Saturday, August 3, 2013

BRP Ramon Alcaraz meets sister ship in Bolinao, Pangasinan

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 3): BRP Ramon Alcaraz meets sister ship in Bolinao, Pangasinan

After two months in the high seas, BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the second Hamilton-class cutter in Philippine service, was met off Bolinao, Pangasinan by its sister ship, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and an estimated 30 civilian craft Saturday.

This took place around 3 p.m., according to Philippine Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic.

After the "meeting point" ceremonies which lasted for almost an hour, BRP Ramon Alcaraz will proceed to Subic Bay, Zambales escorted by the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar.

The country's newest frigate is expected to dock in Subic Bay late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

"BRP Ramon Alcaraz will anchor for CIQ or customs, immigration, and quarantine until Monday or two days," Fabic stressed.

After the CIQ processing, the ship will then moor at the Alava Wharf for the welcome ceremony to be led by President Benigno S. Aquino III Aug. 6.

The Filipino warship began its maiden voyage to its new home, Philippines, when it departed Charleston, South Carolina June 10

The ship made port stops in Mayport, Florida; San Diego, California; Hawaii, and Guam.

Last July 28 at exactly 2 p.m., BRP Ramon Acaraz left Guam for the final stretch of its journey to the Philippines.

One of the officers on board BRP Ramon Alcaraz, Lt. (JG) Errol Cruz, wrote in his blog that the sail past activity in Casiguran marked the first official activity of Alcaraz in Philippine territory.

Army chief urges men to sustain anti-insurgency gains in E. Visayas

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 3): Army chief urges men to sustain anti-insurgency gains in E. Visayas

The commanding general of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes, has directed the officers and men of the 8th Infantry Division to maintain the success in addressing the insurgency problem in the region.

Coballes, who was the guest of honor and speaker during the 8th ID’s 25th founding anniversary here Friday, urged his men to continue engaging the people in shared thrust and responsibility for peace and security in Eastern Visayas.

“We should preserve your accomplishment and ensure the reduced insurgency-related issues and rebel activities to pave the way in implementing the government’s economic programs,” he said.

He exhorted the soldiers to work with the people and sustain the peace and development efforts as even as he recognized the division’s momentum on focused military operations against the New People’s Army in the first semester of 2013.

“No matter what gains we achieved, it is weakened by issues that will agitate people and exploit them to support the armed struggle. We have to sustain the effective implementation of our counter-insurgency strategy under the IPSP Bayanihan”, said the Mindanao veteran in-charge of the military’s most dominant branch of service at 80,000-strong men and women.

Under the Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan”, the Armed Forces aims to “conclude” by 2016 internal security threats from the CPP-NPA-NDF, Abu Sayyaf Group, rogue MNLF elements, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter.

Coballes, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Mapitagan” Class of 1980, also lauded the 8ID under Maj. Gen. Gerardo Layug for demonstrating exemplary and commendable dedication to duty with the declaration of six provinces under its area of operation as Manageable Conflict-Affected and Development-Ready Areas (MACADRA).

The MACADRA-declared areas are the provinces of Biliran, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Eastern Samar.

Meanwhile, the Army is targeting 2014 to also proclaim Samar and Northern Samar provinces as MACADRA-declared zones.

Kiram: Sultanate areas not part of Bangsamoro

From the Mindanao Standard Today (Aug 3): Kiram: Sultanate areas not part of Bangsamoro

The Sulu Sultanate has rejected the inclusion of its ancestral territories to the planned Bangsamoro region in Mindanao, saying the government had no right to turn them over to a political entity controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Abraham Idjirani, spokesman of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, said the Sulu Archipelago comprising Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga and Palawan were owned by the sultanate.

“The subject of turning over the Ancestral Kingdom of the Sultanate of Sulu in the Sulu Archipelago to the MILF defined under the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement will prejudice its historical truths and patrimony,” Idjirani said.

“This is notwithstanding the political truth that these territories were the same territories defined in the 1996 MNLF [Moro National Liberation Front]-GRP Accord signed by President Ramos and MNLF Chairman Nurullaji Misuari.”

Idjirani said transferring the sovereignty of the Sulu Sultanate to the MILF-controlled region was “technical treason.”

The Sulu Sultanate, a close ally of Misuari, made the statement amid the MNLF’s threat to establish an independent republic in Mindanao even as Malacañang said no Muslim groups would be left out in the establishment of the new Bangsamoro region.

Idjirani said the government was treating the Sulu Sultanate like a “hotcake” that would soon be handed over to the MILF without prior consultation with sultanate officials.

“Under what authority, therefore, did the officials and authorities of the PNoy administration discard the protection of the Sultan of Sulu and its ancestral kingdom in the Sulu Archipelago?” Idjirani said.

He said the Sulu Archipelago was part of the territories Spain ceded to the United States by virtue of the Treaty of Paris signed on Dec. 10, 1898. In 1935, the US government had those ancestral territories incorporated into the Philippines.

Despite the vehement objection of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III’s great ancestors to join the Philippines as an independent State, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and his nine living brothers and sisters and all other Kiram heirs embraced Filipino citizenship without qualifications, Idjirani said.

“The Bangsamoro Framework Agreement is a legal mechanism to proclaim the greatest grabbing of their [the sultanate’s] ancestral land by both the Philippine government and their Muslim brethren in the MILF, just like Sabah by Malaysia, a Muslim state,” Idjirani said in describing the MILF-GRP peace pact signed last year.

Photo: The French Ship "La Tapageuse"

Posted to Rappler (Aug 3): Photo: The French Ship "La Tapageuse"

NEW SHIP. The 26-year-old "La Tapageuse" vessel is likely to be the first of several French ships that will be acquired by the Philippine coastguard. July 2003 file photo from Wikimedia Commons/user Rama

NEW SHIP. The 26-year-old "La Tapageuse" vessel is likely to be the first of several French ships that will be acquired by the Philippine coastguard. July 2003 file photo from Wikimedia Commons/user Rama

Mindanao bombs: over 300 killed in 12 yrs

From Rappler (Aug 3): Mindanao bombs: over 300 killed in 12 yrs

SEARCH. Investigators sift through the rubble after an explosion outside the Fitmart Department Store in April 2002. Photos by Edwin Espejo

SEARCH. Investigators sift through the rubble after an explosion outside the Fitmart Department Store in April 2002. Photos by Edwin Espejo

The powerful blast in Cagayan De Oro on July 26 was one of the deadliest of bloody bombing attacks in Mindanao in more than two years.

Eight people were killed (6 of them on the spot) when a still undetermined explosive device tore through a bar in Limketkai Center more than a week ago, on a Friday night.

Although the number of casualties may not be as staggering as other Mindanao bombings in the past, it finally broke the Northern Mindanao city’s relative immunity from terror attacks.

Many are now wishing the Limketkai bombing will not be a portent of things to come for Cagayan de Oro, although there were two incidents prior to it.

Beyond Cagayan de Oro, hub of trade and commerce in Northern Mindanao, other cities and regions across the island have gone through worse agonies.

Zamboanga Peninsula1048336
Davao Region652315
Northern Mindanao548190

Hardest hit region

But it is not in war-torn regions where most of the deadliest bombing attacks occurred from 2000 to 2012. Rather, it is in Region 12 or Soccsksargen, where you find the cities of General Santos, Cotabato, Kidapawan, Koronadal, and Tacurong, and the provinces of South Cotabato, Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani.

In the last 12 years, a total of 25 bombing and grenade attacks occurred in the region.
In terms of the number casualties and the number of bomb explosions, no area in Mindanao can surpass General Santos City.

At least 13 bombs exploded in 7 bombing attacks in the city, killing 48 people and wounding at least 201 others, all of them civilians.

The casualty figures in General Santos accounted for 38% of the 125 civilians killed and 21% of the 585 wounded in the bombing attacks in the region during the period.

The bloodiest were the April 21, 2002 Fitmart explosion and the Dec 12, 2004 bombing attack in the meat section of the GenSan public market. At least 15 people were killed in each explosion, while 55 and 64 people were injured respectively. The police authorities blamed the terror attacks on the Abu Sayyaf-Jemaah Islamiya terror group.

Powerful blasts in Tacurong City (Dec 31, 2002) and Koronadal City (May 9, 2003) also each claimed the lives 10 civilians and wounded a total of 74.

Ten people were also killed when an explosive devise went off inside a traveling passenger bus in Matalam, Cotabato.

The single bloodiest bombing incident was the explosion of an incendiary bomb inside a bus while aboard a ferry, Lady Meiatrix, which was on its way from Panguil Bay to Ozamis City on Feb 25, 2000.

At least 41 people were killed, while more than 100 ferry passengers were wounded.
All told, the 61 recorded bombing incidents in Mindanao have claimed the lives of at least 354 civilians and a handful of military and police personnel from 2000 to 2012. More than 1,775 were also wounded in these attacks.

ARMM, Zamboanga regions

After Region 12, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) ranks 2nd, with at least 15 bombing-related attacks that killed at least 81 and maimed 349 people, majority of them civilians.

The bloodiest bombing incident in ARMM was a bomb explosion in front of a gymnasium packed with people watching a basketball game in Parang, Maguindanao. Up to 24 were killed and more than 80 people were wounded.

The Zamboanga Peninsula region is 3rd, with 10 bombing incidents.

Davao Region had the fewest with 5 recorded incidents, but it also had one of the most sensational bombing incidents in Mindanao. An improvised explosive device went off and killed 21 people at the Davao City airport waiting shed on March 4, 2002. More than 140 persons were also wounded.

A month later, on April 2, another bomb exploded near a barbecue station in Sasa, near the airport. At least 17 people were killed, while 70 others suffered injuries in the 2nd explosion.

Until the recent bombings in Cagayan de Oro, Northern Mindanao was relatively free from bomb attacks, with only 5 incidents recorded from 2000-2012. So was the Caraga region, where no significant terror-related bombings had taken place.

VIOLENCE. The Fitmart explosion kills 15 people and wounds 55 others.

VIOLENCE. The Fitmart explosion kills 15 people and wounds 55 others

Banner years for terror

In terms of the number of bombing attacks, the heaviest were in 2009 and 2002, when 9 and 8 explosions, respectively, rocked Mindanao.

The rash of bombings came a year or two after a significant upsurge in armed confrontation between Moro rebels and government forces in Mindanao.

In 2000, then President Joseph Estrada ordered an all-out war against rebels, following pressures to end the war in Mindanao. In 2008, renegade commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) launched simultaneous attacks in Maguindanao,

Lanao provinces, and other areas in Mindanao following the botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

The MILF has openly and repeatedly denied any involvement in the Mindanao bombings.

Security and intelligence forces have also blamed the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) for most of these bombings.

In 2001, Noor Muhammad Umug, a captured Abu Sayyaf operative, admitted to having masterminded the burning of two shopping malls in General Santos. Months later, police blamed the ASG for the April 2002 bloody Fitmart bombing incident.

Umug has since turned state witness against captured fellow ASG members who were killed in a prison mutiny in 2005. Umug was part of the Abu Sayyaf Group that laid siege in Lamitan, Basilan in 2001, along with slain Abu Sabaya.

Maximum effect

The Cagayan de Oro blast was decidedly designed to optimize terror impact. It is a hub of economic activity in Northern Mindanao and a popular tourist destination.

Its proximity to Cebu City (an overnight ferry ride), also made it an ideal target, more so with the sense of security felt by residents who have been largely spared from the violence in Mindanao.

Several days before the Cagayan de Oro explosions, several foreign embassies warned their citizens from taking unnecessary trips to urban centers and major urban centers in Mindanao, citing intelligence reports of threats.

The security precautions covered Davao City, General Santos City, and Cagayan de Oro.

Are the perpetrators shifting arenas for their attacks? Who are they? Are they different faces of the same group, more ferocious in their purpose?

In 2005, a military officer said terrorists “have the choice of time and space.” They could attack anytime and anywhere at the least expected moment.

The bloody Cagayan de Oro bombing validated that.

Gov’t forces told to protect N. Cotabato highways, facilities

From the Manila Times (Aug 3): Gov’t forces told to protect N. Cotabato highways, facilities

POLICE and military forces in North Cotabato have been ordered to “secure” vital facilities and highways in the province amid threats of sporadic clashes between warring field combatants of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza issued the directive to the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade and the provinciaol police office at the recent meeting here of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) where participants drew up initiatives to curtail effects of the MNLF-MILF “pockets of war” in North Cotabato villages.

The lady governor asked the state forces to give particular attention to the safety of the Cotabato Sugar Central Company Inc. (Cosuceco) based in Matalam town’s Kilada, adjacent village of barangay Marbel where MILF and MNLF combatants had figured in fierce chases twice recently.

She said military and police forces should also prevent undue traffic interruptions in any part of national highways in the province, citing the July 23 firefight between MILF and MNLF combatants that forced authorities to impose a brief closure of a portion of Cotabato-Davao stretch along barangay Patadon, bordering Matalam town and this city.

The firefights in Marbel and Patadon villages had displaced hundreds of families.
The MILF-MNLF armed clashes in Marbel stemmed from a dispute over control of rich quarry business in such barangay, while that of the Patadon skirmish originated from quarrel over a five-hectare owned by the Agriculture Department’s Central Mindanao Agricuktural Research Center, official reports said.

The lady governor said the provincial could only coordinate dismal mediation efforts on the MILF-MNLF armed intramurals because the hierarchies of both Moro fronts and higher authorities are the rightful parties to resolve the disputes.

“I want the commitment of both MNLF and MILF in ending hostilities because this is detrimental to civilians and students,” she said in ordered an intensified police-military checkpoints and road blocks.

Meanwhile, Cotabato City-based MNLF central committee officials said Thursday they were reaching out to their counterparts in the MILF to come up with peaceful measures to end the fighting of their field forces in North Cotabato and elsewhere in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces.

For their part, Matalam Mayor Oscar Valdevieso and Habib Guaibar, president of the Cotabato Provincial Tourism Council, both committed to instigate a dialogue between local MNLF and MILF protagonists.

Pinoy hacktivists deface Chinese websites

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 3): Pinoy hacktivists deface Chinese websites

Numerous Chinese websites belonging to the Chinese gov't including a school has been defaced by Filipino members of Anonymous on Saturday, in retaliation for China's publication of a new map, where several disputed territories, including the Spratly islands, have been included in Chinese Territory according to Pinoy Hack News.

Included in the defacement was the website of the Yunnan University, the website of a Tianshu City agency and the website of the Henan Province.

According to the messages left on the defaced sites which are still active as of press time, the Philippines is for “pinoy's” only, and not for Chinese people.

The defacement were allegedly done by $kyl3, a member of hacktivist group Anonymous Aklan, according to the messages left on the websites.

TERROR ALERT | US issues global warning: al Qaeda may attack this month

From InterAksyon (Aug 3): TERROR ALERT | US issues global warning: al Qaeda may attack this month

The United States issued a worldwide warning Friday that Al-Qaeda may attack in August as it ordered shut its embassies across the Islamic world.

Britain also said it would temporarily close its embassy in Yemen as US lawmakers said the threat likely involved Al-Qaeda's franchise in the country.

The State Department said attacks were possible "particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula."

President Barack Obama had ordered his national security team to "take all appropriate steps to protect the American people," a White House official said.

"Current information suggests that Al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August," the State Department said in a worldwide travel alert for US citizens.

The alert warned of "the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure."

"It is much more specific than any of the threat lines that I've seen in the past 10 years," said Representative Peter King, a Republican who serves on the House intelligence committee.

As a precaution, the State Department said it was closing at least 22 US embassies or consulates on Sunday, a work day in many Islamic countries.

The missions cover virtually all of the Arab world and also include two embassies in predominantly Muslim non-Arab nations -- Afghanistan and Bangladesh -- as well as US-run facilities in Israel.

US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that some embassies or consulates may decide to remain closed after Sunday.

Britain is closing its embassy in Yemen on Sunday and Monday and has withdrawn staff, the Foreign Office said.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the special alert was issued due to information that was "specific, credible and non-counterable."

Under a policy since the 1988 Pan Am flight bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, the United States is obliged to share with its private citizens any safety information provided to US government employees.

The decision to go public and announce a threat comes as the US government faces criticism over surveillance of citizens, which Obama says is necessary for security.

The United States responded furiously on Thursday after Russia gave asylum to Edward Snowden, a former US contractor who revealed details of US snooping.

In Washington, Republicans have also criticized the Obama administration for not doing more to prevent an attack on September 11 last year against the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The assault blamed on Islamist militants killed four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens.

Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Republican who has criticized the Obama administration over the Benghazi attack, said he understood there was "a very real worldwide threat."

"There are threats that are coming at us on a daily basis but this rises to a new level," Chaffetz told CNN.

He praised the administration response to the latest threat but called for more counter-terrorism programs.

"We have to take this threat very seriously. And it's not, as the president campaigned on, you know, Al-Qaeda's on the run and... everything's fine," Chaffetz said.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton has accepted responsibility for the Benghazi attack but said that requests for more security were only seen by lower-ranking officials.

Under Obama, US forces in 2011 killed Al-Qaeda's fugitive leader Osama bin Laden in a secret raid on his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Bin Laden was originally from Saudi Arabia and Al-Qaeda historically focused on the Arabian Peninsula.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the global terror network's Yemen-based franchise, has launched a series of foiled attacks on the United States in recent years.

Obama on Thursday welcomed Yemen's President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to the White House and thanked him for cooperation against Al-Qaeda, including through US drone strikes.

It was unclear if the purported threat was in response to specific events or anniversaries.

Wednesday marks the 15th anniversary of Al-Qaeda's coordinated attacks against the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Philippine navy to augment South China Sea presence with French patrol ship

From InterAksyon (Aug 3): Philippine navy to augment South China Sea presence with French patrol ship

The Philippines said Saturday it is purchasing a surplus French Navy vessel to boost its forces in the South China Sea where it has an ongoing territorial dispute with China.

The 26-year-old "La Tapageuse" vessel is likely to be the first of several French ships that will be acquired by the Philippine coastguard as it contends with increasingly assertive Chinese forces.

The 54.8-metre (180-foot) patrol ship will cost six million Euros ($7.97 million) and is due to arrive in the country by April next year, a coastguard statement said.

The ship, which is armed with two cannon and two machine-guns, was inspected before acquisition and is good for 20 more years of service, the coastguard said.

"This French vessel is multi-functional and it would be a major contribution to our fleet, particularly in our search and rescue operations," coastguard chief Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena was quoted as saying in the statement.

The Philippines is also "finalising" with the French government the purchase of four brand-new 24-metre and one 82-metre multipurpose vessels, Isorena said.

These new ships wpuld arrive in the first quarter of 2015, the statement added, without specifying their cost.

Isorena also recalled that the Philippine coastguard was already set to acquire 10 multi-role patrol boats under an aid programme with Japan.

The announcement came as a second-hand US Hamilton-class cutter acquired by the Philippine Navy sailed into the country's waters, where it will also help in patrolling the South China Sea.

Tensions have risen in recent years over China's increasingly-forceful claims to almost all of the South China Sea, even up to the coast of its neighbours like the Philippines.

These tensions have worsened since Chinese government vessels seized the Scarborough Shoal, a South China Sea outcrop just 230 kilometres (140 miles) east of the main Philippine island of Luzon, last year.

The Philippines has also complained about the presence of Chinese navy vessels near the Manila-controlled Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands.

The Philippines has one of the most poorly-equipped militaries in the region and has been trying to beef up its armed forces in the face of the maritime disputes.

Photo: Mayor Meets Guerrilla Leader

From the pro-CPP Davao Today (Aug 2): Photo: Mayor Meets Guerrilla Leader


Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte jests with his “long friend” New People’s Army guerrilla Ka Parago saying he should be the next mayor of Davao or at least barangay captain of Paquibato...

Photo: Ka Parago Shows Up

Posted to the pro-CPP Davao Today (Aug 2): Photo: Ka Parago Shows Up


Ka Parago of the NPA’s First Pulang Bagani Battalion beams as he presents the five soldiers who said they were given ‘special treatment’ as prisoners of war in their 44 days of captivity.

China slams US reso on territorial sea dispute

From the Daily Tribune (Aug 3): China slams US reso on territorial sea dispute

A formal complaint with the United States was filed by Beijing, criticizing a US Senate-approved resolution which expressed concern about Chinese actions in the disputed South and East China Seas.

Senate Resolution 167 calls for a peaceful resolution of maritime and territorial disputes. It also urges countries contesting ownership of parts of the South China Sea and East China Sea to create and approve a code of conduct to avoid conflicts.

“With a long history of engagement in the region, the US has a vital interest in working with all nations in developing, institutionalizing, and sustaining a rules-based order for the area. That starts with putting in place effective mechanisms to manage
maritime disputes that destabilize the region, and supporting and encouranging the peaceful resolution of disputes in the Asia-Pacific maritime domain,” Menendez, one of the sponsors of the resolution, in a statement, has said.

But China has consistently said the US should have no role to play in the dispute over the South China Sea.

China’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement, yesterday noted that the “resolution proposed by a minority of senators took heed of neither history nor facts, unjustifiably blaming China and sending the wrong message.”

“China strongly opposes the practice and has lodged solemn representations with the US side,” it said.

It also urged “the relevant US lawmakers to respect the facts and correct their mistakes so as to avoid further complicating the issue and the situation in the region.”

“The disputed islands in the East China Sea and the South China Sea are both part of China’s territory and have been since ancient times,” the Foreign Ministry said. “Due to historical factors, however, some of China’s neighbors have disputed China’s ownership of the islands.”

China claims nearly all of the sea, even waters close to the Philippines and other neighbors.

Analysts have long warned that China’s overlapping claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan could be a flashpoint of armed conflict.

Tensions have risen in recent years as China has adopted more aggressive diplomatic and military tactics to assert its claims to the potentially resource-rich waters.

The Philippines has repeatedly called on the US, its former colonial master and close military ally, for help in resisting China.

While Washington insists it will not take sides in the South China Sea dispute, it has helped to upgrade the Philippines’ military capabilities.

Relatedly, China’s state media yesterday lauded the country’s maritime power after navy vessels completed their first circuit around Japan.

Beijing has been looking to expand its bluewater reach, launching its first aircraft carrier last year, and the circumnavigation of Japan sends a symbolic signal with Beijing and Tokyo at loggerheads over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

China has “crossed all the strongest parts” of the islands that stretch from Japan’s northern tip to the Philippines in the south and separate it from the Pacific Ocean, said Du Wenlong, a senior researcher at a People’s Liberation Army academy, according to the state-run China Daily.

China’s navy is “capable of sending and supporting its warships to navigate and fight in channels far from the continent,” the newspaper quoted Du as saying.

As well as the row with Tokyo, Beijing also claims almost the whole of the South China Sea, leading to disputes with several littoral states.

Du’s remarks came days after five Chinese military ships circled the Japanese archipelago for the first time, the China Daily said.

Five Chinese ships returned to port on July 28 after passing through the Soya Strait, which divides northern Japan and Russia, before traveling down Japan’s east coast and traversing the Miyako strait off Okinawa, the newspaper added.

Japan’s defense ministry has said that patrol aircraft spotted five Chinese vessels sailing through a sea lane between Okinawa and the Miyako islands to the southwest, although they did not enter Japanese waters.

Tensions between China and its neighbors have risen in recent years, as China has boosted its naval capacity and asserted its maritime claims.

“The Chinese navy must grow into a blue water navy because all of the aggression against China in modern times came from the sea,” the China Daily quoted Ou Jianping, of China’s National Defense University, as saying.

China’s newly-appointed President Xi Jinping has also vowed to boost his country’s naval capacity since taking the ruling Communist Party’s top post in November.

Meanwhile, despite the deployment of BRP Gregorio Del Pilar to escort  BRP Ramon Alcaraz in Philippine waters, the Navy yesterday assured the public that it still has adequate forces to protect the maritime boundaries.

Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, Philippine Navy spokesman, said there is no naval gap to speak off with BRP Gregorio Del Pilar’s deployment for escort duties.

“(There is) no gap. We have several ships situated and deployed all over the country. A ship being mobile can be deployed elsewhere where a mission or certain task needs to be done,” he added.

The PN operates around 110 ships of all sizes.

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is scheduled to escort the BRP Ramon Alcaraz on its run to Bolinao, Pangasinan Saturday morning.

CPP: Appointment of interventionism expert as US ambassador insults Filipino people—CPP

From the CPP Website (Aug 3):  Appointment of interventionism expert as US ambassador insults Filipino people—CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the appointment by US President Barrack Obama of “interventionism expert” Philip Goldberg as next US ambassador to the Philippines mocks and insults the Filipino people even as it signals US intent of heightening its interference and military intervention in the Philippines with the aim of further strengthening its foothold in the country and in the Asia-Pacific region.

Goldberg is set to replace Harry Thomas, who had been US ambassador to the Philippines since 2010. He is currently Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research under the US Department of State.

“It is a grave insult to the Filipino people that the US government is set to dispatch as its ambassador to the country someone who has been declared persona non grata in another country,” said the CPP. The CPP pointed out that Goldberg was expelled as US ambassador to Bolivia in 2008 for having carried out interventionism and acts of subversion against the government of Evo Morales. The Morales government of Bolivia has been openly assertive of its national sovereignty against US interventionism and foreign economic domination.

The US government is known to carry out illegal acts of intervention in countries ruled by governments that oppose US domination and policy impositions. To pursue its political and military interests, the US has been carrying out interventionism efforts including funding and arming of opposition groups, in order to undermine, destabilize and overthrow the political rule of governments that have exercised and asserted national independence such as against the government of Venezuela, Iran and North Korea.

At the same time, the US government has carried out interventionism in countries ruled by puppet regimes which serve and advance US interests. The US imperialists have extended military, financial and political support to such governments to suppress political opposition, especially mass-based anti-imperialist mass movements.

The CPP chided the Aquino government for welcoming the scheduled appointment of Goldberg and refusing to raise the matter of his expulsion from another diplomatic post. According to a Malacañang spokesperson, the Aquino government does not see anything insulting with the assignment of Goldberg as ambassador.

“Indeed, the Amboy government of Aquino is extremely excited over the appointment of Goldberg, as it signals increasing interest on the part of the US to work with the Aquino government in order to strengthen US foothold in the Philippines and further fortify the Philippines as a US military outpost in the Asia-Pacific,” said the CPP. “The appointment of Goldberg form part of the heightened efforts of the US to establish its hegemony in the region with the close cooperation of the Aquino puppet government.”

The appointment of Goldberg, who has served as an intelligence officer of the US government, as ambassador to the Philippines also signals US plans to heighten its intervention in the Philippines,” pointed out the CPP. “Over the past three years under the Aquino regime, the US government has been provided with increasing military access to docking and landing facilities for its warships and aircrafts and is set to have exclusive access to parts of Subic and other major sea and airports.”

“With the planned appointment of Goldberg, the US government has committed an increase in military aid to the Philippines from $30 million to $50 million,” pointed out the CPP. “This is set to further increase the capability of the AFP to carry out its armed suppression of the Filipino people.”

“With strong military and political support of the US and the appointment of Goldberg as US ambassador, the Aquino government’s armed forces are set on committing more brutalities and abuses in carrying out its Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression against the Filipino people,” added the CPP.