Junjun Binay dragged, arrested, now freed!

Source: Manila Bulletin

The Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee finally arrested yesterday Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, only to release him later after he refused to face the panel.

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel Jr., head of the Senate sub-panel tasked to investigate the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 and other alleged anomalies allegedly committed by the mayor’s father Vice President Jejomar Binay, decided to free the mayor after he manifested that he will no longer answer questions of the subcommittee.

“Wala naman itong personalan. We were only enforcing the processes of the institution,” Pimentel reasoned out.

“Ang theory ninyo is wala kaming jurisdiction but if you believe in your theory then I think it’s time to run to a referee, to a third party to tell us the correct interpretation of the situation and of the Senate rules,” he said.

“But anyway, we have heard of your manifestation and it has been noted… Since the order of arrest has been satisfied, your manifestation (not to answer questions) is noted. You lose your chance to give your side, you are free to go,” Pimentel said extending his hand as a gesture of letting Mayor Binay go.

Earlier yesterday morning, Senate Sergeant-at-arms Jose Balajadia served the arrest order, which was acknowledged by Binay’s lawyers.

Binay turned himself to Balajadia and coolly left the city hall past 9 a.m. without his supporters gathered at the city hall grounds seeing him.

The mayor arrived at the Senate, accompanied by members of the Senate Office of Sergeant-at-Arms hours before the sub-panel resumed its probe.

Also ordered arrested and detained were Makati City administrator Eleno Mendoza and former city administrator Marjorie De Veyra who were among the Makati city officials cited for contempt.

But Mayor Binay refused to attend the hearing, saying he would settle at the detention area at the basement of the Senate office.

When the Senate resumed the hearing at 1 p.m., Pimentel, upon the motion of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, ordered the Senate Sergeant-at-arms to bring Binay and the two Makati officials to the session hall.

Claro Certeza, one of Binay’s legal counsels, told the senators that Binay will not participate in the hearings anymore but the Trillanes’ motion prevailed.


It was at this point that members of the Senate Sergeant-at-arms bodily dragged the mayor to the session hall. Mayor Binay was accompanied by several of his supporters, former senators Rene Saguisag and Joker Arroyo, and his sister Rep. Abigail Binay, when he was brought before the subcommittee.

During the brief scuffle, Binay sustained a bruise in his left arm. When he sat down in front of the senators, Trillanes asked the mayor if he was hurt. Binay’s supporters cried “Yes!” in unison.

Binay reiterated he had no intention of ignoring the subpoena issued by the committee nor evade the allegations hurled against them.

“We answered the show cause order of the committee that’s why we see no reason for us to be cited for contempt. We are not fighting the Senate as an institution but I believe we have civil rights that should be considered. That’s why my position is to face the Senate during the first hearing and all the documents that the chamber asked, if it’s in our possession, we submitted it,” Binay told senators during the hearing.

“That’s why I don’t see there is any need for me to appear in this proceedings (again),” he said.

Pimentel argued that even past government officials such as former President Fidel V. Ramos and former Vice President Noli De Castro appeared at Senate hearings to shed light on matters needed by the chamber.


During the press conference after Mayor Binay was freed, Saguisag and Arroyo, both human rights lawyers, criticized the “abuses” of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee insofar as the conduct of the lengthy probe on Vice President Binay’s alleged acts of corruption is concerned.

“There is a tendency of government institutions to trample the rights of its citizens,” noted Arroyo, himself an ex-chair of the powerful Committee.

Arroyo frowned in particular at how the panel “tends to threaten resource persons with contempt at the drop of a hat,” whereas “they should be given every chance to defend himself or herself,” he said.

Saguisag echoed a much-repeated line from the Binay camp that the ongoing hearings are not being done in aid of legislation; rather they are an “investigation in aid of prosecution…hindi ‘yun ang diwa ng ating batas (that is not the spirit of our law).”

“It seems to us that Martial Law is reigns at the Senate,” Saguisag said. “There is a better way of handling these proceedings.”

Arroyo said that Mayor Binay’s uneventful release by the subpanel was an “encouraging” sign, although he slammed it for its bias and in prejudging the Binays.


Arroyo, however, clarified that he and Saguisag were not legal counsels of Mayor Binay.

“We are observers. We are here to see whether the committee acted without jurisdiction, if they violated constitutional rights,” he bared in the same press conference.

As MABINI lawyers, Arroyo said that they might intervene or take legal action once the senators “cross the line and are no longer fair.”

“Whether the mayor is guilty or not, we don’t know. Our role is to prevent violations of constitutional rights.”

Before he was arrested, Binay attended a Mass with his family, including mother, Elenita, sister Abigail, and his children. Saguisag, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president Toby Tiangco, and Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla also joined Binay.

He, together with his four children –  Jejomarie Alexi, 12; Maria Isabel, 9; Jejomar III, 7; and Maria Kennely, 5 – also paid his respect to his late wife, Kennely Ann, at the Sacred Heart Church before proceeding to the city hall.

Before leaving for the Senate, the mayor lamented the difficulty of leaving his children.

One of the hardest part, according to Binay, is leaving his children. But he said he had explained to his children about his detention.

“Although I don’t expect them to understand everything. Some of them are innocent of the issues,” said Binay.

Right after his arrest, his little boy went looking for him and asked, “Where is daddy? Where is daddy?”

Her sister Abigail was in tears when members of the press asked her about the arrest of his brother.

“It’s so painful because I’m his sister, I can’t help it.  I feel the injustice but we will fight for what we believe in,” said Binay.

In the same press conference, Binay showed the bruise in his left arm which he sustained when he was bodily dragged to the Senate hearing.

According to Binay, he was already prepared to be detained at the Senate, saying he even gathered his family and children before he left.

“Ang gusto na lang naming ma-detain na lang ako. Dala ko na yung bag ko. Nakahanda na lang ako, tumawag ang aking ama, sabi ko dad, palagay na loob ko, laban ito ng prinsipyo. Handa na ako mag pa detain dito sa Senado,” Binay said.

“This is not about me, this is about the city of Makati. Sila po ang nakataya dito, hindi si Junjun Binay, dahil po tuwing may mga issue na pinupukol sa akin, ito po ay pukol sa lungsod ng Makati hindi po sa akin,” he said.


Asked if he will still file a case before the courts, Binay said yes. “I was detained. And therefore, I have all the legal right to raise my issues now to a competent court, like the Supreme Court. Darating po tayo dyan.”

“But for the time being, we need to face these issues,” he said.

He said there are certain questions that need to be raised like how the proceedings are going in the Senate subcommittee, and the process leading to his detention.

“It doesn’t mean that I was told I was freed by the subcommittee, hindi na ako pwede i-cite in contempt or i-detain ulit. Lahat yan kelangan natin ipasagot,” he added.


Meanwhile, the mayor’s mother, former Makati mayor Elenita Binay, believes that her son is strong enough to endure the storm that he is facing.

The former mayor said she is standing by the decision of her son not to attend the hearings of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee subcommittee.

“The way they (Senate) treats the resource persons is wrong. A little  respect will do, they have conducting the hearings for several times already. If they have enough evidence (against my family), file the case at the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan,” said Mrs. Binay.

Pacquiao, Mayweather private meeting revealed!

Source: Inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines — After boxing supernovas Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. chatted at the halftime of an NBA game, the two held a private meeting to discuss the potential megafight on May 2, a report said.

According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, Pacquiao and Mayweather met for an hour-long private meeting inside the Filipino’s private suite in Florida.

Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz told Rafael that the meeting between the two fighters “was very pleasant and very encouraging” and that the Filipino’s camp “give Floyd credit for coming over.”

“That’s the first time they ever sat eye to eye. I’ve met Floyd many times, but he and Manny had never had a chance to meet,” Koncz said.

Pacquiao and Mayweather had a brief chat during Wednesday’s (Manila time) NBA game between the Miami Heat and the visiting Milwaukee Bucks where the two shared phone numbers.

“They talked at halftime, but this was a longer, more serious meeting. You could tell by their body language that this was very positive. It was for a good hour or more,” Koncz said.

He added that the private meeting was a “business meeting” but wasn’t of a tense nature.

“I think that’s because they both have mutual respect for each other.”

Both fighters dabbled on broadcasting issues, which have dampened the talks, as Pacquiao is under contract with Time Warner/HBO while Mayweather is under CBS/Showtime.

The two networks have to reach an agreement on a joint pay-per-view telecast which they only did once in 2002 when then heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis fought against former champ Mike Tyson.

Koncz said that Mayweather told Pacquiao two broadcasting issues.

“I told Floyd I would call [Pacquiao promoter] Bob [Arum of Top Rank] in the morning, and I did that and discussed them with Bob, and he assured us they have been worked out. I took care of it,” Koncz said. “I said to Floyd, and Manny agreed, that if those are the only two broadcasting issues, we would take care of them.”

Rafael said that Koncz declined to divulge into the details of the broadcasting requests.

Koncz added that Mayweather clearly said that he wants the fight to happen and there’s no stopping the two fighters’ desire to duke it out on May 2.

“Floyd said, ‘I want the fight to happen,’ and Manny said he does, too. If the fighters both want the fight to happen, who can stop it? They both said they want it to happen, and we’re still looking to make it happen on May 2,” Koncz said.

He added that a cross-country tour to promote the potential fight is not needed as the brief chat between the two welterweight champions in the sidelines of the American Airlines Arena generated enough buzz that a promotional tour would give.

Rafael also said in his report that the two agreed on a drug testing protocol.


The new PNP-SAF commander on the loss of members at the Mamasapano Clash: “It is worth it.!”

Source: Interaksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines — The new commander of the police Special Action Force on Friday said the loss of 44 members of the elite unit in Mamasapano, Maguindanao during the mission to get international terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” was “worth it” because it would save many more lives.

Chief Superintendent Noli Talino also defended replaced relieved Director Getulio Napenas, who was sacked in the aftermath of the bloody operation, calling him a “good man and a good leader” and hoping “sana maayos lahat at makabalik siya (that things will be put right and he can return).”

Clearly struggling to contain his emotions, Talino said: “Is it worth it? (Is) one international terrorist equivalent to 44 SAF troopers? I’m sure if you will ask them, (they will say), ‘It is worth it.’ Dahil mas maraming buhay ang maisasalba at maililigtas kung mawala si Marwan (Because many more lives will be saved if Marwan is gone). And we live by our motto, ‘Tagaligtas’ (Rescuers).”

The government earlier said Marwan was killed in the operation although there has yet to be hard confirmation on this.

He also recounted what happened that fateful day as he and Napenas manned the command post during what he called “Operation Exodus” “and helping each other out and thinking of how to extract the troops.”

At around 7 a.m., he said, Senior Inspector Ryan Pabalinas of the 55th Special Action Company came on their radio “asking for support” as “I noticed the swelling (number of) armed men around them.”

However, he said, the reinforcements they sent in could not get through because the unit had already been surrounded.

And then, “silence … that voice was nowhere to be heard, there was radio silence, a very long silence.”

“After the battle, I realized that voice will never be heard again,” Talino said.

“I felt guilty about what happened and it seems our efforts were not enough,” Talino admitted. “But we did our best.”

He also presented the survivors of the operation, including the wounded.

Talino then encouraged the “families of our fallen comrades” and the members of the SAF not to quit or give up.

“We only request for the 44 gallant men of SAF,” he added, in an appeal to the public, “tulungan po natin sila (let us help them), let us take care, help and protect their families. Let us also help the SAF.”


Nonoy Aquino on the families of dead SAF: “I feel what you feel.”!

Source: Interaksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 5 – 1:02 p.m.) “Damang-dama ko ang nararamdaman ninyo (I feel what you feel),” President Benigno Aquino III told the families of the Special Action Force commandos who died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday as he recounted how he overcame his own grief at the assassination of his father, anti-dictatorship opposition leader Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1993.

Aquino, speaking at the necrological rites for the 44 slain policemen at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City Friday devoted close to half his speech on recalling how difficult it was to lose his father and how even more difficult it was to move from anger to acceptance.

The service, which had begun earlier Friday morning, was halted twice, first for around 30 minutes to wait for Aquino, who was scheduled to arrive at 10 a.m. and, later, when he met privately with the families of the slain policemen after condoling with them.

In his speech, Aquino acknowledged that Sunday’s mission, intended to get Malaysian terrorist Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and his Filipino cohort Abdul Basit Usman, left several questions begging for answers, begging with “Why?”

He admitted he could not answer the question.

He nevertheless vowed to get Usman.

Although government has said Marwan was killed in the operation, there has yet been no hard confirmation of this information.

“We have already directed our forces to plan a better operation … We will prove that we are enforcing the law. I assure you, we will get Basit Usman,” he said.

At the same time, Aquino said he cannot let emotions get the better of him despite the massive loss of lives.

Hindi ako puwedeng magpadaan sa emosyon. Hindi puwedeng daanin sa bara-bara. Kung idadaan sa galit, baka lalo ko pang madagdagan ang problema (I cannot let emotions get the better of me. We cannot be too hasty. If I give in to anger, I might be worsening the problem),” he said.

He assured the families that all possible help will be extended to them, including scholarships and employment opportunities.

A day earlier, Aquino drew brickbats for his absence at the arrival in Manila of the remains of 42 of the fallen commandos to be at the inauguration of an automobile plant in Laguna.

Upon his arrival, Aquino, wearing a black armband, was accompanied by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, acting Philippine National Police chief Leonardo Espina, and new SAF commander, Chief Superintendent Noli Talino, as he made the rounds of the 42 coffins, standing by each one for a brief prayer and handing medals to the slain policemen’s families.

At one of the coffins, the widow of the fallen policeman from Bataan did not take the plaque offered her by Aquino. Her mother did so in her stead.

At the start of the ceremonies, two police officers gave messages honoring their colleagues and vowing that their heroism would not be forgotten.

Marahil hindi po ninyo alam ang SAF, dahil hindi po iyan ipinamamalita. Ito po, kami po ang SAF (Maybe you don’t know the SAF because this is not often in the news. This, we are the SAF),” one of the officers, Chief Inspector Victor Lacwasan, said.

Earlier Friday morning, more than a thousand graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy marched from Fort Bonifacio to Camp Bagong Diwa in a “sympathy walk” to demand justice for their fallen comrades.


Libya Hotel Attack, 9 dead including 2 Pinays!

Source: ABS-CBNNews.com

TRIPOLI, Libya – Gunmen stormed a luxury Tripoli hotel popular with diplomats and officials Tuesday in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group, killing at least nine people — including five foreigners — before blowing themselves up.

The assault on such a high-profile target underlined the fragile security situation in the Libyan capital, which is controlled by a patchwork of militias allied with one of two governments claiming to rule the country.

And if it is confirmed that it was carried out by Islamic State militants it would highlight the growing reach of an extremist group with ambitions to spread its influence throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

After setting off a car bomb outside the opulent Corinthia Hotel — where visiting world leaders have met local dignitaries in the past — three militants rushed inside and opened fire, Issam al-Naass, a security services spokesman, told AFP.

They made it to the 24th floor of the hotel, a major hub of diplomatic and government activity, before being surrounded by security forces and detonating explosive belts they were wearing.

The head of Libya’s self-declared government, Omar al-Hassi, was inside the hotel at the time but was evacuated safely, Naass said.

The dead included three security guards killed in the initial attack, five foreigners shot dead by the gunmen and a hostage who died when the attackers blew themselves up.

Naass said the foreigners killed were an American, two Filipinas, a French citizen and a South Korean. He did not give their identities.

Government officials in Washington and Paris confirmed the US and French deaths, with the American named by his company as a security contractor.

At least five people were also wounded, including two Filipina employees hurt by broken glass from the car bomb, Naass said.

The hotel’s 24th floor is normally used by Qatar’s mission to Libya, but no diplomats or officials were present during the assault, a security source said.

Assassination claim

In a statement on Twitter, the Tripoli branch of the Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility, the SITE Intelligence Group said.

It said the attack was in honor of Abu Anas al-Libi, an Al-Qaeda suspect who died in the United States earlier this month, days before facing a trial for bombing US embassies.

A video posted on jihadist forums showed an image of one of the alleged perpetrators.

Security forces loyal to Hassi’s government, which is jostling for power with the internationally backed authority of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani, surrounded the building during the assault.

The government in Tripoli said Tuesday’s attack was an assassination attempt on Hassi it blamed on “enemies of the revolution and the war criminal Khalifa Haftar”, a former general who last year spearheaded an operation against Islamist militias in the second city Benghazi.

Ambulances, armored vehicles and pick-up trucks with mounted artillery could be seen around the hotel during the attack.

Security forces prevented journalists from entering the hotel afterwards, saying work was needed inside to ensure the assailants had not left behind booby traps.

‘Blow’ to peace efforts

The UN Security Council condemned the “heinous” attack and EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini called it “another reprehensible act of terrorism which deals a blow to efforts to bring peace and stability to Libya.”

She expressed “solidarity with the victims and their families”.

A new round of UN-mediated peace talks between Libya’s rival factions kicked off in Geneva Monday as they seek to implement a roadmap on forming a unity government.

The North African nation has been wracked by conflict since the overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a 2011 uprising, with rival governments and powerful militias now battling for control of key cities and the country’s oil riches.

The Islamist-backed Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militia alliance took control of Tripoli last summer, forcing Thani’s government to flee to the remote east.

The luxurious Corinthia was long considered a haven in a city beset by unrest, with officials, diplomats and foreign businessmen crossing paths in its lavish reception area.

In October 2013, gunmen seized then prime minister Ali Zeidan from the hotel, where he was residing. He was released after several hours.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy met top officials at the hotel in September 2011, when they were the first foreign leaders to visit Libya after Kadhafi’s ouster.

In Benghazi meanwhile 22 people were killed and 68 wounded in fighting since Monday evening, a security source said.

Aquino declares Friday a National Day of Mourning for the fallen SAF!

Source: Inquirer.net

President Benigno Aquino III announced Wednesday night he was proclaiming a national day of mourning on Friday for the 44 fallen troopers of the Special Action Force (SAF).

Reading from a prepared statement in Filipino in a nationally televised broadcast three days after the clash in Mamasapano in Maguindanao province, the President also said that suspended Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima was not directly involved in the ill-fated operation to capture two high-value terrorists that led to the slaughter of the SAF commandos.

During the question-and-answer portion of his televised national address, the President clarified that Purisima had been reporting on the operation as early as May last year when the PNP obtained “actionable intelligence” on the targets but this stopped after he was suspended on corruption charges in December last year.

“I was talking directly to the SAF director if at all … he (Purisima) was involved up to the point in time directly (after) he was suspended by the Ombudsman. After that, if at all, and because he was very knowledgeable about the whole thing, he was just explaining to me the intricacies of the plan involved,” Mr. Aquino said.

The President urged the swift passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), saying failure to do so within the time frame hammered out in a peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would mean the SAF commandos died in vain.

Top Cabinet officials led by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima were present at the Palace address to the nation in the aftermath of the botched operation to capture Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan,” a Malaysian member of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah allegedly behind numerous bomb attacks in the Philippines, and Filipino Basit Usman.

The United States has offered a $6-million bounty for Marwan’s head and $3 million for Usman.

Mr. Aquino declined to answer a question why Roxas and the acting PNP chief, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, reportedly were not informed about Sunday’s operation in Maguindanao, claiming the matter was better left to a board of inquiry.

The President also cleared Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. on speculations that he financed the operation.

“That PAOCC (Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission) was involved in this is news to me. The intelligence in May last year was generated by the PNP investigation group,” Mr. Aquino said.

The President refused to comment on the actions taken by the MILF in the aftermath of what Roxas had described as a “misencounter” and which critics called a “massacre.”

He instead focused on units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that failed to be in their respective positions during Sunday’s operation despite numerous coordination meetings.

He also refused to comment on how he felt as a fellow human being on the carnage.

“I have a problem answering that question without any evidence. Let us just wait for the results of the board of inquiry. We will determine who killed our troopers with more certainty according to the process, so that we will have sufficient evidence before we make accusations,” the President said.

Justice from MILF

Mr. Aquino said the encounter should be taken in the right context, with both the intent and the action of both sides to be judged more objectively.

He also cautioned the public against assuming that only the MILF forces were responsible for the killings of the police commandos.

“We have not established that. But I am sure the MILF will help us get justice for our troops,” Mr Aquino said, pointing out that its breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and other lawless elements were operating in the area.

Actionable intel in 2002

Asked whether he gave the go-signal for the SAF to proceed with the mission before dawn on Sunday, the President offered a roundabout answer, noting that the operations to arrest the terrorists were conducted as early as 2002 when he was a representative for Tarlac province and that actionable intelligence on Marwan and Usman had been obtained as early as 2010.


Rhetorical question

“This particular intelligence on Mamapasano, starting from May of last year, has been there but was aborted several times for various reasons. For instance, the SAF tried to apprehend the two in the third or fourth quarter last year. There was a harassment attack on a detachment of the AFP, exchange of fire with the BIFF, so they stopped. When everything settled down, SAF went forward again but they aborted again after a firefight,” he said.

When pressed to reply categorically if he gave the greenlight to the mission, the President said: “Sir, can we proceed with the mission? I don’t think I was ever asked that question. By the same token, it’s a rhetorical question. It’s like ‘can we arrest the one the courts want caught?’ Can I say no?”

“If they will have to wait for me with every action, then they will have to contend with all the other things that are occupying my attention. When are we going to catch the criminal?” the President asked.

Reasonable expectations

Mr. Aquino said the least the government expected from the MILF to show sincerity in the peace process was for them to “step aside” in the areas that they control to give way to police operations and avoid misencounters.

“I expect—but they will have to discuss this among themselves. The recovery of the firearms, identification of the people who actually did the acts, recovery of personal effects and things like that, I think, will be reasonable to expect from them. But at this point in time, I am very, very confident that they will… they are studying exactly how to demonstrate their sincerity in this peace process,” he said.

The President also clarified that data from the AFP and PNP showed that Usman and Marwan were not encamped in the territory of the MILF or the BIFF or private army groups. “They were in a separate area that was closed by to all of these other encampments,” he said.

He said the SAF commandos were forced to abort because Usman or Marwan could have been alerted and prompted to seek new hideouts.

He said the SAF was deployed in the operations because the government was not going after a “cell phone snatcher.”

“Usman is reported to have a 15- to 20-member security detail made up mostly of his relatives. There are other forces in the area—MILF, BIFF, and private army groups. In this case, the go-ahead has been there for a long time. In reverse, if you know that they are there and if you have the chance to make an arrest and you don’t, there is the law concept of malfeasance in which you failed to do your job. We have been looking for this terrorist,” he said.


‘Definition of a hero’

The President said that as father of the nation, it was hard to fathom why the police force should sacrifice their lives for this mission.

“If there is any definition of a hero, that is them—those who faced risks to stop security threats; those who were wounded; those who offered their lives for peace,” said the President.

The President shared the initial information he had received on the details of the Mamasapano operation in pursuit of Marwan and Usman whom he described as “ extraordinary” criminals with a long list of arrest warrants—Usman has 8 and Marwan has no less than 2 that were issued as early as 2002.

The President said the SAF reached their target at 4 o’clock on Sunday morning. He said that the lead target, Marwan, was reportedly killed, while Usman fought back after hearing gunfire. He said there were noncombatants in the crossfire which compelled the SAF to keep the fight in close quarters to spare the innocent.

Without the element of surprise, the President said the SAF commandos were forced to retreat and rendezvous with their comrades securing their exit. “It appears that the bloody encounter occured during the withdrawal,” said the President.

The President said that the SAF director had always replied “yes, sir” to his repeated reminder on the importance of coordination with the military on the operation. The President said he was puzzled why the AFP battalion was only informed when the SAF had already made their jump-off. He said the soldiers that were part of the battalion were spread out in the area securing supply routes.

With very little time allotted in advising the support troops, the President said there was “very minimum compliance” to his order for full coordination. He was surprised that the head of the Western Mindanao Command and the 6th Infantry Division were only advised after the encounter and that the SAF troops were already in trouble.

The President also appealed for an end to speculation about what happened and just let the Board of Inquiry finish its job.


USTET Takers frustrated, results cannot be viewed as website crashed!

Aspiring University of Santo Tomas college students were frustrated  after the website of the University of Santo Tomas crashed on Wednesday when the UST entrance test (USTET) results  were released.

Those who took the exams and could not access the results if they failed or passed since they did not anticipate that the website will crash took their frustrations on social media thus resulting to #USTETResults became a trending topic that day.

Official USTET results can now be viewed online as of January 28, 2015. UST Admission results page portal can be accessed here.

PNP-SAF chief relieved after Mamasapano clash!

Source: SunStar.com.ph

MANILA — The head of the elite Philippine National Police (PNP)-Special Action Force (SAF) was relieved from his post after Sunday’s fierce encounter between government troops and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Maguindanao that left over 40 police commandos dead.

In a press conference in Camp Crame on Tuesday, PNP Officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina said PNP-SAF head Chief Superintendent Getulio Napenas will be replaced by his deputy, Chief Superintendent Noly Taliño, while the investigation on the Maguindanao incident is ongoing.

“He (Napenas) was given chance to help recover the body of his men from the battlefield but he has been recalled back to Manila pending the outcome of the investigation,” he said.

Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II said a special board of inquiry will be created and will focus on the investigation on the bloody “misencounter,” including the accountability and liability of the officials who took part in the operation and the members of the rebel group involved.

The board will be composed of police officials from the PNP Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development, PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operation of Western Mindanao.

“It did not reach us in the command group. That will be also tackled in the board of inquiry,” Espina said.

Roxas said he ordered the PNP Directorate for Comptrollership chief Rolando Purugganan to coordinate with the families of the slain cops and ensure that they will not go through a long process of getting their benefits on top of the financial assistance provided by the PNP, including the funeral arrangements for their loved ones.

He said the fallen cops are entitled for spot promotion and will be awarded with the highest possible medal, which is equal to the gold cross medal.

“Tuloy ang tiwala at kumpiyansa ng PNP sa peace process na bagaman napaka lungkot at matindi ang kapaitan ng pangyayari, ang mas malawak na peace process ay mahalaga at kabahagi ang PNP sa pagsulong ng kasalukuyang peace process,” Roxas said.

The incident happened amid the peace deal between the MILF and the government that aims to establish a more powerful and better-funded autonomous region for minority Muslims in Mindanao and end a decades-long rebellion.

The 392 SAF operatives were sent to Maguindanao in an attempt to serve warrant of arrest on Malaysian bombing suspect Zulkifli bin Hir, or Marwan, and Filipino bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman.

A police operative remained missing while 11 others were wounded in the fighting in the remote village of Tukanalipao in Maguindanao province.

Magdalo party-list Representatives Ashley Acedillo and Gary Alejano urged the MILF central committee to order its men from the 105th Base Command who were involved in the fighting last Sunday to surrender the weapons they have captured from the fallen SAF troopers.

“If they are sincere enough with this peace process, they should return that as a gesture of sincerity to the peace process,” Alejano said.

An emotional Alejano, who participated in the all-out war campaign of the Estrada administration against the Moro rebels, urged President Benigno Aquino III to have a strong stand following the fateful incident.

The former military officer said that it is important to see the commander-in-chief standing behind the troops.

“I’m not only sad but really disgusted of what happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. I can recall how our troops died in Central Mindanao, fighting for the government against the MILF, now it seems that it is happening again,” said Alejano.

Acedillo, for his part, believed that the incident was not just an ordinary misencounter but also an “unjustified attack” by the rebel group.

He described the clash as an “overkill” as some of the troopers were mutilated.

Pangasinan Representative Leopoldo Bataoil and ACT-CIS party-list Representative Samuel Pagdilao, both retired police officials and former members of PNP-SAF, condemned the action taken by the MILF.

Pagdilao said that he will ask the House leadership to make a parallel investigation and determine what really happened.

Pagdilao, one of the founding members of SAF in the 1980s, said that he is supporting the suspension of hearing of ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) pending the result of the investigation.

Bataoil urged the government to declare a National Day of Mourning for the slain police commandos who died in the line of duty.

Tension high as MILF, BIFF add forces after Mamasapano clash!

Source: GMANetwork.com

Tension is still high in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters adding forces in the area.

In his live report on Unang Balita on Wednesday, GMA News’ Chino Gaston said the groups deployed additional forces should the government launch a pursuit operation related to the gun battle on Sunday, where 44 members of the police’s Special Action Force were killed.

But according to Brigadier General Carlito Galvez of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, military and police forces were pulled out of Barangay Tukanalipao, where the day-long clash happened. Checkpoints have also been removed.

The committee is also speaking with MILF commanders, asking them not to add reinforcement so fear would not spread to other parts of Maguindanao.

It also asked the group’s leaders to understand the situation and appease their members who may have lost loved ones in the battle.

In his report, Gaston also said, “Nakumpirma natin na walang ikinakasang operasyon laban sa BIFF o sa MILF dahil sa insidente.”

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Tuesday appealed for calm in the aftermath of the clash.

“We call for sobriety as we all await the full report on the investigation. During this time, we must ascertain facts to avoid confusion and acknowledge the complexities of the situation to allow for the rule of law to truly prevail,” Sereno said in her statement.

In voicing their condemnation of the incident, Senators JV Ejercito and Alan Peter Cayetano both withdrew as co-authors of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law currently being deliberated in Congress.

MILF probes clash

The MILF, meanwhile, has formed its own investigating body to look into Sunday’s deadly encounter, which occurred despite the peace agreement signed by the group with the government in March last year.

“Our concern is the truth,” MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim said in an undated statement posted on the group’s official website. “There will be a lot of speculations as to what happened and until what happened is established with credibility and integrity, the said incident will weigh down our current efforts to bring peace to our homeland.”

The group also extended its condolences to the family of the 44 SAF members who were killed in the clash.

“In order to give meaning to their deaths, we must resolve not to let something like this happen again. To this end, the MILF is convening a Special Investigative Commission (SIC),” Murad said, adding the mandate of SIC “is to gather as much reliable information and interview witnesses to establish the truth.”

‘Secret’ mission

Meanwhile, relatives of the slain elite police officers were pained further by a report that the forces were tortured as they were dying. Their guns and other possessions were also reportedly taken.

BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama denied this, saying the injuries that killed the police officers were obtained during the clash.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the province said all police officers have been accounted for, with the number of fatalities at 44, the report said.

Some relatives said the elite police kept the operation a secret, even to those with family members in the police and military.

“Palaisipan pa sa kanila kung sino ang nagbigay ng utos,” Gaston said in his report.

Members of both military and the police are waiting for the national address that President Benigno Aquino III is expected to make on Wednesday night.

PNP-SAF VS MILF encounter casualties in Maguindanao Clash now 50, names of 41 released!

Source: Interaksyon.com

COTABATO CITY – (UPDATE, 4:10 p.m.) The number of casualties from the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in the encounter between the police and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Tukalinapao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao has now reached 50.

This was confirmed by Senior Superintendent Noel Armilla, PNP director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Monday morning.

The ARMM police has also released 41 names of the PNP-SAF killed in action in Maguindanao.

The number of casualties is expected to rise as monitoring continues in the area, said Armilla.

It is said that six of the 50 are officials.

Maguindanao remains on alert.

The PNP-SAF was aiming to arrest Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman, each with a bounty of 5 million US dollars on their head.

The entire Central Mindanao has been enveloped in sadness due to what people are now calling a new Maguindanao massacre.

The ARMM police has released the names of 41 PNP-SAF killed in action in Mamasapano, Maguindanao

  1. PSI Gednat Tabde
  2. PSI RYan Pabalinas
  3. PSI Garamnbas Tria
  4. PI Rennie Tyrus (missing)
  5. SPO1 Lover Inocencio
  6. PO3 Rodrigo Acob Jr.
  7. PO3 Virgil Villanueva
  8. PO2 Roger Cordero
  9. PO2 Peterson Carap
  10. PO2 Nicky Nacino Jr.
  11. PO1 Angel Kodiamat
  12. PO2 Glenn Bedua
  13. PO3 Noel Golocan
  14. PO2 Jerry Kayob
  15. PO2 Noel Balaca
  16. PO1 Romeo Cempron
  17. PO2 Joel Dulnuan
  18. PO2 Christopher Lalan
  19. PO2 Walner F. Danao
  20. PO2 Franklin C. Danao
  21. PO2 Omar A. Nacionales
  22. PO2 Godofredo B. Cabanlit Candano
  23. PO1 Russel B. Bilog
  24. PO1 Loreto Capinding
  25. PO3 Junrel Kibete
  26. PO1 Gringo Cayang-o
  27. PO2 Rodel Ramacula
  28. PO1 Joseph Sagonoy
  29. PO3 John lloyd R. Sumbilla
  30. PO2 Chum Agabon
  31. PO3 RObert Allaga
  32. PO1 Mark Lory Clemencio
  33. PO1 Oliebeth I. Viernes
  34. PO2 Richelle S. Baluga
  35. PO3 Andres V. Duque
  36. PO3 Jedz-in A. Asjali
  37. PO2 Amman M. Esmula
  38. PO3 Victoriano N. Acain
  39. PI Joey S. Gamutan
  40. PI John Garry A. Erana
  41. PSI Cyrus P. Anniban

Several other bodies found at the site of the mis-encounter have not been identified.

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