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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Martial Law Extended Until End of Year in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY – Philippine lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved Saturday a resolution that allowed President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law until the end of the year in the restive southern region of Mindanao, including three Muslim provinces where Abu Sayyaf militants and pro-ISIS groups actively operate.
It was a “landslide” vote for the joint session of the Senate and House Representatives with 245 congressmen voting to extend the martial rule as against 18 lawmakers, mostly from the opposition and critics of Duterte. And 16 senators also voted in favor of the extension of martial law while four opposition members voted against it.
Majority of lawmakers are allies of Duterte.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who is appointed by Duterte as martial law administrator, said extending martial law is needed to defeat the local ISIS militants who occupied Marawi City on May 23 and are still fighting security forces.
He said martial law is also needed to fight the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, all in the Muslim autonomous region; and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao, also in the autonomous region. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding nearly 2 dozen kidnapped foreigners and Filipinos in the troubled region.
Both the Abu Sayyaf and the BIFF, along with other jihadist groups in the South pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and vowed to put up a caliphate in Mindanao. Some of their leaders participated in the siege of Marawi.
Duterte declared martial law following the siege of Marawi, but he said he never expected the war would take this long. The military insisted it had killed over 400 militants since the start of the war and that nearly 100 soldiers were also slain in the fighting that left about four dozen civilian casualties. The violence displaced over 200,000 people in Marawi, the capital of Lanao del Sur, which is also a part of the Muslim autonomous region. (With reports from Moh Saaduddin and Rhoderick Beñez.)
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Friday, July 21, 2017

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Duterte inspects troops in besieged city



Military photos released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show President Rodrigo Duterte speaking to soldiers and inspecting seized ISIS weapons.

MARAWI CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday inspected troops battling local ISIS fighters in the besieged city of Marawi where security forces seized a major bridge previously held by militants, officials said.
Officials said troops also recovered the body of a slain militant and 9 assorted weapons, including an M60 machine gun, a grenade launcher and 3 rifles after they cleared 16 buildings and occupied the Mapandi Bridge.
Duterte also inspected some 500 assorted high-powered firearms recovered in Marawi since the battle began in May 23 when ISIS militants occupied the city in an effort to put an Islamic State province and the military told the President that 427 extremists had been allegedly killed since the start of the violence. It was unknown how the military came up with the number of enemy casualties or whether it was based on intelligence reports or body counts. But nearly 100 soldiers and about four dozen civilians also perished in the war.
“I have to be here to visit you. Your life is not less important than mine. All of our lives are equally important. We are here to die for our country,” Duterte told soldiers in the frontline, but he became emotional while talking when he remembered how reading the daily security briefer from Marawi units devastate him every night. “I grieve every time i learn that soldiers die every day in Marawi.”
Duterte, clad in a camouflage uniform, was accompanied by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, military chief General Eduardo Año, Army Chief Lieutenant General Glorioso Miranda and military adviser Arthur Tabaquero, among other officials.
“I say a little prayer for those who have fallen. I grieve for all the deaths, both civilians and soldiers, especially that I was the one who made you come here,” Duterte said and vowed to put up a 50-billion trust fund for the children of the military and police, and to supply the troops best equipment. “I urge you to continue to fight for your country and always remember that I will fight for your rights.” (Mindanao Examiner)
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2 Sayyaf militants killed in Sulu province

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Two Abu Sayyaf militants were killed in a firefight with army soldiers in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said Friday. 
Officials said one soldier was injured in the fighting that erupted on Thursday in the village of Bungkaong in Patikul town, a known stronghold of the extremist group which is holding over a dozen kidnapped foreigners and Filipinos in the restive region. 
“Two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group were killed and five firearms were seized in a gun battle with the military in Sulu,” Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay said and she identified the slain militants as Benajir Intag and Bassal Mahalli. 
But Petinglay said troops only recovered the body of Intag, including the weapons left behind by retreating militants – a K3 squad automatic weapon, an M16A1 Colt with M203 grenade launcher, and an M653 with M203 – and two cellphones, 3 solar panels and 8 backpacks containing assorted food stuffs and personal belongings. 
There was no report whether any of the hostages were in the area. Petinglay said military operation is continuing in the province which is under the Muslim autonomous region. (Mindanao Examiner)
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Singapore joins Philippines in fighting ISIS in Marawi City





 Photos from the Facebook page of Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen.

MARAWI CITY – Singapore has joined the Philippines in battling local ISIS militants in the besieged city of Marawi and offered to deploy an unmanned aerial drone to help the Filipino military gather intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission.
Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana briefed him on the situation in Marawi and told him what the military needs. In response, Ng said Singapore offers to deploy the drone and will also send a C-130 cargo plane to deliver humanitarian supplies to assist displaced residents of Marawi.
He said Singapore will also train Filipino soldiers in urban warfare. “Armed Forces of the Philippines soldiers would benefit from training in our urban training villages – much needed for their current operations,” he said.
Ng said many countries within ASEAN and other nations are monitoring the extremist violence in Marawi City. “Hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced out from their homes by extremists in Marawi. These ISIS-linked networks have openly declared their goal to establish an Islamic Caliphate in ASEAN, as they did in Iraq and Syria,” he said, adding, “peace-loving countries understand that if we do not combat terrorism together, we will be attacked individually, and our citizens will never be safe at home.”
Ng said these extremist leaders want to establish bases in cities like Marawi and from there, launch further attacks against other cities within the Philippines and ASEAN, and urge their cells to attack targets in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
He said Lorenzana thanked him for the security assistance. “He and the AFP were very encouraged by the support from countries like Singapore,” Ng said.
The United States and Australia also deployed P-3 Orion spy planes in Marawi and are currently helping local military in locating ISIS fighters.
Fighting is still raging in Marawi despite the military’s pronouncement that it had killed nearly 500 militants since fierce clashes began on May 23 when local ISIS occupied the city in an effort to declare it as a province of the caliphate. Nearly 100 soldiers and over three dozen civilians were killed in the violence that displaced more than 200,000 people.
Many of the militants managed to escape from the city, but security officials said less than a hundred fighters are still holed out in buildings in at least 4 villages.
Just recently, the ISIS-run AMAQ website said its fighters destroyed an armoured personnel carrier in Marawi which has been likened by war refugees to the city of Mosul in northern Iraq after photos of the devastation and aerial bombings and artillery fire by the military flattened many structures in the city. (Mindanao Examiner)
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Rebels ambush Duterte guards in North Cotabato

COTABATO CITY – Communist rebels killed a pro-government militia and wounded four presidential guards in separate attacks Wednesday in North Cotabato’s Arakan town in the restive southern Philippine region.

New People’s Army rebels, who set up a checkpoint on the highway, attacked a convoy of presidential guards and wounded four of them. The soldiers, who were part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s security, were heading to Cagayan de Oro City when their convoy was attacked at a checkpoint guarded by rebels.

The ambush sparked a firefight, but there was no report of enemy casualties. The rebels also overran a detachment manned by militias and killed one of them while retreating from the fighting. Duterte earlier suspended peace talks with the communist group following a spate of deadly attacks on soldiers and policemen in the region.

The attack occurred just a day after rebels reportedly swooped down on the house of Vice Mayor Emmanuel Suarez of Surigao del Sur’s Cortes town. Suarez and his family were unhurt from the raid, but the rebels seized several firearms and warned the politician to do something to stop illegal fishing and logging in his town.

There was no immediate statement from the NPA on the ambush and raid on the house of Cortes. The daring attack on soldiers coincided with Duterte’s proposal to extend the martial law until the end of the year.

Duterte declared martial law after local ISIS militants occupied Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province in an effort to put up an Islamic State province in the region. Fighting still raging in the besieged city and hundreds of people had died from the violence that already displaced over 200,000 more. (Mindanao Examiner)

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

4 Sayyafs in Vietnamese kidnappings captured in Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Philippine authorities are holding 4 Abu Sayyaf militants involved in the kidnapping of 6 Vietnamese sailors, two of them beheaded early this month after their employer and families ignored ransom demands by the notorious extremist group.
The men - Ibno Akmad, Taha Upao, Ibrahim Akmad and Bryan Upao – were being investigated by the police after their capture in Lamitan City in the restive southern province of Basilan in the Muslim autonomous region.
They were accused of participating in the hijacking of the Vietnamese cargo ship MV Royal 16 on November 11 last year off Sibago Island in Basilan and the kidnapping of the crewmen. It was not immediately known whether they participated in the brutal killing of Hoang Thong and Hoang Va Hai whose decapitated bodies were discovered on July 5 in Sumisip town.
The killings of the sailor came shortly after the militant freed Vietnamese sailor Huang Vo. The fate of the other hostages - Phang Minh Tuan, Do Trung Hieu and Tran Khac Dung – is still unknown.
Just recently, a Vietnamese crewman - Tran Viet Van - of another hijacked cargo ship was also found dead in Sulu province following fierce clashes between the army and militants in Patikul town on July 7. Van was among 6 Vietnamese sailors kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in February off Tawi-Tawi province near Sabah, Malaysia.
The military claimed that the Abu Sayyaf is still holding 16 foreigners and four Filipinos in the troubled region. (Mindanao Examiner)
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http://mindanaoexaminer.com/armm-forms-internal-task-force-for-marawi-recovery/

ILIGAN CITY – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said it has established an ‘Internal Task Force Bangon Marawi’ to ensure proper coordination and implementation of programs and projects in the besieged city of Marawi after the current crisis is over.
The ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, through Memorandum Order 444 that he signed on July 5, forming the task force following Administrative Order (AO) 3 of President Rodrigo Duterte that created Task Force Bangon Marawi for recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of Marawi City and other localities in Lanao del Sur.
“It is clearly noted in AO 3 that the ARMM will assist the national task force in getting data, so Governor Hataman immediately formed an internal task force for proper coordination and implementation of all the projects and programs in Marawi City,” ARMM Executive Secretary Atty. Laisa Alamia said.
The ARMM’s Internal Task Force is chaired by regional government’s executive secretary and co-chaired by the executive director of the Regional Planning and Development Office. And different ARMM agencies are also clustered into four sub-committees which will focus on housing and reconstruction; education, health, and social welfare; business, and livelihood; and peace and order.
Members of the internal task force comprise heads of the following regional agencies and offices:
·        Department of Public Works and Highway;
·        Department of Education;
·        Department of Health;
·        Department of Social Welfare and Development;
·        Department of the Interior and Local Government;
·        Department of Transportation and Communication;
·        Department of Science and Technology;
·        Department of Trade and Industry;
·        Department of Environment and Natural Resources;
·        Department of Agriculture and Fisheries;
·        Department of Agrarian Reform;
·        Department of Labor and Employment;
·        Regional Housing and Rural Development Authority;
·        Technical Education and Skills Development Authority;
·        Regional Human Rights Commission;
·        Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources;
·        Commission on Higher Education;
·        Cooperative Development Authority;
·        Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board;
·        ARMM Humanitarian Emergency and Action Response Team;
·        Regional Darul Ifta;
·        Bureau of Madaris Education;
·        Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs;
·        Regional Commission on Bangsamoro Women;
·        Bureau on Cultural Heritage; and
·        Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission.
The internal task force will facilitate the immediate repair, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of public schools, national roads, bridges, buildings, temporary or permanent shelter, and restoration of water, electricity and other utilities. It is also responsible for taking measures to provide education, sanitation, and health facilities, medical supplies, food, potable water, and other basic necessities.
Governor Hataman ordered the internal task force to oversee the implementation of an active campaign for the immediate revival of businesses and livelihood projects in Marawi City. It is also accountable for the restoration and maintenance of peace and order and the continuity of public services in the city.
Atty. Alamia said the internal task force will submit consolidated reports and damage assessments to the national task force. She also said the ARMM government is continuously working and coordinating with the provincial government of Lanao del Sur on local issues and concerns.
“ARMM’s Internal Task Force will work with its counterpart at the national and local levels,” she added. She also announced that the ARMM government will be purchasing a property either in the town of Saguiaran in Lanao del Sur, or in Marawi City, to be utilized as a public cemetery.
A continuing validation and cleansing of data on displaced individuals from Marawi are still underway. Tracking of students who enrolled outside Marawi is also being conducted. A transitional shelter city will also be created in order to decongest crowded evacuation centers. (Bureau of Public Information)
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Monday, July 17, 2017

2 soldiers killed, 8 wounded in NPA clash in Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Two army soldiers were killed and 8 others wounded in fierce clashes with communist rebels in Zamboanga del Norte province in southern Philippines, police said on Monday.
Police said the fighting erupted over the weekend in Tinaplan village in Sindangan town. It said the clashes between members of the 44th Infantry Battalion and New People’s Army also left a still undetermined number of casualties on the rebel side.
“The second encounter resulted to the killed in action of two and wounded in action of eight members of the Philippine Army with undetermined body count from enemy side. The wounded elements of 44th Infantry Battalion were already transported via ambulance to Dipolog City for immediate medication,” police said in a report sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
It said Special Forces soldiers also clashed with about 40 rebels in Leon Postigo town earlier in the day and the firefight lasted only 10 minutes. “The firefight lasted for ten minutes with no reported harmed or injured (on the military side) after which the troops were able to recovered three M203 (rifle grenade) ammunition, fifteen improvised explosives, medical paraphernalia and subversive documents,” police said.
But the military’s Western Mindanao Command said a rebel was killed and that 6 more gunmen had been wounded in the fighting in Leon Postigo town. And it did not report its own casualties. Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, its spokeswoman, said rebels also commandeered a vehicle and briefly hostage its driver who allegedly told the military that the gunmen escaped with their casualties.
“The driver who was forced by the communists to extract them away from the engagement area informed the security forces that he saw them carrying one killed communist and six wounded,” Petinglay said, adding, no soldiers were hurt from in fighting.
She said another rebel, Allen Condez, also surrendered to the military in Guipos town in the neighboring province of Zamboanga del Sur. Petinglay said the rebel yielded to the 53rd Infantry Battalion and is currently being interrogated. There was no immediate statement from the communist group.
Peace talks between the government and rebels stalled with the NPA accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of failing to release all political prisoners as a precondition to the signing of a ceasefire agreement. The military, on the other hand, blamed the rebels for deadly attacks despite the peace negotiations. (Mindanao Examiner)
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Troops clash with NPA rebels in Zamboanga town

PAGADIAN CITY – Government soldiers clashed with communist rebels in the southern Filipino province of Zamboanga del Norte, an army spokeswoman said Monday.
Captain Jo-ann Petinglay said the weekend clash erupted in the village of Titik in Leon Postigo town after patrolling soldiers ran into a group of New People’s Army rebels and firefight ensued.
She said rebels also commandeered a vehicle and briefly hostage its driver who later told the military that the gunmen escaped with their casualties. “The driver who was forced by the communists to extract them away from the engagement area informed the security forces that he saw them carrying one killed communist and six wounded,” Petinglay said, adding, no soldiers were hurt from in fighting.
Petinglay said troops also recovered 3 rounds of 40 mm grenades, 15 improvised explosives and medical paraphernalia, including anti-government propaganda. She said another rebel, Allen Condez, also surrendered to the military in Guipos town in the neighboring province of Zamboanga del Sur.
She said the rebel yielded to the 53rd Infantry Battalion and is currently being interrogated. There was no immediate statement from the communist group, but last week the NPA said it captured 2 policemen PO1 Alfredo Basabica and SPO2 George Rupinta in the restive region.
It said both officers are now “prisoners of war.” Basabica was captured at a rebel checkpoint in the village of Panansialan in Compostela Valley’s Compostela town while travelling to Davao City.
Rupinta was also taken captive in the town of Lupon in Davao Oriental province. The NPA also released a video of Rupinta appealing to the government to stop the military offensives against the rebel group and resume stalled peace talks with rebels.
He also told his family that rebels were treating him fairly and that they have nothing to worry about his safety in the hands of his captors. The rebels also accused the military of murdering innocent civilians suspected of being rebels or supporters of the NPA in the provinces.
There was no immediate statement or reaction from the military or police on the capture of Basabica and Rupinta. But their arrest came just days after security officials said at least 8 rebels were dead in a firefight in Davao. Troops also recovered the bodies of the slain rebels and 6 automatic rifles and a machine gun.
Peace talks between the government and rebels stalled with the NPA accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of failing to release all political prisoners as a precondition to the signing of a ceasefire agreement. The military, on the other hand, blamed the rebels for deadly attacks despite the peace negotiations. (Mindanao Examiner)
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