Saturday, September 29, 2018

After Marawi: Time For Broader ASEAN Approach? – Analysis

Posted to the Eurasia Review (Sep 27): After Marawi: Time For Broader ASEAN Approach? – Analysis (By By Joseph Franco/RSIS)

A building in Marawi is set ablaze by airstrikes carried out by the Philippine Air Force. Photo by Mark Jhomel, Wikipedia Commons.

A building in Marawi is set ablaze by airstrikes carried out by the Philippine Air Force. Photo by Mark Jhomel, Wikipedia Commons.

Winning the War after the Battle for Marawi requires greater cooperation among ASEAN states. The continuing challenge posed by violent extremism must be met by a wider “community of practice”.

Nearly a year after the Battle for Marawi ended, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law over Mindanao has not fully addressed the threat posed by other Islamic State-linked groups. Manila continues to grapple with the challenges of countering violent extremism (CVE). A series of bombings in Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, and South Cotabato by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) underscore the gaps in kinetic military approaches.

ASEAN was quick to act when the fighting erupted in Marawi. Singapore was one of the first countries to send in humanitarian supplies to the beleaguered city. Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines put into place joint, trilateral border patrols to prevent the spread of armed conflict. Aside from dealing with the consequences of the Marawi siege, Southeast Asian countries cooperated closely in sharing knowledge to confront violent extremist groups. The ASEAN defence ministers have been discussing the establishment of the “Our Eyes” Initiative that seeks to institutionalise further pre-existing intelligence sharing mechanisms.

Winning the War After Battle

Winning the war after the battle is a familiar refrain for those looking at post-conflict scenarios from Mosul to Marawi. The ruins of what was once the commercial heart of Marawi stand testament to the long-term disruption posed by violent extremism. The razing of dozens of mosques and madrasahs in Marawi imperils the city’s status as the Philippines’ centre for Islamic learning.

Delayed reconstruction of the city would only lead to resentment and create the wellspring for terrorist narratives in the future. The military defeat of the Maute Group and its IS-linked allies in Marawi is only the first step in rebuilding the city.

Information operations by the Philippine military complemented its combat operations during the Battle for Marawi. Confronting terrorist ideologies online denied IS-linked groups full control of the informational space. Partnerships with major social media companies and other states led to the systematic takedown of harmful content.

Communities of Practice Against Other “Extremisms”

As communities of practice emerge around CVE initiatives, there is recognition among stakeholders in the security sector, civil society organisations (CSOs), and academia of the complex policy environment. Growing polarisation within states can lead to the emergence of other potential “extremisms” aside from the brand of violence associated with the so-called Islamic State and other resurgent groups such as Al Qaeda.

This is apparent in ASEAN, which has witnessed the continuation of sectarian violence. Violence has come from a broad range of actors from inchoate nationalist movements to secessionist groups.

Rather than a fixation with counter-narratives, there is an emerging consensus that CVE has more in common with non-securitised digital literacy and public education programmes. Southeast Asian youths remain vulnerable to recruitment by violent extremist groups. Developing critical thinking skills especially among the youth may lead to benefits beyond the CVE realm. Life skills that help inoculate against violent ideologies are also relevant in mitigating the effects of deliberate online falsehoods or information operations by hostile parties.

Unfortunately, there is an uneven distribution of government capacities to pursue holistic CVE among ASEAN member-states. One way to level the playing field is to share lessons learned and identify gaps, through events such as the upcoming counter-terrorism symposium to be held in Singapore in October 2018 organised by the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and the government.

ASEAN’s Potential Contributions to CVE

ASEAN’s push to create a resilient and networked community of peoples could manifest with states acting as enablers for joint initiatives. ASEAN’s long record of accomplishment in fostering Track 1.5 and Track 2 initiatives would mean not having to reinvent the wheel in terms of harnessing the efforts of states and CSOs. CSOs have a better grasp of ‘ground truth’ while states have access to resources to build inclusive CVE programmes.

Beyond upstream efforts to inoculate vulnerable populations from violent extremism, ASEAN can help bring needed quality-of-life improvements in Mindanao. The recent signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is expected to bring meaningful political and economic autonomy to Filipino Muslims. The BOL’s success rests on the ability of local elected officials to take the lead in bringing progress to their communities.

Given the uneven levels of local governance in Mindanao, ASEAN can help tip the scales by focusing on capacity-building programmes. Addressing the socioeconomic roots of conflict in Mindanao is of course a long-term project. However, its benefits go beyond dissipating the sources of rage that violent extremists tap into for their radicalisation activities.

Gaining valuable experience in promoting good governance could pay dividends even in non-security issues across Southeast Asia. Economic and political development forges stronger communal bonds. This could help stem the increasing appeal of populist politics and the intolerance it breeds within states.

Multilateral security mechanisms should just be the start of holistic CVE efforts. Across ASEAN, national-level best practices can be found, involving either or both states and non-state entities. The challenge lies in taking what works from one country and adapting it to suit local conditions in another country.

Adversaries like IS are continually evolving, seeking to exploit emerging technologies and building their own illicit networks. States and their partners, whether technology firms or CSOs, need to adapt quicker. The destruction wrought by IS-linked militants in Marawi is a cautionary example of what happens when drivers of conflict are not systematically addressed and security services become complacent.

[Joseph Franco is a Research Fellow with the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.]

European company expresses optimism in filling AFP modernization requirements

From TechnoChops (Sep 28): European company expresses optimism in filling AFP modernization requirements

 European company expresses optimism in filling AFP modernization requirements

A company named Airbus Defence and Space, through its representative, has expressed optimism that it could fill the requirements of the Philippines’ Armed Forces modernization program. The statement was made by Airbus Defence and Space head of Southeast Asia Johan Pelissier.

Many of us Filipinos are not familiar with Airbus Defence and Space: what country does it originate from? A Google check reveals that the company is European-based, with its headquarters currently in Blagnac, France. Airbus began as a consortium (a group) of aircraft makers called Airbus Industrie. Later, in 2001, it became a joint-stock company.

It is surprising that the company’s spokesperson has expressed confidence that it has the portfolio to fill not only the air-transport requirements of the Philippines but also maritime security requirements. Arbus, after all, has established a reputation for being the second largest space company after Boeing. Our surprise comes from the fact that there has been fairly recent news identifying which countries we would rely on for modernization requirements.

 It may be recalled that in August of this year, the Department of National Defense (DND), as represented by its spokesman Arsenio Andolong, has stated that it would only procure submarines and other equipment that is in line with the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) modernization program. Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP) has a budget of P300 billion, from which the amount for purchasing the country’s first submarines can be sourced.

In that matter of submarine acquisition, Russia is the country that comes to mind considering that Russia has pledged to help the Philippine Navy in its modernization plans in terms of training and maintenance, particularly in a submarine project. A project with Russia involves the acquisition of the Philippines’ very first diesel-electric submarines, and a Submarine Group has even been formed to oversee it.

As for air-transport requirements: President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to procure air-transport and intelligence-gathering equipment only from Israel. The reason behind the said order is that Duterte believes that the Middle Eastern country would not use such equipment or aircraft to spy on the Philippine government’s activities.

Be that as it may, Duterte’s mind has changed before. We have to wonder where Pelissier is coming from with his unguarded optimism. Is a deal with the Philippine government already being made months before it will be reported? It may be that said optimism is based on his informed opinion that Airbus offers good value for money.

S&T Motiv, United Defense agree Philippine joint venture

From Jane's 360 (Sep 27): S&T Motiv, United Defense agree Philippine joint venture

South Korean company S&T Motiv has signed an agreement with Philippine firm United Defense Manufacturing Corporation (UDMC) to establish a joint venture (JV) to meet the firearms requirements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Officials from the two companies, which specialise in producing firearms and ammunition, said on 27 September that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) will initially be focused on facilitating collaboration but will eventually lead to investment from both sides to support the local production of S&T Motiv products in the Philippines.

Under the agreement S&T Motiv will transfer technologies and technical know-how to UDMC. Collaboration between the two companies will also be focused on joint research and development (R&D), marketing, and distribution, officials told Jane’s at the Asian Defence and Security (ADAS) 2018 exhibition in Manila.

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2 more Red rebels slain in Philippine encounter

From the Gulf Today (Sep 29): 2 more Red rebels slain in Philippine encounter

Two more members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) were killed in their increasing clashes with government forces in Sorsogon province in the Bicol Region since the Duterte administration officially suspended peace talks with them.

Chief Inspector Maria Luisa Calubaquib, the spokesman of the Bicol regional police, reported the encounter occurred late on Thursday afternoon in a remote “barangay” (village) in the town of Bulan, Sorsogon.

Calubaquib said government forces were on security patrol when they clashed with 15 NPA members who abandoned their two dead comrades as well as two rifles when they fled from the scene.

The police and military have noted the Bulan clash was the latest in the increasing number of encounters between government forces and the insurgents since President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte officially suspended their peace talks early this year.

The NPA is the armed component of the Communist Party of the Philippines that has been waging a Maoist-style insurgency against the government for 50 years, considered the longest in Asia and the Pacific.

Duterte ordered the suspension due to the unabated Maoist attacks on business establishments as well as remote military police outposts while their representatives were talking peace with their government counterparts in Oslo, Norway which has been brokering the negotiations.

In particular, Duterte accused the Maoists of engaging in massive extortion activities preying on business establishments, especially mining and bus companies, under the guise of demanding payment of “revolutionary taxes.”

Army meets 19 Himamaylan village chiefs

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Sep 27): Army meets 19 Himamaylan village chiefs

THE 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army met with 19 village chiefs in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental Monday, September 24.

The meeting was presided by Barangay Captain Benjamin Jose Sian of III-Poblacion, president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) at the City Hall.

Lieutenant Colonel Egberto Dacoscos, commanding Officer of the 62nd IB, in a press release, said they informed them about the alleged propaganda of terrorist groups like the way they exploit issues to influence and create an organization that will go against the government.

They should not be deceived by the issues being propagated by the anti-people and anti-peace terrorist group. They should be reminded who are the real enemies and that the legitimate soldiers are always ready to bring peace and progress, he added.

Dacoscos shared to the village chiefs the incident that happened at Panciao, Manjuyod in Negros Oriental, showing the "merciless acts" done by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) by killing a barangay captain.

Dacoscos reminded them to give their full support to the government to avoid the recurrence of the same incident.

"We are of peace and not on threatening others. Your full support is highly needed in order to meet the objective of winning peace because we cannot succeed if only our organization puts endeavor for this. This is a collaborative effort," he said.

They were also given updates on the Community Support Programs (CSP) of the military in villages of Buenavista, Carabalan, and Mahalang.

A video on peace rally in the province was also presented to show that the NPA group already succeeded in organizing sympathizers.

A forum was also conducted after the talk.

Philippine Woman on ‘Terrorist’ List Wins Major UN Award

From BenarNews (Sep 28): Philippine Woman on ‘Terrorist’ List Wins Major UN Award


United Nations Champions of the Earth Award winner Joan Carling meets with an indigenous family in the Philippines.  Screenshot courtesy the United Nations

A Filipina environmentalist and human rights campaigner tagged as a “terrorist” communist leader by the government is among this year’s recipients of a top UN environmental award, the world body said Thursday.

Joan Carling, an activist for the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development, was named in February to a list of 600 alleged communist insurgents the government is asking a local court to classify as “terrorists.”

Carling received this year’s Champions of the Earth Award, described as the highest environmental award bestowed by the world body, for lifetime achievement. She joined Frenc

President Emmanuel Macron as well as Indian leader Narendra Modi in receiving the award, which was given during the UN’s 73rd UN General Assembly in New York.

Also on the list was Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, who, like Carling, has denied the accusation and claimed the terror tag has potentially placed their lives in danger. The U.N. has asked the government of President Rodrigo Duterte to remove both women from the list, a request it has so far rejected.

“I have dedicated my life to teaching about human rights. I have spent much of it campaigning for environmental protection and sustainable development. So, I was surprised to learn that I was labelled as a terrorist,” Carling said in a statement.

Since being named a “terrorist,” Carling said she has not been back to the Philippines fearing “for the safety of my family and friends.”

She said that while the red tagging has uprooted her, she is more motivated than ever. “I cannot give up the fight for my people.”

Kankanaey tribe

Carling traces her roots to the Kankanaey tribe in the northern Cordillera, a mineral rich northern Philippine region that sits on huge deposits of gold, copper and manganese.

The mountainous region, she said, is under threat from mining companies. She estimates that since 2000, more than half of the region was covered by mining permit applications.

Mining in the area has led to environmental disasters, including a typhoon-triggered landslide that hit the mining town of Itogon three weeks ago.

New People’s Army guerrillas gather at an undisclosed camp somewhere in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao in 2011. (Dennis Jay Santos/BenarNews)

Carling spent most of her youth in the mountains and recalled having seen the displacement of about 100,000 members of a tribal community by a huge hydroelectric dam. She said that those who had opposed the dam were jailed, and a tribal leader was killed.

“What I learned from indigenous communities is this – when we destroy our landscape, we destroy ourselves. By defending our land, we also defend our future and the generations to come,” she said.

Carlin said she earned death threats by saying massive mining operations and dam construction to extract resources were not in the name of development.

“Mines leave massive toxic waste, and communities collapse. These projects cause mass displacement, worsen poverty and destroy the cultural heritage of our people,” she said.

Both Carling and Corpuz have been included in the “terrorist” list because of their alleged ties to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, which has been waging Asia’s longest running insurgency since 1969.

When Duterte, a self-described leftist, took power in 2016 he immediately invited the CPP-NPA to the peace negotiating table, hoping to end the insurgency that has left thousands dead. He had also named several known leftists to his cabinet.

He ended peace talks with the communists in November 2017, saying the guerrillas had reneged on their commitment to peace when members continued with attacks despite a agreeing to a ceasefire.

AFP claims seized laptops, documents prove 'Red October' plot

From GMA News (Sep 28): AFP claims seized laptops, documents prove 'Red October' plot

The military said it has recovered laptop computers and other documents from 13 alleged members of Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in connection with the Red October plot that supposedly seeks to unseat President Rodrigo Duterte.

According to a report by Chino Gaston on “24 Oras”, Brig.Gen. Antonio Parlade,Jr., Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, claimed that these pieces of evidence were nabbed in a counter-insurgency operation in Northern Mindanao last July.

Other items confiscated were bank passbook, telephone and identification cards.

“From there, doon na namin nabuo na hindi lang pala dito sa Manila ang kanilang plano. Buong Pilipinas ang kanilang plano,” Parlade said.

The CPP had earlier denounced the AFP's claims as lies.

"This so-called Red October plot is nothing but an AFP invention. Like the rest of the AFP’s fakery, it is a poorly concocted story," the CPP said, adding that the military came up with the story as early as July.

The communist group said that the real aim of the government forces is "to justify the implementation of increasingly severe measures in the name of defeating the plot to target legitimate protest actions which express the sentiments of a disgruntled people."

Housing occupation

Parlade also accused communists of seeking to close down big companies by staging picket and rallies to sabotage the President, as well as occupying government housing projects just like what urban poor group Kadamay did in Pandi, Bulacan.

He was referring to the 5,000 Kadamay members who occupied the erstwhile unoccupied government housing in Pandi, Bulacan which were allotted for policemen, soldiers and firemen way back March 2017.

President Duterte eventually awarded the housing project to Kadamay occupants last May.

Parlade, however, could not say if National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) raid in Teresa Rizal which yielded unlicensed assault rifles and pistols is in connection with the Red October plot. This is despite of the statement of Brigadier Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, that the raid in Rizal was a result of “months of intelligence operations” against communist rebels and that the results of the raid prove that the Red October plot “cannot be downplayed.”

NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin said that they are yet to find evidence linking the raid to Red October plot.

Violence Resurfaces in Philippines Despite Autonomy Deal With Muslims

From the Voice of America (Sep 28): Violence Resurfaces in Philippines Despite Autonomy Deal With Muslims

FILE - President Rodrigo Duterte, center, and leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, including Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, left, Mohagher Iqbal, right, and Ghadzali Jaafar, second from right, hold together the signed "Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao" during a presentation at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, Aug. 6, 2018

Deadly violence has resurfaced in parts of the long-restive southern Philippines despite an autonomy-sharing deal with local Muslim groups, and authorities are eyeing terrorism by political factions excluded from the deal.

In late August and early September, two explosions hit the southern Philippine province of Sultan Kudarat. One killed two people and injured 30, domestic media reports say. The other killed three. In mid-September, an “improvised explosive device” injured seven people when it went off in General Santos City. Troops discovered other rebels mobilizing Sept. 21 for what they feared was an eventual attack.

Mindanao, Philippines

Southern cities have gone on high alert

The attacks follow decades of violence on the island of Mindanao, where about 120,000 have died because of fighting by Muslim rebels who want more resource control in the majority Christian country.

In August, the government approved a landmark law that gives Muslims in one tract of Mindanao more control. But not all 20 rebel groups were included.

Rebels who feel slighted have picked up the fight again, analysts say. They say some are inspired by Islamic State, a Middle Eastern terrorist group that has tried for the past few years to expand in Southeast Asia.

“ISIS-motivated and other Islamic groups are changing their tactics to hitting soft targets in the big cities and there seems to be a pattern to this, and I think this will be a copycat of what’s happened in the Middle East,” said Eduardo Araral, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s public policy school.

The relatively cheap explosives resemble those of Islamic State, he added.

FILE - Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members secure Camp Darapanan on the southern island of Mindanao, July 29, 2018. Nearly 100,000 members of the Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group gathered to discuss a landmark law granting them autonomy.

Autonomy law not for everyone

Military officials believe the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a rebel group that splintered off from the one involved in signing the autonomy law, probably plotted the attacks. The group, better known by its acronym BIFF, broke off from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in part because it disputed the front’s earlier peace deals with Philippine officials.

The heavily armed front will take the lead in managing a roughly 13,000-square-kilometer autonomous region created by the July law. It will share some resources with the Philippine government and receive state post-conflict relief funding every year for a decade.

Experts say autonomy will work best if the front governs together with other rebel groups on the island of 21 million people.

FILE - A man is seen using a mobile phone while passing a shuttered store front with "MAUTE-ISIS" graffiti, in Marawi city, southern Philippines, Oct. 20, 2017. Maute, an Islamic State affiliate, was among groups the U.S. added to its terror list Tuesday.

Remnants from a separate group of rebels who lost a battle last year for control of the Mindanao city Marawi may have carried out the recent attacks, too, said Herman Kraft, political science professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman in Metro Manila. Troops fought for more than five months against the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group for control of central Marawi. About 1,100 people died in the fighting.

Explosions may show the remnants are coming back together and need recruits, Kraft said. Rebels have retrenched after defeats throughout recent Mindanao’s history.

“Some of these activities are ways of showing they’re still alive, that the prospect of establishing a province is in the works, so it’s more of a signal to locals that they ought to join, they’re not joining a dying revolution, so to speak,” he said.

Communist insurgency
An armed communist insurgency known as the New People’s Army (NPA) could also be plotting attacks, some experts say. The 3,200-person group attacks targets in other parts of the Philippines and has special appeal in Mindanao because of widespread rural poverty.

“Lots of armchair war strategists over here are a little bit leaning more toward that some of (the violence) may be NPA driven,” said Rhona Canoy, president of an international school and part of a political family in the Mindanao city Cagayan de Oro.

The communist group is plotting to oust Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a military unit in Mindanao was quoted saying Thursday. Duterte wants the communists to hold localized peace talks, but the NPA sister group, the Communist Party of the Philippines, rejects the idea as a divide-and-rule strategy.

A landmine that hurt two soldiers in Davao in July may have been planted by the New People’s Army, domestic media say.

Troops and national police have doubled down on security checkpoints in some spots since the latest attacks, Canoy said. The government placed Mindanao under martial law in mid-2017 through the end of this year with the possibility of extending it into 2019.

Abu Sayyaf back in dirty business

From The Star (Sep 27): Abu Sayyaf back in dirty business

KOTA KINABALU: The resurrection of a kidnap-for-ransom group in southern Philippines – after a 21-month hiatus – is posing fresh threats to Sabah’s east coast.

Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders are regrouping after nearly two years on the run.

Some top sub-commanders, who were believed to have been killed in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2016 all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf in their Jolo island stronghold, have resurfaced and are now targeting the east coast to kidnap “high value” victims.
A “resurrected” sub-commander is Indang Susukan, who was widely reported to have died when his wife and children were killed during a security forces’ attack on his home base in Talipao on Jolo island.

He previously held several hostages who were abducted from the east coast of Sabah, including the Tung cousins from Negri Sembilan kidnapped in 2012, Taiwanese Chang An Wei (snatched from Pom Pom island in 2013) and Bernard Then, the first and only Malaysian to be beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf.

Indang is back on the radar of the Philippine security forces as he is believed to be plotting a cross-border kidnapping.

The sub-commander has recovered from gunshot injuries during the security forces’ attack and kept a low profile. He has changed his looks by dyeing his long black hair blonds.

He, however, continues to organise localised kidnappings in Jolo town with the Lucky 9 group.

Indang, according to a regional intelligence source, is working with another Abu Sayyaf sub-commander, Hatib Sawadjan, who managed to stay out of sight during the crackdown on the Abu Sayyaf.

The source said Indang and Hatib received financing from southern Philippine political warlords growing edgy over the newly introduced Bangsamoro Organic Law (also known as Bangsamoro Basic Law).
The BOL creates a Muslim-majority sub-state in the Philippines that will replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

The source explained that the warlords were setting their sights on “high value” victims.

According to the source, the warlords – through Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders – have so far financed up to 1.7 million pesos (RM170,000) for two kidnap-for-ransom groups to carry out kidnapping in Sabah’s east coast waters.

The source said one of the groups, with at least eight gunmen led by Amah Ullah @ Suraka, tried to target an oil palm-laden tugboat in Tambisan waters off Lahad Datu on Aug 10. But the group failed after Malaysian forces sped to the scene when they were alerted by the crew who hid in the tugboat.
The source said Suraka was backed by another group of seven under Salip Murah who was waiting at the sea borders.

Conspicuous disguise: Indang is said to be sporting blond hair now.

After the failed attempt, Philip­pine authorities tracked down Sura­ka in the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands in southern Philippines and killed him a few days later while several members of his eight-man gang were caught, the source added.
Subsequently, Salip and his group fled towards the Philippines’ Pala­wan island (north of Kudat) where they picked up two Filipino hostages and returned to Jolo.
The source said Indang paid two other groups one million pesos (RM100,000) to seek high-value targets in Sabah waters.
On Sept 11, a group led by an Abu Sayyaf gunman named Titing used pump boats to sneak from Siluag island in southern Philippines into Sabah waters by navigating through shallow shoals.

Pump boats, often likened to sea scooters, are powered by water pumps and used as a cheaper mode of transport to move around shallow waters without any hassle, rather than using outboard engines.

The source said for kidnap-for-ransom groups, travelling on a pump boat was much cheaper as it cost them about RM200 in fuel for a round trip from Jolo to Semporna. With speedboat engines, the fuel could cost over RM1,000.

“These pump boats are very agile, they can move through shallow waters and also seaweed farms without getting stuck like those with outboard engines,” he said.

In the latest case, the abductors snatched two Indonesian fishermen at gunpoint from a trawler anchored near Pulau Gaya, which is about a 30- to 40-minute boat ride from Semporna town.

Samsul Sagunim, 40, and Usman Yunus, 35, were taken on a pump boat to Jolo where they are said to be held by Indang in Patikul.

“The kidnappers thought that the hostages were Malaysians as the fishing trawler flew the Malaysian flag,” said the source, adding that a Malaysian hostage could be worth a ransom of about RM1mil whereas it was only about RM50,000 for an Indonesian boatman.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah told reporters on Tuesday that the captors were demanding RM4mil for the release of the fishermen.

“That’s not surprising because usually the initial ransom demand is outrageous as it is part of such groups’ bargaining process,” said the source.

Before this, the last abduction on Sabah waters was on Dec 8, 2016, when the notorious Abraham @ Ibrahim went on a kidnapping spree. In his third bid that night, Abraham and two accomplices were killed by police in a gunfight off Pulau Gaya in Semporna.

Police rescued a victim but two other kidnappers and a second victim are still missing at sea.

According to the source, the second kidnap-for-ransom group led by one self-styled Commander Black is lurking in the waters between eastern Sabah and Tawi-Tawi chain of islands.
“Commander Black is an emerging kidnapper. He is aggressive and he will take on security forces if confronted,” he said.

The source said they were using “spotters” to give them information on potential targets.

“The Sept 11 kidnapping was a test run. It was successful and the kidnap-for-ransom group will use the same route – going through shallow waters – to go for a more audacious attempt along the shores of Semporna town,” he said.

However, Commander Black’s plan might have hit a snag.

Last Thursday night in the waters off Kunak, Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) shot dead two suspected kidnap-for-ransom group “collaborators” and recovered two revolvers, a samurai sword and a pump boat which were suspected to be used in the kidnapping of the two Indonesians.

Esscom commander Deputy Comm Datuk Hazani Ghazali said they believed the two killed were key local links to the groups involved in the Sept 11 snatching of the two Indonesians off Pulau Gaya.

“I believe we have cut off their links, hopefully they will not have spotters to guide them into our waters,” he said when contacted.

Abu Sayyaf regrouping, but gov‘t vows to crush them

From the Manila Standard (Sep 28): Abu Sayyaf regrouping, but gov‘t vows to crush them

The Duterte administration is ready to face the threats of kidnapping for ransom by the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Palace said Thursday, following reports members have been regrouping to conduct cross-border kidnappings in Mindanao.

After nearly two years of being on the run, the ASG steps again its business of kidnapping for ransom as some of the group’s sub-commanders have regrouped. The Star, a Malaysian newspaper, reported the group posed fresh threats in the east coast of Sabah.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the government was prepared to meet the possible trouble brought by the known kidnap-for-ransom group.

“Well, I can only say that we are ready to face the threat of the Abu Sayyaf. They need to regroup because we already have pulverized them,” Roque told a Palace press briefing Thursday.

“And you can expect that even if they do all sorts of recruitment, our government can easily crush them,” he said.

The report said the sub-commanders Indang Susukan and Hatib Sawadjan, still alive, were plotting to conduct a cross-border kidnapping, claiming they have received finances from political figures in Mindanao who oppose the Bangsamoro Organic Law. ​

How the modernization of the Philippine Air Force is going

From InterAksyon (Sep 26): How the modernization of the Philippine Air Force is going

Philippine Air Force planes purchased in 2017. (Philippine Air Force page)
The Philippine Air Force continues to beef up its defense and surveillance capabilities at a time of maritime tensions.

Aerospace company Airbus at a press conference on Tuesday in Manila presented an aircraft it is recommending to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The tactical and strategic aircraft A400M and the C295, a number of which the air force purchased in 2014 and the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport are among the products the company will offer in line with the armed forces’ modernization drive.

The C295 is hailed as one of the top planes for maritime and overland surveillance, with an integrated tactical system that provides fusion to assist pilots.

The A400M airlifter meanwhile is in use in Asia’s most developed countries such as Malaysia and Singapore.
The country’s defense department, meanwhile, has its eyes on two squadrons of multi-role fighters, that will possibly come from Sweden’s Saab. An additional 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter planes are also expected to be delivered from South Korea.

Calls to modernize the Philippines’ defense and surveillance assets have sounded in recent years amid tense relations with China over its overreaching claims in the South China Sea.

Former president Benigno Aquino III in July 2013 set aside P75 billion to help modernize the air force by purchasing new and modern aircraft before the end of his term. President Rodrigo Duterte also vowed to bankroll the program’s second phase from 2018 to 2022.

Military modernization: An urgent requirement

RA 10349 or the Revised AFP Modernization Act expressly mandates the active development of the AFP’s capabilities. The purchase of new equipment and weapons and the phaseout of old assets is one of the law’s directives.

Passed in 2012, the updated version of the modernization act first passed in 1995 mandates the continued improvement of the country’s arms capabilities for 15 years following passage of the act.
Horizon 2 of the program is expected to run from 2018 to 2022 and mandates the purchase of different kinds of aircraft and as well as unmanned aerial vehicles for the benefit of the air force. A budget of P300 billion for Horizon 2 was approved in June 2018.

The acquisition of a number of multi-role fighter jets was approved in June 2018, one of the first big approved purchases under the modernization act’s second phase this year.

Those advocating for the modernization of the country’s military are celebrating the country’s recent purchases so far.

Some analysts have attested to the Philippines’ modernization of the AFP’s assets over the years, even as ties with China improved under the Duterte administration.

Alexander Vuving of the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies pointed to an increase in purchases of sea vessels and aircraft as proof of the country’s commitment to improving its defense and security assets.

Sources of new assets

The Philippines aside from purchasing from private manufacturers has also consolidated security and defense partnerships with other countries.

The Australian government sent a number of aircraft to the Philippines during the Marawi siege of 2017 to help local armed forces identify terrorist elements in the city.

A conference attended by various policy organizations based in Australia as well as representatives from the Department of National Defense and the Australian Embassy held in July 2018 in Manila explored opportunities for security cooperation between the Philippines and Australia.

The government of Jordan in May 2018 also pledged to donate two attack helicopters to the Philippines.

A “wishlist” prepared by military officials puts the emphasis on equipment needed by the PAF, which includes multi-role fighters, airlifters, maritime patrol aircraft and heavy lift helicopters.

Duterte on reward for soldiers’ bravery: ‘Rolex na sunod’

From ABS-CBN (Sep 29): Duterte on reward for soldiers’ bravery: ‘Rolex na sunod’

DAVAO CITY - Patay ang isang miyembro ng Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) habang sugatan ang isang sundalo sa engkuwentro ng 3rd Infantry Battalion (IB) ng Philippine Army at mga hinihinalang miyembro ng New People's Army (NPA) sa Barangay Salaysay sa lungsod na ito Biyernes ng hapon.

Kinilala ang namatay na miyembro ng CAFGU na si Jonel Ombayo. Ayon sa asawang si Irene, wala pang isang taon sa pagiging CAFGU ang kaniyang asawa. Siya rin lamang ang inaasahan ng kaniyang pamilya para makabangon sa kahirapan.

Ayon sa 3rd IB, una silang pinaputukan ng Pulang Bagani Command 2 at Guerilla Front 53 ng NPA sa Sitio Alicuson nang rumesponde sila sa mga sumbong ng mga residente laban sa pangingikil sa komunidad.

Sugatan din sa engkuwentro si Private First Class Dave Gonzales.

Pinasabugan din umano sila ng landmine kaya gumanti na ng putok ang mga sundalo.

Binigyan na ng tulong pinansyal ang nabiyudang asawa ng sundalo.

Nangako naman ang 3rd IB na tutulungan ang pamilya ni Ombayo.

Patuloy ang hot pursuit operation laban sa NPA.

Duterte on reward for soldiers’ bravery: ‘Rolex na sunod’

From ABS-CBN (Sep 29): Duterte on reward for soldiers’ bravery: ‘Rolex na sunod’

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he would give luxury watches to soldiers in Agusan del Sur should they show exceptional bravery performing their duties. File/Malacañang Photo
(UPDATE)—President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he would give luxury watches to soldiers in Agusan del Sur should they show exceptional bravery performing their duties.

Duterte gave the 401st and the 402nd Infantry Brigades P100,000 each for their service in a ceremony held in the provincial capital of Prosperidad town, then brought up his offer of designer timepieces.

“’Yung each brigade will get . . . we’ll give you P100,000 each para pang-blowout ninyo pag-uwi ninyo sa kampo,” Duterte told soldiers in Agusan del Sur.

“And, of course, ’yung nakatanggap na ng relo, hindi na ’yan. Rolex na sunod. Oo, totoo. Di ako nagsusuot ng, pero pagka valor kayong lahat, Rolex kayong lahat. Sigurado ’yan.”

Duterte commended the Armed Forces’ Western Command for “a wonderful performance.”

“Maganda ang pinakita ninyo sa bayan. And I give you my salute,” he said.

The President led the awarding of medals to the military personnel under the said infantry brigades and the donning of ranks to newly promoted officers.

Last year, Duterte said he received a Rolex watch for his upcoming birthday but refused to accept it.

“My birthday is coming up. Do not give me the gifts. Somebody gave me a Rolex watch, gold, in advance. I returned it. He does not want to accept it,” Duterte said in a speech in March 2017.

Philippines, US to add more security cooperation activities next year

From ABS-CBN (Sep 29): Philippines, US to add more security cooperation activities next year

Philippine and US marines participate in an annual joint military exercise in May. According to an AFP statement released on Friday, The two countries agreed on 281 security cooperation activities for 2019, an increase from 261 activities this year. File/Ted Aljibe, AFP​

US Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. Philip Davidson and AFP chief of staff General Carlito Galvez sign agreements on security cooperation activities for 2019. Handout
The Philippines and United States have agreed to increase military activities for next year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Friday.

The two countries agreed on 281 security cooperation activities for 2019, an increase from 261 activities this year, the AFP said in a statement.

The activities were approved by AFP chief Gen. Carlito Galvez and US Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. Philip Davidson on Thursday during an annual meeting of the Mutual Defense Board (MDB) and Security Engagement Board (SEB) at Camp Aguinaldo.

"We have been doing this year after year, and yet there is still so much left to learn. We hope that this year would be another fruitful interaction that will lead to favorable outcome. May our discussions lead to actions, and may these actions thereby lead us to success," Galvez said in a statement.

Before the MDB-SEB meeting the military chief co-chairs, Davidson paid a courtesy call to Galvez.

"During the visit, matters of mutual interest were discussed including the strength of the US-Philippine partnership and the importance of the U.S-Philippine alliance to the Indo-Pacific region," said Col. Noel Detoyato, chief of AFP's Public Affairs Office.

Patikul update: RHRC asks 3 military officials in Sulu to answer claims 7 killed were not Abu Sayyaf members

From MindaNews (Sep 29): Patikul update: RHRC asks 3 military officials in Sulu to answer claims 7 killed were not Abu Sayyaf members

The Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has asked three military officials in Sulu to answer allegations in the affidavits of families and witnesses that the seven persons slain in Patikul town on September 14 were civilians harvesting fruits and not Abu Sayyaf members killed in an encounter as the military claimed.

Atty. Fatten Hinay, head of the BaSulTa (Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-tawi) sub-regional office of the RHRC told MindaNews on Friday that subpoenas were served Wednesday afternoon on Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu; Lt. Col. Samuel Yunque, commander of Task Group Panther; and Capt. MichaelAsistores of the Scout Rangers.

She said the officials were given five working days or until Wednesday, October 3, to “answer the allegations in the affidavits” of the families and witnesses.

Three probe teams have been sent to Patikul, Sulu to look into the alleged massacre of seven persons on Friday, September 14, 2018. The military claims they were Abu Sayyaf members killed in an encounter. Relatives of the victims said they were civilians harvesting mangosteen fruits. Photo courtesy of Mahmur Arula

The Western Mindanao Command’s press release on September 15 said that while troops of Task Group Panther led by Yunque and the Scout Rangers led by Asistores were conducting a “focused military operation,” they encountered “more or less 100 fully armed Abu Sayyafs” under senior leader Radullan Sahiron and sub leaders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and Idang Susukan in Barangay Bakong, Patikul town.

It said seven Abu Sayyaf members were killed and six others were injured, including Sawadjaan, while 17 soldiers were “slightly wounded due to shrapnel.”

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) last week sent a team composed of representatives from the central office in Manila and Western Mindanao CHR, in coordination with the RHRC to meet with and get the affidavits of the families of the victims and witnesses. The families also gave their consent to an exhumation of the bodies to determine the cause and manner of death, Atty. Jacqueline de Guia, CHR Executive Director told MindaNews last Sunday. The CHR and RHRC are still arranging the schedule for the exhumation.

Hinay said the RHRC also issued a subpoena duces tecum for the military to present before the RHRC the logbook at the detachment of the 45th Infantry Battalion which supposedly contains the names of persons who sought permission from the military “to go to their lands in the critical areas in Patikul,” among them the seven victims who allegedly harvested fruits, and harvest fruits, the youngest of whom was 15.

A relative of the victims told MindaNews the seven were among residents who fled their sitios in Kabuntakas and evacuated to safer grounds due to armed conflict, allegedly after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial Mindanao-wide on May 23, 2017.

But as is the common practice in conflict-affected areas, residents who wish to return to their areas to harvest, for example, need to bring their identification cards and affix their signatures on the logbook at the military detachment and again report to the detachment when they have left the area.

The subpoena duces tecum was not served on Wednesday and Thursday “because of (military) operation in Igasan, Patikul where the detachment is,” Hinay explained. But it was finally served Friday afternoon, she said.

The RHRC, in a Sept. 19 statement signed by chair Abdulnasser Badrudin, said the Commission “maintains and reminds the state that right to life continues to be inviolable even in times of military operations and martial law.”

The RHRC noted that while the Armed Forces of the Philippines “claims that the seven were killed in an encounter, still, the incident shows semblance of an ing1excessive use of military authority and failure to exercise due diligence in identifying ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) members during military operations.”

The joint CHR and RHRC investigations are still ongoing.

Last week, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez told MindaNews that a team from the Inspector General Office was activated on September 17 to conduct a probe on what happened in Patikul, to “ensure that all raised issues will be answered.”

MindaNews has repeatedy followed up on the findings of the AFP probe and it followed up again on Friday but Galvez has yet to send his reply.

The House Committee on Human Rights has yet to act on the resolution introduced by the Makabayan bloc, another representative and the chair of the House Committee on Peace, Reconiliation and Unity, to conduct a probe of what happened in Patikul.

PRRD to visit Army camp in Agusan Sur

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 28): PRRD to visit Army camp in Agusan Sur

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is set to visit the Philippine Army’s 401st Brigade at Camp Datu Lipus Makapandong in Brgy. Awa, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur on Saturday, Sept. 29.

President Duterte will lead the donning of ranks and awarding of medals to deserving troops under the 401st Brigade.

He is expected to arrive at the venue by 4 pm and will speak before some 400 soldiers and civilian personnel from the 401st and 402nd Brigades.

He is also set to hold an executive briefing with military officials led by 401st Brigade Commander BGen. Andres Centino.

Afterwhich, the president will join the troops in the ‘Boodle’ fight dinner at the venue.

Army’s 2ID soldiers spearhead 'bike for peace'

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 29): Army’s 2ID soldiers spearhead 'bike for peace'

BIKE FOR PEACE. Soldiers and civilians show their winning form in the 40-kilometer “Bike for Peace” race on Saturday (Sept. 29, 2018) from the headquarters of the 80th Infantry Battalion in Baras, Rizal to Camp General Mateo Capinpin, Tanay Rizal. The race was hosted by the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division (2ID), led by its commander Major General Rhoderick M. Parayno. (Photo courtesy of 2ID-PAO)

CAMP GEN. MATEO CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – The Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division (2ID) kicked off on Saturday morning its “October Peace 2018,” highlighting a 40-kilometer ‘bike for peace’ race from Baras, Rizal to this camp.

The “Bike for Peace” carried the theme “Nagkakaisang kasundaluhan at mamayan tungo sa layuning mapayapa at masaganang Timog Katagalugan” (united soldiers and the citizenry towards a peaceful and prosperous Southern Luzon).

Col. Marceliano V. Teofilo, Chief of Staff of the 2ID, led the bike run starting 6:30 a.m. from the Headquarters 80th Infantry Battalion in Baras, Rizal to the finish line in this camp.

Around 157 bikers composed of officers, enlisted personnel, dependents, civilian employees, retired soldiers and other civilian guest bike riders joined the race.

Major General Rhoderick M. Parayno, 2ID Commander, led the awarding of plaques to the winners especially the Banana Bikers, who won the 1st place in the team category.

Parayno also thanked and congratulated all the participants for hurdling the bike race as opening salvo for the October Peace observance.

He said the month-long series of events advocates not only health but fellowship as well.

“We would like also to promote the peace and security efforts of 2ID in the regions”, Parayno added.

Meanwhile, Capt. Patrick Jay M. Retumban, chief of the 2ID public affairs office, said the upcoming events include a Basketball Tournament (Oct. 6); Football Tournament (Oct. 11); Golf for Peace (Oct. 12); Run for Peace (Oct. 13); Foot march/Trekking (Oct. 14) and the two-day Shoot for Peace (Oct 17-18).

Next month’s activities also include the Mega Zumba (Oct. 19); Bingo Social (Oct. 19); Towering, Trade and Food Fair, Jungle Fighter Bar and Photo Booth (Oct 15- 20), and the Musical Night (Oct. 20).

He said the events are open to all interested civilians.

Task Force Balik Loob welcomes 64 rebel returnees

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 29): Task Force Balik Loob welcomes 64 rebel returnees

REBEL RETURNEES. Former members of the New People's Army, who decided to return to mainstream society, flash the peace sign as they were formally welcomed by Task Force Balik Loob during the E-CLIP turnover ceremony held at the Capitol Building in Nabunturan town, Compostela Valley on Thursday (Sept. 27, 2018). The 64 returnees were given livelihood aid and cash for the firearms they surrendered. (Photo courtesy of the DND Public Affairs Service)
Some 64 former members of the New People's Army (NPA) in Compostella Valley province were formally welcomed to mainstream society by Task Force Balik Loob during a short ceremony on September 27.

“Bilang mga makabayang mamamayang Pilipino, ating pakatandaan na ang pagkakaisa at kapayapaan ng sambayanan ang daan tungo sa maunlad na kinabukasan ng bayan (As patriotic Filipinos, we must remember that a united and peaceful country is the path towards a progressive future)," Task Force Balik Loob head Reynaldo Mapagu, who is also Defense Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans and Retirees Affairs, told the rebel returnees during the ceremony, held at the social hall of the Capitol Building in Nabunturan town in Compostela Valley.

Mapagu said these former NPAs were given immediate and livelihood assistance, as well as cash in exchange for the firearms they surrendered.

Compostela Valley Governor Jayvee Tyron L. Uy and Vice Governor Manuel E. Zamora handed to the former rebels their Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) benefits.

Each rebel returnee received a check worth PHP65,000 representing immediate and livelihood assistance amounting to PHP15,000 and PHP50,000, respectively.

A total of 25 of them also received remuneration for surrendering their firearms to the government, ranging from PHP10,000 to PHP75,000, depending on the type and condition of the weapon surrendered.

E-CLIP is one of the flagship programs of the Duterte administration that seek to address social healing and national unity towards the higher objective of having just and lasting peace.

It aims to provide social equity to former members of the NPA, Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and the Militia ng Bayan to reintegrate them into mainstream society.

Unlike previous government reintegration programs, the E-CLIP provides a wide array of benefits based on the particular needs of the former rebels and their families, such as financial assistance, shelter, education, skills training, health care, and legal assistance, through a convergence of various national and local government agencies.

These benefits, Mapagu said, are not the “end” but just the means or tools to aid the former rebels while in the process of transitioning into mainstream society.

NPA, drug links eyed in ex-kagawad’s slay

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 29): NPA, drug links eyed in ex-kagawad’s slay

The Philippine National Police is considering several possible angles, such as illegal drug activities and alleged involvement of the New People’s Army in the death of a former councilman Elmer Cabayaof Barangay Panciao, Manjuyod, who was shot Monday in adjacent Bindoy town, Negros Oriental.

A police progress report from the Bindoy police station forwarded yesterday by Supt. Kat Ramos of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office, disclosed that the police have received various information that could possibly be linked to the death Cabaya.

While the Bindoy police station is verifying different reports on Cabaya’s activities before his death, the police report said “there is a strong indication that it (the shooting) was perpetrated by the members of the NPA, after (the) said victim received several death threats from the group through text messages”.

Cabaya was shot dead in Sitio Bayog, Barangay Cabcaban – a mountainous barangay about 33 kilometers from the town proper of Bindoy, the report said.

The victim was a livestock buyer/seller and a former kagawad, or councilor, of Barangay Panciao, Manjuyod.

Cabaya was driving his motorcycle with backriders Peter Cabaya Gordon and Anecito Acebes, from SitioAbaka, Barangay Nalundan in Bindoy, where they sold livestock in the regular “tabo” or market day, when the suspects opened fire at them.

Gordon and Acebes told investigators that after they fell off the motorcycle, they stood up and tried to help the bloodied Cabaya.

Police ruled out robbery after finding out that the PHP3,000 cash of Cabaya, that he received from the sale of a cattle, was intact.

Police investigators are also looking into other reports that the victim was an alleged former NPA supporter who later became a military informant, and his reported involvement in the shooting to death of Panciao barangay chairman Mario Gonzales over a family grudge.

Gonzales was shot dead several weeks ago by suspected NPA members who allegedly warned him against seeking re-election, as the rebel group wanted to field its own candidate, the Manjuyod police said.

Army condemns militiaman’s killing

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 29): Army condemns militiaman’s killing

The Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade yesterday condemned the latest atrocity perpetrated by New People’s Army rebels, who claimed responsibility for the killing of an off-duty government militiaman in Guihulngan, City, Negros Occidnetal.

The NPA Leonardo Panaligan Command had claimed responsibility for the killing of CAFGU member Rodolfo Yucaran on Sept. 23 in Brgy. Tacpao, Guihulngan City.

Col. Alberto Desoyo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday “ these terrorist murderers are now in desperate times, killing an unarmed CAFGU member, which clearly violates the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law."

Desoyo said that Yucaran died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Police investigations showed that the victim was on his way to Sitio Bantayan in Barangay Tacpao, Guihulngan City, on his motorcycle, when he was waylaid, and shot simultaneously by four gunmen.

“I urge the people to condemn this inhumane act by the communist terrorist group. There is no room for terrorism if the intention, really, is to help the poor, to help the people.” Desoyo said.

Philippine coast guard orders single H145

From Update Philippines (Sep 27): Philippine coast guard orders single H145

The Philippines coast guard has ordered a single Airbus Helicopters H145, which will function in the search and rescue (SAR) and law enforcement missions.

This will be the first H145 in the Philippines used for parapublic missions, says Airbus Helicopters.

The 4t rotorcraft will be equipped with high frequency radios, emergency flotation gear, fast roping capability, a cargo sling, a search light, and other systems consistent with the SAR, medical evacuation, maritime patrol, and law enforcement missions.

“We are honoured by the Philippine Coast Guard’s decision to introduce the country’s first parapublic H145 into its fleet, as the perfect complement to the current workhorse BO105 which has served the agency well for the past 40 years,” says Philippe Monteux, regional head for Airbus Helicopters.

Photo: Singapore Army Visit at TABAK

From Update Philippines (Sep 29): Photo: Singapore Army Visit at TABAK

Singapore Army Visit at TABAK

COL ANDREW LIM, Commander HQ 9 Division/ Chief Infantry Officer, Singapore Army and party, visited 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army on 26 September 2018.

DILG backs AFP's proposed anti-communist task force

From Rappler (Sep 29): DILG backs AFP's proposed anti-communist task force

A former Armed Forces chief himself, DILG Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año says the country's long-running communist insurgency 'is not primarily a military or police problem but a governance problem'

EX-AFP CHIEF. In this file photo, DILG OIC Eduardo Año speaks during a press conference at the PDEA Headquarters in Quezon City. File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

EX-AFP CHIEF. In this file photo, DILG OIC Eduardo Año speaks during a press conference at the PDEA Headquarters in Quezon City. File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Saturday, September 29, threw its support behind the proposed anti-communist task force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In a statement on Saturday, September 29, DILG Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año said that the long-running communist insurgency "is not primarily a military or police problem but a governance problem."

Effectively ending it "requires not only police and military response but necessitates a triad of development, governance, and security efforts," Año added.

He agreed with AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr, who said that to quash communist recruitment, civilian agencies and other stakeholders must be aware of and integrated in a "whole-of-government strategy."

"Insurgency is rooted in poverty, inequality, and grievances that could be addressed by respective mandates of various government institutions," said Año, himself a former AFP Chief of Staff.

"We have all the mechanisms to face these issues but all government agencies have to perform our roles in a concerted manner."

While Año noted that the military is "winning the battle in the mountains" and that there have been many communist surrenderers, "it's in the propaganda war and parliamentary battle that we are losing."

"Communists are using as propaganda the inefficacies of government to advance their aspiration of toppling democracy. Thus, all instrumentalities of the government have to recognize their role in addressing this urgent and long standing problem," he said.

Año added that the proposed national task force "will ensure that other government agencies help the [Department of National Defense] and DILG in this effort." (READ: Anti-communist task force for talking not shooting – PNP)

Año also said there is "no need for a loyalty check" among the ranks of the Philippine National Police (PNP), which is under the DILG. He said the PNP's allegiance "is to the Constitution and the people."

The AFP earlier said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has supposedly hatched a "Red October" plot alongside members of the opposition to remove President Rodrigo Duterte from office. (READ: Duterte slams communists amid supposed ouster plot)

On Saturday, Senator Franklin Drilon denied "in the strongest possible terms" that the Liberal Party (LP) is part of any supposed move to oust the President. (READ: Linking opposition to Red October plot ‘politicizes the AFP’ – Robredo)

In a DWIZ radio interview, Drilon said LP's link to the supposed ouster plot is "propaganda without basis."

"We will stand together with the people to defend our Constitution. We will never agree to any destabilization move, much less to be part of it."

Asked about the AFP supposedly having proof against LP, Drilon said, "If they have any evidence that the Liberal Party is part of it, ilabas na nila para malaman ang katotohanan (release it now so we will know the truth)."

OPAPP, MPC collaborate forpeace consciousness month

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 27): OPAPP, MPC collaborate forpeace consciousness month

The office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) partnered with the Mindanao Peace Council (MPC) for the annual celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month.

The celebration is broken down into three major activities: the “Dagan para sa Kalinaw” a fun-run for a cause led by the MPC in partnership with 4Life last Sept. 2, 2018 at the Rizal Park, San Pedro Street, Davao City with approximately 1,000 participants, next is the three-day multi-cultural Peace Fair Bazaar held on Sep. 13 at the Abreeza Mall, Davao City with a total of 40 exhibitors from inside and outside of the city where 15 were from the indigenous peoples, and now this coming Sept. 28, 2018, OPPAP in partnership with MPC is set to lead the national culmination.

The National Peace Consciousness Month is mandated under Proclamation No. 675 issued in July 2004, which aims to “instill greater consciousness and understanding among the Filipino people on the comprehensive peace process to strengthen and sustain institutional and popular support for and participation in this effort, as well as in the global movement spearheaded by the United Nations to promote a culture of peace based on non-violence, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, tolerance, understanding and solidarity.”

 “Working for peace is not just for the government agencies and we do believe the significance of working with the CSOs (civil society organizations) because certainly it is the CSO that will sustain these gains… that’s why we partnered with Mindanao Peace Council,” said Oliver Binansilan, OPAPP-Davao region area manager on Wednesday.

 The national culmination opens with a motorcade parade that will start at 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., followed by a culmination program from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., after that “Huni sa Kalinaw,” a peace concert will follow from 6 p.m. onward.

“The very purpose of this is to instill greater appreciation and better understanding of the public in the implementation of the peace process,” said Binansilan.

The OPAPP invited national agencies in Region 11, LGU and the key municipalities and cities in Davao Region. The OPAPP sent an invitation to President Rodrigo Duterte. The five peace tables such Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP/RPA-ABB) are also expected to attend the said event.

 The IP students and OPAPP scholars from Talaingod, Davao del Norte and Kapalong, Davao del Norte are also expected to attend the event and will be performing in the culmination. They will serve as a representative on behalf of the people in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas and conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

240 Cafgus complete basic military training

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 28): 240 Cafgus complete basic military training

A total of 240 Cafgus graduated from a 45-day basic military training conducted in Surigao del Sur.

Capt. Francisco Garello Jr., the civil-military operations officer (CMO) and acting executive officer of 36th Infantry Battalion, said the unit, along with the 16th Special Forces Company and 3rd Special Forces Battalion (SFBn), helped shape up the civilian volunteers.

The closing ceremony was conducted on Wednesday, with Mayor Salvacion Azarcon of Lanuza, Surigao del Sur as guest of honor, at the unit’s headquarters in St. Christine, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Garello said the 240 newly appointed CAAs (cafgu active auxiliaries) mostly coming from Carmen, Lanuza, Tandag, and Cantilan of Surigao del Sur will be deployed to the newly established patrol bases in the 36th IB’s areas of operation as part of the strengthening of the integrated territorial defense system (ITDS) in the communities.

He said they will also augment the regular troops in the conduct of the AFP’s community support program in the conflict areas to help drive out the communist rebels from the communities.

The ceremony was also graced by Lt. Col. Parralag, commanding officer of 3rd Special Forces Battalion; Maj. Marcos Quico, the battalion commander Surigao del Sur Ready Reserve Battalion; and Garello as an acting battalion executive officer.