Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Personal safety gear for CAS pilots included in P4.9 billion contract package

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Personal safety gear for CAS pilots included in P4.9 billion contract package

The Department of National Defense (DND), in a supplemental bid bulletin, informed interested bidders for its P4.9 billion CAS (close-air support) program that 18 sets of personal safety equipment is included in the package.

These items are helmet parachute harness, life preserver units and anti-G suits.

Bid opening for the CAS project is set for Aug. 11

The DND is planning to acquire six CAS aircraft to replace or beef up the Air Force's existing Rockwell OV-10 "Bronco" turboprop attack planes.

CAS refers to capability to provide air support to infantry and naval units in contact with the enemy.

Funding for this weapon system will be sourced from the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program.

Bid submission and opening will still be held at the DND Bidding and Awards Committee conference room, basement right wing, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

DND undersecretary Fernando Manalo earlier said that the contract includes integrated logistic support system.

Winning bidders must be able to deliver the aircraft within 540 calendar days from contract effectivity.

Participants in the DND's CAS project must have completed a similar program within the last 10 years.

Manalo added that the CAS aircraft must be used by the countries offering and manufacturing them.

Gov’t reaffirms commitment to ensuring Bangsamoro law will get congressional approval

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Gov’t reaffirms commitment to ensuring Bangsamoro law will get congressional approval

The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are going to meet again to ensure that the provisions of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will pass congressional muster before the year ends, a Malacanang official said on Wednesday.

“Well, we’d like to assure the commitment of the government with respect to pushing for the BBL. The government and the MILF panels are again going to discuss the final draft to be submitted for Congress,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing at the Palace.

He reiterated the assurance amid reports that the ground commanders of the MILF are already restless over the seeming delay in the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro law.

Citing President Benigno S. Aquino III’s statement on the proposed law in his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, Lacierda said the BBL will be a priority measure so it can be passed by Congress before the year ends.

“So that the Bangsamoro Transition Authority will be in place in order for them, for the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, to participate in the synchronized national elections in 2016,” he said.

“We believe that we can continue with the timeframe that we have envisioned so that all the necessary building blocks for an effective and a truly representative bill and law will be passed by Congress,” he added.

Lacierda said the President wants a “just and fair” BBL that is acceptable to both the government and the Bangsamoro people.

“The commitment of our President during the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), that commitment has not wavered,” he said.

Lacierda stressed that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) drafted a bill based on the CAB.

Citing GPH chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, he said both peace panels are now working out issues pertaining to fiscal autonomy and the structure of the envisioned Bangsamoro government.

DILG chief cites 2 cops wounded in NPA raid in Surigao del Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): DILG chief cites 2 cops wounded in NPA raid in Surigao del Norte

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel A. Roxas personally pinned the Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting to two police officers who were wounded while defending the municipal police station of Alegria in Surigao del Norte from New People’s Army (NPA) attack last July 10.

Roxas handed the awards in a ceremony held at the Kitcharao Elementary School in Agusan del Norte on Tuesday, which served as government command center for the release of four other policemen held captive by the NPA after the Alegria raid.

The DILG chief was accompanied by Director General Alan Purisima, Philippine National Police Chief Director, when he pinned the Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting on Police Officer 2 Romero B. Dagsa and PO2 Reuben C. Salino, both detailed at the Alegria municipal police station.

“Hindi matatawaran ang katapangang ipinakita ninyo sa paggampan sa tungkulin. Magsilbi sana kayong huwaran sa mga kasama ninyo sa PNP. Ipinakita rin ninyo na handa ang ating mga pulis na itaya ang kanilang buhay para sa kapakanan ng ating mamamayan (The courage you showed in performing your duties is incredible. This will serve to inspire all members of the PNP and also show that our policemen are ready to put their lives for the sake of our people),” Roxas told the two policemen.

After the awarding ceremony, Roxas personally received PO3 Vic Calubag Concon, PO1 Rey O’niel Morales, PO1 Joen B. Zabala and PO1 Edito F. Roquino who were freed on that same day by the National Democratic Front-North Eastern Mindanao Region (NDF-NEMR) after 19 days of captivity.

The NPA rebels released the four policemen unharmed at around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to a team of local officials led by Agusan del Norte Gov. Angel Amante, who fetched the officers in the mountain barangay of Hinabangan in Kitcharao town.

The police officers were reunited with their wives who were waiting with Roxas, Purisima and Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles at the government command center in Kitcharao Elementary School, located about seven kilometers from the release site.

The police officers were later taken to a government hospital for medical check-up.

Negotiations for the release of the four police officers scored a major breakthrough last week after the National Democratic Front-Northeastern Mindanao sought the intercession of Roxas to break an impase in ongoing talks to secure the policemen's freedom.

The Local Crisis Committee led by Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas had begun negotiating with the NDF-NEMR for the policemen's freedom immediately after the rebel raid on Alegria.

Initially, the NDFP-NEMR demanded that government security forces declare a 10 day-ceasefire (SOMO/SOPO) in Surigao City and 14 municipalities in the mainland of Surigao del Norte as preconditions for the policemen's release.

After a series of negotiations with the local crisis committee, the NDFP reduced the ceasefire period to six days covering only six municipalities in the mainland of Surigao del Norte.

Last Saturday, the NDFP-NEMR informed Roxas through an emissary that the NPA units holding the four policemen as hostages are amenable in releasing their captives if government security forces will agree on a five-day ceasefire covering the towns of Placer, Bacuag, Tubod, Gigaquit, Alegria and Claver, in Surigao del Norte; and the towns of Kitcharao, Jabonga and Santiago, in Agusan del Norte.

Last Sunday, Roxas announced that the military and the police agreed to meet the rebels' precondition to pave the way for the safe release of the four police officers.

The DILG chief's announcement prompted the NDF-NEMR to issue a corresponding ceasefire order, which led to the eventual release of the four policemen.

Movement of military vehicles authorized -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Movement of military vehicles authorized -- AFP

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala clarified that the movement of military trucks and armored personnel carriers (APCs), which was spotted by some civilians in EDSA on Wednesday morning, was just a routine one and done to facilitate the movement of mission critical equipment.

A military convoy escorted by APCs was spotted along Nepa Q-Mart, Quezon City early this morning.

The convoy proceeded to Northern and Southern Luzon Commands where it picked up several items and equipment.

The materials are scheduled to be delivered to Army Support Command headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Zagala stressed that the movement was authorized and sanctioned by AFP headquarters.

"These are authorized logistical movements of the AFP, we apologized that the presence of these vehicles have alarmed our countrymen. These movements are necessary for administrative and logistical support of our troops in the field, these are coordinated especially here at the command center of the AFP and among the unified commands," he pointed out.

Sightings of these military vehicles, going about their lawful business, came in wake of claims made by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that some retired generals and ranking officers, with ties to the former administration, are planning to destabilize the government.

"We apologized for the alarm caused by it, but we want to assure you that the movement is authorized and that we (the AFP) remain partisan free and professional," he said.

He declined to give other specifics on the military convoy for security reasons.

Catapang dispels coup plot rumors

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Catapang dispels coup plot rumors

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang on Wednesday dismissed reports that the military will launch a coup against the duly elected government.

He stressed that the AFP remains loyal to the chain-of-command.

"There's no truth to that report," Catapang said.

The AFP chief stated that there is no need to conduct a loyalty check on all members of the AFP.

"We are all loyal to the duly constituted authorities, loyal to the flag, country and people. The AFP is a professional organization," he pointed out.

"We are all focused to out mandate our protecting the people and the state," Catapang concluded.

Earlier, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV claimed that former generals with ties to the former administration are planning to destabilize the government.

2 troopers killed, 6 wounded in NPA attack in Davao Del Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): 2 troopers killed, 6 wounded in NPA attack in Davao Del Norte

Two soldiers were killed while six others were seriously following an attack by rebels with an improvised explosive device (IED) in Sitio Kapatagan, Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong town, Davao Del Norte Tuesday.

The slain and wounded troopers are from the 60th Infantry Battalion, Capt. Ernest Carolina said.

He said the were soldiers were conducting needs and assessments survey at the above-mentioned locality when the New People's Army (NPA) staged the attack.

Two troopers were instantly killed and six others wounded. Two of the injured soldiers were immediately evacuated for treatment.

Carolina said pursuit operations are still ongoing.

Palace shrugs off destabilization plot

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Palace shrugs off destabilization plot

Malacanang on Wednesday brushed aside reports of a new coup plot allegedly hatched by some retired generals, noting the Aquino administration has already implemented reforms to strengthen the country’s armed forces.

“We just want to affirm and to assure the public that there [is] no restiveness in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a press briefing.

Lacierda stressed that the involvement of rank-and-file or men and women in active service is an important component for any coup attempt to be successful.

“(But) there are no reports of restiveness amongst the rank-and-file of the AFP...The reason for the lack of interest is, I think, primarily the reforms that the Aquino administration has already implemented with respect to the armed forces,” he said.

“We have provided mission essential equipment to the people on the ground. We have provided housing units. We have modernized the AFP. These are the measures that we have implemented in order to strengthen our AFP. And the rank-and-file realize and do recognize and appreciate the efforts of the Aquino administration in this respect,” he added.

Lacierda said the soldiers have recognized the government’s commitment to providing the basic tools to defend the country.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV earlier warned of possible coup plot against the government being hatched by some retired generals with alleged links to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“And (AFP information chief) Lieutenant Colonel Demy Zagala has come out immediately and to assure the public that there is no such restiveness in the armed forces—in the men and women of the active service,” Lacierda said.