GMA, AFP on Mindanao (Aug 18 ’08)

GMA this morning called on the military and the police to “defend every inch” of Mindanao. GMA’s statement here as well as notes on the military’s press conference this morning.

GMA:
Mga minamahal kong mga kababayan, mariing kong kinokondena ang di makatarungang pag-atake at paghahasik ng karahasan ng MILF kaninag maaling araw sa ilang bayan ng Lanao del Norte.
Ito ay hindi lamang paglabag sa kaunsdungang pangkapaypaan, kundi isang hamon sa pangkalahatang pagnanais ng sambayanan na katahmikan at kaularan sa buong sla ng Mindanao.

Because of this sneaky and treacherous attacks, as your Commander-in-Chief, I have ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to defend every inch of Philippine territory against MILF forces, and immediately restore peace in the affected areas in Lanao del Norte.
We will not tolerate and will crush any attempt to disturb peace and development in Mindanao.

I am also calling for an emergency meeting of the National Security Council this afternoon to asses the situation in Lanao del Norte and other areas in Mindanao and come up with concrete, firm and decisive action to defend the peace loving people of Mindanao.

Again, I assure the Filipino people that the government will defend them at all cause against any move or any group tat will disrupt our aspirations for a genuine and lasting peace not only in Mindanao but in the whole country.

I am with you in peace.
We are all in this together.
Maraming Salamat po

AFP chief gen. Alexander Yano
Presscon, camp Aguinaldo

The recent milf perpetrated incidents in Mindanao
starting with the ambush of our military troops, army
troops of the 5th infantry battalion by the milf
members in lanao del sur yesterday aug 17 is a virtual
declaration of war against the duly constituted
authority and this was confirmed by commander bravo’s
declration of jihad. The afp shall not allow this to
go on, we cannot ambuscades, arson, kidnapping,
hostage taking, blocking of main highways and other
atrocities to be perpetrated by the milf against the
Filipino people. We are now taking military action to
stop these atrocities, these developments are clear
manifestation of the insincerity to the peace process
of a significant portion of the milf. It appears that
several milf subcommanders are not controlled by the
milf leadership and just using hte peace process as a
blanket to launch violent attacks against the people
of mindnaao. we have sufficient troops on the ground
and our ground commanders are very much aware of
thedevelpments. Appropriate actions shall be taken to
accomplish our mission while giving due consideration
on avoiding collateral damage to civilians. We have
launched military operationsin some areas in Mindanao
and this will go on until the perpetrators are
punished and normalcy is established in the area
(continue with the peace talks with milf) thepeace
process is a policy of government, its not for the
armed forces to declare so but we are addressing here,
the criminal acts, the actions of a portion, or a
faction of the milf which we are doing, we have done
that in north cotabato and we are doing it in the
lanao provinces now and we are confident that we will
continue to, to do (), our troops on the ground will
continue to undertake its mandate particularly of
protecting the people and making sure that the rule of
law prevails
(if afp is asked) as ive said thats a national policy,
thats the national leadership, its not in the realm of
the military
(need for additional troops in lanao) we have enough
forces in the area but if necessary then we can move
additional forces not just from Mindanao but from
other areas so that will depend on the developing
situation
(with MOA on ancestral domain still pending) these are
political questions, we are engaged in, our military
actions against those recalcitrant members, yung mga
wayward elements, yun ang mandate ng armed forces of
the phils, now we have seen in the series of incidents
in the last few hours or in the last, at least 24
hours the insincerity of some of theelements and we
could not allow these to happen, we cannot allow these
to continue bec we have a very clear mandate also to
the Filipino people to protect them especially in
these affected areas
(alout war, means will no longer consider the talks)
it is the statement of the other side, it is the
statement of the other side, as i mentioned virtual
declaration of war against the government by them
(not considering filing protest) we have, in fact we
have already filed a formal protest afterthe ambush in
lanao del sur not only to the joint ceasefire
committee but we have actually started filing formal
charges in the prper courts against those who
perpetrated those criminal acts
(file case against bravo) no this was now another
group, we are trying to determine in laanao del sur,
this is another group perpetrating these hostilities
in lanao del norte, i was referring to the earlier
ambush in laanao del sur which we have formally filed
a complaint against the…through the joint ccch and
filing of charges in court
(it seems bravo and umbra kato do not recognize the
moa between grp and milf, breakaway after the moa
signing) we do not want to speculate, we are
addressing the present situation and what they are
doing at present
(afp declaring war against the milf) we are actually
conducting an offensive operation now against the
groups who have been, who have attacked town centers
and some areas in municipalities of kauswagan,
(linamon), maigo, kulambugan and we will take action
against these, infact our troops are already on the
ground as early as dawn this morning, they are heavily
engaged in these areas and we are confident that we
can restore normalcy and we can take drastic action
against these groups
(details of milf occupation in lanao) we have sketchy
reports but since, as i have said the operations are
ongoing, our troops are heavily engaged on the ground,
for operational reasons we do not want to disclose
details
(casualties, passenger bus fired upon, 15 people died
reportedly) we cannot confirm that report, as ive said
there were sketchy reports about incidents occurring
in the different areas of the municipalities that i
have mentioned, so let us defer the casualty count if
there are, in any areas until such time that we can
confirm these reports
(some attacks in sarangani) yes, may i just in the
last several hours, may i just narrate the different
incidents that wereoffensive in nature, the
hostilities started of course with the ambush in
molundo lanao del sur, where we incurred eight killed
in action, four regular troops, and four cafgus, we
have last night or early, or late afternoon yesterday
the twin bombings in iligan city, one occurring at 535
p.m and the other at 550 pm. We do not have any
substantial casualty except for some wounded or
injured. Also last night, we have a harassment by the
milf group in maasim sarangi, we got report tht there
were two civilians killed and they were able to loot
or ransack some establishments in the area and in
another area of course yesterday in sumisip, basilan,
our troops fromthe marines encountered some milf
groups so these are some of the antecedents, these are
some of the incidents that happened immediately prior
to the lanao attacks. So these were clear indictions
of the hostile acts that they have committed against
our troops and it only shows some of the, the
insincerity on the part of the these milf commadners,
while we are trying our best to give primacy to the
peace process, here they are blatantly violating that
agreement

(military offensive, limited in the area of
hostilities or would we be going after milf camps like
in 2000) we will try to focus on the areas where
hostilities are directly occurring but of course we
willnot also prevent our troops to also undertake
active defense in some areas, if there are hostilities
being initiated in other areas then it is incumbent
upon the local commanders to take appropriate action
to take whatever proportionate and justified force in
order to address the situation
() we hope that it will be confined only to these
particular wayward elements under bravo but as ive
said the armed forces is ready to address any other
situation that may arise, smilar situation in other
parts and our local commanders in the different areas
are alerted to monitor the situation, assess the
developments obtaining in the ground. We also have our
commanding general of the army where majority of the
forces involved come from his units
(six priest kidnapped in kulambugan) as ive said we do
not want to confirm yet, we have sketchy reports but
there are no confirmationsas to these incidents
(see afp operations escalating to other provinces)as
ive said, we willtry our best to contain the situation
in these areas but if there is aneed, ifthere are
blatant violations orincursions in other areas then
much as we would like to preserve the process, your
armed forces will have to take appropriate action,
justifiable action and the use of proportionate force
first of all to protect our civilian communities and
to uphold law and order in those areas
(believe these commaders acting on their own) i do not
want to speculate but i think you and i can have your
own conclusion
(milf occupied palimbang, sultan kudarat) we have not
received such report, palimbang sultan kudarat,
nothing, it was only in maasim last night when milf
elements harassed some establishments
(PNCR chair Gordon asking for some reinforcement) we
donot have any such report for palimbang
(are not upping alert level of afp in mindana0) the
Mindanao troops have been on alert from the start of
nort cotabato operations and we are not changing that
alert
(how about those traveling from manila to lanao,
advise against going)

There are only isolated areas that are directly
affected by the
fighting as we mentioned some of the municipalities
particularly the
palma complex in north cotabato and now in some areas
in lanao del
norte so other than that the other areas are
relatively safe

(evacuated residents)

We don’t have any confirmation yet but its safe to
assume that where
there is fighting, we don’t even need to let them
evacuate its human
instinct to look for safer ground

(how big is commander bravo’s group)

The troops, the milf troops directly I the vicinity of
kulambugan is
estimated to be around 300 although eid kabalu
mentioned a thousand
but I think that’s an exaggeration, in kulanugan where
they have
occupied some areas 300 estimated

(is this offensive on afp part, direct response to
declaration of war)

This is already an offensive action on our part, on
that specific area
against a specific group, I guess our action, weve
been so calibrated
in the past several months and days we have taken an
active defense
stance that they have moved, they have carried their
own attacks, and
obviously they blatantly violated not only the
ceasefire agreement
that is still in effect but the laws of the land, so
we have to take
action and this is the punitive action that we are
taking against them
and as I said, there is still heavy fighting that is
going on these
concerned or mentioned municipalities so we hope we
will continue
until we can restore normal situation in this towns in
lanao del norte

(how safe, how dangerous is the area, can journalists
go, are you going
to)

As is aid there is intense fighting going on and it
not only affects
one municipality but there are at least five
municipalities so it will
be, there will be, especially for kulambiugan there is
intense
fighting between the two protagonists, we would not
advise civilians
because it will only also interfere with the conduct
of operations in
the area and we cannot really assure the safety of
those who will be
going to the area

(media not allowed)

We will encourage you not to go for obvious reasons
but of course we
do not want to impose that on you it will be upon your
groups or your
outfits, first so there will be no undue interference
to the conduct
of, and for the safety of civilians ad non combatants
in the area

(kulambugan, how confident afp na matatapos agad)

We do not want to set deadlines to the operating
troops because that
will depend on the commanders on the ground, but I’ve
given
instructions that we focus our attention in retaking
whatever areas
they have occupied and we give that to the judgment of
the ground
commanders, it is difficult from camp aguinaldo to
dictate the
direction so we leave that we have competent
commanders on the ground,
we have tf tabak under brig gen atendido, we have
104th in the person
of bgen supnet, so we will leave that to them but the
sooner they can
restore normalcy the better

(no naval blockade, escape through coastal areas)

There is also a possibility because most of these
towns are coastal
towns, they are close to each other and if you are
familiar with the
geography its in the coastal areas facing ozamis and
the misamis
provinces

(scale of fighting, compared to 2000 all out war)

We cannot really as of now, because we just had a few
hours in to the
fighting but let me just report to you that there is
intense fighting
in those local areas, it has not escalated into a
widespread scale
outside lanao del norte but fighting is intense in
those mentioned
areas

(occupied town halls, status of civilians, did they
occupy the five
towns at all)

Except, as of latest report, except for kulambugan
where they have
entered some portions of the center, town center, all
others they are
engaged in fighting in outlying barangays not the town
centers, that’s
as far as we can give you as to the details of the
fighting

(civilians taken hostage)

We cannot confirm, there were sketchy reports to that
effect but we do
not want to prematurely divulge what we have not
confirmed

——————————–

ARMY CHIEF LTGEN VICTOR IBRADO

(ilan battalions sa lanao del norte)

35th saka 32nd ib

(reinforcements)

Wala pa kaming ano but we have directed soe battalions
to be prepared
fore deployment dun sa area kung talagang mag-escalate

(air support)

Call na ng ground commander yun

(meron na)

Wala pa sa ngayon

(after north cotabato, bombings, lanao del norte, no
recommendation to
elevate status, region-wide crisis)

May statement na si general yano diyan kanina e

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