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Abu Sayyaf temporary camp in Basilan captured



SUMISIP, Basilan – The Joint Task Force Basilan under Colonel Juvymax R. Uy consisting of the 4th Special Forces Battalion and 3rd Scout Ranger Regiment scored anew after engaging the scampering Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) Thursday, May 11. 

Armed with intelligence reports from ASG surrenderers, the local populace, and local government units, the brigade was able to track down the ASG's temporary encampment. 

Just before dawn, operating troops under the 4th Special Forces Battalion managed to close in on the enemy's temporary camp in Bgy Pamatsaken, Sumisip municipality, which is believed to be harboring ASG sub-leader Furuji Indama. 

“Equipped with night fighting capabilities, our troops were able to inch within a hundred meters of the enemy under the cover of darkness,” Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Bacala Jr, commanding officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, said.

Evading several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) laid out by the bandits, the Special Forces troops managed to seize completely the encampment before 10 in the morning last Thursday.

Sourced photo by Richard Falcatan

Sourced photo by Richard Falcatan 

Seizure of the site yielded 12 makeshift tents capable of accommodating at least 30 to 40 Abu Sayyaf bandits across 150 meters. Blood stains were found in the vicinity, with intel reports estimating no less than 20 ASG fatalities from the combined airstrikes and indirect fires. 

The troops also recovered food stuff and explosive components for about 30 IEDs. Three live IEDs were also recovered by Special Forces demolition specialists. One IED, however, was detonated, inflicting minor injuries on two troopers. None were reported to be in critical condition. 

Successive firefight followed as the Rangers from the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion caught up with the fleeing bandits some 300 meters from the seized encampment.

“Our troops were able to cordon the enemy due to the accurate and timely indirect fires and close air support delivered by our artillery and the Philippine air force,” Uy said.

“Also, the information being volunteered by the populace and LGUs provided critical details to validate the intelligence we have on hand,” he added.

Naval Task Group Basilan also conducted maritime interdiction operations to prevent the bandits from escaping by sea.

Shock and awe

The bandits also got a taste of the air force’s F/A 50 after the jet fighters delivered their deadly payload, inflicting immediate fatalities on the ASG.

“The ASGs were so shocked they left most of their personal belongings and unfinished meal at their encampment,” a team leader from the Special Forces who cleared the site said. 

The airstrikes were immediately followed with artillery and mortar fires, inflicting additional damage on the bandits.

Resources dwindling, members getting desperate

Unlike previous engagements, the ASGs have now resorted to evading government forces as their resources run low.

“We no longer experience the prolonged firefights with the ASGs. This suggests that they have run out of ammunition and other supplies necessary to engage government forces," Uy explained. "More than just resources, they no longer have the mass base they once enjoyed."

Debriefing from ASG surrenderers revealed that most of their members “have lost the will to fight due to the intensified military operations and no longer believe in the promises of a better life with the terrorist group,” Uy said.

“It will only take a matter of time before the ASG succumbs and their dream of establishing a folly caliphate will finally come to an end," Uy continued. "With the string of victories we are attaining, it will not take long before the ASG's threats are downgraded to no more than that of an ordinary criminal.” –


Philippines-US Balikatan kicks off

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Air Force (PAF) crew will train and learn more about how it can deliver relief goods and other items during calamities or natural disasters faster and more efficiently in this year’s joint Balikatan exercises between American and Filipino soldiers.

Activities lined up for US and Philippine airmen include the actual conduct of airdrops within the island of Cebu.

“Under this exercise, US aircrew will teach the PAF C-130 aircrew various techniques in airdropping procedures to expedite the delivery of relief supplies and aid affected areas without aerodromes and/or damaged aerodromes,” the PAF said.

“In addition, some of the pre-determined topics of the Balikatan will include flight safety, air drop, night vision equipment, engine running on load and off-load, rapid deployment and compass system.”

The annual Philippines-US military exercise or Balikatan has officially begun in various locations in the country, particularly in Cebu where the PAF’s 220th Airlift Wing is stationed.

Balikatan is a joint military event conducted under the auspices of Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) that aims to improve bilateral engagement and training opportunities between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US Marine Forces Pacific (US MAFOPAC).

This year, PAF said selected aircrew and maintenance personnel of the 220th AW led by the Herky commander Maj. Anthony Amora and the Wing’s Balikatan officer-in-charge Maj. Michael Vincent Benolerao.

They will be directly involved in the different C-130-related Subject Matter Expert Exchange discussions.

“These activities will reinforce the knowledge, skills and ability of our airlifters in the techniques, tactics and procedures, including sharing of best practices, specifically on improving response effectiveness in the event of natural disasters and other crises, which is the focus of this year’s Balikatan,” PAF said.

In Nueva Ecija, Filipino and US troops were taught to rescue people trapped under debris during an earthquake under the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) of the Balikatan.

The exercise was held at the Army’s 7th Infantry Division headquarters at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

Maj. Frank Sayson, Philippine Balikatan exercises spokesman, said the joint quake drill is to hasten public awareness of the effects of major quakes and harness the disaster response capabilities of Filipino soldiers.

“These quake drill exercises are needed to be practiced on a much wider and bigger scale, considering that the country is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire,” Sayson said.

Overall, around 2,800 Filipino troops, 2,600 American soldiers, 80 from Australia and 20 Japanese troops are participating in this year’s joint military disaster drill.

During the drill proper, Army engineers and personnel, alongside their US counterparts, deployed various types of light to heavy equipment to rescue trapped victims.

Local and foreign observers were invited to witness how combined Filipino and US troops deal with the challenges in the aftermath of a major quake.

Aside from quake drills, combined Filipino and US forces are also holding massive HADR activities in the storm-prone island town of Calayan, Cagayan as well as in Maconacon in Isabela and in Casiguran, Aurora until next week.

The storm-themed joint drill is aimed at testing the disaster response capabilities of Filipino and US troops. By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star),With Jaime Laude


More ‘Mocha Girls’ in government? Duterte offers jobs to Uson’s pals

More "Mocha Girls" may soon follow in the footsteps of newly-appointed Communication Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson by joining the Duterte administration.
A live video posted on Uson's Facebook page showed President Rodrigo Duterte offering government posts to her former co-members in the sexy girl group.
“Gusto ninyo magtrabaho, OK lang,” Duterte, who arrived in Hong Kong Thursday night, told the Mocha Girls.
In the video, the President once again defended Uson’s appointment to the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
“Inggit lang iyan. Inggit iyan sila na ikaw dumating doon. Sabi ko, ‘Ako, I decided to employ her.’ Sana sinabi ko, ‘May utang na loob ako? What’s wrong in paying?’ Tutal ako naman ang may-ari ng Malacañang ngayon,” he said.
Upon hearing Duterte's job offer to her former bandmates, Uson interjected: “Sa opisina ko na lang, sir,” as the girls burst out in laughter.
Duterte, however, said the girls should not be put in one room together.
“I-distribute ko kayo sa MTRCB (Movie And Television Review And Classification Board), sa—pero trabaho. Hindi kayo puwede mag-isang opisina. Masyadong maingay,” Duterte told the girls.
The girl group is also in Hong Kong for a vacation.
The President even proposed to include the Mocha Girls in his foreign trips to entertain the Filipino communities overseas.
“Dapat kayo ang magpaligaya ng mga Pilipino. Kung saan ako magpunta, dapat nandoon kayo kasi may mga Pilipino doon eh,” he said.
“Asahan namin iyan, sir, ah,” Uson replied.
The Mocha Girls performed in Duterte’s campaign rallies for the May 2016 elections.
Meanwhile, Duterte arrived in Hong Kong late Thursday night after attending the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
He did not have any official schedule on Friday, but presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella explained that the President would have private time with his partner Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña and daughter Veronica “Kitty” Duterte as well as private meetings.
In the video posted on Uson's blog, Duterte said he decided to stop by Hong Kong for a day just to rest.
The President and his delegation will meet with the Filipino community on Saturday afternoon. before going to Beijing, China for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. — By TRISHA MACAS, GMA News


Noynoy insists no sufficient ground to charge him over DAP

Former President Benigno Aquino III has insisted that there was no sufficient ground to charge him for implementing the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) during his administration.
In his comment to the complainants' motion for reconsideration submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman, Aquino argued that his actions were "performed in accordance with law, as well as the rules and regulations existing and presumed valid at that time."
He added that he was "motivated solely on good faith and a desire to improve the operational efficiency of the government, as well as spur economic growth and development in the country."
Last March, the Ombudsman dismissed the criminal and administrative charges against Aquino in the DAP case, but the complainants, led by Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate, urged the Ombudsman to reconsider its decision.
The Ombudsman, however, found probable cause to charge former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad with usurpation of legislative powers over the DAP.
In his comment, Aquino also urges the Ombudsman to uphold its finding of no probable cause in his case and dismiss the complainant's motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.
Aquino dismissed the complainants' arguments as "mere rehash" of the issues the Ombudsman had already resolved in its decision.
Represented by the National Union of People's Lawyers, the complainants claimed that the elements of technical malversation are found in Aquino and Abad case.
“By directing the application of public funds, Aquino and Abad are the clear masterminds or authors of the crime. They are thus principals by direct participation in the crime of technical malversation,” the complainants said in their motion.
Aside from asserting that "elements of technical malversation are not attendant in his case," Aquino also said that the issuance and approval of the memoranda and budget circular is not equivalent to the second element of technical malversation, which is the application of public funds.
"Being merely akin to authorization to spend public funds, 'appropriation' and 'allotment' cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be tantamount to hold a person liable, because both terms fall short of the definition of 'application,' which denotes actual spending," Aquino's comment reads.
The complainants also failed to substantially argue that elements of graft are present in his case, including gross inexcusable negligence and undue injury, Aquino said.
In their motion, the complainants said gross inexcusable negligence is present when Aquino implemented the authority to transfer funds to augment deficient items in the GAA (General Appropriations Act).
"[T]here is undue injury where the hiring of and benefits for personnel in government agencies which are largely time-bound,” they added.
But Aquino said that apart from rehashing their arguments, the complainants "made no further assertions which would prompt the Honorable Office to reconsider its Decision."
Moreover, he said there is lack of probable cause for him to be charged with usurpation of legislative power.
He argued that he only "performed his core executive functions when he utilized what was considered and reported to him as savings and thereafter used savings to augment deficient items in the budget."
"The 'act of withdrawal of funds as savings' cannot be said to encroach upon the legislative powers of government because it is an executive function," he added.
In 2014, the Supreme Court declared several acts committed in the pursuance of DAP as constitutional.
These include the "withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies; and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the GAA."
Another is the "cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive."
Atty. Maria Cristina Yambot of NUPL told GMA News Online that they would no longer file a reply to Aquino's comment. —LBG, GMA News
- See more at:


Inmate's girlfriend arrested in drug buy-bust

DIPOLOG CITY—The number one target of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Zamboanga del Norte (PDEA-ZN) was arrested in a buy-bust operation in Dipolog City on Friday.
Hanah Atendido, 20, was caught after she visited her boyfriend, an inmate of Dipolog City Jail who is allegedly a drug lord.
PDEA agents bought P500 worth of illegal drugs from Atendido.
“She receives the remittances on their drug trade. They operate particularly in the areas of first and second district in the province,” said PDEA officer Mark Morciella.
Atendido admitted to authorities that they get their supply of drugs from Ozamiz City, the PDEA said.
The suspect was charged with violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. -- Report from Dynah Diestro, ABS-CBN News


Student groups march for ‘free tuition for all’

Students rally for better state funding for education. ( FILE PHOTO / MATIKAS SANTOS )

ILOILO CITY — Student and youth groups here are gearing up for a series of protest actions to call for “genuine” free education less than a month before the school year opens.

About 50 members of Anakbayan and the Kabataan Partylist and several parents displayed placards and banners in front of the Iloilo provincial capitol, on Wednesday, calling on state colleges and universities (SCUs) not to collect tuition and other fees in line with the “free tuition” policy of the Duterte administration.

“The policy should cover all those eligible to be enrolled and not a select few,” Bryan Bosque, spokesperson of Anakbayan in Panay, said.

Bosque said Anakbayan has decided to reject proposals to implement a socialized tuition fee program similar to that being implemented in the University of the Philippines system, wherein students for years have been charged for fees depending on their income.

“This scheme distorts the principle that education is a right for all. The socialized tuition scheme has only been used to generate income for SCUs when it is the responsibility of the government to provide funds for education,” Bosque said.

Congress has allotted P8.3 billion to cover the tuition of around 1.4 million students in 114 SCUs for school year 2017-2018.

But youth groups have condemned the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the free tuition policy.

They said the IRR would cover only tuition and students and their parents would still need to shell out for other fees such as laboratory and miscellaneous fees.

The free tuition policy will also prioritize existing beneficiaries of the student financial assistance programs.

Bosque’s group believes that it is within the means of the government to implement free education for all students regardless of income.

In Western Visayas, some 20 private schools have submitted their letters of intent to increase tuition to the Commission on Education

Not all would be endorsed to the CHEd central office due to failure to comply with requirements and not meeting the February 28 submission deadline, said Rex Casiple CHEd 6 chief education program specialist.

He said the tuition increase would be based on the inflation rate of Western Visayas which has been pegged at 1.8 percent.

He declined to identify the schools that have applied for tuition increase because these have not been finalized and endorsed to their central office.  


-By:  Inquirer Visasyas






Duterte defends claim shabu shrinks brains with tirade

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday disputed claims that shabu or methamphetamine does not damage the brain, saying users of the “virulent drug” have committed violent acts.
United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, a critic of Duterte’s war on drugs, recently tweeted a statement by African-American professor Carl Hart, who claimed that there is no evidence that shabu leads to violence or causes brain damage.
Hart, the chairman of Columbia University’s Psychology department, made the statement during a forum on illegal drugs at the University of the Philippines last week.
In a talk last week, he said that the "myth" that shabu shrinks the brain is from animal tests where animals that were given "large doses" of methamphetamine—higher than users normally take—had damage to their brain cells. He said, however, that the test animals developed a tolerance for the drug.
Hart, who co-wrote a text book called "Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior,"  said that animals that were later exposed to larger doses over several days did not exhibit the "toxic effect."  
His statement went against Duterte’s  claim that the constant use of shabu shrinks the brain.

'She should go on honeymoon'

Asked to react to the claim, Duterte said Callamard and Hart should go on a “honeymoon.” 
“She should go (on) a honeymoon with that black guy, the American. I will pay for their travel,” the president told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.
“They should be together and discuss (these things)… If shabu were good, (if it) is really in consonance with their pronouncement, you can be sure that beginning tomorrow, I will provide shabu in the streets. You may get your fix if you want,” he added.
Neither Callamard nor Hart claimed that shabu is good or that illegal drugs are not a problem.
Duterte called Hart a “fool” who peddles “b***s***.” He said his statement about shabu was based on an American forensic study. 
“That's all b****s*** to me. That is why I will not talk to them because my experience until now and 23 years ago when I became the mayor of Davao City was always a lot of violence and killing because of shabu,” the president said.
“He (Hart) said shabu does not damage the brain. Kaya pala pumunta dito ‘yung p***** i**** ‘yon, sira na ang ulo at mag-a-announce dito (That’s why that son of a b**** who has gone crazy came here to make announcements),” he added.
Hart did not say that shabu does not damage the brain.
Duterte said those who claim that shabu does not damage the brain have “prejudged” it as a harmless chemical
“Why would you sue me before the ICC (International Criminal Court) if you yourselves, son of a b****, claim that shabu does not harm people?” he said.
Nobody has said that shabu does not harm people but critics of the drug war suggest treating drug dependence and abuse as a health problem, an approach advocated by the Philippine Dangerous Drugs Board and that the government claims to also be doing alongside law enforcement operations. 
“You have prejudged everything and you are referring to the core of the complaint against me. Why would I go there and hang myself?”
Last month, the lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato has asked the ICC to hold Duterte and other Philippine officials accountable for “crimes against humanity” that stemmed from the government’s war on drugs.
In a 77-page complaint, Jude Sabio said there are death squads running after suspected drug offenders and that law enforcers are aware of their activities.
Philippines Star

VP Leni, female leaders gather in Tokyo for women's empowerment

Female government and business leaders from over 60 countries gathered at a forum in Tokyo that began Thursday to discuss how to accelerate women's economic progress worldwide.

The forum, which continues through Saturday, has attracted a record attendance of more than 1,300 people, mostly women -- including Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo, Vietnamese Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh and Japan's Yuriko Koike, the first female governor of Tokyo.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the 27-year-old Global Summit of Women, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hailed the forum's long-lasting efforts to promote women's empowerment and gender equality and said his administration is committed to creating a "society where women shine."


"In the face of falling population, Japan needs the power of women," Abe said. "I believe women's advancement in the society can contribute to create a stronger, diversified society," he said, pledging to reform Japan's work culture, including notoriously long working hours, to make it easier for women to play a more active role in the economy while raising children.

Around 30 former or current Cabinet members of governments around the world are attending this year's forum with the theme "Beyond Womenomics: Accelerating Access," which Japan is hosting for the first time.

Summit president Irene Natividad said at a press briefing Thursday that women can have a "considerable" impact on the economy. The forum offers opportunities to explore ways to improve women's economic status at ministerial and business levels, as well as to foster business alliances among participating entrepreneurs, she said.

"If women's economic potential is fully harnessed, their productivity will be equal to China's and India's economies combined," Natividad said. "So I hope here at the summit we can help unleash that potential economic power."

The forum presented this year's Global Women's Leadership Award to Abe, who has made female empowerment a major pillar of his economic growth strategy as Japan faces a shrinking workforce and aging society.

As part of his efforts to promote female economic advancement and gender equality, Abe launched a similar symposium on women's empowerment, called the World Assembly for Women, in 2014 and has since hosted it annually.

Abe pledged in his address to encourage Japanese men to participate more in child-rearing, such as by obliging government workers to take at least five days off after the birth of a son or daughter. That is an uncommon practice in Japan where difficulty in balancing childcare and work is a major reason many women abandon careers after having children.

Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko and Japan Business Federation Chairman Sadayuki Sakakibara explained business opportunities in Japan to the participants.

Koike told a pre-forum session that as the first female governor of Tokyo, she is strongly committed to women's empowerment, saying in English "women's power is not well utilized in Japan."

Referring to Japan's low level of women's participation in politics -- evidenced by the few female parliament and Cabinet members -- Koike, who is a de facto head of a regional political party, said she plans to field as many female candidates as possible in Tokyo's assembly election in July.

Japan is constantly ranked low in international reports on female empowerment. The 2016 edition of the Global Gender Gap Report, compiled by the World Economic Forum, ranked Japan 111th out of 144 countries.

Robredo, only the second woman to assume the post of Philippine vice president, said Thursday that she is proud of what her country has achieved in terms of gender equality, with the gender gap report ranking the Philippines as the only Asian country in the top 10.

"We still have a lot of women who do not have enough access to economic opportunities," Robredo said at the press briefing. "We're very excited to share our success in the Philippines and also excited to learn from experiences from every one of you, (and from) best practices in many other countries here."

Kyodo News
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