Thursday, September 27, 2018

Army to help educate servicemen, Moros on BOL

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): Army to help educate servicemen, Moros on BOL

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) will help educate the public, including its men and women in the military service, about the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, 6th ID commander, however, made it clear that the information and education drive does not aim to campaign for or against the BOL, which is scheduled for a plebiscite on Jan. 21, 2019.

Sobejana issued the statement during Wednesday's Maguindanao Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting, presided by Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu in Buluan town of the province.

“We will never interfere but we will help educate the voters in our simple way that will start within the organization,” Sobejana said.

During the meeting, Mangudadatu reiterated his “yes” stance on the BOL.

“I have been campaigning for its approval because I am convinced it will help improve the lives of our people,” Mangudadatu said, adding that majority of the incumbent political leaders in the province also support the BOL.

The BOL plebiscite will take place in the five provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), as well as the six towns of Lanao del Norte and 39 villages in North Cotabato. Residents in these areas will be asked during the plebiscite to vote in favor or against the BOL, an enabling law that will determine the composition of new Bangsamoro political entity.

The law is the final step of the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It will replace the current ARMM setup.

Sobejana added that the officers and enlisted personnel of the 6th ID, composed of three Army brigades, a Marine brigade, and other Army units, are all supportive of the Mindanao peace process and educating its personnel is one of its contributions to the government's desire to establish peace in the island.

16 Reds surrender in Zamboanga del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): 16 Reds surrender in Zamboanga del Sur

Five New People's Army rebel, including a female combatant who surrendered last month received PHP65,000 each as cash assistance from the government. The cash aid was turned over to the former rebels on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Army's 53rd Infantry Battalion in Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur. (Photo byHirohito D. Cadion)
PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur – A total of 16 New People’s Army (NPA) members, including four women combatants and two child warriors, surrendered to government authorities in the municipality of Guipos, a military official said Thursday.

Lt. Col. Marlowe Patria, Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion commander, said the 16 NPA members surrendered on Wednesday afternoon in their headquarters in Camp Major David Sabido in Guipos town.

Patria said the rebels revealed that hardships in life in the mountains and the loss of confidence in their cause prompted them to surrender.

Patria added that the surrenderers also wished to live normal and peaceful lives together with their respective families.

One of the female combatants, identified only as Ka Cel, said she stopped studying when she was recruited while in her first year in college.

“I regretted much that I became a member of the NPA. To be honest, I found no sense staying with the group in the jungle. I saw no meaning, no direction, and no hope. I should have pursued my studies in college,” she said.

Patria said the 16 NPA surrenderers will be enrolled in the government's livelihood program for rebel returnees.

He said they will also be included in the livelihood and skills training being managed by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and other government agencies.

Meanwhile, five other rebels, including a female combatant who surrendered last month, received on Wednesday PHP65,000 cash assistance each from the government, Patria said.

2 ASG members surrender in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): 2 ASG members surrender in Sulu

Col. Armel Tolato, Philippine Marine Ready Force-Sulu commander (right) and a marine officer (left), pose for posterity photo with the two Abu Sayyaf members, who surrendered on Wednesday in Talipao, Sulu. (Photo courtesy: Naval Forces Western Mindanao Public Information Office)
Two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits  surrendered to the troops of the Philippine Marines as government offensives against the kidnap-for-ransom group continue in Sulu, a top military official said Thursday.

Rear Adm. Rene Medina, Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) commander, identified the ASG surrenderees as Julkaidar Iddon and Alanu Iddon, both former followers of ASG sub-leader Abraham Hamid.

Medina said the Iddons surrendered on Wednesday in Barangay Mahala, Talipao and have turned over two caliber .30 M1 Garand rifles.

Juljaidar served as a courier while Alanu is a boat skipper of the ASG that operated in the island town of Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi, the military official said. The two were brought to Camp Bautista Station Hospital in Barangay Bus Bus, Jolo, for medical check-up.

Medina attributed the successful mission of the Fleet-Marine through the "continuous, relentless and combined efforts" of the Philippine Marine Ready Force-Sulu under the command of Col. Armel Tolato.

The military official also called on the remaining ASG members to surrender to the government where they will be given a chance to have a new life.

The surrender of the Iddons have brought to 183 the total members of the ASG who surrendered to the government since January, this year. Of the number, 75 surrendered in Basilan, 99 in Sulu, six in Tawi-Tawi, and three in Zamboanga City.

Japanese ship arrives in Manila for 3-day goodwill visit

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): Japanese ship arrives in Manila for 3-day goodwill visit

JS Akebono (DD-108), a Murasame-class destroyer of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), arrived at Pier 15 of Manila South Harbor Thursday for a three-day port visit.

Around 200 officers and enlisted personnel are aboard JS Akebono which also carries two SH-60K patrol helicopters.

PN spokesperson, Commander Jonathan Zata, said the Japanese contingent led by JMSDF Escort Division 5 head Capt. Josuke Nakamura was welcomed by Offshore Combat Force deputy commander Capt. Francisco Laput.

Nakamura is also set to pay a courtesy call on PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad.

Also, confidence building engagements between PN and JMSDF personnel such as shipboard tour and goodwill games of basketball, volleyball and soccer are scheduled.

Prior to its arrival, JS Akebono had just completed its five-month tour as part of the Combined Maritime Task Force 151's anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

The task force is mandated to deter and disrupt piracy and armed robbery in the maritime environment, particularly in the Somali Basin and Southern Red Sea.

Zata noted that JS Akebono is the same ship that responded to a distress call from a Singaporean-flagged tanker where one Filipino crewman fell and injured his head while transiting the Gulf of Aden.

The destroyer's medical team provided first-aid and airlifted the injured Filipino seafarer to Djibouti for further medical treatment. JS Akebono's arrival marks the sixth visit of the JMSDF to the Philippines.

The most recent was the arrival of the three-ship Escort Flotilla Four early this September at Alava Wharf, SBMA, Olongapo City, Zambales.

"This visit translates to another gesture of fostering goodwill that contributes to the furtherance of friendship between the PN and the JSMDF established through the years. It further promotes and sustains peace and stability in the region," he added.

Military won't participate in any political action: spox

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): Military won't participate in any political action: spox

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will never participate in political actions aimed against duly-constituted authorities, its spokesman said Thursday.

"We will never allow ourselves in the ranks of the active service to take direct or indirect participation in any political actions against the present duly-constituted authorities," Col. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.

Arevalo assured the public that the AFP is a professional organization that subscribes to the Constitution that it has sworn to uphold and defend.

"We respect the rule of law and court decisions and processes. This includes the case of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. The matter is already in the purview of the courts. And to the civil courts we defer. We will not issue further statements related to the case," he said.

The AFP, he said, respects the courts and observes due process.

"Every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine in the active service is loyal to the Constitution, adherent to the rule of law, and solidly behind of the Chain of Command," he added.

Arevalo reminded troops of AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez’s order that military personnel found guilty of such acts will be immediately relieved of their posts, investigated, and meted stiff penalties.

Chinese woman, 5 others face raps over seized arms in Rizal

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): Chinese woman, 5 others face raps over seized arms in Rizal

A Chinese woman, who has been in the Philippines since 1985, and five others face criminal charges of illegal possession of high-powered firearms and explosives.

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran presented the suspect Ke Be I, alias Lily Ong, to reporters on Thursday.

Answering media questions in broken Filipino, Ong said she was the general manager of a poultry farm where the undocumented guns were recovered by agents of the NBI Special Action Unit (SAU).

Gierran said the unit was served a search warrant issued by Manila Executive Judge Thelma Bunye Medina.

NBI spokesman, lawyer Ferdinand Lavin, said forensic investigation will be undertaken on the six VHF-UHF two-way radio transmitters, one M203 grenade launcher, four M653 baby armalite rifles, two grenades, five 12-gauge shotguns, three pistols (one caliber .45, one caliber .38, and one 9-mm.), and eight cellular phones.

Lavin added that they will investigate other possible cases involving the suspects.

Aside from Ong, also arrested were Brandy Solinap, Victor dela Cruz, Bi-Lian Ke, Diosdado Bohol, and Ke Quiao alias Sam Jany.

They were arrested on a sprawling farm in Bo. Road, Pantay Buhangin, Barangay Dalig, Teresa, Rizal for violation of Republic Act No. 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunitions Act.

Bohol, a Samar native, was in possession of another shotgun and was found in a small hut on top of a hill behind the main house.

Ke Quiao Li, alias Sam Jany, and Ong were found inside the main house.

Links to “Red October”

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police Chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde, said they have yet to determine whether the incident is connected to the “Red October” plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.

“As of this time, wala po tayong nakukuhang information na ganyan na merong involved kahit na isang [police officer] (We have not received any information on whether a police officer is involved)," Albayalde said in a radio interview.

He has also ordered a probe into allegations that some police officers have received protection money from Ong.

Ong reportedly said she gives PHP8,000 to each police officer every month for protection from kidnappers.

“Kausap ko yung RD (Regional Director of PNP Calabarzon, Chief Supt. Edward Carranza) pinapaimbestigahan ko na po yan na yung nga yung sinasabing protection money, kung talagang meron man at yung mga involved na pulis dahil meron po yatang listahan na binigay yung Lily Ong (I spoke with the RD and I already ordered an investigation on the matter about protection money, if it really exists and if there are policemen involved because Lily Ong reportedly gave a list of those policemen),” Albayalde said in radio interview.

He said some policemen may have agreed to protect Ong as a "sideline" to augment their income, which is illegal.

No monitored recruitment activities on ouster plot: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): No monitored recruitment activities on ouster plot: AFP

The three major services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have said they have not monitored any recruitment activity within their ranks by groups aiming to overthrow the government, the spokesperson of the Philippine Army (PA) said Thursday.

"As far as the ranks of the PA is concerned, wala kaming namo-monitor na mga ganyang (we have not monitored such) issue, no recruitment, no intel reports that some or few of our army soldiers are planning to oust the President," Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva told reporters.

Villanueva added that as far as loyalty is concerned, the 96,000-strong Army solidly supports the Duterte administration.

"We work for the Constitution, we work for the sovereignty of the State. Nandun lagi tayo, nandun yung ating mandato (We are always there. That is our mandate.)," he added.

Villanueva noted that the Army’s morale is very high and it is focused on its primary mission, which is to protect the people and the state.

Meanwhile, Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesperson, Major Aristides Galang, echoed Villanueva’s sentiments.

"Wala naman kami sa (We do not have such in the) Air Force. So far sa Air Force, as of now, wala kaming nare-receive na ganun na may mga recruitment. At saka yung morale ng tao kasi ng Air Force very much na napakataas talaga because of the support na nakukuha natin sa government, with the taong bayan (We have not received any information about such recruitments and also, the morale of the Air Force personnel is very high because of the support we are getting from the government and the people)," he added.

Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson, Commander Jonathan Zata, likewise said that they have yet to detect any recruitment activity for any ouster plot.

"As far as the Navy is concerned, personally, I haven't met or heard or read any recruitment of that sort. Ang nababasa kong reports kasi yung mga ongoing activities, kagaya ng pagpapadala natin sa Vladivostok (Russia) kasi sabay-sabay yung exercises natin ngayon (What I have read is about the ongoing activities of the Navy, like the port call in Vladivostok, Russia. The exercises of the Navy personnel are being done simultaneously)," Zata said.

The Navy, he said, is busy with preparations for activities, such as the joint maritime training with the Brunei Navy and Australian Navy in Cebu and Zamboanga, respectively, and the ongoing relief operations in areas hit by Typhoon Ompong.

He added that the PN is also holding a maritime training activity with Royal Malaysian Navy forces in Fort San Felipe in Cavite.

On Thursday, Navy personnel also welcomed the JS Akebono (DD-108), a Murasame-class destroyer of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, at the Manila South Harbor.

Palace confident of military's 'overwhelming' support for PRRD

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): Palace confident of military's 'overwhelming' support for PRRD

Malacañang remains confident that President Rodrigo Duterte still enjoys overwhelming support from the military despite the latter’s claim that some soldiers are conniving with the opposition to oust him.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this reaction when asked during Thursday’s Palace briefing if loyalty check is needed to verify the President’s claim.

“Sa akin po, lahat dapat tingnan. Pero sa tingin ko overwhelming po pa rin ang suporta ng Presidente galing po sa hukbong sandatahan (For me, everything should be checked, but I think the President still has overwhelming support from the armed forces),” Roque said.

He said Duterte is the only President who has been making the rounds of almost every military and police camp across the country to personally know their needs and situation.

Roque said the President is confident that the military and police will continue to do their duties as protector of the Filipino people.

Recently, Duterte expressed his “ill feeling” towards some people in the military who are communicating with the opposition Liberal Party to remove him from Malacañang.

“So dapat siguro i-verify itong mga impormasyon na ito. Pero kampante naman po ang Presidente na tumutupad sa kanilang tungkulin ang ating kasundaluhan at kapulisan (Perhaps this information should be verified but the President is confident that the military and police are doing their duties),” Roque said.

Duterte earlier said the opposition is conspiring with the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA) to dethrone him.
Roque welcomed the investigation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the so-called “Red October” plotters.

“Katungkulan naman po talaga ng NBI iyan at ng mga law enforcement agents na kapag may posibleng krimen na nangyayari ay dapat imbestigahan (It is really the duty of the NBI and the law enforcement agents to investigate possible crimes),” he said.

He urged the military to share to the NBI any intelligence information about the “Red October” plot.

“As I have said time and again ‘no, ang trabaho po ng Presidente (the work of the President) as Chief Executive is to implement the laws. So kung mayroon talagang lumalabag sa mga batas natin (if someone violates our laws) on rebellion, coup d'état and sedition, (let) the process begin against them,” Roque added.

Malacañang unfazed by Abu Sayyaf’s 'regrouping’ reports

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): Malacañang unfazed by Abu Sayyaf’s 'regrouping’ reports

The government will not be threatened by the kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf terrorists who are reportedly regrouping and planning to conduct cross-border kidnappings in Mindanao, Malacañang said Thursday.

“Well, ang masasabi ko lang po diyan, handa po tayong harapin ang banta galing sa Abu Sayyaf (What I can say is that we are ready to face any threat coming from Abu Sayyaf),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during a Palace press briefing.

According to an exclusive report of a Malaysian news outfit, the Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders are regrouping after nearly two years on the run due to the all-out war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte’s government against the bandits in 2016.

The report identified the “resurrected” sub-commander as Indang Susukan, who was widely reported to have died when his wife and children were killed at the height of the military’s attack in Jolo, Sulu in 2016.

“Kinakailangan po silang mag-regroup dahil napulbos na natin sila. At asahan ninyo po na kahit ano pang gawin niyang recruitment, ang Abu Sayyaf po kayang-kayang pulbusin ng ating gobyerno (They need to regroup because we have already destroyed them. You can expect that no matter what kind of recruitment they will do, the government will crush the Abu Sayyaf),” Roque said.

Meanwhile, Roque welcomed a “favorable review” of the US State Department on the Philippines’ ongoing campaign against terrorism and violent extremism.

He said the State Department’s 2017 report on terrorism has mentioned the concrete steps the country has undertaken to combat terrorism and prevent violent extremism, such as continued interagency information sharing between Philippine law enforcement agencies, increased aviation security capacity, and active participation in training courses on crisis response, border security and investigations, including cybercrimes.

“The report also noted that the Philippine government has consistently acknowledged the dangers from ISIS-affiliated terrorist groups, and welcomed the assistance on counter-terrorism and reconstruction from Australia, Japan and the United States,” Roque said.

In 2017, Philippine military troops killed members of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf, including leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, during the five-month Marawi siege.

The war, however, left 168 government troops dead and reduced Marawi City into ruins.