Monday, October 9, 2017

Explosives, gun, shabu seized during anti-ISIS ops in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 9): Explosives, gun, shabu seized during anti-ISIS ops in Maguindanao

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- Government forces recovered improvised explosives, a high powered .50-caliber sniper gun and suspected shabu in separate operations over the weekend against an ISIS-inspired armed group in Maguindanao, the military here said Monday.

Captain Arvin John Encinas, Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesman, said combined elements of Army’s 19th and 6th Infantry Battalions were conducting combat strike operations against some 20 members of an ISIS-faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) at the borders of two towns when they found the illegal materials.

In particular, Encinas said these were found at the escape route of BIFF armed men at the borders of Sitio Siboloy, Barangay Kuden in Talitay and Barangay Brar in Datu Anggal Midtimbang, both in Maguindanao Saturday afternoon.

"Our troops were responding to reports by civilians about the presence of ISIS-inspired local terrorist group in the area that resulted to the recovery of suspected shabu and Improvised Explosive Device mechanisms," Encinas said.

Also on Saturday, combined elements of the Army’s 22nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion and 57th Infantry Battalion, clashed with lawless elements while conducting pursuit operations in Barangay Alongangen, Datu Piang, Maguindanao.

"Government forces were responding to residents report about high-powered guns hidden in the area and about to be transferred to another site when the clashes erupted," Encinas said.

Soldiers found one high-quality, locally-made 50-caliber sniper rifle.

Major Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, has commended the local residents for providing timely and vital information to authorities.

He also lauded the soldiers for their relentless campaign against lawless armed group to secure the safety of the local populace.

The successful operation was a result of the focused and intensified military operation against the local terror groups in Central Mindanao and the campaign against illegal drugs, Dela Vega, said.

Locals help secure NGCP towers vs bombers

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 9): Locals help secure NGCP towers vs bombers

Safety measures are in place to prevent future bombings by lawless elements on steel towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in North Cotabato, police here said Monday.

Chief Inspector Julius Malcontento, the town's police chief, said residents near transmission towers of NGCP have volunteered to cooperate and work with the village officials and police in securing these facilities.

“We sought the help of local residents and they are cooperative,” Malcontento told the PNA in a phone interview.

Four improvised explosive devices were set off by suspected extortionists at the foot of NGCP Steel Tower 106 at Purok 1, Barangay Manarapan here last week, triggering power interruption in parts of North Cotabato, the whole of Maguindanao and Cotabato City.

Steel Tower No. 106 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 the Carmen town center and situated in the middle of a banana plantation.

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

Army and police bomb experts recovered IED components used by the culprits. In the past, suspected militants-cum-extortionists in North Cotabato have bombed more than 20 NGCP steel towers in what authorities believe as a means to divert attention of military operations against them in nearby Maguindanao province.

Currently, government forces and its allies, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have been pursuing the ISIS-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao’s second district.

Bambie Capulong, speaking on behalf of NGCP, said restoration of Tower 106 had been completed.

Capulong said bombings of NGCP towers only serve to increase the burden of the public who will suffer service interruptions. The consumers are also made to shoulder the repair expenses of bombed NGCP towers.

NGCP continues its appeal to the local and national government, local community leaders, and the public, to help identify the perpetrators of the bombings, and to negotiate with uncooperative landowners, to prevent longer power interruptions," she said.

Soldier kills comrade inside military outpost

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 9): Soldier kills comrade inside military outpost

Criminal charges are set to be filed against a soldier who allegedly killed his comrade at a military outpost in Basilan province, the police reported Monday.

Chief Insp. Helen Galvez, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) information officer, disclosed the incident happened at around 5:27 a.m. Sunday in Barangay Masola in the capital city of Isabela.

Galvez identified the victim as PFC Jerry Arasain, 27, a member of the 15th Special Force Company of the Army’s 4th Special Forces Battalion.

Galvez identified the suspect as PFC Arkim Julain, 26, who belong to the same military unit.

Arasain and Julain are residents of the towns of Jolo and Panamao, Sulu, respectively.

Galvez said investigation showed that Arasain was sleeping in a hammock when the suspect repeatedly shot him. The victim died instantly.

She said that the company commanding officer immediately arrested the suspect.

8 foreigners among remaining Maute terrorists in Marawi: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 9): 8 foreigners among remaining Maute terrorists in Marawi: AFP

Some eight foreigners are among the estimated 40 Maute Group terrorists remaining in Marawi City, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año said late Sunday.

These foreign terrorists are acting as leaders of the remaining lawless elements, he added.

The AFP chief said the report is based on the information provided by local residents.

He added that these men are suicidal, prompting the military to exert extra care in the ongoing operations to avoid a backlash on the estimated 40 hostages.

Fighting in the city started May 23 after government forces attempted to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts.

As of October 6, the number of slain Maute terrorists was placed at 753 along with 155 government forces killed in action.

Recovered enemy weapons included 805 firearms and 14 improvised explosive devices. At least 47 civilians have been killed in the conflict while those rescued stood at 1,750.

Duterte sacks 2 PNP 'narco-generals'

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 9): Duterte sacks 2 PNP 'narco-generals'

President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed two high ranking police officials he earlier accused of being involved in the illegal drug trade.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella named the two officials as former National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director, Chief Supt. Joel Pagdilao; and former Quezon City Police District (QCPD) head, Chief Supt. Edgardo Tinio.

“In line with the President's promise to render the nation crime and corruption free, he has dismissed from service two presidential appointees who are officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP),” Abella said in a Palace briefing Monday.

“A decision signed by the Executive Secretary last Thursday, has found Police Chief Superintendent Edgardo G. Tinio and Police Director Joel Pagdilao administratively liable for serious neglect of duty and serious irregularity in the performance of duty, and have been duly dismissed,” he said.

Pagdilao and Tinio were among the five active and retired PNP officials publicly accused by Duterte in July last year as alleged protectors of the drug trade.

The others were Chief Supt. Bernardo Diaz, and retired Chief Superintendent Vicente Loot,who became mayor of Daanbantayan in northern Cebu, and retired PNP Deputy Chief for Administration Marcelo Garbo.

Abella said the President decided to dismiss the two police officers after evidence showed that both generals deliberately refused, without cause, to perform their duties as police officers allegedly resulting in the proliferation of the drug trade in their areas of jurisdiction.

However, the Palace official said there are no indications yet if criminal charges would be filed against the dismissed PNP officials.

“As far as I know, these are administrative charges only and that they have been let go. We’re not yet privy whether there are enough evidence to file criminal charges against them,” Abella said.

Body formed to expedite cases committed vs cops, soldiers

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 9): Body formed to expedite cases committed vs cops, soldiers

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday signed an agreement creating the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA).

The agreement was signed during the conduct of the 20th AFP-PNP National Joint Peace and Security Coordination Council meeting in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año signed the agreement which will expedite the prosecution of cases against the New People’s Army (NPA) and other armed groups that commit atrocities against the PNP and the AFP.

According to Police Director Camilo Cascolan, chief of the PNP Directorate for Operations, even before the agreement, the PNP and the AFP already had the so-called Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), which pursued cases against rebels and bandits.

Cascolan noted that the IALAG was abolished in 2012 and the PNP created the Committee on Legal Action, but it was not as effective as the IALAG which it replaced.

PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detection Management Director Augusto Marquez explained that there are 2,504 cases of atrocities committed against the policemen and soldiers in the countryside which were recorded from January 2012 to July 2017, of which only 292 cases are considered “cleared” or “solved."

Marquez noted that this was a very low level of performance in the prosecution of those who commit atrocities against policemen and soldiers.

He said the newly-created IACLA is geared towards solving the big backlog of unresolved cases against the NPA and other enemies of the state.

Data, circumstances needed in filing raps vs AFP personnel: Año

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 10): Data, circumstances needed in filing raps vs AFP personnel: Año

While it welcomes any complaints against its abusive members, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Gen. Eduardo Año said groups planning to do so must provide the military pertinent data and circumstances so it can launch an investigation.

Año issued this statement in wake of a United Nations Security Council report claiming that the AFP was involved in the alleged killing 11 children sometime in 2016.

"Regarding (the UN report), the AFP welcomes any complaint just provide us the data, circumstance and we will conduct the investigation. We do not condone any extra-judicial killing or violation of human rights (as) from top up to the lowest unit of our troops in the field, we have a designated human rights officers," he added.

Also, Año said the leftist groups often file unverified reports against the military, hence, his desire for complainants to give exact data and circumstances.

The AFP chief added that complaints similar to those mentioned above should be filed in the proper forum.

"We have a Commission of Human Rights so welcome any filing of cases against our personnel," he stressed.

NPA attacks, extortion hinder resumption of peace talks -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 10): NPA attacks, extortion hinder resumption of peace talks -- AFP

The time is not yet right for the government to pursue peace negotiations with the New People's Army rebels.

This was emphasized by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año as he noted the continued extortion activities and attacks by the rebels -- targetting civilian and soldiers, instead of convincing the government of their desire to return to the peace table and resolve armed conflict.

"For now, the situation, I think is not conducive to have a peace negotiation (because) instead of doing some confidence measures (or) actions, ang ginagawa nila lalo pa nilang pinag iigting yung pag atake (What they do is intensify the attacks)," he said.

He said the government is more than willing to resume the stalled peace negotiations -- but only if the rebels also reciprocate the willingness.

"Yung condition lang naman natin at ng Presidente ay Number 1, stop nila ang extortion at saka yung burning and then ceasefire tayo and then we can talk (Our number one condition which is the same as that of the President is for them to stop their extortion and burning activities, then we can have a ceasefire and then we can talk)," he said.

Peace talks with the rebel group were terminated last Feb. 4 following a series of unprovoked attacks against civilian and military targets nationwide.