Thursday, August 20, 2009

Anti- Terror Exercise Concludes Today in Gensan

Director, Naval Public Affairs Office
Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Exercise Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism (SEACAT) 2009 concluded today, 20 August 2009 in General Santos City after participating assets from the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM) have completed the series of activities that began Monday, 17 August 2009 in the waters off Zamboanga. Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) and NFEM dispatched patrol gunboats, patrol ships, and Naval Special Operations (NAVSOG) teams to engage US Navy Ship Safeguard in scenarios such as the Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO) and Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS). These activities focused on information exchange, coordinated surveillance operations, locating, tracking, and intercepting of enemies that allow the participating navies to employ appropriate measures in dealing with pirates and other lawless elements at sea during real-life situations.

Also dispatched was Philippine Navy Islander aircraft that conducted maritime air patrol/reconnaissance in support of the floating assets. Coast Watch Station- Zamboanga was also utilized during the exercise in monitoring the movement of USNS Safeguard, the designated target vessel during the MIO and VBSS. USNS Safeguard sets off to Singapore for the closing ceremonies tomorrow, 21 August 2009.

By undertaking the exercise, participating navies are exposed to techniques useful to combat maritime threats and fight lawless elements operating in the high seas. The exercise also enhances the navies’s cooperation and coordination in support of a cohesive response to terrorism, transnational crimes, and crimes in the high seas and contributes to ASEAN’s efforts in building peace and security in the region that has taken strong stance against terrorism and has remained vigilant in safeguarding its maritime territory from pirates, smugglers, and other criminal elements.

Navy Statement from Director, Naval Public Affairs Office re allegation made by MNLF Chair Nur Misuari

Director, Naval Public Affairs Office

Navy Statement from Director, Naval Public Affairs Office re allegation made by MNLF Chair Nur Misuari that the MNLF men were “massacred” by the operating units in Mantangule Island, Balabac, Palawan.

● What transpired on 19 Aug 09 is a legitimate law-enforcement action against the MNLF group.

● At least three of them have standing warrant of arrest. The PNP attests to that.
The armed engagement happened only long after the MNLF members refused to lay down arms following a negotiation with two of Abdurajak’s emissaries. The fact that they entrenched themselves in a mosque and strategic locations indicate their willful disregard for the rule of law embodied by police out to serve warrants of arrest.

● The MNLF men have long been extorting money from poor fisher folks. The local residents who felt greatly relieved from the group’s abuses attest to that. The people sought the help of the Marines.

● The military response had been prudent and the force applied commensurate to and necessary for the restoration of law and order in the island. The MNLF group is heavily armed.

If there’s anyone who have allegations contrary the legitimacy of this operation must so prove.


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Director, Naval Public Affairs Office

After 96-hours of Fleet-Marine operation-- including intelligence & personnel build-up, insertion of SEALs & Marines, time allowance given for negotiation, and eight hours of protracted firefight in close proximity--ten MNLF men were declared fatalities, five were captured, a Marine was wounded, and assorted firearms were recovered.

"Give due respect to the dead MNLFs the way we want them to respect our fallen comrades that they will be first to have custody of after an armed confrontation," Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez, the Navy Flag Officer in Command yesterday reminded the Fleet-Marine personnel that figured in this successful liberation of Sitio Marabon, Mantangule Island in Balabac Municipality in Palawan. Thirty to 40 Moro National Liberation Front members stormed the island, occupied a mosque, and sent around 400 families fleeing to safety in the nearby islands (see related stories in this page).

The last part of the Fleet-Marine operations ended at around 3PM 18August 2009 after nearly eight hours of close-range firefight with around thirty fully armed men. The protracted skirmishes resulted to the death of 10 MNLF men, 7 of them were recovered, 3 were no longer retrieved from the sea where they attempted to escape on board a pump boat. They refused to surrender after hearing warning shots fired and instead shot it out with the Navy SEALs, according to Commander Alberto Cruz, the Task Group head. Three of the fatalities are the leader Abdullah Abdurajak a.k.a “Pa Guro” and his two sons Ebrahim Sabtula. The rest are Said Abdulradjak, one alias Kimpo, Nuh Abduradjak, Abdul Madjid, and one alias Sarip Hasim. The captured MNLF members were identified as Mannan Said, Bajar Usop, Sukarno Jamal, Alqasim Ladjahassan, and Saheron Batiik. Also recovered were assorted firearms and ammunitions, and a bladed weapon.

To the ground component commander and Commanding Officer MBLT-8 and the commander of the Naval Task Group 41.5 of the Philippine Fleet LTCol Yuri Pesigan and Commander Alberto Cruz, respectively of the Fleet-Marine team that operated in Mantangule Island, VADM Ferdinand Golez yesterday sent the message: "The Command Team of the Philippine Navy extends its commendations & congratulations of to all of you out there who made the Navy especially proud today. Carry on the good work!"