2 suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in Sulu clash – AFP

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2020   •   226

MANILA, Philippines – A suspected sub-leader and a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were killed in separate encounters with government troops in Sulu early Friday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.

AFP Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) Commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. identified the slain individuals as alleged ASG sub-leader Hatib Munap Binda and a certain Bensio Barahama.

Vinluan said Binda was killed in the first encounter that occurred in Panamao town of Sulu province.

Based on the report submitted by 4th Marine Brigade Commander Col. Ruben Candelario, troops of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-1 (MBLT) was conducting combat operation st Bud Bawis Complex, Barangay Kawasan when they encountered the group of Binda around 5:45 a.m.

Vinluan said a fierce firefight ensued which lasted for about 30 minutes after which the enemy withdrew.

“While scouring the encounter site, marine troops recovered the dead body of ASG sub-leader Binda, one M16 rifle, and one M14 rifle,” he added.

Vinluan said that based on their records, Binda is the senior leader of the ASG operating in the municipalities of Kalingalan Caluang and Panamao, Sulu.

He was a member of the organization since 2002 and was an associate of the late ASG sub-leader Alhabsi Misaya during the conduct of series of kidnappings in the tri-boundaries of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines.

In a separate operation, another team of the MBLT-1 encountered the ASG group under Sansibar Bensio a few meters away from the previous encounter site at 6:45 a.m. of the same day.

The encounter lasted for about 20 minutes which resulted in the death of a certain Bensio Barahama and the recovery of one M14 rifle, according to the report of MBLT-1 Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Marvin Salvan.

“Our good intelligence operations yielded to these positive results and we are grateful that no one from our side was injured during the operations,” Salvan said.

Vinluan said Barahama is the father of Abu Sayyaf Group sub-leader Sansibar Bensio and was operating in the areas of Panamao, Omar, and Luuk.

The AFP said operating troops are still in hot pursuit of the fleeing enemies.

“All the military units here in Sulu remain vigilant and resilient in eliminating the remaining terrorists who refuse to cooperate with us and continue to inflict terroristic activities in the peaceful communities,’’ said Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, Commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu.

“Rest assured that we will continue to work hard to end terrorism here in the beautiful island province of Sulu,” he added.

Bayan Muna lawmaker condemns ‘desecration’ of daughter’s remains

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Eufemia Campos Cullamat condemned what she called a “desecration” of her daughter’s remains by the military.

Cullamat’s 20-year-old daughter, Jevilyn Cullamat was killed in an encounter between the military and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Surigao del Sur.

The lawmaker reiterated that she respects her daughter’s decision to join the NPA but slammed the military for taking a photo of Jevilyn’s remains along with other paraphernalia recovered by soldiers.

“Mariin kong kinokondena ang ginawang pambabastos at pambababoy sa labi ng aking anak. Hindi siya bagay, hindi siya isang tropeo na ipaparada para lamang sa propaganda ng militar (I strongly condemn the desecration and disrespect toward my daughter’s remains. She is not an object or a trophy that will be paraded for military propaganda),” she said in a statement.

Kilusang Mayo Uno also condemned the “desecration of the dead” and has appealed to the media to stop posting the images.

“We appeal to the media to refrain from posting pictures of what is clearly the military’s desecration of the dead,” their statement reads.

Meanwhile, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NPA-ELCAC) has sent its condolences to Cullamat’s family.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also called on the other members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and NPA to surrender to the government.

“The death of 22 year-old armed rebel Jevilyn Cullamat during an encounter between the New People’s Army (NPA) and government forces is a grim reminder of the effects of the fruitless armed coflict perpetrated by these communist terrorist groups,” he said.

“We call on our representatives in the Makabayan Bloc and all those who condone the atrocities committed by the NPA to denounce the divisive ideology that destroys lives and property,” he added. AAC

AFP, PNP: Tiamzons’ conviction a victory for Reds’ victims

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

Wilma and Benito Tiamzon

MANILA, Philippines – Military and police officials on Friday lauded the conviction of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon on charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, calling it a victory for the victims of the communist group.

In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Major General Edgard Arevalo said the court’s decision is “a victory for the many victims of atrocities of the NPA particularly orders to conduct murder, arson, extortion, ambushes, bombing and the like that they orchestrated.”

“They were convicted ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ by the Regional Trial Court 216 of Quezon City for the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention,” he said.

The Tiamzon couple is believed to be ranking officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 found the couple guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. They were sentenced to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years of imprisonment.

The Tiamzons were also ordered to pay damages and civil indemnity to the complainant amounting to P225,000.

“The AFP will continue to hunt them down after they have violated the provisions of their temporary liberty by virtue of their being nominated as consultants in the peace negotiations with the government. They refused to submit themselves to the government after the peace negotiations did not prosper,” Arevalo said.

He also vowed that the AFP would continue to strengthen its resolve to bring other criminals to justice in honor of the victims of the violence perpetrated by the CPP-NPA.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) called the conviction of Tiamzon couple a triumph of justice.

“It is also another success story on the efficiency of our prosecutors of our investigators who secured the validity of evidence presented during trial. Of course, it is also a manifestation of the sins committed by the communist terrorists against our people,” PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Ilbrandi Usana said in a statement.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año also lauded the conviction of the Tiamzons, recalling the efforts to track down and arrest the couple when he was just a military captain.

“I’m very happy malaki kasi yung hirap ko diyan sa paghuli niyan I was the chief of ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the AFP) when they was arrested in March 2014. I just cannot recall the exact date March 20 or 21, I spent half of my career looking for this couple started I was Captain,” he said.

The couple was arrested in 2014 in Cebu City after many years of hiding. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

AFP, PNP shift to relief and rehabilitation ops in typhoon-hit areas

Robie de Guzman   •   November 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The military and police on Tuesday announced they have shifted their priority to massive relief distribution and rehabilitation efforts after days of intense search and rescue operations in areas that were severely affected by recent typhoons that barreled through the country.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson MGen. Edgard Arevalo said all available assets have been mobilized for the transport of relief goods.

Heavy engineering equipment and construction materials for families whose houses were destroyed by the storms were also transported.

“The AFP has shifted to massive relief distribution & rehabilitation operations. AFP Chief of Staff Gen Gilbert Gapay mobilized all sea, air, & land assets,”  Arevalo said.

Earlier in the day, the AFP sent off BRP Tarlac for humanitarian assistance and disaster response mission to Catanduanes in the Bicol region which was pummeled by Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses in the previous weeks.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), for its part, said its relief efforts are ongoing for families affected by massive flooding in Cagayan Province.

PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas said they have also mobilized their personnel and several police trucks to send relief items.

“Meron na kaming pinadala doon at least 5-man trucks. Nagpadala po ng 2,500 relief packages doon po sa Cagayan Province,” Sinas said.

The PNP chief also said they have allocated assistance for policemen whose homes were damaged by recent storms. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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