RedCross Workers Nabbed on Jolo Island

15 01 2009

Gunmen abducted three Red Cross workers from Italy, Switzerland and the Philippines on Jolo island.  The Philippine National Red Cross chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, said the three were in a car on their way to Jolo airport.

The group of red cross workers were visiting a jail they were intercepted  by a group on motorcycles, Gordon identified the three red cross members, as a group from, “the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba.”

The ICRC team had been at the Sulu provincial jail, Gordon said they had been workiing on a water and sanitation project to improve the conditions of detainees. The ICRC team traveling with Philippine National Red Cross Sulu Chapter personel when they were abducted not far from the gate of the jail. “They had been carrying out a water and sanitation project to improve the condition of detainees,” Gordon said.

Senator Gordon said that local red cross workers’ a driver and two others were released and reported the incident, “I Pam appealing to the Abu Sayyaf to free those people, because they are neutral in any conflict,” Gordon said. “They do not realize this but these people help them if they get wounded and get them out of the conflict areas,” he said. Prison visits have been done previously on a regular basis by ICRC in various detention facilities in Sulu provincial jail.


IED attack on Governors convoy in Masbate 2 hurt

11 01 2009

While this is not the first time a IED has been used in violent assasination attempts in the Philippines – but the roadside bomb attack is mostly confined to Mindanao and may indicate a new level of threat as other groups adopt tactics that ussaully have been the handwork of insurgents in other parts of the country.

The was the highly visable attack on congress a while back – does first come to mind as one of the most recent attempts outside of areas of conflict in Mindanao where bombs have been used. But this attack does raise concerns of safety and securty as well as a new threat form in use.

Masbate does have a history of politcal violence – clan warfare there has stunted development as well as a active insurgent presence that has detered investors.i But reports about the attack on the governor this relatively remote Philippine province in which Governor Elisa Kho and a security aide hurt in the attack where two Improvised explosive devices went off on a road as their convoy passed, does have Police looking at many possible threat sources.

Governor Elisa Kho was in Gahit village, Cataingan town Police Provincial Director Senior Superintendant Reuben Theodore Sindac, in a report to Manila said “Two bombs went off on the left side of the road as Governor Kho’s cars drove through the area,”

“The governor was slightly wounded on her eyebrow’ due to glass particles from the shattered windshield,” Sen. Supt. Sindac said. both Kho and her escourt were given first aid and have been isolated in a secure location to keep them ‘ safe from harm’ at a beach resort. Police EOD and Investigation officersare at the scene of the blast investigators hope to “track down the perpetrators, as investigators look into a motive for the attack on Gov. Kho.” Sen. Supt.Kho said in a radio interview in Manila.

Police note further that “possible motives are political rivals, as well as that communist rebels are involved,” Communist guerrillas of the New Peoples Army have been fighting in Masbate for over three decades they Police say are group with the technical knowhow to carry out a IED attack. NPA rebels have used IED’s in other parts of the central Philippines as well as landmines in recent attacks on Government forces.
Earlier a rebel command had issued directives for increased attacks in the central Philippines after plans were announced of a joint US-Philippine military excercise in the nearby Bicol region.

The attack on the governor however security experts point out is more likely to have been politcal in nature since Masbate politics has a history of violent past attacks on public figures and political leaders. Elections are scheduled in the Philippine in May of 2010.
Political violence is often a tactic used in provinces where political private armed security forces often are better equipted than those of the local police, military, or rebel groups.

14 07 2007


Beheadings in Basilan: Peace the real victim

Peace is real victim of the 10 hour gun battle that left scores dead and injured in Tipo – Tipo, Basilan – the battle started as an ambush – media observers say after a seven truck convoy passed through a village that had already evacuated – indicating – locals knew something bad was about to happen.

Blogger – Nancy Reyes wrote that the attack on Philippine Marines in the jungles of Tipo-Tipo on Basilan Island is about to see a major escalation of violence in ‘payback’ terms for the beheading of Marines – either wounded or already killed – 11 of the headless torso’s the MILF spokesman there told the Philippine Daily Inquirer – the MILF says were the alleged ‘after effect’ of rage over the brutal killing of a local Imam in the area.

[… Officially, the government is saying that they are not going to blame the MILF for the attack, but only seek justice in finding the “rogue elements” who helped the Abu Sayyaf kill and mutilate the Marines. In reality, it’s payback time….] finestkind clinic and fishmarket

But, even those in peace movement ranks see the attack as major escalation of brutality in the area. The Philippine Daily Inquirer which like many in Philippine media have often been critical of the Military in a recent editorial condemned the acts of beheadings – it went too far- whatever goodwill the MILF leadership had earned with rescues and help in defeating kidnappers in other areas has largely been lost by the statements made by local western Mindanao elements of the Moro rebel group on Basilan.

[…Last Tuesday’s ambush of a search-and-rescue military convoy in Albarka, Basilan — 14 Marines looking for kidnapped Italian missionary Fr. Giancarlo Bossi were killed, 10 of them beheaded — was a bestial act, the work of savages. To this deliberate provocation the national leadership must respond with both iron fist and open mind….] PDI Editorial Savages on the loose

However enraged and justified it may have been in the jungle concept of ‘justice’ for the alleged killing of a local Imam – it went too far for the public at large. The five to one ambush by some accounts goes beyond the normal.

The Catholic Church upset already over kidnapping of Fr. Brossi further has been enraged by the beheadings.

[… This is inhumanity at its worst. This is barbarism at its best. Even people in the deep far jungles of distant parts of the word are already becoming gradually conscious of how they should relate with one another for their own good and their common welfare….] viewpoints 

More stern words from a Archbishop below almost give a blessing for Government in the 90 per cent catholic country to not ‘turn the other way. That justice must be sought for those killed so brutally.

[…”The atrocity rightfully demands the recourse and application of commutative justice. No, it is definitely not to answer barbarism with an equally barbaric move.”] Archbishop Oscar Cruz

Locals worry on Basilan, which they say has barely just come back from the ravages of years of brutality of the ASG on the island. Now, Basilan, faces the strong possibility of renewed heavy fighting on a scale not seen since the days of the battles for hinterland areas that led to the by and large defeat of the ASG on Basilan.

The MILF has in the past condemned terrorism and fought against criminal elements – gaining their cause some public sympathy from even those fighting against them in the Military even for cooperation in the past versus criminal gangs.

If the MILF leadership does not want this action to get out of hand it should do its best to find those responsible and punish them. They say they will. But action is need now before new battles rage that may spin the situation out of control. Something holdouts and hardliners wanting to derail the peace process could use to escalate the clash into renewed fighting.

Mind you – several of those held hostage by the ASG in the past – noted that they were often held in areas near rebel camps – some of the MNLF others of the MILF – the rebels often did little but provide food for those taken hostage and try and ‘talk sense’ into the hard-line ASG members – who were often better armed than thier own fighters – fearing also internal infighting among relatives on the extremist and moderates side allowed safe passage for the ASG through their areas.

It is [possible that in the heat of battle – ASG members – or sympathetic to them could have entered the area or even teamed up with those fighting government forces. It as happened before in other parts of Mindanao. It is the most plausible explanation for the bestiality and brutality of the dismemberment of the corpses.

If indeed as some are saying in media reports from Zambo – some of those men were alive and wounded when they were beheaded – something that pathologists or forensic experts could easily prove – then the acts go into violations of the rules of war and conflict an area where the MILF for the most part has had a relatively good record of treating enemy wounded and later ‘trading’ them for thier own.

But in the overall scene of things – beheadings in the Mindanao conflict zone are not unheard of – covering the 2000 assault on camp abu bakar in Maguindanao province reports of beheaded corpses were among those killed were found areas of the battles..

Going further back the acts were also seen in other zones of the fight in all areas of Minsupala – Mindanao – Sulu – Palawan that the Moro rebels have fought in versus Philippine government forces.

But that was in the 1970’s and 80’s – and even further back during World War II – my mother who spent the War years protected by our relatives along with her brothers and sisters on Basilan -remembers seeing ’sacks of heads’ of Japanese stragglers and holdouts hunted down by Basileneo’s and others seeking the ‘fifty dollars a head’ bounty set by US liberation forces – a reward later changed to fifty dollars for each prisoner hastily by US forces who were confronted by scores of sacks of heads – some not even Japanese looking anymore after a few weeks.

Basilan has bounced back so far from the kidnappings and reign of terror that raged during the height of the ASG fight. Isabella now even has Jollibee branch and many stores along with plans of small shopping mall and two hotels in the works I am told as well as renewed investments. It would be sad to see such a long suffering island and people – a place I also consider home as my grandfather and great grandfather settled the area at the turn of the 20th century. It’s people are the reason I am here today – their grandparents protected my mother family from Japanese forces during World War II in the time of our grandfathers.

It also is where my Yakan blood flows from in my heart I know a part of me is part of those on Basilan. It is a island of rare beauty of nature – and is peaceful and tranquil charm could see it as major ecotourism destination someday – But as last weeks clashes have shown it is also often threatened by conflict.

Or now as Nancy puts it – ‘Payback’ – but as Christians we are taught that revenge is the Lords – not ours to met out.

Justice however is something people in a democracy seek for those killed in so brutal a fashion. The Mindanao Examiner – perhaps the best source of news down south – reports that the stage is set for a major escalation in fighting.

[… “The government will account for the perpetrators of this heinous attack in line with the rule of law, through the mechanisms of the peace process. The Armed Forces are duty-bound to hunt down and arrest those who treacherously killed and beheaded the soldiers,” President Arroyo …. } Mindanao Examiner

So the real victim is Peace – the brutal acts will be avenged the fighting and cycle of violence renewed. The battles will rage on and fight continue until justice is served and in the inevitable collateral damage that warfare brings with the drums and winds of war th the chance Mindanao has had for peace may be lost anew.

A solution to this would be a clear investigation of the actions perhaps a combined effort of Malaysin peace monitors and representatives of both the AFP and MILF to seek out those who beheaded the marines and as alleged the killers of the Imam.

For all we know they may be one and the same. Let justice be served – and payback could be peace. Something my grandmother’s island deserves after so many years of warfare.

Jemaah Islamiah, World War 3, JI, Abu Sayyaf leaders, filipino-american, abu sayyaf, war on terror, terrorism, Filipino, asia

Global Terrorism: 20,498 killed in 2006

30 04 2007

In a report by the US Department of State to the US congress has revealed that terrorism has increased over 25% year on year and fatalities have increased by forty per cent.

The figures put into perspective the figures and deaths that while often inder reproted in media there i a major conflict on at World War Level that many in media often chose to ignore. Some 74,543 civilians were targeted.

[]”… In the annual report to Congress includes analysis from the National Counterterrorism Center, a U.S. intelligence clearinghouse, which found only a slight increase in the overall number of civilians killed, injured or kidnapped by terrorists in 2006. But the attacks were more frequent and deadlier, with a 25 percent jump in the number of terrorist attacks and a 40 percent increase in civilian fatalities from the previous year.

In 2006, NCTC reported, there were a total of 14,338 terrorist attacks around the world. These attacks targeted 74,543 civilians and resulted in 20,498 deaths. …”[]

Iraq: Center of global terrorism action

The report clearly shows that the center of the attacks is Iraq: ” Violence in Iraq accounted for 45 percent of the overall attacks counted by NCTC and 65 percent of worldwide terrorism deaths. Terrorist incidents in Iraq nearly doubled from 3,468 in 2005 to 6,630 in 2006. “

It went on further to say : “Although kidnappings declined by 50 percent internationally, Iraq experienced a 300 percent increase, according to NCTC.” an indication as shown by experience here in the Philippines that KFR and terrorism are linked. Kidnapping for Ransom is often used by terror groups and in some cases insurgents as means to both ensure community ‘cooperation’ and also a means to raise revenue.

The Philippines: ” the ‘Success’ story in war vs. terror’

The 2006 US State Department global report on counter terrorism praises the country citing “‘the Philippines” as among others in the region who are, ” playing leading roles in confronting threats from groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf.”

[] ” Philippines
The Philippines, one of the earliest supporters of the War on Terror, continued its bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism efforts. In August, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) launched “Operation Ultimatum”, a concerted effort to capture or kill the top Jemaah Islamiya (JI) and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) operatives on Jolo Island in the South. The operation has been highly successful to date as a number of ASG and JI members have been captured or killed since its inception. Philippine forces recently eliminated both Khadaffy Janjalani, the nominal leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, and ASG spokesperson, Abu Solaiman. Operation Ultimatum is one feature of a U.S.- assisted strategy to strengthen the rule of law in the Sulu archipelago. Joint U.S.-Philippines military exercises know as “Balikatan” supported the Philippine government’s campaign to separate terrorists from the general population and diminish support for their cause. The Antiterrorism Task Force arrested, captured, or killed 88 suspected terrorists, and seized over 900 kilograms of explosive materials. Philippine authorities also made some progress in tracking, blocking, and seizing terrorists’ assets.

Despite some successes, major evidentiary and procedural obstacles in the Philippines continued to hinder the building of effective terrorism cases. A large and growing case backlog and the absence of consistent trials against terrorists were impediments to the prosecution of suspected terrorists. Despite plans dating back to 2001, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had yet to introduce a digitized, machine-readable passport. While the Philippines cooperated with U.S. requests for prosecutions for persons who had tampered or altered travel documents, the prosecutions carried low-level penalties for those convicted of such fraud. In addition, there was a reluctance to investigate or charge vendors or users of false documents. Under current Philippine law, the suspect must present the fraudulent document to a Philippine government authority in order for a crime to have been committed. At year’s end, a counterterrorism bill approved in April by the House of Representatives remained in the Senate.

The Philippines experienced 93 bombings, ranging from improvised explosive devices and grenades to landmines, including:

  • In February, the bombing of a karaoke bar located near a Philippine military base in Jolo left one dead and 22 injured.
  • In March, a bomb exploded at the Sulu Consumers Cooperative in Jolo killing nine people and injuring 20.
  • In June, a roadside bombing in Shariff Aguak killed three people and injured eight.
  • In August, two bombs exploded almost simultaneously in Kidapawan City injuring three people.
  • In September, a bomb exploded at a public market in General Santos City killing two people and injuring six.
  • In October, a bomb exploded near the headquarters of the Sulu Philippine National Police in Jolo injuring two persons.
  • In a separate October attack, three bombs exploded in Tacurong, Sultan Kudurat; Makilala, North Cotabato; and Cotabato City killing eight people and injuring over 30.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) was empowered by the Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (AMLA), as amended in 2003, to investigate and prosecute money laundering. The AMLC is the lead agency responsible for implementing the asset freeze measures called for by the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee. Under current law, however, the AMLC cannot take direct action against suspected terrorists or those supporting terrorism, but must apply for a court order to inquire into bank accounts and direct the freezing of assets and transactions. The AMLC sometimes needed several months to issue the relevant resolution to the Court of Appeals after receiving information about a newly-listed terrorist entity and circulating it to the financial institutions. The AMLC has 91 cases pending in various stages with the courts, including 34 for money laundering, 24 for civil forfeiture, and the rest pertaining to freeze orders and bank inquiries. The slow judicial process hindered efforts by the AMLC to see these cases through to conclusion; a trial can take up to seven years to complete. In April, a bilateral U.S.-Philippines Security Engagement Board (SEB) was inaugurated to address non-traditional security issues, including counterterrorism and maritime security. The SEB set the stage for the “Kapid Bisig” (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) counterterrorism framework that focused on civil affairs, capability upgrades, and support for AFP operations. The United States assisted the Philippines in establishing an interagency intelligence fusion center in Zamboanga City to support both maritime interdictions against transnational criminal/terrorist organizations, and the “coast watch” system in Mindanao, established with Australian assistance. ” []

AFGHANISTAN & South Asia attacks up:

The report also found a 50 percent increase in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, from 491 incidents in 2005 to 749 in 2006. To defeat the resurgent threat, the report urges the international community deliver promised assistance and continue working with Afghans to build counterinsurgency capabilities, ensure legitimate and effective governance and counter a surge in narcotics cultivation.

” NCTC reported that the majority of terrorist attacks remain centered in the Middle East and South Asia, but noted that overall attacks in South Asia declined by 10 percent. ” so says the State department press release.

Child victims of attacks increase 80% increase in casualties:

Children were increasingly the victims of terrorism in 2006, with 1,800 killed or injured in attacks, an 80 percent increase from the previous year. As in 2005, government officials, teachers and journalists remain the leading professionals targeted by terrorists, according to the report.

VENEZUELA: Hugo Chavez: possible state Sponsor?

The report also claims that Venezuela’s leader may be seen as major figure in state sponsored terrorism soon, ” President Hugo Chavez has strengthened ties with Cuba and Iran and has allowed terrorist groups and drug traffickers from neighboring Colombia to cross its borders. ” says US State Department in its press release.

However looking over the report at length it did cite the cooperation of Venezuelan police in protecting the US Embassy. ” An individual claiming to be a member of an Islamic extremist group in Venezuela placed two pipe bombs outside the American Embassy in Caracas on October 23.” But went on to say, ” Venezuelan police safely disposed of the two pipe bombs and immediately made one arrest.”

The report also cited that. “The investigation by Venezuelan authorities resulted in the additional arrest of the alleged ideological leader of the group. At year’s end, both suspects remained in jail and prosecutors were pressing terrorism charges against them.” yet in other areas of ideological conflict Venezuela still supports or so the US State Department report says – Narco Terrorism and leftist rebel groups who have engaged in terror attacks versus Americans and American companies.

[] “… President Hugo Chavez persisted in public criticism of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, deepened Venezuelan relationships with Iran and Cuba, and was unwilling to prevent Venezuelan territory from being used as a safe haven by the FARC and ELN, effectively flouting UN Security Council Resolutions 1373 and 1540, which form part of the legal basis of international counterterrorism efforts.

Chavez’ ideological sympathy for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) limited Venezuelan cooperation with Colombia in combating terrorism. FARC and ELN units often crossed into Venezuelan territory to rest and regroup with relative impunity. Splinter groups of the FARC and another designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, the United Self- Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), operated in various parts of Venezuela and were involved in narcotrafficking.

It remained unclear to what extent the Venezuelan government provided material support to Colombian terrorists. However, limited amounts of weapons and ammunition — some from official Venezuelan stocks and facilities — have turned up in the hands of Colombian terrorist organizations. The Venezuelan government did not systematically police the 1,400-mile Venezuelan-Colombian border to prevent the movement of groups of armed terrorists or to interdict arms or the flow of narcotics.”[]

The full text of Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 is available on the State Department Web site.

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S. Philippines :Jolo firefight inside military camp leaves ten dead

8 04 2007

A lone gunman is reported to have killed ten and wounded others in a running gun battle that took place on Saturday on Jolo Island. the insident in the town of Parang seems to have been confined to the inside of mobile patrol base and ther motive for the shooting remains unclear. speculation is the gunman wnet on shooting ramapge.
Around five brigades of Philippine forces are on the island to fight against extremists of the Abu Sayyaf and chase down members of Jemaah Islamia a al qaeda cell in south east Asia that has engaged in terrorism.

It is not clear if the gunman was a solder or a local. The term ‘A-muck’ or ‘Amok’ is commonly used to describe extremely violent behavior was made by US troops wh fought pitched battles versus Moro tribal warriors who often were unleashed on US forces during the early 1900’s of the Philippine insurrection – Philippines-Americans war period – – and- common on Jolo island where blood fueds and violent incidents involving locals who sometimes go on ‘blood missions’ to kills as many people as they can in a rampage. – some reports speculate this may have been the case -but it is unlikely.

[] Rampaging gunman kills 10 in southern Philippines
Reuters – MANILA (Reuters) – An unidentified gunman killed nine soldiers and one civilian in a rampage inside a patrol base in the southern Philippines, … []

There are US and allies who have forces based on the island in a advisory traning and support role but so far no foreigners appear to be among the dead or injured.

Philippine Clergy: adopts Youtube for catacism

8 04 2007

Going forward using technology to bring the message to a new generation of the faithful – youtube – has become the new form of reaching out used by the philippines clergy to reach those who might not be able to make it to church this holy week.

In a series of easter messages to the faithful it covers the cerimony of easter for catholics via popular message formats like youtube:

“YouTube” is not a substitute to going to church .. going to church is important because it is an undertaking of the community … “YouTube” is just a supplement especiallt if one is looking for information about the church…” – CBCP

[] ‘… CBCP taps ‘YouTube’ to spread the word of God
The Catholic Church has tapped the Internet technology to spread its mission to introduce Jesus Christ to the people especially to the new generation, ABS-CBN News learned Saturday. (4/7/2007 9:17:47 PM) … “[]

Online Philippine Radio Stations

11 03 2007