Monday, August 27, 2018

Three Navy vessels, more troops to take part in next RIMPAC —DND

From GMA News (Aug 27): Three Navy vessels, more troops to take part in next RIMPAC —DND

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said the Armed Forces of the Philippines would deploy at lease three naval ships and more personnel from all branches of the military if the AFP would again be invited to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise.

"This is a very good exposure for our defense people, not only the Navy and Marines, but maybe we could also send some more power, Army Special Forces to participate and also some of our SPOW (Special Operations Wing) next time around and maybe next time around we can also send more ships, maybe three ships altogether, next year if we will be invited," Lorenzana said as he welcomes the return of the Philippine contingent from RIMPAC 2018.

The Navy sent a 700-man task force and two naval vessels—the BRP Davao del Sur (LD602) and BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF17)—to participate in the international maritime warfare exercise in June.

Lorenzana said this was the first time the Philippines was invited for RIMPAC. He said this signals a new era in the country's maritime diplomacy amid the face of increasing security challenges worldwide.

"Ang Philippine Navy's presence in exercises like the RIMPAC signifies a new era of maritime operational engagement, cooperation and inter-operability with other navies to tackle areas of common concern. Indeed, as we face growing maritime security challenges around the world, there is a need for navies to work together to increase familiarity and exchange best practices," he said.

The Philippines already has an ongoing trilateral agreement with Indonesia and Malaysia for the conduct of military exercises, but Lorenzana said the RIMPAC experience further enhances the country's capability in terms of maritime security.

"By participating in joint multi-lateral maritime exercises, our sailors and Marines are exposed to new ideas and ways of handling things which can be used to enhance our own systems and doctrines. It's also a good chance for our personnel to experience planning and execution of combined naval operations as well as establish the Navy's capacity for prolonged operations over seas," he said.

Lorenzana admitted the Navy had been neglected in previous procurement of military equipment, which he vowed to change as the AFP embarked on an ambitious five-year modernization program.

He said this included the purchase of subsurface and aerial assets.

The DND chief said the Navy would receive the largest funding for the purchase of military equipment, followed by the Air Force and the Army.

Lorenzana particularly mentioned the planned procurement of submarines, saying this boosts the bid of the Philippines in becoming a vital player in securing the Asia Pacific region.

"Our way forward is therefore clear, we will continue to work hard to acquire more assets to make the Navy stronger and more credible, something that our maritime nation can be proud of. There are still some gaps in our capabilities in the Navy that we will fill up," Lorenzana said.

"However, we still have a lot of work to do in terms of acquiring additional subsurface and aerial assets. We likewise dream of acquiring our first subsurface vessels under the next horizon of the AFP Modernization Program. We must ensure that we have the persons and facilities to operate and maintain these assets," he added.

Stakeholders begin drafting Bangsamoro normalization program guidelines

From the Business World (Aug 26): Stakeholders begin drafting Bangsamoro normalization program guidelines

FORTY MULTI-sector representatives gathered last week for the “writeshop aimed at producing the program document for the Normalization Program in the Bangsamoro,” the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) announced.

Crafting this program document will hopefully set the modalities and parameters in executing the programs, thus providing us with uniformity, consistency, and timeliness in our actions,” Nabil A. Tan, head of the government implementing panel, said in a statement.

The event was attended by both government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) representatives to the peace talks, government functionaries, donor agencies and Bangsamoro non-government organizations.

“We appreciate the enthusiasm and the assistance of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, Development Academy of the Philippines, World Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme for their assistance,” Mr. Tan said.

Also last week, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza joined the President in various meetings to muster stronger support for the Bangsamoro Organic Law. Among these meetings were with Indonesian Ambassador Sinyo Harry Sarundajang.

“The ambassador also expressed support to the new Bangsamoro government that will be formed and the work being done by Task Force Bangon Marawi,” said Mr. Dureza.

Other issues that were discussed included “joint cooperation in the areas of border security, maritime, trade, and development.”

Philippine troops, Muslim rebels mark Eid Al-Adha

From Anadolu Agency (Aug 26): Philippine troops, Muslim rebels mark Eid Al-Adha

Muslim holiday also serves to give thanks for milestone law in peace process in southern Philippines

Philippine troops, Muslim rebels mark Eid Al-Adha

Moro Muslims perform the Eid Al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) prayer at the orphanage opened by Turkey's IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation in Cotabato, Philippines on August 21, 2018. ( Ahmet Furkan Mercan - Anadolu Agency )

In a historic solidarity event, the Philippine military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) gathered on Saturday to celebrate a Muslim holiday in the southern Philippines.

Maminta Dimakuta, the mayor of Tagoloan Lanao, welcomed the government troops and the country’s largest Moro separatist group to the del Norte province, touting the harmonious relationship of Christians and Muslims in the town despite cultural and religious differences.

Brig. Gen. Ramiro Manuel Rey and Col.Thomas Sedano, representatives from the soldiers’ side, expressed their gratitude to the town officials for organizing the celebration of the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha.

"I’ve long been dreaming of joining with MILF fighters in an event like this," Sedano said, as quoted by GMA News.

The joint celebration also served to pay thanks for the milestone in the peace process in the southern Philippines, said Dimakuta.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law, the fulfillment of the 2014 peace deal between the national government and the MILF, was signed in June by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The measure for greater autonomy creates the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, a region with more political and fiscal powers including a bigger annual block grant equivalent to 5 percent of the total national internal revenue collection.

MILF leader: Better understanding of Bangsamoro Organic Law needed

From CNN Philippines (Aug 27): MILF leader: Better understanding of Bangsamoro Organic Law needed

Mohagher Iqbal, chief of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Implementing Panel, faces controversy over his identity.

A lot of people in Muslim Mindanao are still clueless about the new Bangsamoro law, a leader from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said Sunday.

"Generally, the people really do not understand fully the content of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and, as I said a while ago, how these provisions would really redound to the benefit of the people," MILF Chief Peace Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said.

He added, "The BOL is equated to peace. Peace, development."

This ahead of the plebiscite, which will happen either in December or in January next year.

The ARMM will become the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao should the BOL be ratified in a plebiscite.

READ: The Bangsamoro Organic Law: Everything you need to know

Despite the low awareness on the BOL, Iqbal said he is optimistic that ARMM residents will support the law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in July.

"I do not see any situation that would lead to such a situation wherein the Bangsamoro Organic Law would not be ratified. One reason for that is no less than the President fathered the Bangsamoro Organic Law," he said.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government has tapped barangay officials in Mindanao to spread awareness on the BOL in their respective communities.

Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (21 - 27 August 2018)

Posted to the Relief Web (Aug 27): Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (21 - 27 August 2018)
Published on 27 Aug 2018


As of 21 August, one million people remain in relief camps following flooding in Kerala. While flood waters have begun to recede, the situation has designated an L3 level of Disaster under the National Disaster Management Plan. According to the Chief Minister of Kerala, the estimated loss to the state is US$ 2.84 billion. The Indian Prime Minister has announced US$72.8 million in relief support, and the Minister of Home Affairs has announced an additional US$14.3 million.


As of 24 August, more than 390,500 people remain displaced as a result of the earthquakes that occurred in Lombok. Following the earthquakes, 555 people are known to have died. More than 80,5000 houses have been damaged, while six hospitals, more than 170 health centres and 859 schools have been affected. The emergency response phase ended on 25 August, with the response transitioning to the recovery phase with the aim to restore vital infrastructure and facilities, and stimulate community-level socio-economic activities. 390,500 people displaced.

On 21 August, four people reportedly died due to forest fires in west Kalimantan province. On 25 August, it was reported that the amount of haze and number of forest fires is increasing with some 855 hotspots identified in West Kalimantan. 2


A military artillery offensive on 20 August against a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Sultan Sa Barongis, Maguindanao province, resulted in 11,555 people being displaced to other neighbouring municipalities. The displaced people are sheltering in five evacuation sites and various temporary settlements, including some in open spaces, or in the homes of friends and relatives.


Armed clashes between the Myanmar Military and ethnic armed groups, including the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Restoration Council of Shan State/ Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), have been reported in northern Shan State. More than 2,400 people in Namtu Township fled clashes and increased tensions between 1 and 17 August. The Government, international and national humanitarian organizations, civil society organizations and host communities provided assistance to displaced people in monasteries and other temporary displacement sites. Most displaced people have returned to their villages, although clashes reportedly continue.4


Following attacks in Ghazni that began on 10 August, telecommunications networks, electricity and water services are reportedly back to normal. Residents are able to move freely, and markets and shops have reopened. Humanitarian partners identified more than 21,000 displaced people who require humanitarian assistance. UN agencies are providing support including food and demining activities. A need for psychosocial support has been identified.5 21,000 people displaced


On 25 August, Manam Volcano erupted, sending ash over 15km into the air. The volcano is located on Manam island, which is located 13 km off the northern coast of the country, close to Madang province. The eruption of the volcano has forced 2,000 people to be evacuated from their homes. The Government deployed a team to assess the current conditions and need for additional evacuations.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Dredger set ablaze in Agusan del Norte

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 27): Dredger set ablaze in Agusan del Norte

At least 40 heavily armed men in military uniforms torched a dredger barge, Friday night, on the bank of Agusan River in Purok 1-B, Barangay Lingayao, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte province, police reported Monday.

Dredger barge (photo from PIXABAY / MANILA BULLETIN

Sketchy report reaching the regional headquarters of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) based in Camp Col. Rafael C. Rodriguez, the Agusan del Norte Police Provincial Office (PPO) and Las Nieves Municipal Police Station (MPS) said the unidentified men, armed with automatic rifles, arrived at 9 p.m. Friday.

“Six from the group rode on a pump boat and went to the barge owned by Ark Green Dynamic Resources Corporation. The group boarded the barge and introduced themselves as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and commanded the four men working there, namely, Ferdinand C. Duranggo (boat captain), Alfredo B. Velasco (dredger operator), Ariel A. Lopez (crew) and Dennis D. Vintuan (security guard) to surrender their cellphones and kneel down because they were only after the Ark Corporation,” the Agusan del Norte PPO and Las Nieves report said.

The armed men also took Vintuan’s shotgun before setting the main, dredger and conveyor engines on fire, as well as two of the barge’s generators.

After setting the dredger barge on fire, the armed men immediately left and sailed towards the municipality of Ezperanza, Agusan del Sur, field report added.

Duranggo and his men were left unharmed.

As of press time, management of the company is still validating the total worth of damage on the dredger barge.

Combat maneuvering troops of the Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade and 401st Infantry (Unity) Brigade, supported by the Agusan Police Provincial Offices of the two provinces are still pursuing the fleeing perpetrators.

Meanwhile, the regional command of PRO 13 ordered the Agusan del Norte PPO and Las Nieves MPS to conduct further investigation to determine the motive of the incident and identities of the perpetrators.

MILF: Editorial - Too early to say!

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Aug 25) Editorial - Too early to say!

The campaign to make yes votes prevail over the no votes has not even started officially; it is the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) which has the authority to determine that. But this early, many people, most likely out of their emotional or obsessed desire to have the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) gets ratified during the plebiscite, got irked or irritated or dismayed when some politicians said “they are supporting the no votes during the plebiscite.”
Of course, we cannot fault them for such outbursts; to us, they are only showing what is natural and right. They consider the BOL as a thing like a launching pad that can deliver them from Hell to something like an interregnum, which certainly is much better than hellish fire. We are referring to the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people that left them almost extinct in their own homeland, or, to say the least, forced to survive in the lands of the lions, snakes, and crocodiles.

The conduct of the plebiscite is still far away, say four months to get things in order and better. It is too early to say what will happen then. The pendulum is in the midst of swinging.

Politicians are pragmatic people. There are exceptions, of course; those who are patriotic, nationalist, or ideologue. But many if not most can swing either way, depending on where the mood of the people, nay electorates, is situated. Always the sounding board is how people view a given situation or issue – and politicians will most likely adjust accordingly.

To us, it is not this early mood that matters. The real challenge is how to bring the message of peace through the BOL understood, internalized, and accepted. Without ratification of the BOL, it means there is no law; and no law means, we are back to square one, which is the status quo: No decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants. MILF (and MNLF especially the Jikiri wing) will continue to assert that government must comply with all agreements it signed with them.

Moreover, we will lose all the opportunities that the BOL has offered: good governance, more jobs, access to bigger funds, less politics, more dialogues, including inter-faith dialogues that can lead to harmony, and greater prospects of investors coming in.

Be this as it may, the BOL is an apolitical issue. It is beyond base politics considerations. It is about solving the Bangsamoro Problem, which has been the sole agenda of the MILF and government in their more than 17 years of hard, harsh, and protected negotiations.

A case in point is the 17th Congress itself. The Senate and House of Representatives passed it with all the political parties, except few legislators, supporting it. No one questioned it as favouring the PDP-Laban Party, the party of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

We firmly believe that all the local government executives in the proposed territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro Government will support the ratification of the BOL. It may not happen now but in a not distant future. There will be mutual reaching out. The provincial executives of Lanao Del Sur and mayors already expressed their collective decision to support the BOL. Very soon, the government officials of Tawi-Tawi will do the same. And hopefully Basilan.

Seriously speaking, the government and MILF had no intentions or ulterior motive of passing it into law at the expense or advantage of any politician. FAR FROM IT – and it has never been in our mind. In fact, the MILF had reiterated its “Hands Off” policy, in the form of formal Resolution, from participating in the forthcoming May 2019 midterm elections. This is to showcase and dramatize its sincerity that to this day the MILF is still a revolutionary organization.

Maybe only in the future, being part of agreement and the consequence of passing the BOL, the MILF through the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) will take part in the electoral exercise, say in 2022, after the transition of three years. This is so, because the MILF struggle is already electoral. But this participation will be in the parliamentary elections, BUT NOT IN PROVINCES, CITIES, AND MUNIPALITIES.

Defense chief Lorenzana: Government still accepting NPAs who surrender

From CNN Philippines (Aug 26): Defense chief Lorenzana: Government still accepting NPAs who surrender

File photo

The government is still encouraging members of rebel groups to come down and surrender, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Sunday.

This, after President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday took a swipe at New People's Army (NPA) and communist party founder Jose Maria Sison, threatening to "raise the bar" in fighting the group and stop taking in surrenderees.

"Just with the NPAs, puro mayabang. Akala mo naman. Pati ako, tinatakot ng ulol. Itong Sison na ito, comatose daw ako. Ulol. Wala namang Navy. Walang Army, walang helicopter. Wala ngang CAFGU. Walang Air Force. Tapos kung magsalita, akala mo sino. Maniwala ka niyan. Iyang ambush-ambush lang," he told government troops in Sulu. [Translation: NPA members are arrogant. These fools even threaten me. Sison said I'm comatose. Fool. They don't have a navy, army, air force, helicopter, or even CAFGU, but they speak as if they're somebody. Don't believe them, they can only ambush people.]

"But next time around, we will raise the bar higher. Sabi ko ‘pag magdating ang [garbled] wala ng surrender-surrender. P***** i**. Fight ka diyan hanggang mamatay ka. Hindi na mag-accept ng surrender. Pabalik-balik kayo," he added.

[Translation: I said when the time comes, there will no longer be surrendering. Son of b****. Fight until you die. We will no longer accept surrenderees. You always go back.]

In a text message to CNN Philippines, Lorenzana said he has yet to talk to the President about what he meant by the remark, but maintained that the government's current policy on surrenderees remains unchanged.

"[There's no] new policy on surrender, our current policy stands. We want them to come down and take advantage of the benefits offered by the government," he said.

Under the government's "Comprehensive Local Intergration Program," former rebels who surrender and go back to their normal life are given financial assistance.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines in March said a total of 4,356 regular members and supporters of the NPA have surrendered to the government from January to March 15 this year.

3 Isabela brgys hotspots: Malabor

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 27): 3 Isabela brgys hotspots: Malabor

Three barangays in Isabela town, Negros Occidental, are considered “hotspots” and three more barangays have on-and-off presence of New People’s Army rebels, Isabela Mayor Joselito Malabor, said Saturday.

The barangays considered as
“hotspots” are San Agustin, Cabcab, and Riverside, while those with influences or on-and-off presence of armed rebels are Libas, Cano Clark, and Amin, Malabor said.

He said he met with Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza in Iloilo recently and they talked about the security, NPA activities, and peace and order situation in Isabela.

Malabor said he is taking the initiative for localized peace talks as instructed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

On Friday, seven barangay captains of Isabela met with Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, and aired their respective security concerns in connection with the recent killings of barangay officials of the town, that were claimed by the NPA.

Four of the 30 incumbent barangay captains of Isabela reportedly received threats.

Malabor said he will also meet with these barangay captains who reportedly got threats from the rebels and will encourage them to have a threat assessment with the authorities to provide them security if needed.

Castil said he will deploy more police personnel in Isabela, in coordination with the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 6 and the Philippine Army.

The Municipal Peace and Order Council recently passed a resolution to create an anti-criminality task force, as they are also closely coordinating with authorities to enforce peace and order in Isabela, and to ask for augmentation.

MPOC will again convene on the recent happenings in the peace and order of Isabela this week.

Aside from the existing 12th Infantry Battalion, the 94th IB is also deployed in Isabela to provide security, Malabor said.

Meanwhile, Barangay Libas first kagawad Brenda Fernandez, sister of slain barangay captain Rhoy Pagapang, assumed the vacated post of the latter, as part of the succession by operation of the law, Malabor said.

From the Archive: Filipino millennial joins ISIS in Syria (Mohammad Reza Kiram)

Archived article from Rappler (Jan 27, 2017): Filipino millennial joins ISIS in Syria (Mohammad Reza Kiram)

EXCLUSIVE: Classified documents obtained by Rappler identify the Filipino millennial who beheaded a Caucasian in an ISIS video released in June 2016

 ISIS VIDEO. An Indonesian, Filipino, and Malaysian behead 3 Caucasians and call Muslims to fight the jihad in Syria and the Philippines (screenshot)

ISIS VIDEO. An Indonesian, Filipino, and Malaysian behead 3 Caucasians and call Muslims to fight the jihad in Syria and the Philippines (screenshot)

He is a millennial – the only identified Filipino fighting in Syria for ISIS, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, also known as IS, ISIL or Daesch.

On June 21, 2016, he appeared in a 20-minute video released on pro-ISIS Telegram accounts, calling on Muslims to join the jihad. The Filipino, along with an Indonesian and Malaysian, spoke in their native languages and urged Muslims to fight in Syria or the Philippines.

“If you cannot go to [Syria], join up and go to the Philippines,” said the Malaysian.

The Filipino urged his “brothers” to be strong.

“Mag-ingat kayo at maging malakas, huwag kayong magpadala sa mapanlinlang na taktika ng bagong halal na … si Duterte. Sumpain siya ng Allah,” he said.

The men then beheaded 3 Caucasian males, whom they claimed were “spies of the crusader alliance.”

Now classified documents obtained by Rappler name the Southeast Asians, including the only identified Filipino fighting in Syria for ISIS. Mohammed Saifudin Faiz is from Indonesia; Mohammed Rafi Udin is from Malaysia.

The lone Filipino is 26-year-old Mohammad Reza Kiram. His passport photo below is verified by the Philippine National Police.

EXCLUSIVE. The passport of Filipino Mohammad Reza Kiram juxtaposed against the Filipino in the ISIS video
Born in Zamboanga City, Kiram travelled with his wife and daughter to Syria in 2015, according to a confidential Interpol report dated December, 2016.

Turkish officials confirmed their arrival at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on May 20, 2015. Authorities from at least 3 countries, including the Philippines, say they are now in Raqqa.

Arrests in Malaysia this week spotlight a new ISIS terror cell using Sabah as a transit point to funnel recruits from Southeast Asia and South Asia to the southern Philippines, evidence that Kiram’s rallying cry last June is now being carried out.

Intelligence documents say Kiram was allegedly part of Ansar al-Khalifa, also known as AKP, Ansar Khalifa Philippines, Ansar al-Khilafah or Ansar Khilafah, the latest evolution of a sub-group once part of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) network and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

AKP and the death of Tokboy

AKP pledged allegiance to ISIS in a YouTube video in 2015, largely believed to be the group in a video distributed in November 2015 threatening the APEC Summit in Manila. It was globally distributed by ISIS propaganda sites. (READ: ISIS’ global ambitions and plans for Southeast Asia)

Its influential leader, Mohammed Jaafar Maguid or “Tokboy”, was killed in Sarangani earlier this month. Under him, AKP operated throughout central Mindanao and maintained operational links with Indonesian group, MIT or Mujahidin Indonesia Timur, perhaps the most aggressive ISIS affiliate in Indonesia. Both groups once worked together under JI, once al-Qaeda’s arm in Southeast Asia.

The Philippine police and military continue operations until today against the AKP and another closely-affiliated group which also pledged allegiance to ISIS, the Maute group.

MOVEMENT. Hapilon and members of ASG transfer from their base in Basilan to Central Mindanao, allegedly to scout a future Caliphate, according to PH Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

ISIS and the Maute group

The Philippine police verified Rappler's early analysis that the Maute group, led by Abdullah Maute, is behind the September 2, 2016 bomb detonated at a night market in Davao City, killing at least 14 people and injuring at least 70.

An Interpol document obtained by Rappler estimates the Maute group has about “90 members who possess various small arms and – as demonstrated by the Davao City bombing – the capability to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) with military munitions.”

Abdullah’s father, Cayamora Maute, according to military sources, was a senior official of the MILF, the largest Muslim separatist group now involved in peace talks with the government. Philippine military documents show the family has been monitored since 2007, when Maute and his wife sheltered and worked with JI leaders.

That history explains the radicalization of their sons, who criticized the MILF leadership, the peace process, and later pledged allegiance to ISIS.

2016 was a busy year for the Maute group:

From February 20 to March 1, the group attacked a military camp and established 3 strongholds in Lanao del Sur, displacing nearly 30,000 people. It took 10 days for the military to regain control.

On April 21, a Facebook account posted two photos showing the Maute group beheading two sawmill workers in orange jumpsuits, like ISIS public executions.

Rappler exclusive: Facebook screen shots April 21, 2016

On August 27, 50 men led by Abdullah Maute freed 8 of their members and 20 other prisoners from a Lanao del Sur jail.

On August 29, an ISIS propaganda arm claimed ISIS was behind that prison raid in Marawi.

On November 26, the Maute group occupied Butig, Lanao del Sur again. They removed the Philippine flag from the old town hall and replaced it with the ISIS flag.
On November 28, an IED was discovered near the US embassy in Manila. Two suspects linked to the Maute group were arrested shortly after. An Interpol report says, “the foiled bombing in Metro Manila was meant to distract the attention of the authorities and relieve the pressure on the Maute group from the military authorities surrounding them in Butig, Lanao del Sur.”

PNP SKETCH. Components of bomb used in Davao City night market bombing
Philippine authorities also said the IED from Manila was similar to the one used in Davao City in September.

Caliphate in Mindanao?

Which brings us back to the sole Filipino identified with ISIS in Syria. A little more than 6 months ago, Mohammad Reza Kiram’s video appealed to Muslim recruits to join the jihad in the Philippines.

Operations in Southeast Asia intensified since then, with ISIS setting up transit cells and conduits to bring foreigners to the Philippines.

Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research, said at least 10 Malaysian terrorists are in the Philippines and have established Katibah Al Muhajir or Battalion of Migrants in the Philippines.

Gunaratna said the new battalion, composed of Malaysians and Indonesians, was created because Southeast Asian recruits couldn’t travel to the Middle East. Filipino intelligence sources say this group is working with Isnilon Hapilon, the senior ideological leader of the Abu Sayyaf.

Last year, Isnilon became the consolidated leader of at least 4 groups that pledged allegiance to ISIS. (READ: ISIS to declare a province in Mindanao?)

"While it has not been formally declared as a province or wilayat, ISIS has endorsed an Abu Sayyaf leader, Isnilon Hapilon, as amir for Southeast Asia, and Southeast Asians in Syria have pledged their loyalty to him," stated an October report by the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Confict (IPAC).

On Thursday, January 26, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told a press conference that ISIS is communicating directly with Hapilon, who moved from his base in Basilan to Central Mindanao last December, joining the Maute group and AKP there. Operations intensified this week.

"Mayroon silang contact ngayon (They've made contact). One of the leaders in Basilan, Isnilon Hapilon, moved to Central Mindanao allegedly on the behest of ISIS people in the Middle East to find out if Central Mindanao is more conducive to the establishment of their wilayat (province)," Lorenzana said.

Still, there are victories.

On January 13, 2017, Malaysian police announced the arrest of a 31-year-old Filipino watch seller and his Malaysian co-conspirator and fiancée from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. That uncovered a terrorist cell allegedly receiving orders from the southern Philippines.

According to a press statement by Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, the Filipino was the cell’s chief recruiter, taking instructions from Hapilon and a Malaysian with him, Dr Mahmud Ahmad.

A former Universiti Malaya lecturer, Ahmad trained at an al-Qaeda training camp in the late 1990s and is now deeply entrenched with the ISIS, according to Malaysian officials. He recruited and arranged for Malaysians to fight in Syria as early as March, 2014, including Malaysia's first suicide bomber, Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki.

“With these arrests, the Special Branch crippled a new Daesh terror cell that planned to make Sabah a transit point for terrorists from Southeast Asia and South Asia to infiltrate into the Philippines,” Khalid said, referring to ISIS as Daesch, its Arabic acronym.

“ISIS seems to be everywhere,” President Duterte told me at the end of last year, warning that the group is focusing on Southeast Asia as it loses ground in Syria and Iraq.

Duterte is the first president to admit the presence of ISIS, a stark contrast to the repeated denials of the military and the past administration.

He warned of recruitment from schools, saying he feared some of his own relatives may have been lured by ISIS. The recruitment is backed by the research of Indonesia's IPAC.

"There is some evidence that the Maute group and the AKP have been able to use the appeal of the ISIS brand to attract university students. The more extremists in Mindanao can attract educated and computer-savvy cadres, the greater the likelihood of cross-regional contact," the IPAC report stated.

Kiram is a cautionary tale: a Filipino millennial now fighting in Syria with ISIS.

Filipino, 2 others in ISIS beheading video blacklisted by U.S.

From Rappler (Aug 26): Filipino, 2 others in ISIS beheading video blacklisted by U.S.

A US Treasury official says the June 2016 video was 'part of a propaganda campaign to attract radicals to join militant terrorist groups in Southeast Asia'

 ISIS VIDEO. An Indonesian, Filipino, and Malaysian behead 3 Caucasians and call Muslims to fight the jihad in Syria and the Philippines (screenshot)

ISIS VIDEO. An Indonesian, Filipino, and Malaysian behead 3 Caucasians and call Muslims to fight the jihad in Syria and the Philippines (screenshot)

Three Southeast Asians who appeared in a 2016 Islamic State video showing the beheading of a captive were added to the US Treasury’s sanctions blacklist Friday, August 24.

The Treasury said Malaysian Mohamad Rafi Udin, Indonesian Mohammed Karim Yusop Faiz and
Filipino Mohammad Reza Lahaman Kiram all took part in the June 2016 video made in Syria in which Islamic State members execute a prisoner.

Sigal Mandelker, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the video was "part of a propaganda campaign to attract radicals to join militant terrorist groups in Southeast Asia."

Udin, 52, is a well-known Malaysian militant, having been detained in 2003-2006 for his association with the radical Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah.

As of last November, he was believed to be the seniormost Malaysian in the Islamic State in Syria, the Treasury said.

Faiz, 49, was imprisoned in the Philippines for 9 years on explosives and weapons charges. After being released he traveled to Syria in 2014 and joined Islamic State.

Kiram, 28, is believed to be responsible for the bombing a bus in Zamboanga, Philippines in 2012. He was still in Syria fighting for Islamic State as of January 2017, the Treasury said.

Guerrilla, activist surrender

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 27): Guerrilla, activist surrender

A high-ranking officer of New People’s Army surrendered to the 71st Infantry Battalion in Purok 8, Barangay Nueva Visayas, Mawab, Compostela Valley on Aug. 23 around 10 a.m.

1Lt. Jhocell Asis, the civil- military operations (CMO) officer of 71st IB, said alias Dodong was one of the leaders of Section Committee 2 (Secom 2) of the NPA.

His surrender was facilitated by Capt. Elesio L. Marcolino, commander of the Charlie Company of 72nd Infantry Battalion.

Dodong also turned over his .45 caliber pistol with one magazine and .45 Ingram with two long magazines loaded with six bullets.

“We are already tired of hiding from the government troops and the military and I don’t like the rules of the NPA anymore. I want to change my life and live peacefully with my family,” he said.

Lt. Col. Esteveyn E. Ducusin, commander of the 71st IB, said that Dodong was one of the notorious NPA leaders who was very active in many harassment and extortion activities the province.

“The continued surrender of NPA members and leaders with their firearms is a manifestation that the 71st IB continues to gain the trust and confidence of the people in the area,” he said.

The rebel leader will be enrolled in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (Eclip) to get his livelihood assistance and firearm remuneration. The Eclip is a program of the government to assist those NPA and Militia ng Bayan (MB) members who wish to return to the mainstream society.

Student activist turns self over to military

An alleged student-activist also turned himself over to the 71st Infantry Battalion during the same activity.

1Lt Jhocell Asis, the civil- military Operations (CMO) officer of 71st Infantry Battalion, identified the student as alias Ferdie, a former scholar of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Incorporated (Misfi).

Asis said Ferdie was a scholar of Misfi from 2013 to 2016 and studied at Liceo De Davao University in Tagum City. He was in the third year college when he decided to stop his scholarship.

“Misfi is a community school based in Sitio Tyra, Barangay Lapu-lapu, Maco Compostela Valley province and allegedly penetrated by the communist recruiters teaching students to grow up hostile against the government,” she said.

According to Ferdie, he left because he didn’t want to serve as volunteer teacher of Salugpongan schools as stated in their scholarship contract. He also revealed that when he was studying, he joined several mass demonstrations against the government.

These includes the rally at Panacan, Davao City in 2016 calling for the freedom of political prisoners and another rally at Department of Education regional office in Davao City to pressure the military into leaving the communities.

Ducusin expressed his gratitude for the surrender of Ferdie. “We are committed and more than willing to accommodate other student-activists who want to go back to their normal lives and take part on peace-building for progress and development,” Ducusin said.

“It is the third time that scholars from MISFI visited our camp and signified their intention to be reoriented to the government,” he added.

Soldier, cafgu get medals for escaping NPA captors

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 27): Soldier, cafgu get medals for escaping NPA captors

A soldier and militiaman who escaped from their NPA captors received the Order of Lapu-Lapu award for their bravery.

Cpl. Johannes D. Parreño and CAA Dindo Sagayno received the award from President Rodrigo Duterte during the 12th Founding Anniversary of Eastern Mindanao Command held at Naval Felix Apolinario Station in Camp Panacan.
The Lapu-Lapu Medal is awarded to officials and personnel of the government and private individuals who have contributed significantly to the success of an activity pursuant to a campaign or advocacy of the President.

The two were among the 14 military officers and personnel who were given award during the anniversary. The local chief executives of Davao City, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and Socsksargen also an award for their support for the anti-insurgency campaign.

President Duterte was the guest of honor and speaker in the activity last Aug. 23.

Meanwhile, during the same event, 12 rebel returnees were presented to the President.

He promised to allow them to travel to China or Hong Kong.

“You see for yourselves what is Communism,” he said.

Duterte also asked the rebel returnees to persuade their comrades into surrendering.

During the anniversary, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., commander of the Eastern Mindanao, presented the accomplishment of the command.

“In aiming to maintain peace and order in the communities, the command conducted 124,918 combat operations,” Madrigal said, adding that they recovered 1,141 total firearms and 417 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from the operations.

“The command was able to dismantle and downgraded 10 NPA guerrilla fronts in its area of responsibility,” he added.

The command recorded 9,355 surrenders from former NPA fighters, supporters, and regular members.

Duterte visits wounded troops in Sulu

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 26): Duterte visits wounded troops in Sulu

SULU – President Rodrigo Duterte visited soldiers wounded in firefight with Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said Sunday.

Duterte was welcomed by provincial government officials and military commanders and briefly spoke with former governor Sakur Tan in the capital town of Jolo. The weekend visit saw Duterte inspecting wounded soldiers inside a military base in Jolo.

President Rodirgo Duterte is welcomed by former Sulu Governor Sakur Tan during his visit in Jolo town on August 25, 2018 where he inspected troops wounded in clashes with Abu Sayyaf militants in these photos from the Facebook page of Mr. Nahdin Jubaira.

The Western Mindanao Command did not release any statement on Duterte’s visit to Sulu where security forces are battling pro-ISIS militants. But the Presidential Communications Operations Office said Duterte has commended troops for their relentless campaign against terrorists.

In his speech before troops gathered at Camp Teodulfo Bautista, Duterte strongly emphasized that insurgency and terrorism have always hindered the nation’s progress, especially in Mindanao.

“You are here today for one reason only, because you have answered the call to maintain peace and ensure safe communities for every Filipino,” Duterte said. “I assure you that you have my full support as you conduct intensive military operations against these terrorist groups, particularly those who subscribe to the extremist ideologies of the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.”

Duterte also praised the gallantry and resiliency of the troops. “With your bravery, selflessness, and patriotism, I am optimistic that we will one day defeat all threats to our democratic institutions and secure a brighter future for our beloved country.”

“All I can say with pride: You are not alone in this fight. The Filipino people stand beside you, and I stand with you every step of the way as we advance the common good and promote the safety and security of our nation,” he said.

The President also awarded medals to the wounded soldiers, 21 of them, who clashed recently with Abu Sayyaf in Patikul town.
Those who received the award were Sergeants Wilmar Salde, Jonathan Mamalompong, Alejandro Bautista, Agripino Pagauitan, Randy Menor; Corporals Jeffrey Zippagan, Jeramil Canipas, Edward Tamangen Jr., Arnel Walay, Raffy Jay Hernal, Joel Wawoc; and Privates First Class Delim Cawas, Arnold Daria, Raib Pannal; also Privates Leo Molina, Ronnie Galinggan, Jonel Ramiscal, Jackson Ramos, Ruben Ruping Jr., Jobert Galas, and Jake Venezuela.

Ex-NPA rebel, itinumba sa North Cotabato

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 27): Ex-NPA rebel, itinumba sa North Cotabato

Pinaniniwalaang mga dating kasamahang rebelde ang pumatay sa isang 19-anyos na rebel returnee ng pagbabarilin ito sa gilid lamang ng isang simbahan sa Purok 2 sa Barangay Inac sa bayan ng Magpet sa North Cotabato nitopng Lunes ng umaga.

Kinilala ang nasawi na si Reneboy Mission Angel, magsasaka at residente ng Barangay Noa. Batay sa ulat ni Senior Inspector Jose Mari Molina, hepe ng pulisya sa Magpet, dakong alas-6:40 ng umaga habang kararating lamang ni Angel sa Sto. Niño chapel ng biglang lapitan ng dalawang mga armadong kalalakihan at saka niratrat.

Dead on the spot ang biktima na nagtamo ng maraming tama ng bala sa iba’t-ibang bahagi ng kanyang katawan. Kalibre .45 pistola diumano ang ginamit sa krimen batay sa mga basyo ng bala na nakuha sa lugar.

Agad naman tumakas ang mga salarin sa bahagi ng Barangay Alegria na sinasabing pugad ng mga NPA.Patuloy pang sinisilip ang anggulong may kinalaman sa pagkalas ng biktima sa rebeldeng grupo ang motibo sa pagpatay.

DND chief mourns passing of US senator John McCain

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): DND chief mourns passing of US senator John McCain

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed his regrets on the passing of former US Sen. John McCain after succumbing to brain cancer Sunday.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Sen. John McCain, a true friend of the Philippines and the Filipino people. As Chair of the Armed Services Committee of the United States Senate, Senator McCain was among those who valued not just the shared history between our two countries but also the importance of our strategic partnership," he added.

As a former US Navy A-4 "Skyhawk" attack pilot who saw action and was shot down during the Vietnam War, Lorenzana said the US senator never forgot the sacrifices of Filipinos, who fought under the American flag during the Second World War.

"Together with Senator Daniel Inouye and Senator Daniel Akaka, he played an important role in securing US Government recognition for our aging veterans. I had the honor to work with members of the US Congress, one of the high profile personalities was Senator McCain on this important initiative when I was serving as Defense Attaché and later as Veterans Affairs Representative at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. from 2002-2016," he added.

McCain was born on Aug. 29, 1936 and served as a United States Senator from Arizona from 1987 until his death.

He previously served two terms in the United States House of Representatives and was the Republican nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 election, which he lost to Barack Obama.

He graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1958.

PRRD ‘tired’ of listening to Joma's health rumors

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): PRRD ‘tired’ of listening to Joma's health rumors

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday, National Heroes Day, said he was “tired” of listening to rumors being spread by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison about his supposed poor state of health.

“I am tired of listening to Maria Sison,” Duterte told reporters in a chance interview during the National Heroes Day rites at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.

Sison earlier claimed that Duterte fell into coma -- an accusation dispelled by the President after appearing on a Facebook Live video shared by his top aide, Christopher “Bong” Go, and appearing in several events last week.

Go challenged Sison to return to the Philippines and undergo medical checkup with the President.

“Bago po tayo ma-Joma muli ng balita, o fake news, e di umuwi na lang siya dito sa Pilipinas. Sabay sila ni President Duterte (Before we get victimized by fake news again, why doesn’t he just come home to the Philippines? He can have a checkup with the President. Let’s see who is stronger and who will have a clean bill of health),” Go told reporters.

Duterte, meanwhile, joked about welcoming the idea of undergoing surgery in Israel in response to claims of opposition lawmakers, Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, that he is going there to have his health checked.

“Kung operahan nila ako doon, e di mas maganda (If they operate on me there, then that would be nice),” Duterte quipped.

The President bared that the real reason he was visiting Israel is to check on the plight of about 28,000 overseas Filipino workers there.

“I’m there because of the 28,000 Filipinos and it’s getting hotter there…There’s something brewing there but in Jordan we have 48,000 Filipinos that’s why I’m bringing (Environment Secretary Roy) Cimatu to prepare for that eventually and just in case war breaks out and then I can have my stomach open, chest open, and my brain,” Duterte said.

Last week, Duterte confirmed sending Cimatu ahead of his visit to Israel.

Cimatu, a former Armed Forces chief of staff, previously served as special envoy for Overseas Filipino Worker-refugees. He was also special envoy to the Middle East during the term of former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Duterte dispelled Sison’s rumor anew, assuring the public he was fine and that he was granted by God the ability to love.

“Sa awa ng Diyos po, kaya ko pang umibig (With God's mercy, I can still love),” Duterte said.

Nat’l Heroes Day helps keep Filipino nationalism alive: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): Nat’l Heroes Day helps keep Filipino nationalism alive: AFP

SALUTE TO HEROES. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte offers a wreath to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in commemoration of the National Heroes Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on Monday (Aug. 27, 2018) (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed hope that the annual commemoration of the National Heroes Day will help revive the spirit of nationalism among the present generation of Filipinos.

"The AFP hopes that the observance will fan the fire of nationalism among Filipinos," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said in statement Monday.

Detoyato also hoped that the occasion will encourage every Filipino to contribute to nation-building and uphold democracy.

"(And) that the spirit of this national holiday will remind every citizen of their duty to the country, especially in protecting the country's democratic institutions," he added.

Earlier, the AFP joined President Rodrigo Duterte and the National Historical Commission in commemorating the National Heroes Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.

In the said activity, the Commander-in-Chief spearheaded the flag-raising ceremony and the traditional wreath-laying rites at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in honor of the countless unnamed heroes, who valiantly offered their lives for the country's freedom and independence.

DND chief: Navy should have been strongest of all military services

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): DND chief: Navy should have been strongest of all military services

The Philippine Navy (PN) should have been always the strongest service in the the military.

This was stressed by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on his speech welcoming the arrival of the PN contingent on the just-concluded "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC) exercises in Hawaii at Pier 13, South Harbor Manila, Monday.

Lorenzana is basing his pronouncements on the theories expounded by American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan on his book, "The Influence of Seapower Upon History, 1660-1783".

The defense chief said he learned these concepts when he was still a cadet at the Philippine Military Academy.

One of the lessons espoused by Mahan is that national greatness was associated with the sea, with its commercial use in peace and its control during wartime.

"I have always believed that the Philippines being an island nation should have a good Navy, a credible Navy, in fact looking back through our history, since we became independent, the strongest armed services in the Armed Forces (should) be the Philippine Navy because our country is an island nation," he added.

Only neglect and the military's heavy involvement in counter-insurgency campaigns and other land security problems have prevented the PN from gaining its proper niche.

Lorenzana added that it is only in the past few years that proper attention has been given to the upgrading of the Navy as attested by its first ever deployment of ships, personnel and even a naval helicopter in the biennial RIMPAC exercises.

"Let me congratulate our sailors and marines for their successful participation in this year's RIMPAC 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii, this is truly an important milestone not only for our Navy but also for our entire defense department, this is the first time that we sent a naval contingent to join other Navies," the DND chief added.

The PN deployed the strategic sealift vessel BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), an AgustaWestland naval helicopter and around 700 sailors and marines for the exercises which started June 27 and ended on Aug. 2.

Lorenzana also expressed hope that the PN will be invited again for the next RIMPAC as the latter is a good exposure and training for the naval personnel.

"We were talking a while ago and since this is a very good exposure for our defense people, not only the Navy and marines, but maybe we could also send some Army Special Forces (troop) to participate and also some of our Air Force Special Operations Wing (personnel), and maybe next time around we can also send more ships, maybe three ships altogether," he added.

The DND chief also emphasized that the PN's participation in RIMPAC signifies a new era in its maritime operational engagement, cooperation and interoperability with other Navies allowing it to tackle areas of areas of common concern.

"Indeed as we face growing maritime security challenges around the world, there is a need for Navies to work together to increase familiarity and exchange best practices, we also have this trilateral exercises, naval patrols with Indonesia and Malaysia, not only maritime patrol but also aerial patrol, so maybe we could also go into naval exercises with them in the future, something that we should discuss with my counterpart(s)," he added.

"By participating in joint multi-lateral maritime exercises our sailors and marines are exposed to new ideas and ways of handling things which can be used to enhance our own systems and doctrines, it’s also a good chance for our personnel to experience planning and execution of combined naval operations as well as establish the Navy's capacity for prolonged operations over seas, our way forward is therefore clear," Lorenzana stressed.

In line with this, the DND chief said efforts will continue in acquiring more assets for the PN to make it stronger and credible and something that the Philippines, as a maritime nation, can be proud of.

PH needs more air assets for disaster ops

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): PH needs more air assets for disaster ops

Aircraft that can be used for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions, along with medium-lift and attack helicopters, are the assets needed the most by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.

He made this pronouncement when asked for a comment regarding American offer to sell its General Dynamic F-16 "Fighting Falcon" jet fighters and other weapon platforms to the Philippines.

For the moment, the Philippines does not need the F-16s as it is not planning to have a fight with other countries, Lorenzana said.

"Hindi naman tayo siguro makikipag 'dogfight' o makikipag-labanan sa Tsina (We are not engaging in a 'dogfight' with China) or any other countries dito (here). So kailangan talaga natin yung pwede nating (What we really need is something that we can have) dual (use), pwedeng (it is fit for) civilian use at saka (and also) military use, civilian use (in terms of) HADR. Yun ang talagang mas kailangan natin dahil napakadami nating (That's what we really need because we have so many) calamities, mga disasters every year at dun natin kailangan (we are hit by disasters every year and we need these to respond to these events), so kailangan natin ng mga (we need) medium-lift helicopters, yung (the) attack siguro helicopter natin kelangan natin yun sa mga terorista (we need that to fight terrorists), but mostly sa atin (for us), ang tingin ko civilian use yung ating helicopters eh (what I think is our helicopters must be for civilian use), not fighter planes," he added.

While admitting that the military is planning to acquire multi-role fighters (MRFs) similar to the F-16s under Horizon Three of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, evaluations will still have to determine if these platforms are really needed.

"We will see if we really need those, from now up to that time is about five years pa eh, so we will determine if we really need the MRFs, yung multi-role fighters," the DND chief added.

Horizon Three is slated for 2023 to 2028 and is focused on acquiring more external defense equipment for the military.

PCG to host 2nd maritime exercise with US, ASEAN nations

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): PCG to host 2nd maritime exercise with US, ASEAN nations

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will host again the week-long maritime security exercise, bringing 100 local and foreign maritime law enforcement counterparts from eight nations in Manila.

This year is the second hosting of the PCG of the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise’s boarding workshop which will be held from August 27 to 31 at Coast Guard Surface Support Force in South Harbor, Port Area, Manila.

The exercise aims to address common concerns of maritime security threats prevalent in the ASEAN region such as illegal fishing, smuggling, illegal drug and human trafficking. It also aims to promote mutual international cooperation between participating agencies.

The workshop, led by the US Navy, will be joined by the PCG, Philippine Navy, Royal Brunei Navy, Royal Singapore Navy, Royal Thai Navy, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (BAKAMLA Indonesia), Indonesian Navy-Komando Armanda I, Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency, and Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Center.

The US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment will lead the conduct of maritime interdiction operation/vessel board, search and seizure (MIO/VBSS) workshop on best practices of use of force and demonstration of arresting techniques; lecture on smuggling trends; drills on flex and handcuffing, positive control measures for compliant and non-compliant boarding, and multiple-man room entry, tactical team movement and inspections and weapons retention to be executed aboard PCG vessels.

The multilateral exercise aims to evaluate the agencies’ maritime information exchange capabilities with SEACAT headquarters through Information Fusion Center based in Changi Naval Base, Singapore and 3rd Thai Naval Area Command in Phuket, Thailand.

Participating countries have sent liaison officers to man the watch team that will facilitate exchange of information, coordinate surveillance operations, and alert respective headquarters in the conduct of MIO/VBSS operation to the vessel of interest.

To mark the conclusion of the exercise, a sea-phase activity will be conducted with two tracking and boarding scenarios in the Philippines waters, one at the west off Subic, Zambales while the other is in the Sulu Sea respectively.

‘Go home and undergo medical exam with PRRD,’ Go tells Joma

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 26): ‘Go home and undergo medical exam with PRRD,’ Go tells Joma

Jose Maria Sison
Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Sunday challenged Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison to go home and join President Rodrigo Duterte in undergoing a medical checkup.

This, as the presidential assistant defended Duterte on the sidelines of the 104th founding anniversary and opening of the Kalivungan Festival in Amas, Kidapawan City.

Go said Duterte has a "clean bill of health" and is in tip-top condition.

“Bago po tayo ma-Joma muli ng balita, o fake news, e di umuwi na lang siya dito sa Pilipinas. Sabay sila ni President Duterte. Tignan natin sino ang mas malakas sa kanila, sino 'yung clean bill of health (Before we get victimized by fake news again, why doesn’t he just come home to the Philippines? He can have a checkup with the President. Let’s see who is stronger and who will have a clean bill of health),” he told reporters.

The President's top aide said people could very well see who is ill between the President and Sison.

In a press statement, Sison challenged Duterte to submit himself to a medical examination by the best independent diagnosticians of the Philippine General Hospital in order to establish whether he is physically and mentally fit for his position.

Following Duterte's statement that Sison is suffering from colon cancer, the latter promised to show his true and verifiable medical certificate.

Sison earlier said Duterte was in comatose — an accusation which was dispelled by the President after appearing in a Facebook video shared by Go and by attending several events last week.

Retired police, ABC prexy, 2 others killed in Masbate

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): Retired police, ABC prexy, 2 others killed in Masbate

Four people were killed on Sunday by armed men in separate attacks in Masbate province, a report reaching the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol said on Monday.

Suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) ambushed and killed Rommel Borromeo, 58, a retired Senior Police Officer 2 and a former intelligence operative; and his companion Antonio Barsaga, 65, a retired security guard both residents of Barangay District 2, San Jacinto town in Masbate, according to Police Chief Insp. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, PNP Bicol spokesperson.

Calubaquib said the victims were on board a motorcycle and were negotiating a road in Sitio Danta, Calipatan village, San Jacinto, Masbate when a group of rebels attack them at around 12:35 p.m. Sunday.

A civilian reported to the police that a loud explosion was heard and a volley of gunfire followed.

Responding police and military operatives recovered from the crime scene, aside from the victim’s dead bodies, 52 empty shells from M16 rifle; 29 empty shells from M14 rifles and 55 meters of detonating cord.

Another attack was reported in Barangay Daraga, Placer town where Eric Tupas, village chief of Barangay Luna and president of Liga ng Mga Barangay in Placer, and his companion Rommie Bagaan, were gunned down at around 6:00 p.m. Sunday.

Calubaquib said the victims were on board a motorcycle from the Poblacion and were heading for the said village when fired upon by still unidentified armed men.

The victims sustained gunshot wounds in their bodies and were instantly killed.