Saturday, November 4, 2017

NEW DIMENSION | 2ID conducts Urban Operations Training

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Websit e (Nov 4): NEW DIMENSION  |  2ID conducts Urban Operations Training

CAMP MATEO CAPINPIN, Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal (DWDD) – The 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division has initiated the conduct of an “Urban Operations Training on October 25, 2017 as a means of coping with an ever changing warfare scenario, similar to the Marawi and Zamboanga siege.

The ceremonial opening was graced by Col Arnold Macadangdang, 2ID Inspector General, as Guest of Honor and Speaker. In his speech, Col Macadangdang reiterated the importance of interoperability, particularly on operations involving different forces.

The Mobile Training Team and training overview was briefed by Major Glen Nielson, Officer in Command – Training Team of the Australian Defense Force.

The training is part of the on-going Phl-Australia Military exercises that involves troops from the 1st Infantry “Always First” Battalion and Joint Task Group – 629 of the Australian Defense Force. 2DPAO/MCAG

DWDD: REMEMBERING | SOLCOM commemorates the 176 Death Anniversary of Hermano Pule

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 4): REMEMBERING  |  SOLCOM commemorates the 176 Death Anniversary of Hermano Pule

HERMANO PULE SHRINE,Brgy Isabang,Tayabas City (DWDD) Troops from the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) commemorate the 176th Death Anniversary of Hermano Pule on November 4, 2017 part of the program was the awarding of Marawi Hero soldiers from Quezon Province.
MGen Benjamin R Madrigal Jr, Commander Southern Luzon Command attended the wreath laying ceremony of the 176th Death Commemoration of Apolinario De la Cruz “Hermano Pule”

Wreathlaying ceremony in connection with Hermano Pule 176th Death Commemoration and awarding of Quezonian Soldier heroes from 1IB deployed at Marawi.



Governor David C Suarez awarded the 15 soldiers from 1st Infantry ALWAYS FIRST Battalion with plaque and granted cash assistance in recognition of their heroism and sacrifice during the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) counter terror operations in Marawi.


DWDD: FOCUSED OPERATIONS | Team WESCOM Scores anew vs NPA in Palawan

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 5): FOCUSED OPERATIONS  |  Team WESCOM Scores anew vs NPA in Palawan

CAMP GEN ARTEMIO RICARTE, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan (DWDD) – Western Command elements from the 18th Special Forces Company under the Joint Task Group South, conducted focused military operations and firearms and various war materials from the communists terrorists in Sitio Arib, Barangay Culasian, Rizal, Palawan on October 30, 2017.

Led by Cpt Anthony Macatual, and with the help of community residents, the military recovered items, documents and war materials as follows: 2 pcs M16A1 Rifles, 3 pcs 12 Gauge shot guns, 2 pcs empty magazines, 1 pc empty mag cal 45 pistol, 1 pc housing box cal 45 pistol, 4 pcs ammo 5.56mm, 2 pcs books (Batayang Kurso ng Partido, Hingil sa Imperyalismo), 1 pc patch Bagong Hukbong Bayan, 1 pc Improvised Automating Blasting Machine, 1 pc non Electric Blasting cap, assorted medicines and medical kit, 1 pc logbook, subversive documents and receipt, assorted tool kit, assorted Clothes and other personal belongings.

To date, the Western Command has recovered a total of 26 firearms, a fully assembled IED and numerous ammunitions since the start of the second quarter of 2017. The recovery is a serious blow to the capability of the communist terrorist to sow fear and stage atrocities in the province.

Following the successful recovery of firearms and war materials in Bataraza a week ago, the conduct of operations in Rizal was made possible with the help also of the local residents in the community.

“This only shows that the people are sick and tired of the crimes, atrocities and illegal activities of the communists terrorists in their area. And so we also urge other communities to cooperate with us and report any information that would lead to the neutralization of personalities and capabilities of the enemies of peace,” said Western Command Commander, Lt Gen Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr.

The focused military operations of the operating troops of Western Command are balanced with civil military operations in their areas of operations.

“Western Command shall continue to conduct focused military operations as well as civil military operations in Palawan in order to cripple and dismantle the communist terrorists in the Province to ensure that nothing and no one will stand in the way of progress and further development,” Lt Gen Kintanar Jr. added.

President Rodrigo Duterte has called on the NPAs to cease fighting the government, go back to folds of the law, and rejoin the mainstream of society. The present administration has a pro-active program for their peaceful return that will enable them to responsibly rejoin their families, live normal lives, and integrate with their Filipino brothers and sisters.

In Palawan alone, there are about 79 rebels who have surrendered and returned to the mainstream society since January 2017. We are expecting more of them who will surrender and live lives anew. WESCOM/MCAG

Armed men go on burning binge in Dole plantation

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 4): Armed men go on burning binge in Dole plantation

Camp Bancasi, Butuan City – Heavily armed men swooped down on a banana plantation early Friday and set ablaze portable banana processors and buildings in Barangay Casisang, Malaybalay City in Bukidnon, a report reaching this camp said on Saturday.

An initial report said the men, armed with automatic rifles and handguns, arrived at 12:20 a.m. on Friday, and proceeded to burn the portable processors and buildings of the banana plantation.

The plantation is reportedly owned by DOLE Philippines.

After setting on fire the said facilities, the perpetrators immediately fled to nearby upper Casisang mountainous area of that same agricultural city of Malaybalay.

No one was reported harmed among the workers of DOLE Philippines.

Banana processors are used for cleaning, grading and in the selection process of bananas before they are packed.

DOLE Philippines is still validating and assessing the exact amount of damaged facilities.

“We cannot still determine as of this time the identities of the perpetrators or group doing this terroristic act and even the motive of this incident,” said 403rd Infantry Brigade Civil Military Operations officer Capt. Norman Tagros, in a phone interview with The Manila Bulletin on Saturday.

However, he said there are bandits, extortionists and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels known to operate in the area, that have harassed business and local folk in the past.

“We cannot still determine the real motive and identities of the arsonists on pre-dawn attack on Friday,” stressed the 403rd CMO officer.

He said the Malaybalay City Police Station is still conducting a thorough investigation on the said incident while combat maneuvering troops of the 1st Special Forces Battallion (1st SFB) are still pursuing the fleeing perpetrators who reportedly ran away toward the upper Casisang of that same city.

Col. Eric C. Vinoya, commanding officer of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, also ordered the deployment of more combat maneuvering troops to augment the pursuing troops of the 1stSFB in Casisang area, he added.

Misuari wants his Sandigan cases reinvestigated

From the Philippine Star (Nov 5): Misuari wants his Sandigan cases reinvestigated

Moro National Liberation Front Chairperson Nur Misuari appears in this Sept. 18, 2016 photo after a Norwegian hostage was turned over by ransom-seeking Abu Sayyaf extremists in Indanan township on Jolo island. AP/Nickee Butlangan, File photo

Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari has asked the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to order a reinvestigation of his criminal cases in connection with the alleged anomalous procurements amounting P115.2 million during his term as the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

In his 11-page omnibus motion filed before the court's Third Division on November 3, Misuari, through his lawyer, Manolo Flores, said he was not given an opportunity by the Office of the Ombudsman to answer the allegations against him before filing of the cases in court.

“Accused Nur Misuari most respectfully request the Honorable Third Division of the Sandiganbayan to refer the present cases against him for preliminary investigation by the Ombudsman and to defer the date of his arraignment if it is already scheduled,” Misuari's motion read.

Filed by the ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan on May 22, the charges against Misuari involve three counts of graft and another three counts of the complex crime of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.

The cases stemmed from the alleged anomalous procurement of educational materials and kits for public schools in 2000 and 2001 amounting to P115.2 million.

The ombudsman said none of the purchased materials were ever delivered. Instead, the respondents allegedly falsified disbursement vouchers, purchase orders, canvass reports, sales invoices, delivery receipts and other supporting documents to make it appear that the transactions with the three suppliers were above board.

Named as Misuari's co-accused in the cases were former regional officials of the Department of Education.

In his motion, Misuari claimed that he was not even notified by the ombudsman that there was a standing complaint against him.

Thus, Misuari said, he was “shocked” upon learning from the media that cases have already been filed against him before the Sandiganbayan and worse, that the court's Third Division had already issued an arrest warrant against him.

The Third Division issued the arrest warrants against Misuari and his seven co-accused on August 31 after it ruled that there was probable cause to hold them on trial for the cases.

Misuari surrendered before the National Bureau of Investigation in Davao City on September 19 and on the same day, posted P460,000 bail bond before the Davao City Regional Trial Court.

In his motion, Misuari claimed that the ombudsman's order dated Dec. 8, 2014 directing him to submit a counter affidavit on the complaint against him was “erroneously” sent by the anti-graft body to the Office of the Regional Governor of ARMM in Cotabato City. Misuari said he was no longer the sitting governor at that time, thus the order should have been sent to his residence in Zamboanga City.

Misuari said that because of the ombudsman's lapses, “he was not informed of the accusations hurled against him,” and thus, was deprived of his statutory right to defend himself.

“For lack of preliminary investigation, herein, accused was deprived of his right to adduce controverting documents against the complaint lodged against him,” Misuari said.

Misuari further claimed that in its June 17, 2017 resolution on the complaint, the ombudsman stated that the questionable payments to two of the three suppliers were made in 2003 and 2004, the time when he was no longer the governor of ARMM.

“Based on the foregoing, it is impossible that accused Nur Misuari could be liable for the anomalous release of the alleged amounts of payments to CPR Publishing and MBJ Learning Tools...because he was no longer the Regional Governor of ARMM as his term had long expired on September 30, 2001,” the motion read.

In the formally filed cases before the Sandiganbayan, however, the ombudsman said P31 million was paid to MBJ Learning Tools on Dec. 21, 2000 while P46.261million was paid to CPR Publishing on July 24, 2001 both for the supply of information technology packages.

An amount of P37.959 million, meanwhile, was supposedly paid to White Orchids Printing and Publishing House in September 2001 for the supply of educational materials.

Misuari prayed to the Third Division to defer or hold in abeyance his arraignment until his omnibus motion is resolved with finality.

Islamic State's grip widening in southern Philippines, says MILF leader

From Channel News Asia (Nov 4): Islamic State's grip widening in southern Philippines, says MILF leader

In the second of a three-part series looking at the changing security situation in the Southern Philippines, Channel NewsAsia's Amy Chew speaks to the leader of the MILF about the growing threat of radicalism there.
MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim along with members from the group. (Photo: Amy Chew)
CAMP DARAPANAN, Philippines: From the air, Mindanao island in the southern Philippines is a stunning mass of lush greenery surrounded by sparkling blue waters, an unexpected stunning sight.

But on the ground, the lush beauty gives way to harsh realities. Mindanao is the poorest region in Philippines.

Four out of the top five poorest regions in the Philippines were in Mindanao in 2015, according to the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA).

In June this year, Filipino Senator Sherwin Gatchalian was quoted by ABS-CBN News as saying that extremism in the southern Philippines can be traced to poverty and the only way to counter it is by ensuring that families have enough for their basic needs.

Insurgencies and armed conflicts have ravaged the island for 40 years, killing more than 100,000 people.

The latest large-scale armed conflict was the five-month siege of Marawi city by pro-Islamic State (IS) groups that ended last month, leaving 1,132 militants, soldiers and civilians dead, flattening buildings and displacing more than 200,000 residents.

The attack, led by the pro-IS Maute Group and Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was the fiercest fighting the Philippines government has faced in many years.

It also marked the most serious assault by the global terror group in a bid to get a foothold into Southeast Asia, raising the black flag of IS in Marawi, unsettling governments across the region.

The separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest armed group in southern Philippine with 12,000 members, has warned of an increased IS presence in Mindanao following the Marawi siege.

At Camp Darapanan, the headquarters of MILF, the group’s leader, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, told Channel NewsAsia that it was crucial for on-going peace talks to succeed, as an antidote against the rising threat of violent extremism.

Murad, a former military commander who said he favours peace over war, warned that IS was exploiting the protracted peace talks to recruit people to join the group.


The 69-year-old spent decades fighting in the harsh jungles of Mindanao. Still, he has regularly been described as a moderate leader committed to peace.

But there are no mistaking his credentials. Heavily armed bodyguards suddenly appeared from nowhere to surround the garden when he arrived for an interview with Channel NewsAsia, followed by respectful handshakes and greetings extended by men in the vicinity.

Murad said a successful outcome to peace talks in Mindanao was of “great importance” for the stability and security of the whole of Southeast Asia.

“If the problems in the Philippines worsened, Malaysia (and) Indonesia will be affected,” said Murad.

“The longer this peace process takes, the more people are going to be radicalised,” he added.

“What we see now is ... they (pro-IS groups) are capitalising on the delay of the peace process. They try to influence young people (by saying) tens of years have been spent on the peace process but nothing happened,” said Murad.

“They try to get young people to join their group, saying that only by means of violence, could we achieve our aims,” he added.


MILF has publicly voiced its opposition to IS and is fighting alongside the Philippines’ military against pro-IS groups.

“For us, we are really determined to oppose this group (IS) … any radical groups. We don’t believe their activities will help in achieving our aspiration of Bangsamoro (people of Moro), (which is) a political aspiration for self government and self determination,” said Murad.

Only a few dozen civilians could be seen on Tuesday morning on the outskirts of the mostly destroyed eastern half of Marawi, where regular bursts of gunfire and occasional controlled explosions could still be heard AFP/TED ALJIBE

The MILF and the central government have been negotiating for greater autonomy and wealth sharing in Mindanao in peace talks that started in 1997. The talks have yet to conclude.

MILF, with its vast network of men and control over territory in Mindanao, has detected an increase in the number of IS militants in southern Philippines following the loss of the terror group’s territories in the Middle East.

Western analysts recently said they expect IS fighters, driven from Syria and Iraq, to move to Libya and the Philippines.

‘We feel that after the Middle East, … where they (IS) are losing ground, they increased (their) penetration into the southern Philippines. We have information they (IS) want to strengthen their forces in southern Philippines because they see southern Philippines as a very strategic area,” said Murad.

“If you look at southern Philippines, it is at the center of several countries in the Pacific rim like Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand ... they want to form a wilayat, a province of the (Islamic) Caliphate,” said Murad.

During the siege of Marawi, IS called for people to wage jihad in the city, drawing foreign fighters from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East to the Philippines.

“According to our monitoring, there were three Middle Eastern-looking people in Marawi ... there were five men from Malaysia and about seven to eight from Indonesia,” said Murad.


The government's weak control in parts of Mindanao – in the highlands and rural areas - is leaving the southern Philippines open to further penetration by IS, said Murad.

“They (IS) ... know government control over areas, especially in the highlands ... in rural areas, is not strong, particularly in Mindanao. Many areas are not well-protected. Mindanao is also very porous. They (IS) can easily come in,” said Murad.

“And it is easy to buy weapons here,” said Murad.

Add to that, infiltration by Malaysian and Indonesian IS militants were difficult to detect because “they look just like us,” said Murad.

The 10,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has been fighting for a Muslim homeland in the largely Catholic Philippines for decades, is warning of the growing strength of Islamic State group-affiliated groups in the region. (Photo: AFP/Ferdinand Cabrera)

Former MILF fighters told Channel NewsAsia in an earlier interview that the southern Philippines was the only place in Southeast Asia that IS could establish a province as the country was awash with weapons, armed groups and ungoverned spaces.

Asked whether IS will succeed in carving out a wilayah (territory) in southern Philippines, Murad said “no.”

“Given the problems in Mindanao, they (IS) can strengthen their forces. But to create a successful wilayah, I don’t think so,” said Murad.


The Philippines government has now declared the end of fighting in Marawi. As the government set out to rebuild the city, MILF warned there are signs pro-IS groups are attempting to stage another “Marawi-style” attack in other parts of Mindanao.

“After the Marawi attack, we really sense pro-IS are trying to launch attacks in other cities,” said Murad.

“We identified radical groups moving silently into Cotabato city. They were not armed and were probably doing reconnaissance,” said Murad.

Cotabato City is a 30-minute car ride away from MILF’s headquarters and serves as the regional seat for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“We … deployed our own forces in strategic areas on the outskirts of Cotabato city, just to send a signal we will defend Cotabato city if they (pro-IS groups) attacked,” said Murad.

The ARMM is predominantly Muslim and comprises five provinces and two component cities in Mindanao.


Meanwhile, the protracted peace talks have disappointed some of MILF’s young members, causing them to break away to form radical groups with some pledging allegiance to IS.

“History has shown that every time the peace process fails, you will have splinter groups They always end up being more radical,” said Murad.

Amongst them is the pro-IS Maute Group founded by brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute, leaders of the Marawi siege. Both were killed by the military.

“The Maute was (previously) with the MILF,” said Murad.

Murad traced the rise of the Maute Group to the breakdown of the 2015 peace process when the Philippines’ legislature failed to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to establish the new autonomous Muslim-majority region called Bangsamoro.

The BBL would have greater powers than the existing ARMM which it would replace.

“The Maute Group surfaced after the failure of the BBL in the last administration … they split from MILF in 2015 ... formed their own group under their own name,” said Murad.

Another MILF splinter group is the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) which pledged allegiance to IS in 2014, according to the Jakarta-based Institute For Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC).


In the mid-nineties, the MILF allowed the regional terror group, JI, to set up a para-military training camp in its territory, a decision that sometimes returns to haunt the group in peace negotiations.

Murad did not shy away from answering when asked why JI was allowed into its territory.

“JI from Indonesia volunteered to fight with us during the height of our fighting, especially at the time (when) there was this all-out war against MILF,” said Murad.

“So when they (asked to) set up their own camp, we permitted them. But after we resumed the peace process, we courteously asked them (JI) to leave the Philippines,” said Murad.

“We said that since we are already in the peace process, there is no need for us to have this (JI) training camp,” Murad added.

Murad said JI’s departure from its land started in 2001.

An official from the government-run Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) told Channel NewsAsia that Mount Caracao, where the JI camp was located, is verified “100 per cent free of JI” since 2013.


After years of disappointment, Murad is optimistic a revised draft BBL, the cornerstone of the peace negotiations, will be passed under President Rodrigo Duterte's administration.

“We are optimistic it (BBL) will be passed as long as the President continues to support the law,” said Murad.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (C) poses with MILF leaders and government officials as they hold a draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. (AFP Photo/Ted Aljibe)

“President Duterte … is the first president from Mindanao. He understands well the problems in Mindanao. He acknowledges there has been injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people,“ Murad.

Duterte, has vowed to fast-track a revised draft of the BBL for passage through the legislature.

The draft BBL was filed in the Lower House of Congress on Sep 29 this year.

To date, the ceasefire agreement signed by the MILF, as part of the peace negotiation, has been holding well.

Asked whether MILF will resume fighting should the BBL once again fail to pass through the legislature, Murad said: “We will cross the bridge when we come to it.”

Nur urges Sandigan to defer arraignment

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 4): Nur urges Sandigan to defer arraignment

Former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Nur Misuari has filed an omnibus motion before the Sandiganbayan Third Division seeking to order a preliminary investigation and defer his scheduled arraignment.

Misuari, who was charged with graft and malversation through falsification in connection with the reportedly anomalous purchase of different educational packages and materials from 2000 to 2001, cited his right for the conduct of a preliminary investigation.
His charges were filed before the Sandiganbayan on May 22, 2017 on the basis of a resolution from the Office of the Ombudsman dared June 17, 2016. However, Misuari claimed that he was not informed of the accusations hurled against him.
The joint order dated Dec. 8, 2014 from the Ombudsman for Mindanao, which required him to submit a counter affidavit, was sent to the Office of the Regional Governor, ARMM in Cotabato City.

He said in his motion that the address was “completely wrong because Misuari was definitely not holding office there, since on said date it was Mujiv Hataman who was the Regional Governor.”

Misuari was also never notified of the complaint and of the evidence submitted against him.
The hearing for Misuari’s motion has been scheduled on November 17 at 1:30 p.m.

Ansar al-Khalifa sibling-suspects in Saranggani charged

From InterAksyon (Nov 4): Ansar al-Khalifa sibling-suspects in Saranggani charged

A soldier walks past pro-ISIS graffiti in Marawi. Authorities seized a black ISIS flag from two siblings tagged key players in the local chapter of the Ansar al-Khalifa terror group. They have been charged following their arrest in Saranggani province. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

Siblings Faroon and Alhotaibby Lumatao have been charged with violation of Republic Act 9156 or possession of illegal firearms and ammunition, and RA 9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act), two days after their arrest in Maasim, Saranggani province on the basis of a court warrant.

According to Director Gil Castro of the Region 12 office of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Administration (PDEA), the siblings are key players in the local terror group Ansar al-Khilafa.

The terror ring is in turn tagged the protector of the El Patron drug group and is a supporter of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Besides the 40 grams of shabu, guns and explosives, authorities recovered a black ISIS flag from the terror siblings upon their arrest.

The suspects declined media interviews.

In October, PDEA’s Region 12 office arrested Maasim Mayor Aniceto Lopez after illegal drugs were allegedly taken from his home.

The mayor was also tagged leader of the El Patron drug group.