Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Police arrest Abu Sayyaf member in Zamboanga (Photo)

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17): Police arrest Abu Sayyaf member in Zamboanga



 Police arrested an alleged Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member charged for eight counts of kidnapping at the historical Plaza Pershing in this city, an official said Wednesday.

Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) director, identified the arrested suspect as Puyat Saiyadi, 45, who carries the aliases of Abubakar Diniri, Isikandar Saiyadi and Puyat Talib Saiyadi, of the island town of Patah, Sulu.

Beltran said Saiyadi was arrested by plainclothesmen and warrant servers of the Police Station 4 around 10 a.m. Wednesday at Plaza Pershing along I. Magno Street, downtown this city.

Beltran said Saiyadi had a standing warrant of arrest for eight counts of kidnapping with serious illegal detention issued by the court in Basilan with no recommended bail.

He said the arrested suspect was involved in the June 11, 2001 kidnapping of workers at the Golden Harvest Plantation in Barangay Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan province.

The ASG is responsible for terror attacks in the country, and has carried out bombings, kidnappings, extortion, and assassination.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1021931

E. Visayas Army honors wounded soldier

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17): E. Visayas Army honors wounded soldier



The Philippine Army on Wednesday honored a soldier wounded in a recent gun battle with communist rebels in Northern Samar.

Commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Raul Farnacio, pinned the Wounded Personnel Medal on Cpl. Artemio Bendo Jr. at the Camp Lukban Station Hospital. Bendo and other soldiers of the 43rd Infantry Battalion were in Sumoroy village in Lope de Vega, Northern Samar on Jan. 14 for a humanitarian mission when they encountered a group of rebels.

“This award is a manifestation of the degree of sacrifice that a soldier has to pay in order for our fellow Filipinos to continue to live in peace. It is just fitting to commend personnel, such as Corporal Bendo, who risked his life in helping and protecting the less fortunate in the far-flung areas,” Farnacio said in a statement sent to media on Wednesday.

This is the second clash between soldiers and members of the New People’s Army (NPA) since the end of the holiday truce on January 2.

The first encounter was on Jan. 3 when two rebels were killed in upland Hilapnitan village in Baybay City.

“The successful encounters of our government troops are the result of our effort to defeat the communist terrorists in support of President Duterte’s campaign against rebels who continue to extort money from communities and private businesses and employ atrocities against civilians,” Farnacio added.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1021969

BBL to be passed before Senate adjourns in March: Zubiri

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17): BBL to be passed before Senate adjourns in March: Zubiri

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday said he expects the Senate to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before it adjourns session in March.

Zubiri, chair of the Senate subcommittee on the BBL, made this statement after he filed a new measure on the creation of a BBL version which is approved by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

“Today, (Tuesday) I withdrew my original bill which is not the BTC version and filed today, Senate Bill No. 1646, a BTC-approved version so that they would come and wholeheartedly participate in the deliberations,” Zubiri told reporters in an interview.

“We’d like to assure the President (Rodrigo Duterte) and the Filipino people that we are prioritizing the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” he added. “Hopefully, this will set the tone for long and lasting peace in Mindanao.”

Zubiri said his committee will resume hearings on the BBL on January 23 (Tuesday). The first hearing on the BBL was held last December 20 while the Senate was already on Christmas break.

Succeeding hearings will be held in all parts of the Philippines including Cotabato City, Marawi City, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa)

If hearing schedules go as planned, Zubiri said, then the committee report on the BBL will be ready by third week of February.

“I’d like to finish the discussions on second and third reading by second week of March -- before the break. My time line is we’re having hearings next week, we’re having out of town hearings that weekend, we have a break one week then on February 8 to 11 we’ll be back in the BaSulTa and come back to Manila,” Zubiri said.

“We’ll have the committee report ready by third week of February, right after Valentines. After which, I will bring the committee report to plenary and have at least three weeks to pass the measure,” he added.

To date, Zubiri said only two or three of his colleagues in the Senate are hesitant about their support for his measure.

“There’s only a few, maybe two or three that are a bit hesitant but the majority are fully supportive of the BBL,” Zubiri said refusing to name the senators -- both from majority and minority -- who were hesitant.

Zubiri, however, eventually named Senator Antonio Trillanes IV as the senator who questioned the possibility of the new Bangsamoro purchasing firearms and military equipment.

He assured him though that he could insert into the law that the new Bangsamoro entity cannot use their money to purchase weapons.

“Under the new BTC-version, their police will still be under the Philippine National Police and their armed forces will still be under the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri said some senators still had the “old version” of the BBL in mind which had a lot of unconstitutional provisions.

He clarified that Trillanes did not “oppose” his measure but merely raised concerns.

He believes he could convince majority of his colleagues to support his measure.

The senator also said that he has also asked President Duterte to certify the BBL proposal as urgent.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1021804

SOLCOM disaster response units alerted for Mayon unrest

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17): SOLCOM disaster response units alerted for Mayon unrest

The Lucena-based Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) placed all its disaster response units (DRUs) on alert following the series of phreatic explosions and lava flow coming from the Mayon Volcano early this week.

This was disclosed by SOLCOM spokesperson Col. Teody T. Toribio said in a statement forwarded to reporters.

"Disaster response personnel and mobility assets of 9th Infantry Division, Tactical Operations Group 5 and Naval Forces, Southern Luzon are all prepositioned in Camp Simeon Ola, Legazpi City for the continuous deployment for pre-emptive evacuation of residents residing in the 6-8 kilometer Permanent Danger Zone," he added.

Toribio also said the designated operations and civil-military operations officers of the 901st Infantry Brigade under the Task Force Sagip were constantly coordinating with the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (DRRMCs) for updates and response operations.

“While we maintain a close coordination with the Office of Civil Defense 5, (OCD 5) some of our disaster response teams are already in the area assisting the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of Albay in the evacuation of residents in the remote affected barangays of Guinobatan and Camalig towns,” SOLCOM commander Lt. Gen. Danilo G. Pamonag said.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1021874

Design review of 2 frigates to undergo technical inspection: DND

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17): Design review of 2 frigates to undergo technical inspection: DND

The so-called "Critical Design Review" (CDR) of the two frigates, on order from South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries, has been completed and will now be undergoing examination by the Philippine Navy's Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee (TIAC) this week.

This was disclosed by Defense public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong in an interview Monday.

"The CDR has been completed and by this week, it will be undergoing inspection by the Navy's TIAC," he added.

Andolong said it was the Navy and Hyundai who created the CDR.

Once approved, the CDR will serve as the "Bible" of the shipbuilder in constructing the ship and putting the systems desired by the customer or end-user.

The two frigates, along with their weapon systems and munition, have a contract of PHP18 billion.

Once delivered and commissioned in 2020, the frigates will be the first Filipino warships capable of neutralizing surface, subsurface and air threats with missile and other modern armaments.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1021900

Bong Go didn’t interfere in frigate project: DND sec

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17): Bong Go didn’t interfere in frigate project: DND sec

Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go did not, in any way, interfere with the Philippine Navy's (PN) PHP18-billion Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.

“The President (Rodrigo Duterte) has already addressed the issue of the alleged “intervention” of SAP Bong Go and the SND (Secretary of National Defense) is confirming that no intervention or interference by Sec. Bong Go happened.,” Lorenzana said in a statement.

“The document that the SND alluded to have been given to him by Sec. Bong Go, was handed to him at the Palace so he assumed that it came from Sec. Bong Go. The document originated from Hanwha, one of the CMS proponents for the Frigate project,” he added.

The defense chief also noted that he forwarded the document to the flag officer in command (FOIC) for clarification, who in turn gave it to PN chief, Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad.

Empedrad was the chief of the Frigate Project Management Team at the time.

“Admiral Empedrad wrote a reply to the document stating the preferred CMS of the Phil Navy. There was no hint or guidance from the Palace or from Sec Bong Go to influence the conduct or direction of the project. There is a contract for the Frigate which was crafted mainly with the help of the Phil Navy, it will be implemented strictly as it is,” Lorenzana added.

Existing FAP contract

DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong, meanwhile, echoed Lorenzana’s remarks, noting that there was neither a hint nor guidance from the Palace or from Go to influence the implementation of the project.

"There is a contract for the FAP which was crafted mainly by the Philippine Navy and it will be implemented strictly to the letter," Andolong said.

The FAP is one of the key pieces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program at it seeks to provide the country with the capability to deal with air, surface and sub-surface threats.

It will be armed with a variety of missiles and guns capable of defeating such threats.

As this developed, Andolong said there is no good reason to cancel the FAP despite suggestions coming from some members of Congress.

Earlier, Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano claimed that the FAP project is bombarded with anomalies and that its design was altered from the original.

This includes the alleged preference for the Hanwha CMS, the lawmaker said.

"There is a proper process prescribed in RA 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act) concerning the termination of a procurement project and there are specific conditions that must be present in order to invoke it, none of which are existing at the moment in this project," Andolong added.

The DND spokesperson added that the anomalies claimed by Alejano are mere allegations and innuendos which hardly constitute grounds for termination of the project.

Unfairly dragged

Go, for his part, said his name was unfairly dragged in this issue.

"I am not privy to the frigate transaction of the DND. I have never seen the controversial document (white paper) that is alleged to have come from me, much less, handed the same to SND Lorenzana. In fact, I will resign if it can be proven that I intervened,” Go said in a statement.

“It should be emphasized that the Frigate project was already a done deal in 2016 during the time of former President (Benigno) Aquino," he added.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1021936

Ex-Navy chief: Bong Go no hand in FAP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17): Ex-Navy chief: Bong Go no hand in FAP

Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher ‘Bong’ Go never asked anything about the Philippine Navy's PHP18-billion Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP).

This, according to former Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command, Vice Admiral Ronaldo Joseph Mercado, in an interview Wednesday.

"This morning, my attention was caught by the reports when I saw a piece of paper, a ‘post it’, with my name on it, about an instruction given to me by the Secretary of National Defense about the Frigate, and apparently because of that there were insinuations about Secretary Bong Go, and you know I just like to come out because, on my side when I was FOIC (flag officer in command), he never once, with so many times, we were together in many foreign navy ships, and there was never an instance, not once that he even asked me about the frigate, never, and kaya when I'm hearing the news, well on my side only, he never intervened much more talk to me about these things," he said.

It can be recalled that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana relieved Mercado from his post last Dec. 18, 2017, citing loss of trust and confidence on the integrity and leadership of the naval officer.

This stemmed from the alleged fixation of the former on one company to supply the combat management system (CMS) of the country's Frigate project, a contract won by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries.

"Let me rephrase Secretary Bong Go never directly mentioned to me anything about the Frigate or indirectly from another person, I never heard any other person mention the name of Secretary Bong Go in relation to the frigates, walang ganun." Mercado said when asked on whether Lorenzana told or ordered him to do something about the FAP, upon the alleged orders of the SAP.

The FAP is one of the key pieces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program at it seeks to provide the country with the capability to deal with air, surface and sub-surface threats.

It will be armed with a variety of missiles and guns capable of defeating such threats.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1021945