Wednesday, October 4, 2017

‘Hostages-turned-terrorists will be treated as Maute’

From the Manila Times (Oct 2): ‘Hostages-turned-terrorists will be treated as Maute’

Hostages who have joined the Maute Group will be treated as terrorists like their adopted comrades, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) warned on Monday.

But AFP public affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said the military cannot identify with certainty who among the hostages in the siege of Marawi City have turned into gunmen of the Maute Group, which is affiliated with the Islamic State (IS).

“If they will be the one shooting at us first, we have to continue our combat operations and then we have to also protect ourselves especially if we are the ones being shot at first [by the hostages forced to fight soldiers],” Arevalo told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo, the AFP’s general headquarters in Quezon City.

“They will be treated as part of the local terrorist group especially if we do not have information if that person was an enemy or a real Maute-ISIS fighter or that person was forced to fight,” he said, using another acronym for the IS—Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The latest tally from the military showed that 749 terrorists and 47 civilians had been killed in the four-month-old fighting in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

According to Arevalo, hostages forced to fight government troops and killed in combat would have to be counted as Maute casualties.

Government forces are communicating with the hostages inside the main battle zone in order to determine whether any hostage has turned into a terrorist.

Forty-three hostages remain inside the battle zone, according to Arevalo.

He called for more patience from the public as the fighting had entered the month of October, citing challenges being faced by troops in the field.

Last week, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the fighting could be over as the month of October approached but that deadline was not met as clashes continued on Sunday, October 1.

Arevalo said the military would be needing “a few more days” to finish the war and in clearing strongholds of the Maute bandits.

“We saw that there was a great reduction of strength and capability from the Maute to withstand the onslaught of our personnel but we also cannot belittle [them]. What we are saying is that we have the upper hand, we gained the momentum, the operational tempo is with us,” he added.

“We are just as eager as you are in finishing this war, we are just as interested as everyone else to ensure that we would be able to finish this and to get into full swing the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi,” Arevalo said.

About eight to nine hectares of a highly-urbanized area with tall buildings remain as maneuvering ground of the Maute Group in Marawi, according to him.


The AFP public affairs chief said the military is confident that Omarkhayam Maute and Southeast Asian “emir” of the IS group Isnilon Hapilon are still within the main battle area, citing reports.

He called on the two top Maute leaders to surrender to authorities, assuring them that they will be treated “humanely.”

Hapilon and Omarkhayam, however, would have to face consequences of their actions in aiming to establish an independent Islamic state in Marawi City, Arevalo said.

The military would also prefer to have Hapilon and Omarkhayam alive once they are found by the government within the area but Arevalo said the two terror leaders will not let themselves to be captured alive.

“But, if we will be able to capture them alive, that will be good so that we can have our chance to ask them about other information that would come straight from them, but if in any case, they already see that they are on the losing end, that they should surrender now,” he added.

Duterte signals end of negotiations with Left

From the Business Mirror (Oct 3): Duterte signals end of negotiations with Left

PRESIDENT Duterte on Monday night signaled the end of negotiations with the Left after announcing to soldiers in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, to prepare for the next war the government will wage—the war against the New People’s Army (NPA).

In his sixth visit in war-torn Marawi City, the President told government troops to remain vigilant even as the fighting against Islamist extremists is reported to end within October. Duterte said soldiers will face the NPA next, which have conducted successful—and successive—offensives in different parts of the Philippines, mostly in Southern Mindanao.

“I was assessing the terrain of the peace talks, and it appears our negotiations with the NPA are bound to fail. Keep your guards up because, from my briefer, there are about 15 to 20 encounters with the NPA every day,” the President said.

“Our next target are the NPAs, because they have killed many of our soldiers,” Duterte added.

The past days saw consecutive NPA attacks in Sarangani, South Cotabato, Surigao del Sur, Palawan and Masbate, dealing the military heavy blows in its counterinsurgency program.

The NPA claimed responsibility for disarming officials involved in military operations in Sarangani and South Cotabato. The communist rebels were also reported to have taken as prisoners of war a tribe leader and a militiaman in Surigao del Sur.

The NPA also ambushed a military convoy in Palawan and killed a policeman in Masbate. The string of attacks, in the words of Presidential Spokesman Ernesto C. Abella, only “fuels the public’s doubts about the talks with the group”.

Abella on Monday said the public need not worry, as government troops are doing everything in their power to neutralize the communist rebels.

“The government will undertake appropriate steps to deal decisively with these forces that seem to have lost their sense of nation building,” Abella added.

But the President said he had enough of “communist atrocities”. He advised government troops to be wary of their environment once they return home after the conflict in Marawi City.

“If you return to your provinces, you only go in buddies, not in groups. The NPA might ambush you right in front of your house,” Duterte said.

Negotiations with communists are suspended upon the orders of the Chief Executive, after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in May ordered its armed wing, the NPA, to heighten offensives and accelerate recruitment as a response to the martial-law declaration in Mindanao.

Backchannel efforts to revive the peace talks failed due to an NPA ambush in Arakan, Cotabato, which claimed the lives of one militiaman and five members of the Presidential Security Group.

The CPP stated it is still open to negotiating with the government, even as it no longer expects the peace talks to bring about substantive reforms that will benefit the majority of the people.

“While open to resuming peace talks with the Duterte regime, revolutionary forces are no longer hopeful that anything substantive will come out of it in the face of Duterte’s subservience to the interests of [United States] imperialism and other big foreign capitalist countries,” the CPP said in a statement on September 19.

6 NPA rebels surrender, yield firearms to government

From Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Oct 3): 6 NPA rebels surrender, yield firearms to government

AT LEAST six communist rebels have yielded their guns and surrendered to the army's 26th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Talacogon, Agusan del Sur, the military reported on Tuesday, October 3.
Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID), said the six members of the New People’s Army (NPA) belong to the same guerilla front encountered by the government soldiers in KM 46, Barangay Binicalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur last September 29.
The military, over the weekend, also recovered two unidentified bodies of suspected communist rebels believed to be fatalities of the said firefight.
"Anxious for their life and security, the rebels decided to surrender and leave the revolutionary movement," the 26IB said in a statement.
The former NPA rebels surrendered 11 firearms of different calibers including two Garand rifles, UZI pistol, a shotgun, an Ingram, a caliber 45 pistol, three caliber 38 revolvers, a caliber 357, hand grenade, and several bullets.
The military said the six were presented to Talacogon mayor Jesryl Masendo so they would be given immediate assistance by the local government unit. The former rebels are now undergoing processing for facilitation of benefits and financial aid covered by the government's Comprehensive Local Integration Program so they can start a new life.
"The recent firefight was a major debacle to the NPA's Guerilla Front 88. It demoralized their ranks which led to the surrender of their members. We are certain that more of them are confused and afraid for their lives. We have intensified our pursuit operations towards the fleeing rebels and we are calling upon them to surrender to the folds of the law for their self-preservation," Lieutenant Colonel Rommel Pagayon, 26 IB commanding officer said.
Andred Centino, 401st Infantry Brigade Commander Colonel, emphasized that the six rebels are apparently experiencing hardships within the revolutionary movement and are now willing to avail the opportunities offered by the government.
"These are product of collaboration of efforts of the different stakeholders with a common purpose of attaining peace and further development for the communities," Centino said.
4ID commander Major General Ronald Villanueva lauded the six for heeding to the call for peace and unity. Villanueva reiterated to the remaining NPAs who are still fighting to surrender to the government. 

NPA rebels kill N. Cotabato village exec

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 3): NPA rebels kill N. Cotabato village exec

Suspected New People’s Army rebels on Tuesday killed a village official who actively supported the military’s peace and development program in North Cotabato, the military said.

Capt. Silver Belvis, speaking for the 39th Infantry Battalion, said Valeriano Birondo, councilman of Barangay Mahongkog in Magpet town, was on a motorcycle on his way home when the rebels blocked his path and took him to a secluded place where he was hacked to death.

Belvis, quoting statements from residents, said they overheard the armed men as saying that Birondo was executed for his crimes against NPA’s Guerilla Front 72.

Meanwhile, a certain Ka Chui of Guerilla Front 72, in a statement, said the alleged NPA sub-leader who yielded with his rifle to the 39th Infantry Battalion over the weekend was no longer part of the movement since 2015.

Antonio Gawelan, alias Commander Banate, turned himself to 39th IB with the help of Indigenous Peoples tribal leader and handed over his M16 rifle, the military earlier reported.

Gawelan claimed unfulfilled promises of the NPA leaders led him to surrender to the government. He lamented that injured red fighters were abandoned after clashes with government forces.

But Ka Chui said Gawelan was injured in an encounter with government forces in Magpet, North Cotabato early this year. He was advised to rest to his home in Kitao-tao, Bukidnon and was dropped from the roster.

Belvis said Gawelan was qualified to receive government livelihood assistance after his surrender.

2 foreigners, 2 Pinoys hurt in suspected NPA attack in Negros Occidental

From ABS-CBN (Oct 3): 2 foreigners, 2 Pinoys hurt in suspected NPA attack in Negros Occidental

Suspected members of the New People’s Army fired at a police patrol car in Negros Occidental, Tuesday. Barbara Mijares, ABS-CBN News

Two foreigners, their driver, and a tricycle driver were wounded when suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) ambushed a police patrol vehicle in Negros Occidental on Tuesday.

The policemen were on their way to Sipalay City to serve a warrant of arrest when they were attacked by around 30 members of the NPA.

Chief Insp. Gary Resuma, Cauayan police chief, said the foreigners' vehicle was near the patrol car when the rebels fired at the cops.

The police identified the victims as Swedish citizens Juliana Palmero and Karl Christer Arvidsson. They sustained minor injuries.

Their driver was identified as Jason Tumayao of Bacolod City who sustained multiple injuries. As of this posting, the tricycle driver has not been identified.

The victims have been brought to a hospital in Bacolod for treatment.

Resuma said there were no injuries on the part of the police.

Provincial Police Director Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil Jr. said they received reports that the rebel side sustained three injuries.

Security checkpoints have been placed in neighboring towns and cities following the incident.

Philippines: 3 Abu Sayyaf terrorists surrender in south

From Anadolu Agency (Oct 4): Philippines: 3 Abu Sayyaf terrorists surrender in south

Efforts continue to rescue hostages, contain bandits in Sulu

Philippines: 3 Abu Sayyaf terrorists surrender in south

Three Daesh-linked militants have surrendered to government troops in the southern province of Sulu, where over a dozen hostages remain in captivity.

The surrender of the Abu Sayyaf terrorists was announced late Tuesday by Army Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu.

Sobejana said the bandits gave up to troops of the Philippine Army's 32nd Infantry Battalion in Bonbon village in Patikul town. They also laid down their high-powered firearms.

The militants, who hail from the village of Liang, also in Patikul, are followers of the late Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Ninok Sappari, who was head of the "Lucky 9” group in Sulu.

Sappari's group assassinated military personnel and kidnapped both locals and foreigners in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. Sappari had been wanted for 32 counts of murder.

"The surrendered Abu Sayyaf members are currently undergoing a custodial debriefing facilitated by our intelligence operatives," said Sobejana.

Army Lt. General Carlito Galvez, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, welcomed the surrender of the terrorists, saying they will prepare them for reintegration into mainstream society.

Galvez, however, said the military offensives will continue despite the mounting number of terrorists who are now deciding to lay down their arms.

"Efforts are ongoing to rescue the hostages and contain the bandits in the province," he added.

More than a dozen hostages including Vietnamese, Malaysian nationals, a Dutchman and Filipinos are believed to be held captive by the Abu Sayyaf group in remote jungles of Sulu.

WestMinCom records show that from Jan. 1, 2017 to date, 117 Abu Sayyaf terrorists have surrendered with their firearms.

Opinion: Mother lode of info on fighting extremism

Opinion piece by Macabangkit B. Lanto in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 4): Mother lode of info on fighting extremism

The “Conference on Peace and Prevention of Violent Extremism in Southeast Asia” was held on Sept. 22-23 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila. But the organizers might as well have called it a conference on the war in Marawi City because the subject was on everybody’s mind and dominated the discussions. It was in fact the focal point and driving force that led to the holding of the conference.

I was the eleventh-hour substitute speaker for the mayor of Marawi, who had to beg off. I was informed of the task only 48 hours before the conference, but I didn’t complain. I have always been prepared to speak, even impromptu, on anything concerning my hometown. All I needed to do was to recall, collate and arrange in my mind the commentaries I have written on the subject for Inquirer Opinion. It was fairly easy, and even inspiring, to speak about an issue close to my heart.

I spoke at the Special Briefing Workshop on Marawi, one of the breakout sessions of the conference, through the eyes of one who personally experienced the calamity and the agony of a victim—a bakwit, if you may. It was an insider’s perspective of the tragic war. I spoke of the historical and geopolitical importance of the city; its strategic geography; its being the nerve center of the religious, cultural, economic and educational life of the Maranaw; and the factors that make them vulnerable to the Salafi-Wahabbi ideology and its inroads into moderate Islam.

I traced the gestation and transformation of Islamic fundamentalism (Ansarul Islam) to radicalism and finally extremism (Dawla Islamiyah) among the Maranaw. I suggested some immediate as well as long-term measures that the government can institute to address the creeping radicalism and prevent a repeat of the Marawi tragedy in other places. I mentioned in passing a Marshall-Plan-like rehabilitation of the city through Administrative Order No. 03 creating Task Force Bangon Marawi and the assistance of foreign governments, especially altruistic Arabs. (I have discussed all these in my contributed commentaries to Inquirer Opinion.)

The conference was a mother lode of information on best practices and strategies of Asean countries in fighting faith-based extremism. Present were Asean delegates and experts sharing their experience and their government’s strategy in countering violent extremism — food for thought for our defense and security authorities.

I was particularly impressed by the expertise and profound knowledge of Dr. Rohan Gunaratna of Singapore, who talked about the nascence and progression of the extremist campaign globally and regionally, particularly in the Philippines. He talked about the divide between Abu Sayyaf leaders Sahiron and Ispilon Hapilon, and how the Maute group metastasized into what it is now. He asserted that there was no intelligence failure on the part of Philippine authorities but that they are guilty of operational failure — a fact which our authorities will be hard put to deny. He also correctly observed that President Duterte had publicly acknowledged the presence in the country of the Islamic State, while previous administrations were in denial.

Gunaratna also remarked on the influence of foreign fighters on the strategy employed by the Mautes, like when they bought two drones in Davao City a day following the start of the siege in May, to monitor the movement of the military. These and other revelations are unknown to many.

There was unanimity in admitting that the alien IS ideology has gained a foothold in the region, and that employing a regionwide approach to this threat to peace is imperative. Asean stakeholders must continue sharing intelligence information and technical capabilities including tested and effective practices to arrest radicalism.

Kudos to the organizers for a successful conference.

* * *
[Macabangkit B. Lanto (, UP Law 1967, was a Fulbright Fellow in New York University for his postgraduate studies. He has served the government as congressman, ambassador, and undersecretary, among other positions.]

US troops inspect IS dead

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 4): US troops inspect IS dead

DNA samples collected by American soldiers to identify foreign jihadis who fought in Marawi City

US soldiers join Philippine police forensics examiners in Iligan City as Philippine Marines (top photo) continue clearing Marawi City of remnants of Islamic State followers. —RICHEL V. UMEL AND JEOFFREY MAITEM

US soldiers had joined Philippine police forensics teams in checking some of the bodies of fatalities in the ongoing war on terror here to help identify foreigners who fought alongside members of two homegrown groups that sought to establish an Islamic State (IS) province in this predominantly Muslim city.

The clashes escalated into a full-blown war on May 23 when soldiers and policemen tried to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, the acknowledged head of IS in Mindanao.

Philippine security forces, however, were met by scores of gunmen belonging to the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf, local terror groups that had affiliated with IS. Foreigners were seen fighting alongside the local terrorists.

Maj. Gen. Rolando Bautista, Philippine Army 1st Division and Joint Task Force Marawi commander, last week told Inquirer that at least 10 foreign terrorists, mostly Malaysians and Indonesians, were still in the war zone.


On Monday, at least four US agents joined members of the Philippine police’s Scene of Crime Operations (Soco) agents who were conducting postmortem examination on 40 bodies being kept at Capin Funeral Home in Iligan City.

Senior Supt. Mary Leocy Mag-abo, head of the Soco team now based in Iligan, said “the US forces are interested to determine and know the possibilities that there are foreign terrorists, aside from Maute fighters, who fought and were killed by the military in Marawi City.”

The retrieval of bodies in the war zone continued even as soldiers have yet to wrap up clearing operations against the terrorists.

Zia Adiong, Lanao del Sur Crisis Management Committee spokesperson, said teams retrieving the bodies were being careful to preserve pieces of evidence that could be used in the future either to identify the dead or file criminal charges against those involved in the terrorist occupation of the city.

“We treat the area not only as a battle area but also a crime scene,” Adiong said.

He said bodies were being brought to Capin for forensic tests.
Since day one of the war on May 23, Adiong said 105 bodies and skeletal remains had been retrieved. Most were those of Maute gunmen.
Grim task

A funeral home owner in Iligan, however, said he had counted 114 bodies being brought to his morgue since the start of the fighting.

He said 11 of the dead brought to his funeral home had been buried in Iligan in June. At least 54 were buried in the Maqbarah, or Muslim cemetery, in Iligan.

Adiong said 40 skeletal remains and bodies in advanced states of decomposition were still in Capin. Fifteen of these were scheduled for burial this week, he said.

Of the 40 remains, according to Adiong, two were found in a shallow grave in the village of Norhaya here on Sept. 29. Their identities have not been determined.

Mag-abo, the Soco team head, said her team had conducted an autopsy on 25 bodies from the villages of Bangolo, Sabala Manao, Datu sa Dansalan and on two from the village of Norhaya.

She said DNA samples were collected from the bodies for future reference.

Army verifying 4 ‘casualties’ in clash

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Oct 4): Army verifying 4 ‘casualties’ in clash
COLONEL Eliezer Losañes, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, said yesterday they are still verifying the reported four casualties in the encounter between a private armed group and the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) on October 1 in Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental.

Based on military reports, members of RPA-ABB led by a certain Alejandro Traya conducted patrol at the vicinity of Barangay Pinowayan when they encountered about 20 armed men with high-powered firearms led by Glen Saldoa and Julito Tanoco along the Tangkongan river between the boundary of Barangays Pinowayan and Bagong Silang around 6:40 p.m.

A firefight ensued for about 15 minutes and a certain Godofredo Bayog- ang, along with 13 members of RPA-ABB reinforced Traya's group.

Reports said there were four fatalities and one wounded on the part of the private armed group.

However, no bodies were retrieved. On the part of the police, Senior Inspector Jovito Bose, town police chief, said they retrieved a body from the encounter site near a river but they have yet to determine if the victim was a member of either group.

The fatality was identified as Robert Selendrun, 21, who went fishing in the river with his brother and cousin. They ran away, but Selendrun was hit and he died on the spot while his two companions were unharmed.

Marawi general is next Army chief

From Rappler (Oct 4): Marawi general is next Army chief

It's a fast rise for Major General Rolando Bautista under President Rodrigo Duterte. He is the overall commander of military operations in Marawi, where troops are fighting local terror groups linked with ISIS.

The overall ground commander in Marawi City, Major General Rolando Joselito Bautista, will be the next commanding general of the 90,000-strong Philippine Army.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Eduardo Año confirmed this information to Rappler on Thursday, October 4.
"Yes, siya na nga (it's him). He is still in Marawi leading our troops but he has to come to Manila before the change of command ceremony," Año told Rappler.

Bautista will leave his post as chief of the 1st Infantry Division (ID) to replace acting Army chief Lieutenant General Glorioso Miranda in a change of command ceremony scheduled Thursday afternoon, October 5.

Año was all praises for Bautista, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1985.

"He is a silent worker, achiever and very qualified having passed the career ladder of a professional Army combat officer. He has directly led our troops against the Maute-ISIS group in Marawi City since Day 1," Año said.

"It's a tough decision for the President because all the contenders are really good and able military leaders of the Philippine Army," Año added.

It was a fast rise for Bautista under President Rodrigo Duterte. He was Duterte's first Presidential Security Group (PSG) chief. He got his post as 1st ID chief 10 months later and now the Army chief post another after 7 months.

The war in Marawi

Marawi City was Bautista's responsibility as 1st ID chief. Local terror groups linked with the international terrorist network Islamic State attacked the city in a supposed attempt to establish a caliphate in Mindanao. (READ: How a military raid triggered Marawi attacks)

His promotion comes as the military is pushing to end the war that has dragged on for over 4 months.

The military reported up to 951 people have been killed in the war, including 155 government forces, 749 enemies, and 47 civilians.

Up to 1,600 soldiers were reported wounded in the war although the military said more than half of them have returned to the battle area.

It's one of the longest, biggest, and bloodiest military operation in recent history. The urban terrain proved difficult for troops used to jungle warfare. (WATCH: The final push: Inside the Marawi battle area)

The challenges

The Philippine Army comprises the bulk of the 120,000-strong AFP.

Bautista is expected to continue to focus on threats from local terror groups linked with ISIS. Government troops are fighting two groups in Marawi City – the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group faction of Isnilon Hapilon – but more armed factions in other provinces have pledged allegiance to the international terrorist network. (READ: Terror in Mindanao: The Mautes of Marawi)

Before becoming PSG chief, Bautista was commander of Joint Task Group Basilan and has been hunting down Hapilon, the purported emir of ISIS in Southeast Asia.
The Philippine Army is also fighting a 5-decade-old communist insurgency as the formerly promising peace talks with the Duterte administration faces stumbling blocks.

Peace with the dominant Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front continues to hold as the government promises to enact the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will establish a new a region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Ex-PSG chief named Army commanding general

From ABS-CBN (Oct 4): Ex-PSG chief named Army commanding general

The former head of the Presidential Security Group has been named commanding general of the Philippine Army, the largest of the Armed Forces' 3 major services, a military spokesman said Wednesday.

Major General Rolando Bautista will replace Lieutenant General Glorioso Miranda, who will retire on Sunday, said Colonel Edgard Arevalo, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Aside from leading President Rodrigo Duterte's security, Bautista also headed Joint Task Force Marawi, which is at the forefront of the fight against the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in the south.

Bautista is a member of the Philippine Military Academy's Sandiwa Class of 1985.

Why has the Marawi crisis dragged on for months?

From ABS-CBN (Oct 3): Why has the Marawi crisis dragged on for months?

Photo shows damaged structures in the area of Mapandi going to Lilod, Marawi City, which was recaptured by government troops from the Maute group. Val Cuenca, ABS-CBN News
MANILA- The fighting between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Islamic State-inspired extremists in Marawi City has dragged on for months, with state troops failing to meet a recent government deadline to end the crisis.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier announced that the war, which has breached the 4-month mark, will end in September but AFP troops were unable to oust Maute extremists from Marawi and instead asked for more time.

[Video report]

Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Joint Task Group Ranao, said Tuesday that the siege dragged on due to difficulties in clearing the conflict zone.

"The reason why it is taking a bit longer than we expected is because foremost among our objectives is to ensure the safety of our hostages," he said on ANC's "Beyond Politics".

"While our forces are moving forward, they have to be really cautious so that the hostages will not be caught in the firefight and also so that we’ll be able to clear the IEDs and this will not cause unnecessary casualties on the government side," he added.

[Video report0

For Prof. Julkipli Wadi of the University of the Philippines Institute of Islamic Studies, the combination of forces of the Abu Sayyaf, Maute group, and some foreign fighters made it difficult for the military to quickly end the war.

"I think the Armed Forces of the Philippines has failed to anticipate [this]," he said.

"I guess the new enemy now is really advancing forward that had really been in a sense not given much attention by the AFP," he added.

As to why the extremists have managed to stay in the city for months, Brawner said they believe that the terrorists were able to haul ammunition and weapons by looting abandoned houses and establishments.

Brawner however assured that following the Marawi crisis, the military is now "more equipped" to fight in urban warfare.

"Our tactics have evolved as well and now we believe that we are more equipped to fight urban warfare. And from the experiences we had in Marawi City, we will definitely train for this kind of warfare," he said.

More than 800 people, mostly terror suspects, have been killed in the fighting in Marawi, which also left much of the once urban and cultural center in ruins, with buildings either burned to the ground or damaged in firefights.

It also spawned a humanitarian crisis with more than 400,000 people displaced from Marawi and nearby towns.

Duterte Reaches out to U.S. Amid South China Sea Harassment

From The Maritime Executive (Oct 3): Duterte Reaches out to U.S. Amid South China Sea Harassment


As reports that Chinese vessels are increasing in number near Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in the South China Sea, Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte has hinted at a possible reconciliation with the U.S.

Duterte made a surprise announcement that he wanted to be “friendly” with the U.S., a view which contrasts to earlier statements. On several previous occasions, he called on U.S. special forces in the Philippines to return home and said he no longer wanted a joint military sea and land exercise with the U.S. He even described the U.S. as a “lousy” country.

But Duterte is changing his tune, now, two months after the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) broke the news that 11 Chinese ships were spotted in the sea waters of Pag-asa Island. The news alarmed the ASEAN community which suspected China was further expanding its military presence in the disputed South China Sea. Pag-asa is one of the Spratly Islands and is home to 100 Filipino fishermen.

Duterte has not publicly opposed the resumption of military drills that allowed 900 U.S. troops to hold joint military exercises with Filipino troops in the Northern Philippines. Though not specifying the joint military exercise is aimed at China, the U.S. embassy said that this military exercise will increase overall U.S. and Philippine readiness, improve bilateral responsiveness to crises in the region to further reinforce (the two countries’) decades-long alliance.

The joint U.S.-Filipino joint military exercises coincided with reports that Chinese vessels were harassing Philippine vessels in the vicinity of Pag-asa this week. The claims were made by Philippine lawmaker Gary Alejano who expressed apprehension that Chinese vessels were using loud sirens whenever Philippine vessels patroled Philippine sea territories in the South China Sea.

In a parallel conciliatory move in Washington, Philippine’s foreign minister Alan Peter Cayetano told U.S. Senator Cory Scott Gardner that the Philippines wanted to intensify economic cooperation with the U.S. Cayetano told Garder that “for so long it was security that defined U.S.-Philippine relations, and it is about time both countries look a the socio-economic milieu as another defining characteristics of the two countries.”

China earlier pledged $24 billion in aid and investment to the Philippines, and experts saw this as a way of softening Duterte’s stance on sovereignty claims on the oil-rich disputed waters of the South China Sea. But, according to Southeast Asia Studies Professor Carl Thayer of the University of New South Wales in Australia, the Philippines and ASEAN countries cannot rely on China’s aid too much, because much of Southeast Asia relies on the U.S. for trade and defense support. Thayer further added: “You get an impression that leaning to China has had its constraints.”

Despite Common Threat in Beijing, Other South China Sea Rivals Still Spar Among Selves

From Voice of America (Oct 4): Despite Common Threat in Beijing, Other South China Sea Rivals Still Spar Among Selves

FILE - The Vietnamese-claimed Southwest Cay island in the Spratly island group is seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane during the visit to the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen.

Four Southeast Asian countries and Taiwan, all of which lay claims to the contested, resource-rich South China Sea, are still grappling with incidents among themselves despite a focus on their common rival, China.

The suspected shooting deaths late last month of two Vietnamese fishermen in waters 34 nautical miles from the Philippines were a severe response to a common issue: Boats from one country test the limits of another to catch fish. But China, the most powerful claimant, is often not in the picture.

“Most fishing boats have GPS so they actually know their position and whether they’re approaching islands controlled by some other country but that they might not get caught,” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the College of International Affairs at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “That’s how fishermen are.”
Gunfire was common in the 1990s

Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam claim nearly all or parts of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea. Since 2010, the smaller governments have focused on resisting China militarily and diplomatically. They resent its reclamation of land for artificial islands, a buildup of military infrastructure and passage of coast guard ships far from its shores.

But the non-Chinese claimants also spar with one another because the end of the Cold War in the 1990s left it unclear how far vessels from one nation could go without infringing on one another, said Collin Koh, maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Warning shots and even more targeted gunfire were more common then as “Southeast Asia was trying to figure out bilateral maritime disputes,” he said.

In 1999 alone, the Philippines clashed six times with either Malaysia or Vietnam, according to a study by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in South Korea. The Philippine discovery of Malaysian features built on two reefs in the sea’s Spratly Islands that year had particularly inflamed tensions, it said.

The following decade, Southeast Asian countries began agreeing on legal boundaries as well as protocol for handling violators without the use of force, Koh said. Agreements between countries may specify how long fishermen can be detained before release.

Calmer now, but incidents still occur

But with fishery stocks under pressure, the estimated 1.72 million fishing boats that ply the South China Sea sometimes venture into waters farther from their own shores for better catches. By 2045, marine species common in the sea will decline 9 to 59 percent due to over-fishing, acidification of the water and carbon dioxide emissions, a University of British Columbia study found in 2015.

“The Vietnamese these days, they are actually building up a fishing capability and part of it is driven by competition from China,” Koh said. “And so we are seeing not just China but also seeing Vietnamese long-rang fishing fleets going further out.”

Today coast guards in the region normally use nonlethal methods to warn off foreign vessels. Around Taiwanese-controlled Taiping Island in the Spratly archipelago, for example, Taipei’s coast guard uses speakers and occasionally water cannons, Huang said.

Perceptions of trespassing still spark occasional destruction or violence.

Malaysia and Indonesia – which controls the sea’s Natuna Islands – have begun burning confiscated boats as a deterrent.

In 2013 a Philippine coast guard ship shot to death a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters, setting of a diplomatic storm, including economic sanctions from Taipei.

The Philippine defense department indicated the shooting on Sept. 23 of this year was out of place. Naval personnel had chased a Vietnamese vessel caught “illegally” fishing in the Philippine exclusive economic zone of the South China Sea, the department said in a statement. They found two dead Vietnamese fishermen on board, sparking a police probe into “the circumstances of the fishermen's death,” the statement said.

A Philippine coast guard official stationed along the South China Sea told VOA in April that Vietnamese and Taiwanese boats turn up in his country’s maritime economic zone 370 kilometers from the Luzon Island coast.

Manila’s navy and coast guard may be “disregarding” regulations to chase foreign boats, said Carl Thayer, Southeast Asia-specialized emeritus professor at The University of New South Wales in Australia.

Fishing boats still try their luck

Fishing boats do not always comply when asked to change course or to surrender, said Le Hong Hiep, a fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

“If all sides stick to the law and the rules (imposed) on themselves, they should have not killed these fishermen,” Le said of the case last month. “But I think there are problems on the ground, for example fishermen may try to run away or they may ram the ships of the enforcement forces of these countries.”

Diplomatic protests sometimes still follow routine calls on fishing boats to leave a foreign-controlled island in the sea, Huang noted. Over the past 18 months, Vietnam has protested to Taiwan over its activities on Taiping Island, where Taipei’s coast guard says Vietnamese boats often come too close.

Vessels from other countries are less likely to test China because of its military might, including use of coast guard ships as escorts for fishing fleets, scholars say.

Incidents between the smaller claimants show no sign of hampering Southeast Asian countries' efforts, such as a proposed maritime code of conduct, to work with China on use of the sea.

Troopers in Mindanao back to Samar soon: DND chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 4): Troopers in Mindanao back to Samar soon: DND chief

The four military battalions deployed to Mindanao will soon return to Eastern Visayas to help curb insurgency in Leyte and Samar Islands.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in a meeting with members of the Samar Island for Peace, Prosperity and Development (SIPPAD) on Tuesday, said the Philippine Army will create 10 new battalions in Mindanao within the year.

“There was an imbalance in the past years because some of the troops were sent to Mindanao, but we were able to get approval from the President to increase the population of our soldiers with additional 10,000 more this year,” Lorenzana said.

The additional soldiers will form the 10 new battalions that will be assigned in Mindanao. Those military troops from other regions will be ordered to return to their mother units.

“They will return to help in maintaining peace and order in remote communities vulnerable to insurgency threats and help carry out development programs,” Lorenzana said.

In the past four years, the Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, Samar has sent four battalions to Mindanao to help address the spate of kidnappings perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf and fight Maute terror group in Marawi City.

These are the 63rd Infantry Battalion (IB), 34th IB, 46th IB from Samar provinces and 19th IB from Leyte.

Earlier, Samar province governors asked the government to consider strengthening the presence of military in remote communities to deter efforts of New People’s Army to regain lost strongholds.

In response, Lorenzana urged local government officials to take part in the campaign against insurgency.

“Village officials must be pro-active to prevent radicals in penetrating their area. If they see suspicious people in their communities, they should ask them about their intention and tell police or the military about their presence,” Lorenzana said.

SIPPAD is a group of non-political, multi-sectoral organizations headed by three Roman Catholic Church dioceses of Samar Island.

6-hour blackout hits Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 4): 6-hour blackout hits Cotabato

This city and parts of Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces experienced a six-hour power blackout after saboteurs bombed the tower of the National Grid and Power Corporation (NGCP) in Barangay Manarapan, Carmen, North Cotabato shortly before Tuesday midnight.

The blackout started at around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday as the NGCP emergency crew scrambled to repair and to restore power to the affected areas at around 6:15 a.m. Wednesday.

"A bomb toppled 138 KV steel tower No. 106 in Barangay Manarapan that caused the permanent fault," the NGCP said in a statement.

NGCP linemen tapped on its link along Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat province to temporarily restore power in the affected areas.

Chief Inspector Julius Malcontento, Carmen town police chief, said a loud explosion was heard shortly before midnight Tuesday across the poblacion and later discovered the toppled NGCP steel pylon in Manarapan.

“We are still trying to determine the type of bomb used in the toppling of NGCP Tower 106 in the area. Investigation is still going on,” he said.

Meanwhile, power consumers in the city and nearby areas took to social media in expressing their disappointment over the long power outage.

Power cooperatives affected were those of the Cotabato Light and Power Company in this city; the Maguindanao Electric Company; and Cotabato Electric Company in North Cotabato.

Army in SKudarat winning hearts of IPs

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 4): Army in SKudarat winning hearts of IPs

The Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion based here has continued to get stakeholders support in winning the hearts of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and save them from the influence of communist rebels.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB), said his unit’s efforts to help IPs to distance away from the influence of New Peoples’ Army (NPA) have been getting wide support from local officials and town folks alike.

Cabunoc has led his unit on Wednesday in distributing school supplies to 50 Manobo school children in Barangay Kilogib, Senator Aquino town in Sultan Kudarat.

He said the activity was part of the community outreach program that was jointly organized by the 33rd IB and Dr. Dante Eugenio of Sultan Kudarat Doctors Hospital.

Kilogib has a makeshift school building for school children who could not make the 10-kilometer trek to the nearest school.

Lately, four of the NPA surrenderers came from the village of Kilogib which is located in the thickly forested community near the border of Ninoy Aquino and Kalamansig towns, both in Sultan Kudarat.

Cabunoc did not only convince the IP communist rebels to surrender but made them feel how to live normal lives as Filipinos, enjoying the beauty of nature and civilization.

He brought two NPA surrenderers to Kalamansig port and asked them how they feel.

“It is our first time to see the beauty of sea waters,” Cabunoc quoted one of the former NPA as saying. “You see, if you are in the mountain fighting the government, you cannot move freely,” he told the former rebels.

He then accompanied them to swim in Kalamansig port.

Since May, at least 30 communist rebels from the IP communities in the 33rd IB area of assignment have surrendered and turned over various firearms.

The rebel returnees also received financial assistance from Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Mangudadatu who concurrently chairs the Region 12 Peace and Order Council.

Police, Army hunt NGCP tower bombers

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 4): Police, Army hunt NGCP tower bombers

Police and military authorities, along with force-multipliers, are hunting down those responsible in the toppling of National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) steel pylon in a remote village here Tuesday night.

Chief Insp. Julius Malcontento, Carmen town police chief, said unidentified men set off a powerful improvised bomb at one of the columns of NGCP Steel Tower No. 106 at Purok 1, Barangay Manarapan in Carmen, North Cotabato.

“The explosion occurred at 11:30 p.m. but there was no blackout in our area of jurisdiction,” Malcontento said of the incident that plunged into darkness the entire Cotabato City and also portions of North Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces.

The affected steel tower carries the 138KV line of NGCP from its station in Maramag, Bukidnon to Kabacan, North Cotabato and other parts of Central Mindanao.

Malcontento said while Tower 106 was toppled down it did not affect the other towers, which also carry the 138KV line. NGCP Tower 106 is located about five kilometers from Carmen town center and situated in the middle of a banana plantation.

“Motive of the attack remains unknown as of this time,” Malcontento told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a phone interview.

Malcontento said village watchmen and members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPT) are helping the police in identifying and locating the perpetrators.

Army and police bomb experts have recovered components of the IED used by the unidentified suspects. Suspected militants in North Cotabato and Maguindanao have bombed more than 20 NGCP steel towers in what authorities believed could be carried out by the lawless elements to divert attention of military operations against them in Maguindanao.

Currently, government forces and its ally, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, had been pursuing ISIS--inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao’s second district.

3 Abu Sayyaf men surrender

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 4): 3 Abu Sayyaf men surrender

The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) on Wednesday said the number of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrenderers have already reached 117 since January this year.

This developed as three more ASG members have surrendered because of mounting pressure brought about by the continuous military offensives against them.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, identified the latest surrenderers as Jimil Inggan, 25; Madjidul Asari, 47; and, Alex Issan, 38, all followers of the late ASG sub-leader Ninok Sappari.

Sobejana said they surrendered on Sunday in Barangay Bonbon, Patikul, to the troops of the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Col. Jaran Abdula.

Sobejana said they yielded two caliber .30 M1 Garand rifles, which were subsequently brought by the troops to the headquarters of the 501st Infantry Brigade.
“Inggan and his companions are currently undergoing custodial debriefing facilitated by our intelligence operatives,” Sobejana said.

The surrender of Inggan and his two companions has brought to 117 members of the ASG, who surrendered to the military authorities since January, this year.

Of the total, 65 surrendered in Basilan, 29 in Sulu, 21 in Tawi-Tawi, and two in Zamboanga City.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincomm chief, said they will gladly welcome the bandit-surrenderees “as we prepare them to live in the mainstream” of the society.

Peace body to meet next week on talks with Reds

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 4): Peace body to meet next week on talks with Reds

The Davao City Local Peace Committee (DC PEACE) will buckle down to work next week for the guidelines on the local peace talks between the local government and the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in the city.

“Sa first meeting, naa ko didto para mag discuss mi sa among guidelines (In the coming first meeting, I will be there to discuss the guidelines),” City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said in an interview Wednesday after her weigh-in for the FitFil National Weight Loss Challenge.

Duterte-Carpio said the city government is set to release the appointment papers to the people who will be part of the DC PEACE within this week.

The peace committee will be chaired by retired Davao City Regional Trial Court Judge Ridgway Tanjili and the members are Archdiocese of Davao Archbishop and incoming Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Romulo Valles City Social Service and Development Office (CSSDO) head Malou Bermudo, Malabog Barangay Captain Jessie Areja, and lawyer Elisa Lapina from the City Legal Office.

Duterte-Carpio said that after the meeting next week, the committee will immediately conduct their dialogue with the CPP-NPA.

“Kita, nag-open lang ta sa channels kung interesado sila na makig-istorya and nay mga tao na authorized by the city government to talk to them (We are just opening channels for them if they are interested to have a dialogue and there are people who are authorized to talk with them),” she said.

Earlier, the city mayor said that the DC PEACE is given until November 30 next year for the dialogue with the CPP-NPA.

Duterte-Carpio said if there is no positive development “there is no point” that the city would continue the dialogue.

“There is more than one-year na sila makipagstorya (There is more than one year for them to talk with us),” she said.

She will also ask the committee to accommodate the members of the CPP-NPA who will surrender their firearms to the government.

Duterte-Carpio said she received around eight surrender fillers but she just told these people to address it to the committee. She also said that the members of the CPP-NPA need not to surrender their firearms because her plan is to make them work with the government.

“We are very flexible for that just to attain the elusive dream of peace,” she said.

CA affirms kidnap raps vs Palparan

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 3): CA affirms kidnap raps vs Palparan

The Court of Appeals (CA) on Tuesday upheld the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges filed against retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan.

In a 15-page decision dated Sept. 18, penned by Associate Justice Carmelita Salandanan Manahan and concurred by Associate Justices Fernanda Lampas Peralta and Elihu Ybanez, the CA’s 4th Division denied the petition for certiorari filed by Palparan.

The said petition seeks to recall the arrest warrant, as well as the dismissal of the charges filed against him over the 2006 abduction and disappearance of University of the Philippines (UP) students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

The CA said an order denying a motion to quash is merely an “interlocutory”, thus, not appealable nor can be the subject of a petition for certiorari.

“Stated differently, the remedy against the denial of a motion to quash is for the movant accused to enter a plea, go to trial, and should the decision be adverse, reiterate on appeal from the final judgment and assign as error the denial of the motion to quash,” read the decision.

“The denial, being an interlocutory order, is not appealable, and may not be the subject of a petition for certiorari because (of) the availability of other remedies in the ordinary course of law,” it added.

For the petition for certiorari questioning an interlocutory order to prosper, the CA said the appellant should be able to establish that the lower court issued the judgment or order without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.

“Petitioner did not show that the trial court had no jurisdiction or exceeded its jurisdiction in denying the motion to quash, or gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in its denial,” the CA noted.

The CA added that the allegations raised by Palparan in his petition for certiorari are factual and evidentiary in nature, which should be ventilated in a full-blown trial.

The appellate court did not give weight to Palparan’s arguments that the Malolos Regional Trial Court (RTC) disregarded his constitutional right to due process when it denied his motion to quash information and warrant of arrest on the same day it was filed on August 18, 2014.

The trial court, in denying Palparan’s motion, held that the motion was just a repetition of his earlier motion, which was already denied by the trial court in its order dated April 3, 2012.

It held that the grounds and issues mentioned in the motion to quash information and warrant of arrest were already passed upon in its April 3, 2012 resolution.

On Aug. 12, 2014, Palparan was arrested in a house in Sta. Mesa, Manila, after three years in hiding.

He was arrested by virtue of an arrest warrant issued by the Malolos RTC in 2011 in connection with the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges filed by the relatives of the two missing UP students.

He has since been held in a detention cell in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

In indicting Palparan for kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges, the Department of Justice held that he had a direct hand in the detention of Cadapan and Empeño based on the testimony of Raymond Manalo, a farmer.

17 more hostages rescued in Marawi: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 4): 17 more hostages rescued in Marawi: Lorenzana

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed Wednesday that 17 more hostages have been rescued by military troops engaged in clearing operations in Marawi City.

"Yes, it is true that 17 more hostages were rescued in Marawi: 9 males and 8 females, ages ranging from 18-75," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
The defense chief declined to give other details on the matter for safety and security reasons.

"Details of the rescue are confidential because efforts to rescue the remaining hostages are still ongoing," Lorenzana added.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, Col. Edgard Arevalo, confirmed the information from the DND chief but declined to give further details for the same reason.

He said the hostages were rescued during the "wee hours of the morning" and that they are undergoing medical examination after they were saved by troops of Task Force Ranao.

This development brings down the number of hostages held captive by the Maute Group terrorists to 26.

Surrender feelers sign of growing military superiority: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 4): Surrender feelers sign of growing military superiority: AFP

Surrender feelers from the remaining Maute group terrorists are a clear indication that the lawless elements are steadily losing their strength and will to fight, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.

This shows that the terrorists are seeing the hopelessness of their situation and the growing military might of the government, said AFP public affairs office chief, Col. Edgard Arevalo.

"We have received word of (planned) surrenders and surrender feelers from the Maute Group. This is an indication that their forces are getting weaker and will (soon) lack the means to resist military forces (engaged in clearing operations)," he said in Filipino last Monday.

Arevalo said these surrender feelers might have been influenced by the series of capture of Maute Group redoubts in Marawi City.

As of this posting, Maute-held areas in Marawi City are confined to eight to nine hectares with an estimated 50 bandits manning the defenses.

The number of hostages remains at 43, while 749 Maute terrorists have been slain in the ongoing operations. Government losses stand at 155 soldiers and police officers, and seized weapons at 795.

Bautista is next Army chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 4): Bautista is next Army chief

Major Gen. Rolando Bautista, commander of the Zamboanga Del Sur-based 1st Infantry Division, was named head of the 85,000-strong Philippine Army (PA).

This was confirmed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana saying Bautista's appointment as PA chief was signed Wednesday by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Bautista replaces Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda who will be stepping down Thursday, four days before his 56th birthday that marks the mandatory retirement age for all military and police officers.

Bautista is a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985 while his predecessor is a member of PMA Class of 1983.

Bautista is former commander of the Presidential Security Group tasked to protect and secure the Chief Executive.
He took the helm of the Army's 73rd Infantry Battalion and 104th Infantry Brigade before assuming command of the 1st Infantry Division.

China to donate add'l weapons, ammo to PH

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 4): China to donate add'l weapons, ammo to PH

The People's Republic of China will be turning over 3,000 units of M-4 assault rifles, 3 million rounds of assorted ammunition and 30 sniper scopes to the Philippines on Thursday.

The event will take place 9 a.m. at the GHQ Canopy, AFP headquarters, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. All of items will be donated without any cost to the Philippines.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua will formally turn over the weapons to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

This is the second batch of weaponry donated by the Chinese government to the Philippines.

The first donation, which was turned over June 28, consisted of 3,000 rifles along with 5 million rounds of ammunition and 90 long-range sniper rifles with 800,000 rounds of ammunition.

DWDD: VISIT | AFP Officers Underscores Strong Philippine-German Relations

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 2): VISIT  |  AFP Officers Underscores Strong Philippine-German Relations

VISIT  |  AFP Officers Underscores Strong Philippine-German Relations

Ambassador Thomeczek (center, in black) and other Embassy officers welcome CGSC62, headed by M/Gen. Aquino (to the right of the Ambassador) in front of the Embassy building.

BERLIN, Germany (DWDD)The Philippine Embassy in Berlin welcomed the 23-member Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Command and General Staff College Class 62 (CGSC62) led by Major General Herminigildo Francisco Aquino, PA, Commander of the newly-established AFP Education, Training and Doctrine Command on September 25.

The class composed of middle-ranking officers of the AFP’s three major service commands, the Army, Air Force and Navy, were briefed on the Embassy’s functions and Philippine-German relations, focusing on the two countries’ defense-related engagements and potential areas of cooperation.

In her welcome remarks, Philippine Ambassador to Berlin Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek said that the Embassy continues to support existing bilateral defense cooperation, while at the same time exploring untapped opportunities.

Twenty-nine AFP officers have completed staff courses at the German Armed Forces Command and Staff College (Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr) in Hamburg since the two countries signed an administrative agreement in 1974. Two other officers have recently started their courses, and the Philippine Department of National Defense expressed its intention to avail of two slots in 2019.
The Command and General Staff Course prepares AFP officers for higher responsibilities and its completion is a requirement for promotion to the rank of colonel (equivalent to captain in the Navy).

Ambassador Thomeczek welcomes CGSC62 to the Embassy.
Philippine Security Situation

The visit also provided the AFP with the opportunity to brief Embassy personnel on the current security situation in the Philippines, particularly on the crisis in Marawi City, as well as recent developments in the Government’s peace processes with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and communist insurgents.

Women in the Military

Lt. Col. Ann Marie Acot, PAF, who is also a licensed doctor, shared information on the role of women in the military, a traditionally male-dominated institution, and the efforts being undertaken by the AFP in terms of gender and development.

She noted that around 11,000 of the AFP’s 120,000-strong force are women. The number includes 1,812 female officers. She mentioned notable personalities like B/Gen. Ramona P. Go (ret.), the first female general in the Philippine Army; Col. Maxima O. Ignacio, the first female pilot; and Lt. Col. Leah Lorenzo-Santiago, Philippine Military Academy Batch 1997 summa cum laude.

Female AFP personnel have also been deployed as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti in 2015, and more recently, an all-female company was sent to Marawi City to assist in the Government’s rehabilitation efforts and extend help to civilians.

Visit Itinerary

The activities during CGSC62’s week-long visit to Germany include briefings at various German government agencies and military units, and visits to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea and Airbus industries, a major manufacturer of both helicopters and fixed-wing military aircraft. by C. Narvaez

DWDD: REACHING OUT TO SERVE | Tarlac Students receive Dental Care from the PAF

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 2): REACHING OUT TO SERVE  |  Tarlac Students receive Dental Care from the PAF

REACHING OUT TO SERVE  |  Tarlac Students receive Dental Care from the PAF

ANAO, Tarlac (DWDD) – Two hundred seventy-three students of Dolores Ongsiako Central Elementary School in Anao, Tarlac benefited from the dental assistance provided by the personnel of Tactical Operations Group 3 of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in partnership with the local stakeholders of Tarlac City on September 26, 2017.

Apart from the dental care, students also received fluoride treatment, a procedure that provides extra protection to children from tooth decay.

The activity aimed to show the PAF’s readiness in providing assistance to the community. TOG3/MCAG

DWDD: ARRESTED | 10 men detained for entering Camp Aguinaldo with weapons

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 3): ARRESTED  |   10 men detained for entering Camp Aguinaldo with weapons

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – Authorities accosted ten (10) men around 5:45AM this morning, October 2, 2017, allegedly belonging to group called Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, while on board a van trying to enter a Gate of Camp Gen Emilio Aguinaldo.

According to Marine Col Edgard Arevalo, Public Affairs Office chief, the men were held for questioning for bringing firearms with no appropriate documents and neither are they holders of Gun Ban Exception from the Commission on Election (COMELEC).

The group is led by one Daniel Pagalan, their purported Chief Intelligence while the others were identified as: Alvin Simbahon; Rolando Mahusay @Kumander Melody; Dioscoro Danis; James Iwayan; Butch B Galimba; Rico Giducos; Ramil B Peralta; Rundy Paderes; and, Pascula Dizon @Kumander Haslim.

They were identified based from identifications they presented bearing the heading Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty.

The fact that they wore T-shirts of the same color and design drew the suspicion of the guards on duty. When asked, the men admitted to have firearms in their possession. They said they were on their way to present their letter requesting accreditation to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana through a staff. But upon checking, it turned out that they have no prior appointment with the office that they intended to visit. Hence, the persons were held for questioning. Seized from their possession were 5 pistols (2 homemade cal .45 and 3 Cal 9mm) and 7 magazines with 47 cal. 9mm and 26 cal .45 live ammunition; and identification cards of still unknown authority and source.

The said persons were the turned over to the PNP Station 8 for proper disposition.

”We commend the guards on duty under the leadership of Colonel John Dominic Pulido, the Camp Commander, for their vigilance and appropriate action taken as required under the circumstances. These sentinels will be cited for the faithful performance of their duty and in manifesting a high degree of alertness and level of camp security. Camp security is strictly enforced in all military camps”, added Col Arevalo. ALS/AES


DWDD: ENCOUNTER | Marines battle armed lawless elements in San Vicente, Palawan

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 3): ENCOUNTER  |   Marines battle armed lawless elements in San Vicente, Palawan

ENCOUNTER  |   Marines battle armed lawless elements in San Vicente, Palawan

SAN VICENTE, Palawan (DWDD) – Personnel of the Philippine Marines under Marine Battalion Landing Team 12 (MBLT-12) were ambushed by armed lawless elements last September 30, 2017 in Barangay. Itabiak, San Vicente, Palawan.

According to reports, at about 6:45 AM, MBLT12 personnel on board an M35 truck and an Elf Marine official vehicle were ambushed by undetermined numbers of perpetrators hiding at a forested area believed to be members of the terrorist group New People’s Army (NPA) two kilometres away from MBLT12 Itabiak Marine Detachment.

The convoy was coming from El Nido, Palawan and were on a log run mission going to Headquarters MBLT12 in Brgy. Minara, Roxas, Palawan when they were fired by undetermined numbers of enemy that resulted to the wounding of TSgt Restituto Selvino, 30 years old, single, who was hit on his right leg, Corporal Melvin Villa, 44 years old, married, hit on the Left forearm, and Corporal Christian Day Rentillo, 29 years old, single, who was hit on his right arm.

MBLT12 personnel managed to retaliate and thwart the enemy while the wounded soldiers were immediately brought to Roxas District Hospital and later transferred to Puerto Princesa City for urgent medication. PIO PMC/MCAG

DWDD: ALMOST THERE | AFP appeals for patience in ending Marawi siege

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 3): ALMOST THERE  |  AFP appeals for patience in ending Marawi siege


CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is appealing to the public for more patience as we all await the end of the Marawi siege.

According to AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, they would like to ask the public to have more patience just in case the AFP does not meet the ‘expectations’ of the people to end the conflict the soonest possible time because there are so many obstacle hampering their operations.

In his explanation, the AFP needs more time to fully regain control of Marawi from the hands of the Daesh-inspired Maute terror group. But, despite the obvious weakening of the groups forces, as shown by the successful retaking of strategic areas and structures in the main battle zone, they cannot be taken for granted as they are growing more desperate.

Arevalo added that the Maute group has placed a number of Improvised Explosive Device or IED around the remaining areas they control and they are still holding a number of hostages that they use as “human shield”.

As of the moment, government forces have shrunk the area the Maute are freely moving around from 10 hectares last week to only 9 to 8 hectares. AES/ALS

DWDD: MAJOR SETBACK | Maute Bomb-factory in Marawi recovered

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 3): MAJOR SETBACK  |  Maute Bomb-factory in Marawi recovered

MAJOR SETBACK  |  Maute Bomb-factory in Marawi recovered

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – Military forces successfully recovered the bomb-making factory of the Daesh-inspired Maute terror group in the main battle area in Marawi.

According to AFP Public Affairs Chief Marine Col Edgard Arevalo, this is a major set-back to the capability of the Maute group in launching further offensive against government forces.

But despite this, the AFP is asking the public for more patience because the military might need more time to fully take control of the main battle area in Marawi.

Arevalo explained that there are two (2) aspect in the AFP’ clearing operations that they are conducting:

First, they are clearing the city from the remaining terrorist that are estimated to be more or less fifty (50), together with the hostages that have either converted or were transformed by their captors as their own fighters.

Second, the military is clearing the area of multiple improvised explosive devices or IEDs left or hidden by the Maute group and unexploded ordnance scattered all throughout the city.

Arevalo added that they also need to clear the debris along the streets so that teams can have easy and safe access to start with the reconstruction and rehabilitation.

He also assured the public that our soldiers are working double-time to the fullest of their ability to end the conflict the soonest possible time to ensure the safety of the area before they would allow rehabilitation workers and civilians back to the city. AES/ALS

DWDD: KAUGNAY SOLDIERS | A New Batch of Warriors for 7ID

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 3): KAUGNAY SOLDIERS  |  A New Batch of Warriors for 7ID

KAUGNAY SOLDIERS  |  A New Batch of Warriors for 7ID

FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija (DWDD) – A Closing Ceremony and Symbolic Entrustment of Firearms for the Candidate Soldier Course Class 458-17 and 459-17 was conducted on last September 29, 2017 at the 7th Infantry (Kaugnay) Division, Philippine Army in Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

With the event, a total of 226 new soldiers have been integrated into the 7ID stronghold.

MGen Angelito M De Leon, Commander, 7ID, was the Guest of Honor and Speaker (GOHAS) during the Closing Ceremony of the Candidate Soldier Course, while Judge Kelly B. Belino, Presiding Judge, Municipal Trial Court in Cities – Branch 1, Cabanatuan City was the GOHAS for the Symbolic Entrustment of Firearms. 7DPAO/MCAG