Sunday, September 3, 2017

PH military believes Abdullah Maute is dead

From Rappler (Sep 4): PH military believes Abdullah Maute is dead

(3rd UPDATE) 'Abdullah Maute is already killed. Chatter over Telegram indicates he is killed,' says Western Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez

MAUTE BROTHERS. Omar and Abdullah Maute are the known leaders of the Maute Group.

MAUTE BROTHERS. Omar and Abdullah Maute are the known leaders of the Maute Group.

The Philippine military believes Abdullah Maute, the leader of the Maute Group responsible for the attack in Marawi City, was killed in an air strike last month.

Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), cited information in the social media application Telegram where the local terrorist group is reportedly communicating with the Islamic State (ISIS), the international terrorist organization it pledged allegiance to.
"Abdullah Maute is already killed. Chatter over Telegram indicates he is killed," Galvez said in a press conference in Marawi City on Monday, September 4.

Galvez showed the media online posts that pay tribute to the "martyred" Sheik Al Miyahad Abu Al Hassan, the name that Abdullah Maute goes by in the ISIS network.

Galvez said the military is working to get "physical evidence" such as DNA to confirm Abdullah's death.

Abdullah is believed to be the military commander strategizing for the local terrorist group on the ground. (READ: Terror in Mindanao: The Mautes of Marawi)

The military previously reported that the other key leader of the Maute Group – Abdullah's brother Omar Maute – was also likely killed in the battle zone. But Galvez said on Monday that Omar turned out to be alive.

"Omar Maute is still alive. He's wounded but still inside [the war zone]," said Galvez.

Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon is also alive and is likewise inside the battle zone, said Galvez. The supposed "emir" of ISIS in Southeast Asia was the target of the May 23 military raid that triggered the clashes that are now on their 4th month.

Up to 600,000 residents of Marawi City and nearby towns have been displaced due to the ongoing war.

Galvez said they are preparing to launch the final push to end the conflict. According to him, the battle area is down to 20-24 hectares.

"The Marawi crisis is nearing its end, hopefully before October," said Galvez.

Couple killed

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 3): Couple killed

Karapatan blames soldiers in death of farm-group members

HUMAN rights group Karapatan has tagged government soldiers in the death of a peasant couple in Barangay Tamayong, Calinan district on Saturday.

In a press statement also posted on their facebook account, the Karapatan pointed members of the 3rd and the 84th Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army (IBPA) in the death of Jezreel Arrabis, 40, and his wife Dalia, 38, who were both killed in front of their house in Purok 6, Barangay Tamayong around 6:40 pm Saturday.
The couple, together with their seven-year-old son, went to Poblacion Calinan for marketing for their small sari-sari store that day. They arrived home around 6:40 pm. When Jezreel was about to alight from his vehicle, a gunman suddenly appeared and shot him multiple times, the Karapatan said.

The group said Dalia, who was seated next to Jezreel, immediately opened the door and threw her son outside the vehicle for safety and instantly hugged his husband while screaming for help.

The gunman then also shot Dalia.

The group said Jezreel sustained three gunshot wounds and died on the spot. Dalia was rushed to a nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival.

Karapatan said Jezreel and Dalia, both active members of Farmers Association in Davao City (FADC), are the 45th and 46th victims of political killings in Southern Mindanao Region under the US-Duterte regime.
The human rights group is seeking justice for the victims, as they pressed to lift Martial Law imposed in Mindanao.

34-member panel of Lumad elders, leaders to meet with BTC on BBL provisions

From MindaNews (Sep 4): 34-member panel of Lumad elders, leaders to meet with BTC  on BBL provisions

A 34-member panel comprising Lumad (Indigenous Peoples) elders and leaders will engage the 20-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in a roundtable discussion in relation to the 36 provisions of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that may “adversely impact our rights and way of life.”

Lawyer Reuben Lingating, chair of the five-member Indigenous Peoples (IP) panel recently created by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said on Sunday that the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Legislative Assembly-BBL (MIPLA-BBL) Panel of Representatives is composed of 34 elders and leaders from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Zamboanga Peninsula and Caraga whose ancestral domains cover some parts of the territory of the ARMM.

The ARMM, which is the proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the ARMM, comprises the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

It is not clear how many among the 34-member panel of representatives come from the proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro.

But the BTC, the body tasked to draft the BBL, has two Lumad representatives from the proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro, one nominated by the government and the other nominated by the MILF.

The BTC is supposed to be a 21-member Commission but one Commissioner, Samira Gutoc Tomawis, resigned in the early days of the Marawi Crisis citing personal reasons and policy questions.

Lingating said the meeting between BTC and MIPLA-BBL panel will happen in two weeks after it was moved from September 1, the closing of the three-day MIPLA at the Mergrande Ocean Resort in Talomo, as it was a nationwide holiday in observance of the Eid’l Adha (Islamic Feast of Sacrifice).

He said members of the MIPLA-BBL Panel of Representatives will meet again to consolidate the output of the seven group sessions during the legislative assembly after the roundtable peace conversation with the BTC members.

He said the BTC and MILPA-BBL panel representatives will “engage separately or jointly the Congress.”

The BTC submitted the draft of the new BBL to President Rodrigo Duterte on July 17. It was transmitted to the two houses of Congress in mid-August but has yet to be filed as a bill in either house.

The BBL is not on the list of 28 priority bills agreed upon by the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council.

Lingating said the OPAPP “provided for a new peace table to serve as a platform of peace conversation between them so just to exhaust all remedies available to them as diverse peoples, with distinct identities, culture, history, and political conceptualizations in dealing with their aspiration to be united as Bangsamoro peoples following the Administration’s policy of inclusivity in the peace process.”

He said they have submitted to IP Committee representatives in Congress the result of their “sharing, discourse and proposals concerning 36 provisions in the BBL that may adversely impact their rights and way of life.”

He said Sen. Nancy Binay, chair of the Senate Committee for Cultural Communities, who sent her representative Joseph Ginni T. Jaralve, and North Cotabato’s second district Representative Nancy Catamco, Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples, “expressed their commitment to consider it.”

Maute gunmen using unexploded bombs from planes in fight vs gov’t troops

From MindaNews (Sep 4): Maute gunmen using unexploded bombs from planes in fight vs gov’t troops

As government troops tightened the grip around ISIS-inspired gunmen in Marawi City, the terrorists are fighting back with all they have, including unexploded ordnance dropped from warplanes.

Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) Chief Lt. General Carlito Galvez said fighting has been intense during the past two days along Quezon Avenue that runs along the Banggolo business district.

Galvez said the terrorists have been using everything they have from Molotov cocktails to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) fashioned from plastic water bottles.

He estimated around 45 ISIS-Maute gunmen are still fighting it out in a small pocket in the city.

“Only 300 structures remain to be cleared from 600 previously but our troops are finding more IEDs in the buildings,” Galvez said of the slow progress of the government troops.

Three soldiers died while 52 others were injured when they took back control of Bayabao Bridge in Banggolo last week.

Capt. Joane Petinglay, spokesperson of AFP Joint Task Force Marawi, said most of those injured were inflicted by IEDs.

A military officer who is familiar with the fighting said the terrorists got hold of explosives by salvaging unexploded ordnance and bombs dropped by the Philippine Air Force warplanes.

“They cut up the shells and bombs to get to the gunpowder and put them in small plastic bottles. They really know the stuff,” he said.

Galvez said the ISIS gunmen inside Marawi were able to get reinforcements despite the presence of gunboats watching Lake Lanao, the country’s second biggest lake.

He said reinforcements of one or two persons hide behind water lilies or water hyacinths to camouflage themselves and taking advantage of bad weather at night.

“We believe one or two gunmen were able to reinforce those in the main battle area using these tactics,” Galvez said.

Last week, government troops repulsed a small group of terrorists out to attack the nearby town of Marantao and spoil the opening of classes at the Mindanao State University.

Government troops also killed 10 gunmen trying to sneak into Marawi City in small boats.

Free college discourages youth to join armed struggle

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 2): Free college discourages youth to join armed struggle  

A local official here said a locally-funded learning institution recognized by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) can be an antidote to teenagers against joining armed struggle to fight the government.

Mayor Rudy Caoagdan of Makilala, North Cotabato, said the institution, the first locally-funded free college, will help discourage its students from joining the communist movement.

Ched 12 Director Maximo C. Aljibe said Ched, in an en banc session in July, passed a resolution recognizing and approving all the curriculum of Makilala Institute of Science and Technology (MIST).

On August 28, Caoagdan and Aljibe installed Dr. Gerard Rigonan as the first MIST president.

Makilala, one of the 17 towns of North Cotabato, has been listed as among the hotspots and breeding areas of communist insurgents.

"To discourage the youth from joining rebel movement, you must educate them and give them the information they need to be empowered," Caoagdan said during the investiture program.

To date, MIST has at least 1,400 enrollees and its maintenance and operating expenses are funded by the local government of Makilala. The local government provided an annual budget of P10-million for MIST.

The Ched regional director lauded the local government, headed by Caoagdan, for pushing for the establishment of first free college educational institution five years ago.

Caoagdan said a local ordinance has been passed to ensure continuity of the tertiary school and can not be disrupted by change in local government leadership.

He stressed that when he started the idea of coming up with an LGU-funded college, his political rivals criticized him.

The mayor said when he is out of office, the new official cannot order the school’s closure because a local law exists.

According to Caoagdan, about 80 percent of high school graduates in Makilala stopped schooling after graduation due to poverty. With the availability of free college education, many are expected to become professionals and become productive citizens of Makilala.

“Where will our children go after high school,” he asked. “Abroad as domestic workers? Construction workers or jobless or worst they may end up joining the New Peoples Army.”

Duterte to meet with Malaysia, Indonesia leaders for anti-terror pact

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4): Duterte to meet with Malaysia, Indonesia leaders for anti-terror pact

President Rodrigo Duterte will meet with the leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia to formalize the details of an anti-terrorism deal.

In a media interview past midnight Sunday, the President also voiced concern over reports of increasing ISIS recruitment in Muslim cities.

“The ISIS is being cornered into the coastal towns of Syria. Natutulak na sila sa Syria. Once they lose mass base, wala na silang mapuntahan. Papatayin talaga sila. Alam mo na ang Arabo, they execute. Sisibat na ‘yan. And then because they have access in some countries, bigla na lang sisipot kagaya nung sa Marawi (They are being pushed (out) of Syria. Once they lose mass base, they can’t go anywhere. They will really be killed. You know the Arabs, they execute. They will escape. And then…because they have access in some countries, they will just come just like in Marawi),” Duterte said on the sidelines of the birthday celebration of Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles.

Duterte said he, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak already agreed to meet either in an area near the Philippines like Sabah and Jakarta.

“We have agreed that we will talk, the three of us. So naghintay lang kami ng timing (We are just waiting for the right timing),” he said in an interview with reporters.

In all probability, Duterte said the deal could be a joint undertaking like a task force to run after ISIS members.

“I will open my borders to the Malaysian authorities and Indonesian authorities, and I am --- they’ll be given access,” he said.

“Kung may hinahabol kami, tapos sabihin, malakas ‘yan, wala nang panahon, tirahin mo na lang siya. Even if it’s a Filipino, sabihin mo doon sa [inaudible], “Tirahin mo na.” or Indonesian dito (If we are running after (terrorists), then they say these are strong and we lack the time, just hit on them. Even if it’s Filipino…or Indonesian here (in the Philippines),” he stressed.

The President said the meeting is already being worked out and it only needs to be formalized.

“We have to meet face to face and agree on an agenda for the talks,” he added.

“I can only maybe… be there for about a day or two. At this time, I cannot. I do not have the luxury of time because I have a serious problem here,” he added.

Duterte said he has to visit Marawi more often until the crisis is over.

Meanwhile, Duterte said he is also looking at the situation in other parts of Mindanao like in Buldon, Maguindanao where there are skirmishes everyday.

“I don't know how this thing developed but anyway I have that by the end of the year to contain all of these things,” he said.

During the Eastern Mindanao Command's 11th anniversary in Davao City on Friday, Duterte said he was thinking of lifting the Martial Law.

“But the way it looks, parang may spillover na sa ARMM. Sa Buldon (it looks like there’s a spillover in the ARMM. In Buldon), he said referring to Buldon town in Maguindanao.

“Let us see. If it is to the interest of the country that I will lift it, I will lift it. But if not, then we’ll just have to continue with the martial law,” he added.

Duterte, however, assured he would be pursuing the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and even with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“If we cannot reconfigure a political structure to suit everybody's needs and fulfill their demands because it is really valid, Mindanao will be at war for all times,” he added.

Former NPA members reap seeds of peace

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4): Former NPA members reap seeds of peace

Former rebels in Davao Oriental are literally reaping what they sow in the name of peace.

This was announced on Saturday by provincial information officer Karen Lou Deloso, who said 17 former members of the New People's Army (NPA) harvested corn and other vegetable products which they planted last May.

Among the returnees, five are minors aged 16 to 17, and two are pregnant females aged 26 and 30.

These ex-rebels were sheltered at the Happy Home, a processing center and a civilian facility for former rebels who have expressed their desire to return to the fold of the law in Mati City.

The farm right across the Happy Home is owned by the provincial government and is near the 701st Brigade military camp. The facility will soon produce more vegetables.

Chief Master Sgt. Fernando Queza, one of supervisors of the farming activity in the facility, reported the former rebels harvested eggplants, corn, ampalaya, cucumber and okra.

Queza said that aside from planting, the beneficiaries are also tending livestock, a piggery with twenty piglets, and poultry of native chickens.

The livestocks, including the vegetable seedlings, and organic fertilizers, were provided for free by the provincial government’s agricultural office.

Each of the returnees own the livestock and vegetables sold at the local market.

In 2013, then governor and now First District Rep. Corazon Malanyaon established the facility for the former rebels to install the pillars of shared peace and prosperity in the province.

Since its launch, the facility has been helping rebels in transition to civilian life. It is staffed by a composite group providing psychosocial, spiritual and other services.

Governor Nelson Dayanghirang continues to provide former rebels with livelihood and employment opportunities, scholarships for their children, health services and others for them to join in the mainstream society.

In a statement, Dayanghirang cited a big turnout of insurgents who decided to take the road to peace by pursuing political and social change without the use of arms.

The governor said he believes that the armed conflict can be resolved by building mutual trust and understanding.

He pointed out several positive strides that have been made in the name of peace, envisioning the Happy Home to be the beginning of sincere dialogue towards resolving the armed conflict without resorting to the use of arms.

Salamat is next NOLCOM chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): Salamat is next NOLCOM chief

Philippine Marine Commandant (PMC), Major Gen. Emmanuel B. Salamat will assume Monday the helm of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM).

The turnover ceremony will take place at NOLCOM headquarters at Camp Aquino, Tarlac City.

Salamat, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class 1985, will be replacing Lt. Gen. Romeo Tanalgo, of PMA Class 1985, who will be retiring on Sept. 5.

"Major Gen Emmanuel B. Salamat is one of the finest among contemporary generals (of the ) PMC. He epitomizes the amalgam of a Marine warrior and a compassionate leader," AFP public affairs office chief, Col. Edgard Arevalo said Sunday.

He is cut-and-dried for the PMC and higher and more significant posts like NOLCOM, he said, adding that Salamat has undergone the different echelons of command and leadership in the AFP.

"From command of a Marine Platoon shortly after graduating from the Philippine Military Academy “Sandiwa” Class of 1985, he rose to Company, Battalion, and Brigade Commands. He reached the pinnacle of his career in the PMC when he was installed as the Commandant of the Corps -- a position most coveted by every Marine Officer," Arevalo added.

Aside from this, Salamat is a fellow of Centre for Defense and Strategic Studies of the Australian Defense College which equips its students with the competency to operate at the strategic level.

The incoming NOLCOM commander also has a Masters Degree from Deakin University in Geelong, Australia.

"As such, he is expected to make immense contributions in tackling issues that beset his Area of Responsibility in Northern Luzon that spans Bajo De Masinloc in the West, to the Balintang Channel in the North, to Philippine Rise in the East," Arevalo added.