Thursday, October 19, 2017

Malaysian militant Mahmud Ahmad killed in Marawi

From the Business World (Oct 20): Malaysian militant Mahmud Ahmad killed in Marawi

Philippine marines aboard their trucks flash the victory sign as they start their pull-out from the main battle area in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao on October 19, 2017. The battle for the southern city of Marawi, the Islamic capital of the mainly Catholic Philippines, lasted more than four times longer than the US-led campaign to liberate Manila from Japanese World War II occupation forces. -- AFP

THE MALACANANG confirmed on Oct. 19, Thursday, that a top Malaysian militant tipped to become Islamic State’s (IS) point man in Southeast Asia has been killed in a battle overnight.

“The military reports the death of Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian national who have financed the rebellion in Marawi died during last night’s operations,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

In a text message sent to reporters, Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto F. Padilla replied “yes” when asked to confirm if Mahmud Ahmad is already dead.
Earlier in the day, Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of a military task force, reported that 20 rebels among the remaining IS loyalists holed up in the devastated heart of Marawi City were killed in the latest fighting. One of those killed was believed to be Mahmud.

Mahmud’s death was a blow to any effort by Islamic State, which is on the back foot in Syria and Iraq, to establish a presence in Mindanao, an island with a history of rebellion and home to the predominantly Christian nation’s Muslim minority.

The Marawi siege has been the Philippines’ biggest security crisis in years, but some experts see it as a prelude to a more ambitious bid by militants to exploit Mindanao’s poverty and use its jungles and mountains as a base to train, recruit and launch attacks in the region.

The armed forces in a statement said 13 militants were killed overnight and seven on Monday morning.

Two hostages were rescued and information they provided meant the authorities were “increasingly becoming confident” that Mahmud was dead.


The 39-year-old former university lecturer is believed to have been pivotal in raising and channeling funds for the alliance and its foreign fighters during an occupation that has lasted 150 days, killing more than 1,000 people, mostly rebels. Central Marawi has been flattened by government airstrikes.

Some experts say Mahmud could become Islamic State’s Southeast Asian “emir” after the death on Monday of Isnilon Hapilon, the head of the alliance that seeks to carve out an Islamic State “Wilaya” in the southern Philippines.

Philippine soldiers on Oct. 16 killed Hapilon, a target of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. They also killed Omarkhayam Maute, one of two brothers at the helm of the Maute militant clan.

Mahmud was seen in a video alongside Hapilon and the Maute brothers plotting the Marawi siege. Security experts say he studied in Pakistan and learned to make bombs in an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. He left Malaysia in 2014.

On Tuesday, Oct. 17, President Rodrigo R. Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City from terrorists, however, there is still a need to clear buildings and arrest some of the remaining terrorists in the city.

Mr. Brawner said the military was relentless in finishing off the rebels, but was unsure how many were left. Estimates on Monday were 20 to 40 fighters.

“The resistance is still there. In fact, we can hear from the background, the battle is ongoing,” he said.

Security analyst Rommel Banlaoi said the end of Mahmud would not mean the end of the extremists’ presence in Mindanao.

“There are still high-value terrorist personalities who are still at large in Mindanao, not to mention other foreign fighters coming from Indonesia and elsewhere in the Arab world,” he said on television.

“They are very, very elusive and because they mixed with the communities and at the same time, they hang out with the armed groups that have the mastery of the terrain in Mindanao. It’s very difficult for them to be caught by the military.”

Following the pronouncement of Mr. Duterte’s liberation of Marawi City, the government pledged to give P30 billion for the rehabilitation of the whole city.

Russia providing PH with AK-103s – sources

From Update Philippines (Oct 20): Russia providing PH with AK-103s – sources

The Russian government is expected to turn over 5000 units of Avtomat Kalashnikova AK-103 with a million ammunition on October 25. 

Official announcement or confirmation is yet to be made but reliable sources say that Russia will be providing the AK-103 model of Kalashnikov rifle.

AK-103 uses the 7.62×39mm round. It can be fitted with night vision or telescopic sights, and a knife-bayonet or grenade launcher.

It was previously expected that Russia will provide the AK-101 which uses the 5.56×45mm NATO round.

Assault rifles in Philippine military service uses 5.56×45mm NATO round. Department of National Defense – Government Arsenal is also producing the NATO round.

These Russian rifle and ammunition together with 20 military truck will be formally turned over on October 25.

Duterte proposes blasting of pirates

From Update Philippines (Oct 20): Duterte proposes blasting of pirates

Blast the terrorists who are committing piracy like hijacking merchant vessels, killing and kidnapping people at sea, this is what President Rodrigo Duterte would tell the leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia.

“If there is one thing that must be immediately solved is really the problem of the Malacca Strait,” Duterte said during the High Level Forum on ASEAN @ 50 conducted at Conrad Manila, Pasay City on October 19.

“The Malacca used to be historically a supply route and a shipping lane that was very good for
everybody. Of late, terrorism has entered the picture and we see a lot of hijackings and killing of
people, and capturing hostages for ransom,” he noted.

He said that this dangerous situation needs a drastic action. “Whenever I try to solve a problem
that’s in my own assessment and evaluation, is serious enough. I tend to deal with my last card,” he added.

“That has been my character and if I get to talk to the leaders, there is one thing that I can just offer, blast them out of the seas to keep our shipping lanes open and safe,” he added.

“They have committed enough piracy there. Enough money collected from ransoms, and needlessly killing people, decapitating them in front of cameras,” he said. “I think that has to stop. I just finished the war in Malaysia. And then perhaps I can refocus the entire Armed Forces to deal with this problem, once and for all.”

In June, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines launched the Trilateral Maritime Patrol which seeks to secure maritime areas of common concern of the three nations from terrorists. Last week, the three nations launched Trilateral Air Patrol to complement the Trilateral Maritime Patrol.

Air Force, Navy units conduct joint demo exercise

From  Philippine Update (Oct 20): Air Force, Navy units conduct joint demo exercise

Philippine Air Force (PAF) Tactical Operations Command (TOC) and Philippine Navy (PN) Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) conducted Ayudahan 2017 Joint Field Training Exercise (JFTX) Capability Demonstration recently in Zamboanga City.

The demo exercise included Communications and Electronics, Maritime Surveillance, Maritime Interdiction Operations, Search and Rescue Exercises and Air to Ground Operations.

“They executed various maneuvers and evolution with accuracy and rigor,” NFWM said “These capabilities show more of what the Navy and Air Force can do in the occurrence of situations involving different terrorists and lawless groups in the country.”

Ayudahan 2017 was the 1st interoperability exercise launched by NFWM and TOC which held in different areas of Zamboanga City.

“The primary objective of the exercise is to enhance interoperability, competency and camaraderie of the operating units of NFWM and TOC,” NFWM said. “It also aims to enhance the overall coordination and responsiveness during the conduct of joint maritime operations which involves surveillance and search patrols, and maritime interdiction.”

2 Russian destroyers now in Philippines

From Philippine Update (Oct 20): 2 Russian destroyers now in Philippines

Two Russian Navy warships are currently in the country for a goodwill visit. 

These Russian warships are Udaloy-class destroyers Admiral Vinogradov (572) and Admiral Panteleyev (548). The warships docked in Manila South Harbor today, October 20.

Russian tanker Boris Butoma also arrived with the warships.

The Russian Embassy in Manila said on October 22 from 11 am to 4 pm Admiral Vinogradov which will be docked at pier 15 will be open for public visit.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that Russia will be delivering Kalashnikov (AK) rifles, to be delivered by Russian vessel.


PH to lead Trilateral Air Patrol in December

From Philippine Update (Oct 19): PH to lead Trilateral Air Patrol in December

In December, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be the lead air force of the Trilateral Air Patrol (TAP) with Indonesia and Malaysia.

The formal launching of TAP was conducted on October 13 in Subang, Malaysia. Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officials attended the launching event. They were transported by PAF 220th Airlift Wing’s C-130 aircraft.

Earlier, AFP spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla said TAP will complement the three nations’ Trilateral Maritime Patrol which seeks to secure maritime areas of common concern of the three nations from terrorists.

The TAP agreement designated the area of maritime interest that will be the subject of both maritime and air patrols. It will be carried out from designated staging points. Staging point for Indonesia is Tarakan; Bongao for the Philippines; and Tawau for Malaysia.

220th Airlift Wing photo

“Each country will take turns leading the mission thru a designated mission commander using host country air assets. Air patrol will be monitored from a maritime coordinating center. A host country will use their air assets with other nations patrol teams aboard,” the AFP spokesperson said.

Coordinated air patrols by individual air forces within their country’s respective borders are also part of TAP.

4th Infantry Division deploys new battalion to fight insurgents in south Bukidnon

From Rappler (Oct 19): 4th Infantry Division deploys new battalion to fight insurgents in south Bukidnon

The 88th Infantry Battalion will be operating from Maramag, Bukidnon

The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID) on Thursday, October 19, added a brand new battalion under its command, bringing to a total of 8 the number of battalions operating in its area of responsibility.

The 4th ID’s area of responsibility covers Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Bukidnon, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, and Dinagat Island.

Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and the Agusan and Surigao provinces have a strong Communist rebel presence, with Surigao del Sur having been once one of the most militarized provinces in the country in 2015 at the height of the Lumad Crisis with 5 battalions around its borders.

The 88th Infantry Battalion (IB) will be operating from Maramag, Bukidnon, at the former camp of the 8th IB.

Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the 4th ID said that the activation and deployment of 88th IB which is composed of 450 soldiers is part of the president's plan to hasten the resolution of all internal conflicts in the country.

“They are tasked to address the threat situation in the Southern part of Bukidnon,” Capt Martinez said.

The province has its shares of NPA attacks, most recently the attack on Davao Agricultural Ventures (Davco) where rebels torched vehicles and equipments and disarmed security personnel.

Martinez added that the deployment will help pave way for the smooth implementation of all Government programs and services that would benefit every Filipinos in all parts of the Archipelago.

Major General Ronald C. Villanueva, 4th ID Commanding General, underlined the specific tasks and mission of the said battalion that are aligned to the current AFP campaign which is the Development Support and Security Plan "Kapayapaan".

"When we talk about terrorism, we don't only mean Maute or ISIS; we also talk about the New People's Army that have longed made the lives of our people in Bukidnon miserable, Villanueva said.

He added that the terrorists not only burn trucks and plantations, they "also extort hard-earned money from poor farmers and... recruit children to fight against the government."

Villanueva emphasized the real intent of the NPA is not to topple down the armed forces but to take the governance from the people.

“This is the reason why we remain strong, resilient, and have improved our security stance in order to not just eliminate but to fully address this insurgency situation that have longed been affecting our Country's development," Villanueva added.

"To all of you, soldiers of this battalion, I expect that you will always bear the professionalism as you execute your tasks, build bridges from among the people, earn their respect and gain friends. There is no room for any human rights violations,” Villanueva addressed the soldiers.

“We have already gained... people's support especially during our efforts in Marawi. Don't let one mistake destroy what we have sacrificed for our Country. We support the intent of our Commander-in-Chief to protect the state and the people. Again I remind all of you to perform only your duty as a disciplined soldier," Villanueva added.

Martinez said that the soldiers from 88th IB came from different divisions from the army, the 3rd, 8th, and 9th IDs, and new graduates from the 4th ID.

The soldiers from the 3 divisions were replaced by new graduates from their own divisions.

DWDD: READY TO REFORM | 5 NPAs surrender to JTF Central in Sultan Kudarat

DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 20):  READY TO REFORM  |  5 NPAs surrender to JTF Central in Sultan Kudarat

CAMP SIONGCO, Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (DWDD) – Five members of the communist/terror group New People’s Army surrendered with their firearms to the combined troops of the 57th Infantry Battalion and Marine Battalion Landing Team-2 in Brgy Nililidan, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat early morning of 0ctober 16, 2017.

According to reports, the rebels belong to the Platoon Myphone of Guerilla Front 73.

The surrenderees turned-over one (1) M16 rifle, one (1) M14 rifle and one (1) Ultimax caliber 5.62 rifle.

“This is one of the positive outcomes of an effective collaboration between the military and the civil authorities”, Major General Dela Vega said. 57IB/MBLT2/MCAG

DWDD: TERRORIST DWINDLING | 3 ASG members Surrenders

DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 20): TERRORIST DWINDLING  |  3 ASG members Surrenders

BRGY MACALANG, (DWDD) – Three (3) members of the bandit/terror group Abu Sayyaf voluntarily surrendered to the troops of the 74th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, under LTC Jonas Templo operating under the Joint Task Force Basilan.

The surrenderees were identified as Ben Salina Sapilin alias Ben (cousin of Isnilon Hapilon); Rami Ben Sapillin alias Attik, and Muhamad Endeng alias Aburayhad.

They also surrendered three (3) firearms: 1 M16 Rifle, 1 M79 Grenade Launchers, and 1 Cal 30 M1 Garand. JTFBasilan/MCAG

DWDD: UPDATE | Marawi Operations and the Neutralization of Dr Mahmoud

DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 20):  UPDATE  |  Marawi Operations and the Neutralization of Dr Mahmoud


CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – “Our operations to flush out and deal with terrorist stragglers has been continuing relentlessly since yesterday. Last night’s operations has been very positive. We were able to neutralize 13 rebels and we confirmed this. Early this morning, we were able to get 7 more and rescued a mother and her daughter. She is about 15 or 16 years old. She has a splinter wound but out of danger.”

This was part of the statement made by AFP spokesperson MGen Restituto Padilla who said thaat the process of their operations sustained six wounded. But most of the soldiers who were wounded are safe since most of their wounds are superficial. In addition, the AFP is increasingly becoming confident that Mahmoud was among those who have been killed during the previous days’ operations.

Padilla added that the process to confirm this with finality, however, is still ongoing. Earlier information regarding this was received from the rescued hostages and they are now working on getting full confirmation.

In addition, hostages remaining in the area is estimated at around 20 or more. Troop morale remains very high and motivation to finish the fight is at its highest. AES/ALS

DWDD: EVALUATION VISIT | Chief Nurse, AFP Visits Naval Forces Southern Luzon

DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 20):  EVALUATION VISIT  |  Chief Nurse, AFP Visits Naval Forces Southern Luzon

RAWIS, Legazpi City (DWDD) – The Chief Nurse, AFP, Col Nilda L Nesperos NC (GSC) and her party visited Headquarters Naval Forces Southern Luzon to assess the performance and evaluate the morale level of the Medical Dispensary personnel anchored on the standard of delivering safe and quality patient care and to address possible issues and concerns. NPAO/MCAG



EVALUATION VISIT  |  Chief Nurse, AFP Visits Naval Forces Southern Luzon

DWDD: TRAINING ACVITY | PN frigate arrives Malaysia for MALPHI LAUT Exercise

DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 20): TRAINING ACVITY | PN frigate arrives Malaysia for MALPHI LAUT Exercise

KUANTAN, Malaysia (DWDD) – The Philippine Navy (PN) Frigate Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Andres Bonifacio (FF17) arrived at Kuantan Naval Base, Malaysia, the home of Headquarters, Naval Region 1 of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) on 13 October2017.

The PN contingent will participate in the 9-day annual Maritime Training Activity (MTA) MALPHI LAUT 20/17 with the RMN as this year’s host from October 16 to 25, 2017.

Commodore Albert A Mogol, the Commander of Fleet-Marine Ready Force spearheaded the PN contingent. PN personnel involved in the MTA came from different PN units that composed the members of Naval Task Group(NTG) 80.5 which includes the crew of FF17,Agusta Westland 109 Helicopter, Naval Special Operations Team, Marine Special Operation Team, Medical team, Dental Team, Naval Chaplain and other port Service Directorate members.

The PN delegation was given a simple welcome ceremony by Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) officers of the Naval Region 1 upon its arrival in Kuantan Naval Base on Oct 13, 2017.

An arrival honor ceremony was accorded to Commodore Mogol AFP followed by courtesy to the Commander, Naval Region , Rear Admiral ( Laksamana Muda) Datuk Mohd Reza bin Mohd Sany. He was accompanied by Capt Dennis Rommel Quines PN(GSC), Commander of Naval Task Group (NTG) 80.5, CDR Julius Valdez PN(GSC), CO of FF 17 and selected staff officers of NTG. A similar courtesy call was also rendered to Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia, His Excellency Charles C Jose. NTG 80.5 is also scheduled to participate in the different phases of the bilateral training exercise both at port and at sea. Likewise, conduct of reciprocal dinner reception and goodwill games with the RMN counterparts were also part of the activities.

MALPHI LAUT is an annual bilateral exercise between PN and RMN which aims to enhance interoperability, working relationship and camaraderie through the conduct of coordinated maritime patrol training focusing on common maritime threats confronting both countries. The exercise also aims for the development of combined operational doctrines, practices and naval tactics. NPAO/MCAG

MILF: Editorial - The Marawi crisis is over but …!

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Oct 18): Editorial - The Marawi crisis is over but …!

In any competition, the most natural human reaction after it is over is, the winner rejoices and celebrates while the loser grieves, laments, and regrets. However, goal, nay result, cannot be shared. It is like gambling, the winner’s gain is the loser’s loss.

The Marawi Crisis is over. But the big question is: Who won in this bloody conflict that snapped the lives of almost a thousand people and that lasted for almost five months?

For us, the Philippine government did not win the war, but the Maute Group clearly lost it. But for Moros of the city – and we too – it is a tragedy! The damage done to the city is beyond repair. Just to cite one example. The ancestral home of the late Senator Domocao Alonto, which contained and preserved his writings, memorabilia, mementoes, can it be revived? Never, it is gone forever!

The truth is that culture of Moros is preserved and mainly evident in Marawi City. They managed to have their city virtually untouched by hard conflict since 1972. But those in Jolo or Sulu and Cotabato were devastated by wars.  And many of our antiques or artefacts found their way into Manila in the homes of military men who served in Mindanao especially during the height of Martial Law in the seventies.

Yes, what happened to Marawi City is a tragedy! But can it help us by keeping on wailing and wailing? Like crying over spilled milk? Or seething with anger at those who caused the tragedy?
For Muslims, whatever happens on us is part of the will of Allah. We have to accept it that way! Of course, Allah did not ask those “culprits” to do evil acts, but it is part of the freewill of human beings that Allah has granted us. In the end, we will all be asked to account for our deeds, bad or good, and suffer or rewarded for them.
The Marawi tragedy is bad in all its angles! But in the infinite knowledge of the Great Unseen, there might be a lesson. We have to look into our selves, individually, collectively, or as a people! We have to discern and reflect deeply and sincerely!
Marawi City is proudly projected and promoted as “Islamic City”.  Have we pondered profoundly on the meaning, implications, and ramifications of the label?
For the government and those decision-makers, we asked them to reflect and asked themselves. “Have they not short-changed the Moros since they took rein of government from 1935 to this day which they refused or unable to acknowledge and address?

The Maute Group never did their “thing” for political reasons. Their obsession had been to go to Heaven via the short route – and at the expense of the people of Marawi City. In fact, this is the signature of ISIS in Iraq, Syria, and Libya; and those inspired by them are doing the same thing.  They choose civilian-populated areas as their favourite battle zones.

But surely, many of those who joined their ranks cited “frustrations” of government systematic failure to solve and address the “historic injustices” committed against the Moros in Mindanao. Accurately or not, they are not alone in expressing those grievances.
The Maute Group can never right what they have done to Marawi City! “Terrorism” is never part of Islam. One thousand four hundred years ago, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had already promulgated these rules of war: Do not kill any child, any woman, or any elder or sick person; Do not practice treachery or mutilation; Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees; Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food; If one fights his brother, [he must] avoid striking the face, for God created him in the image of Adam; Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship; Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle; Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to God to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience; No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire; and  Accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and to not do wrong even if they commit evil.

MILF: The Youth is the Future of the Bangsamoro

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Oct 19): The Youth is the Future of the Bangsamoro

MILF Peace Implementing Panel (head secretariat ) Jun Mantawil delivered a lecture on The Peace Agreements and Updates on the Peace Process to the participants of the Bangsamoro Youth Leadership Training at Bay Plaza Hotel, Pagadian City on October 17, 2017.

He explained the contents of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the annexes on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, Power Sharing, Wealth Sharing, and Normalization, as well as the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

He also enlightened them on the current status of the peace process. “We are now on the implementation stage and negotiation is already finished”, he said.

He informed the participants that the terms of reference of the Peace Implementation Panels, formerly the Peace Negotiation Panels, were already agreed by both parties. He briefly discussed the implementation process from the political aspect of the struggle which includes the creation of the BTC and drafting of the BBL, the submission of the BBL to the Congress and its enactment, up to the ratification or plebiscite for the BBL.

Currently, the BBL is already in Congress and sponsored by no less than the Speaker of the House, the majority floor leader, and many others.

He also delved on the Normalization process including the creation of a Joint Normalization Committee that will oversee its implementation. He also elaborated on the process of decommissioning and the creation of the Bangsamoro Police Force.

The Economic Aspect of the Implementation Process was also discussed by Mantawil. He briefly talked on the development of a Bangsamoro Development Plan and the proposed establishment of a Normalization Trust Fund, Special Economic Development Fund, and Block Grants for the Bangsamoro. These funds will be used in the rehabilitation and development of the Bangsamoro.

In his explanation on the Security Aspect of the Implementation Process, Mantawil clarified that the implementation of the decommissioning process will be based on the progress of the implementation of the BBL. A Joint Peace and Security Team will also be created composed of military forces from both sides. This team will serve as interim until the establishment of the Bangsamoro Police.

As parting words, he reminded the participants that the real objective of the struggle is to achieve Bangsamoros’ right to self-determination. He expressed his hope for a Bangsamoro Basic Law that will give a true political autonomy for the Moro people.

He emphasized that they need to assume the responsibilities of continuing the Bangsamoro struggle in the future and to continue what has already been started by our leaders. The agreements are already in place and the political and democratic struggle is still ahead of us.

MILF: ANC airs Bangsamoro and Beyond: A National Conversation

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Oct 18): ANC airs Bangsamoro and Beyond: A National Conversation

CAMP DARAPANAN – The ANC cable news network in Manila had finally scheduled the airing of “Bangsamoro and Beyond: A National Conversation” forum this coming Thursday, October 19 at 8 o’clock in the evening, Philippine standard time.
Mohagher Iqbal, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel relayed to the that he received a notification from the organizers of the said event informing him that the Bansamoro Forum will be also shown at and on Facebook at ANC 24/7 on the same date and time.

The said forum was organized by ANC in partnership with the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS) was televised on October 5, 2017 held at the Dolphy Theater, ABS-CBN Network, Quezon City.

Government peace panel acting Chair Nabil Tan, Representative Bai Sandra Sema, ARMM Executive Sec. Atty. Laisa Alamia, former Anak Mindanao Party List Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman were among other prominent individuals who spoke during the conversation.

It was noticed during the program that the conversation was participated by CSOs/NGOs, and religious leaders, politicians, security sector, academe, students, youth, women from Mindanao and Manila and the international community.

The Bangsamoro and Beyond, is the second national forum dialogue series, a dialogical platform for continuous discussions on the Government of the Philippines and the MILF peace process, updates on the status of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), and the roadmap for peace of President Rodrigo Duterte towards peace implementation.

The first forum was supported by the Asia Foundation (TAF) with Karapatan sa Malikhaing Paraan (KaSaMa), an inter-embassy and multi-stakeholder human rights initiative. It was aired last October 18, three years ago also at ANC.

CPP/NPA-Sorsogon: NPA Successfully Raids Police Outpost in Gubat, Sorsogon

NPA-Sorsogon propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Oct 16): NPA Successfully Raids Police Outpost in Gubat, Sorsogon

Ka Samuel Guerrero, Spokesperson
NPA-Sorsogon (Celso Minguez Command)

16 October 2017

Last October 15, at around 6pm, a platoon from the Celso Minguez Command (New People’s Army-Sorsogon) successfully raided an outpost of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the municipality of Gubat. The NPA was able to seize 1 armalite and an ammunition pouch containing 9 full magazines.

The NPA was able to quickly approach the PNP outpost guarded by 5 unsuspecting police personnel. The said outpost is about 200 meters away only from the headquarters of the PNP-Gubat. The NPA merely planned to disarm the police; however shots were exchanged when the police fought back. This led to the death of PO2 Dennis Garbida. The NPA was able to maneuver safely after the 7-minute firefight.

This raid is a legitimate tactical offensive of the NPA against the AFP-PNP troops. This also serves as a punitive action against the PNP-Gubat for actively participating in the counter-insurgency “Oplan Kapayapaan (Operational Plan Peace)” of the US-Duterte regime, instead of investigating the numerous cases of human rights abuses against Gubateno civilians. More so, the fascist soldiers and police are the actual perpetrators behind cases of intimidation, battery, grave threats and murder, such as the incidents in the barangays of Bulacao, Naagtan, Bentuco, Sangat, Union, Casili and more. Even in the town center of Gubat, the PNP-Gubat coddles the AFP death squads. These death squads plague the roads of Gubat, aboard unplated motorcycles used for murdering civilians.

Oppose the Oplan Kapayapaan of the US-Duterte regime!

Long live the New People’s Army!

CPP/NDF-Bicol: Hinggil sa Pagdalaw ni Duterte sa Rehiyon

NDF Bicol propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Oct 16): Hinggil sa Pagdalaw ni Duterte sa Rehiyon

Maria Roja Banua, Spokesperson
NDFP Bicol Region (Region V)

16 October 2017

Hindi palakpak kundi matinding protesta ang sasalubong sa pasistang diktador na si Duterte sa okasyon ng kanyang pagdalaw sa Camarines Sur bukas, Oktubre 17. Kasabay ng malawak na mamamayang Bikolnon ang NDF-Bikol sa paniningil at pagpapanagot kay Duterte at kanyang mga kasapakat sa gubyerno sa kanilang mga krimen laban sa mamamayan.

Sa ilalim ng kontra-mamamayang tripleng gera ni Duterte, daan-daang libong Pilipino ang pinapatay ng mga ahente ng estado araw-araw habang milyun-milyon pang iba ang nawawalan ng tirahan at kabuhayan. Ang mas masahol pa, kinukundisyon ng rehimeng US-Duterte ang masang isiping katanggap-tanggap ang walang katuturan at lantarang brutalidad ng estado laban mismo sa kanila. Sa ngalan ng kapangyarihan ay nagkakandarapa ang mga kapartido ni Duterte na ilako ang mga kontra-mamamayan at tiranikong hakbangin ni Duterte. Samantala, ang sinumang nagpapahayag ng pagtuligsa o kasalungat na ideya ay binabansagang mga terorista at bahagi ng planong ‘destabilisasyon ng gubyerno’.

Subalit anumang pambabrasong gawin ng kampo ni Duterte – mula sa pananakot at pambabanta hanggang sa panunugis at pagpatay, malinaw sa mamamayan ang katotohanang walang makabuluhang pagbabagong dala ang paghahari-harian ni Duterte. Sa kabila ng kanyang nagtatapang-tapangang postura, nangangatog ang kanyang mga tuhod sa nagbabantang pagdaluyong ng kilusang masang sisingil sa lahat ng krimen ng kanyang rehimen. Kung kaya naman nagkakandarapa siya ngayon na tipunin ang kanyang mga kaalyado. Lantaran na niyang ipinapahayag ang kanyang pagpapaalipin sa imperyalistang US sukdulang bawiin lahat ng hungkag na pang-uupat niya rito noon kapalit ng suporta nito. Sa katunayan, ang tunay na layunin ng kanyang pagdalaw sa rehiyon ay ang konsolidahin ang kanyang pwersa at matiyak ang suporta ng kanyang mga tuta sa gubyerno.

Ngunit hangal si Duterte kung inaakala niyang makukuha niya ang suporta ng mga Bikolano sa kanyang kontra-mamamayang gera. Magpapatuloy at higit pang paiigtingin ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan ang mga taktikal na opensiba sa buong rehiyon kahit matapos ang pagdalaw ni Duterte upang singilin ang taksil niyang rehimen. Bibiguin ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan at ng mamamayan ang hangad nitong manatili sa kapangyarihan sa pamamagitan ng kamay na bakal at pambubusabos sa buhay at karapatan.

CPP/Information Bureau: The people of Marawi demand justice

CPP Information Bureau propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Oct 19): The people of Marawi demand justice

Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines

19 October 2017

GRP strongman Duterte declared Marawi City “liberated from the terrorist influence” the day after the AFP claimed to have killed Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf and Omar Maute last October 17.

The Moro people, especially the Maranaos of Marawi, however, are not celebrating. They are, at best, only relieved that the AFP’s 147-day siege of Marawi City is over and that they can finally return to their homes. But can they?

After more than five months of aerial bombardment, Marawi has been flattened. People’s homes, private property and public infrastructure and utilities are completely destroyed. Their hard-earned properties have been plundered. They are being prevented to return home, not until the military has bulldozed everything before anyone can make an independent inquiry and accounting of the siege.

Worst of all, it is turning out that Marawi is no longer theirs. Marawi City itself is now the war booty of the AFP and the US. They are the biggest victors. And the Moro people, the people of Marawi, the biggest losers. They no longer have control of Marawi. It is the military and defense establishment and their US overlords which control Marawi.

Close to 500,000 people from Marawi and nearby towns are asking the question—will they be able to return to their homes and communities? Until now, they have received no categorical answer from the Task Force Bangon Marawi, the government committee managing so-called “rehabilitation” of Marawi.

Through the force of arms, military and defense officials in the Task Force have claimed the prerogative of dividing Marawi according to their design. They are invoking a 1953 presidential decree which declares 6,000 hectares of Marawi’s 8,775 hectares as a military reservation. This also covers parts of Marantao, Piagapo, Saguiran and other parts of Lake Lanao. The statement by military officials that they will not claim more land than they will need is a non-assurance.

Tens of thousands of Marawi residents are now in peril of not being able to return to their homes which are in areas being claimed as public land. The Duterte regime is insulting the people of Marawi by offering 50,000 families to live in an 11-hectare temporary housing project in Barangay Sagonsongan (or one family per 2.2 square meter of land) where 7,500 homes will be built, with each house measuring 26 square meters to be shared by three families. Only 1,100 houses will be built until the end of 2017. A big Korean capitalist will earn millions of pesos from this project.

In contrast, Duterte has assured his big bourgeois comprador compadres and cronies, especially those who contributed millions of pesos into his Marawi war chest, of their share of the spoils of Marawi. They are now lined up awaiting juicy contracts and choice cuts of land to control business and tourism in the area.

In the name of waging a “war against terrorism”, the AFP has ravaged and plundered Marawi City, the heartland of Moro culture and commerce. The people of Marawi demand accounting. They demand indemnification for all their losses. Above all, they demand justice.

They demand the truth which the Duterte regime and its military propaganda machine has buried deep in lies churned out daily over the past 150 days or so. They demand an independent Truth Commission to investigate the Siege of Marawi, its real causes, the extent of the role of the US military, Duterte’s claims of IS role (which even the AFP disputed at the outset), the real number of civilians killed (believed to be in the thousands) as well as questions concerning the necessity of conducting relentless aerial bombardment and the tactic of complete destruction.

By laying siege on Marawi to suppress a limited uprising of the Maute armed group, the Duterte regime has succeeded only in further stoking the flames of Moro armed resistance. At least one group of armed Moro fighters has announced its formation and declared its intent to wage war on the AFP in revenge for the sufferings of the Maranao people in its siege of Marawi. Other Moro armed groups are raring to carry out armed reprisals to avenge for their compatriots.

The Communist Party of the Philippines and the national democratic movement stand by the Moro people and the Maranaos of Marawi. The revolutionary forces support their demand for reparation and justice for the widespread death and destruction caused by the Duterte regime. They demand and end to martial law in Mindanao.

The Party supports the Moro people in their continuing struggle for self-determination. The Party enjoins the Moro people to continue waging revolutionary armed struggle as the principal form of struggle to attain their aspiration for a Bangsamoro land.

With the demand for self-determination being a key component of the program for a people’s democratic revolution, the Party calls on the Moro people to join the national democratic struggle to put an end to the oppressive and exploitative ruling semicolonial and semifeudal system and resist the reactionary and fascist state. The Moro youth can join the New People’s Army (NPA) as Red fighters to advance their Moro revolutionary cause.

Special Cafgu to guard banana plantations

From the Sun Star-Davao (Oct 19): Special Cafgu to guard banana plantations

A SPECIAL Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) is to be put up in the peripheries of the banana plantations in Mindanao to help with the peace and order situation in the plantations, a banana expert said.

In an attempt to control the attacks of lawless armed groups which includes burning of vans and container vehicles, Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) executive director Stephen Antig said the special Cafgu formation to be recruited and deployed in the peripheries of banana plantations had already been approved although there has yet to be the signing of the memorandum of agreement.

"Mayor General Noel Clemence has assigned a point person for the formation of a special Cafgu. After the meeting of the security committee, they will discuss the guidelines...The Cafgu will be deployed at the periphery of the plantations. Not really inside the plantations. You will still need your blue guards. They will be deployed in checkpoints. Once they are deployed there, the military men who used to be in the checkpoints will now be free to rove the mountains and the countryside," Antig said in a press conference last Tuesday, October 17, at the Apo View Hotel.

In the event that these members of the unit would need to construct their barracks, Antig said they welcome it as long as these are to be located at the periphery and not exactly inside the plantations as some non-government organizations (NGOs) might interpret this as militarization.

"If you have these auxiliary guarding at the checkpoints, it is possible that they can guard against these burning of vans and container vehicles that usually happen along the highways.

Hopefully, these incidences would be lessened," he said.

Antig said they are still waiting for final advice from the military for the specific date of deployment as the members of the unit will still be recruited.

Peace and order as a threat in the industry In earlier interviews with Antig, he had expressed how the peace and order situation in Mindanao paralyzes the expansion of multi-national companies in the island.

He mentioned the postponement of Del Monte Philippines' plan to expand its banana and pineapple plantations because of the current situation in Mindanao.

"It will put a lot of expansion on hold because the investors have fears of investing and then be attacked. We will have a problem with the recovery of your investment. It's not that easy because most of the investments are loaned from the banks," he said.

 According to Antig, the damage of the recent burning of some equipment by the allegedly New People's Army (NPA) in Bukidnon a few months ago cost P15 million.

The Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC) had also ceased its packaging operations after it was burned down by the communist rebel groups April of this year.

Antig said small packing houses cost around P8 million while the big ones are around P88 million.

"If these kinds of attacks happen and it's proven that it's a terrorist attack, it will not be covered by insurance. The insurance will not pay," Antig said.

 Citing the reports of the military to them, he said revolutionary taxes shelled out by companies including mining and construction companies amount to P1.4 billion per annum. According to Antig, multinational companies had been known to not give out revolutionary taxes to these lawless groups as was their mandate even in other countries that they are in.

Karapatan tells Duterte: Red tagging of activists gags dissent

From the often pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (Oct 18): Karapatan tells Duterte: Red tagging of activists gags dissent


President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that progressive groups are “communists fronts,” is meant to gag dissent, a human rights group said on Wednesday, October 18.

The President previously said that transport group Piston, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno and human rights group Karapatan are legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

But Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay refuted the President’s claim as a rehash statement which exposes human rights defenders in this country to various rights violations.

“Pres. Duterte is barking like a mad dog again,” she said. “His statement is not new; it is a tired, unoriginal label that attempts to subvert the public attention from the legitimate campaigns forwarded by these organizations.”

According to Palabay, branding progressive groups as communist fronts is part of the government’s counter-insurgency programs with the object to quash disagreement towards Duterte’s policies.

Karapatan reported about 41 human rights activists killed since 2001 during the term of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo under the government’s counter-insurgency program “Oplan Bantay Laya.” It resulted to the killing of Eden Marcellana and Benjaline Hernandez who were tagged as communist rebels.

The killings and illegal arrests continued during the Aquino administration which subsequently implemented “Oplan Bayanihan.” It resulted in a number of attacks against human rights workers, the group added.

Karapatan criticized Duterte for resorting to red-tagging “since he could not deliver his campaign promises.”

As such, the human rights group asked the President to keep up his promises on several issues, including the dismantling of labor contractualization, among others.

After Hapilon’s death and the ‘liberation’ of Marawi

From the Interpreter published by the Lowy Institute (Oct 19): After Hapilon’s death and the ‘liberation’ of Marawi (By Sidney Jones)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared the 'liberation of Marawi', and the Philippines military says Isnilon Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf militant seen as Islamic State group's leader in southeast Asia, and Omar Maute, another senior militant, are dead. But ISIS has not been wiped out in Southeast Asia and Marawi won't be truly liberated until it is safe enough for some 200,000 displaced residents to return. Yet the contours of ISIS activity will shift as fighting winds down. Any of the following could happen:

1. Attempted retaliatory bombings in other Philippine cities to show ISIS continues to exist

This could include Manila, Davao, Cotabato and Zamboanga. Philippine embassies abroad could also become targets, just as the Myanmar embassy was targeted in Cairo due to anger over the treatment of Rohingya Muslims.

2. A break-up of the pro-ISIS coalition into its regional/ethnic component parts

The largest component is composed of the ethnic Maranaos who joined Abdullah and Omar Maute in Marawi. Surviving fighters could join young men among the displaced to produce a militant Maranao Islamist insurgency that could draw on the same clan networks that the Mautes did. The new group would keep its distance from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but evolve over time into something that more resembles an ethno-nationalist movement than a wing of the global jihad.

3. Pro-ISIS fighters on Basilan, largely ethnic Yakan, returning to kidnappings for ransom

Hapilon led an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) faction that from 2014 onwards had largely left kidnappings to other factions – almost certainly because it had access to other sources of income. Between 2014 and late 2016, when action shifted to Marawi and the surrounding area, the island province of Basilan was the main ISIS base in Mindanao. It was where Malaysians and Indonesians went to train, assist Hapilon with recruitment and fund-raising, and purchase weapons.

With Hapilon dead, his once close associate Furuji Indama could become the new ASG leader on Basilan. Furuji could easily decide to leave ISIS and return to kidnapping, or return to kidnapping but focus on foreigners in revenge for Hapilon's death. Furuji stayed in Basilan throughout the Marawi siege, as far as we know, and there were unconfirmed rumours that he had split with his former commander. Whatever the truth, he reportedly does not take kindly to a 'number two' role, and this could spell the end of Basilan's involvement in the pro-ISIS coalition.

4. The anointing of a new amir

Much media speculation has focused on who could succeed Hapilon, from a Maute relative to Dr Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian who for the last three years has been part of the ISIS inner circle – and who is reportedly still alive.

The problem is that Dr Mahmud does not have the family networks to be able to command fighters or territory, and that could be a drawback. On the other hand, a leader who stands outside traditional ethnic divisions might have a better chance of keeping the weakened coalition intact. Among Filipinos, a possible contender could be Esmael Abdulmalik (alias Abu Torayfe), the head of a pro-ISIS splinter of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) that has been fighting the MILF in central Mindanao. As far as we know, however, he lacks the international ties, language skills and charisma that made the Mautes so potent.

5. Major battles of revenge focused on land

Dozens of intense battles between armed groups (known as 'rido' conflicts) could break out around Marawi as different clans seek revenge for losses inflicted on them during the Marawi siege. There is likely to be major payback against the extended Maute family, in a way that will complicate reconstruction. More than ever, a strictly enforced ban on firearms and ammunition is needed, but that would entail challenging entrenched political interests.

6. An attempt by the remnants of Khatibah Nusantara in Syria to take charge

The top Southeast Asian ISIS leaders in Raqqa who survived the final assault on ISIS there are believed to have regrouped to Deir az-Zour in Syria. They might be considering a return, and the Philippines could be an attractive option – there they could find refuge, stage attacks, inspire the Marawi survivors or attempt to open a new training camp.

Two Indonesians, Bahrumsyah and Abu Walid, could be the most likely to get the green light from the ISIS leadership to attempt a return, especially as the fighters in Marawi seem to have seen Bahrumsyah as their senior in the chain of command. If one of these two men made it back, it would ensure a high level of interest of Indonesian extremists in joining their ranks. If, on the other hand, Indonesians in Syria are no longer able to send small amounts of money to help fellow mujahidin in Java or Sumatra buy air tickets, the trickle of fighters trying to leave for Mindanao could dry up completely. Money still counts.

7. Ongoing recruiting and radicalisation among Muslim youth in Mindanao

Whatever happens, the 'liberation' of Marawi does not mean an end to radicalisation. Philippine authorities do not seem to have ever understood how deep the indoctrination was, where it was taking place, or how long it had been going on. There is now at least a recognition in some quarters that the government needs to know more, especially about the support ISIS was able to marshal among university students. How much that recognition will translate into concrete programs to confront it remains to be seen.

8. Bitter fights over the reconstruction of Marawi in a way that aids the Islamist cause

Many displaced residents are angry at the destruction of their homes, angry at the conditions in evacuation centres, and angry at their inability to return. Media reports suggest that some youth see the Mautes as heroes. If reconstruction aid is mismanaged, skimmed, or overly politicised, Islamist recruiters could have more success in exploiting that idolisation. There are many organisations around the world with experience in reconstructing urban areas after conflict, and it would be useful to help Marawi community leaders get to know them. Australia is home to one of the best – Architects without Frontiers in Melbourne.

All of this suggests that the deaths of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute do not herald the beginning of the end of violent extremism in Mindanao. It may be just the beginning of a new phase. It should also be the beginning of a new phase in international aid, focused less on winning the war against the Mautes and more on strengthening local communities, improving social services, fixing the appallingly defunct criminal justice system and outlawing private armies.

Army-PNP-MILF team pounce on BIFF bomb maker

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 18): Army-PNP-MILF team pounce on BIFF bomb maker

Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters who had sworn allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are shown in their camp in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao. INQUIRER MINDANAO / JEOFFREY MAITEM

Combined police, military and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members arrested on Tuesday an alleged bomb maker of a local ISIS-inspired jihadist group in Datu Salibo town here.

The suspect is believed to be member of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) special operations group responsible for bomb attacks against soldiers and MILF members.

Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police chief, identified the suspect as Mahdi Abdulla, 27, of Barangay Pagatin, Datu Salibo.

Tello said government forces acted on intelligence information provided by the MILF and local residents who have gone weary of BIFF atrocities.

According to the official, Abdullah, known as “Rok,” was a bomb expert and believed to be a student of Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir.

Military and police intelligence operatives suspect Abdullah of being part of a BIFF hit squad that targets off duty soldiers along Maguindanao highways.

Tello said the 5 p.m. joint operation led to the recovery of a fragmentation grenade, illegal drugs and bomb making components from Abdullah’s house.

Abdullah has been turned over to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group for the filing of charges.

AFP confident Malaysian terrorist killed in Marawi

From the Philippine Star (Oct 19): AFP confident Malaysian terrorist killed in Marawi

Wanted Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Ahmad is believed to have been killed in Marawi city following continued operations by the Philippine military. Associated Press/Bullit Marquez, File

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said it is becoming confident that Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Ahmad is one of the 13 militants killed in Marawi City.

AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año however said they have yet to confirm the terrorist’s death as the identities of the 13 militants killed on Wednesday have yet to undergo validation process.
Año said the information on Ahmad’s death were received from the rescued hostages.

“AFP is increasingly becoming confident that he was among those who have been killed during [Wednesday's] operations. The process to confirm this with finality, however, is still ongoing,” Año said.

Deputy Commander Joint Task Group Ranao Romeo Brawner said the authorities have yet to retrieve the bodies of the 13 militants killed.

Once these bodies are retrieved, he said the forensic experts of the Scene of the Crime Operatives will then determine the identity of the cadavers through analysis.

The task force commander clarified that they are not sure if Mahmud is the last foreign terrorist target of the authorities but he said he is one of the “high value individuals” being pursued.

Mahmud reportedly provided more than $600,000 to finance the siege in Marawi City, which started last May.
'Relentless' operations in Marawi

Año said the military's operations Wednesday evening had “very positive” results. He cited that they were able to neutralize 13 rebels.

“Our operations to flush out and deal with terrorist stragglers [have] been continuing relentlessly,” he said.

Among those rescued is a 16-year-old girl who sustained splinter wounds but is now out of danger.

The AFP chief added that six military men sustained minor wounds.

“Troop morale remains very high and motivation to finish the fight is as its highest,” Año said.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the liberation of besieged Marawi City from terrorists. His announcement came after Marawi siege leaders Hapilon and Omar Maute were killed in a military operation on Monday dawn.

Leyte Gulf Landings commemoration to highlight bravery of veterans

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): Leyte Gulf Landings commemoration to highlight bravery of veterans

Leyte province will hold a simple celebration of the 73rd anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landings on Friday with several foreign dignitaries coming to remember the historic event which ended the Japanese occupation in the country.

Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorezana will not make it to the celebration but he will be represented by Lt. Gen Oscar Lactao, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command, according to the provincial government.

To deliver solidarity messages are Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines John Holmes, Australian Embassy to the Philippines Deputy Chief of Mission Mathieson Kimberley, and US Embassy in Manila Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Klecheski.

From the Japanese Embassy, joining the commemorative program are Deputy Chief of Mission and Head of Political Section Minister Takehiro Kano and First Secretary and Defense Attaché Mr. Kazunobu Akutsu.

Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said several activities had been lined up to celebrate the country’s liberation from Japanese occupation during the World War II and recognize the heroism of war veterans.

“We have to remember the veterans’ bravery, their gallantry, and their love for the nation. We should learn from them. After these years, we still have many battles to win such as poverty, criminality and drugs, diseases, teenage pregnancy and human trafficking,” Petilla said on Thursday.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf is remembered as the largest naval battle ever fought in modern history. It was fought in four separate engagements near the islands of Leyte, Samar and Luzon from October 23 to 26 in 1944.

“This is one of the biggest events in Leyte province. In our tourism and our trade, we mainly promote Leyte with the theme of Leyte Gulf Landings, but beyond tourism what is more important is the message, of what had happened 73 years ago,” Petilla said.

On Oct. 20, 1944, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, as the head of the largest US fleet of transport and warships, and accompanied by Commonwealth President Sergio Osmeña and Gen Carlos P. Romulo, landed at Red Beach of this town to reclaim the Philippines from the Japanese.

Army holds more peace fora in south Palawan towns

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): Army holds more peace fora in south Palawan towns

The 18th Special Forces Company (SFC) of the Philippine Army (PA) on Wednesday again led a security forum in southern Palawan to further strengthen the military’s ties with the locals and to maintain momentum in the fight against insurgency.

The forum for security, which was held in the far-flung municipality of Rizal, was an offshoot of two similar activities organized by the Joint Task Group South (JTGS) on May 16 and on October 3 this year, said Captain Wanel Ansa, environment unit and civil military officer of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4) on Thursday.

Captain Anthony Macatual, commander of 18th SFC, headed the first-ever security forum in Barangay Punta Baja, Rizal in partnership with the municipal government and other local stakeholders.

Ansa said the forum engaged the said town’s business sector, discussing with them updates on the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CNN), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), crime index, and other action plans.

“Rizal Mayor Norman Ong also delivered his message and answered questions during the open forum. He gave emphasis on the LGUs projects and programs to address the current security threats,” said Ansa.

Lt. Col. Danilo Facundo, commanding officer of MBL-4 and head of the JTGS, was at the event and expressed his appreciation to the organizers, partners, and participants.

He appealed to the audience “to strengthen relationships and cooperation through information sharing,” emphasizing that “security is a shared responsibility and that everybody must do their part to support the economic development of Rizal.”

Jose P. Rizal, a first class town in the southern part of Palawan, has a population of 50,096 people, based on a 2010 census.

Prior to its creation as a separate municipality, the place was known as Tarumpitao Point and was part of the town of Quezon.

BIFF harassment foiled in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): BIFF harassment foiled in Maguindanao

Government troops foiled an attempt by an outlawed armed group to overrun an Army detachment in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao past midnight Thursday.

Capt. John Arvin Encinas, Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said an undetermined number of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attempted to attack the Alpha Company Detachment of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Meta at around 1 a.m.

“They just wanted to show they are still a force to reckon with,” said Encinas.

At present, soldiers manning detachments along the Cotabato-Maguindanao-Isulan, Sultan Kudarat highway have been placed on heightened alert following the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute in Marawi City.

Encinas said prior to the attack, soldiers using night vision devices noticed movement of people in the dark and moving toward the Army base.

This prompted the government forces to open fire and a brief encounter ensued. Nobody was hurt on the government side but Encinas could not say if the attackers suffered casualties.

The foiled attack came after joint Army and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) arrested Tuesday a BIFF bomb expert and seized from him bomb-making materials.

On Wednesday, soldiers belonging to the 22nd Mechanized Company of 2nd Mechanized Battalion also recovered high-powered guns and ammunition from a certain BIFF Commander Abunawas Bayawak.

On the same day, joint police and military operatives raided the house of a Maguindanao town councilor but missed him.

Sr. Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police director, said elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), backed by the Provincial Public Safety Battalion, had raided the house of Councilor Jayton Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, but was not in his home during the operation.

The councilor is a brother of Datu Saudi Ampatuan Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom who was killed in an anti-drug police operation in Makilala, North Cotabato, last year.

Armed with the search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 13, Tello said the raiding units search Dimaukom’s house and found an unlicensed cal. 45 pistol and ammunition.

Police and CIDG operatives said the raid was conducted after intelligence reports confirmed he was keeping unlicensed guns.

Dimaukom is the chair of Barangay Salbo, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao and president of the local Association of Barangay Captains. He sits in the town council as ex-officio member.

13 Maute terrorists killed in Marawi clearing ops

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): 13 Maute terrorists killed in Marawi clearing ops

Some 13 Maute group remnants were killed in the latest military operations aimed at clearing Marawi City of terrorists, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced Thursday.

“Our operations to flush out and deal with terrorist stragglers has been continuing relentlessly since yesterday (Wednesday). Last night's operations has been very positive. We were able to neutralize 13 rebels and we confirmed this,” AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año said in a statement.

The AFP chief, however, said they had yet to confirm if Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Ahmad was among those who were killed in the operation.

“The AFP is increasingly becoming confident that he was among those who have been killed during yesterday’s operations. The process to confirm this with finality, however, is still ongoing. Earlier information regarding this was received from the rescued hostages. We are now working on getting full confirmation,” Año stressed.

Ahmad was earlier spotted by government forces as among Maute brigands led by slain terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute in Marawi City.

Año also confirmed the rescue of seven more hostages, among them a wounded teenage girl.

Meanwhile, six members of the troops were wounded in Wednesday’s operations but they are now out of danger, the AFP chief added.

Based on the military’s estimates, there are around 20 remaining hostages trapped in the city.

He assured the military’s strong will to end the almost five-month long conflict.

“Troop morale remains very high and motivation to finish the fight is at its highest,” he stressed.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi City liberated from terrorists’ hands following the death of Hapilon and Maute.

Joint observance of Leyte Landing, Ricarte's birth anniversary bared

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): Joint observance of Leyte Landing, Ricarte's birth anniversary bared

The Philippines will jointly observe on Friday the 73rd anniversary of the historic Leyte Landing by allied forces led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur that liberated the country from Japanese occupation in World War II and the 151st birthday anniversary of Gen. Artemio Ricarte, hero of the Philippine revolution against Spain and the Philippine-American war.

The Leyte Landing will be observed at MacArthur Park in Palo, Leyte where the Americans and allied forces landed on that memorable day of Oct. 20, 1944 that paved the way for the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese occupation.

Retired Maj. Gen. Alfredo S. Cayton Jr of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) will represent Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Defense Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina, PVAO administrator, in the Leyte landing ceremony at Palo Beach.

Coinciding with the Leyte landing celebration on Friday is the commemoration of the 151st birth anniversary of Ricarte, hero of two Philippine revolutions – against Spain and the United States to be held at the Ricarte National Military Shrine in Batac City in Ilocos Norte.

 Retired Brig. Gen. Restituto L. Aguilar, chief of PVAO historical records, will be the guest of honor and speaker at the Ricarte rites.

It may be recalled that it was on Oct. 20, 1944 that MacArthur fulfilled his solemn pledge to the Filipino people three years before when he said “I shall return” to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation.
The landing was preceded in what is dubbed as the “Battle at Leyte Gulf”, the greatest naval battle in history the world has known that remained unequalled to date in terms of the number of warships, aircraft and submarines involved and the huge number of war casualties.
It was during the great battle at Leyte Gulf that the once powerful Japanese Navy was destroyed by the US 3rth and 7th fleet.

The naval warfare involved four sea battles at Sibuyan Sea, Surigao Strait,Cape Engaño and the island of Samar in the Pacific Ocean.

It was during the Battle at Leyte Gulf that the Japanese deployed its first “kamikaze” or suicide pilots in attacking US warships.

Kamikaze pilots sunk 47 Allied warships and damaged 300 others. But a total of 4,000 Kamikaze pilots were killed during the Second World War.
The US had in its arsenal eight aircraft carriers, 24 small carriers, 1,712 warplanes, 12 battleships, 24 cruisers and 141 destroyers.

In the historic Battle at Leyte Gulf, the Japanese Navy lost nine carriers, more than 500 combat planes and a big number of smaller ships.

Before Bataan fell on April 9, 1942 MacArthur made a daring sea escape from his headquarters on Corregidor Island to Australia.

Aboard a convoy of lightly armed PT boats, MacArthur successfully broke the Japanese lines and arrived in Australia safely.

But before he boarded the PT boat, Gen. MacArthur uttered the now famous three-letter word: “I shall return” to liberate the Philippines and crush the Japanese invaders.
It came to pass on Oct. 20, 1944.
To remember that historic landing, the Philippine government built memorials of ranking military officials led by Gen. MacArthur and Filipino Brig. Gen. Carlos P. Romulo.
The memorial called MacArthur Park is one of the tourist attractions in Leyte.
In his speech shortly after US and allied forces landed at the Red Beach in Leyte, MacArthur said:

“I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil - soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed, to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring, upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people.

“At my side is your President, Sergio Osmena, worthy successor of that great patriot, Manuel Quezon, with members of his cabinet. The seat of your government is now therefore firmly re- established on Philippine soil.

“The hour of your redemption is here. Your patriots have demonstrated an unswerving and resolute devotion to the principles of freedom that challenges the best that is written on the pages of human history. I now call upon your supreme effort that the enemy may know from the temper of an aroused and outraged people within that he has a force there to contend with no less violent than is the force committed from without.

“Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. As the lines of battle roll forward to bring you within the zone of operations, rise and strike. Strike at every favorable opportunity. For your homes and hearths, strike! For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of divine God points the way. Follow in His Name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory!”

DWDD: OPERATIONS DEMO | Australia, Philippine Navies show joint capabilities

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 18): OPERATIONS DEMO |  Australia, Philippine Navies show joint capabilities

SUBIC BAY, Olongapo City (DWDD) – The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Philippine Navy (PN) showcased their capabilities during a joint humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations demo last October 15.

This was conducted in the vicinity waters of Subic Bay.

The activity was the last activity between RAN and PN before Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) HMAS Adelaide (LO1) and Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate HMAS Darwin (FFG-04) left the country after completing a 5-day goodwill visit.

The visit was part of the Australian Defense Forces – Joint Task Group of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017 which focuses .

Endeavour 2017 focuses on enhancing military cooperation with some of Australia’s key regional partners including Brunei, Cambodia, the Federated States of Micronesia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste.

HMAS Adelaide (L01) is the lead ship of the task group which will be joined by different types of frigates and a replenishment ship at various stages of the deployment. NPAO/MCAG0

PN shows the joint ability of the Australian Navy


DWDD: SELFLESS SERVICE | Naval Forces Western Mindanao @ 21

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 18): SELFLESS SERVICE  |  Naval Forces Western Mindanao @ 21

BAGONG CALARIAN, Zamboanga City (DWDD) – Naval Forces Western Mindanao celebrated its 21st Founding Anniversary last October 13, 2017 with the theme “NFWM: 21 Years of Selfless Service Towards a Prosperous and Secure Western Mindanao” graced by the Flag Officer In Command, Philippine Navy, Vice Adm. Ronald Joseph S Mercado AFP as the Guest of Honor and Speaker.

The highlight of the event was the awarding of the officers, enlisted personnel, civilian employees, OpCon Units and NFWM partner stakeholders who rendered meritorious services and greatly contributed to the mission accomplishment of the command for the past year.

The Flag Officer In Command said on his anniversary message, “A lot of challenges may have crossed our path this past year but I am proud to say that NFWM never faltered or ceased to deliver desired results and render only the highest standard and most honorable service to our maritime nation.”

Furthermore, the Commander Naval Forces Western Mindanao reiterates that, “No mission will ever be successful, no undertaking a success, if there are only few people dealing with it. It is imperative that we work as a team, and always put our best foot forward in carrying out our tasks.”

Indeed, the NFWM Officers, Enlisted personnel, civilian employees and OpCon units had lived up with its theme and have made the Philippine Navy a strong and credible organization. NFWM/NPAO/MCAG