7 foreign terrorists training future suicide bombers in Mindanao, AFP to boost security

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 24, 2019   •   687

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will boost security in Mindanao after seven foreign tourists are reportedly training future suicide bombers.

AFP’s Western Mindanao Command will implement security adjustments to spoil their plans.

Chief of Western Mindanao Command Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, said on Tuesday (July 23) that they are still validating the nationalities of the said foreign terrorists.

“We still have a lot of criteria in validating for them to be considered as foreign terrorists. It’s more on an effort by our intelligence unit,” he said.

Meanwhile, the AFP is monitoring 42 other foreign terrorists regarding their association with ISIS.—AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Duterte names PH Army commanding general Gapay as next AFP chief

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has designated Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay as the next chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

According to a document addressed to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Duterte signed Gapay’s appointment letter on Tuesday, July 28.

Gapay is the current commanding general of the Philippine Army.

His designation will take effect on August 3.

Gapay will replace AFP chief General Felimon Santos Jr. who is leaving the service as he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 on August 4.

Pangilinan seeks Senate probe on fatal shooting of 4 soldiers in Jolo

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan is calling for an inquiry into the killing of four soldiers by local policemen in Jolo, Sulu.

“Nakakabahala ang balitang ito. Ngayon pa lang na hindi pa batas ang anti-terror bill, may nangyayari nang ganito. Ano na lang ang laban ng ordinaryong tao?” Pangilinan said in a statement on Wednesday.

On Monday afternoon, June 29, four members of the Philippine Army were fatally shot by police officers some meters away from the Jolo police station.

The Army said the four soldiers were on an official mission and were tracking suspected suicide bombers  when they were accosted by the local police.

The soldiers, who had been wearing plain clothes, were said to have introduced themselves to the policemen. The cops allegedly told them to go with them to a nearby police station for identity verification.

Initial police report said that as their team and Army officers approached the police station, the soldiers’ vehicle allegedly sped off, prompting a car chase.

Police said they only defended themselves when the soldiers opened fire.

The Army disputed this claim, saying the soldiers did not try to escape and never fired a single shot towards police officers based on eye-witness accounts of two civilians and of a motorcycle-riding soldier who was part of the operation trailing the soldiers’ vehicle.

Pangilinan said the police and military have different versions of what happened, and an “independent and impartial” Senate probe will “help bring out the truth.”

“This incident is disturbing because it appears that the police are quick in pulling the trigger without careful judgment. If they can do this to their fellow uniformed men, how much more to the ordinary civilians who are unarmed and defenseless?” the senator said.

Nevertheless, Pangilinan called on military and police ground commanders to “rein in their men to preserve peace and avert escalation of tension between the armed personnel.”

“We should be going after the common enemy — terrorists, drug lords, armed groups, and in this time of the pandemic, COVID — not against each other,” Pangilinan said.

The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines earlier said they have requested the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an impartial probe into the incident.

The nine policemen involved in the incident, as well as the chief of Jolo police station have also been ordered relieved from their posts pending investigation.

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DND: Parañaque raid that killed alleged ASG members highlights need for tougher anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday said that the recent joint police and military operation in Parañaque City, which led to the killing of suspected Abu Sayyaf members, highlights the need for President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, “the presence of these terrorists in the NCR highlights the need for us to enhance our measures against those who intend to bring harm to our people.”

“A law such as the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020 will give our law enforcers greater capacity to stop these terrorists and prevent them from wreaking havoc in our communities,” he added.

Lorenzana also commended the police and the military for the “successful” law enforcement.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, said the incident calls for an urgent decision of the President.

“This development all the more highlights the need for the President and Commander-in-Chief Rodrigo Duterte to expedite the signing and immediate implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Bill,” AFP chief-of-staff General Felimon Santos, Jr. said in a statement.

He said terrorism really poses great threat to public security and places general welfare at stake.

“We should protect and defend from terrorists— without further delay than it had already been —fellow Filipinos from wanton death or destruction of their property,” he said.

Santos also said that the recent operation against the alleged members of Abu Sayyaf group only shows that a pandemic could not deter terror groups from committing lawless acts.

“The unwanted presence of terrorist ASG members in Metro Manila and their timely neutralization in Parañaque proves that terrorist groups know no pandemic or people’s suffering in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world,” he said.

“Not even COVID-19 could deter or prevent the terrorists ASG and their cohorts from planning and looking for the opportune time to strike and kill or maim innocent civilians and to destroy massively government infrastructure and private property,” he added.

The Philippine National Police earlier reported that four suspected ASG members were killed in an operation jointly conducted by police and military forces in Barangay Don Bosco, Parañaque City on past Friday midnight.

The government security forces were about to serve a search warrant issued by the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court Branch 258 when they were engaged by the suspects in a firefight.

The clash eventually resulted in the killing of the suspects, identified as Bensaudi Sali alias “Boy,” his wife Merhama Abdul Sawari alias “Mheng,” Rasin Hussin alias “Boscon,” and Jamal Kalliming alias “Pando.”

The police and military said the operation stemmed from an information they received about the presence of the group tagged as members of Daulah Islamiyah and acting as a financial conduit of Daesh-East Asia, in Parañaque City.

Authorities recovered from the encounter site various handguns, wires, suspected explosive devices, and ISIS flags.

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