Wednesday, August 29, 2018

‘Rebels’ ambush pickup in Igbaras; private company worker hurt

From the Panay News (Aug 30): ‘Rebels’ ambush pickup in Igbaras; private company worker hurt

ILOILO – A pickup ferrying private company employees and Philippine Army soldiers was ambushed on Wednesday in Barangay Igcabugao, Igbaras, Iloilo.

The military identified the attackers as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

One of the employees of Century Peak Energy Corp., a hydropower plant builder in the town, was injured.

Sheila Mae Esteves sustained a gunshot wound on the right leg, the Igbaras police officer-in-charge Chief Inspector Rogelio Tumagtang told Panay News.

Esteves and another employee of Century Peak Energy Corp. were on their way to a “clearing operation” at around 3 p.m. when their company vehicle, a Mitsubishi Strada, was “ambushed,” Tumagtang said.

The Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade, in a press release, placed the time of the attack at around 3:30 p.m.

Century Peak was trying to clear an area leading to its project site that was hit by landslide, Tumagtang said.

Others on board the vehicle were two Philippine Army soldiers and eight Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) personnel escorting the Century Peak employees. They were unharmed, he added.

The Army said there were four other Century Peak employees on board. They were unharmed, too.

Soldiers in the vicinity at the time responded and fought “more or less 10” members of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon Panay – Southern Front in a 10-minute firefight, the 301st IB said.

No one from the government troops was injured. The military said they have yet to determine any injury on the side of the NPA, who they said withdrew toward a forested area of the barangay.

Tumagtang said the Army and CAFGU personnel on board the vehicle fought back, too.

Esteves, a 28-year-old safety officer of Century Peak, was taken to the Guimbal District Hospital.

The Philippine Army is going after the attackers, the 301st IB said.

NPA attacks Iloilo hydro power plant site

From the Manila  Bulletin (Aug 29): NPA attacks Iloilo hydro power plant site

Iloilo City — Communist rebels New People’s Army (NPA) attacked the site for a mini-hydro power plant in Igbaras town, Iloilo province.

According to a report coming from Police Regional Office (PRO-6), NPA rebels stormed the power plant of Century Peak Energy Corp. in Icabugao village Wednesday afternoon.

When the incident report reached authorities, soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61 IB) responded. A 10-minute firefight ensued between government troops and the NPA rebels until they withdrew.

The incident injured Sheila Mae Esteves, an employee of the power plant that is undergoing construction. Esteves was hit in her thigh and was rushed to the nearest hospital.

Meanwhile, a hot pursuit operation is underway.

NPA admits killing of ‘habal-habal’ driver

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Aug 28): NPA admits killing of ‘habal-habal’ driver

THE Leonardo Panaligan Command (LPC) of the New People's Army (NPA) claimed the killing of a "habal-habal" or motorcycle-for-hire driver in Isabela, Negros Occidental on Monday, August 27, after identifying him as an alleged military asset.

Ka JB Regalado, spokesperson of LPC, in a press statement, said 44-year-old Joemarie Saracia was an alleged informant of the military in conducting operations in the upper part of Moises Padilla and Isabela towns.

The group also alleged that Saracia was involved in extortion by using the name of the NPA.

They reportedly recovered from Saracia a cellular phone which was used by the victim in his transactions with the military.

On August 26, Saracia was walking on his way to church when five unidentified men fired at him at close range at Barangay Sebucauan. The perpetrators then fled on board two motorcycles.

Police recovered from the scene 10 fired cartridges and two slugs of suspected .45 caliber pistol.

This is the third killing perpetrated by the rebels in the town in August.

The same perpetrators also admitted the killing of incumbent Libas village chief Rhoy Pagapang on August 20 and former San Agustin village chief Agapito Euroba on August 10. The rebels also identified the two village chiefs as alleged military assets.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Army will also probe the killings in the town in coordination with the policemen in the province.

Security is being intensified in the town following the deaths of the two village chiefs, which was considered by Mayor Joselito Malabor as alarming.

BIFF factions clash in Maguindanao town

From the Philippine Star (Aug 29): BIFF factions clash in Maguindanao town

The factions are fighting for areas to extort "protection money" from.
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines—Clashes between rival factions of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Shariff Saydona Mustapha town since Sunday has sent villagers running for their lives.

The groups of Ninio Ebrahim and Commander Bisaya are squabbling for control of areas whose residents they extort "protection money" from.

Local officials in Sitio Nanas, Barangay Pamalian in Shariff Saidona Mustapha town said the groups also clashed on Sunday.

Ebrahim belongs to one of three factions in the BIFF, which all use the black Islamic State flag.

Capt. Arvin Encinas, public affairs officer of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said soldiers had been deployed around the areas where the two groups figured in running firefights to make sure violence does not spill over to more populated areas.

The skirmishes on Sunday forced dozens of families to leave their homes.

The military has yet to validate reports of casualties from the two outlaw groups.

NPA slams warrants vs. VM

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 29): NPA slams warrants vs. VM

The New People’s Army yesterday strongly condemned the issuance of arrest warrants against Moises Padilla Vice Mayor Ella Celestina Garcia-Yulo and her husband for what it alleged to be trumped-up charges brought about by “dirty politics”.

The vice mayor and her husband, Felix Mathias Segundo Feria Yulo III, are facing charges for alleged illegal possession of two .45 caliber pistols and two grenades allegedly seized from them at a police checkpoint at Crossing Magallon, Moises Padilla on Dec. 19, 2017.

La Carlota RTC Branch 63 Judge Cyclamen Jison-Fernandez on August 20, issued warrants of arrest against the Yulos for grenade possession, with no bail recommended, and for gun possession with bail set at P200,000 each.

Their lawyer Karol Joseph Chiu said his clients are innocent of the trumped-up charges filed against them.

Chief Inspector Edfel Balibadlan, Moises Padilla police chief, said yesterday he served the warrants of arrest against the Yulos at their residence in the town on Friday but they were not around.

Based on the warrants issued they will have to arrest the couple if their whereabouts are known, he said.

Ka JB Regalado, NPA Leonardo Panaligan command spokesman, said the Yulos are victims of planted evidence and malicious and fabricated charges by a central Negros mayor.

He also cited SPO1 Joshua Barile who is allegedly facing trumped-up charges following a raid on his residence, ambush attempts on Adrian Villaflor, threats on La Castellana Mayor Rhumyla Nicor-Mangilimutan, and blockades set up against small farmers in central Negros.

Regalado challenged Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. to stand up and take action against the alleged abuses by the central Negros official.

Lorenzana refuses to back Mindanao martial law extension for now

From Rappler (Aug 29): Lorenzana refuses to back Mindanao martial law extension for now

(UPDATED) Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says his position may change in the next few months

UNSURE. DND secretary Delfin Lorenzana attends the senate hearing on the controversial navy frigates deal on February 19, 2018. File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

UNSURE. DND secretary Delfin Lorenzana attends the senate hearing on the controversial navy frigates deal on February 19, 2018. File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

(UPDATED) – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana does not recommend the extension of martial law in Mindanao, the defense chief himself announced on Wednesday, August 29.

"Ngayon (Now), I will not recommend extension," Lorenzana told congressmen during the budget briefing of his department at the House of Representatives.

He was replying to Mindanaoan lawmaker South Cotabato 2nd District Representative Ferdinand Hernandez, who asked whether the Armed Forces "can only do [its] job during martial law."

This is a change to a firmer tune for the defense chief, who earlier said in the same house hearing that he is "not sure" about backing the measure.

Talks of extending martial law began Wednesday morning with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea saying that extension of military rule was an optional response of the government to the Isulan, Sultan Kudarat bombing, which left two dead and at least 35 injured Tuesday evening.

The explosion follows a Basilan bombing on July 31.

The twist: Lorenzana may change his position in the next few months.

"Now I do not know what will happen from now up to the end of the year..If they (terrorists) will be able to retrieve more fighters from the outside na pumasok dito (to come here), that remains to be seen," Lorenzana said.

The defense secretary noted, however, that extending martial law needs to be done with caution.

"It's because martial law is like the last, the extreme measure that the government uses. I think it should not be used lightly if we don't need to use it," Lorenzana said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Is martial law effective? Lorenzana said that martial law is, so far, "working" in Mindanao.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Carlito Galvez noted a spike in the confiscation of loose firearms, and the apprehension and surrender of more communist rebels.

Lorenzana added that even "the citizenry" and local officials of Mindanao have so far given positive feedback since the enforcement of military rule triggered by the Marawi siege in May 2017.

"Martial law is actually a good tool that local ofoficials can use also because there are some towns and cities that enfroce curfew. In the cities, we let them decide whether they will effect curfews," Lorenzana said.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde earlier expressed openness about the measure. When asked for Albayalde's stand, he said "Why not?"

Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile made an early warning, saying that martial law does not stop terrorism.

Martial law in Mindanao is valid until December 31, 2018.

3 Communist fighters surrender in Bukidnon

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 30): 3 Communist fighters surrender in Bukidnon

Three more New People’s Army fighters surrendered to the government troops under the 403rd Infantry Brigade in Bukidnon over the weekend.

Capt. Norman Tagros, the civil-military operations officer of 403rd IB,
identified them only as alias Milit and alias Bugoy, members of the Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad and Militia ng Bayan of the Guerrilla Front 68, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

They brought with them one cal. 30 M2 Carbine, an M79 grenade launcher, and live ammunition when they presented themselves to the 1st Special Forces Battalion at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25.

Meanwhile, alias Jordan also brought along his M2 Garand rifle with bullets around 9 p.m. on Sunday. He was also part of the same unit as the two fighters, said Tagros.

Based on their record, a total of nine rebels already surrendered for the past week alone as the 403rd Infantry Brigade continues to intensify its focused military operations against the remaining rebels in the province.

In a statement, Brig. Gen. Eric C. Vinoya, the commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, urged the remaining members of the NPA to lay down their arms and avail of the assistance provided by the government.

“We would like to reassure our brothers and sisters who still remain deceived by the CPP-NPA leaders that the government puts premium on their welfare and well-being when they decide to embrace peace and go back to the folds of the law,” Vinoya said.

“They should avail of the benefits of this program now or else they will continue to suffer from hunger and hardships in the mountains as we will have not let up in our focused military operations against this terrorist group,” he added.

Isulan IED targets Army personnel – police

From MindaNews (Aug 29): Isulan IED targets Army personnel – police

Police hinted that the deadly bomb that exploded Tuesday night in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat was intended for Army personnel deployed along the Isulan-Tacurong highway.

Chief Insp. Celestino Daniel, of the Isulan PNP, said a military truck where several soldiers were onboard was the actual target of the improvised explosive device (IED) planted near the motorbike parked just in front of “ukay-ukay” (used clothing) stalls.

Daniel, in an interview with several media outlets, said he used as basis for his statement the information they gathered from the area.

But the suspects missed because they failed to trigger the bomb at the time the truck passed by along the highway, said the official.

Among those wounded during the blast were members of the Philippine Army, which included Master Sgt. Capilitan of the 39th Infantry Battalion, and Sgt. Timjar Hambali of the 33rd Infantry Battalion. Both were assigned as part of the augmentation force tasked to secure the town’s foundation anniversary celebration, according to Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, spokesperson for the Police Region Office (PRO) 12.

The Army has yet to issue a statement as regards the incident.

Aside from the Army, also deployed in the area were personnel from PRO-12.

Gonzales admitted they did not expect the bombing because of the tight security they employed since the opening of the week-long festivities.

“We had an augmentation. In fact, there were AFP personnel that kept watch. Unfortunately, despite the full deployment, we say, our enemies were able to penetrate the area,” said Gonzales in an interview over the Catholic-run DXND.

The blast killed two people, including a seven-year-old girl, and wounded 37 others, one of them still in critical condition, reports said.

Killed were identified as Devey Shane Alayon, 7, from Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat; and Leni Ombrog, 52, from Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

BIFF behind Isulan blast, says Army

From MindaNews (Aug 29): BIFF behind Isulan blast, says Army

The military has blamed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) for the bombing in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat Tuesday night that claimed the lives of two people and injured 35 others.

Capt. Arvin Encinas, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, said there was no doubt that the BIFF was behind the bombing in its campaign to sow terror among the people.

“Prior to that incident, we have already monitored their plan to conduct terror attacks,” claimed Encinas.

The BIFF, however, denied involvement in the bombing. BIFF spokesperson Abu Misry Mama said it was actually a ploy of the military.

Encinas said the bomb, placed near a parked motorcycle, exploded in front of the J and H Marketing along the national highway in Barangay Kalawag 3, near the “ukay-ukay” area (stalls selling second hand items).

Isulan is celebrating its 61st anniversary and activities have been lined up for the 7th Hamungaya Festival this week. Tuesday’s schedule included a Family Day and Farmers’ Day.

The two fatalities in the bombing were seven-year-old Devey Shane Alayon, of Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat, and Leni Ombrog, 52, of Isulan.

Nezel Alayon, mother of Devey Shane, is seeking justice and called on authorities to catch the perpetrators.

She said they were buying a comforter while Devey Shane was walking around. “My brother was also nearby, but when the bomb exploded, he was not hurt. It was my daughter who got hit,” Nezel narrated.

Military vows to crush BIFF in wake of deadly blast

From MindaNews (Aug 29): Military vows to crush BIFF in wake of deadly blast

Military operations against the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Central Mindanao will continue until they could be paralyzed from carrying out terroristic activities, authorities vowed on Wednesday.

Capt. Arvin Encinas, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, issued the pronouncement as he blamed the BIFF for Tuesday night’s bombing in nearby Isulan, the capital of Sultan Kudarat province, that killed two civilians and wounded 35 others.

“These bomb attacks are part of the BIFF’s retaliation against the military for the losses they suffered from the hands of our troops. It is unfortunate that their retaliation did not spare innocent civilians,” Encinas said in a phone interview.

He said that since the start of the year, at least 40 BIFF members were killed in separate armed confrontations with soldiers in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces, a claim that could not be independently verified in the absence of actual body counts.

In June, Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, 6th Infantry Division commander, said that troops dismantled a BIFF bomb-making facility in Maguindanao province.

The BIFF is known to have been trained by top Malaysian terror suspect Zulkipli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in making improvised explosive device.

Marwan was killed in 2015 after a police operation in Mamasapano town that left 44 members of the elite Special Action Forces dead after clashing with members of the BIFF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The BIFF broke away from the MILF in 2010 due to ideological differences, particularly after the latter opted for greater autonomy instead of an independent Islamic state.

Encinas said the BIFF has splintered into three factions, each with an estimated 60 fully armed members or a total of 180.

The faction led by Abu Turaife had pledged allegiance and is allegedly getting financial support from the Islamic State, Encinas said.

He identified the two other BIFF factions as led by Commander Bongos and Ustadz Karialan.

Two suspects allegedly belonging to the Bongos faction perpetrated Tuesday night’s deadly command-detonated bomb attack, Encinas said.

Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office-12, said the bomb exploded during the opening day for Isulan’s 7th Hamungaya Festival and 61st foundation day on August 30, which Malacañang declared a holiday so that residents can join in the merry-making.

He said that another bomb was also found and detonated shortly after the deadly blast.

Unlike his military counterpart, Gonzales, in a separate interview on Wednesday morning, did not identify the suspects in the deadly blast, saying that investigations are still ongoing.

Gonzales said the region is on red alert, the highest security status, since martial law was imposed last year.

“Please be extra-vigilant and report to authorities suspicious individuals and abandoned packages,” he appealed to the public.

Islamic State claims deadly Philippine bombing

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 29): Islamic State claims deadly Philippine bombing

The Islamic State on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the deadly motorcycle bombing in the southern Filipino town of Isulan in Sultan Kudarat province.

The powerful explosion had killed at least 2 persons and left nearly three dozen people wounded. SITE Intelligence also reported that IS’ East Asia Province claimed bombing Filipino soldiers in Isulan.

The blast Tuesday evening coincided with the town’s 61st founding anniversary and occurred while the whole region is under martial rule. The motorcycle was parked along the highway near several shops in Kalawag village when it exploded around 8.30 p.m. and two other improvised explosives were recovered not far from the area.

At least 35 people wounded in the blast were rushed to hospitals. And an adult and child died from the bombing.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or BIFF whose leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the daring attack.

The BIFF, whose members were mostly former Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters, is one of several pro-IS militant groups fighting for the establishment of a caliphate on Mindanao.

Security forces have been fighting militant groups in the southern region the past years. The blast occurred following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to the armed forces to crush terrorism.

Just last month, a Moroccan ISIS soldier Abu Katheer al Maghribi, exploded his van filled with explosives in Lamitan City in the volatile Muslim province of Basilan, several nautical miles south of Zamboanga. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the July 31 suicide attack that left over a dozen casualties.

In a post on its Amaq News Agency, the Islamic State said a Moroccan man carried out the daring assault against Filipino soldiers and identified the executor of the suicide bombing as Abu Katheer al Maghribi. “A martyrdom attack leads to 15 Filipino soldiers being killed in the city of Lamitan on the island of Basilan in the southern Philippines,” it said.

Philippine authorities said 12 people were killed when a car bomb exploded at a security checkpoint after government militias stopped the suspicious vehicle in Bulanting village, about 2 kilometers away from downtown Lamitan. The province is also a known stronghold of the militant group Abu Sayyaf whose leaders also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Several foreign fighters had been killed in clashes with soldiers in Basilan in recent years. The military earlier urged the public to be on alert and stay vigilant at all times following attempts by pro-ISIS militants to bomb civilian targets in the restive southern region.

'Powerful explosion': Sultan Kudarat blast toll rises to 2

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): 'Powerful explosion': Sultan Kudarat blast toll rises to 2

ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat -- Another victim of a deadly explosion here on Tuesday night died before dawn today, August 29, raising the death toll to two, police said.

Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, speaking for the Regional Police Office in Region 12 (PRO-12), said 39 victims have been rushed to various hospitals after a bomb laden-motorbike parked beside a row of “ukay-ukay” (second-hand clothing) stalls exploded in Barangay Kalawag 3 at 8:34 p.m.

Of the number, two have died, 37 were confined to various hospitals.  

The blast site was brimming with shoppers amid the celebration for the town's foundation day and its Hamungaya Festival, which began Monday and set to conclude on Thursday.

Gonzales identified the fatalities as 7-year-old Davy Shane Alayon of Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat town, and Lenie Ombrog, 52 of Barangay Kalawag here.

Among the injured were M/Sgt. Melchor Capilitan and Sgt. Timjar Hambali of the Army's 33rd Infantry Battalion; 25-year old Welmark John Lapidez of Barangay Masiag here, who is listed as critically wounded; and Pastor Raymundo Malves, 60.

“Most of the victims are already out of the hospital,” Mayor Marites Pallasigue of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat said. “Those with serious leg injuries remain at the Isulan Kudarat provincial hospital.”

Francis Suerte, 26, of Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat, said he was one of the hundreds of customers at the ukay-ukay area when the bomb exploded. 

'Powerful explosion'

“Very powerful explosion. I dropped and crawled my way out of the pile of used clothing,” Suerte said, adding he was only some three meters from the parked motorbike where the bomb was placed.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bomb attack, the deadliest in the series of attempts attributed to the IS linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the Army's 6th Infantry Division, said the KM-450 military vehicle parked nearby shielded from the blast other people milling around the ukay-ukay stores.

“The KM 450 absorbed much of the shrapnel, saving many other civilians who flocked to see the Hamungaya Festival of Isulan,” Encinas said. 

“The blast protective cover installed on sides of KM 450 had protected the troops from serious injuries,” Encinas added.

Isulan, the capital of Sultan Kudarat province, is celebrating its 61st founding anniversary and the 7th Hamungaya Festival.

Military and police sources said they are initially looking at the possibility that BIFF was responsible for the attack.

Encinas pointed out that the ISIS-inspired BIFF group of Sulaiman Tudon had repeatedly attempted to send improvised bombs to Tacurong and Isulan after the group’s attempt to sow terror in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao was thwarted in July this year.

Encinas and Gonzales said the investigation is still ongoing as of posting time.

Coast Guard beefs up security in Zamboanga port

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Coast Guard beefs up security in Zamboanga port

The Philippine Coastguard has beefed up security at the port of Zamboanga following the powerful bomb explosion that killed two people and injured 37 others on Tuesday in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat. In photo are PCG K9 unit conducting an inspection on the baggage of arriving passengers on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy: Zamboanga Coastguard Station) 

ZAMBOANGA CITY-- The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has beefed up security at the local port to ensure the safety of the traveling public in this part of the country.

This came after a powerful bomb explosion that killed two people and injured 37 others, including two soldiers, on Tuesday night in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

Lt. Commander Noriel Ramos, Zamboanga Coastguard Station commander, said K9 units have been deployed to assist his personnel in the conduct of inspection of inbound baggage and cargo.

Ramos said out-bound baggage pass through the x-ray security scanner at the passenger terminal buildings. He said onboard inspection before the departure of a vessel is also strictly implemented with the assistance of K9 units.

“We cannot be complacent since the threat is always there and lawless elements are just waiting for the opportune time to strike. That’s why we have to strengthen the security for the safety of the traveling public,” he said.

Ramos called on passengers to cooperate with authorities for their own safety and protection.

“Our port security includes all aspects of it like passenger and cargo inspections, profiling and intelligence gathering against suspected terrorists, explosives and other contraband items in transit using sea crafts,” he said.

The port of Zamboanga serves thousands of passengers daily traveling from and to the nearby province and as far as the Visayas and Luzon. It also serves travelers to Malaysia as a locally-owned shipping firm plies weekly the Zamboanga-Sandakan route.

P1-M reward up for arrest of Isulan blast suspects

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): P1-M reward up for arrest of Isulan blast suspects

ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat -- The provincial government has offered a PHP1-million reward for the arrest of individuals behind the bomb attack here on Tuesday night that left two persons dead and more than 30 others wounded.

Gov. Sultan Pax Mangudadatu said Wednesday the reward money will be given to anyone who can provide information that would lead to the arrest of “all those behind” the deadly blast.

Mangudadatu said the local government will provide all the necessary resources to speed up the resolution of the case.

“Let’s all pray that these perpetrators will be captured soon,” he told reporters after visiting the wounded victims at the provincial hospital here.

Mangudadatu strongly condemned the incident, which happened three days before the culmination of the town’s 7th Hamungaya Festival and the province's 61st foundation anniversary celebration.

He said the incident was “very painful” for the province and called it a “barbaric act perpetrated by animals.”

The explosion occurred at around 8:34 p.m. near the “ukay-ukay” stalls located in front of the J&H Marketing along the national highway in Barangay Kalawag 3.

A police report said an “unidentified suspect approached two unsuspecting CAA (Cafgu Active Auxiliary) members posted in the area and slowly planted an IED (improvised explosive device) placed inside a black bag under a parked motorcycle.”

Two more explosives were recovered near the blast site and later disarmed by responding explosive ordnance disposal personnel.

The governor said the provincial government will shoulder all the medical needs of the wounded victims and assist the families of fatalities Davy Shane Alayon, 7, of Bagumbayan town and Lenie Ombrog, 52, of Barangay Sampao here.

As of noon, at least 22 of the wounded individuals remained in various hospitals here and in the cities of Tacurong and General Santo while 15 others had already been discharged.

Victim Welmark John Lapidez, 23, who was listed in critical condition, was transferred Wednesday morning to the General Santos Doctor’s Hospital.

“We’re planning to transfer those remaining who are in serious condition to private hospitals that have more complete facilities,” Mangudadatu said.

Meantime, Isulan Mayor Marites Pallasigue said they canceled all the remaining activities of the festivity due to security concerns.

Pallasigue said they will just hold a simple anniversary mass and prayer for the victims at the municipal gymnasium.

“We made this decision upon consultations with our barangay and school officials, and our military and police authorities,” Pallasigue said.

MILF condemns Isulan bombing

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): MILF condemns Isulan bombing

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) condemned Tuesday night’s Isulan, Sultan Kudarat bombing that killed two and left 37 other victims wounded, describing it as the handiwork of “spoilers of peace.”

“We condemned it. It is the handiwork of bloody-minded people and it serves no purpose,” Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF negotiator, told reporters here Wednesday. Without divulging any name, Iqbal said the bombing bore the signature style of an Islamic State-inspired group.

“Those who executed the attack were peace spoilers,” he said. Iqbal said they would help government forces in any capacity that they can to provide information about the people behind the attack.

The MILF is working for the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law last July 27 to replace the decades-old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao set-up, after a plebiscite that would be held later this year.

This developed as the military here has initially pointed to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as responsible for the attack.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesman, said the IS-linked BIFF faction of Sulaiman Tudon had repeatedly attempted to send improvised bombs to the neighboring areas of Isulan and Tacurong City the past several months, which have all been thwarted by authorities.

31 MNLF stopped at Davao checkpoint for refusing inspection

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): 31 MNLF stopped at Davao checkpoint for refusing inspection

Thirty-one members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) were invited by the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) to its headquarters for refusing inspection during a road-clearing drive at the Sirawan checkpoint on Wednesday.

Davao City Police Office (DCPO) spokesperson Maria Theresita Gaspan said the 31 MNLF members were flagged down by HPG members during the  “Oplan Clean Clear Drive” at the Task Force Sirawan checkpoint area for violation of Republic Act 4136, or the Land Transportation Code.

“When asked to be inspected they refused that is why they were brought to HPG for violation of the traffic code,” Gaspan said, adding the MNLF members finally relented when asked again for their vehicle to be inspected.

Gaspan explained that the operation was part of DCPO’s security measures, reminding the public that Mindanao is still under martial law.

She added that it is also a preventive measure following the bombing in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on Tuesday.

After the inspection, Gaspan said the 31 MNLF members were released.

Navy important in PH strategic player bid in Asia-Pacific region

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Navy important in PH strategic player bid in Asia-Pacific region

The Philippine Navy (PN) is important to the country's bid to become a strategic player in the Asia-Pacific Region.

In line with this initiative, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana challenged the PN leadership to see to it that the Navy is prepared to conduct operations in its traditional and non-traditional role.

"Let me challenge the PN's leadership and naval planners to see to it that our Navy is prepared to engage in future naval operations, both in the navy's traditional and non-traditional roles," he added.

Lorenzana said that the PN will be playing a vital role in the projection of the country's defense posture.

The DND chief also said the PN's first time participation in the just-concluded "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC) exercises in Hawaii signifies a new era in its maritime operational engagement, cooperation and interoperability with other Navies allowing it to tackle areas of common concern.

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 August 2.

"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.

To this end, the DND chief said efforts will continue on acquiring more assets for the PN to make it stronger and more credible.

PNP bares guns, big bikes in P2-B capability enhancement program

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): PNP bares guns, big bikes in P2-B capability enhancement program

NEW FIREARMS. Top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) led by Director General Oscar Albayalde lead the inspection and blessing of more than 17,000 firearms procured through the PNP's Capacility Enhancement Program in Camp Crame on Wednesday (Aug. 29, 2018). (PNA photo by Benjamin Pulta)
The Philippine National Police (PNP) entered into service more than 17,000 of its next generation firearms mostly made in Israel and Turkey.

In a ceremony in Camp Crame Wednesday, the PNP bared its newly-acquired equipment under its Capability Enhancement Program.

These include 8,170 units of caliber 5.56mm Galil Ace 22N assault rifle; 4,933 units 5.56 Emtan assault rifles; 1,920 Masada striker fired 9-mm pistola and Negev light machine guns in 7.62mm caliber (231 units) and 5.56mm (320 units).

Likewise acquired were 10,000 units of the Turkish-made Canik TP9SF Elite-S 9mm pistol, which is gaining popularity in the United States.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said "the basic assault rifles and light machine gun will be issued to mobile forces and Maritime Group while the pistols will be issued to new recruits as well as the PNP SAF for their capability enhancement on internal security operations equipage".

The Negev machine guns were specifically designed for requirements of special operations units in urban situations.Most of the were configured with Picatinny rails for accessory expansion such as lights.

Aside from the firearms, likewise entering the service are 310 units of 650cc Kawasaki Versys for the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) and Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG) which is expected to "enhance operational readiness and police visibility during their day to day police operation".

PNP Deputy Director Archie Francisco Gamboa and the members of the National Headquarters Bids and Awards Committee (NHQBAC) presented the new equipment which has a total contract price of PHP2.146 billion.

The equipment were successfully procured under the Capacility Enhancement Program (CEP) funds for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

PH military observers to be deployed to Russia

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): PH military observers to be deployed to Russia

Military observers might be deployed to Russia next year to determine what kind of training exercises Filipino troops can participate in.

This comes after Russian defense officials extended an invitiation to the Philippines during the visit of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's to Moscow last week.

"Inimbita tayo (We were invited), taon-taon meron silang ginagawang (they have an annual) Army training, meron silang (they have) Special Forces (and) Ranger training, shooting, meron pa nga culinary exhibition sila eh, mga pagluluto (they even have culinary exhibition, cooking activities)," Lorenzana said.

In line with this invitation, the DND chief said it is likely that observers will be deployed to Russia to witness trainings and determine which are apt for Filipino troops.

"Siguro (Maybe) next year, magpadala tayo ng observer(s) muna (upang malaman) kung talaga bang kailangan natin yung training (at) marami naman tayong matututuhan sa kanila (we will send observers first to determine whether we need these types of training and also to learn from them)," Lorenzana added.

The DND chief visited Moscow on the invitation of Russian Defense Minister and General of the Army Sergey Shoygu.

Lorenzana left for Russia last Aug. 16 and arrived in the Philippines on August 24.

The defense chief said he met with Shoygu last Aug. 21 at the Army Forum and Exhibition.

Last Aug. 22, Lorenzana also had a short meeting ith Deputy Minister Colonel General Alexander Fomin at the Ministry of Defense building.

"Napag-usapan namin ang (We spoke about) military-to-military relations, palitan ng mga sundalo sa (exchange of soldiers for) military training, port visits of (Philippine) Navy ships to Vladivostok, participation in military exercises," Lorenzana earlier said.

Mindanao police on full alert following Sultan Kudarat blast

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Mindanao police on full alert following Sultan Kudarat blast

Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde placed police units in Mindanao on full alert status on Wednesday following the bomb explosion at a night market in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat that killed two people and hurt 36 others Tuesday.

"Effective this morning police units in Mindanao are on full alert status, ito ang tugon until matapos ang martial law," Albayalde told reporters and explained that Manila police units are now under "heightened alert" status following the incident which involved an explosive placed inside a motorbike parked in front of a local establishment in Barangay Kalawag, Isulan.

A full alert status suspends all leave-absences by police personnel and territorial police units must be ready for 100-percent deployment.

Albayalde added that a group has already claimed responsibility for the attack but said the police are still conducting post-blast investigation. "Unang-una mayroon group na nag claim. We believe that it is a terror attack," he added.

"Isa (ito) sa mga threat groups na binabantayan natin sa group," Albayalde said, adding that the group is not a new one.

The PNP chief said the incident underscores the need to strengthen intelligence gathering on enemies of the state and improving checkpoint activities in the area.

Hidilyn Diaz promoted to sergeant for gold medal win

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Hidilyn Diaz promoted to sergeant for gold medal win

For winning the country's first gold medal in the 53-kg weightlifting category in the ongoing Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia, Airwoman 1st Class Hidilyn Diaz was promoted to the next rank (sergeant) effective Tuesday.

The promotion was based on Special Order Number 475 and subjected to the Enlisted Personnel Promotion System in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Air Force spokesperson Maj. Aris Galang said Wednesday.

She was also awarded with a plaque of recognition for extra-ordinary and distinguished achievement, along with an Outstanding Achievement Medal with First Bronze Anahaw Leaf.

Aside from these awards, Diaz and two other Air Force weightlifter participants in the Asian Games, Airman 2nd Class Jeffrey Garcia and Airman 2nd Class Nestor Colonia, were given motorcade from Villamor Air Base's Gate One to the Philippine Air Force Gymnasium.

Present during the ceremonies honoring Diaz and her two companions were PAF commander Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Hidilyn, a silver medalist in the 2016 Olympics, bagged the Philippines’ first gold medal in the Asian Games capturing the women’s 53-kg event on the 115 Clean and Jerk categories for a total of 207 kilograms.

Palace backs 'option' to extend martial law

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Palace backs 'option' to extend martial law

Malacañang on Wednesday said it shares the view of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to extend martial law in Mindanao in the wake of the bombing in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat that killed two people and injured 36 others.

In a chance interview at the House of Representatives (HOR), Medialdea said extending martial law is an “option,” noting that the government could not “just sit around” and do nothing.

“That’s ES (Executive Secretary) speaking. Same view,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a text message.

Roque, meanwhile, condemned the bombing and vowed that the government will bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Kinokondena natin iyan…Pero ang pangako po ng ating Pangulo, ang Mindanao po ay nasa martial law pa rin at gagawin po nating lahat para malaman kung sino ang nasa likod nitong pambobomba (We condemn that…But the promise of our President, since Mindanao is still under martial law, we will do everything to find out who is behind this bombing),” Roque said in a radio interview over dzRH.

“Parurusahan po natin iyan, ipaparamdam po natin sa kanila ang lakas ng ating mga batas (We will punish them, we will make them feel how strong our laws are),” he added.

He said the government continues to hold partners in Mindanao in “good faith” following President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) last July 26.

BOL, or Republic Act 11054, seeks to establish a new Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Formerly known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the BOL is premised on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a signed peace deal.

The law is part of the Duterte administration’s effort to achieve national rapprochement with the Moro rebel groups.

“Sa ngayong po we would like to be in good faith to all our partners diyan sa Mindanao (At present, we would like to be in good faith with all our partners there in Mindanao),” Roque said.

Roque said authorities are now investigating the incident noting that the government will apply the full force of the law.

Reports showed that the blast took place 8:34 p.m. Tuesday, when an improvised explosive device exploded in front of J and H Marketing along the national highway in Barangay Kalawag 3, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City. It was extended by Congress at the President’s request and will end on December 31, 2018.

BIFF behind Isulan blast: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): BIFF behind Isulan blast: AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has tagged the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the improvised explosive device (IED) attack that killed two persons and wounded 37 others in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat Tuesday night.

"We believe that the terrorist group BIFF is the primary suspect behind this atrocity. They are the only ones who have the strongest evil desire to initiate this kind of attack that victimizes innocent civilians and disrupt peace," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said in a press briefing Wednesday.

He is basing this on the pattern and prior intelligence reports that claimed the terrorists will conduct bombing attacks in the general area of Isulan.

"That they are going to conduct bombings in the general area. Actually general area lang ang mga intelligence reports natin. So that is why we are on the alert. Kaya nga may natamaan siya na isang (That is why it hit a) KM-450 truck na nasa (which is in the) vicinity doing mobile patrol pero hindi na-wounded yung mga sundalong sakay dahil merong blast protection yung KM-450 (but the soldiers aboard the KM-450 were not wounded because it has blast protection)," Detoyato emphasized.

The AFP official added that Tuesday's blast is the third for Isulan, adding that the security forces have previously intercepted two attempts, due to timely warning by informants and civilians.

When asked why Isulan is constantly targeted by the terrorists, Detoyato said it is because of the economic improvements in the area.

"Historical kasi yan (That is historical). Isulan, historically, palagi nilang tina-target (has become their target) because of the economic improvement. (Also, it is) mostly populated by non-Muslim believers. So nilalagyan nila ng anggulo ng (They are inserting an angle) of religion that is why Isulan (ang) tina-target nila (they target Isulan)," he added.

The AFP public affairs office chief declined to give the names of the possible masterminds as operations are still ongoing.

"Right now, we have no particular names na ire-release (to release), di ba meron tayong ongoing (operations) laban sa kanila? (Don't we have ongoing operations against them?)," he added.

Also, the IED composition is still undergoing investigation to determine its exact component, Detoyato stressed.

The AFP official also scored the BIFF for targeting civilians in the Isulan attack.

"Kung may tunay silang pinaglalaban (If they are really fighting for something valuable), why victimize civilians? If they are true warriors, come out and face the Armed Forces," Detoyato said.

He added that they are now coordinating with the Philippine National Police in Sultan Kudarat regarding the investigation.

"The AFP will continue to support the local government of Isulan in its security operations in the area to ensure the safety and security of our citizens and maintain peace especially during public activities and celebrations," Detoyato said.

In the wake of the IED attack, the AFP official urged all peace-loving citizens in Sultan Kudarat to be vigilant and report to authorities any suspicious individuals or packages to prevent a similar incident from happening.

"Your utmost cooperation is an added strength to our police and soldiers designated to facilitate the security of Isulan and the province of Sultan Kudarat," Detoyato added.

PNP chief open to Mindanao martial law extension

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): PNP chief open to Mindanao martial law extension

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde is open to the possibility of extending martial law in Mindanao following the deadly explosion in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

Albayalde made the comment in reaction to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea's statement that the martial law extension may be an "option" in the wake of the Sultan Kudarat blast that left at least two people dead and over 30 injured.

"Kung ako wala naman kasing masamang idinudulot ang martial law doon. I think, it's part of peace and security doon sa area. And in fact, nakakabuti siguro doon sa economic development doon sa lugar na yun. Then why not, (For me, nothing bad happened with the imposition of martial law there. I think, it's part of peace and security in the area. And in fact, it has probably improved the economic development of the area. Then why not?)," Albayalde told reporters after attending a budget hearing at the House of Representatives.

When asked if the imposition of martial law is ineffective given such incident occurred, Albayalde said the lack of military rule might even worsen the situation.

"Hindi naman siguro (I don't think it's [ineffective]). Probably baka kung walang martial law baka mas marami pa yan (maybe there would be more [attacks] without martial law)," Albayalde said.

Albayalde said security forces are on full alert status amid the prevailing martial law in the southern region.

"Because of the incident, whether it's martial law or not, we made our forces there on full alert status already," Albayalde said.

Albayalde, during the budget briefing of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, cited the need to improve intelligence gathering capability to prevent such "incidents from happening." He left the hearing early to catch his flight to Sultan Kudarat.

Reports showed that the blast happened around 8:34 p.m. Tuesday, when an improvised explosive device went off in front of J and H Marketing along the national highway in Barangay Kalawag 3, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City. It was extended by Congress at the President’s request and will end on Dec. 31, 2018.

PH gets bulk of US security funding to Southeast Asia

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): PH gets bulk of US security funding to Southeast Asia

The Philippines will be getting the largest chunk from the USD300-million security funding of the United States to Southeast Asia, a senior official from the State Department revealed Wednesday.

"The Secretary announced in Singapore we have close to USD300 million in security assistance, (and) the country that receives the largest chunk as far as I understand is the Philippines," said Walter Douglas, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

"We're looking at about USD60 million of that USD300 million to come to he Philippines," he added.

Douglas said this amount already means "something," but it's more of a recognition to the "longterm partnership" Washington has with Manila on the security front.

"That will cover all sorts of area (from) peacekeeping, maritime domain awareness, and all sorts of area we think we could work very well with the Philippines."

On the sidelines of a meeting with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers in early August, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged to provide at least USD300 million in fresh security funding for the region.

Last month, the US Embassy in Manila also announced it will contribute USD26.5 million over the next two years to boost counterterrorism support for Philippine law enforcement agencies.

CA affirms dismissal of PCG official over anomalous cash advances

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): CA affirms dismissal of PCG official over anomalous cash advances

The Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the petition of a retired Philippine Coast Guard official seeking to reverse the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman dismissing him from the service over the anomalous utilization of cash advances totaling to PHP689.9 million.

In a 17-page decision dated July 30 penned by Associate Justice Franchito Diamante and concurred by Associate Justices Maria Elisa Sempio Diy and Jose Reyes Jr.,, the CA’s 4th Division upheld the Nov. 22, 2017 decision of the Ombudsman, which found Rear Admiral Cecil Chen guilty of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service - along with 24 other high-ranking officials of the PCG.

The CA said Chen, as a fleet chief and designated special disbursing officer (SDO), has the responsibility and accountability to oversee the proper disbursement of the Special Cash Advances (SCA) released under his name.

“We have judiciously evaluated the records and hereby find that the questioned decision of the Ombudsman is supported by substantial evidence and well within the bounds of law,” the CA ruled.

The CA said the Ombudsman was correct in ruling that Chen and his co-respondents violated COA Circular 97-002, which required that in the request and release of special cash advances, the PCG should have submitted documents such as an authority of accountable officer issued by the head of the agency and the approved application for bond.

The CA added that Chen failed to show proof that previous special cash advances were fully liquidated before additional cash advances were released under his name.

“Herein petition cannot wash his hands off the irregular and illegal manner by which the public funds were disbursed under the excuse that he merely depended on the PCG personnel to ensure the propriety of the disbursements and the liquidation,” the CA declared.

Likewise, the CA said contrary to Chen’s claim that he did not participate in the procurement process, the documents would show that he was part of the procurement proceedings and not a mere approving authority.

“All told, we hereby uphold the ruling of the OMB (Ombudsman) as it was rendered within the bounds of law and supported by substantial and relevant evidence on record,” the CA pointed out.

The Ombudsman, in the said ruling, meted the penalty of dismissal against the PCG officials or a fine equivalent to the salary for one year for respondents who have already retired or separated from the service.

Chen argued that the Ombudsman erred in concluding that he is liable for the alleged irregular grant of cash advance in his capacity as designated special disbursing officer, despite proof that he simply signed a report of disbursement after it had been certified as true and correct by the PCG’s chief accountant.

He also denied having a hand in the canvass, preparation, purchase and receipt of supplies for the PCG.

Chen claimed that all previous cash advances were liquidated before additional cash advances were given to him, and that the questioned disbursements were valid and duly certified by his subordinates and the chief accountant.

The retired PCG official insisted that he cannot be blamed for relying on the representations of his subordinates and that there was no evidence that he participated in the procurement of supplies and materials, as his role was only to sign the report on disbursements and to approve payments.

The case stemmed from an anonymous complaint received by the Ombudsman about the supposed anomalies in the utilization of PCG funds, particularly with respect to the liquidations of cash advances and the reimbursements of expenses for the year 2014 based on the Audit Observation Memorandum issues by the Commission on Audit (COA) on April 15, 2015.

According to the COA report, PCG’s general ledger showed that cash advances granted to 21 SDOs totaled PHP689,640,806 as of December 31, 2014, with total liquidations of PHP633,612,786.

The cash advances were authorized and recommended by then Vice-Admiral Rodolfo Isorena, Captain Joeven Fabul, Commander John Esplana and accounting head Rogelio Caguioa, in their respective capacities as commandant, deputy chief for comptrollership, internal auditor, and accounting head.

Based on COA’s report, the disbursement vouchers showed that they lacked the required office orders duly designating the respective recipients as SDOs.

Aside from some business establishments not being in the addresses indicated in the sales invoices, cash invoices or officials receipts, COA’s validation of liquidation documents also yielded denials from some of the establishments they located, particularly on the issuances of receipts and invoices.

Gov't wants PH-China WPS deal sealed before PRRD term ends

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Gov't wants PH-China WPS deal sealed before PRRD term ends

While China and the Philippines agreed not to rush the negotiations on the joint exploration and development in the West Philippine Sea, the Duterte administration is keen on starting the partnership before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano relayed this to China State Counsellor Wang Yi during his trip to Beijing last week.

"We talked some of the details. We agreed not to have a deadline but we agreed to work on it with an ASAP (as soon as possible) mentality so that we can get it done," he told reporters in an ambush interview on Wednesday.

"Of course, I explained to them that in the Philippines, we have a six-year term. It's difficult when you have projects that will last more than three or four, five years to do it at the end of an administration because we want the people to feel the benefit as soon as possible," he added.

Cayetano said the exploration can be done within a year or less, but the actual development and the putting up of oil rigs will take several years to finish.

"As you know, the exploration can be done quickly, maybe a year or less than a year, but the development, putting up the oil rigs takes several years and we only have (until) 2028 to find replacement and maybe a replacement that can produce even more oil and gas than Malampaya," he said.

In early August, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the establishment of a technical working group (TWG) on the Philippines-China joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

Malacañang is hopeful a draft on the cooperation will be crafted before the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Philippines, which is expected in November.

The TWG will have representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; for oil and gas, the Department of Energy; for security, the Department of National Defense, National Security Council, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

There will also be a legal team, composed of the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General, to advise and help in the negotiation stage.

DWDD: EASTMINCOM@12 | AFP Eastern Mindanao Command Anniversary

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Aug 28): EASTMINCOM@12  |  AFP Eastern Mindanao Command Anniversary

EASTMINCOM@12  |  AFP Eastern Mindanao Command Anniversary

The anniversaries theme: “EMC @ 12: Strengthened by Change and Fortified by Unity in Advancing Security, Peace, and Development for Eastern Mindanao.”


DWDD: EASTMINCOM@12 | PRRD leads AFP Eastern Mindnao Command Anniversary

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Aug 28): EASTMINCOM@12  |  PRRD leads AFP Eastern Mindnao Command Anniversary

NAVAL STATION FELIX APOLINARIO, Panacan, Davao City (DWDD) – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte graced the 12th anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) at the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM), Naval Station Felix Apolinario (NSFA) in Panacan, Davao City on August 23, 2018.

In the event, President Duterte views the display of 1,018 recovered and surrendered firearms within the area of responsibility of the EASTMINCOM.

The Chief Executive also led the awarding of the Order of Lapu-Lapu, medals and plaques to various military personnel and stakeholders.

The anniversaries theme: “EMC @ 12: Strengthened by Change and Fortified by Unity in Advancing Security, Peace, and Development for Eastern Mindanao.”






President Duterte salutes the awardees during the EMC anniversary.


President Duterte awards the Kalinaw Plaque to the 1001IB Commander Colonel Gilbert Saret

President Duterte leads the inspection of the firearms recovered from the New People’s Army

President Duterte gives words of encouragement to the New People’s Army surrenderees


President Rodrigo Duterte speaks for the first time with Datu Guibang, the legendary tribal leader in Talaingod-Bukidnon who fought for a long time against the government in his territory due to the New People’s Army’s manipulation, and has now sworn allegiance with the government.

Lt Gen Benjie Rasgo Madrigal Jr., Commander, AFP Eastern Mindanao Command.