Thursday, October 19, 2017

Malaysian militant Mahmud Ahmad killed in Marawi

From the Business World (Oct 20): Malaysian militant Mahmud Ahmad killed in Marawi

Philippine marines aboard their trucks flash the victory sign as they start their pull-out from the main battle area in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao on October 19, 2017. The battle for the southern city of Marawi, the Islamic capital of the mainly Catholic Philippines, lasted more than four times longer than the US-led campaign to liberate Manila from Japanese World War II occupation forces. -- AFP

THE MALACANANG confirmed on Oct. 19, Thursday, that a top Malaysian militant tipped to become Islamic State’s (IS) point man in Southeast Asia has been killed in a battle overnight.

“The military reports the death of Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian national who have financed the rebellion in Marawi died during last night’s operations,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

In a text message sent to reporters, Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto F. Padilla replied “yes” when asked to confirm if Mahmud Ahmad is already dead.
Earlier in the day, Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of a military task force, reported that 20 rebels among the remaining IS loyalists holed up in the devastated heart of Marawi City were killed in the latest fighting. One of those killed was believed to be Mahmud.

Mahmud’s death was a blow to any effort by Islamic State, which is on the back foot in Syria and Iraq, to establish a presence in Mindanao, an island with a history of rebellion and home to the predominantly Christian nation’s Muslim minority.

The Marawi siege has been the Philippines’ biggest security crisis in years, but some experts see it as a prelude to a more ambitious bid by militants to exploit Mindanao’s poverty and use its jungles and mountains as a base to train, recruit and launch attacks in the region.

The armed forces in a statement said 13 militants were killed overnight and seven on Monday morning.

Two hostages were rescued and information they provided meant the authorities were “increasingly becoming confident” that Mahmud was dead.


The 39-year-old former university lecturer is believed to have been pivotal in raising and channeling funds for the alliance and its foreign fighters during an occupation that has lasted 150 days, killing more than 1,000 people, mostly rebels. Central Marawi has been flattened by government airstrikes.

Some experts say Mahmud could become Islamic State’s Southeast Asian “emir” after the death on Monday of Isnilon Hapilon, the head of the alliance that seeks to carve out an Islamic State “Wilaya” in the southern Philippines.

Philippine soldiers on Oct. 16 killed Hapilon, a target of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. They also killed Omarkhayam Maute, one of two brothers at the helm of the Maute militant clan.

Mahmud was seen in a video alongside Hapilon and the Maute brothers plotting the Marawi siege. Security experts say he studied in Pakistan and learned to make bombs in an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. He left Malaysia in 2014.

On Tuesday, Oct. 17, President Rodrigo R. Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City from terrorists, however, there is still a need to clear buildings and arrest some of the remaining terrorists in the city.

Mr. Brawner said the military was relentless in finishing off the rebels, but was unsure how many were left. Estimates on Monday were 20 to 40 fighters.

“The resistance is still there. In fact, we can hear from the background, the battle is ongoing,” he said.

Security analyst Rommel Banlaoi said the end of Mahmud would not mean the end of the extremists’ presence in Mindanao.

“There are still high-value terrorist personalities who are still at large in Mindanao, not to mention other foreign fighters coming from Indonesia and elsewhere in the Arab world,” he said on television.

“They are very, very elusive and because they mixed with the communities and at the same time, they hang out with the armed groups that have the mastery of the terrain in Mindanao. It’s very difficult for them to be caught by the military.”

Following the pronouncement of Mr. Duterte’s liberation of Marawi City, the government pledged to give P30 billion for the rehabilitation of the whole city.

Russia providing PH with AK-103s – sources

From Update Philippines (Oct 20): Russia providing PH with AK-103s – sources

The Russian government is expected to turn over 5000 units of Avtomat Kalashnikova AK-103 with a million ammunition on October 25. 

Official announcement or confirmation is yet to be made but reliable sources say that Russia will be providing the AK-103 model of Kalashnikov rifle.

AK-103 uses the 7.62×39mm round. It can be fitted with night vision or telescopic sights, and a knife-bayonet or grenade launcher.

It was previously expected that Russia will provide the AK-101 which uses the 5.56×45mm NATO round.

Assault rifles in Philippine military service uses 5.56×45mm NATO round. Department of National Defense – Government Arsenal is also producing the NATO round.

These Russian rifle and ammunition together with 20 military truck will be formally turned over on October 25.

Duterte proposes blasting of pirates

From Update Philippines (Oct 20): Duterte proposes blasting of pirates

Blast the terrorists who are committing piracy like hijacking merchant vessels, killing and kidnapping people at sea, this is what President Rodrigo Duterte would tell the leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia.

“If there is one thing that must be immediately solved is really the problem of the Malacca Strait,” Duterte said during the High Level Forum on ASEAN @ 50 conducted at Conrad Manila, Pasay City on October 19.

“The Malacca used to be historically a supply route and a shipping lane that was very good for
everybody. Of late, terrorism has entered the picture and we see a lot of hijackings and killing of
people, and capturing hostages for ransom,” he noted.

He said that this dangerous situation needs a drastic action. “Whenever I try to solve a problem
that’s in my own assessment and evaluation, is serious enough. I tend to deal with my last card,” he added.

“That has been my character and if I get to talk to the leaders, there is one thing that I can just offer, blast them out of the seas to keep our shipping lanes open and safe,” he added.

“They have committed enough piracy there. Enough money collected from ransoms, and needlessly killing people, decapitating them in front of cameras,” he said. “I think that has to stop. I just finished the war in Malaysia. And then perhaps I can refocus the entire Armed Forces to deal with this problem, once and for all.”

In June, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines launched the Trilateral Maritime Patrol which seeks to secure maritime areas of common concern of the three nations from terrorists. Last week, the three nations launched Trilateral Air Patrol to complement the Trilateral Maritime Patrol.

Air Force, Navy units conduct joint demo exercise

From  Philippine Update (Oct 20): Air Force, Navy units conduct joint demo exercise

Philippine Air Force (PAF) Tactical Operations Command (TOC) and Philippine Navy (PN) Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) conducted Ayudahan 2017 Joint Field Training Exercise (JFTX) Capability Demonstration recently in Zamboanga City.

The demo exercise included Communications and Electronics, Maritime Surveillance, Maritime Interdiction Operations, Search and Rescue Exercises and Air to Ground Operations.

“They executed various maneuvers and evolution with accuracy and rigor,” NFWM said “These capabilities show more of what the Navy and Air Force can do in the occurrence of situations involving different terrorists and lawless groups in the country.”

Ayudahan 2017 was the 1st interoperability exercise launched by NFWM and TOC which held in different areas of Zamboanga City.

“The primary objective of the exercise is to enhance interoperability, competency and camaraderie of the operating units of NFWM and TOC,” NFWM said. “It also aims to enhance the overall coordination and responsiveness during the conduct of joint maritime operations which involves surveillance and search patrols, and maritime interdiction.”

2 Russian destroyers now in Philippines

From Philippine Update (Oct 20): 2 Russian destroyers now in Philippines

Two Russian Navy warships are currently in the country for a goodwill visit. 

These Russian warships are Udaloy-class destroyers Admiral Vinogradov (572) and Admiral Panteleyev (548). The warships docked in Manila South Harbor today, October 20.

Russian tanker Boris Butoma also arrived with the warships.

The Russian Embassy in Manila said on October 22 from 11 am to 4 pm Admiral Vinogradov which will be docked at pier 15 will be open for public visit.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that Russia will be delivering Kalashnikov (AK) rifles, to be delivered by Russian vessel.


PH to lead Trilateral Air Patrol in December

From Philippine Update (Oct 19): PH to lead Trilateral Air Patrol in December

In December, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be the lead air force of the Trilateral Air Patrol (TAP) with Indonesia and Malaysia.

The formal launching of TAP was conducted on October 13 in Subang, Malaysia. Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officials attended the launching event. They were transported by PAF 220th Airlift Wing’s C-130 aircraft.

Earlier, AFP spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla said TAP will complement the three nations’ Trilateral Maritime Patrol which seeks to secure maritime areas of common concern of the three nations from terrorists.

The TAP agreement designated the area of maritime interest that will be the subject of both maritime and air patrols. It will be carried out from designated staging points. Staging point for Indonesia is Tarakan; Bongao for the Philippines; and Tawau for Malaysia.

220th Airlift Wing photo

“Each country will take turns leading the mission thru a designated mission commander using host country air assets. Air patrol will be monitored from a maritime coordinating center. A host country will use their air assets with other nations patrol teams aboard,” the AFP spokesperson said.

Coordinated air patrols by individual air forces within their country’s respective borders are also part of TAP.

4th Infantry Division deploys new battalion to fight insurgents in south Bukidnon

From Rappler (Oct 19): 4th Infantry Division deploys new battalion to fight insurgents in south Bukidnon

The 88th Infantry Battalion will be operating from Maramag, Bukidnon

The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID) on Thursday, October 19, added a brand new battalion under its command, bringing to a total of 8 the number of battalions operating in its area of responsibility.

The 4th ID’s area of responsibility covers Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Bukidnon, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, and Dinagat Island.

Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and the Agusan and Surigao provinces have a strong Communist rebel presence, with Surigao del Sur having been once one of the most militarized provinces in the country in 2015 at the height of the Lumad Crisis with 5 battalions around its borders.

The 88th Infantry Battalion (IB) will be operating from Maramag, Bukidnon, at the former camp of the 8th IB.

Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the 4th ID said that the activation and deployment of 88th IB which is composed of 450 soldiers is part of the president's plan to hasten the resolution of all internal conflicts in the country.

“They are tasked to address the threat situation in the Southern part of Bukidnon,” Capt Martinez said.

The province has its shares of NPA attacks, most recently the attack on Davao Agricultural Ventures (Davco) where rebels torched vehicles and equipments and disarmed security personnel.

Martinez added that the deployment will help pave way for the smooth implementation of all Government programs and services that would benefit every Filipinos in all parts of the Archipelago.

Major General Ronald C. Villanueva, 4th ID Commanding General, underlined the specific tasks and mission of the said battalion that are aligned to the current AFP campaign which is the Development Support and Security Plan "Kapayapaan".

"When we talk about terrorism, we don't only mean Maute or ISIS; we also talk about the New People's Army that have longed made the lives of our people in Bukidnon miserable, Villanueva said.

He added that the terrorists not only burn trucks and plantations, they "also extort hard-earned money from poor farmers and... recruit children to fight against the government."

Villanueva emphasized the real intent of the NPA is not to topple down the armed forces but to take the governance from the people.

“This is the reason why we remain strong, resilient, and have improved our security stance in order to not just eliminate but to fully address this insurgency situation that have longed been affecting our Country's development," Villanueva added.

"To all of you, soldiers of this battalion, I expect that you will always bear the professionalism as you execute your tasks, build bridges from among the people, earn their respect and gain friends. There is no room for any human rights violations,” Villanueva addressed the soldiers.

“We have already gained... people's support especially during our efforts in Marawi. Don't let one mistake destroy what we have sacrificed for our Country. We support the intent of our Commander-in-Chief to protect the state and the people. Again I remind all of you to perform only your duty as a disciplined soldier," Villanueva added.

Martinez said that the soldiers from 88th IB came from different divisions from the army, the 3rd, 8th, and 9th IDs, and new graduates from the 4th ID.

The soldiers from the 3 divisions were replaced by new graduates from their own divisions.