Friday, May 6, 2022

Abu Sayyaf leader’s ‘errand’ nabbed

 From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (May 2. 2022): Abu Sayyaf leader’s ‘errand’ nabbed

AN ALLEGED errand of an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader listed as one of the most wanted persons was arrested by lawmen in Indanan, Sulu.

The police identified the arrested suspect as Alvinner Kiyara, 31, who is the fourth most wanted person in the town of Indanan, Sulu.

The Indanan Municipal Police Station reported that Kiyara was arrested by a joint police and military team in a law enforcement operation by way of service of a warrant of arrest on Friday, April 29, at kilometer 4 in Tagbak village, Indanan.

The Indanan police said that Kiyara has standing warrants of arrest for the crimes of double murder, double frustrated murder, and multiple attempted murder.

The police said that Kiyara was an errand of ASG leader Mudzimar Sawadjaan alias Mundi Sawadjaan and the primary suspect for the killing of Police Lieutenant Sali Salim, chief of the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU)-Sulu on February 12, 2020.

The suspect is also allegedly involved in narco-terrorism and has been identified as an ASG coddler and supporter under the group of Al-Shariff Ajibon, who carries the aliases of Ulla and Panda.

The police said that recovered from Kiyara’s possession during his arrest were some 10 grams of suspected shabu, two plastic sachets of dried marijuana leaves, and a caliber .45 pistol.

The police said that Kiyara will also be charged with violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and violation of Republic Act 10591, otherwise known as the Law on Firearms and Ammunition.

Police Brigadier General Arthur Cabalona, Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) director, lauded the operating units for the successful operation against the wanted person.

AFP: Basilan cleared of Abu Sayyaf influence

 From the Philippine Star (May 3, 2022): AFP: Basilan cleared of Abu Sayyaf influence (Roel PareƱo)

The province of Basilan has been cleared of the influence of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group, the military announced yesterday.

The announcement was made following a recent meeting conducted by the Area Clearing Validation Board (ACVAB) at the headquarters of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) at Camp Navarro in this city.

“The ACVB evaluated Basilan and
cleared the province of the influence of the Abu Sayyaf based on the recommendations of the preventing and countering violent extremism evaluation committee (PCVEC),” Westmincom chief Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr. said.

The PCVEC reported that 29 barangays across Basilan, which were formerly known for the presence and of being supportive of the bandits, are no longer under the influence of the terror group.

The military said the clearing of these areas came after the completion of a community support program conducted by the Joint Task Force Basilan (JTFB).

These barangays are located in Isabela City as well as in the towns of Akbar, Al-Barka, Hadji Muhtamad, Lantawan, Maluso and Ungkaya Pukan.

Citing observations during the conduct of the community support program in these barangays, the military said there has been no existence of or existing support for the bandit group and no resource generation and teaching of extremist violence and radicalization in madrasahs or educational institutions.

Religious leaders in the barangays are promoting the right teachings of Islam, and no extremist violence was monitored, the military said.

“After a thorough evaluation and validation, we declare all 29 identified barangays in Basilan as free from the influence of Abu Sayyaf,” ACVAB chair and Westmincom deputy commander for external operations Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas said.

Rojas lauded the JTFB and the provincial government for exerting efforts to free the villages from the influence of the bandit group.

Nur Misuari: from Duterte-Marcos in 2016 to Marcos-Duterte in 2022

From MindaNews (May 6, 2022): Nur Misuari: from Duterte-Marcos in 2016 to Marcos-Duterte in 2022 (By Carolyn O. Arguillas)

Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that fought the Marcos dictatorship, has declared support for Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., this time, for President. In 2016, Misuari endorsed the son and namesake of his “number one enemy,” for Vice President.

The 83-year old Misuari declared support for Marcos-Duterte (Sara), a declaration made in Saudi Arabia on May 1, according to the Facebook page of the “MNLF Moro National Liberation Front – Members of OIC, PUIC.”

The video, posted at 2:23 p.m. on May 3, came with a caption that said Misuari on May 1 “held a gathering to meet with MNLF members and guests in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia” where he “officially endorsed” Marcos-Duterte and senatorial bet Robin Padilla, a movie actor who became a Muslim while in jail.

Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on May 1, where he endorsed Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for President and Sara Duterte for Vice President. From the video posted on the page of the MNLF Moro National Liberation Front Members of OIC, PUIC

In 2016, when Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan asked Misuari who his candidates were for President and Vice President, Misuari replied he was going for Duterte-Marcos, referring to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“The father (Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.) was my number one enemy. But I am a Muslim. The fault of the father cannot be inherited by the son. Neither the father can be accused of the wrongdoings of the son,” he said.

In 2022, Misuari in the video where he announced support for Marcos-Duterte, acknowledged his “very sad memory about the governance” of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. but quicky added, “not necessarily against the son.”

“As I said time and again, the fault of the father cannot be inherited unnecessarily by the children or by the sons and daughters so don’t blame, don’t impute any blame on the son at this point in time. Forget about the past but look at who Bongbong Marcos is,” he added.

He said he would “always demand” of the candidate, “to tell us, in black and white, what you intend to do once you come to power.”

“We have to know that, and we will take them to account, take them into account once they come into power,” said Misuari, who served as governor of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) from 1996 to 2001.

But Misuari, presently the Philippines’ Special Economic Envoy on Islamic Affairs to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, did not say if he had met or conversed with Marcos Jr. recently and if they had, did not share with the public what Marcos Jr. told him “in black and white” what he intends to do if elected President.

“A very grateful man”

The 90-day campaign that is almost over but Marcos Jr. has yet to present his Bangsamoro agenda.

In Buluan, Maguindanao on March 28, his first sortie in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) since the campaign period began on February 8, he merely talked of the need for unity in the country. In a jampacked rally in Marawi City on March 31, Marcos in his 20-minute speech, repeated his previous speeches on unity but like in Buluan, did not say how he intends to achieve that unity. Like in Buluan, he said nothing about his Bangsamoro agenda or the Bangsamoro peace processes and those who waited for him to say something about Marawi rehabilitation and compensation were disappointed. They were not mentioned at all.

Marcos had no sortie in the three island provinces of the BARMM but Governor Sakur Tan of Sulu and Governor Yshmael Sali of Tawi-tawi declared their support for him.

In the 2016 vice presidential race, Marcos won in Sulu while Leni Robredo won in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Tawi-tawi.

On April 22, three of the five Governors of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) – Sulu’s Sakur Tan, Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr., Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu, Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi and the rival candidates of the incumbent Governors of Basilan and Tawi-tawi, along with non-BARMM Governor Suharto Mangudadatu, husband of the reelectionist Maguindanao Governor, signed a pledge of commitment to Marcos-Duterte at the Manila Hotel evening of April 22, in the presence of Marcos Jr.

Sali was not around but the 81-year old Tawi-tawi Governor Sadikul Sahali, Sali’s rival and like Tan, a self-confessed “Marcos loyalist” during the reign of Marcos Sr., was present.

Basilan Governor Jim Hataman was not present. He would declare his support for Marcos’ rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, through a message read for him in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Camp Darapanan where the MILF’s political party, United Bangsamoro Justice Party, declared support for Robredo.

Robredo declared continued support for the Bangsamoro peace process and gave a five-point commitment, based on her earlier consultations, on the urgent Bangsamoro issues that have to be attended to, if she were elected President.

At the Manila Hotel, Marcos was profuse in his gratitude to the BARMM leaders. He described their support as a “napakalaking bagay” (huge undertaking), that it is “an act of unification if only on the political sphere.”

But Marcos did not say in his speech what he commits to do for the Bangsamoro if elected President.

He ended his speech by saying: “But please always remember, I am a very grateful man.”


In Davao City, where Misuari has been based for several years now, Rolando Olamit, head of the MNLF in the city and the front’s secretary-general for political mobilization, is busy campaigning for Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao.

MindaNews asked him if there was an MNLF meeting on endorsing Marcos Jr. or if Marcos Jr. was Misuari’s personal choice. He has not replied.

But Olamit wrote “best tandem for me” as his caption for a socmed card with the photos of Pacquiao and Sara Duterte which he posted on his social media account, set for a public audience, shortly before 5 p.m. on May 5.

Also on May 5, Muslimin Sema, chair of an MNLF faction with a huge following, said of Misuari: “his memory and principles had been damaged by ambitions.”

Sema heads an MNLF faction that has been pushing for the full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement while also supporting the government’s peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The MNLF faction has representatives in the BARMM Government.

Sema was recently appointed as Labor Minister of the BARMM while the son of the late MNLF chair Yusoph Jikiri, Albakil “Thong” Jikiri, the MNLF faction’s Vice Chair for Military Affairs, is now a Member of Parliament in the BARMM.

On April 27, Jikiri, in a statement declared that after “careful assessment,” they have “unanimously agreed that our undivided and total support will be given to the candidacies of Marcos and Duterte as president and vice president, respectively.”

He also urged all MNLF members is Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa) as well as Zamboanga Peninsula to support Marcos, Duterte and the senatorial candidates of the UniTeam.

Sema told MindaNews on May 2 that the MNLF had “not decided who to support openly in the presidential election but had previously decided to support Sara Duterte as Vice President.”

“MNLF has set, however, the condition to support a presidential candidate — he or she must declare a clear platform and policy to protect and uphold the gains of the peace process that brought to form the Bangsamoro parliamentary government and implement all signed agreements as embodied in the tripartite agreement between the GPH and MILF with the participation of the OIC in Jeddah,” Sema said on May 2.

“No to Marcos remnants”

On May 5, Sema told MindaNews: “Even if I stand alone, I can never put legitimacy to the Brain, Executioner of disenfranchisement of the Moro in their communities,” referring to Marcos Sr. “His armed machinery mentally tortured me for six months in prison and drove my families and people from their ancestral communities. I say no to the Marcos remnants. I oppose any MNLF element’s position to recognize or legitimize any Marcos to lead my people.”

Guiamel Alim, a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, told MindaNews: “Misuari does knows like the MILF. The MILF is supporting Leni. Misuari knows what Marcos has done to the Bangsamoro. But he would rather show support to the enemy of the Bangsamoro than to support his rival. A desperate move.”

A lawyer for the MNLF in Maguindanao said it is true that the son does should not bear the faults of his father but “Misuari should balance his statement with the blood and tears of the Bangsamoro martyrs and the people who suffered under the Marcos dictatorship. On the other hand, Marcos Jr. has the responsibility to correct the past by apologizing for the crimes of his father.”

The lawyer noted Marcos Jr.’s “lack of commitment” to the Bangsamoro peace process.

For Vice President, Misuari endorsed Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, saying “she is closest to us” and he can trust her “to attend to our humble demands from the south.”

“I don’t like to actually influence your thinking or your choice. Exercise your freedom of choice. But I am only telling you that to the best of my knowledge, because of her connection to the President being his daughter, I think she is beneficial to all of us,” Misuari said of Mayor Duterte.

Misuari said the mayor and his wife are very close. “She is like a sister to my wife. They are very, very close to each other, like sisters so this connection would ensure quick deliverance of reply on the part of the Office of the President.”

“If Sara Duterte is aspiring for Vice President as they are saying, I think she will be among the best candidates who can, you know, attend to our humble demands from the south,” he said.

MILF declares support for 12 senatorial bets

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6, 2022): MILF declares support for 12 senatorial bets (By Edwin Fernandez) 

MILF CANDIDATES. Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairperson and United Bangsamoro Justice Party president Ahod Ebrahim speaks to supporters during a party gathering ahead of Monday's national and local elections. MILF announces Friday (May 6, 2022) the names of 12 senatorial aspirants it would support in the polls. (Photo courtesy of Moro Islamic Front Organization)

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front's (MILF) political arm, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), announced Friday their support for 12 senatorial candidates for Monday’s national and local elections.

Joining the country’s electoral process for the first time in history, MILF has earlier endorsed the candidacy of presidential aspirant and Vice President Leni Robredo and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte for vice president.

In a statement, Ahod Ebrahim, UBJP president, said consensus was reached to support the candidacy of 12 senatorial aspirants, one of whom is the son of former President Joseph Estrada.

It was Estrada who ordered the infamous “all out war” against the MILF in 2000.

Ebrahim, also chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), named the 12 UBJP-backed senatoriables: Juan Miguel Zubiri, actor Robin Padilla, Sherwin Gatchalian, Riza Hontiveros, Joel Villanueva, Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda, Mark Villar, Samira Gutoc, Chel Diokno, Herbert Bautista, and JV Ejercito.

Among the UBJP's criteria in choosing a candidate is the commitment to "protect and preserve the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process."

“The United Bangsamoro Justice Party is committed to protecting the Bangsamoro people and safeguard the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process,” UBJP said in a statement Friday.

“We join everyone in praying for safe, clean, peaceful and honest elections,” it added.

Army assures public safety amid grenade attack in Cotabato City

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6, 2022): Army assures public safety amid grenade attack in Cotabato City (By Edwin Fernandez)

GRENADE ATTACK. Policemen inspect the fishing boat moored at Tamontaka river in Barangay Kalanganan 2, Cotabato City, that was damaged on May 4, 2022 by a grenade blast. Nobody was hurt in the incident. (Photo courtesy of the 6th Infantry Division)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – The military assured the public Friday that security forces remain in control amid the grenade attack in Cotabato City late Wednesday.

Unidentified men lobbed a fragmentation grenade on a moored fishing boat along Tamontaka River around 6:40 p.m. Nobody was hurt but the seacraft was damaged.

The fishing boat is owned by a certain Datu Manot Sinsuat, a resident of Datu Blah Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

Colonel Jose Ambrosio Rustia, commander of Joint Task Group Kutawato, said boat skipper Mustapha Katug Molo and some of his crew members saw the two unidentified persons toss the explosive.

“The boat captain and his crew were off the boat preparing dinner in the covered hall about 30 meters away. The motive of the incident is still to be determined,” Rustia said.

Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, 6th Infantry Division and Joint Task Force (JTF)-Central commander, strongly condemned the grenade attack.

“We condemn the grenade throwing as a terror act that led to damage to property. We, the government security forces, especially the JTF-Central, will not waver in our efforts to continue our mandated duty to protect the lives and properties of the residents of Cotabato City and Central Mindanao,” Uy said.

He added: “Rest assured that the JTF-Central and the 6ID will double our efforts to bring about peace and security, especially in the upcoming elections."

NPA medical officer yields to Caraga cops

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6, 2022): NPA medical officer yields to Caraga cops (By Alexander Lopez)

Graphics courtesy of Police Regional Office-13.

A New People’s Army (NPA) medic has surrendered to the Army's 1303rd Maneuver Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion in Agusan del Sur, the Police Regional Office in Caraga (PRO-13) reported on Friday.

In a press statement, PRO-13 director, Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr.
identified the NPA medic only as "Jovelyn", 37.

“Alias Jovelyn surrendered on Thursday in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur,” Caramat said, adding the NPA medic also handed over to authorities a .357 revolver.

Jovelyn worked full-time with the weakened Guerrilla Front 14 (GF-14) of the NPA before she surrendered, he said.

“Alias Jovelyn was one of the victims who reached the point of self-realization that she had gained nothing but undeserved struggle and suffering in the mountains while at the hands of the terrorist group,” Caramat said.

He also urged the remaining members of GF-14 to surrender and avail of the government's programs and services for former rebels.

“There is still hope for a better tomorrow if you choose to renounce the armed struggle and surrender to the government,” Caramat said.

Jovelyn was placed under the custody of 1303rd Maneuver Company for proper documentation and custodial debriefing.

Sandigan affirms jail term for PVAO staff in check scam

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6, 2022): Sandigan affirms jail term for PVAO staff in check scam (By Benjamin Pulta)

Sandiganbayan (File photo)

The Sandiganbayan sentenced a former employee of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) to up to eight years in prison for his involvement in the irregular disbursement of checks to his uncle, as well as deceased and fictitious beneficiaries.

Leomar Basuel was also ordered by the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division to pay PHP474,259 in a decision promulgated on April 27 and published online Friday.

Also affirmed was the QC court’s sentence of disqualification from public office.

The Sandiganbayan affirmed the decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 88 against Basuel who, in 1995, took part in encoding and printing pension checks without any legal basis or authority when he was still with the PVAO’s Management Information System Group.

He claimed he made the supplementary checks without any memorandum order because he wanted to help an uncle.

However, aside from his uncle, the investigation showed that Basuel also processed checks for recipients who were already deceased or fictitious.

The Court said Basuel “encoded the entries with a furtive design and not by mistake as he deliberately failed to observe the regular internal procedure” of his office and “encoded such entries knowing that some of the pensioners were already deceased and that he even made fictitious names as payees in the subject checks”.

“His acts were tantamount to evident bad faith as he orchestrated a wrongdoing with a fraudulent intent,” it added.

Out of the 30 counts of violation of the anti-graft law (Republic Act No. 3019), the Court affirmed Basuel’s conviction in 12 and cleared the other 18 as there was no proof that they were actually encashed or negotiated by the payees.

AFP gets Beechcraft Hawker transport aircraft from SMC

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6, 2022): AFP gets Beechcraft Hawker transport aircraft from SMC (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Photo courtesy of PAF

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday formally turned over a Beechcraft Hawker 800XP transport aircraft donated by conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC), to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to be used for their command-and-control and transport missions.

"A formal acceptance, turnover, and blessing ceremony was presided over by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. He was joined by SMC Chief Executive Officer, Ramon Ang," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Jorry Baclor said in a statement Friday.

The Beechcraft Hawker 800XP is a mid-size twinjet corporate aircraft acquired by SMC in 2022. It was donated to the Department of National Defense (DND) and turned over to the AFP.

A ceremonial champagne pouring and turnover of documents to the AFP highlighted the activity. AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Andres Centino received the documents on behalf of the Armed Forces.

Also present during the ceremony were PAF chief Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas, Air Logistics Command head Maj. Gen. Florante Amano and Air Mobility Command commander Brig. Gen. Joannis Leonardi Dimaano.

"The PAF will utilize the (Beechcraft) Hawker 800XP as a Command and Control Aircraft. It will work in tandem or as an alternative system to the Gulfstream G280 acquired by the AFP in 2020," Baclor said.

The aircraft will likewise be operated by the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing.

Anti-terror law effective gov’t tool to dismantle CTGs: Duterte

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6, 2022): Anti-terror law effective gov’t tool to dismantle CTGs: Duterte (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo)

The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 serves as an effective tool of the government in dismantling communist terrorist groups (CTGs), President Rodrigo Duterte said.

“It would be easier now really to just… ‘Yung [law against] terrorism, it’s actually a vehicle for fighting the rebels who are out to destroy the government,” Duterte told Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in a prerecorded interview aired over SMNI on Friday.

Duterte said communist insurgency had thrived for over 50 years because the country, prior to the signing of Republic Act (RA) 11479, has ineffective laws against terrorism.

He said the anti-terror law is a “desperate measure” to stop communism in the country.

“We are the only country actually fighting insurgency dito sa (here in) Asia. Tayo na lang (It’s just our country). For 53 years, wala talaga because our legal system sa atin, ‘yun nga, ‘yung nasa terrorism law, nakalagay diyan ‘yung mga bagay-bagay na (because of our legal system and the provisions under our previous terrorism law) make it hard for us really to dismantle them,” he said.

Under RA 11479, those who are part of the planning and training for the commission of terrorism will face life imprisonment sans the benefit of parole and the benefits provided under RA 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance Law.

The anti-terror law also warns that any person who threatens to commit terror acts or proposes to commit or join terror acts will face a 12-year imprisonment.

Duterte lamented that guerilla fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), “bereft of any ideology,” keep on waging a war against the government while its leaders live a “comfortable life” at the expense of deceived guerillas.

“Itong mga regulars nila sa main guerilla units, kayong mga sundalo na NPA, nagpapakamatay kayo para sa isang grupo na humawak ng ideolohiya noon at hanggang ngayon pinapaniwalaan pa ninyo. Anong nakuha mo (The regulars of main guerilla units, the NPA rebels, are sacrificing their lives for a group without an ideology yet they still trust them. What do they get from it)?” he said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973.