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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2 soldiers wounded in Sayyaf clash in Sulu

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Two government soldiers were wounded in fierce clashes Tuesday with Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Filipino province of Sulu, officials said.
Officials said the fighting erupted in the village called Pugad Manaul in Panamao town where troops battled with the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya.
Both groups clashed twice in the village where the military’s Western Mindanao Command alleged that 5 rebels were killed and seven others injured in the fighting.
Security officials based their reports on intelligence information and soldiers failed to recover any of the slain rebels. The claim cannot be independently confirmed. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding over 2 dozen kidnapped sailors in the restive Muslim autonomous region. (Mindanao Examiner)

3 soldiers injured in NPA attack in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY – The Philippine military on Tuesday accused communist rebels of attacking troops deployed in Surigao City in Mindanao. 
Officials said three soldiers who are members of the so-called peace and development team (PDT) were wounded in the Monday attack in the village called Mat-i and condemned the assault by New People’s Army rebels. Three more attacks were reported in the villages of San Isidro, Mahayahay and Hinambangan all in Agusan del Norte’s Kitcharao town. 
“These atrocities ran contrary to the spirit of the peace process especially in the delivery of basic services to support far flung communities. These PDTs are stationed in depressed communities to facilitate the delivery of basic government services in collaboration with different government agencies,” said army Major Ezra Balagtey, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command.
He said rebels also murdered Albert Sablada, accused of organizing anti-NPA militias, on January 16 in the village of Saloy in Calinan district in Davao City; and and suspected drug dealer Neptali Alfredo on January 23 in Tabaon village in Paquibato district. 
Just recently, rebel forces also seized Private First Class Erwin Salan, a member of the 30th Infantry Battalion, in the village of Budlingin in Surigao del Norte’s Alegria town. There was no immediate statement from the NPA – fighting for many decades now for the establishment of a separate state - which is currently negotiating peace with Manila. But it also accused government soldiers of attacking rebel forces in the restive region. (Mindanao Examiner)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Gov. Hataman declares ARMM ecozone ‘halal hub’

COTABATO CITY - Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has declared the Polloc Freeport and Ecozone in Parang town in Maguindanao province as ‘halal hub’, the first truly halal ecozone in the country. 
“The ARMM government is continually working to open the possibilities to the halal market in the region as well as in the country that serves as a gateway to the multi-trillion dollar halal industry,” Gov. Hataman said.
The declaration of a halal economic zone will attract local and foreign investors to export and import halal products and services. Aleem Guiapal, ARMM’s economic zone authority (REZA) executive director, said a declared halal ecozone becomes halal-industry ready and industry investments would be fully supported. 
Guiapal noted that REZA continues to forge stronger partnerships with potential investors. Halal is an Arabic word meaning permissible based on Islamic Sharia law and the term can cover both goods – such as foods, drinks, medicines, clothing and cosmetics – and services as well as places. 
“We see tremendous opportunities here in the region. So now, we want to differentiate our market on the other economic zones in the Philippines,” Guiapal said. “The declaration is considered a medium to attaining the vision of a sustainable ARMM economy,” Guiapal added. 
“We, in Muslim Mindanao, should seize the opportunity as the halal market worldwide is continuously growing,” he said .
Ecozones are selected areas with highly developed, or which have the potential to be developed into, agri-industrial, industrial, tourist/recreational, commercial, banking, investment and financial centers. Having halal ecozones in the ARMM means it would open opportunities to the region as well as to the country for the growing global halal industry. 
A worldwide study conducted two years ago by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with Dinar Standard noted the global halal market in 2018 would reach $1.6 trillion with an annual growth rate of 6.9%.
Among the potential markets for Mindanao-produced halal foods are Middle East countries, Singapore as well as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines under the East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA). 
With these exciting opportunities, Guiapal said the region is still facing challenges. “We still need to continually capacitate our experts, the halal-certifying bodies and in terms of technical know-how and operations to run a halal hub,” he said. 
In the region, outside of the Polloc Freeport, REZA’s list also included the facility of B.J. Coco Oil Mill, a firm operating in ZambongaPeninsula and in Sulu, as an ecozone. Coco Oil Mill’s port, however, is currently not operating. 
Other planned ARMM ecozones are located in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi; Jolo, Sulu; Malabang; Lanao del Sur; Marawi City in Lanao del Sur; and in Basilan.
As early as 10 years ago, Polloc Port has been identified as priority area in hosting halal-related enterprises but this was not officially declared and did not receive adequate push from the government.
Ishak Mastura, then ARMM trade and industry secretary and now chairman of the Regional Board of Investments, said in August 2006 that a halal chicken poultry project under the BIMP-EAGA cooperation will be hosted by the Polloc Freeport. 
Recently, REZA conducted a round table ecozone consultation with the ARMM local government units. ARMM Executive Secretary Atty. Laisa Masuhud Alamia in her opening remarks cited the importance of ecozone development in the ARMM. 
REZA is mandated to oversee the integration, coordination, planning and monitoring of special economic zones, industrial estate/parks, export processing zones and other economic zones in the ARMM. (Bureau of Public Information)

3 killed in Basilan blast

BASILAN – A homemade bomb explosion had killed 3 children and injured two others in the restive province of Basilan in the Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines, security officials said Monday.
The weekend blast occurred in the town of Al-Barka, a known stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.
Security officials were quick to blame the Abu Sayyaf in the explosion, saying, the improvised explosive was planted on the village of Danapah.
The victims – who were playing in the area – had accidentally triggered the bomb to explode. It was unknown how the bomb had been planted in the village undetected by security forces.
Last month, an improvised bomb explosion also killed 2 children in Al-Barka’s Bohe Piyang village.
Military forces are battling Abu Sayyaf rebels and foreign jihadists in Basilan, just several nautical miles from Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

9 people linked to jihadists detained in Marawi City

LANAO DEL SUR – Security forces detained Monday at least 9 people suspected of having link s with local jihadists during a raid at a school compound in Marawi City in southern Philippines, reports said.
It policemen, backed by soldiers, also seized two improvised explosives at an apartment unit inside the Mindanao State University. It was unknown whether the men are members of the jihadist group led by the Maute brothers, or supporters.
Police were investigating all the suspects while military operations continue against the jihadists in Lanao del Sur, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
Latest military propaganda said at least 15 jihadists had been killed over the weekend and that a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf, Isnilon Hapilon, being coddled by the Maute group was also wounded in the government assault in Butig town.
But the military claim cannot be independently confirmed, although security officials insisted the reports came from intelligence sources and civilians themselves. Just recently, the military claimed that a Malaysian and an Indonesian jihadist were also slain in the operations, but troops failed to retrieve the bodies of the fighters.
Hapilon’s group and other local jihadists have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and vowed to put up a caliphate in the mineral-rich, but restive region of Mindanao, which was once under the rule of sultanates.
Troops were sent to the province to hunt down Hapilon, who managed to escape a massive military operation in Basilan only to link up with the Maute group whose leaders are brothers Otto, Abdullah and Omar Maute.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Hapilon, who is also the local chieftain of the Islamic State in the Philippines, was believed to have arrived in Lanao del Sur in December last year in an effort to further strengthen the unity of various jihadist groups fighting for the establishment of a strict Islamic state.
The rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is currently negotiating peace with Manila also ordered its forces to help Philippine authorities hunt down Hapilon and the Maute brothers.
The MILF, which signed an interim peace deal with the government in 2014, had been previously accused by the military of providing sanctuary to Indonesian and Malaysian jihadists, especially members of the Jemaah Islamiya.
President Duterte has appealed to the MILF and its rival group Moro National Liberation Front not to provide shelter to the jihadists and warned their leaders that he would order the police and military to pursue the fighters inside their territories in Mindanao.
Security forces are also fighting the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Ansarul Khilafah, Khilafah Islamiyah Movement, Al-Khobar Group, including so-called rogue MILF rebels, among other smaller groups sympathizing with Islamic State. (Mindanao Examiner)

Man escapes from police custody in Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A man under police custody in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines has escaped and possibly stole a weapon belonging to a policeman, officials said on Sunday.
Officials said the 26-year old Jerryver Joe Jamanula disappeared from the Investigation Office where he is being held for failing to pay over P3,000 in beers he ordered from the KTV Bar on Saturday.
The bar’s owner, Kimtang Sariol, said he only wanted Jamanula to pay and requested police to take custody of the man until he is able to raise money and pay his debts, according to Superintendent Rogelio Alabata, the regional police spokesman.
But Alabata said Jamanula escaped from the police office. “The subject person is nowhere to be found inside the investigation office and allegedly even, possibly took the issued firearm of PO1 Almojer Aminulla,” he said.
It was unknown how Jamanula managed to flee from the police custody. (Mindanao Examiner)

Villagers fear pollution from Davao coconut oil factory

DAVAO CITY – Villagers have complained about the air pollution from a coconut oil factory here after a white thick, dense smoke had been noticed coming from its huge  chimney day and night.
The Superstar Coconut Products Co., Inc. along Bugac in Ma-a village has been emitting dense smoke which stays in the air for so long and the factory operates 24 hours a day throughout the whole week.
Even the village officials say they were not aware the coconut processing factory emits such a thick smoke right in the middle of the populace. “We are not aware of it, but we are going look at this complaint,” said village council member Ricky Baral.
The smoke reaches not only nearby Matina village, but neighboring areas as well. One employee, who identified herself only as Karen, said their manager is Rodante Adante, and efforts to interview him failed. His office also did not return phone calls.
The complaint has been forwarded to the Environment Management Bureau - headed by Metodio Turbella, its regional director - under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Engr. Mary Ann Lumakin, from the DENR, said they have brought the matter to the attention of Turbella after residents fear the pollution may affect their health. “This (smoke emission of factory Superstar Coconut Products Co., Inc.) has been forwarded to the respective EMB RXI (Region 11) inspector. We will keep in touch,” Lumakin said.
In May 2014, a factory worker – Eriberto Abellana - was killed and 7 others injured after one of its boilers exploded. (Mindanao Examiner)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

BIFF, lumusob sa North Cotabato

NORTH COTABATO – Nilusob kaninang madaling araw ng Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters ang ibat-ibang mga detachment ng militar sa lalawigan ng North Cotabato sa magulong rehiyon ng Mindanao.
Tikom ang bibig ng mga opisyal ng 6th Infantry Division at Western Mindanao Command, ngunit kinumpirma naman agad ito ng pulisya bagama’t limitado lamang ang detalye nito.
Ang atake sa bayan ng Pikit at Aleosan ay nagpatunay na butas ang seguridad ng military sa naturang lalawigan. Niratrat ng mga rebelde ang mga outpost ng 7th Infantry Battalion, ngunit wala naman inulat na nasawi sa panig ng mga sundalong nagbabantay sa mga lugar.
Nilusob rin ng BIFF ang mga detachment nitong Sabado ng gabi at muling dinagit kahapon bago magbukang-liwayway. Kaliwa’t-kanan ang pakawala ng mga B40 anti-tank rocket ng mga rebelde at matatas na calibre ng armas.
Walang impormasyon kung may nasawi o sugatan sa panig ng BIFF na kaalyado naman ng mga jihadist sa kalapit lalawigan ng Maguindanao at Lanao del Sur na kung saan ay patuloy rin ang opensiba ng military laban sa mga ito.
Nais ng mga naturang grupo – na sumusuporta sa Islamic State - na maitatag sa Mindanao ang isang caliphate. (Mindanao Examiner)