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Marawi dad helps release four kidnapped victims in Lanao del Sur

ISLAMIC CITY OF MARAWI, Dec 16 (PIA)-- Mayor Sultan Fahad “Pre” Salic of this city has played a vital role in the successful and safe release of four kidnapped victims in Lanao del Sur, including two who are students of the Mindanao State University-Marawi main campus.

Sheila Mae Vidal, 18 years old, resident of Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte and a student of the College of Hotel and Restaurant Management; and Alcher Baricuatro, 19 years old, resident of Lala, Lanao del Norte and a student of the College of Agriculture were abducted by unidentified men inside the MSU campus at about 8:30 in the morning of December 7, 2010.

After almost a week in captivity, the victims were safely released by their abductors based on the text message sent by Sheila Mae’s sister to MSU’s Department of Security Services Deputy Chief for Administration Marmar Pakinson at about 11:55 in the evening of December 13.

In an interview with Radyo ng Bayan, Pakinson said that Sheila Mae’s sister said that her sister and Alcher, the other victim, were already at Kampo Ranao, army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade’s main camp here, before midnight.

Brigadier General Rey C. Ardo, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, in a report, said that the safe release of the student-kidnap victims was a result of a joint effort by the AFP, PNP and the series of negotiations led by Mayor Salic, being the chairman of the Crisis Management Committee.

The victims were happily reunited with their respective families in the morning of December 14, 2010.

In the afternoon of that same day, December 14, another kidnap victim, Edgar T. Cuajao, was freed by his abductors in the town of Lumba Bayabao, Lanao del Sur, after almost three days in captivity.

Based on reports, Cuajao, a resident of Cagayan de Oro City and employee of a private company was abducted by unidentified men while buying bread in barangay Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City at about three o’clock in the afternoon on December 11.

Again, General Ardo attributed the safe release of Cuajao to the efforts of Mayor Salic, Lumba Bayabao Mayor Gambai Dagalangit and Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano and the Council of Elders in the area.

At about eight o’clock of that same day, December 14, another kidnap victim, Eufemia C. Trocio, 50 years old, businesswoman, and resident of barangay San Miguel, Iligan City was also released by her abductors in the town of Piagapo, Lanao del Sur.

Eufemia was allegedly kidnapped by a certain Caoling Dansal Motalib and her husband, allegedly due to an unsettled debt with Caoling, on November 3, 2010.

In an interview with Radyo ng Bayan, Police Superintendent Nasser Dima of the Lanao del Sur Provincial Police Office (LSPPO) said that again with the help of Mayor Salic, the 103rd IB, 65th IB, LSPPO, Marawi City Police Office and the Council of Elders, victim Eufemia was freed from her abductors after more than a month in captivity.

Dima said Eufemia was turned-over to NBI-Iligan and to Iligan City Police Office who are now handling the case against the alleged kidnappers.

Mayor Salic said no ransom money was paid to the alleged kidnappers. (Bobby Ilupa/DXSO Radyo ng Bayan Marawi, with Apipa Bagumbaran/PIA Marawi)


Kidnapped businesswoman released in Lanao Sur

Islamic City of Marawi (15 December) --- A businesswoman kidnapped in Iligan City was freed by his abductors Tuesday night in Piagapo town, Lanao del Sur province.

Eufemia Trocio, 53 years old and resident of barangay San Miguel in Iligan City, was released by his abductors around 8p.m. of December 14 after they held her in captivity for more than a month.

Renato Mandawe of the National Bureau of Investigation said the abduction happened on November 3 but it was reported to their office by the victim’s brother, Edmundo Silang, on November 22.

The family made initial negotiations with the abductors but upon sensing that such negotiations will not succeed, they asked helped from us, he said.

Accordingly, the abductors were asking a ransom of P300,000 from the victim’s family.

Mandawe further said that they had initiated search operations but it was not revealed to media for the safety of the victim.

Upon learning the exact location of the victim yesterday, I immediately ordered a rescue operation and coordinated with Brigadier General Rey Ardo of the 103rd Brigade in Kampo Ranao, he said.

We also asked the intervention of Marawi Mayor Fahad ‘Pre’ Salic, who assured us the safe release of the victim, Mandawe added.

It was learned that the motive of the abduction was related to the victim’s unpaid debt.


Another kidnap victim freed in Lanao Sur

Islamic City of Marawi (14 December) --- Kidnappers freed today afternoon Edgar T. Cuajao in Lumba Bayabao town, Lanao del Sur province after they held him in captivity for almost three days.

Cuajao, together with his Toyota Vios vehicle with plate number XTU 965, was forcibly taken by his abductors Saturday afternoon at the vicinity of Makro in Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City.

The victim, who is a resident of Cagayan de Oro and an employee of an epoxy paint-selling company, said unidentified men seized him while he was buying bread in the said area around 3p.m. of December 11.

His vehicle was later found abandoned in Lumba Bayabao Sunday evening.

Brigadier General Rey Ardo, commander of the 103rd Brigade based in Kampo Ranao here, disclosed that the safe recovery of the victim was made possible through the help of Marawi City Mayor Fahad Salic, Lumba Bayabao Mayor Gambai Dagalangit, and Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano as well as with the cooperation of the Council of Elders in the area.

He said the suspected prime abductor was identified as Ali Acbar Dagalangit.

His grandfather, retired Lt. Col. Felipino Dagalangit, also participated in the negotiations which resulted to the safe release of the victim, he added.

Ardo further said that with the revelations of the victim, the police and military authorities are now in the process of pursuing the ongoing investigation of suspects for possible filing of appropriate charges.

The victim was turned-over today to Mayor Emano while his vehicle is still in the custody of Lanao del Sur Police Office.

Cuajao, meanwhile, expressed gratitude to the military and police authorities as well as to the three mayors who helped facilitate his release.

He was the third kidnapped victim freed today in Lanao del Sur following the release of the two college students who were abducted on December 7, 2010.


Abductors release two kidnapped students in Lanao del Sur

Islamic City of Marawi (14 December) --- The two (2) abducted Mindanao State University (MSU) students were finally released by their abductors after one week of captivity.

Brigadier General Rey C. Ardo, commanding officer of the 103rd Brigade, of the 1st Infantry Division, Philippine Army, said the victims were released in Piagapo town around 5 a.m., today, December 14.

He said the safe release of the victims was a result of series of joint search and rescue operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) complemented by a series of negotiations spearheaded by city Mayor Fahad ‘Pre’ U. Salic, chairman of the Crisis Management Committee (CMC).

Salic orchestrated series of negotiations for the safe release of the victims, Ardo said.

It can be recalled that Shiela Mae Vidal, 18 years old, a second year student of College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, and a resident of Butuan City; and Alcher Balicuatro, 19 years old, 1st year student of College of Agriculture, and a resident of Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte were abducted by four (4) unidentified armed men around 8 a.m. of December 7.

In a separate interview with Mayor Salic, he said the kidnappers were neophytes in perpetrating such crime so with the pressure exerted by the continuous manhunt AFP-PNP operations, they were left with no choice but to release the victims.

The city mayor also disclosed that no ransom was paid for their release.

The victims were handed over to MSU President Macapado Muslim and their respective families after their medical check-up at Amai Pakpak Medical Center, this morning.

Families of the victims were thankful to the army, police and local political leaders who helped facilitate the safe release of the two students.


Human Rights Day commemoration highlights role of human rights defenders

Islamic City of Marawi (11 December) -- Human rights advocates all over the world celebrate today the International Human Rights Day marking the 62nd anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which has become a universal standard for protecting and defending human rights.

This year's commemoration recognizes the vital role of human rights defenders who act to end discrimination by fighting abuses of human rights often putting their own safety and that of their families at risk.

With the theme "Speak up, Stop discrimination," the celebration also aims to exhort new generation of defenders to speak up and take action to end discrimination.

Meanwhile, Abul Alibasa, secretary general of Kabnar (Human Rights) Advocates, Inc. called on everyone to work together and support the strengthening of the anti-discrimination law.

Let us all work together to zero-in human rights violations, defend dignity and end impunity by upholding strictly the international human rights and humanitarian law, he stressed.

The Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, Inc. (LAHRA) on the other hand, spearheaded various activities in Iligan City to commemorate the occasion.

The different activities will emphasize the importance for all of us to learn and assert human rights in our daily existence, said Marlonito Meringuez, LAHRA chairperson.

According to him, the activities include an Alay Lakad para sa Kalikasan calling for action to protect and preserve the environment, jail visitatio, and conduct of a forum on human rights and the environment.


Seven towns in Lanao del Sur benefit from WFP food assistance program

Islamic City of Marawi (07 December) -- Seven municipalities in the province of Lanao del Sur will benefit from the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations (PRRO) Program of the World Food Programme (WFP).

These towns are Piagapo, Balindong, Madalum, Madamba, Masiu, Butig, and Lumbayanague.

WFP Deputy Country Director Asaka Nyangara said the WFP assists 26,535 beneficiaries in 163 schools in the said towns under the emergency school feeding program as well as 3,483 children aged between 6-23 months and 2,336 pregnant and lactating women under the supplementary feeding program.

Under the emergency school feeding, hot nutritious meals of rice, beans and fish are provided to targeted returnee school children.

On the other hand, the supplementary feeding provides Plumpy Doz to malnourished children while pregnant and lactating women receive rice, beans and vitamin A enriched oil.

According to Nyangara, the purpose of the emergency school feeding is to bring children who have been displaced back to school and to establish a sense of normalcy in their lives and that of their families while the supplementary feeding aims to improve the nutritional status of children aged 6-23 months, pregnant and lactating women, as well as to encourage the increase of the number of pregnant and lactating women's visit to rural health units.

In addition, WFP also supports projects such as communal gardening, farm-to-market roads, and nursery development under its food for asset program to encourage self-sufficiency among the selected communities in the province.

A commitment signing was held to manifest the commitment and support of the seven municipalities and the provincial government to the program during its launching in Bobo Elementary School in Piagapo town yesterday.

The signing was witnessed by the WFP Deputy Country Director, Provincial Social Welfare Officer Liamen L. Laut and National Ambassador Against Hunger, KC Concepcion.


WFP launches food assistance program for IDPs in Lanao del Sur

Islamic City of Marawi (07 December) -- The World Food Programme (WFP) launched yesterday in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations (PRRO) Program that will provide assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and other food-insecure households in conflict-affected areas of Central Mindanao.

The program which focused on the immediate food needs of vulnerable IDPs and returnees during the critical transition period from relief to recovery as well as support in rebuilding the livelihoods of the returning communities is being implemented in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the local government units (LGUs).

WFP Deputy Country Director Asaka Nyangara said the program which has three (3) key components will target five (5) provinces in Central Mindanao which includes Lanao del Sur.

The other provinces are Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Lanao del Norte.

Nyangara said the first key component is the emergency school feeding program where WFP in partnership with various sectors will provide on-site nutritious meals cooked by the parent-teacher community comprising of rice, beans and fish to school children in day-care centers and public elementary schools.

This component which is aligned with the conditional cash transfer and food-for-school programs of the government aims to ensure that the children are enrolled in school, they are retained and they graduate as expected, Nyangara further said.

Another component, Nyangara cited, is the supplementary feeding program, which gives nutrition support to pregnant and lactating mothers while providing Plumpy Doz to children from 6-23 months.

Moreover, the WFP deputy country director said they will also encourage the communities to undertake communal activities under the food for asset component to promote self-sufficiency.

The launching held at Bobo Elementary School of Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur province was graced by KC Concepcion, the National Ambassador Against Hunger.


KC Concepcion visits Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur

Islamic City of Marawi (07 December) -- Actress KC Concepcion, the World Food Programme (WFP) Philippine Ambassador Against Hunger, took time out from her showbiz career and visited Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur province yesterday.

KC joined some WFP officials spearheaded by Asaka Nyangara, the Country Deputy Director, to launch the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations (PRRO) in the province.

She personally participated in the feeding program for school children in Bobo Elementary School, gave Plumpy Doz to babies in the town's rural health unit, and visited the communal garden projects of Piagapo women.

Piagapo is one of the poorest municipalities in Lanao del Sur with 79.5% of its population living below the poverty line.

It is also one of the seven selected towns covered by PRRO program of the WFP.

In Piagapo alone, about 5,200 children in 30 schools are being served by the WFP emergency school feeding program while 372 pregnant and lactating women as well as 471 children aged 6-23 months are being assisted by the WFP supplementary feeding program.

Piagapo ABC President Amroussy Macatanong expressed appreciation to the WFP officials for choosing to launch the PRRO program in Bobo Elementary School.

He said it is a big help in their campaign to address the nourishment of their pregnant and lactating mothers and eradicating hunger among their growing children.

The ABC President also assured the WFP officials that they will perform their necessary counterpart to make the program effective and successful.


Muslims to celebrate Islamic New Year on December 7

Islamic City of Marawi (06 December) -- Muslims across the globe will celebrate Amon Jaded (Islamic New Year) on Tuesday, December 7, a major Islamic holiday marking the start of Muharram, the first month of the lunar Hijra calendar.

The Qur'an uses the word Hijra to mean moving from a bad place or state to a good one so Muslims regard this day as a good time to leave behind bad ways of living and look forward to a better life.

Many Muslims also use this day to remember the significance of Muharram, the month in which Prophet Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina and set up the first Islamic State.

In the country, Amon Jaded is declared a non-working legal Muslim holiday in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Regions 9 and 12 or those areas formerly under the defunct Region 12 by virtue of Article 170 of Presidential Decree 1083 otherwise known as the Code of Muslim Laws of the Philippines and the Civil Service Commission Resolution No. 81-1277 dated November 13, 1981.

Muslim holidays shall be officially observed in the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and in the cities of Cotabato, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian and Zamboanga and in such other Muslim provinces and cities as may hereafter created like cities of Kidapawan and Tacurong.

Meanwhile, Article 172 of Presidential Decree 1083 provides that all Muslim government officials and employees in places other than those enumerated under Article 170 shall be excused from reporting to office in observance of the Muslim Holidays.


Army officer commits suicide inside quarters in Lanao del Sur

Islamic City of Marawi (06 December) -- An army officer allegedly committed suicide last Saturday, December 4, inside his quarters in Wharf Based, Barangay Poblacion of Balabagan town in Lanao del Sur province.

In a text message to media, Police Superintendent Cosanie M. Derogongan disclosed that 1Lt. Remondo Estrada, 31 years old and from Pangasinan province was found dead hanged inside the comfort room of his quarter with the use of a black leather belt tied to his neck and to the ceiling.

Estrada is the commanding officer of the "G" Company under the 51st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Derogongan said their initial investigation revealed that a certain TSgt. Bernardo Emi found the lifeless body of Estrada when he went inside the victim's quarters to verify why Estrada was still inside when he was known to wake up around nine o'clock every morning.

Upon noticing the unusual time, TSgt. Emi decided to verify the situation inside the victim's quarters by knocking on his halfway opened door several times but still no one answered, he said.

After knocking several times, Emi went inside the victim's quarters only to find his bed empty and his body hanging in the comfort room, the police provincial director further said.


Crime volume in Lanao del Sur down by 35% in November

Islamic City of Marawi (03 December) -- The Philippine National Police reported a 34.6 percent drop in the total crime volume in Lanao del Sur for the month of November compared to the 26 cases reported in the previous month.

Police Superintendent Cosanie M. Derogongan said of the total 17 cases registered during the month, 16 cases or 94 percent were classified as index crimes while only one case or six percent was non-index crime.

The index and non-index crimes for November posted a decrease of 5.9 percent and 87.5 percent respectively from the 17 index and eight non-index crimes reported in October, he added.

According to him, index crimes are crimes punishable by the Revised Penal Code while non-index crimes are punishable by special laws.

The police provincial director further said they were able to attain a total of 71 percent crime solution efficiency with 12 cases solved out of the 17 cases reported.

For the 16 index crimes reported, 11 cases were solved resulting in the attainment of 69 percent index crime solution efficiency, he disclosed.

In terms of the registered average monthly crime rate, the month of November posted an average crime rate of 1.49 which is lower by 0.61 or 29 percent compared to last month's rate of 2.1.

The decrease in the average monthly crime rate can be attributed to the intensified police visibility and the conduct of checkpoint operations in strategic locations, Derogongan stressed


MSU students rally against alleged SUCs budget cut

Islamic City of Marawi (02 December) -- Students from Mindanao State University (MSU) main campus here in the city marched to MSU Peace Plaza yesterday afternoon to join the nationwide protest against the alleged budget cut of state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Protesters from various student organizations that include the College Editor's Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) - MSU Chapter, League of Filipino Students - Lanao Chapter, Liga ng Kabataang Moro, MSU Supreme Student Government, student councils from the different colleges, and college publications expressed their opposition to the alleged budget cut for the operations of 97 SUCs by P1.1 billion, zero allotment of capital outlay for SUCs, reduction in the scholarship funds of Commission on Higher Education by P650 million, and inadequate funds for basic education in the 2011 budget.

We are also trying collects signatures from instructors and administrative officials who are against the budget cuts, said Alamira Rasmia Nafisa Alonto, chairperson of CEGP MSU chapter.

She said they are likewise planning to hold a dialogue with the university administration to clear out issues and concerns regarding the university budget.

Many students will be affected by the cut and MSU will not be a university for the less fortunate anymore, she stressed.

Malacanang meanwhile reiterated that the 2011 budget for SUCs is in fact higher than last year.

President Benigno S. Aquino III pointed out that the P23.4 billion for SUCs in the 2011 budget is higher than the P21 billion over the 2010 budget.

The Palace emphasized that with respect to the budget, the budget for education is still the number one priority of the Aquino administration stressing that the entire education budget, which includes basic education, rose by 12.92 percent or to P271.67 billion from P240.58 billion in 2010.

At the same time, the Palace has issued an order to the heads of the SUCs to explain to the students that aside from the budgets they are getting under the 2011 General Appropriations Act, the SUCs have other sources of income to finance their operational requirements for next year.


Healing Democracy launches book on 2010 automated elections in Lanao del Sur

Islamic City of Marawi (01 December) -- The Healing Democracy yesterday re-launched here a book entitled "Testing Democracy: The 2010 Automated Elections in Lanao de Sur."

Reverend Beltran E. Pacatang, Healing Democracy Project Coordinator, said the book is the output of their documentation and monitoring initiatives during the May 10, 2010 national and local elections held in this city and 27 municipalities in Lanao del Sur province as well as the June 3, 2010 special elections.

He said the book focuses on election-related fraud and election-related violence that marred the elections in the province.

The objective of the publication, Pacatang said, is to bring to the attention of the local and international interfaith communities the extent of election-related violence and fraud in the province.

The program coordinator further said the data used in book was generated from the reports of 326 Voter's Collectives organized here and in the 27 towns in addition to the volunteers from partner organizations and various networks.

Voter's Collectives is a wide network of responsible voters from various sectors including but not limited to the youth, women and farmers acting as electoral watchdogs in their respective municipalities during the May 10 and June 3, 2010 polls.

All the data used in the book were also backed up with sworn statements and affidavits, Pacatang added.

Healing Democracy is a Maranao grassroots' project that seeks to organize and educate Lanao del Sur electorate on voters' rights and to monitor the conduct of the May 10, 2010 automated elections in the province.

It is funded by the European Union under the program European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights Philippines.

It has partnered with the Consortium of Christian Organizations for Rural-Urban Development Inc., Liga ng Kabataang Moro, Union of People's Lawyers in Mindanao, Ethnic Groups Development Resource Center, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Community-Based Health Services-Northern Mindanao, Suara Bangsamoro-Northern Mindanao, Kawagib Alliance for the Advancement of Moro Rights, Samahan ng mga Lingkod Artista sa Mindanao, and Moro-Christian People's Alliance - Lanao.

The launching held at the Mamitua Saber Research and Technology Center of the Mindanao State University (MSU) - Main Campus was attended by students from the MSU Historical Society, MSU Supreme Student Government, and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines - Lanao Chapter.

Before the launching, a forum dubbed as "Demanding Accountability: Prospects and Challenges under the New Administration" was also conducted with Professor Bobby M. Tuazon of the Center for People's Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) and University of the Philippines - Diliman, Political Science Department, as guest speaker.


MSU holds accountability confab

Islamic City of Marawi (01 December) -- The Mindanao State University (MSU) Historical Society, Supreme Student Government, and College Editors Guild of the Philippines - Lanao Chapter in collaboration with the Healing Democracy Project conducted yesterday a campus forum on accountability as an indicator of good governance.

An assessment of President Benigno Aquino III administration's first 150 days dubbed as "Demanding Accountability: Prospects and Challenges under the New Administration" was presented by Prof. Bobby M. Tuazon of the Center for People's Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG).

The presentation focused on vital issues confronting the Aquino government such as corruption, transparency, human rights, education, poverty alleviation program, economic projects, peace talks and foreign policy as well as the accountability process involved in each issue.

Prof. Tuazon said the assessment aims to increase awareness on the accountability process to help people become more responsible and thus promoting people empowerment.

He also urged the youth participants to rely on themselves and be active movers for a change in government and the society as a whole.

CenPEG is a public policy center whose programs are aimed at securing political and electoral changes to help ensure people participation and nurture a culture of integrity in governance.

It undertakes research and policy studies, education and trainings as well as advocacy and community-based projects that help people participate as key players in governance.


PNP Lanao Sur conducts pursuit operations against Marantao shooting incident suspect

Islamic City of Marawi (30 November) – Lanao del Sur Police authorities are conducting hot pursuit operations against the suspect of a shooting incident in Marantao town which resulted in the death of a World Food Programme (WFP) truck driver’s assistant.

Provincial Police Director Superintendent Cosanie M. Derogongan identified the 25-year old victim as Sadam Basnillo, a resident of Cagayan de Oro City.

He said the victim’s father, Gerome Basnillo, was driving a WFP contracted green cargo truck bearing plate number MVM-160 when they were fired upon by a certain ‘Pakpak’ along Narciso Ramos Highway Barangay Tuca Ilian, Maul of the said town.

He said based on their initial investigation, the truck was loading 480 sacks of rice of which about 50 sacks were delivered in Madamba town and the rest were to be unloaded in Marantao.

The initial investigation further disclosed that prior to the shooting, the suspect asked for a sack of rice but he was refused.

The victim, Derogongan said, suffered one gunshot wound in his left waist and penetrated to his right waist that caused his death.

In a press statement, WFP Country Director Stephen Anderson meanwhile expressed condemnation on the shooting the incident.

WFP strongly deplores this act of wanton violence that has led to the tragic and senseless loss of life of an individual who was assisting in the delivery of humanitarian assistance, he said.

WFP is currently working with all concerned government authorities who are investigating this incident and will share more information as it becomes available, he further said.

WFP staff are also in touch with the family of the bereaved and are extending the necessary support in their time of grief, Anderson added.

The WFP country director further clarified that in addition to adhering to the UN’s standards of security in the implementation of its programmes, the WFP coordinates routinely with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, concerned local government units, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other stakeholders in order to continuously ensure the safety and security of all staff, including contracted staff, in its areas of operation.

However, Derogongan stressed that they have not received any request for security assistance from WFP.

I have checked our records to verify their claim of coordination or any request of police security assistance but found nothing, Derogongan emphasized.

As of presstime and based on the evidence on the ground, Anderson said they are treating the incident as an isolated case and they will do everything possible to ensure that operations in Central Mindanao will not be hampered.


1ID commander says they are ready for any eventuality

Islamic City of Marawi (30 November) --- All forces under the army’s 1st Infantry Division especially the 103rd and 601st brigades have been preparing for contingencies.

First ID commander Major General Romeo D. Lustestica said this in response to the instruction of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, Gen. Ricardo A. David, to the soldiers to prepare for the worst conditions.

We have laid down our contingency plan and we have already informed the Western Mindanao Command and the general headquarters of the required resources, augmentation forces and other necessities by the two brigades that the division cannot provide, Lustestica further said.

Other issues and concerns were also elevated to the higher authorities for them to address just in case anything happens, he added.

The 1ID commander stressed that they are in the maximum deterrent mode right now and are ready to parry off any attempts of hostilities.

But since the policy of the government is to have a peace process, we, as part of the government, will support it, Lustestica said.

However, we will not neglect the possibility of a snag in the peace process so we will continue to be ready for any eventuality, he further said.

The 103rd (Haribon) brigade is based in Marawi City while the 601st (Unifier) brigade is based in Iligan City.


AFP chief to Haribon troopers: always prepare for the worst conditions

Islamic City of Marawi (30 November) --- The troops of the army’s 103rd (Haribon) Brigade were told to always prepare for the worst conditions.

During his recent visit here, Gen. Ricardo A. David, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, ordered the Haribon troopers to protect every community in the Lanao areas just in case of any eventuality especially that the International Monitoring Team from Malaysia may be leaving this December.

However, he stressed that the policy of the government is to have the peace process.

With a new round of peace talks that will be undertaken by the government, we hope it be successful, otherwise, we, soldiers, if given the orders, we must do our best to preserve peace, the AFP chief said.

Let us pray that there will be peace in the area, and if this will fail, the general headquarters is already preparing to respond and address the threats confronting this part of the country, he added.

The newly-installed CSAFP also disclosed that the present commanding officer of the Haribon brigade will be one of the officers to monitor the peace process in Mindanao.

Since Gen. Rey C. Ardo will be monitoring all the undertakings of the peace process in the entire Mindanao, a new commanding officer will be assigned here, the AFP chief informed the Haribon troopers.


Increase in combat pay to uplift the morale of military personnel—AFP

Islamic City of Marawi (30 November) ---- The leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is working hard for the increase of combat pay as a way of uplifting the morale and welfare of military personnel.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo A. David Jr. revealed this during his recent visit to Kampo Ranao here in the city to see the condition of army’s 103rd (Haribon) Brigade troopers.

He disclosed that one of the important suggestions during their consultative meeting at the general headquarters as well as during the budget presentation was the increase of combat pay of personnel assigned in field from P240 to P1,000 per month effective January 1, 2011.

Through the effort of Senator Chiz Escudero, Senate Committee on National Defense chairman, we are hoping it will be approve because about 60% of the troops will benefit from it, he said.

The AFP chief further said that they are contemplating all possible things that will enhance the welfare of military personnel such as their need for rest and recreation.

The Haribon troopers were also informed that the AFP has inked a Memorandum of Agreement with Negros Navigation Company management giving 25% discount fare for all members of the AFP and their dependents so that they can have the chance to visit their families more often.

During his visit, the AFP chief also unveiled the marker of the newly constructed brigade mosque where Muslim comrades-in-arms could practice their faith.