Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao updates
LATEST UPDATE: October 14, 2019 - 1:23pm
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
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2 days ago

Tension between a local terror group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has escalated after a video showing a terrorist executing an MILF member wounded in a clash spread on Sundat.

The mobile phone footage showed how a member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, repeatedly shot in the head an MILF fighter hurt in an encounter last week in Shariff Saidona Mustapha town in Maguindanao.

Seven MILF members were killed in last week’s incident in Shariff Saidona Mustapha.

The gunfight erupted when BIFF gunmen attacked a group of MILF members in a riverside farming enclave in an isolated barangay in the municipality, sparking an hour-long running gunfight that dislocated hundreds of villagers.

There is a deep-seated animosity between one of three factions in the BIFF, the one led by radical cleric Abu Toraife, and the MILF due to its overt support to efforts of the police and the military to neutralize Toraife and his followers. -- The STAR/John Unson

October 10, 2019

Officials in Basilan on Wednesday report their accomplishments in the past 100 days but also say that rebuilding the province from armed conflicts will take a long time.

The newcomers Isabela City Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman and Vice Mayor Kifli Salliman together established during the period via the Sanguniang Panglunsod three outfits — the Culture and Arts Board (Ordinance 19-533), the City Information Office (Ordinance 19-534), and the City Legal Office (Ordinance 19-535) — to boost the city government’s public service thrusts.

The SP, chaired by the first-termer Salliman, also passed last month the city’s Freedom of Information Ordinance, more known as Isabela City’s Ordinance 19-536, the first ever in Southern Philippines.

The FOI bill is meant to ensure transparency and accountability in the city government’s handling of fiscal resources and its implementation of local and state-funded socio-economic, security and infrastructure programs.  — The STAR/John Unson

October 9, 2019

Law enforcement agents arrest five people, among them the wife of a wanted drug dealer, and dismantle their shabu distribution hub in an operationon Wednesday.

Lanie Datumanong Ali of Barangay Kabuntalan in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao is now in the custody of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Her husband, Banoh, the target of the joint police-PDEA operation, managed to escape bringing with him a blue bag that neighbors said contained pistols and fragmentation grenades.

Juvenal Azurin, director of PDEA-BARMM, said Wednesday they immediately dismantled the couple’s drug den, located in Barangay Kabuntalan.

Azurin said agents confiscated from the spouse of Banoh P170,000 worth of shabu and two fragmentation grenades.

Besides Ali, four men, whose exact identities are still being validated, were also caught sniffing shabu together in the drug den that Banoh operated.

“The wife of Banoh shall be prosecuted separately for violation of Republic Act 9165 and illegal possession of explosives,” Azurin said.

The four men now clamped down in the detention facility of PDEA-BARMM in Cotabato City shall also be charged accordingly, according to Azurin.

RA 9165, also known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, outlawed sale and possession of narcotics, such as shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) and marijuana and other regulated substances. -- The STAR/John Unson

October 7, 2019

Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. says the national government recognizes the gallantry of seven members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front who were killed in a clash with Islamic State-linked terrorist group in Maguindanao province over the weekend.

"For us, they are heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice so that their people can live in peace," Galvez says in a statement from his office.

"In solidarity with the leadership of the MILF, the government will assist in every way possible the families of these slain MILF fighters. We will exert all efforts to make sure that justice will be served to the perpetrators of this dastardly act."

Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu (Maguindanao), a former provincial governor, is meanwhile calling for a de-escalation of tension in the area as the fighting has forced hundreds from Barangay Dasawao in Shariff Saidona town have fled the fighting.

"I am calling on the BIFF to consider the continuing appeals by different sectors for its forces to stand down, to reintegrate into mainstream communities and support the peace process between the government and the MILF," Mangudadatu says Monday in comments addressed to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the group believed behind the attack.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity referred to the group as the "Turaype-Dawla group." —with The STAR/John Unson

October 5, 2019

Sources say four members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a group that styles itself after the Islamic State, were killed in a clash in Shariff Saidona in Maguindanao that also lesft seven members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front dead.

Key Army and police intelligence officials in Central Mindanao confirm Saturday that the two groups indeed figured in skirmishes Friday.

Accoridng to source, three BIFF gunment were also wounded in the clash.

The BIFF gunmen who killed the seven MILF members belong to a faction led by Esmael Abdulmalik, most known as Abu Toraife, a cleric who stokes hatred for non-Muslims in his sermons.

Abdulracman Kanda, chairman of Barangay Dasawao in Shariff Saidona, tells reporters Saturday that the two groups last traded shots in Sitio Tinolusan and barrio folk have since been reporting about seeing MILF members carry seven dead companions away from the scene amid heavy exchanges of gunfire. — The STAR/John Unson

September 26, 2019

Laboratory testing has confirmed the presence of cocaine in a block of a susbtance found floating off Basilan.

Jacquelyn de Guzman, a lawyer and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-9 regional director, says the specimen tested positive for cocaine HCL (hydrochloride), which is covered by the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

De Guzman says the block of cocaine weighed a total of 915.1000 grams based on the PDEA 9 chemistry report.

The block of cocaine was recovered by local fishermen on Monday in waters between Langil and Linungan islands off Mohammad Ajul town, Basilan. They immediately surrendered their find to Mayor Ibrahim Ballaho and Police Col. Rufino Inot, the provincial police director.

De Guzman says the brick of cocaine was wrapped in a clear plastic bag sealed with a transparent tape.

PDEA, police and the military are gathering more information to trace the possible origin of the cocaine. —  The STAR/Roel Pareño

September 24, 2019

The military and police are working to check if three Indonesian fishermen abducted in waters off Sabah were brought to Tawi-Tawi or Sulu, the military's Western Mindanao Command says.

Maj. Arvin John Encinas, Westmincom spokesman, says Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi and the police intelligence unit in the area are checking their jurisdictions even if there is no concrete information that the fishermen's abductors are with the Abu Sayyaf group.

"As of now we have monitoring operation with other intelligence units of the PNP (Philippine National Police) to find out if the victims were really brought here or whether there was kidnapping," Encinas says.

He says authorities in Malaysia are sill conducting search and rescue operations off Sabah.

According to Malaysian authorities, the supposed victims were abducted around Monday noon by gunmen on board on two pumpboats in the waters of Lahad Datu. They also said they suspect the abducted fishermen were brought to Tawi-Tawi.

Malaysian, Indonesian, and Philippine security forces have intensified their trilateral border patrol to prevent hijacking and abduction in the common border of the three countries.

— The STAR/Roel Pareño

September 16, 2019

Passersby found early Monday two fragmentation grenades and a 40-millimeter explosive projectile packed together near an unfinished children’s park in Cotabato City.

The explosives were left just a few meters away from the People’s Palace, the local government complex where Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi holds office.

The city police are still trying to determine who could have left the explosives, which Army and police bomb experts disposed of promptly.

The mayor has directed barangay officials to help in the investigation. — The STAR/John Unson

September 11, 2019

An Abu Sayyaf member believed to be involved in a series of hijackings and kidnappings in waters off Sabah, has surrendered to Marines in an island village off Languyan town, Tawi-Tawi.

Nassae Lakbao surrendered last week but the information was only made public Wednesday due to the follow-up operations, according to Col. Hernanie Songano, deputy commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade in Bongao town.

Lakbao, Number 7 on the military’s periodic status report watchlist of the Abu Sayyaf, surrendered to the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 at Tahaw Island in Barangay Darul Akram.

Songano says Lakbao, a native of Indanan town, Sulu, was a former follower of slain Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom leader Abraham Hamid, whose group was behind hijackings in the waters of Lahad Datu-Semporna in 2016.

The Abu Sayyaf returnee also surrendered his M1 Garand rifle with a clip of ammunition. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

September 3, 2019

The Bangsamoro government launched its Project TABANG (Tulong Alay sa Bangsamorong Nangangailangan) this week, with hundreds of Cotabato City residents benefiting from free basic services offered.

Project TABANG or the Tulong Alay sa Bangsamorong Nangangailangan is an initiative of the Office of the Chief Minister to extend basic services and assistance to the Bangsamoro people, specifically on health and education services, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Bureau of Public Information says.

Chief Minister Ahod Al Haj Murad Ebrahim says in the release that Project TABANG will be conducted regularly in the different areas across the Bangsamoro region.

“Demonstration ito nung pledge natin na talagang tutulong tayo sa mga tao mismo sa grassroots. We’ll keep up this commitment In Sha Allah,” the chief minister also says.

“Our objective is to reach out to the Bangsamoro people and give them the basic services their government can provide, because we believe the governance and public service is not about us, the officials, rather, it is always about the people.”

August 30, 2019

A supporter of the Islamic State-inspired Dawlah Islamiyah group surrendered after relentless military operations in Butig town, Lanao del Sur, security officials say Friday.

The surrender came as the troops continue to track down a reported 40 to 100 foreign militants who have been in hiding with the DI and the Abu Sayyaf group in southern Philippines.

Hadji Soaid Ander, the surrenderee, also yielded a KG-9 automatic pistol and two 9-mm magazines with 29 rounds of ammunition when he surrendered to the troops of the 49th Infantry Battalion on Wednesday afternoon.

Brig. Gen. Romeo Brawner, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, says Ander was a supporter of the DI group led by Ali Amintao, alias White Lawaan, and was involved in encounters against troops in 2016 in Butig by providing firearms, ammunition and food. -- The STAR/ Roel Pareño

August 27, 2019

Rescuers have recovered the remains of the last of five people who drowned when two riverboats collided over the weekend in an upstream channel of the Rio Grande de Mindanao.

Pudi Giadel's body was was fished near the waters off Cotabato City, where the Rio Grande de Mindanao drains into.

He and four others were thrown overboard when their boat hit another watercraft from the opposite side of a stretch of the Rio Grande de Mindanao in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao late Saturday.

The remains of his four companions, two of them college students, who drowned in the river were recovered by rescuers one after another a day after the accident. — The STAR/John Unson

August 26, 2019

Three people drowned over the weekend after two riverboats collided Saturday night in a channel of the Rio Grande de Mindanao in Sultan Kudarat town.

Two others remain missing.

In an initial statement, the Bangsamoro regional police identified the fatalities as Jomar Akir, Johaina Salem and Elmie Norodin.

Akir and Salem were students of the Mindanao State University and the Notre Dame Hospital School of Midwifery in Cotabato City, respectively.

Norodin was an Islamic theologian involved in community preaching activities.

They were reportedly thrown overboard by the impact of the collision. — The STAR/John Unson

August 23, 2019

A child playing with a "holen gun" accidentally killed a five-year-old playmate in Parang, Maguindanao on Thursday, town police say.

A "holen gun" is a replica firearm that shoots rounded marbles through a tube when lighter fluid inside it ignites.

In a statement Friday, the Parang municipal police office says the five-year-old child was shot in the head by an older playmate.

Brig. Gen. Marni Marcos of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Region on Friday has directed Parang police to facilitate a dialogue between the parents of the two children over the incident. — The STAR/John Unson

August 19, 2019

Abu Sayyaf militants fired at a police convoy conducting route security for teachers and triggered a series of encounters Monday morning in Patikul town, Sulu that left two police personnel wounded.

The convoy personnel were conducting route security for teachers who were travelling from Jolo to Barangay Taglibi in Patikul when they were fired upon around 7:59 a.m. by an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf members, Maj. Arvin John Encinas, spokesman of the military's Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), says.

Sulu Police Provincial Office says the officers wounded were Police Corporal Angelo Canapi and Police Patrolman Nijar Awwalon, both from the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Coy and assigned to the route security team.

The police and military say the Abu Sayyaf militants subsequently fire at the army’s tactical patrol base in the nearby Barangay Igasan to prevent the troops from sending reinforcements. — The STAR/Roel Pareño


August 15, 2019

Two of six boom trucks the Japanese government gave this week to six power cooperatives in the Bangsamoro region went to Basilan,  where they are urgently needed.

There has been an influx lately to Basilan of investors requiring power for industries they intend to put up, among them the transnational Unifruitti and partner Lamitan Banana Corporation that are to jointly put up a 1,000-hectare Cavendish banana farm in Lamitan City.  

Foreign Investors are also planning to develop another Cavendish banana plantation on arable lands in Tairan Area in Lantawan, Basilan.

Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman says Thursday his administration appreciates the grant by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA, of the six boom trucks. — The STAR/John Unson

August 9, 2019

Muslims in the southern Philippines will celebrate Eid'l Adha on Sunday, August 11, ahead of the August 12 holiday declared by Malacañang.

Residents of Isabela City in Basilan will hold their open field Eid’l Adha congregational prayer at the parade ground in the Basilan National High School on August 11 as agreed by Islamic theologians and clerics overseeing mosques in the city and in towns nearby.

The consensus was reached during a dialogue Thursday among Isabela City officials, representatives from the Basilan provincial government, Rep. Mujiv Hataman, members of the Basilan Ulama Supreme Council and officials of the Isabela City Madrasah Association. — The STAR/John Unson

August 8, 2019

The provincial government and the National Housing Authority break ground on a 473-unit socialized shelter project in Barangay Menzi in Isabela City in Basilan.

The 473 houses, to be grouped together as the Al-Hidaya Subdivision Phase II, shall rise on an eight-hectare land in Barangay Menzi, some distance from the center of Isabela City.

Gov. Jim Salliman, Congressman Mujiv Hataman and city officials led the kickoff rite for the project which costs P23.9 million and is expected to be completed within 240 days.

The NHA and the office of the provincial governor have a set of criteria in selecting beneficiaries for the housing project. — The STAR/John Unson

August 7, 2019

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao plans to use 5% of its annual block grant—its share of national internal revenue collections—to help funf disaster risk reduction and management programs, it says in a press release.

"We are in the process of preparing the budget of the different ministries for 2020 with the anticipation of the operationalization of the block grant in the autonomous region," Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, a lawyer, says at a summit on disaster resilience this week.

The Local Government ministry is the secretariat for the region's Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READI-BARMM) office.

“It means that the programs and priorities will now be locally generated and that the money that will fund the programs of the different ministries and offices in the Bangsamoro will be deliberated and approved by the parliament, no longer by the Congress,” Sinarumbo says.

"We managed to influence the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Management of the regional government to include in the budget guidelines the allocation of setting aside at least 5% of the total block grant. That means 5% of approximately P65 billion pesos will be allocated for DRRM programs in the region,” he also says.

August 6, 2019

A clash between two feuding clans in Sumisip, Basilan before noon on Tuesday left five dead and three wounded, authorities say.

Sumisip town mayor Jul Adnan Hataman confirms the incident and says two soldiers of the 64th Infantry Battalion were among the wounded.

The mayor, citing initial information, says the clans were supposed to settle a "rido" or feud and it is still unknown why they began shooting at each other.

“They were supposed to settle the problem,” Hataman says over the phone.

A village official who tried to help settle the conflict was reportedly fired upon.

Sumisip police say the shooting happened around 11:35 a.m and involves the clan of Hadji Murphy Taalil and the Baaka family.

Police and military personnel have been dispatched to maintain order and break the tension as the two clans are reportedly getting ready to escalate the conflict.

The police have also alerted counterpart units in the cities of Lamitan and Isabela to stay on alert and to try to ease the tension between the clans.— The STAR/Roel Pareño

August 5, 2019

An accident involving two vehicles in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao on Sunday left 22 people injured, town police say.

The victims, some of whom are minors, were rushed to different hospitals for treatment.

The two vehicles collided while on a stretch of the Cotabato-General Santos Highway in Barangay Capiton.

Personnel of the Datu Odin Sinsuat municipal police are still trying to determine the cause of the collision.

Both vehicles have been impounded. — The STAR/John Unson

August 1, 2019

The Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team, or HEART will be supervised by the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government-BARMM.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, local government minister, say Bangsamoro Chief Minister Hadji Ahod Ebrahim placed the rapid deployment disaster and calamity action group under MILG owing to its connectivity with local government units the provinces.

The HEART, renamed Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence of BARMM, was organized six years ago by the office of then ARMM Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman, now congressman of Basilan. — The STAR/John Unson

July 17, 2019

The Integrated Provincial Health Office-Maguindanao is holding a five-day free medical services clinic at the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan from July 16.
Maguindanao Health Officer Dr. Tahir Sulaik says in a press release from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that "the Gamutang Pangkalahatan is an annual activity of IPHO-Maguindanao aimed at serving the 36 municipalities of Maguindanao and neighboring provinces."
The Gamutan Pangkalahatan includes free medical and surgical procedures such as eye examination and surgery for cataract, breast mass surgery, goiter surgery, cleft lip surgery, hernia surgery, tumor surgery, ligation, vasectomy, CT scan, cancer screening, laboratory services, X-ray and ultrasound, dental services and many others, the BARMM Bureau of Public Information also says.
Beneficiaries are also given free medicines and medical equipment such as wheelchairs and eye glasses. — From BARMM BPI release

July 16, 2019

Close to 200 public school teachers have refused to report to their classes in two towns in Basilan because of threats from the Abu Sayyaf, school officials say.

The teachers have converged at the Department of Education division office in Isabela City to ask for a temporary suspension of classes for their safety.

Nuriya Jamaldin, assistant school division superintendent, says the teachers who say they feel threatened are from the public schools in Sumisip and Tipo-Tipo.

Jamaldin has advised the teachers to file leaves of absence instead since they cannot arbitrarily suspend classes.

School officials say rumors that the Abu Sayyaf plans to kidnap and kill teachers have been circulating, with reports that the Abu Sayyaf want to retaliate for the arrest of Muida Sabala Hataman, provincial director of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

Hataman, arrested in June for alleged possession of an improvised explosive device, is allegedly one of the wives of Radzmir Janatul, a sub-leader of Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

July 15, 2019

A government militiaman was killed while four others, including two minors, were injured in an Abu Sayyaf attack in a village of Sumisip town, Basilan, police officials say.

The police say the lone fatality as Norman Aramal, 47, a member of the Special Cafgu Active Auxiliary.

The following were injured, Police Col. Rufino Inot, Basilan Provincial Police Office director, says: Ernesto Acalul, 50; Nursali Asakali, 32 ; and two minors, all residents of Barangay Central, Sumisip town. 

Inot says the Abu Sayyaf group led by Pasil Bayali attacked the newly established CAFGU outpost in the border of sitio Ereley, Barangay Sumisip Central about 8:15 a.m on Sunday. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

July 10, 2019

There have been 669 cases of dengue in Maguindanao province between January and June 2019, the provincial health office says, adding nine people have died of the mosquito-born disease.

Reports from the Integrated Provincial Health Office-Maguindanao indicate there were 393 cases in the same period last year.

Maguindanao’s provincial health chief, Dr. Tahir Sulaik, and municipal health offices in the province are working together to address the rise in cases.

Maguindanao has 36 towns, more than a dozen of them located in swamps and marshes that connect to central Mindanao’s 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta.

Datu Odin Sinsuat town had the most dengue cases in the first half of the year at 128. 

The health office also reported a high number of cases in Sultan Mastura (77), Upi (73), Parang (67), and Buluan (34) towns. — The STAR/John Unson

July 9, 2019

Civic leaders and newly-elected officials of Isabela City, Basilan held a "boodle fight" on Monday as a show of solidarity.

Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman, Vice Mayor Kifli Salliman and leaders of the local Catholic community led by Bishop Leo Dalmao celebrated the city’s feast day via a traditional military-style "boodle fight", where diners eat from banana leaves with their hands.

Catholics in Isabela City, Basilan celebrated Monday the feast day of Santa Isabel de Portugal.

Among those who joined the event were officials of the Army’s 104th Brigade, representatives from local police units, Muslim community elders and Rep. Mujiv Hataman, former governor of the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

"It is good to see stakeholders to this local peace effort join together in building strong bond among Muslims and Christians in Isabela City," Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana of the Western Mindanao Command said. — The STAR/John Unson

July 8, 2019

Two drug traffickers who doubled as guns-for-hire were killed in a shootout with police agents in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in this province Sunday, police say Monday.

Adrian Amando and Anthony Balleque, who sustained gunshot wounds in different parts of their bodies, were declared dead on arrival by attending physicians at a hospital in nearby Cotabato City.

Brig. Gen. Marni Marcos of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao says Monday the duo were targets of a buy-bust operation in Barangay Upper Capiton in Datu Odin Sinsuat town.

Marcos says the operation went haywire when the suspects became suspicious of undercover police personnel posing as buyers.

The team out to arrest them, led by Major Erwin Tabora of the Datu Odin Sinsuat police, was forced to neutralize them when they pulled out guns and opened fire, police say.

Barangay officials told reporters Monday that Amando and Balleaque were large-scale peddlers of shabu who were both implicated in the murder of 11 people for a fee. 

— The STAR/John Unson

July 4, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte awarded medals to the 12 soldiers injured in bomb attacks at a military camp in Indanan, Sulu last week, the military discloses.

No coverage of the presidential visit was allowed but reports provided by the Western Mindanao Command say Duterte visited Camp Navarro General Hospital inside the Westmincom headquarters on Wednesday night.

Duterte pinned each of the injured soldiers with Wounded Merit Medals and conferred them the Order of Lapu-Lapu.

Those awarded were: SSgt. Ferdinand Clemente; Sgt. William Andreade; Sgt. Marlon Domingo; Sgt. Ryan Ferrer; Sgt. Richard Tudla; Sgt. Mark Joseph Mamingcol; Sgt. Jykyl Bautista; Cpl. Serto Bagni; Cpl. Rommel Soliman; Pfc. John Angelo Carpio; Pfc. Ralph Sabrosa; and Pfc. Dariel Bolibar.

The personnel of the 1st Brigade Combat Team sustained injuries after two suspected suicide bombers of the Islamic State-inspired Abu Sayyaf group detonated their improvised explosive devices inside the camp last Friday. -- The STAR/Roel Pareño

July 3, 2019

A military official discloses that the other attacker in the bombing at a military camp in Indanan, Sulu is believed to be a Moroccan.

“The second looked like the Moroccan, the son of the suspect that exploded (bomb) in Lamitan before,” Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), says.

Sobejana was referring to the Moroccan militant who blew up a van rigged with improvised explosives at a military checkpoint in the outskirt of Lamitan City on July 31, 2018. 

— The STAR/Roel Pareño

July 2, 2019

Personnel of Marine Battalion Landing Team 8, fresh from retraining and refurbishing in Manila, deploy to Sulu on Tuesday to help government troops to crush the Abu Sayyaf group in the island province.

MBLT-8 will go to Sulu from Zamboanga City by Navy ship.

The fresh deployment comes five days after two suspected Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers killed five people—three soldiers and two civilians—and wounded 22 others in an attack on the camp of the newly deployed 1st Brigade Combat Team in Indanan, Sulu last week. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

July 2, 2019

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has entered into an agreement with NGOs Save the Children Philippines and Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society to uphold and advance children's rights in the new region.

The BARMM's Bureu of Public Information says in a release that the Memorandum of Agreement was signed on Monday, July 1.

The agreement will involve the new region's Ministry on Social Services, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior and Local Government, and Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education. 

July 1, 2019

Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
Cotabato City

June 30, 2019

I am personally outraged by the supposed suicide bombing incident in Indanan,Sulu last June 28. Police report disclosed that at about 12:10 pm of that day, the tactical command post in Manpower, Indanan, Sulu was attacked by two alleged suicide bombers.

It was a senseless act of terror since the attack inflicted multiple casualties andinjuries to innocent civilians. We condemn that act as contrary to cherished human values such as the sanctity and protection of lives, properties and peaceful living.

As your leader in the Bangsamoro, I am committed to assist our law enforcementagencies in pursuing the perpetrators of this atrocious incident and similar violence over the past few months in the Province of Sulu. I strongly urge the local leaders to be united in the fight against violent armed groups in their respective places.

Even as we seek justice for the victims, let us take this sad moment to reiterate our resolve to do whatever is necessary and possible so that real and sustainable peace can be achieved in the Bangsamoro. We condole with the families of the victims, and we are one with them in the search for justice and an end to this kind of violence.

Chief Minister

July 1, 2019

Thousands of residents and the new mayor of Isabela City in Basilan on Monday joined local government workers in a citywide clean-up drive as a symbolic start of the new administration's 'ghost busting' in the local government.

"No mayor, no councilor or any government official status to consider we have to go out and lead the clean-up drive. We begin the day by making them (residents) feel that indeed we are public servants," Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman tells city officials and personnel.

Armed with brooms and cleaning implements, the local officials and residents collected tons of garbage and waste from across the city.

Mayor Hataman says the sleepy town needs a clean-up not just of its streets but also its local government,  following her discovery of alleged discrepancies during the turnover from the former administration.

“We heard many things about our LGU. Let’s erase it and fix our bureaucracy,” Hataman says.

She says ‘ghost busting’ is in the offing after examining the Commission on Audit  reports flagging discrepancies in government services.

“As of now we are carefully examining all the documents. Perhaps, we have to clean first our office,” Hataman says.  — The STAR/Roel Pareño

June 30, 2019

Security in areas in the region where Islamic State-inspired groups operate has been markedly tight since Saturday following the deadly bombing at an Army base in Indanan, Sulu.

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the Bangsamoro regional police have deployed intelligence agents across the region to detect movements of all three factions in the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a known ally of the Abu Sayyaf operating in Sulu.

Security has also been tightened in parts of Lanao del Sur where there are remnants of the Maute terror group that the military and police have long tagged as “cooperator” of the Abu Sayyaf.

The Abu Sayyaf, the BIFF and the Maute are operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known for fomenting animosity towards non-Muslims.

Eight people, three of them soldiers, were killed while 22 others were hurt in Friday’s bombing by Abu Sayyaf bandits of the command post of the Army’s 1stBrigade Command Team in Indanan town in Sulu.

Brig. Gen. Marni Marcos of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao says Sunday that intelligence units under him have enlisted the help of local officials and traditional leaders in putting closure to the incident.— The STAR/John Unson


Marcos said probers will immediately file cases against the culprits once identified.


Marcos said units of PRO-BARMM in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur are now monitoring markets, public terminals and busy areas in the two provinces as part of their security measures meant to forestall terror attacks in the two provinces.

June 28, 2019

Security officials say at least five were killed and 9 others were wounded when two suspected suicide bombers believed to be from the Abu Sayyaf group hit a military camp Friday noon in Indanan town, Sulu.

Among those killed were the two suspected bombers and three soldiers, while nine of the injured were troopers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team.

Maj. Arvin John Gullo Encinas, newly designated spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, confirms the attack which hit the tactical command post of the 1BCT at Sitio Tanjung, Barangay Kajatian, Indanan town.

He says the nine wounded soldiers were immediately brought to the Military Station Hospital inside the Camp Gen. Teodulfo Bautista in Barangay Busbus, Jolo, the capital town of Sulu. — The STAR/Roel Pareño reporting from Zamboanga City

June 27, 2019

Marine Battalion Landing Team 3 is pulling out of Sulu and deployed Thursday to Palawan to provide security to the island province.

The MBLT 3 were given honors during the send-off ceremony on BRP Davao del Sur. 

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, credits the MBLT 3 for crippling the Abu Sayyaf group operating in the islets of Sulu and in the main island of Jolo.

"The MBLT3 operations contributed a lot in decimating the ranks and reduction of the armaments of the Abu Sayyaf group," Dela Vega says.

There is a need to rotate all Marine units and the MBLT3 was given time to take a respite from operations against the Abu Sayyaf, he said.

Dela Vega says the MBLT3 is redeployed under the Western Command in Palawan, where the security situation is different.

He says the redeployment is also part of the AFP efforts to continuously maintain and sustain the readiness of its troops.

“We knew very well that in the AOR (area of responsibility) of Wescom, one of their concerns is to ensure that our western front is secured and considering there is a contested area within their area of operations, we need the defense posture there to remain strengthened,” Dela Vega says. — The STAR/Roel Pareño in Zamboanga City

June 26, 2019

Residents of Lanao del Norte turned over high-powered loose firearms, magazines and ammunition on Tuesday, a military official says Wednesday.

The surrendered firearms were turned over by local officials of Maigo town to the 5th Mechanized Battalion in Mindanao State University in Maigo town in a ceremony, says Capt. Clint Antipala, acting public affairs officer of 1st Division.

Surrendered to the military were an AK-47, a Bushmaster,  an M1 Garand, two cal.-30 carbines,  an M4, an M16 A1 rifle, two cal.-22 rifles, three 40-mm grenade launchers, nine 12-gauge shotguns, and seven handguns.

"The concerted effort and intensified collaboration among our troops, local communities, local chief executives and other stakeholders resulted into this momentous activity," says Lt. Col. Rolando Orengo, commander of 55th Mechanized Battalion. — The STAR/Roel Pareño in Zamboanga City

June 26, 2019

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in South Cotabato says that more than 300 families were forced to relocate to safer areas by recurring gunfights since last week  between two rival Moro groups in Palimbang town.

Relief services have been extended to evacuees now in Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu town, says Fridaliza Gazo of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

Lake Sebu is a component-town of South Cotabato province.

Barangay Ned is close to Barangay Molon in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat, where the groups of Mike Binago and the allies Tat Tuan and Salik Adam figured in encounters that started over the weekend.

Both groups are armed with assault rifles, 40 millimeter grenade launchers and B-40 anti-tank rockets, a signature weapon of Moro secessionist guerillas. — The STAR/John Unson

June 25, 2019

A program to help 214 former members of the Abu Sayyaf Group return to mainstream society was launched in Basilan on Monday, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process says. 

Basilan Gov. Hajiman Hataman Saliman says in the OPAPP statement that the local government is working to make sure that Basilan will never be an ASG stronghold again.

it is the mission of the local government to deny the ASG the chance to make the province as their stronghold again.
"I thank you for coming back and (joining) the mainstream society," he says at the launch of the program inside the camp of the 4th Special Battalion in Kabunbata, Isabela City, Basilan.

"Let's work together. Our experiences should lead us to not use and take up arms anymore," he also says.

June 25, 2019

The local government of Lamitan City in Basilan officiated a mass wedding for 98 indigent couples on Monday, an event supported by officials from the city's more than 40 barangays.

Lamitan City Mayor Rose Furigay says Tuesday the marriage licenses of the couples are free as a “gift” from the local government unit.

Furigay’s office also provided cash gifts and wedding reception rites for her newly-wed constituents.

The mass wedding activity on Monday was the sixth in Lamitan City since 2013. — The STAR/John Unson in Basilan

June 23, 2019

Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen released Friday night unharmed in Sulu nine Bajau people they abducted five days ago off Sabah since they had no means of paying ransom.

The police recovered the victims about 10 p.m. on Friday along the road of Barangay Kahawa, Talipao town, Joint Task Force Sulu says in reports to Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

Military officials from JTFS did not respond to requests for comment, but military reports say police elements of Talipao Municipal Police Station led by Police Chief Master Sergeant Buclao were on mobile patrol when they spotted a group of men walking along the road.

The Sulu Provincial Police Office says that the police immediately approached the individuals and later found they were the victims kidnapped by the suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen last Tuesday off Sabah.

The Bajau people as an ethnic group have significant populations in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

The victims told police they were on board their fishing boat when they were taken at gunpoint by the gunmen on board on two speedboats in the waters off Lahad Datu, Sabah. They said six of their companions were left behind. — The STAR/Roel Pareño in Zamboanga City

June 20, 2019

Abu Sayyaf bandits disguised in military uniforms executed a retired government employee and ransacked his house before setting it on fire in a hinterland village of Patikul town, Sulu over the weekend, a military official says Thursday.

Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu and the 11th Infantry Division, said the bandits staged the attack in Lingon Gitung, Barangay Igasan on Sunday.

Pabayo says Kirah Tiblan, was a retired government employee and a father of seven children.  He adds Tiblan's wife is bedridden.

He says pursuing troops of the 13th Special Forces Company recovered Tiblan's remains some 100 meters away from his house. — The STAR/Roel Pareño in Zamboanga City

June 18, 2019

The commander of a military task force in Sulu assures Malaysian authorities that offensives against the Abu Sayyaf have not stopped amid concerns that the group will strike targets in Sabah.
Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) and the 11th Infantry Division, said troop strength has been building up with the fresh deployment of soldiers.

The latest was the deployment of Marine Battalion Landing Team-7 on Tuesday from Maguindanao. MBLT-7 joins the Philippine Marines Ready Force-Sulu, which is under the command of JTFS.

Another Marine battalion will be deployed to Sulu after the completion of retraining in Manila.

Pabayo said they also received last month the 1st Brigade Combat Team to complete the 11th ID.

"Operations against the ASG are relentless," Pabayo says. -- The STAR/Roel Pareño in Zamboanga City

June 18, 2019

The five-year-old child who was attacked by ten stray dogs in Isabela City in Basilan on Monday has died.

Photos of Edzhar Damsani on a hospital bed went viral on Monday and residents blame the Isabela City government for its poor enforcement of Republic Act 9482, of the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 which requires local governments to make sure dogs are immunized and to "strictly enforce Dog Impounding activities and field control to eliminate stray dogs."

Station dxNO in Isabela City reported Monday that city health officials said there have been 300 dog bite cases in the city in recent months.

In a statement, Mayor-elect Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman said she heard of the problem of stray dogs in Isabela City during campaign sorties for the May elections.

"I'm a mother. This incident breaks my heart. From Allah we came, to him is our return," said Turabin Hataman, who will take office as Isabela City's mayor on June 30.

She said she will ask the city council, to be led by a new vice mayor, Kifli Hataman, to help her formulate measures needed to address the problem on stray dogs roaming in the barangays. — The STAR/John Unson in Cotabato City

June 17, 2019

Personnel of the 7th Marine Battalion on Sunday left Maguindanao on a ship to augment state forces fighting the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

Officials of the Philippine Marine Corps, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Brigade based in nearby seaside Lebak town in Sultan Kudarat led Sunday’s sendoff rite for hundreds of Marines pulled out from Maguindanao’s Upi, South Upi and Datu Blah Sinsuat towns for deployment in Sulu.

Marine units in Maguindanao, a component province of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and in the coasts of Sultan Kudarat in Region 12 are under the tactical control of 6th ID. — The STAR/John Unson in Maguindanao

June 16, 2019

The Army collected 27 more unlicensed firearms from residents in Maguindanao province, where firepower is a status symbol among clans.

Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division said Sunday the firearms were surrendered by villagers in Datu Abdullah Sangki, Maguindanao to the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion.

Units of 6th ID have collected more than a thousand unlicensed firearms from residents of Maguindanao’s 36 towns in a continuing campaign that began two years ago.

The arms cache from Datu Abdullah Sangki, comprised of assault rifles, grenade launchers, shotguns, machine pistols and a 60 millimeter mortar, were turned over by owners to Lt. Col. Alvin Iyog and Col. Efren Baluyot. ?— The STAR/John Unson in Maguindanao

June 12, 2019

Ordnance experts foiled Tuesday what could have been another deadly roadside bombing in this province, provincial police say.

The improvised explosive device found along a stretch of the Cotabato-Isulan Highway in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao was promptly deactivated by police and Army bomb experts.

Col. Ronald Briones, Maguindanao’s provincial police director, says Wednesday they are certain the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters is behind the foiled bombing attempt.

Passersby noticed the IED protruding from one side of the highway not too distant from the old provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak.

A number of soldiers and police officers have been killed in roadside bombings perpetrated by the BIFF in the past five years in Shariff Aguak and nearby towns in the second district of Maguindanao.

The group, led by radical clerics, uses the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as its banner. — The STAR/John Unson in Maguindanao

June 11, 2019

Officials have been trying since Monday to disengage a group of Moro guerillas and banana plantation security guards locked in a showdown after a deadly encounter Sunday.

Two members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Ilah Mohammad and Toy Taha, and a watchman in the Delinanas Cavendish banana farm were killed in a spate of clashes in Datu Abdullah Sangki town in Maguindanao reportedly triggered by labor disputes between two groups of workers.

The feuding groups, one led by a Commander Tommy of the MILF and the other by Aldrex Cali, clashed on Sunday in Barangay Tukanalugong in Datu Abdullah Sangki, forcing villagers to relocate to safer areas.

Senior officials of the Maguindanao provincial police office in nearby Shariff Aguak town said Tuesday a company guard named Tanto Abdul was wounded in the ensuing gunfights.

Top leaders of the MILF and Army officials are now trying to resolve the conflict that police investigators said was partly triggered by political differences between the two groups during the recent election period. — The STAR/John Unson in Maguindanao

June 9, 2019

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is reducing the number of its troop in Basilan, saying the situation there has normalized and the threat from the Abu Sayyaf Group has been addressed. 

Brig. Gen. Fernando Reyeg, commander of Joint Task Force Basilan and the 104th Infantry Brigade, said the AFP leadership and the Western Mindanao Command has seen that the security situation in Basilan has improved.

"Actually, they could have taken other units from other places but they have seen the improved situation in Basilan and noticed that we can handle it so we have to give off one infantry battalion so that the whole of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) can focus in Sulu," said Reyeg.

The military has redeployed the 74th Infantry Battalion from Sumisip town to Zamboanga Cit, replacing the 11th IB which was sent back to the 3rd Infantry Division in the Visayas.

Reyeg said the joint task force has realigned and adjusted its forces to meet the province's security needs even with the 74th IB's departure. He assured the communities here that the remaining troops can secure the province, where the Abu Sayyaf group was formed in 1990.

The military confirmed that there are still a few Abu Sayyaf in hiding and on the run in the mountains of Sampinit. — The STAR/Roel Pareño in Basilan

June 9, 2019

The provincial government of Basilan and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have launched a P36-million hospital project for the medical needs of Lamitan City and nearby towns.

Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman led the symbolic launching of the project, which is a joint project of the governor's office and the health ministry of BARMM.

Lamitan City Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay says Sunday he is thankful to Salliman and the BARMM government for embarking on the construction of the hospital.

Lamitan City is the capital of Basilan, a component province of BARMM. — The STAR/John Unson in Lamitan City, Basilan

June 4, 2019

Middle Eastern states are celebrating Eid’l Fitr on Tuesday but the feast will be celebrated on June 5 in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines.

Clerics in many parts of Asia failed to see the crescent month Monday in separate moon-sighting rites and the Darul Iftah, or House of Opinions, in the BARMM declared on Monday evening that June 5 as the day for Eid’l Fitr celebration.

Darul Iftah’s grand mufti (preacher) Abu Huraira Udasan announced on Monday night via radio stations in central Mindanao that Muslims in BARMM ought to celebrate Eid’l Fitr on Wednesday, June 5, which President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared as non-working holiday.

The Darul Iftah is comprised of senior Islamic theologians from across the Bangsamoro region, among them graduates of Islamic universities in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Saudi Arabian Royal Supreme Court was reported to have declared June 4 as the culmination of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, focus on good deeds and prayers for one lunar cycle, which lasts from 28 to 29 days.

Muslims celebrate the Eid’l Fitr in the first day of Shawal in the Hijrah lunar-based calendar. The day marks the completion of Ramadan, a holy month in Islam.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the “five pillars” of the Islamic faith, which include belief in Allah, praying five times a day facing west, giving of alms to the poor, and, for those who can afford the cost of travel, performing the hajj (pilgrimage) to Makkah in Saudi Arabia even just once in a lifetime.

Sick people, the elderly, pregnant and lactating mothers are exempted from the obligatory Ramadan fast. — The STAR/John Unson in Cotabato City

June 3, 2019

The military Western Mindanao Command is expecting more gains in the fight against the Abu Sayyaf group with the arrival of 2,000 soldiers more soldiers in Sulu. 

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command chief, says the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the Philippine Army arrived Sunday and is on the way to Sulu to help the 11th Army Division in running after the bandits and secure the province.

The 1BCT is led by Brig. Gen. Leopoldo Imbang Jr. and has 1,500 to 2,000 troops. 

Dela Vega says the 1BCT was deployed to conduct focused military operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group as part of Joint Task Force Sulu. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

June 2, 2019

Soldiers on Sunday foil an attempt to smuggle lumber from trees in a watershed area in Barira town in Maguindanao.

Personnel of the Army’s 37th Infantry Battalion, led by 1st Lt. Ric Pitallano, intercepted the forest products while being hauled on two hauler trucks in Barangay Lamin, Barira en route to Parang, Maguindanao.

Major Arvin Encinas, public affairs officer of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, says the drivers of the two trucks carrying almost 2,000 board feet of lumber managed to pull over and escape when they noticed the soldiers blocking their route.

Encinas says an initial report reaching Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, division commander, stated that three men escorting the two trucks, Rudta Fanares, Marju Elias and Bacve Morog, were detained and turned over to the local police. — The STAR/John Unson

May 30, 2019

Four people were killed in separate ambush incidents Wednesday in the neighboring Parang and Sultan Kudarat towns in Maguindanao, police say Thursday.

The fatalities were identified as Dayaba Kari, 67, and his 30-year-old driver, Danny Apostol.

Kari and his still unidentified companion were together in a white Toyota Wigo bearing license plates ADP 3187 that gunmen from another vehicle trailing behind shot with assault rifles.

Both victims died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds.

The incident was preceded by the ambush two hours earlier of two ethnic Iranun farmers by gunmen on motorcycles in Barangay Macasandag in Parang town.

Omar Pandi, 30, and the 40-year-old Esmael Mantar were on a truck carrying their farm products en route to Parang’s town market when the motorcycle-riding gunmen shot them with M16 rifles, wounding both of them seriously. 

They died in a hospital where they were rushed by responding personnel of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. — The STAR/John Unson

May 30, 2019

Clashes between the military and the Abu Sayyaf since Saturday have left seven bandits dead and more than a dozen others wounded in the outskirts of Patikul, Sulu, security officials say.

The military said the latest encounters occurred Tuesday when troops from the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion clashed with 15 members from the group of Mundi Sawadjaan in the mountains of Barangay Buhanginan.

The fierce firefight ended briefly as the bandits scampered to escape, according to Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS).

However, the retreat of the Abu Sayyaf faction led the 14th Scout Ranger Company (SRC) to another encounter 25 minutes later with about 40 militants which belonged the same fleeing group under Sawadjaan in the same village. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

May 28, 2019

The new director of the Bangsamoro police assumes office Tuesday, just after the region's capital was placed in the hands of a decorated female officer, central Mindanao's first ever.

Col. Portia Bañaga-Manalad, who graduated from the Philippine National Police Academy in 1995, now heads the Cotabato City police, which is in charge of securing the city's 37 barangays.

She took over the city's police directorship on Monday from Col. Michael Lebanan, also a graduate of the PNPA.

Cotabato City became capital of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM, following the ratification of its regional charter in a plebiscite earlier this year.

Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi assured Manalad of her administration's support in a message during a turnover ceremony Monday afternoon at the city police office.

"This is women power," Guiani-Sayadi told reporters then, referring to the partnership of the inter-agency city peace and order council, which she leade, and the new city police director.

— The STAR/John Unson

May 27, 2019

The military supports the plan of Church leaders and elected officials in Basilan to organize a joint advisory council to help the government address domestic security woes.

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega of the Western Mindanao Command says he was elated with the meeting last week of top Catholic missionaries in Basilan and two Muslim officials, Mujiv Hataman and spouse Sitti Djalia, incoming congressman and newcomer mayor of Isabela City, respectively, where they talked about key governance issues.

The Hatamans first paid a courtesy visit on Isabela Bishop Leo Dalmao, Monsigñor Roel Casas and other church leaders at the bishop’s residence in Isabela City then, an engagement that gave both sides chance to discuss concerns besetting the local Muslim and Christian communities.

“I learned that they are planning to organize an interreligious advisory council to propagate peace among Muslims and Christians. That is good, a common initiative of the Catholic community and Muslim leaders in Isabela City and in Basilan province,” Dela Vega says. — The STAR/John Unson

May 26, 2019

Two men who were applying to join the Army were killed in an ambush in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on Saturday, authorities say.

Celso Kusain, 25, and 23-year-old Anthony Jumadiao died on the spot from gunshot wounds in different parts of their bodies.

They were riding a motorcycle together en route to their hometown, Parang, from Cotabato City when they were attacked while passing through Barangay Rebuken in Sultan Kudarat, authorities say.

They were both applicants for enlistment into the Philippine Army through the 6th Infantry Division based in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, according to relatives.

Officials of Army and police intelligence units in the province say they are certain the killers belong to the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters but did not immediately offer evidence for the assertion. — The STAR/John Unson

May 17, 2019

Government troops recovered heavy munitions, explosives, and firearms in an operation to pacify warring political clans in a town of Maguindanao, a military official says Friday.

Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, says troops from the 90th Infantry Battalion and 61st Division Reconnaissance Company launched the operation to contain tension in Talitay town between the private armed groups of two candidates for vice mayor. 

Besana says hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate, which paved the way for troops, local officials and stakeholders to pacifying the warring armed followers of the two political clans.

Besana says the troops recovered at least 16 firearms. They also recovered a 60-mm mortar tube, 15 pieces anti-personnel mines contained in plastic drums, 12 pieces PVC anti-personnel mines, 11 rounds of RPG munition, four grenades, and a radio transceiver. -- The STAR/Roel Pareño 

May 6, 2019

Edu Manzano, who is running to represent San Juan City in the House of Representatives has been disqualified as a candidate, ONE News reports


May 6, 2019

Edu Manzano, who is running to represent San Juan City in the House of Representatives has been disqualified as a candidate, ONE News reports


May 5, 2019

Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez accompanied bankers and business leaders to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte to discuss economic opportunities for the camp's residents, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process says in a release.

"In a two-day visit, Galvez accompanied Emmanuel Herbosa, president of the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines, and businessman John Perrine, who has been a long-time agri-business investor in Mindanao, and Reynaldo Antonio Laguda, executive director of Philippine Business for Social Progress to meet Hadji Abdullah Makapaar [Commander Bravo], now a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, to explore the possibility of establishing an abaca plantation," OPAPP says.

"We are bringing in a banker, an investor, and developmental NGO to help develop these communities into productive agricultural areas. This is part of our measures to fast-track the implementation of camp transformation, which is under the normalization track of the peace agreement," Galvez says in the release.

Normalization includes the decommissioning of MILF combatants and weapons but also involves the transformation of the MILF camps into "peaceful and resilient communities," OPAPP says.

March 29, 2019

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority, the interim government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is holding its first session.

President Rodrigo Duterte will lead the inauguration of the BARMM on Friday afternoon.

March 27, 2019

Sen. Grace Poe is the first senator to visit the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao after going to Cotabato City.

Poe went to Cotabato City, the administrative center of the new region, after speaking at Southern Christian College in Midsayap, North Cotabato on Wednesday.

"It's really a privilege and a very important time in our history…Mahalaga ito [Bangsamoro Organic Law] para sa ating mga kababayan kasi finally, ang tinatamasa nating suporta para magkaroon ng sarili ring pamamalakad ang ating mga kababayan dito, ay matutuloy na," Poe, a re-electionist, says in a statement.

"Bilang kasapi ng national government, gusto nating masiguro na ang suporta na ‘yan ay tuluy-tuloy. I just came here para i-congratulate si Chief Minister Murad sa kanyang panunungkulan."

March 8, 2019

Finance and economics experts have expressed their strong support and commitment to help the transition of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the new region that replaces the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,  

"We look forward on working closely with the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in the next few months as we firm up [Foundation for Economic Forum] and Philippine Center on Islam and Democracy's (PCID) Program of Support throughout the three-year transition period,” the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process quotes FEF Fellow and former Finance Secretary Gary Teves as sayong.

Both organizations have assembled a Core Team and met with government agencies and development partners to solicit inputs for the plan, 

February 26, 2019

The ceremonial turnover of power from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, which will be the tranisiton government of the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao happens this morning.

MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim will be chief minister of the new regional government and head of the 80-member BTA.

February 18, 2019

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have prepared socio-economic packages for combatants who will be decommissioned following the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law last month, a senior deputy peace adviser says.

Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan says ratification will lead to the implementation of the normalization track of the GPH-MILF peace agreement, where 30 percent of all MILF combatants and firearms will be decommissioned.

Tan says the first batch of MILF fighters will turnover an estimated 9,000 to 12,000 firearms as part of the decommissioning process that will be overseen by a Turkey-led International Decommissioning Body.

February 15, 2019

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process welcomes the inclusion of 63 barangays of North Cotabato in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, calling it "another milestone in the Mindanao peace process."

In a statement, peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. says the February 6 plebiscite is an example for elections that should be emulated across the country. "The entire community of the province showed us how to assert our rights peacefully."

He adds: "North Cotabato is a highly diverse province and yet they showed us how people in a multicultural community can coexist harmoniously and act in unity."

February 11, 2019

Any lists of supposed members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority are unofficial and fake, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process says.

"To date, OPAPP has transmitted the list of nominees to the Office of the President for review," the office says, adding only President Rodrigo Duterte, who will appoint the members of the BTA, can release an official list.

"OPAPP advises the public to be prudent and judicious about what they see and share on social media."

February 7, 2019

The Plebiscite Provincial Board of Canvassers is Lanao del Norte is gathering Certificates of Canvass for the plebiscite held on Wednesday.

February 6, 2019

Residents of some villages in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato participate in a plebiscite for inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Wednesday, February 6.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Cotabato City had voted to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law in a plebiscite last month.

There were reports of explosions in Lala and Kauswagan in Lanao del Norte on Tuesday afternoon, but authorities could not say whether these were related to the scheduled plebiscite.

January 30, 2019

Thousands of athletes from four provinces are in Basilan for an athletic meet never held anywhere around when the Abu Sayyaf was yet the worst threat to local security.

The January 28 to February 2 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao regional athletic meet in Sumisip, Basilan would be the last since ARMM shall soon be replaced with a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM.

It is ARMM's first in Basilan since the region's creation via a plebiscite in 1990 that resulted in the ratification of its first charter, the Republic Act 6734 that got amended and became RA 9054 via another plebiscite in 2001.

The contiguous venues of different events involving no fewer than 4,000 athletes from Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi Tawi, and from this province were former bastions of the Abu Sayyaf. -- The STAR/John Unson in Basilan

January 24, 2019

The National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers has started canvassing the results of the January 21 Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite.

Although canvassing is ongoing, Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi has said she will contest the results. Citing reports of intimidation and other alleged election irregularities, she said she wants another round of voting on February 6, when another plebiscite will be held in parts of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato provinces.

January 23, 2019

Cotabato City, which voted in two previous plebiscites against joining the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, has voted to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law that will make it part of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

According to a report on News5, the Cotabato City Board of Canvassers proclaimed Tuesday night that 59 percent of voters in 374 clustered precincts in the city voted in favor of the BOL. The "Yes" votes won with 36,682 against 24,994 who voted "No".

Canvassing ended around 9 p.m. on Tuesday and the City Board of Canvassers is set to forward the statement of votes and certificate of canvass to the National Board of Canvassers in Manila, News5 reports.

According to the report, "No" votes had an initial lead during the start of canvassing but that lead began to shrink after noon on Tuesday. The "Yes" votes eventually took the lead at around 2 p.m. as canvassing continued.

January 22, 2019

The Commission on Elections en banc briefly convenes to canvass the ballots for the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite.

Canvassing is immediately adjourned, though, since no ballots have been received as of 11:30 a.m. They will resume canvassing at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

January 22, 2019

Moro activist group Suara Bangsamoro says reports of intimidation and tension during the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law "testifies to how the democratic participation of the people in the voting process is hampered by violence, intervention of local politicians and intimidation by the military."

The group says ratification of the BOL will not necessarily translate to lasting peace in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and that the law falls short of resolving "the clamor of the Moro people for the right to self-determination, control over Moro land and resources and exacting justice for the historical and on-going injustices against the Moro."

January 21, 2019

The Commission on Human Rights office in Region XII is monitoring the situation during voting in the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

"The Right to Political Participation is one of the constitutionally guaranteed rights, as such the Commission is mandated to monitor government's compliance with respect to this right. Today, people from the areas included under the Bangsomoro Organic Law are exercising this right," the commission says.

January 21, 2019

There have been claims of harassment in Cotabato City and in Isabela City in Basilan, areas that are not part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao where voting on the plebiscite is taking place.

Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani Sayadi has said that she is opposed to the city's inclusion in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, saying the city had been harassed in the past by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The MILF will lead the Bangsamoro Transition Authority that will form the government of the proposed region until elections for its parliament are held.

The last Plebiscite Committee leaves the distribution center in Buluan, Maguindanao for Tamontaka in Cotabato City a little past 6 a.m. on Monday as the first day of the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law starts on Monday, January 21.

Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez said over the weekend that as high as 75 percent of the more than two million voters from Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), as well as the cities of Isabela in Basilan and Cotabato in Maguindanao are expected to go out and cast their votes.

A second plebiscite day is set for February 6 for areas in North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte.

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