Tuesday, 17 January 2017 00:00 Published in Nation
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is now coordinating closely with its Malaysian counterpart regarding the arrest of one of those behind the deadly Davao City bombing, reportedly a son of a local politician in Mindanao.
PNP chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa yesterday said that the PNP is currently working with the Royal Malaysian Police, particularly with its counterterrorism branch, regarding the reported arrest of Abdul Jabbar Sema, alias Datu Masla.
“He was involved. He facilitated, he was the one who provided the vehicle…he was among the brains,” de la Rosa said of Sema.
Sema was among the 14 individuals identified and charged in connection to the September 2016 bomb attack at a night market in Davao City. He was tagged by two arrested suspects as the one who suggested to have the bombing staged in Davao City.
There were reports stating that Sema was captured by Malaysian authorities but de la Rosa said they have no confirmation on his arrest.
“The latest report that I got from our police attache in Malaysia it seems that he is not arrested, there was no confirmation on his arrest,” de la Rosa said.
“There was an attempt from that Sema to cross the border of Malaysia and Thailand, but upon reaching the Thailand border, he was denied entry…that’s why maybe there was report that he was nabbed…he was sent back to Malaysian territory,” de la Rosa added.
The chief PNP said they are now following up the case if indeed Sema was arrested.
“I am giving instructions to our police attache in Malaysia to coordinate with the special branch of Royal Malaysian Police, to their counterterrorism branch, to determine if he (Sema) was indeed arrested or not,” de la Rosa said.
De la Rosa described Sema as a member of the Maute group and among those who are propagating for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The chief PNP said that Sema’s “extremist beliefs” prompted him to join the Maute group and get involved in the attack.
“He is one of those who propagate following for ISIS. His direction is extremism,” de la Rosa.
Fourteen people were killed while about 70 others were wounded during the bomb attack in Davao City which prompted President Duterte to declare the state of lawless violence and called on the military to assist police in law enforcement operations.
A grenade blast hit the Jolo municipal police station (MPS) in Sulu midnight on Thursday, damaging a patrol vehicle.
Reports said that unidentified men, aboard a motorcycle, lobbed the grenade inside the Jolo police station at about 12 midnight.
The explosion damaged the Mahindra patrol jeep of the Jolo MPS.
“The duty personnel immediately notified and alerted all adjacent PNP units and conducted checkpoint and hot pursuit operation against the fleeing suspect/s,” reports said.
There was no reported casualty during the incident.
A well-rounded Army officer would be taking over the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) and lead the government’s all-out fight against various terrorist groups, particularly the Abu Sayyaf group.
Reliable military sources said that incumbent Army 6th Infantry Division (ID) commander Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez would be taking over Wesmincom from Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo de la Cruz.
A turn-over ceremony is scheduled at Wesmincom next week.
On the other hand, de la Cruz, the same sources said, would be assuming as inspector general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
A member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Sandiwa” Class of 1985, Galvez spent only four months as 6th ID commander before his promotion to the three-star position.
Prior to his assumption as 6th ID chief, Galvez served as AFP deputy chief of staff for operations (J3).
Galvez was the head of the government ceasefire committee when the Mamasapano “massacre” of 44 Special Action Force commandos happened in January 2015 when combined Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) overwhelmed the SAF.
“Passionate, hardworking, focused. If I am a commander, I would like him to be my chief of staff, operations officer. My do-it-all officer. He can do any task you give him,” a senior Army official said of Galvez.
Another officer described Galvez as “silent worker that produces results.”
“He is a peace-oriented Army field officer,” another source said.
As Wesmincom commander, Galvez will have about 20,000 troops at his disposal to defeat the Abu Sayyaf within six months as directed by AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año — reiterating President Duterte’s order to destroy the terrorists.
Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the AFP leadership will be putting new people in Mindanao to pursue President Duterte’s instruction to defeat the Abu Sayyaf.
“We will be putting new people so that we can have fresh approach in addressing lawless elements,” Lorenzana said.
Relatedly, Rear Adm. Narciso Vingson last Thursday assumed as AFP’s No. 3 man as the deputy chief of staff.
Vingson succeeded Lt. Gen. Salvador Melchor Mison Jr. who was promoted as AFP vice chief of staff.
Also of PMA “Sandiwa” Class of 1985, Vingson is the concurrent AFP inspector general.
Vingson previously served as commander of the Naval Education and Training Command and deputy commander of the Philippine Fleet.
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