Saturday, February 23, 2019

Del Pilar-class to be beefed with more electronic equipment

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 24, 2019): Del Pilar-class to be beefed with more electronic equipment


The proposed upgrades planned for the Philippine Navy’s (PN) Del Pilar-class frigates will greatly boost the ships' electronic capabilities, making it more capable of patrolling and conducting inter-agency operations in the country's territorial waters.

"The 'Del Pilar Class Frigate Upgrade' will enhance the ships' management system, electronic support and sonar capability, ensuring top performance during maritime patrols, search-and-rescue, and other inter-agency operations in our territorial waters," Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) over the weekend, when asked to comment on the more than PHP1.5-billion upgrade for these ships.

Earlier, the DND Bids and Awards Committee 1, in the defense department's website, announced that it is starting the procurement for the "Del Pilar Class Frigate Upgrade Acquisition Project" of the PN.

The fund for the program, which is placed at PHP1.54 million, will be sourced from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Modernization Trust Fund.

The project will be undertaken through the Alternative Mode of Procurement, which is Limited Source Bidding.

When asked on whether the ships will be equipped with additional weapons systems, Andolong said it is very unlikely at the moment.

"It does not look like the Navy intends to install additional weapons systems on the Del Pilar Class ships because only their sensors are being upgraded. At the moment, the advanced weapons are only being considered for the brand-new platforms that we are acquiring," he said.

The Del Pilar-class ships are three former US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters that were converted into frigates.

The ships in the class are the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15), BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16), and the BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17).

Each ship has a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet while its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

It has a cruising range of 14,000 miles, a sea and loiter time of 45 days, and is armed with a 76-mm. Oto Melara automatic cannon, 25-mm. and 20-mm. light cannons and .50-caliber machine guns.

Cabunoc leaves Army’s 33IB; bids IPs farewell

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 24, 2019): Cabunoc leaves Army’s 33IB; bids IPs farewell

Troopers of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion install a solar lamp post in Sitio Datal Bonglangon, Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato on Saturday (Feb 23). (Photo courtesy of 33rd IB)

PRESIDENT QUIRINO, Sultan Kudarat – Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc on Saturday emotionally handed over the leadership of the Army’s 33rd Infantry “Makabayan” Battalion based here to Lt. Col. Elmer Boongaling, as he leaves the unit for another field assignment.

Prior to the change in command, Cabunoc spent the past four days by bidding goodbye to the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) of Sto. Nino village in Bagumbayan, Kudarat, and in Sitio Datal Bonglangon, Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

In his message to the IPs, he assured them that the new leadership of the 33IB will sustain the gains in the campaign against the communist terrorists by facilitating the delivery of essential services.

The two villages were once strongly influenced by the East Daguma Front of the Daguma Sub Region Party Committee (formerly known as Guerrilla Front 73) until in March 2018 when the 33rd IB came to the area.

Employing civil support operations and intelligence-driven coercive combat operations, the 33rd IB, with the support of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force, were able to defeat the communist terrorists in the area.

“At least 90 communist surrenderers came from the East Daguma Front,” Cabunoc told reporters here after the turnover of command.

Prior to the intervention of the 33IB, the two villages once hosted the communist Platoon Arabo, enabling the rebels to organize the community with a communist shadow government called Kilusang Rebolusyonaryong Barangay, and a military arm called Platoon Cosmod (composed of recruits from the village).

While still commander of 33IB, Cabunoc had numerous accomplishments, including the neutralization of Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, settlement of blood family feuds or “rido” in his areas of assignment, electrification of far-flung communities, delivery of basic government services to the upland villages, among others.

For his part, Boongaling assured the people under the 33IB that the battalion will continue serving the people and protect their interests against lawless elements and peace saboteurs.

Cabunoc will be moved to the Philippine Army headquarters in Manila where a new assignment awaits him.

Army, police deny red-tagging personalities, groups

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 24, 2019): Army, police deny red-tagging personalities, groups

Both the police and military here denied having a hand in the distribution of a document that contained a list of personalities, including an editor of a local newspaper and some members of his family, with alleged ties to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Tagged along with more than a dozen persons and four groups as CPP members were Leonardo Vicente “Cong” Corrales, associate editor of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, a local newspaper with Mindanao-wide circulation, and his wife and son.

Corrales and others were accused as being part of an organization that wants to overthrow the government and replace it with a communist form of government.

Included in the list were some members of the clergy of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), militant group leaders, human rights lawyers, and other civilians.

Also mentioned were the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao, and Kabataan partylist.

As of February 24, no one has claimed responsibility for circulating said document, although media groups such as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) have both condemned the red-tagging of Corrales.

Corrales is a member of the local NUJP chapter and member of the COPC Board of Directors.

Corrales earlier said he was not in any way connected with the CPP and authorities could check his credentials any time.

The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID), in a statement it released on Saturday, Feb. 23, said it “does not engage in cheap propaganda that can cause confusion and division in our society.”

In fact, the 4ID said, “we are serious in our efforts to harness the support of all stakeholders in line with the government’s call for a Whole of the Nation Approach to end the local communist threat to peace loving communities.”

The leaflets which contain names of 19 individuals and four organizations, the 4ID added, could be crafted by anybody who wanted to sow intrigues and create a wedge among the people of Cagayan de Oro and members of the Armed Forces.

Brig. Gen. Nemecio Gacal, 4ID commander, was quoted in the same statement as saying, “we are making friends, not enemies” and that the document shown by members of human rights group Karapatan “does not belong to us and we do not engage in cheap propaganda".

“We call upon concerned individuals to refrain from spreading unverified documents/reports. Most importantly, we, together with the PNP, wholeheartedly offer security and other assistance to the innocent victims” of the red-tagging on the list, he added.

In an interview, Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general, pointed the finger at the military as behind the red-tagging of those in the list.

In a separate statement, Supt. Surki Sereñas, police regional spokesperson, said the red-tagging was an “act meant to foment distrust and incite dissension and schism between and among us. The ‘list’ is a sordid propaganda to agitate us: the government, the media and other concerned sectors.”

For legal reasons, Sereñas said, “the [Philippine National Police] will never publish a ‘list’ without proof. This is certainly not a PNP list and will support and defend the rights of everyone on the list to seek rectification and disprove their communist affiliation”.

CPP/NPA-EV: On the 93rd IB’s hallucinations over the revolutionary movement in Leyte

NPA-Eastern Visayas propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 23, 2019): On the 93rd IB’s hallucinations over the revolutionary movement in Leyte

Karlos Manuel
NPA-Eastern Visayas (Efren Martires Command)
New People's Army
February 23, 2019

Lt. Col. Roberto Beatisula of the 93rd Infantry Battalion makes feverish speculations on the revolutionary movement in Leyte. We bring to light the following facts:

1. The New People’s Army is bound for victory while the Armed Forces of the Philippines is on a losing course as an oppressive instrument of the reactionary ruling system. Approaching its 50th founding anniverrsary this year, the New People’s Army is now deeply rooted among the masses of the people in Leyte because it is fighting for their national and democratic interests. It is well-entrenched among the peasant masses who rally to the agrarian revolution and the building of democratic power, while the AFP has completely failed over decades to win despite being better-armed and US-backed.

2. It is the AFP that is the losing force against the NPA, for blindly obeying fascist GRP President Duterte and unleashing a war of terror upon the people. Their commander-in-chief is fast becoming isolated from the people because of his cruelty, corruption, and servility to US imperialism.

The AFP must be losing its mind because despite its billion-peso budget, a militarized bureaucracy, and direct US intervention, it has failed to strategically defeat the NPA.

The AFP is so desperate that whenever it loses to the NPA, it spreads lies and retaliates against civilians. In the Calubian counter-raid by the NPA last December 13, the AFP concealed losing one soldier killed in action and another one wounded, while imagining casualties on the side of the NPA that did not suffer any. The army soldiers even forcibly arrested a barangay chairman and another innocent civilian and forcibly evacuated villagers.

Whatever “outreach program” and public relations stunt of the AFP does to present itself as peace-loving are belied by the almost daily reports of human rights violations in the 545 barrios in Eastern Visayas, which they have subjected to intensified militarization by virtue of Duterte’s Memorandum Order 32 and Executive Order 70.

3. Duterte’s idol Marcos failed to nip the revolutionary movement in the bud then and Duterte will fail now in Leyte and elsewhere, no matter how many deadlines he sets and whatever fiction he conjures. With the burgeoning broad united front against his fascist dictatorship, his days are numbered. The 93rd IB hallucinates at its own peril.

CPP/NPA-NEMR: AGUSAN-16 POW Makitawhanon ug maayong gitratar sa BHB-NEMR

NPA-Northeastern Mindanao Region propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 23, 2019): AGUSAN-16 POW Makitawhanon ug maayong gitratar sa BHB-NEMR

Ariel Montero
NPA-Northeastern Mindanao
New People's Army
February 23, 2019

Sa gubat dili malikayan nga adunay mahimong bihag o prisoners of war (POW) gikan sa mga armadong membro sa matag panig nga nagkabangi. Kabahin na kini nga mga hulagway sa 50 ka tuig nga gubat-sibil sa Pilipinas tali sa mga rebolusyonaryong pwersa nga gilangkuban sa Partido Komunista sa Pilipinas-Bagong Hukbong Bayan-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (PKP-BHB-NDFP) sa usa ka panig, batok sa Gobyerno sa Republika sa Pilipinas (GRP) sa pikas panig.

Apan sa praktikal nga kasinatian adunay magkalahi nga pagtratar sa mga bihag ang duha ka panig bisan dunay mga balaod sa gubat nga gitamdan. Ang mga nabihag o nadakpan sa mga pwersa sa Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ug Philippine National Police (PNP) nga mga membro sa BHB ginatortyur, ginapasakahan og tinumo-tumong kaso ug giilang kriminal ug terorista. Aduna pa mga kaso nga ang mga wala nay ikasukol nga mga Pulang manggugubat ilabina sa mga nasamdan atol sa panagsangka, gipasipad-an, gipaantos ug gitiwasan sa pagpatay. Bugtong pagpakaaron-ingnon lang sa AFP/PNP nga maayong gitratar ang mga nabihag nga BHB kun gamiton na nila kini alang sa propaganda.

Sa pikas bahin, ang mga nabihag nga mga pwersa sa AFP ug PNP makitawhanon ug maayong gitratar sa BHB isip mga prisoners of war. Base kini sa Batakang Lagda sa BHB ilabina diha sa pangdisiplinang palisiya niini nga nahipatik sa Tulo ka Nag-unang Lagda sa Disiplina nga mao ang: 1) Sundon ang mga mando sa tanang paglihok; 2) Ayaw pagkuha bisan usa ka dagom o tanod gikan sa katawhan; 3) Ihatag sa hingtungdan pamunuan ang tanang butang nga nasakmit. Ug ang Walo ka Punto nga Angay Timan-an nga mao ang mosunod: 1) Magmatinahuron sa pagpamulong; 2) Tukma nga bayran ang tanang gipalit; 3) I-uli ang tanang gihulam; 4) Bayran ang tanang nadaot; 5) Ayaw pagpanakit o pamalikas og tawo; 6)Ayaw pagdaot sa mga pananom sa katawhan; 7) Ayaw pahimusli ang kababayen-an; ug 8) Ayaw dagmali ang mga bihag.

Gigarantiya usab sa BHB ang kaayuhan ug tawhanong katungod nga padayong maangkon sa mga POW diha sa hugtanong pagtamod sa Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) ug sa mga internasyonal nga mga protocol sa gubat kalambigit sa tukmang pagtratar sa mga bihag.

Sulod sa pila ka bulan nga pagkustodiya sa BHB-Agusan del Sur ug Agusan del Norte sa 16 ka POW malampusong napanalipdan niini ang kaluwasan sa mga POW batok sa magun-ubong mga operisyong militar sa AFP. Kining maong mga operisyong militar wala magatagad sa kaayuhan sa mga POW ug sa mga katawhang nanginabuhi ug nanimuyo sa lugar. Pinataka nga naglunsad ang AFP sa pagpanganyon, aerial strafing ug aerial nga pagpamomba duol sa mga umahan ug komunidad. Sulod niini nga panahon, aduna pay kaso nga tungod sa ilang kadesperado gimasaker sa mga pwersa sa Scout Ranger sa Philippine Army (PA) ang mga Lumad nga nanghag-ot didto sa kabukiran sa San Agustin, Surigao del Sur nga gikamatay sa duha ka sibilyan ug pagkadakop sa laing duha. May pila ka kaso usab sa extra hudisyal nga pagpamatay didto sa Bayugan, Agusan del Sur ug sa Butuan City nga binuhatan sa mga ahente sa AFP.

Luyo niini, mapasalamaton gihapon ang BHB-NEMR ngadto sa mga opisyal sa GRP sa pagtubag sa hangyo ug panawagan sa mga pamilya sa mga POW, sa third party facilitators ug sa mga nagpakabanang sektor alang sa kalinaw aron daling marelis ang mga POW. Bunga niini namugna ang kahimtang alang sa hapsay ug luwas nga pagrelis sa mga POW bisan kun mahugna-hugna kining mapatuman tungod sa pila ka mga hinungdan ug sirkumstansya.

Mapasalamaton usab ang BHB-NEMR sa pagsanong sa AFP nga dili molunsad og mga operisyong militar niini nga panahon aron maseguro ang kaluwasan sa mga POW ug sa tanang motambong. Usa kini ka manipestasyon sa pagbuhat sa makitawhanong konsiderasyon alang sa kaayuhan sa tanan.

Sa pagkatinuod dili kita gusto og gubat apan kahimtang kini nga gitukmod tungod sa pagkabahin sa katilingban ngadto sa mga pundok sa nagpahimulos ug gipahimuslan, sa nangdaugdaug ug gidaugdaug. Kun atong sabton ang gubat ang pinakataas nga porma sa pakigbisog sa pagresolba sa mga panagbangi tali sa mga hut-ong, mga nasud, mga estado, o mga grupong pangpulitika kung kini miabot na sa usa ka ang-ang nga panagtigi. Panagbangi kini nga nag-unang nagsumikad sa ekonomikanhong interes sa matag pundok o panig. Pananglit ang mga mag-uuma nangandoy nga makaangkon og tinuod nga reporma sa yuta, apan sa pikas bahin ang mga agalong yutaan padayong nangilog ug nang-akop-akop og halapad nga mga kayutaan.

Adunay duha ka klase sa gubat. Ang una ang makatarunganong gubat nga gilangkuban sa tanang progresibong gubat, gisalmotan ug gisuportahan kini sa katawhan. Pananglit niini ang rebolusyonaryong gubat , ang gubat sa katawhan nga gipaasdang sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB) ug sa katawhang pinahimuslan ug dinaugdaug. Ang ikaduha, ang dili makatarunganong gubat, ang gubat nga nagababag sa paglambo, gisalikway ug gibatukan kini sa katawhan. Pananglit niini, ang imperyalistang gubat sa pagpanulong ug pagpanghilabot, ug ang todo gera/ Oplan Kapayapaan   nga gilunsad sa AFP batok sa katawhang Pilipino.

Sa gubat-sibil sa Pilipinas, giduso sa PKP-BHB-NDFP ang pakigbisog alang nasudnong soberanya, repormang agraryo, demokrasya batok sa pasismo ug nasudnong industriyalisasyon isip pagtubag sa nag-unang pangandoy sa katawhang Pilipino. Kusganong gipaasdang niini ang gubat sa katawhan aron lumpagon sa hingpit ang imperyalismo, pyudalismo ug burukrata kapitalismo nga maoy babag sa sosyo-ekonomikanhong paglambo sa nasud.

Busa aron maugkat ug masulbad ang gamot hinungdan sa gubat-sibil sa Pilipinas, ang laing pamaagi, mao ang pagduso sa negosasyon sa kalinaw. Hinaut nga mahimong taytayan kining maong pagreles sa mga POW sa sinsero nga pagpadayon sa patas nga panaghisgot pangkalinaw tali sa GRP ug NDFP nga motumbok direkta sa pagsulbad sa nasudnong suliran sa katawhang Pilipino.

CPP/NDF-NEMR: Kabahin sa release sa unang batch sa Agusan 16 POW

NDF-Northeastern Mindanao Region propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 23, 2019): Kabahin sa release sa unang batch sa Agusan 16 POW

Maria Malaya
NDF-North East Mindanao Region
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
February 23, 2019

Ang National Democratic Front of the Philippines-North Eastern Mindanao Region (NDFP- NEMR) nagpahalipay sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB)-Agusan del Sur alang sa luwas ug hapsay nga relis sa unom sa 16 ka prisoners of war (POW) nga nabihag pinaagi sa malampusong taktikal nga opensiba batok sa usa ka detatsment sa Brgy. New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur niadtong Disyembre 19, 2018.

Ang NDFP-NEMR nagpahalipay usab sa BHB-Agusan del Sur alang sa hugtanong pagsanong niini sa mga artikulo sa Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), internasyunal nga mga giya kabahin sa protocol sa gubat ug sa kaugalingong mga balaod ug palisiya niini kabahin sa makitawhanong pagtratar sa mga POW sulod sa ilang dul-an nga duha ka bulan nga pagka- bihag.

Kini nga relis pasiuna lang sa serye sa mga relis nga nga nagsumikad sa panagsabot tali sa NDFP-NEMR ug mga representante sa Gobyerno sa Republika sa Pilipinas (GRP).

Ang NDFP-NEMR nagpasalamat usab ug nag-ila sa mga panaingkamot sa mga membro sa Third Party Facilitators, nga gipangulohan ni Bishop Timbang sa IFI-Surigao ug ni Bishop Villasanta sa UCCP-Butuan.

Ang relis sa unang batch sa Agusan 16 nagpamatuod sa makanunayong posisyon niini sa pag- suporta sa pagpadayon sa panghisgut pangkalinaw tali sa GRP-NDFP. Mao kini ang tampo sa rehiyon isip maayong kabubut-on ug matinud-anong lakang sa rebolusyonaryong kalihukan alang sa pagbalik-abli sa pormal nga panaghisgut pangkalinaw tali sa GRP ug NDFP, batok sa lokalisadong panaghisgot pangkalinaw nga ginaduso ug ginapakaylap sa gobyernong Duterte.

Ang NDFP-NEMR subling nagpasibaw sa pagbatok niini ug pagdili sa pagsalmot sa lokalisadong panaghisgot pangkalinaw, gipahimakak ang bisan unsang pamahayag nga nag- ingong nagsalmot kini sa maong panaghisgut ug nagpabilin nga nagmalig-on kini sa iyang baruganan nga ang tumong sa mga lokalisadong panaghisgot pangkalinaw mao ang pugson ang rebolusyonaryong kalihukan ngadto sa pag-surender.

Ang luwas ug hapsay nga relis karong adlwa sa unang batch sa Agusan 16 usa ka tin-aw ug taatw nga pag-ila sa istatus sa belligerency sa taliwala sa mapadayunong pagpang-atake sa militar batok sa BHB ug sa mga baseng masa niini sa rehiyon ug sa nagapadayong kontra- rebolusyonaryong martial law sa Mindanao.

Ang NDFP-NEMR malaumon nga ang mga mosunod nga batch sa mga relis mahimong malunsad nga luwas ug hapsay usab, kun mahimong matuman sa GRP ug sa AFP ang mga rekisitos ug kasabutan kabahin sa Agusan 16.

Ang NDFP-NEMR nanawagan usab ngadto sa GRP aron nga maghatag og patas ug makatarunganong pagtratar ngadto sa POW nga BHB ug mga binilanggong pulitikal, ilabina sa mga konsultant sa NDFP.

Nawagan kini sa pag-undang sa subsob nga pagpangatake batok sa mga komunidad sa Lumad ug mag-uuma, nga nakahiagom og pagpamomba gikan sa kahanginan, pagpanghasi, pagpanumo-tumo batok sa mga lider-masa ug mga ekstra-hudisyal nga pagpamatay. Kusganong gikondena usab niini ang mga mga pagpangatake bag-ohay pa lang batok sa midya, kagawasan sa prensa ug uban pang sibil nga kagawasan.

NDF/CPP-IB: The AFP is shameless for seeking to erase historical records of military abductions

CPP Information Bureau propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic From Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Feb 23, 2019): The AFP is shameless for seeking to erase historical records of military abductions

Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines
February 23, 2019 Toledo IV

The Communist Party of the Philippines denounces the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for pushing the United Nations to purge its human rights archives showing the history of enforced disappearances perpetrated by the AFP and other state security forces.

The AFP is shameless for wanting to revise historical records that trace the bloody trail of military abuses. The part played by military officials and soldiers in hundreds of abductions since the 1970s is indubitable. In fact, Gen. Jovito Palparan was convicted a few months ago for the abduction, illegal detention, torture and disappearance of activists Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006.

The AFP desperately wants to portray itself as champions of human rights even as it wages a brutal campaign of all-out suppression under Duterte’s martial law and Oplan Kapayapaan. The US-Duterte fascist regime has gained international notoriety for its bloody record and extrajudicial killings, warrantless arrests, enforced disappearances, massacres, arbitrary detention, torture and other abuses.

MILF: Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim now interim BTA Chief Minister

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Feb 23, 2019): Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim now interim BTA Chief Minister

Open house All are free to jump in when the topic is politics as Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim, who is now also the interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Region, and other personalities take in an assertion of Sen. Koko Pimentel in Malacañang. YUMMIE DINGDING

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao- After his appointment and oath taking at the Heroes Hall of Malacañang Palace, Manila last night, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim is now the interim head of the newly created Bangsamoro Transition Authority or BTA.
The BTA will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao after the successful conduct of plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on January 21st, and February 6, and the proclamation and confirmation by COMELEC of the plebiscite results.

A formal turnover from ARMM to Bangsamoro will take place on February 6.

In his message last night at Malacañang, President Duterte urged the BTA to work for the speedy decommissioning of the MILF forces and weapons.

The MILF has approximately 30,000 to 40,000 combatants.

“Always work for the best interest and welfare, not only of the Bangsamoro people, but every Filipino who lives in that region,” Duterte said as quoted by Philstar in its report.

“I trust that you will oversee the transition period to the best of your abilities, especially in the decommissioning of firearms and former combatants,” he Philstar quoted him saying.

While the road to peace had been long and tortuous, Duterte said he is “glad that we have finally reached its endpoint.”

“My only hope is that we put to rest the bitter memories of the past so that we can build a new region that is bound not by ethnic or religious affiliation, but by a common aspiration for peaceful coexistence among our fellow Filipinos,” he said as quoted by Philstar.

He also stressed that the establishment of BARMM is not just the fulfillment of a campaign promise.

“It will be the realization of our collective desire. It will be the realization of all our dreams and end long decades of armed struggle that hindered the growth of the region I also consider my home,” Duterte said.

He expressed hope that genuine peace and development in the region is within reach.

“Now that we have realized our aspirations, believe me, we in Mindanao share our values, we would like to see an end to violence that has led to nothing,” the Chief Executive said.

The Bangsamoro people, he emphasized, are assured of comfort and protection in the exercise of rule of law under his administration.

“Today, I thank Allah for his mercy and for his understanding of his people,” he added.

With the BOL in place, he said the Bangsamoro people stand to benefit more from their land’s bounty and resources.

“I hope that we can end this... and I assure you, there is one contentious issue, resources, it’s also yours,” he said, referring to the Liguasan Marsh that he vowed would benefit Mindanaoans.

He ended his speech with “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) to trumpet his commitment to the cause of Muslim Filipinos. (Source: Philstar-2-23-19)

MILF: “We have seen the dawn”-Iqbal tells Mindanews

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Feb 22, 2019): “We have seen the dawn”-Iqbal tells Mindanews

Mohagher Iqbal, Peace Implementing Panel Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, talks to MindaNews on 20 February 2019. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao–In an interview by Mindanews at the lobby of Manila Prince Hotel in Ermita, Manila, Mohagher Iqbal, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Information Committee, and chair of its peace panel since July 2003, described as an “unexpected, unprogrammed” day on what was supposed to be a historic moment in their lives — the oathtaking for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) on February 20.
Iqbal was referring to the postponement of the BTA launching, and oath taking of members of the Bangsamoro Parliament.

Iqbal, like MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim recalls receiving a text message from Galvez at 7:07 p.m. that “baka ma-move” (it might be moved) to February 22, Galvez finally confirming the postponement during the welcome dinner he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana tendered for the MILF delegation at the hotel.

With the postponement, Iqbal spent some time with his family between meetings and interviews, while between meetings and interviews, Al Haj Murad, the MILF’s nominee to be Interim Chief Minister, dined with different ambassadors, Mindanews said in its report.

Al haj Murad Murad also led a delegation of 300 from the MILF, including members of its Central Committee, the Chief of Staff of the soon-to-be-decommissioned Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, five of the seven Front commanders and representatives of the two others who could not come due to illness, and, in the words of Iqbal, “scores of base commanders,” Mindanews also said in its report.

Iqbal, the historian of the MILF – he has written two books on the peace process – as Salah Jubair, said in the long history of the Bangsamoro peace process, including the peace process with the MNLF that led to the signing of the Tripoi Agreement of 1976, and the MILF’s from 1997, “who’d think we would ever reach – it’s as if it is impossible mission but it was made possible with the passage and the ratification of the Bangsamoro law, because we believe in the struggle, we believe in perseverance.”

Iqbal wrote “Bangsamoro: A nation under endless tyranny” and “The Long Road to Peace: Inside the GRP-MILF Peace Process.”

Just recently, Iqbal’s third published book, “Negotiating Peace”, a compilation of his speeches from 2005 to 2010 also came out.

“We were young before and now we are old but we are lucky, so lucky enough that at least we have seen the dawn of what we intend to achieve… We have seen the dawn right now,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal told Mindanews that he is “very happy but at the same time I am also worried,” because “we are facing an unchartered territory – governance. We have not done this any time before. We succeeded in the armed struggle for almost 50 years. We succeeded in the negotiation for 42 years including that of the MNLF. We succeeded in coming up with the law for five years from the Aquino administration then Duterte administration. We succeeded in the plebiscite, we achieved what we want,

Iqbal also told MIndanews that MILF are facing a new challenge, an unchartered territory and that worries me.”

Iqbal said they have been asked if they could guarantee success of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the new autonomous political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). “I cannot guarantee … we are human beings — the only thing I can guarantee is best efforts.”

“As to whether we can succeed and deliver, well, time will tell,” Iqbal said. (Source: MIndanews)

2 policemen killed fighting NPA in Occidental Mindoro

From CNN Philippines (Feb 23, 2019): 2 policemen killed fighting NPA in Occidental Mindoro

Two policemen were killed in a series of clashes with the New People's Army in Occidental Mindoro province on Saturday, authorities said.

Combined forces of the police and military encountered around 10 NPA rebels in San Jose town's Barangay Mapaya at 6 a.m., according to a press release from the 2nd Infantry Division.

No one from the government side was hurt while the military noted an undetermined number of rebel casualties during the 15-minute firefight.

Nearly four hours later, two policemen were killed in a five-minute gunfight that erupted when troops encountered fleeing rebels in Barangay Mapaya of the same town.

A third firefight broke out before noon as troops in the first encounter again clashed with communist rebels. Fighting was still ongoing as of Saturday afternoon.

The military said government forces encountered the same group of NPA fighters in Mansalay town last Thursday and killed two of them.

"These are the tired remnants seeking refuge from the community they are extorting. Nasusundan namin sila and we are hitting them not only in today's series of armed engagements, but also in the series of surrender of their members," said Major General Rhoderick Parayno, 2nd Infantry Division Commander.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which has been waging a five-decade insurgency, the longest-running in Asia.

2 pulis, patay sa engkuwentro kontra NPA sa Occidental Mindoro

From BaliTaTambayan (Feb 23, 2019): 2 pulis, patay sa engkuwentro kontra NPA sa Occidental Mindoro

Nasawi ang dalawang pulis nang maka-engkuwentro nila ang mga umanoy miyembro ng New People's Army (NPA) sa San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

Ayon sa ulat ni Sam Nielsen sa Super Radyo dzBB nitong Sabado, miyembro ang mga pulis ng Joint Force Provincial Mobile Force Company ng PNP.

Nakasagupa raw nila ang rebeldeng grupo na pinamumunuan umano ng isang Jorgio Safra.

Dinala sa San Jose District Hospital ang labi ng mga nasawing pulis.

Patuloy ang pagtugis ng mga awtoridad sa mga nagsitakas na rebelled.

Romblon now ‘insurgency-free,’ says military

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 22, 2019): Romblon now ‘insurgency-free,’ says military

The military has declared the island province of Romblon as free from the clutches and influence of Maoist-inspired insurgents.

Lt. Felise Vida Solano, information officer of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), in a statement issued Friday, said Romblon now has the status of a “Stable Internal Peace and Security/Unaffected Province” (SIPS/UP).

The status means that the Communist Party of the Philippines, the National Democratic Front, the New People’s Army, and the rebels’ politico-military organizations “no longer pose a threat to peace and order” in the province, according to the military.

The declaration also means that “actual and potential communist systems have collapsed and its recovery efforts in former affected areas and sectoral organizations have been prevented.”

It also stated that the maintenance of peace and order in the province would be handled primarily by the police through the military would continue to monitor the situation.

“The provincial government will now focus more on the development of the province,” the statement said.

The SIPS is the highest security status being awarded by the military. The provinces are categorized as “cleared,” “unaffected,” and “relatively peaceful.”
Aside from Romblon, Cavite province is also a recipient of the SIP/UP status.

The declaration was issued during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Stable Internal Peace and Security of Romblon held Odiongan town on February 21.

The signatories include Romblon Governor Eduardo Firmalo, Solcom Commander Major General Gilbert Gapay, and Major General Rhoderick Parayno, commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. which has jurisdiction over the province.

Gapay emphasized that as long as all sectors work together, “any province can achieve peace just like Romblon.”

“Peace is everyone’s responsibility and Romblon is a worthy example of this,” Gapay said.

NPA claims slay of ex-RPA man

From the Visayan Daily Star (Feb 23, 2019): NPA claims slay of ex-RPA man

The New People’s Army continues its terror campaign without let-up in Negros, as reported by the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, following its admission that they were behind the brutal killing of a former member of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade in Brgy. Camansi, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.

In a statement posted on its website the rebel group, claimed that Junibert Sabico was an active member of the RPA-ABB in southern Negros and a military intelligence asset.

Sabico was also accused by the NPA of as allegedly being involved in criminal activities, an accusation they also made against other civilians they had previously killed.

Dionesio Magbuelas, spokesman of the Mt. Cansermo Command of the New People’s Army, earlier issued a statement stating that an NPA team also carried out the imposition of death penalty on Cornelio Morales on Jan. 29, whom he alleged to be a military informant, in Brgy. Carol-an, Kabankalan City.

Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, 3rd Infantry Division commander, slammed the NPA killing rampage in Negros Island that victimized “defenseless civilians”.

A civilian identified as Reynaldo Loque-loque, was killed by suspected NPA rebels on Feb. 18 in Bindoy, Negros Oriental.

Dolina said he was alarmed by the killing rampage of the NPA, with the terrorist group bo astfully claiming responsibility for the deaths of civilians.

The Armando Sumayang Command said in a statement that they also recovered a .45 caliber pistol with a magazine containing 10 bullets and a cellular phone.

Retired general recalls SAF heroism in 1986 EDSA Revolution

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23, 2019): Retired general recalls SAF heroism in 1986 EDSA Revolution

Retired Police Gen. Rey Velasco, the first commander of the famed Special Action Force (SAF), made public his memoirs as one of the co-authors of a book that recounts the untold heroism of SAF troopers, who risked their lives during the People Power revolution in February 1986.

“To tell the story of EDSA and the Armed Forces and Police Special Action Force not from a spectator’s point of view, but from the key players themselves, the unsung heroes, the ones often unheard of,” Velasco said in a speech at the launching of the book “Silver Linings: The Continuing Saga of the 1986 People Power Revolution.” on Friday.

As co-author, Velasco wrote an elaborate detail of what the 500-man SAF troopers did to protect and defend Camp Crame, the headquarters of the defunct Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police (PC/INP), the predecessor of the Philippine National Police (PNP), where the key players of the revolution – then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, and then Army Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, established the headquarters of rebel soldiers against forces loyal to then President Ferdinand E. Marcos during the critical four-day peaceful revolution that ousted Marcos from power.

The peaceful four-day revolt that occurred on Feb. 22-25, 1986 mesmerized the world.

The other co-authors of the book are former Local Government Secretary Rafael M. Alunan III and Melandrew T. Velasco, a veteran journalist-publisher.

In his speech at the launching of the book held at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City in Metro Manila, Velasco said “standing here before all of you today fills my heart with overwhelming emotion” as he related his story of the revolution that was covered live by the media, both local and foreign, and beamed throughout the world.

Velasco said that Silver Linings “tell the story of EDSA and the Armed Forces and Police Action Force not from a spectator’s point of view, but from the key players themselves, the unsung heroes, the ones often unheard of.”

“I pride myself in being one of those often unseen, unrecognized good guys,” Velasco said.

“Being the first SAF commander was not easy. And with our baptism of fire being the 1986 EDSA evolution and the coup attempts that came after, being in my shoes was something that would really think about for it was really a matter of life and death,” Velasco said.

He cited former President Fidel V. Ramos for organizing the SAF when he was still the PC/INP chief.

It was also Ramos who formed the Special Forces of the Philippine Army and was its first commander.

The SAF and Special Forces are trained in urban and jungle fighting techniques, respectively.

One incident he could not forget was when he and other SAF troopers were proceeding to Metro Manila from Cavite after Ramos told them to report to Camp Crame shortly before the EDSA revolt started on Feb. 22, 1986.

Velasco said they were riding aboard military vehicles and had to follow the traffic lights along the way, although they were in a hurry.

However, by twist of luck they proceeded smoothly along all streets they had passed with the green light signal on, except when they were about to enter Camp Crame in Quezon City when they had to stop for a while because of the red signal.

Velasco said they arrived on time.

During the launching, Velasco said: “I’m sure all of the other key players of EDSA and members of the SAF in the earlier days feel as I do, in the same way that their accounts contributed in this book speak best of what we have experienced first-hand in our battles together.”

He was thankful to be given the opportunity to be the co-author of the book since “it’s not every day that one sees a book that digs deep into the very soul of a Filipino soldier like myself.”

“I feel sheer joy that through this new Silver Linings, which spans more than 50 years of Philippine history and governance, people can come to understand what it is that uniformed men like us really yearn for – it is not violence, not a country inb ruins because of futile warfare,” Velasco pointed out.

“Rather what we have always fought for is a return to purity of intention, both within the Armed Forces and those with the power to rule the nation and to promote peace, sound governance and selfless service so that every Filipino can experience the life he/she deserves,” Velasco concluded.

80 ex-NPA supporters in north Negros vow loyalty to gov't

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23, 2019): 80 ex-NPA supporters in north Negros vow loyalty to gov't

ALLEGIANCE TO THE GOV'T. Some 80 former members and mass supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army from five villages in northern Negros take their oath of allegiance to the government in a ceremony held at the covered court of Barangay 5 inVictorias City on Friday (Feb. 22, 2019). (Photo courtesy of 79th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY -- Some 80 former members and mass supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in northern Negros pledged loyalty to the government in a ceremony held at the covered court of Barangay 5 in Victorias City on Friday.

They took their oath of allegiance during the event that was initiated by the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) based in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

Lt. Col. Emelito Thaddeus Logan, commander of the 79th IB, said in a statement that this was the result of the series of insurgency awareness sessions conducted by their Community Support Program (CSP) teams.

“It made them realize the lies and deceptions of the communist terrorists. They voluntarily reached out to the government troops, shared their experiences, and revealed that they were providing support to the CPP-NPA,” he added.

They are from barangays Estado and Gawahon in Victorias City; Caduhaan in Cadiz City; Canlusong in EB Magalona; and San Pablo in Manapla.

Logan said the participants admitted providing material, financial, and moral support to the CPP-NPA and some of them even became fighters.

Others who took the oath included former Militia ng Bayan members and a courier.

Logan said the participants appreciated the efforts of the CSP teams and the local governments in addressing their issues and concerns to achieve lasting peace and development.

He also thanked the group for their cooperation, and the city government of Victorias for its unconditional support and partnership.

The United States and European Union have declared the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group.

Gunmen shoot Basilan town official in Zambo City

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23, 2019): Gunmen shoot Basilan town official in Zambo City

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- A Basilan town official was wounded in a drive-by shooting in this southern port city, police said Saturday.

The incident occurred at about 5:30 p.m. Friday near the golf course in Barangay Calarian, said Chief Supt. Emmanuel Luis Licup, Police Regional Office 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) director.

Licup identified the victim as Councilor Adzrie Ain Bud, 47, of Maluso municipality, Basilan province.

Bud, who is the Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) representative in the municipal council, is the brother of Maluso Mayor Hanie Bud.

Police investigation showed that Bud was aboard a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) with his wife, a security guard, and a driver when repeatedly shot by one of two men riding in tandem on a motorcycle that overtook them.

Police said Bud, who was seated in the front, was hit thrice and was rushed to the hospital for treatment while his companions were unscathed.

Bud and his wife were on their way to visit their relative in Barangay Calarian and were coming from a hotel along Veterans Ave. extension at the time of the incident.

Land dispute triggers clash between MILF factions in S. Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23, 2019): Land dispute triggers clash between MILF factions in S. Kudarat

A long-standing family feud sparked a shooting war between two factions of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on Friday, police said.

Chief Supt. Eliseo Tam Rasco, Police Regional Office 12 (Soccsksargen) director, said the protagonists involved Nasrullah Mama of the MILF 105th Base Command and Datu Ali Kasim of the MILF 106th Base Command in Sitio Kamanga, Barangay Laguilayan, Isulan.

Police investigation disclosed that the group of Commander Mama attacked the camp of Commander Kasim on Friday night.

“The firefight lasted for an hour,” Rasco said.

He said one of Commander Kasim’s men, Mohammad Anthony Madi, was injured in the fighting that also sent some 40 families fleeing to safer grounds.

The firefight only ceased after the town police, backed by local officials, mediated a dialogue that turned out to be successful.

Some local execs in NoCot helping NPA: Army

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23, 2019): Some local execs in NoCot helping NPA: Army

Some local officials in North Cotabato have been giving assistance to the communist New Peoples Army (NPA) in the province, a military official said Saturday.

“These officials have already established communications with the communist rebels,” Lt. Col. Rhodjun Rosales, Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion commander, said in a radio interview.

Rosales declined to reveal the names of the local officials, saying it is the Department of the Interior and Local Government that has the authority to render appropriate action on the erring local executives.

Rosales admitted that some local officials could not say “no” to the rebels for fear of retaliation from the communist group, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States.

“Steps are underway to stop this nefarious activity of the rebels,” Rosales said.

1 NPA killed, 5 firearms seized in MisOr encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23, 2019): 1 NPA killed, 5 firearms seized in MisOr encounter

CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental -- A New People's Army (NPA) rebel was killed during an encounter with government troops on Saturday morning in the borders of the Misamis Oriental towns of Talisayan and Medina.

Lt. Col. Roy Derilo, commander of the Army's 58th Infantry Battalion, said the troops also recovered five high-powered firearms from the encounter site.

Pursuit operations is ongoing as of posting time, Derilo said, adding that the clash took place around 10 a.m.

“Our relentless operations in the remote areas are meant to drive the NPA terrorists away from communities so their imposition of permit-to-campaign and permit-to-win fees on candidates for the upcoming elections will be ineffective and useless,” Derilo said.

On Feb. 18, an NPA member was also killed during pursuit operations by the Army's Special Forces in Lantapan, Bukidnon.

In both instances, Derilo said the Army found the location of the rebels through civilian tip-off.

Col. Edgardo de Leon, commander of the Army's 403rd Brigade, said “civilians are tipping off precise locations of NPA terrorist hideouts and their activities as they declare the CPP-NPA as "persona non grata" or undesirable people."

De Leon's command covers Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin provinces.

IS-linked terrorists now in Region 12: PRO-12 spox

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23, 2019): IS-linked terrorists now in Region 12: PRO-12 spox

A police official in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) on Friday confirmed the presence of foreign terrorists in the region.

“The foreign Islamic State (IS)-linked men are now in the region and they are closely being watched,” Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, spokesman of the Police Regional Office 12, told reporters here in an interview.

Gonzales said the foreign terrorists are continuously recruiting new members in Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato provinces.

"The terrorists' presence in the region was felt with the recovery of many IS flags in recent police and military operations,” he added.

Despite the presence of terror groups, Gonzales said the police remains in control of the security situation in the region.

500 kilos bomb-making component seized in Zambo

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23, 2019): 500 kilos bomb-making component seized in Zambo

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Operatives of the Police Maritime Group arrested five people and seized a shipment of some 500 kilos of bomb-making component off this southern port city, a top police official said Saturday.

Senior Supt. Jacob Macabili, Maritime-9 regional chief, identified the arrested suspects as Kadoh Kahamkan, boat operator; Mastal Malsani, boat owner; Makaaril Kadaron; Jinaly Atinilda; Ismol Marsani; and, Kado Cahamcam, all crew of the motorboat loaded with ammonium nitrate, an explosive component.

Macabili said the suspects were arrested around 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the waters off Barangay Taluksangay.

Macabili said their personnel were conducting seaborne patrol when they spotted the five suspects aboard motorboat Radiya, which was  heading to the shore of Barangay Taluksangay.

The motorboat was loaded with 20 sacks, weighing 25 kilos each, of  ammonium nitrate.

He said the suspects were now detained while appropriate charges are set to be filed against them.

Commander Bravo inclusion in BTA good for ending revolution: PRRD

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23, 2019): Commander Bravo inclusion in BTA good for ending revolution: PRRD

President Rodrigo R. Duterte said Friday the inclusion of Moro Islamic Liberation Front commander Abdullah Macapaar, better known as Commander Bravo, in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will help end the revolution in Mindanao.

"Well, he is a revolutionary. We are talking here of ending a revolution. So you should talk to a revolutionary or a warrior of that war," Duterte said in an interview with reporters after the ceremonial confirmation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite canvass results and oath-taking of the BTA members in Malacañan Palace.

Duterte said Macapaar "took the brunt" in the Moro people's previous armed struggle.

"The burden was there. Kagaya ng Army ko, Armed Forces ko, Police ko (Just like my men in the Army, Armed Forces, Police). They do the dying. They do the talking," he said.

The National Bureau of Investigation reportedly cleared Macapaar, once a feared warrior, of involvement in any criminal case that could be a legal ground for Duterte not to appoint him as BTA member.

The BTA will govern the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) until elections in 2022.

The President announced the appointment of MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim as Interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

The BOL, considered as one of Duterte’s biggest legislative achievements, is expected to give the Moro people the basic legal tools to chart their own destiny within the country’s Constitutional framework.

NPA member killed, arms seized in MisOr clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23, 2019): NPA member killed, arms seized in MisOr clash

A New People's Army (NPA) rebel was killed in an encounter in an uninhabited area in the hilly boundary of the municipalities of Talisayan and Medina in Misamis Oriental province on Saturday.

Soldiers and CAFGU (militia) members under the 58th Infantry Battalion (58IB) encountered the NPA members at around 10 a.m.

The NPA members are believed to be part of the PPH Platoon of Felot, SRC1 led by a certain "Dallas".

The information about the location of the NPA terrorists, according to the Army, was also provided by the locals.

“Our relentless operations in the remote areas are meant to drive the NPA terrorists away from communities so their imposition of permit-to-campaign and permit-to-win fees on candidates for the upcoming elections will be ineffective and useless,” 58IB Commander Lt. Col. Roy Derilo, said.

Five high-powered firearms, consisting of four M16 rifles and one AK47 rifle, were recovered by government troops at the encounter site.

Pursuit operations are ongoing.

On Monday, another NPA member was killed during pursuit operations by Army Special Forces in Lantapan, Bukidnon.

“Civilians are tipping off the precise locations of NPA terrorist hideouts and their activities as they declare the CPP-NPA as 'persona non grata' or undesirable people not welcome in their communities,” 403rd Brigade Commander Col. Edgardo De Leon said.

“As we embark on a Peaceful War, by bringing in government services to resolve social ills in the remote communities, we have to continue our security patrols in the hinterlands so the NPA terrorists will not have the chance to disrupt our peacekeeping campaign” 4ID Commander Brigadier General Franco Nemesio Gacal said.

The United States and European Union have declared the NPA as a terrorist group.

MILF’s Murad Ebrahim appointed Chief Minister of Bangsamoro Transition Authority as members take their oaths

From the Business World (Feb 22, 2019): MILF’s Murad Ebrahim appointed Chief Minister of Bangsamoro Transition Authority as members take their oaths

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim. — PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday, Feb. 22, administered the oath of office to the newly appointed 80 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

Mr. Duterte also led the “ceremonial confirmation” of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite canvass results.

During the ceremony, Mr. Duterte announced his appointment of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim as interim Chief Minister of the BTA.

“The road to peace may be long and rough but I am glad we have finally reached its endpoint. My only hope is that we put to rest the bitter memories of the past so we can build a new region,” the President said in his remarks.

“Always embody the dreams and aspirations of the great men and women who came before you and fought for the recognition of your right to determine your future,” he added.

The Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which the President signed on July 27 last year, was “deemed ratified” when approved by a majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite held on Jan. 21 and Feb. 6.

The law states that upon its ratification, the transition period for the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region “shall commence” through the creation of the BTA, which will serve as the region’s interim government during the three-year transition period until June 30, 2022.

The Organic Law states that the MILF shall lead the BTA, “without prejudice to the participation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in its membership.”

The BTA is composed of 80 members who are appointed by the President. The law says that the elected officials of the Autonomous Regional Government in Muslim Mindanao become automatic members of the BTA, and they will serve until June 30 of 2019.

During the transition period, executive authority will be exercised by the interim Chief Minister, who is also appointed by the President, while the legislative authority will be exercised by the BTA.

Moreover, all powers and functions of the Bangsamoro Government, as provided in the Organic Law, are vested in the BTA during the transition period.

The BTA’s functions and priorities include the enactment of priority legislation such as the Bangsamoro’s administrative code, revenue code, electoral code, local government code, and education code. Until such laws are enacted, the Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 25 or the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Local Government Code and existing laws on elections and other electoral matters will be applied in the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Gov’t reintegration prompts more rebels to surrender: Army

From The Daily Guardian (Feb 22, 2019): Gov’t reintegration prompts more rebels to surrender: Army

The Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Division is expecting more members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Panay and Negros to surrender.

Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said this could happen as the government shows sincerity to help the former rebels by providing initial reintegration assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

“These E-CLIP beneficiaries are living proofs of the government’s sincerity in helping those who courageously abandoned the senseless and bloody armed struggle,” Dolina said in a statement on Wednesday.

He added the growing number of former rebels receiving assistance will encourage other NPA members to return to the fold of the law.

On Monday, 11 former rebels in Negros Occidental under the custody of the 62nd Infantry Battalion and the 3rd Civil-Military Operations Battalion received reintegration assistance worth PHP21,000 each from the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

In Cuartero, Capiz, a former rebel who voluntarily surrendered to the authorities on January 29 received a financial assistance of PHP10,000 from the municipal government.

The reintegration assistance is a component benefit of the E-CLIP for former rebels.

The receiving unit — military, police, or local government unit — from where a rebel surrendered receives PHP21,000 in reintegration assistance as a support to defray the subsistence or meals costs of the former rebel while in custody as well as for incidental expenses such as securing birth certificate, identification card, and mobility expenses.

Once enrolled in the E-CLIP, a former rebel will also receive immediate assistance of PHP15,000; livelihood assistance, PHP50,000; firearms remuneration, PHP12,000 to PHP500,000; half-way house assistance; PhilHealth enrollment and medical assistance; education assistance; housing assistance; legal assistance; and healing and reconciliation initiatives.

The United States and the European Union have already declared the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group.

Whole of nation

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 23, 2019): Whole of nation

The Government has taken an important step in confronting long-drawn-out issues brought about by the 50-year existence of the Communist Party of the Philippines bolstered by its militia, the New People’s Army and political arm, the National Democratic Front (CPPA-NPA-NDF).

For decades, these communist-terrorist groups (CTG) have been fighting a Maoist-concept guerilla warfare with the primary aim of overthrowing the government.

Through the years, new alliances are developed with strategies adapting to changes of the times including political overtone and advances in multimedia and digital technology.

Several so-called development and community organizations have since joined the bandwagon with emerging leaders coming out of campuses and local communities—all believing in a communist revolution as a means of pursuing change and economic equality, based on the dogma of an all-knowing, all-wise regime.

This has been a protracted and continuous effort of promoting their objectives through mass mobilization, military engagement, subversive political action, and international solidarity work (ISW) with several other organizations.

President Duterte issued Executive Order No. 70 in December 2018 establishing a whole-of-nation approach in ending local communist armed conflict through the creation of a national task force (NTF) that will take the lead in institutionalizing a national peace framework.

As a matter of state principle and policy as mandated by the Constitution, the government shall maintain “peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property” and promote the general welfare. Consistent with the objectives of the Philippine Development Plan for 2017-2022, the attainment of inclusive and sustainable peace through peace-building initiatives is optimal in this presidential directive.

The whole-of-nation approach as directed by the President is essential for this peace framework to become workable, effective and beneficial.

For several years, government efforts have been unhurried in terms of countering the institutional platforms created and built by the CTG, thus, creating a national and international portrayal of failed governance and leadership in many respects.

It is now the time for government and people to make calibrated steps to thwart this narrative of a failed ideology that cannot seem to work in this country.

While the CPP-NPA-NDF had exhausted varied means of declaring one-sided reports with fabricated facts and figures portraying a negligent and abusive government and security forces to the international community, a consolidated blueprint based on truth and unbiased publicity is extremely necessary and no other sector of society is best to lead such strategy than the government itself.

The President had made a calculated and strategic move in establishing this approach to a peace framework. It is in these times that the government needs to go offensive against subliminal mechanisms established by the CTG in the international arena.

An official report from the NTF, which is co-chaired by the National Security Adviser, has been submitted to the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva for its appropriate action during a recent trip of the NTF to Switzerland.

Several legal steps and mechanisms need to be undertaken to formalize the government’s response and position within the human rights work streams of the United Nations, the European Parliament and several EU member states that may not have been fully made aware of the strategies employed by the CTG in obtaining international support, including financial sustenance unwittingly provided by the international community to front organizations of CTG, in the guise of development projects in the countryside.

While some UN agencies, EU governments, and the EU Parliament itself “feel good” about sending financial support to community projects in southeast Asia, their vetting processes need to be scrutinized as they might have been indirectly supporting communist-terrorist underground activities in the region affecting the very people whose lives they supposedly seek to improve in the name of humanitarian action and development cooperation.

In the engagement of the NTF with the European Council in Brussels early this week, CTG strategies were exposed by the NTF and presented to the EU’s Counter Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles De Kerchove, who committed to look into the matter very seriously.

“We have discussed our respective policy and how we can try to develop a more intense cooperation. I promise to look into this more seriously and talk with our colleagues in the European Commission,” said De Kerchove in an interview.

In 2002, the United States and the EU had declared the CPP-NPA as a foreign terrorist organization.

According to the Country Reports on Terrorism published by the U.S. Department of State in 2017, the CPP-NPA “primarily targets Philippine security forces, government officials, local infrastructure, and businesses that refuse to pay extortion, or revolutionary taxes.”

The report also noted that the CPP-NPA has a history of attacking U.S. interests in the Philippines and “has continued to carry out killings, raids, kidnappings, acts of extortion, and other forms of violence primarily directed against Philippine security forces.”

In 2017, President Duterte signed an executive proclamation also declaring the CPP-NPA as a terror organization using Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 as basis.

On the other hand, the European Commission had assured the NTF of a specific plan of action in response to the submitted reports on possible terrorism financing of Belgium and other EU members states in the Philippines.

"We will have an independent financial audit on this. You can be reassured that we will monitor the country’s expenditures and donors who may have given to the organizations for the same activity. We will share with you the outcome of the external audit," said Gunnar Weigand, Managing Director of European External Action Service and European Commission South East Division of Development and Cooperation.

The NTF also met with the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who confirmed that their government has been supporting community work in the Philippines and had allocated 15 million euros for a period of 5 years (2017 to 2021), released at 3 million euros per year to several civil society organizations.

The Belgian officials identified the organizations they support, which are currently operating in rural communities in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Coincidentally, the identified groups appeared in the list of front organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDF as disclosed by officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“We received information from the Belgian government that they are actually providing funds to these organizations in the Philippines through Belgian NGOs. They are giving 3 million euros every year for five years, totaling fifteen million euros. That’s close to 1 billion pesos,” said Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., AFP Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. “But we already have an idea where these funds are going. A list was provided by the Belgians and we realize that these groups are allies and front organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDF,” Parlade added.

With these first steps taken by the government, the country is on the right path of putting an end to this insurgency and, most importantly, making the Filipino public and the international community more aware of what is really going on in our communities.

It took us 50 years to make this preliminary move of engaging the whole nation and while the armed forces still consider the CPP-NPA-NDF as a potent security threat due to its capacity to operate nationally and the ability to infiltrate government and private institutions, it cannot deny that they are struggling for survival. And Rodrigo Duterte, with his whole-of-nation approach, is determined to subjugate them.

BARMM 'realization' of Moro dreams and end armed struggle: PRRD

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 22, 2019): BARMM 'realization' of Moro dreams and end armed struggle: PRRD

The newly-established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is a realization of everyone's dream to end the armed struggle in Mindanao, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said on Friday.

"The successful ratification of this Organic Law will enable us to create an environment that will be conducive to the peaceful coexistence between the Muslims, Christians, Lumads, and all tribes of this planet as indigenous peoples and settlers who will consider Mindanao as their home," Duterte said in his speech during the ceremonial confirmation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite canvass results and oath-taking ceremony of the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) at Malacañang Palace.

Duterte assured various stakeholders that his administration will ensure good governance in BARMM.

"Your courage and determination will never be put to waste. I guarantee that you and this administration will use all the resources within its disposal to ensure better governance and inclusive political empowerment in this new Bangsamoro region," he said.

The President recalled the hardships of the peace process and expressed hope for permanent peaceful co-existence with the ratification of the BOL.

"We would like to see an end of the violence that has rocked Mindanao and have cost so many lives for nothing.If there is any problem at all or in the future, let me assure you that for the remaining years of my work as a government work here, here in this building, I assure you, Insha’Allah, I will always do what the law says and what is yours, to what extent that we can give you, not only comfort but happiness to the Muslims of Mindanao," he said.

Duterte challenged the 80 newly-appointed members of the BTA to fulfill a better future for the people of BARMM by committing to the values of the rule of law, good governance, and democracy.

"Always embody the dreams and aspirations of the great men and women who came before you and fought for the recognition of your right to determine your future," he told them.

The President announced the appointment of Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim as Interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

The BOL, considered as one of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s biggest legislative achievements, is expected to give the Moro people the basic legal tools to chart their own destiny within the country’s Constitutional framework.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim set to lead the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 22, 2019): Al Haj Murad Ebrahim set to lead the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority

President Duterte has called on the interim government of the new Bangsamoro region to oversee the three-year transition period to the best of their ability and work for the interest of the people.

DAVAO ENCOUNTER – President Duterte chats with Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim (right) following the celebration of Eid’l Fitr at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City Saturday. The President assured MILF and other Muslim leaders the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be signed into law. (Keith Bacongco)

The President said the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) led by Moro Islamic Liberation Front chair (MILF) Al Haj Murad Ebrahim must also help promote the rule of law and good governance in the new autonomous region.

Murad has been appointed to serve as interim chief minister of the Bangsamoro caretaker government until the new regional leaders are elected in 2022.

“As you lead this new region towards a brighter tomorrow, I ask you never to waver in your commitment to build an institution that is founded on the rule of law, the promotion of good governance, and the defense [of] our most cherished democratic values,” Duterte said during the oath-taking of the 80-member BTA in Malacañang.

“Always work for the best interest and welfare, not only of the Bangsamoro people, but every Filipino who live in that region. I trust that you will oversee the transition period to the best of your abilities, especially in the decommissioning of firearms and former combatants,” he added.

The President also challenged the BTA members to “always embody the dreams and aspirations of the great men and women who came before you and fought for the recognition of your right to determine your future.”

Murad and dozens of representatives from the Moro and non-Moro groups, indigenous peoples, women, youth, settler communities, and traditional leaders, took their oath of office before the President during the Palace ceremony.

Among the Bangsamoro transition leaders are Abdullah Macapaar also known as Commander Bravo, an MILF commander who led the attacks in Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato in 2008 after a botched ancestral domain pact.

The President has welcomed the inclusion of Commander Bravo to the transition government in the Bangsamoro region.

“Well, he is a revolutionary. We are talking here of ending a revolution. So you should talk to a revolutionary or a warrior of that war,” he said in a later interview with reporters at the Palace.

The oath-taking ceremony also coincided with the Commission on Elections (Comelec)’s certification declaring the ratification of the Organic Act for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The law replaces the old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a new territory that includes Cotabato City and 63 barangays from North Cotabato. The historic measure is part of the peace agreement forged by the government with the MILF a few years ago.

In his remarks, the President said the new Bangsamoro region was not just the fulfillment of a campaign promise but realization of the collective desire to end decades-long armed struggle in the region he considers “home.”

He has pledged that the government would use all resources within its disposal to ensure better governance and inclusive political empowerment in the new Bangsamoro region.

“We would like to see an end of the violence that has rocked Mindanao and have cost so many lives for nothing,” he said.

“For after all, we go to war and shoot each other, counter — counting our victories, not by the progress or development of the place but by the dead bodies that were thrown around during the violent years,” he added.

The President said he always prays for Mindanao which has suffered conflict for many years.

“I thank Allah for his mercy and for his understanding of his people. And so every time I pray, I pray for my place, Mindanao, because we have suffered so many bombing, so many lives lost, I said, for really nothing,” he said.

“In the end, all the great revolutions the world has ever seen, and all the great wars that we have undergone in — well, of course I was not yet around. But violence visited us every now and then,” he added.

Deadly homeground advantage

From The Star Online (Feb 23, 2019): Deadly homeground advantage

Filipino soldiers are seen in the back of a military truck as they wait for orders during a military offensive in Jolo. -filepic

Filipino soldiers are seen in the back of a military truck as they wait for orders during a military offensive in Jolo. -filepic

JUST over two minutes long, the video clip from the battleground in Jolo island in the southern Philippines is gory and gruesome.

Three Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) teenagers armed with M16 are shooting at an unseen enemy. A foreigner is heard shouting in Arabic to encourage an ASG sub-leader to butcher the body of an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldier.

In a practice known locally as “chop-chop”, the gunman cuts off the head and holds it in front of the camera. He does the same to the body of another AFP soldier.

The video is believed to have been shot three months ago.

Despite its superior numbers, there are times – too many, say some critics – the AFP loses to the ASG in gun battles.

Based on comments on WhatsApp or Facebook, many Malaysians assume it is an easy task to hunt down and eliminate the militant group notorious for cross-border kidnappings in the east coast of Sabah.

During the Chinese New Year break, I was in Zamboanga City, about 150km from Jolo. I asked several Abu Sayyaf experts why the ASG have not been wiped out.

“It is the terrain. The ASG is well-versed with the terrain as it is their area. They can close their eyes and know where they are,” said an intelligence officer.

“For many of the soldiers, it is their first time in Jolo island. They are not familiar with the terrain. Many are young soldiers. They have no reference point in the jungle.”

The jungle looks different depending on the weather and time. A soldier can be at the same spot hours apart but the trees will look dissimilar each time.

“If it is at noon, the leaves are greener. When it gets closer to dusk, they turn brown,” said a Tausug woman who lives on the island.

(Jolo is in Sulu province populated mainly by Tausugs, who are known as Suluk in Sabah.)

She described the battlefield as a twisting obstacle course in a landscape that was a reverse umbrella (a valley). The terrain, she said, was as tricky as a jigsaw puzzle littered with landmines.

In the island’s jungle of Patikul, two Abu Sayyaf groups headed separately by Radulan Sahiron and Hajan Sawadjaan are camped at an elevated cliff.

“If there’s a military operation below, the Ajang Ajang (a teenage subgroup of the Sawadjaan group) will run up to inform the ASG gunmen, who will then withdraw to a prearranged location,” said Octavio A. Dinampo, who teaches political science in Mindanao State University in Jolo town.

The military, he explained, often lost because the ASG members fight guerrilla-style while the AFP does so conventionally.

“When I say conventionally, the (infantry division) moves in bulk. So, even if you don’t have sight, you fire and you can hit them. The ASG fighters move agilely and hide easily. It is difficult to make a kill,” said Dinampo, who was kidnapped by the ASG on June 8, 2008.

(The scout rangers, the AFP’s special operations command unit, operate differently, moving stealthily in small numbers at night like its mascot, the civet.)

The ASG snares the soldiers by using “rabbits” as bait.

“The military will chase after young ASG gunmen, who run up the mountains like a rabbit and lead them to an ambush. The ASG, using their higher position, will shoot at soldiers, who are like sitting ducks,” said the intelligence officer.

He added that this was the ASG’s usual tactic and yet the military never seemed to learn from experience.

An AFP soldier explained how it played out: “The military will take an L-type formation (to avoid crossfire) while the ASG a C-type position. The centre of the C ‘pretends’ to withdraw and the military advances. And then the ASG fighters at the ‘head’ and ‘tail’ of the C shoot at the soldiers.”

In a chat in Kota Kinabalu, a source who is knowledgeable about southern Philippines described the C as not a full C but a half-hook. He said the ASG learnt that tactic from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) trained by the Malaysian army (which acquired expertise in guerrilla warfare when fighting the Communist insurgents) in the early 1970s.

To get an outsider’s perspective, I contacted Zachary Abuza, a professor at National War College in Washington.

“The terrain favours defensive ambushes. The jungle canopy in Jolo is really thick. The ASG dig in really well. They know the terrain,” he said.

“Frankly, the AFP is just not that well-trained. If they were, they wouldn’t rely on artillery barrages as a counter-insurgency tactic.”

Abuza also questioned the origin of the ASG’s ammunition. “They always have enough guns and ammo. While they might be able to pick some off slain government forces, their ability to wage war for so long speaks to the endemic corruption within the AFP,” he said.

While the ASG are not like Robin Hood, Abuza noted they had deep clan ties with the Tausug community and therefore their intelligence was very good.

In the chase between the ASG and AFP, most of the time, the rabbit wins in its homeground.

Kidnappers demand RM3mil ransom

From the Daily Express (Feb 23, 2019): Kidnappers demand RM3mil ransom
Kota Kinabalu: The Abu Sayyaf demanded 10 billion rupiah or RM3 million as ransom in connection with the kidnapping of two Indonesian hostages in waters off Kinabatangan in December last year, an Indonesian official said.

Krishna Djaelani, Indonesia’s Consul General in Sabah, said he is not sure whether the amount is for both or just one of the Indonesians.

“Maybe it’s a complete package for both. But we’re not sure about any ransom demand for the Malaysian hostage,” he told Daily Express.

 Krishna was commenting on a national newspaper report on Wednesday of a video purportedly showing the Abu Sayyaf threatening to behead the hostages if their ransom demand was not met.

 The video was said to show one of the Indonesian men with a machete held to his neck appealing to the Indonesian President and negotiator to help secure their release.

 The video was reportedly uploaded on Facebook by a user going by the name of Kim Hundin at about 5am on Feb 14 and appeared to have been an edited clip.

 The two blindfolded hostages in the video were reported to be Heri Ardiansyah, 19, and Hariadin, 45. They were kidnapped with fellow fisherman, Malaysian Jari Abdulla, 24, from their trawler on Dec 5.

 The video emerged a few days after the Abu Sayyaf called Jari’s wife, Nadin Junianti Abdullah, saying that no Malaysian authorities or negotiators had contacted them to secure her husband’s release.

 Krishna said the Indonesian government is aware of the latest video and said his government has made it a priority to rescue its citizens but will not negotiate with the kidnappers.

“We don’t know where they are now but we heard they’re constantly being moved by their captors,” said Krishna.

“We’ve been in contact with the families to care for their welfare. We’re not abandoning them.

“The Indonesian government has been in cooperation with its Philippine counterpart to rescue its citizens but we can’t reveal any details.”

Omar Mammah, the Sabah Police Commissioner, said police has not verified the authenticity of the video but if it’s genuine, he said the video aims to psychologically pressure the hostages’ families to pay the demanded ransom.

“However, Malaysia’s stand is never to communicate or deal with the kidnappers,” Omar told Daily Express.

“But we’re working together with the Philippine authorities to rescue the hostages, but we cannot reveal any details,” said Omar, adding Sabah police will investigate the video.

An earlier kidnapping occurred in September last year when the Abu Sayyaf snatched two Indonesian fishermen from their boat in waters off Semporna.

 The kidnappers demanded RM4 million ransom for their release, but one of them later escaped his captors in Sulu, southern Philippines while the other was released also in Sulu.

 The September abduction broke an almost two-year lull in kidnappings in eastern Sabah waters.

Año: Suicide bomber still lurks about

From the Manila Standard (Feb 23, 2019): Año: Suicide bomber still lurks about

Another potential suicide bomber, a Yemeni, is currently in Mindanao, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Friday and has been living in the country for over a year now along with other foreign terrorists.

Indonesian, Pakistani, Egyptian and Malaysian terrorists are also in Basilan and Maguindanao apart from the Yemeni—who the secretary did not name—and other local anarchists, Año said in a UNTV report.

“The trained suicide bomber we are referring is a Yemeni national. There are foreign terrorists who are also living in other parts of Mindanao, but we cannot say that he is a suicide bomber because they are foreign tourists providing support and advice to the local Abu Sayyaf, except for this Arab-looking national inside the Sawadjaan camp,” he added.

Año said the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which has control over the Philippine National Police, currently has no intelligence reports on any plans the Yemeni terrorist has.

Authorities continue to be on their guard against terrorist bombers after an Abu Sayyaf cell led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan bombed the Catholic cathedral in Jolo, Sulu during a Mass last Jan. 27, killing 23 and injuring over 100.

The twin blasts prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to call an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf, the communist New People’s Army, and other terrorist groups in the country.

Meanwhile, government troops on Friday launched wide-scale search and rescue operations to save three foreign hostages from being beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf.

A video posted online by the ASG, showed the hostages—believed to be Indonesians Heri Adiansyah, 19 and Hariadin, 45—blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their back, under guard by armed bandits.

One bandit held a bolo to Hariadin’s neck as he made an emotional appeal to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to save them. The other hostage, Malaysian Jari Abdullah, 24, was not shown in the video.

The video was posted online after the bandits contacted Jari’s wife, who made a futile appeal to the Malaysian government.

The ASG demanded an undetermined amount for their ransom.

Duterte on Friday said he would appeal to Moro National Liberation Front chair Nur Misuari to negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf to end the hostaging.

“I would appeal to Nur Misuari to stop it. And tell the Abu Sayyaf that, ‘Look we’re talking. Don’t make it hard for us to seek peace in our land’,” the President said in a chance interview with Palace reporters.

A spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, however, rejected any talks with the bandits.

“We never negotiate with the terrorists or kidnappers,” said AFP Public Affairs chief Col. Noel Detoyato. “We will just continue with our ongoing combat operations,” he said.
The Abu Sayyaf are still holding eight hostages including the two Indonesians and the Malaysian, Netherlands bird watcher Ewol Horn and four others.

The Palace said it is doing all it can to guarantee the safe release of the hostages.

The three were in their Sandakan-based fishing boats in eastern Sabah waters, which is near Tawi-Tawi, when the ASG abducted them.

“We are doing our best to secure the release of hostages from the evil hands of the ASG, but we stand firm on our no ransom policy,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

READ: 2 Abu Sayyaf killed, 2 hurt in clash with troops in Sulu

“To give in to the demands of terrorists and other lawless groups would embolden them to engage in more abductions that would allow them to conduct extremist and other criminal activities as they could buy more arms and weapons,” he added.

According to the Palace official, the ASG “continues to be on the run” after President Duterte declared an “all-out war” against them, ordering the country’s armed forces to pulverize the terrorist group.

“Our security forces are hunting them in the wild forests of Mindanao to unleash their might and blow them to kingdom come,” Panelo said.

On Wednesday, the President urged Indonesia and Malaysia to work together with the country in combating crime across the seas.