15 BIFF members killed in Maguindanao clash

admin   •   June 12, 2018   •   4126

(Photo courtesy of AFP Joint Task Force central)

 

The conflict continues between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao.

The military operation against BIFF leader, Abu Toraipe, started at dawn on Monday, June 11 at Agusan Marsh in the municipality of Pikit .

“Trabaho ng military to secure the civilian and this threat. Ang Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters are the number one threat diyan sa Central Mindanao,” said WestMinCom spokesperson LTC Gerry Besana.

(It is the military’s job to secure the civilian and this threat. The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters are the number one threat in Central Mindanao.)

The Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said 15 BIFF members were killed in the attack, eight were injured from airstrikes and two were captured including bomb expert, Anwar Ali.

There were no reported casualties on the military’s side.

Aside from this, the WestMinCom spokesperson said that the AFP also bombed the improvised explosive device (IED) factory of the Daesh-inspired group.

The clearing operation recovered several firearms and a few explosives.

Besana added that the destruction of the IED factory is a huge accomplishment by the military.

“It is a very significant accomplishment for the joint task force central under the Western Mindanao Command na talagang napakarami ng IEDs na tinamaan. Talagang napakalakas ng sabog doon,” said Besana.

(It is a very significant accomplishment for the Joint Task Force Central under the Western Mindanao Command because of the high number of casualties caused IED explosions.  The blasts were really powerful.)

The camp of BIFF on the other hand denied any casualties from their ranks.

“Mga sibilyan ang tinamaan ng airstrike at ang pagkawala ng mga 105 mm Howitzer.  Sobra 30 na ang tinamaan nandoon na ang patay. Wala naman kaming pagawaan ng bomba,” said BIFF spokesperson Abu Misri Mama.

(Civilians were hit by the airstrike, and the firing of 105mm Howitzer. More than 30 were killed. Also, we do not have a bomb factory.)

Meanwhile, the AFP assured they are doing their best to avoid collateral damage and it will not affect the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).  — Dante Amento| UNTV News & Rescue

AFP: We can move on without VFA with US

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 12, 2020

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed their support for the termination of the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.

“It’s not actually naman kawalan (a loss) because as of now, as you can see, we have already some equipment — new planes, we have ships,” said new AFP chief of staff General Felimon Santos Jr.

“We could move on without VFA,” he added.

However, the AFP Chief admitted that the termination might affect the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The EDCA is designed to promote the strengthening of AFP for external defense, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR), and Maritime Security.

Santos also said the fight against terrorism might also be affected since the termination of the VFA includes intelligence sharing between the Philippines and the US.

Despite this, the AFP Chief is confident that the Armed Forces will be able to defend the country.

“We will defend it hanggang kamatayan (to the death),” Santos said.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Cop linked to 2009 Ampatuan massacre surrenders to CIDG

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2020

Police Officer Ysmael Baraquir

MANILA, Philippines – A police officer tagged in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre case has surrendered after more than 10 years of hiding, authorities said Wednesday.

Police Officer Ysmael Baraquir of the Maguindanao Provincial Police Office surrendered to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) regional field unit 15 around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Barangay Linandangan, Pagalungan in Maguindanao.

Police said they took Baraquir into custody based on an arrest warrant for 56 counts of murder signed by Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC RTC) Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.

Baraquir is also listed in the national level most wanted persons, according to a report to CIDG acting director Brig. Gene. Joel Napoleon Coronel.

Earlier, two massacre suspects were separately arrested by authorities in Maguindanao after the court released last December 2019 its verdict on the gruesome killing.

On December 19, QC RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes handed down a guilty verdict to several members of the political Ampatuan clan, including former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Anwar Ampatuan Jr., and Anwar Sajid Ampatuan, for their involvement in the murder of 57 people, including members of the media.

Originally, there were 58 victims in the massacre but the 58th person, photographer Reynaldo Momay of the local paper Midland Review, was declared missing after his body was not found in the scene.

The Ampatuan massacre is considered the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the Philippines.

AFP to send ships, planes, 2 battalions for repatriation of OFWs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 8, 2020

The Department of National Defense (DND) said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will send two ships, three planes, and two battalions for the repatriation of overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in the Middles East.

DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the two landing ships can accommodate 500 persons each. They will also send two C130 and a C295 planes.

Lorenzana clarified the two battalions will be deployed to assist Filipinos who will return to the country as tension continues to rise between the United States (US) and Iran.

“The two battalions will not be there to engage in combat with anybody, but to facilitate or help assist in the repatriation of the OFWs especially in Iraq. Hindi sila magpunta doon para makipaglaban, (they will not be sent there to fight)” Lorenzana said.

The Defense Secretary also said they also considering to use cruise ships and commercial airlines to accommodate more Filipinos returning home.

Meanwhile, the BRP Gabriela Silang of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is set to sail in the Middle East to assist in the repatriation.

Lorenzana also raised concerns over Filipinos who will refuse to leave the Middle East and said it will be a challenge.

“Some Filipinos do not want to leave their job. Kasi sabi nila, ‘anong gagawin natin sa Pilipinas?’ (because they will say ‘what will they do in the Philippines?’) But hopefully, we will be able to convince them—kung medyo delikado iyong buhay nila (if their lives are in danger)—to come home,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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