2 suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in Sulu clash – AFP

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2020   •   908

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.

Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Jolo is an active non-uniformed PNP personnel – Eleazar

Robie de Guzman   •   August 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – An active non-uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who allegedly has links with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was arrested in Jolo, PNP chief General Guillermo Eleazar said.

In a statement, Eleazar identified the suspect as Masckur Adoh Patarasa alias Makong/Omair Sali Taib.

Patarasa, a brother-in-law of the late Isnilon Hapilon, was arrested during a police operation in Barangay Asturias last Friday, July 30.

Eleazar said Patarasa is presently assigned at Banguingui Municipal Police Station in Sulu but was found out to be working as finance/logistics liaison officer of Dauwla Islamiya/ASG.

He added that the suspect’s name was also included in the Martial Law Arrest Order No. 1 during the Marawi Siege in 2017.

“Patarasa is the subject of Warrants of Arrest issued by Honorable LEO JAY T. PRINCIPE, Presiding Judge, RTC, 9th Judicial Region, Branch 1, Isabela City, Basilan as an accused in seven separate cases of kidnaping and serious illegal detention,” Eleazar said.

Police records revealed that in May 2017, Patarasa, together with an unidentified individual linked with ASG, planned to transact the sending of funds to ASG members fighting in Marawi City thru his brother-in-law Isnilon Hapilon.

Eleazar said Patarasa joined the ASG in 2001 under Khadaffy Janjalani in Basilan and later shifted to ASG Senior Leader Radullan Sahiron in Sulu.

He was also known to have direct contact with Jemaah Islamiyah operative AMIN Baco alias Guro Jihad and other ASG personalities.

Investigation also revealed that Patarasa allegedly received funds from Almaida Salvin, a designated terrorist included in the U.S. Treasury’s sanctions list who was arrested sometime in April 2019 for illegal possession of explosives thru Merhama Sawari who was neutralized in Parañaque City shootout together with three suspected terrorists in June 2020.

“I am glad that our personnel were able to arrest the subject person, this still forms part of the Intensified Cleanliness Policy that we are implementing, Cleanliness of the ranks should be maintained to regain the trust and confidence of the people to our organization,” Eleazar said.

I commend our units here in Region 9 as well as other units involved in the arrest of this person, your action is a reflection of our campaign to keep the organization free from persons with ill motives. Let us join hands in keeping the Philippine National Police a respectable organization, true to its mandate to serve and protect the people,” he added.

Sobejana bows out of military service; Faustino assumes post

Maris Federez   •   August 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana relinquished his post in a Retirement and Change of Command Ceremony on Saturday (July 31).

An AFP statement released Saturday said Sobejana bowed out of service as he reached the mandatory retirement age of 56, after spending over 38 years in the military.

Sobejana who is a Medal for Valor recipient, has been replaced by LtGen. Jose Faustino, the current commander of the Joint Task Force Mindanao, the statement said.

“My tenure as the 55th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has truly been full of challenges and trials; but together with more than the 200,000-strong men and women of the AFP whose tenacity, strength, and heart have made us overcome all odds,” Sobejana said in his farewell speech.

He also expressed his respect and gratitude to all the personnel in the military forces for their invaluable service.

“I have only the highest respect and admiration for our soldiers who have, and continuously, dedicated the best years of their lives in the name of public service. Sa lahat ng sundalo ng ating Sandatahang Lakas, taas-noo at buong puso ang aking pasasalamat sa inyong walang katapat na serbisyo,” he added.

Sobejana spent most of his military career in Mindanao where he commanded different AFP units as he rose the ranks since graduating from the Philippine Military Academy in 1987.

Prior to his stint as the AFP Chief of Staff, Sobejana assumed the post of Army Commanding General and the Commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

In May 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte bestowed him the Award of Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Officer), for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service rendered to the Philippine government, particularly to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He received another Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Chief Commander) for “laudable and meritorious conduct in the performance of his duties as the 55th Chief of Staff,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, incoming AFP Chief of Staff LtGen. Faustino called on the men and women in the military to stay united and committed to providing service to the country.

“It is my belief that the true measure of a Filipino soldier is not in the badge or rank we wear, not about the position we attain or appointed to. It is the loyalty and integrity of every man and woman serving the AFP that will keep us going in the right direction,” Faustino said.

“As I embark on this new journey with each and every one of you belonging to Team AFP, allow me to say to every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine– let us stay positive on the course ahead, bind together as one family, commit with open minds, participate actively, work towards the attainment of our shared goals, develop good ideas and innovate to suit our domain,” he added.

Prior to his designation as AFP chief, Faustino was appointed as the Commander of JTF Mindanao in June, following a successful stint as the Acting Commanding General of the Philippine Army.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maringal” Class of 1988, he likewise had been Battalion and Brigade Commander in Western Mindanao particularly in Basilan and Sulu, the statement said.

4 more fatalities in Sulu C-130 crash identified – AFP

Robie de Guzman   •   July 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said it has identified four more bodies of military personnel who perished in the C-130 crash in Sulu.

The AFP identified them as Sergeant Jelson Sadjail, Corporal Alhamin Salahuddin, Private First Class Alzid Hawrani, and Private First Class Nazer Albaracin.

The identified bodies were all from the Philippine Army, it added.

In total, the AFP said 33 cadavers have now been identified while 17 are still undergoing the “tedious” process of identification as most of the fatalities were burned beyond recognition.

“The AFP through the Western Mindanao Command has reached out to the loved ones of the identified personnel while their remains are being prepared for transport and proper burial,” the military said.

The C-130 plane crashed in Patikul, Sulu last July 4. It was carrying 96 passengers when the incident occurred.

More than 50 people died, including 3 civilians on the ground, and 46 were injured in the fiery crash.

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