AFP Acquires New 11-Meter Boats; JSOTF-P Assists with Training

By Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines Public Affairs

CAVITE, Philippines-Fourteen members of Armed Forces of the Philippines are receiving training on four 11-meter-long Naval Special Warfare Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) by Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines during a course at Naval Base Cavite which began Jan. 12.

Because terrorism and other lawless activity takes place frequently throughout the waterways where NAVSOU operates, it is imperative that they know how to perform missions using these boats.

The six-week course is designed to give students follow-on training after four RHIBs were purchased by the Philippine Government in July 2009 from the U.S. Maritime Institute. These are the first 11-meter RHIBs purchased for use by NAVSOUs. Initially, NAVSOG sailors were internally trained by the AFP on basic craft operation, maintenance and navigation.

At that point, JSOTF-P’s Task Force Archipelago was asked to conduct an advanced, detailed course at Cavite, similar to the training a U.S. Navy Special Warfare Combat Crewman receives.

“The people going through this course now will become trainers themselves now that they are experts on the boats. After the class, they will then go back to their respective units and train others on what they learned here,” said the JSOTF-P Navy SEAL Officer-in-Charge.

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The US Navy — Fact File: Naval Special Warfare Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats

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Abu Sayyaf, communists accused of using biological weapons

Military prohibits use, says cases could be elevated to international court

gulfnews By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau ChiefPublished: 02/05/10

Manila : Bandits and communist rebels should be censured for using biological weapons and landmines, a local paper said.

Ten soldiers who were wounded in a landmine explosion and ambush in Sumisip, Basilan, in southern Philippines last Tuesday developed high fever before they were airlifted for treatment to a nearby hospital, Col Jocelyn Turla, commanding officer of the Camp Navarro General Hospital (CNGH) in the south, told the Philippine Star.

“The Abu Sayyaf must have mixed some sort of a biological chemical to their improvised explosive devices (IEDs),” Turla said, adding the wounded soldiers who suffered shrapnel wounds were in stable condition after receiving proper treatment.

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Posted by: JWP | 02/05/2010

Is Manila thinking of splitting Mindanao?

Manila Eyes Muslim Mindanao Partition

IslamOnline.net & Newspapers 01/28/10

CAIRO – The Philippine government has asked the Congress to start discussing the partition of the autonomous Muslim region of Mindanao, as differences remain plaguing the way for peace deal to end a decades-old conflict, Manila Standard Today reported on Thursday, January 28.

“I will get the House of Representatives to start working on a possible amendment of the Organic Act of the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) or for the crafting of an entirely new law on Muslim Mindanao,” Congress House Speaker Prospero Nograles said.

The government asked the Congress to work on two bills that aim at splitting Muslim Mindanao into two regions.

According to the first bill, Mindanao’s coverage would expand to neighboring villages which have voted in a 2001 plebiscite to be part of the region.

The second bill splits the region into two, southwestern and central Mindanao, as agreed in peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which has been seeking Mindanao’s independence for decades.

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‘Secrecy’ shrouds Islamic peace talks

ZAMBOANGA City Mayor Celso Lobregat said the ongoing peace process between the government and Moro rebels is shrouded with secrecy and non-transparency. 02/04/10


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Posted by: JWP | 02/04/2010

‘Secrecy’ shrouds Islamic peace talks

‘Secrecy’ shrouds Moro peace talks

Sun Star 02/04/10 By Bong Garcia

ZAMBOANGA City Mayor Celso Lobregat said the ongoing peace process between the government and Moro rebels is shrouded with secrecy and non-transparency.

He said the entire government panel headed by Undersecretary Rafael Seguis that has been talking peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) did not show up at the congressional hearing last Monday, as Malacañang had apparently not given the official the clearance to appear.

The congressional hearing was conducted in relation to a bill filed by first district Congresswoman Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, urging the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to disclose specific details concerning the renewed peace talks with the MILF.

Lobregat, who attended the hearing, said the MILF spokesman, North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmanuel Piñol and Presidential Peace Adviser Annabelle Abaya, among other personalities, attended the hearing.

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Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are against Moro Islamic liberation front demands 01/16/10

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GRP-MILF talks resuming? Good, but…

Manila Times 02/03/10

Excerpt:

The MILF leaders must realize that, if to secure peace in Mindanao, so that the Philippines can become a more useful partner in Asean growth, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, and for that matter the other Muslim countries, would not make a big fuss if the central government imposes peace in Mindanao by crushing all rebel armies.

So, the MILF leaders had better not demand what we suspect they really want: The dismemberment of the Philippines, the separation of MILF-designated provinces, towns and barangays from the Republic of the Philippines and their formation into another state and country. That will ignite war in Mindanao. A historical development very much destructive of the “Asian Century” that includes our part of Asean as an important partner of the other regions of Asia.

The Arroyo administration, and the administration that succeeds it, must not forget this assessment in handling the question of peace in Mindanao.

Power-sharing nonsense But what is this “powering-sharing” nonsense that we hear from the government’s chief negotiator, Madam Annabelle Abaya?

According to her, the GRP has offered the MILF separatist rebels “enhanced autonomy” for the Filipino Muslims. She is reported to have said the offer is being made in the hope of sealing a peace accord to end 40 years of rebellion.

Reality and truthfulness are the only way God can bless these negotiations. The previous effort to have a partially approved section of a general and final peace accord ended in chaos and war because the negotiators then either tried to fool the MILF side and the Filipino people, and even their boss, President Arroyo. So they even invited the ambassadors of the major countries involved in the Mindanao peace process to witness the signing by the two panels of the already initialed memorandum of agreement on the ancestral domain of the Bangsamoro People and the creation of the so-called Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

It is a document that absolutely serves to undermine the integrity of the Republic of the Philippines. That completely violates the Philippine Constitution. That insensitively partitions provinces, towns and barangays to the dismay and anger of both Christian and Muslim-Filipinos well-settled as friends, neighbors, business partners and cooperators in development projects.

It resulted in the outbreak of fighting—started by so-called rogue elements or disobedient commanders of the MILF who killed Christians and Muslims, burned their homes, and displaced thousands of families, when the Supreme Court—as any dolt would have known—found the MOA-AD unconstitutional.

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Soldier killed, 8 others hurt in Basilan ambush

GMANews 02/02/10

A government soldier was killed Tuesday while eight others were wounded in an ambush staged by a still unidentified armed group in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, a military official said.

The troops, all from the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion, were on board a military truck on its way from an inspection site when attacked at Barangay Libog in Sumisip town, according to Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, commander of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command.

“They came from a detachment and on their way back to their battalion headquarters,” Dolorfino said.

Dolorfino said a landmine exploded first at around 11 a.m., and was followed by sniper fires that killed the soldier.

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Army, police, MILF searching for Ampatuan money

By Ramon Tulfo Philippine Daily Inquirer 02/02/2010

The military says members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are frantically digging for firearms and ammunition reportedly buried by the Ampatuans in different places in Maguindanao.

The MILF is reportedly aided by remnants of the disbanded private army of the Ampatuans in digging for guns and ammo.

More than 400 militiamen loyal to the Ampatuans have joined the MILF, their former enemy, in retrieving the clan’s arsenal, according to the Armed Forces.

C’mon, guys, tell that to the Marines!

The military, police, MILF and remnants of the Ampatuans’ private army are not after the guns and ammo, but caches of money of the Ampatuans.

It’s a free-for-all, finders-keepers kind of search.

Don’t be surprised if the combined military-police search groups shoot it out with the MILF-Ampatuan militia over the money.

A very reliable source in the intelligence community said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered a search for the Ampatuans’ money estimated at between P2 billion and P4 billion.

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ARMM political clans into ‘lootable resources’

NewsBreak Online Written by Frankie Llaguno 12/01/09

They use elective positions to earn from illicit trades, with Palace blessings

What will the Ampatuan and other clans lose if clan members fail to get elected to key positions in the 5 provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the coming elections?

Aside from power, there are the fund transfers between the central government and ARMM in the form of internal revenue allotments or IRA amounting to P2.23 billion in 2006 alone.

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AFP: Ampatuan CVOs have joined up with MILF

By Rose Tamayo-Tesoro (The Philippine Star) Updated February 01, 2010

BULUAN, Maguindanao, Philippines – More than 400 militiamen loyal to the Ampatuans have joined the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in racing against government troops to retrieve the clan’s arsenal buried in various parts of Maguindanao, the military said yesterday.

Army Maj. Randolf Cabangbang told The STAR members of the Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs) implicated in last year’s Maguindanao massacre had linked up with the 106th MILF Base Command.

“In exchange for firearms and pledge to help them locate and unearth the buried firearms of the Ampatuans, the MILF under the 106th Base Command in Shariff Aguak are now protecting the Ampatuans’ militiamen,” he said.

Intelligence reports said the MILF forces are led by Commanders Adam and Itim Ampatuan, close relatives of Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., principal suspect in the Maguindanao massacre.

Cabanbang said the MILF fighters belonging to the 106th Base Command were able to recover more than 300 high-powered firearms believed owned by the Ampatuans in the hinterlands of Shariff Aguak with help from the militiamen.

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Abu Sayyaf & Moro Islamic Liberation Front kill navy officer in clash / Bombing attempt in NCotabato 12/30/09

Ampatuan followers joins Moro Islamic Liberation Front 12/29/01

Ampatuans entrust arsenal to Moro Islamic Liberation Front 12/20/09

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Posted by: JWP | 01/30/2010

No Islamic sub-state in South RP

No Bangsa Moro sub-state in draft government pact – Seguis

By Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) Updated January 30, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis has denied that the government peace panel has included the creation of a “Bangsa Moro” sub-state in the government’s draft peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Seguis, who is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said the government’s draft complies with the Constitution and pertinent laws of the land.

“It is also guided by the Supreme Court decision on the aborted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). It mostly identifies executive doables (and) proposed legislative actions to strengthen regional autonomy and openness to hear MILF proposals for constitutional change,” he said.

“There is no mention of any Bangsa Moro sub-state in our draft. The government of the Republic of the Philippines and the (MILF) just emerged from a long hiatus from the peace process and both sides are about to start discussions on the substantive issues of the negotiations,” Seguis said.

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MILF rebels quit peace talks

Manila Times 12/30/10

ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ended peace talks abruptly in Kuala Lumpur without signing a new agreement that would put an end to decades of bloody fighting in the restive southern region of Mindanao. 12/30/10

Philippine Congress likely to pass bills expanding autonomous areas

gulfnews.com 01/30/10

Manila: The lower house of Philippine Congress vowed to pass two bills to expand an existing autonomous region for Filipino-Muslims in the southern Philippines, to satisfy a proposed peace settlement being forged by the Philippine government and a separatist Muslim group based in the south, a local paper said. 01/30/10

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Posted by: JWP | 01/29/2010

3 explosions hit Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / January 29, 2010) – Philippine authorities on Friday stepped up security following three small explosions in the southern port city of Zamboanga previously bombed by al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants.

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General Benjamin Dolorfino of the AFP boasts the Abu Sayyaf can no longer stage attacks on Mindanao itself. 01/28/09

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Posted by: JWP | 01/29/2010

Jihadists are the real foe, not NPA

American forces in the Philippines

Front-line vets

Drawing lessons from a rare success

Jan 28th 2010 | JOLO | From The Economist via @JSOTFP

RUMBLING over unfriendly terrain the world over, Humvees form the backbone of America’s military transport. Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Goldsmith has found they also make a good cattle corral. Park two Humvees at an angle, lead a cow into the gap and lash it to a bumper by its nose. Then climb on either bonnet and administer the necessary jabs. “I got tired of getting kicked all the time,” he says.

Lieut-Colonel Goldsmith, a veterinarian in the American army, has already worked with Afghan livestock. Now he tends to scrawny, tick-ridden cattle in Muslim-majority parts of Mindanao. Since March 2008, he has treated some 7,000 animals in villages where qualified vets are as rare as pukka roads. Proper care of livestock means fatter animals for market and more income for their owners.

This is part of an American mission that started in 2002, not long after the Taliban fell in Kabul. A force of up to 600 American soldiers, many of them counter-insurgency specialists, has been training elite Filipino troops to fight militant groups ever since. American gadgets, tactics and intelligence seem to be helping. Fifteen of the 24 names on a Philippine most-wanted poster have been crossed out, either captured or killed. Foreign troops are forbidden to fight, so combat duties fall to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The Americans keep busy with aid projects designed to woo locals in areas thick with militants. These days, there are fewer of them. The AFP estimates that Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for bombings and beheadings, has fewer than 400 fighters on Jolo and Basilan islands. General Benjamin Dolorfino of the AFP boasts the group can no longer stage attacks on Mindanao itself.

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3 explosions hit Zamboanga City 12/29/10

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Rescue operations for Chinese nationals in Basilan launched

BusinessWorld 01/28/10

ZAMBOANGA CITY — The military has launched a search-and-rescue operation for two Chinese nationals held in captivity in the island-province of Basilan for more than two months now.

This after the crisis management committee led by local government official confirmed that negotiations with the captors, believed to have ties with the Abu Sayyaf, bogged down this week.

The captors have stopped communicating with the employers of the Chinese nationals, said Vice-Governor Al-rasheed Sakalahul, who heads the committee.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin D. Dolorfino, Western Mindanao Command chief, said they have been allowed since last month to neutralize the kidnappers and safely recover Michael Tan, 27, and Oscar Lu, 51, of Hi-tech Plywood Corp.

“So far, there is no substantial development in our operation,” he told BusinessWorld.

read full report….

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Moro rebels demand share in ExxonMobil’s Sulu oil and gas project

BusinessWorld 01/26/10

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Exxon Mobil Corp. should recognize the Moros’ ancestral claims and rightful share of resources extracted from Sulu Sea, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said in a statement yesterday.

“The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has reminded Exxon Mobil, which is presently engaged in oil exploration in Sulu, not to forget that it is operating within the Moro ancestral homeland and that the rightful share of the Bangsamoro people is not written off by its agreement with the Manila government,” the rebel group said in a statement.

The MILF and the Philippine government are preparing for a second round of talks next week in Kuala Lumpur, which will touch on the general framework of a proposed final peace deal, which includes the sharing of resources.

“The issue of wealth-sharing between the central Government and the future Bangsamoro state or sub-state is one of the outstanding issues in the current GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)-MILF Peace Talks,” the Moro rebels said. It noted that a botched deal covering territory indicated a “75-25 sharing of wealth including oil or gas production, in favor of the future Moro state.”

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Moro Islamic Liberation Front makes territorial demands 01/24/10

Abu Sayyaf & Moro Islamic Liberation Front kill navy commandos in clash 12/30/09

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Posted by: JWP | 01/27/2010

US to train cops in South Philippines

US to train more Zambo cops on anti-terrorism

by RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News 01/27/2010

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The US government’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the Department of State Counter-Terrorism Office intends to conduct more trainings and seminars for a number of policemen based in Zamboanga City.

On Tuesday, Richard Miller, head of the US Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program or I-CITAP, and Vivita Rozenbergs of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, visited the Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) for a quick evaluation of their programs.

Miller assured police officials that they will continue to conduct the series of training for local policemen in a bid to develop and improve the investigative skills of the police, especially when dealing with cases related to terrorism.

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Abu Sayyafs, rouge Moro rebels bomb another bridge

Sun Star 01/25/10

COMBINED forces of the Abu Sayyaf group and rouge Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) detonated Saturday an improvised bomb, damaging a bridge in Sulu province.

Brigadier General Rustico Guerrero, Joint Task Force Comet (JTFC) chief, said the explosion took place around 2:30 p.m. in the village of Bato-Bato, Indanan town, hitting the Talatak Bridge.

Guerrero said the combined bandits and rouge MNLF rebels led by Tahil Sali and Abraham Joel set off the improvised bomb to prevent the government troops from advancing.

The explosion happened at the height of a firefight, which ensued when the troops responded to a report from civilians about the presence of heavily armed men placing an unidentified package at the Talatak Bridge.

He said no one among the troops were either killed or injured during the explosion and firefight.

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