Friday, October 6, 2017


From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 5): SEASONED WARRIOR  |  New CGPA MGen Rolando Bautista AFP

FORT ANDRES BONIFACIO, Taguig City (DWDD) – President and Armed Forces of the Philippines Commander-in-Chief Rodrigo Roa Duterte will lead the turn-over of leadership at the Philippine Army today, October 5, 2017.

The AFP welcomes the new team player in Major General Rolando Joselito Bautista, as the next CGPA. He is the current Commander of the Joint Task Force Marawi, the overseer of the whole operations against the Daesh-inspired Maute terror group in Marawi City.

He is also the Commander of the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division, based in Zamboanga City, after his Brigade Commander of 104th Infantry Brigade in Basilan

He has gone through all echelons of command including that of the Presidential Security Group which is incharged with the protection of the President of the Republic and other high officials of the land.

He belongs to PMA “Sandiwa” Class of 1985. A seasoned commander, quiet and unassuming, he is decisive who leads his men from the front.

These qualities, aside from his sterling combat and academic records earned for him the admiration and respect of the men and women under his command. AES/ALS

DWDD: MILITARY AID | 3rd Batch of Chinese Weapons being readied

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 5): MILITARY AID  |  3rd Batch of Chinese Weapons being readied

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – The Chinese government is already preparing the 3rd batch of weapons that they will be donating to the Armed forces of the Philippines in the coming months.

This was the announcement made by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua this morning, at the Turn Over Ceremony of the 2nd batch of weapons and equipment donated by China consisting of 3,000 M4 rifles, 3 million ammunition and 90 sniper scopes.

According to Zhao, the arms is the contribution of China to the Philippines in its campaign against terrorism and crime.

Aside from the firearms, Zhao added that they would also include different equipment in the next round of donations to help in the reconstruction of Marawi.

He also said that for this year, China has allotted P5.5 billion in donation for the Philippines for its Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, including the recent donations of firearms..

All of these assistance by China was made possible through the initiative of President Rodrigo Duterte when he reinvigorated the relations between China and the Philippines. AES/ALS

Philippines Faces Long Slog Against ISIS

From The Cipher Brief (Oct 5): Philippines Faces Long Slog Against ISIS (By Bennett Seftel)

Now into its fourth month, fighting between Philippine forces and pro-ISIS militants in the Philippine island of Mindanao has nearly subsided, with only a handful of terrorists continuing to hold pockets in the city of Marawi. But despite this apparent victory, questions linger over the broader extremist threat facing the Philippines as well as southeast Asia in its entirety.

The battle for Marawi began on May 23 after Philippine forces raided the house of Isnilon Hapilon, the head of a terrorist organization known as the Abu Sayyaf, which pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in July 2014. However, the Philippine army encountered fiercer than expected resistance as Hapilon’s supporters, aligned with another pro-ISIS brigade called the Maute Group, managed to overrun the city and free prisoners from local jails.

Over the last few months, the Philippine military has slowly retaken areas of Marawi. Philippine officers have tracked down ISIS militants in door-to-door battles that has resembled the Iraqi army’s arduous offensive in Mosul.

“Nearly 700 Filipino and foreign fighters that embraced ISIS ideology and practice have been killed by government and coalition forces in four months of intense combat,” Rohan Gunaratna, Head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, told The Cipher Brief.

“After 130 days of combat, less than 70 ISIS fighters now dominate a battle space of less than ten hectares,” says Gunaratna.

Efforts to recapture Marawi have been hampered by the militants’ seizing hostages, some of whom have turned and joined the group and whom, according to the Philippine army, are now being treated as enemy combatants. Latest reports estimate that 43 hostages are still being held in the small-ISIS controlled area of Marawi.

“What delayed us before is just the same. As much as possible, we do not want any of the hostages taken by the terrorists harmed or killed,” said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at a news conference in Marawi during a visit to the city in late September. Duterte also acknowledged that the operation was nearing its conclusion and that there will be no celebration once Marawi is fully liberated since “no one really won here.”

Abu Sayyaf commander Hapilon remains at-large with some claiming that the ISIS leader was still hiding in Marawi. However, Philippine government sources have said that he has sought refuge in the island of Basilan, which is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and is located about 190 miles southwest of Marawi.

While the Philippine army was ultimately able to suppress the rebellion, it remains unclear why it was ill-prepared to face such stiff opposition. The threat posed by the Abu Sayyaf group is nothing new, as the group has been active in the Philippines since the 1990s, was designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization in 1997, and was responsible for carrying out the country’s largest terrorist attack in February 2004 when it bombed the passenger ferry, SuperFerry 14, shortly after it departed the Philippine capital of Manila, killing 116 people. The military has repeatedly cracked down on the group as part of its counterinsurgency strategy that has been implemented over the last few decades, indicating that the Philippine army would be well-equipped to tackle such a challenge.

Part of the problem can be attributed to the country’s island geography, which has complicated Manila’s centralized authority, particularly over the southern province of Mindanao where Marawi is located. Within Mindanao, mounting tensions between the Catholic majority and Muslim minority, which comprises around 20 percent of the population, have generated religious strife and have cultivated the rise of several insurgent groups who ascribe to Maoist or militant Islamist ideologies and have grown increasingly bold in recent years.

According to Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center, when comparing this most recent insurgency to past uprisings, the Philippine army faced an “unprecedented threat” in Marawi because “both the composition and location of the enemy was very different this time around.”

“This was not a rag-tag group of local rebels rising up against the state; these are well-armed and well-trained militants aligned with ISIS and well-versed in its tactics” says Kugelman. “Also, these fighters were not launching an uprising in the jungles of Mindanao or other rural areas well-known to Philippine counterinsurgency forces; they were taking over a major urban space,” he explains.

Perhaps most concerning about the events that have transpired in Marawi over the last few months is that they may embolden pro-ISIS sympathizers.

“The very presence of ISIS in Mindanao threatens not only the Philippines but its neighbors,” says Gunaratna. “ISIS created its East Asia division with the intention of expanding from the Philippines to parts of Northeast and Southeast Asia.”

And with conditions that attract extremist groups more prevalent in Southeast Asia, prospects for the emergence of even more dangerous movements in the region are rising rapidly. Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority has faced persecution at the hands of the country’s government, pro-western bloggers have been stabbed on numerous occasions in Bangladesh, and a poll taken in June demonstrated that 9 percent of Indonesians believe that their democratic system should be changed to an Islamic caliphate.

“The bottom line is that when it comes to future extremist threats, the trend lines are not good for the Philippines – or for some of its neighbors,” Kugelman concludes.

[Bennett Seftel is deputy director of analysis at The Cipher Brief. Follow him on Twitter @BennettSeftel.]

The Philippines Is Destroying the City of Marawi to Save It From ISIS

From The Daily Beast (Oct 6): The Philippines Is Destroying the City of Marawi to Save It From ISIS (By Florian Neuhof)

The city is being destroyed in order to save it from a group affiliated with the so-called Islamic State. The U.S. advisers reported there in June are nowhere to be seen.
After pulling out of the battle zone, the convoy of armored vehicles lumbered past smashed-up shop fronts and shot-up facades on its way through town.

While the powerful engines roared, the soldiers inside the sturdy machines sat silently, their faces sullen. Wooden planks had been attached to the flanks of the vehicles to add protection against high-caliber rounds, and bullets had cracked the windows of the driver’s compartments, a testament to the tooth-and-nail combat they had left behind.

Granted a rest from the fighting, the soldiers in the convoy had left the center of Marawi, a city on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, where the front line is a tightening noose around a dwindling number of jihadist insurgents. But the Maute Group, named after the brothers Abdullah and Omar Maute who lead the militants, have proven difficult to dislodge.

The Mautes have pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State, and use many of the tactics that the terror group honed in years of conflict in Iraq and Syria.

Despite vehement antagonism toward the U.S. and its military expressed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte back in December, after the Mautes moved on Marawi in May, The New York Times reported U.S. Special Operations Forces were here as advisers supporting Philippine operations in June. If so, the Americans have gone or slipped out of sight. We saw no sign of them.

The Philippine military, fighting its way through a warren of heavily fortified positions, sniper nests, and explosive booby traps, has succeeded in retaking most of the city, constricting the insurgents in a shrinking pocket of resistance in the city center. Buy progress has been costly.

The army, marines, militarized police and special forces deployed in Marawi have lost around 150 men while the soldiers adapted to the urban conflict.

Over the years, the Philippine military has proved effective in fighting Islamist insurgencies that flared up in rural Mindanao and the island groups that dot the southern Philippine seas. But searching out and destroying rebel bases in the woody hillsides is a not the same as flushing out a well-prepared enemy in deadly house-to-house fighting.

“It’s difficult to enter these buildings, it’s not like fighting in the mountains,” says Sgt. Mitchell Bonilla, a veteran who has spent 16 years with the marines.

Resting in a building in the rear, a private with the elite Marine Corps Special Operations Command, known as MARSOC, contrasts the fighting in Marawi to the lightning raids on insurgent strongholds on the Sulu archipelago, where his unit was stationed before it was deployed to the city two months ago.

“Here, the enemy knows we are coming. In Sulu, they wake up and they are in hell,” he told The Daily Beast.

The MARSOC have restricted their operations to nighttime, when the special forces can rely on their superior night vision equipment to give them an edge over the Maute fighters.

The conventional army and marine units do not have the luxury of specialist training and equipment. They fight the hard way, breaking into fortified houses by blowing holes through walls and clearing rooms with grenades.

The jihadists have punched through the walls of terraced houses, as well, allowing them to move swiftly and undetected.

Sappers have defused well over a thousand improvised explosive devices that the insurgents have planted in the city.

The advance is slow. By their own admission the troops take maybe a dozen buildings a day, and it can take weeks to break through one of the defensive lines the Mautes have strung in concentric circles around the city center.

The fighting is further complicated by the hostages the Maute Group seized when it took control of the city in May. These are forced to prepare defenses and act as human shields on the front lines. Some may have been forced to take up arms against the very soldiers trying to rescue them.

According to Philippine Army Col. Romeo Brawner, captured civilians have been press-ganged into the ranks of the insurgents as the Mautes try to stave off defeat.

To limit losses as much as possible, the air force has been pounding Marawi relentlessly. Every advance on the ground is preceded by air strikes to soften up enemy defenses. South Korean-made FA-50 fighter jets fly low over the city, the roar of their engines ripping through the sky and the blast of their bombs shaking the ground. Bronco OV-10 ground attack aircraft dive from high to deliver their deadly load with pinpoint accuracy.

After four months of air and ground assault, much of Marawi has been reduced to rubble. The population of 200,000 fled the city as soon as the Maute Group took control, and most remain displaced.

Families live in tent clusters scattered along the roads that cut toward the city through the lush tropical foliage and palms in the countryside. Others have found refuge in school buildings in nearby towns. Food and other supplies are in short supply, according to local aid workers.

Marawi sits in the middle of an autonomous zone created for the Philippines’ Muslim minority, which is concentrated on Mindanao. It is officially known as the “Islamic City of Marawi,” as it is the only city in the largely Catholic country that has a majority Muslim population.

The displaced say the hardships they have faced over the past months are not due to the Mautes alone. Many also accuse the government of a lackluster response to the humanitarian crisis, and feel they are discriminated against on the basis of their faith.

“If the Christian community suffers, they always get help. Here it’s not really the same. I would say that is a form of discrimination,” says Aslami Montila, a Marawi local working with a nongovernmental relief organization.

The government only distributes 50,000 food parcels to the displaced, far short of the 220,000 that are needed, says Montila.

He shows The Daily Beast a barren concrete building on the edge of the city of Iligan, an hour’s drive from Marawi, where about 200 families have found shelter. The large, multi-story building has in the past been used as a religious seminary, but today it has no electric light, furniture, or even glass in its windows. Several families are crammed into little allotments created by dividing the open space with cloth. A third of the 160 children at the site cannot afford to go to school since they have been forced from their homes, says Montila.

The displaced also resent the destruction of their homes. While they acknowledge that the Mautes kicked off the conflict, their city is being destroyed, to paraphrase a famous line from the Vietnam War, in order to save it.

“The people are angry with the Maute, but now they are angry with the government, too,” says Agakhan Sharief, a local religious leader who runs several Islamic schools.

The locals are also eyeing government plans for the reconstruction of the city with mistrust. No plans have yet been made public, and according to Col. Brawner, who is in charge of the military’s contribution to the reconstruction, they are still being worked out.

It is likely that parts of the city will be redeveloped for tourism. Marawi sits next to the scenic Lake Lanao, one of the biggest lakes in the Philippines, and it benefits from a gentler climate than the humid coastal lowlands.

“The city has big potential for tourism. What guarantee is there that the investment will benefit the people?” asks Abdul Atar, who holds the largely ceremonial title Sultan of Marawi.

There are fears among the Maranaos, as the inhabitants of Marawi and the surrounding countryside are known, that many residents will be kicked out of their homes to accommodate these plans.

Rumors have it that the military will seize a part of the land in the city perimeter to profit from the redevelopment of Marawi. The military denies it has any such intentions. But if the locals feel cheated out of their city, the next armed uprising is guaranteed, says Atar. “A thousand young Maranaos are ready to fight if these plans go through.”

Maute planning attacks in other areas: Army chief

From Malaya Business Insight (Oct 6): Maute planning attacks in other areas: Army chief

NEW Army chief Maj. Gen. Rolando Bautista yesterday said the Maute Group is planning to “infiltrate” some areas and replicate its attack in Marawi City.

To thwart the plan, martial law declared by President Duterte in the entire Mindanao has to continue, he said in an interview at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio before he formally assumed the top Army post.

Bautista is also concurrent commander of the Joint Task Force Marawi and the 1st Infantry Division. His successors have not been named. His appointment as new Army chief was announced only last Wednesday.

Bautista said martial law is needed even during the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

“Yes, (it’s) very important because there were reports they will infiltrate the controlled areas… (That’s) part of their diversionary tactic, sow terror in peaceful municipalities and replicate the Marawi siege,” said Bautista, without naming the municipalities.

President Duterte declared martial law in the entire Mindanao hours after the Maute Group attacked Marawi City on May 23. The conflict is ongoing and has so far resulted in the death of 765 Maute members, 155 soldiers and policemen, and 47 civilians.

Duterte in July sought – and got -- Congress’ approval to extend martial law up to the end of the year. He said then the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups are planning to launch attacks in Basilan province and in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Zamboanga.

Bautista said martial law is a big help to the Armed Forces in going after terrorist forces. “Imagine, we can accost and question suspected terrorists (without warrant). If there is no martial law, we’ll be charged,” he said.

He also said he wants to continue leading the operations against the Maute in Marawi even as Army chief.

An Army chief does not have operational control over forces on the ground, although he has administrative supervision over them.

“That depends on the chief of staff (AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año) if he is going to allow me to return there (in Marawi), which is what I really want. I want to return there and finish (the fight),” he said.

Incidentally, Año has said he sees the conflict ending before he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 on October 26.

The military is hoping to end the fighting in one to two weeks. About 40-50 Maute men remain in the city.

Bautista said the military has received reports about the death of Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon who was among those who planned and is leading the Marawi battle, “but again that’s subject to validation.”

President Duterte, during the change of ceremony, directed the Armed Forces to review of military policies and procedures on addressing terrorism and urban warfare.

He reiterated he expects the operations in Marawi to end soon but acknowledged the challenges that confronted the government forces.

Duterte said he is not even surprised that the operations to rid Marawi of terrorists continue to drag on, saying the Maute are very familiar with the area.

4,070 slots for SAF applicants

From the Sun Star-Davao (Oct 6): 4,070 slots for SAF applicants

THE Police Regional Office (PRO)-Davao bared that 4,070 slots are waiting to be filled nationwide as the Philippine National Police (PNP) opened its recruitment for members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF).

PRO-Davao spokesperson Police Chief Inspector Andrea dela Cerna said that they are still accepting applicants.

"We are still trying to fill up the SAF quota," she said, adding that they could not accept applicants for regular police unless the SAF quota is met.

Based on their record, they have initial applicants of 130 but after the agility test, it was trimmed down to 109. The 109 applicants will then undergo neurological exam.

The PNP national headquarters required all the PROs to assist SAF in processing Police Officer 1 applicants in their respective offices particularly in the acceptance of online application, conduct of Physical Agility Test (PAT); Psychological and Psychiatric Examination(PPE); Physical, Medical and Dental Examination(PMDE); and Drug Test (DT).

After completing the exams, the Final Committee Deliberation (FCD) will be conducted by the SAF Screening Committee and only male applicants will be accepted.

The recruitment teams from SAF will be detailed in PROs to oversee the recruitment.

Dela Cerna said interested applicants may file their application at PRO-Davao located at Camp Quintin Merecido, Catitipan, Davao City.

"Sa mga interesado, pumunta lamang sa PRO-Davao and bring all the necessary documents," she said.

The recruitment of additional SAF personnel is in line with the government's effort to strengthen the capability of the police force to fight criminality, terrorism, insurgency and internal threats.

Qualifications are: must be a citizen of the Philippines; of good moral character; must have passed the psychiatric/psychological, drug and physical tests to be administered by the PNP; must possess a formal baccalaureate degree from a recognized learning institution; must be eligible and passed the PNP Entrance (Napolcom), RA No. 1080 (Bar and Board Examinations) and PD No. 907 (CS eligibility to College Honor Graduates).

Applicants must not have been dishonorably discharged from military employment or dismissed for cause from any civilian position in the government; must not have been convicted by final judgment of an offense or crime involving moral turpitude; must be at least one meter and sixty-two centimeters (1.62m) in height for male and one meter and fifty-seven centimeters (1.57m); must weigh not more or less than five kilograms (5kg) from the standard weight Corresponding to his/her weight, age, and sex; and must not be less than 21 nor more than 30 years old.

NPA leader surrenders to authorities

From the Sun Star-Davao (Oct 6): NPA leader surrenders to authorities

A HIGH-RANKING leader of the New People's Army (NPA) Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) surrendered to authorities along with his M16 rifle in Barangay Ganatan, Arakan, North Cotabato last October 1.

Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Jerry Lamosao, in a statement, identified the NPA rebel as Alex Gawelan alias "Banate" who belongs to the Guerilla Front 53, SMRC.

Banate surrendered to the troops of 39th Infantry Battalion due to the disintegrating system of the revolutionary movement and broken promises of their leaders.

His surrender was facilitated by their tribal leaders who brought him to the authorities for proper procedure.

"I'm already tired of the false promises made by the NPAs, if there are wounded among our group, we just leave them behind, but the government forces treated their troops properly," Banate said in the vernacular.

"I also realized that we were just manipulated and used to carry supplies and we are tasked to fight the government troops and even our fellow tribesmen," Banate added.

The government has Comprehensive Local Integration Program, which is designed to provide former rebels with financial and livelihood assistance as they start their pursuit of a reformed life.

Meanwhile, 1002nd Infantry Brigade commander Colonel Roberto Ancan acknowledged the role of tribal chieftains in encouraging the rebels to surrender to authorities.

"The cooperation of the tribal leaders and the Indigenous Peoples’ communities plays a significant role in reaching out to the NPAs in the hinterlands of Arakan," Ancan said.

Ancan reiterated their call to the rebels to surrender and return to the mainstream society and live a normal life away from the armed movement.

"We are calling the members of the NPA to return to the folds of the law. We believe that the NPA is just deceiving its members to commit crimes and sow terror to the people of Arakan," Ancan added.

Defense chief sees end to Marawi crisis in 10-15 days

From the Daily Tribune (Oct 6): Defense chief sees end to Marawi crisis in 10-15 days

Fifteen more days and the Marawi City siege will be over!

Ten to 15 days will be long, within this month, middle of this month, it will be over,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday declared.

Less than a week after his latest “deadline” did not materialize, Lorenzana, who is also the chairman of Task Force Bangon Marawi, cited the hostages still being held by the Islamic State (IS)-inspired terrorists as among the primary factors for the delay in the completion of the military operations in the besieged city.

The Defense chief earlier said the Marawi City siege would be over by September 30. Later, he claimed that the military could finish the operation last Sunday. “Now, I can understand the reluctance to finish the job end of September because they were actually thinking of saving the civilians inside…if they went in there full blast, they could have killed everybody,” Lorenzana stressed.

“So now I see the wisdom of the military commanders on the ground to do it slowly and carefully…every life that we can save there is worth the delay,” he added.

Malacañang, for its part, yesterday noted that Maute militants continue to display resistance against government forces despite pushing and constricting the enemies into a tighter space.

“While rebels remain holed up in a small portion of the city, they show tenacity and resistance,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, in a statement, said.

But military operations, he added, are continuing without let-up in a final push to finally end the four-month rebellion.

“Military operations are focused and intense and necessitate time to rescue remaining hostages, and bring to a decisive conclusion the Marawi rebellion,” Abellla stressed.

Malacañang also welcomed the rescue of 17 hostages from Maute terrorists, saying the military is focused on bringing the Marawi rebellion to a decisive end.

“Government troops have successfully rescued 17 Maute hostages. We see this as a positive development toward the liberation of Marawi from the hands of terrorists,” the Palace official stressed.

Rescued hostages are now at 1,733 while Marawi City residents slain or executed by the bandits are put at 47.

The number of slain lawless elements is placed at 753 while government losses are at 155 since fighting started last May 23 after a botched attempt to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts.

 P10-B Marawi rehab

Meanwhile, the Senate finance committee has allotted P10 billion for the rehabilitation of Marawi City in 2018, under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.

This was announced by Sen. Loren Legarda, committee chairman, during her sponsorship speech on the proposed 2018 budget.

According to the lawmaker, the Senate supports the move of the House of Representatives to provide for the rehabilitation of the war-torn city, however the committee stood firm that the budget for the quick recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of Marawi should be increased.

Legarda said the P10 billion is on the top of the P5 billion given for 2017 from the Contingent Fund and funds of various government agencies.

She added the panel’s proposal also includes a P500-million subsidy for a loan facility for Marawi residents which will enable them to rebuild their ruined houses.

“We hope that this process of heritage mapping and its intended outputs can hasten the psychological healing of the affected populace and strengthen our cultural bonds with our fellow Muslim Filipinos. These budgets go with our fervent prayer that we may immediately see hope, dignity, and peace restored in Marawi City and other affected areas,” Legarda stressed.

AFP, PNP monitoring armed groups in destab plot

From the Daily Tribune (Oct 7): AFP, PNP monitoring armed groups in destab plot

Amid reports of supposed destabilization plot against the Duterte administration, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is closely monitoring armed threat groups, particularly the New People’s Army (NPA) that may take advantage of the situation.

Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, stressed that any destabilization attempt will not come from the ranks of the uniformed services as he cited the Commander in Chief’s all-out support to the troops.

“Any destabilization that we hear will not come from the ranks of the Armed Forces because we have a commander in chief who has concern for every soldier, taking care of every uniformed men who are doing their job,” said Padilla.

President Duterte is known for his closeness to both the AFP and the (PNP). He has spent so much of his time visiting camps throughout the country to be with the troops.
Duterte also promised to double the salary of the troops.

No less than Duterte earlier revealed that the political opposition, whom he calls the “yellows”, and the communist group are now conspiring to oust him.

However, Padilla said that the military is not focused on the political side but is closely monitoring armed anti-government groups that could exploit the situation.

“The Armed Forces is on guard against the armed groups…on the side of politics, others are monitoring that,” said Padilla.

The AFP spokesman, however, did not totally dismiss the possibility that anti-government groups may form an alliance.

“(Those) that are against government are not only individuals, there are groups, many groups. And it may not be far-fetched that one or two of them may be also assisting other groups that are against government,” said Padilla.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that they have not monitored any plot to destabilize the Duterte administration.

The AFP also vowed to crush any attempt to disrupt the democratic ways in the country by any group.

“The AFP will not allow any attempt that would tend to undermine the stability of our government,” said Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP public affairs chief.

“ We will frustrate any efforts that will cause the disruption of our democratic way of life. That is and shall always be our commitment to the nation and our people,” he added.

NCRPO chief sees destab angle in teeners’ deaths

On the part of the PNP, the deaths of three teenagers allegedly perpetrated by policemen may be part of a destabilization plot to sabotage the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, according to National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde.

During a press briefing yesterday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II recounted his short meeting with Albayalde, who stressed that around 500 youths who were arrested in anti-drug operations were captured alive.

Aguirre said that Albayalde wanted to meet with him yesterday to discuss the possibility of providing police with the “immediate legal component on the war on drugs.”

Albayalde, according to Aguirre, insisted that only 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, 19-year old Carl Angelo Arnaiz and 14-year old Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman ended up dead in anti-drug operations.

“It appears that (the killings are) calculated (to spark)in order for the policemen to be blamed,” the Justice chief told reporters.

“When police are blamed it would reflect on the President,” Aguirre lamented.
With this, Aguirre reiterated Duterte’s pronouncements that killings could be of destabilization efforts against the administration, adding that there may be police scalawags who are “in cahoots with destabilizers.”

Moreover, the Justice chief bared that the NCRPO chief wanted the Department of Justice (DoJ) to be able to provide legal assistance to policemen who would require legal advice in the performance of their duty amid the war on drugs.

But Aguirre said he has yet to commit to Albayalde’s request, explaining that DoJ is lacking over 1,000 prosecutors in its work force. He added the such legal assistance component is also being before Congress.

PH warship now in Brunei to participate in Sultan’s Golden Jubilee celebration

From Update Philippines (Oct 6): PH warship now in Brunei to participate in Sultan’s Golden Jubilee celebration

Philippine Navy’s third Del Pilar-class Frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF17) is now in Brunei for a six-day goodwill visit and to participate in the Golden Jubilee celebration for Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah.

The said warship arrived in Muara International Port, Brunei Darussalam on October 3.

Aboard BRP Andres Bonifacio is the Philippine Navy delegation headed by Fleet-Marine Ready Force Commander Commodore Albert A Mogol.

Also onboard is the Naval Task Group 80.5 (NTG 80.5) composed of FF17 crew, an AgustaWestland 109 naval helicopter, a Naval Special Operations Team, a Marine Special Operation Team, a medical-dental team and other port visit directorate members.

Among the scheduled activities include courtesy call of commanders to Brunei military officials, participation in the Golden Anniversary parade, and goodwill games with Royal Brunei Navy (RBN).

After the 6-day visit to Brunei, BRP Andres Bonifacio will be heading to Malaysia for the Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Malaysia-Philippines (MALPHI) LAUT 20-17 which will take place October 16 to 25.

LOOK: US, PH servicemen do drone operations

From Update Philippines (Oct 6): LOOK: US, PH servicemen do drone operations

US Marines photo

Filipino and American servicemen have conducted a drone operations activity on October 2 as part of the inaugural US-PH KAMANDAG “Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat” exercise.

The operation of unmanned aerial surveillance system was conducted at Colonel Ernesto P. Ravina Air Base in at Crow Valley Gunnery Range, Capas Tarlac.

Elements of Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (BLT 3/5), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) are currently deployed in support of USMC 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade participating in exercise KAMANDAG.

US Marines photo

BLT 3/5 is also exploring state-of-the-art concepts and technologies as the dedicated force for Sea Dragon 2025, a Marine Corps initiative to prepare for future battles.

KAMANDAG focuses on enhancing counter terrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) capabilities and conducting humanitarian and civic assistance projects.

No conspiracy with ‘Yellows’ but Reds ‘recognize initiatives’ vs Duterte ‘tyranny’

From InterAksyon (Oct 6): No conspiracy with ‘Yellows’ but Reds ‘recognize initiatives’ vs Duterte ‘tyranny’

NPA Surigao del Sur

NPA guerillas operating in Surigao del Sur on the move along the San Miguel and Marihatag border. (photo by Erwin M. Mascariñas, News5 | InterAksyon)
Communist rebels denied any alliance with the Liberal Party and others in the political opposition but “recognize their initiatives and action as serving the same purpose of resisting” what they called the “tyranny” of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Nevertheless, the Communist Party of the Philippines warned that Duterte’s claims of a conspiracy of the “Reds” and “Yellows” to topple him were a prelude to a crackdown on both “the political opposition and all other forces standing up against moves to establishing … authoritarian rule.”

On Wednesday, October 4, Duterte alleged that the left, including the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, and the “yellow,” the derogatory term often used to refer to the Liberal Party and the previous administration, had joined forces because “gusto nila ako paalisin dito sa Malacañang.”

Duterte and his allies have openly attacked administration critics, among them Senator Leila de Lima, who is detained and being tried on criminal charges over her alleged links to the drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison.

Lately, he has locked horns with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and, on Wednesday, wondered if Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom he wants impeached, were “part of the concerted effort” to oust him.
President Duterte

WATCH | Duterte: ‘Single-testicled’ Trillanes and ‘allies’ Reds and Yellows want me ousted, ‘bring PH down to the dogs’ 
The Reds, the Yellows, and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV are the ones who want to bring the country down and are behind moves to overthrow the administration, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Zamboanga siege veteran is new Marawi ground commander

From Rappler (Oct 6): Zamboanga siege veteran is new Marawi ground commander

Major General Danilo Pamonag has been in Marawi since the start of the war, tapped to bring in his experience in the first big war in urban terrain that the military faced

The officer who led military operations in the 2013 Zamboanga Siege is the new ground commander in Marawi City.

Major General Danilo Pamonag took over as chief of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Marawi, the position vacated by newly appointed Philippine Army chief Major General Rolando Bautista.

"I will continue to help the people of Marawi to bring normalcy in the city by ending the conflict the soonest possible time," Pamonag told Rappler when asked for his message to Marawi residents.
A turnover ceremony led by Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año was held inside the battle area on Friday, October 6. The military chief also visited the Bato Ali Mosque and the Saint Mary's Cathedral, two religious buildings attacked by local terror groups linked with the Islamic State.

Pamonag had been in Marawi City since the start of the war, working alongside Bautista. He was tapped to supervise military operations inside the battle area because of his experience from the 2013 Zamboanga Siege, the first big war in urban terrain the Philippine military faced. (READ: Marawi battle zone: Urban warfare challenges PH military)

As JTF Marawi chief, he will also lead operations in cleared areas or the so-called safe zone. The military is making sure that the return of civilians in these areas will not pose new threats.

In 2013, Pamonag was chief of the Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG), the unit that consolidated efforts of the elite units of the army, navy and air force (READ: Zamboanga Siege: Tales from the combat zone)

He is now the chief of the Philippine Army Special Operations Command (Command), the Army unit that leads its elite units – the Scout Rangers, Special Forces, and the Light Reaction forces.

The siege in about 5 coastal villages in Zamboanga took about 3 weeks. The military said the terrain there was not as difficult as in Marawi, where the enemies occupied the commercial district.

The war in Marawi is now on its 5th month.

40 bodies buried in Marawi, mostly of ISIS-Maute fighters

From MindaNews (Oct 5): 40 bodies buried in Marawi, mostly of ISIS-Maute fighters

Authorities buried 40 bodies of mostly ISIS-Maute fighters who were killed in four months of fighting here.

Bureau of Fire Protection officers carry a cadaver bag for burial in Marawi city on Thursday (5 October 2017). The military said 25 of the 40 bodies buried today were ISIS-Maute fighters. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO
Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Force Ranao, said 25 of the remains were believed to be ISIS-Maute fighters killed in the operations to retake Marawi.

He said 15 of the bodies were recovered around Dansalan College and the Bato Ali mosque where government troops encountered the fiercest resistance from the fighters.

“Many of them were found wearing black shirts and had ammo bandoliers indicating most likely they were ISIS-Maute fighters,” Brawner said.

Amer Rashid Mindalano, head of the Marawi City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the Malaysian Embassy sent them a copy of a picture of Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, a known militant.

“It was an unofficial request to identify if the Malaysian militant was among those killed,” he said.

Mindalano said they failed to identify Ahmad because the bodies were beyond physical recognition.

Forensic experts from the PNP Crime Laboratory have conducted DNA tests on the bodies in the past two days.

“The tests found most of the bodies have battle wounds,” Mindalano said

The bodies were buried at Magbarah Muslim public cemetery in Barangay Papandan, Marawi City where 54 other persons also killed in the fighting were buried.

NegOcc tourism firms urged to be vigilant vs NPA attacks

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 6): NegOcc tourism firms urged to be vigilant vs NPA attacks

The Negros Occidental Tourism Division urged tourism establishments in the province to be vigilant in terms of security to counter possible adverse effects of rebel atrocities to the industry.

Cristine Mansinares, provincial supervising tourism operations officer, said Friday the latest clash between government forces and suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) in Cauayan town will “influence” the tourism flow in the area.

Cauayan, along with other localities in southern Negros Occidental, especially Sipalay City, host the province’s major tourist destinations with its beaches and diving spots.

The resorts offer various nature and sports tourism activities like diving, island hopping, and snorkeling, among others, mostly for foreign tourists.

Mansinares said insurgency concerns, if not addressed, may discourage visitors to come to these areas.

“Aside from continuing vigilance, local tourism establishments are also urged to closely coordinate with the barangays and local government units,” Mansinares said.

On Tuesday afternoon, at least 30 members of the rebel group ambushed personnel of Cauayan Municipal Police Station on board a patrol vehicle.

Three civilians were injured after being caught in the crossfire on the road in Barangay Caliling.

The civilian-victims included two tourists, Swedish Karl Christer Arvidson and Brazilian Juliana Palmero, and Filipino driver Jason Tumayao, who were traveling to the neighboring Sipalay City.

Mansinares said security is everybody's concern.

“Apart from our police force, the community, including tourism establishments must be engaged to help in the prevention and detection of further threats that could really impact negatively the industry," she added.

Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson earlier said with the recent clash, the province needed a lot of public relations work to show to the world that Negros Occidental is still a place worth visiting especially for foreigners.

It is very evident and clear that tourism is an avenue that can further contribute to the economy especially amid the pressing challenges hounding the sugar industry, he added.

No destabilization plot vs. gov't: AFP spokesman

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 6): No destabilization plot vs. gov't: AFP spokesman

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has yet to verify or uncover any destabilization plot against President Rodrigo Duterte and the government.

"We will be conferring with other government agencies. But in so far as the AFP is concerned, we have not monitored any such destabilization plan," AFP chief of public affairs, Col. Edgard Arevalo, said late Thursday.

Arevalo reiterated that the military would not allow any attempt to undermine the stability of the government.

"We will frustrate any effort that will cause the disruption of our democratic way of life. That is, and shall always be, our commitment to the nation and our people," he added.

Earlier reports claimed that a still unidentified group is attempting to destabilize the Duterte administration.