Saturday, May 12, 2018

27 extremist Maute-Daesh members presented to Duterte in Marawi

From GMA News (May 12): 27 extremist Maute-Daesh members presented to Duterte in Marawi

A total of 27 extremist Maute-Daesh members were presented to President Rodrigo Duterte during his visit to Marawi City on Friday.

Joint Task Force Ranao presented to Duterte the 27 rebels, all natives of Lanao del Sur, who have surrendered to the military.

The military said that 15 of the 27 are residents of the towns of Piagapo, six from Butig, five from Marantao, and 1 from Cagayan de oro City.

Also, the military said that most of the surrendered rebels were involved in the five-month Marawi City war that erupted on May 20, 2017, and some of them were active supporters of the Maute Group, included in the arrest order of the Department of National Defense.

Prominent among the 27 rebels are the wife and son of Mohammad Otto Maute, the eldest of the Maute brothers.

Duterte spent time talking with them before the start of presentation event, where cash assistance and other benefits from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the provincial government were given to them.

Also, the task force said that 25 more rebels who have surrendered are still in the custody of the 103rd Brigade in Marawi City, waiting for the processing of their documents and other requirements.

On the other hand, a total 2,708 loose firearms were turned over to Duterte.

The loose firearms were surrendered to the mayors of the different towns in Lanao del sur, Lanao del Norte, Iligan City and Zamboanga Sibugay Province.

Activists Groups in Philippines Oppose Military Exercises with US

Posted to NewsClick (May 11): Activists Groups in Philippines Oppose Military Exercises with US
They argue that the operations are a violation of the sovereignty of the Philippines and will strengthen US military presence in the region
Activists Groups in Philippines Oppose Military Exercises with US
Activists in the Philippines protested against the 12-day-long Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) joint military exercise between the US and Philippines that started on May 7. Activist groups, including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Central Luzon organisations, accused the government headed by President Rodrigo Duterte of putting the sovereignty of the Philippines at stake by repeatedly allowing the US to conduct military exercises.

The exercise, as per military spokesperson Lt. Liezl Vidallon, is aimed at “enhancing interoperability, mutual defense, humanitarian assistance and counterterrorism” among the two nations. However, activist Satur Ogumba argued that, “This military exercise has two features; first it allows the participation of Japan and Australia that are America’s close cohorts in Asia and secondly, the start of construction, inside a Philippine base, of the first of five US facilities wherein the superpower can preposition military equipment and supplies for its exclusive use in operations in the Asia-Pacific region.”

While Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana claimed that the drills would focus on interoperability training to address domestic and non-domestic security concerns. activists groups argued that “the Balikantan is a violation of Philippine sovereignty that foreign military forces continue to exercise power in the country through agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.”

“What happens is that the US merely takes advantage of disputes between the Philippines and China to sell us the illusion that US military presence is good for the Philippines,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, noted. “The US has made the Philippines a staging ground for power projection in the region. Whatever happened to Duterte’s declaration that the 2016 Balikatan would be the last? He continues with his policy of serving two imperialist masters,” the group remarked.

As per government estimates, almost 5,000 Philippines troops and 3,000 Americans are participating in 34th round of the annual drills. One of main reasons behind conducting these military drills was to focus on areas in Mindanao, where the Armed Forces of Philippines was battling the Abu Sayyaf group.

This year’s Balikantan is scheduled to be conducted in several locations on Luzon island. Activists held protest rallies on May 8, demanding that “the US military needs to clean up toxic wastes they left in their former military bases in Central Luzon”.

Balikatan 2018: U.S., Philippine Forces Share Ideas, Best Practices

From US Department of Defense (May11): Balikatan 2018: U.S., Philippine Forces Share Ideas, Best Practices

This year marks the 34th iteration of the annual training event focused on a variety of missions including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counterterrorism, and mutual defense. This year’s Balikatan also focuses on interoperability training events designed to enhance the combined capabilities of both the Philippine and U.S. armed forces.
Balikatan 18
Philippine marines move into assault positions during an amphibious exercise as part of Balikatan 2018 at San Antonio, Zambales, the Philippines, May 9, 2018. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Markus Castaneda

Balikatan 18 Balikatan 18
Philippine marines move into assault positions during an amphibious exercise as part of Balikatan 2018 at San Antonio, Zambales, the Philippines, May 9, 2018. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Markus Castaneda
‘We Want to be Interoperable’

“We came to Balikatan because we want to be interoperable with the Philippine military and with our joint counterparts,” said Air Force Lt. Col. John Matuszak, Balikatan exercise coordinator and deputy commander of the 36th Contingency Response Group from Andersen Air Base in Guam. “We learn a lot from each other just by talking and asking questions about how we do things.”
Balikatan is a Filipino term that means “shoulder to shoulder” or “sharing the load together” and characterizes the spirit of the exercise. Over the next several days, both nations will participate in multiple subject matter expert exchanges designed to enhance their capabilities.
“The good thing about these activities is that the subject matter experts in each area give their best practices to their counterparts,” said Philippine air force Maj. Arvin Gundran, operations director of the 600th Air Base Group and Balikatan subject matter expert exchange coordinator for the Philippines.
Balikatan 18: US, Philippine forces exchange ideas, best practices
U.S. Marines and their Philippine counterparts arrive on the beach during exercise Balikatan 2018, in San Antonio, Zambales, the Philippines, May 9, 2018. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Charles Plouffe

Balikatan 18: US, Philippine forces exchange ideas, best practices Balikatan 18: US, Philippine forces exchange ideas, best practices
U.S. Marines and their Philippine counterparts arrive on the beach during exercise Balikatan 2018, in San Antonio, Zambales, the Philippines, May 9, 2018. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Charles Plouffe

With Balikatan 2018, as in previous years, both nations will benefit from the increased cooperation and understanding during real-world missions.
This process allows us to both learn and teach in areas that we are responsible for, including base security, aerodrome operations and other base services, Gundran explained.
"The 36th CRG has a long history with this exercise and we’ve been coming here for the past two decades," Matuszak said. "We both participate with the intent of learning from each other, and this all builds a certain level of trust. Even if we’ve been gone for months, we can rely on the critical connections we make here."
The exercise is scheduled to incorporate multiple SMEE individuals, including command and control, flight operations, pararescue procedures, combatives and a simulated mass casualty response.

PH, US troops in Balikatan exercises in Zambales

From the Manila Bulletin (May 12): PH, US troops in Balikatan exercises in Zambales

AN ANTONIO, Zambales – At least 180 Filipino and American troops took part in Balikatan Exercises 2018 (BK34-18) held at Naval Education Training Command here.

ZAMBALES MANEUVERS – Filipino and American soldiers land on a beach in San Antonio, Zambales, as the 18th Balikatan started in earnest Wednesday. (Alvin Kasiban / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Lt. General M. Salamat, Philippine Exercises Director and concurrent Northern Luzon Command, (Nolcom) commander said that the objective of Balikatan is to enhance the interoperability both Philippine and US forces through humanitarian assistance & disaster response as well as counter-terrorism operations.

According to Salamat, the BK34 also focused on humanitarian work.

The Nolcom commander, US Exercises Director Gen. James Nicholeson, along with several Filipino-American Marine officers graced the opening of BK34 here.

Lt. Col. Isagani Nato, Nolcom spokesperson said two Philippine ships the 2LD602 and FF16, three Amphibious Armored Vehicles of the US Marines and OB-10 Broncho fixed-wing aircraft of the Philippine Air Force were used in the joint military exercises.

US think tank says it saw Chinese ships at PH reefs

From Malaya Business Insight (May 11): US think tank says it saw Chinese ships at PH reefs

FIFTEEN Chinese combat and law enforcement ships have been observed to be frequenting the three reefs that were subjected to land reclamation by China in the contested South China Sea or West Philippine Sea since January last year, a US-based think tank group said.

In its website, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said the presence of these ships is on top of an array of aircraft deployed by the Chinese at the Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subic Reefs.

Eight of the 15 Chinese ships are from the Navy, including two frigates, and a destroyer, while seven others are from its Coast Guard.

Alongside the ships are “an array of support ships, including tankers, tugboats, and replenishment vessels, as well as a Type 639 Oceanograpic surveillance ship have been seen,”  the AMTI said.

“The Big Three host both air and naval bases, and they can support an ever-growing People’s Liberation Army Navy, China Coast Guard, and fishing fleet presence across the southern portion of the South China Sea,” the AMTI said.

“Satellite images show that PLAN destroyers, frigates, and other combat ships and CCG patrol vessels regularly visit the artificial islands, along with many auxiliary and logistics vessels,” it added.

It said the ships monitored in these reefs are merely based on satellite imagery, which only captures ships that are in port and not those that are in patrol. Its satellite imagery provides “a limited picture of naval and coast guard deployments.

“But the ubiquity of PLAN and CCG ships in images of Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs since the start of 2017 suggests how robust the PLAN and CCG presence at the island bases has become,” the AMTI said.

Army battalion activated

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 12): Army battalion activated

Another Army battalion has been added to the infantry units of the 3rd Infantry Division in Western and Central Visayas.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista formally activated on Thursday the 94th Infantry Battalion during the founding anniversary of the 3ID at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz.

The newly-activated 94IB is composed of about 450 personnel and headed by Lt Col. Carlo Ferrer.

Capt. Eduardo Precioso, 3ID Public Affairs Office chief, said that the 94IB is slated to augment the 301st Infantry Brigade stationed in Panay Island.

Panay island now has two Army battalions supervised by the 301st Infantry Brigade, while Negros Island has three Army battalions, which include the 15IB, 62IB and 79IB.

Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, 3ID commanding general, said earlier that Negros Island is the priority area for clearing of local insurgents this year.

Two months ago, the 15th Infantry Battalion, an infantry unit of 3ID stationed in Mindanao, returned to Negros. It is now assigned in southern Negros.

The 3ID has two more infantry battalions, including the 11th and 82nd IBs, stationed in Mindanao

But Bautista who visited Negros Occidental Wednesday, said they may return the 3ID to the Visayas, as soon as the threats of the NPA and local terrorist groups in Eastern and Western Mindanao have been addressed.

Bautista said the 3ID troops may return to the Visayas by the third quarter of this year.

Army nabs 4 alleged communist rebels in Masbate

From Rappler (May 13): Army nabs 4 alleged communist rebels in Masbate

Clashes erupt in barangay Talisay in San Fernando town while the troops are on patrol for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections 2018

ALBAY, Philippines – The Philippine Army nabbed 4 alleged communist rebels after an armed encounter in the town of San Fernando in Masbate on Saturday, May 12, local police reported.

The clashes erupted in Barangay Talisay while the troops were on patrol for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections. The encounter lasted for about 5 minutes, said police regional spokesperson Maria Luisa Calubaquib.

The alleged communist rebels were all identified as residents of Masbate:

Joseph Asuela, 49, resident of Barangay Progreso, San Fernando, Masbate
Ricky Fernandes, 46, resident of Barangay Sowa, San Fernando, Masbate
Tirso Cantre, resident of barangay Progreso, San Fernando, Masbate (wounded)
Abel Altarejos, 32, resident of Barangay Buenavista, San Fernando, Masbate (wounded)

The wounded suspects were brought to a provincial hospital for medical treatment while the two others were turned over to the police.

The police spokesperson said 4 pistols, 5 mobile phones and cash amounting to P85,220 ($1,620) were confiscated from them.

This island province in the Bicol region is usually declared an election hotspot due to intense political rivalries, the proliferation of firearms, and the presence of political armed groups such as the communist New People's Army.

Peace 911​ l​aunched​ in Paquibato

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (May 13): Peace 911​ l​aunched​ in Paquibato

Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte leads the launching of Peace 911 of the Davao City Advisory Committee on Peace and Development (DC Peace-Dev) at Barangay Paquibato Proper, Thursday afternoon, May 17, 2018. (Photo by CIO)

The ​city government ​launch​ed​ ​its peace and development initiative to the troubled northern part of the city, as the mayor appealed for public support to economic projects aimed at bringing livelihood to local residents.

Called Peace 911, in reference to the city’s Emergency Response Center 911, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said the development initiative was given to Paquibato District where she said the economic situation has also reached the emergency level.

”​Your situation here in Paquibato reached emergency level, I’m 40 years old and 40 years you have this situation until now,” she said.

​She said the ​Peace 911 “is an initiative to change the pattern of development by using a human-centered approach taking in account cultural diversity social justice and participatory decision making​”​.

​”It’s ​t​he answer to the needs of people in Paquibato,” she added.

​She said the Peace 911 would “make sure the project that is needed according to you is the solution, will be seen and implemented in your barangay”.

​The Smart and Globe telecommunication companies would be putting up communication towers to put mobile signal in the area and to build chocolate factory for the growth of the agriculture in Paquibato as residents requested.

​”​Hangyo lang nako sa inyoha kung pwede lang suportahan ninyo ang mga proyekto nga gi-ingon ninyo na mao’y inyong kinahanglan (I would ask you to support and protect the project that according to you is the help that you need),” she said.
People’s reaction

Florente Antonio​, ​resident of Paquibato District,​ said, “m​aayo nga naa na na kay dugay-dugay nad gyud ni ing-ani ang Paqiubato permi lang gubot (it’s good that they have this program because it’s been a long time but Paqiubato remains the same).”

“Ang amo lang gyud hangyo nga dili pabiyaan ug presensya sa kasundalohan ang among lugar (What we are asking is a full attention of the military on the area),” ​said Lupon Tagapagpahayag of Paquibato district Floridilisa Tui.

Many barangay residents have also asked the mayor to rebuild the bridge.

“What we need here is for them to repair the broken bridge that connects barangay Panalum to Panabo that has broken a year ago,” said Edgar Manlios resident of Barangay Panyalong.

“Dako kaayo ug tabang sa mga tao driaa ang gihisgutan kaganhina ug sa pagkuha ug mga nagkadaiyang mulu sa resident mahitungod dria sa Paqiubato nga adunay maayong respond ang mga tao sa programa giingun ni Mayor kaganhin,” said Captain Meljoseph Ecobidal.

(The discussion is a big help to the people here and also getting the grievance of the residents in Paqiubato and in this contain good response to the people in regards of the program that has been discuss by mayor earlier.)

On the end part City Mayor Sara asked for the participation and commitment of the people in protecting the project coming in Paquibato district.

CPP to OPAPP: Do not pre-empt GRP-NDFP informal talks

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (May 12): CPP to OPAPP: Do not pre-empt GRP-NDFP informal talks

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) called on the Philippine government to be wary in issuing public statements on the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“Officials of the Duterte government should be more circumspect in issuing public statements or comments so as not to preempt the outcome of the informal talks and efforts to revive formal negotiations,” said the CPP in a statement sent to media on Friday, May 11.

It also called on the media and the public to await official statements regarding the outcome of the informal talks between the two parties.

“It was earlier agreed by both sides that unilateral statements will not be issued prior to actual agreements,” added CPP.

On Tuesday, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) confirmed that informal back-channel talks are underway in Europe.

This after President Rodrigo Duterte had signified intentions to resume the formal talks, as long as a ceasefire agreement will issued out first within 60-day timeline.

READ: Talks, informal back channel with Reds on, OPAPP chief confirms

However, the CPP maintained that Duterte should fulfill his promise to release all political prisoners and for socio-economic reforms to be the top priority of the peace negotiations.

“The GRP has publicly declared that it wants the NDFP to commit to a ceasefire agreement as condition for resumption of talks. On the other hand, the NDFP has underscored the clamor for justice (especially the much-delayed release of around 500 political prisoners through a declaration of general amnesty) and for socio-economic reforms (land reform and national industrialization) as the most urgent measures to address the Filipino people’s aspirations for a just and lasting peace,” said CPP.

Security forces hold 6 Abu Sayyaf fighters

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 12): Security forces hold 6 Abu Sayyaf fighters

Five Abu Sayyaf rebels have surrendered to the military in the southern Sulu province and another was captured by the police in Zamboanga City, officials said Saturday.

Rear Admiral Rene Medina, the regional navy commander, said the continuous military operations in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region, has led to the surrender of the rebels.

He identified those who surrendered as Berham Lutian, a sub-leader of the notorious group tied to ISIS; and Abdulsalam Ajul, Simal Sali, Alvin Alibasa and Ahmajir Ahmad. They also yielded weapons and are currently being investigated at an army base in the province.

Chief Inspector Helen Galvez, a regional police spokeswoman, said an Abu Sayyaf fighter, Aizar Latip, is also being interrogated following his capture Friday in Zamboanga City where he was believed on a mission to kidnap civilians.
She said Latip is facing a string of criminal charges and was linked to the June 2007 kidnapping of Italian priest Father Giancarlo Bossi in Zamboanga del Sur’s Payao town; and the deadly attacks on government troops and civilians in Basilan over the last decade. 
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding over a dozen Filipino and foreign hostages in both Basilan and Sulu.

NPA leader captured in Bukidnon province

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 12): NPA leader captured in Bukidnon province

A senior communist rebel leader who was wounded in a recent clash with military forces had been arrested Saturday at a hospital in Bukidnon’s Don Carlos town in southern Philippines, an army spokesman said.

Major Ezra Balagtey said Elizalde Cañete, who took over the leadership of slain New People’s Army leader Leoncio Pitao’s Pulang Bagani Command, was tracked down by soldiers and policemen at the Don Carlos Doctors Hospital where he sought treatment for a gunshot wound during a firefight in Kitaotao town also in Bukidnon.

“He has been charged for numerous crimes and atrocities he committed. He was responsible for the death of fish vendor Larry Buenafe in Davao City in May last year during the NPA burning of Lapanday Facility there. His group was also responsible for burning of construction equipment used in road projects in Paquibato in Davao City,” Balagtey said.

The rebel leader was previously captured in 2010 after being shot by soldiers in a gun battle in Montevista town in Compostela Valley province, but he escaped after posting bail only to fight again.

General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, praised soldiers and policemen for the capture of the notorious NPA leader and said: “The arrest of the rebel leader and his eventual prosecution will now give justice to the victims of his many atrocities particularly, to the late Larry Buenafe who was just peacefully earning a living when he was killed by an NPA-laid landmine.”

There was no immediate statement from the NPA on the capture of its leader. The NPA has been waging a secessionist war for many decades now.

Army continues anti-insurgency operations as polls draw near

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): Army continues anti-insurgency operations as polls draw near

A ranking official of the Philippine Army in Negros Island on Friday assured that they would be conducting continuous anti-insurgency operations as Monday’s Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections draws nearer.

Col. Eliezer Lozañes, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, disclosed Friday that even prior to the upcoming polls, they have been relentlessly operating against the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the island.

He said that the Army will be conducting combat operations in areas tagged as election hotspots due to the presence of the NPA.

“We will be operating in the so-called areas of concern and we will be augmenting the Philippine National Police (PNP),” he said.

Lozañes declined to comment specifically on which areas in Negros Oriental were under “Code Red”, one of three categories set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to determine if a barangay or an area is considered an “election hotspot” or not.

According to him, it is the Comelec who has the prerogative to make the disclosures, even though the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) make the recommendations, as both are under the operational control of the poll body.

But he admitted there are, indeed, areas in Negros Oriental that are under the “red category”.

The Comelec had recently announced it would be using a color-coding scheme in this year’s elections.

Election hotspots under Code Red are in a “critical situation” with a history of election-related violent incidents, intense political rivalry, and the presence of armed groups.

Code Orange means areas that have the presence of armed groups, such as the NPA, and those under Code Yellow would be having a history of political unrest, he said.

“We are continuously monitoring and validating reports of the presence of the NPA in certain areas tagged as hotspots,” the Army colonel said.

While the NPA may attempt to disrupt Monday’s elections, Col. Lozañes said he believes that the recent attacks carried out by the group is more likely aimed at using these as a leverage to show that they are still a force to reckon with.

Abu Sayyaf leader, 4 followers surrender in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): Abu Sayyaf leader, 4 followers surrender in Sulu

Military officials headed by Col. Armel Tolato, Philippine Marine Ready Force-Sulu commander (5th from left), join the photo session with the five Abu Sayyaf Group surrenderees at a military camp in the province of Sulu. (Photo courtesy: Philippine Marine Ready Force-Sulu)  

An Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) sub-leader and five followers separately surrendered to government authorities brought about by pressure of the continuous offensive in Sulu, a top military official said Saturday.

Rear Adm. Rene Medina, Naval Forces Western Mindanao (Navforwem) commander, said four of the five surrenderees, including the ASG sub-leader,  surrendered on Thursday in Kalingalang Caluang.

Medina identified the four as ASG sub-leader Berham Lutian alias Vietnam, Abdulsalam Ajul alias Rambo, Simal Sali, and Alvin Alibasa.

They brought along with them an M-16 “Baby Armalite” rifle, an M-79 grenade launcher and ammunition.

Medina identified the other ASG member who surrendered in Maimbung, also on Thursday, as Ahmajir Ahmad alias Abu Darda, who turned over an M-16 “Baby Armalite” rifle and ammunition.

He said sacks of rice and groceries were given by Kalingalang Caluang Mayor Peping Halun and Lt. Col. Ramil Holgado, Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 (MBLT-3) commander as a support to the ASG surrenderees.

They also underwent initial medical check-up and custodial debriefing at MBLT-3 headquarters and were later turned over to Col. Armel Tolato, Philippine Marines Ready Force-Sulu commander in Camp Bautista, Barangy Bus Bus, Jolo, Sulu.

The intensive efforts and dedication to duty of the government troops particularly the Fleet-Marine Forces in Sulu had led to the mass surrender of ASG members and recovery of several loose firearms, the military official said.

Bomb explodes in North Cotabato village

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): Bomb explodes in North Cotabato village

MIDSAYAP, North Cotabato — A powerful homemade bomb went off Friday in a vacant lot beside the provincial road here, police said.

Supt. Gilbert Tuzon, police chief of Midsayap, said nobody was hurt in the 8:15 a.m. explosion of an improvised explosive device (IED) fashioned from an 81 mm mortar, with iron round bars, metal sheets and mobile phone as trigger mechanism.

The Midsayap police said a certain Rasol Dubpaleg, a member of IS-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), allegedly planted the IED.

Police said it was meant for military or police vehicles passing by Sitio Narra, Barangay Tugal, Midsayap, the lone road that connects this town with Datu Piang, Maguindanao, where the BIFF operates.

Police are trying to determine if the bomb-planting was election-related since it was placed on a vacant lot across the Datu Demaudtang Dilangalen Elementary School in Barangay Tugal, one of the voting centers in Monday’s barangay and youth council elections.

“We are still investigating the case,” Tuzon said.

Following the incident, more police checkpoints were positioned along the provincial road, especially in Barangay Tugal, one of the identified election’s areas of immediate concern.

Cops arrest Abu Sayyaf 'spotter' in Zamboanga

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): Cops arrest Abu Sayyaf 'spotter' in Zamboanga

An alleged spotter of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), who was also implicated in the killing of 14 marine troops 10 years ago, was arrested in police operations in this city, an official said Saturday.

Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) director, identified the arrested ASG spotter as Aizar Latip, who carries the aliases of Christopher Palomar, Abu Utchung, and Abu Husni.

Beltran said Latip, a member of the Basilan-based ASG, was arrested around 6 a.m. Friday near a restaurant along R.T. Lim Boulevard, Barangay San Jose-Cawa-Cawa, this city.

Beltran said Latip was arrested while he “was tasked to monitor all possible targets for kidnapping in Zamboanga City.”

Beltran said Latip has standing warrant of arrest for six-count kidnapping and serious illegal detention cases with no recommended bail for his involvement in the raid of a plantation 16 years ago in Lantawan, Basilan.

In that incident, the Abu Sayyaf bandits seized 15 plantation workers when they raided on June 11, 2001 the Golden Harvest plantation in Barangay Tairan, Lantawan.
Five of the 15 workers were beheaded by the bandits while the remaining 10 have either escaped or rescued by pursuing military forces.

Beltran said Latip was also involved in the kidnapping of Italian priest, Fr. Gian Carlo Bossi, on June 10, 2007 in Barangay Bulawan, Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay. The suspect was also involved in the kidnapping of businessman Larry Tam Delos Santos on December 16, 2010 in Farmland Resort in Barangay Lanote, Isabela City, Basilan.

He said Latip has also participated in the July 10, 2007 ambush of marine troops in Barangay Guinanta, Al-Barka, Basilan, resulting to the death of 14 marines troops, 10 of them beheaded, and nine others injured.

Beltran said Latip is a follower of Basilan-based ASG sub-leader known as “Commander Abogao.”

He was temporarily placed under the custody of 904th Mobile Company of Regional Mobile Force Battalion-9 for proper disposition.

Top NPA commander in Davao falls

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): Top NPA commander in Davao falls

Photo courtesy of the Eastern Mindanao Command

The top commander of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in Davao City was finally re-arrested on Saturday while undergoing medical treatment at a hospital in Bukidnon for gunshot wounds sustained during an encounter with government forces.

Elizalde Cañete alias Jinggoy, the commander of the Pulang Bagani Command 1 – Southern Mindanao Regional Command (PBC 1 -SMRC), was arrested by an Inter-Agency Law Enforcement Operations team who served the warrant of arrest at around 10 a.m on Saturday at Don Carlos Doctors Hospital in Bukidnon.

Cañete was first arrested in 2010 in an encounter with government forces. He was then allowed by the military to recover from his wounds sustained during an encounter in Montevista, Compostela Valley province but, he jumped bail in 2013 for the murder and arson cases filed against him.

Eastmincom spokesperson Maj Ezra Balagtey said Cañete was undergoing treatment at Don Carlos Hospital after an encounter with the troops of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade in Kitao-Kitao, Bukidnon on Thursday, May 10.

Balagtey said Cañete’s group was responsible for exploding the landmine in Mandug, this city that killed fish vendor Larry Buenafe in May last year when NPA burned the Lapanday box facility and the burning of the heavy equipment used in the construction of the bypass road connecting Mandug and Fatima, in Paquibato District, this city.

Cañete succeeded Leoncio Pitao alias Ka Parago, who was killed in an encounter with the military in Barangay Pañalum, Paquibato District on June 28, 2015. Cañete was favored over Christopher Rollon alias Joel, who was first groomed as the successor of Parago.

Lt. Gen Benjamin Madrigal, Eastmincom Commander, said the military will ensure the prosecution of Cañete, even as he lauded the effort of authorities to re-arrest the elusive rebel leader.

"The arrest of Jingoy and his eventual prosecution will now give justice to the victims of his many atrocities particularly, to the late Larry Buenafe who was just peacefully earning a living when he was killed by an NPA-laid landmine,” he said.

Madrigal said the military will assist the police in providing security to Cañete while still undergoing treatment.

"Just like the first time that he was hospitalized in Davao City in 2010, aside from security, I also directed the units concerned to provide and facilitate necessary assistance for his recovery for him to face his charges in the proper court." Madrigal Jr. said.

Meantime, Balagtey said the Inter-Agency group is now coordinating with the proper court for the legal processing, commitment and security procedures for Cañete.

10 injured in Jolo bomb blast

From the Philippine News Agency (May12): 10 injured in Jolo bomb blast

Ten people were injured in an improvised bomb explosion in Jolo, Sulu, a top military official said Saturday.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said the incident occurred around 7:10 p.m. Friday at the JNB Sari-Sari store and videoke bar in Sitio Martirez, Barangay San Raymundo, Jolo.

Sobejana said the victims, whose identities were not immediately available as of this posting, were having drinking spree inside the videoke bar at the time of the explosion.

Sobejana said the victims were rushed to the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) although their wounds are not life threatening.

He said the police are currently investigating the case, while the Joint Task Force Sulu troopers have launched intelligence operations to possibly apprehend the suspects.

Initial investigation showed the improvised explosive device (IED) that exploded was triggered by a cellular phone, the military official said.

“We are looking at the signature of the IED to identify the culprits,” Sobejana added.

Meanwhile, Sobejana said they are reassessing the security measures in downtown Jolo and other parts of the province.

He said closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will be installed in terror-prone areas in collaboration with the provincial government headed by Gov. Abdusakur Tan II.

2 troops killed, 8 wounded in southern Negros clash

From the Philippine News Agency (May13): 2 troops killed, 8 wounded in southern Negros clash

Two soldiers died while eight others were injured during a clash between government troops and suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the southern Negros city of Kabankalan Saturday morning.

Captain Ruel Llanes, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Negros Occidental, on Saturday night identified the fatatilies as Sergeant Sandy Arevalo and Private First Class (PFC) Vicente Marcon.

Injured were Sergeant Niño Nabaunag, PFC Angelito Bariga, PFC Michael Besana, PFC Voltair Catamin, PFC Kenneth Cerbo, Private John Daryle Delgado, Private Ryan Las Piñas, and Private Joven Taghap.

According to a report from the Negros Occidental Police Office, the soldiers were conducting patrol and combat clearing operation in Sitio Atubon, Barangay Tan-awan ahead of Monday’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections when they encountered about 60 rebels around 5:30 a.m..

The firefight lasted for almost an hour. The rebels are believed to belong to the upper Grader Platoon of the NPA’s Central Negros Front Komite Rehiyonal-Negros.

Llanes said the wounded troops are already in stable condition.

They were treated at Mother of Holy Mercy Hospital and Lorenzo D. Zayco District Hospital in Kabankalan City.

He noted that the rebels knew the terrain in Sitio Atubon well since they have been operating in the area for some time now, putting the soldiers at a disadvantage.

Llanes said the same group of rebels could have been behind the torching of the heavy equipment and bunkhouse in the dam project of National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Sitio Badian, also in Barangay Tan-awan on May 7.

Meanwhile, the Negros Occidental police said personnel of Kabankalan City Police Station with troops from the Special Action Force-6 set up a checkpoint in the adjacent Sitio Overflow, Barangay Hilamonan after the encounter.

All barangays in the city have also been alerted while hospitals within the city and neighboring localities towns have been checked and warned for possible arrival of patients with gunshot wounds, the police added.

As of Saturday night, the police said the city government of Kabankalan has planned to evacuate the residents of Sitio Atubon and the neighboring sitios affected by the armed encounter to the Barangay Tan-awan covered court and gymnasium.

Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil, police provincial director, said quick reaction teams are ready to respond to possible threats and harassments from the rebels and private armed groups.

AFP denies 'Southern Command' withdrawing support

From the Philippine News Agency (May11): AFP denies 'Southern Command' withdrawing support

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday denied a "Messenger" post which claimed that soldiers from "Southern Command" are allegedly withdrawing support to the national government.

"A 'Messenger' post purportedly from the soldiers of the "Southern Command" allegedly withdrawing support to government and President Rodrigo R. Duterte and encouraging other AFP units to follow suit is now circulating in social media," AFP spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said.

"Few people sent it to me to determine its veracity. That is a fake statement. It did not come from the military," he said.

He also clarified that there is no "Southern Command" of the AFP, saying that the post is the handiwork of individuals who intend to sow discord and discredit the military as a professional organization.

Arevalo also assured the public that the AFP will be "united and steadfast" amid such disinformation.

"Your AFP shall and will remain united and steadfast following duly constituted authority and under the Chain-of-Command with the President and Commander-in-Chief on top of the hierarchy," Arevalo said.

Duterte wants to see more Maute-ISIS surrenderees

From the Philippine News Agency (May12): Duterte wants to see more Maute-ISIS surrenderees

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday encouraged more Maute-ISIS members to surrender as he promised to provide them with housing, capital, land and employment.

“I propose to you, the other Maranaos, you better come down and as you can see your arms, there is really no purpose,” Duterte said in his speech during the presentation of surrendered firearms and distribution of assistance to ISIS-Maute Group surrenderees in Marawi City.

“I look forward to see more surrenderees and a comfortable lives for the Maranaos. You come down and we will talk how we can improve your lives,” he added.

Duterte said he would bring Maute surrenderees in Malacañang and then to Malaysia to learn the technology of developing palm oil and rubber tree plantations.

“I told the Maute surrenderees, you go to Malacañang and let’s talk. I will bring you preferably in Malaysia. You study their how to plan rubber (tree) and palm oil,” he said.

Duterte said he will ask newly-installed Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad to assist the Maute surrenderees.

“I will talk to talk to him that I will send you there to study. The whole of Maute group can go there,” he said.

The President said he is ready to proclaim land reform in Lanao del Norte and del Sur as well as in Maguindanao and distribute the government property to the poor Maranaos.

He also assured local residents displaced by a five-month conflict between the government troops and ISIS-inspired Maute Group last year that will get back their land in Marawi City.

“I will commit to you, as a Maranao, I will commit to you now that I will pour assistance, tractors, fertilizers and even seedlings,” Duterte said, drawing applause from the audience.

He appealed to the Maranao people to give the government enough time to rebuild Marawi and establish the goodwill.

“There will be some improvements only if you give me time,” Duterte said.

The President said his top aide Bong Go can help facilitate the completion of the government’s assistance to the Maute surrenderees.

When asked by a surrenderee about other Maute-ISIS members who want to surrender but have pending cases, Duterte said he will send Secretary Abdullah Mama-o to negotiate and talk with them for assessment if amnesty can be granted.

Meanwhile, Duterte cautioned the Maute not to make alliance with New People’s Army (NPA).

“I hope, brothers, don’t follow the NPA. This is a group who don’t believe in God. You better be careful. At the end of the day, if they will get Mindanao, you will be consumed. Believe me,” he warned.

Duterte thanked the Armed Forces of the Philippines for its efforts to convince Maute members to surrender and for their sacrifice to bring peace in Mindanao.

He also expressed appreciation to the people of Marawi City for their understanding and cooperation.

“My brothers in Marawi, the government wanted peace. We don’t want the government to come here and fight. That’s a waste of time and money and the lives of the people,” he said.

235 troops deployed to help secure MM polls

From the Philippine News Agency (May12): 235 troops deployed to help secure MM polls

While no security threat has yet been detected for Monday’s Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, the military's Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) has deployed 235 officers and enlisted personnel to augment the security preparations in Metro Manila's five police districts.

In a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) late Friday, JTF-NCR head Brig. Alan Arrojado said three officers and 53 enlisted personnel have been assigned to the Manila Police District; three officers and 63 soldiers to the Southern Police District; one officer and 25 troops to the Eastern Police District; one ranking official and 22 troopers to the Northern Police District; and five officers and 59 enlisted personnel to the Quezon City Police District.

When asked about any security threat, Arrojado said they have yet to detect any.

"So far, no threat has been monitored," he said.

3 missile-armed crafts to be operational in 3 months

From the Philippine News Agency (May12): 3 missile-armed crafts to be operational in 3 months

The Philippine Navy’s (PN) first three Spike-ER armed multi-purpose attack crafts (MPACs) will be fully operational within two to three months, flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said.

Integration or installation is ongoing as of this time, he said Thursday, adding that they are studying the doctrine on to how to use and where to deploy these missile-armed MPACs.

The Spike-ER surface-to-surface missiles, along with its launchers, arrived third week of April.

These missiles are capable of penetrating 1,000 mm. (39 inches) of rolled homogeneous armor and have a range of 8 km. As of this posting, the Navy has nine MPACs in inventory with another three units planned.

Three of these seacrafts are being fitted with the Spike-Er missiles and its launchers.

These were activated on May 22, 2017 and manufactured by Subic-based Propmech Corp. for PHP270 million.

11 BIFF surrenderers presented to Maguindanao guv

From the Philippine News Agency (May13): 11 BIFF surrenderers presented to Maguindanao guv

The military in Maguindanao on Saturday presented to Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu the 11 former IS - linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who earlier surrendered with their firearms.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion commander, personally presented the group of Sindatok Dilna to Mangudadatu, who welcomed them and urged them to help convince their comrades to surrender and avail of government’s livelihood program.

Cabunoc convinced the BIFF faction to surrender and live normal lives following a series of negotiations with the help of Mayor Abdulkarim Langkuno of Paglat town in Maguindanao.

Dilna promised Mangudadatu he will tell his former comrades about the benefits the provincial government will provide them upon their surrender.

The former armed men, labeled as terrorists by the Department of National Defense after they pledge allegiance to the ISIS, turned over 11 high-powered firearms.

Dilna admitted he lost more than three dozens of armed followers in clashes with elements of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

Tasli Sanoy, another senior BIFF leader, said his group decided to surrender because of the opportunity provided by the governor and military.

“We have been running, we are tired, both the soldiers and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are running after us,” he told Mangudadatu.

“It’s not right we Muslims kill each other, let us explore better and right opportunities to improve our lives,” Mangudadatu told the former rebels in the vernacular.

Aside from cash assistance, Mangudadatu also provided the returnees with farming and fishing equipment so that their livelihood becomes legitimate and productive.

Mangudadatu also promised to provide scholarship for children of the BIFF who decided to surrender.

In neighboring Sultan Kudarat province, Governor Pax Mangudadatu also received five BIFF fighters from Lutayan town who surrendered to the Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion.

They were given assistance under the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) livelihood package.

DWDD: MEDIATION | 33IB help resolve land conflict in Sultan Kudarat

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 11): MEDIATION  |  33IB help resolve land conflict in Sultan Kudarat


PRESIDENT QUIRINO, Sultan Kudarat (DWDD) Lt Col Harold M Cabunoc, Commanding Officer, 33rd Infantry “Makabayan” Battalion, together with Lt Col Lauro Oliveros, the Commanding Officer, 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion, facilitated the peaceful resolution of the land conflict between a landowner and the claimants of a 10-hectare farm land in Barangay Katiku, President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat.


In a signed agreement, both parties have agreed to settle the amount of P1.200,000.00 as payment to the Vallejos family before handing over the property to the claimants.

The land conflict had triggered the armed violence in the area when MILF members started attacking the Christian community of Katiku since 2009.


The settlement was made possible through the support of Paglat Mayor Abdulkarim Langkuno, GSKP Mayor Bonnie Kali, PQSK Mayor Azel Mangudadatu, and Governor Esmael Mangudadatu through the Maguindanao Task Force on Reconciliation and Unification.

The Army supports the civil government in keeping the peace in former armed conflict-affected areas by addressing community problems. Photo by Pfc Jayrick Eulogio 33IB / MCAG

DWDD: Presentation of Former New People’s Army rebels at Isulan Provincial Capitol

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 11): Presentation of Former New People’s Army rebels at Isulan Provincial Capitol

Presentation of Former New People’s Army rebels at Isulan Provincial Capitol last May 10, 2018.

DWDD: CAPTURED | Joint Operation nets notorious NPA leader in Davao

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 12): CAPTURED  |  Joint Operation nets notorious NPA leader in Davao

DAVAO (DWDD) – Authorities arrested a notorious leader of the Communist-terrorist New People’s Army (NPA) responsible for several atrocities in Davao City.

Zaldy Canete

According to Major Ezra Balagtey, Public Information Officer, AFP Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM), the arrested NPA Leader was identified as Elizalde Cañete Alias Jinggoy, who replaced Leoncio Pitao @ Parago upon the latter’s death as leader of PBC1, SMRC that covers the boundary of Bukidnon, Davao del Norte and the mountainous districts of Davao City.

Cañete was arrested during an Inter-Agency Law Enforcement Operations on May 12, 2018 at 10 o’ clock in the morning at Don Carlos Doctors Hospital, Don Carlos, Bukidnon. The Inter-Agency Report of 1003rd Infantry “Raptor” Brigade, 403rd Infantry Brigade and the Don Carlos Municipal Police Office stated that the team served the warrant of arrest for multiple murder and arson as the said NPA Leader was in the Hospital seeking medical treatment after he was wounded in an encounter in Kitaotao, Bukidnon on May 10, 2018 between the troops of 1003rd Brigade and his group.

Alias Jinggoy has been charged for numerous crimes and atrocities he committed. It can be recalled that he was the one responsible for the death of fish vendor Larry Buenafe in Mandug, Davao City sometime on May 2017 during the NPAs burning of Lapanday Facility in the said Barangay. Likewise, his group was the one responsible for burning of the equipment being used in the ongoing by-pass road at Barangays Mandug and Fatima, both of Paquibato, Davao City.

Jinggoy was first arrested sometime 2010 after soldiers of the Special Forces saved him after he was seriously wounded in an encounter in Montevista, Compostela Valley. However, he was able to jump bail sometime on 2013 and went back to the NPA Terrorist Group.

Meanwhile the Inter-Agency group is now coordinating with the proper court for the legal processing, commitment and security procedures for the said NPA Leader.

Lt. General Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr. Commander – EASTMICNOM, expressed his appreciation to the Inter-Agency Group on the arrest and further extended support in the prosecution of Alias Jinggoy.

“The arrest of Jingoy and his eventual prosecution will now give justice to the victims of his many atrocities particularly, to the late Larry Buenafe who was just peacefully earning a living when he was killed by an NPA-laid landmine. While he is receiving medical treatment, we will be backing up the Philippine National Police in providing security and in the eventual prosecution of his numerous cases.” Lt Gen Madrigal Jr said.

“Just like the first time that he was hospitalized in Davao City in 2010, aside from security, I also directed the units concerned to provide and facilitate necessary assistance for his recovery for him to face his charges in the proper court.” Madrigal Jr. added. AES / EASTMINCOM / MCAG

DWDD: MANAGEABLE SITUATION | Basilan, a better place now

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 12): MANAGEABLE SITUATION  |  Basilan, a better place now

BASILAN (DWDD) The situation now in Basilan is more manageable compared to previous years due to the large improvement in security and development.


This was the assessment made by Brigadier General Juvymax Uy, Commander, Joint Task Force Basilan.

Admittedly, Basilan is very influential to various armed groups since the former emir of the IS in Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon, is from Eastern Basilan, and was also a former leader of the IS-inspired terror group Abu Sayyaf.

But the death of Hapilon in Marawi proved to be a big blow to these armed groups and is contributary to the improvement of the security situation in the province. The fight against the remnants of the ASG in the province has shifted from pure military efforts to a fight of the AFP together with the Local Government Units up to the Barangay level.

BGen Uy attributed the success of this shift to the previous area commanders and now AFP Chief of Staff Gen Carlito Galvez and Philippine Army Commanding General Bautista.

“it cannot only be attributed under my leadership but it can also be attributed during the time of Chief of Staff Gen Galvez, CGPA Gen Bautista at kung tiignan mo po minana ko na lang ang kanilang naunang ginawa sa Basilan and then I continued the good deeds in the past, ipingpatuloy ko lang.” said BGen Uy.

BGen Uy added that remaining ASG members in the province are no longer safe because they have lost most of their influence. In fact, their province mates are turning on them and are reporting to authorities their whereabouts and activities. Their Provincial Government has led the fight against terrorism.

With the influx of ASG surrenderees, their leadership (leaders and sub-leaders) have collapsed. Testament to this is that: First, there was no ASG recruitment in province for the past year; and, second, no incident of kidnapping for more than a year. The last kidnapping incident was recorded March 2017, but it was immediately resolved.

Tourism has also increased, last year they were able to register 1,000 visitors in the first quarter then it swelled to 4,000 or a 300% increase.

The people’s response to the reshaping of Basilan was very positive. Their LGUs has been awarded twice for the Seal of Good Governance. AES

DWDD: KOMODO 2018 | PN contingent joins various exercise info

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 12): KOMODO 2018  |  PN contingent joins various exercise info

LOMBOK ISLAND, Indonesia (DWDD) As part of the harbour phase activities in the Exercise Komodo 2018 in Mataram, Lombok Island, Indonesia, Philippine Navy contingent participates in the series of Exercise Info prepared by the Indonesian Navy. These include Lesson from Expert (LFE), Table top Exercise (TTX), Command Post Exercise (CPX), Tactical Floor Game (TFG) and Pre Sail Brief.


These activities aim to obtain a common perception and understanding of the Maritime Interdiction Operation, Refugee Handling, and HADR mission between multinational navies in region; its operational and logistic support among Navies and to identify gaps in the plan may arise in these kind of maritime operations.

Moreover, these activities help to examine, evaluate and provide feedback of cooperation and planning between staff in Maritime Peace Keeping and HADR Operations. Improve and verify the format, content, and procedures, as well as establish a common language for military coordination of HADR or Maritime Disaster Response and reduce the response time in major emergencies. It further enhance operational cooperation between military services (particularly the Navy) of the participating countries and share lessons learned and build a common understanding. NPAO / MCAG