Friday, October 19, 2018

Bomb-maker killed in Maguindanao clash

From the Philippine Star (Oct 19): Bomb-maker killed in Maguindanao clash

Guerillas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front shot dead a bomb-maker in an encounter Thursday in the hostile Mamasapano town in Maguindanao.

Local officials and units of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Mamapasano, located in the second district of Maguindanao, confirmed on Friday the death of Saudi Sabang in the gunfight.

Sabang, reportedly trained in the fabrication of improvised explosive devices by the slain Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, most known as “Marwan,” belonged to the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, or BIFF.
Two of Sabang’s companion, Aktab Musib and Kadun Sanuy, were also wounded in the incident.

The group, operating in the fashion of the Islamic State, has been trying to sabotage the now 20-year peace process between the government and the MILF.

Reports reaching the office of Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of 6th ID, indicated that the skirmishes on Thursday in Barangay Pimbalakan in Mamasapano involved local MILF guerillas and the group of BIFF Commander Zainudin Kiaro.

Barangay leaders said the encounter erupted when BIFF gunmen attacked MILF guerillas marching towards Sitio Makalag in Barangay Pimbalakan to check on the reported convergence there of gunmen displaying a black Islamic State flag.

The MILF and the government are bound by a 1997 interim ceasefire pact to mutually cooperate in addressing peace and security issues permeating in any conflict-flashpoint area in southern provinces.

The MILF lost 17 guerillas in a two-month campaign last year against BIFF terrorists in Maguindanao’s adjoining Datu Salibo, Shariff Saidona Mustapha and Datu Piang towns.

No fewer than 30 BIFF gunmen perished in the MILF offensive that also forced leaders of the terrorist group, eloquent in stoking hatred for non-Muslims, to retreat deeper into the nearby Liguasan Delta, a common lair of IS-inspired blocs and criminal gangs.

50 ex-NPA rebels complete TESDA course in Misamis Occidental

From the Philippine Star (Oct 20): 50 ex-NPA rebels complete TESDA course in Misamis Occidental


Fifty former rebels of the New People’s Army in toga attend their graduation after completing a vocational course provided by the Technical Skills and Development Authority inside a military camp in Plaridel town, Misamis Occidental.

At least 50 rebel returnees have graduated after taking up a vocational couse offered by the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority in Misamis Occidental early this week, according to security official.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of Western Mindanao Command, said 50 former members of the New People’s Army marched in black toga during the closing ceremony on Monday. They were given a certificate for completing electrical installation and maintenance National Certification II, a course provided by TESDA at the headquarters of the 10th Infantry Battalion in Plaridel town.

Besana said the 10th IB initiated the government program in coordination with TESDA and Misamis Occidental Gov. Herminia D. Ramiro.

Besana said Ramiro reminded the former rebels that they are now equipped with technical skills which will pave the way for a new beginning of their life.

Lt. Col. Ryan Severo, 10th IB commander, said they will continue the program with the help of various stakeholders to assist former rebels to reintegrate them into mainstream society. 

The military official said skills training is another way to help rebel returnees besides the financial program where NPA combatants and mass supporters initially receive monetary support in exchange for surrendering firearms.

Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, commander of the 1st Army Division and Joint Task Force Zampelan, commended the efforts of the 10IB and stakeholders to attain peace.

“This will encourage more rebels to surrender and take advantage of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government,” Murillo said.

Rebel killed, 2 soldiers injured

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 18): Rebel killed, 2 soldiers injured

A suspected member of the New People’s Army died, while two government soldiers were slightly injured in an encounter at about 4 a.m. yesterday in Sitio Nabali-an, Brgy. Carol-an, Ayungon, Negros Oriental.

Col. Alberto Desoyo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said that 62nd Infantry Battalion soldiers responded to reports of civilians about the presence of an armed group in the area.

Desoyo said 62IB soldiers managed to catch up with about 15 New People’s Army rebels and that triggered a gunbattle that lasted for several minutes, after which the communist rebels withdrew leaving behind their slain comrade.

The slain alleged NPA member was identified only through his alias “Dagul”. His cadaver has been turned over to the Ayungon Police Station for identification by his relatives.

Desoyo confirmed that two Army soldiers were also slightly injured, as a result of the encounter. But their identities were not available as of yesterday.

Lt Col. Egberto Dacoscos, 62IB commander, said the troopers, while approaching their target, were fired at by rebels and, that triggered about 40 minutes of gunbattle.

Recovered from the encounter site were two combat packs, two hand held radios with chargers, two magazines of AK 47 assault rifles, two rifle grenades and subversive documents with high intelligence value.

Desoyo said clearing operations are still ongoing and pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels are still underway.

Dacoscos, meanwhile, recognized the vigilance of the local populace for reporting the presence of armed group in the area.

Military claims 3 Maute-ISIS remnants surrender in Lanao Sur

From GMA News (Oct 20): Military claims 3 Maute-ISIS remnants surrender in Lanao Sur

CAMP SANG-AN, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur –A military commander in Lanao del Sur of Saturday said three remnants of the ISIS influenced Maute members surrendered last Thursday, a year after Marawi City was declared liberated from the 5-month siege by the terrorist group.

Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Villanueva, 49th Infantry Battalion Commander, told reporters that the three, whom he did not identify, surrendered to his command through efforts of some local officials.

The three, he said, also yielded one RPG, one caliber .45 handgun, magazines, and ammunition.

According to Villanueva, “the three were recruited during the Marawi Siege, however they were not able to insert in the main battle area due to the relentless security efforts and checkpoints around Lanao Lake.

“One of them was involved in Pagayawan clash last June 2018,” he added.

Major General Roseller Murillo, Joint Task Force Zampelan Commander, commended the troops, local officials and other concerned groups for facilitating the surrender of the Maute remnants.

“We will continuously collaborate with different stakeholders and concerned citizens to encourage other Maute-ISIS remnants to surrender and go back to mainstream society,” Murillo added.

Suspected NPA killed in clash with troopers

From the Daily Guardian (Oct 20): Suspected NPA killed in clash with troopers

AYUNGON, Negros Oriental – A suspected member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) was killed in an encounter with members of the Army’s 62nd Infantry (Unifier) Battalion at Sitio Nabali-an, Barangay Carol-an, Ayungon Negros Oriental, morning of October 18, 2018.

The alleged rebel was identified as alias “Dagul” based on a report from the 303rd Brigade of the Philippine Army said.

His body has been turned over to the Ayungon Municipal Police Station.

The encounter also resulted in the recovery of two backpacks, two hand-held radios with charger, two magazines of AK-47 rifle with live ammunitions, two rifle grenades, and subversive documents with high intelligence value.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Egberto O Dacoscos, 62IB Commanding Officer, they received and acted upon a report from a concerned citizen about the presence of more or less 15 armed persons in the areas.

They were met with gunfire as they approached the area, prompting the soldiers to retaliate.

The firefight lasted for about 40 minutes, which resulted in the death of the Dagul and wounded two 62IB soldiers.

PNP bares new CPP-NPA tactical offensive: Koda Supermarket

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 19): PNP bares new CPP-NPA tactical offensive: Koda Supermarket

After the stalled “Red October” destabilization plot against the government comes “Koda Supermarket.”

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday bared an alleged new tactical offensive being carried out by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) which has been directly linked to two ambushcades this week.

Philippine National Police Chief Director Oscar Albayalde
(Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde issued an order to Police Director Mao Aplasca, PNP director for operations, to conduct counter-actions against stepped-up tactical offensive activities of the CPP-NPA dubbed as Koda Supermarket.

According to Albayalde, the Koda Supermarket is aimed at “collecting more firearms and equipment from police and military targets through raids and ambuscades on soft targets and other targets of opportunity.”

“The increased activity by the CPP-NPA could also be part of its ‘saber-rattling’ tactics to project an image of strength to highlight the forthcoming CPP anniversary [on] December 26, and to bolster its extortion activities in the forthcoming election season next year,” Albayalde said in a statement.

The NPA has long been known for “collecting” firearms and equipment of parties or individuals they victimize.

In the previous months, the military and police bared that the CPP-NPA crafted Red October ouster plot against President Duterte but it has since been “dissolved” when the authorities uncovered it.

‘Koda Supermarket’

As for the new CPP-NPA tactic, the PNP said the latest activity tied to Koda Supermarket was the reported burning activity of several heavy equipment in Negros Oriental on Thursday night allegedly perpetrated by communist rebels.

A report reaching PNP National Headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City said at least 40 armed men set on fire a bulldozer and a back hoe owned by PhilSouth Construction in Barangay Bolisong, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental.

Luckily, no one was reported hurt in the incident.

Albayalde said passengers of a commercial bus who witnessed the incident heard the suspects shouting “Mabuhay ang Bagong Hukbong Bayan!” while torching the heavy equipment.

The PNP said police maneuver forces in Negros Island in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines were already in hot pursuit against the suspects behind the burning incident.

Albayalde said investigators were looking into possible extortion attempt as the motive for the arson.

Meanwhile, local officials of Negros Oriental denounced the latest atrocity suspectedly committed by the CPP-NPA and called it as an “obstacle to development” since it stalled the ongoing roadworks project of a farm-to-market road in the province.

Aside from that, the PNP also associated the Koda Supermarket to two ambuscades in Camarines Sur on Thursday and in Aurora province on Tuesday. Four police officers were killed in the said ambuscades.

Suspected NPA rebels torch road equipment in Negros Oriental

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 19): Suspected NPA rebels torch road equipment in Negros Oriental
Around 40 suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) torched two heavy equipment units in Barangay Bolisong in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental on Thursday night.

The armed men set on fire a bulldozer and a backhoe owned by PhilSouth Construction, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said in a report on Friday.

Passengers of a bus who witnessed the incident told investigators that the men shouted “Mabuhay ang Bagong Hukbong Bayan (Long live, New People’s Army)” as the flames engulfed the equipment.

No casualty was reported in the incident, the PNP said.

Police officers in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are still in hot pursuit of the perpetrators.

Investigators are looking at extortion as possible motive for the incident.

Officials of the Negros Oriental condemned the attack of the Communist Party of the Philippines – NPA (CPP-NPA), as it hampered the ongoing roadwork projects of a vital farm-to-market road in the province.

“Those behind this crime are resisting entry of development in the countryside that would have ushered government presence and availability of goods and services that will benefit people in the barrios,” PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said.

‘Koda Supermarket’

Meanwhile, Police Director Mao Aplasca, PNP Director for Operations, has also alerted all police units to conduct operations to counter the offensive activities of the CPP-NPA dubbed as “Koda Supermarket.”

This tactic aims to collect firearms and equipment from the police and the military by conducting raids and ambush, the PNP said.

Aplasca said that the recent ambuscades staged by the NPA in Lupi, Camarines Sur on Thursday, October 18, and in Aurora province on Tuesday, October 16, were part of this strategy.

Four police officers were killed in the two separate ambush incidents.

“We condemn these latest acts of lawless terror by the local communist movement against symbols of government authority. We mourn their loss, but assure the ends of justice will be served,” Albayalde said.

Albayalde noted that the recent attacks of the CPP-NPA could be meant to project them a strong image to highlight their 50th-founding anniversary on December 26.

He said the communists could also be aiming at boosting extortion activities as the election season heats up.

Review of martial law extension in Mindanao still on: AFP

From PTV News (Oct 19): Review of martial law extension in Mindanao still on: AFP

Troops in the field are still gathering data to determine whether martial law in Mindanao would again be extended, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato, said Thursday.

 Detoyato said the review on the possible extension of martial law in the region had been ongoing since it was first implemented.

“Since Day One, kasi (because) we always assess the security on a daily basis,” he said in a message to reporters.

Detoyato added that they have yet to give President Rodrigo Duterte a recommendation on the matter as there is no timeline.

“We cannot give a categorical statement because there is no need for it (statement) right now,” he said.

Earlier, Malacañang said it would depend on the recommendation of the AFP on whether martial law would be re-extended after the end of the year.

Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City.

 The House of Representatives, in a special joint session in July last year, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017 at the President’s request.

The Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session early December, granted the Chief Executive’s request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

Moro leader wanted for arson collared in Lapu

From the Cebu Daily News (Oct 18): Moro leader wanted for arson collared in Lapu

A man who is said to be a ranking official of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was arrested in Lapu-Lapu for a crime which he committed while he was still in Ormoc City, Leyte province.

Rajah Ahmad Tano, who has a pending case for arson in his hometown, has been hiding with relatives in Barangay Basak since September, said Supt. Mark Gifter Sucalit, head of the City Intelligence Branch (CIB) of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office.

Sucalit said that the Police Regional Office in Region 8 (PRO-8) sought the help of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) in locating Tano’s whereabouts in Cebu.

A joint team consisting of personnel from the Central Visayas Regional Intelligence Division (RID-7), Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG -7), Regional Force Mobile Company (RFMC), Lapu-Lapu City Intelligence Branch and Ormoc City police served the warrant of arrest on Tano at around 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Judge Marcelino Malate of Municipal Trial Circuit Court (MTCC) of 8th Judicial Region in Ormoc City issued the warrant for Tano’s arrest for violation of Section 29 of Presidential Decree 705 or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines. Sucalit said that Tanoc, 46, is now detained in Lapu-Lapu City while Ormoc police prepare to transport him back home.

Following Tano’s arrest, Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, PRO-7 director, said he does not discount the possibility of having other MNLF members who are now hiding in Central Visayas.

But Sinas gave the assurance that the region remains safe for its local and visitors alike.

Police: MNLF official now detained in Lapu-Lapu City

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 18): Police: MNLF official now detained in Lapu-Lapu City

Police arrested an official of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Lapu Lapu City, Cebu on Wednesday afternoon (October 17).

Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, director of Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said that the suspect had a pending case in Ormoc City, Leyte.

Sinas also said that the suspect is now detained in Lapu-Lapu City.

Meanwhile, police are now on alert following the arrival of 72 delegates from different southeast Asian countries for the 10th Information Ministerial Meeting on Science and Technology scheduled from October 17 to 19.

White December: Is AFP becoming a fiction writer? Gabriela wants to know

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Oct 17): White December: Is AFP becoming a fiction writer? Gabriela wants to know

Gabriela Women’s Partylist Representatives hit out the Armed Forces of the Philippines for disclosing yet another ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte whom the AFP now called as “White December.”

“After the so-called “Red October” hysteria didn’t fly, the AFP is now desperately repackaging their baseless storyline as “White Christmas.” Since when did the military become fiction writers?,” Gabriela Representatives Arlene Brosas and Emmi de Jesus said in a statement.

The AFP said the Left’s Red October plot has fizzled out after it was made known to the public. But the AFP insisted that such ouster plot was a “rolling plan” that would culminate come December in time for the Communist Party of the Philippines’ 50th anniversary.

Reacting to AFP’s claim, Gabriela said the AFP’s “White December” was the government’s diversionary tactic from the real issues of inflation, and skyrocketing prices of commodities.

“Moving a fictional Red October plot to December after it has been bared to be a work of feeble minds is a desperate move to divert people’s attention from the Duterte government’s ineptitude in controlling inflation and prices of basic commodities and the plummeting value of the peso,” the militant solons added.

The militant lawmakers said Duterte and his economic advisers were so “stubborn in deflecting blame on the TRAIN Law for the nonstop price hikes yet they can’t solve it, they would rather blame this to fictional ouster movement.”

“Conveniently, the AFP continues this ouster-plot concoction to set the stage for a deluge of worse human rights violations against legal mass organizations and personalities. Attacks against progressives and dissenters are now trivialized and shrugged off as part of the campaign against said ouster plot. It is also being used as black propaganda against progressives this coming 2019 elections,” it said.

According to Gabriela, the AFP’s “White December is nothing but another failed attempt of the administration and the AFP to a book store’s best seller section. This is nothing but a waste of billion peso worth of intelligence funds that could have been use to efforts to ease impact of runaway inflation.”

AFP chief leads observance of Code of Ethics Day

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 18): AFP chief leads observance of Code of Ethics Day

AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr. leads the renewal of oath of AFP Code of Ethics (Photo courtesy of PAO, AFP)
General Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines led the observance of the Code of Ethics

During the event, Galvez led the renewal of oath to the AFP Code of Ethics during the flag raising ceremony on Monday, October 15 at the Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

The Code of Ethics reminds soldiers to obey the Chain of Command and follow the core values and traditions of valor, duty, honor, solidarity, and loyalty to the Constitution.

“Today, as we render honors to the flag, we also join the rest of the nation in observing the Code of Ethics day,” Galvez said.

Military officers and enlisted personnel from the different branches of service in the General Headquarters raised their right hand as they renewed their pledge to the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Military Personnel in the AFP.

Later in his speech, Galvez urged AFP personnel not to seek personal interests but instead focus on the betterment of the organization as they fulfil their mandate in serving the state.

“The Code of Ethics veers us away from temptation by leading us to an honorable path of service. It sets the ethical standards for us officers and enlisted personnel and civilian employees to do our job,” Galvez said.

The Chief of Staff emphasized that there is no place for corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Corruption is one of the major menaces in our society, it undermines good governance, extorts decent service, and corrodes the core of the organization,” Galvez said

“These corrupt, irresponsible, and incompetent people certainly have no place in the Armed Forces, and we will make sure that they will pay for what they have done in our organization. We do not tolerate misconduct,” Galvez said.

Galvez also ensured the people that the culprits behind the V. Luna issue will face the consequences of their actions.

“In all other cases, we assure that all erring personnel will be thoroughly investigated and be subjected to the AFP Court Martial. We will do this to preserve the integrity of our service,” Galvez said

“On our end, each of us should do our parts in the best way that we can. No task is ever small if we can find the fulfillment in our actions. That at the end of the day, we know in ourselves that we have done something good and accomplished something helpful to the organization.” Galvez added.

He added that as AFP continues its service, military officers should always be guided not only by the code of ethics but also the morals and the inner conscience of doing what is good and what is right.

At the end of his remarks, the AFP Chief reiterated his reminder that the Armed Forces should not be disturbed by the political noise, and that the organization remains solid and undivided.

BRP Tarlac to arrive home Monday

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 20): BRP Tarlac to arrive home Monday


The Philippine Navy (PN) on Monday will welcome home the strategic sealift vessel BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and her 300-man contingent following the historic visit to Vladivostok, Russia and Jeju Island, South Korea early this month.

The arrival ceremony will take place at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila at about 1 p.m., Commander Jonathan Zata, Navy spokesperson, said in a message Friday.

BRP Tarlac left Manila on Sept. 21 for Vladivostok for her first-ever visit to Russia on October 1-6. She arrived in Jeju on Oct. 12 and left the island’s Cruise Pier on Oct. 16 for her voyage home.

The 300-man naval contingent on BRP Tarlac is composed of members of the Naval Special Operations Group, the Philippine Marine Corps, the Technical and Administrative Services, the Naval Reserve Command, and a Helicopter Detachment Afloat from the Naval Air Group.

These port visits show the PN's commitment in promoting multilateral cooperation aside from maintaining and strengthening Navy-to-Navy relations to validate friendship and cooperative engagement with its counterparts in other countries, the PN said.

PH marks 74th anniversary of the historic Leyte landing

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): PH marks 74th anniversary of the historic Leyte landing

The country will celebrate on Saturday the 74th anniversary of the historic Leyte landing by Gen. Douglas MacArthur Oct. 20, 1944 that liberated the Philippines from Japanese occupation in World War II.

Defense Undersecretary Ernesto G. Carolina, administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), will be the guest of honor and speaker during the ceremony in Palo Beach, Leyte, the exact location where allied forces led by Gen. MacArthur landed.

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim is expected to attend the annual ceremony.

The landing was preceded three days earlier by the greatest naval battle in history at Leyte Gulf that involved a total of 348 warships, 216 of which were U.S. vessels, two Australians, and 64 Japanese, according to retired Brig. Gen. Restituto Aguilar, chief of PVAO historical division.

During the naval battle, the Japanese lost four aircraft carriers, three battleships, 10 cruisers, and 11 destroyers, while the Americans lost one light carrier, two escort carriers, and three destroyers.

The once mighty Japanese Navy was destroyed during the sea battle on Oct. 17, 1944 that paved the way for allied forces, led by MacArthur, to beach land on Palo Beach three days later that liberated the Philippines from the clutches of Japanese invaders that occupied the Philippines following the fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942.

Then President Sergio Osmeña, Sr. and Brig. Gen. Carlos Romulo, a ranking Filipino officer, accompanied MacArthur during the Leyte Landing.

MacArthur’s forces knifed into Leyte then continued to push to other provinces in the Visayas, Luzon and Mindanao crushing all Japanese resistance.

The Leyte landing was a well-planned strategy to isolate Japan’s strategic position in China and other areas in the Pacific Ocean during the war.

It may be recalled that then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to flee from the Philippines to Australia shortly before the fall of Bataan to organize a force that would launch a counter attack later.

However, before leaving, Gen. MacArthur promised the Filipinos with the now famous words “I shall return”.

He fulfilled his promise on Oct. 20, 1944, returning to the Philippines triumphantly.

War records disclosed that in July 1944, Roosevelt met with MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz in Hawaii, where the decision was made to liberate the Philippines in a massive simultaneous air, sea and land attacks.

The fierce naval battle commenced at dawn of Oct. 17, 1944 that surprised the Japanese.

After the victorious landing, Gen. MacArthur announced to the people by saying: "People of the Philippines, I have returned! By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."

The successful Leyte landing was the beginning of the Japanese defeat in the Philippines.

The fighting moved to other parts of the country, including Manila where the Japanese forces suffered a crushing defeat.

Gen. Tomuyuki Yamashita, commander of Japanese forces in the Philippines, fled to Kiangan, Ifugao to await Japanese reinforcement that never came.

Yamashita was forced to surrender to Filipino guerrillas in Mt. Napulawan, Kiangan, Ifugao on Sept. 2, 1945.

The rest is history.

MILF bares ‘10 priorities’ in transitioning to BARMM

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): MILF bares ‘10 priorities’ in transitioning to BARMM

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) bared its ten priorities in its transition from rebellion to governance, and the transition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

In a conversation with development partners from international communities held at Davao City on Oct. 11, MILF Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim unveiled the priorities that they will undertake, as follows:

1. Enact priority measures mandated by the Bangsamoro law such as Electoral Code, Civil Service Code, Administrative Code and other legislations that need to be enacted during the BTA (Bangsamoro Transition Authority);

2. Review and integrate the Bangsamoro Development Plan, the Regional Development Plan of ARMM, the Camp Transformation Plan and other Bangsamoro plans to make them responsive to the current needs;

3. Study and design the appropriate bureaucracy for the Bangsamoro Government to ensure the right balance between the size of the bureaucracy and the services that need to delivered as well as the appropriate skills required of people in the bureaucracy;

4. Set up programs that will respond to the pressing social and economic challenges in the Bangsamoro such as poverty, education, health, access to clean water and electricity, job opportunity, agricultural productivity, and access to capital market. “These must be complemented with responsive strategic infrastructure in the region such as ports, road network, flood control, and logistics and communication facilities;”

5. Special programs for transitioning combatants and their families apart from regular programs of the government like 4Ps, Philhealth, among others “to ensure that these programs are tailored fit to their needs so that they will become productive members of the society;”

6. Rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi. “Marawi must be quickly rehabilitated and reconstructed as every delay is an opportunity for violent extremism to use it for propaganda and recruitment. Besides, immediate rehabilitation of Marawi is both the right and just thing to do,”.

7. Develop policy environment on transparency, accountability, and prudent fiscal policy as well as improvement on revenue generation;

8. Energy development and power generation improvement to support the development of industries that will generate jobs and other opportunities;

9. Enhance security by “maximizing the utilization of available legitimate forces on the ground and leveraging on the network of the MILF in the Bangsamoro communities by deploying such joint forces such as the JPSTs (Joint Peace and Security Teams); and

10. Ensure a productive partnership between the Bangsamoro Government and Development partners as well as the national government to ensure complementation of programs to maximize results.

The event was attended by representatives of the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), World Bank, embassies of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and Spain.

The MILF engaged in peace talks with the Philippine government in 1997 in quest for a lasting solution to the protracted conflict in Southern Philippines.

In 2014, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed by the two parties which provides the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), a legislation that seeks for the establishment of the Bangsamoro autonomous government.

During the term of former President Benigno Aquino III, the 16th Philippine Congress failed to pass the BBL.

When President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency, he reconstituted the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), the body tasked to draft the Bangsamoro law.

From 15, he expanded the membership of BTC to 21 that included representatives from the Moro National Liberation Front, Indigenous Peoples and Christian Settlers.

On July 23 and 24, the Senate and House of Representatives passed Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which is also known as BOL or Bangsamoro Organic Law. It was signed into law by President Duterte on July 26, 2018.

The measure also provides that the government will have to hold plebiscite 150 days after its signing into law.

Registered voters of the current ARMM, cities of Isabela and Cotabato, six municipalities of Lanao del Norte and 39 Barangays of North Cotabato will vote in the plebiscite that is set on January 21, 2019.

Article XVI of the BOL states that the law shall be deemed ratified when approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite as proclaimed by the Commission on Elections or its duly authorized officers.

The ratification of BOL will commence the transition period for the establishment of the Bangsamoro autonomous region to be facilitated by the MILF-led BTA.

BIFF man killed in clash with MILF in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): BIFF man killed in clash with MILF in Maguindanao

A member of the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was killed following an encounter with elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Thursday.

Major Arvin John Encinas, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) spokesperson, said MILF members and BIFF gunmen men traded bullets and mortar fires from 5 a.m. until 11 a.m. in Sitio Makalag, Barangay Pimbalakan in Mamasapano. The BIFF faction was under  Zaunudin Kiaro.

As government forces moved in to support the MILF, the BIFF fled toward the marshy section of the adjacent village of Inidalan in Shariff Saydona town, also in Maguindanao, using motorized bancas.

Encinas said Army troopers, together with their MILF counterparts, later recovered the body of the slain BIFF member, identified as Saudi Sabang.

Under the existing government ceasefire agreement with the MILF, soldiers and MILF forces would coordinate to neutralize lawless elements in MILF-identified areas.

The military has acknowledged several MILF villages in Mamasapano, including a big MILF encampment in Barangay Tukanalipao, where government programs are being implemented in the area.

Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th ID and head of Joint Task Force Central, lauded the MILF for its "commitment to the ceasefire agreement, and for helping the military prevent radical and extremist groups from infiltrating Moro communities to promote violent extremism."

PH-Aussie navies conclude maritime training vs. terrorism threats

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): PH-Aussie navies conclude maritime training vs. terrorism threats

5TH PN-RAN MARITIME TRAINING ACTIVITY: Naval Forces West (NFW) deputy commander for fleet operations Capt. Carlos Sabarre sits on the head table during one of the combined maritime exercise's sessions held at Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoon in Barangay San Miguel, Puerto Princesa City. (Photo courtesy of Public Affairs Office, Naval Forces West)
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Philippine and Australian navies recently concluded in Palawan their joint 5th Maritime Training Activity (MTA) to enhance interoperability against threats in the southern border.
The ceremony for the closing of the combined maritime training was held at the Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoon in Barangay San Miguel, Puerto Princesa City, last Oct. 15, said Naval Forces West (NFW) deputy commander for fleet operations, Capt. Carlos Sabarre.
Sabarre said Friday that the Philippine Navy (PN) is grateful for the opportunity to conduct the joint maritime exercise with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
“We see them (RAN) as professional sailors who embody bravery, discipline, and professionalism worthy of emulation due to the fact that they belong to one of the largest and most sophisticated naval forces in the Pacific region,” he said.
Sabarre noted the conduct of bilateral patrols in southern Palawan did not only enhance the two navies’ interoperability, but also ensures they are ready to address terrorist activities and kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) groups threatening the southern borders.
In partnership with other regional navies, he said the PN will always remain vigilant and committed to protecting the peace and security of the nation’s maritime domain.
The activity also proves that the NFW does not work alone in protecting and maintaining the peace and stability in this part of the region, he added.
The combined PN-RAN MTA officially started on Sept. 24.