Friday, July 26, 2013

TFD commander assures of terror-free Kadayawan

From the Sun Star-Davao (Jul 26): TFD commander assures of terror-free Kadayawan

TASK Force Davao (TFD) assured on Thursday the people of Davao City and other local and foreign tourists of a terrorism-free celebration of the 2013 Kadayawan Festival.

"Hindi lang magiging masaya ang stay niyo dito for Kadayawan, safe din," Task Force Davao commander Colonel Casiano Monilla said during the I-Speak Forum at the City Hall conference room Thursday.

Monilla said TFD will work in close coordination with the Public Safety and Security Command Center and Davao City Police Office to ensure that nothing untoward incident will happen during the celebration.

He said they will not only secure the festival's events, but also the other places in the city that are populated like malls, among others.

The TFD head said he has asked the 1003rd Brigade to send two platoons to conduct patrol within the city.

"Eto yung ini-inplace natin, to conduct mobile checkpoints in areas that would lead to the city proper," Monilla said.

At least three companies are deployed to man the city's checkpoints and another two patrol groups two guard the shorelines, according to Monilla.

"We closely monitor sa mga terrorists to ensure na we will be a step ahead sa kanila. Gumagalaw pa lang sila, alam na naming agad," he said.

Despite the negative travel advisory released by three countries, he said he can safely say that there is no direct terrorism threat in Davao City.

Although Monilla admitted that there are terrorist groups in Mindanao, they have not so far monitored any direct threat to this city.

"We always think na meron silang attempt, so we can act properly and secure Davao City," Monilla said.

In preparation for the Kadayawan Festival, he said they will be beefing up their security forces by adding another layer in Binugao, Toril for checkpoints.

CPP-NPA stays on EU terror list

From ABS-CBN (Jul 26): CPP-NPA stays on EU terror list

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), remain on the European Union's list of terrorist organizations.

The EU's Official Journal -- the bloc's record of decisions and their implementation -- show the CPP-NPA on the latest list of 11 persons and 25 groups deemed to be involved in terrorist activity.

The CPP-NPA have been fighting successive governments for 44 years in a rebellion that has claimed at least 30,000 lives.

President Benigno Aquino hoped to end the rebellion before his six-year term expires in 2016, but the government said in April that peace talks had collapsed due to rebel demands such as for the release of captured comrades.

In recent months, the communist rebels have launched more assaults, often targeting unarmed soldiers, police, and civilians.

Being on the EU terror list means the bloc imposes sanctions imposed on the communist group, its members and officials.

The sanctions include prohibition of sale or transfer of weapons, freezing of funds and other financial assets or resources, ban on entry or transit through the territories of EU member-states.

The EU also formally listed the armed wing of the powerful Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah as a terrorist entity Friday.

The listing will most likely result in an assets freeze but analysts have warned it may be virtually impossible in practice to distinguish between Hezbollah's military and political wings.

Others on the list include Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza, Colombian rebel group FARC, and Peru's Shining Path.

PNP: Soldier wounded in clash with armed men in ComVal

From GMA News (Jul 26): PNP: Soldier wounded in clash with armed men in ComVal

A soldier was wounded in a clash with armed men in Maco town in Compostela Valley province Tuesday, the Philippine National Police said Thursday.
In a post on its news site, the PNP identified the injured soldier as Pfc. Wilson Pascua, who suffered a wound on the right shoulder.
Pascua is a member of the Bravo Company of the Philippine Army's 71st Infantry Brigade.
The PNP said Pascua sustained the injury after two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) exploded while the company was in the area.
The PNP said the Bravo Company then engaged armed men under one Kumander Pakat of the "Front Committee 2" in Sitio Lantawan in Brgy. Sangab, Maco town.
It did not indicate what group the "Front Committee 2" belonged to.
Pascua was brought to Panacan Hospital for treatment.

Palace won't terminate pacts with MNLF

From GMA News (Jul 26): Palace won't terminate pacts with MNLF

Malacañang on Friday denied that it plans to terminate all pacts between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
"It is not true that the Philippine government has asked the OIC for the abrogation of any and all agreements between the government and the MNLF," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said during a press briefing.
Valte was reacting to former MNLF leader Nur Misuari's allegation that the government is asking the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to end all agreements with the MNLF. The Philippine government and the MNLF signed a peace pact in 1996.
Valte, however, said that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita "Ging" Deles is actually in Indonesia to speak with the foreign minister about the MNLF. 
President Aquino's administration is in the final stages of negotiations for a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is expected to result in a Bangsamoro Political Entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The MILF is a splinter group of the MNLF.

China's new '10-dash line map' eats into Philippine territory

From GMA News (Jul 26): China's new '10-dash line map' eats into Philippine territory

The Sinomap Press map showing China's new "10-dash line."

The Philippines has protested China's recent publication of a new "10-dash line" map that places sprawling offshore territories it claims within Beijing's "national boundaries," officials said Friday.

In a  confidential June 7, 2013 note verbale handed to the Chinese Embassy in Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it "protests the reference to those dash lines as China's national boundaries."

The new Chinese map, which was first published last January by China's state mapping authority Sinomap Press, features 10 dash lines instead of nine dash lines to mark a huge swath of the South China Sea in a tongue-shaped encirclement as Chinese territory.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have been contesting China's massive claim of the territory.

Nine dashes in the new Chinese map are in the South China Sea and a tenth dash has been placed near Taiwan, purportedly to signify that territory's status as a Chinese province.

Reinforcing territorial claims

An analyst said the new map was another step by China to reinforce its territorial claims amid a series of territorial confrontations in recent years and the legal challenge posed by Manila against Beijing's claims before an international arbitration tribunal.

Professor Carl Thayer of the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy said, "The significance of China's latest map of the South China Sea lies not in its ten-dash lines but the naming of numerous features in the South China Sea that had not been listed on previous maps.

"China appear to be laying the ground for claiming sovereignty of every feature, such as reefs, shoals as well as rocks, islets and islands," Thayer told GMA News Online by e-mail.

"Asian claimants should issue official statements reiterating their claims to sovereignty over features in the South China Sea. They should also state unequivocally that naming a feature on a map so recently will not be taken as evidence of sovereignty by any international court of legal tribunal," Thayer said.

"Maps, in international law, are only pieces of information. The key to sovereignty is to demonstrate long-standing continuous occupation and administration over features in the South China Sea," he added.

Strong objection

The DFA stated in its protest that it "strongly objects to the indication that the nine-dash lines are China's national boundaries in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea."

The Philippine government has adopted the name West Philippine Sea to refer to parts of the South China Sea within its territory that are also being claimed by China.

Vietnam has also squared off with China in the contested region due to recent maritime confrontations. Many countries are threatened that the conflicts could suddenly turn violent, even by accident, and result in a major armed conflict in Asia.

China claims "indisputable sovereignty" over the entire waters, where undersea gas deposits have been discovered in several areas. China's claims overlap with the offshore territories claimed by Asian neighbors surrounding the South China Sea.


The Philippines has sought international arbitration and asked a tribunal formed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), based in The Hague, to declare China's massive territorial claim as illegal and invalid.

The DFA reiterated its position in the note verbale that China's claim "has no basis under international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS.”

UNCLOS is a 1982 accord by 163 countries, including the Philippines and China, that aims to govern the use of offshore areas and sets territorial limits of coastal states.

"Like other littoral states in the South China Sea, China is a state party to the UNCLOS and as such its maritime areas are only those which are established by UNCLOS. Maritime claims of China based on the nine-dash line are contrary to UNCLOS and invalid," the document said.

China's nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea, it added, "encroaches on the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines" and in Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal, site of a standoff last year between Chinese and Philippine ships.

The Philippines maintains that Scarborough lies within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as mandated by the UNCLOS.

The standoff temporarily ended in June last year when President Benigno S. Aquino III ordered the withdrawal of Philippine vessels in the area due to bad weather. China's ships stayed put and Chinese authorities set up barriers at the narrow mouth of the shoal to block non-Chinese fishermen, including Filipino fishermen, from gaining entry.

American officials have warned that it was in the US national interest that the disputes are resolved peacefully and freedom of navigation is guaranteed in the contested waters.

3 naval helicopters to be deployed aboard Hamilton cutters

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): 3 naval helicopters to be deployed aboard Hamilton cutters

The three AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" naval helicopters, scheduled for delivery this December, will be deployed aboard the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano said Friday.

"The (helicopters) will increase the frigates capability for maritime surveillance," he added.

The PN chief stressed the two ships and naval helicopters will greatly improve the Navy's maritime situational awareness or the capability to detect, monitor and engage any seaborne threat.

Alano said this is possible because both ships are equipped with a landing pad and a telescoping hangar.

The flight and maintenance crews of the three AW-109 "Power" helicopters are now undergoing training at Italy, the PN chief added.

Alano said the helicopters will be delivered and assembled in the Philippines by December.

Both ships will be deployed to protect the West Philippines Sea.

Cutters, naval helicopters to develop PHL 'Active Archipelagic Defense Strategy'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): Cutters, naval helicopters to develop PHL 'Active Archipelagic Defense Strategy'

With the arrival of the country's second Hamilton-class cutter this August and delivery of the three AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" naval helicopters by December, the Philippines is now poised to develop its "Active Archipelagic Defense Strategy."

The latter refers to the capability to secure and protect the country's massive waters, Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano said.

He added this program will be an important part of the Philippines' defense system once it reaches full bloom or potential.

Alano earlier called the impending arrival of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz this August and delivery of the three naval helicopters by December a "significant milestone."

"The PN finds it to be a significant development in line with the (ongoing) modernization program and capability upgrade," he added.

"These helicopters are just a few among the list of future acquisition for the PN in order to attain its vision of becoming a strong and credible Navy that our maritime nation can be proud of," the PN chief emphasized.

PHL-Japan to tackle sea disputes in Manila talks – DFA

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): PHL-Japan to tackle sea disputes in Manila talks – DFA

The Philippines and Japan are expected to discuss the territorial disputes in the South China Sea during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit this weekend, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday.

Abe, who arrives Friday night for a two-day visit as part of his three-nation Southeast Asian swing that includes Singapore and Malaysia, will meet with President Benigno S. Aquino III Saturday to discuss “regional security issues,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez sad.

“The West Philippine Sea disputes will also be discussed as part of regional security issues,” Hernandez told a news conference.

Both countries have had separate territorial disputes with China that have flared recently. The Philippines is locked in a long-running dispute with China over the South China Sea while Japan and Beijing are contesting ownership over islands called Senkaku by Japan and referred as Diaoyu in Chinese.

Japan has expressed its full support to the Philippines’ decision to bring its territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea before a United Nations arbitration tribunal, which recently convened in The Hague, Netherlands to discuss Manila’s complaint. The Philippine case will try to declare as illegal China’s massive claims over the resource-rich waters.

The South China Sea - a strategic waterway where a bulk of the world's trade pass – had been a source of conflict among competing claimants the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, China and Taiwan.

The vast waters – claimed by China nearly in its entirety - is dotted with islands, reefs, cays, shoals and rock formations and is believed to be rich in natural gas and oil deposits.

Analysts feared the competing claims could spark a military conflict in the region.

Japan is one of only two strategic partners of the Philippines apart from the United States.

In 2012, Japan was the Philippines’ number one trade partner and provider of official development assistance as well as the second major source of approved investments and third source of tourist arrivals.

Aquino expresses belief Armed Forces capable of fulfilling its mandate

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): Aquino expresses belief Armed Forces capable of fulfilling its mandate

President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed strong belief in the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in fulfilling its mandate to protect the lives of the Filipinos.

In his speech during the celebration of the 24th National Annual Convention of the School for Reserve Commission and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Office Candidate for School Alumni Association Inc. held at the Tejeros Hall, AFP Commissioned Officer's Clubhouse in Camp Aguinaldo on Friday, the Chief Executive cited the AFP personnel for their integrity and bravery in fulfiling their duties to protect the lives of the citizens and maintain peace and order.

"Sa lahat ng bumubuo ng Sandatahang Lakas, nananalig ako sa inyong dangal at kabayanihan upang manatiling ligtas at payapa ang bawat sulok ng bansa. Bawat problemang ating nalalampasan; lahat ng pagkilala ng mundo sa mga pagbabagong tinatamasa ng ating bayan, at anumang tagumpay ng ating pamahalaan, bahagi palagi ang inyong hanay dito," President Aquino said.

"Kayong mga kawal, kayong mga sundalo, kayong mga bayaning Pilipino ---kayo ang mukha ng transpormasyon. Ipinagmamalaki ko kayo, ipinagmamalaki kayo ng lahing Pilipino," he stressed.

Aquino assured his administration's unwavering commitment and support for the AFP to further enhance its capabilities. He also vowed to provide more programs for the AFP personnel to improve the status of their lives and their families.

"Hindi pa rin po nagbabago ang posisyon ko ukol dito: Sang-ayon ako sa malawakang modernisasyon ng kasundaluhan, subalit hindi natin maaaring isugal ang mga pangunahing pangangailangan ng sambayanan, tulad ng edukasyon, kalusugan, at trabaho, para lang magmukhang matikas sa mata ng ibang bansa," he said.

With the signing of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act last December, President Aquino expressed confidence that the AFP can now better perform its mandate of upholding the sovereignty and defending the territorial integrity of the country at all times.

"Ngayon, sa unang tatlong taon pa lamang natin sa tuwid na daan, nahigitan na natin ito, at pumalo na sa 27.62 billion pesos ang nai-release nating pondo para sa AFP Modernization Program. Nilagdaan din natin noong Disyembre ang Revised AFP Modernization Act, kung saan kaakibat ng nailaan nang 75 bilyong pisong pondo sa unang limang taon ng programa, ay masisiguro rin ang implementasyon nito sa darating pang 15 taon," he said.

"Kumpiyansa akong hindi tayo madidiskaril dito, lalo pa’t katuwang ko ang mga kawal na kasapi ng AFP Officers Candidate School Alumni Association, gayundin ang mga kasama nating nagdiriwang ng ika-24 na National Convention of the School for Reserve Commission. Sakto nga po ang tema ng ating pagtitipon: Kaisa ng sambayanan para sa pagsulong sa tuwid na daan," he stressed.

The President also lauded the awardees belonging to the AFP and the Philippine Coast Guard for their exemplary contributions toward equitable progress.

"Kaisa ang sambayanan sa pagsulong sa tuwid na daan. Saludo po ako sa inyong pakikiambag tungo sa transpormasyon, lalo na sa 15 mahuhusay na kasapi ninyong pinarangalan ngayong hapon. Talaga naman pong sa sakuna man o sa banta ng masasamang elemento, buwis-buhay ang kabayanihan at paglilingkod ninyo sa bansa. Kaya naman sa ngalan ng bawat Pilipinong nakakatulog nang mahimbing dahil sa pagpapanatili ninyo ng kapayapaan at kaligtasan, maraming salamat po sa inyo," he said.

During the event which has for its theme "Team OCS: Kaisa ng Sambayanan Para sa Pagsusulong sa Tuwid na Daan", President Aquino witnessed the awarding ceremonies of outstanding graduates.

Defense Undersecretary Honorio S. Azcueta led the presentation of awards to outstanding graduates who are now currently belong to Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Coast Guard.

Also in attendance were AFP Chief of Staff Emmanuel T. Bautista, Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano, among others.

(Update) Army Special Forces rescue govt workers in capsized pump boat off Cotabato City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): (Update) Army Special Forces rescue govt workers in capsized pump boat off Cotabato City

Government forces took time off Thursday night in securing vital government installations in the borders of Maguindanao and Cotabato City to rescue eight government workers whose pump boat capsized along the mouth of Rio Grande de Mindanao, the Army here said.

Colonel Dickson Hermoso, speaking for the Army's 6th Infantry Division, said members of the Special Forces Company station in Barangay Bucana rescued the victims at about 6 p.m. shortly after their motorized banca turned upside down.

According to Hermoso, the overloaded motorboat was heading to Cotabato City from the village of Pura in Datu Blah Sinsuat in nearby Maguindanao province.

Hermoso identified those rescued as Charisma Karon-Malolo and Moharim I Karon, both working for the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), Mohammad Karon, Hadja Sarah Iskak Karon, Undang Kusain, and Moein Galib, all from the office of the ARMM vice governor. Two of the rescued passengers were unidentified.

Using their Australian-made air boats, the Special Forces fished off the victims from drowning and being wash away into the high seas.

Hermoso said the timely and quick report forwarded by a certain Bong Sumlay of the National Commission on Muslim Filipino led to the rescue of the survivors.

The survivors who are already declared out of danger were on a field visit in Barangay Pura and were heading back to Cotabato City when the accident happened.

Zambo mayor urges OPAPP to solve issues of diverse groups

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): Zambo mayor urges OPAPP to solve issues of diverse groups

Authorities in this city were on alert starting Thursday, as various text messages causing undue alarm among the people, circulated in this city.

While the convergence is not a violation per se, Salazar said the authorities remain vigilant to ensure safety and protection of the civilians who have been traumatized because of the November 27, 2001 “Cabatangan siege.”

“We still remember this and we do not want to further traumatize the people and the children of Zamboanga City and so if possible, we strongly request that the OPAPP come in and have these dialogues and other activities done in ARMM,” she added.

Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar has called on the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to address issues of diverse groups pertaining to the proposed framework agreement and to confine all collective efforts within areas under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and not in this city.

“Zamboanga City is for peace and supports the government stand on peace process in Mindanao, we uphold our stand on non-inclusion in ARMM and thus call on OPAPP to address issues of diverse groups and confine them in ARMM as Zamboanga City is not part of ARMM,” Salazar said, as she revealed about a City Council resolution and a letter sent to the OPAPP regarding the matter.

“We will stand by the desires of the Zamboangueños,” Salazar declared.

Salazar on Tuesday formally wrote Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles of OPAPP, copy furnished to the Office of the President, seeking intervention through the provision of another avenue where these groups can truly and freely ventilate their grievances in a forum where their sentiments can be shared and felt--which she said should be held in ARMM areas only.

“While it is beyond my comprehension of the MNLF decision that the supposed venue be held here in the city, it must be stressed that Zamboanga City is not part of the ARMM, a political resolution made known, through an overwhelming votes cast by our constituents, in a plebiscite called for that purpose,” she said in the letter to the OPAPP.

The mayor was prompted to write the letter in the wake of a reported consultative meeting/assembly by MNLF forces at the residence of former ARMM governor and MNLF chair Nur Misuari in his residence in Barangay San Roque, this city.
Misuari, in a press conference Thursday morning held at his residence in Barangay San Roque this city, has questioned the build up of troops in this city, Basilan and Sulu and declared the proposed framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as without basis.

Court denies bail for Palparan's co-accused

From Rappler (Jul 26): Court denies bail for Palparan's co-accused

WHERE IS HE? Retired Maj Gen Jovito Palparan, in this file photo, remains at large while his two co-accused are denied bail. File photo by Rappler

WHERE IS HE? Retired Maj Gen Jovito Palparan, in this file photo, remains at large while his two co-accused are denied bail. File photo by Rappler
A local court has denied the application for bail of the two co-accused of fugitive retired Maj Gen Jovito Palparan in the alleged abduction of students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
In a July 12 order, Malolos regional trial court Judge Teodora Gonzales said the accused, Army Col Felipe Anotado and S/ Sgt Edgardo Osorio, were not able to present strong evidence that would favor their application for bail.

The court said "the prosecution thus far had shown that evidence of guilt against the accused for said crimes is strong."

Palparan and the two were charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention for the disappearance of Empeno and Cadapan. The two University of the Philippines students have been missing for 7 years now. They were abducted by armed men in Hagonoy, Bulacan, on June 26, 2006, at the height of the Arroyo administration's campaign against suspected communist guerrillas.

READ: 2 UP students still missing after 7 years

Palparan was once the commanding general of the Army's 7th infantry division which has jurisdiction over Bulacan. Notorious for alleged human rights violations, he remains at large.

Among the 4 witnesses presented by the prosecution against Palparan and his men was Wilfredo Ramos, who said he saw the two victims "dragged, hogtied and boarded" in a stainless jeepney that day.

Ramos also mentioned he had seen a certain S/ Sgt Edgardo Osorio "as the one who hogtied Sherlyn and Karen during the incident."

Another witness, Raymond Manalo, who testified he had also been kidnapped but managed to escape, said he personally saw a certain Col Felipe Anotado, as "having the custody of Karen and Sherlyn for some specific time during the abduction."

"Allegedly he was the one who fetched victims Sherlyn and Karen for a dialogue with M/ Gen Palparan on September 1, 2006, while they were detained in the 24th Infantry Batallion in Limay, Bataan, that Col Anotado likewise visited Limay, Bataan for three occasions, where at one time the latter conversed with witness Manalo," the prosecution said.

"As to whether or not the accused were only maliciously pinpointed for the kidnapping of the victims is a matter that at this stage can only be considered as a defense that calls for further factual support in the course of judicial proceedings," the prosecution added.

The other witnesses presented were Empeno's mother Concepcion as well as Cadapan's mother-in-law Adoracion Paulino.

Paulino testified that Cadapan went to her house in Calumpit, Bulacan "accompanied by several soldiers to get some clothes.... after her disappearance on June 26, 2006."

Soldiers and a can of sardines

From Rappler (Jul 26): Soldiers and a can of sardines

How good are Filipino soldiers in the battlefield?

They were able to "invent" the quickest way to fix jammed M60 machine guns, President Benigno Aquino III said in a speech before active and retired reserve candidate officers in Camp Aguinaldo on Friday, July 26. He led the awarding ceremonies for Oustanding Soldiers.

An old, Vietnam war-era weapon, the M60 is a belt-fed machine gun, and sometimes the ammunition doesn't feed smoothly into it. The Filipino soldier's solution? Get a sardines can to serve as "roller" for the ammunition.

"Our helicopters used to have M60 machine guns. They always got jammed. Filipinos had an invention. They placed a roller for the ammunition. They used 555 sardine cans," Aquino said. "I was told our allies copied our invention because it's more effective than their invention," Aquino added.

The President was also impressed with an awardee who, under pressure, found a way to connect communication lines between a helicopter, an airplane, and ground troops. "He found a way to connect them. I think he used a cell phone," the President said.

AFP modernization

The President reiterated his committment to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He announced in May a P75-billion military upgrade to help defend the country's maritime territory against what he called "bullies."

Manila is caught in a row with Beijing over the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), a territorial dispute that is putting tremendous pressure on the military, whose resources and personnel are deployed to fight local wars.

READ: P75-B for PH Navy to 'resist' bullies and Finish insurgency, AFP chief tells commanders

"Pakay ho natin ibigay ang pangangailangan n’yo sa lahat ng larangan, at kapag kayo naman po ay nagkulang, mayroon na tayong karapatan na magsabi: “Bakit nagkulang pa kayo?" ("What we want to do is to provide you with what you need. If you fall short of expectations, we will have the right to ask: 'Why did you still fail to deliver'?")

"Asahan ninyo ako. Nasa likod ninyo ako. Nasa harapan ninyo ako. Kung kakailangan nasa harap, sa harap, kung kailangan nasa likod, nasa likod—para sa kapakanan ng buong sambayanan," he added. (I will suppport you all the way, for the sake of the country.)

Fighter jets

The President gave assurances the military will get new equipment. "Kumpiyansa akong hindi tayo madidiskaril dito."

READ: PH to buy 12 South Korean fighter aircraft and DND wants delivery of 4 fighter aircraft ASAP

"For those who have doubts, let me emphasize: we will continue to strengthen the armed forces through honest and reasonable means. I will make sure this happens the soonest possible time," the President said.

The defense department plans to procure 12 fighter aircraft from South Korea. It is waiting for Malacañang to approve the sales agreement for the delivery of the first batch of 4 aircraft.
As Aquino made his commitment, he said the AFP modernization cannot be prioritized at the expense of the primary needs of the country — education, health, and jobs — "just so we can appear strong in the eyes of other countries."
"It is our duty to balance the allocation of government resources while we are working with neighboring countries for the stability of our region," he added.
Aquino said a total of P27.62 billion was released for the AFP Modernization Program since he assumed office.
He also cited the new law extending the AFP modernization plan until 2015 and allocating P75 billion for the first 5 years of the program.
He said he is looking forward to the arrival of BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the country's second Hamilton Class Cutter.

Navy warship arrives in August, helicopters in December

From Rappler (Jul 26): Navy warship arrives in August, helicopters in December

COMING: BRP Ramon Alacaraz is expected to arrive in the Philippines August 3
COMING: BRP Ramon Alacaraz is expected to arrive in the Philippines August 3

Two weeks from now, August 3, warship BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) is expected to arrive in the Philippines. It is the country's second Hamilton class cutter and will be deployed within the country's exclusive economic zone for maritime security and sovereignty patrols.

Helicopters that will support the warship will also arrive in December. The first batch of 3 Augusta 109 helicopters will be delivered. It will work in "tandem" with Alcaraz and BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, the country's other warship.

The Philippines accused China of "massive" military buildup at sea. The United Nations' International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has begun to hear the Philippines' case against China.

Navy chief Vice Adm Jose Luis Alano said Alcaraz and the helicopters will "help greatly."

"It's part of the total system that we're using in terms of our maritime security. This forms part of the Navy's strategy to secure our territory through the active archipelagic defense strategy that we are currently formulating," Alano said.

"The first part of it is maritime situational awareness, which requires vessels like the Del Pilar and Alcaraz to be able to go out there and be aware of what is happening around us," Alano added.


Acquired for P600 million, the BRP Alcaraz is the second Hamilton class cutter from the US. The first is BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, which was commissioned in December 2011.

In 2012, the Del Pilar was involved in the Scarborough Shoal standoff.

Alcaraz and Del Pilar are capable of conducting patrols for long periods of time. It can also withstand heavy weather and rough sea conditions.

Meanwhile, Alano said the crew of the Augusta 109 helicopters are training in Italy to get the necessary qualifications.

"They will be part or the extension of the vessels to increase their capability for maritime surveillance," Alano said. "Helicopters will extend the range of our awareness because we have a very large area to cover," he added.

The Philippine Navy is also planning to buy two frigates although the defense department has yet to hold a bidding for the procurement. It has an allocation of P18 billion. "It's in the process now. We are coming up with the final documents for bidding," Alano said.