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Archive for June 12th, 2008

Troops battle NPA in known hideout of rebel spokesman Rosal

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 18:55:00 06/12/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Army troops clashed with suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in Kalayaan town, Laguna province, a known hideout of communist rebel spokesman Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal,” a regional military commander said.

The encounter happened around 3 p.m. Wednesday in sitio (sub-village) Kulot. Troops were dispatched to the area in response to reports of rebel presence, said Colonel Tristan Kison, chief of the 201st Infantry Brigade.

“We don’t know if Ka Roger was there. But the area had two layers of security [from the rebels], meaning a VIP [very important person] was there,” Kison said in a phone interview.

Kison, former deputy chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) before he assumed command of the 201st Brigade several weeks ago, said intelligence indicated Rosal was “sick, unable to walk and was being carried around.”

Rosal has not granted live interviews in recent years, sparking speculation he is either seriously ill or has died. However, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) continues to issue statements attributed to him.

Kison said he has not received reports Rosal was wounded in the Kalayaan town encounter, contrary to reports.

During the same encounter, Kison said Reynaldo Lagunoy, a coordinator of the leftist party-list Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) was arrested.

Kison said Lagunoy was armed and fought alongside the rebels.

Earlier, the human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) claimed Lagunoy, 38, was snatched by military agents in Cavinti town in Laguna.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-06-12T14:47:26+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 12 Jun 2008 14:47:26 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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Alleged MILF rebels holding 2 Marines in Basilan

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 10:06:00 06/12/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Alleged Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels are holding two Marines soldiers hostage as a “bargaining chip” to press for the release of a suspect in the beheading of Marines in Basilan last year, officials said.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said he has tasked Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Alexander Yano to look into the incident.

Corporals Jessie Duatin and Bernie Alcabasa were seized in Makalang village, Al-Barkah town on Tuesday, said Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, spokesman for the Philippine Navy.

Their battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Vincent Teodoro, sent Duatin and Alcabasa to Al-Barkah to meet with emissaries of MILF commander Long Masud, who had sent surrender feelers, Arevalo told reporters.

“Instead of talking with the two Marines, they were abducted. They were lured into coming so that they can be used as a bargaining chip,” Arevalo said. “They [MILF] are resorting to criminal acts like abduction, kidnapping in order to get what they want.”

Masud demanded the release of his nephew, Salih Dungkal Alih, who was arrested last June 6 over the killing of 14 Marines in Ginanta village, Al-Barkah on July 10, 2007, Arevalo said. Ten of the 14 were beheaded.

“The Navy and the AFP condemns the act of commander Long Masud of resorting to the abduction of two Marines as a bargaining chip to command the release of his arrested nephew,” Arevalo said.

Arevalo said Alih could be released since there are reports that his name was different from the one written on the arrest warrant.

The two Marines’ battalion commander spoke with them by telephone on Wednesday afternoon, Arevalo said.

Arevalo maintained that Alih’s fate was up to the courts and that the military would grant no concessions to the rebels.

He added that the military would file a complaint against the MILF before a joint ceasefire monitoring committee.

Last May 25, a combined force of MILF fighters and Abu Sayyaf bandits attacked Marine positions in nearby Ungkaya Pukan town, leaving two insurgents killed and over a dozen soldiers wounded.

The military filed a complaint before the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), jointly chaired by the government and the MILF, over the incident.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-06-12T03:16:57+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 12 Jun 2008 03:16:57 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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No gov’t sanctioned talks for release of TV news team

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By Joel Guinto, Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 09:19:00 06/12/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) The government has not sanctioned any negotiations for the release of a television news crew from their alleged Abu Sayyaf captors, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said.

He and Armed Forces Chief Alexander Yano maintained that it was government policy not to negotiate with terrorists.

In a separate interview, Yano said negotiating with terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf, would never be an option for the government.

“We have a no-negotiation policy with terrorists particularly the Abu Sayyaf, so that has never been an option for the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines],” he told reporters in an interview at the Plaza San Luis, where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led Independence Day rites.

Teodoro said the kidnapping of ABS-CBN’s Ces Drilon, her two cameramen, and a university professor showed that the al Qaeda-linked group had grown “desperate and dangerous” as their numbers dwindled.

“I do not know of any sanctioned negotiations with any abductors for that matter,” Teodoro told reporters at the World War II Veterans Mausoleum at the Manila North Cemetery, where he led flag-raising rites this Independence Day.

Asked if government’s policy barring negotiations with terrorists stands, Teodoro said: “Yes, in so far as I am concerned yes.”

The defense chief said the police had taken the lead role to locate Drilon and her fellow captives, with the military on standby to support police forces when necessary.

“That’s a police matter, we’re just supporting the police on that matter,” he said, adding, “I’m letting [Armed Forces Western Mindanao chief] General Allaga deal with it, when, and as needed by the police.”

Yano said that the military has been talking to local officials in the area. Local officials are among members of a crisis committee, which also includes the military and the police, handling the situation.

Yano said members of the committee also confirmed that Drilon and her crew were still alive.

“I’d rather not go into the details. Suffice to say there is proof of life,” he added.

Asked to confirm that the captives have been transferred from Mt. Tumatangis in Indanan, Sulu to Talipao, Yano said, “That’s good news because if they were transferred then that’s another proof of life.”

On whether the Sulu kidnapping indicated a resurgence of the Abu Sayyaf, which the military claims to have reduced to over 300 fighters at the end of 2007, Teodoro said: “I view it as their getting more desperate, the more, the fewer they become the weaker they become, the more desperate they become.”

“I agree that the more desperate they become the more dangerous they become but we should not be deterred by that and just try to contain them and neutralize them as much as possible,” he said.

Teodoro could not confirm reports that Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah militant Marwan was holding Drilon’s group.

Security officials have reported that Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad snatched the news crew and Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo in Maimbung town on Sunday morning.

Teodoro said it was not “not healthy” at this time to pin the blame on anyone for what happened to the ABS-CBN news team.

But he nonetheless said: “We can reduce the issue to simple rules no, one is to use common sense. The Abu Sayyaf is a known criminal group or gang which does not respect life or limb.”

“Whether you’re a journalist or not, the mere fact that you want to meet or you want to see the Abu Sayyaf is already something that should not be done,” the defense chief said.

Dealing with groups such as the Abu Sayyaf puts journalists’ lives in “extreme peril,” Teodoro warned.

“It’s like sometimes when alligators in the water would open jaws and somebody just walks into it,” he said.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-06-12T03:16:02+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 12 Jun 2008 03:16:02 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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