Seven Philippine former Muslim rebels killed by Daesh-linked gunmen

Moro Islamic Liberation Front soldiers guard the entry of Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in southern Philippines on September 7, 2019 ahead of a weapons decommissioning ceremony. (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2019

Seven Philippine former Muslim rebels killed by Daesh-linked gunmen

  • The dead were all members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
  • MILF was formerly the country’s largest guerrilla group, which began decommissioning weapons last month

MANILA: Seven former Muslim rebels have been killed in the southern Philippines, military and police authorities said Saturday, in an attack claimed by the Daesh group.
They said the dead were all members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), formerly the country’s largest guerrilla group but which began decommissioning weapons last month under the terms of a 2014 peace treaty.
A pro-Daesh armed group called Dawlah Islamiyah attacked an MILF camp near the town of Shariff Saydona on Friday, sparking fighting lasting several hours, said Lt. Col. Ernesto Gener, commander of a local army battalion.
Daesh claimed responsibility in a communique seen by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant activity.
The militants said eight MILF members were killed, but local police commander Lt. Col. Arnold Santiago told reporters the authorities were only aware of seven deaths.
Locals said they saw seven bodies being loaded onto a boat at a riverbank in Shariff Saydona, about 900 kilometers south of Manila.
MILF spokesman Von Al-Haq declined to comment.
The MILF peace pact ended decades of Muslim rebellion that had claimed 150,000 lives by government estimates in the Mindanao region, home to the Catholic nation’s large Islamic minority.
The MILF was put in charge of a Muslim autonomous region as part of the peace accord, but Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Daesh is attempting to set up a Southeast Asian stronghold there.
Hundreds of pro- Daesh gunmen seized the Mindanao city of Marawi in May 2017, sparking a five-month battle that left more than 1,000 people dead.
The MILF, sometimes with Philippine military help, has in recent years waged an armed campaign to flush out a number of pro- Daesh groups operating in the swampy farming region around Shariff Saydona.


Philippines halts visas on arrival for Chinese on coronavirus fears

Updated 39 min 52 sec ago

Philippines halts visas on arrival for Chinese on coronavirus fears

  • There have been no confirmed cases in the Philippines since the coronavirus outbreak began in China’s central city of Wuhan
  • Infections have been confirmed in Japan, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam

MANILA: The Philippines stopped issuing visas on arrival to Chinese nationals on Tuesday, in a bid to keep the southeast Asian nation free of a new virus that has killed 106 and infected more than 4,500 since emerging in China in December.
There have been no confirmed cases in the Philippines since the coronavirus outbreak began in China’s central city of Wuhan, but infections have been confirmed in Japan, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
“We are taking this proactive measure to slow down travel, and possibly help prevent the entry of the 2019-nCov,” Jaime Morente, the commissioner of the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration, said in a statement, referring to the virus.
There is no order barring Chinese nationals from entering the Philippines, however, Morente added.
He did not say when the facility would be resumed. Chinese nationals can still apply for visas at any Philippine embassy or consulate at their places of residence.
Health authorities are monitoring more than 11 suspected cases of the new coronavirus, they said on Tuesday.
The “visa upon arrival” facility has been offered to Chinese nationals since 2017, in an effort to boost tourism. Those eligible included investors and businessmen, athletes, delegates to international conventions and tour groups.
Chinese tourists accounted for 22 percent of the 7.5 million visitors to the Philippines between January and November last year, making China the second top nation of origin for international travelers to the country.