AFP readies for Abu Sayyaf retaliation following death of key member

Robie de Guzman   •   September 12, 2019   •   320

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is preparing for possible acts of reprisal from the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) following the death of one of its key members in a recent encounter with government troops in Sulu.

According to AFP Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) Spokesperson Maj. Arvin John Encinas, they are not discounting the possibility of retaliatory attacks by the ASG after the younger brother of an ASG leader was killed in a gun battle in Patikul, Sulu last Tuesday (Sept. 10).

Philippine Army’s 41st Infantry Battalion faced around 40 ASG members in a heavy firefight that broke out in Sitio Tubig Pansol in Barangay Langhub.

ASG fighters were said to have retreated after about 20 minutes of gunfight.

READ: AFP: Kin of Abu Sayyaf leader killed in Sulu

Government troops then overran the ASG camp and found a body, which military identified as Nanz Sawadjaan, brother of ASG sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Nanz Sawadjaan was one of ASG’s bomb experts who was allegedly involved in Jolo cathedral blast and other recent suicide bomb attacks in Sulu.

Encinas said the death of Sawadjaan is a great loss to the terrorist group.

“Yung pagka-neutralize natin dito sa kapatid ni sub-leader Sawadjaan ay isang malaking dagok sa hanay ng mga Abu Sayyaf Group considering na itong si Nanz Sawadjaan ay trained sa paggawa IED (improvised explosive device),” he said.

(The neutralization of the brother of sub-leader Sawadjaan is a great loss to the Abu Sayyaf group considering that this Nanz Sawadjaan was trained in making IEDs.)

The military said that before the demise of Sawadjaan, they received information about the ASG’s plans to launch a series of suicide bombings in Sulu, including in military detachments.

Last Sept. 8 a female suicide bomber was killed in Indanan town after she tried to attack a military checkpoint by blowing herself up. No one was injured in the blast because soldiers were able to take cover following shouts of alarm from other detachment members.

The AFP assured the readiness of their troops and urged the public to immediately report any suspicious individuals or things spotted in their areas. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

PNP renders immediate help; AFP ready to assist earthquake victims in regions 11, 12

Maris Federez   •   October 17, 2019

Mlang Police Station personnel together with Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) personnel, Mlang local government employees conduct post-earthquake damage inspection of buildings in Cotobato, Mindanao on Thursday, October 17, 2019.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 and 12 have deployed their personnel to the areas affected by the earthquake that hit several towns and cities on Wednesday night (Oct. 17).

They were sent to render assistance to the local government units in maintaining peace and order, and ensure that traffic will run smoothly to avoid delay in the supply of relief goods.

According to PNP spokesperson PBGen. Bernard Banac, police are also helping in the clearing operation in the affected buildings.

Banac added that the situation in the affected areas is still under control and there is still no need to send support units from the national headquarters.

“Ang kapulisan natin ay lumabas kaagad at nagbigay ng police presence para magbigay ng order, para maassure ang public na nandyan ang ating pamahalaan. Lahat ng available manpower. Yung iba ay umalalay sa local government units para mag rescue sa mga nasaktan na biktima,” Banac said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, said it is ready to deploy its personnel from the Engineering Brigade should the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) requests for it.

“Lahat naman ng ating AFP units within the area are on ready standby and with the close collaboration with the NDRRMC ready to be deployed at short notice naman, so far according to the NDRRMC ay capable pa naman yung LGU’s natin in responding to any requirements,” AFP Public Affairs Office chief, Capt. Jonathan Zata said.

Wednesday night’s tremor left 29 structures in Regions 11 and 12 with significant damage.

These malls include SM, Veranza Mall and Gaisano Mall in General Santos City, and the KCC Mall in Koronadal City.

Other structures that sustained damage were:

  • the Municipal Hall of Magsaysay in Davao Del Sur
  • the Sangguniang Bayan Building in M’Lang, Cotabato
  • the Roldan Hospital in M’Lang, Cotabato
  • the Fire Station in Makilala, Cotabato
  • and the Municipal Hospital in Carmen, Cotabato

(with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

Bill seeking higher hazard pay for soldiers in conflict areas pushed in Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2019

A bill seeking to increase the monthly hazard pay of the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stationed in conflict areas has been lodged in the Senate.

In filing Senate Bill No. 970, Senator Manny Pacquiao proposed to raise to P20,000 the current P540 monthly hazard pay of soldiers in conflict areas.

The proposal also seeks to increase to P10,000 each month the hazard pay of civilian doctors and nurses under the AFP Memorial Medical Center (AFPMMC) and those who provide aid and medical assistance to the military in the field.

“Personnel of AFP are the country’s frontlines in dealing with apprehensions in the borders and tensions with terrorist and extremist groups. The AFP defends our country despite the exposure to danger and possibly risking their lives,” he said.

“It’s only appropriate to compensate those who risk their lives to serve and protect our country,” he added.

The bill states that funds for the implementation of the measure shall be included in the yearly General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Pacquiao said he introduced the bill after noting that the hazard pay for uniformed personnel remained fix at P540 after the base pay increase of the military and other uniformed personnel became effective this year.

In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a resolution authorizing salary increase for soldiers, police officers and other uniformed personnel in the government.

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Another PMA cadet shows signs of maltreatment, brought to hospital – AFP

Maris Federez   •   September 25, 2019

Another Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadet was brought to the V. Luna Medical Center (VLMC) in Quezon City on Monday (Sept. 23).

In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson BGen Edgar Arevalo said the unnamed PMA cadet showed signs of maltreatment.

“Ang unang confinement kasi ang unang kino-complain niya, pananakit ng tiyan lang which was considered parang gastro entrities ba, but nung bumalik siya for the second time, nakitaan na siya ng markings. Complain niya the same na masakit ‘yung tiyan niya, then nakitaan na siya ng markings ng possible maltreatment,” Arevalo said.

Arevalo said the cadet was complaining of abdominal pain as what the first two cadets who were admitted at the same hospital on September 17 and 21 had complained about.

The third cadet, however, did not need to be confined to the hospital.

The AFP official also confirmed that the two cadets who are confined at the VLMC are now in stable condition.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana considers the resignation of Lt.Gen. Ronnie Evangelista as PMA superintendent, and BGen Bartolome Vicente Bacarro as Commandant of Cadets as an act out of delicadeza.

“They are fine officers and gentlemen. LTGen Evangelista is a much-decorated officer who excelled in all his previous assignments. BGen Bacarro was a Medal of Valor awardee. They are doing this for the good of the organization. Their acts are admirable. They have delikadeza,” Lorenzana said in a statement.

He further stated that their resignation from their posts followed the principle of command responsibility reflecting their professionalism which earned them his salute and respect.

“What they have done is in accordance with our principle of command responsibility. A commander is responsible for whatever his unit does or fails to do. I salute them for their professionalism,” the DND chief said. (from the report of April Cenedoza) /mbmf

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