Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Military says it didn’t drop bombs in Makilala village

From MindaNews (Aug 7): Military says it didn’t drop bombs in Makilala village

The Army in Makilala in North Cotabato has denied reports that bombs were dropped in a rebel-influenced barangay on Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Rhodjun Rosales, commanding officer of the 39thInfantry Battalion, said the attack helicopter that residents saw in Barangay Batasan in Makilala never dropped any bomb when it hovered at around 3:30 a.m.

Rosales said the MG-520 attack helicopter just wanted to monitor the movement of an armed group led by a certain Gregorio Magbanua, also known as Kumander Greg, of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) Front Guerilla 51.

He accused Magbanua’s group of extorting money from farmers and residents in the area.

Eldy Pangilinan, a tribal leader in Barangay Batasan, said they heard loud explosions and hinted it was the helicopter that dropped the bombs.

“Our sleep was disturbed by these loud blasts. We thought there were heavy encounters on the ground but there was none. What we heard were explosions not gunfire,” said Pangilinan who appealed to the government “not to bomb our barangay” for the sake of the civilians.

Rosales said that as early as 3 a.m. Tuesday, he sent troops to Purok-6, Barangay Batasan to run after the rebels but were attacked before they could reach the area.

“Pinuntahan ng ating tropa ang erya kung saan na-monitor ang grupo ni Ka Greg. E, kaso, pinaputukan nila tayo. Madilim pa, at that time, kaya nag-request tayo ng helicopter” (Our troops went to the area to monitor the group of Ka Greg. But they fired at us. It was still dark at that time that’s why we requested for a helicopter), Rosales told radio station DXND.

The Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City sent the helicopter to drive the rebels away and also to keep an eye on the rebels’ movements, he said. 


Army seeks aid for CAFGUs from provincial peace and order council

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 8): Army seeks aid for CAFGUs from provincial peace and order council

Lt. Colonel Thomas Dominic Baluga, commanding officer of the army’s 70 Infantry Batallion based in Nueva Ecija says CAFGUs are still serving as guardians of peace and order despite meager support.
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – An official of the Philippine Army has sought the help of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) here to support the deployment of Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGUs) to complement the presence of government forces in remote areas.

Lt. Colonel Thomas Dominic Baluga, commanding officer of the army’s 70 Infantry Batallion based in Nueva Ecija said despite meager support, CAFGUs are still serving as guardians of peace and order in areas frequented by the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

“We have CAFGUs in Nueva Vizcaya who are being supported with P4,500.00 monthly subsistence allowance. We are also asking other assistance so that they can continue as frontline armed forces in remote areas especially in remote areas,” he said.

Baluga said over the years, CAFGUs have transformed from merely an armed force into a multi-disciplinary force that supports the army in its various peacekeeping initiatives in areas being visited by NPA rebels.

He said CAFGUs at present are also given proper training, livelihood opportunities and involved in civic military activities such as rescue operations during disasters and calamities and medical services for the poor, among others.

Baluga said they manage and support CAFGUs in their areas of responsibilities through partnerships with concerned local government units and other sectors of the society.

“We continue to provide them with their allowances and food with the help of various sectors of the community. We should do something so that they will continue to provide us additional security against terrorism,” he added.


Cops kill 2 bomb couriers in NoCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 8): Cops kill 2 bomb couriers in NoCot

DEFUSED. Remains of the deactivated improvised explosive device recovered from the suspected slain bomb couriers in M'lang, North Cotabato, around 3:00 a.m. Wednesday (Aug. 8). Two of three bomb couriers onboard a motorbike were killed in an esuing shootout after evading a police-military checkpoint in Barangay Sangat near the Magpet town center while the third one managed to escape. (Photo courtesy of Joseph Ballejera of M'lang, North Cotabato)

Government forces shot dead two bomb couriers suspected of planning to carry out a bombing mission in the town of M’lang, North Cotabato province before dawn Wednesday.

A team of local policemen and personnel of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion manning a checkpoint in Barangay Sangat, M’lang, flagged down at about 3 a.m. three men on board a motorbike for routine inspection, North Cotabato police spokesperson, Supt. Bernard Tayong, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) here.

However, authorities said the three men refused to stop and sped off past the checkpoint, prompting a pursuit that ended in a shootout that killed two of them.

“The one driving the motorbike managed to escape,” Tayong said.

It took more than an hour for lawmen to get closer to the slain suspects as they were carrying a black sling bag that was later found to contain an improvised bomb.

Tayong noted that the bomb was incomplete as it has no triggering mechanism, saying he believed the bombers were to put the triggering device once they leave the bomb in the target area.

Crime scene investigators identified the slain men through personal documents found in their wallets as Patrick Ali Saligan, 30, of Buluan, Maguindanao, and Nholds Saibo Ali, 29, of Datu Paglas, also in Maguindanao.

In a radio interview, M’lang Vice Mayor Lito Piñol said authorities were double-checking the identification documents recovered from the slain suspects.

“I would like to commend our police and the military for their vigilance,” Tayong said referring to authorities manning the Sangat checkpoint.

The discovery of the improvised explosive device (IED) in Barangay Sangat was the fourth bombing attempt in North Cotabato, three of which were in M’lang and the other in Kidapawan City.

On Sunday, an IED was found at 1 p.m. at the roadside in Barangay Poblacion, M’lang, which was later deactivated by police and military bomb experts.

An IED was also found on Monday morning in front of a variety store in Barangay Bagontapay, also in M’lang, by residents who said that two men on a motorbike left the black bag and hurriedly left.

In Kidapawan City, workers of the Gaisano Grand Mall found two grenades at the mall’s main entrance-exit door at about 7 p.m. Monday. Bomb experts safely recovered the explosives.

Supt. Ramel Hojilla, acting Kidapawan City police director, linked the discovery of explosives at the mall to a conflict involving two agencies providing security services for the mall.

“There appears to be a misunderstanding between the two groups over who should take the lead role in securing the mall,” Hojilla said.

On the M’lang bombing attempts, military and police officials believe the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was behind the incidents.

“All the IEDs found and deactivated in M’lang had the signature of the BIFF,” Tayong said.


Rebel killed, several others hurt in Isabela clashes

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 8): Rebel killed, several others hurt in Isabela clashes

CAMP MELCHOR DELA CRUZ, Gamu, Isabela -- A suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebel was killed and a still undetermined number of communist guerrillas were wounded in two separate clashes in San Guillermo and Echague towns in Isabela on Tuesday.

Army Captain Jefferson Somera, 5th Infantry Division spokesperson, told the Philippine News Agency on Wednesday that Army soldiers engaged some 20 rebels in a two-hour gunfight in San Miguel, Echague town, while another team fought against insurgents in Rizal, San Guillermo town, resulting in the death of a guerrilla.

Government soldiers from the 95th Infantry Battalion seized five high-powered guns in Echague and found the rebel’s body in San Guillermo town.

Also seized were two bandoliers with magazines for M-16 rifle, two rifle grenades, three improvised explosive devices, four detonating cords, seven blasting caps, a handheld radio, a chain saw, seven backpacks with personal belongings, two mobile phones, assorted medicines, medical paraphernalia and anti-government documents.

Lt. Col. Nolito Quemi, 95th Infantry Battalion commander, said a rebel camp was spotted in San Miguel, Echague town.

“Our troops were approaching the target area when fired upon by the (communist rebels). We managed to outflank the (rebels) and eventually overrun their encampment,” the Army colonel said.

Brig. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro Jr., 502nd Infantry Brigade commander who supervised the operations, said that the people had tipped off the military about the location of the rebels.

Maj. Gen. Perfecto Rimando Jr., 5th Infantry Division commander, lauded the soldiers for their professionalism, which led to the “successful operation.”

“We also appeal to the rebels and their supporters in the area to help us help their wounded comrades. Our differences in ideologies should not prevent us from helping each other. Just send message to our troops and we will help your comrades get necessary medical attention. We are all Filipinos, remember that,” the Army general said.


Army overruns NPA camp in Isabela

From ABS-CBN (Aug 8): Army overruns NPA camp in Isabela

ECHAGUE, Isabela – Government troops overran an encampment of the New People’s Army in this town on Tuesday.

The 95th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army received information that a rebel camp was located in Barangay San Miguel and was guarded by around 20 people.

A firefight ensued between rebels and government forces which lasted for about 2 hours. There were no confirmed casualties.

Five M16 rifles, 2 bandoleers with magazines for M16, 2 rifle grenades, 3 improvised explosive device, 4 detonating cords and 7 blasting caps were recovered from the scene.

Also seized from the camp were a handheld radio, a chain saw, 7 backpacks with personal belongings, 2 cell phones and assorted medicines.

On Saturday, troops from the 86th Infantry Battalion also discovered a temporary rebel camp in Sitio Dimalungog, Jones town. The army also encountered rebel forces in Barangay Dicamay 2 in the same town.


Duterte greenlights local peace talks with Reds

From the Philippine Star (Aug 8): Duterte greenlights local peace talks with Reds

The Cabinet has approved President Duterte’s call for localized peace talks with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.

“It was approved in the Cabinet meeting, so it is forthcoming,” Roque announced a day after the Cabinet meeting.

Duterte is also to preside over a joint command conference with top security officials to discuss the national threat board, including the recent militant attacks in Mindanao and developments in the campaign against terrorism.

The approval of the localized peace talks came after backchannel efforts for peace with the National Democratic Front (NDF) stalled last June.

The NDF is representing the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA in peace talks with the government.

Last month, Malacañang released its guidelines that the talks be nationally orchestrated, centrally directed and locally supervised and implemented; constitutional integrity and sovereignty will not be compromised; there will be complete and genuine resolution of the local armed conflict covering the NPA.

If there is a ceasefire, the constitutional mandate of the state to protect public safety, civilian welfare, critical infrastructure and private properties; and the guarantee of rule of law and order will not be compromised at all times; provision of a full amnesty package based on disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration to mainstream society.

Roque added localized peace talks should include no coalition government or power sharing; no revolutionary taxation, extortion and other violent activities.


OIC to hold seminars on BARMM

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 5): OIC to hold seminars on BARMM

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) will be holding some workshops and seminars in Manila and other key cities in Mindanao as a show of support for the law that was recently signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, creating the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

This file photo shows President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meeting with the officials of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in Malacañan Palace on September 14, 2017. (ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chair Yusop Jikiri said Saidu Mohammed Dodo, of the Department of Political Affairs of the OIC will be conducting a seminar workshop in Manila and in key cities in Mindanao in support of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Jikiri said the OIC will be inviting to the seminar and workshops the main parties to the peace process, the government peace panel (GPH), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the MNLF.

It is expected that top leaders of the two major fronts, the MILF and the MNLF, will attend the seminar which will be conducted by the OIC, Department of Political Affairs.

In a message sent to Jikiri, Dodo said “this is to let you know that in its continued efforts to the peace process in the southern Philippines, the OIC is will organize some workshops and seminars in Manila and other cities in Mindanao region in order to support the successful passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

Dado also said in his letter to Jikiri “The OIC wishes to reiterates our solidarity with the Bangsamoro people in their just cause.”

Dado told Jikiri that “the OIC would appreciate it much if you could provide us with your views on the organization of the seminars, advise us on the timing of the Secretary General’s visit to the Philippines.”

Your views would guide the OIC regarding its programmed on the peace process, according to the communication sent to Jikiri by Dado.


Murad: Leading figure behind Moro Muslims peace process

From Anadolu Agency (Aug 7): Murad: Leading figure behind Moro Muslims peace process

Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader inked peace deal with Philippines government to end decades-long conflict

Murad: Leading figure behind Moro Muslims peace process

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ebrahim

As Moro Muslims inked a peace deal with the Manila government to end a decades-long armed conflict in the southern Philippines, the leader of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has played a significant role in the peace process.

Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, one of the MILF founders, has been leading the group since 2003. He is the most important figure behind the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Born on May 2, 1948, in Maguindanao province of the Autonomous Region in the Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) region in the southern Philippines, Ebrahim started studying in a family-operated madrasa (Muslim school) in the Barangay Katidtuan village of the Kabacan municipality in the province of Cotabato.

While continuing his Koranic studies at the madrasa, Ebrahim went to a regular high school in the region.

At the age of 13, Ebrahim lost his father and mother but he continued his study with the help of some well-to-do relatives.

He enrolled at the Catholic-run Notre Dame University in Cotabato to study civil engineering.

Quits university study and joins MNLF

At university, Ebrahim became involved in the Moro Muslims' independence movement and met Nur Misuari and Hashim Salamat, the leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

At the age of 22, he left university one semester short of getting his civil engineering degree and became actively involved in the MNLF.

Shortly thereafter, Ebrahim was designated as the MNLF’s zonal field commander and became known as Murad.

He undertook several important positions in the MNLF before he formed of a breakaway group, with Salamat, in 1977.

Salamat became the leader of the New MNLF formation that was founded on the motivation of independence of the Bangsamoro region.

Forms MILF and becomes head of the group

In 1984, the group officially changed its name to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in order to distinguish itself completely from the MNLF.

After Salamat died in 2003 of natural causes, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim became the MILF’s leader.

Ebrahim is seen as a more moderate figure than Salamat, and under his leadership, the peace negotiations in the region progressed significantly.

After a long-term negotiation, the MILF and the government signed the Memorandum of Agreement for Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which would have extended the 1996 ARMM boundaries and eventually replaced the ARMM completely.

The MILF officially dropped its demand for full independence in 2010, seeking regional autonomy instead.

In 2012, then President Benigno Aquino III and MILF leader Ebrahim signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) constituting a roadmap to a final settlement which would allow for an autonomous region administered by minority Muslims in the south of this predominantly Catholic country.

The MILF, under the leadership of Ebrahim, and the Manila government also signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014.

The 2014 deal brought to a close 17 years of negotiations and ended a decades-old armed conflict in the country’s south.

On July 26, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law, the latest significant attempt by MILF leader Ebrahim and the Philippines government to end to nearly half a century of on-and-off conflict that has left more than 120,000 people dead and hampered development in the region.

Army, Police on alert after 2 foiled bombing attempts in NoCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 7): Army, Police on alert after 2 foiled bombing attempts in NoCot

Police authorities in North Cotabato have been placed on heightened alert following the foiled twin bombing try by suspected members of the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in M’lang town over the past two days.

North Cotabato police spokesperson, Supt. Bernard Tayong, said all police units across the province were directed to implement checkpoints and mobile chokepoints to prevent peace saboteurs from sowing violence and terror.

The Army in Central Mindanao also alerted all its units following the twin bombing attempts in the town of M’lang, in North Cotabato, about 20 km. west of this city.

“All police units and officials were directed to take precautionary measures to prevent terrorism in the province,” Tayong told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a phone interview.

In addition, elements of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion have been directed by Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, to increase their alert status as he appealed for the public to be cooperative with authorities.

“We are seeking the continued support and cooperation of the people by being highly vigilant and immediately report to the authorities any suspicious item or person to prevent bombing plots here in Central Mindanao,” Sobejana said.

On Monday, an improvised explosive device was planted by still unidentified men in front of Arcylyn Store in Barangay Bagontapay, M’lang. It was discovered by alert civilians at about 10:30 a.m.

“The bomb was deactivated an hour later,” Tayong said.

Tayong said passersby noticed a black bag left in front of the store.

Suspecting it was a bomb, they alerted village officials who in turn called the authorities. The bag contained a canister wrapped in electrical tape, with black powder, and cut nails and broken bottles serving as shrapnel. It also contained two live M16 rifle bullets.

Police and military ordnance experts later deactivated the IED.

The bomb discovery on Monday was the second in M’lang in a span of two days.

On Sunday, at about 1 p.m., passengers waiting for rides found a pink bag left in front of a store along the national highway in Barangay Poblacion, M’lang, and alerted the police.

Bomb experts deactivated the suspected bomb that also contained black powder, metals sheets, and cut nails as shrapnel and had a mobile phone as the trigger device. Authorities said both discovered bombs bore the signature style of the BIFF.


PH Air Force to get 4 more OV-10 bombers

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 7): PH Air Force to get 4 more OV-10 bombers

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be accepting four North American Rockwell OV-10 "Bronco" light-attack planes from the United States either by this year or in 2019, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.

The Philippine government will shoulder the cost of transportation and shipment of the planes to the country, the defense chief said quoting a message from PAF head Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar.

These OV-10s will augment the existing six to eight units currently in service with the PAF.

The above-mentioned aircraft served as the country's premier ground-attack aircraft and was extensively used in the Marawi-conflict last year along with the SIAI-Marchetti SF-260 and Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50s in attacking terrorist targets and strongholds in the five-month campaign which started May and ended on October of that year.

PAF is the sole remaining operator of the OV-10 "Bronco" light-attack plane.

"Meron pa tayong (We still have) remaining OV 10s that we used in Marawi. They will augment these existing ones to support ground operations," Lorenzana said.


Nat'l ID system to deter illegal activities of rebels, criminals: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 7): Nat'l ID system to deter illegal activities of rebels, criminals: AFP

A national ID system will greatly help in restricting the illegal activities of insurgents and criminals.

This was stressed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato in a message to reporters Tuesday.

"The national ID (system) is a very important aspect of national security. It removes the insurgents' and criminals' advantage of anonymity,"
he added. Also, it will also restrict the latters' movement and will have an effect on their recruitment and extortion activities, Detoyato pointed out.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11055 or the Philippine Identification System Act into law in Malacañang on Monday.

Under the measure, a foundational ID system, dubbed PhilSys, will be in place. It will have three components: the PhilSys Number (PSN), PhilID and PhilSys Registry.

PSN is a randomly generated, unique and permanent identification number for each individual, to be incorporated in all identification systems of government agencies. It will remain with the person even after death. PhilID is a non-transferable card with the PSN and basic information.

The Philippine Statistics Authority is mandated to act as the PhilSys Registry. Under the national ID law, the PSA will collate the full name, sex, birthdate, address, citizenship and blood type of Filipino citizens and encode them in a centralized database.

The law ensures that the individual's right to privacy is protected.

As provided under the new law, information may only be released when the registered person has given his or her consent, specific to the purpose prior to the processing; when the compelling interest of public health or safety so requires, provided the risk of significant harm to the public is established and the owner of the information is notified within 72 hours of the fact of such disclosure; upon order of any competent court; and when a registered person requests from the PSA access to his or her registered information and record history, subject to the guidelines and regulations to be issued by the PSA.

AFP spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo, meanwhile, echoed Detoyato’s remarks.

“We believe it will promote a peaceful and secure environment where terrorists, criminals, and other unscrupulous individuals will have a difficulty coping to pursue their evil designs and nefarious activities,” Arevalo said in a statement.

Arevalo believes the law will prevent lawless elements from obtaining false and multiple identities to carry out illegal activities.

He also added that the measure will greatly help law enforcers in distinguishing criminals from law-abiding citizens.

“They (criminals) will remain in hiding and cannot avail of the mandated identification card lest they be exposed to arrest and prosecution. They will lose their freedom of movement; their ability to transact business will be divested with no ID cards to present when demanded,” the military spokesperson noted.

“We also believe that the ID system shall facilitate government transactions and programs like census, promote transparency, and likewise spare our people from the burden of bringing with them several identification cards to establish their identities,” he added.


Lorenzana hails passage of nat'l ID law

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 7): Lorenzana hails passage of nat'l ID law

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday welcomed the enactment of Republic Act No. 11055 or the Philippine System Identification Act.

"Based on our experience, armed conflicts and insurgencies are often rooted in poor governance and delivery of basic services. Having a national ID system in place will help government address the gaps in the identification of citizens entitled to receive government services, thereby making things more convenient for law-abiding Filipinos," Lorenzana said in a statement.

He added that a national ID system is beneficial to a country prone to disasters as the system would improve the distribution of aid to legitimate disaster victims.

"Matters such as this can now be better addressed because of the new law," the defense chief said.

While he welcomed the beneficial effects of the measure on law enforcement operations, Lorenzana assured the public that individual privacy will be respected.

Signed into law by Duterte on Monday, the measure seeks to integrate the various government IDs of all citizens and foreign residents in the country.

The President tasked the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to work closely with the National Privacy Commission, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, and the multi-agency PhilSystem Policy and Coordination Council to address all concerns pertaining to privacy and security.


Army pushes Cafgu listup against NPAs

From the Manila Standard (Aug 7): Army pushes Cafgu listup against NPAs

Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya—The Philippine Army has offered the recruitment of Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit or Cafgus to complement the presence of government forces in remote areas.

Lt. Colonel Thomas Dominic Baluga, commanding officer of the Army’s 70 Infantry Battalion based in Nueva Ecija, said Cafgus has been left unsupported but are still serving as guardians of peace and order in areas frequented by the New People’s Army rebels.

“We have Cafgus in Nueva Vizcaya who are being supported with P4,500 monthly subsistence allowance. We are also asking other assistance so that they can continue as frontline armed forces in remote areas especially in remote areas,” he said.

Baluga said over the years, Cafgus have transformed from merely armed force to a multi-disciplinary force that supports the army in its various peacekeeping initiatives in areas being visited by NPA rebels.

He said Cafgus at present are also given proper training, livelihood opportunities and involved in civic-military activities such as rescue operations during disasters and calamities and medical services for the poor, among others.

Baluga said they manage and support Cafgus in their areas of responsibilities through partnerships with concerned local government units and other sectors of the society.

“We continue to provide them with their allowances and food with the help of various sectors of the community. We should do something so that they will continue to provide us additional security on terrorism,” he added.


PNP, AFP: National ID system will unmask terrorists, criminals

From the Business Mirror (Aug 7): PNP, AFP: National ID system will unmask terrorists, criminals

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) welcomed on Tuesday the signing of the national identification system by President Duterte, saying it will help in the campaign against criminals and beef up national security.

Military Public Affairs Office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said the new law will unmask criminals and members of lawless groups, thus helping the government identify them, while restricting their movements.

“The national ID [system] is a very important aspect of national security. It removes the insurgents and criminals’ advantage of anonymity,” said Detoyato, noting that it came at a time while the AFP is in the middle of its campaign against the New People’s Army rebels and Moro terrorists.

“It will also restrict their movement and will have an effect on their recruitment and extortion activities,” Detoyato added.

On the other hand, PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said the ID system will allow the police to share its crime record with the different agencies of the government.

“With the PhilSys law now in effect, the PNP can look forward to migrating our own National Crime Information System and the National Police Clearance System to a national database for sharing with other government agencies to optimize the operational potential of the entire national ID system,” Albayalde said.

Albayalde said while the National Identification System Act (PhilSys Act) assures access by 106.6 million Filipinos to a wide range of government services and privileges, it would also keep the country at pace with global trends of technology in governance.

“An efficient national ID system offers benefits to practical applications in census, taxation, election registration, banking, travel documentation, social security, social welfare and other transactions with government agencies,” the PNP chief said.

“All these government applications stand to benefit more than the quite limited law enforcement and internal security applications due to privacy and basic rights issues associated with gathering of personal information that need to be observed and upheld,” he added.

Meanwhile, human-rights group Karapatan called the ID system as a “wolf in a sheep’s clothing,” as it feared it could lead to a “wholesale rights violations, primarily of the people’s rights to freedom of movement and privacy, right against surveillance and right to unhampered and nondiscriminatory provision of social services.”

“The national ID system will be an underhanded maneuver to screen and monitor people. This law will be very much prone to abuse, considering that our bureaucracy is already littered with militarists and ex-generals who have proven their contempt for people’s rights,” said Kaparatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay in a news statement.

“With billions already funneled to intelligence funds, this law will further fast-track government monitoring and even harassment of its citizens,” she added.


The National ID system project, estimated to cost taxpayers P25-billion, is seen to benefit over seven million Filipinos with no birth certificates.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto on Tuesday said “that should be one of the outcomes” of the multibillion-peso project expected to be carried out soon by the Duterte administration.

“If there will be a mass list-up and registration, then perhaps we can use this activity to end the plight of those without birth certificates,” Recto said.

In a news statement, the Senator suggested that “we should use the national ID platform as an opportunity to solve the quandary of those who do not have birth documents.”


MILF refutes Arab news claim regarding Lamitan bombing

From Tempo (Aug 5): MILF refutes Arab news claim regarding Lamitan bombing

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front leadership has vehemently refuted a recent overseas news report, which claimed that the MILF had pointed to a foreign national of German-Arab extraction as behind the July 31 suicide bombing in Basilan that killed at least 11 people, including government forces, a mother and her child.

“It must be false news (because) we have not made any report about the incident,” MILF First Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar said Friday during a phone interview.

Jaafar was referring to a report published on August 3 in the Philippine section of the Dubai-based Gulf News gulfnews.com written by a Filipino correspondent identified as Gilbert Felongco citing the MILF as saying in its official luwaran.com website on Aug. 2 that a foreigner of German-Arab extraction was behind in the Lamitan City bombing.

Jaafar said the MILF might have initiated its own investigation on the suicide bombing in Lamitan City but such could still be in progress and no result had been publicized.

“We’re completely surprised about it,” Jaafar said.

Verifications showed the MILF official website carried no such report.

The media, local and international, should observe responsible journalism especially in attributing reports to one or more organizations involved in collective efforts to finally bring peace and development in Mindanao, Jaafar said.

Jaafar headed the 24-member commission that had earlier crafted what the Philippine Congress eventually passed lately as Bangsamoro Organic Law aimed at ending decades of Moro rebellion in Southern Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State (IS) jihadi group has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that killed 11 people in Lamitan City, Basilan province, but the military quickly dismissed the claim as propaganda and instead blamed the local bandit group Abu Sayyaf.

Hours after the Jul 31 bombing that killed a soldier, five government militiamen and four civilians, including a mother and her child, and the suspected bomber himself, the IS Amaq news Agency admitted that IS was responsible for the attack.

The Amaq report said the “martyr” bomber was a Moroccan named “Abu Kathir,” and even posted his photo. The US Site Intelligence Group (SIG) tracking online jihadi organizations’ activities confirmed the report.

But Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., who visited Zamboanga City on Wednesday, dismissed the claim.


Army, Reds clash in Lambunao

From Panay News (Aug 6): Army, Reds clash in Lambunao

Several days after government troops and suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels clashed in Miag-ao, Iloilo, another skirmish happened, this time in Barangay Cabatangan, Lambunao, Iloilo.

The encounter between soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) and the NPA started at around 5:30 a.m. just over a kilometer away from an Army detachment.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Sisenando Magbalot of the 61IB, the firefight lasted for some 10 minutes before the rebels withdrew.

None from the government troops were injured or died.

Magbalot believed all the rebels managed to flee unharmed, too.

“The rebels have a new strategy. They fire their guns near the detachment. When our troops come out to check what’s happening, the rebels would fire at them. Alam na natin style nila. Our men hindi sasakay sa trap nila,” said Magbalot.

 On Aug. 1 soldiers of the 61IB encounter rebels in Barangay Alimodias, Miag-ao, Iloilo at around 9:30 a.m.

 The gunfight lasted for some five minutes then the rebels withdrew. They were believed to be under NPA Panay’s Southern Front Committee.

Magbalot said the armed men left trails of blood in the Miag-o encounter, an indication that they were wounded.

On July 30, rebels fired at an Army detachment in nearby Barangay Pudpud, Miag-ao.

The government troops were verifying intelligence information that rebels were recruiting members and extorting money from villagers when they encountered some armed men.


Moro scholar confirms BIFF, ASG’s aim to build caliphate

From the Business Mirror (Aug 5): Moro scholar confirms BIFF, ASG’s aim to build caliphate

A Moro scholar has confirmed the desire of Moro groups to establish a caliphate, which is more than what two Moro guerrilla fronts have aspired for a self-determining autonomous region in Mindanao.

Mansoor Limba of the Alqalam Institute at the Ateneo de Davao University here said the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were expected to mount their self-styled attacks after the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would not tread the path of nonviolence to establish the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

This new region would be born out of the recently enacted Bangsamoro Organic Law. The word Bangsamoro literally means Moro nation.

The government armed forces has sounded off a national alarm for vigilance against a repeat of the car bomb explosion in Basilan last week, a signature move of the anti-US militants in the Middle East and central Asia, including those affiliated or followers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

But the government military was less convinced of the strategy to be replicated elsewhere, saying that the explosion was the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf to demonstrate is anger over a botched extortion attempt rather than an indication of the Isis presence in Mindanao.

Limba admonished, however, against failure by the government to address the “very roots of discontent” by various revolutionary groups and armed formations among the Moro people.

“Failure to give due attention and to give due solution to these concerns would only give reason for them to fan out more violence in Mindanao,” he explained.

Limba would not say, however, if the BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf would step up their attacks to fill in the void left by the MILF, whose armed followers were expected to enter into a phase-by-phase disarmament and decommissioning as part of the later concession in the peace settlement. In a show of gesture of goodwill to the peace settlement with the government, the MILF in 2015 already decommissioned a small portion of its fighters, some 145 of them, and their weapons.

The Moro National Liberation Front, the former main Moro revolutionary group in Mindanao before the MILF broke away in 1981, earlier entered into a peace agreement in 1996, sending some of its fighters into an integration program with the government armed forces and the national police.

Limba spoke in a forum on radicalism and violent extremism in Mindanao held on Friday here. The forum was organized by the Mindanao Institute of Journalism.


AFP denies harassing lumads, peasants

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 5): AFP denies harassing lumads, peasants

DAVAO CITY – The 10th Infantry Division (10th ID) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) denied the allegations made by the New People’s Army (NPA) that it was responsible for the massive evacuation of lumads and peasants in its area of operation in Tarragona, Davao Oriental.

A lumad couple (Camcer Ordonez Imam|Manila Bulletin File Photo)

The military, instead, accused the NPA of protecting a nearby marijuana plantation.

In an interview with The Manila Bulletin, 10th ID spokesperson Capt. Jerry Lamosao said that the attack on a police vehicle that had three policemen last July 26 was deliberate.

“There was a law enforcement operation in the area,” Lamosao said, adding that the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) coordinated a visit to the site that was allegedly protected by the NPA.

Authorities had already found out about the plantation three days earlier, Lamosao said.

According to Lamosao, combined elements of police, military, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) uprooted and burned P2.04 million worth of 12,000 hills of marijuana in a one-hectare property at Sitio Nagas, Brgy Tomaong, Tarragona, Davao Oriental last July 23.

Residents reported the marijuana plantation to authorities, who responded in force.

“Based on revelation of some of the residents, it’s high time that the plantation was exposed so that NPA would also be held accountable since they are the ones protecting it,” Lamosao said.

Three days later, rebels fired upon the Tagsagaong Bridge being blocked by government forces in Tomoaong, as three police officers were trying to cross on board a black Toyota Avanza, around 4:30 p.m.

On board the vehicle were PO1 Johnny Morales, PCI Marcialito Batingana, and PO1 George Silat.

The incident wounded Morales, while Silat and Batingana returned fire and rescued Morales, leaving the vehicle behind.

In a statement sent to Manila Bulletin August 3, the NPA Comval Davao East Coast Subregional Operations Command Southern Mindanao accused the military of forcing families from the countryside to either flee their homes or “surrendering” as NPA sympathizers.


Russia to help modernize PH Navy

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 6): Russia to help modernize PH Navy

The Chief of the Russian Navy has assured that his government will support the upgrade program of the Philippine Navy (PN) in terms of training, maintenance, and sustainment of future acquisition particularly its submarine acquisition project.

(Philippines Defense Forces Forum/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Russian Navy Chief Admiral Vladimir Ivanovich Korolev made the assurance following the visit of Philippine Navy Chief Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad in St. Petersburg, Russia as he represented the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the Russian Navy Day celebration on July 29, 2018.

During their meeting, Korolev also informed Empedrad about the conduct of joint HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) training and regular visits of ships.

The Philippine Navy said it was also during this historic meeting that a draft MOU for deepening security cooperation between the two navies was also discussed.

It was during this meeting that the chief of Russian Navy expressed his appreciation for the upcoming visit of a Philippine Navy ship in Vladivostok, Russia.

It was recalled that three warships from Russia made a port visit in Manila in June 2018.

The PN delegation was also given the opportunity to visit Admiralty Shipyard, the navy’s premier naval shipyard where Russian submarines are built.

The main naval parade at St. Petersburg is a commemoration of over three centuries of Russia’s rich history. This is the day when the Russian federation honors members of the Russian Navy and showcase its strength and capabilities. It is celebrated annually, on the last Sunday of July.

To mark this year’s Navy Day parade, the Russian President and Commander-in-Chief, Vladimir Putin attended the activity.

The commander of the China’s People’s Liberation Army-Navy, Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong was also among the Navy chiefs who attended and was met by Empedrad during the event.

The 14 chiefs and representatives of the invited navies were also tendered with a formal dinner by the chief of Russian Navy as the final event for the visiting delegations.

All heads of delegations agreed that the only way to achieve peace at sea is through cooperation among navies of the world.

Empedrad was accompanied by the commander of the Philippine Fleet, Rear Admiral Danilo R. Rodelas and two other PN officers and Philippine defense attaché to Russia, Army Col. Dennis Pastor PA.

The official visit underscores the navy’s diplomacy efforts for increased interaction among other navies.

“These engagements are building blocks for closer cooperation in areas of mutual concern such as combating terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crimes, the conduct of humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” the Philippine Navy said.


MILF faces tremendous challenge on governance, says UP prof

From ABS-CBN (Aug 6): MILF faces tremendous challenge on governance, says  UP professor

 MANILA - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) faces a tremendous challenge in showing its capability to run a government, a professor on Islamic Studies said Monday.

 Professor Julkipli Wadi, of the University of the Philippines Institute of Islamic Studies, said apart from inter-governmental relations, the MILF must have a major shift in psychology.

 "Psychologically, I think the intent is to reintegrate or mainstream the MILF, efface or erase its revolutionary character," Wadi told ANC on the day of the ceremonial signing of the Bangsamoro law.

 "In fact, willingly, the MILF would be transformed, according to Iqbal, into a social movement and they will have to form another movement. That's another pressure," he added.

 Other challenges the MILF will face are the traditional politicians who remain in control in their respective bailiwicks in Muslim Mindanao, he said.

 During the ceremonial signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte urged stakeholders to participate in the plebiscite for the measure.

 The plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law will determine whether the people in the affected areas will accept or reject the measure that will grant wider autonomy to the Bangsamoro region.

 The President also asked the stakeholders to "give this law a chance to address the Bangsamoro people’s aspiration for genuine autonomy, while preserving our bond as a single nation."

2 NPA terrorists killed in Agusan del Sur gunfight

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 6): 2 NPA terrorists killed in Agusan del Sur gunfight

Two Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) were killed when a gun battle erupted Sunday with government security forces in Purok 4, Barangay Oro, Esperanza town, Agusan del Sur province on Monday.


The 402nd CMO officer also said the two slain CNTs were turned over to the local government (village) in Barangay Oro, Esperanza town for identification and proper burial.

Seized in the possession of the slain CNTs were one .45 caliber pistol and assorted live ammunitions, Pueblas said.

No one was hurt on the government side during the gun battle, he said.

Combined peace and development forces of the 23rd Infantry Battalion and 3rd Platoon 6th Agusan del Sur Civilian Active Auxiliary Company based at Tandang Sora Patrol Base, Barangay Tandang Sora of that same municipality and province were conducting security patrol when chanced upon undetermined number of CNTs at 5 a.m. on Sunday, Pueblas said.

He said the encountered CNTs were
members of Guerilla Front Committee 88 of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

“The rebels dis-engaged in the gunfight after sensing they were outgunned and outnumbered and fled to nearby forested area,” the 402nd CMO officer claimed.

Pueblas said the 402nd “Stingers”Brigade under the command of Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio M. Gacal expressed gratitude to the local villagers for continuously cooperating with the field troops by reporting the presence of CNTs in their villages.

“The timely and accurate reporting of villagers are the key factors in eliminating the forced taxation activities the CNTs in our areas of jurisdiction,” said the 402nd CMO officer based at Camp Bancasi here.


2 suspected Reds killed in Agusan Sur clash — military

From GMA News (Aug 6): 2 suspected Reds killed in Agusan Sur clash — military

Two suspected New People's Army rebels were killed following a clash with government security forces in Agusan del Sur over the weekend, a regional military officer said Monday.

Captain Anthony Pueblas of the Army's 402nd Brigade's civil military operations, said the encounter erupted around 5 a.m. Sunday at Purol 4 in Barangay Oro in Esperanza town.

Involved in the five-minute clash were elements of the Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion and rebels belonging to the
Guerilla Front 88 of the NPA's North Central Mindanao Regional Command.

The operating troops recovered a 9-mm pistol aside from the bodies of the slain rebels, Pueblas said.

The bodies were brought to the barangay center. There were no reported government casualties.


NPA platoon commander, younger brother yield to Army in Agusan

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 7): NPA platoon commander, younger brother yield to Army in Agusan

CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – An alleged Communist New People’s Army Terrorist (CNT) platoon commander and his younger brother voluntarily surrendered to Army authorities and pledged to help the government’s peace and development program, Capt. Al Anthony B. Pueblas, Civil Military Operation (CMO) officer of the Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade told The Manila Bulletin on Tuesday.


For security and safety reasons, identity of the CNT platoon commander and his 18-year-old younger brother are temporarily withheld.

However, the 402nd CMO officer said the commander was under the SDG Platoon 16 of Guerilla Front Committee 16 while his younger brother was formerly under the SPP 16-A, both of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

They brought along with them one M14 rifle with five magazines of live ammunitions and two hand grenades, he said.

They voluntarily surrendered to the Army’s 29th Infantry (Matatag) Battallion (29th IB) operationally controlled by the 402nd Brigade.

They are still under debriefing while preparing to be enrolled to E-CLIP, program that extends livelihood and cash support from the government to rebel returnees, Pueblas said.

“Their main reason why they surrender is that they wanted to live a normal life and to have a stable job in order to help their family,” the 402nd CMO officer claimed.

He said the brothers are also tired in continuously running in the mountains and lack of food.

The brothers are set to see their families after they received E-CLIP program of the government, Pueblas added.


Military seizes control of Isabela NPA camp

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 6): Military seizes control of Isabela NPA camp

Government troops captured an encampment of the New People’s Army (NPA) during pursuit operations in the mountainous areas in Barangay Santo Domingo in Jones, Isabela on Saturday.

Lieutenant Colonel Isagani Nato, spokesperson of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), on Monday said that troops from the Nolcom’s Joint Task Force (JTF) ‘Tala’ seized control of the NPA camp.

Nato said the troops recovered three improvised cooking appliances and fresh vegetables from the site.

Before the discovery of the camp, an encounter broke out between troops from the Philippine Army’s 86th Infantry Battalion (86IB) under the 502nd Brigade – 5th Infantry Division (5ID) in Sitio Dibulod, Dicamay 2, Jones, Isabela province on Saturday.

Nato said all troops were accounted for, while several NPA members were reported killed.

Meanwhile, Nato said that 14 members of the Milisyang Bayan (MB) or People’s Militia (PM) and six supporters surrendered in Sitio Nakatengey, Barangay Namal, Asipulo, Ifugao to the Philippine Army’s 54th Infantry Battalion.

An M-16 rifle was also surrendered by the group which was later brought to the Headquarters of 54IB for safekeeping.

The surrender was made possible through the efforts and initiatives of Community Support Program (CSP) operators of the Army unit in the area.


5,000 Basilan residents displaced

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 7): 5,000 Basilan residents displaced

An estimated 5,000 residents coming from five villages of Hadji Mohammad Ajul town in Basilan province have fled their homes since Tuesday, as the military stepped up operations against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

Abu Sayyaf (Manila Bulletin File Photo)

The intensified operations came after a deadly car bomb hit a military detachment in Lamitan City last July 31 that killed 11 and wounded five persons.

Hadji Mohammad Ajul Mayor Talib G. Pawaki reported yesterday that residents – most of them belonging to the Yakan tribe – of Barangays Tuburan proper, Languyan, Candiis, Langgong, and Buton fled their homes since Tuesday to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

The five villages have been virtually transformed into “ghost villages”, according to Pawaki.

Pawaki said the military stepped up operations against elements of the ASG which may be hiding in the forested areas in his town. These were the same suspects tagged in the Lamitan car bomb attack.

Lamitan City Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay yesterday said some of those that fled their homes in Hadji Mohammad Ajul are now Lamitan, and are staying with their respective relatives.

He said most of those who are residents of Hadji Mohammad Ajul had relatives Lamitan, which just adjacent to the town.

“Or we can simply say that we are just neighbors here,” Furigay said.

But what was important, according to him, was that those who seek refuge in Lamitan “are peace loving people.

“(If that is the case), then we have nothing to worry if they come to stay with their relatives here,” he added.

Furigay said the military operations against the ASG were necessary in order for the community to experience peace and tranquility away from atrocity of the terror group.

Furigay called on his constituents to be calm and alert at all times, and to report to the police and military authorities any suspicious looking persons in their community to prevent any atrocity from happening in their community.


DOJ didn’t verify before seeking terrorist tag for 649 people

From Rappler (Aug 6): DOJ didn’t verify before seeking terrorist tag for 649 people

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra says: 'The DOJ itself did not have any personal verification of any connection by these individuals with the CPP or the NPA'

JUSTICE SECRETARY. The DOJ didn'€™t verify names before seeking terrorist tag for 649 people, says DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

JUSTICE SECRETARY. The DOJ didn'€™t verify names before seeking terrorist tag for 649 people, says DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

 The Department of Justice (DOJ) did not verify the list of 461 names and 188 aliases the government is seeking to declare as “terrorists” under the Human Security Act of 2007.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra admitted this before lawmakers on Monday, August 6, as he defended his department’s proposed P21.353-billion budget for 2019, an increase from its P19.664 billion budget this year.

“The DOJ itself did not have any personal verification of any connection by these individuals with the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) or the NPA (National People’s Army),” said Guevarra.

He added the names and aliases all came from the intelligence units from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

“I’d like to clarify the petition for proscription under the Human Security Act was filed by the Department of Justice versus two entities, the National People’s Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines. The inclusion or the fact that several hundreds of individuals who were named in that petition was based on information supplied solely to the department by the intelligence agencies of the government,” said Gueverra.

It was Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate who asked Guevarra if the DOJ had validated every name on the list before including them in the petition before a Manila court seeking to declare the 649 individuals as terrorists.

"Dahil dito sa listahan na ito, sabi nga ng mga human rights organizations, parang virtually it’s a hit-list dahil na-link sila sa isang organization na gusto niyong i-proscribe, and there are 600 names, including the name of our chair sa Bayan Muna, si Satur Ocmapo," said Zarate. (Because of this list, human rights organizations said it’s virtually a hit-list because you’re linking these 600 names with an organization you want to proscribe, including the name of our chair in Bayan Muna, Satur Ocampo.)

The petition was an apparent implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte's Proclamation No. 374 declaring the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.

It must be noted, however, that the petition to tag the 649 people as terrorists was filed on February 21 during the term of ex-DOJ chief Vitaliano Aguirre II. Aguirre’s resignation was announced by Duterte on April 5, the same day Gueverra was appointed the new DOJ secretary.

Zarate then said the DOJ should “be more prudent” when filing cases against government critics.

“I hope your department will be more prudent in reviewing all of these cases being filed against activists, government critics, and other leaders of the people’s resistance,” said the lawmaker in Filipino.