1 dead, 3 hurt in military clash with Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021   •   281

MANILA, Philippines — A suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member was killed while three soldiers were injured in a gunfight in Sulu, the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) said Friday.

In a statement, the AFP-WestMincom said the encounter between the ASG and the operating forces of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu occurred early morning Friday in Barangay Kagay, Indanan.

The bandits fled the scene after the firefight that lasted for five minutes.

JTF Sulu commander Major General William Gonzales identified the slain ASG member as Arab Undo, one of the remaining followers of the slain ASG senior leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Authorities recovered from the clash site one cal. 45 pistol, one backpack, a solar panel, personal belongings, and food items.

Meanwhile, the three soldiers who were wounded in the encounter were brought to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital for medical attention. They are now in stable condition.

“Pursuit and blockade are being conducted by the Joint Task Force Sulu to thwart the extrication of the local terrorists group,” Gonzales said.

“This is another one blow to the ASG and we hope we could be able to neutralize the remaining members of the terrorist group the soonest,” he added.

PH military receives P2.7M worth of IT, multimedia equipment from Australia

Robie de Guzman   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said it has received Information Technology (IT) and multimedia equipment worth P2.7 million from the Australian government.

AFP chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana received the donation in a ceremony held at Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday, June 23.

“With these newly donated IT and multimedia equipment, the AFP will be able to amplify its capability of preventing and countering violent extremism, here in our country,” General Cirilito Sobejana said in a statement.

Among the donated equipment were high-tech computers, tablets, storage devices, smart TVs, cameras, and audio recording components.

The donation was under the mutually agreed Australia-Philippines Enhanced Defence Cooperation Program.

Australian Defence Attaché Colonel Paul Joseph Barta said these equipment will help the AFP in its efforts to counter the threat of terrorism in the Philippines.

“The equipment will assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ office for the prevention and countering of violent extremism research to achieve its mission – by documenting and understanding the drivers of radicalization, effective strategies for prevention of violent extremism can be found,” Barta said.

Sobejana expressed gratitude to the Australian government and the Australian Defence Force for the donation.

“Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the Australian Government and the Australian Defence Force for their continued support to the AFP in the ongoing fight against terrorism. It is through these initiatives that our members become more empowered to fulfil their mandate to secure the state and protect the Filipino people,” he said.

With the new equipment, the AFP said access and exchange of information among military allies shall be made more available and secured.

It also assured it continues to strengthen its counter-terrorism capabilities within the cyberspace where access to available information is critical.

“We have already made great strides in enhancing our capabilities in the cyberspace environment. However, we do acknowledge that much is still needed,” Sobejana said.

“After the grueling Marawi siege in 2017 against the ISIS-Maute Group, and the lessons that we have to learn the hard way, the AFP is more than determined to prevent any incidents of the same nature from ever happening in the future,” he added.

PH military receives P183-M worth of new weapons, equipment from US

Robie de Guzman   •   June 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has received weapons and equipment amounting to $3.8 million, equivalent to P183 million from the US government.

In a statement, the US Embassy in the Philippines said on Tuesday that officials from the Joint United States Military Assistance Group-Philippines (JUSMAG-P) delivered the weapons and equipment to the AFP at the Clark Air Base.

The delivery, funded by both Philippine national funds and U.S. grant assistance, included nine M3P .50 caliber heavy machine guns, 10 mortar tubes, and other equipment.

This is intended to enhance the AFP’s counterterrorism and maritime security capabilities, the embassy said.

“The United States will continue to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ capacity-building efforts through joint training and key military equipment transfers,” JUSMAG-Philippines Chief and Senior Defense Official to the Philippines Col. Stephen Ma said in a statement.

“Our mutual security collaboration remains a cornerstone of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added.

The United States and the Philippines are commemorating the 70th year since the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty, and this delivery continues the United States’ longstanding commitment to our Filipino allies, the embassy said.

Since 2015, the United States has provided more than Php48.6 billion ($1 billion) in security assistance to the Philippines, it added.

PH military to acquire more assets to beef up air defense capability

Robie de Guzman   •   June 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday said it is eyeing to acquire additional modern defense assets to build up the military’s air capability and competency.

 “We will pursue the acquisition of more modern assets such as the Multi-Role Fighters to beef-up our air defense capability. These shall boost the morale and welfare of our troops because after all, our personnel are our greatest and most valuable asset,” AFP chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana said during his official visit to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) at the 5th Fighter Wing headquarters in Basa Air Base, Pampanga.

Sobejana also reiterated to Air Force personnel the importance of their role in the overall accomplishment of the AFP mission.

“What should enter into our minds is the responsibility of being a soldier. We need that sense of patriotism and love for our country and our people. It is only in that way that we are able to do our best effort to protect our people and defend our territory,” he said.

During the visit, Sobejana also joined in the FA-50PH Tactical Capability Demonstration Flight.

“The experience that I have for the past 45 minutes up in the air on our Philippine Air Force’ FA-50PH made me feel the significance of our air assets in our campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters and other terrorists groups that we are fighting against,” he said.

The PAF’s FA-50PH aircraft stationed in Basa Air Base are among air assets being utilized by the AFP in its joint air and ground operations against local terrorists and communist terrorists groups.

After the demonstration flight, the AFP chief was presented with the Mach 1+ Patch by Brigadier General Fabian Pedregosa, Wing Commander of the 5th Fighter Wing; the Mach Buster Certificate by Major General Connor Canlas, Commander of the Air Defense Command; and the FA-50PH Patch by Lieutenant General Allen Paredes, Commanding General of PAF.

The AFP said Sobejana has been visiting various military units, including major service commands, to check on the welfare of their personnel.

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