Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 09 January 2018

Presence of foreign terrorists remain a challenge in PH

BLACK FLAGS. A number of local armed groups in the Philippines have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State

MANILA, Philippines – The continuing presence of foreign terrorists remains a challenge in the Philippines months after its military defeated in Marawi City local armed groups linked with international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS).

At least one faction of the Maguindanao-based Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) is coddling foreign terrorists, according to Mohagher Iqbal, peace implementing panel chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"The BIFF has foreign elements in their ranks," Iqbal told Rappler on Tuesday, January 9.

BIFF, the breakaway group of the MILF, is the same group that coddled Malaysian bomber Zulkifli Binhir. Marwan, as he was more popularly known, was the target of a bungled police raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015 that killed 44 elite cops.

BIFF leaders have also pledged allegiance to ISIS, based on their recent video releases.

The group is one of the threats that the government cited when it asked Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao. (READ: End martial law? Lorenzana warns vs another Marawi)

Reports from Malaysia, Indonesia

What is not clear is if the foreign terrorists are new arrivals or they have been staying in the Philippines even before the Marawi siege erupted in May 2017.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said foreign militaries have warned the Philippines against the continuing entry of foreign terrorists.

"There are reports coming from other countries. Malaysia ang Indonesia are reporting that there's an increase of foreign terorrists in our southern back door. We are trying to verify that," Lorenzana told reporters in an interview on Tuesday.

"We are conducting continuous intelligence gathering," he added.

The BIFF has been the target of persistent military operations – including air strikes – in Cental Mindanao.

Different roles for foreigners

Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Rolando Bautista said foreigners provide different kinds of assistance to local armed groups.

"Sa ngayon hindi namin ma-quantify. They just come in. Hindi mo alam kung talagang foreign fighter in terms of sasama sa actual engagement or they will just provide technical support other than the armed component," Bautista said.

(As of now, it's hard to say how many foreign fighters there are. They just come in. It's hard to tell if they are foreign fighters in the sense that they will participate in actual engagements or they will just provide technical support other than the armed component.)

Bautista said they are also continuing work to make sure that the local armed groups do not have access to resources from foreign fighters abroad.

"Mayroon na tayong mga means kung paano natin mapuputol o ma-cut off ang support. Ang solution kasi ngayon is not more on the tactical operation. We already leveled up. Ang solution is strategic. Hindi ko na pwedeng i-expound 'yun," he said.

(We have the means to cut off the support. The solution now is not more on the tactical operation. We already leveled up. The solution is strategic. I can no longer expound on that.) –



Batangas town mayor orders probe of P10-M rice purchase

SUBSTITUTE. Bags of rice stacked in the old city hall office to replace those being returned by residents. Photo from the Facebook page of the Tanauan City's Hope

BATANGAS, Philippines – Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili has formed a fact-finding committee to look into complaints on the quality of rice that the city government distributed to thousands of households during the Christmas holidays.

Under Administrative Order No. 1 Series of 2018, Halili appointed City Legal Officer Ferdinand Perez as chairman of the investigating team, which is tasked to submit an official report and make recommendations to the local chief executive on the issue.

“The Committee is hereby authorized to call upon any individuals and/or group of individuals, organizations, any department, bureau, office, agency or any instrumentality of the government, for all assistance or information as it may need in the performance of the duties and responsibilities reposed on it,” the order read.

The other members of the committee are Rebecca Javier of the Gender and Development Office, Jorge Valenzuela of the General Services Office, Lorna Cabrera of the City Social Welfare and Development Office, and Gina Juntilla of the City Accounting Office.

Halili said the creation of the committee stemmed from numerous complaints his office received on the poor quality of rice distributed to Tanauan residents under the city government's "Pamaskong Handog" program last Christmas.

He personally checked the rice and found it unacceptable.

Residents expressed their outrage on social media, criticizing the local government for supposedly considering the recipients as “patay gutom (destitute)” by distributing what they described as nearly inedible rice.

Halili’s office quickly contained the outrage through an announcement on December 29 that the supplier would replace the rice. City Information Officer Gerardo Laresma said the replacement process was still ongoing.

Laresma also confirmed that it was the General Services Office that procured the rice through the Bids and Awards Committee, and that the Senior Citizens Cooperative of Tanauan won the contract.

Under the P10.4-million “Pamaskong Handog” project, 5 kilos of rice were given to 42,000 households in the city.

Halili assured his constituents that he will not spare anyone, especially if it is established that there was connivance among officers involved in the procurement.

"There will be no whitewash. No sacred cow. The culpable will be dealt with accordingly," he said. –

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