AFP to assess tactics, procedures after Jolo incident

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2020   •   1198

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said it will review its existing protocols to see if these are in need of improvements following the unfortunate incident involving a group of policemen and soldiers in Jolo, Sulu.

In a statement, AFP spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said the AFP chief of staff General Felimon Santos Jr. and Philippine National Police chief Police General Archie Gamboa have agreed to revisit each Technique, Tactics, and Procedure (TTPs) to “determine if these are current and are followed religiously to prevent the incident from happening again.”

On Monday, June 29, four soldiers were killed after they were accosted by local police officers.

The Philippine Army earlier said the four men, who were wearing civilian clothes, were on an official mission when they were spotted by police officers on patrol.

When questioned by cops, the four men allegedly introduced themselves as members of the AFP. They were then asked to proceed to the Jolo Municipal Police Station for verification.

However, initial police report said the soldiers attempted to escape prompting police to give chase. When the men got off their vehicle, they allegedly pointed their firearms at the police, which prompted the cops to fire at them, resulting in their death.

But Philippine Army Commanding General Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay criticized the spot report of the police, calling it “fabricated,” and “full of inconsistencies.” He also tagged the incident as a “rubout” and “murder” after noting that the soldiers did not try to escape and never fired a single shot towards police officers.

According to Arevalo, Gapay’s comments on the incident were based from “a learned evaluation of information” that were presented to him.

“His point of view is supported by spot reports and eye-witness accounts of two civilians and of a motorcycle-riding soldier who was part of the operation trailing the SUV boarded by the four intelligence personnel,” he said.

While there is an initial result of the autopsy, Arevalo said the AFP will not reveal it yet to avoid preempting its announcement.

The slain soldiers were given military arrival honors when their remains were brought at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City on Tuesday afternoon.

“We share the grief of LTGen Gapay and his call for an impartial and thorough investigation and his quest for justice as he minced no words in calling for accountability and liability for those involved in the incident,” he added.

Arevalo also shared that as a way forward and apart from the yearning for justice, AFP chief Santos has tasked members of the staff and subordinate commanders to ensure that these soldiers who died in line of duty will be given the assistance, benefits, and entitlements due them.

The military also hopes for a swift yet thorough investigation of the incident, with the express cooperation of the PNP and the AFP.

“While we are in search for truth and justice, we are also mindful not to allow the enemies of the state to take advantage of the incident to create a divide between the AFP and the PNP,” Arevalo said.

ASG sub-leader, 3 members killed in Sulu – AFP

Marje Pelayo   •   June 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) of the Armed Forces of of the Philippines (AFP) reported the death of a notorious Abu Sayyaf Group sub-leader and three of his followers in a law enforcement operation in Sulu.

“Based on the report from the ground, combined elements of the military and police conducted a law enforcement operation to serve a warrant of arrest against ASG sub-group leader Injam Yadah in Barangay Alat, Jolo, Sulu around 2:00AM Sunday, June 13, 2021,” the WESMINCOM Commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr. said.

Sensing the presence of the operating troops, the target and three of his cohorts opened fire thereby prompting the government forces to retaliate. The exchange of fires resulted in the instantaneous death of Yadah and three others.

“We’ve long been on the hunt for Yadah. He has a reputation of being extremely violent — beheading captured innocent civilians and security forces alike. Finally, his hideous acts will now come to a full stop,” said Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, Commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu.

Two of the neutralized cohorts of Yadah were identified as Al-Al Sawadjaan, the youngest brother of infamous bomber Mundi Sawadjaan, and a.k.a. Rauf/Raup while the other one is yet to be identified.

According to 35th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Wilfredo Borgonia, Yadah was involved in the kidnapping of various foreign nationals and locals including the ex-wife and daughter of former Talipao Mayor Tambrin Tulawie in 2018.

His latest reported activity was the kidnapping of Rex Triplett in Sirawai, Zamboanga Sibugay and Dr. Moreno in Jolo in 2020.

He was also involved in the abduction of the recently rescued Indonesian nationals.

Lt. Col. Borgonia further stated that Mundi’s brother Al-Al Sawadjaan was a volunteer suicide bomber and improvised explosive device maker.

Operating troops seized in the house of Yadah one M653 Carbine, one cal. 45 pistol, IED components, and 15 mobile phones. Troops also captured Yadah’s wife identified as a.k.a. Jhing and rescued their three children.

“All the forces under JTF-Sulu are doubling their efforts to apprehend Mundi Sawadjaan. His brothers are now dead and we are optimistic that he will also be neutralized. When that day comes, we can say that we have achieved total peace in the province. The local government and people here are one with us in this endeavor,” Maj. Gen. Gonzales added.

Since January 2021, a total of 121 ASG personalities have been neutralized in Sulu. Among the 121 members, 18 were killed, 86 surrendered, and 17 were apprehended.

AFP, UN sign strategic plan to protect children in armed conflict

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United Nations (UN) have signed a strategic plan to protect children in armed conflict.

In a statement on Thursday (June 10), AFP Chief  Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the AFP shall ensure to maintain professionalism and discipline in conducting daily operations. He also said the AFP will aim to strengthen the protection of children in armed conflict and prevent grave child rights violations.

“We shall guarantee that all our personnel are properly educated and trained, to raise their awareness, and for a deeper sense of respect and regard to the promotion and protection of Human Rights in particular, to children’s rights, and adherence to International Humanitarian Law,” he said.

Under the “Strategic Plan to Prevent and Respond to Grave Child Rights Violations in Situations of Armed Conflict”, the AFP should fully comply with its obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

The Strategic Plan was signed by Sobejana along with UN resident coordinator and co-chair of UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (UN-CTFMR) Gustavo Gonzales, and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative to the Philippines Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov on Wednesday (June 9). AAC

AFP, PNP to file criminal charges vs NPA units in Masbate mine blast

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 9, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will file criminal charges against members of the New People’s Army (NPA) involved in the Masbate mine blast.

This was after the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) took “full responsibility for the tragedy”.

In a statement, AFP Spokesperson MGen. Edgardo Arevalo reiterated that the use of anti-personnel landmines — which is prohibited in the Philippines under the Mine Ban Treaty — is a war crime.

“We will continue to work vigorously with the PNP in the filing of criminal cases against the murderers and the violators of Republic Act 9851 for the CTG’s leadership who directed the wanton killing of hapless non-combatant civilians using land mines,” he said.

The NPA has planted an improvised explosive device in Brgy. Anas, Masbate City last Sunday (June 6) which killed football player Kieth Absalon, his cousin Nolven Absalon, and injured others.

CPP information officer Marco Valbuena, in a statement said the CPP-NPA expresses their deep remorse over the untimely and unnecessary deaths.

“The entire CPP and NPA take full responsibility for the tragedy. There is no justification for the aggravation this has caused the Absalon family,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Makabayan Bloc condemned the said incident and has called it a violation of international and humanitarian law.

“We condemn the military action by a unit of the NPA in Masbate City that caused their death and injuries to others for violating international humanitarian law. Our commitment to human rights binds us to condemn any and all acts that harm or kill unarmed civilians, non-combatants, and protected persons in situations of armed conflict,” it said. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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