Saturday, October 28, 2017

DWDD: CONGRATULATIONS | Chief Master Sergeant Lito A Tompayogan (INF) PA

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 29): CONGRATULATIONS | Chief Master Sergeant Lito A Tompayogan (INF) PA

CMS Lito A Tompayogan (INF) PA
Newly Designated Sergeant Major
Armed Forces of the Philippines

DWDD: GOODWILL VISIT | Two Indonesian Vessel to dock in GenSan on Oct 29

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 29): GOODWILL VISIT  |  Two Indonesian Vessel to dock in GenSan on Oct 29

NAVAL STATION FELIX APOLINARIO, Panacan, Davao City (DWDD) – Two Indonesian navy ships is slated to arrive in General Santos City for a Goodwill Visit.

The two Diponegoro-class corvette combat vessels namely: KRI Sultan Hasanuddin – 366 and KRI Sultan Iskandar Muda – 367 will arrive today, October 29, 2017 and will stay until November 1, 2017. They are also here for the ongoing Unilateral Fleet Training Exercise of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao.

KRI Sultan Hasanuddin was named after Sultan Hasanuddin Tumenanga Ri Balla Pangkana, the 16th Ruler of The Sultanate of Gowa as Sombaya Ri Gowa XVI from 1653 to 1669.

He was proclaimed as Indonesian National Hero on November 6, 1973. The Dutch called Sultan Hasanuddin “the fighting cock of the East” as he was described as aggressive in battle.

KRI Sultan Iskandar Muda is named after the 12th Sultan of Aceh. He was quite the bellicose sailor himself and kicked the tripe out of the Portuguese once or twice. He’s still fondly remembered by the people of Aceh and has plenty of things named after him, including this boat and the Aceh airport.

All the Indonesian Navy Vessels are named with the KRI Initial (Kapal Perang Republik Indonesia) which means Navy Vessel of the Republic Of Indonesia. The class are often named after lead ships.. AES/MCAG

DWDD: HONORING WARRIORS | Soldiers, Police in Marawi to receive Awards

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 28): HONORING WARRIORS  |  Soldiers, Police in Marawi to receive Awards

”The five-month stand-off yielded to the neutralization of more than 900 terrorists, the rescue of 1,780 hostages, and recovery of more than 800 high-powered firearms and almost 2,000 unexploded ordnances, improvised explosive devices and booby traps of the terrorists.

“Congratulations, Marawi troopers, for making the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Filipinos proud. Your commitment and gallantry liberated the City of Marawi and the Maranaos from terrorism,”


DWDD: CMO OPERATORS | Graduation of CMO Basic Course Class 04-17

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 28): CMO OPERATORS  |  Graduation of CMO Basic Course Class 04-17

 MARINE BARRACKS RUDIARDO BROWN, Bonifacio Naval Station, Taguig City (DWDD) – After 16 weeks of training to become eligible Civil-Military Operations operators, a total of 31 students of the CMO Basic Course Class 04-17 formally graduated with the Chief, Public Affairs Office, Armed Forces of the Philippines Marine Col Edgard A Arevalo as the Guest of Honor and Speaker held at the Acero Hall, Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

The CMO Basic Course is under the curriculum of the Civil Military Operations Group-Philippine Navy (CMOG-PN) headed by Col Nestor R Marcelino through its Civil Military Operations School. CMG-PN/MCAG

MILF: CCCH-MILF protests raid by PNP-Sultan Kudarat of houses owned by members of Inner Guard Base Command-National Gurd Front

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Oct 29): CCCH-MILF protests raid by PNP-Sultan Kudarat of houses owned by members of Inner Guard Base Command-National Gurd Front

International Monitoring Team (IMT) (right) Mr. Butch Malang, Chair of Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of the Moro Islamic Liberation front (CCCH-MILF) (left)

Mr. Butch Malang, Chair of Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of the Moro Islamic Liberation front (CCCH-MILF) in a memo dated October 26, 2017 to BGen. Earl D. Baliao, Chair of CCCH-GPH protested a raid conducted by elements of PNP-Sultan Kudarat province led by P/Supt. Raul S. Supiter of houses in an MILF Community in Barangay Maguid, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat on October 12.
The raiding team took One (1) M-14Rifle, One (1) M-203 Rifle, and One (1) M-16 Rifle owned by the BIAF-MILF’s inner Guard Base Command, National Guard front.

Chairman Malang said that the raid and the confiscation of the firearms constitute serious violations  of specific provisions of the Implementing Operational Guidelines of the GPH and MILF Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities (AGCH) signed in 1997.

Chairman Malang requested the Joint CCCH together with the International Monitoring Team (IMT) to conduct joint verification on the said raid.

He also requested for the return of the firearms confiscated by elements of the PNP-Sultan Kudarat.

Troops secure infra projects from militants

From the Philippine Star (Oct 28): Troops secure infra projects from militants

This overland artery in an upland area in Bayang town is one of dozens of ARMM projects in Lanao del Sur. STAR/John Unson

Authorities are now guarding high-ticket infrastructure projects vulnerable to sabotage by militants after suffering from a severe defeat in Marawi City this month.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. of the Western Mindanao Command said on Saturday that it is part of an effort to help ensure the completion of on-going projects in remote areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao by its regional government.

"These projects will improve the lives of people, generate livelihood for them, give children easy access to schools and make convenient the delivery of health, education, social welfare and other basic services to them. That is what militants do not want to happen," Galvez said.

The Maute group and its allies, the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, are rabidly opposed to infrastructure projects that could weaken their influence on peasant communities from where they forcibly collect money for food and other needs.

The three militant groups are using the flag of global terror group Islamic State as their revolutionary banners.

Police Chief Superintendet Graciano Mijares, director of the Police Regional Office-ARMM, said on Saturday that law enforcement activities in many far-flung areas are a lot easier with new roads and bridges built in the past four years.

"Securing on-going infrastructure projects of the ARMM government is one serious concern for us," Mijares said.
New bridges
Drone recordings and a matrix obtained from the Department of Public Works and Highways-ARMM indicated that in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur alone, the agency constructed 24 bridges in the two provinces from 2014 to late 2016.

The 24 bridges, costing P686.1 million, now connects once isolated farming enclaves to town centers where farmers sell their farm products that in the past rotted in their barns during rainy days. The products could not be transported to markets due to the absence of all-weather overland arterial networks.

The bridges were built by the office of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and the regional public works department, through the district engineering offices in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, using allocations from the region's yearly infrastructure budget from the national coffer.

Records from state auditors indicated that the Hataman administration spent P211.5 million for the 16 bridges built in Lanao del Sur in the past three years.

Eight larger bridges costing P474.5 million were also built in Maguindanao during the period.

Galvez said officials of component-units of WestMinCom based in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur where the 24 bridges were constructed have noticed dramatic improvements in the lives of local residents.

"That is something violent religious extremists are trying to prevent from happening," Galvez said.

Galvez and Mijares, who assumed as ARMM police director only last October 20, separately told The STAR they will cooperate in securing on-going infrastructure projects in the autonomous region from militant groups using poverty, neglect and underdevelopment as talking points in recruiting potential members.

Units of WestMinCom and the ARMM police tightened security last week in areas where workers are constructing strategic stretches of the P1 billion worth "transcentral road" in Basilan due to threats of attacks by the Abu Sayyaf.
The more than 60-kilometer thoroughfare will traverse the remaining enclaves in Basilan's Sampinit and Punoh Mahadje areas of remnants of the Abu Sayyaf.

ARMM police officials said more than a hundred suspects in heinous crimes were arrested from between 2015 to October 2017 in remote areas in towns that were made accessible to patrol cars and military armored vehicles by roads and bridges constructed by the regional government in recent years.

Military rounds up lumad rights defenders in Agusan del Sur – religious group

From InterAksyon (Oct 28): Military rounds up lumad rights defenders in Agusan del Sur – religious group

 Law worker Julito Otacan (photo courtesy of RMP-NMR)

A religious organization has raised the alarm over the arrest of five members of the Banwaon tribe of Agusan del Sur and a field worker for a European Union-funded project on indigenous peoples’ rights.

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-North Mindanao Region said in a statement that soldiers who had arrived in Barangay Balit in San Luis town early Friday morning, October 27, onboard two military trucks, a” war tank,” two patrol cars, and two white vans, first seized Julito Rivera Otacan, a lay worker it had engaged for the EU-funded Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Human Rights in the Philippines project undertaken in partnership with Relief International, from his home.

Otacan was taken to the village’s covered court where he was joined by Alejandro Barluado, Jonas Acosta, Noli Tahudan, Marlon Talatayod, and Joel Trasona, all members of the Banwaon organization Tagdumahan.

Like other lumad organizations throughout Mindanao, “Tagdumahan has long been targeted by the military because of their vocal assertion of their rights to the Banwaon’s ancestral domain targeted by logging and mining companies,” according to the indigenous peoples’ rights group Katungod Lumad Monitors.

During the Balit roundup, Katungod said the soldiers claimed to have found grenades, firearms, and other equipment in their homes.

In many instances in the past, the government and state security forces have openly accused lumad organizations and communities of supporting or being part of the communist rebel movement, often using this to justify arrests or the occupation of villages and facilities such as schools.

Maridel Fano, program coordinator of RMP-NMR’s Rural Poor Organizing Support Program and manager of the Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Human Rights in the Philippines project, said in the statement that Otacan’s work involved “going around the Banwaon communities in Agusan del Sur, to organize and facilitate the training of community members in their capacity as human rights defenders.”

However, she noted, since President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, soon after fighting broke out in Marawi City, “attacks against (human rights defenders) had been heightened, with community organizers and legitimate community meetings put under surveillance of state forces.”

Katungod also confirmed that “since the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, military personnel have been going to Otacan’s house, looking for him.”

Although community members immediately flocked to the covered court, they “were not allowed to go near the detainees,” who were eventually taken to the police station in Rubako, San Luis, except for Tahudan, who was reportedly brought to the headquarters of the 26th Infantry Battalion in Talacogon town.

“We are demanding their immediate release and for the government to ensure their protection while they are doing their legitimate work for indigenous peoples’ rights,” RMP-NMR said.

BRP Andres Bonifacio back in PH after sailing to Brunei, doing maritime drills with Malaysia

From InterAksyon (Oct 28): BRP Andres Bonifacio back in PH after sailing to Brunei, doing maritime drills with Malaysia

The BRP Andres Bonifacio docks at the South Harbor in Manila after nearly a month on Southeast Asian seas. HANDOUT PHOTO, PHIL. NAVY

The BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF17) returned to the Philippines on Saturday (October 28) after a month-long sojourn to ASEAN neighbors Brunei and Malaysia, where the Philippine Navy participated in a joint maritime training with their counterparts as part of the united effort of ASEAN countries to better secure waters of Southeast Asia.

The BRP Andres Bonifacio, under the helm of Captain Dennis Rommel G Quines, arrived at Pier 13, South Harbor, Manila, with Rear Admiral Gaudencio A Collado, Commander of the Philippine Fleet, welcoming the 200-person contingent – the ship’s crew, medical team, students, and training staff, and a team from the Naval Special Operations Group and Naval Air Group.

Other senior officers, families, and friends of the contingent were also there to witness the event.

The FF17 departed September, and first conducted four-day goodwill visit at Maura, Brunei Darussalam and participated in the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

This was followed by the Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Malaysia-Philippines (MALPHI) LAUT 20-17 with the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) at Region I, Kuantan Naval Base from October 16 to 25, where the Philippine and Malaysian forces tested their interoperability in enforcing maritime security and fighting transnational crime.

The (MALPHI) LAUT 20-17 is the 20th iteration of an annual training exercise between the Southeast Asian countries since they signed a memorandum of defense cooperation in 1994.

Commodore Albert Mogol, commander of the Fleet-Marine Ready Force, said in his message welcoming back the FF17 crew that the bilateral naval exercise is concrete proof of the excellent relations between the two navies.

U.S. Congress honors Filipino veterans of World War II

From Rappler (Oct 29): U.S. Congress honors Filipino veterans of World War II

US Congress awards the Congressional Gold Medal to more than 250,000 Filipino veterans in recognition of their service and sacrifice during World War II

US RECOGNITION. US Speaker of the House Representative Paul Ryan shakes hands with Dean Delen, a Filipino veteran representing guerrilla units, as other officials look on during a Congressional Gold Medal presentation ceremony on October 25, 2017. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

US RECOGNITION. US Speaker of the House Representative Paul Ryan shakes hands with Dean Delen, a Filipino veteran representing guerrilla units, as other officials look on during a Congressional Gold Medal presentation ceremony on October 25, 2017. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

The United States Congress honored Filipino veterans of World War II by awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal, one of America's highest civilian awards.

In a ceremony at the US Capitol Visitor Center in Washington DC, Senate and House leaders presented the award to representatives of Filipino war veterans on Wednesday, October 25.
The veterans were recognized for their service and sacrifice during World War II.
More than 250,000 Filipinos fought alongside American soldiers against the invading imperial Japanese forces in the Philippines from 1941 to 1945.

"This is a day that is long, long overdue," House Speaker Paul Ryan said in his remarks. "We are here to immortalize the legacy of great liberators, who have paved the way for generations to follow."

"Let this ceremony serve to ensure that those who fought for freedom are never forgotten, and always remembered," Ryan added.

"In victory, they marched on. In defeat, they kept hope close. In resistance, they held aloft the spirit of a people, for all the world to see – unbent, standing tall, enduring still," added Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

WAR VETERANS. Celestino Almeda (C), a Filipino veteran representing the Philippine Commonwealth Army, is greeted by other guests during the ceremony. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP
WAR VETERANS. Celestino Almeda (C), a Filipino veteran representing the Philippine Commonwealth Army, is greeted by other guests during the ceremony. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP
He continued, "When General [Douglas] MacArthur was forced to evacuate the Philippines, he made a solemn promise, 'I shall return.' Now, 75 years later, the United States is returning to recognize the Filipino veterans of the Second World War."

Wartime US President Franklin Roosevelt promised full benefits to Filipinos who enlisted for the war. But the administration of President Harry S. Truman rescinded this promise after World War II, reported CNN.

"We made a grievous error but we recognize it and pledge to never let it happen again," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was quoted as saying.

In December 2016, US President Barack Obama signed the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015.

Marawi war heroes get navy awards

From the Mindanao Examiner (Oct 26): Marawi war heroes get navy awards

Rear Admiral Rene Medina, of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, led the awarding to “Fleet-Marine” warriors aboard the ship BRP Tarlac (LD 601) and NTG Marawi Command Post on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 in Zamboanga City.
The Philippine Navy awarded medals to soldiers who battled local ISIS militants in Marawi City following their return from a heroic battle.

Rear Admiral Rene Medina, of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, led the awarding to “Fleet-Marine” warriors aboard the ship BRP Tarlac (LD 601) and NTG Marawi Command Post on Wednesday.
The medals were given to members of the Forward Support Medical Team Task Force Tiger, 12th Motor Transport Company, Combat Service Support Task Group 6; the 61st Marine Company, 62nd Marine Company, 63rd Marine Company, 64th Marine Company, 65th Marine Company of the Marine Special Operations Group; 6th Marine Company of Marine Battalion Landing Team-6; 16th Marine Company, Field artillery Battalion; 73rd Marine Company, Assault Armor Battalion of Combat Service and Support Brigade; 57th Marine Company, MBLT 7 of 1st Marine Brigade; Headquarters and Service Company of Marine Battalion Landing Team 10 and Naval Special Operations Group.

Medina also awarded the Civil Military Operations Unit-Western Mindanao for the conduct of numerous humanitarian assistance and relief operations during the height of Marawi crisis. And the 1st Marine Brigade Command Group Alpha for the Civil Military Operations, logistical and operational assistance they have provided to the troops in Marawi.

Also present in the awarding ceremony were Colonel Hernanie Songano, deputy commander for Marine Operations; and Brigadier General Melquiades Ordiales, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade and Joint Task Group Tiger. President Rodrigo Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi on October 17 following the defeat of ISIS militants.

MILF nagpatawag ng plenum ukol sa BBL

From the Mindanao Examiner (Oct 28): MILF nagpatawag ng plenum ukol sa BBL

Magpapatawag ng isang general assembly ang Moro Islamic Liberation Front ukol sa nakabinbin na isyu sa Bangsamoro Basic Law na muling nanganganib matapos na ito’y almahan g mga mambabatas dahil sa umano’y probisyon na labag sa Konstitusyo.

Sinabi naman ng MILF na ikakasa nito ang Malaking pagpupulong ng mga rebelde at supporters sa susunod na mga araw sa Barangay Simuay sa bayan ng Sultan Kudarat, isa sa mga kuta ng naturang grupo. Tinatayang aabot sa kalahating milyon katao ang dadalo sa plenum.

Kinumpirma rin ito g Ghazali Jaafar, ag deputy vice chairman ng MILF, at sinabing muli nilang ipaliliwanag sa mga miyembro ag estado ng BBL na nabasura noong nakaraang administrasyon ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino dahil sa mga probisyon nitong labag sa Konstitusyon at isa rito ang pagpapalawig sa nasasakupan ng magulong Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Naunang sinabi ni Zamboanga Rep. Celso Lobregat na hindi nito papayagan na mapasama ang lungsod sa mga lugar na isasailalim sa Bangsamoro homeland. Si Lobregat rin noon ang isa sa mga matinding bumatikos sa BBL.

Nabatid na maraming mga rebelde ang hidi na mapakali sa kabiguan g MILF na pursigihin ang pagpasa ng BBL sa Kongreso. Nangako nama si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na bibigyan nito ng priority ang BBL, ngunit federalism nama ang isinusulong nito ngayon at kahit noon ito ay hindi pa nangangampanya at hanggang sa kanyang pagkapanalo sa pagka-presidente.

Lumagda ng interim peace deal ang MILF noon 2014 at tanging BBL na lamang ang hinihintay nito upang tuluyang lagdaan ang peace agreement sa pamahalaan.

Troops told to shun political disruption

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 28): Troops told to shun political disruption

Army Chief m, Lt. Gen Rolando Bautista m, on Friday urged troops of the newly-created infantry battalion to shun disruption by politicians, but continue to work in achieving military objective.

In his speech during the send-off ceremony of the 89th Infantry (Makatao) Battalion at the 10th Infantry Division Headquarters in Tuburan, Mawab, Compostela Valley, Baustista said, “Kalimutan ninyo ang mga disruption ng mga politiko (Forget all about disruptions of the politicians).”

Instead, Bautista said soldiers must serve the battalion and to expect nothing, but only the best service.

“The command will be behind you and support you all the way,” he vowed.

Bautista led the send-off ceremony, a newly-created battalion to be based in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte and will be under the command of Lt. Col Luciano Caiman. It is the 13th battalion under the 10th ID that included Task Force Davao and Joint Task Force GenSan. It’s creation is aimed to hasten the Army division's mandate of protecting the people and securing the region.

Bautista hopes the troops will live up and bring its “Makatao” name and to take care the communities they will serve.

Bautista reminded troops victory in war is displaying the right attitude. He also highlighted the importance of continued training. The troopes of the 89th IB have completed a four-week organizational training.

“Dapat tuloy-tuloy ang training (Training should continue). Preparation builds confidence and confidence overcome fears,” he stressed.

He also reminded troops that they are serving a region where they will face the strongest communist insurgents – the Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC) of the New People’s Army (NPA).

He said the soldiers should also remember that they are serving Davao Region where seasoned and veteran soldiers fight the NPA.

Bautista was also a 10th ID Agila soldier. He served the 41IB, the 73rd and the Task Force Davao. Bautista also told battalion commander Caiman to always instill good habits among his troops.

“It is hard when new soldiers learn bad habits,” he said.

Bautista said the 89th IB has the big role in the pursuit for lasting peace in the region.

He added not to allow terrorism, saying such ideology should find no place in the country. Bautista said the military has earned the trust of the civilians from the Marawi crisis.

He said the military should maintain this level of recognition of the civilians. “We have no more chance to reach this status,” he said.

Guerrero commands AFP at right time

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 29): Guerrero commands AFP at right time

Commanding the 130,000-strong Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) came at just the right time for Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero as the military is enjoying strong support from the public and the government.

"Men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, there is no better time for us to finish our campaign than now, our high approval and trust rating show that we have the overwhelming support of our countrymen and our Commander-in-Chief is providing us with the tools and resources to (complete) our mission," Guerrero said.

Guerrero was referring to the neutralization of all remaining security threats in the country.

Early last week, the AFP has declared the neutralization of the Maute Group following the total liberation of Marawi City and killing of 920 terrorists in the five-month battle.

"Our human resources will be developed as we procure additional personnel to fill up units to be organized, leader development will be enhanced to better prepare emerging leaders to assume key positions in our organization and for them to effectively discharge their duties and responsibilities in a complex security environment," the new AFP chief added.

Guerrero, who is still the incumbent Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) head, is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1984.

Prior to his appointment to the EMC, he also commanded the Jamindan, Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division, the 701st Infantry Brigade, Task Force Davao, Commander, and also served as Philippine Army chief.

Guerrero is also a decorated military officer having been awarded the Distinguished Service Star four times, the Order of Lakandula (Degree of Commander); the Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Officer); and the Honorary Airborne Wings from the Royal Thai Army.

‘Marawi crisis over but terror threat still high’

From the Philippine Star (Oct 29): ‘Marawi crisis over but terror threat still high’

In its latest political risk analysis titled “End of Marawi siege but terror threat remains,” BMI Research said it has maintained a short-term political risk score of 63.1 out of 100 for the Philippines as the threat of terrorism remains high. File

The terror threat remains high in the country despite the recent liberation of Marawi City from militants claiming allegiance to the Middle East-based Islamic State (IS), the research arm of the Fitch Group said in a report.
In its latest political risk analysis titled “End of Marawi siege but terror threat remains,” BMI Research said it has maintained a short-term political risk score of 63.1 out of 100 for the Philippines as the threat of terrorism remains high.

“While the defeat of militants affiliated with the so-called Islamic State in Marawi City is positive for peace and security and marks a setback for terrorism in the region, we are keeping our short-term political risk score for the Philippines at 63.1 out of 100, which sits below the regional average score of 68.9,” it said.

BMI Research pointed out there is likelihood that remnants of the defeated militants might launch retaliatory attacks and some may have already started regrouping in areas around the ruined city.

“We believe that it would be premature to upgrade the Philippines’ security score as the Mindanao region remains under martial law and the defeat of the rebel force led by Abu Sayyaf and the Maute is likely to inspire retaliatory attacks in the form of bombings and lone wolf attacks in metro areas, as well as more kidnapping incidents,” it added.

President Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City last Oct. 17 with the death of terrorist leaders Omarkhayam Maute and Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf Group,

A total of 847 terrorists, 163 government troops and 47 civilians were killed in the siege, which began on May 23, prompting President Duterte to place the entire Mindanao under martial law. More than 500,000 people have been displaced.

“The daunting task of rebuilding the city given the widespread poverty and lack of resources could also provide a fertile breeding ground for other extremist groups,” BMI Research said.

It warned that remnants of the Maute group, the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were still in the thousands and that they could link up with foreign fighters to complicate the government’s task of eliminating jihadist networks.
The Marawi siege has been regarded as “the most serious attempt to export violent extremism and radicalism in the Philippines and in the region” by the Philippine government and has stoked broader concerns about the spread of IS and terrorism in Southeast Asia.

The battle for Marawi is also considered the largest campaign that IS has supported outside Syria and Iraq.

“Despite the end of the insurgency, we highlight that the threat of terrorism is still very much present in the Philippines and around the region,” it said.

ISIS extremists put Southeast Asia on alert as Marawi siege lifted

From the Foreign Brief (Oct 29): ISIS extremists put Southeast Asia on alert as Marawi siege lifted

Photo: Bangsamoro News
Photo: Bangsamoro News

The recent lifting of the bloody Marawi siege by the Philippine army is a stark reminder to other nations of the growing threat of extremist groups in the region. As ISIS faces complete defeat in Syria, there is concern that the jihadist cause will be taken up in Southeast Asia.

Of particular interest are the thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing a brutal crackdown in Myanmar; they could serve as a key demographic for ISIS recruitment.

The siege in Marawi City demonstrated how highly organised and well equipped Abu Sayyaf forces are, as they were supplied through arms smuggling networks from Malaysia and Indonesia.

These cross-border networks will be a key focus of ASEAN defence cooperation in the coming year. This entails closer intelligence sharing, increased joint military operations and anti-radicalism campaigns in vulnerable regions. However, expect ISIS recruitment and resourcing to ramp up as well.

Washington Pushes for Closer Ties with Manila Amid Islamic State Threat

From BenarNews (Oct 26): Washington Pushes for Closer Ties with Manila Amid Islamic State Threat


Sung Kim, U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, looks inside a surveillance aircraft provided by the United States to the Philippine Air Force during a turn-over ceremony in Manila, July 27, 2017.

Military and diplomatic relations between Manila and the United States are “back to normal,” the American envoy to the Philippines said Thursday, despite President Rodrigo Duterte lashing out at Washington last year for questioning his administration’s deadly war on illegal drugs.

U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim told a media group that both countries were “committed to strong and enduring” partnership especially in the wake of threats from Islamic State (IS) militants in the region.

“The U.S. military continues to work closely with the Philippine armed forces to enhance capability to fight terrorism,” Kim told the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), adding that Washington was prepared to boost its military assistance if requested.

“Our sense is that extremists do pose a serious threat here in the Philippines and beyond,” Kim said. “This is why it’s so important to continue to work together closely with Philippine military and other countries in the region to make our ability to fight terror elements, extremists as strong as it can be.”

Washington, a longtime Philippine defense ally, had helped the local military defeat IS-linked militants in the southern city of Marawi in a five-month battle that was officially declared over this week.

Duterte had grudgingly accepted U.S. military help in the campaign, allowing American troops to conduct intelligence data gathering. The Philippines also accepted military hardware that boosted the Filipino forces’ capability.

Trump to meet Duterte in November
Kim said the relationship between the two allies was “back to normal” and the military alliance dating back more than 60 years remained “very strong.”

His comments came two days after U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited the Philippines and met Duterte, who also warmly greeted visiting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in August, calling himself a “humble friend” of the United States at the time.

Duterte last year voiced anger over what his government called U.S. meddling in domestic affairs, after the Obama administration questioned his overarching war on narcotics that has led to the killings of thousands of mostly poor suspected drug addicts and pushers since Duterte took office in June 2016.

Almost 13,000 people have been killed since the police began the drug war last year, and about 3,000 of those deaths were drug related, with police saying that the suspects had fired first at arresting officers.

Duterte had threatened to kick out the few remaining American troops who traditionally rotate for training missions in the Philippines. But the president softened his stance after Donald Trump came to power as the U.S. president in January and expressed admiration for the Filipino leader’s resolve.

The two leaders are to meet in Manila in November for an annual regional summit, even as Trump was to cut short his trip due to scheduling problems, Kim said.

He said the U.S. government was prepared to assist in the long-term rehabilitation of Marawi, a once beautiful lakeshore community that was reduced to rubble in five months of hostilities. The siege of the southern Philippine city was the first one carried out in East Asia by IS-aligned militants, stoking fears that Islamic State was gaining a foothold in the Southeast Asian region.

Kim said “interoperability” was critical in fighting extremists and terrorists, and noted that Mattis, during his visit here, praised the Philippine effort in Marawi, where the fighting killed more than 1,000 people, including about 920 militants, 165 soldiers and 47 civilians.

Trump, during his brief meeting with Duterte next month, is expected to discuss Marawi and the IS threat as well as other regional issues, including varying territorial claims to the South China Sea and the North Korean nuclear threat, Kim said.

He said his country recognized that the Philippines was grappling with a serious drug problem and that Trump would likely raise the issue with Duterte during his visit.

“We have had concerns about the way in which the anti-drug campaign is being implemented,” Kim said, adding that Washington’s concerns had already been raised with Manila and was understood. He did not elaborate.

In any case, he said, Washington was committed to helping the Philippines, especially as it began the long process of reconstructing and rehabilitating Marawi. Toward that end, he said his government had set aside 750 million pesos (U.S. $15 million) for emergency relief needs, including rehabilitation requirements.

While he said the U.S. military was loathe to pat itself in the back, it provided crucial military intelligence and hardware in Marawi.

“Since 2000, we’re talking about billion and billions of pesos worth of assistance, including equipment grants, training,” Kim said.

This year alone, Washington provided tactical spy planes, hundreds of pistols, rifles and grenade launchers, two Cessna surveillance planes and a radar system, he said.

“We are deeply committed to defending the Philippines,” he said, adding that Washington takes its “treaty obligations seriously.”

Exclusive: Koran, Boots and Scarves All That Remain in Philippine Rebel Leader's Lair

From US News & World Report (Oct 27): Exclusive: Koran, Boots and Scarves All That Remain in Philippine Rebel Leader's Lair


People walk in front of a bullet-riddled apartment house in a residential area in Malutlut district, Marawi city, southern Philippines October 27, 2017, which was believed to have been rented by pro-Islamic State militant group leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute before their battle in Marawi city. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco Reuters

Prayer mats, chequered scarves, black fatigues, and bullet-ridden walls mark the hideout where the "emir" of Islamic State in Southeast Asia spent months preparing the most brazen and devastating militant attack in the region.

A four-storey house in a quiet alley of Marawi City in the southern Philippines was the secret lair of Isnilon Hapilon until late May. After a botched military raid to apprehend him, a thousand-strong rebel alliance held large parts of the city for five months.

Hapilon's death in a military operation elsewhere in Marawi on Oct. 16 was the catalyst for the end of Philippines' longest and most intense urban battle in recent history.

Security forces moved in on the house on May 23, trying to capture the country's most wanted man, but came under sustained attack from rebels firing rocket-propelled grenades.

A bomb-battered structure, shattered windows and wall-to-wall holes from machine gun fire tell the story of the ferociousthree-day battle that erupted at Hapilon's hideout, and promptedthe call to hundreds of fighters to expedite the plannedtakeover of Marawi.

Hapilon escaped through a large hole that was blasted out of a rear wall, making his way across a rice field to a mosque next to the vast Lake Lanao. From there, he joined the guerrillas.

Community volunteers on Thursday showed Reuters the house in the now empty, narrow street where the military believes Hapilon had lain low for several months. All other properties were intact and neighbors had fled long ago.

"At the time, no one knew who these people were. People saw them about but there was no reason to suspect anything," said Mohammed Seddick Raki, who lived nearby.

Other volunteers said women and children stayed at the rented house and visitors were frequent.

Children's shoes were scattered amid the debris and a woman's robe was hanging from a window.


Inside the house, black shirts, pants and plaid scarves synonymous with Islamic State were strewn across rooms littered with broken floor tiles and chunks of rock from blasted walls.

Left behind were waterproof boots, a balaclava, medical supplies and camouflage bags and waistcoats typically used by soldiers to carry rifle magazines.

Coated in a think layer of dust on floors of every room were pocket-sized copies of the Koran, some with pages stained by water leaked through gaping holes in the roof.

A mosque, about 100 meters behind the house, was the venue for an annual gathering in Marawi of Tablighi Jamaat, a Sunni missionary movement, just days before the fighting erupted.

Military officials say the foreigners who fought in Hapilon's alliance - among them Indonesians, Malaysians and some from Arab states - had used that event as a cover to slip into Marawi without raising suspicion.

The deputy task force commander in Marawi, Colonel Romeo Brawner, said Hapilon evaded security forces because rebels had a network of lookouts and gunmen ready to defend him.

"They put up heavy resistance. They were spread across a large area. They were strategically placed," he said. "They were prepared for it."

Hapilon's escape in the last week of May led to anarchy in the city of about 200,000. Rebels took hostages, set fire to buildings, ransacked churches, broke into the local jail to free inmates and looted an armory.

The government had insufficient security forces in Marawi to prevent the fighters from fanning out across the city and seizing hundreds of buildings.

Hapilon was wanted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and had a bounty on his head of up to $5 million. He was killed by army rangers in a night operation and his body was retrieved from the battle zone in the heart of the city. His identity was confirmed by the FBI's DNA analysis.

The city of Marawi was all but destroyed by government air strikes and shelling that leveled commercial areas and crushed thousands of shops, homes and vehicles.

"No one could have known what would happen," said Mohamed Faisal Mama, a resident in the same Basak Malutlot district where Hapilon was hiding.

"No one knew them. They weren't famous then."

Three militants still at large

From The Star Online (Oct 28): Three militants still at large

An ex-hostage describes his time with two of the remaining M’sians involved in the Marawi siege. 
IS Malaysian militant Mohd Amin Baco dead or alive?

Intelligence sources in Malaysia and the Philippines are not sure.
Some say that the 34-year-old Sabahan has escaped a Philippine security forces cordon in Marawi City. Some say his body is among 40 bodies burnt beyond recognition which were found in a mosque in Marawi City.

The nearly five-month-long Islamic State siege of Marawi City in southern Philippines is over. Two Malaysians – former Universiti Malaya lecturer Dr Mahmud Ahmad and former Selayang Municipal Council officer Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee @ Abu Nur – have been killed in the battle to turn Marawi City into an IS caliphate.

The fates of three Malaysians – Amin Baco @ Abu Jihad, Jeknal Adil @ Jek and Abu Hizab – are unknown.
“Jeknal is not known here. Intel operatives do not know him,” an intelligence source told me.

Here’s who Amin Baco and Jeknal are, according to a July report by Indonesia-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC).
Jeknal Adil, held from 2006 to 2009 under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act on suspicion of links to the Sabah Darul Islam network, was first reported to be in Basilan in 2012. Born in Tawau to Tausug parents, he apparently never had full Malaysian nationality but instead had permanent residency status.

Amin Baco, a Malaysian national from Tawau, of Bugis descent, is married into a prominent Abu Sayyaf Group family on Jolo island in the Sulu province. (His father-in-law is Hatib Sawadjaan, head of an ASG faction known as the Tanum Group.)
On Nov 14, 2012, the two teamed up to kidnap cousins Tung Wee Jie and Tung Wee Wei, from their birds’ nest farm in Tambisan, Lahad Datu, Sabah. Wee Wei died in captivity while Wee Jie escaped.

To get an understanding of who Amin Baco and Jeknal are, I contacted Baker Atyani, a Jordanian journalist held hostage for 18 months by the Abu Sayyaf from June 12, 2012. He had encountered them while he was in captivity on Jolo island.
Baker met Amin Baco when he was in captivity as the Sabahan knew English and he was asked to talk to him. He found out the gunman’s name is Jihad and that he is a Malaysian.

“He had a dispute with Hajan in my first week of captivity and he left the Hajan community to go either to Cotabato City or Basilan,” said Baker when I met him in Kuala Lumpur in October last year shooting a video documentary, Undercover Asia: Kidnapped – Abu Sayyaf.(Baker knows Amin Baco’s father-in-law as Hajan, whereas the IPAC report names him as Hatib.)

“When I was freed, I read that there is a Malaysian married to the daughter of Hatib and then I knew that Amin Baco is Jihad.”
“What’s your impression of Amin Baco?” I asked Baker.

“He speaks quite good English. Looks like he’s got a strong personality – he has his own mind. Probably that is why he had differences with his father-in-law. He used to be their guru in that Hajan community,” he said.

Baker said he knew Jeknal as Ahmad and he was close to him as he taught him Arabic.
“Every day he would visit me for two hours for me to teach him Arabic,” he said.

Jeknal wanted to learn Arabic as he knew the basics of the language.
“He was a good student as he really wanted to learn. It was clear he had passion for the language,” Baker said.

“Later, he told me about his story – that he was from Sabah and he was jailed for three years in Malaysia for a crime he said he never committed.”

According to Jeknal, he was close to Darul Islam Sabah and he was accused of a murder in which he was not involved.

Jeknal was a very quiet and simple man.

“He had to be with the community because he had no choice – I felt – but he was not part of them. He stayed as a stranger among Hajan’s community. He also left that community and probably went to Basilan,” Baker said.

Nothing much is known of the Malaysian militant going by the nom de guerre Abu Hizab. He was not on the security forces’ radar in the Philippines and Malaysia until the Marawi siege five months ago.

“We don’t know when he entered the Philippines. He has been with Dr Mahmud’s group. But he is not a key figure in IS although he was involved in militancy,” said a source.

“The three Malaysians – whether dead or alive – are still at large in the Philippines,” he said. “Security forces will get them soon.”

No word yet if new AFP chief will serve beyond 2 months

From Rappler (Oct 26): No word yet if new AFP chief will serve beyond 2 months

'Yung extension huwag muna natin pag -sapan. What is important for me to do now is to focus on my job,' says new AFP chief Lieutenant General Rey Guerrero

It's the question in the minds of many officers in Camp Aguinaldo. Will President Rodrigo Duterte extend the term of the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Lieutenant General Rey Guerrero, who will retire in less than two months? (READ: Duterte appoints general about to retire as next AFP chief)

Duterte was mum during his speech at the change of command ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, October 26. Guerrero replaced General Eduardo Año who reached the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Guerrero himself didn't want to discuss it. He will retire in December 2017.

"'Yung extension huwag muna natin pag-usapan (Let's not talk about a possible extension yet. What is important for me to do now is to focus on my job," Guerrero told reporters.

"I'm just the appointed official so any extension of the appointed official depends upon the appointing authority," he added.

Lorenzana supports extension
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he supports the possible extension of Guerrero's term.

"Ano naman ang magagawa ni General Guerrero in two months? Siguro mag-extend naman nang mahaba-habang panahon para magampanan niya trabaho niya," said Lorenzana, (What can General Guerrero achieve in two months? I suppose his term will be extended longer so he could do his job.)

"We have martial law. That is a good reason for the President to extend the chief of staff," said Lorenzana.

In a separate interview, Guerrero maintained he will do his job, whether or not his term is extended.

"You have to understand that the effort of the AFP is based on a multi-year program. It is not dependent on personalities anymore. Regardless of who assumes, he has tasks lined up for him to do. In my case, regardless of whether I'm extended or not, I'm mandated to finish whatever I can in the period given to me. We have timetables and targets that we should meet and I intend to meet them," Guerrero said.

Guerrero said the high approval and trust rating of the military – in the aftermath of the Marawi war – will generate public support for the military campaigns.

Finish off terrorists
Guerrero assumes command as the Philippine military continues operations against the so-called remnants of terrorist groups in Mindanao in the aftermath of the war in Marawi, where the country's top terror leaders were killed.

In his speech, Guerrero said he will focus on 3 objectives. "The priorities in the area of peace and security are clear: Finish the remaining terrorist groups, neutralize the communist insurgency threat, and support law enforcement agencies in efforts against lawless armed groups," Guerrero said.

Guerrero also vowed to support the modernization of the military and hire more troops to fill up new units in the military. "I've been instructed to organize 10 additional battalions. This will augment existing deployments," Guerrero later told reporters.

Davao general
Guerrero is the commanding general of military forces based in the home region of the President, the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom).

Guerrero was widely believed to have been Duterte's choice to replace former AFP chief Ricardo Visaya, who retired in 2016. But seniority prevailed and Año got the appointment.

Guerrero was again rumored to take the helm of the AFP last June when Año was supposed to retire early to head the Department of the Interior and Local Government. But war erupted in Marawi City and Año remained in his post.

There have been talks Guerrero's term would be extended beyond his scheduled retirement in December.

In his younger years in the Army, Guerrero also got his brigade command in Davao Oriental. A Special Forces officer, he was assigned to the Presidential Security Group under former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Next job of newly retired AFP chief Año is to supervise police – Duterte

From Rappler (Oct 26): Next job of newly retired AFP chief Año is to supervise police – Duterte

General Eduardo Año, who has stepped down as Philippine military chief, will still have a role in the Duterte administration

RETIRED. Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año retires on Thursday, October 26. Rappler photo

RETIRED. Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año retires on Thursday, October 26. Rappler photo

President Rodrigo Duterte said the next job of newly retired Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año is to "supervise the police."

"He will take the title of special assistant to the president or undersecretary, whichever is tenable legally," Duterte said at the AFP change-of-command ceremony on Thursday, October 26.

This is consistent with his statement in August that he will appoint Año as a "senior aide" under the Office of the President. (READ: AFP chief Año to be senior aide in charge of DILG)

Duterte wants to appoint Año to become the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) but a legal restriction prevents him from appointing newly retired officers to civiian offices for a period of one year. (READ: Why Duterte can't appoint AFP chief Año as DILG chief)

Año was supposed to retire early back in June to lead the DILG. He stayed on when the war in Marawi erupted.

U.S. crucial to beating IS in Philippines, says ambassador

From Rappler (Oct 26): U.S. crucial to beating IS in Philippines, says ambassador
Ambassador Sung Kim highlights American intelligence, urban warfare training, and drones as among the factors that helped end the conflict in Marawi City

The United States played a "very important role" in defeating Islamic State supporters who occupied parts of a southern Philippine city for five months, the US ambassador in Manila said Thursday.

Ambassador Sung Kim highlighted American intelligence, urban warfare training and drones as among the factors that helped end the conflict in Marawi city on Monday, October 23, which local authorities said claimed more than 1,100 lives.

"We did play a very important role in supporting the (Philippines') efforts to retake Marawi," Kim told reporters.

"We had P-3s (surveillance planes), Grey Eagles (drones) providing crucial intelligence information to the Armed Forces of the Philippines so that they would be able to carry out operations necessary to retake Marawi."

He also said US forces provided "very useful technical advice," especially in the area of urban warfare where they had more experience than Filipino troops.

The United States also provided guns, ammunition and rubber boats to the Philippine military, while committing 750 million pesos ($14.7 million) in aid to residents forced out of their homes because of the war, Kim said.

He said the United States had about 100 to 200 troops based in the southern Philippines to train and advise local forces in battling Muslim extremists, but he would not elaborate on their role in Marawi.

The United States and the Philippines are longtime allies, with the nations bound by a mutual defence pact.

However Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a self-described socialist, has sought to loosen his nation's alliance with the United States in favour of closer ties with China and Russia.

Duterte last year called the then US president a "son of a whore" and said he planned to cancel all military exercises with the United States.

His anger was partly driven by American criticism of his crackdown on drugs, which has seen police kill thousands of people and led rights groups to warn that Duterte may be orchestrating a crime against humanity.

However relations have improved under Obama's successor, Donald Trump, who has praised Duterte for his drug war.

Kim said Thursday that US-Philippine ties were "back to normal," and cited a resumption of regular joint military exercises.

He also said the United States was not concerned about the Philippines' deepening relationship with China and Russia, which has seen them for the first time provide significant amounts of military hardware.

"I'm not in any way threatened by the fact that China and Russia are also providing military assistance to the Philippines," Kim said.

U.S. denies CIA backing destabilization vs Duterte

From Rappler (Oct 26): U.S. denies CIA backing destabilization vs Duterte

'President Duterte won a very impressive election. We respect his election, and are in fact working very well together with this administration,' says US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim

The United States denied on Thursday, October 26, that its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is backing destabilization plots against President Rodrigo Duterte's government.

"As far as I know, there is absolutely no, no effort by the CIA to undermine the Philippines' leadership," said US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim in a forum with the Foreign Correspondents' Association of the Philippines on Thursday.

Kim added: "President Duterte won a very impressive election. We respect his election, and are in fact working very well together with this administration."

"I think it's much more important for us to focus on what we're doing with the relationship, than public statements," the US ambassador said.

Duterte on October 17 said he believes the CIA wants him "out of government." He falsely claimed days earlier, on October 12, that the CIA funds Rappler.

The US embassy under Kim, however, has worked to boost ties with Duterte. Kim's predecessor, Philip Goldberg, had earned Duterte's ire because Goldberg criticized one of Duterte's rape jokes during the presidential campaign period.

Kim on Thursday cited the "very important role" played by the US in ending the war in Marawi City.

Kim highlighted American intelligence, urban warfare training, and drones as among the factors that helped end the conflict in Marawi City last Monday, October 23, which local authorities said claimed more than 1,100 lives.

Heroes’ Welcome

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 27): Heroes’ Welcome

Scout Rangers who helped liberate Marawi return home

MORE than 200 members of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion (2SRB) were accorded with Hero’s Welcome yesterday at Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan as they returned to the city after five months of fighting against the Maute-ISIS terrorist group in Marawi City.

The activity started with 2SRB members marching from the Tactical Operation’s Group (TOG) XI going to Camp Panacan Station. They received roses and warmed welcome from their families, friends and supporters.

Together with the battalion commander, there were 212 personnel – 18 officers and 194 enlisted men – who arrived in the city Wednesday night after helping the liberation of Marawi City. Of the figure, 125 soldiers were wounded. Nine 2SRB members were killed in action.

During the ceremony yesterday, Benito De Leon, a retired army general who heads the city’s Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC), welcomed the soldiers in behalf of the city government.

In his speech, de Leon said he is expecting a more secure city with the presence of the heroes from Marawi City.

Upon arrival in the city, the 2SRB soldiers are placed anew under the operational control of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom).
The 2SRB – originally under the command of the Philippine Army’s Special Operation Command based in Bulacan – was detailed in EastMinCom before they were send to Sulu last August to fight the Abu Sayyaf group.

When the Marawi crisis broke, they were deployed to the area to fight the Maute-ISIS group.

In an interview yesterday at the sidelines of the activity, Maj. Ezra Balagtey, EastMinCom spokesperson, said the 2SRB can be assigned anywhere in the region if their presence is needed.

“Their assignment is not just particular in Davao region but they can also be deployed in Caraga or in Region XII,” Balagtey said. Parts of Caraga and Soccsksargen are under EastMinCom.

Balagtey said the soldiers already underwent stress debriefing in Marawi City before their return.

However, the soldiers can further go stress debriefing if there is a need.

For now, Balagtey said the soldiers need rest.

“We will give them rest,” he said.

In a recent interview with Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, the commander of EastMinCom’s 10th Infantry Division, said the 2SRB, together with the two other returning battalions, will be placed under his division.
Outgoing AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano, in his statement last week, said that the five EastMinCom battalions that were sent to Sulu would be returned here.

Soldiers of 89th IB now ready vs NPA

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 28): Soldiers of 89th IB now ready vs NPA

LT. GEN. Rolando Joselito Bautista, the commading general of the Philippine Army (PA), led yesterday the sent off ceremony of the 89th Infantry Battalion into the operational area of 10th Infantry Division in its headquarters in Barangay Tuboran, Mawab, Compostela Valley.
The 89th IB, the newly activated battalion of the division, is an additional force to help in crushing down the strong presence of communist group in the region.

The battalion has strength of at least 500 members and officers to be led by Lt. Col. Luciano Caiman. It will be deployed to the 1003rd Infantry Brigade.

The 89th IB is now occupying the brigade’s headquarters in Barangay New Visayas in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte as the 1003rd has been transferred to Barangay Mahayag in Bunawan District here.

In his speech during the ceremony, Bautista told the soldiers that the region is the most challenging area in terms of the insurgency operation.

“The Davao region is a place of seasoned and veteran fighters of CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army), many soldiers were killed including scout rangers in early 1980′s,” Bautista said.

“So the soldiers must be psychologically, physically and at the same time they are prepared in their skills in combating the NPAs,” he added.

The Army chief also wants to ensure that the 89th IB will be on their right path as half of the battalion is newbie soldiers.

Bautista also urged the soldiers to focus on their responsibility.

“You should not be destructed by political acts and conflicts on the local government unit (LGU) in a particular area,” he said.

He also wants the soldiers to maintain the trust and respect toward each soldier and to the civilian.

“The Marawi crisis is starting to end,” Bautista said. “We must preempt the same incident that might happen.”