Tuesday, May 5, 2020

2 soldiers killed in GCQ mission

From the Manila Times (May 6, 2020): 2 soldiers killed in GCQ mission (By Julmunir I. Jannaral)

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Two soldiers from the 57th Infantry Battalion (57th IB) of the Philippine Army were killed and another was wounded while being deployed for implementation of the general community quarantine (GCQ) in Barangay Talibadok, Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao.

Maj. Arvin Encinas, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), on Tuesday said the 57th IB troops had been sent to support the Inter-Agency Task Force in enforcing the GCQ in the area
when they were fired at by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on Sunday night.

The gunfight lasted for 45 minutes, he added.

Encinas said the troops were caught by surprise since the attack happened during ongoing observance of the holy month of Ramadan by Muslims worldwide.

The terrorist BIFF, also known as Dawlah Islamiya, is supposedly a Muslim group.

“We are deeply saddened by the report that two of our brave soldiers were killed in action while performing their duties for the good of humanity,” Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, WestMinCom commander, said.

“We will make sure that these terrorists, who are obviously desperate to strike back during this time when we are all working to defeat the coronavirus, will pay for their treacherous act,” he added.

Meanwhile, a former rebel from the communist New People’s Army (NPA) led military forces to NPA firearms and explosives buried in two villages in Antipas, North Cotabato, a high official of the Philippine Army said also on Tuesday.

Lt. Nikko Tarayao, civil military operations chief of the 72nd IB, said the ex-rebel under Guerilla Front 53, who earlier surrendered to the military, led soldiers to the sites.


400 families flee homes in Cotabato due to MILF-MNLF clash

From GMA News (May 4, 2020): 400 families flee homes in Cotabato due to MILF-MNLF clash

Over 400 families fled their homes in Matalam, Cotabato after members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) clashed with fighters from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a 24 Oras News Alert report said Monday.

The displaced families from the three barangays stayed at evacuation centers where they were provided with food packs by the local government.

Authorities said the firefight began on Friday night after a member of the MILF attacked the vehicle of a barangay captain who was also the leader of the MNLF.
A barangay councilor was killed in the clash, while six individuals, including the barangay captain, were injured.

Authorities see rido or clan war as cause of the skirmish.

The local government already deployed soldiers to the area to contain the firefight.


New 54th IB CO to sustain initiatives in delivering services,collaboration

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 5, 2020): New 54th IB CO to sustain initiatives in delivering services,collaboration (By Marcelo B. Lihgawon)

KIANGAN, Ifugao, May 5 (PIA) - - Lt. Col. Franz Josef S. Diamante, the newly installed commander of the 54th Infantry Battalion based here, assured to sustain the momentum of the unit in delivering services and in collaborating programs with partner stakeholders in the area.

Diamante received the key of responsibility from outgoing battalion commander Lt. Col. Narciso Nabulneg, Jr. during the turn-over rites held at the 54th IB headquarters at Tiger Hill, Ibulao, this town. Nabulneg will be assigned to higher headquarters.

Diamante said the 54th IB through the years has been a partner in bringing peace and development in the area in collaboration with various stakeholders like the local government units, government and non-government organization and others.

"Let us maintain the good partnership in order to achieve the objectives of the NTF-ELCAC and bring peace and development in the Cordillera region,” he said. 

Lt. Col. Franz Josef S. Diamante (right) receives the flag of the 54th Infantry Battaliona as the 28th commanding officer of the army unit based at Tiger Hill, Baguinge, Kiangan, Ifugao. ( Photo credit to 54th IB)

Meanwhile, Nabuneg lauded all stakeholders who supported his leadership of the 54th IB that covers the provinces of Ifugao, Mountain Province, Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya for the past two years.

Under his stead, the 54th IB implemented management skills on administration and operation that greatly contributed to the unit’s accomplishment of given mission particularly the dismantling of the “Komiteng Larangang Guerilya Ifugao” ahead of the given time and significantly degrading the capability of “Komiteng Larangang Guerilya Marco”. For these efforts, the unit received the Development Support and Security Plan Kapayapaan plaque.

His command, control and direct supervision resulted in the capture of two regular New People’s Army (NPAs); surrender of 234 NPA personalities; recovery and surrender of 21 high powered firearms, 24 low powered firearms and numerous other war materials; cleared the 11 affected barangays, seized 10 enemy camps and recovered two arm/supply cache.

On disaster response operations, the 54th IB participated in the relief, rescue and support to frontline operations during the onslaught of typhoons Rosita and Ompong in 2018 and the current coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic wherein Nabulneg instituted the establishment of the Incident Command System to manage the calamity with its area of responsibility.

Nabulneg also initiated the construction of a motor pool area and ammo dam and renovated the battalion’s facilities. He also worked -out the allocation and donation of a 15 hectare lot by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the establishment of a permanent main command post of the battalion.

“With all our efforts leading to our success for achieving peace and order and development as a result of our coordination, collaboration, and cooperation, we look forward that all of these partnerships will be carried out continuously,” Nabulneg said.

The turn-over was witnessed by 5th Infantry Division Commander MGen. Pablo Lorenzo, Magilas troopers, and other stakeholders . (JDP/MBL- PIA CAR, Ifugao)

PAF heightens response vs. COVID-19

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 5, 2020): TOG-5, PAF heightens response vs. COVID-19 (By Casandra Balala)

Featured Image

LEGAZPI CITY—The Tactical Operations Group 5 (TOG-5) of Philippine Air Force (PAF) initiated a mobile speaker operation and aerial leaflets dropping to help fight the Coronavirus Diseases (COVID-19).

Since the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), TOG-5 Staff Sergeant Sonny Abad said that the mobile speaker operation was roving in Legazpi City and Daraga, Albay to encourage the residents to stay at home.

He added that in this activity, a recorded audio piece reminding the public to follow the preventive measures against COVID-19 was continuously playing. It also appeals to the people to support and abide by the protocols and guidelines set forth by the local government units.

Abad said that the mobile speaker activity operates three times a week.

Moreover, the TOG-5 through the 207th Tactical Helicopter Squadron also conducted an aerial leaflets dropping in multiple areas of Albay, Camarines Sur, Masbate and Sorsogon.

The leaflets provide basic information on COVID-19 such as its signs and symptoms, method of transmission as well as the preventive measures to contain the spread of the virus, Abad said.

He added that they have dropped at least 5,000 leaflets during the aerial leaflets dropping, which they conducted thrice in the midst of ECQ.

Meanwhile, the personnel of TOG-5 and the 721st Special Operations Squadron of the Special Operations Wing of PAF distributed relief goods to the residents of Barangay Matanag, Legazpi City.

Abad said they have given at least 100 packs of assorted relief goods to the 100 families in their adopted barangay which were purchased out of their own pocket and voluntary donations and contributions.

With these initiatives, Abad assured the public that they are continuously giving their assistance and mandate especially in response to COVID-19. It includes the air transportation of medical supplies in the different provinces of Bicol particularly in island provinces.

He added that the TOG-5, PAF have aircrafts or choppers on stand-by to provide immediate assistance.


Hunt on vs. BIFF group who killed 2 soldiers in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (May 5, 2020): Hunt on vs. BIFF group who killed 2 soldiers in Maguindanao (By Noel Punzalan)

Michelin Kamasi map of Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao

A massive pursuit operation is ongoing against a group of terrorists who killed two Army soldiers while wounding another at a community quarantine checkpoint in Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao, the military here said Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander and concurrent head of Joint Task Force Central, said the incident took place amid the high alert status maintained by local law enforcement units against the Daesh-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
“The BIFF has resorted to hit-and-run tactics due to intense military operations against them in Central Mindanao,”
Carreon said.

Those killed were identified as Privates First Class Jermie Ombiang and Vicente Gata, while the wounded was Lyndon Matias, all of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion.

The Army men were supporting the implementation of community quarantine in Barangay Talibadok, Datu Hoffer when fired upon around 9 p.m. Monday.

“A 45-minute firefight ensued with an undetermined number of BIFF casualties that is yet to be determined,” Carreon said.

He said military reinforcements were sent to the area to pursue the BIFF attackers.

In a statement, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, expressed sadness over the incident and vowed to crush BIFF factions operating in central Mindanao.

"We will make sure that these terrorists, who are obviously desperate to strike back during this time when we are all working to defeat the coronavirus disease 2019, will pay for their treacherous acts," he said.


Troops thwart NPA bomb plot, another rebel surrender in Zamboanga

From the Philippine News Agency (May 5, 2020): Troops thwart NPA bomb plot, another rebel surrender in Zamboanga (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

SEIZED. Government troops thwart a bombing plot of the NPA rebels following a clash on Monday (May 4, 2020) in Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte. The troops recover three improvised explosive devices and other war materiel, including a machine gun. (Photo courtesy of Army 102nd Infantry Brigade)

Government forces have thwarted a bombing plot of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Zamboanga del Norte, while a ranking member of the terrorist group surrendered in Zamboanga Sibugay, military officials announced Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said
the bombing plot was thwarted following a clash around 6 a.m. Monday in Sitio Balukangon, Barangay Pange, Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte.

Sobejana said the clash, which lasted for about 45 minutes, ensued when the troops chanced upon more or less 40 NPA rebels while conducting a security patrol in Sitio Balukangon.

Sobejana said the troops have recovered three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other war materiel the NPA rebels have abandoned as they scampered in different directions.

He said that aside from the IEDs, the troops also recovered one M-60 machine gun; two AK-47 magazines; 289 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition; gun barrel; medical kit; two boxes of assorted medicines; two Bandoliers; one electronic multi-tester; personal belongings; and subversive documents.

He said no casualty was reported among the government troops while it is yet to be determined if there were any among the rebels.

“Our enemies are taking advantage of the situation that our country is currently facing, hence, we are exhausting all efforts to thwart their terror plots,” he said.

He assured that the Westmincom troops would continue to launch deliberate operations in terrorist-infested areas to clear the communities from the threat groups.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio, Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, identified the NPA surrenderer as Jonar Balase Penote alias Ka Jonas, team leader of the Guerrilla Front Feliciano Alpha of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee.

Ponio said Penote surrendered and turned over an AK-47 assault rifle and a .45-caliber pistol to the Army’s 44th Infantry Battalion Monday in Lower Baluran, Imelda, Zamboanga Sibugay.

He said that Penote decided to surrender upon learning that his former comrades who surrendered earlier are now living better lives together with their families.

Col. Leonel Nicolas, commander of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, pledged to facilitate Penote’s enrollment to the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.


7 heavy equipment torched in Albay quarry site

From the Philippine News Agency (May 5, 2020): 7 heavy equipment torched in Albay quarry site (By Mar Serrano)

SET ON FIRE. One of the seven heavy equipment torched at a limestone quarry site in a remote village in Camalig town, Albay province Monday night (May 4, 2020). Police investigators are still looking into the incident to determine whether the burning was insurgency related or perpetrated by a crime syndicate. (Photo courtesy of Maj. Malu Calubaquib/Police Regional Office-5)

An unidentified armed group set on fire seven heavy equipment at a limestone quarry site in a remote village in Camalig town, Albay province on Monday night, a police report said.

Maj. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, Bicol police spokesperson, in an interview on Tuesday said the burned heavy equipment were four backhoes, two payloaders and a mining excavator.

Likewise, four nipa huts used as temporary shelters by quarry workers were burned down.

The police report said at around 9:15 p.m., a group of armed men swooped into the quarry site in Barangay Miti, a remote village seven kilometers from the town proper.

"The quarry site where the heavy equipment were parked was owned by the Goodfound Cement Corp. (GCC), a Taiwanese firm that operates the Palanog Cement Plant in Camalig town," Calubaquib said.

The suspects first fired warning shots while another group poured several gallons of gasoline and set the heavy equipment and the nearby nipa huts on fire.

Calubaquib said police investigators are still looking into the incident whether the burning was insurgency related or perpetrated by a crime group.

Engr. Carlito Aparri, a project engineer of the GCC, in an interview said the cement company has not received any extortion demand from any group.
He added that the firm's operation has been suspended since March due to the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

Police records indicate that the burning incident on Monday brings to around 20 the number of heavy equipment burned in Albay since 2017 allegedly by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels due to the failure of several construction firms to give in to the communist group's extortion demands.

The burned heavy equipment included dump trucks, backhoes and payloaders, as well as service vehicles owned by construction firms implementing various government infrastructure projects such as road opening and widening, and the ongoing construction of the Bicol International Airport in Daraga town.


No hope for further talks with Sison: Duterte

From the Philippine News Agency (May 5, 2020): No hope for further talks with Sison: Duterte (By Azer Parrocha)

President Rodrigo Duterte and Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison

There is no hope for peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison, President Rodrigo Duterte said late Monday night.

In a taped public address, Duterte rejected anew the idea of a possible resumption of peace talks with
the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF).

He did not elaborate in his speech, but in several instances slammed communist rebels for reneging on their commitment to observe a unilateral ceasefire amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Duterte also cautioned government forces from trusting the word of communist insurgents.

“Be careful because again the NPAs (New People’s Army) are around. Now, there is no longer hope for further talks with Sison,” Duterte said.

He said members of the NPA, the CPP’s armed wing, will not think twice about killing them since they were determined to steal their firearms.

“Mainit masyado ‘yang M16 pati M14 (They’re hot for an M16 and M14. I know that. They are itching to get it from you. That is why be careful,” Duterte said.

Reminding them to stay vigilant, he urged them to kill communist rebels to protect themselves.

“Do not be too confident about it. Pati ‘yang istasyon na nire-raid (Even the station that they raid). They will kill you. And I am telling you, kill them also," he said.

The CPP-NPA has been listed as a terror organization by the Philippines, United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

In February, Duterte was optimistic that his administration would be able to achieve a lasting peace with the CPP at a “much earlier” time.

However, continued attacks launched by the terrorist communist group against government troops convinced Duterte on April 27 that he would never be ready for another round of peace talks with the CPP.

The CPP, on April 16, extended its declaration of a nationwide ceasefire until April 30 to prioritize the fight against Covid-19.

Duterte, however, did not reciprocate the extension of the government’s truce, which expired on April 15, due to attacks by the communist terrorists.

Earlier, he said he might only be compelled to declare martial rule if the lawlessness of the terror group persists.

Peace talks between the national government and the NDF have been on and off since 1986.

On Nov. 23, 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation 360, which formally terminated peace talks with the NDF.

This was followed by the Dec. 5, 2017 signing of Proclamation 374, which brands the CPP-NPA as a terror group.


PH Army thanks donors of 3 new Covid-19 patient care centers

From the Philippine News Agency (May 5, 2020): PH Army thanks donors of 3 new Covid-19 patient care centers (By Priam Nepomuceno)

PATIENT CARE CENTER. Philippine Army officials and Architect William Ti Jr. of WTA Architecture & Design Studio (left) take a look at one of three new emergency quarantine facilities (EQFs) in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on Monday (May 4, 2020). The Army will use the EQFs in augmenting its efforts to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Army Chief Public Affairs Office)

The Philippine Army (PA) on Monday thanked donors of three newly-constructed emergency quarantine facilities (EQFs) that will be used in support of its coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) containment efforts.

PA spokesperson Col. Ramon Zalaga, in a statement, said the EQFs were donated by Architect William Ti Jr. of WTA Architecture & Design Studio, Dr. Glenn Angeles of Health Hub Clinic, Vicente Mills Jr. of Rotary Club of Makati, Justine Ongsue of Boysen Philippines, and Bryan Ang.

"We all want to win against Covid-19. The pandemic has already disrupted our economy, and the other aspects of our way of life,” said PA commander Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay during the turnover ceremony.

Also, he said defeating the pandemic is not solely the government’s responsibility, but of the whole society.

"We thus thank you for being in this war. With your involvement, and that of more like you, we are bound to achieve victory,” Gapay said.

Two of the facilities were constructed at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (LNMB) at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, and have a 15-bed capacity, a nurse station, two toilet rooms, two shower rooms, and three lavatories.

Meanwhile, the third EQF was constructed at the Philippine Army Wellness Center, also in Fort Bonifacio, and has a 19-bed capacity, a nurse station, two toilet rooms, two shower rooms, and three lavatories.

Zagala said these facilities will be administered by the PA Installation Management Command.


AFP-CRS: Troops destroy suspected ASG marijuana plantation in Sulu

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (May 5, 2020): Troops destroy suspected ASG marijuana plantation in Sulu

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Joint government forces have discovered and destroyed a marijuana plantation maintained by an alleged supporter of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the province of Sulu, officials said Saturday.

READ MORE: https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1101645


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AFP-CRS: Influx of BIFF surrenderers continues

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (May 5, 2020): Influx of BIFF surrenderers continues

The surrenderers were identified as Lanny Masaliday Salen a.k.a. Matyak, Rocky Kinal Paguital, and Abas Kambali Salem. The three also laid their arms and turned over one (1) Barret, one (1) M14, magazines and ammunition.

“The surrender of 3 BIFF members is the outcome of the effective collaboration between the military and the different stakeholders, coupled with intensified information dissemination that attracted these former rebels to embrace peace,” Lt. Col. Glenn Loreto T. Caballero, Commanding Officer of 34th Infantry Battalion

#AFPyoucanTRUST | www.afpcrs.com

AFP-CRS: 13 NPA Rebels yield, 2 other nabbed in Sarangani

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (May 5, 2020): 13 NPA Rebels yield, 2 other nabbed in Sarangani

Thirteen New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, including four unit leaders, have voluntarily surrendered while two others were arrested by police and Army personnel in South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces.

#AFPyoucanTRUST | www.afpcrs.com

AFP-CRS: Three NPA arms caches seized, 12 high powered firearms recovered.

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (May 5, 2020): Three NPA arms caches seized, 12 high powered firearms recovered.

Twelve high powered firearms (HPFA) of the New People’s Army stashed in different locations were discovered by the units of Joint Task Force Agila of Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) in three separate instances

#AFPyoucanTRUST | www.afpcrs.com

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[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]

CPP-IB: CPP denounces fake surrender of 16 workers in Laguna on Labor Day

CPP-Information Bureau propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (May 4, 2020): CPP denounces fake surrender of 16 workers in Laguna on Labor Day

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounces the military and police for staging a fake surrender last May 1 where Coca-Cola workers were falsely presented before the media as members of the NPA. The media event was held at Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba City by the 202nd IBe and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Regional Office-4A.

“Instead of addressing the workers’ plight and hunger amid the pandemic, the regime used public money to fool the people with another staged “surrender” ceremony,” said CPP Chief Information Officer Marco L. Valbuena. He pointed to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as the “promoter and director of the fake surrender show.”

He said the workers of Coca-Cola are not members of the NPA. According to reports, the 16 workers were apprehended by soldiers on April 30 after their work shift at the Coca-Cola plant in Santa Rosa City. Elements of the 202nd IBe then brought the victims to Camp Vicente Lim where they were presented before the media as “NPA surrenderees” the following day.

This incident was not the first case of harassment against Coca-Cola workers this year. Since January, the Coca-Coca Cola management has been forcing workers to go to police camps for interrogation and indoctrination. Workers are banned from participating in protests and union matters.

State forces and the Coca-Cola management continue to harass workers in connivance with Rey Medellin, a former labor leader turned police asset. Medellin was also presented by state forces as a “rebel returnee,” on March 29. Since then, Medellin has actively collaborated with the management and state forces in threatening union leader in their homes to prod them to “surrender” and collaborate.

Coca-cola workers staged a strike in 2018 to demand the regularization of 675 contractual workers, and to condemn union busting.

“The bogus surrender shows that the Duterte regime is suppressing the democratic rights of workers in labor enclaves under the guise of counterinsurgency operations,” pointed out Valbuena. Under the NTF-ELCAC and its Joint Industrial Peace and Concern Office (JIPCO), “the Duterte regime is using the military and police to silence workers and suppress their legitimate struggles against low wages, job insecurity, unfair labor practices and other oppressive and exploitative measures.”


Young rebel suspect surrenders to Army

From Panay News (May 5, 2020): Young rebel suspect surrenders to Army (By Ruby Silubrico)

A 20-year-old lad surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) over the weekend.

He said he was a New People’s Army (NPA) member and was present in the rebel group’s recent encounter with government troops in Miag-ao, Iloilo.

The young man was a resident of Miag-ao and was accompanied by his mother and barangay officials during the surrender.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara of the 61IB, the lad was a member of the NPA’s Suyak Platoon, Southern Front Committee-Panay.

“He joined the rebels in February this year. He was fetching water when armed men approached him and offered an education scholarship if he went with them,” said Batara.

The young man accepted the offer thinking he would be able to continue his studies.

“But he and other recruits were surprised to be handed out guns for tactical offensives against government troops,” said Batara.

The young man told the Army he participated in the NPA’s attack on government forces in Sitio Anoy, Barangay Cabalaunan, Miag-ao on April 18.

“He was assigned as a perimeter security. But when he had the chance, he escaped from the group, leaving behind his firearm. He went home straight,” said Batara.

In that encounter, soldiers overran an NPA recruitment and training camp. One rebel was killed while seven others were captured, including a 14-year-old lad.

Four more rebels were arrested in a hot pursuit operation.

Soldiers proceeded to Barangay Cabalaunan after having been informed by concerned residents that armed men were in the area, according to 3ID spokesperson Army Captain Cenon Pancito III.

For 40 minutes they exchanged fire with some 49 rebels until the insurgents retreated.


Sabah extends curfew in ESSZone to May 20

Posted to the Malay Mail (May 4, 2020): Sabah extends curfew in ESSZone to May 20

KOTA KINABALU, May 4 — The curfew in the waters of seven districts in Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) which ends at 6 pm tomorrow has been extended to May 20, said Sabah Police Commissioner, Datuk Zaini Jas.

He said following the extension, residents are advised to stay indoors and are not allowed to enter the waters in the affected areas from 6 pm to 6 am during the period.

“Other people are also not allowed to enter or to be in the area during the curfew,” he said in a statement here today.

Zaini said the curfew order covers the waters of Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Beluran districts.

He said the curfew was extended to ensure no intrusion in the waters by terrorists threatening the security of international researchers and foreign tourists in island resorts.

Zaini said based on information, the Abu Sayyaf militant group is still active in kidnapping for ransom and committing cross-border crimes.

He said the order is also to facilitate enforcement and monitoring of boat movements for the security of fishermen and chalet operators.

“I have given authority to district police chiefs in ESSZone to issue permit to eligible applicants for fishing or pressing needs in the curfew areas,” he said. — Bernama

Still under same group

From the Daily Express (May 5, 2020): Still under same group (By: Efa Rizan)

LAHAD DATU: Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) Commander DCP Datuk Hazani Ghazali (pic) denied a report that five Indonesian fishermen who were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf early this year have been released and held again by another group.

He said the five who kidnapped at the sea border of Tambisan area on Jan. 17 are still in the hands of the kidnappers.

“We do not rule out the possibility that they were kidnapped to be traded and there is a party(s) taking advantage by being so-called negotiators and others.

“However, the news is not true and the video of the battle was an old video,” he said.

Hazani said this after handing over roadblock equipment to District Police Chiefs in Sabah’s east coast as well as food supplies to General Operation Force and Armed Forces at Esscom Headquarters, Monday.

According to Hazani, “kidnappings and sea robberies are happening everywhere, and on our side, we will take whatever action we can to further tighten security control”.

Hazani said the efforts to further strengthen security was also in line with the efforts to prevent any entry to the state through any paths including the border, land, rivers and seas as well as rat trails (Laluan Tikus).

He added that this is to ensure the security of the state as well as breaking the chain of Covid-19.

Army’s top anti-terror unit gets new commander

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 5, 2020): Army’s top anti-terror unit gets new commander (By: Frances Mangosing)

The Philippine Army’s premier counter terrorism unit, the Light Reaction Regiment, has a new commander.

Col. Monico Abang replaced retiring Brig. Gen. Monico Batle
in a low-key ceremony presided over by Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay through video teleconferencing on May 1.

Batle, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1988, retired after 37 years of military service.

Under his watch, the LRR was able to either capture or kill “significant members” of the homegrown terror group Abu Sayyaf, according to the Philippine Army in a statement.

Some of Batle’s previous assignments included leading the Special Operations Task Group-Western Mindanao, Special Operations Command and Armed Forces of the Philippines Joint Special Operations Group, 3rd Special Forces Battalion and Joint Task Group Lawa in Marawi.

Abang, Batle’s deputy commander and successor, is a member of the PMA Class of 1991. He finished training programs on special operations and counter terrorism here and abroad.

He was previously assigned to the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), 1st Infantry Division, 3rd Infantry Division, Eastern Mindanao Command, and General Headquarters.