Saturday, November 18, 2017

Detachment ng militar sa Shariff Aguak pinasabugan umano ng BIFF

From ABS-CBN (Nov 18): Detachment ng militar sa Shariff Aguak pinasabugan umano ng BIFF

Pinasabugan ng hinihinalang mga miyembro ng Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) ang detachment ng 40th Infantry Battalion sa Sitio Bagong Barangay Timbangan sa Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao Biyernes ng gabi.

Ayon sa militar, hinagisan ng granada ang labas ng detachment, pati ang likurang bahagi nito.

Inihagis umano ang unang granada sa labas ng detachment, sa barikada ng checkpoint sa kalsada. Nag-iwan ito ng butas sa kalsada.

Makalipas ang 20 minuto, pinasabugan naman ng M-203 grenade ang likurang bahagi ng detachment.

Gumanti ng putok ang mga sundalo na nagresulta sa sandaling putukan laban sa mga hinihinalang miyembro ng BIFF.

Walang naiulat na nasaktan sa insidente.

Ayon kay 6th Infantry Division Spokesperson Capt. Arvin Encinas, posibleng ganti ng grupo ang pagsalakay sa detachment sa nagpapatuloy na operasyon ng militar laban sa kanila sa mga lugar ng Salbo, Pagatin, Mamasapano, at Shariff Aguak, na tinatawag na SPMS Box.

Sa kasalukuyan, tahimik ang buong probinsya ng Maguindanao.

Nananatiling alerto naman ang mga awtoridad sa posibleng pagsalakay ng armadong grupo.

PH refusal to raise arbitration win may backfire: ex-security official

From ABS-CBN (Nov 17): PH refusal to raise arbitration win may backfire: ex-security official

The Philippines' refusal to raise its victory over China before an international court could be seen as defaulting on its claim in the South China Sea, a former Cabinet security official said Friday.

Manila needs to "take firm action very soon" on the arbitration ruling, said Roilo Golez, who was national security adviser under the Arroyo government.

"Law is such a complicated issue that sometimes they might say that you have defaulted already on your claim," Golez told ANC's Early Edition.

"You have shown lack of interest. You had all the opportunity but did not use the opportunity so it can be used against us in the end," he said.

The United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration said last year that Beijing's vast claims over the resource-rich waters had no legal basis.

Last October, President Rodrigo Duterte said he made the "correct step" in handling the landmark ruling.

"What we did was really the correct step and to avoid confrontational talks with almost all of the parties concerned. I just [asked] for a limited time to solve the problem and sharing of the resources if it could be done," he said.

Duterte says he made the correct step in sea dispute with China

During the ASEAN meetings this week, China agreed with Southeast Asian leaders to start negotiations on a binding code of conduct in the disputed waters.

Aside from the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also have overlapping claims in the strategic waterway where $5 trillion in trade pass annually.

"What is missing (from the ASEAN Chairman's statement) is the mention that we won in the arbitral tribunal... What is missing there is the assurance that there will be no militarization," Golez said.

Sundalo pinagnakawan, pinagbabaril sa Albay

From ABS-CBN (Nov 18): Sundalo pinagnakawan, pinagbabaril sa Albay

Pinagnakawan at pinagbabaril ang isang miyembro ng Philippine Army sa Albay, Sabado ng umaga. Erick Baldo, ABS-CBN News
Patay ang isang sundalo matapos pagbabarilin ng mga hinihinalang rebelde sa Daraga, Albay nitong Sabado ng umaga.

Kinilala ang biktima na si Private 1st Class George Murillo na namimili lamang sa palengke bandang alas-6 ng umaga.

Pinaniniwalaan ng mga awtoridad na mga miyembro ng Special Partisan Unit ng New People's Army ang mga salarin.

Tinangay din umano ng mga suspek ang pera, kabilang ang cash bonuses, ni Murillo.

Duterte says no longer inclined to resume peace talks with Reds

From ABS-CBN (Nov 18): Duterte says no longer inclined to resume peace talks with Reds

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he is no longer inclined to resume peace talks with communist rebels whom he branded as "terrorists" and "criminals."

Speaking to reporters in Davao City, Duterte said there is no point in talking with communist rebels if they think that he is a corrupt official.

"No, I am not anymore inclined to," the president said in response to a reporter's question.

"Kung corrupt ako, kung pasista ako, kung mamamatay-tao ako, kung DDS ako, why talk to me? Go find someone else," he added.

The president's recent statement is a sharp turn from his earlier pronouncements hinting at openness to resume talks with rebels.

Duterte to revolutionaries: Simmer down

Left-leaning groups had welcomed the electoral victory of Duterte, in hopes of pursuing talks with the government and instituting social reforms anchored on their ideologies.

Peace negotiations between the government and rebel sides, however, broke down earlier this year following a string of attacks against state troops allegedly committed by the New People's Army.

Reds ask Duterte to drop 'untenable' demands, focus on roots of conflict

Duterte added that communist rebels would no longer be recognized by the government as "legitimate rebels" and would now be considered "criminals."

"I will be issuing a proclamation. I will be removing them from the category of a legal entity or at least a semi-movement which would merit our attention, placing them pareho sa Amerika--terrorist," he said. "I would consider them criminals already."

The president also blasted the NPA anew for carrying out an ambush in Talakad, Bukidnon that left a 4-month-old baby dead, saying it was an "intentional" act.

He, however, renewed his offer for the rebels to lay down their arms and surrender to the government instead.

New Eastmincon chief steps up anti-NPA ops

From Malaya Business Insight (Nov 17): New Eastmincon chief steps up anti-NPA ops

NEWLY-INSTALLED AFP Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal vowed to step up operations against the New People’s Army which recently launched attacks in the Caraga region.

Interviewed after taking over the helm of the Eastmincom from now Armed Forces chief Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Madrigal said stopping rebel recruitment and extortion will be given priority.

“We will address their recruitment, stop the recruitment especially in the IP (indigenous people) areas....If their recruitment continues, there will be no end to this problem,” said Madrigal.

Madrigal said there is a need to destroy the support system and the underground mass organization of the communists but admitted other stakeholders, including local government units, will have to support the drive.

“This is not only about vigilance. We also need to address the livelihood (problem), deliver basic  services so that we can gain the support of the people, especially in the far-flung areas,” said Madrigal.

Madrigal also vowed to stop extortion activities, which is the major source of funds of the rebels. These rebel extortion activities are usually aimed at big companies, businessmen, and even local government officials.

“Secondly, we will address their extortion. The reason why some are joining the NPA is because of money. So we have to address their extortion activities. If we address that, it will have an effect on their recruitment capability,” said Madrigal.

As to the NPA fighters, Madrigal said combat operations will be intensified in the Eastmincom areas. “Our focused military operations to address this group will be continuous,” he said.

The areas of responsibility of Eastmincom are the entire Caraga and Davao regions and parts of Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen regions.

Madrigal could not say the number of rebels operating in the Eastmincom area but said the bulk of the entire NPA strength is operating there. Military estimates placed the strength of the NPA between 3,000 to 4,000 throughout the country.

As to the recent atrocities of the rebels in the Caraga region, Madrigal said these are meant to instill fear among potential victims, noting that many companies are not heeding their extortion demands.

NPA rebels recently stepped up attacks in the Caraga region, including an ambush on Thursday last week in Talakag, Bukidnon. The ambush left a policeman and a four-month-old baby girl dead and five others injured.

The rebels also abducted two policemen in Placer, Surigao del Norte, attacked a military detachment in Alegria, Agusan del Norte, both on Monday; and burned two trucks and attacked a military detachment in separate incidents on Tuesday in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte, among others.

Code of Conduct talks in 2018; parties to behave

From Malaya Business Insight (Nov 17): Code of Conduct talks in 2018; parties to behave

CHINA and the Philippines have agreed to avoid force to resolve their differences over the South China Sea as President Duterte announced that “substantive negotiations” on a Code of Conduct would start in early 2018.

The joint statement, issued on Thursday by China and carried by its official Xinhua news agency, said China and the Philippines reaffirmed the importance of peace in the South China Sea and of freedom of navigation and overflight.

The statement was issued at the end of a visit to Manila by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

“There should be no violence or threats of violence and the dispute should be resolved via talks between the relevant sovereign countries,” it added.

“Both sides believe that the maritime dispute is not the full sum of the China-Philippines relationship,” the statement said.

China and the Philippines have long sparred over the South China Sea, but relations have improved considerably under Duterte.

In a separate statement summing up discussions at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit, Duterte took note of the “improving relations between Asean and China” in the South China Sea.

“We announced that as a next step, Asean Member States and China will officially commence substantive negotiations on the text of the COC (Code of Conduct) and tasked the Joint Working Group and the Senior Officials’ Meeting on the DOC (Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea) as the bodies responsible for drafting the COC. We looked forward to the subsequent convening of the 23rd ASEAN-China Joint Working Group Meeting on the Implementation of the DOC in Viet Nam in early 2018,” he said.

The release of the statement came two days after Asean and China announced the formal start of negotiations for a code of conduct to manage tensions in the disputed waters.

Duterte said the two sides also had successfully tested the hotline among foreign ministries on how to manage maritime emergencies.

“In our view, these are practical measures that could reduce tensions, and the risks of accidents, misunderstandings and miscalculation,” he said.

The statement also took note of practical measures such as a hotline where maritime emergencies in the disputed waters may be reported and addressed adding that such move could help reduce tensions, accidents and miscalculation.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Philippines is pushing for a legally binding code of conduct.

“Otherwise, if it’s merely aspirational, then it will not promote the kind of peace and stability that they are hoping for,” Roque said.

Roque said the international arbitration ruling favoring the Philippines’ claim in the disputed waters against China’s is “unlikely” to be used in the drafting of the Code of Conduct.

He said the Code of Conduct would be applicable to all claimant countries while the July 2016 arbitral ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) only covers the Philippines and China.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, in a television interview, said President Duterte would raise the issue of the arbitral ruling with China before his term as president ends in 2022.

“What the President is saying here…is that within his term in the next four years, he will have to talk to China and confront them about our claims the West Philippines. It’s already there, the victory in the PCA. What is important here is that, we are gaining from China,” he said.

WATCH | 3 alleged Abu Sayyaf members planning terror attack in NCR mall, park nabbed in QC

From InterAksyon  (Nov 17): WATCH | 3 alleged Abu Sayyaf members planning terror attack in NCR mall, park nabbed in QC

Three alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf’s Urban Terrorist Group, who were said to be planning a terror attack in Metro Manila, were recently arrested in Brgy. Culiat, Quezon City.
Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Director Chief Supt. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar on Friday identified the three men from Basilan as 19-year-old Abdul Gaffar Jikiri alias Abu Bakar Jikiri, 19-year-old Alim Sabtalin, and 24-year-old Sadam Jhofar.

Jikiri and Jhofar are from Lamitan City, while Sabtalin is from the town of Tuburan.

Authorities said prior to their arrest at the city’s Culiat Salaam Compound, Jikiri’s social media posts were being monitored by intelligence agents.
They found out that Jikiri posted on his Facebook account hints of his alleged plan to launch terrorist attacks in Metro Manila.

“He posted photos of high-powered firearms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with a caption that they would be used to kill the kaffir (non-believers) and the munafiq (Muslim apostates),” said Eleazar.

“He also posted photos of targets including a mall and a park in Manila and photos of him and other armed youth.”

Eleazar said the QCPD in coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation Counter Terrorism Division (NBI-CTD) and other law enforcement agencies, conducted a background investigation on Jikiri and found that he was indeed a member of the Abu Sayyaf’s Urban Terrorist Group under the Basilan-based ASG, which is associated with the Maute ISIS-inspired terror group.

Authorities also found out that Jikiri had left Basilan last October 9 and went to Metro Manila via Zamboanga City.

Further investigation also revealed that Sabtalin and Jhofar, who arrived in Metro Manila earlier met with Jikiri. The QCPD and NBI-CTD tracked down Sabtalin and Jhofar, which led operatives to the Salaam Compound in Brgy. Culiat, where the three suspects were arrested through the support and cooperation of the Muslim community leaders there.

Seized from Jikiri were a .45-caliber gun, an M1911 US Army pistol with 4 live ammunition, two 20 mm M-203 rifle grenades, and 6 cellular phones.
Confiscated from Sabtalim were a 9mm-pistol with 4 live ammunition and a cellular phone, while Sadam Jhofar was caught with a Colt caliber .45 M1911 pistol with 3 live ammunition.

The three underwent inquest before a Quezon City’s prosecutor and were charged with violation of Section 28 (unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition) of RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act and also in relation to the 15 days gun ban period for ASEAN Summit 2017.

Jikiri was also charged with violation of R.A. 9516 or the law on illegal possession of explosives.

Soldier injured in separate attacks in restive Maguindanao province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 18): Soldier injured in separate attacks in restive Maguindanao province

A government soldier was wounded in an attack by jihadists on an army base in the restive province of Maguindanao in the Muslim autonomous region, officials said Saturday.

Officials said a school was also attacked in the province, but there was no report of casualties. Both attacks on Friday night had been largely blamed to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters whose leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

The identity of the wounded soldier was withheld by the military, but said he is a member of the 57th Infantry Battalion which has been involved in fighting the BIFF in the province. One of its detachments in Timbangan village in Shariff Aguak town came under attack with militants raining rockets and rifle grenades on the army post.

Soldiers also fought back, however, there were no reports of enemy casualties. The assault came minutes ahead of another attack at the Gani Abpi College in Datu Unsay town. It was unclear why it was targeted by the BIFF, but soldiers were patrolling the town regularly.

Both Maguindanao Govern0r Toto Mangudadatu and ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman did not release a statement on the violence in the province where security forces are battling BIFF militants since early this week. Most of its members were former fighters of the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front who broke away and are opposed to peace talks with the Filipino government.

The militant group is fighting for a separate Muslim homeland in the troubled region.

Livelihood aid up for rebel who joined NPA for a week

From the Mindanao Times (Nov 18): Livelihood aid up for rebel who joined NPA for a week

A MAN who was with the New People’s Army (NPA) for just a week surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion in Laak, Compostela Valley on Thursday.

2nd Lt. Amadeuz Vincent John Celestial, the civil-military operations (CMO) officer of the 60th IB, said the returnee, identified only as Ka Allan, a one-week member of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 33, brought an AK-47 rifle when he surrendered.

Ka Allan, Celestial said, was only with the communist group for only a week. He was recruited by a certain Hayker earlier this month.

Celestial said Allan was forced to join the NPA due to fear that he would be killed if he refused.

Before they were recruited, Allan said Hayker was telling him that the military soldiers were after him and that he could only be protected once he joined the NPA.

But even on his first day with the group, Allan was planning to escape from the group.

With the help of the 60IB troopers and CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) unit deployed in their area, Allan finally found way to escape on Thursday.

Bringing the AK-47 rifle with numerous magazines and ammunition issued to him, Allan surrendered to Capt. Rey Pedraverde, the Delta Company Commander of 72IB.

Allan will be enrolled to the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) where he will receive cash and livelihood assistance. He will also receive additional remuneration for the firearm that he surrendered.

The Local Government of Laak has also committed to assist Allan with his immediate needs.

In a statement, Lt. Col. Emmanuel Canilla, the 60th IB commander, said military operations will be continuously conducted in areas threatened by the NPA.

Singapore sends first littoral mission vessel for ASEAN wargames

From Update Philippines (Nov 17): Singapore sends first littoral mission vessel for ASEAN wargames

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) sent its first Independence-class littoral mission vessel (LMV) RSS Independence (15) to participate in the inaugural ASEAN Multilateral Naval Exercises (AMNEX) in Thailand.

RSS Independence was commissioned to RSN service in May 2017. RSS Independence is the first of eight planned warships in class. RSS Sovereignty (16) and RSS Unity (17), the second and third Singaporean LMVs where both commissioned on November 14, 2017.

“Designed and built locally, the littoral mission vessel is a thoroughly modern ship, able to leap into action, whatever the mission. Highly configurable, their advanced combat capabilities make them the perfect tool to protect our sea lines of communication,” RSN said.

AMNEX is the maritime security collaboration of navies in Southeast Asia Region. Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Sri Lanka, and the United States of America are also participating.

The Philippine Navy sent its Tarlac-class landing platform dock BRP Tarlac (LD601) and Del Pilar-class frigate BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF15).

Aside from the officers and enlisted personnel of the two naval ships, the PN contingent consist of the Naval Task Group 80.5, Naval Special Operation Group, Civil-Military Operation, Medical, Dental, Naval Chaplain, Naval Education and Training Command students, Fleet Training and Doctrine Center and Marine Corps Development Center, reservist civilian observers and other support components.

DND acquiring troposcatter system with ‘extreme confidentiality’

From Update Philippines (Nov 18): DND acquiring troposcatter system with ‘extreme confidentiality’

The Department of National Defense (DND) through its Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) chaired by Asec. Teodoro Cirilo T. Torralba III is procuring a tropospheric scatter (troposcatter) system for Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) joint C4ISTAR from Zamboanga to Tawi-Tawi.

C4ISTAR stands for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Information/Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting Acquisition and Reconnaissance.

The acquisition will be via Limited Source Bidding with only two American defense company, Raytheon and Comtech Systems Inc., invited to participate.

“We would like to request your good office to treat this project with extreme confidentiality,” the DND SBAC said in its invitation to bid.

Submission and Opening of Bid Envelopes is scheduled on November 21.

The acquisition project has an approved budget of PHP181.4 million sourced from the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund.

Filipino troops complete Australia-led urban warfare training

From Update Philippines (Nov 18): Filipino troops complete Australia-led urban warfare training

Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) Joint Task Force (JTF) 629 has successfully trained the first batch of Filipino soldiers through a new Urban Close Combat training course as part of Operation Augury-Philippines, Australia Department of Defence (DOD) said.

Australia’s JTF629 Urban Close Combat Course was run by approximately 80 soldiers from the Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade, with some additional support staff from the Royal Australian Air Force.

Australia DOD photo

Filipino trainees were 170 soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division ‘Jungle Fighters’ and airmen from the Philippines Air Force.

“Moving through the training serials with each new skill set we introduced, there was always an ‘ahah!’ moment with the Filipino soldiers,” said training Team Leader, Australian Army Lieutenant Wes Walsh.

“They would tell us the training serial was perfectly applicable to the situations they had seen in Marawi and they would acknowledge how useful those skills would be moving forward,” he added.

“They have learned some really valuable lessons, and there is no question we have also learned a lot from the Filipino soldiers,” he said.

Two days after the graduation joint Australia-Philippines urban warfare skill demonstration was performed in the presence of Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Camp Aguinaldo.

Army hunts foreign terrorists in Maguindanao, NoCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 18): Army hunts foreign terrorists in Maguindanao, NoCot

To prevent a repeat of a Marawi City-like siege, the military in Maguindanao and North Cotabato is hunting down foreign terrorists sighted with local armed men in the mountainous borders of the two provinces and the marshland of Maguindanao.

But Colonel Gerry Besana, chief of the 6th Infantry Division-Civil Military Operations (CMO), maintained that civilians and non-combatants are spared in surgical operations against ISIS-inspired groups in Carmen and Aleosan towns in North Cotabato and Datu Unsay and Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao.

“They hide in caves in mountain areas in the boundary of Aleosan and Carmen towns,” Besana said of the group of Esmael Abulmalik alias Abu Torayfe, who according to Army intelligence agents, have been harboring at least 10 foreign-looking men.

“They escaped from the SPMS box in Maguindanao due to massive military operations there,” Besana said of Torayfe’s group.

“SMPS box” is the military term for the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Mamasapano, Pagatin (Datu Saudi Ampatuan) and Datu Salibo, the marshland-bailiwick of BIFF.

According to Besana every day since Tuesday, the AFP using helicopter gunships, has been pounding rockets towards the village of Tonganon in Aleosan where Torayfe’s men sought shelter.

Civilians and village officials alerted the military about the presence of heavily armed men who are alien to them, Besana added.

Separate air strikes were also carried out at the borders of Datu Unsay and in Shariff Aguak, both in Maguindanao against another faction of the BIFF, the one led by Commander Bongus.

The Army said at least seven BIFF were killed in the operations in Shariff Aguak, citing civilian accounts.

Besana said the twin operations have been coordinated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which provided the military with intelligence information on the terrorists’ location as provided for in the GPH-MILF ceasefire agreement.

In a separate interview, Besana said the preemptive and surgical operations were meant to prevent terrorists from launching Marawi City-like siege in mainland Mindanao.

Close to 5,000 individuals have been displaced by separate military offensives in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, disaster officials said.

Immediate needs of the affected families have been attended to by government relief agencies.

Troops intensify offensives vs NPA in Caraga

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 18): Troops intensify offensives vs NPA in Caraga

Government security forces have intensified operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) following several attacks and harassments in different parts of Caraga Region.

NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), launched successive operations against civilians and government target in the region this week, beginning with Monday’s kidnapping of two policemen in Placer town, Surigao del Norte.

NPA members then torched two civilian trucks and harassed two military detachments and a Philippine National Police patrol bas in separate locations in in Agusan del Norte on Tuesday morning. No one was hurt in these incidents, police said.

“These atrocities only show that the rebels are not for peace and development as they put the people’s lives and livelihood at risk, contrary to their propaganda,” said Chief Supt. Rolando B. Felix, PNP-Caraga director.

Backed by military units in the region, Felix said PNP units have been ordered to “maximize security and proactive measures” to respond to any hostilities.

“These NPA atrocities usually happen in November and December, with the upcoming anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26. However, we assure the people that we have intensified our operations together with the AFP to keep the region safe and secured and that everything is under control,” Felix said.

“Meanwhile, we call on all Caraganons to help the government security forces help provide the necessary information on their (NPA) presence and activities to the nearest police or military units,” Felix said.