AFP chief Cirilito Sobejana promoted to 4-star general

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021   •   273

General Cirilito Sobejana

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana on Wednesday officially donned his four-star insignia, several weeks after he was promoted to the AFP’s top post.

The donning of rank ceremony held at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City was presided by Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary Cesar Yano, on behalf of Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who is currently in isolation due to COVID-19.

A traditional military honor was subsequently accorded to the chief of staff at the AFP general headquarters canopy area. This was attended by his family and the chiefs of the Joint, Personal, and Special Staff of the AFP.

“While these stars firmly resting on my shoulders are a testament to my personal achievements, it is still a strong reminder to everyone that should never be conscious of their positions but should remain humble and thankful, and to always exercise due prudence and diligence in the discharge of their respective duties and responsibilities,” Sobejana said in a statement.

“While these stars firmly resting on my shoulders are a testament to my personal achievements, it is still a strong…

Posted by Armed Forces of the Philippines on Wednesday, April 14, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the promotion of Sobejana last April 8 after the Commission on Appointments approved the latter’s nomination to the rank of general on March 24.

Meanwhile, three senior military officers also received their next higher rank in a ceremony held at Silid Lapu-Lapu in GHQ Building on Wednesday afternoon.

Colonel Joel Alejandro Nacnac, Chief of the AFP Human Rights Office; Colonel Edgardo Palma, Chief of the Office of the Special Studies and Strategy Management; and Colonel Erick Escarcha, Chief of AFP Command Center donned their first stars as Brigadier Generals.

Terrorist group sub-leader killed in Maguindanao ops – military

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A local terrorist group sub-leader was neutralized in a special military operation in Maguindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) said.

In a statement, WestMinCom chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr. said the operation was conducted on May 11 in Barangay Dapaiawan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao.

Members of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade launched the operation, which led to the death of Kopang Sahak, a.k.a. Tarzan, a sub-leader of the Daulah Islamiyah-Maguid Group.

Kopang Sahak had a standing warrant of arrest for frustrated murder charges and was also listed in the Department of National Defense (DND) Arrest Order No. 216, according to 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade commander, Colonel Pedro Balisi.

“With the neutralization of their leader, it is expected that the group will weaken,” Vinluan said.

Major General Juvymax Uy, commander of the Joint Task Force Central, said state forces will continue to mount offensives to go after the remaining members of the Daulah Islamiyah-Maguid Group in the area.

Since January 2021, a total of 11 Daulah Islamiyah personalities were neutralized in central Mindanao, the military said.

2 Abu Sayyaf Group leaders, 6 members arrested in Sabah

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Two alleged sub-leaders and six members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were nabbed in Jalan Taman Sri Arjuna, Beaufort, Sabah, a military official said Monday.

In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr. said the joint operation that occurred around 3 a.m. on Saturday, May 8, was jointly conducted by troops from the AFP and the Malaysia’s Eastern Sabah Southern Command (ESSCOM).

The military identified the arrested persons as Sansibar Bensio, and Mabar Binda, both sub-leaders of the Eastern Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf Group;

Muayyar Binda, a certain Sansis, and a certain Firdaus, who are all under Mabar Binda; Lugah Sanchez and Bonijar Samsula, both members under the late ASG sub-leader Juhurim Hussein (Patikul-based); and Alim Sukarno, a member under Sansibar Bensio.

According to Joint Task Force Sulu commander Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, Bensio and Binda are both sub-leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group/Kidnap-for-Ransom Group based on the eastern/second district of Sulu.

“They are involved in the series of armed confrontations with the military including the encounter on July 2011 at Sitio Tubig Magtuh, Barangay Panglayahan, Patikul, Sulu wherein the late 2nd Lt. Michael Baladad of the Philippine Marines was beheaded,” Gonzales said.

The military said the two were also involved in the encounters at Bay Sunog, Bud Bawis Complex in February 2018 that resulted in the deaths of five ASG members;  Sitio Jatih, Bud Bawis Complex in December 2019 that resulted in the rescue of two Indonesian nationals and the death of the late ASG sub-leader Hairulla Abduraja; and the encounter at Bay Takas, Bud Bawis Complex in November 2020 that resulted in the deaths of ASG member Bensio Barahama and sub-leader Hatib Munap Binda.

“Bensio was also involved in the kidnapping of foreign nationals identified as Lorenzo Vinciguerra (Swiss National), Ewold Horn (Dutch National), Samiun Bin Maneu (Indonesian National), Maharudin Bin Lunani (Indonesian National), and Muhammad Farhan (Indonesian National),” the AFP-WestMinCom said.

The group also victimized several Filipinos, including Ronnie Sandagon, Jerel Pepito, Eddie Reubal, Marcial España, Arvin Sabaduquia, Rufino Bustillo, Joseph Bani, Hajan Terong, Joshua Bani, and Michelle Tolentino Panes.

Binda, on the other hand, was also involved in the kidnapping of the Indonesian nationals mentioned above.

According to 4th Marine Brigade Commander Col. Hernanie Songano, the now-apprehended group of ASG bandits fled to Sabah where they established an ASG cell after they were forced out of the province of Sulu due to focused military operations and civil-military cooperation.

“The intensified intelligence operations and the support of the community coupled with the constant coordination between the AFP and the ESSCOM contributed to the successful neutralization of the ASG sub-leaders and their cohorts. The arrest of these terrorists is a big blow to the ASG” Vinluan said.

“My congratulations to the troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu and the ESSCOM for the aggressive measures taken to ensure that these terrorists will not be able to conduct horrendous activities anymore particularly off waters of Sabah” he added.

AFP chief Sobejana calls for vigilance in Maguindanao after BIFF threat in Datu Paglas

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana called on local officials and residents in Maguindanao to remain vigilant despite the thwarted attack of the members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

“I enjoin the populace of and local leaders in Maguindanao to remain vigilant as we continue our watch until peace is stabilized,” Sobejana said in a statement.

On Saturday, around 20 BIFF members led by Mohiden Animbang a.k.a. Karialan occupied the Datu Paglas public market.

But state security forces drove them away before they could attack civilian residents.

No civilian or military casualties were reported.

Elements from the Joint Task Central and the 601st Infantry Brigade dealt with the group, which has been the subject of intense military operations for the past days, the AFP said.

Karialan and his group were said to be the ones behind the reported explosions in Datu Saudi Ampatuan in March 2021 and caused the death of two civilians and wounding of two others.

“The extremist groups were forced to withdraw in the same morning after security forces were able to isolate the area. The national highway was again open for public commuters at around 10:30 in the morning of the same day after the clearing of the area was confirmed by security forces,” JTF Central spokesperson Lt. Col. John Baldomar said.

The military recovered four improvised explosive devices left by the BIFF members.

Sobjana said the situation has already normalized but assured that security forces “will not rest until the threat is neutralized.”

“Let us continue to engage local government authorities, stakeholders, and civilians to ensure that peace and security in Datu Paglas and its neighboring towns are preserved,” Sobejana said.

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