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ISIS spox for East Asia killed in Maguindanao military op

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COTABATO CITY – Soldiers under the military-led Joint Task Force Central (JTFC) neutralized the alleged spokesperson of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria for East Asia (ISIS-EA) during a special operation in Maguindanao, the military said Tuesday.

A JTFC report to Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr. identified the fatality as Abdulfatah Omar Alimuden, also known as “Abu Huzaifah.”

Tagged as the spokesperson of ISIS-East Asia, Alimuden was neutralized by state forces during an operation on Monday afternoon in Barangay Poblacion, Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

Rosario said elements of the 601st Infantry Brigade, 40th Infantry Battalion, and Army intelligence units conducted the special operation.

“Aside from being the spokesperson of the ISIS-EA, Abu Huzaifah was also in charge of the financial transactions of the Dawlah Islamiya (DI)-Philippines to the ISIS Central,” Rosario said, citing intelligence reports.

 The operation against Alimuden was carried out a week after the JTFC conducted air and ground assaults on ISIS-inspired DI terrorists in Datu Salibo town, next to Datu Saudi Ampatuan where he was killed.

Two Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) fighters, an ISIS-inspired local terrorist organization, were killed during the encounter, while government troops recovered high-powered firearms and explosives.

According to the military, Alimuden had been disguising himself as Ustadz Abdulfattah Omar Abdulmaguid, a 32-year-old businessman residing in Talayan town, Maguindanao. (PNA)

Free boxing clinic at Moralde Boxing Gym

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A FREE boxing clinic will soon start at the Moralde Boxing Gym in NHA, Buhangin, Davao City.

“The clinic will also be offered to different barangays in Buhangin,” said Engelbert “Aguila” Moralde, a former amateur and professional boxer.

The clinic will also be conducted by his elder brother Richard Moralde, 36, a former amateur boxer.

The training will start at 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Moraldes are scouting for young players, aged seven to 15 year-old that will see action in invitational tournaments,

“If there will be an invitational tournament, then we will practice every day,” said the 29-year-old Moralde.

Moralde said that the clinic right now is held every Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. There are already at least 10 young boys already attending the clinic in NHA.

“But we still need to look for potential players also so that we will have entries in all weight categories,” said Moralde.

They are hoping to get players for DAVRAA and Palarong Pambansa.

The Moralde Boxing Gym is located on the 3rd floor of the Moraldes. The owner of the gym is another brother Donix Moralde, 32, who sometimes helps in teaching boxing.  

It has a boxing ring, four punching bags, speedballs, barbells, dumb bells and other equipment for boxing.

“If there are many players already, the schedule of the training will be changed to 2 to 4 p.m. while the 5 to 8 p.m. is for the clientele,” said Moralde.

The other sibling is 28-year-old super featherweight John Vincent “Mulawin” Moralde (24-5-0, 13KOs), who is still active in professional boxing. He is based in Miami, Florida, USA and his manager is Osmiri “El Moro” Fernandez.

The Moralde boxing team recently had an invitational tournament in Bansalan and Maco.  (BY LITO REYES)

2 minor Dawlah Islamiya combatants, 49 others yield in Lanao Sur

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ZAMBOANGA CITY – Two minor combatants and 49 supporters and couriers of the Dawlah Islamiya-Maute Group (DI-MG) surrendered to government troops in Lanao del Sur, military officials said Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the surrenderers gave themselves up Monday at the headquarters of the Army’s 51st Infantry Battalion in the Lanao del Sur town of Piagapo.

Rosario said the two Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired DI-MG combatants who surrendered are minors. They were only identified as a certain Paris and Akmad, both 17-years-old and residents of Piagapo.

In a statement Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo II, the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade commander, attributed the DI-MG’s mass surrender to the “intensified combat operations and the unwavering support from the local government unit and the populace.”

Last month, troops under the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade overran the camp of Faharudin Hadji Satar alias Abu Zakaria in Barangay Ilalag, Maguing, Lanao del Sur. Satar is the new self-declared emir of the ISIS in Southeast Asia.

Cuerpo said Paris and Akmad yielded a Garand rifle and a caliber .45 pistol, while two of the 49 supporters also handed over two Garand rifles.

“This is their chance to renew their lives and reshape their future. Rest assured that we will watch their back and guide them as they reintegrate into mainstream society,” Rosario said of the surrenderers. (PNA)

14 BIFF members yield to Army in NoCot

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MIDSAYAP, North Cotabato – Military and local officials here have welcomed the surrender of 14 members of the extremist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who all wished to live peaceful lives once more, military officials said Saturday.

Lt. Col. Edgardo Vilchez, 34th Infantry Battalion (IB) commander, said the BIFF group surrendered before them Friday afternoon at their headquarters in Barangay Salunayan.

“Twelve of the BIFF combatants were adults while two were minors,” he said.

Vilchez, who presented the BIFF batch to Col. Jovencio Gonzales, 602nd Infantry Brigade commander, during the surrender rites, said the group also turned in seven high-powered firearms that included an M-16, a Garand, and M14 rifles, two .50-caliber modified Barret sniper rifles, a 7.62mm modified sniper rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, and various ammunition.

In a statement Saturday, Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, lauded the efforts of the 34IB and the local government of Midsayap for the facilitation of the rebels’ surrender.

“This is part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching order and the 6ID, together with the Joint Task Force Central, is dedicated to achieving this (surrender of rebels),” Uy said.

Gonzales, meanwhile, noted that Friday’s submission of 14 BIFF fighters was preceded by the surrender of another BIFF member on Thursday before 34IB officials.

“Hopefully this realization amongst the ranks of the BIFF and Dawlah Islamiya will continue,” Gonzales said.

Uy reiterated that the 6ID will not stop pursuing violent extremists who refuse to peacefully surrender. (PNA)

PRO-12 primes for implementation of election gun ban

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KORONADAL CITY – The Police Regional Office (PRO) 12 (Soccsksargen) has called on gun owners and enthusiasts to cooperate with the implementation of the election gun ban as strict police checkpoints will be set up across the region.

In a statement Saturday, Brig. Gen. Alexander Tagum, PRO-12 director, said he has issued an order to police field units to arrest violators of the nationwide gun ban to be implemented from January 9 to June 8 this year.

“I am also directing all police field and station commanders in Soccsksargen to check crime-prone and dangerous areas and intensify their foot patrol and mobile operations,” Tagum said. “The PRO-12 urges all gun owners and enthusiasts to abide by the implementation of the gun ban (so) as to avoid facing the consequences of their actions.”

The implementation of the nationwide gun ban, through Commission on Elections Resolution 10728, was approved on Nov. 10, 2021, in connection with the May 9, 2022 national and local polls.

The resolution prohibits licensed gun owners to bring or transport their firearms outside their homes unless they were given an exemption by the Comelec after reviewing their applications.

Gun owners and enthusiasts can apply for exemption until May 25.

Uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other law enforcement agencies are the only ones allowed to carry firearms outside their residence during the election period.

Soccsksargen covers the cities of Kidapawan, Tacurong, Koronadal, and General Santos; and the provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani. (PNA)

NoCot cops on heightened alert vs. lawlessness, terrorism

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PIKIT, North Cotabato – Police authorities have intensified their campaign against lawlessness and terrorism here and nearby towns after separate attacks in the towns of Aleosan and Pikit earlier this week.

Lt. Col. Bernard Tayong, North Cotabato police spokesperson, said Thursday maximum safety measures are in place to prevent similar attacks in the province.

Tayong said extortion is eyed as the possible motive in the bombing of Mindanao Star bus on Tuesday that killed a 5-year-old boy and injured six others, including other children aged 5-months-old and 3-year-old in Aleosan, North Cotabato.

On Thursday, police personnel have been placed on heightened alert status after a joint Army-police checkpoint in Barangay Poblacion was subjected to twin grenade attacks on Wednesday night.

“All our police forces, including military and force multipliers, are on double alert status,” Tayong said.

“Nobody was hurt in the twin grenade attacks that came at past 8 p.m.” he added.

Tayong clarified that the murder on Wednesday morning of Samsudin P. Masulot, a councilman of remote Barangay Gokutan, was not related to the police raid in the same village that left six persons dead and the recovery of 440 stolen motorcycles and high powered guns on Dec. 29, 2021.

A gunman flagged down the motorbike of Masulot in Barangay Balatican at 9 a.m. and shot him with a .45-caliber pistol.

Brig. Gen. Alexander Tagum, Soccsksargen region police director, denied allegations in the social media that Masulot has helped facilitate the recent police operation in Barangay Gokutan.

“That was a wrongful accusation,” he said.

Tagum said Masulot was an advocate of peace and development program in the village and was commended several times by government and non-government organizations for his dedication.

“Kagawad Masulot is one of the prime movers of peace in Gokotan, Pikit, but he was ruthlessly killed by the desperate criminals to continue their nefarious activities,” he said.

The North Cotabato police office has asked the public, especially the passengers, to help prevent bombings by alerting police or the bus driver should they notice something unusual inside the public transport vehicle. (PNA)

21 inmates at SoCot jail test positive for drugs

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KORONADAL CITY – Twenty-one inmates of the South Cotabato Rehabilitation and Detention Center (SCRDC) have tested positive for illegal drugs during a surprise drug test, a jail official said Thursday.

In an interview, Lorey Celeste, acting provincial jail warden, said the result was based on the random drug test on 48 of the 1,544 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at the SCRDC on Wednesday.

To monitor their movements, the drug-positive inmates were moved to a single cell together with two companions found positive for drug use last year.

“We are investigating the inmates who are now being kept safe at cell number 14,” Celeste said.

The inmates were subjected to a random drug test following the operation greyhound at the facility that yielded 58 prohibited items on Tuesday comprising 25 touch screen mobile phones, 15 improvised knives, and 11 improvised ice picks.

Celeste said drug traffickers are using inmates as their cohorts to sneak illegal drugs into the provincial jail.

He said they have identified PDLs acting as accomplices or “runners” of illegal drug traffickers inside the jail facility.

“To prevent them from communicating with their supplier outside the premises eight inmates were placed in a separate cell,” Celeste said.

Jail guards thwarted an earlier attempt by illegal traffickers to sneak illegal drugs into the provincial jail early morning of Dec. 29, 2021.

Celeste said roving guards intercepted the shabu drugs that were put inside a lady’s wallet wrapped with packing tape and thrown from outside the high fence of SCRDC that day.

Last December 25, he said they also intercepted eight jumbo packs of suspected shabu thrown from the outside of SCRDC. (PNA)

Rep. Mangudadatu pushes for establishment of Islamic cemeteries nation-wide

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By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – Maguindanao Congressman Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu is pushing for the mandatory opening of Islamic cemeteries in all communities in the country with sizeable Muslim population to squarely address age-old controversies arising from lack of facilities for swift burial of their departed members.

Rep. Mangudadatu, representing the second district of Maguindanao, has filed   a bill “requiring all local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines to allocate suitable land spaces for establishment of public cemeteries for Muslim Filipinos, providing some guidelines and for other purposes.”

He filed the enabling bill shortly after he attended the symbolic inaugural opening the P49.3-milliion Islamic Cemetery and Cultural Hall in San Andres District by Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Damagoso and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna alongside prominent Muslim dignitaries in the premiere city and across the country. (Read a separate story on the Islamic cemetery inauguration.)

Beverly Ballitoc, Mangudadatu’s legislative staff, said the measure has long been crafted by her boss following consultations with legal luminaries and Islamic clerics alongside the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).

The bill crafting took a cue from Cotabato-based journalists, who visited him in early 2020 and inspired him to look into possible replication to a national scope of a regional law requiring LGUs in the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao). The local law was authored by the lawmaker’s younger sibling, former ARMM Assemblyman and now Bangsamoro Parliament Member Khadafeh “Toy” Mangudadatu.

In his bill’s explanatory note, Rep. Mangudadatu underscored the need for LGUs in the country with sizeable Muslim residents to provide areas for the establishment of Islamic graveyards to end perennial tussles arising between LGUs and their Muslim residents in incidents of burying cadavers in accordance with Islamic faith and mandates.

Citing NCMF data, he said there are 12,699,550 Filipino Muslims across the country scattered at 206,644 in Region I; 183,068 in Region II; 240,121 in Region III; 39,503 in CAR; 566,648 in NCR; 726,103 in Region IV; 309,331 in Region V; 225,099 in Region VI; 487,438 in Region VII; 324,504 in Region VIII; 1,652,819 in Region IX; 750,440 in Region X; 934,111 in Region XI; 294,026 in Region XII; 204,851 in CARAGA; and 5,554,845 in BARMM.

“The Muslim communities in the country used to be concentrated in Mindanao and some areas in the Visayas and Palawan. However, due to various reasons, there came about a Muslim diaspora in the country that has resulted in the rise of Filipino Muslim population and communities in almost all parts of the Philippines,” he said.

“With this diaspora, the Muslim settlers brought with them not only their trade and skills, but also their culture and religious beliefs and practices, among them their strong adherence to the practice of burying their dead in less than twenty-four (24) hours upon demise in a place that is dedicated to exclusively host the body of departed Muslims,” he added.

Mangudadatu said his bill is pursuant to Section 11, Article II and Section 5, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, which prescribe for promotion of the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights regardless of their religious beliefs.

“To reaffirm its commitment to promote and protect the dignity and health of every Filipino, the national government continues to pursue and implement programs, projects and activities that promote the dignity of its citizens and are responsive to the health and sanitation needs of the people, especially those among the marginalized and vulnerable sectors,” Mangudadatu said.

 He added:” In preserving the health and dignity of its citizens and their free exercise of religious practices without discrimination or preference, the government undertakes to strengthen Presidential Decree No. 856, otherwise known as the Sanitation Code of the Philippines, through the establishment of public cemeteries that shall cater to the Muslim population of the country as all Filipinos have the right to worship and to bury their loved ones…”

“This is a step to help all our brothers and sisters here in the Philippines who want to be buried in accordance with the teachings of the Qur ‘an and as an active recognition of our government in the culture, belief, and contribution of the Filipino Muslims to strengthening our country,” Mangudadatu said of his bill.

He urged stakeholders “help me to pray to Allah (swt) that this proposal of ours will be immediately approved and completely legalized, in shaaAllah.”  (AGM)

PRO-12 police personnel urged to observe stringent health protocols amid rising COVID-19 infection at police stations

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY- The Police Regional Office-12 has directed all police units under its command to undertake stringent health protocols against corona virus disease-2019 (COVID-19) after some 350 police personnel across the SOCCSKSARGEN Region have been infected by the virus since last year.

Brig. Gen. Bernard Tambaoan, deputy police regional director for administration, said police personnel assigned in various police stations in the region have been advised to observe stricter minimum  health protocols to avoid the transmission of the virus in their respective workplaces.

He said that some 100 policemen are still under quarantine after they tested positive for COVID-19 with one reported fatality.

He explained that  mostly of the infected police personnel are those assigned with administrative tasks at various police stations and offices.  

He said that most of the infected policemen were asymptomatic who had contracted the virus outside of their workplace.

The General Santos City Police Office has reported some 60 personnel who tested positive for COVID-19 this year with 9 active cases.

U.S. Military Delivers Php183 Million in New Weapons and Equipment to PHL

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MANILA-  Officials from the Joint United States Military Assistance Group – Philippines (JUSMAG-P) delivered on Monday, June 21 Php183 million ($3.8 million) worth of weapons and equipment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at Clark Air Base in Pampanga. 

The delivery, funded by both Philippine national funds and U.S. grant assistance, included nine M3P .50 caliber heavy machine guns, 10 mortar tubes and other equipment. 

Philippine military officials said the armament is intended to enhance the AFP’s counterterrorism and maritime security capabilities.  

Colonel Stephen Ma, JUSMAG-Philippines and senior defense official to the Philippines said the United States will continue to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ capacity building efforts through joint training and key military equipment transfers.

“Our mutual security collaboration remains a cornerstone of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Ma said. 

The Philippines is the largest recipient of U.S. military assistance in the Indo-Pacific.  Since 2015, the United States has provided more than Php48.6 billion ($1 billion) in security assistance to the Philippines.  

This year, the United States and the Philippines are commemorating 70 years since the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty, and this delivery continues the United States’ longstanding commitment to our Filipino allies.

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