Tag Archive: Moro National Liberation Front

The Armed Forces plans to step up security in the sea border with Malaysia through a new base being built in Zamboanga City.

“We need to secure our borders with Malaysia,” AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang told reporters in a visit to the city over the weekend.

Catapang, who made his first visit to Zamboanga City as military chief, said the plan is particularly aimed at preventing transnational crimes.

“Global na ‘yung threats eh, global trafficking, global smuggling, and there is this problem of our fellow Filipinos being questioned, deported,” he said.

The maritime border with Malaysia is also notorious for kidnappings.

To address these, the base being built in Brgy. Rio Hondo will host some of the Navy’s ships and newly-acquired helicopters, Catapang said.

The base will also have a marina and host personnel from other security agencies like the police, he said.

“If you enter Zamboanga, you will have to pass through that forward operating base para ma-check kung saan ka ba galing, then we can patrol, and kung malalaki ‘yung bangkang ipapasok, we can challenge them,” Catapang said.

The facility is being built on a half-hectare plot inside “ground zero,” a term coined for the area destroyed by last September’s deadly attack by members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

It is expected to be finished early next year.

Aside from boosting territorial defense, the military wants the base to serve as an assurance to residents that the MNLF attack – popularly known as the Zamboanga Seige – will not happen again.

“Up to now the apprehension is there, but if they (residents) see that we are putting up the units, the base, we are making sure that it will never happen again,” Catapang said.

“If that assurance needs the deployment of more troops, the physical presence of troops, we are going to do that,” he added. (John Roson)

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A Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) commander and an Abu Sayyaf member were killed in a four-hour clash with Army soldiers and troops of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Al Barka, Basilan, Saturday, military officials said.

Killed were BIFF commander Basir Kasaran and Abu Sayyaf member Misuari Jamiri, Army 18th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Paolo Perez said.

Kasaran was the highest-ranking BIFF leader in Basilan and was also third in the Abu Sayyaf’s heirarchy in the province, Perez said in a text message.

One member of the MNLF, who worked along with government troops, also died in the fighting, he said.

The clash in Brgy. Kuhon Lennuh erupted around 5 a.m. and lasted until 9 a.m., Perez said.

Elements of the 18th IB “ambushed” Abu Sayyaf members with the help of MNLF members led by Ombong Malatin alias Commander Cobra, he said.

“Nauna sila (MNLF) with an intelligence team, then nag-reinforce ‘yung two platoons ko with mortars dahil naipit sila sa noong mag-pintakasi ‘yung ibang Abu Sayyaf,” Perez added.

Malatin is working with the Army because he has siblings who are among MNLF members integrated into the military, Perez said.

He said members of Kasaran’s BIFF group are also Abu Sayyaf members.

“Isang grupo lang ‘yan, same banana with different letters. Parehong suportado ng al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah, pareho lang terorista,” he said.

Brigadier General Carlito Galvez, commander of the Army’s 104th Brigade, said the death of Kasaran is a “great blow” to both the BIFF and Abu Sayyaf in Basilan.

Kasaran was responsible for a series of atrocities against residents of Al Barka, including a massive looting incident in 2013, Galvez said.

“Kasaran led the Abu Sayyaf in ransacking houses in Matata, Kuhon Lennuh, and Danapa during the barangay election last year. While the people were casting their votes, his group and the Abu Sayyaf looted all the valuable items and belongings inside the unattended houses. Kinatatakutan si Basir sa Al Barka,” he said.

Jamiri, on the other hand, was a cousin of Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Nurhassan Jamiri, Galvez added. (John Roson)

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Seven soldiers were injured as government troops clashed anew with Moro gunmen in Lamitan City, Basilan, on Friday, authorities said.

About 100 members of the Abu Sayyaf and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) carried out an attack on a building near the city’s port 9:55 a.m., Col. Carlito Galvez, commander of the Army’s 104th Brigade, said.

Members of the Army’s 18th Infantry Battalion and Scout Rangers who were deployed to the area due to a previous clash on Thursday engaged the attacking gunmen, he said.

“Nagsimula ang bakbakan and then we were subjected by the enemy to mortar fires, but we were able to repulse their onslaught,” Galvez said.

“Ang palagay ko ang target talaga nila (gunmen) is makapasok dun sa sentro ng Lamitan,” he said.

Galvez expressed belief that the attack is related to the ongoing “standoff” between government troops and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF) members in Zamboanga City, just a boat ride away.

“Most probably it is related sa Zambo issue saka alam natin na ang Abu Sayyaf gusto nyang magkaroon ng leverage to gain support from the BIFF and the MNLF para maganda ang broad base niya for another recruitment,” he said.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces public affairs chief, said the clash lasted for two hours before the gunmen fled.

“The gunmen failed to overwhelm a ARMM-DPWH satellite building,” he said.

A military helicopter landed at the nearby Claret High School’s open ground to fetch the wounded soldiers.

Galvez said clashes on Thursday and Friday prompted the Lamitan City government to order evacuations.

Thursday’s clash in Brgy. Colonia left a militiaman and three Moro gunmen killed, and 12 other persons injured, according to the military.

As of Friday morning, at least 120 families or 2,000 persons have already evacuated, Ramon Santos, Office of Civil Defense-ARMM director, said.

The number of evacuees were still rising as of Friday afternoon, Santos said in a text message.

The evacuees came from Brgys. Bulanting, Campo Uno, Colonia, Cabobo, and Balobo, Senior Supt. Mario Dapilloza, Basilan provincial police director, said.

The evacuees, mostly women and children, are staying at the Datu Dizal evacuation center while other residents are still staying in their homes, he said.

Dapilloza shared Galvez’s view that the attacks are related to the standoff in Zamboanga City.

“This is a diversionary tactic ng Abu Sayyaf at lost command ng MNLF para ‘yung attention ay ma-focus naman dito, para magkaroon ng division ‘yung operating units sa ground sa Zamboanga,” he said.

Dapilloza said security has been tightened in Basilan since the standoff started.

“In place na ang security since mangyari ‘yung sa Zamboanga dahil we received intelligence reports na isusunod ang Lamitan… parang sa Zamboanga, parang balak nilang pasukin din,” he said.

Dapilloza said more policemen and soldiers have been sent to Maluso, another coastal town on the opposite site of the island-province. (John Roson)

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Two Army personnel, including an officer, and six suspected Abu Sayyaf members were killed as government troops clashed with bandits who ambushed them in Al Barka, Basilan, on Monday, military officials said.

Col. Carlito Galvez, commander of the Army’s 104th Brigade, identified the fatalities on the government side as Maj. Alin Kannung, executive officer of the 32nd Infantry Battalion, and Tsgt. Ferdinand Costan.

Six suspected Abu Sayyaf members were killed but only two bodies, identified to be those of a certain “Mingkong” and Mardan Sapilin, were recovered, Galvez said.

Four other soldiers, including Cpl. Julambre Sabri of the 18th Infantry Battalion, were injured during the clash while three Abu Sayyaf members wer reportedly wounded, he said.

The clash occurred around 3 p.m. while members of the 32nd and 18th IB were passing through Sitio Pagtawanan, Brgy. Magcawa, on military vehicles.

The soldiers were on their way to Brgy. Bohe Piang to distribute livestock and inspect future projects of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), when they were ambushed by about 30 fully-armed men, Galvez said.

The armed men are members of the Abu Sayyaf and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters led by Basir Kasaran alias Commander Basir and Musana Jamiri, he said.

“The government forces were subjected to mortar and sniper fires for three hours,” Galvez said.

“Naka-dismount naman ‘yung mga tropa natin during that and were able to fight back,” he said.

Kannung, a native of Tipo-Tipo, was a former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander who was integrated into the Armed Forces after the government signed a peace agreement with that rebel group in 1996, Col. Rodrigo Gregorio, AFP Western Mindanao spokesman, said.

After joining the AFP, Kannung had been “very active” in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and this is believed to be the cause of the bandits’ hatred on him, Gregorio said.

Kannung’s group was to distribute goats and other livestock as part of the 104th Brigade’s livelihood assistance to residents of Brgys. Kambug and Bohe Piang, when they were ambushed, according to the regional military spokesman.

The area is the “home base” of Commander Dan Asnawi, Gregorio said.

Asnawi commands an armed unit of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with whom soldiers figured in a bloody clash on Oct. 18, 2011. Nineteen soldiers and five MILF guerrillas died in that fighting.

Gregorio said all the soldiers who were injured in Monday’s clash have been airlifted to the Camp Navarro Station Hospital in Zamboanga City.

Members of the 18th IB, backed by members of the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion, continued distributing livestock to residents of Brgy. Magcawa on Tuesday, despite the ambush, Galvez said. (John Roson)

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Two people were killed while two policemen were wounded when a bomb exploded at a hotel in Cagayan de Oro City early Thursday, police said.

A few hours later, a second bomb was found in the city. Another exploded in front of a commercial compound in Imelda, Zamboanga Sibugay, Wednesday night, injuring a teenaged boy.

Senior Supt. Gerardo Rosales, Cagayan de Oro City Police director, identified the fatalities as Rudy Jote, an employee of the Willshire Inn, and a certain “Toto,” a passenger vehicle dispatcher.

PO1 Rogelio Canilanza and PO1 Dexter Daño were brought to the Polymedic Hospital because of shrapnel wounds to the legs and back, Rosales said.

The explosion occurred shortly before 2 a.m. beside the Maxandria Hotel at the corner of J.R. Borja st. and Aguinaldo st.

Around 1:50 a.m., a desk officer of the hotel called the local police, seeking assistance for what appeared to be a bomb left by three unidentified persons, Rosales said.

Canilanza, Daño, and some other policemen went to the scene, but the bomb exploded while they were conducting a “visual investigation,” the city police chief said.

2nd bomb found

Chief Supt. Gil Hitosis, Northern Mindanao regional police director, said another improvised explosive device (IED) was found under a pick-up in the city around 7:30 a.m.

The second explosive, which was apparently made by the same group that bombed the hotel, was disrupted by policemen, he said.

All police units in Northern Mindanao have been placed under “full alert” and directed to increase visibility on the streets and conduct checkpoints to prevent the proliferation of bombs and firearms, Hitosis said.

Boy hurt in Zambo blast

Meanwhile, another bomb exploded at the commercial complex in Brgy. Poblacion, Imelda, Zamboanga Sibugay, around 7:40 p.m. Wednesday, injuring 14-year-old Alraffy Barabadan Bano.

An improvised explosive device went off in front of the M&M Alrafhi garments shop owned by Merpha Barabadan Bano, a relative of the victim, Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command, said.

Local police are still trying to determine the bombers’ identities and motive, he said.

Peace deal detractors behind blasts?

Hitosis, whose office supervises the Cagayan de Oro City Police, said he is not discounting the possibility that the explosions were carried out by groups who oppose the recently signed “framework agreement” between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“Tinitingnan namin dyan ay ‘yung link ng explosion sa nearby areas namin… Alam mo naman na ‘yung govt natin ay may ongoing peace deal sa isang grupo at ‘yung isa namang grupo ay parang disgruntled. Bukod pa dun ‘yung isa pang grupo na mukhang ayaw din,” Hitosis told reporters in a phone interview.

The Moro National Liberation Front, who had signed a peace agreement with the government in Sept. 1996, warned that the accord with the MILF violates theirs and could result into unrest.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which broke away from the MILF, had also voiced opposition to the framework agreement.

Hitosis, however, noted that there was still no strong evidence linking the blasts to the peace deal. (John Roson)

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The government plans to integrate members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) into the Philippine National Police under the framework agreement reached by their peace panels, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said.

“A consultation will be held to map out the plan,” Gazmin told reporters at an award-giving ceremony for disaster response teams in Camp Aguinaldo, Wednesday.

The plan is part of reintegrating MILF fighters into the society after they disarm and de-mobilize, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, whose office supervises the police, said at the same event.

“‘Yung mga talagang mahuhusay at nagpapakita na marunong silang sumumod sa disciplines ng armed services ay maaring ma-integrate sa armed services din, whether that is in the AFP or in the PNP,” Roxas said.

Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo, PNP spokesman, said the force will respect any agreement between the government and MILF if it is deemed to pave the way for peace in Mindanao.

“Kung ito ang magiging susi, kung magkakaroon po tayo ng sinasabi nating genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao, ay supportive po kami sa ganitong klase ng idea,” Cerbo said in a phone interview.

Reminded that some MILF members are facing criminal charges and included in the PNP’s most wanted list, Cerbo said: “‘Yan naman ay mapapag-usapan, kaya depende na rin kung ano ang mapagkakayarian ng both parties… kami naman ay open, sa ganitong usapin.”

Once the plan materializes, it will be the second time for the government to integrate members of a rebel group into its security forces.

In October 1996, then President Fidel Ramos ordered the integration of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) guerrillas into the Armed Forces of the Philippines after the government and MNLF reached a final peace agreement the previous month.

The agreement provided for the integration of 5,750 MNLF members into the AFP and auxiliary services.

Meanwhile, Gazmin assured that the government will address the MNLF’s concerns over the accord with the MILF.

“Magkakaroon din ng consultation sa kanila (MNLF), hindi naman basta isusubo sa kanila ‘yun, magkakaroon ng mga interactions,” the defense chief said.

Television and newspaper reports earlier quoted MNLF officials, including chairman Nur Misuari, as saying that the deal with the MILF violates the one with the MNLF.

“That is a remote possibility,” Gazmin said, when asked whether he thinks there will be hostilities with the MNLF. (John Roson)

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Armed men shot dead a consultant of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu and his daughter in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, on Saturday, police officials said.

Said Salik Sr. died in the attack and his daughter Juhera Tambulangon expired while being treated at the Ala Hospital in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat provincial police director Senior Supt. Danilo Peralta said.

The shooting occurred around 12:30 p.m. while Salik and Tambulangon, both residents of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao, were traveling with other family members along the National Highway in Purok Paghidait, Brgy. Impao.

Two men on a motorcycle fired upon Salik’s white Mitsubishi pick-up (MBH-386) then fled towards the direction of Esperanza and neighboring Maguindanao.

Initial field reports recieved by the Central Mindanao regional police indicated that Salik was a former mayor of Datu Unsay, but Peralta said he had no such information.

“Former MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) field commander siya (Salik) at consultant ni Gov. Toto Mangudadatu. Businessman din,” Peralta said.

“We are looking at business angle and family feud or rido as motives since the suspects riding on the motorcycle followed their (Salik family) vehicle from Datu Unsay to Isulan,” the police official added. (John Roson)

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The number of families displaced by fighting among members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front increased to almost 300 as the two groups clashed anew in Carmen, North Cotabato, on Friday, a military official said.

Colonel Prudencio Asto, public affairs chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said 287 families from Brgy. Tonganon are presently taking refuge in Brgys. Lawili and New Panay in Aleosan.

Around 6 a.m. Friday, the groups of commander Teo Minanimbong of the MNLF and commander Karim Sagadan of the MILF’s 110th Base Command clashed in Sitio Misalan, one of Tonganon’s sub-villages.

Firefight lasted for almost 15 minutes and resulted in the wounding of Abubakar Ali, 35, one of the leaders of Minanimbong’s group, Asto said in a text message.

Ali suffered a bullet wound on his stomach and was brought to the Aleosan District Hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, Asto said the volatile situation in Tonganon “worsened” when members of the village’s civilian volunteer organization joined the conflict.

However, the firefight subsided when a platoon of the 7th Infantry Battalion arrived for “peace enforcement,” he said, adding that the soldiers are still dispatched in the area and are monitoring the situation.

On Wednesday, Minanimbong’s group also figured in a skirmish with followers of Sagadan and commander Tarzan Dagadas in Sitio Misalan.

Three days earlier, Dagadas’ group reportedly “harassed” Minanimbong’s followers at the Katian Post.

The skirmishes between the MNLF and MILF members, which have been going on and off since late March, are said to be due to a long-standing family feud, not a war between the two Muslim rebel groups. (John Roson)

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