DNA test confirms death of last Marawi siege terrorist leader Abu Dar

Marje Pelayo   •   April 15, 2019   •   1339

Maute-Isis leader Abu Dar

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday (April 15) said a DNA test from the United States authorities confirmed the death of Maute-ISIS leader Abu Dar.

“It is confirmed. It is Abu Dar’s remains,” Lorenzana said in a text message to UNTV News.

Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., Commander of the 103rd IB Haribon Brigade in an interview said the DNA results are indeed conclusive.

“The results were given to us by our US counterparts. We were assisted by the United States in confirming the DNA sample that they got from the cadaver of Abu Dar with those of his sons. So, yes. There is positive confirmation that Abu Dar, who was killed during the operation conducted last March 14,” Col. Brawner said.

The official said Abu Dar was the last remaining leader of the Maute-ISIS group who planned and staged the Marawi siege.

He was among the 10 terrorist leaders shown in a recovered video footage planning for the plot in Marawi City along with ISIS emir Isnilon Hapilon.

For two years, he had been in hiding and it was only in March this year that the military was able to neutralize him.

“This means that the Daulah Islamiyah, the new name of the Maute-ISIS group, will finally be ended with the death of their leader,” the military commander said.

As for his replacement, Brawner said the next in rank to Abu Dar is Abu Zacharia, a little-known Maute leader who, unlike his predecessor, is not a religious leader and “doesn’t have full influence in the entire group.”

Secretary Lorenzana, meanwhile, said they have no information yet as to who is currently leading the remaining Maute terrorists who are still in hiding.

“Well, for now his group is leaderless. We are monitoring who will replace Dar,” Lorenzana said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) welcomes the confirmation of the reported death of Abu Dar, whose complete name was Owaydah Marohombsar.

“This is a significant development in the government’s continuing campaign against terrorism and domestic threat groups,” PNP Chief Police General Oscar Albayalde said in a statement.

Government security forces clashed with members of the Maute terror group on March 14 in Tubaran, Lanao del Sur.

Abu Dar was among the five terrorists killed in the said encounter, the PNP Chief said. – Marje Pelayo

Lorenzana, US counterpart pledge to strengthen bilateral alliance

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 19, 2019

United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (R) and Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (L) shake hands during a press conference at a military camp in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 19 November 2019. Esper is in the Philippines for a series of meetings to discuss terrorism and defense relations between the two countries. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

Department of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and United States counterpart Mark Esper pledged to strengthen the bilateral alliance of the Philippines and the United States during their meeting on Tuesday (November 19).

In a joint statement, the two officials both praised the Philippines-United States alliance and also pledged to improve information sharing to prevent terrorist attacks and the transit of foreign terrorist fighters in and through the Philippines.

“Both sides have committed to focus on developing capabilities and enhancing cooperation in both maritime and aerial domains through the conduct of the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board activities,” the statement reads.

Meanwhile, both countries also reiterated their commitment to upholding freedom of navigation, overflight, other lawful uses of the sea in the South China Sea.

Esper said they stand for international rules, pertaining to the maritime dispute between China and other Southeast Asian countries.

“The clear signal that we’re trying to send is not that we oppose China per se, but that we all stand for international rules and international laws and we think China should abide by them as well and that acting collectively is the best way to send that message to get China on the right path,” he said.

Both parties are also open to reviewing the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty of the Philippines and the United States.

“In my opinion, it has been made in 1951 at the height of the Korean War. And the situation then compared to now is different. So, we are now in the low-level discussion first,” Lorenzana said.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Lorenzana not keen on another extension of martial law in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   November 11, 2019

Philippines Secretary of National Defence Delfin Lorenzana looks on during the fifth plenary session of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 18th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, 02 June 2019. EPA-EFE/WALLACE WOON

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said he is not keen on recommending another extension of martial law in Mindanao after it expires on December 31, saying it has been going on for too long.

“Kung ako lang, I will not recommend anymore the extension. Matagal nang masyado eh. We can do our job naman,” Lorenzana told reporters in an interview in Camp Aguinaldo.

“Kaya nga, especially if the Senate or Congress can pass the, ‘yung Human Security Act na medyo mabigyan ng konting ngipin ‘yung ating law enforcement, then that’s a better arrangement than the martial law,” he added.

Proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007 aim to broaden the definition of terrorism, ease restrictions on surveillance and extend the lawful detention of suspected terrorists to 30 days from the current three days.

Lorenzana earlier said these proposed changes would help the police and the military identify terror suspects and build tighter cases against them.

Mindanao has been under martial law since 2017 after Maute Terror group attacked Marawi City.

The martial law was initially set for 60 days but it was extended until the end of 2017, then until the end of 2018 and to the end of 2019.

However, Lorenzana said he will act accordingly if the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces decide to recommend another extension.

“We’ll see, we’ll evaluate the reasons of the military and the police and act accordingly,” he said.

Malacañang, meanwhile, said that President Rodrigo Duterte will take into consideration the recommendation of the defense and security officials before making a decision on whether or not to seek another extension of martial law.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Lorenzana’s pronouncement against prolonging martial rule would also be considered by the chief executive.

“That will be considered by the president. The president always says that he will defer to the advice or recommendation of those who are on the ground,” he told reporters at a Palace briefing. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Lorenzana wants to deploy new PH Navy ship to Sulu, Palawan seas

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – If Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had his way, the country’s newly-acquired vessel BRP Conrado Yap will be deployed to Palawan and Sulu seas.

Lorenzana said this on Tuesday on the sidelines of the welcome ceremony for the BRP Conrado Yap, a Pohang-class corvette donated by South Korea, at the Manila South Harbor.

“Kung ako, baka siguro sa Palawan and the Sulu seas,” he said. “It depends on the Navy how soon they can bring that to the south,” he added.

The BRP Conrado Yap arrived in the Philippines several weeks after it was handed over by South Korea during a ceremony at Jinhae Naval Base on August 5. The corvette was used by South Korea from 1987 to 2016 as Republic of Korea Navy ship Chungju (PCC-762).

READ: PH welcomes newly-acquired warship BRP Conrado Yap

The 32-year old warship is regarded as the Philippine Navy’s “most powerful ship” to date because of its torpedo launchers and sonars that are capable of detecting submarine and other potential underwater threats.

The Philippine Navy believes the addition of the heavily armed vessel will provide significant boost to its capability in patrolling and safeguarding the country’s territorial limits.

It will also serve as transition platform in empowering and upgrading Filipino sailors’ knowledge and skills in handling such high-level and advanced equipment/vessel especially with the impending delivery of modern frigates in the next two years, the Philippine Navy added.

The acquisition of the vessel follows the concern raised by the Philippine Military on the series of uncoordinated passage of Chinese warships within the country’s waters, including the Tawi-Tawi’s Sibutu Strait near the Sulu Sea and Palawan.

A diplomatic protest has been filed by Manila on the incursion of Beijing’s vessels.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte also issued a directive requiring all foreign vessels to secure a clearance when passing the Philippine waters. (RRD with details from correspondent Joan Nano)

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