Over 280 local terrorists killed in military ops from January to June 2021 – WestMinCom

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2021   •   513

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) on Thursday reported that it has attained “substantial gains” in the campaign against terrorism and lawlessness in its area of operation in the first semester of the year.

During the assessment and command conference held in Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City on July 7, the WestMinCom presented a summary report of its campaign against local terrorist groups covering the period from January to June 2021.

The command said that during this period, it has neutralized a total of 114 Abu Sayyaf Group members and seized 72 firearms.

WestMinCom also said that 104 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed, including high-value targets. A total of 77 firearms were seized from the group.

On the campaign against the communist terrorist group, the command said it has neutralized a total of 64 members and seized 69 firearms.

“Overall, through the sustained efforts of the command and the neutralization of its key leaders, the manpower and capabilities of the terrorist groups have totally degraded,” the WestMinCom said.

Meanwhile, on the campaign against the proliferation of loose firearms, the WestMincom said that a total of 305 high-powered and 101 low-powered firearms were voluntarily turned over to the different units of the command.

The Western Mindanao Command also improved its civil-military operations to incorporate the whole-of-nation approach in its campaign.

The platform of Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) and Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict is likewise maximized, particularly in delivering basic services to the target communities, it added.

“Our accomplishments have proven our fellow countrymen that we are doing our job right,” WestMinCom Commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr. said in a statement.

“For this, I commend each and every soldier, sailor, airmen, and marines for your contributions in our goal to attain peace, security, and development in our areas of operation,” he added.

AFP, PNP: No terror threat in PH despite Japan warning

Robie de Guzman   •   September 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Police and military authorities on Tuesday said they have not monitored any possible terrorist threat in the country despite the warning reportedly issued by the Japanese government.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar said they have not received any report of possible terror attacks but assured that they continue to be on alert  regarding this matter.

They are also working closely with their foreign counterparts on information sharing against terrorism.

“Noon pa man ay patuloy ang aming intelligence monitoring especially after the 9/11 attack in the US and the Marawi City incident. Nananatiling maigting ang ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa ibat ibang bansa laban sa terorismo through information sharing and strategic partnership in dealing with terror groups” Eleazar said.

“Kasama dito ang pagpapalakas ng ugnayan ng inyong kapulisan sa ibat ibang komunidad at stake holders upang matiyak na hindi tayo malulusutan sa ano mang plano ng mga teroristang grupo sa ano mang lugar sa ating bansa,” he added.

Foreign media reports stated that the Foreign Ministry of Japan has issued a warning for its citizens regarding a possible terror attack in six Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines.

The Japanese ministry advised its citizens to avoid religious facilities and crowded areas in the said countries.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), for its part, said the country’s threat level remains at “moderate” based on its last review.

The military assured it is constantly validating reports relating to national security matters.

“As of now, we have not received any report. We constantly validate all reports on security matters and it is a continuous process,” AFP spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala said in a statement.

Aside from the Philippines, the warning issued by the Japanese government also covers Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia.

Black hawk chopper crash in Tarlac caused by thunderstorm, pilot’s vertigo – AFP

Robie de Guzman   •   September 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The fatal crash of the S-70i Black Hawk helicopter during a night flight training in Tarlac in June was caused by a confluence of events, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Thursday.

Citing the result of the investigation conducted by the Philippine Air Force Accident Investigation Board, the AFP said the helicopter entered a thurderstorm that may have caused the possible disorientation of the pilot.

“Investigators found out that the chopper inadvertently entered a thunderstorm and was compounded by spatial disorientation or vertigo by the pilot, as the cause of the accident,” the military said.

The chopper crash, which occurred on June 24, killed six people, namely:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Rexzon Pasco (instructor pilot)
  • Major Eraño Belen (student pilot)
  • Major Jayrold Constantino (student pilot)
  • Master Sergeant Ronnie Reducto (instructor scanner)
  • Sergeant Leonardo Tandingan (student scanner)
  • Sergeant Maricar Laygo (student scanner)

The AFP said the results of the investigation will help the military avoid similar incidents in the future by implementing additional safety protocols and instituting training interventions for personnel.

“The goal of the investigation, based on international practice on handling crashed aircraft, was to determine the cause of the accident rather than apportion blame,” it added.

AFP says materials, human, environmental factors caused Sulu C-130 crash

Robie de Guzman   •   September 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Several factors have caused a C-130 plane of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to crash in Patikul, Sulu, the military said Thursday.

Citing the investigation results, AFP Spokesperson Colonel Ramon Zagala said the crash could be attributed to a confluence of material, human, and environmental conditions.

“It was most probably due to actual or perceived material factors, and induced human factors which were aggravated by local and environment conditions,” Zagala said in a statement.

“The aircraft component, the environmental condition and aircrew response led to unrecoverable stall in a critical phase of the aircraft operation,” he added.

The result of the investigation into the crash was first mentioned by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

“It was actually a confluence of many events… One, for the C-130, its defective instruments or systems. Plus, of course, the reaction of the pilot was not also appropriate for the emergency, so nag-crash,” Lorenzana sad.

The military C-130 aircraft crashed in Patikul, Sulu on July 4. It was carrying 96 passengers when the incident occurred.

The crash took the lives of 53 individuals, including 50 soldiers and three civilians on the ground, and injured 46 servicemen and four civilians.

It was described as one of the worst tragedies in the Philippine military history.

The ill-fated C-130 plane, with tail number 5215, was not brand new when it was delivered to the Philippines early this year but it had been “in very good condition,” according to the AFP.

It arrived in the country on January 29 and was one of the two C-130H aircrafts granted by the United States government to the Philippines. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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