Saturday, January 6, 2018

MILF: CBCS to hold consultations with Moro CSO leaders to help address violent extremism

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jan 6): CBCS to hold consultations with Moro CSO leaders to help address violent extremism

The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) will hold series of consultation with different civil society Moro leaders across Mindanao and the island provinces to discuss effective ways of preventing the emerging violent extremism that has wrought havoc in Marawi City.
“As part of its commitment to accompany the peace process, we are convening a series of consultation-dialogue on promoting peace and preventing violent extremism in the Bangsamoro,” Guiamel Alim, head of CBCS, a network of Moro non-government organizations and people’s organizations.

Alim said the activity will banner the theme “Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is the Best Option Against Violent Extremism.”

For several years already, the CBCS has been in the forefront in advocating peace and promoting the Bangsamoro peace process as diplomatic way of addressing the Mindanao problem.

Alim said the consultation will be attended by PO and NGO leaders on January 9 to 11 for Central Mindanao Cluster and on January 22 to 24 for Western Mindanao Cluster.

“The participants of the two clusters will be invited in a summit this coming February 4 to 6,” the CBCS head added. CBCS is yet to announce the venue of the proposed summit.

The Moro leaders is expected to come up with recommendations or plan of action that will help address violent extremism and usher the success of the Bangsamoro peace process.

Alim said the activity generally aims to let the people understand the BBL on its important features that can help promote social justice, national unity and reconciliation.

Photo: News and Update sa Marawi City (FB group)

“It will also give us opportunity to understand violent extremism and its prevention from the context of the Bangsamoro and South-East Asia,” he added.

The MILF leadership has been pitching its call to the lawmakers for the swift passage of BBL which is believed to be the best anti-dote against violent extremism.

MILF: MYB Conducts Assessment of Youth Participation in Bangsamoro Peace Process

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website  (Jan 7): MYB Conducts Assessment of Youth Participation in Bangsamoro Peace Process

DATU PAGLAS, MAGUINDANAO ---- The Muslim Youth Brotherhood (MYB) - Datu Paglas Chapter conducted an assessment of youth participation in the Bangsamoro peace process in Mindanao on January 5, 2018.
Mudricka Haron, former Chairman of MYB Eastern Maguindanao Chapter, said the youth would be the ultimate beneficiaries of the current peace process because they are dominant among the population. Their participation in the peace process through advocacies can fast track the attainment of lasting peace in Mindanao.

“The youth must be the target of peace advocacies so that they will become peace agents in the community”, Haron emphasized.

Dante Mulod, current Chairman of MYB Eastern Maguindanao Chapter, said the youth are the successors of the current peace builders whose daily lives are spent in peace works.

“Let us make the youth as productive peace mediators in the community”, Mulod further said.

“We will educate the youth about the essence of peaceful community to help local leaders in preventing possible external threat that can destroy the bright future of the youth”, said Taher Plang, former vice-chairman of MYB Eastern Maguindanao Chapter.

Ansari Bajunaid, Secretary of MYB Eastern Maguindanao Chapter, said extremism is the borderless problem brought to Mindanao that sow fear, and causes violence in the Bangsamoro homeland where communities become graveyards for innocent youth victims.

“Our worry about extremism in Mindanao is that many youths have been recruited by the extremist groups. These extremists will continue to recruit young people, and convince them in exchange of money to continue spreading wrong ideological propaganda.

In this worrisome situation today, college students, the poor with less education, idealistic youth with potential leadership, juvenile delinquents, and orphans are prone to extremist recruitment’’, Bajunaid emphasized.

“If this violence would not stop, the youth may become instrument of violence, and evil in our communities. Youth from internally displaced families are suffering from malnutrition, other health problems, and forced to stop going to school. Some of them died in evacuation centers”, said Nurhasan Enok, Vice-Chairman for Out-of-School Youth.

“Continuous peace education is the best way to involve youth in the Bangsamoro peace process”, Enok added.

Genuine peace is essential to achieve sustainable development in Mindanao, especially the Bangsamoro homeland.

Correcting the historical injustices committed against the Moro people is one way of ending the Mindanao armed conflict, and prevents the rise of violent extremism in Mindanao.

AFP: No tribe members left in battle zone

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 6): AFP: No tribe members left in battle zone

 Teduray evacuees receive aid from the government. —EDWIN FERNANDEZ

CAMP SIONGCO, MAGUINDANAO—The military disputed reports that members of the Teduray tribe were still trapped on Mt. Firis as the government on Thursday launched artillery and air strikes to flush out Islamic State-inspired gunmen there.

“As far as the Army is concerned, no civilians were trapped, they have already evacuated during the early days of conflict,” Capt. Arvin John Encinas, spokesperson for the 6th Infantry Division (ID), said on Friday.

But Fatima Kanakan, the head of the Office of Southern Cultural Communities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, maintained on Friday that up to 1,400 individuals remained in Sitio Bagong in Barangay Maitumaig in Datu Unsay town; and Sitio Kiyamko in Barangay Kambingi in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.

She said the figure was relayed by those who had earlier fled the areas affected by military offensives against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Kanakan said she had not received updates on the situation of people remaining in Teduray communities.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu also said he was told by the police that no more civilians were left on Mt. Firis, as residents moved to evacuation centers.

Maj. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, the 6th ID commander, said he had ordered the artillery offensives and air attacks by helicopter gunships after 70 BIFF fighters attacked a detachment of the 57th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Perez in Barangay Maitumaig on Thursday.

“We are not letting our guard down; we will use all our resources to finish them off,” Dela Vega said.

Soldiers on board military trucks were seen heading toward the adjoining towns of Datu Unsay, Datu Saudi and Datu Hofer on Friday.

Encinas did not say if the air strikes and artillery fire had resulted in casualties on the side of the BIFF, led by Esmail Abubakar alias Commander Bungos.

Padala system at the center of terror funding (Part 4)

From the Manila Times (Jan 7): Padala system at the center of terror funding (Part 4)



TO better understand the financial systems behind the Daesh-Maute terrorist organization, one must understand a few basic facts about any kind of modern warfare:

First, vacuous articles and misleading propaganda videos get circulated on both mainstream and social media to protect the vested interests of spiritually bankrupt leaders on both ends of the war spectrum.

Second, the spoils of war get divided not only among vicious terrorists but also among a few misguided or coopted politicians, military and police officers.

Third, greed knows no limits, and it grows little by little, continuously. In war time, greed tends to grow exponentially. In a few tragic cases during the Marawi siege, incorruptible team leaders or members of the military were allegedly shot to death by their own teammates over looted cash and gold.

Piagapo, Lanao del Sur, said to be a lair of the Maute Group.
Last but not the least, while there are tons of nitty-gritty details and heart-wrenching stories related to the Marawi siege, one must remember that the ultimate goal of foreign powers which financially support ISIS Central in funding ISIS Philippines is not merely to expand Daesh territory, but to portray the Philippines under the Duterte administration as a weak state. With all the geopolitics at play, reporting from the field is seldom black and white.
Marawi is not Mosul, but it could have been, if not for the incredibly brave and successful counter-attack of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). One hundred sixty six of the Philippines’s finest soldiers and policemen lost their lives in this five-month war.

Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., the deputy commander of Joint Task Group Ranao, confirmed with The Manila Times that the Daesh-Maute terrorists seized only less than 20 percent of the total land area of Marawi City from May 23 to December 12 last year to establish an IS enclave in Southeast Asia. During the period, 974 terrorists, 166 soldiers and policemen, and 47 civilians were killed in the war for control over the city.

The financing of terrorism involves several activities including the storing of finances, masking funding sources and even developing infrastructures to manage and transfer funds to terrorist organizations. A proper analysis of Daesh Philippines’ terror funding requires a deeper understanding as well of the traditional Maranao and Muslim culture as well as business practices in Lanao del Sur.

Terror organizations like ISIS Central usually resort to money laundering to manage their assets. Small wonder then that this strategy was also utilized in the Marawi siege crisis.

There are three ISIS Central and Daesh-Maute financial systems: money laundering through universal banks, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)-registered private remittance centers, and the informal hawala/padala system in Cagayan de Oro City and in Region 10 or Northern Mindanao

Money laundering and universal banks

 Money launderings consists of three phases:

The first phase consists of introducing the funds gained from criminal activities into the banking and financial system; this phase has become more and more fraught with risk due to the heightened attention now given to these movements of cash by law enforcement authorities and the standardized requirement for banks to report suspicious transactions.

The second phase consists of putting the funds that have entered the financial system through a series of financial operations, the purpose of which is to mislead potential investigators and to give these funds the appearance of having legal origins. This is the money-laundering phase that often uses offshore mechanisms.

The authors with military officials in Marawi City.

Finally, once these funds are made to appear to have legitimate origins, the funds are reintroduced into the legal economy, through the consumption of luxury items; investments in commonplace assets, including shares in companies, real estate, etc.; and investments in establishments that are susceptible to becoming money laundering machines like casinos, hotels, restaurants, and cinemas where payments are made in cash and where dirty money can easily be mingled.

Terrorist organizations use universal banks to remit money. The ISIS Central made use of specific bank accounts in favor of Isnilon Hapilon to fund at least $1.5 million for the Marawi siege, raising the need to follow the ATM receipts of the terrorists in order to facilitate their prosecution.

One of the biggest challenges that have hampered detection is the confidentiality principle followed by the banking sector. The principle of confidentiality has been used to hide criminal activities including money laundering by some banks.

In the stage of layering in the process of money laundering, money obtained illegally is broken down into smaller amounts then transferred to either a single account or several accounts elsewhere.

Private remittance centers

 Remittances can fund acts of terrorism.

Researchers from START’s Global Terrorism Database found that for every remittance transfer between $250,000 and $1 million during 1974-2006 for the typical Sub-Saharan country, one terrorism incident is financed for approximately every one million dollars in remittances.

For 2010, the top 12 recipient countries for remittances, in descending order, are: India, China, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, France, Egypt, Germany, Bangladesh, Spain, Belgium, and Pakistan. Majority of these countries have experienced a lot of terrorist activities. For example, officials from the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center revealed in an international counter-terrorism meeting in Bali that over $763,000 was transferred from foreign countries to fund terrorism in Indonesia between 2014 and 2015.

HOW HAWALA WORKS An initial transaction can be a remittance from a customer (CA) from country A, or a payment arising from some prior obligation, to another customer (CB) in country B. A hawaladar from country A (HA) receives funds in one currency from CA and, in return, gives CA a code for authentication purposes. He then instructs his country B correspondent (HB) to deliver an equivalent amount in the local currency to a designated beneficiary (CB), who needs to disclose the code to receive the funds. HA can be remunerated by charging a fee or through an exchange rate spread. After the remittance, HA has a liability to HB, and the settlement of their positions is made by various means, either financial or goods and services. Their positions can also be transferred to other intermediaries, who can assume and consolidate the initial positions and settle at wholesale or multilateral levels.

Given only small sums are required to stage a deadly attack, even modest amounts of funding from foreign terrorist groups pose a significant risk to the region’s security.

In Marawi City, the major private remittance centers are found in Bangolo, Mindanao State University Campus and the Marawi City Hall. In Marawi City, Western Union, M. Lhuillier, Cebuana Padala, Palawan Express, Moneygram, LBC and Transfast are the major players in the remittance business.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the volume and value of remittances are high for the period January to October 2017 compared with the figures of the previous year. Specifically, in Region 10, one branch of the largest BSP-registered private remittance center recorded a 200-percent increase in internal remittances from P15,000 per day in February 2017 to P43,000 per day in October 2017. The remittance center processes foreign remittances at a steady bulk of 25 percent and internal remittances at 75 percent. The remittance centers also processes requests from non-local residents who transact with their office.

One branch of the second largest BSP-registered private remittance center registered a 200 percent increase in internal remittances from P10,000 per day in February 2017 to P38,000 per day in October 2017. Last year’s remittance figures went up from P10,000 in January 2016 to P25,000 per day by October 2016. The remittance center processes foreign remittances at a steady bulk of 30 percent and internal remittances at 70 percent. The remittance center also processes requests from non-local residents who transact with their office.

The largest BSP registered pawnshop in Region 10 reflected a daily transaction of P10,000 in 2016 compared to P40,000 in 2017, representing a 200 percent increase. Internal remittances accounted for 60 percent while foreign remittances accounted for 40 percent from 2015 to 2016. Then in 2017, internal remittances accounted for 80 percent of the total transaction compared to 20 percent for foreign remittances.

According to a local Labor department official, there were no marked increases in OFWs deployed in the period January to October 2017. Moreover, there was only one large enterprise that opened in the area during the period. The absence of new work possibilities for the locals does not explain the large increase in internal remittances.

In the absence of any plausible explanation, the evidence points to the possible terrorist financing carried out by the ISIS Central to its newly recruited local fighters, who may be sending the cash remittances to their respective families.

In addition, this marked increase in internal remittances may also be explained by narco-politics dominating the areas of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte. The drug trade may be fueling increasing remittances. These possible explanations can only be fully determined through an increased regulatory power and framework by central bank officials in this region. There is a need to study internal remittances in the same manner that the government closely studies OFW remittances.

Hawala/padala system

Informal value transfer transactions are based on trust and rarely leave any traces. Informal value transfer methods are defined by counterterrorism author Nikos Passas as: “…any system or network of people facilitating, on a full time or part time basis, the transfer of value domestically or internationally outside the conventional, regulated financial institutional systems.”

Money is transferred between two parties living in two different countries but cash does not cross borders. The money never enters the conventional banking system. The transaction is based upon a single communication between the two “hawaladars” and is usually not recorded or guaranteed by written contract between them. (seediagram).

Passas notes that terrorist organizations such as Kashmiri, Hamas, Jemaah Islamiyah, and al Qaeda have been known to use hawala transfers. According to Matthew Levitt, director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the hawala is a perfectly legitimate form of financing.

In the local setting, there are hawala/padala informal remittance centers around the 15 barangay (viilages) of Cagayan de Oro. Most of the relatives of the OFW workers based in Qatar, Kuwait United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia resort to this system of remittances. Previous ADB estimates state that the amount coursed through informal systems and “padala” practices could amount to a minimum of $1.5 billion per year.

The qualities of simplicity and anonymity of the operations of the hawala/padala system have also attracted individuals and groups engaged in criminal activities such as money laundering, gambling, smuggling or the financing of terrorism. Clients use that system because of its quick and cheap international remittance service. Criminal elements also engage its services to hide the origin or destination or break the audit trail of money.

Economic and cultural factors underpin the attractiveness of the hawala system. It is less expensive, swifter, more reliable, more convenient, and less bureaucratic than the formal financial sector. Hawaladars charge fees to generate income. The fees charged by hawaladars on the transfer of funds are lower than those charged by banks and other remitting companies, due to minimal overhead expenses and the absence of regulatory costs to the hawaladars. To encourage foreign exchange transfers through their system, hawaladars exempt expatriates from paying fees. In contrast, they reportedly charge higher fees to those who use the system to avoid exchange, capital, or administrative controls. These higher fees often cover all the expenses of the hawaladars.

The system is swifter than formal financial transfer systems partly because of the lack of bureaucracy and the simplicity of its operating mechanism; instructions are given to correspondents by phone, facsimile, or e-mail; and funds are often delivered door to door within 24 hours by a correspondent who has quick access to villages even in remote areas. The minimal documentation and accounting requirements, the simple management, and the lack of bureaucratic procedures help reduce the time needed for transfer operations.

Law enforcement officials need to identify funds early on in order to nip terrorist activities in the bud. These efforts include—but are not limited to—taking action on money laundering activities, remittance services, and the hawala system. While we are fully aware that terror funding cannot be solved easily, it should awaken as much determination and creativity as possible. The main goal is to make all financial transfers by Daesh-Maute as difficult as possible.

Child warriors ‘on the radar of govt’ – Andanar

From the Manila Times (Jan 17): Child warriors ‘on the radar of govt’ – Andanar


The Islamic State-linked terrorists’ continued recruitment of young fighters in the country is on government’s anti- terror radar, a Palace official has said.

In a roundtable interview with The Manila Times, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar assured the public that the Philippine government was closely monitoring the recruitment by terrorist group Daulah Islamiyah, which is connected to the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.

Andanar was reacting to The Times’ investigative report about the systematic recruitment of the vulnerable youth and adult population by IS-linked terrorists.

“Children from indigent families in Mindanao were sold by their own parents to at least one of the Daesh-linked imams from Marawi,” a military intelligence officer told The Times.

For many of the parents of the estimated 2,000 child soldiers in Marawi, it was very difficult to say no given the lack of economic opportunities and fear of offending powerful persons in the community, the report said.

“It’s on the radar of the government. The President has been speaking openly about it, about the ISIS coming from Iraq and Syria, especially those who are Filipinos, Indonesians, the Malaysians coming home to their respective countries and moving back to the Philippines. What are they going to do here?” Andanar said, using another name for the IS.

“It’s really a big problem. They’ve been recruiting left and right and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we believe they’re on top of the situation,” the Palace official added.

But Andanar said it has to be a “comprehensive solution,” which needs the cooperation of the government agencies, particularly the Department of Education (DepEd), as well as experts from the government’s countering violent extremism (CVE) program.

“It’s a big issue. That’s why we’re asking the Department of Education to really come in and put up schools in areas where they are not present…The President just had a meeting recently with the Indonesian officials and they talked about the strategies from Indonesian on how to deal with terrorism problems, violent extremism through education,” he said.

“And there are other Middle Eastern countries who are willing to help also so that we can form, we can come up or formulate a very good countering violent extremism (CVE) program here in the Philippines, to counter the recruitment of this Daulah Islamiyah in Mindanao,” Andanar added.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently met with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Davao City, where he expressed his intention to improve the Philippines’ maritime security cooperation with Indonesia to stop terrorists from entering the country.

Former PSG man slain in N. Cotabato

From the Manila Bulletin (Jan 6): Former PSG man slain in N. Cotabato

A former member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) was shot dead Friday night in Magpet, North Cotabato, a place known for heavy presence of combatants and sympathizers of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The fatality was identified as Sergeant Ronel Vale Galupo, 43, a member of the Philippine Army assigned to the PSG based in Davao City.

A radio report, quoting the Magpet Municipal Police Station, said Galupo was coming out of his residence in Barangay Poblacion at 6:05 p.m. Friday, when two armed men approached and shot him in the head and chest.

A separate report said Galupo was riding his Honda 150cc motorcycle on his way home when he was gunned down.

Galupo died on the spot due to bullet wounds from .45-caliber pistols. His assailants fled quickly aboard a motorcycle, the report said.

Galupo had just retired as an enlisted Army personnel under the 56th Infantry Battalion of the 10th Infantry Division based in Davao City after a stint in President Duterte’s PSG.

Grieving relatives suspect that Galupo’s assassins were members of the NPA Sparrow Unit operating in Magpet and nearby areas bordering North Cotabato and Bukidnon.

It will be recalled that Magpet is the place where suspected NPA gunmen kidnapped Senior Inspector Menardo Cui, the local deputy chief of police, last December 28.

Cui’s wife, who had been suffering from Stage-4 cervical cancer, died last January 3 in what relatives described as a fate aggravated by her husband’s captivity.

AFP to deploy over 1,000 troops for Nazareno 2018

From Rappler (Jan 6): AFP to deploy over 1,000 troops for Nazareno 2018

Soldiers will augment the police force to keep the Black Nazarene devotees safe from harm on January 9

YEARLY TRADITION. The Feast of the Black Nazarene is expected to millions of devotees this year. File photo by Pat Nabong/Rappler

YEARLY TRADITION. The Feast of the Black Nazarene is expected to millions of devotees this year. File photo by Pat Nabong/Rappler

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will deploy more than 1,000 soldiers to help secure devotees joining the procession for the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Tuesday, January 9.
The AFP’s Joint Task Force National Capital Region (JTF NCR) will tap its Joint Task Group (JTG) Nazareno to help the police force keep the procession safe from harm, the military announced on Saturday, January 6.

Members of the JTG Nazareno include officers from the Army, Air Force, Navy, AFP North Luzon Command, AFP Southern Luzon Command, and the AFP Reserve Command.

The troops will be deployedtot several stations from the Qurino Grandstand to St John Baptish Church in Quiapo, Manila, starting Monday, January 8. (READ: Nazareno 2018: Devotees reminded to keep Rizal Park clean)

“As the metro sentinel of the national seat of government, the JTF NCR, AFP will actively support the Philippine National Police in ensuring a safe and peaceful celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene Translacion 2018,” Brigadier General Alan Arrojado said in a statement on Saturday.

“At the same time, our forces will remain alert in thwarting threat groups that may take advantage of the celebration,” he added.

The soldiers will join 5,613 cops who will be deployed on Tuesday to secure the almost 6-kilometer procession from the Quirino Grandstand to the Quiapo Church.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) will also deploy drones and snipers to further secure the procession.

NCRPO chief Director Oscar Albayalde earlier said that while the police had not received information of possible terror attacks and other threats during Traslacion 2018, "our intelligence operatives are continuously monitoring threat groups even outside Metro Manila."

The Philippine National Red Cross will put up first-aid stations and welfare desks near the procession route.

AFP won’t tolerate warring clans under martial rule in Mindanao

From Rappler (Jan 6): AFP won’t tolerate warring clans under martial rule in Mindanao

ARMM Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong says clan disputes must be resolved to maintain peace and stability under martial law in Mindanao

WARRING FAMILIES. The military recovers 4 rifles after the Amanodin and Dipatuan clans exchanged gunfire on January 5, 2017. Photo from AFP

WARRING FAMILIES. The military recovers 4 rifles after the Amanodin and Dipatuan clans exchanged gunfire on January 5, 2017. Photo from AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it will not tolerate clan feuds after two families in Bacolod-Kalawi in Lanao del Sur exchanged gunfire, injuring 4 people.
The military issued a warning against warring clans on Saturday, January 6, a day after members of the Amanodin and Dipatuan clans traded bullets at around 4:30 pm.

“The AFP will not tolerate incidents of rido and will continue to conduct law enforcement operarions in cooperation with the Philippine National Police, while martial law is in effect," said Major General Rosseler Murillo, chief of the 1st Infantry Division.

The clash between the Amanodin and Dipatuan families lasted for about an hour, disrupting traffic along the highway at Bacolod-Kalawi municipality. (READ: Terror groups and clan wars: Mindanao's security threats)

Members of the Philippine Army’s 65th Infantry Battalion intervened in the fight, but they were shot at by unidentified armed men. The troops returned fire for about 15 minutes and was later able to implement a ceasefire between the warring families.
Four members of the Amanodin family were injured after the fight.

According to Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, clan disputes must be resolved to maintain peace and stability as martial law continues to be implemented over the entire Mindanao.

“We would advise our security sector to strengthen its partnership with the civilian authority by working closely on any peace resolution initiaves with the community leaders and LGUs (local government units) to appreciate the cultural dynamics involve in resolving ridos,” said Adiong.

He said authorities must ensure loose firearms will not fall into the wrong hands and must stop the selling of unregistered firearms in the market.

“The objective really is ending family disputes permanently, not simply to impose temporary ceasefire,” said Adiong.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao after government troops clashed with homegrown terrorists from the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group in Marawi City on May 23, 2017. (WATCH: Marawi: 153 days of war)

On October 17, 2017, Duterte declared the city free from terrorists. After getting Congress approval to extend martial law until the end of 2017, the President got lawmakers nod to further extend the imposition of martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2018. (READ: Duterte thanks Congress for extending martial law in Mindanao)

The President justified that an extended martial law would "totally eradicate" Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired terror groups in the entire region.

6 dead in Mindanao clan war

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jan 6): 6 dead in Mindanao clan war

At least 6 people were killed in fighting between warring families in southern Philippines, police said on Saturday.

Armed members of warring Dipatuan and Amanodin families clashed late Friday afternoon in Lanao del Sur’s Bacolod Kalawi town that left at least 4 people dead. It was unknown if there were more casualties on both sides, but police said those slain in the fighting were all from the group of Amonodin family.

The clashes stemmed from an old land and political feud. But it was unclear how the warring clan members managed to pass through military and police checkpoints in the town or whether authorities were unaware or failed in their intelligence gathering that could have prevented the deadly fighting that erupted in Gandamato village.

The military’s Western Mindanao Command and the army’s 6th Infantry Division did not release any information of the clashes.

Two people were also killed in similar fighting in Tacurong City on Friday after gunmen attacked two houses and shot dead one of the occupants. One of the attackers was also slain in the fighting that police claimed was connected to a long running feud between two families.

Clan war or locally known as “rido” is not uncommon in the restive region, especially in Muslim areas where honor, pride and dignity is valued as more important than one’s life. Police were investigating both clashes.

BCDA ends 2017 with the largest AFP remittance in history

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 5): BCDA ends 2017 with the largest AFP remittance in history

The state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) remitted almost P5 billion to the Bureau of Treasury in the first year of the Duterte administration—the highest amount generated by BCDA for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its 25 year history.

In line with BCDA’s mandate to strengthen the Armed Forces while building great cities, the state-owned corporation has raised a total of P36.6 billion for the AFP.

Recently, Department of National Defense (DND) public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong announced that the Philippines would acquire six Super Tucano A-29 planes, worth over P4.9 billion.

He said that these will augment or even replace the existing Rockwell OV-10 “Bronco” attack planes being used by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in close-air support missions. Deliveries of the A-29s are expected to commence on 2019. These will be turned over and operated by the PAF’s 15th Strike Wing based in Sangley Point, Cavite City.

Aside from this, Andolong said that the PAF will soon receive AIM-9 “Sidewinder” air-to-air missiles which will be used to augment the combat capabilities of the existing 12 South Korean-made FA-50PH “Fighting Eagle” jets.

With these missiles, air to air combat capabilities of the FA50PH re intensified—making it more capable of protecting the country’s airspace against airborne threats.

These FA50 fighter jets and the Super Tucanos were among the aircrafts used in combat during the five-month battle to liberate Marawi City from the Maute terrorist group.

The BCDA under the Duterte administration has committed to continuously raise more for the modernization of the AFP as well as provide for the welfare of our soldiers. The BCDA has also committed to greatly assist the Departments of Finance (DOF) and Budget and Management (DBM) in raising the necessary funds for the retirement benefits of our men and women in uniform. (BCDA)

Cops probe killing of ex-PSG man in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 6): Cops probe killing of ex-PSG man in North Cotabato

Police probers are looking into the killing of a former Presidential Security Group (PSG) member who was shot dead Friday by unidentified gunmen in Magpet, North Cotabato.

Chief Insp. Romel Constantino, Magpet town police chief, identified the victim as retired Army Sgt. Ronel Galupo, 42, of RVM Subdivision, Barangay Poblacion, Magpet.

Prior to his retirement some two years ago, the victim was a PSG member detailed under former President Benigno Aquino lll.

Constantino said Galupo was about to enter his home at around 4:30 p.m. when one of two killers approached him from behind and opened fire. The gunman’s cohort on a motorbike waited a few meters away and served as lookout and driver of getaway vehicle.

Responding Magpet policemen recovered empty shells for caliber .45 pistol at the crime scene.

Prior to his death, Galupo, then a member of Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion until retirement, was employed as a security officer of a Davao City-based private firm and went home only recently to Magpet to visit his family and children for the holiday season.

Supt. Bernard Tayong, North Cotabato provincial police spokesperson said a manhunt is underway to get Galupo’s killers.

JTF-NCR to deploy full capability during 'Traslacion'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 6): JTF-NCR to deploy full capability during 'Traslacion'

The Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR), the military contingent assigned to support the police in securing this year's "Traslacion" or the Procession of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, will deploy its full array of capabilities to ensure a safe religious tradition.

"Complete array of forces will (be deployed) -- crowd disturbance management, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, counter-terrorist unit, combat forces and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) reservists," JTF-NCR head Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado said in a message Friday.

Arrojado added that their counter-terrorist unit will be augmented by elite forces coming from the major services of the AFP.

The JTF-NCR, tasked to protect Metro Manila from all forms of threats, including terrorism, will deploy a battalion-size formation, or about 500 troops, for the "Translacion" on January 9.

Lorenzana welcomes Año’s appointment as DILG OIC

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 6): Lorenzana welcomes Año’s appointment as DILG OIC

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana welcomed the appointment of former Armed Forces chief-of-staff Eduardo Año as officer-in-charge of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), saying he believes the military official would bring his dedication and professionalism to the agency.

"I congratulate Ed Año on his designation as OIC DILG. I am sure that with his dedication to duty, professionalism and experience in the military, he will succeed as the head of DILG," Lorenzana said.

Año, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983, retired last Oct. 26 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Prior to his retirement as Armed Forces chief, the military successfully liberated Marawi City from the hands of the Maute Group terrorists who controlled the area for five months.

During Año's retirement ceremony, President Rodrigo Duterte named him as DILG's incoming chief.

"I am sure we will have an excellent work(ing relationship). It would have been better if he is now full-time Secretary but the law does not allow it until after one year from retirement date," Lorenzana added.

Año's appointment as DILG officer-in-charge was signed by Duterte on January 4.