Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Security situation remains vulnerable in Mindanao despite the neutralization of Maute terrorist leaders, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
For this reason, according to BGen. Edgard Arevalo, the extension of martial law in Marawi City and the entire Mindanao region is highly necessary.
Arevalo said the AFP believes there are remaining Maute followers scattered in different parts of the country.
“Sa ngayon po ang key leaders nila nakuha na po natin, subalit mayroon po silang remnants. We’re looking at roughly siguro mga 100 all in all,” Arevalo confirmed in an interview on Friday (December 7) on the program ‘Get It Straight with Daniel Razon’.
The AFP Spokesperson noted that the biggest threat to national security at this point is the presence of foreign terrorists who have established connections with the local terror group.
“Sa ngayon, Kuya Daniel, ang masasabi natin na isa pa rin sa pinakamahigpit na (binabantayan) ay ang foreign terrorists. Pagkatapos po ng kanilang kabiguan sa Iraq at sa iba pang bahagi ng Syria, ang kanila pong kagustuhan ngayon ay lumipat, magtayo ng isang probinsya sa iba pang bahagi ng mundo. At ang nakikita po nila ay ang Southeast Asia,” he explained.
“When you talk of Southeast Asia, Pilipinas and when you talk about Philippines, ang Mindanao parin po ang kanilang nakikita,” Arevalo added as he confirmed possible threats of the notorious Islamic State (IS) militants to the country.
Arevalo admits that one of the biggest challenges the military is facing now is how they will be able to cut the ties of local terrorist groups from those who are outside of the country.
He noted that the terrorists are actually taking advantage of the modern technology to execute their plans.
“May mga bangko po tayo. Hindi na po kasi talaga kagaya noong araw na (nilalagay sa) bag natin ang pera. Ngayon po may mga electronic means na po na to transfer money at yun po ang isa sa pamamaraan. At ang isa pa po sa challenge natin is yung advent ng social media. Yan po ang ginagamit nilang flat form upang sa gayon yung kanilang mga materyales, mga video, audio, at lahat po ng recruitment nila dinadaan po nila rito. And we admit that is quite difficult to check. Although we are trying our best to check this,” Arevalo explained when asked how local terrorists are able to get foreign funding.
Given the situation, the official believes it is high time that the country’s anti-terrorism law, specifically the Human Security Act of 2007, be amended to impose extension to the period of detention and surveillance of suspected terrorists to at least 30 days.
Arevalo noted that despite the implementation of martial law, they couldn’t get enough information from investigations because they need to release the person suspected to terrorism after a maximum period of three days. Otherwise, they will have to pay a huge amount of fine.
“Ang martial law po natin, ang malaking naitutulong po sa atin nyan on the grounds of terrorism pwede nating hulihin ang isang tao even without warrant but you can only hold them for 36 hrs or maximum of 72 hrs. So balik pa rin po tayo doon. And then (if you charged him) wrongly, (that’s) P500,000 (per day ang ibabayad sa suspect),” he noted.
Nevertheless, Arevalo said the AFP is closely coordinating with other concerned agencies to further establish and harden communication lines to fight terrorism.
Specifically, the military is working on what they call a ‘network centric warfare capability’ through the use of all possible platforms to win the ongoing electronic warfare which also involves combating fake news and disinformation as among the strategies of the enemies of the state. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
AFP to prove CPP front orgs receive EU, Belgium funding
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is set to prove that several groups that benefit from the financial assistance being doled-out by the European Union and Belgium are front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations Brigadier, General Antonio Parlade, said they are now collating the evidence that will prove their allegations.
Parlade said this will help Belgium and the member countries of the EU in screening and selecting the organizations that are most deserving of their financial assistance.
“They wanted us to provide more evidence and then to file the formal complaint. That’s what we are doing now, we are consolidating all our evidence para submit sa [to submit to the] European Union,” Parlade added.
In Mindanao alone, around 30 groups have been receiving donations from the EU.
One of them is the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) which, reportedly, had already received 622,000 euros from the EU, and is set to further receive 1.3 million euros more from the said organization for their future projects.
This is aside from the funding they receive from the Belgian parliament.
The AFP official also mentioned Ibon and Karapatan as legal front liners of the CCP that are bent on discrediting the Duterte Administration to the international community.
Parlade hopes that once they release the names of these groups, the international funding communities would stop providing them with financial assistance.
This is why Parlade and his delegation also seized the opportunity to talk to the EU, the Belgian Foreign Ministry and the United Nations when they went to Europe recently.
“It’s all about money. I think this is really a big scam that we have to uncover. So bottom line, magaling po silang mag-fabricate [they are good at fabricating]. And these materials, these literatures are well-funded by these organizations—by these governments in Europe, including the EU at kinakailangan pong malaman nila ito [and they have to know about this],” Parlade said.
Ibon, Karapatan and RMP are yet to issue their reactions regarding this.
Karapatan and RMP, however, have already filed complaints before the Commission on Human Rights against the government for linking them with the CPP-NPA and for tagging them as rebels and part of terrorist groups. – Maris Federez (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
AFP condemns mall blast in Cotabato City; eyes terrorists links
CCTV footage of bombing at South Seas Mall in Magallanes Street, Cotabato City
MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is looking at terrorist involvement in the bombing incident in a mall in Cotabato City on Monday (December 31).
In a statement, AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal said though they consider the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and its breakaway group Daulah Islamiyah as “the ones with the wicked desire to sow terror and inflict harm to innocent civilians,” the military does not discount “the possibility of other interest groups aligned with the same evil intentions to be involved.”
Two individuals were confirmed dead while 34 others were injured in a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) found at the baggage counter of South Seas Mall in Magallanes Street, Cotabato City.
Investigation is underway. – Marje Pelayo
AFP checks weapon stocks for possible theft from military arsenal
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is set to investigate a possible gun theft from the military arsenal following an alleged gunrunning activity in Valenzuela City.
AFP Spokesperson Col. Noel Detoyato said they will conduct an inventory of their stocks to make sure that the captured firearms were not from their armory.
‘While we can already confirm that the captured firearms are not in our inventory, only a thorough inventory of our ammunition stocks will confirm whether there are losses in our stocks that could have fallen to the hands of these gunrunners,” the military spokesman said.
“Erring AFP personnel will be dealt with accordingly with the full force of our military justice system and that the result of our investigation will be brought out to the public at once,” he added.
Several firearms and thousands of ammunition sealed in boxes bearing the name of the AFP were seized from alleged Abu Sayyaf gun dealers in Valezuela City on Sunday.
The markings on the boxes “RP Government Property AFP” indicate that the weapon could have been taken from the AFP armory.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) considers the incident a matter of concern especially if government weapons are being supplied to the enemies of the state.
“Kasi ang initially na sinabi nung source na nanggagaling doon sa Fort Magsaysay and Fort Magsaysay is the headquarters of 7th ID,” PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde noted.
The Army’s 7th Infantry Division and the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) are set to conduct a joint investigation on the matter with results expected to be made public as soon as the investigation is completed. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)