Duterte not bothered by military coup rumors — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 19, 2021   •   259

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is not bothered by recent reports that some military officials are withdrawing their support for the administration over his supposed silence on the West Philippine Sea issue, Malacañang said Monday.

In an online briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque dismissed rumors on the supposed looming military uprising as “kwentong kutsero” (hearsay).

“Hindi po nababahala ang presidente, alam po ng presidente, tapat siya sa Saligang Batas, at alam po niya na nirerespeto rin ng ating mga kasundaluhan ang ating Saligang Batas,” Roque said.

He also reiterated Duterte’s earlier remark that soldiers can always remove him if the military thinks he is useless.

“Kung gugustuhin ng military, kahit sino pwedeng ipatanggal ng militar,” he said.

“Kampante po siya na walang dahilan para naman umakto ng ganyan ang ating mga kasundalohan,” he added.

Roque issued the statement a day after the Department of National Defense (DND) denied reports that some retired and active military officials are planning to withdraw their support for Duterte over his stance against China and its incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

The Palace official also believes that there is no need for a loyalty check among the military generals and that they can always choose a new leader with the upcoming election year. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

2 Abu Sayyaf Group leaders, 6 members arrested in Sabah

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Two alleged sub-leaders and six members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were nabbed in Jalan Taman Sri Arjuna, Beaufort, Sabah, a military official said Monday.

In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr. said the joint operation that occurred around 3 a.m. on Saturday, May 8, was jointly conducted by troops from the AFP and the Malaysia’s Eastern Sabah Southern Command (ESSCOM).

The military identified the arrested persons as Sansibar Bensio, and Mabar Binda, both sub-leaders of the Eastern Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf Group;

Muayyar Binda, a certain Sansis, and a certain Firdaus, who are all under Mabar Binda; Lugah Sanchez and Bonijar Samsula, both members under the late ASG sub-leader Juhurim Hussein (Patikul-based); and Alim Sukarno, a member under Sansibar Bensio.

According to Joint Task Force Sulu commander Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, Bensio and Binda are both sub-leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group/Kidnap-for-Ransom Group based on the eastern/second district of Sulu.

“They are involved in the series of armed confrontations with the military including the encounter on July 2011 at Sitio Tubig Magtuh, Barangay Panglayahan, Patikul, Sulu wherein the late 2nd Lt. Michael Baladad of the Philippine Marines was beheaded,” Gonzales said.

The military said the two were also involved in the encounters at Bay Sunog, Bud Bawis Complex in February 2018 that resulted in the deaths of five ASG members;  Sitio Jatih, Bud Bawis Complex in December 2019 that resulted in the rescue of two Indonesian nationals and the death of the late ASG sub-leader Hairulla Abduraja; and the encounter at Bay Takas, Bud Bawis Complex in November 2020 that resulted in the deaths of ASG member Bensio Barahama and sub-leader Hatib Munap Binda.

“Bensio was also involved in the kidnapping of foreign nationals identified as Lorenzo Vinciguerra (Swiss National), Ewold Horn (Dutch National), Samiun Bin Maneu (Indonesian National), Maharudin Bin Lunani (Indonesian National), and Muhammad Farhan (Indonesian National),” the AFP-WestMinCom said.

The group also victimized several Filipinos, including Ronnie Sandagon, Jerel Pepito, Eddie Reubal, Marcial España, Arvin Sabaduquia, Rufino Bustillo, Joseph Bani, Hajan Terong, Joshua Bani, and Michelle Tolentino Panes.

Binda, on the other hand, was also involved in the kidnapping of the Indonesian nationals mentioned above.

According to 4th Marine Brigade Commander Col. Hernanie Songano, the now-apprehended group of ASG bandits fled to Sabah where they established an ASG cell after they were forced out of the province of Sulu due to focused military operations and civil-military cooperation.

“The intensified intelligence operations and the support of the community coupled with the constant coordination between the AFP and the ESSCOM contributed to the successful neutralization of the ASG sub-leaders and their cohorts. The arrest of these terrorists is a big blow to the ASG” Vinluan said.

“My congratulations to the troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu and the ESSCOM for the aggressive measures taken to ensure that these terrorists will not be able to conduct horrendous activities anymore particularly off waters of Sabah” he added.

AFP chief Sobejana calls for vigilance in Maguindanao after BIFF threat in Datu Paglas

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana called on local officials and residents in Maguindanao to remain vigilant despite the thwarted attack of the members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

“I enjoin the populace of and local leaders in Maguindanao to remain vigilant as we continue our watch until peace is stabilized,” Sobejana said in a statement.

On Saturday, around 20 BIFF members led by Mohiden Animbang a.k.a. Karialan occupied the Datu Paglas public market.

But state security forces drove them away before they could attack civilian residents.

No civilian or military casualties were reported.

Elements from the Joint Task Central and the 601st Infantry Brigade dealt with the group, which has been the subject of intense military operations for the past days, the AFP said.

Karialan and his group were said to be the ones behind the reported explosions in Datu Saudi Ampatuan in March 2021 and caused the death of two civilians and wounding of two others.

“The extremist groups were forced to withdraw in the same morning after security forces were able to isolate the area. The national highway was again open for public commuters at around 10:30 in the morning of the same day after the clearing of the area was confirmed by security forces,” JTF Central spokesperson Lt. Col. John Baldomar said.

The military recovered four improvised explosive devices left by the BIFF members.

Sobjana said the situation has already normalized but assured that security forces “will not rest until the threat is neutralized.”

“Let us continue to engage local government authorities, stakeholders, and civilians to ensure that peace and security in Datu Paglas and its neighboring towns are preserved,” Sobejana said.

6 BIFF members surrender in Maguindanao — WestMinCom

Robie de Guzman   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Six alleged members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have surrendered to authorities in Maguindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) said Wednesday.

In a statement, WestMinCom chief Lieutenant General Corlet Vinluan Jr. said the BIFF members yielded to military troops on May 4 following operations by the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade.

Vinluan said the six individuals are residents of Barangay Darampua, Sultan sa Barongis and Barangay Kaya-Kaya, Datu Abdullah Sangki in Maguindanao.

They turned over one 5.56mm M653 rifle, one Cal. 30 M1 Garand converted to M14 rifle, one Cal. 30 Carbine, and one Cal. 30 M1 Garand, he added.

They were brought to the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade’s headquarters custodial debriefing while their firearms are placed under documentation.

“I commend the troops for their resolve to end terrorism here in Maguindanao,” said Colonel Pedro Balisi, Jr., Commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade.

The military also thanked local government units and partner stakeholders for their support in the quest for lasting peace in central Mindanao.

“Our troops from the Joint Task Force Central continue to bolster our civil-military cooperation efforts with partner stakeholders to put an end to terrorism in central Mindanao and to convince the remaining terrorists to end their armed struggle and return into the mainstream society,” Vinluan said.

Since January 2021, the WestMinCom said that a total of 80 BIFF personalities were neutralized – 38 of which were killed and 42 surrendered.

The government forces gained a total of 47 firearms, 40 of which were surrendered, and seven were recovered, it added.

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