Monday, December 25, 2017

Communist-affected villages, NPA attacks rise in Mindanao

From the Business Mirror (Dec 25): Communist-affected villages, NPA attacks rise in Mindanao

The number of barangays affected by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao has increased during the first six months of 2017, according to the military, which also noted a spike in the number of attacks carried out by the rebels during the same period.

The NPA and its political arm, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), had been declared a “terrorist” group by President Duterte following his scuttling of the peace talks with their umbrella organization, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Based on data presented late last month by former military spokesman and now Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs Maj. Gen. Restituto F. Padilla Jr., the rebels have maintained influence in 49 barangays in Western Mindanao as of June 2017, up from the 15 barangays at the end of 2016.

In Eastern Mindanao the guerillas also wield influence in 368 barangays as of the same period, up from 189 barangays at the end of 2016.

Earlier, the Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), through its spokesman Maj. Ezra Balagtey, reported that 45 percent of the total strength of the rebels, or about 2, 000 armed members, is concentrated within their operational areas.

The operational jurisdiction of the Eastmincom covers the whole area of Caraga, Davao provinces and parts of Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen regions. The rest of the rebels or the remaining 55 percent are scattered in Luzon and in the Visayas.

Although the number of villages affected by the guerillas in the areas covered by the two military area commands in Mindanao went higher, the rebels, however, posted no increase in the number of their guerilla fronts within Western and Eastern Mindanao.

The NPA has no front in Western Mindanao as of June 2017, while it managed to maintain its 20 guerilla fronts in the areas of Eastern Mindanao.

A guerilla front is equivalent to a size of a company in the Armed Forces.

According to the same data presented by Padilla, the number of “activities” initiated by the rebels in Eastern Mindanao grew to 13 as of the first semester of 2017 from the three that were recorded as of the end of 2016. It also spiked in Eastern Mindanao, as it logged 276 from 204 for the same period.

From January 2017 up to November, the NPA has initiated a total number of 353 “violent” incidents in Eastern Mindanao and 16 in Western Mindanao.

The military categorized the incidents as ambush, raid;, “nuisance” harassment, disarming, harassment, landmine/IED attack, “Sparu” operations, liquidation; kidnapping; robbery holdup, bombing, arson and sabotage. The six highest violent activities that were carried out by the NPA were nuisance harassment, harassment, arson, kidnapping, landmine attack and kidnapping in that order. The military data also showed that the burning incidents carried out by the rebels against business establishments, especially mining companies increased in Mindanao.

From January 2017 up to November, the guerillas undertook a total of 56 arson incidents in Eastern and Western Mindanao, destroying property worth at least 224.6 million. The number of attacks is higher than the 31 burning incidents that were recorded as of the end of 2016 in the same parts of Mindanao. A total of P101.56 million worth of property and equipment was destroyed in these attacks.

While Duterte has tagged the CPP and the NPA as terrorists groups and scuttled the peace negotiations, he has, however, declared a unilateral cease-fire with the rebels covering Christmas and the New Year.

MILF: “Youth should be involved in the struggle”: Iqbal

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Dec 25): “Youth should be involved in the struggle”: Iqbal

“Find a way to serve the struggle”, MILF PIP Chair Mohagher Iqbal told the youth leaders’ participants of the Bangsamoro Youth Leadership Workshop on Peace and Development for the Bangsamoro and Beyond at Casa Leticia, Davao City on December 24, 2017.
Iqbal further said that the only way to understand the context of the struggle is to be involved in it. He encouraged the youth to try to help the struggle in their own way, and to continue learning and educating themselves to be prepared for the future as every one of them has the potential to be a leader.

He also discussed leadership and governance as well as important provisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) pertaining to governance in the Bangsamoro. He told the participants that the Bangsamoro government will have a consultative, and collective leadership through its ministerial form of government, reflecting the current system of governance in the MILF, and the tradition of the Sultanates.

Other lectures during the 3-day workshop included the review of the highlights of the topics discussed on the previous Bangsamoro Youth Leadership Training including the timeline of the Bangsamoro struggle; the issues and concerns identified by the youth in the previous trainings.

A lecture on community organizing, and development was delivered by Wahab Guialal. In his discussion, he shared the different models of development, and the relationship between community organizing, and community development.

A workshop was also conducted to determine, and prioritize the issues, and concerns of the Bangsamoro Youth. Based on their outputs, they identified Islamization, Education, Unity among the Bangsamoro, Lack of knowledge about the Bangsamoro struggle, violent extremism and radicalism, and lack of youth, and women participation, and representation as the most pressing issues, and concerns that needs to be addressed.

The workshop is part of the Bangsamoro Youth Leadership Training Program of the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute with support from FASTRAC. The activity was attended by selected youth leaders from the previous trainings conducted at five cluster areas.

The main objective of the workshop is to develop a Bangsamoro Youth Agenda for Peace, and Development which will be submitted to the MILF, and UNDP.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf member arrested in Zamboanga City

From the Rappler (Dec 25): Suspected Abu Sayyaf member arrested in Zamboanga City

Local cops and navy intelligence officers arrest Baser Ahmad based on a warrant arrest issued by a court in Basilan

Zamboanga City cops on Sunday, December 24, arrested a resident suspected of being a member of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group.

Baser Ahmad, 45, was arrested in a police operation assisted by the military's Naval Intelligence and Security Group.

He is reportedly known as "Abu Pandak" in neighboring Basilan province, one of the bases of the kidnap-for-ransom group. The Basilan group is known to have ties with international terrorist network Islamic State or ISIS.

A court in Basilan issued a warrant of arrest against Ahmad over charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. No bail was recommended.

A police reported showed he was arrested at sitio Talungon in Barangay San Roque before noon on Sunday.

The suspect has been residing in the city's Barangay Lower Cabatangan.

"Confiscated under his control and possession were one single motorcycle with temporary plate SYM, motorcycle ignition key and camouflage sling bag containing wallet with IDs," according to the report.

Sayyaf attacks army base in Sulu province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 25): Sayyaf attacks army base in Sulu province

Abu Sayyaf gunmen fired grenades at an army base and injuring at least 4 soldiers in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, reports said Monday.

It said the soldiers were partying when militants attacked the base in the village of Taglibi in Patikul town on Christmas Eve. Most of the victims are members of the 32nd Infantry Battalion sent to Sulu to fight the Abu Sayyaf.

Soldiers also fought back, but it was unknown whether they had killed or wounded any of the attackers. One civilian was also injured in the firefight that lasted half an hour. The wounded soldiers were rushed to a military hospital in the capital town of Jolo.

The military’s Western Mindanao Command did not release any information into the Abu Sayyaf attack. The jihadist group is still holding nearly a dozen hostages it kidnapped in southern Philippines.

Sayyaf fighter captured in Zamboanga City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 25): Sayyaf fighter captured in Zamboanga City

Police and military agents arrested an Abu Sayyaf fighter in Zamboanga City who escaped authorities from nearby Basilan province in the Muslim autonomous region, officials said Monday.

The 45-year old Baser Ahmad was captured over the weekend in the village of San Roque following a surveillance operation by the local police force and members of the Naval Intelligence and Security Group.

Officials said Ahmad is part of an Abu Sayyaf group operating in Basilan and is facing a string of criminal charges and has been long wanted by authorities. It was unknown whether Ahmad was planning an attack in Zamboanga or not.

He is currently being interrogated by the police in an effort to extract information on the Abu Sayyaf activities in Basilan and Zamboanga.

Suspected NPA rebel killed in Masbate encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 25): Suspected NPA rebel killed in Masbate encounter

Army troopers killed a suspected New People's Army rebel in a clash on Saturday in Barangay Ubongan Diot in Baleno, Masbate, report reaching the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol said.

The report said Army soldiers were on combat patrol at around 7:15 a.m. Saturday when they encountered a group of NPA rebels that led to a firefight, said Senior Inspector Maria Luisa Calubaquib, PNP Bicol spokesperson.

The brief gunbattle led to the death of a still unidentified NPA rebel.

NPA rebels fled immediately leaving their slain companion while Army soldiers recovered from the battle scene two M-16 rifles, and an M14 rifle.

Abu Sayyaf bandit arrested in Zamboanga

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 25): Abu Sayyaf bandit arrested in Zamboanga

Police and Navy intelligence operatives have arrested an alleged Abu Sayyaf bandit in this city, an official announced Monday.

Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, Police Regional Office-9 (RPO-9) director, identified the suspect as Baser Ahmad, 45, with aliases of Abu Pandak Duma and Bensar, and a resident of Cabatangan, this city.

Beltran said Ahmad was arrested around 11:30 a.m. Sunday in Sitio Talungon, Barangay San Roque, an adjacent village of Cabatangan.

He said Ahmad has a standing warrant of arrest for kidnapping and serious illegal detention with no recommended bail issued by the court in Isabela City, Basilan.

He said the suspect was arrested after he was sighted driving a motorcycle in Barangay San Roque.