PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

MYSTERY HOUNDS 3-HOUR (BULL SESSION) AQUINO MEETING WITH SAF [When Aquino presided over the turnover rights from SAF officer-in-charge Chief Supt. Noli Taliño to Lazo, the SAF troopers remained indifferent and showed it by not applauding. Malacañang, as well as Aquino, pinned all the blame for the Mamasapano incident on Napeñas...]


Same President, same paranoia, same place. President Aquino held a closed-door meeting with the 19 members of the 84th Special Action Company (SAC) who had recovered from injuries sustained from the Mamasapano encounter for about three hours that held up the turnover of command ceremonies yesterday for the Philippine National Police (PNP) unit at Camp Bagong Diwa. The topic of the lengthy meeting was not revealed but one of the SAF members present in the gathering said all they got was a tongue-lashing from Aquino. READ MORE...

ALSO: Maguindanao under state of calamity; Thousands of residents displaced following gov’t offensive in BIFF lairs


Displaced residents gather in an evacuation center in Maguindanao province as the government's all-out offensive against Moro rebels enters its second week
Humanitarian crisis looms as thousands flee Mindanao conflict --Money and emergency relief running out, Philippine aid workers warn (Photo by Ferdinandh Cabrera) Cotabato City – Maguindanao was placed under state of calamity in the face of the massive displacement of residents amid mass displacement following joint police and military operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) suspected of coddling wanted bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman and cohorts. Board Member Abubakar Katambak yesterday said Maguindanao was placed under state of calamity based on a resolution passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) in an emergency session Tuesday. READ MORE...

ALSO: SAF gives Aquino cold shoulder at camp rites
[Aquino already met last month with the widows of the SAF 44, but angered them when he scolded them for their impatience in seeking justice for their husbands.]


New PNP-SAF head. President Benigno Aquino III greets PNP-SAF Officer in Charge Noli Taliño (second from left) after congratulating newly installed PNP-SAF Director Moro Virgilio Lazo (left) at the PNP-SAF headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa. Malacañang Photo Bureau MEMBERS of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force gave President Benigno Aquino III the cold shoulder Wednesday during turnover ceremonies for their new commander, Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo. Just before the ceremony, Mr. Aquino met with survivors of the Mamasapano operation in which 44 SAF police commandos were killed. The meeting, which was set for 30 minutes, was extended to almost three hours. When officer-in-charge Chief Supt. Noli Taliño finally acknowledged the President’s presence at the venue in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, the SAF troopers did not clap but merely watched as he entered the quadrangle. In contrast, the policemen clapped enthusiastically in welcoming their new commander later in the ceremony. READ MORE...

ALSO: Recommended by Espina, Aquino & Roxas approved, named new PNP-SAF director


Lazo  MANILA, Philippines - Chief Superintendent Moro Virgilio Lazo is the new director of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP). Lazo will assume command of the SAF during simple turnover ceremonies today to be presided over by PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City. Lazo will replace Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño, who assumed command as acting SAF commander following the relief of Director Getulio Napeñas over the Mamasapano operation. Both Lazo and Taliño belong to Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class ’84. Espina recommended the appointment of Lazo, which was approved by President Aquino and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. Aquino and Roxas also approved the promotion of five more police generals. READ MORE...

ALSO Radical Muslim cleric break-away: New Moro rebel group emerges [Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) reportedly was organized way back in 2013, with its first members trained in making bombs and explosive devices. The military now considers JIM as another lawless group and a target of the ongoing offensive in Mindanao].


File photo
MANILA, Philippines - A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was organized by Mohamad Ali Tambako after a falling out with BIFF founder Ameril Umbra Kato. The two reportedly had irreconcilable differences over issues affecting Muslims in Mindanao. It was not clear if the JIM shares the BIFF’s secessionist agenda. BIFF wants to set up an Islamic state governed by strict Sharia laws. READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy started screening bets for PNP chief


NEW SAF CHIEF: President Benigno Aquino 3rd congratulates newly-installed Special Action Force director Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo. MALACAÑANG PHOTO President Benigno Aquino 3rd has interviewed the two most senior officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who are being eyed to replace resigned Director General Alan Purisima, according to Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd. In an interview, Roxas said the President had met with PNP officer-in-charge and Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina and Deputy General Marcelo Garbo Jr., chief of the PNP directorial staff. He said Aquino asked for the records of the two police officials. “Siguro sa tamang panahon ay magpapasya siya [The President will decide in due time],” Roxas said on Wednesday. Espina and Garbo are Purisima’s classmates at the Philippine Military Academy, Class of 1981. They were also part of his Command Group prior to his resignation. READ MORE...

ALSO: MILF cuts lines with gov’t over results of its own Mamasapano probe [DoJ Chief said, “I agree with those who are saying that the passage of BBL should be separate from the issue on Mamasapano incident. We will be wasting time with the suspension of hearings in the committees of both Senate and House because they are waiting for the results of the investigation,” De Lima lamented].


The MILF is a secessionist rebel group calling for the creation of a Moro “sub-state” in Mindanao. The Philippines being a predominantly Catholic country, the Muslims in Mindanao have always felt detached from mainstream Philippine affairs. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF; Arabic: جبهة تحرير مورو الإسلامية‎ Jabhat Tahrīr Moro al-ʿIslāmiyyah) is a rebel group in the southern Philippines seeking autonomy of the Moro people from the central government. The group has a presence in the Bangsamoro region of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, Palawan, Basilan, and other neighbouring islands. GOOGLE IMAGES...The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has turned elusive about the result on the investigations it made on the Mamasapano clash in which 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 rebel fighters and five civilians died which report the government is waiting for as an input in its final report on the incident. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the leadership of the MILF has kept its communication lines closed despite an earlier promise of cooperation for the government’s ongoing investigation of the incident that happened last Jan. 25. De Lima renewed her call to the MILF for cooperation as she said the Department of Justice (DoJ) would need the MILF report and the commitment of its leadership for justice to the victims of the bloodbath. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

MYSTERY HOUNDS 3-HOUR AQUINO MEETING WITH SAF


Same President, same paranoia, same place.

MANILA, MARCH 9, 2015 (TRIBUNE)  By Mario J. Mallari and Joshua L. Labonera - President Aquino held a closed-door meeting with the 19 members of the 84th Special Action Company (SAC) who had recovered from injuries sustained from the Mamasapano encounter for about three hours that held up the turnover of command ceremonies yesterday for the Philippine National Police (PNP) unit at Camp Bagong Diwa.

The topic of the lengthy meeting was not revealed but one of the SAF members present in the gathering said all they got was a tongue-lashing from Aquino.

Aquino was at Camp Bagong Diwa as guest during the turnover of the SAF leadership to Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo in place of Director Getulio Napeñas who was relieved after being made to shoulder all the blame for the tragic Mamasapano incident.

Forty-four SAF commandos, including seven junior officers, were killed during the day-long clash with combined Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Nine of the fallen 44 SAF were members of the 84th SAC –the unit that got Marwan.

A source who was at the ceremony said the SAF commandos were not given food and when Aquino finally showed up, they were given a tongue lashing. We were scolded, one of the Mamasapano clash survivors said.

The meeting took all of two hours and when it was over, Aquino skipped a scheduled address to members of the SAF as part of the turnover ceremony.

The source said Aquino was supposed to speak as part of the program last night. The source said that state-owned television station People’s TV (PTV) had set up a system for a live broadcast.

“Then everyone was told there would be no live coverage including PTV.

Then the seal was removed after the 3-hour meeting. It was all weird,” a source said.

The source said the schedule for the SAF turnover was to last for only 15 minutes including Aquino’s speech but participants waited for three hours as a result of the meeting between Aquino and the Mamasapano clash survivors.

“The presidential seal was on the podium, then it was removed, because Aquino would no longer speak. Everyone expected him to speak but apparently the program changed after the closed-door meeting.

When Aquino presided over the turnover rights from SAF officer-in-charge Chief Supt. Noli Taliño to Lazo, the SAF troopers remained indifferent and showed it by not applauding.

Malacañang, as well as Aquino, pinned all the blame for the Mamasapanop incident on Napeñas in what many took as an attempt to cover up the involvement of President Aquino in the incident.

During the event, the SAF troopers merely silently watched Aquino enter the site of the event despite Aquino, together with other officials in the event, sitting with the troopers.

Last Jan. 30, Aquino likewise met with SAF members but received a literally cold reception from policemen in the elite force as he got a silent treatment despite asking SAF members to open up about their feelings after the Mamasapano massacre.

Members of the 84th SAC undertook the primary effort in launching Operation Plan (Oplan) “Exodus” targeting Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who was with the President during the turnover ceremonies said Aquino met with survivors of 84th SAF to know about their queries, if there are any, in the aftermath of the Jan. 25 launching of Oplan Exodus.

Roxas justified the President’s latest meeting with the SAF, citing the specialized unit’s importance in the government’s law enforcement operation.

Aquino drew so much criticism for skipping the arrival honors of the fallen SAF 44 at the Villamor Air Base and instead attended the inauguration of Mitsubishi Motors plant in Laguna.

Aquino’s two televised speeches regarding the Mamasapano clash also sparked public outrage for his refusal to take full responsibility of the debacle.

Last Feb. 18, Aquino came in Camp Crame unannounced to meet with the families of the slain SAF commandos.

During yesterday’s meeting with 84th SAC survivors, Roxas said that the President discussed what lies ahead of SAF in terms of training and equipment.

Roxas said that also tackled was the need for “hazard pay and other sectional things” for the SAF. He cited the peculiar characteristic of SAF as a police strike force on call for any emergency all year-round.

He noted that SAF is 100 percent all the time.

Roxas said Aquino tasked the PNP and the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) to study the points raised during the meeting and gave the agencies 30 days to submit their positions.

Roxas described Lazo as a true SAF trooper, having served in various functions, including as chief of staff for two years, at SAF prior to his return yesterday.

“Chief Superintendent Lazo is a former SAF trooper…at this time when the SAF is facing huge challenges, a true SAF trooper will be leading SAF,” said Roxas.

Roxas added Aquino had interviewed two senior PNP officers as probable successor of his close friend –resigned Director General Alan Purisima.

Roxas said that interviewed were Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, current officer in charge of the PNP, and his mistah from Philippine Military Academy “Dimalupig” Class of 1981 Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr. the PNP’s chief directorial staff.

The interview supposedly happened last Monday.

Purisima resigned as chief PNP last Feb. 6 after allegedly orchestrating the bungled Oplan ‘Exodus”. He is also from PMA Class of 1981.

There were previous reports saying that Purisima was pushing for the appointment of PNP Director for Comptrollership Director Juanito Vano.

Roxas sought to downplay the “friction” between him and the President after he was kept out of the Oplan “Exodus.”

The DILG said he did not feel disrespected.

He also denied reports that he had a heated argument with the President.

Lazo when asked on what was discussed during the 3-hour meeting said some troopers felt they were left on their own in the mission to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in Moro Islamic Liberation Front territory .

PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director-General Leonardo Espina, however, described the meeting between Aquino and the troopers as “cordial and very truthful.”

Responding to calls for Aquino to apologize over the death of many policemen in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said yesterday that the chief executive should accept responsibility for the deaths, go beyond making an apology, and actually resign said a prepared statement.

The labor group said Aquino’s resignation is even more justified after a video was leaked showing relieved Philippine National Police-Special Action Force director Napeñas admitting that Aquino knew of the operation and that the latter knew that the Armed Forces of the Philippines would only be informed “time on target.”

“If Aquino would accept responsibility for what happened in Mamasapano, he should not only apologize but actually resign. The number of Filipinos who died, the violations of the law committed, and the lies spread about the operation warrant nothing less,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairman.

The labor leader also criticized Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda’s statement that Aquino should not apologize because the president is responsible on the “policy level” and the “lapses” committed were “on the operational level, how the operation was conducted.”

“The huge number of people who died shows that the error lies on the policy level, not on the level of implementation. A bloodbath ensued because the plan was to kill a suspected terrorist in a place where there are many armed groups, and Aquino is responsible,” Labog added.
Pat C. Santos


MANILA BULLETIN

Maguindanao under state of calamity; Thousands of residents displaced following gov’t offensive in BIFF lairs by Ali G. Macabalang March 5, 2015


Displaced residents gather in an evacuation center in Maguindanao province as the government's all-out offensive against Moro rebels enters its second week Humanitarian crisis looms as thousands flee Mindanao conflict --Money and emergency relief running out, Philippine aid workers warn (Photo by Ferdinandh Cabrera)

Cotabato City – Maguindanao was placed under state of calamity in the face of the massive displacement of residents amid mass displacement following joint police and military operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) suspected of coddling wanted bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman and cohorts.

Board Member Abubakar Katambak yesterday said Maguindanao was placed under state of calamity based on a resolution passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) in an emergency session Tuesday.

“This (declaration) gives the provincial government the authority to use fully its calamity funds to provide relief assistance to internally displaced persons,” Katambak, a lawyer, told reporters.

He said majority of the board members pushed for the declaration of state of calamity as more villagers continue to evacuate from various towns.

From five, the affected towns have risen to 11 as government offensive on known enclaves of BIFF combatants continue.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu welcomed the SP declaration, saying the municipal governments of affected towns could now “maximize” the use of their calamity funds for “optimum benefits” of displaced residents.

Mangudadatu sent Tuesday afternoon combined relief and medical missions led by Lynette Estandarte to serve displaced families from Barangay Kuloy in Shariff Aguak, one of 11 towns in Maguindanao reported with mass evacuations.

Earlier in the day, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman and Vice Governor Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, who is concurrent regional social welfare head, led workers of the ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (HEART) in serving thousands of families in other effected towns.

According to ARMM-HEART statistics, displaced families have already swelled to 9,382 families involving 41,000 individuals sheltered mostly in dozens of designated evacuation centers in safer grounds.

ARMM-HEART media liaison Jo Myrna Henry said relief teams had already served as of Tuesday 7,208 of the affected families.

Henry said the ARMM’s education department has expressed concern over the disrupted classes of some 18,448 high school and elementary students due to the conversion of at least 40 schools into evacuation centers in 11 effected towns.

ARMM education officials alongside Gov. Mangudadatu said they were saddened by the trend because the mass displacement happened on the homestretch of the current academic period.

Provincial and regional reports named the 11 affected towns as Mamasapano, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Unsay, Datu Saudi, Shariff Aguak, Salibo, Datu Hoffer, Datu Piang, Rajah Buayan, Sultan-sa-Barongis, and Pagalungan.


MANILA STANDARD

SAF gives Aquino cold shoulder at camp rites By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan, Francisco Tuyay | Mar. 05, 2015 at 12:01am


New PNP-SAF head. President Benigno Aquino III greets PNP-SAF Officer in Charge Noli Taliño (second from left) after congratulating newly installed PNP-SAF Director Moro Virgilio Lazo (left) at the PNP-SAF headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa. Malacañang Photo Bureau

MEMBERS of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force gave President Benigno Aquino III the cold shoulder Wednesday during turnover ceremonies for their new commander, Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo.

Just before the ceremony, Mr. Aquino met with survivors of the Mamasapano operation in which 44 SAF police commandos were killed. The meeting, which was set for 30 minutes, was extended to almost three hours.

When officer-in-charge Chief Supt. Noli Taliño finally acknowledged the President’s presence at the venue in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, the SAF troopers did not clap but merely watched as he entered the quadrangle.

In contrast, the policemen clapped enthusiastically in welcoming their new commander later in the ceremony.

Although a media advisory on Tuesday said Aquino was to speak during the ceremony, his address was removed from the official program Wednesday morning.

A podium with the presidential seal that was set up at the quadrangle was removed in the afternoon.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said there was nothing wrong about the change in plan.

“Please note the caution in every media advisory we issue, it is always subject to change,” Coloma said.

“The President already met and spoke with SAF officers before witnessing the turnover ceremony.

He did not intend to deliver any speech at the turnover ceremony,” he added.

Aquino met last month with the widows of the SAF 44, but angered them when he scolded them for their impatience in seeking justice for their husbands.

At Wednesday’s ceremony, Lazo expressed gratitude for the President’s trust and confidence in appointing him as the new SAF commander. His predecessor, Getulio Napeñas, was sacked in the aftermath of the Mamasapano incident.

Lazo said that amid the problems and losses that the SAF suffered, he felt his troops were now stronger.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said Lazo, as a former SAF member, was qualified for the position since he was familiar with the system.

“The SAF is a unique and specialized unit. They are given the most crucial and dangerous missions, so you can’t put just anyone in charge because the troopers will wonder if he knows what he is ordering them to do,” Roxas said.

Roxas said that during their three-hour meeting, SAF troopers asked the President for increased hazard pay and additional rest days.

In response, Aquino ordered the PNP and the Presidential Management Staff to study the SAF troopers’ suggestions and submit their recommendations within 30 days, Roxas said.

During the meeting, the SAF troopers also emphasized to Aquino that they were able to neutralize suspected Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan during the Jan. 25 Mamasapano mission, a fact the President acknowledged.

“The SAF troopers told the President, ‘We got our man. We accomplished our mission. He replied that there was no question that they did,” Roxas said.

Roxas said Aquino has also started the vetting process for the next PNP chief, to replace resigned police chief Alan Purisima, who appeared to be calling the shots in the covert Mamasapano operation, despite being suspended.

Since the PNP can have only one four-star official—and Purisima quit only as PNP chief—Aquino is considering appointing a three-star officer such as Deputy Directgor General Leonardo Espina and directorial staff chief Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr.

Both Espina and Garbo are members of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1981.

Lazo, the new SAF commander, was the former head of the Firearms and Explosives Office based in Camp Crame. He was also deputy regional director for operations of the Police Regional Office in Central Luzon.


PHILSTAR

New PNP-SAF director named By Non Alquitran (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 4, 2015 - 12:00am 18 921 googleplus0 0


Lazo

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Superintendent Moro Virgilio Lazo is the new director of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Lazo will assume command of the SAF during simple turnover ceremonies today to be presided over by PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.

Lazo will replace Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño, who assumed command as acting SAF commander following the relief of Director Getulio Napeñas over the Mamasapano operation.

Both Lazo and Taliño belong to Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class ’84.

Espina recommended the appointment of Lazo, which was approved by President Aquino and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

Aquino and Roxas also approved the promotion of five more police generals.

Promoted chief superintendent were Pablo Francisco Balagtas, acting director of Aviation Security Group; Rolando Nana, acting director of Manila Police District, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO); Ricardo Zapata Jr., executive officer of the PNP Directorate for Logistics; Edgardo Tinio, executive officer of the PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, South Luzon; and Pierre Bucsit, executive officer of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, West Mindanao.

Lazo, on the other hand, was the chief of directorial staff or No. 3 man of SAF from May 2010 to February 2013.

He served as deputy regional director for administration and OIC of the Region 1 police and later chief of the Firearms and Explosive Office (FEO) prior to his being named SAF director.

Sr. Supt. Bucks Felix of the PNP Directorate for Operations will replace Lazo at the FEO.

Lazo is expected to raise the morale of the SAF following the death of its 44 operatives in a firefight with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

Donation scams

NCRPO chief Director Carmelo Valmoria warned the public yesterday against donation scams for the survivors of the SAF 44.

Valmoria said the NCRPO does not solicit financial support for the families of the slain SAF troopers.

However, Valmoria encouraged donors to extend their help through an account maintained by the PNP with the Land Bank of the Philippines.

“We are warning the public to beware of a scam using the SAF 44 asking for donations and individuals who are taking advantage of the situation,” he said.

The fate that befell the SAF 44 triggered an outpouring of sympathy for the families of the slain policemen.

Valmoria asked the public to report any individuals or groups using unauthorized bank accounts or numbers for SAF 44 donations. With Cecille Suerte Felipe ..


PHILSTAR

New Moro rebel group emerges By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 5, 2015 - 12:00am


File photo

MANILA, Philippines - A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was organized by Mohamad Ali Tambako after a falling out with BIFF founder Ameril Umbra Kato.

The two reportedly had irreconcilable differences over issues affecting Muslims in Mindanao. It was not clear if the JIM shares the BIFF’s secessionist agenda. BIFF wants to set up an Islamic state governed by strict Sharia laws.

The military is currently on an offensive against the BIFF, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The offensive, also targeting Abu Sayyaf bandits, has displaced thousands of villagers in Maguindanao.

The MILF, which is negotiating peace with the government, was a splinter group of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“This is a new group,” Padilla said, referring to the JIM. “For now, all we know is that Tambako and his group don’t see to eye to eye with the BIFF.”

The new group reportedly has 70 fighters.

The military spokesman said Tambako was a member of the MNLF before joining the MILF and later helped organize the BIFF.

Government forces overran last Sunday Tambako’s camp in Barangay Dasikil, Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Ground troops earlier described Tambako’s enclave as a BIFF bomb and weapons factory.

Tambako reportedly started organizing JIM way back in 2013, with its first members trained in making bombs and explosive devices.

Padilla said the military now considers JIM as another lawless group and a target of the ongoing offensive in Mindanao.

Through its ongoing offensive, the military also hopes to capture Usman, who eluded arrest by Special Action Force (SAF) commandos during a deadly raid in Mamasapano last Jan.25.

The raiders killed Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, but lost 44 of their own in clashes with MILF and BIFF guerrillas.

“Any individual or group with arms is a serious threat that we have to take action against,” Padilla said.

The military, on the other hand, declined to comment on reports of the existence of another terrorist group, Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao (KIM), which reportedly has links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Local and foreign members of the supposed terror group have been seen on several occasions since 2012 in BIFF and MILF camps in Lanao and Maguidanao. ..


MANILA TIMES

PNoy starts screening bets for PNP chief March 4, 2015 11:05 pm by CATHERINE S. VALENTE REPORTER


NEW SAF CHIEF: President Benigno Aquino 3rd congratulates newly-installed Special Action Force director Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo. MALACAÑANG PHOTO

President Benigno Aquino 3rd has interviewed the two most senior officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who are being eyed to replace resigned Director General Alan Purisima, according to Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd.

In an interview, Roxas said the President had met with PNP officer-in-charge and Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina and Deputy General Marcelo Garbo Jr., chief of the PNP directorial staff.

He said Aquino asked for the records of the two police officials.

“Siguro sa tamang panahon ay magpapasya siya [The President will decide in due time],” Roxas said on Wednesday.

Espina and Garbo are Purisima’s classmates at the Philippine Military Academy, Class of 1981. They were also part of his Command Group prior to his resignation.

Purisima’s resignation came more than a week after “Oplan Exdus,” a bloody police operation that killed wanted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troops dead.

He has been criticized for playing a key role in the operation–sitting in briefings and giving the President updates—while serving a six-month preventive suspension over a graft case being investigated by the Ombudsman.

New SAF chief

Also on Wednesday, Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo took over as the new SAF head. Lazo replaced Police Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, who was named SAF officer-in-charge after Director Getulio Napeñas was sacked from his post in connection with the Mamasapano operation.

Napeñas was suspended as SAF chief days after the operation in Maguindanao on January 25.

The covert mission also led to the resignation of Purisima, who took charge of the mission despite his suspension by the Sandiganbayan for graft.

Lazo, who took over his new post in simple ceremonies, called on SAF commandos to be “vanguards of peace.”

The new SAF head is a member of Philippine Military Academy, Maharlika Class of 1984. He was a SAF member from 1984 to 1989 and from 2010 to 2013.

In his speech, Lazo rallied SAF troops to be united.

“Together, let us continue to affirm our commitment to be vanguards of peace. May the force be with us all,” he said.

Lazo added that he was “grateful, honored and humbled” to head the elite group.

“[The SAF] has always been close to my heart. To my brothers and sisters in the SAF family, I am so elated to be back home, excited to work again with you,” he said.

The new SAF chief also thanked President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who witnessed the turnover of command ceremony.

In Camp Crame circles, Lazo is seen as a low-profile officer and a very effective manager.

”I’m grateful and honored to lead the PNP-SAF that is always close to my heart,” he said in his short speech.

Before the simple turnover ceremony, the President had met for over three hours with SAF commandos who survived the bloody encounter with combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. WITH ANTHONY VARGAS AND PNA


TRIBUNE

MILF cuts lines with gov’t over results of its probe Written by Benjamin B. Pulta
Thursday, 05 March 2015 00:00


The MILF is a secessionist rebel group calling for the creation of a Moro “sub-state” in Mindanao. The Philippines being a predominantly Catholic country, the Muslims in Mindanao have always felt detached from mainstream Philippine affairs. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF; Arabic: جبهة تحرير مورو الإسلامية‎ Jabhat Tahrīr Moro al-ʿIslāmiyyah) is a rebel group in the southern Philippines seeking autonomy of the Moro people from the central government. The group has a presence in the Bangsamoro region of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, Palawan, Basilan, and other neighbouring islands. GOOGLE IMAGES...

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has turned elusive about the result on the investigations it made on the Mamasapano clash in which 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 rebel fighters and five civilians died which report the government is waiting for as an input in its final report on the incident.


DE LIMA

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the leadership of the MILF has kept its communication lines closed despite an earlier promise of cooperation for the government’s ongoing investigation of the incident that happened last Jan. 25.

De Lima renewed her call to the MILF for cooperation as she said the Department of Justice (DoJ) would need the MILF report and the commitment of its leadership for justice to the victims of the bllodbath.

“We would like to also look into the cases of the slain victims from MILF and also the civilians – not just the 44 slain SAF commandos… but we are having a hard time right now for purposes of really looking into that because in the first place, we don’t have the MILF report,” she stressed.

Information from MILF such as identities of the victims and proof of death would be needed for possible criminal cases.

She said the DoJ already sent a letter to the MILF requesting for the report and their cooperation in the probe, but has not received a reply yet.

“I’m going to send a follow-up letter and I hope to relay to them the message that we will also look into (cases of the 18 slain fighters) and that this is not just a one-sided investigation. We have to conduct a balanced investigation to be able to look at the entire picture,” she pointed out.

De Lima said they would rather coordinate with the MILF directly on this matter instead of channeling through non-government organizations that could provide testimonies of MILF and civilians on the clash.

“We would prefer that we deal directly with the MILF, their hierarchy or whoever is the focal person from them. We would prefer that we ourselves evaluate the statements they could provide,” she said.

De Lima also urged the Congress to proceed with deliberations on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) without having to wait for the results of probes on the Mamasapano incident.

Both chambers of Congress have suspended deliberations on the BBL with some legislators using the MILF report on the clash as a precondition for the resumption of discussions on the pending bill.



“I hope they (lawmakers) separate these issues and just focus on the constitutional scrutiny of the BBL,” she further appealed.

De Lima added that she would no longer release updates on the probe until it is completed, citing possible repercussions to the ongoing peace talks between the government and the MILF.

“It’s better that we just release the results of our evaluation and findings at the proper time, instead of piecemeal releases, because this is a very sensitive case. Inasmuch as we would want the (suspects) to face criminal justice system, it is complicated because of the ongoing peace process,” she stressed.

De Lima confirmed earlier that their team of prosecutors and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents were able to gather “very vital” witnesses during their visit in Mamasapano last week.

She, however, did not confirm or deny reports that a veteran MILF combatant close to both Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino terrorist Basit Usman was among their new witnesses.

The new witnesses reportedly could identify the MILF members who took part in the Mamasapano encounter and in killing the 44 SAF commandos.

The DoJ probers initially planned to conduct an ocular inspection of the site, but were prevented by the military due to ongoing fighting between government troops and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in the area.

A veteran lawmaker also formally sought a congressional inquiry into the reported issuance of defective ammunition and armaments by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to its operating elements like the SAF.

“The officers and members of the PNP perform continuing vital strategic functions in the preservation of peace and order and in the fight against terrorism, criminality and all forms of lawlessness in the country,” Rep. Rodolfo T. Albano III stressed when he filed HR 1909.

HR 1909 is entitled “A Resolution to direct the committee on Public Order and Safety and the committee on Good Government and Accountability to conduct an investigation on the reported acquisition by the PNP, and its issuance of defective ammunitions and armaments to its operating elements and for other purposes.”

“The acquisition, issuance and use of defective armaments and munitions condemns the PNP’s operating forces to helplessness and ineffectiveness in ensuring that our communities are protected from criminals, terrorists and other lawless elements, and incapacitates them from preventing unnecessary losses of lives and limbs among their ranks,” Albano stressed.

The Isabela lawmaker noted credible reports and testimonies of surviving members of the PNP Special Action Force in the tragic Mamasapano operations against notorious terrorists before the Board of Inquiry indicate the acquisition and issuance by the PNP, for the use of its operating elements, of various defective ammunitions and armaments such as grenades, grenade launchers and the like that deprived PNP operating forces of the needed capability to fight back lawless elements and minimize the loss of lives.

“We can never relegate the deaths that resulted from the tragic Mamasapano operation to the dustbin of history. We have to correct our mistakes and learn from that tragedy. Accountability is important,” Albano said.

Albano also called for the “compulsory processes to be issued to compel the attendance of concerned procurement and acquisition officers of the PNP and operating elements thereof who have been issued or have knowledge of the issuance for use of these defective armaments and ammunitions specifically the survivors of the Mamasapano operations against known terrorists in the country.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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