP/NPA/NDF and other threat groups that keep on tarnishing the image of the military.

The basic requirements to enlist in the service are as follows: (1) must be 18 to 35 years old; (2) five feet and above in height; (3) Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)-authenticated birth certificate with Official Receipt (OR); (4) parents’ marriage contract with OR; (5) Form 137, Transcript of Records, Diploma with dry seal (high school and college); (6) two 2×2 pictures with name tag; (7) valid identification cards; and (8) must attain an AFP Service Aptitude Test (AFPSAT) score of at least 45.

Applicants must also have a certificate from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for admission. Interested and qualified applicants can register at the following locations: (1) Gate 2, 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, PA, Kuta Major Cesar L Sang-an, Upper Pulacan, Labangan Zamboanga del Sur; and (2) 102nd Infantry Brigade, Sanito, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay Province.

AFP Aptitude Tests to be held in Mindoro provinces on July 15-16

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 14): AFP Aptitude Tests to be held in Mindoro provinces on July 15-16

The  Armed Forces of the Philippines Aptitude Test (the AFPAT) will be held on July 15-16 in the Mindoro Provinces.

The AFPAT is the initial qualifying examination for those who are wanted to be soldiers.  The Army is targetting to recruit 400 candidates to be convened next month.

For Occidental Mindoro, the AFPAT will be held at the Occidental Mindoro State College - Mamburao Campus, municipality of Mamburao.

For Oriental Mindoro, the exams will be held on Sunday, July 16,  at the Bansud Municipal Gym in Bansud town.

Both exams will begin at 8:00 A.M.   Applicants are expected to come early, preferably before 7 am, to fill up registration forms at the venue.

They must have with them the following required documents: (1) original Transcript of Records (college/ vocational) or form 137 and 138 (High school) w/ visible dry seal; original copy of Philippine Statistics Authority (National Statistics Office) birth certificate with receipt; (3) two pieces of picture (2x2); and (4) two Identification cards.

AFP eyes joint training, educational module for service branches

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 14): AFP eyes joint training, educational module for service branches

Armed Forces of the Philippines foresees a joint field training exercise and synchronized educational module for its service branches.

“We believe the foundation for great soldiers is the educational training. The [making of the] joint module is a challenge because the three branches of services need to be synchronized, but educational and training enhancement is really necessary,” Naval Education and Training Command Commander Rear Admiral Jorge Amba said during the first tri-service staff-to-staff talks with Air Education, Training and Doctrine Command (AETDC) and Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).

“Joint instructional packages are now being developed. Although a joint training manual has been published in 2014, its implementation and utilization is undergoing validation for now,” he clarified.

Both AETDC Commander Major General Galileo Gerard Kintanar and TRADOC Commander Brigadier General Casiano Monilla agreed to lobby for the said module and do not see any problem with it.

However, Kintanar suggested the accomplished module should be used and taught in the pre-entry level and the advanced level.

“The module, including the joint field training exercises, should be adopted in both the pre-entry and advanced levels for the Officer Preparatory Course and Officer Candidate School. Components should be discussed and the mechanism should be implemented to fully establish this synchronized educational module,” he explained.

For his part, Monilla said further study and discussion will be held for the content of this module as more consultations will result to a better output, which will benefit all.

AFP schools call for institutionalization of tri-service staff to staff talks

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 15): AFP schools call for institutionalization of tri-service staff to staff talks

Armed Forces of the Philippines  Command and General Staff College (AFPCGSC) is lobbying for the standardization of the tri-service staff to staff talks among the Air Force, Army, and Navy.

“We are seeking for the standardization of these talks for better collaboration of the Air Education, Training and Doctrine Command; Naval Education and Training Command; and Army Training and Doctrine Command,” AFPCGSC Commandant Major General Herminigildo Aquino said during the first trilateral talk.

“Forming a working group is necessary to discuss various concerns of each branch. Through this, problems will be tackled and, in return, we will come up with better solutions,” he added.

Aquino stressed that the working group will be able to speedily work on the forming of a joint education and training system, as agreed upon by the three institutions.

The regular conduct of the talks will also serve as platform for assessment and monitoring the schools.

“We would have an evaluation from time to time, which would result to a quick mitigation of the troubles we have at hand,” Aquino said.

Abu man employed as mall guard nabbed

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): Abu man employed as mall guard nabbed

Joint police and military operatives have arrested a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf involved in the kidnapping of 21 people, mostly foreigners, 17 years ago from a diving resort in Malaysia, an official announced Friday.

Supt. Diomarie Albarico, officer-in-charge of the Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO), identified the arrested suspect as Abdulmubin Salahuddin, who works as a security detailed at one of the local shopping malls.

Albarico said Salahuddin was arrested by joint police and military operations led by Chief Insp. Edilberto Alvarez, ZCPO intelligence chief, around 10:45 p.m. Thursday at Sitio Callejon, Barangay Guiwan, this city.

He said the arresting team seized from the suspect’s possession a sling bag containing one fragmentation grenade.

He said investigation showed that Salahuddin was involved in the kidnapping of 21 people, consisting of 10 Europeans and 11 Asians, on April 23, 2000 in the dive resort island of Sipadan, Malaysia.

It was the first kidnapping the Abu Sayyaf bandits staged in a foreign land. They herded the hostages to the province of Sulu and released them in batches following payments of huge amount of ransom.

Albarico said Salahuddin is believed to be supplying firearms and ammunition to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) based on the province of Sulu.

He said it was further gathered that Salahuddin managed to work as a security guard in one of the local agencies since the suspect was able to acquire license as well as other pertinent documents such as clearances.

Salahuddin, who was detained, denied being an ASG member citing he has no derogatory record as shown by the clearances issued to him.

Duterte hopes to finally bring justice, closure to SAF 44

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): Duterte hopes to finally bring justice, closure to SAF 44

President Rodrigo Duterte is hoping that justice will finally be served to the 44 Special Action Force (PNP) police commandos who were slain in the Mamasapano massacre, Malacañang said Friday.

“The President recognizes the heroic sacrifice of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force 44, and it is his -- and the nation's -- hope to finally bring justice to the victims and families of the Fallen 44 and put closure to the issue as part of the healing process," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

Abella added that the Palace "respects the Ombudsman’s constitutional mandate to investigate public officials."

The Palace official made the statements after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the filing of criminal charges against former President Benigno Aquino III in connection with the January 2015 tragedy.

Aquino was criminally charged for Usurpation of Authority (Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code) and violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).

Standing as his co-conspirators, are former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima and Director Getulio Napeñas of the SAF.

On Jan. 24, 2015, almost 400 highly-trained SAF commandos launched Oplan Exodus to serve standing warrants of arrest against internationally-wanted terrorists Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan and Ahmad Akmad Uson in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

In the ensuing firefight that lasted for several hours, 44 SAF troopers died in the line of duty.

In the aftermath, Aquino was widely criticized for allowing suspended PNP chief Purisima not only to participate in the planning, but also in the running of said operation; and for breaking the chain of command among others.

In the investigation, Morales noted that President Aquino was fully aware that the Office of the Ombudsman had placed Purisima under preventive suspension during the planning and actual conduct of the operation.

“The fact remains that, at the time, particularly before and during the actual implementation of Oplan Exodus, Purisima was under preventive suspension, and that Purisima, despite being under preventive suspension, indeed played an active role in Oplan Exodus… to the point that he was exercising a degree of authority and discretion over Napeñas and consequently, over the operation,” reads the consolidated resolution.

“… In other words, Purisima would not have been placed in such a position of continuing to conduct himself, in relation to Oplan Exodus, in a manner as if he was not under preventive suspension at that time, from his position as PNP chief, were it not for the complicity and influence of President Aquino,” the complaint read.

Educational foundations deny terrorist links

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): Educational foundations deny terrorist links

Two educational foundations on Friday strongly denounced any claim they are involved in any illegal, criminal or terrorist activity in the Philippines and in other countries.

A Turkish ambassador reportedly claimed that Integrative Center for Alternative Development Foundation, Inc. (ICAD) and Pacific Dialogue Foundation, Inc. (PDF) have been accused by Turkey of being terrorists and instigating the 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey.

“ICAD and PDF have never been involved in any criminal activities, much less terrorist activities in the Philippines or elsewhere. ICAD and PDF are also not affiliated with any terrorist organization,” they said in a statement.

“We do not and have never had any links with any group involved in terror attacks,” added ICAD and PDF.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella earlier said the military was verifying the statement of Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur regarding the presence of Turkish terrorists, particularly the Fetullah Gulen Movement, in the Philippines.

ICAD is a private non-stock, non-profit and non-government organization established under Philippine laws on April 1996.

ICAD runs the Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School in Zamboanga City, Fountain International School in Metro Manila, and Academia Language and Review Center in San Juan City and Pasig City.

These schools do not teach religion and accept students of all religious backgrounds as ICAD’s mandate is to promote peace and understanding through education among people of diverse cultures.

PDF, meanwhile, is a non-stock, non-profit, educational and cultural foundation established by a group of Filipino and Turkish volunteers in 2011.

Maute, Abu Sayyaf terrorists break up into small groups

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 14): Maute, Abu Sayyaf terrorists break up into small groups

Smoke billows from burning houses as fighting between government troops and Islamist militants continues in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao on July 3, 2017. AFP PHOTO / FERDINANDH CABRERA

MARAWI CITY—The Maute gunmen and their Abu Sayyaf allies have split into small groups as government troops advance for the kill in what may be the final stages in the military campaign to retake Marawi from the Islamic State-linked terrorists holed up in the city.
Seven weeks after the fighting erupted on May 23, government forces have pushed the terrorists into a square-kilometer box in Marawi’s commercial district, where military commanders are looking to finish the fight by pummeling the terrorists’ positions with airstrikes and artillery fire, and a final close-quarter gun battle.

But the terrorists, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in the Middle East, have blunted the impact of the aerial and ground attacks by spreading out in small groups.

Sitting ducks
It is a strategy aimed at forcing government troops to enter the box and present themselves as sitting ducks for terrorists nestled in high-rise buildings.

The strategy is also designed to break up the government force into small groups that can be easily wiped out from elevated positions.

Military commanders, however, are not saying whether they see through the terrorists’ strategy.

All they say is that the terrorist force has been cut down to a few men and these fighters appear to be running out of ammunition.

Lt. Col. Gerald Bautista, commander of Marine Battalion Landing Team 7, said on Wednesday that in his jurisdiction, no more than 10 terrorists were engaging his troops.

“Their advantage is they know the area and they are prepositioned,” he said.

But Bautista said his troops were pressing the operation to clear their sector of terrorists.

Hit and run
“It’s like this every day for the past weeks. We engage them and they fight back. Then they transfer to other hiding places,” he said.

A soldier who spoke to the Inquirer on condition of anonymity said his unit had not encountered intense resistance from the terrorists on recent days.

“Sometimes one or two of them would fire at us,” said the soldier, who had been on the front line since arriving in Marawi in early June.

Lt. Col. Christopher Tampus, the commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said the resistance in his jurisdiction was also waning, as the enemy force had been drastically reduced.

“There are only about 10 of them here,” he said.

Tampus said the capability of the terrorists engaging his troops diminished by the day while his soldiers continued to advance, retaking the bridges that led to the city center.

He said that in his area alone, the terrorists’ will to fight had shrunk to just 1, on a scale of 1 to 10.

But soldiers said the small enemy groups were no less deadly than the large bunches of terrorists that dueled with them early in the fighting.

They said sniper fire was the deadliest obstacle to the troops’ advance.

Fighting flared up anew in Marinaut village on Thursday, prompting officials to abort the retrieval of bodies.

On Wednesday, advancing troops stumbled upon the remains of six people believed to be those earlier reported to have been executed by the terrorists.

Joint Task Force Marawi said in a statement that the remains were clad in orange suits similar to those worn by the six people shown in a video being killed by the terrorists.

Execution site
They could have been killed early in the crisis, the military said.

Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesperson for the 1st Infantry Division, said troops from the 51st Infantry Battalion found the remains.

Herrera did not say where the remains were found, but described the place as a suspected execution site of the Maute terrorist group.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of the military’s Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City, said the remains showed the Maute terrorists brutally killed helpless civilians.

Brig. Gen. Rolando Bautista, commander of Joint Task Force Marawi, described the executions as “brutal and inhuman.”

“Our soldiers will do everything in their power to bring these terrorists to justice. We owe this to the victims, we owe this to our people,” he said.

The recovery of the six bodies brought to 45 the number of civilians killed in the Marawi conflict.

As of Wednesday, more than 500 people have been killed since the start of the fighting, including 389 terrorists and 92 soldiers and police.

Ex-general joins star-studded Duterte Cabinet as Housing chief

From the Philippine Star (Jul 13): Ex-general joins star-studded Duterte Cabinet as Housing chief             

Eduardo del Rosario (right) was NDRRMC chief during the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. File photo

A retired general who served as National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director during the onslaught of Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ has been named Housing chief, a post previously occupied by Vice President Leni Robredo.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed retired Army general Eduardo del Rosario as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, a Cabinet post, last July 12, appointment papers released to the media showed. 
He replaced acting HUDCC chief and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., who assumed the post after Robredo resigned from the Cabinet. Robredo, a member of the opposition Liberal Party, quit after she was asked not to attend cabinet meetings supposedly because of “irreconcilable differences” with Duterte.

A graduate of Philippine Military Academy class of 1980, del Rosario was chief of the military’s Civil Relations Service and the 2nd Infantry Division. He was also the head of Task Force Kalihim, which conducted search and retrieval operations for the remains of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo in 2012.
Del Rosario was appointed NDRRMC executive director by President Benigno Aquino III in 2013.

Under his watch, the NDRRMC was accused of underreporting the number of fatalities of Typhoon “Yolanda,” which ravaged the Visayas four years ago. Del Rosario denied the allegation and even vowed to resign if critics could prove that the NDRRMC was manipulating the figures.

Del Rosario was appointed defense undersecretary for civil, veterans and retiree affairs last year.

The Duterte Cabinet already included six former generals before del Rosario's appointment.

Other appointees

Duterte also appointed Raul Lambino, a former lawyer of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as administrator and chief executive officer of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.

Lambino served as spokesman of the once ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats. He was also the face of Sigaw ng Bayan, a group that pushed for charter change during the presidency of Arroyo.

Other new appointees were Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Andres Reyes, who was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; Moro Islamic Liberation Front political affairs chief Ghadzali Jaafar, who has been designated amirul hajj or leader of Muslim pilgrims; Metodio Turbella, who has been named Environment department director IV; Walter Besas, who has been named Dangerous Drugs Board deputy executive director; and Eric Distor, who has been appointed National Bureau of Investigation Director III.

8 rebels, soldier slain in ComVal clash – Army

From InterAksyon (Jul 13): 8 rebels, soldier slain in ComVal clash – Army

The wrapped bodies of some of the slain rebels and the weapons seized from them are seen in a composite image of photos released by the 10th Infantry Division.

Eight communist rebels and a soldier were killed in a clash in Compostela Valley province early Wednesday morning, the military said.

The encounter in Barangay L.S. Sarmiento in Laak town was the second between the same New People’s Army unit and government troops following a July 10 clash in which soldiers of the 25th Infantry Battalion captured the rebels’ encampment in Barangay Casoon, Monkayo town.

In Wednesday’s gun battle, the military, this time including troops of the 60th IB, seized five M16 rifles and an M60 machinegun from the rebels.

The lone government fatality, whose identity was withheld pending notification of his family, had been wounded and died while being rushed to a hospital.

25th IB commander Lieutenant Colonel Ismael Mandanas said they mountd an operation after receiving reports the rebels were planning to mount tactical offensives ahead of President Rodrigo Dutete’s second state of the nation address later this month.

The military continues to pursue the rebels.

Mindanao rebels hold 2 cops captive

From InterAksyon (Jul 14): Mindanao rebels hold 2 cops captive

Image from video posted by communist rebels shows SPO2 George Cañete Rupinta who is being held by the New People's Army in Mindanao.

Communist rebels in Mindanao have “arrested” at least two policemen and are holding them as “prisoners of war.”

On Friday, the Comval-Davao East Coast Sub-Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao said guerrillas manning a “mobile checkpoint” at Kilometer 26, Barangay Panansialan, Compostela town captured Police Officer 1 Alfedo Sillada Basabica Jr., with badge number 272811.

The 26-year old policeman assigned to the Cateel town police sub-staation in Barangay Aliwagwag was on his way to Davao City when intercepted, said Roel Agustin II, spokesman of the NPA command.

Basabica’s capture came a day before the military said Army troops killed eight rebels in a clash in Monkayo town.

READ RELATED STORY: 8 rebels, soldier slain in ComVal clash – Army

On Thursday, the same NPA command released a video of Senior Police Officer 2 George Cañete Rupinta (badge number 080699) of the Lupon police station, who had been captured by six guerrillas on June 9.

In the video, a relaxed looking Rupinta assured his family and colleagues that he was being treated well. He also called on the military to agree to a ceasefire to allow for his safe release and appealed to the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines to resume peace negotiations.

Agustin, the rebel spokesman, said Basabic “is being investigated for possible crimes against the people and the revolutionary movement,” as he accused the Cateel police of allowing the “pervasive drug trade” in the town and the alleged torture of five farmers in March and May, among others.

At the same time, he said, “there is but one way to address the escalating fascism of the Duterte regime — heighten armed resistance by launching tactical offensives” against what he called “intensified enemy attacks both against (NPA) fighting units and civilian masses under martial law.”

Agustin said the military has launched operations in more than 20 villages in Monkayo, Compostela and New Bataan in Compostela and several more villages of Boston, Cateel, Baganga, Caraga, Manay and Tarragona in Davao Oriental, as well as “in the hinterlands of Trento in Agusan del Sur and in Lingig and Bislig City in Surigao del Sur.”

He accused the troops of human rights abuses, including the alleged mauling of seven farmers accused of being rebels in Sitio San Juan, Barangay Pasian, Monkayo and the burning and looting of lumad and peasant houses in Barangay Salvacion.

He noted that “instead of addressing the pressing problems of the Filipino people such as landlessness and unemployment, Duterte is deliberately choosing to perpetuate fascism that, time and again, all the more fuels the armed resistance in the country.”

Relief Web: Regional Consultative Group on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination for Asia and the Pacific - Newsletter I Issue 2 | July 2017

Posted to the Relief Web (Jul 14): Regional Consultative Group on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination for Asia and the Pacific - Newsletter I Issue 2 | July 2017

Report from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 14 Jul 2017

Download PDF (228.86 KB)

Singapore, as the current RCG Chair, is glad to share the latest updates in relation to the RCG as well as other UN-CMCoord activities in the Asia-Pacific region:

1. Mid-term consultation of the RCG on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination for Asia and the Pacific;

2. RCG Logistics Working Group;

3. Third Session of the RCG on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination for Asia and the Pacific.

On Friday 9 June, Singapore chaired the RCG mid-term consultation that took place in Bangkok, Thailand. During the event, RCG members received an update on the civil-military coordination work plans in each of the RCG priority countries:

a. Bangladesh outlined key outcomes of the recent Regional Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination (UN-CMCoord) Course for Asia, (Dhaka, March 2017) and explained how key UN-CMCoord concepts and principles would be tailored to the context of Bangladesh during a forthcoming civil-military coordination workshop and Senior Leaders’ Seminar to take place in Dhaka in July 2017. Bangladesh also outlined how these discussions will contribute to the development of the forthcoming Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange (DREE, October 2017);

b. Indonesia briefed RCG members on progress made in the development of the National Disaster Response Framework (NDRF), a project that is the result of a cooperation between the Government of Indonesia and the New Zealand Government (June 2016-December 2017). The NDRF will include arrangements for the use of national and foreign military assets in disaster response. Furthermore, Indonesia highlighted that Government, humanitarian and military actors will continue to engage for the elaboration of one unified, Government-led coordination structure, including through the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the Multi-Agency Coordination Centre (MAC).
Finally, Indonesia will continue to use the Government-led working group on humanitarian civil-military coordination to focus on logistics planning;

c. Nepal announced that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the Multinational Military Coordination Center (MNMCC) have been finalized and should be approved prior to the RCG Third Session (December 2017). Nepal also provided an overview of key civil-military coordination exercises to take place at national level and informed RCG members that the Government has recently granted authorization to establish a Disaster Training School;

d. Myanmar briefed RCG members on the outcomes of the Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination Workshop that took place in Naypyidaw at the end of March 2017. The event gathered senior officials/chief of operations from all the 14 military regional commands, Army, Air force and Navy HQ, as well as representatives from all the key ministries and humanitarian partners. Key recommendations from the workshop included the establishment of a technical working group on humanitarian civil-military coordination. The working group would be tasked to organize/facilitate upcoming civil-military coordination trainings and workshops, as well as develop a contact list for civil and military actors currently engaging in natural disaster responses across the country;

e. The Philippines briefed RCG members about the key outcomes of Balikatan, the annual military exercise between the Philippines and the United States that was held from 08 to 19 May. This year’s edition of the exercise saw also the participation of military forces from Australia and Japan and was designed to build partnership among multi-lateral forces through humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR). The exercise also provided the opportunity to test key UN-CMCoord concepts such as the Request for Assistance (RFA) process for the use of national and foreign military assets during disaster response. In relation to the 2017/2018 RCG work plan, an important focus will be placed on the development of country-specific civil-military coordination guidelines for the Philippines. The annual training calendar of UN-CMCoord courses targeted at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was also presented during the RCG mid-term consultation.

The RCG mid-term consultation also provided the opportunity for members to discuss the outcomes of the RCG Logistic Working Group (RCG-LWG) and agree on the key themes to be addressed during the RCG Third Session.
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Philippine Shipbuilders to Help Modernize Military

From the Maritime Executive (Jul 13): Philippine Shipbuilders to Help Modernize Military

navy ship

Having a budget of $2.56 billion for military modernization this year, the Philippine Defense Department is seeking the support of the local shipbuilders industry to help develop the country’s defense and security sectors.

The announcement was made this week by Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana during the opening ceremony of the 2017 PHILMARINE Conference in Manila attended by maritime and related industries that include exhibitors from the Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and foreign and local marine engineering business organizations.

Lorenza appealed to local shipbuilding representatives to take part in the Philippine’s Self Reliant Defense Posture Program, a concept developed to stimulate the local economy in the country. The program is expected to provide opportunities for providing military equipment for the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program.

“This is where our maritime defense industries are called upon to participate,” Lorenzana told conference delegates. Speaking on the topic, “Self-Reliant Defense Industries: A Challenge to Maritime Defence Industries,” he challenged maritime suppliers to study procurement rules.

The Philippines Armed Forces have been described by Asian media as one of the least developed military forces in the Asia Pacific region, and the threat of ISIS-inspired ideology of militants, maritime piracy and Maoist insurgency continue to haunt both the Philippine government and neighboring countries.

The Philippines, Malaysian and Indonesian governments have forged a trilateral partnership to conduct regular joint navy patrols in their respective maritime borders to address the movement of terror groups between and among the countries. This is causing the Philippine government to push for modernization to be on par with her Asian neighbors and at the same time suppress terror threats in the region.

The modernization program is divided into three phases of development: 2013-2017, 2018-2022 and 2023-2028. The second phase will focus on the acquisition of patrol boats, drones and helicopters to monitor the movement of armed militant groups operating in the in the Southern Philippine seas.

There are 150 shipbuilding and shipping repair business shops registered in the Philippines, and it is ranked as the fourth largest shipbuilding company in the world next to Japan, Korea and China. This can partly be attributed to the availability of skilled manpower in the industry.

Philippine-based shipyards are known for building bulk carriers, container ships and passenger ferries, and the government envisions making the Philippines the world’s next marine hub. To sustain this strategic competitive advantage, the Philippine government has allowed foreign shipbuilders to operate in the country, thus increasing the export of ships made in the Philippines.

To strengthen the shipbuilding sector, the Philippine government also has developed new policies directed towards enhancing free market competition in the industry and to encourage more investment.

Expect Russia’s help to PH counter-terrorism in due time – Duterte

From Update Philippines (Jul 13): Expect Russia’s help to PH counter-terrorism in due time – Duterte

Russia’s help to the Philippines in terms of counter-terrorism will be coming “in due time”, this was revealed by Prsident Rodrigo Duterte during the 26th anniversary celebration of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Camp Aguinaldo.

“Because we have this RP-US pact, so I could not enter into any other military alliances. That would be a violation of the treaty,” Duterte said. “But on economics and terrorism, I can always go to other nations for help and that is why I went to China and I went to Russia.”

“Expect Russia to help us in due time,” he said. “China has sent it. There’ll be another shipment of arms, September.”

“I never suggested anything about alliances, but I told China, we can do joint military maneuvers,” the President added.

Last month, China delivered millions of ammunition and 3000 rifles which included TY-85 7.62mm sniper rifles, CS/LR4A high precision rifles, CQ-A5 5.56 auto rifles.

Armscor ready to deliver 3000 pistols to Armed Forces on Saturday

From Update Philippines (Jul 13): Armscor ready to deliver 3000 pistols to Armed Forces on Saturday

Arms Corporation of the Philippines (Armscor) is all set to deliver 3000 units of Rock Island Armory 1911 .45 caliber pistols to the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP).

According to Armscor Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Martin Tuason final acceptance is on Saturday, July 15.

“I have the honor of get my guns to my military to fight ISIS down south. Getting 3000 guns ready. All hands on deck and blistered from test firing,” Tuason said in the official social networking page of Armscor/Rock Island Armory on July 11.

“Everyone from VPs to security guards pitched in. What a team effort. Win or lose this Saturday my guys and girls stepped up and gave their 110%. I couldn’t ask for anything more as the President of Armscor,” Tuason said July 12

Manhunt on vs grenade attackers

From the Philippine News Agency  (Jul 15): Manhunt on vs grenade attackers

Two minors were critically injured when unidentified gunmen fired a rifle grenade toward a house in Poblacion, Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Maguindanao at past 7 pm. Thursday, police said.

Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police provincial director, said Friday manhunt operation has been on-going against the suspects, believed to be members or allied with the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

The minors, whose identity he withheld, are recuperating at a hospital in Cotabato City.

Quoting police reports from Datu Anggal, Tello said the victims were inside their house made of light materials in Barangay Poblacion when a 40 mm rifle grenade landed at its roof and went off, hitting the children who were about to sleep.

No one has claimed responsibility but Datu Anggal is one of the hostile towns in Maguindanao where the BIFF operates.

Even its town mayor, Nathaniel Midtimbang, survived a grenade attack last May in nearby Talayan town, also in Maguindanao.

The grenade attack came after the mayor had publicly denounced recruitment of jihadists among his constituents and vowed to fight terrorists in town.

AFP recalibrates combat doctrines to meet urban warfare threat

From the Philippine News Agency  (Jul 15): AFP recalibrates combat doctrines to meet urban warfare threat

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is now recalibrating its existing combat doctrines to adapt to urban warfare which terrorist groups are now using with considerable skill.

This was bared by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in the wake of the latest incident where two troopers were killed and 11 others wounded when two FA-50s jet fighters dropped short one of their bombs during a close-air support mission in Marawi City last July 12.

"What happened (July 12) and last month, when several of our marines inadvertently perished because of a wayward ordnance dropped from an aircraft, reflect the harsh nature of urban warfare where soldiers operate in tight spaces and in close proximity to the enemy. The problems we face are the same as those confronted by other nations fighting terrorists in places like Mosul, Fallujah, and Raqqa," he added.

The two FA-50s were conducting missions to destroy Maute Group positions in Marawi City when one of its bombs landed 250 meters short of the intended target.

The ensuing blast rocked a nearby building housing friendly troops, tearing large chunks of the structure and hurling it on the sheltering soldiers, killing two and wounding 11 others.

As of Thursday, the number of Maute Group terrorists killed by the ongoing clearing operations have reached 392 with 45 civilians confirmed executed by the lawless elements along with 92 government security forces killed.

Rescued civilians still stand at 1,723 while the number of recovered Maute Group weapons are now at 497.

"The AFP is now reviewing and recalibrating its existing doctrines in order for the troops to adapt and respond to this evolving type of war," the defense chief pointed.

Lorenzana also admitted that retaking the very last positions of the Maute-ISIS in Marawi City is proving to be a challenge as government troops are forced to operate with due consideration for the safety of civilians who are still trapped in the area against enemies who know no rules, who use hostages as human shields and children as frontline fighters.

"Our resolve to end the situation, however, has not wavered. In fact, we are now more determined than ever to finally eliminate these terrorists, and we will not stop until evil is vanquished, not only in Marawi City, but also in the whole of Mindanao," he added.