Tuesday, May 29, 2018

DWDD: CHANGE OF COMMAND | TOG 3 New Group Commander

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 30): CHANGE OF COMMAND  |  TOG 3 New Group Commander

CAMP GEN SERVILLANO AQUINO, Tarlac (DWDD) – Lieutenant Colonel Susan Rodolfo PAF (GSC) assumes position as the new Group Commander Tactical Operations Group 3 during the Change of Command ceremony on May 25, 2018 at the SSTS, Camp Servillano Aquino Tarlac City presided by Col Connor Canlas PAF (GSC).

LTC Rodolfo replaced the outgoing Group Commander, LTC Perfecto R Magalong JR PAF (GSC).

During the event, Ltc Magalong was given recognition by NOLCOM and JTF Kaugnay in recognition of his invaluable services rendered by providing support mission operations and air power to all of its missions. TOG 3 / MCAG



From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 30): GRADUATION CEREMONY  |  CAA BMT Classes 01 & 02-2018

DEMAPORO, Lanao Del Norte (DWDD) – The Graduation ceremony of CAA BMT Classes 01 & 02-2018 held at Brgy Pikalawag, Sultan Naga Demaporo, Lanao del Norte with Col Nolie L Anquillano GSC (INF) PA as the guest of honor and speaker on May 25, 2018. 1ID Tabak / MCAG


Gunmen kill Army intel officer in Basilan ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29): Gunmen kill Army intel officer in Basilan ambush

Police and military authorities are investigating the killing of an Army intelligence personnel in an ambush in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan province on Monday.

Basilan Police Director Senior Supt. Rufino Inot said Tuesday he has ordered the case investigator to work closely with the military and all individuals to identify the killers of Sgt. Moh Alam, 46, of Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Alam, an intelligence personnel of the Army’s 18th Infantry Battalion, was driving his motorcycle when ambushed by unidentified gunmen in Sitio Kapayawan, Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo at about 8 a.m. Monday, police said.

The victim suffered multiple gunshot wounds that resulted in his instant death.

Inot said the incident was reported at about 11 a.m. by Baguindan Barangay Chairperson Bishari Hantian at the Tipo-Tipo Police station.

He said the suspects may have staged the ambush after the victim’s nature of work had been exposed.

The place where the ambush occurred was a former stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

As of posting time, no one has claimed responsibility for the incident.


Army vice chief joins 'Brigada Eskwela' in Malabon

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): Army vice chief joins 'Brigada Eskwela' in Malabon

In line with its community development and engagement efforts, Philippine Army (PA) vice commander Major Gen. Robert M. Arevalo took part in "Brigada Eskwela" activities of the Malabon National High School (MNHS) on Tuesday.

Joining the PA official were around 736 volunteers composed of MNHS faculty members and staff, representatives from the local government unit, police and other uniformed services.

Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva said this year's "Brigada Eskwela" theme is “Para sa Handa, Ligtas at Matatag na Paaralan Tungo sa Magandang Kinabukasan.”

"Brigada Eskwela" is an annual activity of the Department of Education where parents, teachers, community members and other stakeholders come together to prepare public school facilities nationwide before the opening of the academic year.

Participants normally do minor repairs, painting, and cleaning of school premises.

Villanueva said that the PA is deploying 350 personnel to help in the cleaning and repairs of some 36 schools in Mandaluyong, Pateros, Pasay, and Taguig. "Brigada Eskwela" is a week-long activity that started Monday and will end on Friday.


Bulatlat: Group accuses police, military of massacre in Matalam

From the pro-CPP/NDF online propaganda publication Bulatlat (May 28): Group accuses police, military of massacre in Matalam

Photo from Kodao Productions website.

A Bangsamoro group has accused the Philippine National Police (PNP) of the “massacre” of nine Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters who have reportedly already surrendered before being mercilessly mowed down with automatic gunfire last May 25 in North Cotabato.

The Suara Bangsamoro said that in the guise of an anti-drug operation in Sitio Biao, Kilada Village, Matalam, North Cotabato, a combined PNP and military team swooped down on the victims who are members of the 105th Base Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

The nine victims reportedly surrendered during the raid and were disarmed by state forces who then fired at them, killing all on the spot.

“This is not an isolated case of massacre and extra-judicial killings. On December 8, 2017, three members of the MILF were killed by joint anti-drug operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP in Brgy. Koronadal Proper, Polomolok, South Cotabato,” Suara Bangsamoro chairperson Jerome Succor Aba in a statement said.

On May 19, 2018, Mindatu Aminola, another MILF member from Brgy. Olonoling, Tupi, South Cotabato was also killed by state forces under the same pretext – anti-drug operation, Aba added.

Suara Bangsamoro said it believes the recent spate of killings and massacre were committed by state forces under the guise of ‘anti-drug’ operations.

Earlier, Police Superintendent Bernard Tayong, North Cotabato Police Office spokesperson said police and military operatives were serving a search warrant on suspected drug suspects Dadting Kasan and Intan Aban in Sitio Biao at about 11:15 p.m. on Friday when they were fired upon by the victims.

Kasan and Aban were among those killed in the incident.

The MILF, however, said the victims were their legitimate members.

MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) head Butch Malang said the nine fatalities were disarmed before they were shot at close range by policemen and soldiers on Friday and Saturday.

BIAF spokesperson, Von Al-Haq added the MILF aims to file a “strong protest” with the government section of the CCCH.

“Clearly, the Duterte administration, through its US-influenced military lapdogs, are using the ‘anti-drug’ campaign to pursue and cloak its counter-insurgency program – the ‘Oplan Kapayapaan,’” Aba said.

Peace spoilers

Aba added the Rodrigo Duterte administration is jeopardizing the hard-earned gains of the peace process between the government and various Bangsamoro groups such as the MILF.

“While the Congress is discussing the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the military and the police are also busy killing the primary stakeholders of its approval,” Aba said.

Aba said that like his predecessors, Duterte lacks sincerity in upholding peace agreements with its duplicity.

“While they talk about peace, they are also committing grave human rights violations, killings and massacres pursuant to its counter-insurgency programs,” Aba said.

Suara Bangsamoro urged the Moro people and the MILF to demand justice to their fallen comrades.


Alleged rebel extortion unit leader nabbed in Negros Occidental

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (May 28): Alleged rebel extortion unit leader nabbed in Negros Occidental

AN alleged extortion unit leader of New People’s Army (NPA) was arrested at Barangay Pinggot in Ilog, Negros Occidental over the weekend.

Captain Ruel Llanes, spokesperson of the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army based in Murcia, identified the suspect as Reymark Pedro with aliases Bobby, Recoy and Reymark Labrador, 23, a native of Sipalay City.

On May 26, concerned citizens reported to the authorities, alleged extortion activities conducted by Pedro’s group in the said village.

Members of the 15th Infantry Battalion responded to the complaints and conducted pursuit operations.

Pedro and his seven other companions, including two women, were seen by the military troops in the area.

However, only Pedro was cornered inside a store while carrying his .9mm caliber pistol. Others were able to evade arrest.

The owner of the house opened Pedro's bag in front of other witnesses and recovered from him P3,050 in cash, 37 ammunition, six rounds of M16 bullets, extortion letters that bear the logo of “Armando Sumayang Command of the Southwest Front,” and subversive documents.

The bag also contained documents that confirmed Pedro’s affiliation to the rebel group through the certification of completion he garnered as the best officer from NPA's Apolinario Gatmaitan Command.

In a press release, Second Lieutenant Elnard Alde, platoon leader, said Pedro, during the interrogation, admitted his active participation in the NPA extortion activities.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Patricio Tomales, battalion commander, cited the support of the public apparently fed up with NPA extortion activities in the area.

"The soldiers believed they are a big help as they felt the citizens' sincerity with each piece of information they received," he said.

The NPAs do not discriminate. It is not just the businessmen and politicians they extort money from, Tomales said, adding that "even small store owners are also victims of their extortion activities."

For his part, Brigadier General Eliezer Losañes, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade, thanked the concerned citizens who had the courage to speak up against the NPA's extortion activities, as he claimed they can raise over P25 million a year.


Suspected rebels charged with murder in death of broadcaster

From the Sun Star-Cebu (May 28): Suspected rebels charged with murder in death of broadcaster

CEBU. The artist sketch and mugshot of the suspects in the death of Dumaguete City-based broadcaster Edmund Sestoso. (Courtesy of PRO 7-PIO)

THREE suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) were charged with murder on Friday, May 25, for their alleged involvement in the killing of Dumaguete City-based broadcaster Edmund Sestoso.

The complaint was lodged before the Office of the Dumaguete City Prosecutor's Office at 2:30 p.m., according to the press statement released by Senior Superintendent Raul Tacaca, Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office acting director.

Rene Bustamante, alias Ka Pediong, alias Ka Jade Hervias, alias Ka Jury Mercado, and two John Does, who are relatives of Bustamante were named respondents in the complaint.

The police's witness stated that Bustamante was an NPA commander and his relative.

Bustamante was reportedly mad at Sestoso after the latter framed him up to the police, leading to his arrest for illegal possession of firearm and explosive in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental.

He wanted to revenge on Sestoso.

The witness, in his affidavit, said he knew two of the suspects, Ka Mokong and Sherwin, who were introduced to him during his birthday in September 2017.

The suspects told the witness that they are cousins from Barangay Bakid, Guihulngan City, and they were NPA members.

They told him Bustamante is their uncle.

Before the shooting happened morning of April 30, the witness was driving his jeepney with his wife as one of his passengers.

He saw Ka Mokong and Sherwin on board a black motorcycle.

The suspects overtook the jeepney and stopped near another motorcycle, which Sestoso was a passenger.

The back rider shot Sestoso's leg first and fired another four shots.

Afterwards, the culprits fled and the witness helped rush Sestoso to the hospital.

Sestoso succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds on Tuesday afternoon, May 1.


NPA killed in CamSur clash

From the Manila Bulletin (May 27): NPA killed in CamSur clash

Pili, Camarines Sur — A 20-minute gun battle between government troops and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Garchitorena town, this province yesterday morning resulted in the killing of one guerrilla fighter, the army said.

Captain Joash Pramis, Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO) chief of the army’s 9th Infantry Division (9 ID) based here, said the encounter broke out in Sitio Pagsurungan, Barangay Lidong in Garchitorena.

Pramis said combatants from Charlie Company of the army’s 83rd Infantry Battalion engaged about 20 members of the NPA’s Larangan 1, KP2 of the Bicol Regional Party Committee (BRPC).

One of the rebels was killed and left by his comrades at the battle site. His identity was still being established by army authorities.

Soldiers also collected two M-16 rifles – one of them with an M203 grenade launcher – and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).


3 Reds slain in clash with gov’t troops in Misamis Oriental

From the Manila Bulletin (May 28): 3 Reds slain in clash with gov’t troops in Misamis Oriental

CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – Three members of Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) were killed while an undetermined number of other rebels were believed critically wounded when a gun battle erupted between government security forces and communist terrorists in Northern Mindanao province.

Lt. Tere Ingente, chief Public Affairs Office (PAO) of Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) today told the Manila Bulletin that combat maneuvering troops of the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion (58th IB) are still pursuing the CNTs who ran away after gun battle toward the mountainous area of Kamansi in Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental province.

“Our pursuing operating troops led by the commanding officer of the 58th IB Lt. Col. Roy Anthony Derilo are still tracking down the fleeing rebels who brought along with them their undetermined number of wounded comrades as blood stains were seen along the rebels’ escape route of withdrawal,” Ingente said.

She said Maj. Gen. Ronald C. Villanueva, commanding general of the 4th ID, already directed nearby field unit commanders to also deploy their combat maneuvering troops and establish blocking positions along the possible escape route of the fleeing CNTs.

The initial gun battle between the elements of the 58th IB and at least 30 members of Guerilla front Committee 4-B (GFC 4-B) of the CPP-NPA North-Central Mindanao Regional Committee happened at 9 a.m. yesterday in Kamansi area, Barangay Banlay, Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental province, the 4th ID PAO chief said.

She said peace and development teams of 58th IB were conducting security operations in Kamansi area when engaged undetermined number of heavily armed CNTs.

“The firefight lasted for almost 15 minutes there,” she said.

“Outgunned and out-positioned, the rebels fled leaving behind their three slain comrades-in-arms and dragging along with them their undetermined number of wounded,” Ingente claimed.

She said operating troops of the 58th IB seized in the encounter site two AK 47 rifle, one M16 Armalite rifle and several live ammunitions of the same rifles.

At 1:45 p.m. of the same day pursuing troops also engaged the fleeing rebels in a 10-minute firefight in nearby the same area, Ingente said.

Hot pursuit operation against the fleeing rebels is still ongoing, she said.

No casualty on the government side during in these two gun battles, the 4th ID PAO officer added.


Sison: PH, NDFP set to sign interim peace agreement

From CNN Philippines (May 27): Sison: PH, NDFP set to sign interim peace agreement

The government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are set to sign an interim peace agreement, which could lead to peace talks between both sides.

This, according to a statement released Saturday by NDFP chief political consultant, Jose Maria Sison.

As initially agreed, President Rodrigo Duterte was set to attend the signing of the interim peace agreement. However, Sison said the government side "backed out and offered" Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to represent Duterte.

The NDFP suggested to hold the signing in Hanoi as alternative venue, considering Duterte's heavy work.

"But Duterte has insisted that the meeting be in the Philippines," Sison said.  
He said the reasons why he could not return to the Philippines prematurely include:
  • A mutual agreement that peace negotiations be held in a foreign neutral venue.
  • Being in the country would put him and the entire peace negotiations "in the pocket of Duterte and his mercy."
  • Peace negotiations would be put at risk should any saboteur abduct or harm any NDFP panelist or consultant.
The government has yet to comment on Sison's statement.

Sison earlier said that he would return to the Philippines but only when certain conditions are met.
Among Sison's conditions – a signed ceasefire deal, amnesty for political prisoners, and a signed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms. He also wanted an assurance on his safety.


MNLF faction head Jikiri charged with graft

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): MNLF faction head Jikiri charged with graft
Former Sulu Gov. Yusop Jikiri, who currently chairs a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), has been charged in the Sandiganbayan with graft and malversation in connection with the 2004 fertilizer fund scam.

Ombudsman prosecutors accused Jikiri and three others of paying P3.25 million to Rim Allied Merchandise for 4,643 bottles of Exquisite BD fertilizer and soil conditioner despite the lack of public bidding.

Irregularities cited by prosecutors include the lack of participation by the province’s bids and awards committee, the issuance of the purchase order ahead of the availability of the budget, the “complete lack” of any project proposal or financial plan and the approval of an unnumbered disbursement voucher.


Zamboanga City security tightened for arrival of 96 MNLF members

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): Zamboanga City security tightened for arrival of 96 MNLF members
Security had been tightened here on Monday as the 96 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) captured in the aftermath of the 2013 siege were expected to arrive from Manila after having been freed from detention in Taguig City.

Sr. Supt. Allan Nazarro, the city police director, said authorities would be escorting the freed MNLF men to their places of origin after arriving here anytime this Monday.

“Those involved in the plan are the Western Mindanao Command, Task Force Zamboanga, the Police Regional Office 9 and the Zamboanga City Police Office,” Nazarro said.

The release and return of the 96 freed detainees will be handled and facilitated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.   


MILF to file protest over death of members killed in anti-drug operations

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 27): MILF to file protest over death of members killed in anti-drug operations
MATALAM, North Cotabato – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Sunday said the nine men killed in an anti-drug operations in Barangay Kilada here were legitimate members of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

Butch Malang, head of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), said the nine fatalities were disarmed before they were shot at close range by policemen and soldiers on Friday and Saturday.

Von Al-Haq, BIAF spokesperson, said the MILF will file a “strong protest” with the government’s Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).

On Saturday, authorities said they have killed nine suspected drug pushers during an overnight joint police and military operations that started Friday while three others were arrested. Suspected shabu and firearms were also reportedly seized.

Chief Inspector Sunny Leoncito, Matalam town police chief, said the raiding team was armed with a search warrant issued by Judge Alandrex Betoya of the Regional Trial Court Branch 16.

He said they were to serve the warrants against Dadting Kasan and Intan Aban on Friday night in Sitio Biao in Barangay Kilada, but they were fired upon. The hour-long firefight resulted in the wounding and subsequent death of seven suspects.

Leoncito said on Saturday morning that the operatives returned to the area and killed two more suspects.

But Malang, in his letter to Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace agreement implementing panel, said the victims who all belong to the MILF’s 105th base command, voluntarily surrendered to the authorities and their firearms were confiscated.

“After the BIAF troops were disarmed, they were deliberately shot by the operatives, which resulted (in) their instant death,” Malang said.

Malang identified the fatalities as Dadting M. Hassan, Muhamidin A. Hassan, Konne A. Hassan, Burrah S. Salping, Muhalidin S. Salping, Tiyo Mantik, Orom Mantis, Deng Malunok, and a certain Abu.

Al-Haq vehemently denied police reports that the gunmen (BIAF troops) engaged the raiding team in a heavy firefight. Moreover, he said no shabu (crystal meth) was recovered during the raid.

However, the police confiscated the firearms of the slain men, which included two Barrett rifles, two M14 rifles, a Garand rifle, a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launcher, two .45 caliber pistols and two single-shot handguns.


Bomb attack foiled in Tacurong City

From Rappler (May 29): Bomb attack foiled in Tacurong City

Authorities dismantle an improvised bomb left just outside an elementary school in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat
IED image via Shutterstock

Joint operatives of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police foiled a bomb attack in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat on Sunday, May 27.

Cops and soldiers found in front of Griño Elementary School a "suspicious black bag" which carried an improvised explosive device (IED), according to a report sent from Camp Siongco in Maguindanao.

Authorities said the IED was made of unexploded ordnance from 105mm ammunition. They suspect the planned attack to coincide with the school's Brigada Eskwela, the annual activity which encourages the participation of teachers, parents, and the community to do clean up and repairs in public schools.

Just last January, Tacurong City was hit by a bomb attack that left at least 2 dead and 16 injured. More recently, during a raid on May 7, security forces seized an improvised bomb in the province.

How the bomb was discovered: According to the report, a civilian informant helped authorities in crippling the attack.

The said informant claimed that a certain Yasser Saligan of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) planned IED attacks targeting Sultan Kudarat. Saligan apparently belongs to the BIFF's Bungos faction.

Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, the new 6th Infantry Division commander, thanked the tipster and urged the public to report to the police or army if they spot "any suspicious thing or acts."


Rearrested NPA leader faces 11 non-bailable charges

From Rappler (May 29): Rearrested NPA leader faces 11 non-bailable charges

Elizalde Cañete once walked out of jail free after posting bail, but not this time, according to authorities

TRANSFERRED. NPA leader Elizalde Cañete is flown to Davao City on Tuesday, May 29, from Bukidnon, where he was rearrested at a hospital earlier this month. Photo by Davao City Police Office

TRANSFERRED. NPA leader Elizalde Cañete is flown to Davao City on Tuesday, May 29, from Bukidnon, where he was rearrested at a hospital earlier this month. Photo by Davao City Police Office

The man described by the government as the successor of one of the most-wanted commanders of the New People’s Army in Mindanao has been transferred to Davao City, after he was arrested in Bukidnon earlier this month.

Elizalde Cañete was turned over by the Don Carlos Municipal Police in Bukidnon to the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Tuesday afternoon, May 29, said Senior Police Inspector Maria Theresita Gaspan, the DCPO spokesperson.

Cañete, more known as Ka Jinggoy, was rearrested on May 12 at Don Carlos Doctors Hospital where he had undergone brain surgery. He was hurt in a firefight with government troops two days earlier in Kitaokitao, according to the NPA in a statement.

According to Gaspan, the NPA leader was facing 11 cases “mostly morder with no bail recommended, all issued by (the) RTC (Regional Trial Court), 11th Judicial Region.”

The military said Cañete took over from Leonicio Pitao, who died in an encounter in 2015. Pitao, better known as Commander Parago, once lead the NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Command.

Cañete’s rearrest recently elated President Rodrigo Duterte, who in his speech here May 24, cited the news and congratulated the military for the action. He said the country is succeeding in its war against the communist insurgency.

But the NPA insisted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines had no right to arrest the leader, saying Cañete is an “hors de combat” – a French term for “outside the fight.”

Citing the international humanitarian law, NPA Southern Mindanao spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez said Cañete “is rightful to avail of protection, respect, and a speedy humanitarian medical treatment and recovery under the international humanitarian law nad/or civilized rules of warfare.”

“(He) does not present any further threat and is incapable of fighting,” Sanchez added.

The 36-year-old NPA leader is allegeldy behind the recent attacks in Davao City, including the attack against Lapanday Foods Corporation, which killed a fish vendor.

He was first arrested in 2010, according to the military, but posted bail 3 years later, returning to the underground movement.


Military denies hand in slay of mining advocate in Agusan Sur

From the Mindanao Times (May 29): Military denies hand in slay of mining advocate in Agusan Sur

THE 25TH Infantry Battalion belied the allegations of the Save Our School (SOS) network in its Facebook post accusing them of being behind the killing of member of the Parents Teachers Community Association (PTCA) of MISFI Academy in Barangay Salvacion, Trento, Agusan del Sur on Saturday.Lt. Col Oscar Balignasay, the commander of 25th IB, said that the murder of Beverly Geronimo, 27, is already being investigated by the Trento police.

“This unit belied the allegation of killing this woman (Beverly),” he said, adding that the accusation is just propaganda to discredit the gains of the military in driving away the communist rebels from the hinterland communities.

According to the Facebook post, two armed men in civilian clothes “believed to be agents” of the 25th IB gunned down Geronimo in Barangay Salvacion. Her eight-year-old daughter, also a MISFI student, was also wounded in the attack.

Geronimo, also an active member of the Tabing Guangan Farmers Association (Taguafa), her daughter and two of their relatives went to Trento Poblacion on a motorcycle to buy school supplies for the opening of classes.

Accordingly, at around 12 noon, they were waylaid by two men on their way home who then fired at them.

The victim died from seven gunshot wounds, including one in the head, which killed her instantly. Her daughter, meanwhile, was hit on the arm.

The report said that Geronimo experienced harassment, intimidation and coercion from different military battalions present in their community since 2009 (75th, 25th, 67th and 66th) due to her advocacy against large-scale mining such as OZ Metals and Agusan Petroleum.

The battalion commander said the NPA suffered a series of setbacks following the surrender of thousands of its members and supporters in Salvacion and Barangay Pangyan, both in Trento, as well as in the barangays of Monkayo, Compostela Valley from January to May this year.

“This NPA unit (SECOM 20) is very desperate and (wants) to take vengeance by all means possible,” he added.

Balignasay said the battalion is committed to pursue the mandate of the the AFP in bringing peace, securing and protecting the people and state.


BBL passed by May 30, Duterte to sign it into law July 23, but what kind of Bangsamoro will it be?

From MindaNews (May 29): BBL passed by May 30, Duterte to sign it into law July 23, but what kind of Bangsamoro will it be?

The two houses of Congress will pass their respective versions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before adjourning sine die on Wednesday, May 30, following an assurance Monday night from President Rodrigo Duterte that he would certify the bill as urgent on Tuesday, May 29.

Duterte issued the certification, to “advance the creation of a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao” and while the passage of the BBL is now certain, what remains uncertain is what kind of Bangsamoro will come out of the two versions.

Congress leaders who met with President Duterte in Malacanang Monday night said a bicameral conference committee will resolve conflicting provisions in their bills so the President can sign it into law on July 23, the same day he delivers his third State of the Nation Address.

“It’s a great night for the Bangsamoro,” an ecstatic Tawi-tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali wrote on her Facebook page late Monday night. “Alhamdulillah Bangsamoro , PRRD (President Duterte) will certify (as) urgent BBL tomorrow, tawfiq reigns in the heart of the men and women who are true to the quest of the Bangsamoro,” said Sahali, chair of the House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, which, along with the committees on Local Government and Muslim Affairs, tackled the BBL.

Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema, Deputy Speaker for Mindanao, said “roller coaster ride but after meeting with President Digong, BBL will be certified as urgent.”

“It’s another historic moment in our quest for peace and closure of the Bangsamoro Problem. We take the challenges, hardships, sacrifices one day at a time. Inch by inch, small victories will pave the way to our goal. Not perfect but something to start with. Along this journey are men and women who made great contributions to the stage we have reached now,” she posted on FB.

Tawi-tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali and Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema pose for a souvenir photo during the meeting in Malacanang of congressional leaders on 28 May 2018, on the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Photo from the FB post of Rep. Sema

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas said the President “did not impose anything on Congress, but granted our request to certify the bill as urgent in order for the HOR and the Senate to pass their respective BBL bills on second and third readings before we adjourn on Wednesday.”

From the pronouncements of Sema, Sahali and Farinas, it appears that a major outcome of the meeting was the President’s certifying the bill as urgent, to do away with the three-day rule from the passage on second reading to the third reading.

Congress, however, did not need to request the President for certification. The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed by government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in October 2012 provides that the draft BBL submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) “shall be certified as an urgent bill by the President.”

On Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, a former party-list Representative in the House, told a press briefing aired live from Bontoc, Mountain Province, that “di na kailangan ng (there is no need for) certification of urgency” because the versions are different.

Roque’s pronouncement caused confusion but under the rules in both houses, there is a three-day rule between passage on second and third reading, unless the bill is certified as urgent, in which case the second and third readings can be done on the same day.

In his certification, Duterte said the passage of the BBL is “a manifestation of the government’s commitment to address the diverse needs of the people in the Bangsamoro, and all communities and constituents of Mindanao, towards a just and lasting peace in Mindanao and in the Philippines as a whole.”

Signed into law on July 23
Farinas said the Bicameral Conference Committee will meet during the break (June 2 to July 22) to “resolve conflicting provisions of our bills in collaboration with the Executive Department and the BTC.” The 21-member BTC, composed of 11 members nominated by the MILF and 10 nominated by the government, drafted the BBL.

He said the report of the Bicameral Conference Committee will be submitted for ratification by the House and the Senate during their plenary sessions morning of July 23, for the President to sign in time for his third State of the Nation Address at 4 p.m. that day.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said it was a “good meeting” with all leaders of the House and the Senate, “including their members who expressed strongly on their views on the bill.”

Dureza said Duterte “first met separately with different groups including the leaders of the MILF” led by chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, before convening separately the government sector.

Leaders of the House of Representatives meet with members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission on May 28 to discuss proposed amendments to the BTC-drafted Bangsamoro Basic Law. Photo courtesy of Bangsmaoro Transition Commission

Roque said the President first met with the BTC, then the leaders of the House and Senate separately, and later, the two houses together.

Dureza noted that the President “initially expressed his own personal views and initial assessments which resonated well to all. The meeting adjourned with a general consensus that the two chambers conclude their work at the earliest possible time and if there are varying versions, that the mandated bicameral committees of both chambers meet to come up with a joint reconciled and accepted version.

Asked late Monday night what was the major issue resolved during the meeting, Dureza replied “the unanimous resolve to pass it.”

What kind of BBL?
But what kind of BBL will be passed?

Will it be in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that government and the MILF signed in March 2014 after 17 years of peace negotiations? Will it be more than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that it seeks to replace? Will it address the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro?

The CAB provides for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that will replace the 28-year old ARMM. Pursuant to the peace agreement, the purpose of the law, is to provide its “basic structure of government in recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and posterity and allow for meaningful self-governance.”

Last month, the three House Committees tackling the BBL in the House approved the omnibus motion to “retain as is” House Bill 6475 or the BTC-drafted BBL sponsored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr. and 90 other representatives, instead of voting on the 362 proposed amendments to the working draft that had consolidated the four Bangsamoro bills, among them the BTC draft.

The House leadership recently clustered the proposed amendments into nine: Plebiscite; Powers of Government; National Defense and Security, Public Order and Safety, and Coastguard Matters; Fiscal Autonomy; Territory; Bangsamoro Transition Authority; Bangsamoro Justice System; Eocnomy and Patrimony; and Basic Rights.

MindaNews sources who read the proposed amendments say a number of the proposals, if carried out, would render the future Bangsamoro less autonomous than the present ARMM. A number of the exclusive powers of the Bangsamoro, for example, is being transferred to the list under concurrent powers while other powers listed under “concurrent” are being added to the reserved powers of the national government.

At the Senate, interpellation on SB 1717, the substitute bill to SB 1646 or the BTC-drafted version, was “conditionally” terminated last week but senators with proposed amendments were allowed to interpellate.

On Tuesday, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Franklin Drilon did their interpellation as they pushed for their proposed amendments on substantial provisions that would adversely affect the essence of the supposed autonomy.

Last week Recto was reported to have said he wants a “responsible and constitutional” BBL and was pushing for some 150 proposed amendments.

Recto had aired concerns over some powers being shared with the Bangsamoro, the proposed parliamentary system of government, the block grant, and even objected to the proposed name, “Bangsamoro” as it translates to Moro nation.


Military tightens security in Tacurong City after foiled bomb attack

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 29): Military tightens security in Tacurong City after foiled bomb attack

Government soldiers have tightened security in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat province after they foiled an attempted bombing outside a school there by militants tied to the Islamic State.

Captain Arvin Encinas, a spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division, said members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have threatened to launch bomb attacks in the province.

An army photo released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner shows the recovered improvised explosive in Tacurong City.

He said they pre-empted the weekend bombing following the discovery of the improvised explosive planted in front of the Griño Elementary School along the highway. “The Explosive Ordnance Disposal of the army and police conducted safety procedure to secure the suspected IED,” he said.

The bomb was assembled from an unexploded 105mm ammunition. It was unclear how the ammunition, which is being used by the soldiers, fell in the hands of the militant group.

Meanwhile in the Muslim province of Basilan, a government soldier Sergeant Mohammad Alam, was killed in an ambush Monday by gunmen in the village of Baguindan in Tipo-Tipo town.

The 46-year old Alam, an intelligence operative of the 18th Infantry Battalion, was travelling on a motorcycle when gunmen attacked him. Alam, who was on a clandestine mission, died on the spot from multiple bullet wounds.

There was no immediate statement from the Philippine Army or the Western Mindanao Command on the killing of the soldier.


Lorenzana urges Filipinos to unite vs. modern-day threats

From the Philippine News Agency (May 28): Lorenzana urges Filipinos to unite vs. modern-day threats

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday urged all Filipinos to unite in fighting modern-day threats such as terrorism, climate change, poverty, transnational crimes and cybercrimes.

He made this pronouncement at the National Flag Day celebration in Malolos, Bulacan.

National Flag Day is ushered with the raising of the national flag, and the permanent display of this national symbol from May 28 to June 12 by all government offices and agencies, businesses, educational institutions, and private residences. In recent years, the flag days have been extended until June 30.

National Flag Day commemorates the first use of the Philippine flag after the victory of the Battle of Alapan in 1898.

"We need to stand together and face these challenges. In the fulfillment of our mandate and sworn duty, the Department of National Defense will continue to defend the country and every Filipino against external and internal threats to our peace and security. Defending our territory remains our top priority that is why we continue to strengthen our efforts to guard the integrity and sovereignty of the country," Lorenzana stressed.

The DND chief also assured the public that the defense establishment remains on alert against lawless elements.

"Rest assured that we will continue to be on alert and vigilant against groups who are out to destroy our democracy and peace. We will not let the idea of hatred prevail, instead we will suppress this so that peace and security will prevail," he added.


Int'l naval drill deployment paves way for Navy modernization

From the Philippine News Agency (May 28): Int'l naval drill deployment paves way for Navy modernization

The capability to deploy modern platforms to international naval exercises like the "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC) is a proof that the Philippine Navy (PN) has focused its efforts in modernizing its facilities and defense equipment, an official said on Sunday.

In an interview, PN spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said that the assets to be deployed for this year's RIMPAC include one of the two newly-acquired Tarlac-class landing platforms, one of the Navy's five Agusta Westland AW-109 combat utility helicopters and one of the three Gregorio Del Pilar-class frigates.

All of these military defense equipment and items were acquired during the AFP Modernization Program Horizon One, which started in 2013 and ended in 2017.

Lincuna said that this is the first time the PN will be deploying naval and air assets to RIMPAC, noting that in previous years, the Philippines had only deployed observers.

"In the past years we were active and regularly sending participants as observers for the RIMPAC but this time, it will be the first that we will be sending our ships (Tarlac-class and Del Pillar-class) and aircraft (AW-109) and around 700 sailors and marines," he added.

The military maneuvers and drills are considered the world's largest international maritime war games led by the US Navy's Pacific Fleet. The ships and their crew will be leaving for Hawaii by the first week of June.

Around 30 navies are expected to participate in this year's RIMPAC naval exercises.

RIMPAC exercises, which seek to enhance inter-operability among Pacific Rim armed forces, is usually scheduled for June and July and held every two years.


Be vigilant to prevent repeat of Marawi siege: DND chief

From the Philippine News Agency (May 28): Be vigilant to prevent repeat of Marawi siege: DND chief

While Maute-ISIS terrorists have been decisively beaten in the five-month battle to retake Marawi City, government forces must remain vigilant to prevent another similar incident.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana emphasized this during the Battle of Marawi commemoration program last week.

"In no time, Marawi will rise again and peace and development will once again rule this city. In no time, the city will be healed and the people will dance again and laugh again. But to be safe, we must still remain vigilant because terrorists are just lurking in the shadows," he added. The Battle for Marawi City started May 23, 2017 and ended on October the same year.

"The concrete jungle of Marawi brought out many stories of gallantry, true courage, dedication of our troops; and that of resilience of Marawi residents -- these stories shed light during the city’s darkest times. Marawi Siege also strengthened us as a nation -- as diverse as we are, we were unified by our desire to stop the spread of extremists’ gospel of hate and anger," the DND chief added.

Around 165 soldiers and police officers were killed in the bloody fighting which started May 23, 2017 and ended on October of that year.

While an estimated 1,000 Maute-ISIS Group terrorists, including then ISIS Emir in Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon, and Maute co-founder, Omar Maute, were killed in the government offensive.

"Though we have accomplished much in our counter-terrorism efforts for the past year, these endeavors still require continued perseverance, vigilance, and sacrifice of everyone for the years to come," Lorenzana concluded.


16 troops, 2 civilians honored for contributions to Marawi battle

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29): 16 troops, 2 civilians honored for contributions to Marawi battle

AWARDS FOR MARAWI HEROES. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr. pins the Gold Cross Medal to 1Lt George N Galzote, one of the 18 awardees during the flag-raising ceremony at the AFP General Headquarters Canopy Area in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Monday (May 28, 2018). (Photo courtesy: AFP Public Affairs Office)
MANILA -- A total of 16 military and two civilian personnel were recognized Monday for their efforts in the five-month battle to free Marawi City from the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group terrorists last year.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato, said the awards were presented during the flag-raising ceremony at the AFP Canopy Area in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, which was spearheaded by AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr.

"This Monday morning’s flag-raising ceremony is made more special with the presence of our fellow soldiers, who have brought great honor and pride through their commendable service, not only to the organization, but to the whole nation as well,” Galvez said.

Awarded with the Gold Cross Medal were Major Ryedel Reynaldo C. Cabugon, 1st Lt. Brian B. Palencia, Pfc. Enrique B. Macinas and Pfc. Dondon M. Onsar, all from the Philippine Army (PA); Major Michael G. Rabina, Staff Sgt. Ronaldo A. Suarez, and Staff Sgt. Glenn B. Grafa all from the Philippine Air Force (PAF); and 1st Lt. George N. Galzote and 1st Lt. Jobert D. Jude, both from the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC).

Decorated with the Silver Cross Medal was Lt. Col. Francis Julius B. Buyucan of the Philippine Marines.

The Meritorious Achievement Medal was presented to Col. Ferdinand L. Torres of the PAF, Col. Consolito P. Yecla, Col. Alex S. Rillera, Lt. Col. Edgardo V. Talaroc Jr., and Major Benjamin D. Cadiente Jr., all from the PA.

Meanwhile, Col. Raul V. Bautista of the PA received the Command Plaque while civilian employees at the AFP general headquarters, Emma B. Sicar, and Kyle Kristoffer S. Salongcay, were awarded the Chief of Staff Commendation Medal.

“Nothing gives me more fulfillment than to join our soldiers in celebrating their moments of triumphs, such as today. It brings me so much pride and joy to witness our men and women humbly accept the products of their selflessness, commitment, dedication and perseverance,” Galvez said.

Detoyato said majority of the awardees made significant contributions to the successful liberation of Marawi from the Maute terrorists last year, whether in combat or non-combat operations.

Other recipients performed outstandingly in policy development, contributing to the systems advancement of the organization.

“The sacrifices of the Filipino soldiers and civilian human resource are aplenty, and a simple recognition could mean so much to them. True to what they say, no one can defeat an inspired heart and soul,” Galvez added.


PAF allots P8-M for Bell 412EP helicopter maintenance

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29): PAF allots P8-M for Bell 412EP helicopter maintenance

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is allocating PHP8.28 million for the acquisition of services and parts needed for the maintenance of the instrument and electrical systems of its Bell 412EP combat utility helicopter.

Submission and opening of bids is slated for June 7 at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

"The Philippine Air Force reserves the right to reject any and all bids, declare a failure of bidding, or not award the contract at any time prior to contract award in accordance with Section 41 of Republic Act 9184 and its IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations), without thereby incurring any liability to the affected bidder or bidders," PAF Bids and Awards Committee chair Brig. Gen. Ferynl Buca said in the bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System.

The PAF operates eight to 13 Bell 412EPs in its inventory.

The aircraft is capable of carrying 14 passengers and of flying at a maximum speed of 140 knots (about 259 km.), cruise speed of 122 knots (226 km. per hour), and a range of 402 nautical miles (745 km.).

It is powered with an enhanced Pratt and Whitney PT6T-3D Twin Pac.


Army now equipped with new communication platforms

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29): Army now equipped with new communication platforms

Photo courtesy: Philippine Army Public Affairs Office

The Philippine Army (PA) is now equipped with platforms that can provide situational capability and secure communication to its units in the field.

The equipment being referred to is the "Blue Force Tracking System" that was developed by the Army Signal Regiment under its situational awareness capability program.

The latter is equipped with a global positioning system, allowing it to provide critical information to ground units, PA spokesperson Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva said in a statement Tuesday.

Aside from its "Blue Force Tracking System", the Army is also equipped with Mobile Command Centers (MCC) 1 and 2, tasked to provide communication support to all field units.

Villanueva said communication capability upgrades, such as MCC 1 and MCC 2, enable the commanders and planners to see the battlefield with real-time picture to come up with comprehensive and accurate plans and timely decisions, particularly during the conduct of focused military operations, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.

Both platforms are capable of communicating through voice and data since they are equipped with dipole and aerial antennas, telephone extender, and satellite dish antenna, with uninterruptible power supply.


Duterte to sign BBL on 3rd SONA

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29): Duterte to sign BBL on 3rd SONA

President Rodrigo R. Duterte is expected to sign the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on July 23 in time for his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said.

Fariñas told House reporters Monday night about the Chief Executive's plan, following a meeting between congressional leaders and the President to discuss the contentious provisions of the proposed BBL.

"The bicam (bicameral) conference committee report shall be submitted for ratification by the HOR (House of Representatives) and the Senate in their plenary sessions in the morning of Monday, July 23, 2018, with the President signing it into law in time for his State of the Nation Address at 4 p.m. of that same day," Fariñas said.

Fariñas also revealed that President Duterte has already granted their request to certify the BBL as urgent to expedite its passage before Congress adjourns sine die (with no appointed date of resumption).

"The President did not impose anything on Congress, but granted our request to certify the BBL bill as urgent in order for the HOR and the Senate to pass their respective bills on 2nd and 3rd readings before we adjourn on Wednesday," he said.

The House leader said Congress would be holding the bicam meetings, together with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission and the executive department, during the congressional break to resolve conflicting provisions in both versions.


Palace certifies BBL as urgent

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29): Palace certifies BBL as urgent

Malacañang on Tuesday announced that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has certified as urgent the two versions of the proposed BBL pending in both houses of Congress.

“Just three minutes ago, the Office of the Executive Secretary officially issued a certification as urgent both versions on the creation of the BBL pending on both the House of Representatives and the Senate,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced during the #RealNumbersPh’s first year anniversary at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

The certification was released after President Duterte conferred on Monday with the Bangsamoro Transition Council (BTC) and the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives in Malacañang.

Roque said the President met separately the leaders of the two houses of Congress and the BTC officials.

“The query last night was how to certify two bills pending in the House and the Senate because they were not the same but the decision was reached finally to certify both versions of the bill and there was an agreement that after both houses of Congress had passed already their respective versions that the differences would be threshed out immediately,” Roque said.

With the Palace certification, both the Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to pass the BBL before Congress adjourns sine die on June 1.

Roque said certified copy of the bill “is on its way to both Houses of Congress”.

“Once both chambers have reconciled and finalized the version, the President will sign the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Roque said.

The BBL is designed to address the decades-long conflict in Mindanao by creating a political entity to replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

“The passage of this measure is a manifestation of the government’s commitment to address the diverse needs of the people in Bangsamoro, and all communities and constituents of Mindanao, towards a just and lasting peace in Mindanao and in the Philippines as a whole,” Duterte stated in the certification submitted to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Duterte had earlier said he would like to see the BBL passed ahead of the proposal to amend the Constitution that would give way for the shift of the form of government to federalism.

A Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked by Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution has started introducing its proposed amendments.


SAP Go visits soldier killed in clash with NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (May 28): SAP Go visits soldier killed in clash with NPA

After visiting the wake of slain overseas Filipino worker, Angelo Claveria, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go on Sunday went to see the family of PFC Vicente A. Marcon, in Cabatuan, this city.

Marcon was one of the soldiers who died in an encounter against the New People’s Army (NPA) members on in Kabankalan City, Negros Oriental on May 12.

SAP Go condoled with the bereaved family and handed over the financial assistance from the Office of the President. He likewise thanked the family for the heroism of Marcon and assured the family that the national government will assist them. Go also committed to refer the request of one of PFC Marcon’s siblings to enlist in the AFP.

The encounter in Brgy. Tan-awan left two Army soldiers dead and eight others injured. It also prompted the evacuation of 236 individuals as government forces are still pursuing the fleeing communists.

Go was joined by Iloilo City Mayor Jose S. Espinosa III, Secretary Martin Andanar of the Presidential Communications Operations Office and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino.


2 Koronadal City blast suspects nabbed

From the Philippine News Agency (May 28): 2 Koronadal City blast suspects nabbed

Police operatives arrested over the weekend two of the four alleged suspects in the bomb explosion beside a Catholic church in Koronadal City last April 29 that left two persons injured.

Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, Region 12 police director, said suspects Sukarno Paidumama alias “Karno Uttoc,” 28, and Alihan Dimasangkay Adtog, 31, were nabbed in an anti-drug operation at around 12:30 p.m. in Purok Kings, Barangay General Paulino Santos in Koronadal City.

The two were presented to the media in a press conference in Koronadal City late Sunday afternoon.

Morales said joint elements from the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office and the Koronadal City police station launched the buy-bust following confirmation of the presence of Paidumama in the area.

He said the operation was backed by personnel from the Regional Highway Patrol Unit-12 and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency-12.

The police official said the suspects were arrested after selling a sachet of suspected metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu to a police officer who posed as a buyer.

Operatives also recovered two packs of shabu weighing about two grams, a fragmentation grenade, a caliber 45 handgun with seven live bullets and a suspected stolen motorcycle.

Morales said Paidumama is a primary suspect in the noontime bomb explosion beside the Christ the King Cathedral along Rizal Street and the foiled bomb attack at the 747 convenience store in General Santos Drive, Koronadal City.

He said the suspect, who hails from Barangay Bulod of Sultan sa Barongis town in Maguindanao, was the one who planted the bomb at a tricycle parked near the side entrance of the church.

The suspect’s identity was established based on accounts from witnesses and footages of security cameras installed near the scene of explosion, he said.

Citing intelligence reports, Morales said Paidumama are allegedly connected with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and a son-in-law of slain notorious kidnap gang leader Alonto Tahir.

He said Paidumama and Adtog were part of a drug syndicate based in Maguindanao and a carnapping group operating in South Cotabato and the neighboring areas.

The group’s leader, Ibrahim Lucas, was arrested early last month along with another cohort in an entrapment operation in Barangay Zone 4 in Koronadal City.

“The bombing appeared to be a tactic to divert the attention of our operatives and give them a chance to rescue their leader (Lucas) from the detention facility of the Koronadal City police station,” Morales said.

Senior Supt. Nestor Salcedo, South Cotabato police director, said the plan failed as they were already tipped off by an informant a week before. With the arrest of the suspects, he said they consider the case as closed but noted that the manhunt against the other suspects will continue.

The Koronadal City police station had filed multiple charges against Paidumama and three other suspects before the city prosecutor’s office in connection with the April 29 attack.

Meantime, Koronadal City Mayor Peter Miguel turned over to local police operatives and their assets the PHP100,000 reward earlier offered by the local government for the arrest of the suspects.

The mayor announced an additional reward of PHP100,000 for any information that would facilitate the arrest of the remaining suspects.


1 killed, 3 injured in NoCot drive-by shooting

From the Philippine News Agency (May 28): 1 killed, 3 injured in NoCot drive-by shooting

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao--One person was killed while three village officials were critically injured in a drive-by shooting early Monday in the town of Pikit, North Cotabato, the police said.

Supt. Bernard Tayong, North Cotabato Police Provincial Office spokesperson, said Ranulfo Bautista succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds. Bautista was rushed but failed to reach the hospital alive.

Injured were Bautista’s father identified as Santos (Bautista), the Barangay Takepan chairperson, and Takepan village councilors Roberto Midsapak and Robin Salvador.

The three village officials, who sustained multiple gunshot wounds, are under the close watch of policemen while undergoing treatment.

Tayong said the victims were aboard a Kia Bongo light truck driven by the elder Bautista when gunmen aboard a speeding motorcycle shot them with high-powered guns around 10:30 a.m. Monday.

Tayong said the victims were on the way home after attending a mass oath-taking ceremony of elected barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan at the gymnasium of Pikit town.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, newly-installed Army’s 6th Infantry Division chief, said they are assisting the police in tracking down the suspects.


Suspected rebel leader in NegOcc arrested, charged

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29): Suspected rebel leader in NegOcc arrested, charged

ARMS CACHE. The firearm, ammunition and other items seized by troops of the Army’s 15th Infantry Battalion from a suspected rebel leader linked to extortion activities in southern Negros Occidental. (Photo from 15th Infantry Battalion Facebook account)

BACOLOD CITY -- A suspected leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) in southern Negros Occidental who was arrested by government troops in Sitio Gusnit, Barangay Pinggot, Ilog over the weekend, has been charged with illegal possession of firearms.

Civil-military operations officer of the 15th Infantry Battalion (IB), 1st Lt. Cesarjin Manalon, said Tuesday the suspect, Bobby Pedro, also known as “Reymark Labrador”, was charged after he was endorsed to the Ilog Municipal Police.

The Army identified Pedro as the official liaison of the Southwest Front Extortion Group of the NPA’s Armando Sumayang Jr. Command, Southwest Negros. He was allegedly in charge of the communication and official correspondence, as well as the collection of extortion money.

Pedro, a resident of Sitio Escalante, Barangay Camdangan, Sipalay City, was arrested by troops of the 15th IB after he was spotted with armed companions entering the house of a certain Noe Castillo last Saturday.

He yielded a 9-mm. pistol with two magazines loaded with 37 ammunition, six rounds of 5.56-mm. ammunition, a cellular phone, acupuncture needles, envelopes, subversive documents, and PHP3,058 in cash.

In a press statement, Lt. Col. Protacio Tomales, 15th Battalion commander, cited the assistance of the community as vital to the success of their operation.

The barangay residents provided the troops timely and reliable information on the presence of rebels extorting money from them, he added.

“We will continue with our anti-terrorist and counter-terrorist operation to ensure the safety and security of the Negrenses,” Tomales said.


BIFF bombing try foiled in Sultan Kudarat: Military

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29): BIFF bombing try foiled in Sultan Kudarat: Military

The deactivated improvised bomb is loaded into a vehicle of the Army after it was recovered on Monday in front of a school in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat. (Photo courtesy: Army's 6th Infantry Division)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao--The new commander of the Army division in Central Mindanao on Tuesday urged the public to remain vigilant against bombing attempts by extremist elements.

Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, newly-installed Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, made the call after authorities on Monday preempted a bombing by IS-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

“I urged the public to be vigilant at all times and to report immediately any suspicious thing or acts to the military and the police to prevent terror attacks,” Sobejana said.

Concealed on a black bag, the bomb was allegedly left by Ysser Saligan, a BIFF member, along the national highway in front of the Griño Elementary School.

Police and Army explosive ordnance personnel safely deactivated the bomb fashioned from unexploded 105-mm howitzer ammunition, with mobile phone as trigger mechanism.

Sobejana said that the group of Sukarno Sapal, who is under BIFF Commander Bungos, is planning to carry out bombings in Isulan town and Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

Sobejana, who assumed as the new Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander on May 26, lauded the civilian informant for providing authorities with timely information ahead of the “Brigada Eskwela,” an activity aimed at preparing public schools for classes next week.