WestMinCom holds GAD seminar on women empowerment in Zambo City

Female personnel of the Western Mindanao Command participated in the series of interactive Gender and Development lectures on women empowerment in Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City this morning, March 21.

Marilou Pepito, head of Department of Social Welfare Development’s Wellness Section, Personnel Unit, Human Resource Development, discussed pertinent mandates on GAD that promote health, wealth, safety, and well-being of women in the workplace.

Pepito emphasized that the GAD mandate gives impetus to the welfare of the women workforce, especially those who belong to the military structure.

Female soldiers and civilian employees also participated in the stress management session during the activity.

“We recognize that the women workforce is an active contributor and claimholder of development. This (activity) was organized to advocate the wellness and emotional upliftment of our female personnel,” said Colonel Nolasco Cawaling, WestMinCom’s Assistant Chief of Unified Command Staff for Personnel.

Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, WestMinCom Commander, said: “The Filipinas are frontrunners of positive change in our society. Much of what the armed forces achieved are ascribed to our female personnel, who contribute to our peace and socio-economic programs.”

“Together, we give them due recognition and commend them for their valuable support to the WestMinCom and the armed forces. Maraming salamat sa inyong serbisyo at mabuhay kayong mga kababaihan!” he added.

BIFF camp overran by troops in Maguindanao continuing ops


Military troops overran an encampment of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao on March 19.

Soldiers from 57th Infantry Battalion conducted a clearing operation, yielding to the discovery of an enemy camp with running trenches, foxholes, and sniper bunkers in Barangay Magaslong, Datu Piang on Tuesday.

Said BIFF camp can accommodate more or less 20 persons.

Upon scouring the area, troops recovered components of Anti-Personnel Mines, a rifle scope, empty shells, wires and nails, medical supplies, and documents.

“This is not a victory announcement but a significant progress in the fight against the BIFF and the Daesh-inspired group,” said Major General Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Central Commander.

“We do not want to give them the opportunity to gather and to create fear in the community, but we will sustain our focused military operation to end this amuck in the society,” added MGen Sobejana.

Ground units intensify their combat and intelligence operations in Central Mindanao.

“Soldiers will carry out their mission of protecting the people and of securing the area of operations against all threats that impede stability and economic progress in Mindanao,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, commander of Western Mindanao Command.

“We will defeat terror groups with our intense offensives and cooperation with our peace partners and the people of Mindanao,” he added.


CRSAFP @68: Involving Stakeholders Toward Developing Conflict-Resilient Communities

The Civil Relations Service of the Philippine Armed Forces is as professional as it can get. On its seven decades of existence the CRS has been instrumental to the past and present successes of the military.

The CRS is the AFP unit that engages the populace through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP.”

CRSAFP vows to continue working with the people to promote peace and development in conflict areas. It is the primary consideration of the unit in celebrating its 68th Founding Anniversary to involve the stakeholders towards conflict-resilient communities.

Over the years, the CRSAFP manifests its deep commitment to have its aspirations and objectives fulfilled. The continuous efforts of the unit in shaping the information environment have gained positive impact. One of the highlights of this development is the crafting of multiple Information Support Affairs (ISA) products to include the campaign to support the passing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

Further, the CRS has also played a vital role in fostering and maintaining relations between military forces and civilian authorities. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine Post, Metro Manila Development Authorities (MMDA), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), REACT Philippines, and National Commission on Muslim-Filipino (NCMF) are among the numerous stakeholders the CRS partners with to promote peace building and development programs for youth and religious leaders.

Likewise, it has built partnerships with private organizations, which share the same vision. It has collaborated with business giants, like ABS-CBN, Philippine Airlines, JCI Manila, to name a few.

Recognizing the need for a more enhanced collaboration, CRSAFP has been an active partner of Task Force Balik-Loob and Australian Defense Force Joint Task Group 629.

Another aspect of CRS’ mandate is to provide accurate information to improve public awareness and understanding the military. It has also helped enhance the unit’s credibility in the field of public affairs.

Some of the notable accomplishments on this area are: Coverage of historic port visit of Philippine Navy Vessel in Vladivoztok, Russia; Conduct of Dialogue and Security Awareness Forum in relation to Road Readiness, Disaster Response; and Defense Preparedness Program of Tarlac University.  Also, it facilitated the live interview of former rebels, dedicated radio program to encourage the surrender of NPA, Special Coverage of Lumad Leaders on Sagay Massacre Press Briefing, and guesting of prominent individuals at the AFP Virtual Radio-TV, such as Senator Gregorio Honasan, MILF Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar, and former cabinet Secretary Eduardo Ermita.


 A dedicated and hardworking commander of the Civil Relations Service (CRS), Major General Bienvenido R. Datuin, Jr., has consistently engaged various stakeholders in the command’s endeavors through collaboration on challenges of mutual concern.

To ensure meaningful engagement, Datuin has maintained regular communications with the Command’s wide-ranging stakeholders. Under his leadership, the CRS has become a proud partner with more organizations that have become its competent associates in promoting peace and addressing national concerns.

His transformational partnership with these stakeholders has assured a complementary and concerted effort that will eventually result in the emergence of sustainable peace and conflict-resilient communities.


The men and women of CRS, whom we regard as “Perception Warriors,” are very much aware of its commitment to the Filipino people and to the nation. The perception warrior is always at the ready, maintaining poise, composure, even at times when the service and the sacrifice are almost forgotten or even relegated to the back-burner when the crisis is solved or when times are peaceful.

The perception warriors have served and will continue to serve faithfully in good times and bad times, and everything in between. The excellent leadership of CRS has driven the men and women to achieve the highest standards of performance.

Team CRS’ dedication to selfless service helps the AFP to grow into a modern, equal, and inclusive organization worthy to be recognized as an AFP you can trust.

-Civil Relations Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines 

Troops overrun Sayyaf lair, neutralize militant in Basilan

Military troops overran a lair of the Abu Sayyaf and neutralized a militant in a ferocious gunfight in Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan yesterday, March 19.

Soldiers identified the slain enemy as Adam Asarakil, alias Abu Malik, listed as a follower of Abu Sayyaf leader Furidji Indama.

Asarakil died in the gunfight with military troops that ensued at 8:30am yesterday in Barangay Bohe Pahu.

After militants retreated, at 8:35am yesterday, engaged troops scoured the area and discovered two makeshifts built by the enemies.

Combat troops from 18th Infantry Battalion pursued the evading militants.

Soldiers further discovered an enemy camp that can accommodate 15 persons. Troops also recovered an M16 rifle left by militants in the area.

“Ground troops are determined to hunt militants and penetrate enemy lairs, taking prudent actions to neutralize terrorists in Basilan,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

“Tactical offensives will continue to crush terrorists and maintain internal security in the province,” he added.

Community’s support leads to neutralization of Sayyaf sub-leader, rifles in Sulu

Military troops neutralized a notorious Abu Sayyaf sub-leader and another militant in the offensives launched in Talipao, Sulu at 4:45pm yesterday, March 19.

Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Angah Ajid was slain in the combat operations launched by soldiers from 2nd Special Forces Battalion in Barangay Upper Binuang, after civilians reported the presence of suspicious armed men in the area.

Military troops followed the directions provided by residents and encountered five Abu Sayyaf members in the area.

A 10-minute gun battle ensued, yielding to the deaths of sub-commander Ajid and another militant.

Ajid was the last remaining Abu Sayyaf leader involved in the Sipadan kidnapping in 2000.

Soldiers further seized an M14 rifle, an M16 rifle with an M203 Grenade Launcher, rounds of ammunition, and magazines.

Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo, Jr., Joint Task Force Sulu Commander, said the series of armed engagements in the province has been the result of the growing support of the civilians to the AFP.

“The people of Sulu are tired of the atrocities committed by the Abu Sayyaf in their communities. Your Joint Task Force Sulu will remain steadfast in fulfilling its mandate of bringing lasting peace in this part of our country,” added BGen Pabayo, Jr.

The military continues to launch its offensives to neutralize Abu Sayyaf militants in the area.

Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, commander of Western Mindanao Command, said, “Combat troops relentlessly pursue Abu Sayyaf militants and constrict their movement, leaving them in despair.”

“As community support amassed, military mounts its offensives to pressure and to defeat Abu Sayyaf militants in the area,” he added.

“We are committed to end terrorism and to bring internal security in Mindanao. We also attribute our accomplishments to the Suluanons who are one with us in working for peace in the province.”

WestMinCom awards wounded personnel in Zambo City

Brigadier General Cirilo Thomas Donato, Jr., Western Mindanao Command Deputy Commander, conferred medals on wounded personnel in Zamboanga City this morning, March 19.

The Wounded Personnel Medal was awarded to Corporal Syruss Valenzuela, Private Gude Louisse Nabalan, and CAA Boy Hasim in Camp Navarro, Calarian at around 9am today.

Valenzuela and Nabalan sustained wounds in a gun battle between personnel of Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 and lawless elements on Simisa Island in Banguingui, Sulu at 7:45pm on March 15.

Hasim incurred wounds in an armed engagement between 4th Special Forces Battalion and Abu Sayyaf militants at Sampinit Complex in Masola, Isabela City, Basilan on February 25.

Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, WestMinCom Commander, said, “We salute our brothers-in-arms who valiantly fight the adversary and dedicate their lives to serve and protect the people.”

“Our frontline troops are instrumental in our journey to achieve peace and development in Mindanao.”

Troops recover Sayyaf’s remains, rifle after gun fight in Basilan

Sporadic gunfights between military troops and 10 Abu Sayyaf members under Furudji Indama led to the death of a militant and the seizure of a high-powered firearm in Basilan this morning, March 19.

Soldiers from 18th Infantry Battalion exchanged fire with said terrorists in Barangay Bohe Pahu, Ungkaya Pukan at 8:15am today.

Engaged troops scoured the area and retrieved an enemy’s cadaver and an M16 rifle from the encounter site, according to Colonel Fernando Reyeg, Joint Task Force Basilan Commander.

At 8:30am today, soldiers from 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion heavily engaged seven Abu Sayyaf militants under Indama in Barangay Bohe Pahu.

Said armed confrontation ensued for five minutes with no casualty reported on the government side.

Military troops scour the area and launch their combat operations to neutralize Abu Sayyaf militants in the province.

“We commit to sustain our campaign against terrorism that derails peace and development in the area of operations. Hitherto, we work hard to crumble terrorists and to address security threats by intensifying our offensives and by involving stakeholders and the people of Mindanao,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, commander of Western Mindanao Command.

“All these operational accomplishments we achieved because we had the support of our peace partners and, ultimately, the people of Mindanao,” he added.

“We will continue to protect the people with integrity, upholding their rights and interests, as their true servants,” said the WestMinCom chief.

Troops’ sustained operations lead to another clash with DI-Lanao

Soldiers heavily engaged Dawlah Islamiya fighters in Lanao del Sur yesterday afternoon, March 18.

Soldiers from 55th Infantry Battalion, on clearing operations, encountered an undetermined number of Dawlah Islamiya fighters in Barangay Padas, Pagayawan at 4:51pm yesterday.

As we speak, the gunfight is ongoing.

Operating troops established blockade in the area.

“Troops are on pursuit of Dawlah Islamiya fighters weakened by the spate of armed engagements initiated by ground units in Lanao province,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, commander of Western Mindanao Command.

One abu killed, another nabbed in recent Sulu clash

While conducting focused military operation, troops chanced upon undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf Group members in Barangay Simusa Island, Banguingui, Sulu at 11:44 am today (March 18).

Firefight ensued that lasted for five minutes after which the enemy withdrew leaving two of their casualties (one killed, one wounded) behind.

At around 12:45 pm, pursuing elements of the 21st Marine Company, Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 encountered the fleeing bandits in Sitio Mono-Mono, Simusa Island.

Firefight lasted for 3 minutes.

No casualty was reported on the government side on both encounters while the wounded enemy from the first encounter, was ferried to the Philippine Marine Ready Force-Sulu camp for immediate medical attention and the remains of the slain ASG member identified as Hamza L. Hamad, 19 years old and resident of Sirawai, Zamboanga Del Norte, was brought to the MBLT1 Command Group “A” for proper disposition.

Captured wounded abu identified as Alvin Mohammad, resident of Simusa Island, Barangay Bakaan, Banguingui, Sulu, was then brought to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital for further treatment and custodial debriefing.

In the initial interrogation, Mohammad disclosed that their group led by Najir Arik is already starving and running out of ammunitions.

“Our Joint Task Force Sulu have intensified its operation to pursue the fleeing bandits and constrict its movement,” said Lieutenant General Arnel B. Dela Vega, Commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

“We will continuously employ more pressure on them to rescue the remaining captives and gain more enemy strongholds,” added LtGen Dela Vega.

Troops are still in pursuit of the fleeing bandits.

Gov’t forces neutralize lawless element, firearms in Zambo del Norte clash

Military and police forces neutralized a lawless element and captured several enemies’ arms after a two-hour gunfight in Zamboanga del Norte today, March 18.

“Government troops served the arrest warrant for murder and attempted murder on Juhuri Wahab Tukalan and Isnain Yacub under Jamilon Tukalab’s group when the clash happened,” said Lieutenant Colonel Leon Onggao, 42nd Infantry Battalion Commander.

Notorious for ambushing civilians, Tukalab’s group is also tagged in kidnapping and extortion activities in Zamboanga del Norte, added Lieutenant Colonel Onggao.

The slain enemy was identified by his next of kin as Ato Antao Lumingis. Troops turned over his remains to the local government of Sirawai.

Government forces also recovered two pieces of rocket-propelled grenade ammunition, two 12-gauge shotguns, two improvised caliber .22 rifles, a grenade, a bandolier, magazines, and ammunition.

The operation was launched by 42nd Infantry Battalion and Philippine National Police in Barangay Sipakit, Sirawai at 5am today.

Engaged troops saw lawless elements carrying their wounded comrades as they scampered toward different directions.

“Our enemies are now on the run, attempting to elude government troops, as they suffered a crippling blow from our intense operations on the ground,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, commander of Western Mindanao Command.

“This relentless hunt on private armed groups will be furthered to end lawless violence in Zamboanga Peninsula. We will continue to tap the police and other law enforcement agencies to gain this objective,” he added.

“The operation was a result of the collaboration among the stakeholders, especially the peace-loving civilians in the area, who continuously report the presence of these lawless groups,” said Colonel Bagnus Gaerlan, Jr., 102nd Infantry Brigade Commander.

It can be recalled that a week ago, five lawless elements were arrested and P11.4 million worth of illegal drugs and paraphernalia were confiscated in Barangay Tenan, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Roberto Ancan, the Joint Task Force Zampelan Commander, commended the troops that led to the neutralization of a lawless element and the disruption of their terror activities.

“The Tabak Troopers, in collaboration with the police, will intensify joint law enforcement operation to protect people and communities against lawless elements,” added Ancan.

Meanwhile, the government suffered one wounded in action.

The wounded soldier was immediately airlifted to Zamboanga City for medical treatment.

“We also ensure that our wounded comrade will get the best medical care for his fast recovery,” concluded Ancan.