Sunday, August 13, 2017

MILF: House to convene into a Constituent Assembly with the Senate to perform minor surgery on the Constitution to pass BBL

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Aug 11): House to convene into a Constituent Assembly with the Senate to perform minor surgery on the Constitution to pass BBL

Photo courtesy of BTC Secretariat

The House of Representatives is prepared to convene into a constituent assembly with the Senate to perform minor surgery on the Constitution to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), said an online post by News5 Interaksyon on August 8.
 The legislators also agreed to pass a bill postponing the October 2017 barangay elections to May 2018 and retain incumbent officials on holdover capacity.
This was the agreement among lawmakers who attended the caucus on Monday, according to Citizen Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Representative Sherwin Tugna, News5 also said in its online post.

Tugna, chairperson of the committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, said the barangay elections will be held simultaneously with the plebiscite for the BBL.

The BBL aims to institutionalize autonomous governance of places that would be included in Muslim Mindanao.

According to Tugna, before the passage of the BBL, the Senate and the House will convene in joint session as a constituent assembly and amend the provisions of the Constitution to harmonize it with the proposed BBL.

In a meeting of Congress leaders on July 26, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said Congress will identify the provisions of the Constitution that needed to be amended to pass the BBL. (Source: News5 Interaksyon)

AFP troops palapit na sa Maute leaders

From Abante (Aug 12): AFP troops palapit na sa Maute leaders (AFP troops closing in on Maute leaders)

Malapit nang mapasok ng mga tropa ng gobyerno ang pinagkukutaan ng mga lider ng Maute Group, ayon kay Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla sa Mindanao Hour press briefing sa Malacañang kahapon.

“We have gone close to where they are hiding,” ayon kay Padilla.

Naniniwala rin ang AFP na nasa battle area pa rin ang mga lider ng Maute Group. “We believe they’re still inside the battle area and the reason why fighting has been intense is potentially,” paliwanag pa nito.

Tungkol naman sa larawan nina Abdullah Maute at Isnilon Hapilon na kumalat sa social media, sinabi ng AFP spokesperson na kinukumpirma pa nila kung totoo ito.

“With the recent advances in technology and potential ways of altering a picture, mahirap magkomento sa mga lumalabas na mga photos hangga’t hindi kami nakapagsasagawa ng forensic exa­mination at doon malalaman mo kung talagang authentic at recent ‘yung photo,” ani Padilla na hindi isinasantabing baka propaganda lamang ito.

Lanao del Sur mayors sign manifesto declaring war vs. Maute

From CNN Philippines (Aug 12): Lanao del Sur mayors sign manifesto declaring war vs. Maute


All 41 mayors of Lanao del Sur have signed a manifesto declaring war against the ISIS-linked Maute terror group.

Local government units are considering members and sympathizers of the Maute group as "Enemies of the Maranao People," said Lanao Del Sur Crisis Management Committee spokesperson Zia Alonto Adiong on Saturday.

He said the province's 40 towns and one city will strengthen the civilian security plan of barangays. This includes mobilizing religious leaders to issue a fatwa or ruling declaring terrorism as haram or a forbidden act.

"We will engage the Maute on all fronts. Mobilizing all sectors, stakeholders to combine our efforts to counter the spread of false teachings, radicalization of our youth and threat of terrorism," Adiong said.

The terror crisis in Marawi began May 23 following clashes between the Maute group and government forces. It prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law throughout the island region of Mindanao.

Military rule stays in Mindanao until end of this year after the Congress, voting jointly, granted Duterte's request for an extension to quell the rebellion.

Terrorists 'enemies of people', Philippine mayors say

From Anadolu Agency (Aug 12): Terrorists 'enemies of people', Philippine mayors say

Town leaders across Lanao del Sur province issue declaration against pro-Daesh group

Terrorists 'enemies of people', Philippine mayors say

Mayors across the mainly Muslim province of Lanao del Sur have declared pro-Daesh terrorists “enemies of the Maranao people”, local media reported Saturday.

Mayors in the province’s 41 towns have taken the stand as the army closes in on the last remaining Maute group terrorists in Marawi City, the capital of the province, after more than 11 weeks of fighting.

The group, led by two brothers from the city, has pledged allegiance to Daesh.

Maranao is a collective term for the indigenous Muslims living around Lake Lanao on the southern island of Mindanao.
Zia Alonto Adiong, President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman on the Lanao del Sur crisis, told CNN Philippines the mayors would reinforce local security plans and mobilize religious leaders to issue an anti-terrorism ruling.

“We will engage the Maute on all fronts, mobilizing all sectors, stakeholders to combine our efforts to counter the spread of false teachings, radicalization of our youth and the threat of terrorism,” he said.

Hundreds have been killed since the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf attacked Marawi on May 23 which led to the imposition of martial law across Mindanao.

Hotbed of insurgency no more

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 12): Hotbed of insurgency no more

BRGY.CANLUSONG, EB Magalona – For residents of this mountainous barangay, that is about 35 kilometers away from the town proper, the days when local armed insurgents where roaming freely are gone.

Canlusong barangay chairwoman Meriam Porras and Kagawad Raymundo Mantelensia said yesterday that residents of the barangay have been enjoying a peaceful environment for decades now, although there are still occurrences of petty crimes.

Peace and order remains stable, unlike before, Porras claimed.

Martelensia, a member of the defunct Civilian Home Defense Force paramilitary group, said the presence of a CAFGU detachment in Canlusongand another in nearby Brgy. San Isidro, has contributed a lot to the stable peaceful environment.

In the late 1980s, he recalled, the New People's Army stayed in the barangay for three days before transferring to another place. A large training camp of the NPA was also overran in SitioSagaban of the barangay, in those years.

But Martelensia admitted that the presence of the NPA in those turbulent years was a blessing in disguise for the residents, who managed to re-occupy the land they were tilling, which were land-grabbed by some influential individuals, who later abandoned it, due to the peace and order problem then.

But in recent years, the peaceful environment was again confronted by violence and killings, that reportedly started after the discovery of timber-poaching activities that involved families allegedly linked to armed groups.

But Porras and Martelensia said the timber poaching activities in the remaining forest cover of the barangay, which form part of the Northern Negros Natural Park, have grounded to a halt, although there are still reports of charcoal-making activities.

Porras said she is pushing for the deputation of their BantayBukid members by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Martelensia, a resident of the barangay for his entire life, and Porras, and their constituents, are calling the government to look into their perennial problemsover the road network.

During rainy season, the road is comparable to a river, with water everywhere.

Canlusong barangay residents and visitors have to experience a bumpy ride for more than one hour, before reaching the remote barangay, that is connected to Brgy. Gawahon, Victorias City, in the north, and Brgy.Patag, Silay City, in the south and SitioHiyang-Hiyang, Cadiz City in the east.

Mayor Marvin Malacon said yesterday that the municipal government has already allocated P1 million for the road concreting, starting from Brgy. San Isidro, on top of the P3 million being allocated by the national government.

The municipal government recently opened Grade 7 classes in the barangay.

Porras said she also thanked Malacon for providing them a vehicle to transport their products to the EB Magalona town proper, a day before market day which isSaturday.

Aside from the organic coffee being promoted by the municipal government of EB Magalona, EfraimPanesa, a resident of the barangay, said their source of livelihood is from rice and corn farming and other farm-related activities, as well as making brooms.

Air Force officer is new Western Command chief

From Malaya Business Insight (Aug 14): Air Force officer is new Western Command chief

A SENIOR Air Force general is the new head of the Armed Forces’ Western Command (Wescom) which supervises all military operations in disputed areas in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

Maj. Gen. Galileo Kintanar assumed the post last Friday at the Wescom headquarters in Camp General Artemio Ricarte in Puerto Princesa City.

Kintanar, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1985, replaced Lt. Gen. Raul del Rosario, of PMA Class 1984, who bowed out of the military service yesterday, upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

The Wescom commander is one of the most sensitive assignments in the Armed Forces because he will be in charge of all military activities in the South China Sea, where the disputed Spratly Islands are situated.

The oil and minerals-rich Spratly Island is being claimed in part or in whole by the Philippines, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan. China has turned aggressive in its claims over the past years.

Another reshuffle is expected soon with the retirement on August 30 of Lt. Gen. Ferdinand Quidilla (PMA Class 1983), chief of the Southern Luzon Command.

Kintanar, before his Wescom post, was commander of the Air Education and Training Command based in Lipa City. The military has yet to announce who will succeed him as AETC commander.

Before assuming AETC post in May last year, Kintanar was the Chief of Air Staff. He also served as commander of the 15th Strike Wing and chief of the AFP Office for Strategic Studies.

Kintanar took the Squadron Officer course in Alabama in 1994 and was recognized with a Distinguished Graduate Award, said AFP public affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo.

“He pursued his Defense and Strategic Studies Course at the Australian Defense College in Canberra and Deakin University, Australia,” Arevalo also said.

US asserts right to treat S. China Sea as int’l territory

From the Daily Tribune (Aug 13): US asserts right to treat S. China Sea as int’l territory

Upbraided by Beijing after allegedly “undermining” its sovereignty when a US warship sailed near an artificial island in the Spratlys, Washington has asserted its rights to perform freedom of navigation operations (FONOP) where international law allows, including in the South China Sea contested by China and other littoral countries.

Freedom of navigation operations happen all around the world. They tend to get the most attention when they have been in the South China Sea,” said State Department spokesman Heather Nauert.

She explained that FONOP happens in the waters off-shore of “our major allies, friends, partners all around the world.”

“US forces will operate in the Asia-Pacific region. They do that on a daily basis, including the South China Sea,” she stressed. “The operations are conducted in accordance with international law.”

She also pointed out that this is to demonstrate that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.

“It’s true in the South China Sea; it’s true in other places around the world as well,” she stressed.

The USS John S. McCain destroyer sailed within six nautical miles off Mischief Reef, a man-made island built by China but is also claimed by the Philippines.

Earlier, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government has no objection regarding the presumed innocent passage of sea craft.

“There is, of course, the freedom of navigation. In other words, from our side, we find no objection,” he has said.

But in a press conference, an angry China described the passage as “violation” and an act “undermining” Beijing’s sovereignty in the contested area.

According to China Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, their side sent naval ships to identify and verify the US warship “according to law and warn it to leave.”

He cited that with “concerted efforts of China and Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, the situation in the South China Sea has cooled down and de-escalated and continuously taken a positive trend.”

China-Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in the Philippines last week adopted the Framework of a Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea but Geng noted that against thisbackdrop, “certain non-regional forces have moved against the general trend and continued to make provocations and troubles under the pretext of ‘freedom of navigation’ with an attempt to disturb the current hard-won sound situation.”

“This has clearly manifested who is exactly the one that does not want to see the sustained stability in the South China Sea, and who serves the biggest factor in the ‘militarization’ of the South China Sea,” he added.

Chinese defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the situation in the South China Sea has “stabilized” due to the “joint efforts” of China and neighboring countries but the US operation threatened “peace and stability in the region.”

“The US military’s provocative actions will only encourage the Chinese military to further strengthen the defense capacity building and firmly defend national sovereignty and security,” Qian said.

In the Asean joint communique, foreign ministers have reaffirmed the importance of freedom of navigation.

Washington, represented by State Secretary Rex Tillerson in the Asean meetings, welcomed this reiteration, also citing shared concerns over developments they called “unconducive to regional stability” in the South China Sea, such as land reclamation.
In her earlier statement, Nauert said “Asean was under tremendous pressure, but still held on to its principles.”

The freedom of navigation operation was the third of its kind carried out by the United States since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Joint Asean bid vs IS threat set

From the Daily Tribune (Aug 13): Joint Asean bid vs IS threat set


A regional effort to stem the growing Islamic State (IS) threat in the region is shaping up as a result of the joint statement among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its dialog partners that included China urging multinational cooperation against terrorism.

The anti-terror effort starts with Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines expanding the joint maritime patrols to include aerial surveillance operations, Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said.

Hishamuddin was quoted in a Malaysian publication as saying plans were also underway to invite Brunei and Singapore security patrols as part of measures to counter the IS threat in the region.

“If possible, we would want to get all 10 Asean nations involved as well,” he said after a Battle of Honor ceremony to pay tribute to servicemen involved in the operations against Sulu gunmen in Lahad Datu in 2013.

He said it was imperative for Asean countries to prevent the IS from expanding in the region.

“The IS flag is being flown for the first time is this region,” he said referring to the IS militant insurgency in Marawi City that has stretched into its third month.

Hishamuddin said Malaysia was considering acquiring the P8 Orion surveillance aircraft from Japan for the purpose of air patrols.

He said the Philippine government is expected to call for a meeting with defense ministers from the three countries to discuss further joint patrols.

A series of high-level meetings in the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held in Manila among members of the bloc and its dialog partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Russia resulted in a joint statement sending a strong message to the the international community urging concerted efforts on counter-terrorism.

“Cognizant of the fact that radicalization and violent extremism conducive to terrorism are common scourges of mankind, we reaffirmed our commitment to combat this plague through effective implementation of measures and counter- measures at the national, regional, and sub-regional levels,’ said the Asean foreign ministers in a joint communique.

Broader approach vs terrorism

Under the Asean Convention on Counter-Terrorism (ACCT), the United Nations (UN) Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and the UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, the regional bloc underscored the importance of a “whole-of-nation approach” as opposed to a purely military option in combating the problem.

The chairman’s statement at the conclusion of Asean Plus Three, a forum which consists the bloc’s members with Japan, Republic of Korea and China agreed on initiatives to address terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization.

The Asean members and the three other nations committed to share information on terrorism and transnational criminal organizations, and the implementation of measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

Meanwhile, the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) which is made up of a larger number of nations condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Referring to the ACCT, the ARF reaffirmed its strong commitment to enhance cooperation and undertake effective measures in countering terrorism which covers the prevention and suppression of terrorist acts on the basis of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy (GCTS).

It stressed the need to address conditions conducive to terrorism and the spread of terrorist ideology, including through the terrorist use of Internet and social media, in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolution, 2354 (2017) in support of a comprehensive international framework on countering terrorist propaganda.

The ARF is comprised of 27 members, including the 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), the 10 ASEAN dialogue partners Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States), Papua New Guinea, an ASEAN observer, as well as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Medals for wounded troops

 A total of 107 soldiers who were wounded while fighting Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City and other areas in Mindanao, were decorated for their gallantry during a short ceremony at the Army General Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City last August 10.

In a statement, Philippine Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson, said the soldiers were presented the Army’s Wounded Personnel Medal during the ceremony that was led by Army Support Command head, Maj. Gen. Elmer Pabale.

Tiongson said that through the medal, the Army recognizes the bravery, professionalism, and heroism of the soldiers, who continue to be a source of national pride.

“The Army also extended its gratitude to all its personnel in Marawi City and all over the country who continue to risk their lives to achieve just and lasting peace and stability for the country,” he said.

Latest reports showed the number of fatalities in the Marawi crisis has been placed at 552 Maute terrorists, 128 government troops, and 45 civilians. Some 1,728 civilians have been rescued from the clutches of the enemy and about 610 weapons have been seized from the terrorists.

Notorious Abu Sayyaf sub-leader killed in Sulu, says military

From Rappler (Aug 13): Notorious Abu Sayyaf sub-leader killed in Sulu, says military

Badong Muktadil is behind the recent sea jacking of a Vietnamese vessel of Tawi-Tawi and the February 2013 abduction of a Taiwanese national in Malaysia

The military said a sub-leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) notorious in the Philippines and Malaysia was killed in Sulu Saturday night, August 12, when the navy intercepted his boat in the town of Parang.

Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said the death of Badong Muktadil weakened the capability of the bandit group to conduct kidnapping and terror attacks. His body was brought to a hospital in Jolo, Sulu.

"The neutralization of Badong is another big setback on the Abu Sayyaf Group particularly on their kidnapping and terroristic activities making the residents in Sulu felt some sort of relief from the threat posed by Badong's group," Sobejana said on Sunday, August 13.

Muktadil and his men are behind the following attacks:
Muktadil and his men have 5 standing warrants of arrest in the Philippines for kidnapping, illegal detention, and murder, according to Sobejana.
"They are also wanted by the Malaysian authorities for their involvement in sea jacking, attacks on foreign vessels and abductions at the maritime borders of Tawi-Tawi and Sabah," Sobejana said.
Sobejana said the successful interception was prompted by reports from local residents who saw Muktadil and his men board a Jungkong type boat. A firefight erupted at sea off the coast of barangay Silangka.
The Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu is led by Radullon Sahiron, a faction notorious for kidnap-for-ransom activities. (READ: 5 operations vs Abu Sayyaf that won medals for soldiers)
It is the Basilan faction led by Isnilon Hapilon is linked with the international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS) although the Sulu faction also uses ISIS links as propaganda to increase ransom demands for foreign hostages.
Hapilon joined in May another ISIS-linked group, Maute Group, in Lanao del Sur to attack Marawi City. The battle continues to rage nearly 3 months since the clashes erupted on May 23. (READ: How a military raid triggered Marawi attacks)

4 hostages flee as Maute captors sleep – report

From Rappler (Aug 12): 4 hostages flee as Maute captors sleep – report

The escaped hostages say Father Teresito 'Chito' Soganub, who was taken on May 23 from Marawi City, is still alive

Fleeing in the night as their captors slept, 4 hostages of the terrorist Maute group escaped and were rescued by the Philippine Navy on Saturday, August 12, a report said.

ABS-CBN reported that the hostages swam about a kilometer through Lanao Lake until they were eventually found by a navy patrol.

The escaped hostages said they had been with the Maute group for more than two months inside the Bato Mosque. They reportedly served as cooks for the terror group, as well as other hostages.

They added that Father Teresito "Chito" Soganub, who was taken on May 23 from Marawi City, is still alive.

He was reportedly assigned to collect explosive powder from firecrackers, which they intend to use in improvised explosive devices. (READ: Troops push to rescue Marawi hostages in 'last lap' operations)

About 50 more hostages, 20 of whom were women, are said to still be captives of the Maute group.

Notorious Abu sub-leader, part of group executing hostages, slain in Sulu

From News 5/InterAksyon (Aug 13): Notorious Abu sub-leader, part of group executing hostages, slain in Sulu

Westmincom chief Lt Gen Carlito Galvez: praise for Joint Task Force Sulu. PNA FILE PHOTO

A sub-leader of the Abu Sayyaf and member of the Muktadil brothers – notorious for carrying out some executions for the ASG – was slain in counter operations of military troops in Sulu, according to the Zamboanga-based Western Mindanao Command.

Elements of the Joint Task Force Sulu, aboard navy vessels, engaged in a heavy gun fight with Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Salvador Muktadil, a.k.a. Badong, in Silangkan, Parang, Sulu at 1:10am of Sunday, and the exchange of gunfire ended in the death of Muktadil.

Muktadil had an arrest warrant for kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and 9 counts of murder.

He was a member of the Muktadil brothers who were usually tapped by the Abu Sayyaf in the execution of high profile and cross-border kidnappings.

He was involved in the abductions of Yahong Lim in Sempornah, Sabah; Evelyn Chang of Tawan, Sabah; and Mayor Gemma Adana of Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay.

“Badong is well-experienced in operating speedboats utilized by the Abu Sayyaf as getaway vehicles in executing kidnapping ploy,” said Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, Commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu.

“His death rendered high seas kidnappings, particularly in Tawi-Tawi and Sabah, suppressed,” added Sobejana.

The remains of Badong were brought to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Trauma Hospital in Busbus, Jolo, Sulu for proper procedure, the Wesmincom said.

Badong was a sub-leader operating in Sabah, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga City, and Zamboanga Sibugay.

Lieutenant General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., Wesmincom commander, credited “the maximized intelligence operations of our troops and the cooperation and support of the local leaders and folks,” for the neutralization of Badong

“I commend the troops of the JTF Sulu led by their Commander Brigadier General Sobejana for this recent accomplishment,” Galvez added.

MILF firm on demand, wants wider Muslim autonomy

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 12): MILF firm on demand, wants wider Muslim autonomy

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF said it will not back down from its original demand to have a wider autonomy for minority Muslims in southern Philippines as it rejected anew any government offer other than an expanded territory, not even the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or ARMM.

The MILF signed an interim peace deal with Manila in 2014 and has been pushing for the approval and ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL and other provisions stipulated in the accord -Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, including the establishment of the new Bangsamoro autonomous region.

The BBL was rejected by Congress during President Benigno Aquino’s administration after some of its proposed laws violated the Constitution. The MILF said it will not revisit the BBL and insisted on the original draft submitted to Aquino.

Many politicians and residents in the proposed Bangsamoro areas also rejected the BBL and wanted out of the deal, citing various reasons and the failure of the Aquino government and peace negotiators from both sides to include recommendations submitted by the provinces in the autonomous region.

The BBL was drafted by the 15-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission appointed by the MILF and the Aquino government.

If ratified, it will pave the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro region that would replace the ARMM which is composed of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, including the cities of Lamitan and Marawi. The creation of Bangsamoro autonomous region would have to be decided on a referendum in the ARMM and in areas where there are large Muslim communities.

Let SC Decide on Unconstitutional Provisions
“The position of MILF is very clear. First, MILF will never accept an autonomy that is lower than the ARMM; secondly, the MILF will not accept an autonomy that is equal to the ARMM. The MILF only accepts an autonomy law that is better than the ARMM,” said MILF Vice Chairman Mohagher Iqbal.

Iqbal also suggested the BBL should be passed as it is and let the Supreme Court decides on its unconstitutional infirmities. “Yung BBL ngayon kung ako lang ang masusunod ang maganda diyan ipasa na nila ng walang bawas at walang dagdag. Hayaan nalang natin ang Supreme Court maghusga kung alin dyan ang unconstitutional,” he said. “And then kung maghusga ang Supreme Court, ipunin na lang natin yun dahil meron pang function ang BTC mag-propose to amend the constitution.”

He said the government offered the ARMM thrice to the MILF and three times it was rejected by the rebel group. He said: “Congress may opt to pass all the constitutional provisions and for Congress to amend the Constitution to accommodate unconstitutional substances on the proposed Moro law, and then later it will incorporate to the working of committee which will draft the federal system of the country.”


According to the BBL, the purpose of the law is to establish a political entity, provide for its basic structure of government in recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Muslim people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and posterity and allow for meaningful self-governance.

In the draft law, the following areas shall be included in new political entity – the towns of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in Lanao del Norte and all villages in the towns of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap which voted in the 2001 plebiscite. And also included are the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, and contiguous areas where 10% of residents may petition for its inclusion into the new Bangsamoro territory.

And under its General Principles and Policies, it stipulates “in the exercise of its right to self-determination and self-governance, the Bangsamoro is free to pursue its political, economic, social, and cultural development; the Bangsamoro Government shall be parliamentary. Its political system is democratic, allowing its people to freely participate in the political processes within its territory; the Bangsamoro Government, consistent and suitable to its parliamentary form of government, shall adopt an electoral system which shall allow democratic participation, encourage formation of genuinely principled political parties, and ensure accountability.”

It further said that: “Governance in the Bangsamoro is the responsibility of the duly elected civilian government. Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. The Bangsamoro Government shall promote unity, peace, justice, and goodwill among all peoples, as well as encourages a just and peaceful settlement of disputes. The Bangsamoro abides by the principle that the country renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.”

“The Bangsamoro shall adhere to the principle of enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. The Bangsamoro shall establish a government that ensures that every citizen in the Bangsamoro is provided the basic necessities and equal opportunities in life. Social Justice shall be promoted in all phases of development and facets of life within the Bangsamoro. The Bangsamoro Government shall respect and adhere to all international treaties and agreements which benefited the Bangsamoro Government.”

President Rodrigo Duterte is also pushing for the approval of the BBL which he signed last month.

Grenade explodes in Pagadian City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 12): Grenade explodes in Pagadian City

Police said a grenade exploded in front of building in Pagadian City in the southern Filipino province of Zamboanga del Sur.

Police said there was no report of casualties in the blast in front of the Southern Philippines Agri-Machinery Center Building owned by Jesse John Mediodia Derayunan, but a car parked nearby was hit by shrapnel.

The blast, which occurred before sundown Friday, is being investigated by the police. It said members of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal of the local police force. A grenade fuse was also recovered in the area.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the blast. The motive of the explosion is still unknown, according to the police.

Sayyaf commander wanted in Malaysia slain in Sulu Sea clash

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 13): Sayyaf commander wanted in Malaysia slain in Sulu Sea clash

A notorious commander of the Abu Sayyaf group tagged as behind the spate of cross-border kidnappings in the Malaysian state of Sabah was reported killed in southern Philippines.

Salvador Muktadil – also in Malaysia’s wanted list of criminals – was killed in a sea clash late Saturday with security forces pursuing him off the coast of Parang town in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

Elite troops intercepted Muktadil’s speedboat after receiving intelligence report that he was in the area. It was unknown if Muktadil was fleeing military operations in Sulu or heading to the province.

There was no immediate statement or confirmation from the Western Mindanao Command on the reported killing of Muktadil, whose base of operation was in Tawi-Tawi province, also in the autonomous region near Sabah.

Malaysia has tightened its security since May for fear that ISIS militants fighting security forces in Marawi City in southern Philippines may escape the government offensive and slip into Sabah.

It also included Abu Sayyaf chieftain and local ISIS leader Isnilon Hapilon, and jihadist militant Abdullah Maute on its wanted list along with other commanders Idang Susukan, Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Majan Sahidjuan and Salvador Muktadil – all implicated in cross-border kidnappings over the years.

The tight security was ordered by the Eastern Sabah Security Command under Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Abdul Khalid, who also appealed to Malaysian citizens to stay vigilant and report suspicious persons to authorities.

Hapilon and Maute were among a group of jihadist leader who occupied Marawi on May 23 in an effort to put up an Islamic State province in the restive Muslim region of Mindanao. Some of the jihadist leaders fighting in the besieged city include Malaysian Mahmud bin Ahmad and other foreign militants.

Last September, the Philippine military also killed brothers Nixon and Brown Muktadil in fighting on Tambulian Island off Sulu’s Pata town. The Muktadil brothers were behind the kidnappings of at least 26 Indonesian and Malaysian nationals, mostly crew members of slow-moving tugboats in Sabah.

Gov't unveils first ever Filipino-made multi-mission vessels

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 11): Gov't unveils first ever Filipino-made multi-mission vessels

Two 50-meter offshore multi-mission vessels will be added to the growing number of floating assets of the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR).

The vessels are built in the Philippines and are now undergoing finishing touches. They were launched on 10 August  2017 at ten in the morning in Navotas City. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Secretary Emmanuel Piñol led the launching ceremony.

The construction of vessels started in January 2016. Initially built as research ships, the vessels were modified into offshore multi-mission vessels due to the intensified campaign against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

These vessels were designed by Incat Crowther, an internationally known ship designer and built by Josefa Slipways, Inc. based in Navotas City, Metro Manila.

To ensure that standards are met, all plans, drawings, and calculations conform to the rules, regulations, and requirements of Bureau Veritas, a world expert in Testing, Inspection, and Certification (TIC) services.

The acquisition of the vessels was made possible thru the assistance of partner agencies like the Maritime Industry Authority, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Philippine Navy, which DA-BFAR recognized in the launching along with people who diligently worked on the vessels’ acquisition, especially the previous DA-BFAR administration.

The vessels will be commissioned in two months upon completion of the necessary equipment that will be needed for their operations. Commissioning will be led by the President of the Republic of the Philippines.

107 wounded Army troopers get medals

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 13): 107 wounded Army troopers get medals

A total of 107 troopers who were wounded while fighting Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City and other areas in Mindanao, were decorated for their gallantry during a short ceremony at the Army General Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City last August 10.

In a statement issued Friday, Philippine Army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson, said the soldiers were presented the Army's Wounded Personnel Medal during the ceremony that was led by Army Support Command head, Maj. Gen. Elmer Pabale.

Tiongson said that through the medal, the Army recognizes the bravery, professionalism, and heroism of the soldiers, who continue to be a source of national pride.

"The Army also extended its gratitude to all its personnel in Marawi City and all over the country who continue to risk their lives to achieve just and lasting peace and stability for the country," he said.

As of this posting, the number of fatalities in the Marawi crisis has been placed at 552 Maute terrorists, 128 government troops, and 45 civilians. Some 1,728 civilians have been rescued from the clutches of the enemy and about 610 weapons have been seized from the terrorists.

PAF in the market for FA-50PH tail wheel assembly

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 13): PAF in the market for FA-50PH tail wheel assembly

To ensure that all of its available aircraft are flyable and mission-worthy at all times, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) announced that it is allocating the sum of PHP8,340,000 for the procurement of a wheel assembly for one of its brand-new FA-50PH "Fighting Eagle" jet aircraft.

Submission and opening of bids is on Aug. 22, 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

This was bared by PAF bids and awards committee chief Brig. Gen. Nicolas Parilla in a bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website.

The FA-50PHs are currently being used by the military in the ground-support role in the ongoing effort to neutralize the remaining Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City.

Other aircraft helping in the ground-support role are the Rockwell OV-10 "Bronco", SIAI-Marchetti SF-260 light attack planes and AgustaWestland AW-106 attack helicopters, to name a few.

The PAF operates 12 units of the Korea Aerospace Industries-made fighter jet. The entire order is worth PHP18.9 billion.

DOJ to start probe on rebellion raps vs 59 Maute recruits Monday

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 13): DOJ to start probe on rebellion raps vs 59 Maute recruits Monday

The Department of Justice (DOJ) will start its preliminary investigation on the rebellion charges filed against 59 suspected Maute terrorist group recruits who were arrested in Zamboanga City last July 25.

The DOJ's three-man panel handling the cases against the suspects said the respondents are set to submit their respective counter-affidavits on Monday afternoon.

During the proceedings last July 28, the 59 suspects were presented before the panel of prosecutors chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong after being flown to Manila from Zamboanga del Sur via a C-130 military plane.

The suspects signed their waiver of detention and decided that the panel of prosecutors proceed with the preliminary investigation.

Among those arrested is Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) member Nur Supian who was pinpointed by the arrested suspects as their recruiter.

Of the 59, 32 men were arrested at a checkpoint in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay while the remaining 27, of which four were minors, were arrested along Daisy Road in Guiwan, Zamboanga City. They were all arrested last July 25.

Authorities seized from the suspects military uniforms, boots and MNLF identification cards.

Another MNLF member Abdurahid Arasid who was among the 32 persons arrested, said he got recruited by Supian to supplement the Maute forces which have been looking for recruits to beef up its forces in Marawi City.

Arasid said he was told he will receive a monthly salary of PHP30,000 and firearms if he joins the group.

He said he initially refused but was advised to join to keep watch of the group's activities.

Arasid said Supian did not tell the other suspects they were being recruited to fight for Maute.

Instead, Arasid told them they were being recruited to undergo training as MNLF integrees to be able to join the military, a statement which was echoed by the other suspects.

Supian belied Arasid's statement, stressing that he has proper documents to show they were indeed going to undergo training.

The arrested suspects have been detained at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

NPA suspects nabbed in Northern Palawan after encounter with cops

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12): 3 NPA suspects nabbed in Northern Palawan after encounter with cops

Palawan Police Provincial Office (PPO) director Senior Superintendent Gabriel Lopez. (Photo courtesy of Provincial Information Office)

Three suspected New People’s Army (NPA) insurgents have been arrested Friday afternoon following a morning firefight with the police that lasted nearly an hour in the northern Palawan town of Taytay.

One of the three is reportedly wounded, but Palawan Police Provincial Office (PPO) Director Gabriel Lopez did not confirm this to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an early Saturday morning call.

“Yes, three were arrested and they will be submitted for inquest here in Puerto Princesa. I will have to check about the wounded NPA,” Lopez said.

He added clearing operations are ongoing in the Alacalian area by a squad of policemen belonging to the Public Safety Company (PSC) of the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB), and additional team sent by the Western Command (WESCOM) from the the Marine Battalion Landing Team 12 (MBLT-12).

“Clearing operations are still being conducted in the area as we speak,” Lopez said, adding PSC personnel are now conducting house-to-house search for the rest of more or less 20 NPA militants who participated in the confrontation.

Seized from the arrested NPA militants were a firearm with magazine; several backpacks, one of which has an improvised explosive device (IED); assorted communist-terrorist uniforms; a laptop; three cellular phones; and a generator set.

The encounter with the NPA rebels in Alacalian happened Friday morning at 10:30 a.m.

No one was hurt among the members of the PSC.

WESCOM welcomes new chief (Photo/Bio Data)

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12): WESCOM welcomes new chief
Lieutenant General Raul del Rosario handed over the leadership of the Western Command (WESCOM) to Major General Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr. in a change of command and retirement ceremony that was presided by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Eduardo Año here Friday afternoon.
Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez, key military officials, civilian personnel, and various guests from non-government and government organizations witnessed the military tradition that represented the formal transfer of leadership and responsibility of the WESCOM.

Kintanar is a member of the Philippine Military Academy’s (PMA) Sandiwa Class of 1985, where he graduated with distinction and ranked fourth out of 209 cadets.

He was assigned at the 15th Strike Wing, where he honed his flying skills as a pilot of the AT-28D “Tora-Tora,” and was recognized with a Distinguished Graduate Award after taking the Squadron Officer Course in Alabama, USA in 1994. He pursued his Defense and Strategic Studies Course at the Australian Defense College in Canberra and Deakin University, Australia.

Before his assignment in Palawan, Kintanar held various positions in the Philippine Air Force (PAF) before his assumption as the 15th Commander of the Air Education and Training Command, and 1st Commander of the Air Education, Training and Doctrines Command.

Año in his speech said "Kintanar's capabilities and persistence make him perfectly suitable to be the next WESCOM commander as he has a very good grasp of how to promote peace and progress in Palawan and the West Philippine Sea (WPS). 

From left : Col. Nestor Herico, deputy brigade commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade; Governor Jose Alvarez of Palawan; outgoing WESCOM commander Lt. General Raul del Rosario; and Major General Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr.

In an earlier interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Del Rosario who is due to retire on August 13, reflected on his leadership’s take on the WPS, terrorism, and insurgency in Palawan.

Del Rosario said the WPS kept him on his toes not only because he is the WESCOM commander but because he is the head of the Area Task Force (ATF) that directly reports to the National Task Force (NTF) on the WPS under the office of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

On the province’s insurgency problem, Del Rosario said that when he assumed the leadership of WESCOM, the briefing he was given was that “Palawan is on its way to being completely peaceful and ready for development.”

This was because only a few barangays were affected by insurgency, and only a few rebel names and the number of their firearms came up. But when intelligence updates were made and the peace talk collapsed, the true picture of the problem surfaced.

“After the peace talk failed, we saw violent activities, and we saw even activities that are offensive. For one they started liquidation… they killed, and they were very open in claiming they did it,” he said.

“We did something to address the insurgency problem by having more focused military operations, and we will do more. I personally supervised what measures we needed to do to ensure this will not go on,” Del Rosario added, saying he did his best for Palawan to remain safe.

On terrorism, Del Rosario said the WESCOM’s most important accomplishment was getting high end resorts in the province to coordinate their security postures with them, and monitoring coastlines no matter how open and hard they are to secure.

Del Rosario said that when he finally leaves the AFP, he will bring the memory of how he worked successfully with local governments in the province, who have been nothing but supportive.

5 soldiers, 3 militiamen cited

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12): 5 soldiers, 3 militiamen cited

Five soldiers and three militiamen were awarded medals for gallantry in action against the Daesh-inspired Maute group and other enemies of the state in Mindanao.

The awarding of medals was spearheaded by no less than Gen. Eduardo Año, Armed Forces chief-of-staff, who visited the wounded troops on Saturday at Camp Navarro General Hospital in this city.

The soldier-recipients of wounded personnel medal (WPM) were the following: SSgt. Junifel Pangasian; Sgt. Al-Muktar Sali; Cpl. Ayatulla Hamid; Pvt. Arjone Bano; and, Sgt. Yusop Nahudan.

The three militiamen who received WPM medal were Mole Icasama; Lito Lalag; and, Charlie Alejandro.

Pangasian was wounded in a clash against the Maute group members while extricating cadaver of fallen comrades on July 15 in Barangay Marinaut, Marawi City.

Sali was wounded in an encounter against the Maute group members while conducting clearing operations on July 13 in Barangay Marinaut in the city of Marawi.

Hamid was injured in a firefight against the Maute group members while establishing a mortar fire base on June 20 in Barangay Bangon, Marawi City.

Bano was hit in a firefight against the Abu Sayyaf bandits while on combat operations on July 7 in Barangay Bohe Pahu, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan province.

Nahudan and two of the three militiamen--Icasama and Lalag--were injured in a clash with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on July 16 in Barangay Tinaplan, Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte.

Alejandro was wounded in a armed confrontation with Abu Sayyaf bandits on July 20 in Sitio Campo Barn, Barangay Switch Yakal, Lantawan, Basilan province.

Año was assisted by Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, and other military officials.

Before the awarding ceremony, Año visited the troops of the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade at Camp Luis Biel III in Tabiawan, Isabela City, Basilan.

Aside from medals, Año also provided financial assistance to the wounded soldiers and militiamen.