Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Marawi death toll breaches 1,000

From Rappler (Oct 11): Marawi death toll breaches 1,000

Troops recover 22 bodies in a former enemy stronghold. DNA tests are conducted to see if leaders of the attack are among the cadavers.

The death toll in Marawi City has breached the 1,000-mark as troops retrieve 22 more bodies in a former enemy stronghold inside the battle area.

DNA tests are now being conducted by the police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) to determine if leaders of the armed groups behind the attack are among the remains that were found. Some of the remains are in advanced stages of decomposition.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla said a total of 1,009 have been killed in the war to include 160 government forces, 802 fighters of the local armed groups, and at least 47 civilains.

"The battle is still ongoing. Our troops are focused and determined to finish it as soon as possible but they have to put into consideration the remaining number of hostages which includes a number of children," said Padilla. (READ: The life of Maute hostage in Marawi)

A junior officer of the Army Special Forces was also among those killed recently. First Lieutenant Harold Mark Juan was killed by an enemy sniper while he was leading an assault on Monday, October 9.

Padilla said the death toll will rise as more bodies are expected to be retrieved from the battle area.

The 22 bodies were retrieved from two buildings in the battle area where the enemies had exhibited strongest resistance lately.

Padilla said the military is sure that hostages are not among the remains. "The PNP-SOCO is now determining their identities," Padilla said.

"Interesado rin kaming malaman kung may malaking tao dito sa mga namatay na ito kaya't nakiusap tayo sa PNP na madaliin ang pag-identify sa mga namatay na ito. Maaring may isa diyan o dalawa diyan sa mga kinikilala nating naging leader ng grupong ito ang bahagi ng cadavers," said Padilla.

(We are also interested to know if high-profile terrorist personalities are among the remains so we asked the police to speed up the process of identifying them. It's possible that one or two of the leaders are among the cadavers.)

The government is also checking if foreign fighters are among the dead bodies. (WATCH: U.S. agents check for most wanted terrorists among Marawi bodies)

The enemies are still heavily armed. Padilla said troops recovered from the buildings two rocket-propelled grenades, 4 M16 rifles, and an M14 along with dozens of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

"This must have been the place where these rebels have been manufacturing the IEDs that have been used in the remaining areas of enemy-held territories," Padilla said.

The battle area has narrowed further into 5 hectares, said Padilla.

QC court acquits army man in Jonas Burgos case

From Rappler (Oct 11): QC court acquits army man in Jonas Burgos case

(4th UPDATE) The testimony of an eyewitness pointing to army major Harry Baliaga Jr is deemed hearsay by the court that says it was based on somebody else's information

ACQUITTED. Army major Harry Baliaga Jr is acquitted of arbitrary detention charges by a QC RTC. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

ACQUITTED. Army major Harry Baliaga Jr is acquitted of arbitrary detention charges by a QC RTC. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

(4th UPDATE) – The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC RTC) on Thursday, October 12, acquitted army major Harry Baliaga Jr of arbitrary detention charges in relation to the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos.

In the decision by Branch 216 Presiding Judge Alfonso Ruiz II read by the clerk of court, the prosecution was deemed to have failed to prove that Baliaga was the one who abducted and detained Burgos.

The testimony of an eyewitness pointing to Baliaga was deemed hearsay by the court that said it was based on somebody else's information.

Baliaga approached Burgos' mother, Edita, after the decision was read. Baliaga said he didn't say anything and just hugged her.

ENCOUNTER. Major Harry Baliaga approaches Jonas' Burgos mother, Edita, after his acquittal. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

“Malungkot din tayo, but anyway, I’m saddened also that Mrs Burgos did not find justice, I’m praying also na makuha rin niya yung gusto niya. Gaya nga ng sinabi ko noon pa sana hindi mangyari na yung nanay ko naman yung magdusa dahil sa injustice," Baliaga said. He added he looks forward to being reinstated to active service. m(I'm sad, but anyway, I'm saddened also that Mrs Burgos did not find justice, I'm praying that she gets what she wants. As I have said then, I wouldn't wish that my own mother suffers from injustice.)

Teary-eyed, Edita Burgos said they intend to elevate the case to higher courts, saying it's just a delay.

"This is a bad day. I feel very bad but we will find Jonas," Edita said.

Edita added: "To be candid, sabi ko baka naman pwede mo na akong tulungan hanapin siya ( I told him maybe you can help me find him.) If he’s not guilty, then maybe he can help me find my son. If he’s not guilty, I’m sure he knows. And I think as a father he should know what it should feel to lose a son and I challenge him to tell us where Jonas is."


Burgos was last seen in April 2007 being dragged out of a Quezon City mall restaurant into a vehicle, never to be seen again.

It has been more than 10 years since Burgos' abduction. Baliaga is the first and only person ordered arrested for Burgos' disappearance, but he did not spend a day in jail after posting a P40,000-bail.

Baliaga allegedly led the group that abducted Burgos on April 28, 2007, at the Hapag Kainan restaurant inside Ever Gotesco Mall. Of all the military members sued for Burgos' disappearance, only Baliaga was charged in court.

Baliaga's trial at the QC RTC lasted 4 years. He had originally filed a motion for leave to file a demurrer of evidence, which the court rejected. When it was his turn to present evidence, he waived his right to present his.

The prosecution in this case – including the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) commissioned to be private prosecutors – was unable to present eyewitnesses because they could no longer be found at the time of trial.

Harry Baliaga
The eyewitnesses were the key people who boosted the case previously handled by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). The CHR investigation was the basis for the criminal complaints filed by Edita Burgos in 2011.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) only went on to charge Baliaga before the QC RTC for arbitrary detention and dismissed complaints against now Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Año – who was colonel at the time – and Lieutenant Colonel Melquiades Feliciano.

The DOJ also dismissed complaints of obstruction of justice against now National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr – the AFP chief at the time – and retired generals Romeo Tolentino, Alexander Yano, and Avelino Razon Jr.

In 2013, the Court of Appeals (CA) ruled Baliaga responsible for Burgos' disappearance. That year, the QC RTC started Baliaga's trial. "I find it funny from the layperson’s point of view that the decision made by the CA is different from that of the RTC but we respect the decision of the court," Edita said.

Military's involvement
An investigative report by Newsbreak written by Rappler managing editor Glenda Gloria identified key personalities in the Burgos case. Military documents identify Burgos as "Ka Ramon," a communist leader in Bulacan who was supposedly trapped into meeting with a mole-turned-asset of the army's 56th infantry battalion.

Dick Abletes, 2nd Lieutenant at the time, was jailed by the army for colluding and leaking classified documents to rebels. While in detention, he was supposedly turned into an asset and tasked to meet with Burgos aka "Ka Ramon" on the day he disappeared. (READ: Jonas Burgos: Trapped in web of lives)

Burgos, son of press freedom icon Joe Burgos, was abducted at the height of the military's counter insurgency campaign under the Arroyo administration.

In April, on the 10th anniversary of Burgos' disappearance, leftist groups called on Año to "surface" Burgos. Año denied any involvement in the disappearance and denied knowing the activist.

Edita Burgos to this day hopes her son is still alive.

"We would not be looking for him if we know that he's dead. He's still alive," Edita said, surrounded by friends who were crying with her in front of the QC Halls of Justice.

Regions 6, 7 to get 240 new soldiers

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 11): Regions 6, 7 to get 240 new soldiers

The Army's 3rd Infantry Division will soon deploy 240 neophyte soldiers to its infantry units in regions 6 and 7.

Capt. Eduardo Precioso, 3ID Public Affairs Office chief, said that the 240 soldiers yesterday completed the six-month Candidate Soldier Course cross trained with the Jungle Warfare Mountain Operation Course training, held at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz.

The 3ID has two infantry battalions deployed in Negros Island, and beefed up by two Negros Island Geographical Battalions.

Precioso said they will be deployed in Western and Central Visayas to sustain the peace and order in the two regions.

Maj. Gen. Jon Aying, 3ID commander , reminded the newly-graduated soldiers that the firearms that were entrusted to them signify their mandate and responsibility to protect the populace and perform their commitment to the stakeholders.

Aying also encouraged them to be the epitome of excellent, professional, efficient, responsive and competent soldiers produced by the Division Training School.

“You should also fight for what is right and truth. You should fight for the good, peace and prosperity of our beloved nation,” he added.

NPA attacks, extortion hinder peace talks: AFP

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 11): NPA attacks, extortion hinder 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 targeting civilians and soldiers, instead of convincing the government of their desire to return to the peace table and resolve the 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.

“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 Feb. 4 following a series of unprovoked attacks against civilian and military targets nationwide.

WATCH | Military says Marawi endgame drawing near; Maute cornered

From News 5/InterAksyon (Oct 10): WATCH | Military says Marawi endgame drawing near; Maute cornered
[Video report]

The angry slashes of furious firepower does not wane from both sides, even as the military brass say the endgame of the Battle of Marawi is near.

Field commanders of the security forces battling the holdout terrorist elements of the Maute Group, who have held security forces in a stalemate since May 23, say the enemy is constricted within just one barangay, their fighters boxed and backed into one mosque.

However, the bandits are holding on to civilian hostages, and the military is being careful not to visit unnecessary harm on non-combatants.

On Monday, one soldier who is close to getting married lost his life while in the middle of an assault operation, felled by a sniper’s bullet.

According to Col. Romeo Brawner, Deputy Commander of Joint Task Group Ranao, the enemy continues to manifest “intense resistance against our assaults. They resort to punching holes and passages between walls of adjoining houses to evade the advance of our troops.”

The other service branches of the government, meanwhile, have initiated plans to mobilize for the anticipated end of hostilities and embark on the beginnings of the rehabilitation and rebuilding phase to restore the Islamic City of Marawi, currently rendered in utter ruin, its edifices wracked by bombs and explosive booby traps.

The national government has initially set aside the amount of PhP47 billion, and the provincial government P113 million, for the reconstruction.

Authorities want to do the right thing by Marawi, because any flubbed effort or backslide in the developmental work might spark discontent and bring back the scourge of dissident forces all over again.

New York 'plotter' was allegedly doctor to Maute gunmen

From the Sun Star-Manila (Oct  11): New York 'plotter' was allegedly doctor to Maute gunmen


This photo taken on August 14, 2017 shows Russel Salic smiling after a hearing at the Department of Justice in Manila. (AFP) MANILA
A Filipino doctor wanted over a foiled jihadist plot targeting New York's subway and Times Square previously treated Maute terrorists in the mountains of Marawi City, the military said on Monday.
Russell Salic, 37, had links to the Maute group, which since May had been occupying parts of the Philippines' most important Islamic city of Marawi in a bid to establish an IS caliphate in Southeast Asia, military officials said.
 "He was among those who were treating wounded members of the Maute group," military spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo told AFP.
Another military spokesman, Major-General Restituto Padilla, told reporters Salic had performed these tasks in visits to Maute training camps before the Marawi attack.
"That's why his nom de guerre or nickname, based on our information, was 'Doc' or 'Doctor,'" Padilla added.
Salic, who has been under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation since April, is wanted by US prosecutors after he and two other were indicted over a plan to conduct bombings and shootings in Times Square, New York's subway system and concert venues in the name of IS.
The attacks were planned for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2016, US prosecutors said when they announced the charges on Friday.
One alleged plotter is already in US custody while the second is in Pakistani custody. Salic is accused of wiring $423 to the US to help fund the plot, the American justice department said.
He and the suspect in Pakistan now face legal proceedings seeking their extradition to the United States.
The restive south of the mainly Catholic Philippines is home to a decades-old Muslim separatist insurgency and to extremist gangs that have declared allegiance to IS.
Among them is the Maute group, which had withstood a US-backed military campaign in Marawi including artillery and daily air strikes in fighting that had left 979 people dead and thousands displaced.
 Salic is under investigation in Manila over his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and beheading of two sawmill workers in April 2016 in the southern rural town of Butig, which the military had blamed on the Maute group.
Four other sawmill workers were set free and told authorities they saw Salic in the Maute camp where they were detained, senior assistant state prosecutor Peter Ong told AFP.
 "The complainants said they saw him in an adjacent room full of guns. He was cleaning guns," Ong said, quoting from the workers' depositions.
Salic had denied the allegation and said he was in another province then, according to Ong, who is handling the investigation and has yet to decide whether to charge Salic in court.

Odds stacked in favor of Maute in Marawi war

From the Manila Times (Oct 11): Odds stacked in favor of Maute in Marawi war   
ARMED Forces spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla and security expert Richard Heydarian agreed that the presence of hostages made it difficult for the military to defeat the Maute group.
Padilla said the military leadership could easily obliterate the Maute extremists if it wanted to, by flattening the buildings where the Maute extremists were hiding, regardless of the hostages they were holding since Day 1 of the rebellion.

But resorting to such drastic option might create more problems in the future, the Air Force official said.

 Heydarian believes the military was apprehensive of backlash from netizens, here and abroad, should pictures come out in social media showing bodies of hostages and rebels side by side under rubbles.

Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, Mindanao Development Authority head, said the presence of civilians and hostages in their controlled villages also made it hard for the government forces “to expedite the liberation of the city.”

Heydarian said he felt the crisis would take long during the first few days of the invasion of Marawi City. “I mean, the moment their war started probably within three days, I said, this is urban warfare and generally it’s going to take a long time. Most optimistic is three weeks.”

But he admitted that he underestimated Maute’s strength, as the extremists were able to drag the conflict to more than four months.

“The last time we had a similar situation, but on a far smaller scale, was in Zamboanga in 2013. That time those involved were, fringe elements of MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), and yet they managed to hold on to certain [villages]up to three weeks,” Heydarian said.

“Then it’s no surprise that here in the case of Marawi we’re taking more than four months so far. And the reality is that it’s not just their tactics. It’s also of course the concerns in civilian casualty. The fact is, the Maute still have hostages,” he said.

Heydarian added: “So, that’s why the AFP cannot just bomb the hell out of them. We are a democracy. In the country like Russia they would just bomb the whole city like what they did in Grozny in Chechnya.”

Mosques as sanctuaries

Another stumbling block was the Maute extremists using the mosques as their sanctuaries and tactical centers.
“You bomb the mosque. [Then] one picture of [military]bombing the mosque could woo, multiply the members of Maute forever. So, you’re definitely not going to deal with the root of problem if you are going bomb mosques, sacred places and that’s seen by the Muslim majority,” Heydarian said.

Padilla also noted that during the early weeks of the conflict, the military was confronted with the big number of civilians who refused to leave their homes for fear that they might victimized by looters. “So those are the complexities that contribute to the military’s hardship to defeat the enemy.”

“One thing more, urban terrain warfare is different than jungle warfare. It is easier to have armed conflict when there is no complication because there are few civilians to be affected,” Padilla said.

There is an international convention that permits the military to attack places of worship if these are being used as staging points of any armed group, Padilla noted.

He was referring to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, specifically Article 16 concerning the protection of cultural objects and of places of worship.

“There are exemptions. But we decided not to attack the mosques, we have to respect these,” Padilla said.

IEDs and booby traps
Heydarian also noted that the Maute were using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), snipers and underground tunnels. These tactics were used by Hamas, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and by the different Iraqi insurgent groups, he said.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who hails from Mindanao, said the Maranao people are also a “warrior race” like the Tausugs. “They have prepared for many years on how to protect themselves. They have other enemies other than the government.”

“Rido” or clan wars are part of the culture in some Muslim communities where feuding families settle their disputes through bloody means.

“If you see the houses in Marawi, these are all reinforced. Even volleys of fire from high-powered firearms will not damage the concrete cement,” Zubiri said.

Army gives civilians safety tips in bottles

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 11): Army gives civilians safety tips in bottles

A government soldier takes position in a house once occupied by IS gunmen in Marawi City. The military has resorted to dropping leaflets to instruct civilians about what to do to flee to safer areas that had already been cleared by the Army. —JEOFFREY MAITEM

Plastic bottles with leaflets fell from the sky here, dropped by military helicopters in an operation aimed at delivering an important message to civilians seeking a safe way to flee the battle zone and Islamic State (IS) gunmen wanting to surrender — what to do and where to go.

Instead of bombs falling from the sky, residents here saw plastic bottles with leaflets being dropped by helicopters, which Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, head of the Western Mindanao Command, said could help save more lives, including those of terrorists willing to give up.

“The bottles contain instructions for the noncombatants to know where exactly they should go, as well for the militants, who wish to surrender, to know what they need to do,” Galvez said.

“We are doing this to prevent collateral damage for noncombatants,” he said.

Galvez said at least 33 people, who are relatives of the terrorists, were still inside the battle area.

He said relatives of members of Maute and Abu Sayyaf, two homegrown terror groups affiliated with IS, would be treated as noncombatants as long as they were unarmed.

“We will treat them as nonmilitary objectives,” Galvez said. “They are civilians so they will not be subjected to military operations,” he said.

He added, though, that authorities would still check the relatives’ involvement, if any, in either of the two terror groups. There’s a process for that, he said.

Since the war on terror started on May 23, at least 1,750 hostages had been rescued by the military. One of the rescued hostages was Fr. Chito Soganub, vicar general of Marawi City, a predominantly Muslim area.

Last week, a total of 17 hostages were also rescued by the military in the main battle area.

Galvez said the rescued hostages would soon be reunited with their families.

“We have arranged all that they need, from flight details up to those who will pick them up at the airport to ensure their safety,” Galvez said.

“The delay in their release to their families was due to our effort to get all the information they have so that we can rescue the remaining hostages,” he added.

We are doing this to prevent collateral damage for noncombatants . . .
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Head, Western Mindanao Command

As the operations continued, an official of Lanao del Sur province, which geographically includes Marawi, sought to allay fears over Islamic preachers who had been going around villages and cities in the province.

Islamic preachers

Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson for the Lanao del Sur Crisis Management Committee, said there was no need to be apprehensive about the preachers moving around in the province, including Iligan City, which now hosts hundreds of evacuees from Marawi.

 The preachers were seen wearing salwar kameez, a traditional garb worn by men in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan and are usually long-sleeved shirts and pajama-like pants white or brown in color.

The preachers, known as Tablighs, roam the province to preach Islam, not violence, Adiong said.

Adiong said the preachers were supposed to be apolitical and would not speak on social issues. “They evangelize only and send the message of Islam,” he said.

Pro-IS sniper in Marawi kills soon-to-marry Army junior officer

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 10): Pro-IS sniper in Marawi kills soon-to-marry Army junior officer
A junior officer of Army’s Special Forces became the 159th government casualty after he was hit and killed by pro-Islamic State sniper while leading a team in the frontline in this war torn city.

Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the Joint Task Group Ranao, confirmed that 1st Lt. Howard Juan was killed Monday while his team was advancing toward the defensive positions of Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen who are still holding 12 children and 16 women hostages.

Brawner said Juan, a native of Isabela Province, was deployed here days after fighting erupted on May 23.
“He was killed by enemy sniper. He was going to marry his fiancée after his deployment here,”
Brawner said.

Brawner said Juan’s fiancée had arrived in Iligan City.

The location where Juan was slain was confined in the four to five hectares area controlled by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen.

“The fighting never stops, day and night, but now we are very careful because of the hostages’ presence in the area,” he said.

In a related development, government forces used their armored heavy equipment during their daily clearing operations in the main battle area.

Brawner said their “Transformers-equipment” composed of three Bulldozers printed with Optimus Prime, Megatrone and Ironhide and a backhoe named Bumblebee were useful for troops on the ground.

“We call them our combat engineers used to support the ongoing military operations to give way to the armor tanks and government forces,” Brawner said.

“Sometimes, if the fighting is intense, they are used as cover of our troops taking advance positions in the frontline,” he added.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, commander of Western Mindanao Command, earlier said they are confident the war will end on or before October 15.

“The timeline we gave to our chief of staff was October 15. But we can achieve that early,” he said.

IGP confirms Malaysian militant Joraimee killed in Philippines

From the Star Online (Oct 10): IGP confirms Malaysian militant Joraimee killed in Philippines

Police have confirmed that Malaysian militant Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee (pic) was killed in Marawi City in the Philippines.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun confirmed with The Star that Muhammad Joraimee, also known as Abu Nur, was dead.

"Yes, he was killed on Sept 28, 2017 in southern Philippines," he said via a WhatsApp message on Tuesday.

However, Fuzi did not reveal whether Mohammad Joraimee's body was confirmed using DNA analysis as had been reported by a news portal.

The portal, Benar News, reported the Philippine military's Western Mindanao Command's commanding officer Lt Gen Carlito Galvez as saying that Malaysia had confirmed the militant's death through DNA testing.

The Star reported on Oct 1 that the 42-year-old Joraimee was believed to be among 15 persons killed in aerial bombings as Filipino troops regained control of Bato Mosque, which was used as the Islamic State (IS) command centre in Marawi City, Mindanao.

The former Selayang Municipal Council contract worker had become the most trusted lieutenant of Universiti Malaya professor-turned-militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad while hiding in the jungle with the Abu Sayyaf terror group in Basilan, southern Philippines.

Joraimee and Dr Mahmud were among the key planners of the May 23 Marawi attack with Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute brothers – Abdullah and Omarkhayam – for the creation of a caliphate in South-East Asia.

Joraimee is the third Malaysian known to have been killed in the Marawi city siege which is entering its fourth month.

Intelligence sources identified the two Malaysians killed in May as Abdurahman Asmawi from Kelantan and Dr Kamsa Yahya from Kedah.

Islamic State Misconception Of Bay’at: Nuances In Oath Of Allegiance – Analysis

From the Eurasia Review (Oct 11): Islamic State Misconception Of Bay’at: Nuances In Oath Of Allegiance – Analysis (By Muhammad Saiful Alam Shah Bin Sudiman*)

Investigations of a Singaporean national Imran Kassim on terrorism-related charges reveal that a flawed understanding of the concept of bay’at (oath of allegiance) played a role in his violent radicalisation. It is vital to advance a nuanced understanding of the concept to prevent people from falling prey to extremists’ narrative and exploitation of concepts like bay’at.

In July 2017, Singapore authorities arrested two Singaporeans on terrorism-related charges. One of them is 34-year-old Imran Kassim, managing director of a logistics company. He was put under an Order of Detention (OD) for intending to undertake armed violence overseas. The Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs also stated that Imran had pledged allegiance or bay’at to the leader of the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) terrorist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014.

Imran’s detention raises several important questions about the concept of bay’at. To begin with, what is bay’at? Why is the concept frequently exploited by violent self-proclaimed “Islamist” groups? How should Muslims react to it?

The Origin of Bay’at

Bay’at is an Arabic term that denotes a pledge of allegiance, alliance and loyalty. It predates Islam and was a common practice among Arabs. In pre-Islamic Arabia, a pact, which was observed through the pledge of alliance, was employed between Arabian tribal groups to establish security in the absence of state power.

In early Islamic history several accounts of bay’at were recorded between Prophet Muhammad and residents of Medina and between his companions. For example, a group of men from the city met the Prophet at a location called ‘Aqaba to embrace Islam.

They pledged not to commit customary practices of that time such as polytheism, robbery and adultery. Bay’at continues to be practised to this day in a few countries, especially between leaders and their followers in tribal societies, and among some Muslim groups.

Distortion of Bay’at by Southeast Asian Militants

In the last several decades, the concept of bay’at has been exploited by Muslim militant and terrorist groups to compel obedience and loyalty to the group’s leader and agenda. On 23 July 2014, a splinter of the militant Filipino Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) under the Basilan wing leader Isnilon Hapilon pledged allegiance to IS which had declared the establishment of a so-called worldwide Muslim caliphate several weeks earlier.

Another Filipino group, the Raja Sulaiman Islamic Movement (RSIM), uploaded a YouTube video showing ASG members in Bicutan prison in the Philippines taking an oath of loyalty to al-Baghdadi. Similarly, in December 2015 and June 2016 IS released several videos showing acceptance of bay’at by various battalions under Hapilon.

The acceptance symbolises recognition of the groups by IS and its leaders, as well as approval to wage military operations under the banner of IS. Almost a year later the Siege of Marawi erupted. Likewise, in Malaysia, Muhammad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi who led a terrorist cell called Gagak Hitam (Black Crows) declared bay’at to IS. Wanndy was instrumental in orchestrating the Movida attack in Puchong, Selangor in June 2016.

Bay’at in Singapore

Bay’at made its first presence in Singapore’s security scene in 2002. The Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) detainees revealed they had pledged allegiance to JI and/or leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). JI members were also warned that breaking the bay’at would result in divine retribution, hence deterring those who had reservations about the group’s objectives from leaving.

Today, Singapore’s security landscape is once again challenged with the threat of ‘religiously-motivated’ violence, this time by IS which brings together with it concepts popularised by JI such as bay’at. The arrest and detention of IS supporters in Singapore, like Mohamed Omar bin Mahadi (in July 2016) and Imran Kassim among others once again highlight the distortion of religious beliefs and exploitation of practices like bay’at.

In the case of Mohamed Omar, he had memorised the bay’at which he intended to take to al-Baghdadi. He and his wife were at IS’ disposal to carry out any assignments IS had for them once he had taken the oath. In respect of Imran, he harboured the intention to attack Singapore Armed Forces personnel deployed in the Global Coalition against IS. These examples show that terrorist group supporters are prepared to fulfil their bay’at in pursuit of their leader’s agenda even if it means resorting to acts of violence and killing.

Bay’at from Islamic Perspective

Bay’at is mentioned in both the Qur’an and Hadith (Prophetic Traditions and Sayings). Its purpose is for the promotion of good and enjoining what is right and the prevention of evil and forbidding what is wrong. This doctrine is in congruence with Islamic jurisprudence which states that “actions and policies should be in the people’s interest”.

A bay’at to IS, however, is totally at variance with this positive maxim as IS has shown that its actions disregard public interest and welfare and only cause civil disorder and mayhem. IS legitimises indiscriminate killings, torture, forced conversions, and desecration of the deceased, to name a few. Bay’at to al-Baghdadi in effect constitutes support and endorsement of IS transgressions of Islamic laws and ethics.

Militant and terrorist groups like IS and JI in fact use bay’at as a mechanism to ‘trap’ members within the organisation and ensure their commitment and compliance. In Islam, any bay’at that advances violations of Islamic doctrines and practices is null and void; it is entirely permissible to break one’s oath in such circumstances.

Two Types of Bay’at

There are two types of bay’at. The first is al-bay’at al-muṭlaqah, an irrevocable pledge. This only applies to Prophet Muhammad. According to Islamic creed, prophets and messengers of God are trustworthy, truthful, wise and divinely guided and protected from violation of God’s laws. These guarantee that the bay’at given to the Prophet will not be abused to commit acts that violate religious doctrines and precepts.

The other pledge is al-bay’at al-muqayyadah or conditional pledge given to a person other than a prophet or messenger of God. This bay’at is, according to a prophetic saying, subject to the condition that “There is no obedience to any human being if it involves disobedience of Allah”. The pledge is not absolute and it is revocable if it involves the commission of sins and acts against God.

Bay’at to al-Baghdadi clearly falls into this second category. Individuals who may have pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi can therefore revoke their pledge without any fear of divine retribution.

The recent detention of Imran Kassim again demonstrates the vulnerability of some people to terrorist ideology and propaganda. Continuous vigorous efforts are therefore necessary to counter and expose the flawed and erroneous interpretations of religious texts and exploitation of practices such as bay’at.

[*Muhammad Saiful Alam Shah Bin Sudiman is an Associate Research Fellow with the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

RSIS Commentaries are intended to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy relevant background and analysis of contemporary developments. The views of the author/s are their own and do not represent the official position of the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), NTU, which produces the Commentaries.]

Australia will not deploy troops to Mindanao: envoy

From the Manila Times posted to the Gulf Times (Oct 10): Australia will not deploy troops to Mindanao: envoy


President Rodrigo Duterte poses with Australian Navy officials led by Australian ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely during a tour on board the the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) vessel, Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Adelaide III upon arrival for a goodwill visit as part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Joint Task Group Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017 at the Pier 15, south harbour in Metro Manila, yesterday.

Australia will not deploy military troops to the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, where state troopers are battling Islamic State-linked Maute terrorists, ambassador Amanda Gorely said yesterday.

“We’d like to make it clear that there will be no Australian military troops on the ground and there won’t be boots on the ground in Mindanao or in the Marawi area,” Gorely told reporters aboard an Australian navy ship docked at Pier 15, South Harbour, Manila.

The ambassador said Australia provided assistance to the Philippines by sending two P3 Orion planes.

The two planes provided intelligence and surveillance support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their operations in Marawi.

Gorely said Australian troops will also conduct military training alongside Filipino soldiers in military bases in Luzon.“We may also take Filipino personnel in Australia for training as well,” Gorely added.

In September, Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne and Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the two countries are planning to swap troops who will join exercises that will focus on countering terrorism.

Gorely said the number of troops to be deployed in Manila is yet to be determined.

Payne and her counterparts from other Southeast Asian countries will discuss the matter during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Defence Ministers’ Meeting to be held from October 23 to 24 in Clark, Pampanga.

Army officer in ‘sex scandal’ case dropped from the service

From the Business Mirror (Oct 10): Army officer in ‘sex scandal’ case dropped from the service

A senior Army officer, who has catapulted the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to its first publicly known “sex scandal”, has been dropped from the service by the military, but on other cases.

Col. Jessie Mario Dosado has been dismissed from the service since last year, even before he was charged by the Office of the Ombudsman with sexual harassment before the Sandiganbayan, according to the Army.

“He was dismissed since last year, so all of his benefits…are now forfeited. Now his case in the Sandiganbayan is still ongoing, but his dismissal was caused by other cases and was implemented by the AFP,”Army Spokesman Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson said.

Dosado is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985, which also counts military Spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto F. Padilla, newly designated Army commander Maj. Gen. Rolando D. Bautista and Western Mindanao Command Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. as members.

Galvez is among the contenders to replace retiring Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo M. Año.

Other prominent members of the class are Northern Luzon Command commander Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, Western Command Maj. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar and PNP Deputy Director General Ramon Apolinario.

Tiongson said the military separated Dosado from the service as ordered by the Ombudsman for usurpation of official functions, dishonesty, gross negligence and gross misconduct, with the dismissal order served on February 10, 2016. “The Army does not hold him anymore, since he was already dismissed from the service,” Tiongson added.

Last week the Ombudsman filed three counts of violation of the Republic Act 7877, or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, before the anti-graft court, arising from alleged sexual acts that were committed in 2013.

According to the Ombudsman, Dosado allegedly committed the alleged acts while he was the commander of the Army Procurement Center in May 2013.

The Ombudsman claimed Dosado asked a female subordinate with the rank of master sergeant to watch him perform sexual acts with a certain Miss Glacy before asking her to “join them in an orgy”.

On October 22, 2013, Dosado, then assistant chief of the Philippine Army Staff of Logistics office, has also allegedly ordered his lady secretary to wipe his back and give him a bath while he was naked.

The sexual advances were supposedly repeated on October 25, 2013, when Dosado allegedly ordered the same secretary to apply lotion on his genitals and asked her how she feels about seeing him naked.

The military leadership highly reveres discipline and it does not hesitate to punish members who goes against this conduct.

Parts of Mt. Province lose power after armed men attack hydro plant

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 11): Parts of Mt. Province lose power after armed men attack hydro plant

Armed men attacked the 14-Megawatt Sabangan Hydroelectric Power Plant on Tuesday night in the Mountain Province town of Bauko, disrupting the electricity supply of the whole province, a councilor of Sabangan town said on Wednesday.

Councilor Ricky Samidan said the security guards stationed at the plant were unharmed, after the group attacked at 10:30 p.m. The armed men seized the guards’ weapons.

The power plant is operated by the Hydroelectric Power Corp. (Hedcor), a subsidiary of the Aboitiz Power Corporation.

Power in many parts of the province has not been restored at press time.

In a statement, Hedcor said the unidentified group blasted the control room of the plant’s tapping point in Otucan Norte village.

Hedcor said 90 percent of their equipment were damaged but promised to restore plant operations soon.

The company said it has been cooperating with the police and Armed Forces of the Philippines which have started a joint probe on the attack.

The Sabangan power plant was constructed in 2013, and started operating in 2015.

U.S. Marine Corps and Armed Forces of the Philippines advance sea lift capabilities

From DVIDS (Oct 10): U.S. Marine Corps and Armed Forces of the Philippines advance sea lift capabilities


Photo By Lance Cpl. Caleb Maher | U.S. Marines with Amphibious Assault Company, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, embark Assault Amphibious Vehicles onto the Philippine Navy’s BRP Tarlac (LD 601) during exercise KAMANDAG, Subic Bay, Philippines, October 2, 2017. Bilateral exercises such as KAMANDAG increase the ability of the United States and the Philippines to rapidly respond and work together during real world terrorist and humanitarian crises, in order to accomplish the mission, support the local population and help mitigate human suffering. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caleb T. Maher

For the first time, U.S. Marine amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) embarked and launched on a Philippine Navy sea lift vessel, the BRP Tarlac (LD-601), off the coast of Luzon, Oct. 2-9, in order to expand both militaries’ operational support capabilities.

This kind of integrated training prepares the Philippine vessel to carry Philippine Marine Corps AAVs in the future, which are slated for service in 2019, said Philippine Marine Corps Public Affairs Officer, Capt. Maria R. Dalmacio.

“This operation is simply to prove that AAVs can work in conjunction with [the BRP Tarlac’s] deck, and to work on standard operating procedures for the Philippine Navy, in conjunction with the Philippine Marine Corps,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Timothy Neder, commander of Assault Amphibious Company, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division.

Dalmacio said the BRP Tarlac supports various operations, including maritime security, counterpiracy, counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and some law enforcement operations.

Bilateral integration of amphibious vehicles and naval vessels enhances the ability to provide relief to people in the region during humanitarian disasters, as well as move forces ashore during a violent terror crisis.

AAV-ship integration training took place as part of KAMANDAG, a U.S. and Philippine bilateral exercise which primarily focused on enhancing counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.

KAMANDAG is an acronym for the Filipino phrase “Kaagapay Ng Mandirigna Ng Dagat,” which translates to “Cooperation of Warriors from the Sea.”

“Cooperation of Warriors from the Sea, in its name alone, says how we can go ahead and better both our militaries for future operations together,” said Neder.

Reds deny getting guns from Barile

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 11): Reds deny getting guns from Barile

The Leonardo Panaligan Command of the New People's Army in central Negros vehemently debunked allegations that it is getting guns from SPO1 Joshua Barile, who is now in jail for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Ka JB Regalado, spokesperson of the Leonardo Panaligan Command, in a statement posted on its website dated Oct. 10, dismissed as a big lie the report that Barile met with a certain Albert Lacerna, alias Ka Ambit, who was alleged to be district commander of the NPA in central Negros in July this year, at a fast food chain, as facilitated by a media personality.

Regalado said it is not the policy of the NPA to hold a dialog with somebody in a public place, or allow somebody to act as a facilitator in talking to Barile, who is an “enemy”, without their approval.

He also pointed out that the name of Albert Lacerna, alias Ka Ambit, who is reported to be a commander of the NPA in central Negros, is not in the roster of the NPA.

Allegations that Barile was supplying guns, such as M-16, M-14 and AK-47 assault rifles, handguns and ammunition to the NPA, through Lacerna, including an M-72 LAW system mini-bazooka, were dismissed by Regalado as “hearsay”

The raid at the house of Barile last month yielded 31 assorted firearms, ammunition, four fragmentation grenades and a suspected shabu. Barile declared that the three corroded fragmentation grenades and suspected shabu were “planted”.

Barile, who is the Firearms and Explosive Office section head of the Regional Civil Security Unit 18, also explained that the seized firearms were placed under his custody, in line with the deactivation of their unit.         

4 NPA rebels yield in Sultan Kudarat

From the Mindanao Examiner (Oct 11): 4 NPA rebels yield in Sultan Kudarat 

Four communist rebels have surrendered Wednesday to the Philippine Army in the southern province of Sultan Kudarat, officials said.

Officials said the rebels were members of the New People’s Army and have identified the four as Beboy Flag Mek, 24; Arjohn Dang Blagan, 23; Osing Samandal Kuyan, and Robert Pandat Balabagan, both 21 years old. They also surrendered three automatic rifles to the 57th and 33rd Infantry Battalions in the village of Titulok in Bagumbayan town.
Major General Dela Vega, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, said the surrender was the result of an effective collaboration between the military and civil authorities in addressing the social issues that lured the villagers, all members of an indigenous tribe, to join the NPA.

“We urge other rebels to peacefully surrender and start a new life with your family and loved ones, instead of fighting a senseless war,” he said.

The NPA has been fighting for many decades now for the establishment a separate state in the country.

Army to raise awareness vs insurgency in Antique youth summit

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 11): Army to raise awareness vs insurgency in Antique youth summit

Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (IB) aims to raise awareness against insurgency among the 100 participants in the Youth Leadership Summit (YLS) that will be held in Antique from October 27 to 29.

2Lt. Jennifer C. Lejano, Civil Military Operations (CMO) Officer of the PA 61IB, said during the “Talakayan” media forum Tuesday that although there is no report of any Antiqueno minor being recruited to join the insurgents, they are set to hold the YLS in Antique as preventive measures.

“The YLS is intended to raise awareness among the youth to avoid recruitment,” she said.

Lejano said that 15-to 25-year-old participants from the towns of Sibalom, San Remigio, Hamtic and Sebaste will attend the three-day event with lectures, team-building activities and spiritual upliftment.

She added that Antique based on their monitoring is peaceful, where the New People’s Army rebels just pass by as the province is interconnected with Iloilo and Aklan provinces.

The army officer, however, urged the public as well as the media to provide them with information of any NPA sighting as part of securing the province.

10 Navy men liable for death of Vietnamese fishermen

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 11): 10 Navy men liable for death of Vietnamese fishermen

An investigating body of the Provincial Committee on Illegal Entrants (PCIE) in Pangasinan recommended the filing of appropriate charges against Philippine Navy (PN) officers and enlisted personnel for the death of two fishermen during a chase on a Vietnamese fishing boat some 34 nautical miles off Cape Bolinao in Pangasinan in the early morning of September 23.

This was among the recommendations made by the Sub-Task Group on Investigation (STGI) composed of various government agencies that investigated the incident.

The report of the STGI was made public on Tuesday by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in Pangasinan, one of the agencies involved in the investigation of the case.

The members of the STGI are the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Department of Foreign Affairs, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, among others.

The two navy officers and eight enlisted personnel are those from the patrol ship BRP Miguel Malvar. Their names were not mentioned though in the report.

BRP Malvar was manned by 49 officers and men, all of whom were placed under custodial relief while an investigation was going on. They turned over 10 M-16 rifles and two M-50 machine guns to the PNP for ballistic investigation.

In the same incident, five other Vietnamese fishermen were arrested.

Capt. Joseph Coyme of the Philippine Coast Guard, chairman of the STGI said they are set to provide the Vietnamese Embassy, DFA, Philippine Navy and BFAR their respective copies of the investigation report for their reference.

The STGI established that a shooting incident indeed happened in that fateful morning of September 23.

The shooting was described in the report as an act of unnecessary inadvertence on the part of Navy operatives when the gunner miscalculated in firing the warning shots across the bow of the fleeing Vietnamese fishing boat, thereby hitting two Vietnamese fishermen hiding in the forward cargo compartment of the vessel.

The investigation report added that the PN will file a case against the five arrested Vietnamese fishermen for poaching in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

The PIA said PCIE spokesperson and Pangasinan Police Office head Senior Superintendent Ronald Lee thanked the members of the STGI for a “transparent, impartial and honest-to-goodness” investigation on the case.

Lee considered this as a delicate case but it was handled the way it should be. All pieces of evidence and persons of interest were accessible in the processing of evidence.

Lee said the PCIE will endorse the investigation report and recommendations to the Regional Committee on Illegal Entrants (RCIE).

The cadavers of the two Vietnamese nationals named Le Van Reo and Phan Van Liem had already been repatriated to Vietnam.

The five arrested Vietnamese fishermen were returned to their boat moored at the wharf of Sual town and under the care of both the Coast Guard and BFAR.

Aspiring soldiers from Caraga off to boot camp for training

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 11): Aspiring soldiers from Caraga off to boot camp for training

A total of 115 candidate soldiers took their oath to signify their becoming part of the Philippine Army in a simple ceremony at the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) headquarters in Camp Edilberto Evangelista on Wednesday.

The new soldiers are composed of 95 males and 20 females, 15 of them are members of the various tribal groups in the region.

In a statement, the Army's 4ID said the candidates had undergone series of stages of selection process, such as qualifying examinations aimed at testing their mental and physical ability to prove their worth as the finest from among the pool of aspirants from the Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions.

After they have been sworn in, the candidates will be sent to boot camps to start their rigorous Basic Military Training.

The men will be trained at the 4th Division Training School in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, while the female candidates will learn the military basics at the 6th Division Training School in Carmen, North Cotabato.

The Army said the training will help them transform from their carefree civilian life to a highly-disciplined military servicemen and women.

Their training, the 4ID said, will be conducted in a six-month duration, covering skills and knowledge not only in combat fighting but also in life-saving imperatives, disaster response operation, peacekeeping initiatives, human rights, rule of law, and rules of engagement.

“We congratulate each and every one of you for having been chosen from among the thousand aspiring candidate soldiers who have undergone series of tests and screenings for us to be able to choose the best and brightest,” said Major General Ronald Villanueva, the 4ID commander, in his message to the candidates.

“This is the first step as you pursue your career in the Military service. It is expected of you to be developed during this training as the most reliable soldiers that could defend our people and their communities from any kinds of threats. Make good and have a positive mind set during your training,” Villanueva said.

He assured the candidate-soldiers’ parents that “they will also continue the efforts of their predecessor in devoting their lives in the pursuit for lasting peace.”

The aspirants will fill up the needed number of uniformed personnel due to attrition, such as optional and compulsory retirement, and other causes. They will also continue the efforts of their predecessors in devoting their lives in the pursuit for lasting peace, the 4ID added.

Security prep in full swing for ASEAN meeting in Clark

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 11): Security prep in full swing for ASEAN meeting in Clark

Security preparations are now in full swing for the forthcoming ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting and ADMM-Plus set to be held on October 23-24 in Clark, Pampanga.

PNP Central Luzon Chief Supt. Amador V. Corpus said they would make sure that security measures are in place to achieve zero ASEAN-related crimes during the duration of the meeting, which is expected to draw about 300 delegates.

Corpus said more than 5,000 policemen, soldiers and other security forces would be deployed to the meeting venue and other places in Clark and neighboring areas.

“This is to ensure that the ASEAN meeting in Clark will be safe and not to be interrupted by some groups who might stage protest rallies,” he said.

Corpus said command posts would be set up in major areas to be manned by medical teams as well as quick response groups and civil disturbance management units that are prepared and ready to respond when the need arises.

He said there would also be a security outpost in every two kilometers along the major streets in Clark and Angeles City.

“We will be implementing tight security in the venue. We will also have security personnel to be deployed covering the delegates’ route from the airport to their hotels,” he added.

As part of the heightened security preparations for the upcoming summit, a dry run was conducted by the ASEAN Task Force security group from Clark Airport in Pampanga up to Balintawak in Quezon City last Sunday.

The southbound lanes of Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and EDSA were closed to the public as part of the dry run.

Corpus said that a modified stop-and-go traffic scheme would be implemented along the routes of the convoy, which would mean that delegates of ASEAN and the convoy would be prioritized in passing through the said routes.

“We have to undertake the necessary preparations to ensure the safety and security of the ASEAN delegates,” he said.

Trinidad is new AFP deputy chief for intel

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 11): Trinidad is new AFP deputy chief for intel

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced the appointment of Brig. Gen. Fernando T. Trinidad as the AFP's new Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Intelligence (J-2) on Tuesday.

Trinidad, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1987, replaced Major Gen. Felimon T. Santos, PMA Class of 1986, who was appointed to command the Nueva Ecija-based 7th Infantry Division.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP public affairs office chief, said AFP Deputy Chief-of-Staff, Vice Admiral Narciso Vingson presided over the change-of-office ceremony which took place at the General Headquarters, Conference Room, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Trinidad, upon his appointment to his new post, described the intelligence community as the nucleus of all operations.

Visit of Aussie naval vessels highlights strong relations with PH

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 11): Visit of Aussie naval vessels highlights strong relations with PH

The five-day goodwill visit of the Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Darwin to the Philippines highlights the strong relationship of the two countries and their respective navies, an official of the Philippine Navy (PN) said.

"This visit further strengthens the already strong relationship between the two navies and fortifies the PN’s firm commitment of maintaining good relationship with other foreign Navies," PN Spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said in a statement.

The visit is part of the Australian Defence Force's Joint Task Group Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017 which aims to provide regional countries the opportunity to gain understanding of the ships’ capability especially in the conduct of humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.

HMAS Adelaide, an amphibious assault ship and a landing helicopter dock, and HMAS Darwin, a guided missile frigate, are commanded by Capt. Jonathan Earley and Cmdr. Phillip Henry, respectively.

The two Austalian warships were rendered the customary meeting point procedures by the BRP Rajah Humabon (FF-11) off Corregidor Island and escorted the vessels to its designated anchorage area.

President Rodrigo Duterte was given a tour of HMAS Adelaide anchored at the Port of Manila on October 10, 2017. Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely, and Assistant Defence Attaché Lt Col Gideon Scrimgeour were among the Australian dignitaries in attendance.