Early this week news continues...

PAL TO RESUME FLIGHTS TO NEW YORK ON MARCH 15 NEXT YEAR 

OCT 1 --National flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced yesterday it is set to resume
flights to New York on March 15 next year. The move comes just weeks after Lucio C. Tan bought back the shares of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) in the airline for $1.3 billion. Tan, PAL chief executive, said the airline would fly to New York City as part of its network expansion to the US east coast, after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) upgraded the country’s aviation safety rating back to Category 1 last April.

“This auspicious start of regular flights to New York will coincide with PAL’s 74th founding anniversary,” Tan said. The four-times-a-week service – Manila-Vancouver-New York – would operate out of New York’s JFK International Airport, and have full traffic rights between Vancouver and New York. This would bring total US destinations offered by the airline up to five, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam. The New York flight, covering a distance of 14,501 kilometers over more than 16 flying hours, would be PAL’s longest route.

The New York service would also boost PAL’s Canadian operations to 11 flights a week, up from seven. PAL used to fly to New York but was forced to suspend operations in 1997 as a financial crisis battered Asia. About half a million Filipinos live on the east coast, accounting for around 15 percent of the 3.4-million Filipinos in the US. Last Sept. 15, the Tan group took back full control of PAL after paying around $1.3 billion to SMC. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Lawmaker wants rights of airline passengers strengthened 

OCT 1 --Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo seeks to strengthen the rights of airline passengers and impose liabilities on airlines following unreasonable denial of boarding, loss or damage of baggage, delays or cancellation of flights and injuries or death. The House of Representatives committee on higher and technical education chairman has filed Bill No. 5069, the “Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Act,” in line with his pro-consumer advocacy. Romulo said he himself, “like other passengers, has already experienced having his flight delayed for several hours and on some occasions even cancelled. During said instances, all passengers were not well attended much more apprised of their rights,” he said.

Based on Romulo’s personal experience, he feels that airline companies should be forthright to all passengers with respect not only to the terms and conditions of their services, but also the possible relief that passengers are entitled to in case of delays or cancellation of flights. The bill’s explanatory note states: “Honesty is the best policy and Time is gold are two popular sayings that best encapsulate the manner by which air carriers should deal with its passengers.”  Romulo said airlines must implement a policy of honesty, transparency and timeliness to ensure the public that they are getting their money’s worth. One of the main highlights of the bill is the passengers’ right to compensation that may either be in the form of cash or voucher in cases of delay or cancellation that are attributable to the airline. The bill further specified that a terminal delay of at least five hours from departure time shall be deemed a cancelled flight for purposes of the passengers’ right to compensation. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Japan now issuing multiple-entry visas to Filipinos 

OCT 1 --Filipinos who wish to visit Japan may now apply for multiple-entry tourist visas, a privilege the Japanese government extending to Philippine citizens for the first time as part of the relaxation of its visa policies toward Southeast Asians. The Japanese Embassy in Manila this week confirmed that the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe eased its visa policy for citizens of Southeast Asian countries as Japan aims to boost tourist visits to Japan by citizens of the fast-growing region.
“The cabinet of Prime Minister Abe decided to allow the issuance of multiple-entry visas from the Philippines,” said Kenji Hirai, embassy press officer.

Previously, multiple-entry visas to Japan were issued to three categories of travelers, Hirai said: those visiting Japan for commercial purposes, artists and specialists (athletes, professors and government officials) and immediate family members of Japan residents. The Japanese visa is known to be among the toughest to get for Filipino tourists in light of Japan’s strict requirements and screening process. Japan offers other types of visas for Filipinos, including single-entry visas for spouses, relatives or friends of Japanese residents and visas for medical stay. “We welcome the decision of the Japanese government to take important steps to further boost tourism between Japan and the countries in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines,” said Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, spokesperson at the Department of Foreign Affairs. “We expect that the relaxation of their visa policies will encourage more Filipinos to travel to Japan and will create more opportunities for people to people exchanges between our two countries,” he added in a statement issued Saturday.

The Japanese government adopted its new visa policy for Southeast Asian tourists on June 11 in hopes of increasing arrivals from the region. Apart from the Philippines, Vietnam was also granted multiple-entry visas for tourists. Visa requirements were altogether waived for visitors from Thailand and Malaysia. In asking his cabinet to approve the new policy, Abe said the relaxed requirements aim to “let many people from around the world directly experience beautiful Japan,” the Japanese news agency Kyodo reported. The news agency said Southeast Asian tourists account for barely a tenth of arrivals in Japan, with 780,000 visitors from the region out of the 8.37 million tourists who traveled to Japan last year. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: No established ISIS, BIFF link yet — AFP 

SEPT 30 --The military is not discounting possible links between the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) but maintained there is no solid proof yet to confirm the alliance even after the BIFF publicly aired support to ISIS. Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) based in Maguindanao, noted that both the BIFF and the ISIS have terrorist orientation that makes an alliance possible. But Pangilinan maintained that the military has not established that link.

“We believe that is possible…these are terrorist individuals…but we cannot ascertain that,” Pangilinan said.
According to Pangilinan, what the military has monitored is the presence of militants from the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) which is linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network. The BIFF is also known to have coddled JI militants like Malaysian Zulkifli bin Abdul Hir, alias Marwan, who is included in the United States list of most wanted terrorists with a $5 million reward.
Pangilinan said government security forces continue to monitor Marwan and Singaporean Mohamad Ali, alias Muawiyah, in Central Mindanao. “Except for the pronouncement of Abu Misry, we have not monitored any activity by ISIS with this JI group…except their (BIFF) pronouncement that they are supporting ISIS,” said Pangilinan.

Abu Misry is the spokesman of the BIFF, headed by Ameril Umbra Kato, who recently released a video expressing the BIFF’s support to the ISIS which has controlled large areas of Iraq and Syria. The Army official stressed that there is no proof yet whether there are really BIFF members who had signed up with ISIS. “There is no concrete proof to that except the pronouncement to the media of Abu Misry that they support and they are aligning themselves with ISIS…except for this, we have no documents to prove that they are with (ISIS),” Pangilinan added. Former President Ramos and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte have confirmed previously that Muslim Filipinos have flown to the Middle East to fight alongside ISIS, which is now the target of US military offensives. * READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Top terrorist behind ISIS recruitment’  

SEPT 30 --Zulkifli bin Abdul Hir alias Marwan (photo inset), a notorious but elusive member of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and a noted bomb expert, is reportedly among the four militants who are actively recruiting Filipino Muslims for the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Mindanao, according to an intelligence officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The source, who asked that his name be withheld, said Marwan, who has a US$5 million bounty on his head, is joined in the recruitment by certain Quaim, Mawiya and Abu Saad, who are also JI members but have already pledged allegiance or ‘baai’ to ISIS.

He added that Marwan is the same JI member who was reportedly killed along with some militants during military air strikes on the lair of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Patikul, Sulu, in 2012. But ASG leader Khair Mundos, who was arrested in Paranaque City in June this year, revealed during a tactical interrogation that Marwan survived the attack and has remained in hiding in an undisclosed place in Mindanao. Marwan and his group are reportedly targeting young Muslim recruits to undergo actual training in Iraq and Syria before bringing them back to the country where they are expected to propagate the ISIS doctrines. Reports about the activities of Marwan’s group further bolstered earlier accounts that ISIS and its sympathizers have already entered and infiltrated various areas in southern Philippines.

“[They are now all in Mindanao and there is even a new guy], Abdurahman from Saudi Arabia,” the source said.
He added that the extremists give lectures to their recruits, while others lure new members through the Internet. This was confirmed by a 14-year-old boy who claimed that he was recruited by Abdul Basit Usman, another JI leader who operates in Basilan and nearby areas. Usman is reportedly working with Abdulrahman Macapaar, also known as Commander Bravo, one of the leaders of a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 103rd MILF Brigade based in Lanao del Norte. The boy said he and other young recruits already pledged their allegiance to ISIS and that they are taught to promote “holy war” by a fundamentalist group of imams or high priests.
He added that majority of the recruits are students and about 10 of them had undergone secret military training in an undisclosed camp in Lanao del Norte. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy gov’t to blame for September 2013 Zambo siege — MNLF 

SEPT 30 --The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) yesterday maintained that the government was to blame for last year’s conflict in Zamboanga City, which ending was commemorated yesterday by ranking Cabinet officials who recognized those who sacrifice their lives in defending the city from MNLF forces. Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla (photo), spokesman of the MNLF, stressed the conflict was triggered by the government’s attempt to cover up corruption issues hounding the Aquino administration.

He lamented that one year after the incident, it is still unclear who started the 20-day conflict between MNLF fighters and government troops. “It’s unfortunate we have not known who started it all,” Fontanilla told the Tribune. “For the MNLF, it was a diversionary move of the government, sacrificing its Army and people to smoke-screen the pork issues,” he added. By saying “pork issues,” Fontanilla was referring to controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) mess that hit the Aquino administration.

Yesterday, exactly one year after the government declared victory against the MNLF in Zamboanga City, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II attended commemoration rites highlighted by honors given to the so-called “Heroes of Zambaonga.” The activity was led by Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar who handed out awards for the first responders during the conflict. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Catholic-led group presses Aquino resign 

OCT 3--CEBU ARCHIBISHOP EMERITUS Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. Photo from his Facebook pageCEBU CITY—A multi-sectoral group led by prominent Catholic bishops has dared President Benigno Aquino III to resign saying he had lost the moral ascendancy to lead the nation. The National Transformation Council assembly, held on Wednesday at the Mariners’ Court, had the theme “Shout Cebu for Renewal! A Call for a Broad Change”.The meeting took place following the success of the first open assembly convened in Lipa City by the NTC on Aug. 27, and which first called on Aquino to step down.

The meeting was led by Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, Batangas, and Bishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla of Davao City. “He [Aquino] has damaged the moral fabric of the society and has therefore lost the moral right to lead the nation. The Assembly calls upon the incumbent to relinquish his position now,” Vidal said. The Catholic bishops were joined by leaders of evangelical churches, Muslim clerics and members of civil society during the assembly that drew more than 1,000 participants. Upon Aquino’s resignation, the NTC said, an alternative government must be organized consisting of men and women of integrity to assure the nation and the international community that the President’s resignation would not create a political vacuum. Vidal said Aquino had “subverted and violated” the Constitution by corrupting Congress, intimidating the Judiciary, taking over the Treasury, manipulating the automated voting system and perverting the constitutional impeachment process. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

PAL to resume flights to New York in March

OCTOBER 6, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  By Lawrence Agcaoili – National flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced yesterday it is set to resume flights to New York on March 15 next year.

The move comes just weeks after Lucio C. Tan bought back the shares of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) in the airline for $1.3 billion.

Tan, PAL chief executive, said the airline would fly to New York City as part of its network expansion to the US east coast, after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) upgraded the country’s aviation safety rating back to Category 1 last April.

“This auspicious start of regular flights to New York will coincide with PAL’s 74th founding anniversary,” Tan said.

The four-times-a-week service – Manila-Vancouver-New York – would operate out of New York’s JFK International Airport, and have full traffic rights between Vancouver and New York.

This would bring total US destinations offered by the airline up to five, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam.

The New York flight, covering a distance of 14,501 kilometers over more than 16 flying hours, would be PAL’s longest route.

The New York service would also boost PAL’s Canadian operations to 11 flights a week, up from seven.

PAL used to fly to New York but was forced to suspend operations in 1997 as a financial crisis battered Asia.

About half a million Filipinos live on the east coast, accounting for around 15 percent of the 3.4-million Filipinos in the US.

Last Sept. 15, the Tan group took back full control of PAL after paying around $1.3 billion to SMC.

* The deal brought to a close several months of negotiations between the two major shareholders of Asia’s oldest airline.

With the completion of the buyback, the Tan Group can also take back management control of PAL. SMC president Ramon S. Ang is expected to remain PAL president and chief operating officer.

Former PAL president Jaime Bautista, who served as chief negotiator for the Tan Group during the talks, has been appointed general manager of the airline.

In April 2012, SMC’s subsidiary San Miguel Equity Investments Inc. (SMEII) acquired a 49 percent equity interest in Trustmark Holdings Corp. for $500 million. Trustmark owns 97.71 percent of PAL Holdings, which in turn owns 84.67 percent of PAL through PR Holdings Inc.

With SMC on board, PAL embarked on a massive fleet renewal program involving the acquisition of 100 brand new aircraft.

Lawmaker wants rights of airline passengers strengthened (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 1, 2014 - 12:00am 0 70 googleplus0 0


Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo

MANILA, Philippines – Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo seeks to strengthen the rights of airline passengers and impose liabilities on airlines following unreasonable denial of boarding, loss or damage of baggage, delays or cancellation of flights and injuries or death.

The House of Representatives committee on higher and technical education chairman has filed Bill No. 5069, the “Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Act,” in line with his pro-consumer advocacy.

Romulo said he himself, “like other passengers, has already experienced having his flight delayed for several hours and on some occasions even cancelled. During said instances, all passengers were not well attended much more apprised of their rights,” he said.

Based on Romulo’s personal experience, he feels that airline companies should be forthright to all passengers with respect not only to the terms and conditions of their services, but also the possible relief that passengers are entitled to in case of delays or cancellation of flights.

The bill’s explanatory note states: “Honesty is the best policy and Time is gold are two popular sayings that best encapsulate the manner by which air carriers should deal with its passengers.”

Romulo said airlines must implement a policy of honesty, transparency and timeliness to ensure the public that they are getting their money’s worth.

One of the main highlights of the bill is the passengers’ right to compensation that may either be in the form of cash or voucher in cases of delay or cancellation that are attributable to the airline.

The bill further specified that a terminal delay of at least five hours from departure time shall be deemed a cancelled flight for purposes of the passengers’ right to compensation.

* Other passengers’ rights included in the bill are:

• All relevant information pertinent to their flights;

• Adequate care on the spot at terminals/stations;

• Sufficient meals and refreshments commensurate to the passengers’ waiting time;

• Free hotel accommodation in case of delayed flights;

• Free access to various means of communications;

• Reimbursements within five days, either by cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services;

• Be endorsed to another air carrier without paying any fare difference, at the option of the passenger, and provided that space and other circumstances permit such re-accommodation; and

• Free rebooking of flights and priority as a result thereto.

Romulo sought to further protect the interests of passengers that before purchasing any ticket for a contract of carriage, they be entitled to a full, fair, and clear disclosure of all the terms and conditions of the contract of carriage about to be purchased. Also included is the passengers’ right to be correctly informed of the total cost of the flight booking, the complete details of the flight as well us updates on its status in a timely and relevant manner.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Japan now issuing multiple-entry visas to Filipinos By Tarra Quismundo |Philippine Daily Inquirer7:05 pm | Saturday, June 15th, 2013
 



MANILA, Philippines—Filipinos who wish to visit Japan may now apply for multiple-entry tourist visas, a privilege the Japanese government extending to Philippine citizens for the first time as part of the relaxation of its visa policies toward Southeast Asians.

The Japanese Embassy in Manila this week confirmed that the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe eased its visa policy for citizens of Southeast Asian countries as Japan aims to boost tourist visits to Japan by citizens of the fast-growing region.

“The cabinet of Prime Minister Abe decided to allow the issuance of multiple-entry visas from the Philippines,” said Kenji Hirai, embassy press officer.

Previously, multiple-entry visas to Japan were issued to three categories of travelers, Hirai said: those visiting Japan for commercial purposes, artists and specialists (athletes, professors and government officials) and immediate family members of Japan residents.

The Japanese visa is known to be among the toughest to get for Filipino tourists in light of Japan’s strict requirements and screening process. Japan offers other types of visas for Filipinos, including single-entry visas for spouses, relatives or friends of Japanese residents and visas for medical stay.

“We welcome the decision of the Japanese government to take important steps to further boost tourism between Japan and the countries in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines,” said Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, spokesperson at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“We expect that the relaxation of their visa policies will encourage more Filipinos to travel to Japan and will create more opportunities for people to people exchanges between our two countries,” he added in a statement issued Saturday.

The Japanese government adopted its new visa policy for Southeast Asian tourists on June 11 in hopes of increasing arrivals from the region.

Apart from the Philippines, Vietnam was also granted multiple-entry visas for tourists. Visa requirements were altogether waived for visitors from Thailand and Malaysia.

In asking his cabinet to approve the new policy, Abe said the relaxed requirements aim to “let many people from around the world directly experience beautiful Japan,” the Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.

The news agency said Southeast Asian tourists account for barely a tenth of arrivals in Japan, with 780,000 visitors from the region out of the 8.37 million tourists who traveled to Japan last year.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

No established ISIS, BIFF link yet — AFP
Written by Mario J. Mallari Wednesday, 01 October 2014 00:00



The military is not discounting possible links between the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) but maintained there is no solid proof yet to confirm the alliance even after the BIFF publicly aired support to ISIS.

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) based in Maguindanao, noted that both the BIFF and the ISIS have terrorist orientation that makes an alliance possible.

But Pangilinan maintained that the military has not established that link.

“We believe that is possible…these are terrorist individuals…but we cannot ascertain that,” Pangilinan said.

According to Pangilinan, what the military has monitored is the presence of militants from the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) which is linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The BIFF is also known to have coddled JI militants like Malaysian Zulkifli bin Abdul Hir, alias Marwan, who is included in the United States list of most wanted terrorists with a $5 million reward.

Pangilinan said government security forces continue to monitor Marwan and Singaporean Mohamad Ali, alias Muawiyah, in Central Mindanao.

“Except for the pronouncement of Abu Misry, we have not monitored any activity by ISIS with this JI group…except their (BIFF) pronouncement that they are supporting ISIS,” said Pangilinan.

Abu Misry is the spokesman of the BIFF, headed by Ameril Umbra Kato, who recently released a video expressing the BIFF’s support to the ISIS which has controlled large areas of Iraq and Syria.

The Army official stressed that there is no proof yet whether there are really BIFF members who had signed up with ISIS.

“There is no concrete proof to that except the pronouncement to the media of Abu Misry that they support and they are aligning themselves with ISIS…except for this, we have no documents to prove that they are with (ISIS),” Pangilinan added.

Former President Ramos and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte have confirmed previously that Muslim Filipinos have flown to the Middle East to fight alongside ISIS, which is now the target of US military offensives.

* The Islamic State group’s jihadist appeal is fanning fears that it could serve as a potent new rallying cry for Southeast Asian extremists who had been largely brought to heel following past deadly terror attacks.

Authorities in Indonesia — the world’s most populous Islamic country — and Muslim-majority Malaysia have watched with alarm as scores, possibly even hundreds, of their nationals are believed to have gone to Syria and Iraq to join the fight for a hardline Muslim caliphate.

Terrorism analysts are increasingly concerned that these volunteers could import the organization’s violent ideology upon their return, or inspire supporters back home to carry out deadly attacks.

“There are still many breeding grounds for militancy in parts of the region, and if fighters come back they can strengthen these existing groups, and that’s going to be a major problem,” said Bantarto Bandoro of the Indonesian Defense University.

The Abu Sayyaf group has threatened to decapitate a German hostage taken earlier this year, recalling the grisly IS beheadings of foreign journalists and an aid worker that caused worldwide revulsion and triggered US air strikes.

Abu Sayyaf last week demanded a ransom and that Germany cease support for the strikes. The demands have been refused, with Manila dismissing the ultimatum as a cynical ploy to exploit the notoriety of IS for profit.

But the group’s actions in Iraq and Syria are drawing troubling comparisons to the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, which drew in volunteer Islamic fighters from around the world to fight the Communist “infidels”, including from across Southeast Asia.

The hardened jihadists who returned nurtured a generation of Southeast Asian extremists, helping give rise to groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah, which was responsible for deadly attacks including the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Aggressive Southeast Asian counter-terror efforts have since dramatically weakened JI and other militant groups, but they remain a threat.

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

‘Top terrorist behind ISIS recruitment’  September 30, 2014 11:50 pm
by ANTHONY VARGAS AND JERRY ADLAW CORRESPONDENTS


Zulkifli bin Abdul Hir, alias Marwan, a Malaysian bomb maker with a $5-million US-government bounty on his head,still alive and is roaming Mindanao, senior military officials said. PHOTO FROM 9NEWSPHILIPPINES, AUGUST 7, 2014

Zulkifli bin Abdul Hir alias Marwan, a notorious but elusive member of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and a noted bomb expert, is reportedly among the four militants who are actively recruiting Filipino Muslims for the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Mindanao, according to an intelligence officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The source, who asked that his name be withheld, said Marwan, who has a US$5 million bounty on his head, is joined in the recruitment by certain Quaim, Mawiya and Abu Saad, who are also JI members but have already pledged allegiance or ‘baai’ to ISIS.

He added that Marwan is the same JI member who was reportedly killed along with some militants during military air strikes on the lair of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Patikul, Sulu, in 2012.

But ASG leader Khair Mundos, who was arrested in Paranaque City in June this year, revealed during a tactical interrogation that Marwan survived the attack and has remained in hiding in an undisclosed place in Mindanao.

Marwan and his group are reportedly targeting young Muslim recruits to undergo actual training in Iraq and Syria before bringing them back to the country where they are expected to propagate the ISIS doctrines.

Reports about the activities of Marwan’s group further bolstered earlier accounts that ISIS and its sympathizers have already entered and infiltrated various areas in southern Philippines.

“[They are now all in Mindanao and there is even a new guy], Abdurahman from Saudi Arabia,” the source said.

He added that the extremists give lectures to their recruits, while others lure new members through the Internet. This was confirmed by a 14-year-old boy who claimed that he was recruited by Abdul Basit Usman, another JI leader who operates in Basilan and nearby areas.

Usman is reportedly working with Abdulrahman Macapaar, also known as Commander Bravo, one of the leaders of a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 103rd MILF Brigade based in Lanao del Norte.

The boy said he and other young recruits already pledged their allegiance to ISIS and that they are taught to promote “holy war” by a fundamentalist group of imams or high priests.

He added that majority of the recruits are students and about 10 of them had undergone secret military training in an undisclosed camp in Lanao del Norte.

* Bravo was tagged in a series of attacks on various military detachments in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte in 2003.

The boy also revealed that ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon and some of the commanders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) met sometime in July this year with Commander Bravo and four foreign-trained ISIS members somewhere in Basilan.

He said they were told to recruit more young Filipino Muslims who will be trained as freedom fighters and they will be compensated P100,000 for every mission they accomplished.

The boy’s revelations confirmed reports that JI members are now working with ISIS even as another Malaysian JI member, Amin Baco alias Abu Jihad, is reportedly also recruiting young Filipinos to pledge allegiance to ISIS.

Earlier, a retired police intelligence officer, Rodolfo “Boggie” Mendoza, confirmed that the recruitment of Filipino Muslims for ISIS is ongoing in several provinces in Mindanao and also online.

Mendoza, the president of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR), said information gathered from their field sources showed that the recruitment is centered on areas in the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Sulu and the Zamboanga peninsula.

Worried

Reports on the ISIS recruitment prompted Rep. Rodolfo Biazon of Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila) to seek the creation of a team composed of police and military investigators that will stop extremists from recruiting Muslim youth.

Biazon,a former chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, on Tuesday said the government should not ignore the threat posed by ISIS.

“We have seen the brutality of the ISIS. We need to determine how they get support and effect recruitment so we would know how to respond, especially now that the peace process between the government and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) is ongoing. Otherwise, the Bangsamoro would have a problem,” the lawmaker, who heads the House Committee on National Defense and Security, noted.

“We cannot ignore these reports because it has been said already that the ISIS is recruiting followers in Asia,” he told reporters during the Ugnayan sa Batasan news forum.

But Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao denied that ISIS supporters are recruiting members in Mindanao.

“There’s BIFF recruitment, but not ISIS,” Hataman said in a text message. with LLANESCA T. PANTI

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Noy gov’t to blame for September 2013 Zambo siege — MNLF
Written by Mario J. Mallari Tuesday, 30 September 2014 00:00


FONTANILLA

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) yesterday maintained that the government was to blame for last year’s conflict in Zamboanga City, which ending was commemorated yesterday by ranking Cabinet officials who recognized those who sacrifice their lives in defending the city from MNLF forces.

Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla (photo), spokesman of the MNLF, stressed the conflict was triggered by the government’s attempt to cover up corruption issues hounding the Aquino administration.

He lamented that one year after the incident, it is still unclear who started the 20-day conflict between MNLF fighters and government troops.

“It’s unfortunate we have not known who started it all,” Fontanilla told the Tribune.

“For the MNLF, it was a diversionary move of the government, sacrificing its Army and people to smoke-screen the pork issues,” he added.

By saying “pork issues,” Fontanilla was referring to controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) mess that hit the Aquino administration.

Yesterday, exactly one year after the government declared victory against the MNLF in Zamboanga City, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II attended commemoration rites highlighted by honors given to the so-called “Heroes of Zambaonga.”

The activity was led by Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar who handed out awards for the first responders during the conflict.

* Also present were Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. and Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero.

Among those recognized were 20 members of the AFP, five from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and 14 civilians, who died during the defense of Zamboanga City.

On Sept. 8, 2013, more than 300 MNLF fighters, led by Ustadz Habier Malik, laid siege on six barangays in Zamboanga City after being prevented from raising the MNLF fag at the city hall.

The siege sparked a 20-day armed conflict that displaced more than 100,000 individuals, some of them remain at the evacuation centers up to now.

“The victory of Zamboanga will always remind us of the heroism and sacrifices of our soldiers. They risked their lives to defend the city and save innocent civilians from lawless elements selfishly trying to grab power,” Catapang said.

“Rest assured the AFP will continue to guard against those who attempt to destroy or harm our way of life. Be it Zamboanga or anywhere else,” he added.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Catholic-led group presses Aquino resign By Junex Doronio | Oct. 03, 2014 at 12:01am


CEBU ARCHIBISHOP EMERITUS Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. Photo from his Facebook page

CEBU CITY—A multi-sectoral group led by prominent Catholic bishops has dared President Benigno Aquino III to resign saying he had lost the moral ascendancy to lead the nation.

The National Transformation Council assembly, held on Wednesday at the Mariners’ Court, had the theme “Shout Cebu for Renewal! A Call for a Broad Change”.

The meeting took place following the success of the first open assembly convened in Lipa City by the NTC on Aug. 27, and which first called on Aquino to step down.

The meeting was led by Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, Batangas, and Bishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla of Davao City.

“He [Aquino] has damaged the moral fabric of the society and has therefore lost the moral right to lead the nation. The Assembly calls upon the incumbent to relinquish his position now,” Vidal said.

The Catholic bishops were joined by leaders of evangelical churches, Muslim clerics and members of civil society during the assembly that drew more than 1,000 participants.

Upon Aquino’s resignation, the NTC said, an alternative government must be organized consisting of men and women of integrity to assure the nation and the international community that the President’s resignation would not create a political vacuum.

Vidal said Aquino had “subverted and violated” the Constitution by corrupting Congress, intimidating the Judiciary, taking over the Treasury, manipulating the automated voting system and perverting the constitutional impeachment process.

* Priest Archie Intingan, one of the NTC’s organizers, said the event was aimed at pursuing intended to pursue changes in the political structure and not just the leaders.

The Cebu declaration also calls on the immediate filing of criminal cases against all senators and congressmen, members of the Cabinet and government agencies involved in the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

At the same time, the NTC calls for the abolition of the Commission on Elections and the establishment of an honest and credible electoral body that will carry out other reforms needed to restore the integrity and credibility of the electoral process.

Aside from asking Aquino to step down, the Lipa Assembly cited various new issues that it said had since emerged and to which the administration had failed to respond to adequately:

• “the dire security situation created by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the reported contacts between this extremist force and elements identified with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front”;

• “the total failure, if not downright refusal, of the Aquino regime to comply with a direct order of the Supreme Court to file criminal charges against all the lawmakers and members of the Executive department and the Commission on Audit who were involved in the misuse of the PDAF and DAP”

• “the total absence of any official effort to reform the [corrupted and debased] automated election system”;

• “the unprecedented yet unprosecuted and unpunished corruption in the top leadership of the Philippine National Police”;

• “the arbitrary imposition of unreasonable taxes on the poor”;

• “the unresolved electric power crisis which has brought about the most expensive electricity rates in the world”.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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