AFP: Kin of Abu Sayyaf leader killed in Sulu

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 12, 2019   •   995

FILE PHOTO: Members of the Abu Sayyaf Group

The brother of an Abu Sayyaf leader was killed during an encounter with the military forces in Sulu on Tuesday (September 10).

The soldiers identified the neutralized terrorist as Nanz Sawadjaan, the younger brother of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

The 41st Infantry Battalion conducted a focused military operation in Sitio Tubig Pansol, Barangay Langhub, Patikul, Sulu.

They encountered 40 ASG members under Almujer Yadah, Ben Tattoh, and Apo Mike. The heavy firefight lasted for 20 minutes until the military was able to overrun the enemy encampment.

Two soldiers were injured during the encounter.

According to Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the troops are still conducting pursuit operations.

“Our troops remain persistent in tracking down and neutralizing the remaining terrorists in Sulu,” he said.

“The successful operations of our troops are also attributed to the local community who feeds information, directing our troops to the terrorists’ location,” he added.—AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

AFP condemns accusation against army member over fake Facebook accounts

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 25, 2020

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has condemned the accusation against one of their members over several fake accounts recently shut down by Facebook.

United States-based Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research (DFR), identified Philippine Army Captain Alexandre Cabales as operator of the social media pages that Facebook took down for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” targeting domestic audiences in the Philippines.

AFP Spokesperson Major General Edgar Arevalo said Facebook and the said digital forensic group should review their policies on privacy carefully since identifying Cabales violated his privacy. Arevalo said this has placed the reputation and safety of Cabales at risk.

“This is a breach of his personal identity and personal security, dahil po sa paglabas na ito ng kanyang pangalan at hindi naman sya nabibigyan ng pagkakataon na ipaliwanag ang kanyang panig, (because they released his name and [Cabales] was not able to explain his side)” he said.

The AFP also defended Cabales by explaining that the information posted in official accounts linked to the Philippine Army is legitimate and authentic.

Cabales heads the social media center of the AFP and is reportedly connected to ‘Hands Off Our Children’ page which has been taken down by Facebook.

“Sa pagtake-down nito ang naapektuhan ng malaki at parang napaboran pa ay itong pagre-recruit ng communist terrorist group, (By taking down these pages it will greatly favor the recruitment of the communist terrorist group),” Arevalo said.

Facebook took down over 100 accounts and pages in their social media due to violation in their policy. These include 31 pages and 77 Facebook and Instagram accounts allegedly linked to individuals affiliated with the Philippine military.

“They posted in Filipino and English about local news and events including domestic politics, military activities against terrorism, the pending anti-terrorism bill, criticism of communism, youth activists and opposition, the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines […] our investigation found links to Philippine military and Philippine police,” Facebook said in a statement. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Facebook removes fake accounts allegedly linked to PH military, police

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 23, 2020

Facebook has removed over hundreds of fake accounts for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

In a statement, the social media giant said it removed 155 accounts; 11 Pages; 9 Groups and 6 Instagram accounts. These networks reportedly originated in China. It also removed 57 Facebook accounts; 31 Pages and 20 Instagram accounts where its networks originated in the Philippines and focused on domestic audiences.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said these accounts and pages posted about local news and events including domestic politics, military activities against terrorism, pending anti-terrorism bill, criticism of communism, youth activists and opposition, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)and its military wing the New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). 

“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to Philippine military and Philippine police,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Wednesday (September 23) clarified that none of their maintained accounts were shutdown but is still looking into Facebook’s report.

“There are no accounts that the AFP maintain that were shutdown or removed by Facebook. All of them are up and running. The AFP upholds truth and accountability of network and SocMed account managers as to the contents of postings in our websites, pages, and accounts,” their statement reads. AAC

PH security forces foil bomb plot in Jolo, Sulu

Robie de Guzman   •   September 21, 2020

A bomb plot in the capital town of Jolo in Sulu province believed to have been orchestrated by local terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was foiled by the Philippine security forces, the military said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said, this is after the elements of the Philippine Coast Guard-Explosive and Ordnance Division (PCG) discovered a baggage that contained an improvised explosive device allegedly planted at the local port on Saturday.

The military added that a PCG patrol team found the abandoned baggage between the office of the Harbor Master and the Maritime Police Office at Jolo port.

A K9 unit deployed to the area confirmed that the baggage contained a bomb.

Operating troops of the 35th Infantry Battalion immediately cordoned off the area while the bomb squad carefully disarmed the explosive which was assembled using two electric blasting caps, a rifle grenade, a spark plug and concrete nails.

“I commend our troops and our partners for the accomplishment. You saved the lives of the innocent people and foiled this terroristic activity of our heartless enemies,” said Brig. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the anti-terror Joint Task Force Sulu.

AFP Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. also commended the troops.

“This success is a result of the intensified conduct of intelligence operations and the strengthened collaboration with the police and other security agencies, thus preempting the terrorists from executing their terror plan. I commend the troops of the JTF Sulu for a job well done,” he said.

The military said tight security measures remain in place as government troops continue to pursue ASG leader Mundi Sawadjaan who was said to the brains of the twin bomb attacks in Barangay Walled City in Jolo barely a month ago that killed 14 people and injured others. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Val Villaflor)

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