Saturday, March 16, 2019

UBJP: Bangsamoro Chief Minister attends Joint NPOC-RPOC and AFP-PNP meeting in Davao

Posted to the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) Facebook page (Mar 15, 2019): Bangsamoro Chief Minister attends Joint NPOC-RPOC and AFP-PNP meeting in Davao

The newly installed Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister Ahod "Murad" B. Ebrahim was in Davao yesterday, March 14, to attend his first joint National and Regional Peace and Order Council Cluster Meeting.

Interim Chief Minister Ebrahim, who was also the Chairperson of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), was accompanied by Minister of Local Government and Council Head Secretaria...t Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo.

The meeting was presided by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who was joined by the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Chairperson of the National Peace and Order Council (NPOC).

Also in attendance during the event were the RPOC Chairpersons and Vice Chairpersons of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) officials, and other concerned personalities.

On March 12, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao RPOC first meeting was held at the Office of the Bangsamoro People in this city, two days prior to the Joint NPOC-RPOC meeting.

Photos: from Minister Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo FB

49 ang kumalas! Army sees weaker NPA sympathy in Capiz town

From Politiko Visayas (Mar 16, 2019): 49 ang kumalas! Army sees weaker NPA sympathy in Capiz town

The communist New People’s Army has lost at least 49 sympathizers in one of their strongholds in Cuartero town in Capiz province, the military said.

Last March 13, the ex-sympathizers took their oath of allegiance before police, military and local government officials in Sitio Tigpaka Daku in Barangay San Antonio.

Of the 49 ex-sympathizers, 10 are considered Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL) members, 14 are local militiamen, and 25 are mass-based supporters.

Facilitating the oath-taking event was the Army’s 61st Infantry (Hunter) Battalion.

Witnesses included Ronald Guillermo, who represented Cuartero Mayor Tito Mayo; Superintendent Robert Petate, chief of the Capiz Mobile Force Battalion; and Senior Inspector Mary Grace Borrio, Cuartero police chief.

Lt. Col. Sisenando Magbalot Jr., 61st IB commander, said the oath of allegiance indicates the ex sympathizers’ abandonment of the communist group.

“They are unarmed and are used in gathering of information. Sometimes, they are called as NPAs by night, farmers by day,” he said.

He said the ex-sympathizers “were just deceived” but now realized that what they’ve told are nothing but empty promises.

The NPAs had used the local mass supporters as their eyes and ears for possible soldier sightings in the area.

Barangay San Antonio is one of the four villages where the 301st Infantry Brigade and 61st IB have been conducting Community Support Programs. The other three are barangays Carataya, Manguyod-nguyod, and Puti-an.

Last February, 60 mass-based supporters from Barangay Puti-an also took their oath of allegiance to the government and withdraw any support to the CPP-NPA.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division commander, said the development came after “the supporters have now finally come into a realization that the CPP-NPA terrorists is just using them for their selfish and bloody interests.”

“We are still calling on the remaining supporters to do the same to totally make the communist terrorist group irrelevant,” he said.

Farmer shot dead

From Panay News (Mar 17, 2019): Farmer shot dead

A farmer was shot dead in Sitio Tuko, Barangay Trinidad , Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

Resident Joebert Albino, 35, sustained gunshot wounds on the different part of the body, police said.

According to investigation, Albino was on his way home when alleged members of New People’s Army (NPA) peppered him with bullets around 8 p.m. on Thursday.

The suspects shouted “Mga NPA kami” then fled after the shooting, the police added.

Officers of Guihulngan City police station have yet to identify the suspects and the motive in the incident.

Army cites 16 Iloilo towns as possible ‘poll hotspots’

From The Daily Guardian (Mar 16, 2019): Army cites 16 Iloilo towns as possible ‘poll hotspots’

THE Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion recommended 16 towns as areas of concern or election “hotspots.”

Lieutenant Colonel Sisenando Magbalot Jr., 61st IB commander, said they recommended four towns under Yellow (Areas of Concern) category; 9 under Orange (Immediate Concern) Category; and 3 under Red (Grave Concern) Category.

The towns of New Lucena, San Dionisio, Estancia, and Sara are under the yellow category.

Meanwhile, lumped under Orange category are the towns of San Joaquin, Miag-ao, Igbaras, Tubungan, Alimodian, Leon, Janiuay, Lambunao, and Bingawan,

In the Red category are the municipalities of Calinog, Lemery, and Maasin.

Last month, the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) confirmed it has recommended the 16 municipalities to be included in the election areas of concerns list.

Under the guidelines, towns or cities shall be placed under the Category 1 or Yellow classification upon the existence of any of the following:
  • History of/or current intense political rivalry (IPR) among the contending parties. Such rivalries could motivate people to engage in violent acts.
  • Presence of PAGs (active/potential) that had been and/or can be utilized by candidates in the area and abetted by loose firearms and availability of gun-for-hire groups.
  • Occurrence of validated election related incident (ERI) in the 2016 national and local elections, provided there was no participation of domestic terror groups.
  • Suspected politically-motivated violent incidents involving elected government officials (EGO)/aspirants/supporters from January 2018 to present and those who filed their COCs until the start of the election period.
  • Occurrence of political-motivated ERIs in the current election period provided there is no participation of domestic terror groups.
  • Validated reports of candidates involved in illegal drug groups and such support will likely lead to election violence; and/or
  • Areas that have been previously declared under COMELEC Control in 2016.
Towns or cities will be placed under Category 2, or election areas of immediate concern, if there is an existence of any of the following factors:
  • Combination of two or more factors under Category 1.
  • Presence and/or serious armed threat posed by the communist terrorist group (New People’s Army) and/or local terrorist groups (BIFF, ASG, AKP and rogue elements of the MNLF/MILF) and/or other analogous groups;
  • Reports of the collection of permit to win/permit to campaign by CTGs and/or extortion by LTGs and/or other analogous groups; and/or
  • Reports on the existence of CTG/LTG supported candidates.
It was gathered that Iloilo had more towns recommended under election areas of concern after inclusion of election-related incidents that date back prior to 2010.
Magbalot and the IPPO said the declaration would be used as basis for the deployment of personnel for maximum action during the conduct of the elections.

3 more BIFF gunmen slain in Maguindanao

From The Manila Times (Mar 17, 2019): 3 more BIFF gunmen slain in Maguindanao

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Philippine Army troops of the 6th Infantry Division (6ID) recovered more powerful improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in two enclaves of pro-Islamic State terrorists belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) after a series of clashes in Maguindanao.

Maj. Arvin Encinas, spokesman for the 6ID, said on Saturday that three more followers of Abu Toraife, leader of the most radical BIFF faction, were killed in the ensuing gunfights.

Army snipers killed Uyao Badruddin, Igasan Kamid and Gulam Madsid, in an encounter in Barangay Inaladan in Shariff Saidona Mustapha town in the second district of Maguindanao.

Encinas said units of the 6ID have been running after BIFF forces in Shariff Saidona Mustapha and nearby towns since March 9, after bandits killed four off-duty soldiers in a series of attacks in Maguindanao and in Cotabato City early on.

Local officials confirmed the death of 16 BIFF members in a series of encounters since last week with pursuing personnel of the 1st Mechanized and the 40th Infantry Battalions and the elite 61st Division Reconnaissance Company of the 6ID.

Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, 6ID commander, said their continuing hunt for BIFF bandits in towns along the Liguasan Marsh was aimed at neutralizing Abu Toraife’s group.

Toraife, a bomb-maker whose real name is Abdulmalik Esmael, was blamed for the deadly bombings in Central Mindanao in the past three years.

Local officials and Islamic religious leaders said there were at least four foreigners tagging along with Toraife — Saab Sha’arbatri, who has Middle Eastern features; Zaruum Sumaharti, an Indonesian; and a Malaysian named Omar Kenzih.

Information has spread around since Monday purporting that a fifth foreigner, Muahwia, a Malaysian, was killed in military airstrikes that destroyed his hideout in Shariff Saidona Mustapha.

Senior Filipino IS Leader Believed Killed in Firefight, Philippine Military Says

From BenarNews (Mar 16, 2019): Senior Filipino IS Leader Believed Killed in Firefight, Philippine Military Says

Villagers drive past armored personnel carriers and Philippine security forces in Ampatuan town in the southern province of Maguindanao, Dec. 24, 2015.

Villagers drive past armored personnel carriers and Philippine security forces in Ampatuan town in the southern province of Maguindanao, Dec. 24, 2015. AFP

A senior leader of Filipino militants who escaped when troops retook the southern Philippine city of Marawi from Islamic State-linked fighters two years ago is believed to be among insurgents killed during clashes earlier this week, military officials said Saturday.

Humam Abdul Najib (alias Abu Dar) is likely one of two militants slain in clashes near the town of Tubaran town in Lanao del Sur province on Thursday. Three soldiers were also killed, and three others who were reported missing had already been accounted for, the military said.

Tissue samples gathered from the slain militants were being processed for DNA testing, though results were not expected for weeks, military spokesman Col. Gerry Besana told BenarNews.

“The death of Abu Dar is still for verification,” Besana said, referring to Najib's alias. But Besana emphasized that witnesses on the ground, including residents in the area, had offered visual confirmation. “This will be validated by DNA testing," he said.

Besana said a .45-caliber pistol that was among several firearms recovered in the area had been positively identified as owned by Najib.

Najib was among those who helped plan the five-month Marawi siege with the Maute brothers and Isnilon Hapilon, the overall regional leader of the IS. Several Southeast Asian IS militants, as well as fighters from the Middle East, were also among those who helped carry it out.

The siege, the biggest that was launched in the region by the IS, led to heavy battles that killed 1,200 people, most of them militants. Filipino forces, long used to jungle fighting, had to adjust to urban guerrilla warfare. Australian and U.S. forces were later called in to help in intelligence work, mostly providing aerial and other technical support that helped pinpoint enemy positions.

Hapilon was killed in October 2017, while Najib and several fighters escaped as troops closed in on their positions in Marawi, military officials said.

Najib is believed to have studied in an Islamic school in the northern Philippines, before going to Afghanistan for jihad training in 2005. He is an expert bomb maker, and had at one time ran basic military training for fresh recruits in the southern Philippines, according to military officials.

Col. Romeo Brawner, commander of the Army 103rd Infantry Brigade, said a forensics teams took saliva and tissue samples from the body. He said a portion of the samples was given to the U.S. forces based in the southern city of Zamboanga for DNA analysis.

“I was told the results will take more than one month. Until then, we cannot say categorically it was Abu Dar who was killed,” Brawner told BenarNews. But, he said, all the telltale marks were present on the dead man’s body, except for a mole and knife scars.

A profile and photograph of Filipino militant Abu Dar is seen in this photograph handed out to reporters by the Philippine Army, January 2018. [HO/Philippine Army]

An officer who asked not to be identified said the body was wearing the same clothes usually worn by Abu Dar as seen on captured videos – black cargo pants and black shirt.

“The residents and a group of former Maute fighters who surrendered, told us the body was Abu Dar,” Brawner said.

“The samples and test will provide the answers if it is indeed him,” he said.

Fighting between government forces and two militant factions had been going in separate parts of Mindanao since Monday. At least 22 fighters of the IS-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), including a militant with Arabic features, have been killed during gunbattles in the province of Maguindanao, officials said.

On Wednesday, three soldiers and two militants, including the one believed to be Najib, were killed in clashes near Marawi city.

Last year, military official had estimated that at least 40 foreign fighters were still believed to be fighting in Mindanao, many of whom had slipped into the south across its porous borders with neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia.

Philippines hopes pro-ISIS group ‘neutralized’ after de facto leader killed

Posted to Al Arabiya/Reuters (Mar 16, 2019): Philippines hopes pro-ISIS group ‘neutralized’ after de facto leader killed

A police investigator gathers evidence at the site of a bomb blast in Isulan town on the southern island of Mindanao. (File photo: AFP)

The Philippine military believes it may have “neutralized” the remnants of an alliance of pro-ISIS extremists, after the suspected death of the group’s de facto leader during clashes last week.

Forensic tests were being carried out to determine if one of four rebels killed on Thursday was Abu Dar, whom security forces believe has led Dawla Islamiya, an alliance of pro-ISIS fighters, foreign and Filipino, drawn from armed groups in the volatile Mindanao region.

Four soldiers were also killed during the fighting in Lanao del Sur province, which ISIS claimed responsibility for on the mobile messaging service Telegram.

The regional army commander, Colonel Romeo Brawner, told ABS-CBN News that the death of Abu Dar would mean Dawla Islamiya had been “neutralized”.

Marawi City

Dawla Islamiya in 2017 occupied southern Marawi City for five months before its core leaders were reported killed by the military in air strikes and street battles, among them Isnilon Hapilon, ISIS’s anointed “emir” in Southeast Asia. Abu Dar was seen in seized video footage sitting beside Hapilon.

ALSO READ: Muslim who shielded Filipino Christians in ISIS-held Marawi says he’s no hero

If confirmed, his death would represent rare progress at a time of heightened alert across the predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao, where a church attack by suspected suicide bombers in January killed 22 people and wounded more than 100, just days after a local referendum on autonomy returned an overwhelming “yes” vote.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the church bombings, which the government believes were carried out by its supporters from another Mindanao group, Abu Sayyaf, which has a long history of criminal and extremist activity.

Residents fled homes, 2 marines wounded in Sulu offensive

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 16, 2019): Residents fled homes, 2 marines wounded in Sulu offensive

Two members of the Philippine Marines were wounded and about 500 residents reportedly fled their homes after the military pounded mortar fires at an island in Banguingui, Sulu where Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) gunmen are holding two Malaysian nationals in captivity.

Tanks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Mark Balmores|Manila Bulletin)
A military report reaching here said the surgical military operations started about 6:40 pm, Friday at Sitio Kabahayan, Barangay Bakkan, Banguingui, Sulu against an undetermined number of ASG led by ASG Sub-Leader Salip Mura.
The encounter has resulted in the wounding of Marine soldiers Corporal Syruss V Valenzuela and Private Jude Louiss B Nabalan and the evacuation of about 500 people to an adjacent island.

The military said they pound mortar fires to the position of the bandits to cover the soldiers who are trying to rescue two Malaysian nationals being kept by the rogue group in the forested areas of the island.

According to the military, they have cordoned the island to prevent the bandits from eluding the military or receiving an augmentation of force coming from another group of ASG operatives in Sulu province.

The military said one squad of marines led by Valenzuela positioned themselves near a mosque at Simosah Island, Sulu where they encountered an undetermined number of ASG gunmen.

The military believed that several ASG were also wounded or killed during the encounter with the soldiers.

MILF: BARMM inauguration reset to March 25

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Mar 16, 2019): BARMM inauguration reset to March 25

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao- The inauguration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and 1st session of the Bangsamoro Parliament has been reset from March 21 to March 25.
President Rodrigo Duterte will grace the historic event after a confirmation was made by Malacañang.

On Friday, Interim Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told MindaNews that in their conversation with President Duterte at the sidelines of the National Peace and Order Council meeting here Thursday, the President said he wants to attend the inauguration but can’t make it on March 21.

The President, Ebrahim said, confirmed his availability on March 25.

On the same day (Friday), members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) were also told that the new schedule would be “Monday, March 25, with President Duterte.”

March 25 is exactly two months after the Commission on Elections proclaimed the ratification of RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, said Mindanews in its report.

President Duterte on February 22 administered the oath of 72 BTA members at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang. On February 27, Malacanang released 76 appointment papers of BTA members, as well the appointment paper naming Ebrahim as the interim Chief Minister, Mindanews also said in its report.

The BTA will govern the BARMM during the three-year transition period until June 30, 2022. (Source: Mindanews 3-16-19)

Army wants DNA test for slain ISIS emir in Lanao Sur

From the Mindanao Examiner (Mar 16, 2019): Army wants DNA test for slain ISIS emir in Lanao Sur

Security commanders have asked the military for a DNA examination on one of 6 pro-ISIS militants believed to be the emir of the Islamic State in the Philippines who were killed in a massive campaign in the restive South.

Colonel Romeo Brawner, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, said army informants have said that Abu Dar was one of those killed by our soldiers in Tubaran town in Lanao del Sur province. “According to our three informants, one of the slain terrorists was Abu Dar. We already requested the higher headquarters for the DNA test to confirm his neutralization,” he said.

Abu Dar, who was a former commander of the Abu Sayyaf group, had been tagged as behind many terror attacks against civilian and military targets in the Muslim autonomous region. But little information is available on the secluded jihadist leader, whose group had laid siege to Marawi City in 2017 that left hundreds of people dead and wounded, and forced fellow Muslims to flee their homes.

Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Allan Villanueva, commander of the 49th Infantry Battalion, also said that Abu Dar was with a group of armed fighters from Dawlah Islamiya and Maute group numbering about 20 when they clashed with troops. He said 3 militants were slain in that fighting. “During the encounter, Abu Dar was with about twenty of his comrades and we were also able to neutralize three of his cohorts,” he said, adding, they recovered one automatic rifle, a pistol, two grenades and ammunition.

Another group of army soldiers from the 55th Infantry Battalion, also battled Abu Dar’s forces in Pagayawan town and killed two militants who were later identified by their nom de guerre as Abu Tahir and Abu Jihad.

But the military said 6 soldiers also perished in the fierce battles and others wounded. It was not immediately known whether the wounded were the same as those reported by the military as missing-in-action.

Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, the regional military commander, said more soldiers were sent to Lanao del Sur to destroy the remaining militants, but he did not say how many more are still fighting the troops. “Additional troops were deployed to pursue the fleeing terrorists and to ensure the safety and security of the local populace in the area. We also ask for prayers from all peace-loving people of the country for the eternal repose of our heroes and for our wounded soldiers. Your prayers are the most powerful tool for them and for the safety of all those who are still pursuing the enemies,” Dela Vega said.

“We will not stop until we neutralize the remaining terrorists and we dedicate this fight to our fallen comrades. Our soldiers are out there hunting for them ready to fight and die to attain peace in our communities,” he added.

Sporadic fighting is also continuing since March 11 in neighboring Maguindanao province where the 6th Infantry Division claimed to have killed 20 militants from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and among them was a Singaporean terrorist, Muhammad Ali Bin Abd Al Rahman or Muawiya, a notorious jihadist belonging to the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya and had been a bomb trainer for the Abu Sayyaf group.

It said as many as 20 militants under Abu Turaife were slain in the assaults in Shariff Saydona town. The reports were based on intelligence information, but army commanders claimed to have seen or recovered pieces of body parts of those killed in an area targeted by military bombardments. Over 100 militants were being pursued by security forces in the province which is also a stronghold of the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front that signed an interim peace deal with Manila in 2014.

The clashes also killed one soldier and wounded at least 7 more. The military’s Joint Task Force Central said air, artillery and ground operation were continuing not only in Shariff Saydona, but also in the towns of Datu Salibo, Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak where the group of pro-ISIS militant commander Salahudin Hassan was scattered.

It was unclear whether the United States or its Special Forces units deployed in the southern Philippines provided combat or technical support to Filipino troops in battling the militants. US forces are still helping train local military forces in fighting terrorism and were instrumental in supplying intelligence to the Filipino troops during the Marawi siege.

The militant groups have been fighting for the establishment of a caliphate in the restive region which is now called Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

US human rights report cites dev’t in PH anti-drug drive

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2019): US human rights report cites dev’t in PH anti-drug drive

The US State Department's recent 2018 Human Rights Report on the Philippines is objective and balance as it cited developments in the government's campaign against illegal drugs, Malacañang said Saturday.

"The level of objectivity and balance of the 44-page US State Department’s 2018 Human Rights Report on the Philippines reflects the US government’s appreciation of the Duterte administration’s governance agenda anchored on fighting corruption, criminality and illegal drugs," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said while detractors and critics of the administration are focusing on the negative aspects of the report, the assessment showed that the US respects the deeper challenges confronting the government.

"While the political opposition and detractors of the President, including some of those in the mainstream media, would dwell on what they consider as negative observations and milk the same for their political purposes, we prefer to see the glass half-full and focus on the positive aspects of the report. We urge the public to read the report in its entirety that they may not be deceived by intended negative and false commentaries," he said.

"The report mentions the developments in the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign. Its assessment is respectful of the government’s deeper challenges, e.g. deaths of many law enforcement officers during operations, even as accountability of those from the same ranks is guaranteed through investigations of any actions taken outside the rule of law,” he added.

Panelo said the Palace notes that there may be accounts of abuse on the part of its law enforcers but reiterated the Philippine government's adherence and commitment to human rights. He assured that these cases are isolated and are being addressed and those responsible will be made accountable.

"While the report also cites the usual criticisms against the administration, we reiterate that the President and this government have never sponsored any form of violation of human rights nor will they tolerate them," he said.

Panelo, also Chief Presidential legal counsel, said the report "is also sympathetic to the government’s challenges in the peace process", particularly with Muslim separatists, communist insurgents, and terrorist groups that continue to attack government security forces and civilian.

He also cited the report's mention of the milestones in addressing concerns of vulnerable groups, such as the government’s use of its 16 rehabilitation centers around the country to assist about 1,650 children in conflict with the law, as well as its mobilization of youth centers managed by local governments to provide protection, care, training and rehabilitation for these children.

Panelo said freedom of expression is practiced in the country, contrary to criticisms by various groups.

"The observance of the freedom of expression in this country is such that fabricated portrayals on the war on drugs find print and aired repeatedly reaching the outside world some of which recklessly and responsibly believe them without the benefit of validation," he said.

Panelo noted that the report also acknowledged the government's effort to promote the speedy disposition of court cases.

The US State Department has been producing annual human rights reports of all countries receiving assistance and United Nations member states since 1977.

EU awaits data to probe ‘funneling’ of funds to CPP-NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2019): EU awaits data to probe ‘funneling’ of funds to CPP-NPA

The European Union (EU) on Friday said it is awaiting the pertinent documents to start investigation into EU funds allegedly being funneled to the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA).
"The EU stands ready to receive precise information that would enable it to further evaluate and verify the allegations," the EU delegation in Manila said in a statement sent to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday.
Last month, a Philippine delegation engaged several officials from the EU and Belgian government to request them to stop the flow of funds to non-government organizations (NGOs) that grant financial assistance to front organizations of the CPP-NPA.
Philippine data showed that communist front organizations receive funds from the Belgian government and some European countries in the guise of marginalized and pro-poor programs.
Documents obtained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) revealed that the Belgian government has released its first tranche of more than 621,000 Euros (PHP36,663,840) out of the 15-million Euro (PHP885,600,000) grant to some non-government organizations for the 2017-2021 program. This year, some 1.3 million Euros (PHP76,752,000) are expected to be released.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on March 14 also informed the United Nations of EU non-government organizations’ funding of communist front organizations in the Philippines.

The EU delegation underscored that EU continues to consider both the CPP and NPA as terrorists, which means "no assets can be held in EU by these organizations."

While the allegations have yet to be verified, it vowed to respond immediately once the illegalities have been proven.

"Should the allegations be established, the EU will immediately take full legal action," it said.

As early as January, the EU has conducted an audit of the funds that have allegedly reached the communist groups after a request sent by the Philippine government.

Following its audit, the EU confirmed it received a Philippine delegation in February "to better understand the precise content on the allegations."

Undersecretary Joel Egco, Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, who was part of the Philippine delegation to Europe, said EU was "receptive" when it received the information and has vowed to look into the matter "seriously."

"They promised to look into it because it is unacceptable that (their) funds are going to the front organizations of the CPP-NPA and you declared them as terrorist organization," he said in an earlier interview.

Both the CPP and its armed-wing, NPA, have been on the EU's list of terrorist organizations since 2006.

AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, earlier said the government would soon file a formal complaint before the EU once it has gathered more evidence.

Much evidence vs. Karapatan as CPP-front org’n: AFP official

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2019): Much evidence vs. Karapatan as CPP-front org’n: AFP official

AFP Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Civil-Military Operations, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. (PNA file photo)

A ranking official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has called Karapatan's claims as lies when it alleged that the military does not have any evidence to show that the group is a front organization of the communist movement.

"We have a lot and Karapatan is worried about all these truth coming out now. AFP, not a credible institution? Then refute the very high trust rating of AFP in all surveys except CPP's (Communist Party of the Philippines)," AFP Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Civil-Military Operations, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., said in a press statement on Saturday.

Parlade was reacting to the allegations of Karapatan secretary general, Cristina Palabay, who said that he has consistently been "red-tagging" them and other militant groups despite alleged lack of evidence.

Selective protection
Parlade belittled Karapatan's claims that it is a protector of human rights (HR) in the country.

"Where were you when the NPAs (New People's Army) have been killing the IPs (indigenous peoples) in Mindanao, until now? Where is Karapatan when non-participating civilians were killed by NPAs? Karapatan is a kind of organization that is very selective in dealing with human rights (HR). Selective in a sense that it only uses human rights to defend its NPA allies," he said.

Parlade also asked where Karapatan was when ACT and Bayan Muna reportedly trafficked children in Davao last year.


"Karapatan is afraid of becoming irrelevant because the AFP has not committed any HR violation for the past five years or more. Even in the past, many of the HR violations and civilian killings attributed to AFP were in fact committed by the NPAs, disguised as soldiers in uniform, as admitted openly by former rebel Father Balweg," he said.

Karapatan, he said, has to fabricate reports of human rights violations s by the AFP so that the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) may continue to collect donations from European countries.

Parlade added that Palabay is worried about the government’s success in unmasking the truth about the communist front organizations, which were tagged by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison himself in all its revolutionary websites, Joma's verbal pronouncements, and CPP publications.

"Please check the links and websites (ILPS website, Philippine Revolution Web Central, NDF International) and see for yourselves who identified Karapatan and Ibon as CPP front organizations or part of the International League of Peoples Struggles' (ILPS) network of organizations, with 'Joma' as chairperson,” he said.

He noted that Article 8 Paragraph 2 of UN General Assembly Resolution 47/133, or the "Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances" of 1992, clearly states that for Joma to continue to stay in Utrecht, even against the wishes of the Dutch government, "all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned (Philippines) of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights" shall be taken into account.

Non-refoulement no more
"You have to consistently paint any administration as oppressive and tyrant, even by fabricating lies like the 27,000 EJKs (extra judicial killings) from PRRD's (President Rodrigo R. Duterte) drug war, because with a professional AFP now, the EU Courts would soon send Joma back to the Philippines to spend the rest of his life in jail for his crimes against humanity (80,000 killed after 50 years of CPP-NPA-NDF atrocities without Karapatan blinking) because there is no more danger of state persecution,” he said.

He added that Joma can no longer invoke “non-refoulement” in the courts and this is what Palabay and Karapatan fear," he said.

Non-refoulement is a principle of customary international law prohibiting the expulsion, deportation, return or extradition of an alien to his state of origin or another state where there is a risk that his life or freedom would be threatened for discriminatory reasons. This law is often regarded as one of the most important principles of refugee and immigration law.

He added that with the Duterte administration adhering to human rights, “EU and Belgian funding of non-government organizations for the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), Ibon, Karapatan and all other CPP-front organizations using human rights as cover, will dry up.

“That’s the hardest truth, Miss Palabay. I challenge you to prove your case over a nationwide TV, one on one. I will present to you trucks of evidences and you better be prepared to refute them all. Any time, po,” Parlade said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States government and the European Union (EU).

Syrian Islamic missionary slain in NoCot gun attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2019): Syrian Islamic missionary slain in NoCot gun attack

Google map of Carmen, North Cotabato

Police are eyeing personal grudge as a motive behind the murder of a Syrian Islamic missionary in Carmen, North Cotabato on Friday afternoon.

“A personal grudge involving the victim and the suspects are among the possible motives the police are looking into,” said Police Lt. Col. Bernard Tayong, speaking for the North Cotabato provincial police.

Sheik Washif was inside a house in Barangay Nasapian with his wife Tayaan Ambag, a Maguindanaon, when unidentified gunmen barged in and opened fire.

Washif, a preacher in a Madrasah (religious school) in Barangay Manarapan,
Carmen, died on the spot while his wife was injured.

Responding members of the Carmen police rushed the injured wife to a hospital in Kabacan, North Cotabato.

Police said they are waiting for the wife’s statement to help speed up the investigation and file appropriate charges against the suspects.

Militiamen survive grenade attack in NoCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2019): Militiamen survive grenade attack in NoCot

Google map of Pikit, North Cotabato

Two paramilitary troopers stationed in the conflict-ridden village of Pikit, North Cotabato survived a grenade attack on Friday night, police said.

“They were lucky the grenade did not explode,” Police Capt. Mautin Pangandigan, Pikit town police chief said, referring to the grenade attack against the militiamen whom he declined to identify for security reasons.

Pangandigan, in a phone interview, said an unidentified man on board a motorbike sped by the detachment of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Barangay Inug-og, Pikit at 6:45 p.m.

The man then tossed the grenade inside the detachment where the two paramilitary troopers were on duty.

“They (militiamen) thought they were stoned but upon verification, they discovered a live grenade right inside the detachment,” Pangandigan said.

Army bomb disposal experts safely defused the grenade barely half an hour later.

No one has claimed responsibility over the grenade-throwing incident but the militiamen suspected the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) could be behind it.

The BIFF, in several occurrences, has harassed CAFGU detachments in the area over the past few months.

2 hurt as troops, ASG clash in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2019): 2 hurt as troops, ASG clash in Sulu

Two soldiers were wounded in a clash with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits in an island town of Sulu, the military said Saturday.

The Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) said the clash happened around 6:40 p.m. Friday in Sitio Kabahayan, Barangay Bakkan, Simusa Island, Banguingui, Sulu.

The JTFS said the troops were conducting clearing operations when they clashed with the ASG bandits led by sub-leader Salip Mura.

Two soldiers-- Cpl. Syruss Valenzuela and Pvt. Jude Louise Nabalan-- were slightly injured during the clash.

The ASG bandits, who fled to different directions, were believed to have suffered casualties.

The firefight occurred a day after Marine troops intercepted a motorboat loaded with bomb-making components off Simusa Island, Baguingui, Sulu.

Loaded with 38 sacks of ammonium nitrate, the boat came from Laminusa Island in Siasi, Sulu, and was en route to Basilan when the Marine troops intercepted the watercraft on Thursday afternoon.

Ammonium nitrate is being used by lawless elements like the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to assemble improvised bombs although it is predominantly used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer.

Meanwhile, some 104 families evacuated to a safer area following Friday's clash.

The JTFS said village officials have already provided relief aid to the evacuees.

8 dead in Lanao Sur clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2019): 8 dead in Lanao Sur clash

Four soldiers and four militants belonging to the Islamic State-linked Dawlah Islamiya (DI) group were killed in a two-day clash with government troops in the Lanao del Sur town of Tubaran, an official said Saturday.

Col. Romeo Brawner, Jr., commander of the Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade, said the remains of the two dead DI members were retrieved on Friday following the encounter that began on Thursday.

Brawner said two soldiers were also wounded during the two-day encounter.

One of the recovered bodies from the militants' side is believed to be that Owayda Benito Marohomsar--also known as Abu Dar, the group's leader, Brawner said.

Abu Dar is believed to be the successor to the leadership of ISIS-Philippines and ISIS-Southeast Asia following the death of the self-declared ISIS emir Isnilon Hapilon in 2017 during the Marawi Siege.

Brawner said they are now validating whether one of the casualties is Abu Dar.

"His face is a little bit deformed from a gunshot wound so there were doubts that this is Abu Dar; but there were signs. For instance, Dar's colleagues who have earlier surrendered said he had a scar on the face as his distinguishing feature," Brawner added.

Brawner said Abu Dar's former followers also testified that he has wound on the back, which he got during an encounter in January.

"According to his colleagues, he was hit at the back. When we verified, he (Dar) really has a scar. Also, we retrieved a backpack from the dead body believed to be Abu Dar and it contains a caliber .45 pistol, cameras, and several cellphones. According to our informants, only Abu Dar could have possession of these materials," Brawner said.

The military official said they have already submitted DNA samples to the Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO)members to validate the identity of the cadaver. It would take at least a month of waiting for them for the results, he added.

Should the remains proved to be Abu Dar, Brawner said he sees the downfall of DI in Lanao provinces.

"It could mean the end of Dawlah Islamiya in Lanao because they are leader-centric," he said.

Brawner said he believes Abu Dar's sub-leader, known only as Abu Zacharia, will eventually surrender "because the military continues its pursuit operations even if the combat operation has been terminated on Friday."

Meanwhile, the Lanao del Sur provincial government said it has already provided relief assistance to more than 200 families that fled to evacuation centers in the towns of Tubaran and Pagayawan following the firefight.

Brawner said the residents may now go back home "because the government forces are on top and in control of the situation."

Col. Madzgani Mukaram, Lanao del Sur Provincial Police Office director, called on the residents to report suspicious persons or group of persons so that government forces can act swiftly.

Mukaram said the terrorists are now splintered into smaller groups to avoid being detected by government forces.