Friday, September 14, 2018

DWDD: BREAKING | Gov’t Troops engage ASG in Patikul, Sulu

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Sep 15): BREAKING  |  Gov’t Troops engage ASG in Patikul, Sulu

CAMP TEODULFO BAUTISTA STATION HOSPITAL, Jolo, Sulu (DWDD) – 17 soldiers were wounded in an encounter with the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in Patikul, Sulu.

According to initial reports, there are seven (7) terrorist ASG confirmed killed in the engagement. Their cadavers are currently at the morgue of Camp Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital in Jolo, Sulu.

Meanwhile, the wounded soldiers are recuperating at the same medical facility and all were declared out of danger.

Operations are on-going. MCAG

DWDD: SAVED | 28IB rescued abandoned wounded NPA

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Sep 15): SAVED  |  28IB rescued abandoned wounded NPA


NAVAL STATION FELIX APOLINARIO, Panacan, Davao City (DWDD) – A wounded New People’s Army (NPA) member who was abandoned by his companions after an encounter was rescued by troops of 28th Infantry “Kamagong” Battalion (IB) at the vicinity of Barangay. Maragatas, Lupon, Davao Oriental on September 14, 2018, 09:00 am.

The rescue came after the community reported the presence of a wounded NPA, which prompted the Local Government Unit in the said municipality and members of 28IB to take action and rescue the said person.

The wounded NPA identified as Jason Languban, who hails from Sta. Cruz, Davao Del Sur, was brought immediately to Camp Panacan Station Hospital in Davao City for initial medical treatment after being rescued.

After the initial treatment, he was evacuated to Southern Philippines Medical Center, Davao City for further medical intervention.

Accordingly, the NPA was wounded in an encounter between troops of 28IB and NPA terrorists in Barangay Maragatas on September 13, 2018, which also resulted to one soldier killed-in-action and four wounded-in-action.

Languban was lying in a banana plantation when he was found by the rescuing troops and members of the community. Video Courtesy: Cpt. Virgel Amor Vallejos / MCAG

‘We have no information on joint military exercises’

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 15): ‘We have no information on joint military exercises’

Law enforcement agencies yesterday said they had no knowledge about alleged joint Philippine-US military exercises in the airspace of Negros Island after a person reported a low-flying aircraft that led to false radio reports that a plane had crashed in the Occidental side Thursday.

The Army, Police and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines national spokesperson all denied knowledge of such joint exercises, and stressed that no crash had occurred.

CAAP national spokesperson Eric Apolonio, Col. Alberto Desoyo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, and Senior Supt, Rodolfo Castil, Negros Occidental police director, all said they had not received any information about joint military operations.

Bacolod-Silay Airport CAAP public information officer Ofelia Leonardo told MBC Aksyon Radyo that the CAAP national office had transmitted to them information on ongoing military exercises in some portions of Negros Occidental and Oriental, that started from Sept. 5 to Sept. 26.

The planes involved in the exercise were flying at 5,000 feet from the surface, which appeared to be low, Leonardo said. That could be why, they were saying that there was a plane crash, she told Aksyon Radyo.

We assure the public that there was no accident involving any aircraft in Negros Occidental, Leonardo said.

The military exercises are held between 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., she added.

A media advisory from CAAP-Bacolod Silay Airport, which was relayed by the Philippine Information Agency to the media, stressed that no plane crash had occurred.

False news of a plane crash in Negros Occidental kept some policemen awake until past midnight Thursday trying to verify the veracity of the report, Castil said.

Castil said he had goose bumps upon hearing reports that a Cebu Pacific passenger plane had crashed in Negros, but the airline denied it had any missing planes.

He said policemen in Isabela and Moises Padilla in Negros Occidental checked on radio reports of the crash and were told there was none and only a low flying aircraft was seen.

The Moises Padilla police chief had no sleep trying to ascertain the veracity of the report and other police stations also checked in their areas, he said

RMN Iloilo had reported that a passenger plane crashed in Negros on its Facebook page late Thursday night that quickly spread on the internet and caused some people to panic.

RMN Iloilo later posted on its FB page that no crash had occurred, and that a low flying aircraft was mistakenly believed by residents to have crashed.

The local chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines yesterday said it is reminding colleagues in Negros Occidental to observe accuracy in their news reports.

This was after reports that a passenger plane that crashed in a town of Negros Occidental Thursday night, went viral online, and caused panic among residents and netizens, it said

NJUP -Bacolod chairperson, Marchel Espina, in a statement, said: “We have to remember there’s a threat to free press, especially the proliferation of ‘fake news,’ that sole purpose of which is to discredit the legitimate news outlets,” Espina said.

“Journalists should not be peddlers of misinformation,” she added.

“We have to ensure credibility, balance, and accuracy in our reporting,” she added.

Espina said she understands the tight competition among media outlets, but still, “We have a duty to our readers, listeners, viewers, and followers to be responsible.”

Navy team sails back to PH after joining Aussie maritime exercise

From Update Philippines (Sep 15): Navy team sails back to PH after joining Aussie maritime exercise

Bringing home the lessons they learned, a contingent from the Philippine Navy (PN) is set to sail back to the Philippines after their participation in the biennial Multilateral Regional Maritime Exercise codenamed KAKADU 2018 hosted by the Royal Australian Navy, a ranking commander announced Friday.

Capt. Junjie Tabuada, PN Task Force commander for exercise KAKADU, said in a statement that the Navy team developed its teamwork, cooperation, collaboration and guidance from senior leadership after their participation in KAKADU 2018 from August 30 to September 14 in Darwin, the capital of Northern Territory in Australia.

“This exercise tests PN capacity and capability for combined naval operations. It is an honor that we are invited here to participate and we are looking forward to go back here in 2020,” Tabuada said.

The Navy team, onboard BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF16), underwent various multinational maritime activities “to promote greater level of military cooperation among participating nations.”

More than 3,000 personnel, 23 ships from 28 participating nations, a submarine, and 21 aircrafts took part in Australia’s largest maritime exercise, the Australian Navy said.

It added that the participating units spent 3,500 hours at sea and covered 42,000 nautical miles (77,784 km) after a total of 103 activities.

Majority of the trainings were focused on air assets’ surveillance operations where 140 hours were spent, while 54 hours were spent in anti-submarine surface warfare training. Other exercises were replenishments at sea and air defense gunnery.

Rear Adm. Jonathan Mead, commander Australian Fleet, expressed his gratitude to the participating nations, saying their cooperation contributed to the success of the exercise.

“The relationship built here further strengthened Australia’s reputation as a reliable and professional regional partner,” Mead said.

Meanwhile, Vicki O’Halloran, administrator of the Northern Territory, encouraged improvement in the cooperation of nations through its militaries.

2 NPA leaders, one soldier killed in Lupon encounter

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 14): 2 NPA leaders, one soldier killed in Lupon encounter

A team leader and a vice team leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed in a clash with of soldiers from the 28th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Sigang Barangay Maragatas, Lupon, Davao Oriental at 5:10 a.m. yesterday.

Meanwhile, one soldier was also killed and four others wounded during the same encounter.

The dead soldier was identified as Pvt. Joemarie Timothy Estrella. The wounded soldiers, meanwhile, were Pfc. Jobel Gallana Abascar, Pfc. Armand Teclera Polistico, Pvt. Richard Petere Jr, and CAA Ranel Maniques.

The NPAs killed were alias Taniel, team leader of Baking, Segunda, and alias Dagol, vice team leader of Element Abe, both from Section committee 18.

According to Lt. Col Miguel Ramon, the commander of the 28th Infantry Battalion, the soldiers were conducting a routine security patrol after receiving information about the presence of NPAs in the area three days ago.

“They chance upon the armed group then a firefight ensued,” Ramon said.

In a report relayed by Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz, the spokesperson of Police Regional Office XI, the firefight lasted for about 20 minutes after one section of the Charlie Company of the 28th IB encountered an undetermined number of guerrillas.

The battalion commander said the soldiers encountered members of the Section Committee 18 and Pulang Bagani Company (PBC) 6 of the NPA.

Ramon said the soldiers were able also to recover two M16 rifles; one M203 grenade launcher; and one improvised explosive device (IED).

He said it was the fifth clash where his battalion was involved since April this year.

“But in the past month there were no presence in the area as they were moved houses in Compostela Valley,” he added.

“We are saddened by the loss of one soldier but this is the price we pay to fulfill our sworn duty to liberate the community from terrorist fear,” he added.

He said the wounded soldiers were brought to the Camp Panacan station hospital but were transferred to a bigger hospital where they are recuperating.

Eastmincom: 652 Red fighters surrender to army, PNP since January

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 14): Eastmincom: 652 Red fighters surrender to army, PNP since January

Six hundred fifty-two members of the New People’s Army (NPA) already surrendered to the different line units of the Eastern Mindanao command (EastMinCom) from January to September 2018 as a result of their continuous implementation of the Community Support program (CSP).

Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, the spokesperson of Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), said that as of Tuesday, they also recorded 891 members of the Militiang Bayan, the backbone of support for the NPA fighters, who also surrendered to both the army and the police.

Meanwhile, 284 members of the Sangay sa Partido sa Lokalikad (SPL), also called the shadow government established in the rebel-influenced communities, and 7,285 members of the Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) also withdrew their support for the communist movement.

He said all surrenderees will be evaluated to determine if they are eligible for the Comprehensive Local Integration program (CLIP) program, which is implemented together with other local government units.

“For the past week, we haven’t monitored any atrocities in the whole area of EastMinCom,” he added. “As far as the security in EastMinCom we still continue to prevent terrorism in the area amid what happened in Central Mindanao.”

For the past week, Balagtey said they have intensified the security in major cities, particularly in General Santos, Davao City, and Cagayan de Oro city.

“We are happy that with the cooperation of the law enforcement agencies and other sectors of the society, we’re able to prevent the spillover of the terrorism,” he said, as he called on the public to continue to be vigilant and provide law enforcers with crucial information to thwart attacks.

Meanwhile, Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, said they continue to conduct training in the community on combating and countering terrorism.

Fierce clashes in Sulu leave 2 dozen casualties

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 15): Fierce clashes in Sulu leave 2 dozen casualties

Seven alleged Abu Sayyaf militants were killed and 17 soldiers and six Islamists wounded in fierce clashes in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao, officials said Saturday.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said troops clashed Friday afternoon with some 100 militants under Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron and Hajan Sawadjaan in Bakong village in Patikul town.

He said Sawadjaan was among those wounded in the fighting. “Based on the report of Joint Task Force Sulu headed by Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo, seven ASG members were killed, based on body count; and six others were wounded, including Sawadjaan, who was seriously hit in his stomach and lower extremities,” Besana said.

But there was a report in Sulu that those killed by soldiers were all civilians. A post on Facebook by Mahmur Arula ( showed photos of those slain with their families grieving while villagers looked on.

Besana said the fighting stopped after militants – whose leaders have pledged allegiance to ISIS – broke into smaller groups and fled. He said the wounded soldiers were brought to a military base in the capital town of Jolo. “Seventeen soldiers were slightly wounded during the encounter due to shrapnel (caused by explosions),” he said, adding, there could be more enemy casualties, citing intelligence report.

“Cadavers of the slain ASG members were also brought to the said hospital for forensic examination and proper disposition,” Besana added.

Soldiers also recovered an M16 automatic rifle and magazines and ammunition, including a bandolier and a cell phone left behind by militants.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said more soldiers were sent to the area to hunt down the militant. He also praised the troops for the killings of militants. “I commend the troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu for this recent accomplishment. All sorts of assistance will be provided to the battle casualties and our prayers are with them for their speedy recovery,” he said.

The Abu Sayyaf is fighting for the establishment of a caliphate in the troubled, but mineral-rich region of Mindanao.

2 more Abus surrender to Marine troopers in Sulu

From the Zamboanga Today (Apr 14): 2 more Abus surrender to Marine troopers in Sulu

Two more Abu Sayyaf members in Sulu have surrendered to the troops of the Marine Base Landing Team-3 (MBLT-3) led by Lieutenant Colonel Holgado.

The Marine troopers in coordination with the local officials of Panamao, Sulu headed by Mayor Alfaizer Abdurajak, successfully facilitated the surrender of ASG members Ranu A. Jillang and Ben Kirah at the Headquarters, MBLT-3, Barangay Seit Poblacion, Panamao, around 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
Jillang and Kirah are former followers of the late ASG Sub leader Alhabsy Misaya and ASGSL Salvador Muktadil a.k.a Badong.

The surrenderors who also turned over a caliber 45 pistol, were then brought to the Headquarters of the Philippine Marine Ready Force Sulu at Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista in Barangay Busbus, Jolo, Sulu for their medical examination and custodial debriefing.

“The accomplishments of our Joint Task Forces are greatly attributed to the indefatigable support of the local government units and the populace,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

For 2018 alone, a total of 179 ASG personalities have already surrendered in WMC JAO, broken down as follows: 75 in Basilan, 95 in Sulu, 3 in Zamboanga City, and 6 in Tawi-Tawi.

“Rest assured all the surrenderors will be catered with the programs launched by the Philippine Government and the AFP for all those who chose to return to the folds of the law,” Dela Vega added.

NPA to step up guerilla operations vs Balikatan

From the Panay News (Sep 15): NPA to step up guerilla operations vs Balikatan

The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) has ordered its guerilla fronts in Negros Island to strengthen their tactical operations against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

This is in view of the Balikatan military exercises to be held in October in the towns of Cauayan, Hinoba-an, Ilog, and Candoni and cities of Kabankalan and Sipalay, according to Juanito Magbanua, spokesman of the NPA regional command.
Balikatan is an annual event that aims to enhance the interoperability of the United States and Philippine military forces that have a Mutual Defense Treaty.

Magbanua said the upland communities in Negros must be “defended” during the military exercises.
He added that tactical operations against police and soldiers will “weaken and demoralize” the AFP, which may prevent the Balikatan.

Magbanua also called on civilians to be vigilant. They must oppose the conduct of the Balikatan exercises for it will “displace communities and destroy forest covers of Negros,” he stressed.

4 Sayyaf members surrender in Sulu

From the Manila Times (Sep 15): 4 Sayyaf members surrender in Sulu

Four Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists have surrendered separately in Sulu, officials said on Friday.

Two of them yielded to the mayor of Maimbug town, Samier Tan, who turned them over on Thursday to Col. Francisco Felizidario, commander of the 101st Infantry Brigade.

They also surrendered an M16 and an M1 rifle to Felizidario.

Officials said Gov. Toto Tan witnessed the surrender of the bandits and urged other fighters to peacefully surrender and avail themselves of the government’s amnesty offer and start a new life with their families.

Two other bandits surrendered to Mayor Alfaizer Abdurajak, of Panamao town, who turned them over to the Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 under Lt. Col. Ramil Holgado.

The Abu Sayyaf members handed over a .45 caliber pistol, according to Army Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

“The accomplishments of our Joint Task Forces are greatly attributed to the indefatigable support of the local government units and the populace,” Besana quoted Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, a regional military commander, as saying.

He said 179 ASG bandits have surrendered in Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and nearby Zamboanga City since January this year.

NPA commander slain in Davao Oriental encounter

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 14): NPA commander slain in Davao Oriental encounter

BUTUAN CITY – A commander of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed, together with one of his team leaders, in a fierce gun battle with government troops in Sigan area, Barangay Maragatas, Davao Oriental, early morning Thursday.

In a statement sent to The Manila Bulletin Thursday afternoon, the Southern Mindanao Army’s 10th Infantry (Agila) Division said Community-Support-Program (CSP) operation troops of the 28th Infantry Battalion (28th IB) were conducting peace and development operations in the hinterland areas in Lupon town when they received information from the Sigang villagers about the presence of the Communist terrorists.

“The CNTs are entering Lupon, Davao Oriental and planned to recover their lost mass base there,” the 10th ID said.

While conducting Focused Military Operation (FMO) in Sigang area, the 28th IB troops engaged an undetermined number of NPAs in a 20-minute fierce gun fight that resulted in the killing of their commander and his team leader.

Many were also believed wounded, according to the 10th ID statement.

The slain commander’s group was reportedly part of the Abe Primera of Section Command (Secom)18 of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

In the same gunbattle, an Army soldier was also killed, while four others were wounded.

The identities of the slain rebels and soldier were being withheld, as of press time, pending notification of next of kin.

The 10th ID report also said the rest of the Communist rebels withdrew towards north direction of Maragatas, which is considered to be part of the remaining guerilla base of Secom 18.

The 28th IB troops recovered two M16 Armalite rifles, an M203 grenade launcher, an improvised explosive device, assorted live bullets and three backpacks containing subversive documents and personal belongings.

What Does Duterte’s War on Trillanes Mean for the Philippines?

From The Diplomat (Sep 13): What Does Duterte’s War on Trillanes Mean for the Philippines?

A closer look at an incident that has dominated Manila for weeks.

What Does Duterte’s War on Trillanes Mean for the Philippines?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is fond of waging crusades, with his war on drugs being one of the more renowned endeavors. But his latest crusade against an individual has been particularly captivating for the Philippines. Senator, former vice-presidential candidate, and retired naval lieutenant Antonio Trillanes IV is in the cross-hairs again in a scandal which has dominated Manila for weeks.

Trillanes has a storied history, even by the standards of Philippine politics. While still an enlisted officer of the Navy, Trillanes was instrumental in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny in which members of the armed forces seized a hotel to protest military corruption and demand the resignation of then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Trillanes was jailed for seven and a half years for his part in the 18-hour stand-off.

It did not end there. He spent years campaigning through then-emergent social media and won a senate seat in the 2007 election. Six months later, on November 29, he left his own court hearing, along with 30 others on trial, to take part in what has become known as the Manila Peninsula siege. The attempted coup – again aimed at removing Arroyo – failed within hours.

After his election in 2010, president Benigno Aquino III sprung remaining jailed conspirators from 2003 on a presidential pardon. This allowed Trillanes to physically take his place in the senate for the first time, committing his support for the Aquino government which largely continued through its tenure.

This all changed after the Aquino term ended and the Duterte presidency begun. Duterte has made references to potential coup and threats throughout his term so far, despite reassurances from opposition lawmakers, including Vice President Leni Robredo, and the military. Little surprise then that Trillanes has become a Duterte target in this respect.

Apart from his previous history, Duterte no doubt understands Trillanes’ antipathy for him. Indeed, during the 2016 election campaign, Trillanes told media that then-candidate Duterte should expect the launch of a coup if he was to take his rhetoric too far, particularly given his close ties to communist insurgencies.

“The moment he tries to declare a revolutionary government, that is also going to be the day he will be removed from office. This guy has no respect for democratic institutions,” Trillanes said in May 2016.

Much of this comes down to pre-election swagger. But it does underscore a key existential crisis the Philippines is currently in – the aloofness with which the Philippines’ political leaders discuss political instability, despite the fact that, beyond their personal battles, it has potentially significant effects on the institutions of the country.

With inflation hitting a nine-year high and the cost of living rising, questions about the robustness of the Philippines’ institutions and judicial system are more important than ever. But yet, as they have been in the past, they continue to be readily abused for short-term political aims or other motivations such as vengeance or retribution.

Which brings us to today and the reappearance of the target on Trillanes’ back. Trillanes has continued to criticize Duterte, and those jabs have clearly gotten to Malacañang, which now claims the Aquino amnesty was never valid. The Department of Justice claimed this month that records showed Trillanes did not fulfill the minimum criteria, including admitting guilt and personally entering data into the application form.

Trillanes denies this, and maintains a video proving he filled in his own form is available. He has appealed the result, but has taken a heavy political hit. These developments raise two vital questions – what happens next, and why has this happened at all?

First, it’s hard to see a quiet end to the scandal which has enveloped Manila for weeks. Trillanes’ close ties to the military threaten a face-off between the armed forces and the presidential palace, but the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) does not seem particularly interested in launching the first strike. Duterte has also singled out the Magdalo party, to which Trillanes and some other former service people belong, questioning if the party serves the country or its members.

No institution appears willing to take the incident on. The Supreme Court pushed the Trillanes appeal down to lower courts, while both the police and the military have said an arrest will only be made if a warrant is issued by a court – not the president. As since he is no longer serving in the armed forces, he cannot be court-martialed.

Earlier this week, Duterte announced he would make a special national address. Rumors quickly erupted over the content of the speech, before the entire plan was nixed for a televised one-on-one interview with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. During this talk, Duterte denied he had issued a proclamation ordering the arrest of Trillanes at the end of August. This claim has been widely debunked by fact-checking units. He has since back-tracked on the meaning of the proclamation and his legal argument.

Why this mess has reemerged now is a question of some political intrigue. Duterte does not control the armed forces or the police, but as of recently he does have very close links with the Speaker of the House and the brand new Supreme Court Chief Justice.

The State of the Nation Address day coup, which saw long-time Duterte ally and then-Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez replaced by former president and Trillanes target Arroyo, opened a new era in the Duterte presidency. While the president was reportedly annoyed by the politicking, the outcome has seen the Arroyo, Duterte, and Marcos (via the support of Imee Marcos) clans come even closer together. Daughter and Davao City Mayor successor Sara Duterte has made herself particularly integral in the emergent troika, and her husband and brother are currently suing Trillanes for libel. Wisely, Arroyo has chosen to stay mum on the subject, saying that it is best for the courts to weigh in before she does.

In the Supreme Court, the heavily credentialed Teresita Leonardo-De Castro has replaced ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. De Castro’s appointment raised eyebrows immediately, with her term set to last less than two months before reaching mandatory retirement age. She was instrumental in bringing down Sereno, an Aquino appointment and Duterte critic. She will oversee the final stage of the long-running Ferdinand Marcos Jr versus Vice President Robredo case. The Supreme Court pushed the Trillanes appeal further down to the judicial hierarchy, a move which pleased the Trillanes side and no doubt De Castro who is already under a cloud of distrust.

There are few easy resolution options on the table here. Both Trillanes and Duterte appear keen to dig their heels in, but Duterte’s admittedly long-running honeymoon period is finally and definitively over. To spend months obsessing over an issue many Filipinos believed to be firmly in the past could see that support slump even further. That could present Duterte with a longer-term problem even if he gets the continued short-term wins he desires.

Indonesia, Malaysia learn strategy to handle terrorism from Philippines

From Antara News (Sep 13): Indonesia, Malaysia learn strategy to handle terrorism from Philippines

Marawi, the Philippines (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and Malaysia are jointly learning the strategy to handle terrorism in Marawi City, Mindanao, the Philippines, in order to handle terrorism comprehensively.

"We can learn the operational and technical strategies carried out in the field to handle terrorism and terrorists in a comprehensive way, including its psychological impact on the community," Indonesian Ministry of Defense`s Training and Education Agency head Maj. Gen. Ida Bagus Purwalaksana stated at the Philippine Armed Forces 103rd Brigade Headquarters in Marawi on Thursday.

Abu Sayyaf militant group based in the southern island of Mindanao has kidnapped hundreds of Filipinos and foreigners since the early 1990s in order to get ransom.

The US has named the group as a terrorist organization.

Observers have stated the Abu Sayyaf, Maute, and other extremist groups claim to create a south-base Islamic caliphate for ISIS.

"This will certainly have an impact on Indonesia. Therefore, we need to work and learn together to handle them," Purwalaksana noted.

Malaysian Defense Minister Mohammad bin Sabu noted that eradicating terrorism could not just rely on a militaristic approach.

The militaristic approach is only suitable to eradicate terrorists and not terrorism, he stated. In fact the eradication of terrorism requires awareness to counter such harsh ideology.

"For example, some teachings in religion are misunderstood. In Islam, there are teachings of jihad and martyrdom, which are considered to justify violent acts of terrorists. It is our duty to correct such wrong understanding," Sabu remarked.

Western Region Mindanao Military Command Lieutenant General Arnel B. Dela Vega remarked that fighting terrorism requires cooperation.

"We need to work together to counter terrorism. It is impossible for the military to face terrorism alone, we need cooperation from all parties," he explained.

The joint training program between Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia will continue to be carried out with expanded scope in the future.

Kidnapped fishermen taken to Talipao

From the Daily Express (Sep 14): Kidnapped fishermen taken to Talipao

Kota Kinabalu: The two Indonesian fishermen kidnapped in the waters off Semporna early Tuesday have been taken to an Abu Sayyaf operation base in Talipao, Sulu, southern Philippines, a security official has confirmed.

Daily Express was on Thursday told of their whereabouts by Nicholas Teo, Deputy Director at the Singapore-based Information Sharing Centre of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (Recaap).

Teo said Recaap had learnt the kidnappers and their hostages fled in a speedboat towards Tawi-Tawi in southern Philippines. "Recaap believe their final destination is Talipao in Sulu, an area where the Abu Sayyaf group has previously based its kidnapping-for-ransom operations," Teo said, citing information from the Philippine Coast Guard.

"They (kidnappers) must be desperate. Kidnapping fishermen is not going to get them much money."

A Malaysian security official, who declined to be named, later confirmed to Daily Express that the pirates and their hostages arrived in Talipao at 3am on Tuesday. He declined to give more details.

Talipao is a seaside municipality with a population of about 80,225 and has 52 "barangays" or villages.

It is also where 13 Abu Sayyaf members surrendered to the Philippine armed forces in a village back in June this year.

Two armed men boarded a fishing vessel and kidnapped its skipper and his assistant near Pualau Gaya, off Semporna, at about 1am on Tuesday.

Two other Indonesian crew were safe from being kidnapped after they hid themselves in some compartments upon realising their fishing trawler had been boarded by armed men wearing face masks who approached their vessel in a pump boat.

Daily Express has also reliably learnt that Esscom intensified operations in the two days since the incident and checked some outlying islands and islets around the scene of the kidnapping.

An Esscom source said there are some 300 islands from Kudat to Tawau and the agency had combed some of them in case the kidnappers had used them for staging or transiting purposes before or after committing their crime.

"No signs of that were found," said the source.

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said the kidnapping was an eye-opener that security measures in Sabah waters should be intensified.

He said the incident shows matters should be taken seriously and not lightly as it jeopardises the safety of Sabahans.

"It is an incident though not involving Malaysians but we must be mindful that it is in our own area. It is in our borderline and we have to take all the necessary actions.

"We have to be mindful that we have to intensify our effort. Double the surveillance here and double the intelligence to make sure that we will be in-the-know of what will come," he said.

An MNSA thesis, academics awardee shares feat

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 13): An MNSA thesis, academics awardee shares feat

THESIS AWARD. Army Col. Gulliver L. Señires (left) bags the bronze thesis award and silver medal in academic excellence as he graduated with 65 others at the National Defense College of the Philippines’ Master in National Security Administration (MNSA) Regular Course 53 on Monday (Sept. 10, 2018). Also in photo are Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenza (center) and Señires' wife, Jennifer, during the graduation rites in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. (Photo provided by Col. Señires)

IMUS CITY, Cavite – A ranking military official never expected he would bag the major academic awards that were kept secret until their graduation from the premiere military college - National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP). But, as far as this Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) official is concerned, he did his best in the top military academic institution.

But as the graduation rites unfolded at the Tejeros Hall, AFP Commissioned Officers Club House in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Sept 10, newly confirmed Philippine Army Colonel Gulliver Lapitan Señires, GSC (INF) PA with his wife in tow was surprised when the top graduate-awardees were announced during the occasion.

He shared he was truly honored as National Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana graced the event and congratulated him and a few other awardees.

Although he admitted to have exerted his best efforts in academics, Señires was a bit surprised when his name was called as silver medalist for graduating with a general weighted average (GWA) of 1.13 for his Master’ Degree in National Security Administration (MNSA) Regular Course 53.

And to add a feather to this cap, the military colonel also bagged the “Bronze Award” for this master’s thesis entitled ‘Localized Peace Process: Towards Creating a Geographically-adoptive, Mass-based Indigenous Transition Model’ from among the Top 10 shortlisted for the awards.

He was the only graduate in his batch who bagged two awards in separate categories, where the others merely excelled either in academics or thesis.

The ‘bronze’ thesis

Señires shared that “my thesis was an improvement of the program I initiated in Kalinga,” where he served as Batallion Commander of the 50th Infantry Batallion in-charge of internal security operations in Kalinga Province and 2 Municipalities South of Apayao Province.

He draws inspiration from his constant interaction with communities in far-flung areas in the countryside, including personal conversation with members of the New People’s Army (NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines) as he layed down and discussed various propositions to finally end the insurgency in the Region, as well as the whole nation.

According to Señires, when national efforts to forge peace with the CPP-NPA-NDF (or collectively known as CNN) fail, the threat is most felt in these (far flung, countryside) communities where extortion, encounters and disturbances happen.

“So I ask the question, when will these violence stop?”

His thesis highlights a “Reconciliation Program for NPA in Kalinga” as an offered solution to end insurgency in this Region, because based on his personal experience “the major reason why they (the NPAs) don’t surrender is because they have criminal cases, they don’t want to go to jail.”

Señires hopes that his thesis model, which is applicable in all areas in the Phils, an LGU led (and support from all sectors of society), where customary practice of indigenous peoples are applied and integrates former rebels into mainstream society as peaceful and productive citizens, if adapted by the AFP will put the 5 decades of armed conflict with the CNN to rest.

Groomed to be a priest, not a soldier
Growing up to an idealist lawyer as father, this third son of the late Atty. Godofredo Villarin Señires, Jr. and housewife Leonora Lapitan Señires was actually groomed to be a priest, “the supposed military in the family is our eldest, Godofredo III, he shared.

“Our profession (including his 3 other siblings) were somewhat planned before us, where one should be a soldier, an engineer, a priest and a journalist, “and my (late) father really took time to expose us where needed to somehow awaken these callings in us,” he shared.

He recalled the Sunday masses at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (also known as Baclaran Redemptorist Church) during his childhood years.

But, fate had his way, when his brother had “vision” issues, “we compromised to shift roles, he will be the priest and I will pursue a military career.”

Thus, this, then young ‘Menudo’ (an all male Latino boy band that was popular in the ‘80s) fan ended up in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), and joined the Philippine Army after he graduated in 1992.

NDCP’s MNSA Program
As peace and order plays a vital role in the country’s progress and development, the men and women tasked as administrators of the country’s national security must have the broad skills and proper attitude to perform their multifarious responsibilities, which is what NDCP’s MNSA program equips its graduates of.

The program provides the needed education in terms of analytical and conceptual skills to prepare them to meet the broad challenges emanating from the internal and external environment.

Señires was among the 65 who completed the course on this batch.

His classmates include officials from the civilian government agencies, private Sector, foreign military students (Sri Lanka Army, Bangladesh Navy, Indian Air Force, Pakistan Air Force, Nigerian Army, Royal Malaysian Air Force and Malaysian Army) and officers from the country’s military service branches such as Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy and the Philippine Army.

Señires treats the "MNSA time" more as an oppotunity to rekindle family ties, as “I have been deployed away from home most of the time, and taking the MNSA means having to spend more time with family, especially my wife and kids,” he shared.

But keeping the balance on his multi-roles, as a husband, father (to 3 children), son, brother and his duty as designated Army Group Coordinator (main task is to process release of support for Army students like allowance, POL allocation, uniforms including admin works like assignments, etc to the Philippine Army Headquarters), not to mention contending with 64 different personalities (a mix of intelligent, practical, experienced and deviant ones during the program), was the challenge he has to face.

“But as a military professional, this is your mission, where you must ‘properly’ work your way around, give it your best,” Señires shared.

Besides, the AFP ‘schooling’ process, from his Infantry Basic and Advanced Courses, CGSC and Master of Military Arts and Science from US Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Scout Ranger Class 125-96, and Master of Strategic Affairs from Australian National University, Acton ACT in 2008 has long prepared him for this.

Best practices he can share
“I just don’t listen to lectures during the class, I record them,” so he can go back, and review anytime.

Active participation during group discussion is also key, “be critical, if you don’t agree with the lecturer, then present your argument,” as the NDCP allows for ‘no-holds-barred’ discussion “as we are talking about our national security here.”

Señires also advised future-MNSA course takers to submit turn-ins in time, “don’t depend on deadlines, do your works in advance.”

Other than giving your best, most important is “to make sure you answer the question as clearly and concise as possible.”

“Enjoy the course, make friends that could widen your horizon and influence, this is the best take-away from the program.”

Lastly, focus on your studies, not the awards. “Self-improvement is your goal, the award will come naturally in the end.”

Other than Señires, the other thesis awardees include “Bronze”: Col Ferdinand Melchor C Del Cruz, GSC (MI) PA (Philippine-Malaysian-Indonesian Trilateral Cooperation to Cunter Violent Extremism: Challenges and Prospects) Silver Award: Col. Adonis Ariel G. Orio, GSC (INF) PA (“Large Scale Mining Industry in Agusan del Norte: The Implication of Natural Resource Conflict in National Security”); “Gold”: Capt. Mac Raul B. Racacho, PN (GSC) (“Fortifying Our Naval Bases that Secure our Seas”) and Capt. Jorge A. Ibarra, PN (GSC) for his thesis “Strategic Approaches Toward the Protection of Philippine Sovereignty Rights and Jurisdiction in Enhancing Maritime Security in the Philippine Rise.”

For Academic Excellence, the other awardees, include: Bronze Medalist Col Ferdinand Geminic P Ramirez GSC (FA) PA (GWA: 1.15), another Silver Medalist Col Roleen M Del Prado GSC (SC) PA (GWA: 1.10) and Gold Medalist Cdr. Norsal D. Dimaporo PN (GSC) for a GWA of 1.08.

Atty Suharto Ambolodto, from MNSA RC-40, joined the class during their graduation rites.

2 ‘ranking’ NPA members, soldier killed in Davao Oriental clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 13): 2 ‘ranking’ NPA members, soldier killed in Davao Oriental clash

Three people were killed and four others were wounded in an encounter between government troops and suspected communist guerrillas in Lupon, Davao Oriental on Thursday, the military said.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, 10th Infantry Diivision public affairs officer, said two ranking members of the New People’s Army and a soldier died during a firefight, which started around 5:30 a.m., near the village of Maragatas. The gun battle lasted for about 20-minutes.

Lamosao said soldiers were acting on reports of NPA presence, when they clashed at sitio Sigang.

Among those killed were a certain Dagol, leader of a rebel platoon; and a certain Taniel, vice platoon leader; as well as one soldier, according to Lamosao.

Four government troops were also wounded, he added.

Recovered from the encounter site were two M-16 assault rifles, one M203 grenade launcher, an improvised explosive device, and three backpacks with personal belongings and documents, the military said.

Military denies 2 abducted Indons taken to Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 14): Military denies 2 abducted Indons taken to Sulu

The military’s Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) on Friday denied that the two Indonesian fishermen abducted early this week in Malaysia are already in the province of Sulu.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, Westmincom information officer, said there is no confirmation yet on reports that the victims were taken to the area of responsibility of the command.

Besana’s statement came after the east Malaysian newspaper, Daily Express, reported on Friday that the
“pirates and their hostages arrived in Talipao at 3 a.m. Tuesday.”

The Malaysian authorities identified the kidnapped victims as Samsul Sagunin, 40, and Usman Yunus, 35, both Indonesians who were abducted on board a fishing boat shortly after it docked at the Pulau Gaya jetty near Semporna, Malaysia on Tuesday.

Two of their companions managed to escape by hiding in one of the boat’s compartments.

The newspaper report said the victims were taken to Tawi-Tawi aboard a speedboat and “believed their final destination is Talipao in Sulu, an area where the Abu Sayyaf Group has previously based its kidnap-for-ransom operations.”

“We have no confirmation or validation if the KVs (kidnap victims) and kidnappers really went inside our AOR (area of responsibility). If ever, we could have intercepted them immediately," he said.

He added that considering the information given to them, there's a slim possibility for them to just cross our border unnoticed because of the reported watercraft they're using.

“Until now, wala pa talaga pumasok sa atin (no one has entered our area) based on the latest report from our forces,” he added.

Nevertheless, Besana said government troops “have been in a tight lookout” for the two Indonesians reportedly abducted in Sempornah.

Move to ostracize Trillanes reflects military sentiment

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 14): Move to ostracize Trillanes reflects military sentiment

A unilateral declaration by a Mindanao-based group of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates to ostracize Senator Antonio Trillanes IV reflects the "overall" sentiment of the military, Malacañang said on Friday.

“That reflects overall sentiment of the military,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque replied when asked to comment on the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association Inc. (PMAAAI)-Eagle Fraternal Chapter’s declaration.

In its one-page paid advertisement published on a national daily, the PMAAAI-Eagle Fraternal Chapter has also recommended the ouster of Trillanes from the PMAAAI “for conduct unbecoming of a PMAYER and public official”.
The PMAAAI-Eagle Fraternal Chapter is an association of PMA graduates in government, military and police active service and business, industry, corporate and retirees (BIRC) sector based in Mindanao.

The group manifested that Trillanes’ actions and behavior are contrary to the Academy’s motto of courage, integrity and loyalty “thereby seriously damaging the honor and prestige of this revered institution”.

The PMA graduates have accused Trillanes, a former Navy officer, of not only repeatedly uttering seditious words against the President Rodrigo Duterte but also incited others to inflict any hate or revenge upon his person “thus committed conspiracy or proposal to commit coup d’etat for encouraging the military to rise up in arms against the President”.

They questioned Trillanes’ constant agitation and propaganda “by inciting dissension for the ouster” of Duterte.

“His blatant attack to the present administration as if he has credibility and combat experience while in the Navy defines his bad attitude, character, and evil intent, ignoring the negative effect to the country’s economic progress just to toppled down the President for his personal gain,” the group said in its declaration.

Recently, Trillanes claimed the support of some junior and senior officials in a bid to discredit Duterte’s issuance of Proclamation 572 which declared the senator’s amnesty void ab initio (from the beginning) for his failure to submit an amnesty application form and to admit his guilt for crimes of rebellion.

The group cited as another ground the two failed Trillanes-led coup attempts in 2003 and 2007 against former president and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Trillanes' political ally former president Benigno Aquino III granted him amnesty but discovered recently that it was former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, instead of Aquino, who approved the amnesty.

Gazmin's approval made Trillanes' amnesty null and void from the very beginning since only the President has constitutional duty to grant pardon and amnesty, Duterte's Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in an earlier interview.

The PMAAAI said Trillanes’ previous graft and corruption cases particularly his involvement in the controversial "pork barrel" funds and the Disbursement Acceleration Fund (DAP) funds scams during the Aquino administration.

“The anti-pork barrel coalition said the senator donated PHP10 million from his DAP funds to non-government organization that allegedly turned out to be a donor and not a recipient of donations,” stated in the PMAAAI’s declaration dated Sept. 12, 2018.

The PMA graduates also accused Trillanes of disrespect and having arrogant behavior towards senior officers and the President, and for committing his “treasonous acts” when he refused to disclose the results of his backdoor negotiations with China in 2012.

They lambasted Trillanes for promoting discontent and withdrawal of support on Duterte administration and for propagating "blatant" lies such as the senator’s claim that “PMAyers” are his growing supporters.

The group added that Trillanes’ pattern of behavior “is an obvious display of conduct unbecoming of a public official and questionable mental health, fond of creating discord and divisiveness instead of his supposed duties to create policies to establish a well-ordered society”.

They called Trillanes “a disgrace to the alma mater, a great embarrassment to its alumni and a very unworthy role model” to the Cadet Corps Armed Forces of the Philippines (CAAFP).

Trillanes, a member of PMA Marilag Class of 1995, remains at the Senate despite the government’s statement that he will not be arrested by the military and police.

Roque said Trillanes’ decision to stay at the Senate is all "drama" and for "political mileage".