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HEADLINES NEWS THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

[AUGUST 30 -DUTERTE SOLDIERS VS ABU SAYYAF GROUP AFTER MARAWI JAILBREAK]

CRACKDOWN ON TERRORISTS
[
5 batallions hunt down Maute, ASG]
[15 soldiers killed in clash with Abus]


AUGUST 30 -As many as 2,500 troopers deploy in Mindanao in the renewed campaign against terrorism.
THE Defense Department on Monday vowed to pursue relentless campaign against members of the local terror organization the Maute group, which freed their leader from a provincial jail over the weekend. In a chance interview, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted that the escape of top leaders of the Maute group already proved a “threat” to the already volatile security situation in Mindanao” but played down its alleged links to the Islamic State terrorist group.As many as 2,500 troopers deploy in Mindanao in the renewed campaign against terrorism. “They’re very significant ... as they raided the provincial jail and their members joined them, it has become a threat. It has been a bigger threat because of these escapees,” he told the Manila Standard.
On Saturday, Muslim extremists carrying Islamic State group insignia stormed the Lanao del Sur provincial jail, freeing 28 detainees in the latest in a series of mass escapes. Authorities however, believed that the attack was carried out to free their leader, Hashim Balawag Maute including seven others, who pledged their allegiance to the IS. Lorenzana played down eports that “bandit groups” claiming to be part of IS, had already infiltrated the country. “We haven’t seen any indication yet. Those who are here want to be recognized, but it seems that it hasn’t happened yet because their leadership isn’t stable yet,” the Defense chief said. “The ISIS cannot control yet these groups ... but these are just bandit groups, terrorists who do not have any sense of loyalty to anybody but wanted to be recognized for international exposure,” he added. Lorenzana said an additional five battalions or equivalent of 2,500 soldiers, will be deployed to reinforce the government crackdown against the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. He said while 20 bandits had been captured, there was no sign as yet of their hostages. He said, however, that there was a danger that the bandits would launch diversionary attacks in Manila, Cebu or Davao. Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla claimed Monday the strength of the Muslim extremists have been degraded from series of battles in the recent past with the military and the police. “I don’t have the latest assessment, but their numbers have diminished,” Padilla said. On Saturday, 50 heavily-armed men of the group that claims support from the Islamic State stormed the provincial that caught jail guards, the military and the police flat-footed. READ MORE...RELATED, 15 soldiers killed in clash with Abus...RELATED(2) 15 Filipino army soldiers killed in clash with Abu Sayyaf rebels...

ALSO: Zamboanga City on alert vs Abu Sayyaf attacks
[RELATED: ‘Soldiers of Duterte’ more than ready to meet Abu’s jihad threat]


SEPTEMBER 2 -Police are monitoring coastal areas and have tapped force multipliers in the barangays for extra security. Google Earth, file
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines -- Security forces in the city are on heightened alert against possible diversionary attacks by members of the Abu Sayyaf. President Rodrigo Duterte has already directed the military to secure Zamboanga City and nearby areas where militants could launch sympathy attacks as a result of military operations in Sulu against the Abu Sayyaf group. Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the president issued the order during his visit here Wednesday as he paid tribute to the 15 fallen soldiers killed in the encounter with the Abu Sayyaf group. “The president was concern and directed to secure Zamboanga and other areas,” Dela Cruz said. Dela Cruz said security in the city has been tightened because of bombings and sabotage during previous operations in Sulu. The police authorities did not discount the possibility of a repeat since several Abu Sayyaf members have been arrested in this city. Chief Inspector Helen Flores, spokesperson of Zamboanga City Police Office, said the police have raised the alert in the city. “Doon sa mga naka-leave kung puwedeng i-recall, ire-recall natin to strengthen our security specially with the ongoing intensified military operations in Sulu," she said. She said police and military intelligence are monitoring the movements of Abu Sayyaf members in this city. “Our forces [are] also monitoring those Abu Sayyaf members who tried to escape from the nearby areas.” She said the police have also intensified monitoring in the coastal areas and have activated force multipliers, or watchmen, in the barangays to help secure the areas. THE FULL REPORT. RELATED, ‘Soldiers of Duterte’ more than ready to meet Abu’s jihad threat...


ALSO: Extra powers vs ASG nixed - Duterte pushes punitive actions to crush Sayyaf [RELATED: Abu Sayyaf to Du30: Prepare for war; Rody: What you can dish out, I can do it 10 times]


SEPTEMBER 1 -INTERNET SENSATION. President Rodrigo Duterte finally meets four-year-old Filipino-British Ethan Llanes this week, with both making the chief executive’s signature fist gesture during a courtesy call in Malacañang. Llanes became an internet sensation when his mother posted a video on Facebook of him pretending to call presidential candidate Duterte before the May 2016 elections, asking him to get rid of the ‘bad guys’ and take them to jail. Malacañang Photo
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday rejected suggestions that he seek emergency powers from Congress to quickly crush the Abu Sayyaf, which killed 15 soldiers this week in the largest single-day combat loss for the government. Duterte, who welcomed repatriated overseas Filipino workers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Wednesday, echoed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s assessment that there was no need to grant him emergency powers to deal with the terrorist group. “No. It’s just a punitive police action by the security forces of the government. The magnitude of the trouble there does not warrant anything except the industry of the AFP and PNP,” Duterte said, responding to questions. On Tuesday, Lorenzana played down the proposal of at least three senators to give Duterte additional emergency powers to deal with the Abu Sayyaf, which has been on a kidnapping and beheading spree. “It’s not yet necessary at the moment, we can do it still even without emergency powers. The LGUs are joining our drive, including the community. There is no need [yet] for emergency powers,” Lorenzana told the Manila Standard in an interview. Malacañang on Tuesday vowed to relentlessly pursue the Abu Sayyaf after15 soldiers were killed in an encounter in Sulu. “It is unfortunate that a number of our troops have already lost their lives,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing. “The President is focused on making sure that the threat from the Abu Sayyaf Group should be terminated as soon as possible,” he added. Military sources told the Manila Standard Wednesday that most of the soldiers being deployed in Sulu now were “first-timers” with “no solid intelligence reports to work with.” In this situation, they said, they were operating “totally blind”—and more casualties were likely to pile up. “Even if you flood the area with combat boots, the advantage will always be with the Abu Sayyaf. It doesn’t matter if there are many of you and you are fully equipped. If you are blind to the situation and the conditions inside the battle area, your casualties will grow,” a military officer who was once assigned in ASG areas said. READ MORE...RELATED, Abu S
ayyaf to Du30: Prepare for war; Rody: What you can dish out, I can do it 10 times...

ALSO: Metro attacks feared - Davao, Cebu also Sayyaf targets—Defense chief [RELATED: Abu Sayyaf ready for fierce battle as Duterte sends in more forces]


AUGUST 31 -GOING HOME. Filipino troops carry caskets containing bodies of 15 colleagues slain in an encounter with Muslim Abu Sayyaf terrorists and loading them Tuesday into a C-130 cargo plane at the Jolo airport Tuesday. President Rodrigo Duterte (below), a day earlier, provides a wounded soldier with an electronic wheelchair during a fellowship dinner in Malacañang to mark National Heroes Day. AFP DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday the government is preparing for any attacks that the Abu Sayyaf might launch in urban centers as diversionary tactics but played down the need for emergency powers for President Rodrigo Duterte to quash the terrorist group. In an interview, Lorenzana said that they have received reports that there might be terror attacks on major cities. “That’s what we are preparing right now. We know they might do diversionary tactics in Manila, Cebu, or Davao, metropolitan centers—that is what the President is fearing, the diversionary actions [that they might do] in urban centers,” Lorenzana told the Manila Standard. Lorenzana also warned against paying ransom in exchange for any hostages being held, as this would only strengthen the terrorist group. Lorenzana said with local government units joining the anti-terrorist drive, there was still no need to grant President Duterte emergency powers. READ MORE...RELATED, Extra powers vs ASG nixed: Duterte pushes punitive actions to crush Sayyaf... RELATED, Abu Sayyaf ready for fierce battle as Duterte sends in more forces...

ALSO: Duterte rejects emergency power vs Abu Sayyaf
[RELATED: Rody won’t declare martial law in Sulu]


AUGUST 31 -President Rodrigo R. Duterte warns corrupt government officials involved in the illegal drug trade in his speech during the celebration of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on August 29. PPD/Ace Morandante
The Philippine president has rejected proposals for him to declare a state of emergency on a violent southern island to be able to more rapidly crush Abu Sayyaf extremists, who killed 15 soldiers this week in the largest single-day combat loss of his government. President Rodrigo Duterte also announced Wednesday that government troops and police would not enforce a warrant of arrest for prominent Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari, who leads one of two large Islamic insurgent groups in the country's south, so they could talk. Duterte says Misuari preferred to meet him in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and replied during a phone call Tuesday that he was ready to meet him anywhere. While Duterte has pursued talks with two Muslim groups, he has ordered troops to destroy the Abu Sayyaf.FULL REPORT RELATED, Rody won’t declare martial law in Sulu...

ALSO PNP: No Abu Sayyaf threat in Metro Manila
[RELATED: Duterte to Misuari - Come out, let’s talk]


AUGUST 31 -Philippine National Police national head quarters in Quezon City. Philstar.com/AJ Bolando, file MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday assured the public that there is no threat of Abu Sayyaf in Metro Manila and other parts of the country. PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos said that an interagency assessment monitoring regularly the activities of Abu Sayyaf. Carlos said that the rebel group has a low presence outside the provinces of Sulu and Basilan where their camps are located. “We assure the public that the inter-agency meets regularly to do an assessment to the level of threats in Metro Manila and in other parts of the country. Kung ‘yan ay nag-escalate ang threat level, malalaman noong mga agencies involved in this council o committee,” the PNP official said. READ: 15 Filipino troops killed in clash with Abu Sayyaf rebels The assurance to the public came following the relentless attack of the government against the rebel group after President Rodrigo Duterte’s ordered to crush them. In the recent encounter, 15 government troops were killed, while five were wounded in Patikul, Sulu on Monday. Two, meanwhile, died from the extremists. Carlos also guaranteed the public of their safety as authorities’ “intelligence community” is ready. “Kung ‘yung pangamba nila na tatakbo sila (Abu Sayyaf) rito to divert ‘yung ginagawang operation ng gobyerno sa down south ay nakahanda ang ating forces here in Metro Manila and in other parts of the country,” he said. FULL REPORT. RELATED, Duterte to Misuari: Come out, let’s talk...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Crackdown on terrorists
[5 batallions hunt down Maute, ASG]


As many as 2,500 troopers deploy in Mindanao in the renewed campaign against terrorism.

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 5, 2016 (MANILA STANDARD) posted August 30, 2016 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito and Florante S. Solmerin - THE Defense Department on Monday vowed to pursue relentless campaign against members of the local terror organization the Maute group, which freed their leader from a provincial jail over the weekend.

In a chance interview, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted that the escape of top leaders of the Maute group already proved a “threat” to the already volatile security situation in Mindanao” but played down its alleged links to the Islamic State terrorist group.

As many as 2,500 troopers deploy in Mindanao in the renewed campaign against terrorism.
“They’re very significant ... as they raided the provincial jail and their members joined them, it has become a threat. It has been a bigger threat because of these escapees,” he told the Manila Standard.

On Saturday, Muslim extremists carrying Islamic State group insignia stormed the Lanao del Sur provincial jail, freeing 28 detainees in the latest in a series of mass escapes.


MARAWI CITY—Gone in 10 minutes. AFP BEFORE JAILBREAK Government soldiers guard members of the Maute extremist group on a military truck bound for the Lanao del Sur provincial jail in Marawi City. They were arrested at a military checkpoint on Aug. 22, but they were freed by their comrades in a daring jailbreak on Saturday. AFP INQUIRER

Authorities however, believed that the attack was carried out to free their leader, Hashim Balawag Maute including seven others, who pledged their allegiance to the IS.

Lorenzana played down eports that “bandit groups” claiming to be part of IS, had already infiltrated the country.

“We haven’t seen any indication yet. Those who are here want to be recognized, but it seems that it hasn’t happened yet because their leadership isn’t stable yet,” the Defense chief said.

“The ISIS cannot control yet these groups ... but these are just bandit groups, terrorists who do not have any sense of loyalty to anybody but wanted to be recognized for international exposure,” he added.

Lorenzana said an additional five battalions or equivalent of 2,500 soldiers, will be deployed to reinforce the government crackdown against the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

He said while 20 bandits had been captured, there was no sign as yet of their hostages.

He said, however, that there was a danger that the bandits would launch diversionary attacks in Manila, Cebu or Davao.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla claimed Monday the strength of the Muslim extremists have been degraded from series of battles in the recent past with the military and the police.

“I don’t have the latest assessment, but their numbers have diminished,” Padilla said.

On Saturday, 50 heavily-armed men of the group that claims support from the Islamic State stormed the provincial that caught jail guards, the military and the police flat-footed.

READ MORE...

According to provincial jail warden Acmad Tabao, most of the escapees were high-value target (HVT) criminals.

Tabao said the terrorists came to the gate of the provincial jail to deliver food for the detainees and the jail guards reacted too late as the armed visitors forced their way into the compound.

He said the raiders’ objective was to spring their eight comrades that were arrested on Aug. 22 and the rest of the escapees became instant recruits of the group.

The military has declared a red alert in support of the police operations against the escapees.

“We have given out a province-wide, region-wide red alert because of this event in cooperation with the police to ensure that they are captured,” Padilla said.

But he explained that the job of recapturing the escapees belonged to the police.

“This is law enforcement. We work with the police for the pursuit and the recapture of all these prisoners and fugitives,” he said.

An official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued an uncharacteristically hawkish call for the Abu Sayyaf to be destroyed.


Bishop - Prelate Martin S Jumoad

Isabela Bishop Martin Jumoad, a member of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itenerant People and the Episcopal Commission on Mission, described the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist group that “must be destroyed”.

“My heart bleeds upon learning the beheading of the boy,” Jumoad said in a statement.

“Destroy means dismantle them and apprehend them. If they fight, then the military must protect their lives too,” he said.

The prelate made the statement after authorities confirmed the beheading of the hostage in Indanan, Sulu because the bandits failed to get P 1 million ransom from the boy’s family.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this month ordered soldiers to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for ransom kidnapping and other atrocities.

Earlier, the President has ordered the deployment of more troops to pursue the bandit group.

“Since 1990 until now, the government has not eliminated the Abu Sayyaf,” said the prelate.

“The bandits are just laughing at the order of the President. I hope the order of President Duterte will be executed by the military,” he said. With Vito Barcelo

------------------------

RELATED FROM THE MANILA TIMES

15 soldiers killed in clash with Abus 12
BY LLANESCA T. PANTI, AL JACINTO AND FERNAN MARASIGAN ON AUGUST 31, 2016 HEADLINES


FALLEN Soldiers carry caskets containing the remains of their colleagues killed in an encounter with the Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group, into a C-130 cargo plane at Jolo airport in Sulu province on Tuesday. Abu Sayyaf fighters killed 15 soldiers as they were carrying out President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to wipe out the terrorist and kidnapping group. AFP PHOTO

FIFTEEN soldiers, including an officer, were killed while 12 others were wounded in a fierce firefight with more than 120 heavily armed Abu Sayyaf members in Patikul, Sulu late Monday afternoon.

The military clashed with the terrorist and kidnapping group at 4:30 p.m. in Sitio Kan Jalul, Barangay Maligay in Patikul town, Brig. Gen. Arnel de la Vega, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said in a report to Gen. Ricardo Visaya, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff.

De la Vega said the composite team of soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 35th and 21st Infantry Battalions was conducting combat operations when it engaged the Abu Sayyaf.

The firefight lasted for an hour and a half.

The slain soldiers were identified as 2nd Lt. Ernan Gusto, 33; Staff Sergeants Ruel Catubay, 39 and Jay Erwin Almohallas, 38; Corporals Omar Raddulan, 41, Ronald Galoniga, 33, Elid Ismael, 49 and Salik Mandangan, 31; Privates First Class Nestor Bacaling, 26, Jison Falcasantos, 28, Gerald Yubal, 29, Dhendo Dujo, 32, Roselito Arnoco, 29, Glend Resma, 24 and Rogelio Vincoy, 28; and Private Jonas Lumayan, 23.

The military withheld the names of the 12 wounded soldiers, saying it had yet to notify their next of kin.

The AFP Western Mindanao Command said about two dozen militants were killed in the clash, but troops recovered only 10 cadavers.

ABU SAYYAF SUBLEADER

One of them was the body of Mohammad Said alias Amah Maas, an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader blamed for the beheading of Canadian hostages John Ridsdel and Robert Hall earlier this year after their families failed to raise P600 million in ransom.


Men who identify themselves as kidnapped Canadians robert Hall and John Ridsdel appear in a video alongside the marina manager and Hall's gilfriend who were abducted by gunmen on Sept. 11. PHOTO FROM CALGARY SUN JUNE 15, 2016 07:40 AM MDT

Troops operating in the area immediately rushed to the encounter site to pursue the terrorists. Other Army units provided blocking forces, the AFP said.

In a statement, Visaya said the “ultimate sacrifice and acts of gallantry” became the soldiers’ “driving force” to attack the Abu Sayyaf, who lost 25 members to Army-initiated armed encounters last week on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“There may still be casualties along the way as we advance this solemn duty to eradicate these bandits and terrorists of 25 years, but we will not stop until we rid our country of the menace this [Abu Sayyaf Group] brings to the world,” he said.

Visaya told the soldiers to keep the pressure on the enemy until they wear out.

Aside from the various military units in Sulu, the Philippine Navy was deployed to the island province to make sure no one escapes and no reinforcements arrive for the terrorists.

DESTROY ABU SAYYAF

President Duterte ordered security forces to destroy the Abu Sayyaf following the beheading of Filipino hostage Patrick James Almodovar on August 24. Almodovar’s family failed to pay P1 million in ransom demanded by the bandits.

2,500 troops to Sulu
In Malacañang, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said five battalions or 2,500 troops will be sent to reinforce the military in Sulu.

“The President is focused on making sure that the threat from the Abu Sayyaf Group will be terminated as soon as possible,” he said in a news conference.

Abella, however, clarified that Duterte did not set a timeline for defeating the Abu Sayyaf.
“It should not be an extended engagement,” he said.

Not familiar with terrain?

The soldiers were said to have been unfamiliar with the terrain of Patikul, a lair of the Abu Sayyaf who are still holding nearly two dozen Malaysian and Indonesian hostages.

There was no word on the fate of the hostages, including Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was kidnapped last year at Samal Island in Davao del Norte along with Ridsdel and Hall.

Duterte had said negotiators paid P50 million to the Abu Sayyaf for the release of Sekkingstad, but the terrorists demanded P250 million more. He did not say where the ransom money came from.

Over a hundred Abu Sayyaf gunmen have been battling security forces since last week in Patikul and Talipao towns.

‘No conscience’

Falcasantos, one of the slain military men, was reportedly beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf, who even sent a mobile phone message to the soldier’s family in Zamboanga City.

The bandits told the relatives, using Falcasantos’ phone, that they chopped off the head of the infantryman. A militant said: “Your son is dead. His head is gone, we cut it off yesterday.”

Falcasantos’ family replied: “You have no conscience.”

But the unidentified Abu Sayyaf member went on to say: “Of course. We don’t have conscience because they (soldiers) came to our place. I’ll also cut your head off.”

----------------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

15 Filipino army soldiers killed in clash with Abu Sayyaf rebels (Associated Press) | Updated August 30, 2016 - 8:00am 0 449 googleplus0 0


Military officials said five other soldiers were wounded in the nearly two-hour gunbattle that also killed at least two militants in Sulu province's mountainous Patikul town.

MANILA — Abu Sayyaf extremists killed 15 Philippine army soldiers in fierce fighting yesterday in the country's restive south, dealing the government its largest single-day combat loss under President Rodrigo Duterte, who ordered the militants to be crushed for their brutality.

Military officials said five other soldiers were wounded in the nearly two-hour gunbattle that also killed at least two militants in Sulu province's mountainous Patikul town, where the Abu Sayyaf have detained many of their kidnap victims.

The estimated 70 militants were led by Abu Sayyaf commander Radulan Sahiron, a one-armed fighter long wanted by Philippine and US authorities for his role in bombings, kidnappings and other acts, according to regional military commander Maj. Filemon Tan and police officials.

Duterte ordered troops to hunt down and destroy the militants in their jungle bases last week after the extremists beheaded a kidnapped villager whose family was too poor to pay a ransom.


MAUTE HUNTERS. The AFP has been going after members of the terror group without let-up. 54 Maute group members killed in continuing AFP-PNP strikes A SPOKESMAN of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported the death Monday of at least 56 people in the military’s continuing operations against the Maute terror group in Lanao del Sur. Major Filemon Tan of the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command said the fatalities were from the series of clashes in Barangay Ragayan in Butig town. Intelligence reports accounted 54 of the dead from the Maute group with two soldiers dying from the clashes, said the AFP. “The troops continue to advance towards the enemy stronghold and defeat the LTGs (local terrorist groups) in the area,” said the AFP officer. The fighting started on May 26 following the beheading of two people blamed on the Maute group. The military operations are being conducted by the Army 103rd Brigade and the Philippine Air Published on May 31, 2016 in Headlines/Latest News/Nation/Top Story by Concept Central

READ MORE...

The tough-talking president has pursued peace talks with two larger Muslim rebel groups, including the Moro National Liberation Front whose fighters have been suspected of providing sanctuary and combat support to the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu in the past.

The military's battle setback came after troops killed at least 21 Abu Sayyaf gunmen, including an influential commander, in the jungles of Patikul on Friday and Saturday in assaults that followed the beheading.

The United States and the Philippines have blacklisted the Abu Sayyaf, which is estimated to have more than 400 armed members, for deadly bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings. Although the militants have been weakened by years of US military-supported Philippine offensives, they remain a national security concern and have been implicated in the recent kidnappings of Indonesian and Malaysian crewmen of tugboats plying the area around the sea borders of the three countries.


PHILSTAR

Zamboanga City on alert vs Abu Sayyaf attacks By Roel Pareño (philstar.com) | Updated September 2, 2016 - 2:40pm 1 1576 googleplus0 0


Police are monitoring coastal areas and have tapped force multipliers in the barangays for extra security. Google Earth, file

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines -- Security forces in the city are on heightened alert against possible diversionary attacks by members of the Abu Sayyaf.

President Rodrigo Duterte has already directed the military to secure Zamboanga City and nearby areas where militants could launch sympathy attacks as a result of military operations in Sulu against the Abu Sayyaf group.

Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the president issued the order during his visit here Wednesday as he paid tribute to the 15 fallen soldiers killed in the encounter with the Abu Sayyaf group.

“The president was concern and directed to secure Zamboanga and other areas,” Dela Cruz said.

Dela Cruz said security in the city has been tightened because of bombings and sabotage during previous operations in Sulu.

The police authorities did not discount the possibility of a repeat since several Abu Sayyaf members have been arrested in this city.

Chief Inspector Helen Flores, spokesperson of Zamboanga City Police Office, said the police have raised the alert in the city.

“Doon sa mga naka-leave kung puwedeng i-recall, ire-recall natin to strengthen our security specially with the ongoing intensified military operations in Sulu," she said.

She said police and military intelligence are monitoring the movements of Abu Sayyaf members in this city. “Our forces [are] also monitoring those Abu Sayyaf members who tried to escape from the nearby areas.”

She said the police have also intensified monitoring in the coastal areas and have activated force multipliers, or watchmen, in the barangays to help secure the areas.

-------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

‘Soldiers of Duterte’ more than ready to meet Abu’s jihad threat
Written by Mario J. Mallari Saturday, 03 September 2016 00:00



The military has expanded its combat operations against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group to two more towns in the island province of Sulu as ASG leader Radullan Sahiron threatened “soldiers of Duterte” with direct attacks.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, public affairs chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), yesterday said massive military operations are ongoing in Maimbung and Indanan towns but “no significant results yet.”Lately, military operations have been focused in Patikul town where pursuing troops had engaged the band of Sahiron in several occasions.

Arevalo said military camps in Mindanao were also alerted against possible Abu Sayyaf attacks following Sahiron’s pronouncement.

Sahiron, who is included in the Philippines’ and United States’ list of most wanted terrorists, warned “Duterte soldiers” of a jihad and vowed to bring the war right at the military’s doorsteps.

Abu Sayyaf spokesman Alhabsi Misaya reportedly said “by September 1, the Abu Sayyaf and soldiers of (President Rodrigo) Duterte will test each other in a liberation,” adding they will even rally local tribes to support its “jihad.”

“The Abu Sayyaf is ready with its more than 1,000 forces, to do a jihad,” the spokesman was quoted as saying.

But Arevalo said: “So far, the threat by ASG to attack military camps remains a threat,” stressing the troops manning the camps are always on alert for such eventualities.

“The AFP is more than ready to respond to ASG total war threats,” he added.


Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte with government troops during a trip to the volatile island of Sulu PHOTO FROM THE WALL STREET JURNAL

Around 8,000 troops are already operating in Sulu – hunting down the band of Sahiron composed of about 250 fighters.

Three more military battalions are scheduled to arrive in Sulu in the coming days.

Due to heavy military pressure, Arevalo said they are now receiving reports that the terrorists are now splintering into smaller groups to mix with the civilian population.

While this would make it harder for the military to hunt the ASG, it would also make the terrorists more vulnerable to attacks by government forces.

Arevalo said intelligence and civil-military operations are now under way to stall the evasion tactic of the bandit group.

Around 15 troops were killed and 12 others were wounded after military units clashed heavily with ASG bandits, headed by Sahiron, in Sitio Kan Jalul, Barangay Maligay, Patikul, Sulu last Aug. 29.

A total of 30 terrorists were reported to have been killed during the ongoing focused military operations against the ASG which started last week.
Another 11 brigands were reported wounded in the series of clashes with government forces.

The intensified focused military operations were launched after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the AFP to destroy the Abu Sayyaf following the beheading of ASG captive Patrick Almodovar last Aug. 24.

Currently, the ASG is still holding around 20 hostages – most of them foreigners composed of Indonesians, Malaysians, Dutch Elwold Horn, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was among the four victims abducted last September at the posh Oceanview Resort on Samal Island.

The Abu Sayyaf beheaded Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, who were among the four hostages from Samal Island, while the fourth – Filipina Marites Flor, was freed last June as “goodwill” to the Duterte administration.


MANILA STANDARD

Extra powers vs ASG nixed: Duterte pushes punitive actions to crush Sayyaf posted September 01, 2016 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito and Florante S. Solmerin


INTERNET SENSATION. President Rodrigo Duterte finally meets four-year-old Filipino-British Ethan Llanes this week, with both making the chief executive’s signature fist gesture during a courtesy call in Malacañang. Llanes became an internet sensation when his mother posted a video on Facebook of him pretending to call presidential candidate Duterte before the May 2016 elections, asking him to get rid of the ‘bad guys’ and take them to jail. Malacañang Photo

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday rejected suggestions that he seek emergency powers from Congress to quickly crush the Abu Sayyaf, which killed 15 soldiers this week in the largest single-day combat loss for the government.

Duterte, who welcomed repatriated overseas Filipino workers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Wednesday, echoed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s assessment that there was no need to grant him emergency powers to deal with the terrorist group.

“No. It’s just a punitive police action by the security forces of the government. The magnitude of the trouble there does not warrant anything except the industry of the AFP and PNP,” Duterte said, responding to questions.

On Tuesday, Lorenzana played down the proposal of at least three senators to give Duterte additional emergency powers to deal with the Abu Sayyaf, which has been on a kidnapping and beheading spree.

“It’s not yet necessary at the moment, we can do it still even without emergency powers. The LGUs are joining our drive, including the community. There is no need [yet] for emergency powers,” Lorenzana told the Manila Standard in an interview.

Malacañang on Tuesday vowed to relentlessly pursue the Abu Sayyaf after15 soldiers were killed in an encounter in Sulu.

“It is unfortunate that a number of our troops have already lost their lives,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing.

“The President is focused on making sure that the threat from the Abu Sayyaf Group should be terminated as soon as possible,” he added.

Military sources told the Manila Standard Wednesday that most of the soldiers being deployed in Sulu now were “first-timers” with “no solid intelligence reports to work with.” In this situation, they said, they were operating “totally blind”—and more casualties were likely to pile up.

“Even if you flood the area with combat boots, the advantage will always be with the Abu Sayyaf. It doesn’t matter if there are many of you and you are fully equipped. If you are blind to the situation and the conditions inside the battle area, your casualties will grow,” a military officer who was once assigned in ASG areas said.

READ MORE...

On Tuesday, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Ricardo Visaya acknowledged the difficult situation and conditions on the battleground.

“There may still be casualties along the way as we advance this solemn duty to eradicate these bandits and terrorists of 25 years, but we will not stop until we rid our country of the menace this ASG brings to the world,” Visaya said.

Duterte gave Visaya three to six months to eliminate the ASG, even though the AFP chief is set to retire in December.

In Camp Aguinaldo, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military and police and all other government law enforcement agencies are on “heightened alert” in the National Capital Region, Davao region and Cebu because of raw information coming out of possible diversionary attacks on urban centers by the ASG and their supporters.

“We are not relaxing. Intelligence agencies are on heightened alert, sharing information across all units,” Padilla said. “This has been going on for quite a while. It’s part of our standard operating security protocols.”

On Monday, members of the 35th Infantry Battalion encountered about 120 bandits led by ASG sub-leader Radullan Sahiron, with 15 soldiers and four terrorists being killed in the firefight, the military said. Some 17 soldiers were also wounded in the battle.

In Camp Aguinaldo, the military estimated there were 30 bandits killed since the military began its assault on ASG lairs in Sulu a week ago, but the official body count showed only six dead.

At present, two Army divisions augmented by support units from other branches of service are being used to hunt down the ASG in Sulu and Basilan.

Duterte has ordered the AFP to go “full force” and eliminate the ASG after they refused to stop beheading their hostages if no ransom money was paid.

The ASG last week decapitated yet another of its hostages after the ransom was not paid by the family of the victim.

Davao City was on heightened alert Wednesday to guard against possible ASG attacks.

Davao City Police Office director, Senior Supt. Michael John Dubria, said that they were taking Lorenzana’s warning seriously.

He added that they were on high alert since President Duterte stayed in the city most of the time.

“Skirmishes or intensive military operations in nearby regions and provinces always pose the possibility of spillover to Davao City,” he said.

Earlier, Lorenzana said that they had received reports that there might be terror attacks in major cities of the country, including Davao City, to divert the government’s attention from the ground war in Sulu and Basilan. With Funny Pearl A. Gajunera

SUPPLEMENTARY FROM CONCEPT CENTRAL (unBLOGGED)
http://conceptnewscentral.com/index.php/category/latest-news/

Five things to know about the Abu Sayyaf terror group Published on September 4, 2016 in Headlines/Latest News/Nation/World by Concept Central


PHILIPPINES-UNREST-CRIME-ABUSAYYAF PHILIPPINE soldiers hunt the Abu Sayyaf in this photo August 30, 2016. AFP PHOTO

PHILIPPINE authorities on Saturday said the Abu Sayyaf, a local Islamic militant group notorious for kidnapping foreigners, was responsible for a deadly night market bombing that killed at least 14 people.

Here are five key questions and answers about the Abu Sayyaf:

Who are they?

The group is a radical offshoot of a Muslim separatist insurgency that has claimed more than 120,000 lives in the south of the mainly Catholic Philippines since the 1970s. It was established in the 1990s with funds from a relative of former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Several Abu Sayyaf units have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group that holds vast swathes of Iraq and Syria but analysts say they are more interested in funding than ideology.

How dangerous are they?

The Abu Sayyaf is blamed for deadly bombings, including an attack on a ferry in Manila Bay in 2014 that claimed 116 lives in the country’s deadliest terror assault.

It is also notorious for kidnappings for ransom, murdering foreign and local hostages if huge sums are not paid.

The Abu Sayyaf beheaded an American man in 2002, a Malaysian last year, and two Canadians in April and June.

The United States lists the group as a “foreign terrorist organisation”.

The military estimates its forces to number 400, down from an original 1,000 fighters.

Where are they based?

Abu Sayyaf’s strongholds are the Muslim-populated islands of Jolo and Basilan in the far south of the Philippines, about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from Manila.

Sallying forth in fast boats from the islands, the Abu Sayyaf snatches victims and hides them among sympathetic Muslim communities, many of whom have received money from the militants.

In recent months, the group expanded its activities to include high seas kidnappings of sailors in waters bordering the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

What’s been done to defeat them?

From 2002-2014, the US deployed Special Forces advisers to train and provide intelligence to Filipino troops but scaled back after the Pentagon concluded the group had lost the ability to launch international attacks.

Several Philippine presidents have declared wars on the Abu Sayyaf.

Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia also agreed on joint patrols to prevent kidnappings at sea.

But millions of dollars in ransom money, assistance from locals, and their mastery of the terrain have helped the Abu Sayyaf evade government pursuit.

Why do authorities believe they carried out Friday’s attack?

Officials said the Abu Sayyaf was likely to carry out Friday’s bombing in retaliation for a military offensive Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte declared last week to “destroy” the group.

National Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Abu Sayyaf has a history of launching attacks outside Sulu when pinned down in intense government operations.

The Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for three bomb attacks in 2005 — one in Davao, one in a nearby city and a third in Manila — that killed eight people.

The Abu Sayyaf said it conducted the 2005 attacks in response to an offensive against it at that time.

— Agence France-Presse

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Sayyaf to Du30: Prepare for wa; Rody: What you can dish out, I can do it 10 times posted September 02, 2016 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito and Florante S. Solmerin


A President's thanks. President Rodrigo R. Duterte salutes a soldier slain in an Abu Sayyaf encounter in Sulu during necrological services at the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City. Malacanang Photo

THE Abu Sayyaf taunted President Rodrigo Duterte Wednesday night, warning thousands of government troops he sent to hunt them down in Sulu to prepare for a “test of strength.”

“Starting September 1, the so-called soldiers of Duterte should be prepared for a test which will come from ASG forces,” Radullah Sahiron, Abu Sayyaf commander in Sulu, told the ABS-CBN network.

“If soldiers will not be the ones who will attack, the Abu Sayyaf will be the ones to launch tests against these forces to win Sulu by their terms,” he added.

Duterte, who had ordered the military to crush the Abu Sayyaf in three to six months, admitted that the kidnap-for-ransom bandits could seek retribution, but said he was confident of winning the war with the whole military behind him.

“We should be aware because we are hitting them hard,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City, referring to the Abu Sayyaf. “I expect retribution from them. But what you can dish out, I can do it 10 times better. I have the army, and I have airplanes.”

NOT TAKING SAYYAF THREAT LIGHTLY

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they would not take the Abu Sayyaf threats lightly, after the government lost 15 soldiers in a battle in Patikul, Sulu on Monday.

“If threats like that are made, whether true or not, we take them seriously, especially coming from the ASG. They are a formidable opponent and judging from our casualties last Monday—they must not be taken lightly,” Lorenzana told the Manila Standard.

Since operations started last week, the government has already deployed an additional five batallions or more than 2,500 soldiers to augment the forces in Sulu--bringing the total number to 7,500 as of Wednesday.

Troops deployed in the mountains have launched ground attacks while aerial reconnaissance teams search for ASG commandos in known lairs.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military and police and all other government law enforcement agencies are on heightened alert in the National Capital Region, Davao and Cebu, because of raw information that the ASG might launch diversionary attacks in urban centers.

Duterte recently slammed the terrorist group for killing and mutilating in the name of Allah.

“You think Allah would be happy to see you do that? In the name of Allah, you kill then, unnecessarily, you mutilate the body of the human being?” Duterte said.

Lorenzana said that specific actions to counter the ASG were left to the military.

MEDIA COVERING ASG IN SULU

Journalists who are covering the operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu were moved to a bigger military camp, given threat of attack from the group.

A GMA News report confirmed that the AFP told journalists at the camp of the 35th Infantry Battalion Wednesday night to pack their things so they could move to Camp Teodulfo Bautista.

Some 7,000 civilians have already fled their homes amid fear of renewed hostilities.

Brig. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, who heads Task Force Sulu, said that they will not back down.

“The more that we are hurt, the more that we are motivated to push on with our mandated task,” he said.

Army chief Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año said with conflicts with the communist and Moro rebels silenced by peace talks, the military can now focus on just one mission--to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu and Basilan.

“We are conducting focused operations,” Año said Thursday.

The deployment of more troops in Sulu is part of the overall military strategy to put an end to the reign of terror of the ASG, he added.

“The intensity of operations since Aug. 26 has had substantial results already against the enemy. We’re even putting an additional three battalions in Sulu,” Año said.

ABU LOST 30 FIGHTERS SO FAR

The ASG has lost 30 fighters since the government offensive began, the military says.

The government, on the other hand, lost 15 soldiers in a single battle Monday.

Año said the incident is being investigated to find out what led to the casualties.

“Many of our troops were hit during the first burst of fire. At the time, it was getting dark and it was difficult for the toops to move,” he said in Filipino.

In Camp Aguinaldo, Padilla confirmed the arrival Wednesday of the 63rd IB in Sulu from Samar.

8 BATTALIONS DEPLOYED IN SULU

At present, about 8,000 soldiers or eight battalions have been deployed in Sulu alone to hunt down the terrorists. The strategy is to box in and constrict the terrorists in battle grounds away from civilian communities.

The military has estimated the number of ASG in Sulu to be more or less 200 but acknowledged also that the terror group’s mass base support is huge.

Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, a former military chief, urged the AFP to consider bringing in local government leaders in the all-out war against the ASG.

Biazon said that a successful campaign against the ASG in Sulu and Basilan needs the support of local officials and communities.

The latest offensive was the offshoot of the bandit group’s beheading of 18-year-old Patrick Jhames Almodavar last week.


Metro attacks feared: Davao, Cebu also Sayyaf targets—Defense chief posted August 31, 2016 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito and Florante S. Solmerin


GOING HOME. Filipino troops carry caskets containing bodies of 15 colleagues slain in an encounter with Muslim Abu Sayyaf terrorists and loading them Tuesday into a C-130 cargo plane at the Jolo airport Tuesday. President Rodrigo Duterte (below), a day earlier, provides a wounded soldier with an electronic wheelchair during a fellowship dinner in Malacañang to mark National Heroes Day. AFP

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday the government is preparing for any attacks that the Abu Sayyaf might launch in urban centers as diversionary tactics but played down the need for emergency powers for President Rodrigo Duterte to quash the terrorist group.

In an interview, Lorenzana said that they have received reports that there might be terror attacks on major cities.

“That’s what we are preparing right now. We know they might do diversionary tactics in Manila, Cebu, or Davao, metropolitan centers—that is what the President is fearing, the diversionary actions [that they might do] in urban centers,” Lorenzana told the Manila Standard.

Lorenzana also warned against paying ransom in exchange for any hostages being held, as this would only strengthen the terrorist group.

Lorenzana said with local government units joining the anti-terrorist drive, there was still no need to grant President Duterte emergency powers.

READ MORE...


LORENZANA

At least three senators—Panfilo Lacson, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Vicente Sotto III--have expressed support for granting Duterte additional emergency powers to stop the ASG after a series of kidnappings and beheadings in Mindanao.

Such powers would help Duterte deal more effectively with the terror menace as well as with other serious problems such as illegal drugs, the senators said.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Ricardo Visaya said they would not stop until the ASG is eradicated.

“There may still be casualties along the way as we advance this solemn duty to eradicate these bandits and terrorists of 25 years, but we will not stop until we rid our country of the menace this ASG brings to the world,” Visaya said.

The Palace on Tuesday vowed to relentlessly pursue the Abu Sayyaf after 15 soldiers were killed in an encounter in Sulu.

“It is unfortunate that a number of our troops have already lost their lives,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing.

“The President is focused on making sure that the threat from the Abu Sayyaf Group should be terminated as soon as possible,” he added.


ABELLA

Abella echoed the statements of Lorenzana that the government is going “full force” on the ASG, adding that the series of offensives against the Abu Sayyaf are “manifestations” of Duterte’s campaign against the bandit group.

On Tuesday, the military confirmed that at least 15 soldiers and four Abu Sayyaf members were killed in a series of encounters in Sulu on Monday after the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion and 21st Infantry Batallion fought around 120 members of the ASG.

The firefight also wounded 10 soldiers, while the number of casualties on the Abu Sayyaf side had yet to be confirmed.

Maj. Felimon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said on Tuesday one of the slain was an officer.

He said the soldiers were conducting pursuit operations when they encountered the ASG’s main body led by sub-leader Radullan Sahiron.

All the slain and wounded soldiers were recovered and suffered no mutilation by the terrorists.

He said not a single gun or bullet was lost to the terrorists.

Tan said casualties on the side of the ASG were undetermined.

THE SOLDIERS WHO DIED

Those who died in the Monday encounter in Sitio Kan Jaiul, Barangay Maligay were:

•2nd Lt. Ernan Gusto, 33, a resident of Isabela;
•Staff Sgt. Ruel Catubay, 39, of Zamboanga Sibugay;
•Sgt. Jay Erwin Almohallas, 38, of Lanao del Norte;
•Cpl. Omar Raddulan, 41, of Lanao del Norte;
•Cpl. Ronald Galoniga, 33, of Lanao del Norte;
•Cpl. Elid Ismael, 49, of Sulu;
•Cpl. Salik Mandangan, 31, of Lanao del Norte;
•Private First Class Nestor Bacaling, 26, of Lanao del Norte;
•PFC Jison Falcasantos, 28, of Zamboanga City;
•PFC Gerald Yubal, 29, of Zamboanga Sibugay;
•PFC Dhendo Dujo, 32, of Zamboanga Sibugay;
•PFC Roselito Arnoco, 29, of Zamboanga del Sur;
•PFC Glend Rasma, 24, of North Cotabato;
•PFC Rogelio Vincoy, 28, of Zamboanga del Norte; and,
•PFC Jonas Lumayan, 23, of Zamboanga del Sur
; all members of the 35IB.

Those wounded in the same battle were Cpl. Edgar Andales, Cpl. Ahmad Nuroh, PFC Vinjie Colaljo, PFC Relindo Paglinawan, PFC Rogen Revira, PFC Sabeniano Bercasio, PFC Juvelito Bulhano, PFC Efren Espenesin, PFC Jemar Maictin, and PFC Johnrel Alalag.

On the same day but in a different firefight in Barangay Kutong, Talipao, Cpl. Greggy Jinggoy Banog and Cpl. Joel Laman were also wounded.

Last week, the military stepped up operations against the ASG on orders by President Rodrigo Duterte to eliminate the terrorists.

Duterte has expressed exasperation over the beheadings that the ASG has inflicted on their hostages once their families fail to pay the ransom.

The military said the first series of firefights last week killed at least 21 ASG terrorists, although only six bodies were recovered.

Thousands and thousands of soldiers poured into Sulu and Basilan with the objective of finishing off the ASG scourge.

Duterte has ordered Visaya to finish off the ASG in six months.

In Camp Aguinaldo, the military said they mourned the death of their fellow soldiers and placed the flag at half-staff in their honor. With PNA

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RELATED FROM ASIA TIMES

Abu Sayyaf ready for fierce battle as Duterte sends in more forces BY NOEL TARRAZONA on SEPTEMBER 2, 2016 in ASIA TIMES NEWS & FEATURES, SOUTHEAST ASIA



Most Filipinos were hoping that the Duterte Administration would be able to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf gang in weeks. But the latest killings of 15 soldiers in Sulu prove that the goal is not so easy to achieve.

MINDANAO, Philippines – When the death toll of Abu Sayyaf Group members touched 70 during the military offensive in Basilan and Sulu in August, most Filipinos thought it was the beginning of the end of the group’s more than decades-old reign of terror in Mindanao.


Soldiers carry onto a C130 military plane the caskets of their comrades killed after a battle against Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf in Jolo, Sulu province, southern Philippines August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Nickee Butlangan

With a tough, new president Rodrigo Duterte leading a war on drugs and militancy, they had a reason to believe so. He recently ordered the deployment of five more battalions in Sulu and more forces in Mindanao islands.

But within a fortnight, the 400-strong Abu Sayyaf hit back by killing more than a dozen of Philippine marine soldiers in Sulu, and three army scout rangers in Basilan in separate encounters.

After the soldiers’ killings, pressure was mounting on Duterte to declare a state of emergency in Sulu but he did not make such a move.

Among the latest casualties were 15 foot soldiers, including an army lieutenant, who were ambushed – some of them beheaded – by a group of 70 heavily armed Abu Sayyaf fighters led by Commander Radilon Sahiron. Twelve soldiers were also seriously injured in the attack.

Philippine media said it was the worst single day loss of life for the government troops this year.

One of the wounded soldiers who was later interviewed by a local radio station said the enemy was in a very advantageous position when they (soldiers) were attacked.

“We were in search of the enemy when a group of ASG fighters appeared atop a hill and started raining bullets on us from high-powered firearms. We managed to fight back,” the soldier, who requested anonymity, said from his military hospital bed in Mindanao.

LATEST THREAT

In its latest threat on Thursday, Abu Sayyaf said instead of waiting for soldiers to assault its positions in Sulu, the group will now launch attacks on them.

Abu Sayyaf spokesman Alhabsi Misaya, who works under Radulan Sahiron, described the looming battles with government soldiers as “the last war of Patikul to the finish.”

This “jihad” involving more than a thousand members of the group will be more fierce than that in Zamboanga, Misaya said.

A week before 15 soldiers were killed, a group of elite Philippine soldiers were ambushed. Those killed were Sgt. Audie Vedua, a seasoned scout ranger instructor of the Philippine Army, Marvin Merdania, a scout ranger parachute trainer, and Ronel Dablo, a scout ranger Gold Cross Medal awardee.

The three along with their infantry team were in search of suspected members of Abu Sayyaf when they were attacked by the group in the restive province of Basilan.

The 8,000-odd soldiers deployed in Sulu and Basilan are unable to capture Abu Sayyaf militants who know the jungle terrain like the back of their palm and also have the community support.

In Indanan, Sulu, three marine soldiers of the Marine Battalion landing team were ambushed by suspected Abu Sayyaf members while they were on their way to procure food for their battalion.

The August carnage was among the bloodiest encounters since the military offensive began in Basilan and Sulu provinces after Duterte became the country’s commander in chief.

At the height of the offensive in Sulu, Abu Sayyaf beheaded an 18-year-old student hostage Patrick Almodovar after his family failed to deliver the $21,700 ransom on August 24, the deadline set by the group.

Analysts say the beheading of the student will discourage civilian sympathizers from supporting the Abu Sayyaf as it shows how inhuman the group can be.

Dr. Adrian Semorlan, Asian Sociology Professor, said to Asia Times that the Abu Sayyaf can easily be wiped if local residents support the military by providing them with information on the militants’ hideouts.

GOVT NEEDS COMMUNITY SUPPORT

“The government has to find ways on how to get the support of the community on where Abu Sayyaf leaders reside,” Semorlan said.

Most Filipinos were hoping that Duterte’s iron hand would neutralize the Abu Sayyaf gang. But the latest killings prove that it is not so easy to achieve that goal.

Abu Sayyaf is ambushing their enemies and killing hostages to counter Philippine’s military offensives in Basilan and Sulu, a stronghold of the IS-inspired Abu Sayyaf.

Abu Sayyaf is likely to procure more sophisticated warfare gadgets and get the support of villagers as they have received $1.08 million ransom money in exchange for the release of their Norwegian hostage, Kjartan Sekkingstad.

The group has not yet announced when Sekkingstad would be released. But reports reaching Asia Times say Abu Sayyaf is demanding more ransom. Earlier, it was asking for $6.5 million.

Norway’s Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Forner has been seeking the help of Duterte for the safe release of Sekkingstad.

Aside from the Norweigian national, Abu Sayyaf is holding 22 other hostages. Among them are eight Indonesian sailors, eight Filipinos, five Malaysians and Dutch national Ewold Horm who was abducted in the province of Tawi-Tawi while watching sea birds in the islands in 2012.

Noel Tarrazona is a freelance international journalist. He can be reached at ntarrazona@gmail.com 
(Copyright 2016 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)


PHILSTAR

Duterte rejects emergency power vs Abu Sayyaf (Associated Press) | Updated August 31, 2016 - 1:55pm 2 606 googleplus1 0


President Rodrigo R. Duterte warns corrupt government officials involved in the illegal drug trade in his speech during the celebration of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on August 29. PPD/Ace Morandante

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine president has rejected proposals for him to declare a state of emergency on a violent southern island to be able to more rapidly crush Abu Sayyaf extremists, who killed 15 soldiers this week in the largest single-day combat loss of his government.

President Rodrigo Duterte also announced Wednesday that government troops and police would not enforce a warrant of arrest for prominent Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari, who leads one of two large Islamic insurgent groups in the country's south, so they could talk.

Duterte says Misuari preferred to meet him in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and replied during a phone call Tuesday that he was ready to meet him anywhere.

While Duterte has pursued talks with two Muslim groups, he has ordered troops to destroy the Abu Sayyaf.

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RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

Rody won’t declare martial law in Sulu Written by Ted Tuvera Thursday, 01 September 2016 00:00 font size decrease font size increase font size Print Be the first to comment!


DUTERTE: “You know, in a war like this, nobody wins. The cost is a waste of guns and bullets that are useless anyway” he added.

President Duterte dismissed hints of declaring a state of emergency in Sulu as a series of noticeable offensives are being launched against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

“It’s just punitive police action by the security forces of the government. The magnitude of the trouble there does not warrant anything except the industry of the (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and (Philippine National Police),” the Commander in Chief told reporters yesterday in Pasay City prior to his departure to Zamboanga City to visit the wake of 15 soldiers killed in a crossfire with the bandits in Patikul town last Monday.

“You know, in a war like this, nobody wins. The cost is a waste of guns and bullets that are useless anyway” he added.

In his speech in Zamboanga, Duterte described the ASG as “cannibals” for their inhumane treatment of hostages and soldiers who, even in death, are being disfigured.

“I have a problem with the Abu Sayyaf because they are terrorists and the killing — beheading foreigners, civilians or soldiers are seen all over the world,” he said.

“My appeal. Fight but do not add grief to the family by destroying the body… You think Allah would be happy to see you do like that? In the name of Allah you kill unnecessarily, you mutilate the body of the human being,” the President added.

Just last Tuesday, Malacañang admitted that it has increased the number of troops in Sulu.

Without necessarily saying it directly, top Palace aides already gave hints that the government is in an “all-out-war” mode against the ASG.

“We are going full force and all out operations against (the ASG in Sulu)… The President is focused on making sure that the threat from the Abu Sayyaf Group should be terminated as soon as possible,” said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella on Tuesday.

“(These) are manifestations of his campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group,” he said as a reply to query if the government is already waging what Duterte mouths as the “reckoning” or if it is already a sort of an “all-out-war”.

Meanwhile, Duterte in condoling the families of the 15 fallen soldiers he visited promised to give them certain benefits such being enrolled in the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program plus monthly allowances.


PHILSTAR

PNP: No Abu Sayyaf threat in Metro Manila By AJ Bolando (philstar.com) | Updated August 31, 2016 - 5:02pm 0 11 googleplus0 0


Philippine National Police national head quarters in Quezon City. Philstar.com/AJ Bolando, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday assured the public that there is no threat of Abu Sayyaf in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos said that an interagency assessment monitoring regularly the activities of Abu Sayyaf.

Carlos said that the rebel group has a low presence outside the provinces of Sulu and Basilan where their camps are located.

“We assure the public that the inter-agency meets regularly to do an assessment to the level of threats in Metro Manila and in other parts of the country. Kung ‘yan ay nag-escalate ang threat level, malalaman noong mga agencies involved in this council o committee,” the PNP official said.

READ: 15 Filipino troops killed in clash with Abu Sayyaf rebels

The assurance to the public came following the relentless attack of the government against the rebel group after President Rodrigo Duterte’s ordered to crush them.

In the recent encounter, 15 government troops were killed, while five were wounded in Patikul, Sulu on Monday. Two, meanwhile, died from the extremists.

Carlos also guaranteed the public of their safety as authorities’ “intelligence community” is ready.

“Kung ‘yung pangamba nila na tatakbo sila (Abu Sayyaf) rito to divert ‘yung ginagawang operation ng gobyerno sa down south ay nakahanda ang ating forces here in Metro Manila and in other parts of the country,” he said.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Duterte to Misuari: Come out, let’s talk BY LLANESCA T. PANTI ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2016 HEADLINES


NUR MISUARI

No arrest when he arrives in Manila

WHETHER in Malacañang or Kuala Lumpur, President Rodrigo Duterte is raring to meet Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari, after the two talked for the first time by phone Tuesday night to discuss peace.

Duterte said he invited Misuari to visit the Palace to talk about the fugitive rebel leader’s participation in negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is seeking to carve a self-ruling Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

Duterte is pursuing a conciliatory stance toward Misuari and the MNLF rebels, who were sidelined by the previous Aquino administration’s pursuit of a peace settlement with the rival MILF.

The President said he was willing to set aside a warrant of arrest against Misuari for rebellion as well as the deadly standoff between the military and pro-Misuari forces in Zamboanga City in August 2013.

The 77-year-old Misuari, who reached a final peace deal with the Ramos administration in 1996 and served as governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao from 1996 to 2001, declared the Bangsamoro’s independence in July 2013.

Misuari and rogue MILF commander Umbra Kato took over Zamboanga City and used civilians as human shields during the siege that left at least 300 people dead and 120,000 families displaced.

On Wednesday, Duterte said: “I told him, ‘Nur, I have no intention of detaining you or placing you in the custody of the government. You can simply walk out there … ask any soldier and police to escort you. Wherever I will be, we’ll talk.’”

The President said he would ask the police and military not to arrest Misuari, who is in Sulu.

“I am the commander in chief of the police and the military. I would just say, don’t touch him (Misuari). If there is a warrant of arrest, all I have to do is not to implement it against him,” Duterte said in a speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after welcoming overseas Filipino workers repatriated from Saudi Arabia.

Misuari wants KL

There will be bigger problems if Misuari is arrested, the President argued.

“Because if you arrest Misuari, you [will have to]place him under the custody of the police in [Camp Crame]. If he dies there for whatever reason, we’re compromised. It will be hard for us. He’s the only known leader who has the influence and the structure. Nobody else,” Duterte explained.

“The most important thing here is the ongoing dialogue because peace in Mindanao will save us a lot of money,” he added.

Duterte said Misuari requested a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“I can go to him. I can go to Jolo, [Sulu] if he wants. Or if he wants somebody there, they can bring him back to Davao City or in Manila. He can be my guest in Malacañang, in the People’s Palace, and we can talk there for a while,” Duterte said.

Misuari, among others, sought a federal state for the Tausugs and the restoration of the barter trade, the President said.

Congress is expected to revise the 1987 Constitution as a Constituent Assembly in January 2017 to pave the way for a shift to a federal form of government from a unitary one.

“Back in the day, everybody was busy making a living during the barter trade. So I said, we can bring that back in a federal system. Barter trade was there before any government was set up in Mindanao and therefore, logic would indicate that if you restore this historical livelihood, it might help promote peace in the island of Mindanao,” Duterte said.

The President was supposed to meet Misuari in Jolo on August 12, but the meeting did not push through.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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