Nov 192016
Philippine Army soldiers in Sulu pursuing Abu Sayyaf

Philippine Army soldiers deployed to Sulu to pursue the Abu Sayyaf. INQUIRER MINDANAO FILE PHOTO

JAKARTA, Indonesia – The three countries will hold joint military training for their army personnel starting January 2017 to fight terror group Abu Sayyaf and secure the Sulu Sea from rampant piracy.

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have agreed to initiate joint army training to advance efforts to secure the Sulu Sea from rampant piracy.

Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu explained that each of the countries would first begin its own army personnel training in January 2017 before conducting the joint training later in the year.

The military training will take place in Indonesia’s Tarakan in North Kalimantan, Malaysia’s Tawao Island and the Philippines’ Bongao Island.

Ryacudu said Army soldiers set to participate in the joint military training would form a special force tasked with facing the notorious Abu Sayyaf militant group that masterminded a series of recent kidnappings in Sulu waters, located in the southwestern Philippines.

“It’s part of a concrete action we, Asean countries, are taking to secure the region,” he said in Jakarta on Thursday.

Ryacudu said the training locations would later become posts for a joint taskforce assigned to help secure Sulu waters.

The need for joint army training was discussed during a meeting between Ryamizard and his Malaysian and Philippines counterparts, Hishammuddin Hussein and Delfin Lorenzana, held on the sidelines of the Asean Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) retreat earlier this week in Laos.

Both Malaysia and the Philippines welcomed the initiative, which will add to a joint sea patrol in Sulu waters that the three countries previously agreed upon.

TAGS: Abu Sayyaf, Features, Global Nation, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, piracy
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Sep 202016
Wrong button triggers hijack alert

The special operations unit of the Philippine National Police aviation security group conducts clearing operations around the isolated Saudia airplane at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Tuesday (Sept. 20, 2016). JOAN BONDOC/INQUIRER IT WAS pilot error and not a hijacking that caused a Saudia Airlines flight from Jeddah to raise a security alarm at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) on Tuesday afternoon. Airport authorities ordered Saudia Airlines flight SV 872 to roll to an isolated area off the runway where security forces could assess the situation. The unidentified Saudia pilot reportedly triggered a “hijacking” alert while the plane was 20 miles from the Naia at around 2 p.m. Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said “it was accidental.”  But he said the pilot was under investigation for the incident because “the problem is it was pushed twice.” 400 returning Filipino hajjis The alert caused the Manila control tower to advise Naia security that the flight was under threat. The plane had over 400 returning Filipino hajj pilgrims on board. “The MIAA together with the Aviation Security Group immediately responded and designated an isolation site at the rapid exit area near main runway 06/24,” Monreal said. Airport Emergency Plan 4, the MIAA strategy for a hijacking, was immediately put into action, he added. Although the incident was eventually attributed to the pilot mistakenly pushing the panic button, Monreal said it still had to be properly investigated. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the Read More …

Sep 202016
Immigration bureau on lookout for 1,200 Indonesians

THE BUREAU of Immigration (BI) said on Tuesday it was on the lookout for some 1,200 Indonesians who may be among the 6,700 Filipino Muslim pilgrims returning from Mecca after joining the hajj. The agency said it would be confiscating the hajj passports of all Muslim pilgrims to identify the fake ones. Immigration personnel at the airport would be screening the arriving pilgrims and cross matching their confiscated passports with existing immigration records, BI deputy commissioner Al Argosino said. “We are doing cross matching of data to determine who are the nationals holding Philippine hajj passports. We are putting them in a holding room. We are not treating them as criminals but as part of our system to identify the Indonesian victims of this scam,” he told a press briefing. The official also asked for patience from Muslim pilgrims who would be affected by the screening process at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia). “I ask for your patience. As of this moment, we can’t determine who are the Indonesians unless we determine who the regular passport holders are,” Argosino said. The BI intercepted last month 177 Indonesians who posed as Filipinos with hajj passports who were en route to join the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Most of them however were later sent home as they were considered victims, though nine remained behind to help in the probe of an interagency task force hunting down the syndicate behind the scam. Five Filipinos who acted as the foreigners’ escorts have been Read More …

Sep 202016
Fuck you, EU – Duterte

PRESIDENT Duterte on Tuesday let loose a fresh tirade against the European Union (EU) after it had called for a halt to the extrajudicial killing of drug suspects in the Philippines. “I read the condemnation of the European Union against me. I will tell them fuck you. You’re doing it in atonement for your sins,” Mr. Duterte said in a speech before local government officials in Davao City. The President said the members of the European Union had become strict [about human rights] because they had “guilt feelings” over the atrocities they had committed in the past. He called them hypocrites, adding that a check of encyclopedias would show what European countries had done. For instance, he said, France and Great Britain had killed Arabs. “And then the European Union now has the gall to condemn me. I repeat it, fuck you,” he said. Mr. Duterte asked whom he was supposed to have killed in the Philippines. Assuming that the accusations against him were true—and there were over 1,000 killed in the country—he asked who were the people who were killed. “Who were they? Criminals? You call it genocide? How many did they kill?” he said, alluding to the Europeans. Latest Former justice exec says inmate testimony were fabrications NY Times teams with Google parent to tame comments US spy plane crashes; pilot killed, another hurt Cebu ‘drug dealer’ shot, wounded in attack Recommended Disclaimer: Comments do not represent the views of We reserve the right to exclude comments which Read More …

Sep 202016
Duterte changes tune: We need US after all

US President Barack Obama and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. AP FILE PHOTO THE PHILIPPINES needs the United States as a counter balance in the South China Sea, where it remains locked in a territorial dispute with China, President Duterte said on Tuesday. Mr. Duterte made the statement in the course of explaining his earlier remark that he might later ask US Special Forces  to leave Mindanao to pave the way for talks with Muslim rebels, who have historical grievances from abuses suffered at the hands of the Americans. “I never said get out of the Philippines, for after all, we need them there in the China Sea. We don’t have armaments,” President Duterte said. He added that the Philippines was not ready to go to war with China, and he would not want it, because it would be a “massacre.” The Permanent Court of Arbitration, acting on the Philippines’ complaint, earlier invalidated Beijing’s claim to almost the whole of the South China Sea. China has refused to recognize the ruling. The President is seeking bilateral talks with China over the issue, and has said that he would insist that discussions between the two countries be based on the decision. Mr. Duterte however insisted that the Americans continue to look down on the Philippines. “I really do not know what’s wrong with these Americans. They look at us as if we’re lowly,” he said. He repeated his earlier lament over the FA-50 jets the country had acquired, which he said did Read More …

Sep 192016
Chinese are coming, on cruise ship no less

CHINESE investors and tourists are starting to warm up to the Philippines on the back of President Duterte’s repeated calls to make peace with China. Francis Chua, chair emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), noted this growing interest, as he disclosed that there will be a cruise ship—with some 2,000 Chinese tourists and investors—docking in the Philippines soon. Chua declined to cite specifics but pointed out that this may be the first time such a huge group from China would be arriving in the Philippines at a given time. “A lot of Chinese are coming in and a lot of people here would like to have more business relationship with China…There is a cruise ship coming in with 2,000 Chinese people, supposedly tourists and investors, and this is significant. (China) is sending somebody to meet me next week,” Chua told reporters on Monday. The PCCI official admitted that the previous administration was clear in its stance of not wanting to have anything to do with China. But it seems, he said, that under the new administration, both countries are warming up—a development he deemed would benefit local companies and industries. “If our relations with China are better, we can get more investments from them, loans and business opportunities for both sides. Also, if the relationship (improves), we can ask them to open up the job market in China for Filipinos. There are a lot of Filipinos working in China but there is no law. We just Read More …

Sep 192016
Verify facts, DFA tells European parliament on rights situation

DFA spokesman Charles Jose. AP FILE PHOTO THE DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has called on the parliament of the European Union (EU) to verify its information on supposed extrajudicial killings in the country and not merely rely on media reports. DFA spokesperson Charles Jose on Monday said, “The Philippines and the European Union have a long-standing close partnership and it is the right of the duly elected EU lawmakers to issue such a statement. “But we would like to call on the members of the EU Parliament to verify the information [on the human rights situation in the Philippines] and not base their statement on mere media reports,” Jose said in a press briefing. The European Parliament (EP) last week issued a statement expressing concern about the human rights abuses and summary killings in the Philippines, alongside African states Somalia and Zimbabwe that suffer lingering civil unrest, armed conflict and repressive regimes.   In plenary session The EP held a plenary session in Brussels to tackle the human rights situation in the three countries. “The parliament condemns the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings in the Philippines, the deteriorating security and widespread intimidation in Somalia, and the growing violence against demonstrators and breaches of human rights in Zimbabwe, in three resolutions voted on Thursday,” an EP statement said. The EP legislators earlier condemned the bombing in Davao City’s night market on Sept. 2 which left 14 people dead and 70 wounded. Monitor PH The legislators called on the Read More …

Sep 182016
I’m lucky to be alive, says Sekkingstad

TURNOVER Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad is turned over to Nur Misuari, leader of the Moro National Liberation Front, by the Abu Sayyaf in Indanan town in Sulu province. AP INDANAN, Sulu—A freed Norwegian hostage on Sunday said he was “lucky to be alive” after he was kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf bandits and held in the jungles of Sulu for more than a year. Kjartan Sekkingstad appeared gaunt and frail as he was handed over to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza along with three Indonesian fishermen who had been held captive with him. “I am so very happy and lucky to be alive,” Sekkingstad, heavily bearded and wearing a camouflage jacket, told reporters in Indanan town on Jolo island before being flown to Davao City to meet President Duterte. Sekkingstad and the fishermen were turned over by the Abu Sayyaf to Nur Misuari, leader of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that has signed a peace agreement with the government, at the MNLF camp in Indanan on Saturday night. Misuari handed over the freed captives to Dureza in Indanan on Sunday. At his meeting with Sekkingstad in Davao City late on Sunday, President Duterte thanked Dureza, Misuari and former Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan for working hard for the release of the Norwegian. To Sekkingstad, Mr. Duterte said: “Your travails in life are over.” Sekkingstad thanked Mr. Duterte, Dureza, Misuari and the Norwegian government for working for his release. “I am happy to be alive and Read More …

Sep 182016
Nur Misuari turns over 4 hostages to gov’t

TURNOVER Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad is turned over to Nur Misuari, leader of the Moro National Liberation Front, by the Abu Sayyaf in Indanan town in Sulu province. AP ZAMBOANGA CITY—Three Indonesian fishermen and a Norwegian held hostage by Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu savored their first day of freedom on Sunday after Moro rebels who helped negotiate their release turned them over to the government in Indanan town on Jolo Island. The Abu Sayyaf freed Indonesian fishermen Lorens Koten, Teo Doros Kofong and Emmanuel Arakian, and Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad on Saturday night, reportedly after receiving ransom. The bandits handed over the four men to Nur Misuari, leader of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that has signed a peace agreement with the government, at the MNLF camp in Indanan. Misuari turned over the freed captives to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza in Indanan on Sunday. Escorted by a small contingent of Jolo police, Dureza, Misuari, the freed captives and local officials met in a building surrounded by hundreds of MNLF fighters before leaving for a military camp on the island. Dureza said earlier that Misuari’s faction of the MNLF was helping to negotiate the release of the hostages. The Indonesian fishermen, who were kidnapped in waters off Lahad Datu, Borneo, on July 19, were flown to Zamboanga City for medical checkup at Camp Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital and debriefing. They were later flown to Zamboanga City where a retired Indonesian military Read More …

Sep 182016
Locsin named envoy to UN

TEODORO LOCSIN JR. INQUIRER PHOTO TEODORO “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. has been appointed as the Philippines’ permanent representative to the United Nations, a job he takes on that will require more than the acerbic and witty charm he has wielded as lawyer, politician and journalist because of President Duterte’s avowed disdain of the New York-based institution. Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Sunday said the 67-year-old Locsin told him on Saturday night he had accepted the post as the Philippines’ top diplomat in the United Nations offered to him during a meeting with Mr. Duterte at Bahay Pangarap, the President’s official residence, in Malacañang. The UN post is currently occupied by Lourdes Yparraguirre, a career official at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Yparraguirre has been in the news lately after a migrant workers advocacy group asked the DFA to send a team to the Philippine mission in New York City to look into the alleged abusive behavior of the Philippine ambassador toward her household staff. The appointment of a new Philippine representative to the United Nations comes amid Mr. Duterte’s verbal feuds with UN officials, who have expressed concern over the increasing number of alleged drug suspects being killed in the country as a result of the Chief Executive’s war on illegal drugs. Mr. Duterte has slammed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his special rapporteurs on human rights. He has also threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the United Nations. Media, politics Locsin currently hosts shows for the ABS-CBN Read More …