ISIS will never gain foothold anywhere in the Philippines—Duterte

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 10, 2019   •   1905

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte and the ISIS flag | Courtesy : PCOO

President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that ISIS will never gain foothold anywhere in the Philippines.

During his speech in Jolo, Sulu on Tuesday (April 9) in commemoration of the Day of Valor, he said that the government is close to crushing violent extremism and is pleased with the military efforts against the Abu Sayyaf Group.

“Your efforts have brought us even closer to our ultimate objective of totally crushing the violent extremism at its roots. With this, I can confidently declare that ISIS will never gain foothold anywhere in the Philippines,” he said.

ISIS-linked militants held Marawi City hostage back in 2017. The military was able to retake the city after five months killing almost 900 insurgents including Isnilon Hapilon, considered leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.

The Chief Executive assured that he will continue the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) while he is still in office. He will also provide assistance to the military and their families.

He committed to release P500 million fund for the military.

“I will continue to release 500 more and 500 more millions to my soldiers who do something for their country. I will see to it that you will have funds when you retire and that your school—your children and their schooling will be assured even if we are no longer there either by natural or by any other means of saying goodbye to this world. I have your back covered,” the president said.

The Chief Executive is eyeing on appointing former military officials to government posts. However, he denied using the military to empower himself.

He said that he prefers the military because he has seen failure and corruption in the bureaucracy.

“Hindi ako sabihin na pinapalakas ko ang sarili ko sa (I am not empowering myself using the) military because I do not need that. The people elected me. But I have a special fondness for the military for being fundamentally honest at (and) industrious. Kaya as you would see, the next few officials coming in would be military guys,” he added.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

11 fallen heroes in Sulu encounter return home ⁠—AFP

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 20, 2020

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has brought the remains of 11 soldiers who were killed in the recent Sulu encounter to their respective hometowns.

In a statement, the AFP said eight of the soldiers are from Luzon, one from Visayas, and two from Mindanao.

The fallen soldiers were given honors by Philippine defense leaders at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base, Pasay, City on Saturday (April 18).

“In honor of their sacrifice for the nation, we assure the bereaved families that we will take care of them and extend to them the necessary assistance that their families will need.” according to AFP Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay.

READ: 11 soldiers killed, 14 wounded in Sulu encounter

Eleven soldiers of the AFP were killed while 14 others were wounded during an encounter with suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members in Sulu on Friday (April 17).

11 soldiers killed, 14 wounded in Sulu encounter

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 18, 2020

Eleven soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were killed while 14 others were wounded during an encounter with suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members in Sulu on Friday (April 17).

The AFP reported that the military encountered around 40 ASG terrorists believed to be led by ASG leaders Radullan Sahiron and Hatib Hadjan Sawadjaan.

The number of ASG casualties is yet to determined but bloodstains were seen on their side of the battle after they scampered towards the northeast direction.

The said encounter lasted for an hour in Brgy. Danag, Patikul, Sulu.

The AFP said they lost six R4 rifles, a K3 SAW machine gun, an R4 rifle with a grenade launcher, and a hand-held radio in the encounter.

The military said flags in all military camps around the country will be flown at half-mast for the 11 Army heroes who died during the encounter.

AFP Chief General Felimon Santos, Jr. expressed his condolences to the family of the fallen heroes. He also ensured that all necessary assistance will be extended to their loved ones.

Meanwhile, Commander of the Army 11th Infantry Division based in Sulu MGEN Corleto Vinluan said pursuit operations in the area are ongoing. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Duterte threatens to impose ‘martial law-like’ measures if quarantine violators persist

Marje Pelayo   •   April 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to impose a more drastic measure particularly against violators of the government’s lockdown rules as cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to climb in the country.

In his late-night address on Thursday (April 16), the President warned of military and police take over if Filipinos continue to break the government’s enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

I am just asking for your disiplina, kasi kapag ayaw ninyong maniwala, mag-take over ang military at police (I am just asking for your discipline because if you do not obey, the military and police will take over). I am ordering them now to be ready,” the President said addressing quarantine violators.

Sila na, parang martial law na rin. Mamili kayo (They will take over like in martial law. You decide),” he added.

The President expressed frustration over reports of residents repeatedly violating quarantine rules despite the government’s efforts in providing social relief at this time of crisis.

Nearly two weeks before the extended Luzon-wide ECQ is lifted on April 30, President Duterte said he will be compelled to order the government forces to enforce strict social distancing and curfew measures if the number of quarantine violators continue to increase.

“Ayaw ko pero kapag naipit na ang bayan at wala kayong disiplina, (I don’t want to do it but if the entire country is compromised because you lack discipline),” he warned.

The Chief Executive also directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to investigate the perpetrators of cockfighting and street drinking sessions in Metro Manila amid the ECQ.

He threatened to cut government aid to those who would further ignore ECQ measures.

 “May pera pala kayong pangsabong. May pera pala kayo pang-inom. Ibigay ko na lang (sa iba,) [You have money for cockfighting. You have money for drinking sessions, so I might as well give the money [to those in need,] ” the President said.

“There’s not enough to go around. Hindi talaga magkasya. We are getting low sa supply ng pagkain na. Ilang araw na iyan buong Pilipinas pinapakain mo – 18 million families (Our supply especially of food is getting lower. We have been feeding 18 millione Filipino families for days now],” he concluded. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

READ: Duterte warns unruly quarantine violators not to taunt gov’t amid relief delays

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