Sunday, October 22, 2017

MILF: Geneva Call Congratulates MILF for having been delisted from U.N. list on the Use and Recruitment of Children in Armed Conflict

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Oct 21}: Geneva Call Congratulates MILF for having been delisted from U.N. list on the Use and Recruitment of Children in Armed Conflict

Decrey Warner, Executive President of Geneva Call (Left), MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim (Right)

In a letter dated October 15, 2017 to MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim,  Elisabeth Decrey Warner, Executive President of Geneva Call congratulated the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on its delisting from the UN list on the use and recruitment of children in armed conflict.
She said that the movement has made great efforts and taken many steps to reach this outcome.

“As far as we are aware you are the first active armed non-State actor to do so. As such the MILF can serve as an exemplar for other movements”, Ms. Decrey Warner said in her letter.

She also said that her colleagues Marie Coutin and Chris Rush will be coming to Mindanao for a visit to learn more about the Moro Front and the current status of the Bangsamoro Peace process.

It can be recalled that the UNICEF announced on February 18, 2017 that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has released children involved with its armed wing, ending the recruitment and use of children in the violent conflict plaguing Mindanao.

The UN-MILF Action Plan signed in 2009 and extended in 2013, the MILF released children associated with the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Women's Auxiliary Brigade (BIWAB).

UNICEF, the children's agency of the United Nations, said that this step is part of a series of ceremonies that will eventually disengage around 1,858 children who were formally or informally associated with the armed wing of the MILF.

MILF: Philippine constitution and the Bangsamoro autonomy

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Oct 21}: Philippine constitution and the Bangsamoro autonomy

Constitution is a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state is acknowledged to be governed. It protects individual freedom and its fundamental principle govern the nation. It is a gateway between the powers of government and public rights and limits the power of government and establishes a system of checks and balances.
A Constitution can be safely said to be social contract between government and the people it governs. It can also be deemed as the fundamental underlying framework of government for a nation.

The only problem with constitutions is that sometimes they can become a burden over time. Nations evolve and constitutions can inhibit beneficial change. They should work for the people, not the other way around.

In the case of Philippine constitution , it started with Malolos Constitution known as basic law of the First Philippine Republic which was promulgated on 21 January 1899 and followed by 1935 Constitution and served as the fundamental law of the land and herein known as the Commonwealth of the Philippines. It provides that upon withdrawal of American sovereignty in the country and the declaration of Philippine independence, said commonwealth shall be known as the Republic of the Philippines.

During the Japanese occupation , the Second Republic was established and promulgated 1943 Philippine constitution , a Japanese sponsored constitution and ratified in a general assembly on September 4 , 1943 with Jose P. Laurel Sr. as appointed President and inaugurated into office in October 14 , 1943.

Accordingly, the 1943 constitution was recognized as legitimate and binding only in Japanese - controlled areas of the Philippines but was ignored by the United States government and Philippine commonwealth government in - exile.

Then after liberation in 1945, the Philippine Republic took again the 1935 Constitution as the supreme law of the land till 1973.

The 1973 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines ratified by the Citizen Assemblies on January 17, 1973, and provides for a shift from a presidential form of government to a parliamentary system. The President serves as symbolic head of state, executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister with the assistance of the cabinet and legislative power is vested in a unicameral National Assembly. In 1976, the National Assembly was replaced by the Batasang Pambansa by virtue of P.D. 1033 issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Upon assumption of President Corazon C. Aquino in 1986, she created a Constitutional Commission through Proclamation no. 9, which was responsible for drafting a replacement for the 1973 constitution.

She said that the new constitution should be, "truly reflective of the aspirations and ideals of the Filipino people. "

On Bangsamoro autonomy, the 1987 Constitution assures that a Bangsamoro Basic Law ( BBL ) conforms with the flexibility of Article X , Sec . 15 to 21.

In R.A. 9054, the Organic Law of ARMM define Bangsamoro people as "citizens who are believers in Islam ( Muslim Mindanao ) and who have retained some or all of their own social , economic , cultural and political institutions. " (Article X, sec. 3 ( b ) )

In this context, Bangsamoro is about human development, their aspirations , needs , choices , empowerment , social justice , economics , cultural and political. Citing the excerpts from a paper sent to the ConCom in 1986 that, " Autonomy is a expression of the Bangsamoro's conviction of its being a viable alternative to separation...The Bangsamoro is historically and culturally a distinct and separate nation... and the political fusion with the Christian majority is workable only under a framework of political autonomy which shall allow the full flowering of the genius of Bangsa Moro in the context of his Islamic culture."

In a given premise, the Congress is mandated by the 1987 Constitution under Article XIII , sec. 1 ; " to give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all people to human dignity , reduce social , economic inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and power for the common good...X X X ."

With this argument, and in the name of humanity , fairness and correcting historical and current injustices suffered by the Bangsamoro people and by interpreting liberally the constitutionality of the law by applying the letter and spirit of the same shall be construed as sufficient and free from any legal infirmities.

Rebel raid on Butuan quarry spurred by firm’s refusal to pay ‘taxes’ – police

From News 5/InterAksyon (Oct 22): Rebel raid on Butuan quarry spurred by firm’s refusal to pay ‘taxes’ – police

Torched backhoe is seen after an attack on GMC quarry by suspected NPA rebels. HANDOUT PHOTO, CARAGA POLICE

Plain and simple extortion. That’s the motivation, according to Caraga police, of the attack mounted by some 30 fully armed suspected communist rebels on a mining firm’s quarry Friday midnight. The attackers torched property estimated at P9 million, and seized employee’s cell phones and other belongings, the police added.

“Based on the testimonies of the operators/drivers, the rebels said, “Wa ni bayad gihatag sa kalihokan” (They failed to pay for the movement) which may refer to the extortion money,” Chief Supt. Rolando Felix said.

The perpetrators poured gasoline on four backhoes, one dump truck and one payloader and set them on fire. No one among the employees was hurt.

The Caraga Police condemned in the strongest terms the attack on GMC Quarry Friday midnight in Purok 7, Brgy. Bonbon, Butuan City.

More or less 30 fully armed guerillas barged into the bunkhouse of the operators of heavy equipment and confiscated their cellular phones, said the police report..

Damage to property may reach P9,000,000.00, according to the personnel of Bureau of Fire Protection who responded to the incident.

“Let us condemn these dastardly acts of the rebels who masquerade as a protector of the people but a group of bandits that resorts to terrorize businesses to extort money and implant fear on the local folks. Help your PNP to monitor the presence of rebels in the different areas in Caraga and alert security forces to prevent similar attacks,” Felix added.

Duterte ‘not ready’ to resume talks but asks Reds to ‘kindly stop killing’

From InterAksyon (Oct 22): Duterte ‘not ready’ to resume talks but asks Reds to ‘kindly stop killing’

Reuters file photo of President Rodrigo Duterte with the logo of the 2017 Masskara Festival inset.

President Rodrigo Duterte said he was “not ready to say we are ready for the (peace) talks again” with communist rebels but nevertheless asked them to “please kindly stop killing.”

His remarks were contrary to a recent statement in which he indicated he might be willing to reenter negotiations.

At the same time, he hurled at the rebels what is probably the accusation most raised against him — extrajudicial killings.

Speaking at the Bacolod public plaza during the city’s Masskara Festival Sunday evening, October 22, Duterte, addressing the communists, asked, “What about you?”

“You’ve been killing people left and right,” he pointed out, citing instances he said when off-duty soldiers leaving their camps for home were gunned down.

“That is (an) EJK,” he said.

“We have been killing each other … for 50 years,” Duterte said.

“Are we going to fight each other for another 50 years? Ano ba talaga gusto niyo (What do you really want)?” he asked.

Duterte resumed formal peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front, which represents the communists, soon after he became president.

However, earlier this year he scrapped the talks all together as government forces and the rebels traded accusations of violations of their separate unilateral ceasefires.

Touching on Marawi City, which he declared “liberated” from the extremist gunmen government troops had battled for close to five months, Duterte urged people to exercise “a little bit of caution,” echoing security officials’ warnings of possible retaliatory attacks.

While stressing that he was not calling for “profiling … I hate it,” he said it was a “good measure of knowing things within your control … your environment.”

He said he wanted to “make sure nothing of the sort ever happens again, especially in the Visayas.”

He also urged people to “treat your soldiers well” in gratitude for what they had done in Marawi.

“They really went into hell, ‘yung iba (some of them), they did not make it,” he said.

Russian Defense chief to lead hand over of AK rifles to Philippines

From Update Philippines (Oct 21): Russian Defense chief to lead hand over of AK rifles to Philippines

Russian Federation Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev on Saturday confirmed that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is set to visit Manila on Oct. 23 to discuss the supply of Russian military equipment to the Philippines.

According to the envoy, Minister Shoigu will hand over the Russian military donation to the Philippine side, such as small arms, military weapons, and other equipment, including army trucks.

Discussions on establishing a legal framework for the transfer of military supplies and equipment are ongoing, but Khovaev said he does not see any problem that may hamper the document’s creation.

“I don’t see real difficulties, of course there are some issues to resolve, I have only one problem, the lack of knowledge about each other,” Khovaev told reporters aboard Russian destroyer Admiral Panteleyev.

“We expect a few contracts on the supply of Russian military equipment to the Philippines to be signed during the upcoming visit of the Russian Defense Minister Shoigi. It will be the first ever visit of the minister to this country, it’s a historic event,” he added.

BIFF terrorist arrested by Army, PNP (Photo)

From Update Philippines (Oct 21): BIFF terrorist arrested by Army, PNP

Mahadih Abdullah alias ‘Rok’, a terrorist under Commander Bungos faction of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedomm Fighters (BIFF) was arrested on October 17 at Barangay Sambulawan, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

The arrest was made possible through joint efforts of by 57th Infantry Battalion, 22nd Mechanized Infantry Company, and Philippine National Police

According to 6th Infantry ‘Kampilan’ Division of Philippine Army, civilian residents tipped that three BIFF members were having a meeting at the area to discuss their possible target for liquidation and planting of improvised explosive devices.

6ID photo

“The operation resulted to the apprehension of Mahadih Abdullah a.k.a. “Rok” under Commander Bungos faction at his residence and seized one fragmentation hand grenade MK-2 and one crystalline substance suspected to be shabu,” 6th Infantry Division said.

6ID commanding general Major General Arnel B. dela Vega lauded the help of concerned informant that provided the whereabouts of the lawless BIFF group, which resulted to the capture of Rok.

US defense chief arrives in Philippines

From Update Philippines (Oct 23): US defense chief arrives in Philippines
United States Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Clark on October 23 for the 4th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus which will be attended by defense chiefs of ASEAN countries plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and United States.

Philippines is this year’s host of ASEAN meetings and related meetings.

The ASEAN defense chiefs will also be holding the 11th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) during the October 23-24 meet in Clark Field, Angeles City, Pampanga.

US DoD photo

“Our Chairmanship of the ASEAN this year coincides with its golden anniversary. As such, we will be pushing forward several initiatives to include a three-year work programme that will focus on streamlining, synergizing, and rationalizing ADMM efforts,” this year’s chairperson of the ADMM and ADMM-Plus, National Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana.

“This is to pursue our cooperative mechanisms in the most efficient and effective way possible. We will also be coming up with frameworks for maritime interaction, education and training exchanges, aircraft encounters, among others,” Secretary Lorenzana said.

LOOK: Soldiers in Tanay welcome home heroes of Marawi

From Rappler (Oct 21): LOOK: Soldiers in Tanay welcome home heroes of Marawi

'Your accomplishments is the proof of the combat expertise and excellence of the Jungle Fighters wherever we may be deployed in country,' says 2nd Infantry Division Commander Major General Rhoderick Parayno

WELCOME HOME. Troops of the 1st Infantry Battalion are given a hero's welcome. Photos courtesy of the Philippine Army 2nd Infantry Division

WELCOME HOME. Troops of the 1st Infantry Battalion are given a hero's welcome. Photos courtesy of the Philippine Army 2nd Infantry Division

 The Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division on Saturday, October 21, welcomed soldiers fresh off an almost 5-month deployment to Marawi City.

Troops from the 1st Infantry Battalion, led by Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Tampus, were met with a hero’s welcome at Camp General Mateo Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.

Tampus and his troops were among the first to arrive in Marawi to augment local forces after local terrorists attemped to take over the city on May 23.

Major General Rhoderick Parayno, Second Infantry Division Commander, praised his men and women, who helped in the recovery of firearms and rescue of hostages.

“Your accomplishments is the proof of the combat expertise and excellence of the Jungle Fighters wherever we may be deployed in country,” Parayno said.

He also commended the female soldiers who, he said, were the “embodiment of the modern Maria Clara – strong, aggressive, determined, patriotic and above all, ladylike and charismatic.”

On May 23, soldiers tried to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, Abu Sayyaf commander and supposed emir in an attempt to establish an Islamic State in the Philippines. Government officials were surprised to find armed fighters, wearing black and brandishing the ISIS flag, emerging to clash with government troops as a response to the operation.

Nearly 5 months later, on October 16, Hapilon and Omar Maute, leader of the Maute group, were killed in a military operation. The following day, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the “liberation” of Marawi, although clashes continued in some areas.

Marawi heroes: Soldier brings home brother killed in Marawi

From Rappler (Oct 22): Marawi heroes: Soldier brings home brother killed in Marawi

Brothers Romeo and Rojero Rayco – both with the rank of Private First Class – fought in Marawi City, but only one of them comes home alive

BACK HOME. Private First Class Rojero Rayco sprinkles holy water on the casket of his brother, Private First Class Romero Rayco

BACK HOME. Private First Class Rojero Rayco sprinkles holy water on the casket of his brother, Private First Class Romero Rayco

It's been years since Private First Class Rojero Rayco returned to his native Albay, but a dark cloud hung over his homecoming on Friday, October 20.

Rojero, 26, brought home the remains of his older brother, 28-year-old Private First Class Romeo Rayco. The Rayco brothers hail from Barangay Tobog, Oas town in Albay. Both fought in Marawi.

Rojero and the casket bearing the remains of Romeo were transported from Marawi City to Albay on Friday afternoon, through a Philippine Air Force nomad aircraft. Rome was given full military honors at the Tactical Operations Group 5-Philippine Air Force headquarters in this city.

Rojero said his brother was killed during clearing operations in Marawi at 2 am on Thursday, October 19 – two days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Marawi had been "liberated from terrorist influence."

Rojero served in the Philippine Army for 6 years while Romeo belonged to the 8th Special Forces Company, Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), Special Operations Command of Philippine Army. The older brother served the military for nearly 4 years.

SALUTE. Full military honors are given to Private First Class Romero Rayco at the AFP at Tactical Operations Group 5-Philippine Air Force headquarters in Legazpi City

Rojero, who is part of the Army's anti-terrorism task force, was deployed to Marawi City when the war broke out on May 23. His older brother was sent to Marawi on September 25 for a test mission before he could graduate from his schooling.

Rojero said even though they were both in Marawi, he and his brother only saw each other once – and only for 10 minutes – on October 12. He went to Romeo to bring him food.

“We were able to see each other for just 10 minutes when I brought him food. That’s a short period of time. We hugged each other before parting ways,” Rojero told Rappler in between sobs.

During his 5 months in Marawi, Rojero saw 7 of his fellow soldiers dying right in front of him. The war in that city was the worst he had ever seen, he said.

WAR WIDOW. Carol Rayco and daughter Rhianna. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

“I was assigned in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, whenever there is a chaos, as member of the Philippine Army’s anti-terrorism task force. The war in Marawi is the worst not only because of numerous soldiers were killed but due to big number of Filipino casualties, specifically civilians who lost their precious lives and paid the price of ISIS-linked terrorism activities in Mindanao,” he said.

“I’m lucky as I survived the bloodiest battle and still alive but I’m unhappy sending my elder brother back home lifeless. My brother is a loving and caring brother not only to his kin but to his friends,” he added.

Romeo's wife, Carol was with 3-year-old daughter Rhian to meet her fallen husband at PAF headquarters. Carol, overcome by grief, lost consciousness during the ceremony.

Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal, chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council, said that Romeo Rayco was the fourth soldier from Albay killed in Marawi.

“Romeo’s contribution to liberate Marawi from the hands of terrorists is an ultimate sacrifice. Rest in peace our hero,” Rosal said.

TEARFUL REUNION. Private First Class Rojero Rayco has a tearful reunion with his sister and mother. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

Major General Manolito P. Orense, commanding officer of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division said in a statement read at the ceremony: “Every soldier knew what risks they would take when they were in combat and that is the risk they are willing to give even their lives are at stake. Giving one’s life for your country is the highest act of patriotism."

“His bravery and valor are evident. He died defending the freedom for the country he loved and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of his country,” Orense added.

To date, 7 soldiers from the Bicol region had been killed in the war in Marawi.

Rojero returned to his mother unit after bringing his brother's remains to Albay.

Marawi fully taken back before November – military

From Rappler (Oct 22): Marawi fully taken back before November – military

Around 10 hostages remain in 5 buildings still held by enemies

LIBERATED. Soldiers hold up a Philippine flag on October 17, 2017 on President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of liberation of Marawi City. Photo by Bobbby Lagsa/Rappler

LIBERATED. Soldiers hold up a Philippine flag on October 17, 2017 on President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of liberation of Marawi City. Photo by Bobbby Lagsa/Rappler

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Sunday, October 22 that the war in Marawi City will be over before this month ends, as government troops close in on the last remaining 5 building held by enemies.

“Iba-iba ang takbo ng development sa battle area, pero ito po ang isang garantiya na magagawa, masasabi natin, hindi na po ito tatagal hanggang nobyembre, ‘yan po ‘yung sigurado,” AFP spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla said in an interview over radio DZMM on Sunday. (Developments in the battle area differ from time to time, but I guarantee this will be done, I can say that this will not reach November, that's for sure.)

Padilla said that the Task Force Marawi led by Brigadier General Danilo Pamonag was still clearing the 5 buildings located in a half-hectare area.
Padilla said there are still around 10 hostages left inside the battle zone, and that troops are still pursuing two foreign terrorists.

“Inaantabayan po natin yan, hinihintay po natin (si General Pamonag) na magbigay ng senyales kapag nakubkob na po nila ang kahuli-hulihang armadong elemento,” Padilla said.

(We are closely monitoring, we're waiting for General Pamonag to give us a signal once they have closed in on the last armed element.)

Padilla said the remaining enemies refuse to surrender and are still fighting intensely with government troops.

Padilla said the armed forces remain proactive in the event that terrorists plan a retaliation.

Though some soldiers have been allowed to go home to spend some time with their family after an intense 5-month battle in Marawi City, Padilla said the military has enough force to guard other vulnerable areas such as Lanao, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi.

“Makakaasa po kayo at malalaman po ng ating mga kababayan sa pamamagitan mga kaibigan natin sa midya tulad po niyo ang mga pangyayaring ‘yan, lalo na po ‘yung talagang pinakahuling kaganapan na magbibigay ng senyales na talagang nakuha na natin ng ganap ang siyudad ng Marawi,” Padilla said.

(You can trust that we will update the public know through the media, especially the latest development which will indicate that we have truly taken back Marawi.)

President Rodrigo Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City on Tuesday, October 17, after the troops were able to neutralize top targets Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.

Two days after, Duterte confirmed the military has also killed Mahmud Ahmad, the Malaysian terrorist who helped finance the Marawi siege.
The 5-month-long war was triggered by a military raid on Hapilon. Over a thousand people died, and many more displaced due to the war.

The Office of Civil Defense said rehabilitation will begin as soon as the military declares the city is cleared of bombs. Displaced residents will then be assisted into moving back to their homes, if still intact.

A site is also ready in Barangay Sagonsongan in Marawi for transition shelters.

Ex-barangay captain found beheaded in Basilan

From Rappler (Oct 22): Ex-barangay captain found beheaded in Basilan

Relatives find the decapitated body of 58-year-old Hadji Najir Bohong in Barangay Mahatalang   

The body of a former barangay captain from Sumisip, Basilan was found beheaded on Sunday morning, October 22, according to police.

Based on the police's initial investigation, 58-year-old Hadji Najir Bohong left his home in Barangay Tumahubong on Saturday morning, October 21, to cut wood at a farmland in Barangay Mahatalang.

Bohong used to be the barangay captain of Mahatalang. His relatives later found his decapitated body at around 11 am on Sunday, also in the same barangay.

The Sumisip Municipal Police Station and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are still "determining the circumstances of the incident," police said.

The victim's decapitated head has yet to be found.

3 AFP battalions returning to Davao

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 23): 3 AFP battalions returning to Davao

THE THREE battalions of the Philippines Army’s 10th Infantry Division (ID) that were sent to Sulu last year will be returning to Davao next month, said Gen. Eduardo Año, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The return of the soldiers to their mother headquarters at the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) is the AFP’s preparation in its drive to end the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.

“After Marawi, it’s time to crush the CPP-NPA,” Año said. “That is why (we) will be returning the battalions (to Davao) to finish (the communist insurgency).”

Last year, the three members — the 68th Infantry Battalion (IB), 69th IB and 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion — were sent to Sulu to help in the fight against the Abu Sayyaf Group.

The 10th ID, also known as the Agila Division, operates in four regions, 12 provinces, seven cities, 72 municipalities and 1,681 barangays. It covers the whole of Davao Region, parts of Region 12 (Sarangani, South Cotabato, 2nd District of North Cotabato and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat), portion of Region 10 (Bukidnon) and parts of Region 13 (Trento in Agusan del Sur and Lingig in Surigao del Sur in Caraga area.
It has four brigades, composing of 14 battalions, under its command, including Task Force Davao and Joint Task Force Gensan.

Last month, the 10th ID has activated 89th IB as an additional force in Davao Region in the fight against CPP-NPA and other terror groups.

Meanwhile, the 4th ID, based in Norther Mindanao, has activated a new battalion, the 88th IB (Maringal), which will be tasked to secure the southern part of Bukidnon, in the boundary of Davao.
In a ceremony held at the 88IB headquarters in Maramag, Bukidnon, Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva, 4ID commander, emphasized that the ultimate objective of the new battalion is to fight terror groups.

“When we talk about terrorism, we don’t only mean Maute or ISIS, we also talk about the New People’s Army,” Villanueva said. He said the NPA has “long made the lives of our people in Bukidnon miserable.”

“Not only that they burn trucks and plantations but also extort hard-earned money from poor farmers,” he said. “Worst, (they) recruit children to fight against the government.”

Move to transfer 1003rd IB Bunawan District underway

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 23): Move to transfer 1003rd IB Bunawan District underway

A GROUNDBREAKING ceremony will be conducted today in Barangay Mahayag, Bunawan District to mark the transfer of the 1003rd Infantry (Raptor) Brigade headquarters in the city.

Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, the 10th ID commander, told TIMES yesterday that the transfer of 1003rd IB headquarters will help secure Davao City and some areas in Davao del Norte.
“We are bringing them in Bunawan to put them in the middle of their operational area at the same time we are giving them additional battalion so the brigade will be holding three battalions,” Clement said.

The 1003rd Brigade is covering the area of whole Davao city and Davao del Norte with three battalions of 3rd IB, 16th IB and 89th IB, the newly activated battalion.
The 16th IB will be moving now to Paquibato District while the 89th IB will be occupying the headquarters of 1003rd Brigade in Barangay New Visayas in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte.

For the three battalions that will be returning in 10th ID, they will form part of the maneuver battalion, which means they don’t have any specific area of responsibility but will give them operational responsibility.
“So if there are NPA formations, they will be the one to operate,” he added.

For now, he said, they are a waiting the order from general headquarters for the re deployment of three battalions sent to Sulu last year.

In a separate interview, Col. Jun Torres, 1003rd IB commander, said they are hoping to transfer by December of this year.

“If we had at least an office or place for work then immediately we will transfer totally,” he said.

At the same time, there will also be an opening of the training for the 240 CAA II in Barangay Mahayag, Bunawan District. Torres said there will be an opening of the two batches of CAA II will start their training today wherein at after the groundbreaking for the transfer of the brigade in Barangay Mahayag.

The groundbreaking would be the start of the construction of the facilities of the headquarters.

“One of that would be specifically for IPs to lead the foundation for the organization of the ancestral domain,” he said.

They are scheduled to undergo a 45-day training in the area that will be supervised by the 1003rd. The brigade already has 80 CAAs from the city government, and the new recruits will be deployed in Tugbok, Toril and Calinan areas to secure the ancestral domain areas.

Torres said they have directly consulted the tribal chieftains for the recruitment of the CAA II. “We are empowering them to protect themselves and ofcourse they will be accompanied by our troops,” he added.

Brawner says “no more hostages remaining;” expects end of fighting “today”

From MindaNews (Oct 22): Brawner says “no more hostages remaining;” expects end of fighting “today”

Government forces battling terrorists confined in only one building near the lake are expecting to end the 153-day Marawi Crisis before midnight Sunday, confident that the remaining hostages held by the Maute Group have all been rescued, Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Force Ranao said.

“We believe there are no more hostages remaining,” Brawner told a press briefing at the provincial capitol early Sunday afternoon.

He said they “exhausted all means to rescue the remaining hostages.”

At the press conference announcing the death of the Abu Sayyaf’s Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute Group’s Omar Maute on October 16, General Eduardo Ano, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said he was “certain that the neutralization of Hapilon and Omar was the last straw that has broken the camel’s back” and that the then 147-day Marawi Crisis “will be over — sooner than later.”

“The resistance of –or what is left of it — the terrorists will crumble. It’s a dead end. There is nowhere else to go for them,” he said.

Col. Romeo Brawner, Deputy Commander of Task Force Ranao/ MindaNwes file photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

A day later, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi has been “liberated from the terrorist influence” and rehabilitation would start soon, even as an estimated 30 hostages were still holding some 22 hostages then.

Two were rescued on October 18 in the military operations that killed 13, including Malaysian national Dr. Mahmud Abad.

On Sunday, Brawner told reporters 20 more hostages were rescued.

Brawner quoted Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, as saying “maaring matapos ngayong araw na ito” (that the fighting would be over today).

“Our government forces will try to do everything to finish the firefight today,” Brawner said.

“It means it’s either mapatay nila lahat ng Maute ISIS kasi nga po ito na yung desididong mamatay lahat or ma-capture natin or either mag-surrender sila” (it’s either all the Maute ISIS members are killed because these are those who are decided to die there or we capture them or they surrender), he explained.

He said some of them “are the ones who decided to just fight it out because of their belief that if they die here, they will go to heaven.”

As of Sunday noon, he said, “talagang nagpuputukan pa” (fighting was still going on) in that “one building left to clear.”

As of Sunday, Day 153 of the Marawi Crisis, Brawner said a total of 919 enemies had been killed while 165 government forces were killed in action.

He said an estimated 30 terrorists remain, including those who were wounded earlier. Of this number, around five are foreigners.

“Right now we cannot determine how many of the 30 are dead or who are still living,” he said.

But Brawner said there are also women, likely the wives of the Maute members, in that lone building,

“We believe they really chose to stay with their husbands,” he said, recalling that they “gave them all the chances to surrender, to come out together with teh hostages.”

“In fact, some of them did,” Brawner said, but could not give a number as they are still determining “if they are (hostage survivors) or wives of the Maute-ISIS.” He said those who got out will be treated as non-combatants and will go through the same process hostage survivors go through.

Brawner assured relatives of the hostage survivors that their loved ones are being attended to. He said the survivors immediately go through medical examination and those who need further medical attention are airlifted to Cagayan de Oro City.

He said survivors were lent mobile phones to call their relatives. Brawner added the hostages requested that their names be withheld for security considerations.

He assured relatives they will turn the hostage survivors to the local goverment unit “very shortly.”

Quarry site, ginawang impyerno ng NPA

From the Mindanao Examiner (Oct 21): Quarry site, ginawang impyerno ng NPA

Nilusob kaninang madaling araw ng mga rebeldeng New People’s Army ang isang quarry site sa Butuan City at sinunog ang mga heavy equipment doon bago tumakas.

Hinihinalang nabigo ang may-ari ng quarry sa Barangay Bonbon na magbigay ng revolutionary tax sa mga rebelde kung kaya’t nilusob uto ng NPA. Apat na backhoe, isang truck at payloader ang sinunog ng NPA, ayon sa ulat.

Tinatayang mahigit sa dalawang dosenang rebelde ang lumusob sa quarry site na kung saan ay walang nagawa ang mga trabahador kundi masdan kung paanong binuhusan ng gasolona ng mga rebelde ang naturang heavy equipment.

Wala naman naiulat na sugatan o napatay sa atake ng NPA. Hindi pa mabatid kung bakit hindi natunugan ng militar at pulisya ang paglusob ng mga rebelde, gayun nasa ilalim ng martial law ang buong Mindanao. Ilan beses ng nagbanta ang NPA na aatake sa ibat-ibang panig ng Mindanao bilang bahagi ng kanilang pakikibaka sa pamahalaang Duterte.

Atras-abante naman si Pangulong Rodirgo Duterte sa kanyang pakikipag-usap sa mga komunista at ngayon ay balak muli nitong ituloy ang peace talks na kanyang ibinasura ng ilang ulit dahil sa hindi pagtugon ng NPA sa hinihinging cease-fire agreement ng pamahalaan.

Militar sinisikap na tapusin ang Marawi siege

From the Mindanao Examiner (Oct 21): Militar sinisikap na tapusin ang Marawi siege

Sinisikap pa rin ngayon ng militar na tapusin na ang labanan sa Marawi City na pumasok na sa ika-anim na buwan ngayon araw, ngunit hirap pa rin ang mga sundalo na lipulin ang mga natitirang ISIS fighters, kabilang dito ang tinatayang 8 mga dayuhang jihadists.

Kabilang sa mga lumalaban ngayon ay pawang mga kaanak ng mga napaslang na ISIS militants. Patuloy naman ang paglapit ng mga tropa sa mga gusaling hawak pa rin ng mga jihadists. Sinugurado ng militar na hindi umano makakatakas ang mga militants dahil napapaligiran na umano ang mga taguan nila.

Ilang beses na rin nagbigay ng deadline si Western Mindanao Command chief General Carlito Galvez sa pagtatapos ng giyera, ngunit maraming beses na rin itong sumablay.

Ayon sa militar, umabot na sa 897 ISIS militants ang kanilang napatay mula pa noon Mayo 23 ng magsimula ang sagupaan, subali’t karamihan sa mga ito ay pawang naka-base lamang sa intelligence reports at hindi sa mga bilang ng bangkay na nabawi ng mga sundalo. Nasa 164 mga sundalo at 47 sibilyan ang napaslang rin, dagdag pa ng militar. Nabawi rin sa ibat-ibang lugar sa Marawi ang 850 mga armas na iginigiit ng mga opisyal eh pagaari ng ISIS.

Mahigit sa 200,000 residente ang nawalan ng tahanan at hanap-buhay dahil sa kaguluhan ng magtangka ang ISIS na gawin lalawigan nito ang Marawi na siyang kabisera ng Lanao del Sur sa magulong Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Idineklara ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na liberated ang Marawi matapos na mapaslang ng mga tropa kamakailan ang pinuno nitong si Isnilon Hapilon at commander na si Omar Maute at Malaysian jihadist Dr Mahmud Ahmad.

2 BIFF men killed, 5 soldiers hurt in Maguindanao clashes

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): 2 BIFF men killed, 5 soldiers hurt in Maguindanao clashes

Two Moro jihadists were killed while five soldiers were hurt in the latest spate of hostilities in Maguindanao, the military said.

In a report released on Friday, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) said two members of the ISIS-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed when the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion fired artillery fire toward Barangay Pagatin 1 in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao, late Thursday afternoon.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, 6ID spokesman, said that prior to the running gunbattle, five soldiers were hurt when suspected BIFF members tossed a hand grenade before nighttime on the Army’s 57th IB roadside detachment in Barangay Labo-Labo, Shariff Aguak, also in Maguindanao.

The victims, Sgt. Allan Labuyo, Cpl. Ebrahim Meto and Pvts. 1st Class Arnel Aspacio, Fernando Tangara, and John Mark Arroyo, sustained shrapnel wounds in different parts of their body.

Major Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, 6th ID chief, said the grenade attack was to avenge the death of two BIFF members, identified as Norolam and Saiden Kasan, during Thursday's 3 p.m. military artillery shelling in Datu Saidona, Maguindanao.

The Army launched the artillery bombardment after local residents alerted the military and government ally, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), about the presence of some 30 BIFF elements in Barangay Pagatin 1.

The slain BIFF members were followers of Esmael Abdulmalik, leader of a faction of the BIFF that pledged allegiance to the ISIS.

30 NPAs surrender since start of October: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): 30 NPAs surrender since start of October: AFP

Some 30 more members of the New People’s Army (NPA) have surrendered to government troops this month, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced Sunday.

The latest surrenderers were five NPA rebels from Guerilla Front 73 who voluntarily turned themselves and surrendered three high-powered firearms to the Philippine Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion on October 16.

Earlier, NPA Guerilla Front 53 member Alex Gawelan alias ‘Banate’, surrendered and turned over an M16 rifle to the Aemy’s 39th Infantry Battalion in Arakan, North Cotabato on October 1.

The AFP also facilitated other surrenders in Abra, Surigao del Sur, Zamboanga Del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao Del Norte, Compostela Valley, Occidental Mindoro, and Cagayan which yielded a total of 14 high-powered firearms such as M16, M14, AK47, and Garand rifles.

“Since day one of October, the AFP has been facilitating the surrender of more NPA members, some of whom voluntarily handed over their firearms to our troops. This affirms the continuous success of our focused military operations complemented by intelligence and civil-military efforts,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said in statement.

As of Oct. 19, continuous military operations have also led to the neutralization of 609 NPA rebels. Of this number, 121 were killed in operations, 71 were arrested, while 417 surrendered.

A total of 331 high-powered and low-powered firearms were either surrendered or recovered from the rebels.

The AFP has recorded 242 incidents of NPA atrocities since the scrapping of peace talks in February.

Prior to this, communist rebels have perpetrated 20 violent activities in January 2017 alone.

“Our incessant conduct of combat, intelligence, and civil military operations are now bearing fruit as more and more NPA rebels are now returning to the government folds,” AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año said.

“This is a good sign that our brothers and sisters are now choosing the path of peace rather than continue on to their violent ways. On our part, we will continue to work round the clock to sustain our operations in support to the government’s peace and development efforts,” he added.

Hapilon's death confirmed via DNA test: US Embassy

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): Hapilon's death confirmed via DNA test: US Embassy

The United States Embassy in Manila on Sunday confirmed that the DNA sample taken from a body in Marawi City was verified to be from Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the declared Islamic-State "emir" for Southeast Asia and one of the lead figures in the five-month-long Marawi siege.

"At the request of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), a representative of the US Embassy in the Philippines Legal Attache office hand-carried the DNA sample taken from Hapilon‎'s body to Quantico in Virginia for identify verification," said US Embassy press attaché Molly Koscina in a statement.

She also confirmed that the result was "positive".

"This is yet another example of how the US is supporting our friend, partner, and ally in the fight against terror," she added.

Government forces on Monday killed Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute, leader of local terrorist Maute group who joined forces with Abu Sayyaf in the attack in Marawi City last May 23, which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to cut short his visit to Russia and declare martial law.

Following the death of these two terrorist leaders, Duterte on October 17 declared the liberation of Marawi as soldiers continue to go after terrorists in the war-torn city.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said that US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents retrieved the DNA samples from the recovered bodies of the two terrorist leaders.

Aside from Hapilon, DNA samples of Maute and Malaysian Mahmud Ahmad, alleged financier of the siege are still awaiting verification.

"I shared the information I have at this time," said Koscina when asked about the schedule for the confirmation's release.