Mindanao Times » Mindanews http://mindanaotimes.net Mon, 24 Sep 2018 02:21:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.25 Explosive at trash bin http://mindanaotimes.net/explosive-at-trash-bin/ http://mindanaotimes.net/explosive-at-trash-bin/#comments Tue, 12 Jun 2018 16:26:35 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=58911 Read more ›]]> Police tracing owners of grenade, bullets found in La Verna

Authorities will check video clips from a CCTV to identify the owner of a grenade and 18 rounds of 9mm ammunition discovered by a garbage collector inside a trash bin at La Verna Hills Subdivision, Buhangin on Monday morning.

Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 spokesperson Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz said that the police are still looking for evidence that will lead them to the suspect.

Garbage collector Robert Quiapo discovered the suspicious package at a trash bin placed at the corner of San Mateo and San Pablo Streets at 10:30 a.m.

Driz said Quiapo immediately called the attention of the police auxiliary detailed in the area and turned over the items, which are now under the custody of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team of the Davao City Police Office for proper disposition.

Driz said the motive for placing the items in a trash bin remains unclear and that they could not speculate on the intention of the owner.

“He could be afraid that authorities might discover that he in possession of these items or maybe somebody from his family threw it because they don’t want to possess it, or intentionally, he wanted to dispose it by means of throwing it in the rubbish box,” she said.

“So we could not say not unless the owner will say so,” she added.

Driz appealed to the public who are still in possession of similar items to properly turn them over to the nearest police station or any EOD teams. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews with reports from Rhoda Grace B. Saron)

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South Cotabato’s infra projects reach P343.6M http://mindanaotimes.net/south-cotabatos-infra-projects-reach-p343-6m/ http://mindanaotimes.net/south-cotabatos-infra-projects-reach-p343-6m/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 08:48:55 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=4371 ]]> GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews) — The provincial government of South Cotabato has invested a total of P343.6 million last year for the implementation of various vital infrastructure projects.

Marnilo Aperocho, Provincial Engineer’s Office (PEO) chief, said Monday they were able to implement 154 infrastructure projects that were set by local governments as top priorities for funding and development in 2014.

He said 95 of these projects or 61.69 percent were already completed as of the end of the year while 59 others or 36.31 percent are still ongoing.

The official said 92 of the projects involved the construction and repair of buildings or vertical structures like school buildings, gymnasiums and government offices that reached around P99.4 million.

He said they implemented 28 road-related projects, specifically rehabilitation, upgrading and concreting, worth P191.36 million.

In terms of road repair and maintenance, he said they covered a total 539.20 kilometers of provincial roads last year in the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

Aperocho said the remaining 34 projects involved the construction of six box culverts, four bridges, five drainage and lined canals, three water systems and 16 support structures like flood control and multi-purpose pavements worth a total of P44.84 million.

“We also extended assistance to some national government agencies and barangays through the lending of heavy equipment for the repair and maintenance of barangay roads and other structures,” he said in a statement issued by the Provincial Information Office.

Aside from these, he said they implemented a number of projects assisted by the national government.

These include the P19.5 million farm-to-market road project that connected various agribusiness areas in Tupi and Banga towns; P58 million local health facilities projects; P10.9 million for six bridge projects; P17 million for five box culverts; and, P4.5 million for multi-purpose pavements.

To ensure the proper implementation of the province’s infrastructure projects, South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes earlier said they have set various reforms in the systems and procedures of its implementing agencies.

She said they have made their bidding processes more transparent and enlisted the participation of various local stakeholders in the monitoring of the implemented projects.

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Continue GPH-MILF peace talks: Zambo lawmaker http://mindanaotimes.net/continue-gph-milf-peace-talks-zambo-lawmaker/ http://mindanaotimes.net/continue-gph-milf-peace-talks-zambo-lawmaker/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 08:44:04 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=4365 ]]> ZAMBOANGA CITY – The peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should continue despite the January 25 clash in Maguindanao that left a number of police operatives, Moro guerrillas and civilians dead, Zamboanga City 2nd district Rep. Lilia Nuño said Monday.

However, Nuño said that both parties should also work together in giving justice to the 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) who died in the clash.

Eighteen members of the MILF and four civilians were also killed in the encounter last January 25 in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano town in Maguindanao.

“The peace process should not be stopped since it will serve as the instrument that would bring a lasting peace here in Mindanao,” Nuño said.

“We should continue (the peace process), but before we continue, we should also wait for the outcome of the inquiry into the incident,” she added.

Interior and Local Governments Secretary Manuel Roxas II has ordered the creation of a board of inquiry to look into the “tactical matters” and “get to the bottom” of what he called a “misencounter”.

Nuño said she was saddened by the unfortunate incident and joined the call for justice to the fallen SAF members.

Meanwhile, Chief Supt. Edgar Basbas, Police Regional Office-9 director said the 44 slain SAF policemen were among the 74 police commandos that were sent to Maguindanao from this city.

Basbas said they are under the 5th Special Action Battalion, whose area of operations covers the entire Mindanao.

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Gov. Hataman| Public ignores civilians slain in Mamasapano clash http://mindanaotimes.net/gov-hataman-public-ignores-civilians-slain-in-mamasapano-clash/ http://mindanaotimes.net/gov-hataman-public-ignores-civilians-slain-in-mamasapano-clash/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:18:19 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=4289 ]]> COTABATO CITY (MindaNews) – The clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25 also claimed the lives of four civilians, Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao emphasized in his message Monday to officials and employees of the regional government.

Speaking during the flag-raising ceremony, Hataman lamented that public attention has focused only on the 44 PNP Special Action Force operatives and 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas who died in the clash.

The encounter also killed four civilians, including a five-year-old girl, injured six other civilians and displaced over 6,000 residents in six barangays of Mamasapano, ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (HEART) said.

Classes in 13 schools have been suspended affecting over 6,000 students, HEART added.

Hataman read his solidarity message for the civilian victims whose families, he said, have to endure psychological and emotional pain.

The governor and all employees wore black t-shirts with the words “Truth, Justice, Peace”, and all offices inside the ARMM complex had their flags flown at half-mast to honor all those who died in the clash that “could have been avoided”.

At one point in his speech, Hataman paused, wiped his tears and offered prayers for all the victims and the attainment of genuine peace in Mindanao.

He said he felt the stigma hurled against Muslims as a result of the bloody Mamasapano encounter.

“As if the Mamasapano incident was entirely our fault, as if we do not have the right to demand justice,” he said in Filipino.

“While we honor the death of the combatants, we also honor the innocent civilians who also perished.

“They know nothing about the conflict. I could feel how they feel right now. I was once a child living in conflict zone. I can feel it, that is why we should call for peace, justice and truth.”

Hataman cautioned those who are calling for the abandonment of peace talks with the MILF and for an all-out war in Mindanao.

“We should know the truth first before making judgments. It is not peace if it is not based on justice,” he said in Filipino.

Close to 400 SAF members swooped on Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano on Jan. 25 to serve arrest warrants for suspected Malaysian bomber Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and local bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman.

The operation, however, resulted in a firefight with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the MILF.

The clash has created uncertainties on the future of the peace process between the government and the MILF. In March last year, both parties signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the political entity that will replace the ARMM.

ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia said P10,000 financial assistance was given to each of the six residents who were injured in the clash and P25,000 to each of the families of the four who died.

Hataman said a fundraising will be launched for the civilian victims.

He said the Mamasapano incident should not be made a reason to stop the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

“There’s no other solution to the Mindanao issue but peace. War is not the answer. Only peace based on truth and justice can unite all of us. Through it we will not experience the cruelty and horrors of war,” he said.

“I appeal to our leaders, lawmakers and all Filipinos, let us unite and support BBL because I believe it will prevent war from happening in Mindanao,” he said.

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US Embassy denies it helped SAF in Mamasapano operation http://mindanaotimes.net/uus-embassy-denies-it-helped-saf-in-mamasapano-operation/ http://mindanaotimes.net/uus-embassy-denies-it-helped-saf-in-mamasapano-operation/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:14:29 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=4287 ]]> DAVAO CITY (MindaNews) – “No US casualties, no help on intelligence, no drones.”

This sums up the response of Kurt Hoyer, press attaché and the spokesperson of the United States Embassy in Manila, as more allegations of US involvement in the operations in Mamasapano have surfaced in newspaper reports and social media and various groups have called for an investigation into its the alleged involvement.

“Our involvement was as stated,” Hoyer told MindaNews in a text message over the weekend.

On Monday, a day after a bloody clash between supposedly friendly forces – the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with whom it signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in March last year — US troops in civilian clothes were seen accompanying wounded members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police, into a white helicopter with green stripe that shuttled between the PNP provincial police office in Shariff Aguak town and the Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion in Camp Siongco, Datu Odin Sinsuat town also in Maguindanao.

As of Saturday, the death toll in the tragedy in barangays Tukanalipao and Pidsandawan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao has reached almost 70: 44 SAF personnel, 18 from the MILF, their names given by MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal – for a total of 62 combatants. The figures for slain civilians vary from two to six.

Cotabato City-based Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., former Notre Dame University President, posted on Facebook that an informant told him one American soldier was killed and another injured during the operations.

“There were no US casualties,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer also denied a report of the Manila Standard that US military intelligence and drones were used in the Mamasapano operations.

The Standard quoted a police general as saying the US government “provided President Benigno Aquino III with ‘actionable intelligence’ to pin down the precise location” of Marwan,

“Let me be clear. Our involvement was as I stated. At the request of the AFP, US service members serving in JSOTF-P responded to assist in the evacuation of casualties after the firefight in Maguindanao,” Hoyer said.

The presence of US troops on Monday fueled speculations of US participation in the operations to get Marwan, a Malaysian national on the list of the US government’s most wanted terrorists and who was reported killed three years ago in what was media reports described as a “US-backed airstrike” in Jolo, Sulu.

Marwan’s remains, however, were not found in the aftermath of the dawn operation that left at least 15 persons dead.

$5 million + $1 million

The United States’ National Counterterrorism Center in its website said Zulkifli, 49, an engineer trained in the United States, is believed head of the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (MM) allegedly a terror group, and a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah’s central command.

“Since August 2003, he has been present in the Philippines, where he is believed to have conducted bomb-making training for the Abu Sayyaf Group,” the NCTC website said.

Zulkifli carries a $5m (220 million pesos) reward for anyone who could provide information leading to his arrest, the NCTC said.

Abdul Basit Usman, described by the NCTC as a Filipino citizen, a “bomb-making expert” with links to the Abu Sayyaf and the JI, carries a million dollar (44 million pesos) reward.

Probe

The US government’s denials, notwithstanding, Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate last week filed a resolution asking the Joint Committee on National Defense and Security; Public Order and Safety; and Peace, Unity and Reconciliation to investigate the alleged involvement not only of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima in the Mamasapano operations but also the United States’ alleged involvement.

In a press statement on Sunday, Zarate cited reports from witnesses in Maguindanao said at least one American soldier died during the fighting.

He cited a report from Jerome Succor Aba, spokesperson of Suara Bangsamoro, that they were able to interview a 40-year-old farmer in Brgy. Tukanalipao, Mamasapano who allegedly saw at least “one body of a Caucasian soldier” minutes after clash.

Zarate said he hopes to get the farmer-witness to testify during the investigation.

He recalled that the civilians arrived in the area after troops of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front withdrew to the Islamic Center in Sitio Inubog, Brgy. Pimbalakan, Mamasapano.

Zarate said the farmer, as well as other civilians who arrived in Pimbalakan narrated seeing a helicopter that “hovered over the bodies to carry ‘specific bodies.’”

Bayan Muna reiterated in its statement that the 1987 Philippine Constitution and the PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement, forbid foreign military troops from engaging in direct military operations in the Philippines.

The statement also cited Suara Bangsamorom as saying six Moro civilians were killed during the military operation in Mamasapano, hours before the actual encounter.

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In pursuit of Marwan,deaths in the marshland http://mindanaotimes.net/in-pursuit-of-marwandeaths-in-the-marshland/ http://mindanaotimes.net/in-pursuit-of-marwandeaths-in-the-marshland/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 13:49:34 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=4279 ]]> TUKANALIPAO, Mamasapano, Maguindanao (MindaNews) — “Hindi namin namalayan ang pagpasok nila. Nagising kami nang nagputukan na” (We did not notice their entry. We woke up to the sound of gunfire), residents say of what happened here on Sunday, January 25.

Oren Mangulamas said most residents were asleep when at least two platoons of commandos from the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) – nearly 80 officers and men—passed through their village on their way to capture or kill the Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir.

“Marwan” or “Mads” as he is known among the Philippine anti-terrorism community, is on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “most wanted terrorist” list.

The US government has offered US$5 million (PhP 220 million) reward for any information that would lead to his capture.

The SAF was also there to arrest Basit Usman, a Filipino citizen described by the United States National Counter Terrorism Center as a “bomb making expert.”

Mangulamas said the entire village of Tukanalipao was awakened by the sound of gunfire at 4:30 a.m.

“We did not know who they were. We did not recognize their uniform,” he said.

The municipality of Mamasapano in Maguindanao province is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the core area of the proposed Bangsamoro region under the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Based on the roadmap of the two parties, the Bangsamoro government that would replace the ARMM, is supposed to be installed on June 30, 2016.

At present, the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the charter that would govern the future Bangsamoro, is being deliberated by Congress. Under the roadmap, once ratified, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) would take over from the ARMM, until the first set of officers of the Bangsamoro is elected on May 9, 2016 and will take their oath by June 30, 2016.

Military intelligence says Mamasapano town, which has a population of 22,354 as of May 2010, is the base of the MILF’s 105th Brigade and it is estimated that there are at least 1,000 loose firearms in the hands of rebels and residents.

Marwan

The Philippine anti-terrorism community has been trying to arrest Marwan since he was suspected to have been making bombs for the Abu Sayyaf and training local terrorists in building improvised explosive device (IEDs).

The Philippine Anti-Terrorism Council, presently headed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, was able to trace the movements of Marwan after he survived an air strike in Sulu in 2012.

According to military officials, Marwan fled to Lanao del Sur until he was forced to run again with the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade hot on his trail

“Marwan sought to hide in the camps of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano. It was a matter of expediency,” said Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., who heads the government peace panel’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).

Galvez said the PNP gathered two platoons from Special Action Force (SAF) units across the country and the elite SAF 84th Special Action Company, a seaborne unit from Zamboanga City – at least 80 commandos in all to attack Marwan’s hideout.

The PNP Special Action Force especially its Seaborne Unit is a highly trained anti-terrorist unit. Their members received training from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team and specializes on raids and urban warfare.

What’s happening?

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said a group of SAF personnel went to Barangay Pidsandawan, also in Mamasapano town, a village controlled by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Murad was in a meeting with the Central Committee in his base in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao when they learned about the clash.

He said they were “surprised” because they were not notified that there was a military operation.

Under the ceasefire agreement , police and military are required to coordinate with the MILF if they launch operations in rebel-held areas to avoid mis encounters.

Accounts from various military and residents said the SAF strike unit broke into two when they reached Barangay Tukanalipao either late Saturday night or early Sunday.

The SAF Seaborne Unit forded a river to reach Barangay Pidsandawan where the Malaysian bomb maker is believed to be hiding with his alleged wife, Jeromee Dongon, the former wife of the late Abu Sayyaf leader, Khadafy Janjalani.

Another group of SAF personnel took up positions and served as a blocking force near a footbridge beside the river in Barangay Tunkanalipao while a smaller group remained on the road to guard their vehicles.

It was the SAF blocking force, the 55th Special Action Company, that bore the brunt of the fighting. The smaller SAF attack force also engaged the BIFF numbering 200 fighters

“The fighting started around 4:30 a.m. on the side of Barangay Pidsandawan. By 6 a.m. our forces from Barangay Tunkanalipao were also engaged.,” Murad narrated.

Murad said at least 20 of their fighters initially engaged the SAF blocking force but soon more reinforcements from the MILF 105th Brigade arrived. He said some 100 MILF fighters may have been involved in the fighting.

Intense

“The fighting became intense. Sometimes the opposing combatants were only separated by five meters ,” Murad said.

Galvez, head of the government’s CCCH, confirmed this.

He said they received the same reports of the intensity of the fighting and how the SAF blocking force was stymied by the terrain: flat terrain of the cornfield and the river with waist-deep waters.

Galvez said some of the MILF fighters were armed with “Barit,” a home-made version of the US-made Barret 50 caliber sniper rifle.

“Despite being locally-made, the rifle was very effective in picking up targets,” he said,

Galvez said the rifle can explain why some of the PNP casualties bore gaping wounds on the head and bodies although he cannot discount the possibility that slain policemen were “finished off.”

“Like in any guerilla war, the MILF fighters took the armor vests of the slain policemen. After that who knows, shoes, pants, uniforms and mobile phones,” he said.

Galvez said 43 of the policemen were killed on the spot in Barangay Tunkanalipao and another died at the hospital. Sixteen policemen were also injured in the day-long clash.

It was the biggest government loss since NPA rebels ambushed an Army unit killing 54 soldiers in San Miguel town, Surigao del Sur.

Murad said they also suffered 11 fighters dead with undetermined number of wounded. MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, however, gave a list of the dead MILF during their meeting with the government peace panel in Kuala Lumpur on January 29 to February 1. The MILF listed 18 slain guerrillas.

“Not a massacre”

“It was not a massacre. We had casualties too,” Murad said, adding, “we did not attack any government troops. The incident was dictated to us, it was not the MILF that started it.”

“It was self-defense,” Murad later told reporters.

News of the fighting reached the government and MILF CCCH teams who had just accompanied the head of the Independent Decommissioning body to the MILF’s Camp Bushra in Lanao on January 24.

Galvez said that from Iligan City to Cotabato City, “we were literally flying” as they rushed to the city en route to Maguindanao.

MILF CCCH chief Rashid Lidasan, who relayed to his counterparts as soon as he was informed early that morning, this “kakaibang” (strange) operations that initially the MILF thought was an operation by the military because of the camouflage uniform used by the SAF operatives.

The CCCH or ceasefire committees of both government and MILF , immediately convened a crisis response team and went to work along with the International Monitoring Team (IMT).

The CCCH also contacted military and MILF units to find out who were involved in the fighting.

Galvez said it was only the SAF and no single unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that engaged in the clashes. On the other hand, they learned from their MILF counterparts that members of the MILF’s 105th brigade based in Tukanalipao were involved in the fighting, claiming they were fired upon first by government troopers.

From the IMT headquarters in Cotabato City, the crisis response team then proceeded to Shariff Aguak near Mamasapano arriving at around 11 a.m. Sunday, to meet with Zacaria Goma, commander of the MILF’s 105th Base Command, and Wahid Tundok, commander of the MILF’s 118th base command.

Ceasefire

Before the ceasefire, the SAF units had allegedly been subjected into a “pintakasi” as droves of MILF fighters who came to reinforce their comrades, arrived to inflict more harm to the police commandos.

“What laymen do not know is it is very hard to ask fighters to stand down. In the heat of battle, the fighters’ adrenaline and the desire for revenge for fallen comrades are just too high to ask them to lay down their guns,” Galvez said

Galvez said they managed to stop the fighting around 2 p.m. and start recovering the dead by early Sunday evening.

“Both Tundok and Goma helped us disengage the forces involved in the fighting. They contacted their sub-commanders to disengage them,” Galvez narrated.

For more than ten hours, the SAF commandos fought without any support, medical assistance and air support from neighboring units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) because the operations were not coordinated with the military.

Because they wanted very much to maintain utmost secrecy in their operation against Marwan, the PNP decided to keep out of the loop the Army 6th Infantry Division and the Philippine Air Force in Cotabato City.

The PNP unit also did not inform the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG). That would have facilitated their entry in Barangays Tukanalipao and Pidsandawan.

AHJAG is the cooperative mechanism between the government and the MILF to allow law-enforcement units to enter rebel-controlled areas.

Former PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima and former AFP Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista received the Revised Operational Guidelines for the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group from Government chief peace negotiator Merriam Coronel Ferrer in July 23, 2013.

No coordination, no reinforcements

“How can we send reinforcements when we did not know their mission, their objectives and their location. We do not even have their radio frequencies and mobile phone numbers,” 6ID operation chief Col. Alan Hambala asked.

Hambala said what they did was to station the Army reinforcements at the headquarters of the 1st Mechanized Brigade in Sharif Aguak more than 14 kilometers from barangay Tunkanalipao.

“We always observe the primacy of the peace process and its mechanisms. That is why we were surprised with Sunday’s PNP SAF attack,” Hambala said.

The SAF did not also receive support from the Philippine Air Force which has two Huey helicopters and a pair of Siai-Marchetti SF-260 light attack aircraft deployed at Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

“We did not have proper coordinates where the SAF were hiding. We could have flown persuasion flights around the area,” a Philippine Air Force official said.

Some of the military officials also questioned the soundness of the operational plan of the SAF in arresting Marwan.

One Army Scout Ranger official said why the SAF did not deploy their own snipers to counter the rebel snipers.

“Their escape plan sounded shaky. They do not have a Plan B,” he said.

US troops

One startling episode in the Jan. 25 incident is the presence of US soldiers helping in the evacuation of some wounded policemen.

Television footage showed American soldiers in civilian clothes evacuating several wounded policemen from a white and green helicopter on Monday morning, Jan. 26.

The helicopter is reportedly owned by Evergreen Helicopters of Alaska and contracted by the US military to support various Department of Defense (DOD) operations in all parts of the world including the Philippines.

Contacted by MindaNews, US embassy spokesperson in Manila Kurt Hoyer said US service men serving in the Joint Special Operations-Task Force Philippines responded upon request from the Armed Forces of the Philippines “to assist in the evacuation of the dead and wounded after the firefight in Mamasapano.”

PNP and military officials said members of the PNP Seaborne unit was able to kill Zulkifli bin Hir but fellow terrorist, Basit Usman, was able to escape.

Police in Manila said the commandos chopped off one of the fingers of Marwan and took a picture of the corpse but without a body many remained skeptical.

“These police commandos are well-trained on extracting DNA,” a military official said referring to the SAF’s Seaborne Unit.

He said the policemen knew that carrying the body of Marwan would be a hindrance since the commandos have to wade across a river to get back to their parked vehicles.

“There are so many ways to extract good DNA. A bone would be a good source, “ the official said.

The official said getting DNA and other proof are essential after Marwan escaped an air strike in Sulu when Philippine Air Force OV10 bomber dropped a huge bomb on his camp in 2012 in what media reports then described as a “US-backed airstrike.”

He said they could not prove that Marwan died in the air strike because there was no DNA proof yet.

From Sulu to Lanao to Maguindanao

Leaving Sulu after the air strike , Marwan reportedly went to Lanao del Sur and was a suspect in the July 2013 bombing at a row of restaurants in Limketkai , Cagayan de Oro killing eight and injuring 48 others.

By this time, he had allegedly teamed up with fellow bomb maker, Usman, and together they reportedly established a base in Mamasapano town under the protection of BIFF.

“It was a matter of expediency, Marwan and Basman trained the BIFF on how to make improvised explosive devise (IED) which they used against the military,”a military intelligence official said.

“There are reports that they run factories of improvised explosives devices, which they sell to fellow terrorists. They have injured and killed so many people, and they have continue to threaten the safety of our citizens as they roam free,” President Benigno Aquino III said on Jan. 28

High stakes

The prize for the heads of Marwan and Usman was too steep, however.

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Local government suspended the scheduled committee hearings on the BBL at the Senate and in Mindanao on Jan. 26, a day after the Mamasapano bloodbath.

The lower House followed suit with its Ad Hoc Committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, suspending discussions on the security provisions of the BBL.

MILF chair Murad, however, said the MILF is fully committed to the peace with the Philippine government.

“An enduring peace and justice remain our primary objective,” Murad said.

Murad formed a Special Investigation Commission to be composed of members from the MILF Central Committee and its armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

He said the committee is tasked gather information and interview witness to know what happened in Mamasapano last Jan. 25.

Murad promised sanctions will be meted on any MILF fighter that may be found for any wrongdoing.

He said MILF commanders Tundok and Goma will not be included in the investigating committee.

“Our concern is the truth. In order to give meaning to their death, we must resolve not to let something like this happen again,” Murad said.

Both the government and MILF peace panels met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and issued a statement on Jan. 31, that they will support the investigations being conducted by the Board of Inquiry of the Philippine National Police and the MILF Special Investigation Commission.

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GenSan city council cites 44 slain SAF members http://mindanaotimes.net/gensan-city-council-cites-44-slain-saf-members/ http://mindanaotimes.net/gensan-city-council-cites-44-slain-saf-members/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 09:24:29 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=4274 ]]> GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews) — The city council here cited as heroes the 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) who were slain in a clash with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

In a resolution, the council expressed “deep sorrow and sympathy” to the families of the elite police commandos “who were massacred in Maguindanao while in exercise of their duties and responsibilities.”

Various observers and media commentators have said it is inaccurate to call the incident a massacre since both sides were armed and the MILF also sustained casualties.

The resolution said the fallen 44 SAF members mainly “died in the line of duty, in defense of the nation’s principles of justice, freedom and democracy.”

“These highly-trained personnel will forever be remembered as heroes who dedicated and sacrificed their lives for the love and service to the Filipino people and our country,” the council said in the resolution, which was passed on joint sponsorship.

City Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr., chair of the council’s committee on public order and safety, said Monday they are fully supporting the ongoing investigation by the national government regarding the incident.

He expressed hopes that the investigation will answer various questions and speculations regarding the operation.

South Cotabato second district Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. also supported the move and lauded the national government’s resolve to seek justice for the slain SAF commandos.

“We have to condemn that to the highest degree (but) we should also dig deeper to find out what really happened,” he said.

Acharon, who is vice chair of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (MILF), reiterated that the incident should not affect the continuing peace process with the MILF and moves related to the passage of the BBL.

The SAF elements were serving arrest warrants for Malaysian bombing suspect Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and local bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman in the outskirts of Mamasapano, Maguindanao when they clashed with BILF and MILF members.

Marwan, who was reportedly killed in the operation, and Usman were included in the terror list of the United States and carry a combined bounty of US$ 6 million.

Two of the 44 slain SAF members — Senior Insp. Ryan Pabalinas and Police Officer 2 Roger Cordero — were from Region 12. Pabalinas hailed from this city while Cordero was from Isulan town in Sutan Kudarat.

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SouthCot sets P2.4-M for tourism planning http://mindanaotimes.net/southcot-sets-p2-4-m-for-tourism-planning/ http://mindanaotimes.net/southcot-sets-p2-4-m-for-tourism-planning/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 01:45:28 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=4172 ]]> GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The provincial government of South Cotabato has set aside some P2.4 million for the crafting of the comprehensive tourism master plans of seven municipalities in the province.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Friday they have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Region 12 to facilitate activities that would lead to the drafting of the tourism master plans and related development strategies.

She said the initiative will involve the municipalities of Surallah,Tampakan, Tantangan, Banga, Polomolok, Tupi and Lake Sebu.

The allocation for the initiative will be drawn from the equity of the province’s Supplemental Budget No. 3 last year, she said.

“DOT-12 will mainly supervise the preparation of the tourism strategic plans of these municipalities,” she said in a statement.

Aside from the crafting of the tourism plans, the governor said they will also develop a site master plan for a proposed ecological park (eco-park) within the famed seven waterfalls of Lake Sebu town.

She said the eco-park was among the improvements that they prioritized this year for Lake Sebu, which is considered as the province’s tourism capital.

“We believe that the improvement of the province’s tourism industry would create greater impact on economic development through job generation and other opportunities,” she said.

With the crafting of the tourism master plans, Fuentes said they are hoping to establish a new tourism circuit or cluster that will cover the agri-industrial towns of Polomolok, Tupi and Tantangan.

The governor said the initiative will focus on the identification of the viable tourism sites or attractions in the proposed circuit and setting of strategies for their development and promotion.

She said it will also determine the immediate and long-term needs of the area’s tourism sector, specifically in terms of accommodation facilities.

Tupi, which is dubbed the province’s fruit capital, is home to a number of untapped tourism resources and established attractions, among them the tarsier sanctuary in Barangay Linan and several swimming resorts.

The town, along with Polomolok, hosts the province’s famous landmark — Mt. Matutum — that hosts several potential ecotourism sites.

Polomolok, which is famous for the vast pineapple plantations of fruit giant Dole Philippines Inc., hosts several swimming resorts, fruit plantations and a golf course.

Tantangan town has a number of undeveloped waterfalls and emerging spring resorts that has been drawing attention from local tourists.

 

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1killed, 7 wounded in blast,ambuscades in Basilan, Sulu http://mindanaotimes.net/1killed-7-wounded-in-blastambuscades-in-basilan-sulu/ http://mindanaotimes.net/1killed-7-wounded-in-blastambuscades-in-basilan-sulu/#comments Sun, 01 Feb 2015 01:42:53 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=4170 ]]> ZAMBOANGA CITY – One person was killed while four others were wounded in a bomb explosion and in an ambush in the hinterlands of Basilan province, officials said Friday.

The explosion took place around 8:30 a.m. Friday while the ambush occurred about an hour later. Both incidents took place in Barangay Limbocandis, Sumisip, Basilan.

Senior Insp. Alchmad Alibonga, Sumisip police chief, identified the bomb explosion fatality as Mannah Jallama, 25. Wounded was Sopia Abduhu, 16.

Alibonga said the victims were pasturing their cow in Barangay Limbocandis, Sumisip when Jallama stepped on an improvised bomb fashioned out as a landmine.

Alibonga said Jallama died on the spot while Abduhu was rushed to a hospital for treatment.

He said they were trying to identify the type of bomb that was used as well as the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, three people were injured in an ambush around 9:45 a.m. Friday also in Limbocandis.

Ensign Chester Ian Ramos, Joint Task Force Zambasulta information officer, said the victims were all civilians but their identities were not immediately available.

Ramos said the three civilians were hit by stray bullets when suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits ambushed a group of militiamen conducting security patrol near a government project site in Limbocandis.

He said the Abu Sayyaf bandits fled after a brief firefight.

He said the troops recovered an improvised bomb after the clash.

In Patikul town, Sulu three soldiers were wounded in a 30-minute clash with members of the Abu Sayyaf Friday.

Military reports from the ground said it was around 1:30 p.m. when a convoy of the 35th Infantry Battalion bound for Jolo town, the provincial capital, was ambushed by an undetermined number of bandits.

A military ground commander said the soldiers came from the Tubig Patong detachment in Barangay Danag, Patikul, and were approaching Sitio Panding in Bungkaong when the ambush happened.

He said that aside from the three wounded soldiers, two others were injured when they fell from their vehicle.

The attackers withdrew after a 30-minute gunfight, he added.

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Zambo City registers less dengue cases http://mindanaotimes.net/zambo-city-registers-less-dengue-cases/ http://mindanaotimes.net/zambo-city-registers-less-dengue-cases/#comments Sun, 01 Feb 2015 01:41:26 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=4168 ]]> ZAMBOANGA CITY – The number of dengue cases in the city decreased by 1,221 in 2014 compared to that in 2013, the City Health Office said.

Dr. Rodelin Agbulos, city health officer said they recorded 3,590 dengue cases in 2014 and 4,811 cases in 2013.

Agbulos added 30 dengue patients died in 2014. The disease claimed 35 lives in 2013.

The official attributed the decrease to the continued prevention efforts of his office with the participation of the different sectors.

He said they have also activated and trained barangay dengue control teams.

Agbulos advised the public to keep their respective surroundings clean citing that cleanliness is one of the effective ways to prevent dengue.

He noted that places near rivers and those that are prone to flooding have high cases of dengue, as stagnant water serves as a breeding place for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

He said his office will continue the anti-dengue campaign to further reduce its occurrence.

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