Duterte grants reward to Marines for neutralization of ASG leader, rescue of kidnap victims in Tawi-Tawi

Robie de Guzman   •   May 31, 2021   •   416

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has conferred medals and monetary reward to the Philippine Marine troops behind the rescue of Indonesian kidnap victims and the killing of an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader in Tawi-Tawi, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) said Monday.

In a statement, the WestMinCom said AFP chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana handed over the reward in a ceremony held at the 2nd Marine Brigade headquarters in Barangay Sanga-Sanga, Bongao on Sunday.

Sobejana awarded the Distinguished Navy Cross to Colonel Nestor Narag, Jr. for the latter’s extraordinary achievement as the Deputy Commander of Joint Task Tawi-Tawi during the successful rescue of 4 Indonesian kidnap victims in Kalupag Island, Languyan, Tawi-Tawi on March 21, 2021.

The WestMinCom said Narag orchestrated a comprehensive Fleet-Marine operation and provided command and control to the operating sailors and marines who engaged the enemies, which resulted in the death of Abu Sayyaf Group leader Majan Sahidjuan alias Apo Mike, and two of his followers.

A Silver Cross Medal was awarded to the Special Intelligence Team under the 2nd Marine Brigade who provided timely intelligence information that led to the successful conduct of focused military and combat clearing operations in Kalupag Island, Languyan and Tandungan Island, Tandubas, all of Tawi-Tawi on March 19 to 24, 2021.

We have to make ourselves happy all the time so that we become more productive. I always translate happiness into productivity regardless of where we are,” Sobejana said.

“To the commanders, let us always strike a good balance on mission accomplishment and the morale and welfare of our soldiers,” he added.

Sobejana handed over the monetary reward amounting to P2 million intended for the units involved in the successful neutralization of Apo Mike.

WestMinCom Commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., Naval Forces Western Mindanao Commander Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci, Jr., Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi Commander Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, and other military officers were also present during the ceremony.

Duterte asks PNP, AFP to deploy medical personnel to hospitals needing more staff

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to prepare for the deployment of their medical personnel to hospitals that are in need of additional manpower.

“Kung wala nang iba, ‘yung mga nurses sa pulis marami yan, pati sa medical corps ng army. I have to use a little of my influence sa kanila to convince them,” Duterte said in a taped public address aired late Wednesday.

“Please place your human resources on ready, on deck because talagang alam mo yun lang madali kong maasahan,” he added.

Duterte issued the statement after receiving reports that a lot of medical personnel, particularly in St. Luke’s Medical Center were unable to go on duty due to COVID-19 infection.

The AFP said it has started deploying a number of its personnel to some hospitals in Metro Manila as it continues look for more nurses from its ranks.

The PNP, for its part, said it is currently accounting the number of its medical teams that could be deployed to assist medical workers amid rising cases of COVID-19.

Military, police uncover NPA arms cache in Masbate

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Government troops have seized a bulk of war materiel in Masbate province as they continue to hunt down New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists.

On Monday (September 20), government authorities received information from residents in Aroroy about the suspicious materials left behind by the communist rebels in their area.

Responding to the tip-off, elements of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) immediately verified the report.

The troops were able to capture the following:
– one M16 rifle;
– two magazines;
– assorted ammunition;
– one plastic bag containing ammonium nitrate which is the primary component in making anti-personnel mines;
– a dynamite;
– one roll of detonating cord.

There were also some personal belongings along with the said arms haul.

Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Battalion Commander of 2IB, hailed the vigilance of the Masbateños for the discovery of the war materiel. The public cooperation just proves that the NPA can no longer hide even their firearms.

Meanwhile, Col. Aldwine Almase, Brigade Commander of 903rd Infantry Brigade, said the capture of these firearms is a manifestation of the continuously deteriorating capabilities of the terrorist group especially in the province of Masbate.

“Iniiwan na lang nila ang mga armas nila kasi wala ng magbibitbit dahil kulang na ang kanilang mga miyembro gawa ng sunod-sunod na mass surrender sa Masbate. Muli naming pinapaalalahanan ang naiiwan pang mga miyembro ng komunistang terorista upang sila ay sumuko at magbagong buhay,” Almase said.

Police BGen. Jonnel Estomo, Regional Director of Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5), commended the public’s support which makes the campaign of the government to make Masbate armed conflict-free attainable.

“Hindi po namin makakamit ang sunod-sunod na tagumpay na ito kung wala ang suporta ninyong mga Bicolano,” PBGen. Estomo concluded.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Quezon City

Robie de Guzman   •   September 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday said it has arrested an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member in an operation conducted in Culiat, Quezon City last week.

NBI officer-in-charge, director Eric Distor identified the suspect as Albazir Abdulla alias Abu Saif.

The operatives of the NBI-Counter Terrorism Division (CTD) arrested Abdulla, who is facing kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges for his alleged involvement in the 2001 Golden Harvest Plantation kidnapping case.

The operation was launched after NBI sources reported sightings of Abdulla in Metro Manila. A victim-witness also identified him in a CTD photo line-up as one of the abductors and a member of the ASG.

A series of casing and surveillance operations was conducted by the NBI-CTD in coordination with counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), to gather more information, which revealed the actual residence of Abdulla.

The arrested suspect was brought to NBI Detention Facility.

Distor said Abdulla is the second ASG member they arrested in Metro Manila this year. In May, operatives nabbed alleged ASG member Wahab Jamal alis Ustadz Halipa at Maharlika Village in Taguig.

The NBI said that the ASG group headed by their late leader Isnilon Hapilon and other senior ASG leaders raided the Golden Harvest Plantation in Brgy. Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan Province.

The terrorists seized the supplies from sari-sari stores and houses; livestock, firearms and ammunition from the plantation security. They also burned a chapel and detained 14 plantation workers, two of whom were beheaded by the terrorist group.

After four months of captivity, the victims were able to escape on separate occasions during the rescue operations by the government security forces.

After the incident, the ASG stayed in the mountains and some of its members assimilated back to society as “sleepers” or “spies,” the NBI said.

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