HEADLINE NEWS FROM OCT 9 - 10 ...

U.S. WARNS NATIONALS IN PHL VS METRO MANILA BOMB PLOT 

OCT 9---File photo of the US Embassy in Manila. The United States on Thursday alerted its citizens in the country after three men who allegedly planned to conduct bombings in Metro Manila were arrested earlier this week. In a security message, the US embassy in Manila reminded American nationals to remain vigilant and maintain an appropriate level of personal security. It urged US citizens to review their personal security plans, to remain aware of their surroundings, including local events and monitor local news sources.

"If you see a suspicious object or package, do not disturb it. Immediately notify an appropriate official, such as a police officer or building security staff, and leave the area," the embassy said. "If you are in the vicinity when a security threat occurs, leave the area immediately. Do not approach the scene of a bombing or remain in the area," it added. On Sunday, a plot to bomb Metro Manila was believed to have been averted following the arrest in Quezon City of three men, one of whom had been tagged in the Maguindanao airport explosion in 2003. Police identified the suspects as Ricardo Ayeras, Andrescio Valdez and Ricky Macapagal. The STAR reported that Ayeras was a member of the Rajah Solaiman Movement who had been charged in connection with the Awang airport bombing in Datu Odin Sinsuat. The report said Ayeras yielded a hand grenade when he was arrested.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: 4 reasons why there’s no need yet to repatriate OFWs from West Africa

OCT 10 --Despite growing global concern over the continued spread of the dreaded Ebola virus
from three West African countries, why is the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) not yet repatriating the almost 3,500 Filipinos there? Here are the four main reasons why the DFA has not yet imposed mandatory repatriation under Crisis Alert Level 4 in the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, all of which are still under Alert Level 2, (precautionary measures and deployment ban on new hires).
1 . Low risk of OFWs getting infected --Ebola virus is transferred through direct physical contact of bodily fluids, such as blood, urine, vomit, semen, saliva, etc., from someone who is infected. This is the reason why some doctors and health workers are also becoming infected. Filipinos in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are mostly professionals working in offices who have little exposure to Ebola patients. “I think that for our nationals there, the risks of being infected are very low because the nature of their work there, they are not directly exposed to the patients infected by Ebola, because they are not into medical services neither are they healthcare workers,” Jose said.

More than 8,000 worldwide have been recorded to have contracted Ebola and nearly half have died. Recent cases have been reported in the United States and Spain. 2. OFWs refuse to leave their jobs --Currently, there are 1,979 Filipinos in Sierra Leone, 880 in Guinea and 632 in Liberia. When the DFA first raised the possibility of raising Crisis Alert Level 4 around the end of August, many OFWs have expressed their intent to stay even if mandatory evacuation was implemented. “The message they brought is they want to stay. They don’t want the alert level raised. They think the risk is very low for them to be infected, and if we will raise the alert level, it will be difficult for them because they can lose their jobs,” Jose said. 3. The DOH sees no need for special screening at airports --The Department of Health has previously said that it will not implement special screening procedures at airports for OFWs coming back from the West African countries. “Before the Filipinos leave the foreign countries, their condition has already been monitored there, thus they are already filtered when arriving in the country,” Lyndon Lee Suy, the program manager of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, National Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the DOH, previously said. “Whether there is an Ebola [outbreak] or none, the same [screening] procedures will apply [at the airport,]” he said. 4. Additional guidelines put in place for Filipinos all over the world --The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has issued guidelines for Filipino seafarers telling them not to disembark from their ship when at the ports of Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone. * READ MORE...

ALSO: 60% of US navy, air force deployed in Asia Pacific by 2020 

OCT 9 --United States Navy ships underway in the Pacific Ocean in February 2012. - The United States is positioning the bulk of its Air Force and Navy forces as well as its "best and most advanced equipment" in the Asia-Pacific region in six years despite budget constraints, US Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said. In a Pentagon report over the weekend, Work told a Washington-based think tank that a "geographically dispersed, operationally resilient [and] politically sustainable" posture is being sought. "We may not have as many forces as we would like, but 60 percent of the forces will be in the Asia-Pacific region," he said.

The Department of Defense faces doubts on its commitment to President Obama's foreign policy of rebalancing to the region. Work lamented budgetary pressures, but insisted that the so-called pivot remains a "real part of a broader reexamination of our global posture." "Regardless of the level of our budget, that will go forward," he added. "The Asia Pacific rebalance continues apace." Key players in the region including US allies, the Philippines and Japan, have been embroiled for years in potentially dangerous maritime disputes over the East and South China seas as China stakes its sweeping claims through the use of civilian vessels, economic activities as well as reclamation projects. Citing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Work said the US' alliances remain the backbone of its posture in the region."It is the revitalization of all those alliances and partnerships that is a signature part of our Asia-Pacific rebalance and our entire global posture," he said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: 2 killed, 3 hurt in North Cotabato church blast 

OCT 9 --Map of Cotabato with Pikit highlighted. FROM WIKIPEDIA. NORTH COTABATO - Two worshipers were killed while three others were injured in a powerful explosion that ripped through a chapel of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Pikit town Wednesday night, police and Army officials said. The 40 millimeter shoulder-fire grenade projectile used in the attack, fired from a distance through the entrance door of the worship site, landed and went off near a row of seats occupied by churchgoers performing midweek prayer rites. Col. Andrie Edralin, commanding officer of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion, identified the fatalities as Felomina Nacario-Ferolin and Gina Cabiluna, both residents of Pikit.

Ferolin, 54, was chief nurse in the municipal health office in Maguindanao’s Pagalungan town, about three kilometers northeast of Pikit, while the 39-year-old Cabiluna was a teacher in a public school. Injured victims Jeremias, 60, and Gerome, 28, both surnamed Dandan, and Virgie Manulid, 63, who sustained shrapnel wounds in different parts of their bodies, are now undergoing medication in different hospitals. Gerry Sanchez, a UCCP pastoral preacher in Pikit, said none of the victims have known enemies. He said they have not received any threat of such attack on their church prior to the incident either. North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, chair of the provincial peace and order council, condemned the incident and promised to help in the burial of Ferolin and Cabiluna, and in the hospitalization of the injured UCCP church members.

Senior Inspector Mautin Pangandingan, chief of the Pikit municipal police, said the investigators have yet to determine the identities of the people behind the bombing and the motive for the attack. The attack happened hours after Senators Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Teofisto Guingona III jointly presided over a consultation, at the campus of the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City, on the proposed creation of a Bangsamoro government in Mindanao through the draft Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL). The draft BBL, once enacted into law and ratified via a plebiscite, will pave the way for the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a Bangsamoro self-governing entity as part of the final peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

(ALSO) PNP: No terror threat in PH  

OCT 10 --PHOTO: Superintendent Wilben Mayor. Photo from www.valenzuela.gov.ph
MANILA, Philippines- The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday clarified that there is no terrorist threat in the country amid the arrest of alleged members of a terrorist group.
PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor issued the statement after police arrested on October 5 three men tagged as members of the terrorist group Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM). The three were identified as Ricardo Ayeras, Andrecio Valdez, and Ricky Macapagal. Ayeras was formerly a suspect in the bombing of the Awang Airport in Maguindanao province in 2003. Mayor, however, clarified that the three were arrested for “simple violation of the law.” The three were nabbed in a checkpoint for violation of comprehensive firearms and ammunition regulation, falsification of public documents, riding without helmet, riding without license and concealing true name.

Though the PNP issued a heightened alert status Thursday, Mayor said in a press briefing that the heightened security was not connected to the US travel advisory that warns of terror attack. “The PNP is on heightened alert as part of protocol whenever the president leaves the country,” Mayor said. President Benigno Aquino III left for Indonesia on Thursday for a two-day forum. Mayor said the US travel advisory is part of the procedural action of a foreign government. “It’s a procedural action of a foreign government to protect their own citizen. We also do the same,” he said. The US issued a travel advisory on its citizens in the Philippines Thursday after the arrest of the alleged terrorists. Mayor advised the public not to exploit the situation of a possible terror attack. “Let us not exploit the situation because this brings fear to our citizen especially in Metro Manila,” Mayor said. He, however, reminded the public to be vigilant. “We remind the public to remain calm but vigilant,” he said. He said the PNP is in close coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to monitor possible movements of terror groups in the metropolis.
THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: PH checking if terror group has IS links -AFP  

OCT 10 --PHOTO: Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr. AFP PUBLIC AFFAIRS. –The Philippine military is checking if a terror group allegedly plotting to stage bomb attacks in Metro Manila has links with the Islamic State (IS). “We need to be concerned about them because we have to find out if they are really making connections to the ISIS and of course if there are connections, then we can move accordingly,” Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang told reporters on Friday. The military chief was referring to Rajah Solaiman Movement, a Islamic extremist group allegedly linked to terror plots that caused the US to issue a travel warning for the Philippines this week. Some local officials in Mindanao have been claiming that there has been an ongoing recruitment by the extremist group, to which the military denied.

Ricardo Ayeras, a member of RSM, and two of his companions–Andrescio Valdez and Ricky Macapagal–were arrested last Sunday in Quezon City. Ayeras is reportedly an expert bomb maker and has been tagged in several bomb attacks in the past such as the blast at the Awang Airport in Maguindanao in 2003. The RSM has been accused also of being behind the Super Ferry bombing in 2004 and the Valentine’s Day bombing in Manila in 2005. But Catapang gave assurances there was nothing to worry about. “There’s no need to panic. We are doing our best to find out if there’s a threat, but as of now there is none,” he said. “We already have annihilated them. Maybe they are trying to regroup or recruit…But they are not a big threat so far,” he added. Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense said it was not taking things lightly but “there are no indications at this time that the foiled bomb plot is part of a greater scenario.” “We are treating every report with the utmost seriousness, nonetheless,” Defense Spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

US warns nationals in Philippines vs Metro Manila bomb plot


File photo of the US Embassy in Manila. Jonjon Vicencio

MANILA, OCTOBER 13, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  By Louis Bacani - The United States on Thursday alerted its citizens in the country after three men who allegedly planned to conduct bombings in Metro Manila were arrested earlier this week.

In a security message, the US embassy in Manila reminded American nationals to remain vigilant and maintain an appropriate level of personal security.

It urged US citizens to review their personal security plans, to remain aware of their surroundings, including local events and monitor local news sources.

"If you see a suspicious object or package, do not disturb it. Immediately notify an appropriate official, such as a police officer or building security staff, and leave the area," the embassy said.

"If you are in the vicinity when a security threat occurs, leave the area immediately. Do not approach the scene of a bombing or remain in the area," it added.

On Sunday, a plot to bomb Metro Manila was believed to have been averted following the arrest in Quezon City of three men, one of whom had been tagged in the Maguindanao airport explosion in 2003.

Police identified the suspects as Ricardo Ayeras, Andrescio Valdez and Ricky Macapagal.

The STAR reported that Ayeras was a member of the Rajah Solaiman Movement who had been charged in connection with the Awang airport bombing in Datu Odin Sinsuat.

The report said Ayeras yielded a hand grenade when he was arrested.

FROM THE INQUIRER

4 reasons why there’s no need yet to repatriate OFWs from West Africa Matikas Santos @MSantosINQ INQUIRER.net 5:06 PM | Friday, October 10th, 2014


AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Despite growing global concern over the continued spread of the dreaded Ebola virus from three West African countries, why is the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) not yet repatriating the almost 3,500 Filipinos there?

Here are the four main reasons why the DFA has not yet imposed mandatory repatriation under Crisis Alert Level 4 in the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, all of which are still under Alert Level 2, (precautionary measures and deployment ban on new hires).

1 . Low risk of OFWs getting infected

Ebola virus is transferred through direct physical contact of bodily fluids, such as blood, urine, vomit, semen, saliva, etc., from someone who is infected. This is the reason why some doctors and health workers are also becoming infected.

Filipinos in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are mostly professionals working in offices who have little exposure to Ebola patients.

“I think that for our nationals there, the risks of being infected are very low because the nature of their work there, they are not directly exposed to the patients infected by Ebola, because they are not into medical services neither are they healthcare workers,” Jose said.

More than 8,000 worldwide have been recorded to have contracted Ebola and nearly half have died. Recent cases have been reported in the United States and Spain.

2. OFWs refuse to leave their jobs
Currently, there are 1,979 Filipinos in Sierra Leone, 880 in Guinea and 632 in Liberia.

When the DFA first raised the possibility of raising Crisis Alert Level 4 around the end of August, many OFWs have expressed their intent to stay even if mandatory evacuation was implemented.

“The message they brought is they want to stay. They don’t want the alert level raised. They think the risk is very low for them to be infected, and if we will raise the alert level, it will be difficult for them because they can lose their jobs,” Jose said.

3. The DOH sees no need for special screening at airports
The Department of Health has previously said that it will not implement special screening procedures at airports for OFWs coming back from the West African countries.

“Before the Filipinos leave the foreign countries, their condition has already been monitored there, thus they are already filtered when arriving in the country,” Lyndon Lee Suy, the program manager of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, National Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the DOH, previously said.

“Whether there is an Ebola [outbreak] or none, the same [screening] procedures will apply [at the airport,]” he said.

4. Additional guidelines put in place for Filipinos all over the world
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has issued guidelines for Filipino seafarers telling them not to disembark from their ship when at the ports of Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone.

* “There will be no shore leave for seafarers and no crew change in the ports of these countries in the meantime,” POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said in a statement after the agency issued guidelines for seafarers and ship manning firms last August 11, 2014.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the guidelines will be an added layer of security for the Filipino seafarers on ships all over the world.

“The guidelines are issued for our seafarers’ welfare and protection. They could be vulnerable to the EVD due to the unavoidable circumstance where they have to interact with shore-based personnel who come on board ships to perform their respective duties,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said in the statement.

With the EVD cases outside of West Africa, recently in Spain and the United States, the DFA said that the Philippine embassies and consulates are actively providing information for OFWs about EVD.

“Our embassy in Spain has already issued an advisory for our Filipino nationals in the country, advising them and giving them more information about EVD, its nature, its symptoms, the method of transmission, and how to take care of themselves,” Jose said.

FROM PHILSTAR

60% of US navy, air force deployed in Asia Pacific by 2020 By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated October 9, 2014 - 10:44am 20 891 googleplus2 2


United States Navy ships underway in the Pacific Ocean in February 2012. US Navy/Kenneth Abbate

MANILA, Philippines - The United States is positioning the bulk of its Air Force and Navy forces as well as its "best and most advanced equipment" in the Asia-Pacific region in six years despite budget constraints, US Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said.

In a Pentagon report over the weekend, Work told a Washington-based think tank that a "geographically dispersed, operationally resilient [and] politically sustainable" posture is being sought.

"We may not have as many forces as we would like, but 60 percent of the forces will be in the Asia-Pacific region," he said.

The Department of Defense faces doubts on its commitment to President Obama's foreign policy of rebalancing to the region. Work lamented budgetary pressures, but insisted that the so-called pivot remains a "real part of a broader reexamination of our global posture."

"Regardless of the level of our budget, that will go forward," he added. "The Asia Pacific rebalance continues apace."

Key players in the region including US allies, the Philippines and Japan, have been embroiled for years in potentially dangerous maritime disputes over the East and South China seas as China stakes its sweeping claims through the use of civilian vessels, economic activities as well as reclamation projects.

Citing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Work said the US' alliances remain the backbone of its posture in the region.

"It is the revitalization of all those alliances and partnerships that is a signature part of our Asia-Pacific rebalance and our entire global posture," he said.

* Work said that the repositioning of forces aims to maintain peace and prosperity "in one of the most important regions in the world."

"Pacific air forces as going to have our most advanced weapons, to include stealthy, long-range attack missiles and longer-range air defense missiles," Work said.

The Navy, meanwhile, will have "long-range anti-ship missile that will allow it to engage ships at standoff ranges."

Besides the involvement of US navy and air force, the US army will have "more than 100,000 soldiers when all is said and done in the Asia-Pacific region," the defense official said.

Army units rotating through Afghanistan the past years, moreover, are returning along with their equipment, attack aviation assets such as Apache helicopters to the US Pacific Command.

The region will also see a "more lethal" Army, particularly in Korea, with new investments in electronic warfare.

Work said that the Marines are also distributing four "powerful" air-ground task forces around the Pacific.

In terms of equipment, Work said the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will go first to the Pacfic, while the "very stealthy and highly capable Zumwalt destroyer" will be based in the region by 2018 as well, he added.

The defense agency is similarly moving terminal high-altitude defense, or THAAD, and Patriot batteries to key locations, while the area of Japan will be reinforced with Aegis ballistic missile defense ships.

2 killed, 3 hurt in North Cotabato church blast By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated October 9, 2014 - 9:04am 2 138 googleplus0 0


Map of Cotabato with Pikit highlighted. FROM WIKIPEDIA

NORTH COTABATO - Two worshipers were killed while three others were injured in a powerful explosion that ripped through a chapel of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Pikit town Wednesday night, police and Army officials said.

The 40 millimeter shoulder-fire grenade projectile used in the attack, fired from a distance through the entrance door of the worship site, landed and went off near a row of seats occupied by churchgoers performing midweek prayer rites.

Col. Andrie Edralin, commanding officer of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion, identified the fatalities as Felomina Nacario-Ferolin and Gina Cabiluna, both residents of Pikit.

Ferolin, 54, was chief nurse in the municipal health office in Maguindanao’s Pagalungan town, about three kilometers northeast of Pikit, while the 39-year-old Cabiluna was a teacher in a public school.

Injured victims Jeremias, 60, and Gerome, 28, both surnamed Dandan, and Virgie Manulid, 63, who sustained shrapnel wounds in different parts of their bodies, are now undergoing medication in different hospitals.

Gerry Sanchez, a UCCP pastoral preacher in Pikit, said none of the victims have known enemies.

He said they have not received any threat of such attack on their church prior to the incident either.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, chair of the provincial peace and order council, condemned the incident and promised to help in the burial of Ferolin and Cabiluna, and in the hospitalization of the injured UCCP church members.

Senior Inspector Mautin Pangandingan, chief of the Pikit municipal police, said the investigators have yet to determine the identities of the people behind the bombing and the motive for the attack.

The attack happened hours after Senators Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Teofisto Guingona III jointly presided over a consultation, at the campus of the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City, on the proposed creation of a Bangsamoro government in Mindanao through the draft Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL).

The draft BBL, once enacted into law and ratified via a plebiscite, will pave the way for the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a Bangsamoro self-governing entity as part of the final peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

FROM THE INQUIRER

PNP: No terror threat in PH By Nestor Corrales |INQUIRER.net2:22 pm | Friday, October 10th, 2014


Superintendent Wilben Mayor. Photo from www.valenzuela.gov.ph

MANILA, Philippines- The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday clarified that there is no terrorist threat in the country amid the arrest of alleged members of a terrorist group.

PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor issued the statement after police arrested on October 5 three men tagged as members of the terrorist group Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM).

The three were identified as Ricardo Ayeras, Andrecio Valdez, and Ricky Macapagal.

Ayeras was formerly a suspect in the bombing of the Awang Airport in Maguindanao province in 2003.

Mayor, however, clarified that the three were arrested for “simple violation of the law.”

The three were nabbed in a checkpoint for violation of comprehensive firearms and ammunition regulation, falsification of public documents, riding without helmet, riding without license and concealing true name.

Though the PNP issued a heightened alert status Thursday, Mayor said in a press briefing that the heightened security was not connected to the US travel advisory that warns of terror attack.

“The PNP is on heightened alert as part of protocol whenever the president leaves the country,” Mayor said.

President Benigno Aquino III left for Indonesia on Thursday for a two-day forum.

Mayor said the US travel advisory is part of the procedural action of a foreign government.

“It’s a procedural action of a foreign government to protect their own citizen. We also do the same,” he said.

The US issued a travel advisory on its citizens in the Philippines Thursday after the arrest of the alleged terrorists.

Mayor advised the public not to exploit the situation of a possible terror attack.

“Let us not exploit the situation because this brings fear to our citizen especially in Metro Manila,” Mayor said.
He, however, reminded the public to be vigilant.

“We remind the public to remain calm but vigilant,” he said.

He said the PNP is in close coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to monitor possible movements of terror groups in the metropolis.

PH checking if terror group has IS links By Frances Mangosing |INQUIRER.net6:45 pm | Friday, October 10th, 2014


Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr. AFP PUBLIC AFFAIRS

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippine military is checking if a terror group allegedly plotting to stage bomb attacks in Metro Manila has links with the Islamic State (IS).

“We need to be concerned about them because we have to find out if they are really making connections to the ISIS and of course if there are connections, then we can move accordingly,” Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang told reporters on Friday.

The military chief was referring to Rajah Solaiman Movement, a Islamic extremist group allegedly linked to terror plots that caused the US to issue a travel warning for the Philippines this week.

Some local officials in Mindanao have been claiming that there has been an ongoing recruitment by the extremist group, to which the military denied.

Ricardo Ayeras, a member of RSM, and two of his companions–Andrescio Valdez and Ricky Macapagal–were arrested last Sunday in Quezon City.

Ayeras is reportedly an expert bomb maker and has been tagged in several bomb attacks in the past such as the blast at the Awang Airport in Maguindanao in 2003.

The RSM has been accused also of being behind the Super Ferry bombing in 2004 and the Valentine’s Day bombing in Manila in 2005.

But Catapang gave assurances there was nothing to worry about.

“There’s no need to panic. We are doing our best to find out if there’s a threat, but as of now there is none,” he said.

“We already have annihilated them. Maybe they are trying to regroup or recruit…But they are not a big threat so far,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense said it was not taking things lightly but “there are no indications at this time that the foiled bomb plot is part of a greater scenario.”

“We are treating every report with the utmost seriousness, nonetheless,” Defense Spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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