AFP sees extortion as primary motive behind blast in Lamitan, Basilan

Marje Pelayo   •   August 1, 2018   •   3038

AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr and WestMinCom commander Lieutenant General Arnel dela Vega

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is running out of resources, that’s why they resort to extorting money from the communities.

This is the main reason that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sees behind the bombing incident at Sitio Colonia in Lamitan, Basilan on Tuesday (July 31).

According to AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr., the bandit group is in dire need of money to fund their operation.

“Base doon sa information at saka sa report, humihingi sila ng P50,000 sa lahat ng mga LGUs and that single action iyon na ang ginagamit nilang panakot para lahat ng mga LGUs, kung 11 mayors iyon ay times P50,000, malaking amount ng pera iyon,” said Galvez.

But the local government of Basilan maintains not giving in to the demands of the terror group even if they say that the money is in exchange for the release of their captives.

“Secondly is to gain some support kasi nakita natin na ang Abu Sayyaf sa Basilan more than 150 na iyong nagsu-surrender and they wanted to make some very strong statement and that statement is through the bombing na ito,” Galvez further said.

Meanwhile, the government is not discounting the possibility of the ASG sowing terror elsewhere.

This prompted PNP Chief Police Director General Oscar Albayalde to tighten the security in checkpoints and the implementation of Oplan Sita across the country.

“We have to be on our toes especially so here in Metro Manila, dito sa NCR, dahil malaking impact iyan pag dito. Kaya todo ang pagbabantay  natin dito,” the PNP Chief said.

“Anything can happen anything is possible. But based on our intelligence, on our data, the probability is not that high,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel De Vega, AFP Western Mindanao Commander, when asked about the probability of the terrorist attacks.

The military, meanwhile, appealed to the public not speculate but to stay calm instead and let the authorities do their respective jobs. – Dante Amento / Marje Pelayo

AFP, PNP form Board of Inquiry to revise operational procedures after Jolo shooting

Marje Pelayo   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) created a Board of Inquiry that will revise their respective operational procedures following the fatal shooting in Jolo, Sulu. 

According to PNP Chief PGen. Archie Gamboa, one of their main focus will be the cooperation and expansion of their interoperability including the various tactical approaches depending on the security situation in the shooting area.

“To determine operational lapses and how we can improve our operational procedures both the AFP and the PNP,“ the PNP Chief.

Meanwhile, all nine cops involved in the incident were supposed to go to Camp Crame but the trip was deferred. 

One of them contracted coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and is now undergoing quarantine in isolation but still has to take the swab test for confirmation. 

But Gamboa assured that they will be sent to the headquarters anytime this week by Police Regional Office – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) Director PBGen. Manuel Abu.

“Sinabi ko lang sa kanila na: ‘You will go to Crame para ma-diffuse iyong tension and then expect kung ano ang sasabihin ng NBI, hindi ako makikialam.’ So kung meron liable sa inyo, so be it,” Gamboa said. 

[I told them: ‘You will go to Crame to diffuse the tension and expect that whatever the NBI says, I will not intervene.’ If anyone is liable, then so be it.]

“So for the meantime, you will be under the custody ng Philippine National Police” he added.

Gamboa said the President emphatically ordered the PNP to make sure those responsible in the incident will be penalized while the Chief Executive toned down when it came with the Philippine Army. 

Alam nya na may mga sintimiyento lalo na [He knows that there are sentiments especially] on the part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Gamboa said. 

“Sabi pa nga nya, kayo kung ano ang gusto nyong gawin ay pwede nyong gawin but you still have to ponder whether it will do good to the public o to the community [He even said, you just do whatever you want but you still have to ponder whether it will do good to the public or to the community],” he concluded. —MNP (with inputs from Lea Ylagan)

PH strengthens border security with Indonesia, Malaysia

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019

Participants are seen gathering near a Royal Malaysian Navy (RAM) patrol gunboat at the port of Zamboanga City, southern Philippines, 27 November 2018. The RMN is participating the Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines (INDOMALPHI) 4th Trilateral Maritime training exercise to enhance joint patrol with the three navies aiming to combat the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group and pirates operating in the common borders of the three nations in southern Philippines. EPA-EFE/LAURENZ CASTILLO

MANILA, Philippines – Backdoor entry through the Philippines southern border has made the country susceptible to threats from foreign terrorists.

Thus, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been working with its neighboring countries Indonesia and Malaysia to further strengthen its border security.

In 2017, the three countries entered into an agreement coined as ‘INDOMALPHI’ or Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines Trilateral Cooperative Agreement which commits the three nations to securing common borders.

“If ever there are reports from let’s say Indonesia or Malaysia that they going here, they have to share that information (to prevent entry of terrorists),” explained AFP Chief of Staff General Noel Clement.

“The same is true also if we have reports that we have fighters that are coming here and going to their respective countries,” he added.

The AFP admits, however, that the lack of floating assets of its naval arm – the Philippine Navy – gives foreign terrorists the chance to penetrate the country’s territories like the suicide bombers in the Sulu attack.

Worse, these terrorists teach their local counterparts how to create explosives and execute their plans, according to Clement.

“Ang kanilang intention bakit sila nandito is para makapag-conduct ng kanilang mga terroristic activities particular ang pagbobomba (Their intentions for entering our territory include conducting terrorist activities particularly bombings),” the official said.

“Hindi natin dapat payagan ito because kapag naisagawa nila yung kanilang mga hangarin na ito ay maraming mape-perwisyo at madadamay, (We won’t allow that because if they succeed in their plans, many people will suffer),” he added.

The ‘INDOMALPHI” is conducting joint maritime exercises aimed at strengthening capabilities against sea-jacking, piracy, smuggling and other illegal activities at sea.

Meanwhile, the AFP also tapped the support of the fishing industry in ZAMBASULTA area to augment as force multipliers in guarding and protecting the waters within the Philippine territorial jurisdiction. – MNP (with details from Dante Amento)

2 National Museum officials arrested for extortion

Maris Federez   •   August 20, 2019

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) have arrested two high-ranking officials of the National Museum.

The two were involved in extortion in exchange of permits issued by the agency, particularly on treasure hunting.

According to the PACC, the two officials had been extorting money from the complainant who has a pending application for treasure hunting permit at the agency.

The two were asking for P120,000 from the applicant for a permit that only costs P3,000.

“So pumunta sa amin iyong complainant then we set up this entrapment operations with the NBI.  Malaki hong halaga iyan for these permits dahil legal fees hindi naman aabot yan ng ganoon kalaki,” said PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica.

The two were identified as Ernesto Toribio Jr, chief of the National Museum Treasure Hunting Section, and Angel Toribio, acting Director and Curator II of the museum’s Cultural Properties Division.

The PACC believes that there is a possibility that extortion has already become rampant at the National Museum as there are no clear guidelines on the process of application permits such as in treasure hunting.

With this, the PACC is urging the National Museum administration to streamline its requirements for permit applications.

PACC will file bribery, extortion, and conspiracy against the two officials. (with details from Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

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