Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao updates

Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao updates

LATEST UPDATE: May 13, 2021 - 1:34pm
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
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2 days ago

Police agents seized two assault rifles and shabu from five men caught playing cards with hefty cash bets in Datu Odin Sinsuat town Wednesday.

Suspects Al-Muslimin Lauban, 33, Recto Mindalbus, 50, Mohammad Usman, 24, Bagundang Hadji Salik, 29, and the 39-year-old Kevin Gogo, are now in the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Police Maj. Esmael Madin, CIDG-BAR’s provincial officer for Maguindanao, said Thursday they arrested the five men only for illegal gambling, but found out that they have two assault rifles, an M16 and an M14, in their hideout.

CIDG-BAR agents also found shabu in their trouser pockets.— The STAR/John Unson

May 11, 2021

The police are now in custody of two alleged members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters believed involved in occupying the public market of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao over the weekend.

Jerwali Salem Zabel and Nasrullah Abdullah Walingan were turned over late Monday by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Police Major Esmael Madin, CIDG-BAR’s provincial officer for Maguindanao, said Tuesday, the suspects were cornered by MILF members helping the military locate the BIFF gunmen who stormed the market of Datu Paglas on Saturday morning. — The STAR/John Unson

May 8, 2021

The provincial government of Sulu temporarily bans the holding of Eid’l Fitri congregational or group prayers and other public and private social gatherings following the spike of COVID-19 active cases in the province.

The prohibition was contained in Executive Order No. 5 – 2021 issued by Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan Sr., chairman of Sulu Task Force COVID-19, following a meeting and consultation with the Muslim religious leaders and concerned agencies. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

May 5, 2021

The military reports that the threat posed by the Islamic State-inspired Abu Sayyaf group has significantly declined in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, all island provinces under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

This was presented by Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. as he paid a courtesy call on BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim last Monday in Bangsamoro regional center in Cotabato.

Vinluan, with key commanders from the joint task forces in the region, made his visit to inform the BARMM chief minister of the security situation and the development challenges in the province of Sulu, an island which is gradually being cleared from the presence of the Abu Sayyaf group. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

May 2, 2021

Local officials in three towns surrendered unlicensed firearms Saturday in compliance with the government's disarmament campaign as part of the Mindanao peace process.

In a statement Sunday, the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade said the unlicensed firearms were voluntarily turned over by owners to the 82nd Infantry Battalion based in Barangay Pawak in Saguiran, Lanao del Sur.

The firearms the 82nd IB collected — a 12 gauge shotgun, a .50 caliber Barrett sniper rifle, a 7.62 millimeter sniper rifle, two launchers for 40 millimeter grenades, a KG9 machine pistol and a .38 caliber revolver — were surrendered by local officials in Buadipuso Buntong, Ditsaan Ramain and Bubong towns in Lanao del Sur.

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command, on Sunday lauded the local executives for turning in their unlicensed firearms to the 82nd IB. — The STAR/John Unson

April 26, 2021

Ten Abu Sayyaf members in Sulu, five of them women, pledged allegiance to the government Sunday.

In a statement Monday, the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region said Makki Salidin, Idji Abduradja, Harris Jul, Raham Saddih, Mussah Abduradja and their female companions, Marissa Rajan, Maybat Salidan, Armilyn Abduraja and  Arsalyn Abduradja, surrendered through the intercession of officials of the 1st Marine Battalion.

They turned in assault rifles and components for improvised explosives before they renounced their membership with the Abu Sayyaf during a symbolic rite at a Marine battalion command post in the town center of Panamao, a secluded town in Sulu. — The STAR/John Unson

April 18, 2021

A ranking leader of a local terror group, tagged in all deadly bombings in central Mindanao in the past six years, and five followers surrendered Saturday.

Abunawas Ibad and his henchmen renounced their membership with the group during a symbolic rite Saturday at the headquarters of the Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade in Barangay Kamasi in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Abunawas is a self-styled division commander in the BIFF, which operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The BIFF has a reputation for bombing non-military targets to avenge deaths of members in clashes with pursuing state security forces. — The STAR/John Unson

April 14, 2021

Agents seized P680,000 worth of shabu from alleged drug trafficker Alsuhod Ahamad, who fell in an entrapment operation in Bongao town in Tawi-Tawi Tuesday.

Juvenal Azurin, director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Wednesday the suspect is now detained.

Ahamad was frisked and cuffed immediately after turning over the shabu to an undercover agent in a transaction in the public market of Bongao.

Bongao is the capital town of Tawi-Tawi, one of the five provinces of BARMM. — The STAR/John Unson


April 13, 2021

Three were killed, one of them a grade school child, in an ambush at a residential area in Cotabato City on Tuesday morning.

The victims were together in a  green Toyota Vios car en route to somewhere when they were attacked by gunmen while motoring through a busy thoroughfare Barangay Rosary Heights 11 in west of the city.

Police Col. Rommel Javier, director of the Cotabato City police, said responding probers have identified the two adults killed in the ambush as Norma Dalimbang Sapi and Ali Abdulrahim Tamal, who both died on the spot. — The STAR/John Unson

April 13, 2021

A soldier and civilian were injured in a roadside improvised bomb explosion believed to be rigged by suspected Abu Sayyaf group Monday morning in the hinterland of Tipo-Tipo town, Basilan, military officials said.

The troops from the 12th Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) were conducting mobile patrol when the IED exploded about 6:25a.m at sitio Bohe Bekew, Barangay Baguindan, said Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, commander of 101st Infantry Brigade and Joint Task Force Basilan (JTFB).

The explosion prompted the soldier to maneuver for cover on possibility of secondary explosion and hostile fire from the enemies, Gobway said. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

April 12, 2021

Authorities returned Sunday 181 families to two barangays in South Upi , Maguindanao rocked by gunfights last year between two local clans.

The conflict-stricken villagers, mostly ethnic Tedurays, agreed to return to Barangays Lamud and Biarung in South Upi, Maguindanao after the Omar and Datuwata clans reconciled through the efforts of Mayor Reynalbert Insular, the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion and the municipal police.

Local officials led by Insular and Lt. Col. Jonathan Pondanera, commanding officer of the 57th IB, facilitated their return to the two barangays using military vehicles. — The STAR/John Unson

April 10, 2021

A security official says the Tawi-Tawi provincial government has declared the Abu Sayyaf group and all criminal syndicate groups persona non grata in the island province.

The members of the Tawi-Tawi Peace and Order Council, Provincial Anti-Drug Abu Council, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council jointly forged its declaration Friday against the terror group in a security meeting held in Bongao.

The signing of the resolution was done during the joint first quarter peace and order council meeting and joint provincial health and school board meeting held at Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography in Barangay Sanga-Sanga. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

April 4, 2021

The Moro National Liberation Front was elated with the completion of the multi-million bridge over Matuber River that now connects its enclaves during the 1970s to Cotabato City.

The 75-meter bridge linking the 13 barangays in Datu Blah Sinsuat, Maguindanao to nearby Datu Odin Sinsuat town and to Cotabato City was opened to traffic on Saturday.

Labor Minister Romeo Sema of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said Sunday the infrastructure will spur livelihood opportunities for residents of Datu Blah Sinsuat. 

Sema is MNLF’s vice chairman for political affairs. — The STAR/John Unson

March 31, 2021

Suspected Abu Sayyaf members exploded an improvised bomb and partially damaged a bridge in Sumisip town, Basilan early dawn Wednesday after the contractor reportedly failed to heed to its extortion demand, the military reports.

The explosion hit a newly-constructed bridge that connects the barangays of Candiis and Pamatsaken, the 101st Infantry Brigade and Joint Task Force Basilan (JTFB) disclosed.

The military said no one was reported injured in the explosion. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

March 28, 2021

A bill has been filed at the Bangsamoro parliament to upgrade the provincial hospital in Sulu province to Level 2, or one with an Intensive Care Unit and specialist doctors.

Bangsamoro Transition Authority Bill No. 90 seeks to upgade the Sulu Provincial hopsital, increase its bed capacity and hire more medical personnel.

The bill was authored by BTA Deputy Speakers Nabil Tan and Omar Yasser Sema, Deputy Majority Floor Leaders Khadafeh Mangudadatu and Paisalin Tago, Members of Parliament Amilbahar Mawallil and Jose Lorena, and Speaker Ali Pangalian Balindong, according to a release by the Bangsamoro government.

Sulu Provincial Hospital has a capacity of 100 beds and is the main referral center in the province. 

March 20, 2021

More than 10,000 villagers in Maguindanao are displaced by a continuing spate of hostilities since Thursday being perpetrated by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Reports obtained Saturday from different municipal disaster risk reduction and management councils in the second district of Maguindanao stated that as of Saturday, 12, 033 individuals, among them children and elderly people, were forced to relocate to safer areas following Thursday's attacks by BIFF terrorists in Barangay Kitango in Datu Saudi Ampatuan municipality.

Villagers in Maguindanao's nearby Shariff Aguak and Datu Unsay towns have reportedly fled to safer areas, worried of an escalation of the hostilities. — The STAR/John Unson

March 16, 2021

The medical unit of the military's Joint Task Force Sulu has received initial doses of vaccines against COVID-19.

Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the 11th Infantry Division and JTFS, said the vaccination of the medical and health personnel of the Military Station Hospital inside Camp Gen. Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo would also ensure the safety of soldiers who seek treatment at the medical facility.

The first to take the vaccine was Maj. Sayid Cedicol, a doctor and commanding officer of the Military Station Hospital.

"I encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Time is of the essence in this fight against COVID-19 pandemic. As they say, the best vaccine is the first one that reaches your arm," Cedicol said in a statement provided by JTFS. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

March 15, 2021

It was relatives of an alleged large-scale shabu dealer busted in a P20.4-million shabu deal in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday who gave him away.

Juvenal Azurin, director of the Philippine Drug-Enforcement Agency-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Monday Ejek Abdulhalim, entrapped in Jolo noontime Sunday, will face a complaint of alleged violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

Azurin and Brig. Gen. Samuel Rodriguez, director of the Bangsamoro regional police, separately told reporters Abdulhalim was entrapped with the help of relatives.

Officials of the Bangsamoro regional police are now verifying Abdulhalim’s possible link with the group that killed former Jolo police chief Lt. Col. Walter Annayo in Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao on November 21, 2020. — The STAR/John Unson

March 13, 2021

Officials are expecting hundreds to enroll in the Bangsamoro government’s new online livelihood education program for those who lost jobs, or whose productivity got marginalized by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The facility, dubbed Tech4Ed Center, was established jointly by the Ministry of Labor and Employment-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

“We are anticipating the participation of many constituents in this online skills and livelihood learning program using only smart phones, without even going out of their homes,” BARMM’s labor minister, Romeo Sema, tells reporters.

March 12, 2021

Officials say the military has successfully delivered Thursday the first batch of vaccines to Tawi-Tawi, the southernmost part of the country, boosting the confidence of the frontline health workers of the island province in its fight against the coronavirus disease.

The vaccines, an allocation for the frontline health workers, were transported onboard a Fokker plane of the Philippine Air Force which arrived in Sanga-Sanga Airport in Bongao town.

The first batch of vaccines includes 101 doses of AstraZeneca and 1,212 of Sinovac vaccines, which were received by Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi commander Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, together with 2nd Marine Brigade Deputy commander Col. Nestor Narag Jr., Interagency Task Force Tawi-Tawi officials headed by Provincial Administrator Mobin Gampal and Dr. Sangkula Laja of the Integrated Provincial Health Office. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

March 6, 2021

The Basilan Sangguniang Panlalawigan endorsed the proposal for a three-year extension of the transition from the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the infant Bangsamoro self-governing entity.

Gov. Jim Salliman said Saturday members of the Basilan SP passed last March 4 a resolution expressing favor for such extension.

The move by the Basilan SP came a week after Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong, Jr. told Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, during a meeting in Cotabato City, that he and his constituent-provincial leaders are also in favor of an extension of the transition process. — The STAR/John Unson

March 6, 2021

Joint military and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) personnel arrested a suspected illegal drug trader and seized a kilo of shabu in entrapment operation Thursday in Pualas town, Lanao del Sur, a security official said.

The arrested suspect was identified as Romie Diamillah Hadji Alawi alias Ali, 48, a resident of Lanao del Sur province, said Lt. Col. Franco Raphael Alano, commanding officer of the 55th Infantry Battalion.

Alano said his forces with the PDEA unit from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM), conducted the buy-bust operation following the surveillance that led the arrest of Alawi in Barangay Porog.

Alano said the operating forces seized from the suspect a kilo of shabu with an estimated value of P6.8 million .— The STAR/Roel Pareño

March 3, 2021

A member of the Islamic State-inspired terror group Daulah Islamiyah-Maute Group surrendered in Munai town, Lanao del Sur to avoid getting caught in combat operations, security officials say Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, says the man, identified only as alias Dimakuta for operational reasons, gave up Tuesday to Lt. Col. Fernando Payapaya, commanding officer of 51st Infantry Battalion, at the tactical command post in Barangay Matampay.

Dimakuta, 40, a native of Piagapo town in the same province, also surrendered his AK-47 rifle and a bandolier with two magazines loaded with ammunition.

— The STAR/Roel Pareño

February 27, 2021

Authorities report that units of the Maguindanao provincial police arrested two suspects in attempted murder and four drug dealers in separate operations Friday.

The relatives Benny Abilusa Kalipapa and Muslimin Abilusa Kalipapa, wanted for attempted murder, are now clamped down in the detention facility of the municipal police station in Guindulungan, Maguindanao.

Brig. Gen. Samuel Rodriguez, director of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, says Saturday the duo was arrested in Barangay Tugal in Midsayap town in North Cotabato province. — The STAR/John Unson 

February 26, 2021

The Bangsamoro government dispatches more than 10 tons of relief provisions for typhoon-stricken communities in Tandag City in Surigao del Sur.

Surigao del Sur is in the Caraga Region, about 12 hours away via overland travel from the Bangsamoro regional capitol in Cotabato City.

Naguib Sinarimbo and Raisa Jadjurie, local government and social welfare ministers of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, respectively, and BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim together lead the send-off rite for the team tasked to deliver the relief supplies to the local government unit of Tandag City. — The STAR/John Unson

February 25, 2021

The head of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team has bid goodbye to the Western Mindanao Command following a year-long peacekeeping stint in Southern Philippines 

Maj. Gen. Dato Hadji Muhammad Anwar Bin Abdullah of the Malaysian Royal Armed Forces had also personally thanked WestMinCom’s commander, Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., on Tuesday for supporting their peacekeeping efforts in southern provinces covered by the current peace overture of Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. 

Anwar is head of the IMT’s outgoing Malaysian contingent. — The STAR/John Unson

February 24, 2021

Three were wounded in an ambush in Barangay Capiton in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao on Wednesday morning.

One of the victims, a certain Usop Radjak, reportedly succumbed to gunshot wounds while in a hospital.

The Datu Odin Sinsuat municipal police, however, cannot confirm yet if Radjak had indeed died from bullet wounds sustained in the attack.

Radjak and his companions were on separate motorcycles en route to their houses in an interior area in Capiton from a dialogue with barangay officials when gunmen positioned along the road shot them with .45 caliber pistols. — The STAR/John Unson

February 23, 2021

A courier of the Abu Sayyaf group who have lied low and detached with the militant group finally surrendered Monday to the army Special Forces in Basilan, military official said.

Lt. Col. Alex Ampati, commanding officer of 4th Special Forces Battalion, said Jay-ar Amorin alias Abuh Solaiman, 31, a resident of Barangay Langaray, Sumisip, surrendered with his firearms to the 14th Special Forces Company in Barangay Townsite, Maluso town.

Ampati said Amorin, who was presented to him in his headquarters in Barangay Cabunbata, Isabela City, also surrendered his M16 rifle with magazine and ammunition. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

February 21, 2021

An alleged communist rebel was killed and others were believed wounded when government troops encountered the a group of fully-armed New People’s Army (NPA) members Saturday afternoon in a town of Lanao del Sur, military officials say.

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), says the military forces under Joint Task Force ZamPeLan also recovered several firearms and several war materiel left by the rebels.

Vinluan saays troops from the 5th Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Romulus Rabara were conducting combat patrol when they encountered the group of rebels in the hinterlands of Barangay Ragayan, Maguing town about 4:30p.m. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

February 21, 2021

Authorities have tagged the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Thursday’s foiled roadside bombing in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

The improvised explosive device, rigged with a blasting contraption that can be detonated from a distance, was fashioned from an 81-millimeter mortar round and two anti-tank rockets.

“It was a 'signature IED'of the BIFF. The bombing attempt occurred after seven BIFF members surrendered a week before in another municipality in Maguindanao,” Major Gen. Juvymax Uy of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division says Sunday. — The STAR/John Unson

February 19, 2021

A military official says troops recovered a powerful improvised explosive device on tip by civilian Thursday and thwarted a deadly bombing attack in Shariff Aguak town, Maguindanao.

“Around 10:00 a.m. yesterday, a concerned citizen informed the troops of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion that a suspected IED was emplaced in Barangay Satan, Shariff Aguak by unidentified perpetrators,” says Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. commander of Western Mindanao Command.

Vinluan says a military squad immediately secured and cordoned the area from passersby as the military’s 32nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal team disrupted and defused the IED about 10:18 a.m. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

February 15, 2021

Military forces flushed out members of the Islamic State-inspired Daulah Islamiyah-Maute group and seized their lair in air and ground offensives in the hinterlands of Madamba town, Lanao del Sur on Saturday.

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), says Monday that troops under Joint Task Force ZamPeLan were conducting combat operations on Saturday morneing when they engaged 15 DI-Maute group members in Barangay Bawang in a firefight.

Vinluan says heavy skirmishes ensued, which led to the discovery of the terrorists' lair in the area. — from a report by The STAR/Roel Pareño

February 6, 2021

Authorities say policemen shot dead two uncooperative clerics they were to arrest for murder based on a warrant from a local court.

Major Elexon Bona, chief of the Police Precinct 4 in Cotabato City, identifies the fatalities as Ustadz Yayah Montong and Ustadz Farhan Bacol, tagged in the murder of a relative early on.

Bona says police personnel were to serve them arrest warrants, in an operation in Barangay Kalanganan, but neutralized them instead when one of them pulled out a pistol and opened fire, hitting a policeman in the abdomen. — The STAR/John Unson

February 2, 2021

The police clamped down Monday nine gamblers for illegal cockfighting in Barangay Gadungan in Parang town in Maguindanao.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao launched the operation based on tips from vigilant Barangay Gadungan residents, among them members of the local Islamic religious community.

All forms of gambling are “haram” (forbidden) in Islam. 

In a statement Tuesday, the CIDG-BAR said the nine men were detained for violation of Presidential Decree 449, or the Philippine 1974 Cockfighting Law, which regulates cockfighting. — The STAR/John Unson

February 1, 2021

A militiaman was hurt in a grenade blast over the weekend that ripped through a para-military detachment in Barangay Labu-labu in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao.

Shariff Aguak is surrounded by municipalities where there is presence of the now ragtag Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, an outlawed group trying to sabotage the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Maj. Olegario Salvador, Jr. of the Shariff Aguak Municipal police said Monday that Joey Reyes, a member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit assigned in the detachment, was slightly injured in the explosion.

Responding police investigators are certain members of the BIFF, which operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, was responsible for the bombing of the CAFGU outpost in Barangay Labu-Labu. — The STAR/John Unson

January 30, 2021

Authorities say that marine troops and agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency clashed Saturday dawn with drug syndicate members which left a suspect dead and led to the recovery of high-powered firearms in an island village of South Ubian town, Tawi-Tawi.

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), says the troops from the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 and PDEA launched the operation following intelligence tips on the operation of the drug personalities in Barangay Bintawlan, an island village. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

January 29, 2021

Authorities report that the joint regional police units arrested for murder a barangay chairman and three cohorts with suspected links to the Abu Sayyaf group Thursday in Sumisip town, Basilan.

The lead police unit of Anti-Kidnapping Group, backed by the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 9, Mindanao Area Police Intelligence Office, and Basilan Parole and Probation Administration nabbed barangay captain Jamiron Ajijon inside his barangay hall in Marang, Sumisip town about 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

Also arrested during the law enforcement operation were Ajijon’s companions identified as: Bassel Ajijon Eting, 30; Alnasre Amigos, 21; and Johan Amigos, 20. 

— The STAR/Roel Pareño

January 26, 2021

Authorities say a motorist was instantly killed while another was injured in a bomb explosion in the troubled South Upi town in Maguindanao on Tuesday morning.

The fatality, Alberto Delos Santos, died from multiple shrapnel wounds in different parts of his body.

A more powerful improvised explosive device, made of 105 Howitzer cannon round rigged with a handmade blasting mechanism, was found later by Army ordnance experts several meters away from the spot where the roadside bomb went off. — The STAR/John Unson

January 16, 2021

The police and military are cooperating in locating farmer Jimben Sinaya, owner of the 13,000 marijuana plants anti-narcotics agents uprooted Thursday in Tampakan town, South Cotabato.

Col. Jemuel Siason, director of the South Cotabato provincial police, says barangay officials in Tampakan have confirmed that Sinaya owned the marijuana farm.

The marijuana uprooting operation in Barangay Danlag in Tampakan was a joint initiative of his office and the PDEA-12, according to Siason. — The STAR/John Unson

January 2, 2021

Officials appeal to members of the New People’s Army to return to the fold of law while there is time yet.

Local executives in central Mindanao placed at no fewer than 40 the number of NPAs killed in clashes with units of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, North Cotabato and Sarangani provinces from between July to December 2019. 

— The STAR/John Unson

December 25, 2020

A security military commander says an Abu Sayyaf member, who was involved in the kidnapping of 21 tourists from Malaysia 20 years ago, surrendered voluntarily to the marines in Tawi-Tawi.

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), says Barri Lakibol, also known for his aliases "Barley Badeng", "Otoh Itom" and "Robin", 44, a native of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, yielded Wednesday afternoon with his M14 rifle to the Marine Battalion Landing Team 12 headquarters in Barangay Nalil in the same town.

Vinluan says the surrender of Lakibol was only made public Friday as he was placed under tactical debriefing for information that may lead to his other possible companions. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

December 12, 2020

A security official says two terror group mid-level leaders, including a trusted henchman of senior Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron and 13 of their followers surrendered to the military forces in Sulu province.

The two leaders were identified as Alvin Yusop alias "Arab Puti", a trustee of Sahiron and Barahim Nurjahar, who is under the late senior Abu Sayyaf leader and regional Islamic State of Iraq and Syria emir Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of Western Mindanao Command, says the two sub-leaders and their 13 followers surrendered to the troops of the 1101st and 1102nd Birgades with their firearms. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

December 10, 2020

The military foiled Wednesday an attempt by seven members of a local terror group to smuggle rifles and components for improvised explosives to somewhere along the Cotabato-Isulan Highway.

Maj.Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said Thursday the seven members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters whom soldiers intercepted in Barangay Tuayan in Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao had been turned over to the provincial police for detention and prosecution.

“According to reports reaching my office, they introduced themselves as members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front but failed to prove their claims so they were turned over to the police,” Uy said. — The STAR/John Unson

December 9, 2020

Regional security officials were elated with the commitment of support from the largest bloc in the Moro National Liberation Front to the anti-terror campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said Thursday MNLF’s pledge to help the Western Mindanao Command and the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region maintain law and order in areas where it has members is a boost to efforts of addressing local security woes.

Muslimin Sema, chairman of the largest and most politically active among two groups in the MNLF, told the commander of WestMinCom, Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., during a meeting last week that they will actively participate in multi-sector counter-terrorism programs of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police. — The STAR/John Unson

December 5, 2020

Security officials say that at least 39 Abu Sayyaf members and supporters, one of them participated in the high-profile kidnapping of foreign nationals, surrendered Thursday to the military forces with the assistance of the local government and former Abu Sayyaf members in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The bulk of those who surrendered, numbering 36 Abu Sayyaf members and supporters, yielded to Marine Battalion Landing Team 8 commanding officer Lt. Col. Allan Angelo Tolentino and Mayor Abdulbaki Ajibon in the Marine headquarters in Barangay Lahing-Lahing, Omar town.

Tolentino and Ajibon presented Friday the former Abu Sayyaf members to Joint Task Force Sulu commander Maj. Gen. William Gonzales and Naval Forces Western Mindanao commander Toribio Adaci Jr., who both visited and assessed the situation in Omar town. 

— The STAR/Roel Pareño

November 27, 2020

A Philippine Air Force UH1 helicopter ferrying four soldiers injured in an improvised explosive device blast crashed Thursday afternoon, leaving one of the wounded soldiers dead, security officials say Friday.

The crash happened in Madalum town, Lanao del Sur and also left a member of the helicopter crew injured.

Capt. Clint Antipala, spokesman of the Army's 1st Infantry Tabak Division, says UH-1H of the 3rd Tactical Operation Wing was conducting a medical evacuation of the four soldiers when it made an emergency landing and crashed about in a village in Madalum around 5 p.m. on Thursday. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

November 25, 2020

Six Abu Sayyaf members surrendered to the military troops 2 days ago after they were persuaded to go back in normal life in Patikul town, Sulu, according to officials.

Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS), said the former terror members surrendered Monday to 45th Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Ruben Guinolbay.

Those who surrendered were identified as: Sudduri Atam alias Apo Adam; Amjad Idjas; Kamlon  Kahal alias Kams; Mahmot Asanulla alias Mong; Kimar Habari Abdah; and Jahawi Laham Dadjong, all under Abu Sayyaf senior leader Radullan Sahiron.

The six Abu Sayyaf members also yielded one M16A1 rifle, one M1 Springfield rifle and one  M2 Carbine rifle. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

November 21, 2020

Security officials say another Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf group member, who participated in the kidnappings of a former Italian priest and Malaysian tourists in the previous years, turned himself in to the marine troops Friday in Tawi-Tawi. 

The suspect, identified as Al-Habi Jundam alias "Victor Jundam", was a member of the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group under Sulu-based sub-leader Hairullah Asbang, says Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr.

Jundam surrendered to the troops of the marine troops of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi under Col. Arturo Rojas about 9 a.m. Friday in Bongao. — The STAR/Roel Pareño 

November 14, 2020

Authorities are guarding against possible attacks by terrorists to avenge the deaths of six members of the Dawlah Islamiya in a brief clash in Polomolok town in Koronadal City. 

One of fatalities, Arafat Pataron Bulacon, is a senior leader of the Ansa’r Al-Khilafa Philippines, a group under the outlawed Dawlah Islamiya, which operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Members of the Police Regional Office-12 and the Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion under the 601st Infantry Brigade were to serve warrants for the arrest of Bulacon in Barangay Koronadal Proper in Polomolok, South Cotabato but neutralized him and his cohorts instead when resisted. — The STAR/John Unson

November 12, 2020

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao's Ministry of Science and Technology has sworn in 25 newly-hired personnel from Maguindanao, Cotabato City, Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Sulu, the region's public information office announces.

"MOST Minister Aida Silongan led the general orientation and oath-taking ceremony of the newly-hired staff on Thursday, November 12, in Cotabato City," BARMM's Bureau of Public Information says.

November 5, 2020

Officials say a naval-led search and retrieval team continued its search for the recovery of the remains of seven slain Abu Sayyaf group members who remained missing since Tuesday following the encounter in the waters off Sulu.

Lt. Jerrica Angelo Manongdong, spokesperson of Joint Task Force Sulu, says the whole unit of Naval Task Group –Sulu 2.0 (NTG) continued the search for three days now which initially recovered the destroyed twin-engine powered speedboat of the Abu Sayyaf group in the waters near Sulare Island, the scene of the sea chase gunbattle on Tuesday dawn.

Manongdong says the encounter took place more than 10 kilometers from the shoreline of Sulare Island when the joint naval, airforce and army were able to sink the speedboat and killed all seven Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom members on board. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

November 5, 2020

Three more members of the Abu Sayyaf surrendered Wednesday in Sumisip town in Basilan.

The relatives Omar Mingkong, Mammik Mingkong and Itih Mingkong yielded through the joint intercession of the Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion and two leaders in the province — Sumisip Mayor Julz Hataman and Gov. Jim Salliman.

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan of the military’s Western Mindanao Command said Thursday he is thankful to the people behind the surrender of the three Abu Sayyaf members.

"We ought to sustain this peace initiative of the provincial and municipal leaders in Basilan," Vinluan said. — The STAR/John Unson

November 4, 2020

Security officials say three Abu Sayyaf members, who were driven by clan war to join the militant group for redress, surrendered to the military Tuesday in Sumisip town, Basilan.

Those who surrendered were identified as: Omar Mingkong alias "Tomo"; his cousins Mammik Mingkong alias "Mik"; and Itih Mingkong, all under Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf group sub-leader Pasil Bayali.

The trio surrendered to Joint Task Force Basilan commander Col. Domingo Gobway and 64th Infantry Battalion commanding officer Lt. Col. Renante Besa at Sitio Baag, Barangay Guiong, Sumisip town about 1 p.m. Tuesday. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

November 4, 2020

Health authorities in Cotabato City shut the Bureau of Internal Revenue office there after nine employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The BIR’s Revenue District Office 107 was vacated by employees Tuesday and will be closed until November 6 for disinfection.

The office of Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi and the chief of the BIR office in the city, Nora Macarambon, are now cooperating in tracing the people the nine employees had contact with.

In a statement Wednesday, the BIR-RDO 107 says the public can pay their taxes at banks while its office is being disinfected. — The STAR/John Unson

November 3, 2020

The Ministry of Labor and Employment in the Bangsamoro region is building cross-section consensus on how it can best serve the local communities via a periodic constituents forum.

Minister Romeo Sema of the MOLE-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Tuesday their latest Bangsamoro Constituents Forum, or BCF, was held in Parang, Maguindanao on October 27.

“Besides the participants from the local sectors, representatives from different BARMM ministries were also present in the gathering,” Sema said.

The engagement also involved leaders from the Moro, Christian and Lumad groups in Maguindanao and from parts of Lanao del Sur. — The STAR/John Unson

October 30, 2020

Ten members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters surrendered to the Army in Sultan sa Barongis town Thursday.

The BIFF, also known as the Dawlah Islamiya, is operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and is tagged in all deadly bombings in central Mindanao since 2015.

Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army's 6th Infantry Division, says Friday the surrender of the 10 BIFF gunmen capped off Thursday's celebration of the founding anniversary of the Sultan sa Barongis town in the second district of Maguindanao. — The STAR/John Unson

October 26, 2020

The Bangsamoro regional police has deployed 300 more personnel in Cotabato City for law enforcement operations.

Police Brig. Gen. Samuel Rodriguez, director of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, says Monday he personally turned over the group to the city’s local government unit last Friday.

The Cotabato City police office will deploy the additional officers for pandemic checkpoint, security patrol, traffic control and other law-enforcement functions, according to Rodriguez. 

— The STAR/John Unson


October 23, 2020

Four security personnel, including two government militia members, were injured when an IED exploded Friday in a village of Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, security official said here.

The military said the latest explosion occurred at Barangay Salman was the third in a spate of road bombings since last month in the same area which already brought 11 troopers injured. 

The military believes the bombins were perpetrated by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) and Dawlah Islamiyah (DI), local terror factions linked to the Islamic State group.

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said reports reaching him disclosed the troops under the Joint Task Force Central (JTFC) were conducting security and road-mine clearing operation when they were hit by an IED explosion that was set as anti-personnel mine. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

October 23, 2020

Health workers will start administering again measles and polio vaccines to children in remote areas in the Bangsamoro region Monday.

Physician Amirel Usman, acting health minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Friday their measles-rubella and polio vaccination drive will cover all five BARMM provinces.

BARMM covers the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

"Our health workers shall, at the same time, also campaign for public cooperation with the government’s war on COVID-19,” Usman said. — The STAR/John Unson

October 22, 2020

More than 300 hectares of rice farms were ravaged by floods that hit central Mindanao towns close to the Liguasan Delta that also forced no fewer than 20,000 families to relocate to higher grounds.

The 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta swelled and overflowed last week following heavy rains in mountain ranges around.

Dozens of barangays in the adjoining provinces of North Cotabato in Region 12 and in Maguindanao under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have since inundated.

The Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence, or the READI contingent of BARMM, on Tuesday initially distributed relief support to 480 flood-stricken families in Barangay Macasandeg in Pikit.

The quick deployment READI contingent expanded on Wednesday its relief missions to other areas in Maguindanao and North Cotabato. — The STAR/John Unson


October 20, 2020

A naval official says at least five fishermen have been rescued while another has been missing for four days now when their fishing boat capsized due to inclement weather disturbance in the waters off Sulu.

Rear Adm. Erick Kagaoan, commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao, says six fishermen aboard FB Oakley left their village at Barangay Tanjung, Indanan town on fishing venture when it capsized last Friday in the vicinity off Bacungan Island and Barangay Bulangsi, Luuk town.

The families of the victims received distress and immediately alerted the Naval Task Group and 4th Marine Brigade under Col. Ruben Candelario who immediately launched the rescue utilizing the available assets, including one multi-purpose assault craft.  The STAR/Roel Pareño

October 20, 2020

Leaders of two feuding groups in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front forged an agreement Tuesday to end a longtime “rido” or clan war that has left many dead on both sides.

The leaders of the two rival groups, Emran Dawaling and Hadji Abubakar Midsabala, reconciled through the intercession of Mayor Marop Ampatuan of Shariff Aguak town in the second district of Maguindanao province.

Two top MILF leaders, the Islamic theologians Zacaria Guma and Wahid Tundok, chiefs of the MILF’s 105th and 118 Base Commands, respectively, are signatories to the peace pact putting closure to the bloody rido between the clans of Dawaling and Midsabala.

The two MILF commanders lost more than a dozen followers each in gunfights in recent years that caused the displacement of villagers in areas affected by the conflict. — The STAR/John Unson

October 17, 2020

A security official says fighting broke out when troops clashed Friday afternoon with a faction of the Abu Sayyaf group while searching for the six detainees, including an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader, who bolted during a jailbreak in Basilan early this week.

Troops from the 68th Infantry Battalion encountered 10 Abu Sayyaf members about 1:45 p.m. at Sitio Penas, Barangay Benembengan, Sumisip town, says Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of Western Mindanao Command. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

October 17, 2020

An official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency says the anti-narcotics agents seized P5.3 million worth of shabu from a former mayor, an incumbent barangay councilor and a 63-year-old woman who fell in separate operations Friday in Maguindanao.

The first to fall from the three stings laid by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency was Jaher Guiapal, arrested after selling P136,000 worth of shabu, or methamphetamine hydrochloride, to plainclothes PDEA operatives in the town proper of Buluan in Maguindanao.

Juvenal Azurin, director of PDEA-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, says Saturday Guiapal, an incumbent barangay official in Buluan, did not resist arrest when agents cuffed him after the tradeoff. — The STAR/John Unson

October 6, 2020

Abu Sayyaf bandits fired assault rifles at a remote village in Patikul town in Sulu on Monday, killing a barangay tanod and sending villagers running for their lives.

Reports reaching the capitol here of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao identified the fatality as Tali Lakibul, a member of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team in  Barangay Igasan in Patikul, an Abu Sayyaf bastion.

The group, which authorities blame for all terror attacks in Sulu, a component province of BARMM, has a reputation for beheading Filipino and foreign captives if ransom demands are not met. — The STAR/John Unson

October 5, 2020

The military has retrieved a powerful 1,000-pound unexploded bomb from World War II that construction workers unearthed in Isabela City, Basilan over the weekend.

Col. Domingo Gobway, commander of Joint Task Force Basilan (JTFB) and the 101st Infantry Brigade, says the massive unexploded bomb was discovered in a construction site, which was immediately cordoned off.

Troops from the 16th Special Forces Company and police Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit safety dug up and moved the bomb to a containment area in the 4th Special Forces Battalion headquarters at Barangay Cabunbata. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

October 5, 2020

Anti-narcotics agents seize P340,000 worth of shabu from a drug dealer arrested in Cotabato City on Monday.

Juvenal Azurin, director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, says suspect Nashrudin Kasan Roup is now clamped down in their detention facility.

Roup was frisked and immediately cuffed after selling shabu to undercover PDEA-BARMM agents. — The STAR/John Unson

September 29, 2020

Rescuers on Monday found the bodies of three children who drowned the day before in a large river in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, where a fourth victim is still missing.

The fatalities, between 8 and 11 years old, were forced downstream to the western coast of Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao province, where the large Simuay River drains.

Rescuers from the Bangsamoro region’s Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence, or READI contingent, members of the Sultan Kudarat municipal disaster risk reduction and management council and the local police are still searching for the missing five-year-old Rodelyn Balasa.

Police investigators said the victims were playing at a shallow stretch of the Simuay River when floodwaters, spawned by heavy rains in forested uplands, suddenly swelled the waterway, drowning all four of them. — The STAR/John Unson

September 28, 2020

Member of Parliament Marjanie Macasalong and Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong have recovered from COVID-19, the Bangsamoro government announces, quoting Bangsamoro Inter Agency Task Force (BIATF) spokesperson Mohd Asnin Pendatun on Monday. 

"Let this be a reminder that these officials risk their lives to deliver services to the public in light of the pandemic," Pendatun says in a release by the regional government's Bureau of Public Information.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has recorded 1,083 total cases in the region. 29 of which are new cases, with a total of 241 active cases, 801 recoveries, and 41 deaths.

September 26, 2020

The Bangsamoro labor ministry is now distributing monetary assistance to workers in private entities displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic, now damaging the regional business climate.

Romeo Sema, labor minister of BARMM, says their intervention, meant to ease the plight of displaced private sector workers, is part of the COVID-19 containment measures of the Ministry of Labor and Employment, and the office of Bangsamoro Chief Minister Hadji Ahod Ebrahim.

“This CAP (COVID-19 Assistance Program) is practically a relief initiative for the private labor sector now feeling severely the brunt of the pandemic,” Sema says. 

— The STAR/John Unson 

September 25, 2020

The Bangsamoro government says they have purchased 10 units of mechanical ventilators frontliners can use for COVID-19 patients with breathing problems.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, local government minister of the Bangsamoro Automous Region in Muslim Mindanao, led the inspection of the ventilators a courier company delivered Friday at the BARMM capitol compound in Cotabato City.

“We procured these ventilators through the facilitation of the United Nations Development Programme. These mechanical ventilators are essential in aiding COVID-19 patients with pulmonary condition,” Sinarimbo says. — The STAR/John Unson

September 24, 2020

At least three soldiers were injured in a roadside bombing attack suspected to have been done by a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

The bomb attack is the second in a week's span after the terror group allied with the Islamic State also set off an improvised bomb that hit a convoy of Marines and killed a soldier in Barangay Lipongo, Datu Hoffer town also in Maguindanao on Wednesday last week. The blast left four others injured.

The lastest bombing attack hit troops of the 57th Infantry Battalion who were conducting a combat clearing operation in Barangay Salman on Thursday, said Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of Joint Task Force Central and the 6th Infantry Division. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

September 21, 2020

Project TABANG, or the Tulong Alay sa Bangsamorong Nangangailangan, has allotted 300,00 sacks of rice for Marawi City as it started its second wave of relief operation to residents affected by the coronavirus crisis in the Ranaw region.

As of September 21, a total of 13,912 sacks of rice were already distributed to 22 barangays in Marawi, including in Barangay Sagonsongan where internally displaced persons from the Most Affected Area (MAA) during the Marawi siege are sheltered.

Among the beneficiary barangays also include Bito Buadi Itowa, Bito Buadi Parba, Bubong Lumbac, Bubong Pagalamatan, Bubonga Punud, Emie Punud, Miphaga, Rorogagus Eastphase 1 & 2, Rorogagus Proper, and Somiorang from Cluster 6; and Bangco, Cabasaran, Dulay Proper, Dulay West, Lilod Guimba, Malimono, Matampay Kormatan, Pantaon, Papandayan, Papandayan Caniogan and Tolali from Cluster 7. — BARMM Bureau of Public Information

September 16, 2020

A rescue helicopter of the Philippine Air Force crashed in Lantawan, Basilan on Wednesday afternoon, killing all four on board.

Maj. Al-Nasser Abdurakman, spokesman of the 3rd Tactical Operations Wing based in Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City, said the Sikorsky S-76A with two pilots and two crew members crashed about 1:05 p.m in the hinterlands of Upper Manggas in Lantawan town.

He said the S-76A Sikorsky was their lone air ambulance.

All the remains of the fatalities have been retrieved by the responding troops from the 4th Special Force Battalion. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

September 10, 2020

Security officials say a bomber and leader of a local terror cell Dawlah Islamiyah (DI) and his brother were killed in an encounter following a raid in Surallah town, South Cotabato.

Joint troopers from 5th Special Forces Battalion and local police of Surallah killed DI leader Jeoffrey Nilong alias "Momoy" and his younger brother Amen Nilong about 10:15 a.m. Wednesday in Barangay Lamsugod, according to Lt. Col. Alaric delos Santos, spokesman of Western Mindanao Command. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

September 5, 2020

A security official says two communist insurgents were killed in a pursuit operation launched Friday by government troops against the New People’s Army who ambushed and killed a soldier in Kalamansig town, Sultan Kudarat.

The fresh encounter sparked after pursuing troops from the 37th Infantry Battalion caught up with 20 NPA rebels in the boundary of Barangay Sta. Clara and Datu Ito Indong Friday night, says Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, commander of Joint Task Force Central.

The rebels, whom the troops encountered, were part of the armed group who burned several heavy construction equipment to set up responding soldiers in ambush last Wednesday, leaving a soldier dead.  The STAR/Roel Pareño

July 29, 2020

Two soldiers were killed while seven Dawlah Islamiya bandits were hurt in a spate of clashes in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao on Wednesday.

The slain soldiers, Privates 1st Class Jovit Sarno and Raymond Canlog, both belong to the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion.

Sarno and Canlog were in a team that members of the Dawlah Islamiya attacked while patrolling in Barangay Penditen in Datu Salibo town in the second district of Maguindanao. 

— The STAR/John Unson

July 28, 2020

The mayor's office has banned traditional outdoor Islamic Eid’l Adha prayers on Friday in all of the 37 barangays of Cotabato City as part of its COVID-19 containment effort.

Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi says Tuesday that Eid’l Adha prayers on Friday can only be held in mosques and big buildings, subject to government anti-coronavirus regulations.

"Worshipers, wearing protection masks, shall observe social distancing when performing the Eid’l Adha prayers in mosques and other buildings where it can be done," Guiani-Sayadi says.

The Eid’l Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, is a big religious event in Islam. — The STAR/John Unson

July 27, 2020

Eight more members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters yielded to the military Monday and turned in assorted firearms as they renounced their membership in the group.

The BIFF, operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is not covered by the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Led by Ibrahim Guno, the eight bandits, all from Datu Saudi town in Maguindanao, yielded through the joint intercession of Mayor Resty Sindatok, local commanders of the MILF and the Army's 57th Infantry Battalion.

They pledged allegiance to the government in a simple rite Monday at the Army's Camp Gonzalo Siongco in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. — The STAR/John Unson

July 24, 2020

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao says anti-narcotics agents shut a big drug den in Cotabato City and another in Bukidnon province in separate operations Thursday.

Juvenal Azurin of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, says they seized P149,000 worth of shabu from the six men operating the drug den in Barangay Rosary Heights 10 here that they raided Thursday.

The suspects, Quetze Lauban Wahab, Mohedin Usman Diocolano, Jelil Wahab, Hakim Wahab, Mantong Esmael Inok and Randolf Abis, are now in the custody of PDEA-BARMM. — The STAR/John Unson

July 22, 2020

The initial turnout of the polio vaccination drive in the Bangsamoro region amid the COVID-19 pandemic went smoothly, officials say Wednesday.

Health workers out to administer anti-polio drops in the 116 Bangsamoro municipalities observed anti-COVID-19 protocols and those deployed to areas with coronavirus cases wore personal protective equipment.

Dr. Safrullah Dipatuan, health minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, says Wednesday they have a continuing information campaign meant to educate the public that there is nothing wrong having children vaccinated for polio while there is a COVID-19 pandemic. — The STAR/John Unson

July 19, 2020

A field commander of an Islamic State-linked local terror group surrendered with four of his followers in tow to government forces and yielded a powerful improvised bomb and high-powered firearms in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao.

Kiram Abdullah alias Abu Jihad or King Alfa, field commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF), and his 4 followers, who are mostly his relatives, surrendered last Friday to the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade headquarters in Barangay Kamasi, says Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

Sobejana says the four others were identified as: Tong Salik alias Kitim; Gublas Sabay Abdullah, alias Dumlas; Gianid Mindo Abdullah; and Aladin Abdullah. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

July 16, 2020

A military official says two gunmen were hurt in an encounter Wednesday in Montawal town between a private armed group and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Lt. Col. Anhouvic Atilano, spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, says the hostilities involved the groups led by Andy Montawal and Commander Gafur of the MILF.

Atilano says two of Montawal’s followers were wounded as they traded shots with MILF members led by Commander Gafur in Barangay Talapas in Montawal, Maguindanao. — The STAR/John Unson

July 13, 2020

Two wanted guns-for-hire implicated in a dozen killings were wounded in a gunfight with policemen out to serve warrants for their arrest in Pandag, Maguindanao.

Usop Palalisan Tunggal and Mohajirin Usop are now both in a hospital, guarded by personnel of the Maguindanao provincial police.

The team tasked to arrest them also nabbed their still unidentified companion armed with a pistol. — The STAR/John Unson

July 10, 2020

The Basilan Inter-Agency Task Force says the coronavirus disease cases in the province have rapidly increased to 98 due to delay of swab test results, which were only released Friday.

Basilan Gov. Hajiman Salliman-Hataman, chair of the local provincial task force, says there are 17 additional cases of COVID-19. The new cases are locally stranded individuals from Sumisip town.

Hataman clarifies that the 17 cases are part of the backlog which were sent a week ago to laboratories for analysis. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

July 5, 2020

The local government unit of Datu Blah Sinsuat town in Maguindanao is constructing a COVID-19 clinic as part of its campaign against the dreaded disease.

Mayor Marshall Sinsuat said Sunday that none of the 13 barangays of Datu Blah Sinsuat has had even a single case since February but their LGU is still not taking chances.

He said the COVID-19 facility they are setting up is located in Barangay Pura, near the municipal hall of Datu Blah Sinsuat, located in the west coast of Maguindanao province. — The STAR/John Unson

July 4, 2020

The Basilan Inter-Agency Task Force COVID-19 says the number of coronavirus disease increased to 41 in Basilan province after 18 newly confirmed patients tested positive Friday.

The new cases include six frontliners in Isabela City and the rest are mostly locally stranded individuals (LSIs) who came home earlier this week.

The task force says the patients are staying in isolation facilities in their respective city and municipalities while contact tracing have been conducted on those whom the patients have in close contact with. —  The STAR/Roel Pareño

June 28, 2020

Authorities foil an attempt by to smuggle into the seaside Datu Blah Sinsuat town 100 large boxes of cigarettes from Malaysia.

Brig. Gen. Manuel Abu of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region says Sunday two outrigger boats carrying the contraband were intercepted Saturday by Philippine Navy and police personnel. — The STAR/John Unson

June 26, 2020

A military official says at least 125 assorted high-powered loose firearms, including assault rifles, machineguns and launchers, which were surrendered have been turned over by the local government to the military in Datu Paglas town, Maguindanao province,

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana says the high-powered firearms were handed over to Joint Task Force Central led by Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon in a simple ceremony held in the municipal gym of Datu Paglas town last Monday.

Sobejana says Mayor Abubakar Paglas led the turnover and vowed its full cooperation and support to the military campaign of preventing the proliferation of loose firearms in the municipality. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

June 22, 2020

 A hitchhiker was killed while 12 others were hurt in a road accident Sunday in a secluded barangay in Wao town in Lanao del Sur.

The fatality, a woman, died on the spot from injuries sustained when a truck flipped and rolled over twice when its driver lost control after its brake system malfunctioned. — The STAR/John Unson

June 20, 2020

Officials say two more members of the New People’s Army involved in the group’s collection of “protection money” from traders surrendered Thursday and pledged allegiance to the government.

The Police Regional Office-12 based in General Santos City says the duo, whose names were withheld pending their relocation to somewhere far from reach of their companions, yielded to officials of different PRO-12 units in Barangay Kalaneg in Maitum town in Sarangani.

At least 16 of the more than 50 NPAs who surrendered to PRO-12 since January have confessed to their roles in extorting money from farmers and people in the business community in central Mindanao to sustain the needs of rebel forces. — The STAR/John Unson

June 14, 2020

A notorious local drug supplier and five of his alleged accomplices surrendered following joint military and police anti-drug operation late this week in Patikul town, Sulu, according to a security official.

The group also surrendered two assault weapons, including one M16 Baby Armalite rifle and 9mm Luger sub-machinegun, and magazines and ammunitions.

Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) commander, said combined elements of the 45th Infantry Battalion and Patikul Municipal Police conducted the anti-drug operation Thursday which forced the surrender of the suspects. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

June 14, 2020

Two policemen were killed while two others were hurt when gunmen shot with assault rifles the municipal police station in Parang town in Sulu Saturday night.

The fatalities, Patrolman Arjun Putalan and Corporal Mudar Salamat, succumbed to multiple bullet wounds while being rushed to a hospital.

The attack left two policemen on duty then, Police Master Sergeants Hamid Saribon and Harold Nieva, badly wounded.

Brig. Gen. Manuel Abu of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region says Sunday there is a possibility that the armed men behind the atrocity could be members of a shabu trafficking gang whose dealers were nabbed by their units in Sulu in recent anti-narcotics operations. — The STAR/John Unson

June 10, 2020

Two policemen here under the Bangsamoro regional police have been infected with coronavirus, officials say Wednesday.

The Cotabato City local government unit confirms in a statement that both COVID-19 patients are members of the Philippine National Police.

One of the two policemen is an investigator in the Cotabato City Police Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region while the other is from the 14th Regional Mobile Force Battalion under the Police Regional Office-BAR. — The STAR/John Unson

June 9, 2020

Military troops rescued a 17-year-old militant fighter, who was recruited by the ISIS-linked Dawla Islamiya before the observance of the Ramadan last March, in a town of Lanao del Sur, according to security officials Tuesday.

The minor, who was only identified as "Jamal" for his protection, was rescued by the troops of the 55th Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Franco Rafael Alano, says Capt. Clint Antipala, Public Affairs chief of the 1st Infantry Division. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

June 6, 2020

The Basilan provincial government says it has provided safe haven to 18 wandering Badjaos it rescued in the Licomo-Zamboanga border last June 4

The 18 Badjaos, among them children displaced by the COVID-19 quarantine, were immediately brought to the provincial government’s medical screening facility in Isabela City in Basilan.

In a statement Saturday, the office of Gov. Jim Salliman says the rescued ethnic Badjaos shall be brought to Maluso municipality in Basilan after having been screened according to national coronavirus emergency regulations. — The STAR/John Unson

June 4, 2020

Four 'high-value targets' fell in separate drug entrapment operations here and in Lanao del Sur Wednesday.

Patrick Saavedra and spouse, Monambai, were arrested in the act of selling P136,000 worth of shabu, to non-uniformed agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Wednesday night in Barangay Poblacion II here.

A police-led drug sting in Barangay Pindulunan in Tugaya, Lanao del Sur also resulted in the capture of two elusive drug dealers in the province, the cohorts Ibra Gulam and Abubacar Dilabayan.

Col. Madzgani Mukaram, Lanao del Sur’s police director, says Thursday that the team that entrapped the duo confiscated from them almost P14,000 worth of shabu. — The STAR/John Unson

June 1, 2020

Hundreds of Teduray families in South Upi, Maguindanao have been displaced by clashes since last week between two groups figthing for control of agricultural lands in the municipality,

The gunfights forced about a thousand families in the contested hinterlands to relocate to Barangay Kuya for fear of getting trapped in the crossfire.

Teduray tribal leaders have urged the regional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to intervene and settle the conflict. — The STAR/John Unson

May 28, 2020

The Bangsamoro Government on Thursday launches an isolation and treatment facility in Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao for COVID-19 patients.

The facility is the first in the region.

The 100-bed capacity isolation facility was completed in 40 days by the regional government's Ministry of Public Works and will be managed by the Cotabato Sanitarium Hospital.

The facility is expected to be operational within the next two weeks, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao's Bureau of Public Information says.

May 26, 2020

Eleven students who have just returned to Maguindanao from Cebu have tested positive to coronavirus. 

The students are now in a COVID-19 isolation facility inside the compound of the Maguindanao provincial hospital in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan town.

Dr. Elizabeth Samama, chief of the Integrated Provincial Health Office, confirms the test results on Tuesday.

The group is among residents of provinces in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao who had been stranded in different areas outside due to the COVID-19 quarantine that started in March. — The STAR/John Unson

May 25, 2020

A gunman killed Monday morning the secretary to the mayor here, about four years after he was badly  hurt in an ambush while en route to office.

Aniceto Rasalan, secretary to Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, died from bullet wounds in the head.

Investigators said he was inside an eatery along the Notre Dame Avenue here when a man approached him casually, pulled out a pistol and shot him in the head repeatedly.

Rasalan, most known here as “Boy Rasalan,” was declared dead on arrival by physicians at the Cotabato Regional Medical Center where he was rushed for treatment.

Rasalan was seriously wounded in an ambush here in 2015.

Police probers are still uncertain if the incident and his murder here Monday morning were related.  — The STAR/John Unson

May 25, 2020

The Bangsamoro government "condemns in the strongest terms" mortar shelling on Sunday that killed two minors and wounded others in Barangay Kitango in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

"This violence committed against hapless civilians is totally inhumane and evil, occurring as it did on what is supposed to be a festive day of Eid’l Fitr. It also compounds the present difficulties of our people as they struggle through with the COVID-19 pandemic. Only the heartless criminals can commit such a wicked act," the Bangsamoro region's Bureau of Public Information says in a press statement.

"We call on the law enforcement agencies in Maguindanao, especially the Police Provincial Office and the 6th Infantry Division (Kampilan) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to conduct an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation of this tragedy and bring into the bar of justice those who are responsible, no matter who they are or affiliated to. This gruesome crime must not be let to pass into an unsolved incident."

May 19, 2020

Clerics have cautioned Muslims against performing the field Eid’l Fit’r prayers following the culmination of Ramadhan to protect them from coronavirus disease.

The Islamic Ramadhan fasting season, which started April 24, is expected to end within four or five days from now, depending on the sighting of the new moon to mark the start of Shawal, the 10th month in the lunar-based Hijrah calendar.

The Darul Iftah, or House of Opinions, in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, reiterated Tuesday its previous appeal for BARMM residents to forego the traditionally grand Eid’l Fit’r outdoor congregational prayers as a health protection measure. — The STAR/John Unson

May 8, 2020

Officials say a police team killed in a brief shootout Thursday in Marawi City a kidnapper who was among top ten most wanted persons in Lanao del Sur.

Colopoy Ayonan died from multiple gunshot wounds sustained in an encounter with combined personnel of the Lanao del Sur provincial police and the Army’s 82nd Infantry Battalion under the 103rd Brigade.

Col. Madzgani Mukaram, director of the Lanao del Sur provincial police, says policemen were to peacefully arrest Ayunan and a relative, Khadafi Ayonan, but they both resisted, sparking a gunfight. — The STAR/John Unson

May 6, 2020

The prices of fish from Datu Blah Sinsuat town, the fishing capital of Maguindabao, remain stable despite the COVID-19 quarantine.

Local authorities have been monitoring prices of fish and other goods. Prices of fishes caught by local fishermen have been unchanged from since before the quarantine.

"We have abundant supply of fishes here. What the people displaced by the quarantine need is rice and that is something our LGU is trying to address efficiently," Datu Blah Sinsuat Mayor Marshall Sinsuat says.

Photos: The coastal Datu Blah Sinsuat town is the fishing capital of Maguindanao province in the Bangsamoro region. — The STAR/John Unson

April 29, 2020

Cotabato City Ordinance 4758, passed last week, requires the wearing of facemasks by residents when out of houses in support of the local government’s COVID-19 containment efforts.

City officials said the ordinance will be implemented strictly in all of the city’s 37 barangays.

People coming in, en route to provinces around Cotabato City, shall also be subjected to the ordinance.

Residents shall also be compelled to practice social distancing when in commercial establishments and work areas. — The STAR/John Unson

April 25, 2020

Authorities say an Army officer and four Army personnel who were among the eight wounded soldiers in the recent encounter against the Abu Sayyaf group in Patikul, Sulu were awarded with medals and cited for their bravery.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command, visited the wounded troopers Friday who were confined at Camp Navarro General Hospital and pinned the medals.

Those who were conferred with Wounded Personnel Medal (WPM) include 2Lt. Ceasar Exequiel Lipana, SSgt. Jerwin Uday, Pvt. Bernard Beyag and Pvt. Gener Bareo of the 45th Infantry Battalion. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

April 23, 2020

The island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi have remained free of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic last January, according to the health ministry of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

BARMM Health Minister Saffrullah Dipatuan, a doctor, says that none of the 127 suspected cases in the three island provinces of the Bangsamoro region none have tested positive as of Wednesday.

Dipatuan says two people who died of suspected COVID-19 turned out to be negative for the disease, according to the Sulu Integrated Provincial Health Office. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

April 23, 2020

The island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi have remained free of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic last January, according to the health ministry of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

BARMM Health Minister Saffrullah Dipatuan, a doctor, says that none of the 127 suspected cases in the three island provinces of the Bangsamoro region none have tested positive as of Wednesday.

Dipatuan says two people who died of suspected COVID-19 turned out to be negative for the disease, according to the Sulu Integrated Provincial Health Office. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

April 5, 2020

A group of young Muslim professionals in western Mindanao is working to raise funds for medical frontliners located in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi, areas that may not be getting as much support as other areas like Metro Manila.

"Because they are so far from the center, our health workers in these areas face logistical and supply difficulties," Dr. Esturco said. "They need to augment existing medical facilities and equipment. They need medicines and PPE," Zamboanga-based Dr. Abdul Javar Esturco says.

The fundraising aims to produce an initial 150 PPEs that will be distributed equally to the three provinces although the group hopes to gather more funds to keep producing the PPEs.

Donations can be sent here: https://gogetfunding.com/ppes-for-basulta-front-liners or through Nelil Sapal at 0977-8216321.

April 1, 2020

 A commander and 28 members of the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF), including two bomb making experts, surrendered to the military Monday in a town of Maguindanao province, security officials say.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, says the surrender of the 29 militant fighters, who also yielded their firearms, was a result of relentless focused military operations.

Sobejana said the militants surrendered to the 33rd Infantry Battalion in its headquarter at Barangay Zapakan, Rajah Buayan town. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

March 16, 2020

Cotabato City has started screening people entering its boundaries to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19);

The city, covering 37 barangays, has been under community quarantine since before dawn on Monday, March 16.

Local officials say teams are monitoring the entry of people from northern provinces where there have been confirmed COVID-19 fatalities.

Incoming commuters and motorists are asked to have their names recorded at a checkpoint in the city's northern entry route, now guarded by combined personnel of the Cotabato City police and the Army-led anti-crime Task Force Central and employees of the Cotabato City health office. — The STAR/John Unson

March 15, 2020

The Office of the President honors and provides assistance to 18 soldiers who were wounded in encounters against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command chief, visited the wounded soldiers on President Rodrigo Duterte's behalf at the 6th Infantry Division headquarters in Maguindanao.

Sobejana, assisted by 6th Division and Joint Task Force Central commander Maj. Gen. Diosdado Careon, handed over the cash assistance, gun certificate, and cellphones to each of the 18 wounded soldiers. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

March 12, 2020

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, spokesperson and local government minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao government, has also gone on self-quarantine.

Sinarimbo other senior BARMM officials were at the Senate this week for a hearing by the Senate Local Government and Finance committees on the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which created the BARMM and implemented the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The speaker of the 80-member BARMM parliament, lawyer Ali Pangalian Balindong, and Regional Executive Secretary Abdulrauf Macacua, also attended the Senate hearing.

In a press statement Thursday, Sinarimbo’s office said he would continue performing his duties online. — The STAR/John Unson

March 10, 2020

The Bangsamoro Transitional Authority, through its Ministry of Health, has raised the "Code Red" alert in all health facilities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Dr. Safrollah Dipatuan, minister of health, says that under Code Red, all health facilities in the region will be ready to respond if a patient needs monitoring "and even more if a positive case is found."

"Inabisuhan na natin ang lahat ng heads ng mga hospital sa BARMM na (maghanda) ng dedicated ward para sa mga pasyente ng COVID-19," he also says in a press statement.

(We have already advised all heads of hospitals in BARMM to prepare a dedicated ward for COVID-19 patients)

Dipatuan advises the public to practice preventive measures such as frequently washing hands using soap and water; maintaining social distancing; avoid hugging, kissing, or hand shaking with other people; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and practicing proper hygiene.

March 5, 2020

Soldiers found a dozen IEDs and guns after clashes against the Dawlah Islamiya in Maguindanao province. 

Two soldiers, Cpl. Albert Serquina and Sgt. Irvin Alberastine of the 40th and 57th Battalions, respectively, and four Dawlah Islamiya bandits, one of them a cleric, perished in the spate of clashes in Tuayan area at the border of Ampatuan and Datu Hoffer towns in Maguindanao.

Major Gen. Diosdado Carreon of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division said Thursday the operation that resulted in the fall of Dawlah Islamiya bastions there was launched after villagers reported the presence of terrorists fabricating IEDs, as if preparing for bomb attacks. — The STAR/John Unson

March 1, 2020

Anti-narcotics agents shot dead Sunday an uncooperative bandit gang leader in an entrapment operation in Sultan sa Barongis town that went haywire.

Large-scale shabu peddler Datu Ali Akmad, alias Pudzak, died from multiple gunshot wounds sustained in a brief shootout with combined agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and personnel of the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion. — The STAR/John Unson

February 24, 2020

Two Army rangers were wounded while an Abu Sayyaf leader and his follower were killed in fierce fighting in Patikul, Sulu on Sunday afternoon.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command, says the encounter at Barangay Bakong in the hinterland area of Patikul was an offshoot of their continued search and rescue operation for six kidnap victims, including a local doctor and five Indonesian fishing crews.

The troops of 15th Scout Ranger Company led by Lt. Jay-Arr Quiapo clashed with 40 Abu Sayyaf members who were from the groups of Radullan Sahiron and Hatib Hajan Sawadajaan about 1 p.m. on Sunday. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

February 3, 2020

A fire that hit seaside communities in Barangay Tulay in Jolo, Sulu on Monday morning razed hundreds of houses.

Reports reaching the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Parang, Maguindanao say the fire started at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

The fire immediately spread through Jolo's old historic Chinese pier and Alat areas. — The STAR/John Unson

The fire that hit seaside dwelling enclaves in Jolo, shown in this photo from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation, started at 9:30 a.m. on Monday
January 28, 2020

Gunmen seriously wounded a barangay chairwoman and two companions in an ambush in Cotabato City around noon on Tuesday.

Chairwoman Ella Biruar of Barangay Bagua Mother and companions, Jasmin Samson and Princess Odin, sustained bullet wounds in different parts of their bodies.

They were together in a Toyota Fortuner that unidentified men shot with pistols while passing by a narrow road in Barangay Bagua Mother, not too distant from Biruar’s residence.

Police Lt. Col. Portia Manalad, director of the Cotabato City police office, said investigators are yet to identify who the culprits were and their motive for the attack. — The STAR/John Unson

January 24, 2020

A member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was hurt when gunmen shot with assault rifles a light truck with hitchhikers on board Thursday, local officials say.

Murandak Abdulrahman, 42, sustained bullet wounds in different parts of his body when still unidentified men fired at the truck carrying him and several others on a stretch of a highway in Datu Anggal Midtimbang town in Maguindanao.

The truck was bound for Midsayap town in North Cotabato, according to local police.

Local officials say Abdurahman is a member of the MILF.

Personnel of the Datu Anggal Midtimbang municipal police are still trying to determine who the culprits were and what their motive for the ambush was. — The STAR/John Unson

January 17, 2020

Policemen shot dead Thursday two of the nine bandits who allegedly killed a police lieutenant in a bungled anti-narcotics sting on January 12 in Indanan town in Sulu.

Brig. Gen. Marni Marcos of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, says Friday that Ballong Kiyara and Aljinal Jinnul, both in their late twenties, died on the spot from multiple bullet wounds.

The motorcycle-riding suspects, armed with pistols, were killed in a brief shootout with policemen who tried to stop them in Barangay Saldang in Parang town in Sulu after learning they were coming in from a nearby town. 

Meanwhile, the Sulu Provincial Police Office, Regional Intelligence Unit 9 and City Mobile Force Company captured Abu Sayyaf member Benhajar Salapuddin Alan about 5 a.m. inside the Philippine Port Authority in Zamboanga City. — The STAR/ John Unson and Roel Pareño

December 26, 2019

Police personnel in Pagalungan, Maguindanao foiled on Christmas Day an attempt to smuggle P300,000 worth of shabu to a nearby town in North Cotabato.

Col. Arnold Santiago, director of the Maguindanao provincial police, said Thursday members of the Pagalungan municipal police are now in custody of alleged drug trafficker JC Castillon Mendoza from whom they seized the shabu he was to deliver to a contact in North Cotabato province. -- The STAR/John Unson

December 24, 2019

The outlawed Dawlah Islamiya refutes insinuations it was behind Sunday’s bomb attacks in three areas in central Mindanao.

The group’s spokesperson, Abu Misry Mama, on Tuesday denies assertions by the police and military that they were behind the bombings in downtown Cotabato City, in the towns of Libungan and Upi in the neighboring North Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces, respectively, that injured 22 people.

“How can our fighters get inside Cotabato City without being intercepted at checkpoints along the routes leading to the area? That is impossible,” he says in Filipino. — The STAR/John Unson

December 23, 2019

The police and military are still facing a blank wall on the bombings in central Mindanao on Sunday night that hurt 21 people, six of them members of an elite Army reconnaissance unit.

Witnesses, among them drivers of public utility vehicles, said the wounded servicemen of the 62nd Reconnaissance Company of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division were the target of the motorcycle-riding bomber who hurled at them a grenade while guarding a spot near the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in downtown Cotabato City. — The STAR/John Unson

December 22, 2019

More than ten people, among them patrolling soldiers, got hurt in an explosion that ripped through a busy spot in Cotabato City's downtown area just after dusk on Sunday.

Responding probers from the Cotabato City police and intelligence agents from the Army’s 6th Infantry Division told reporters an explosive went off inside a passenger vehicle while in transit along Sinsuat Avenue here, near the broadcast center of the Catholic Station dxMS.

Army and police bomb experts are still trying to determine what kind of explosive was used in the attack. — The STAR/John Unson

December 8, 2019

The local government unit of Isabela City received P5 million from the Dangerous Drugs Board for a rehabilitation facility for abusers to hasten the resolution of domestic narcotics issues.

Isabela City is one of two cities in the now markedly peaceful island province of Basilan in the Bangsamoro region. The province also covers Lamitan City, the provincial capital, and 11 neighboring towns.

The P5-million grant was handed over this weekend by DDB Executive Director Earl Pioquinto to first-termer Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman and Vice Mayor Kifli Salliman, also a newcomer. — The STAR/John Unson

December 8, 2019

Army Special Forces are tracking down 40 members of the Abu Sayyaf they engaged in a fierce firefight on Saturday afternoon.

The clash left four terrorists dead and five others wounded in the jungles of Patikul town, Sulu military officials say.

The fighting broke out 1:40 p.m. on Saturday at sitio Tambang, Barangay Kabbon Takas.

A soldier was killed and four others were wounded in the fighting.

Military officials say the Abu Sayyaf group were dragging away their casualties as only one was recovered along with many personnel belongings, food logistics, medical equipment and several backpacks. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

December 5, 2019

The Abu Sayyaf Group attacked police personnel on mobile patrol  in a village in Patikul, Sulu on Wednesday night, leaving three cops and a government militiaman wounded.

The incident occurred barely five hours after a member of the Abu Sayyaf surrendered with his firearms to the military, says Lt. Col. Gerald Monfort, public affairs chief of Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) and the 11th Infantry Division based in Sulu. 

Monfort says the police were on mobile patrol to provide road security when they were attacked by ab undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf militants about 6:50 p.m in Barangay Buhanginan.

“The PNP on mobile patrol ferociously fought back which forced the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) to withdraw into different directions after a five-minute firefight,” Monfort says. 

— The STAR/Roel Pareño

November 24, 2019

A powerful explosion ripped through a narrow thoroughfare in the town proper Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao on Sunday morning and caused panic among residents.

The improvised explosive device, placed underneath the seat of an old motorcycle parked along the route, went off while the Toyota Hilux pickup truck of Datu Item Ampatuan, chief of the 106th Base Command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was passing by.

The pickup's passengers—Arsad Lintang, Jumer Mamasapano, Norodin Sansaluna, Johaimirin Sansaluna and driver Jeanor Lintang—survived the blast unscathed.

Col. Arnold Santiago, director of the Maguindanao provincial police, said they are still investigating on the incident. — The STAR/John Unson

November 24, 2019

To further improve the delivery of high-quality, impact-driven projects to conflict-ridden communities in the country, the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) conducted a year-end assessment and planning meeting today with implementing partners from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The series of year-end assessment and planning sessions being carried out across the country is led by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Director Andres S. Aguinaldo, Jr., the national program manager of PAMANA.

During the activity, Aguinaldo expressed his gratitude to representatives of municipal local government units for fully supporting the implementation of PAMANA projects in their areas.

“OPAPP will endeavor to continue the PAMANA, a program which has been a dynamic element in improving access of communities to greater socio-economic interventions being delivered by our government,” he said. — from press release

November 20, 2019

Sixty-three barangays of North Cotabato have officially joined the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Residents of the 63 barangays in different North Cotabato towns voted for the inclusion of their village into BARMM’s core territory during a plebiscite early this year.

The turnover rite was jointly officiated by BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, Regional Education Minister Muhaquer Iqbal, North Cotabato Vice Gov. Emmylou Mendoza and Sangguniang Panlalawigan members Shirlyn Macasarte-Villanueva and Kelly Antao.

The event was held in the Shariff Kabunsuan Auditorium inside the 32-hectare BARMM capitol compound in Cotabato City. — The STAR/John Unson

November 14, 2019

The Bangsamoro government will assume control on November 20 of 63 barangays in North Cotabato as what residents had wished for.

Voters in the 63 barangays in North Cotabato, which is under Administrative Region 12, voted in favor of the inclusion of their communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao during a plebiscite the Commission on Elections administered early this year.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of North Cotabato has authored a resolution turning over the 63 Barangays to the BARMM government via its Ministry of the Interior and Local Government. ?— The STAR/John Unson

November 13, 2019

All is set for the November 16 commencement of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League matches in Basilan, meant to show that there is peace now in the island province.

The basketball games will involve teams from different regions in the country.

In a statement Wednesday, the office of Gov. Jim Salliman said security measures are now in place to ensure the safety of the event. — The STAR/John Unson

November 13, 2019

The Bangsamoro Government's Ministry of Social Services and Development is set to release the cash grants of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries in the provinces of Maguindanao and Sulu within this month.

In a radio interview, lawyer Raissa Jajurie, MSSD minister, says they are taking measures to ensure that nothing will be deducted from what the beneficiaries are supposed to receive. 

She said every beneficiary will receive the monthly P500 health grant, P300 per child in daycare and elementary, and P500 per child in high school. A single household can have a maximum of three children as beneficiaries. — BARMM Bureau of Public Information

November 11, 2019

The Peace and Equity Foundation, Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation (RMAF) and Indonesia-based organization Dompet Dhuafa (DD) organized an Islamic microfinance learning exchange in this city on October 23- 24 

The exchange is a benchmarking visit by the DD team to PEF’s Islamic microfinancial institution partners, and included dialogues with several Islamic scholars and Bangsamoro Development Agency representatives.

Islamic or Shari’a-compliant microfinance aims to improve access by poor Muslim Filipinos to culturally sensitive financing especially in the newly-established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). 

This learning exchange, which is the third of a series in the last three years, seeks to build the knowledge and competencies of MFIs and non-MFI implementors on the philosophy and technology of Islamic Finance.

According to PEF Executive Director Roberto Calingo, the foundation has supported the development of a good ecosystem of enablers for Islamic financing since 2012 and will continue to strengthen this program.

“We are also committed to move the process further by supporting the capability building of the Islamic microfinance institutions and Islamic scholars to be effective in their work,” he said.

During the learning exchange, microfinance implementers Kadtabanga Foundation for Peace and Development Inc. (Kadtabanga) and Federation of United Mindanawan Bangsamoro Women Multi-Purpose Cooperative (FUMBWMPC) agreed to review and accommodate improvements in their Islamic Financing programs and facilitate the creation of a Shari’a Advisory Council which will create fatawas (Islamic economic laws) that can serve as basis for contracting with clients.

“Ayaw naming maputol (ang project). Gusto naming magpatuloy kasi para sa amin, ‘yan talaga ang best program for poverty alleviation ng Moro communities,” Kadtabanga Executive Director Giobay Diocolano said. (from release)

November 10, 2019

Three companions of a municipal mayor, one of them a policeman, were wounded in an ambush in Buadipuso Buntong town on Sunday.

Mayor Nasser Pangandaman, Jr. of Masiu, Lanao del Sur survived the attack unscathed.

Col. Madzgani Mukaram, director of the Lanao del Sur provincial police, says gunmen positioned at one side of the road in Barangay Gata in Buadipuso Buntong opened fire at Pangandaman’s convoy and scampered away immediately.  — The STAR/John Unson


November 10, 2019

Two members of a local terror group operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria were killed in a series of clashes with soldiers on Saturday.

The gunfights erupted when followers of wanted terrorist Abu Toraife, whose real name is Abdulmalik Esmael, attacked a team from the 33rd Infantry Battalion patrolling in a secluded area in Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Residents identified the slain Dawlah Islamiya members as Katib Amerudin and Madzid Sangid, believed felled one after another by 33rd IB snipers as the encounter ensued. — The STAR/John Unson

November 7, 2019

Gunmen shot dead two persons and wounded another in a daring attack in Marawi City on Thursday morning.

Col. Madzgani Mukaram, police director of Lanao del Sur, identified the fatalities as Jorge Butad and Arturo Macasero, who died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds.

Their companion, Dave Mursua, who was wounded in the incident, was rushed by responding barangay folk to the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City for treatment.

All three of them are residents of Matungao in Lanao del Norte province, according to responding police probers. — The STAR/John Unson

November 6, 2019

Basilan province and its constituent Lamitan City, Sumisip and Maluso towns each got a 2019 Seal of Good Local Governance on Tuesday night in an awarding rite held in Metro Manila.

The event was organized by the office of Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año.

Lamitan City’s 2019  SGLG award was its fourth since 2016, something first ever in the history of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that existed for 29 years and got replaced with a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM, early this year.

The provincial government of Basilan, led by the now second-termer Gov. Jim Salliman, first got an SGLG citation in 2018 and, subsequently, another for this year. 

This year’s SGLG awards Maluso and Sumisip received were third for each in the past three years. — The STAR/John Unson

November 4, 2019

A suspected member of a criminal gang was killed while a police patrolman was seriously wounded in shootout Monday noon in Lamitan City, Basilan province.

Lamitan City Police Station reports members of the police 1405th Regional Mobile Force Company (RMFC) and military troops set up a checkpoint for the suspects, tagged to be behind motorcycle theft in the province, when the shootout occurred about 11:20 a.m. at Barangay Limo-ok.

Police identified the killed suspect as Husrie Daimon, alias Abdurahan, a native of Barangay Mahatalang, Sumisip town, while the wounded police officer was Patrolman Ronnie Sawadi, 27, a member of the 3rd Mobile Platoon of the 1405th RMFC. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

October 30, 2019

A police officer was killed and another was wounded in a shootout Tuesday with an alleged drug dealer who also perished in the incident, police say. 

A police team dispatched by Col. Madzgani Mukaram of the Lanao del Sur provincial police to arrest Abdullah Taurac in his hideout in Barangay Lilod in Marawi City Tuesday was forced to neutralize him when he shot with a pistol Sergeants Reagan Salbino and Mohaimen Urandig, police also say.

Taurac was immediately killed in the ensuing gunfight.

Salbino, a member of the police’s elite Special Action Force, died in the Amai Pakpak Hospital in Marawi City where Urandig is now undergoing medication for a gunshot wound in the arm.

Mukaram, director of the Lanao del Sur provincial police, says Taurac had been under surveillance for his alleged involvement in large-scale distribution of shabu in Marawi City and nearby towns.— The STAR/John Unson

October 29, 2019

A 21-year rido, or vendetta, which claimed dozens of lives from both sides of the clan feud has been settled following a peace caravan Monday in an island village off Al-Barka town, Basilan province.

Brig. Gen. Fernando Reyeg, commander of the 101st Infantry Brigade and Joint Task Force Basilan, says the conflict between the residents of two sitios in Barangay Kaulungan Island had cut the island village off from development.

"The rido between the two sitios and the coastal barangays of Al-Barka had severely crippled the economy and deprived the residents of the normal delivery of basic government services and education of the children in the  in the area,” Reyeg says in addressing the warring villagers.

Reyeg is optimistic the settlement will significantly contribute to the peace and stability of Basilan province as a whole.

He says representatives of from both sides locked their arms and embraced each other at the settlement rites and vowed to pursue peace in their villages. -- The STAR/Roel Pareño

October 23, 2019

 A wanted bomber and six of his henchmen were killed in an encounter with soldiers in Midsayap town in North Cotabato on Wednesday morning.

One of the fatalities is Mama Macalimbol of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, wanted for a series of recent bombings in central Mindanao.

Macalimbol has pending criminal cases in local courts.

Macalimbol and his cohorts were shot dead one after another in a brief encounter with combined personnel of the Midsayap municipal police and the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Tumbras in Midsayap town in the first district of North Cotabato.

The police-Army team was dispatched to Barangay Tumbras to check on the reported presence there of Macalimbol and his followers but were forced to neutralize them when they opened fire while their hideout was being cordoned.

Investigators found rifles and explosives beside the cadavers of the slain BIFF members.

The BIFF operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and has been trying to sabotage the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The remains of Macalimbol and his followers were immediately turned over by the 34th IB to relatives, according to the Army's 6th Infantry Division. — The STAR/John Unson

October 23, 2019

The Western Mindanao Command is committed to providing security for a planned multibillion-peso natural gas refinery in Lugus town, Sulu.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana issued the assurance of full security at the ground-breaking of the liquefied natural gas refinery of the World Energy International at Barangay Parian Payawan on Tuesday.

The ground-breaking also highlighted the 39th founding anniversary of Lugus town, where Sobejana was keynote speaker.

The natural gas refinery will be constructed in the 30-hectare property in Barangay Parian Payawan that will be operated by the joint venture of the EWI and Hadar and Medzar Gas and Oil Corp. — The STAR/Roel Pareño

October 23, 2019

Nine barangays in Basilan have rejected and will refuse to shelter 16 Abu Sayyaf members who who have been hiding in their communities in the island province, security officials say.

The barangays in Lamitan City and Tipo-Tipo, passed and approved resolutions last Monday declaring the following alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf as persona non grata:

  • Ernie Arasal alias Kulot
  • Iba Anjabin
  • Tonton Anjabin
  • Said Lahaman
  • Kamat Arasal
  • Jerwin Sahasal
  • Jimmy Asmawil
  • Jerry Harain
  • Nul Akil
  • Abdul Akil
  • Madeh Akil
  • Nur Asao
  • Abaas Jangkatan
  • Adzuan Kajing
  • Boga Aya
  • Botak Kerok

The barangays also printed their resolutions on large tarpaulins posted in public places, according Lt. Col. Ivan San Jose, commander of the 18th Infantry Batallion. — The STAR / Roel Pareño

October 16, 2019

More than 500 permanent employees of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be "phased out" starting November as part of the transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mind

"Ang first batch, ang last day of service nila would be October 31st, second batch is November 30th, and the third and last batch is on December 31st," BARMM Attorney General Sha Elijah Alba says in a release.

Around 6,000 personnel of the ARMM will be "phased out" before the end of the year. Only those in the sectors of education, health, and social services are exempted in the phasing out.

Under Article XVI Section 10 of the Bangsamoro Organic Law affected personnel who opt to retire or be separated shall be entitled to separation benefits.

October 14, 2019

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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