Saturday, November 16, 2013

Video: Carrier Group Arrives in Philippines for Disaster Assistance

From DVIDS (Nov 15): Video: Carrier Group Arrives in Philippines for Disaster Assistance
 
                        ℠2013 - The USS George Washington and two other U.S. ships have arrived in the Philippines to assist with the response to Typhoon Haiyan.

http://www.dvidshub.net/video/308149/carrier-group-arrives-philippines-disaster-assistance#.UohH744o5jo

Video: Operation Damayan

From DVIDS (Nov 13): Video: Operation Damayan
 
        
                        As part of Operation Damayan, U.S. Marines and Sailors with the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade assist the Philippine Armed Forces with transporting civilians displaced by Typhoon Haiyan, Tacloban Air Base, 11 November 2013. U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific maintains significant capability forward deployed throughout the Asia-Pacific region ready to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Forward deployed forces allow for rapid response to disasters like Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Also available in high definition.

http://www.dvidshub.net/video/307740/operation-damayan#.UohHF44o5jo

Video: Marines Provide Humanitarian Assistance to Philippines

From DVIDS (Nov 12): Video: Marines Provide Humanitarian Assistance to Philippines
 


 


 
 
 
 
 
BGen Paul Kennedy is leading a forward command element and humanitarian survey team as roughly 100 Marines land in the Philippines to assist the country's authorities in responding to a deadly typhoon's destruction.

http://www.dvidshub.net/video/307647/marines-provide-humanitarian-assistance-philippines#.UohFJI4o5jo

Photos: Philippine Forces Lead Operation Damayan

From DVIDS (Nov 16): Photos: Philippine Forces Lead Operation Damayan

Philippine Forces Lead Operation Damayan

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mitch Hoover, a crew chief with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 Reinforced, helps secure a Filipina woman and her daughter as they are airlifted from Tacloban Air Field on a MV-22B Osprey Nov. 16 during Operation Damayan. U.S. and Philippine Armed Forces have transported more than 3,000 civilians and 632,000 pounds of relief supplies. The Government of the Philippines is closely coordinating with international relief efforts to help those in need. (U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Caleb Hoover/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1054018/philippine-forces-lead-operation-damayan#.UohCQI4o5jo

C-130s Provide Airlift during Operation Damayan

A KC-130J Hercules prepares to airlift civilians at Tacloban Air Field Nov. 16 during Operation Damayan. U.S. and Philippine Armed Forces have transported more than 3,000 civilians and 632,000 pounds of relief supplies. The Government of the Philippines is closely coordinating with international relief efforts to help those in need. (U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Caleb Hoover/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1054017/c-130s-provide-airlift-during-operation-damayan#.UohCk44o5jo

Philippine Forces Lead Operation Damayan

An Armed Forces of the Philippines soldier directs displaced personnel to Tacloban Air Field Nov. 16 during Operation Damayan. The Government of the Philippines is closely coordinating with international relief efforts to help those in need. (U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Caleb Hoover/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1054016/philippine-forces-lead-operation-damayan#.UohCwY4o5jo

Philippine Forces Lead Operation Damayan

Armed Forces of the Philippines Airman 1st Class Adrian Castro directs displaced personnel to a KC-130J Hercules Nov. 16 during Operation Damayan at Tacloban Air Field. The Government of the Philippines is closely coordinating with international relief efforts to help those in need. (U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Caleb Hoover/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1054015/philippine-forces-lead-operation-damayan#.UohC844o5jo

Philippine Forces Lead Operation Damayan

Armed Forces of the Philippines Airman 2nd Class Rj Herrera hands out food to displaced personnel during Operation Damayan at Tacloban Air Field Nov. 16. The Government of the Philippines is closely coordinating with international relief efforts to help those in need. (U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Caleb Hoover/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1054014/philippine-forces-lead-operation-damayan#.UohDH44o5jo

http://www.dvidshub.net/

Photos: GUIUAN, Republic of the Philippines

From DVIDS (Nov 16): Photos: GUIUAN, Republic of the Philippines

GUIUAN, Republic of the Philippines

Department of Public Work and Highway workers load a truck with food and medical supplies during Operation Damayan Nov. 16 at Guiuan Air Field. Typhoon Haiyan has affected over 4.2 million people across 36 provinces in the Philippines, according to the Philippine government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Stephen D. Himes/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1054019/guiuan-republic-philippines#.UohBKI4o5jo


GUIUAN, Republic of the Philippines

A U.S. Navy crew member assists a Filipino volunteer worker load aid supplies onto a MH-60S Seahawk, with the Golden Falcons of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, during Operation Damayan at Guiuan Air Field Nov. 16. The George Washington Strike Group supports the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade to assist the Philippine government in response to the aftermath of the Typhoon Haiyan in the Republic of the Philippines. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Stephen D. Himes/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1054013/guiuan-republic-philippines#.UohBkY4o5jo


GUIUAN, Republic of the Philippines

A U.S. Navy crew member assists a Filipino volunteer worker load aid supplies onto a MH-60S Seahawk, with the Golden Falcons of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, during Operation Damayan at Guiuan Air Field Nov. 16. To date, the multi-national force has delivered more than 623,000 pounds of relief aid. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Stephen D. Himes/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1054012/guiuan-republic-philippines#.UohBxo4o5jo

http://www.dvidshub.net/

Photos: Operation Damayan

From the DVIDS (Nov 16): Photos: Operation Damayan

Operation Damayan

An HC-130 Hercules from the Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 (MWSS 172), takes off to airlift civilians to a safer location. The George Washington Carrier Strike Group supports the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade to assist the Philippine government in Operation Damayan in response to the aftermath of the Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Republic of the Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Liam Kennedy/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1053914/operation-damayan#.Uog_C44o5jo

Operation Damayan

Sailors and Philippine army soldiers help a woman onto a HC-130 Hercules from Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 172 to be airlifted to a safer location. The George Washington Carrier Strike Group supports the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade to assist the Philippine government in Operation Damayan in response to the aftermath of the Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Republic of the Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Liam Kennedy/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1053913/operation-damayan#.Uog_gY4o5jo

Operation Damayan

Sailors and civilians help move empty water containers onto trucks to have them brought back to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and refilled with fresh water. The George Washington Carrier Strike Group supports the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade to assist the Philippine government in Operation Damayan in response to the aftermath of the Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Republic of the Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Liam Kennedy/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1053912/operation-damayan#.Uog_so4o5jo

Operation Damayan

Civilians exit an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter from the Golden Falcons of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 after being airlifted from an area of the Philippines affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan. The George Washington Carrier Strike Group supports the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade to assist the Philippine government in Operation Damayan in response to the aftermath of the Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Republic of the Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Liam Kennedy/Released)

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1053911/operation-damayan#.Uog_4Y4o5jo

http://www.dvidshub.net/

47th Infantry Battalion repels rebel band in Negros Occident

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 17): 47th Infantry Battalion repels rebel band in Negros Occident

Troopers from the 47th Infantry Battalion have successfully beaten off 20 rebels during an encounter in Sitio Pating, Barangay Magballo, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental Saturday morning.

Third Infantry Division spokesperson Major Ray Tiongson said that their soldiers were on routine security patrol at 9:30 a.m when they encountered the rebel group whom residents said were threatening and trying to recruit minors in their village.

The firefight lasted for 20 minutes and the rebel quickly retreated after taking an undetermined number of casualties as proven by blood trails discovered by pursuing troopers.

A soldier was hurt in the encounter but now stable.

The encounter also resulted to the recovery of one .45 caliber pistol with live ammunition and backpacks that contain subversive documents.

Although the encounter happened in an area not affected by the super typhoon, the Army remains vigilant in protecting the civilian populace from these lawless armed elements.

“We are not putting our guards down in protecting the communities from the atrocious plans and activities of the CPP-NPA even we are occupied in our efforts to support the humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations in the most affected areas especially in Panay and Northern part of Negros Occidental. The Armed Forces of the Philippines here in Western Visayas is doing everything in its capacity to assist the local government units, government agencies and other organizations both local and international in extending the necessary services to the people in order to recover from devastation of the super typhoon," 3rd Infantry Division Major Gen. Aurelio Baladad said.

“We call on the people to remain vigilant and report any violent plans and activities of the CPP-NPA. Let us work together in helping our fellow Visayans who were greatly affected by the calamity,“ he added.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=587572

Army focuses on relief work, rehabilitation

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 16): Army focuses on relief work, rehabilitation

With northern Negros devastated by typhoon Yolanda, the focus of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade is now on two fronts – relief and rehabilitation efforts, and also security threats.

“We are working on both already”, Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said.

On Thursday, the Communist Party of the Philippines ordered the New People’s Army to stop launching attacks in the Visayas, including Negros and Panay, that were devastated by super typhoon “Yolanda”.

The 10-day unilateral ceasefire took effect November 14, and will last until midnight of November 24.

Asked about the ceasefire ordered by the CPP in Negros, Aying said “Let them have their hearts‘ content. It won’t matter anyway”.

Before the announcement of the CPP ceasefire, the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion had temporarily suspended military operations against the NPA in northern Negros, that was badly hit by “Yolanda”, to prioritize disaster relief operations.

The CPP statement added that, “While this ceasefire declaration is in effect, all units of the NPA and people’s militias shall remain in active defense mode. They will, however, remain ever militant and vigilant to the encroachment and hostile movements of the AFP within the territory of the people’s democratic government.”

Major Ray Tiongson, 3rd Infantry Division, said the military, including regular Army soldiers and CAFGU members, in northern Negros are focused on the rehabilitation effort, especially helping in the rebuilding of damaged school buildings and clearing of areas in Cadiz and Sagay.

In northern Panay, assets of the Philippine Air Force and Navy delivered relief goods shuttled by Army trucks to island barangays, Tiongson said.

http://www.visayandailystar.com/2013/November/16/topstory7.htm

MILF: Editorial-- Solving the Moro Question

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Nov 17): Solving the Moro Question

There is no doubt the peace negotiation between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is in the final stretch. This defining moment of the 16-year old peace talks will largely determine whether the efforts will lead to the final resolution of the Moro Question or merely result in the melting away of the MILF.
  
Many if not most revolutionary organizations, which entered into similar exercises, resulted in their mainstreaming or the start of their long journey to calvary that they can hardly cope up with. We do not want to cite specific cases, out of respect and in due regard to sensitivity, but they abound in many parts of the world. Even in our midst, two cases are outstandingly relevant.

The MILF is fully cognizant of this risk but there are more reasons to proceed. In fact, the late MILF Chairman Salamat Hashim described peace negotiation as the most practical and civilized way of resolving the conflict in Mindanao. Besides, both the government and the MILF have already invested so much in this negotiation and any party which withdraws or even hampers the process unreasonably will have to answer for the consequences.

This is the reason that the MILF cannot accept a bad agreement, because a bad agreement is worse than no agreement at all. More seriously, the MILF leadership cannot force the Bangsamoro people and their leaders to swallow a bad agreement. The deal between the MILF and the Bangsamoro people anchors on one condition: That the MILF will continue to assert and not deviate from the legitimate aspiration of the people for their right to self-determination.

Finally, if the current negotiation takes too long to finish, one reason is that the MILF wants to be sure that any agreement with the government will really solve the Bangsamoro Question. Any half-baked solution will only yield more complications later. The other reason --- and surely, the main reason --- is that it is the nature of government to be very selfish of power and to share resources. One cannot understand that even those powers already given by law to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the government still has hard time to concede to the Bangsamoro.

As the peace negotiation drags, pressure is mounting. Hard pressed especially is the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which is tasked to craft the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Aware of is historic responsibility, the BTC had started to work as early as April last year. But it cannot fully discharge its task unless the parties sign the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) containing the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the four Annexes (Transitional Arrangement and Modalities, Wealth-sharing, Power-sharing, and Normalization).

http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/editorial/item/662-solving-moro-question

MILF: Muslim women organization in Gensan vows to continue its services

From the MILF Website (Nov 16): Muslim women organization in Gensan vows to continue its services



The new set of officers of the oldest Muslim women group in General Santos City vowed to continue their civic and Da’wah activities that serve the Muslim Ummah of town including those from adjacent provinces of Sarangani and South Cotabato.
  
“As catalysts of change, we must continue what we have been doing, serving our fellow Muslims,” said Aida Seddic, the newly elected president of Muslim Women Organization of General Santos City (MuWOGen) during the Induction Ceremony on November 9, 2013.

Created in 1995, MuWoGen has been engaged in various outreach and cultural activities that included feeding and providing school supplies to children from conflict affected areas, serving snacks every Eidul Fit’r celebration, and serving Iftar in jail and mosques during Ramadhan.

The organization extends support to the Regional Qur’an Reading Competition hosted by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos every year.

MuWOGen also tapped other agencies and supporters to organize livelihood training for poor Muslim women.

It has also hosted various Da’wah activities to equip inmates, Muslim women and youth with Islamic values and knowledge.

During Kalilangan Festival of the city, MuWOGen actively engages in showcasing the Moro culture and tradition through cultural presentations and exhibits.

In her inspirational message during the ceremony, Gensan City Vice-Mayor Shirlyn Nograles expressed appreciation to the Muslim women for sustaining their organization for almost two decades.

“Keep with your strong bonding because as you are united, you can do a lot of things to better your communities,” she said.

Shariah Lawyer Latipa Tama, outgoing MuWOGen president, related the accomplishments of the organization owing it to the continuous support of both its officers and members.

“Your time, efforts and resources shared will surely be rewarded,” she told her colleagues.
“We have plans which will be realized as long as we keep our commitments to MuWOGen,” Seddic pointed out.

The organization has more than fifty members comprised of professionals, retirees, government employees, entrepreneurs, teachers, and youth.

It has also welcomed Muslim women from Sarangani and South Cotabato to become members.

http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/welcome/item/660-muslim-women-organization-in-gensan-vows-to-continue-its-services

MILF: BDA extends humanitarian services to Zamboanga crisi victims

From the MILF Website (Nov 16): BDA extends humanitarian services to Zamboanga crisi victims



In sympathy to the miserable experiences of ZamboangeƱos during the month-long strife between government forces and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)-Misuari faction, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) reached out Zamboanga crisis victims bringing relief goods and messages of empathy and solidarity.
  
BDA staff coming from the six regional management offices and Central Management Office joined the Relief Operation organized by BDA on November 6-8, 2013 targeting constituents of Barangays Taluksangay, Talon-Talon and Divisoria in Zamboanga City. Five BDA Regional Managers were present.

During the courtesy call to the Local Government Units, Zamboanga Mayor Bing Climaco expressed gratitude for the support of BDA to the siege victims.

Volunteers facilitated the packing and distribution of relief goods which contain used clothes, five kilogram rice with packs of noodles and canned sardines.

Tony D. Sakkalahul, BDA Regional Manager for Zamboanga-Basilan said, “We are here not only to bring some foods but also to bring our sympathy to all of you.”

He pointed out that BDA is adherent to the value of inclusiveness, thus it helps the Indigenous Peoples, Muslims and Christians.

“Magsukol kita (We thank you),” the Tausug beneficiaries said. More than 700 households received the relief packs.

The Board of Directors and staff of the BDA contributed for the procurement of the relief goods.

The United Nations High Commission on the Refugees (UNHCR) provided meals, fuel for transportation and accommodation of the volunteers.

Local volunteers and officials of the Local Political Committees of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front from Zamboanga City also shared their efforts and resources for the outreach initiative.

http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/welcome/item/661-bda-extends-humanitarian-services-to-zamboanga-crisi-victims

2 Army task groups from Mindanao off to Visayas for relief, rehab work

From MindaNews (Nov 16): 2 Army task groups from Mindanao off to Visayas for relief, rehab work

Two Army task groups — veterans in disaster relief and rehabilitation work during typhoons Sendong and Pablo — are linking up in Lipata port in Surigao City Saturday night to proceed to the devastated province of Leyte.

The two task groups, composed of engineers, doctors and engineers, will take the ferry and move inland to Ormoc, Leyte where they will wait for instructions where they will be eventually be deployed.

“These soldiers are told to expect to stay in Leyte for eight months or more as long as our people need them, “ Brig. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, commanding general of the Army 4th Infantry Division said.

Task Force Diamond of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division is composed of 200 soldiers, engineers and doctors.

1Lt. Mayer Camaganalan of the 4ID 4th Post Engineer Department said their unit is prepared to do disaster relief work since it helped the people of Cagayan de Oro during typhoon Sendong in 2011; and Davao Oriental and Compostela province during typhoon Pablo in 2012.

 
“Our families know where we are going and they understand that we are needed in Leyte. Many of the wives of the soldiers are even urging their husbands to do their best to help the typhoon victims, “ Camaganalan said.

He said soldiers are well-equipped aside from the gun they would bring along for their protection.

Camaganalan said the task group is equipped with shovels, axes, medicine kits, power saws, generators, medical stretchers , nails and hammers.

He said they are provisioned to stay for eight months in Leyte or anywhere the Armed Forces of the Philippines will order them to go.

During the send-off ceremony in Camp Evangelista Friday afternoon, Visaya told the soldiers to have “a big heart” and understand how the tragedy affected the residents of Leyte.

“Those who looted for food did it because their families are hungry. How can we tell these hungry people not to steal on empty stomachs,” Visaya said.

Visaya urged the soldiers to be compassionate to the typhoon victims and cautioned them to be careful in handling the relief supply lines.

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2013/11/16/2-army-task-groups-from-mindanao-off-to-visayas-for-relief-rehab-work/

GWSG delivers relief to a thankful village

From DVIDS (Nov 16): GWSG delivers relief to a thankful village

GUIUAN, Eastern Samar, Republic of the Philippines – In the small village of Guiuan, located in Eastern Samar province, villagers lined up outside the gate of a runway awaiting food, water and medical supplies to be delivered by helicopters from the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).

Guiuan was heavily affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan, which clocked winds up to 195 miles per hour with gusts up to 235 mph. Houses that were once big and colorful are now gray and battered. Uprooted palm trees are now makeshift shelters, and water faucets are now showers. But due to support from the George Washington Strike Group (GWSG) and 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) as part of Operation Damayan, the villagers' morale and conditions are improving.

“Strong winds and waves hit our town early in the morning,” said Haiyam Salisa, a Guiuan resident. “We had nothing within the matter of an hour. We were afraid and couldn’t stop crying till the storm was over.”

The "Golden Falcons" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 and the “Saberhawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 have been the primary support to the village. The squadrons have dropped off 3,255 gallons of water, 24,900 pounds of food and 2,630 pounds of general supplies, and have conducted 221 personnel transfers.

“The Americans have brought food and water to us,” said Sheen Gonzales, mayor of Guiuan. “But more importantly, they have brought us transportation to and from the island. We were isolated for many days and without the American’s help, my people would not be eating their regular meals three times a day.”

As boxes of supplies were off-loaded from trucks and organized into neat stacks for distribution, weary villagers ate their provided rations or discussed what their next big move may be: where they will live, who they will see and when they will rebuild.

“I was a college student studying to become an English teacher before the storm,” said Maria Badango, a Guiuan resident. “I thank God my family and I survived the storm, but my dreams have been crushed for now. I must now move to Manila and find my sister so I can help my relatives.”

Further away from the airfield, away from the crowds, chatter and the rumblings of jets are makeshift shelters; the villagers of which have tried to rebuild what they once had and regain a sense of normalcy.

These villagers who have not wandered to the airbase, live among rubble, glass, and ruined brick and mortar. Villagers were cooking their rations of rice and meat as if nothing had ever happened. These villagers are tough; they treat each other as family and lean on one another during these hard times.

“The Filipino people are resilient, everyone is family and takes care of each other,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Rumero Padilla, from Manila, a relief effort volunteer from the “Dambusters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195.

“Our ties with the Americans go back to World War II, when this air field was used by the American military,” said Gonzales. “We appreciate all the support and gratitude we have been given by the American people and George Washington.”

Though these people have fallen on hard times, they are not down and out. They have taken what has been a devastating event and have started to turn it into a new chapter for their village. As U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur said on March 11, 1942, as he left Guiuan, “I came through and I shall return.”

The people of Guiuan shall return to rebuild and take back what was once theirs.

http://www.dvidshub.net/news/116870/gwsg-delivers-relief-thankful-village#.Uofw35Eo6AI

31st MEU to deploy in support of Operation Damayan

From DVIDS (Nov 16): 31st MEU to deploy in support of Operation Damayan

Approximately 900 Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, part of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, embark aboard the USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Ashland (LSD 48), and are heading for the Philippines to join U.S. and Philippine forces support of ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts for Operation Damayan, which means "lend a helping hand" in Filipino. 

 "Our condolences are with the people of the Philippines, who have experienced incredible loss as a result this horrific disaster," said Col. John Merna, commanding officer, 31st MEU. "The Marines and Sailors of the 31st MEU, along with our counterparts of Amphibious Squadron 11, have trained extensively for these types of missions. By working with the (Armed Forces of the Philippines) during recent exercises, we have built lasting relationships that will better help us to ease the suffering of our Filipino friends." 

The 31st MEU recently completed a regularly scheduled Patrol of the Asia-Pacific region and was in the midst of unit turnover when the order was received to support the HA/DR operation

Marines from the 3rd MEB, along with supplies and equipment, have already been sent to the affected region with more expected to follow in the coming days.

It has been reported that over 6.9 million Filipinos, along with 150,000 homes destroyed, have been affected by this storm across the 41 provinces in the Philippines.

President Barack Obama pledged U.S. support to the Philippines, Nov. 14, saying that "...one of our core principles is when friends are in trouble, America helps."

While the scope of the disaster is still being assessed, the duration and extent of the 31st MEU's operations will depend on the request from the Government of the Philippines and priorities from USAID.

"The Marine Corps as a whole, and the 31st MEU in particular, has had a long-standing relationship with the people of the Philippines," said Merna. "It's an important mission anytime we do something like this, but when it's a close friend and ally, it makes it that much more serious for us, and we'll stay as long as we're asked to."

In October 2012, the 31st MEU trained in various locations in the Philippines with the AFP during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2012 (PHIBLEX), a bilateral training event designed to enhance interoperability and response during missions such as this.

The 31st MEU and PHIBRON 11 team has responded to four humanitarian assistance disaster relief situations in the last five years alone. The Marines and Sailors have a robust air, ground, and maritime transportation capability; medical and dental health services; distribution services; and engineering assets ready to provide assistance.

The 31st MEU includes more than 2,200 Marines and Sailors and is comprised of four elements: the Command Element; Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines; Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced) and CLB-31.

The 31st MEU provides a forward-deployed, flexible, sea-based force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations in the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continually forward-deployed MEU, and remains the Marine Corps' force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

http://www.dvidshub.net/news/116860/31st-meu-deploy-support-operation-damayan#.UofwFJEo6AI

AFP in WV conducts non-stop relief operations

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 16): AFP in WV conducts non-stop relief operations

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Western Visayas  has been working 24/7 hrs even before super TY Yolanda hit the region. They were coordinating with various PDRRMCs and MDRRMCs all over the entire region to be in the loop for whatever preparation and action to be undertaken before, during and after the typhoon.

In a press statement sent to PIA, Major General Aurelio Baladad, Commander of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) said that "the AFP is on top of the situation and we would like to reassure the public that your Armed Forces is stepping up its effort in the conduct of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations (HADR). We are in close coordination with the local government units, government agencies and non-government organizations in order to synchronize our plans and actions for the quick recovery of the region from the devastation of typhoon 'Yolanda' he said. 

Disaster Response Task Units are continuously engaged in clearing of road access, delivery of relief items, and in providing the necessary security especially in the hinterland barangays which are heavily devastated by the super typhoon, said Baladad.

Transportation assets of the AFP such as helicopters, navy boats and military trucks are continuously rolling for the distribution of relief items from DSWD, Provincial Government and NGOs prioritizing hinterland barangays and island barangays in the region that were heavily devastated.

In Antique, LTC. Aldwine Almase, Commander of the 82nd Infantry Batallion, has marshalled his men in assisting, facilitating, coordinating and delivering services to the areas ravaged by the typhoon in the true spirit of 'bayanihan' especially in this difficult and abnormal times.

MGen. Baladad appealed to all sectors of society to join them in their efforts to help our fellowmen. "We assure you that the AFP together with the LGUs and other government agencies will reach you quickly with the relief items that you need. Let us help each other with all our strength, believe in our government's sincerity and through Bayanihan, let us face these challenges together," Baladad said.

http://news.pia.gov.ph/index.php?article=971384590342

US military-led humanitarian intervention in the Philippines is 'a message to China'

From SBS Online (Nov 16): US military-led humanitarian intervention in the Philippines is 'a message to China'

The initial focus of the US military-led relief effort includes surface and airborne maritime search and rescue, medium-heavy helicopter lift support and several aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities designed to operate in harsh environments.

Typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda as it’s known in the Philippines, completely devastated parts of eastern Visayas in the central Philippines in a matter of hours. More than 4.2 million people have been affected across 36 provinces. 4500 are confirmed dead at time of publication with many unaccounted for. An estimated 670,000 people are displaced.

As the true extent of the devastation emerges, the international community has rallied to help. So far Australia had pledged A$30 million; the UK £10m million; the European Union €10 million; Japan $10 million and 25 emergency medical personnel; New Zealand NZ$2.15 million; and $100,000 each from Taiwan and Vietnam. China upped its initial $100,000 commitment with an additional A$1.75 million of relief supplies.

Only Australia rivals the United States’ response. On November 11, following a request from the Philippines government, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington – in Hong Kong for a port visit – and several other US Navy ships “to make best speed for the Republic of the Philippines” to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster support.

The initial focus of the US military-led relief effort includes surface and airborne maritime search and rescue, medium-heavy helicopter lift support and several aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities designed to operate in harsh environments. It also includes 307 members of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade deployed from Marine Corps Air Station, Futenma, Japan.

The US is also giving US$20m through USAID.

The Philippines is one of the United States' six allies in the Asia-Pacific, along with Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. The sheer magnitude of the military-led US response to the crisis leaves no ambiguity about the significance America places on these strategic regional alliances.

During Hagel’s visit to the Philippines in August, he said:
Our close ties to the Philippines have been forged through a history of shared sacrifice and common purpose, and continuing to strengthen the close partnership between our nations is an important part of America’s long-term strategy of rebalancing in the Asia-Pacific.
The US is currently negotiating an agreement allowing it to position military equipment and rotate more personnel into the Philippines, while avoiding the contentious issue of re-establishing American bases in the country.

This comes amid growing tensions between the Philippines and China over areas in the South China Sea claimed by both countries and moves by the United States to ensure it retains influence in the region as China’s grows.

On November 7, Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of USPACOM (the US Pacific Command), said that as part of its extensive regional engagement, the United States was looking for access that would enable it to help the Philippines in its defence as well as to aid in responding to disasters.

Locklear, who was responding to questions at a news conference, reiterated that America would not reopen bases in the Philippines. The arrangement under current negotiation, however, would allow US forces to visit for longer periods and be stationed on Philippine military bases.

The US has already used its former naval base in Subic Bay, a special economic zone in the Philippines catering to private investors for ship visits. Last year a subsidiary of the US defense contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries set up an operation to service US Navy nuclear powered ships, suggesting that the American presence in the area would grow.

The US Navy rotational presence is likely to follow the model used in the southern Philippines by the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines, comprising about 500 US military personal specialising on counter-terrorism. This was officially considered temporary but has been in operation since 2002.

And in moves likely to unnerve China, the Philippines is constructing a naval port in Oyster Bay’s cove, a deep natural harbour that opens directly on the South China Sea only a short distance from the contested Spratly Islands. The US is also planning to build advance command posts nearby on Palawan to monitor the South China Sea.

In the midst of this humanitarian tragedy, Typhoon Haiyan has delivered the means for the US to show solidarity to its Pacific ally. It has also allowed the US to send a clear message to China that it has the muscle needed to intervene at short notice in the region to protect its national interest if it feels it necessary.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/11/15/us-military-led-humanitarian-intervention-philippines-message-china

NDF OKs release of 5 “POWs,” families plea for safe conduct

Posted to the pro-CPP Davao Today (Nov 16): NDF OKs release of 5 “POWs,” families plea for safe conduct

Families of the New People’s Army (NPA)’s five captives sought for the latter’s release, as the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Southern Mindanao gave the release order Thursday.

Rubi Del Mundo, who signed NDF’s statement that was sent via email to the media, however, said the release could only be accomplished if the military withdraws its troops in the 12 villages of Loreto and Laak towns, in Agusan del Sur and Compostela Valley provinces, respectively.

Set for release were Barangay Captain Lito Andalique and Barangay Kagawads Marvin Bantuasan, Crisanto Piodos, and Balaba Andalique, and Cafgu tribal member Pepe Subla.

NDF is seeking suspension of military operations in the the villages of Binucayan, Balite, Pangkat, Johnson, Sta. Theresa, San Mariano, Kauswagan, Sabud, Kasapa 1, Kasapa 2, and Valentina, all in Loreto, and in Brgy. Datu Dabaw in Laak, Compostela Valley.

Del Mundo added that should this be followed, they see “no other impediments” barring freedom of the four barangay functionaries of Barangay Sabud, Loreto, Agusan del Sur and a Cafgu member who were their “prisoners of war” since October 24.
The NDF said they have “already apologized for their counter-revolutionary and anti-people activities.”

The NPA’s Comval North Davao South Agusan Sub Regional Command, who “arrested” the five, earlier said that though the four POWs were elected government leaders, they are also active members of the paramilitary CAFGU (Citizen’s Armed Force Geographical Unit) and thus are “legitimate targets for arrest” by the NPA.

Librando Perez, a datu (tribal chieftain) in Sabud, with four other cousins of the five POWs pleaded in a press conference Friday in this city, that the NPA’s POWs be spared as the latter were only “forced” to be “conscripted as Cafgus.”

“They were only forced to be Cafgus by the Mayor (Loreto Mayor Dario Otasa). They cannot say no. They were forced to do it because of the interest of the Mayor in plantation and in mining. Please spare them and return them to us,” said Perez.

Perez revealed that it was also the Mayor who pushed for the installation of an Army detachment in their village.

“Ang pagtukod sa detachment gihimo bisan mosugot mi o sa dili, unya karon mao na ang hinungdan ngano gubot among dapit. Kung di ka moanha aron motabang tukod sa detachment, ipatawag dayon ka nila (Cafgus) (The putting-up of the detachment was made, whether we gave consent or not. It is now the cause of the chaos in our village. If you don’t show to up to help in building it, you would be summoned by the Cafgus),” he said.

He said that Otasa wants the barangay officials to be among the first to become Cafgus in the barangay.

“Wala gani mi kasabot nganong gipugos sila mag Cafgu nga mga opisyal man na sila (We don’t know why they were forced to become Cafgus when they are supposedly barangay officials),” he said.

Ka Aris Francisco, the Spokesperson of the NPA unit said in an earlier statement that the POWs “are psychological warfare agents, who banned the masses from going to their farms and forcing them to remain at the village centers, in a blatant attempt to control their movement” and that “these POWs have campaigned hard against the NPAs, harassed peasant leaders, and strongly endorsed the entry of palm oil and mining projects-—projects that will eventually dislocate the masses and deprive Lumads of their ancestral domain.”

Perez said that Otasa was circulating a message that “he doesn’t care what happens to them (POWs).”

“Bahalag patyon na ninyo, akong ipadayon ang operisyon sa military, ana iyang sulti sa mga tawo didto sa amo (‘I don’t care if you kill them, I will continue with the military,’ that’s what he has been telling the people in our village),” Perez said.

The NDF also scored the “combat operations camouflaged as rescue activities” of the Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion, as NDF’s Del Mundo claims, it “only resulted in more atrocities against the masses.”

“…on top of the military’s killing of two peasant leaders, dropping of 24 bombs and dislocating the masses, and torturing and detaining two minor Lumads to whom they accused of killing brgy. Capt. Ramon Diogonan. In the last few weeks, this same military unit has ransacked the peasant’s homes, destroyed their properties, and looted their farm animals,” said Del Mundo.

Del Mundo claimed their operations in the said area have resulted in 40 casualties on the AFP side, and only 1 on the NPA camp.

Meanwhile, Bishop Modesto Villasanta of Sowing the Seeds of Peacce, a third-party negotiator and peace process advocates organization of church workers, said he hopes that the NDF will again show “good will” and release their POWs safely.

“If the NDF wants to participate in the release of their POWs, we would be happy to respond as this would be a positive step in the peace process. We are asking them to take good care of their POWs as they have done so before,” said Villasanta.

Villasanta said that it is high time for the peace process to continue and he urges the government to start with the full implementation of the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law), a human rights accord signed by both the NDF and the former Estrada government.
He said that though the CARHRIHL was long signed, and is used as reference by both parties, in truth, it is not yet “fully implemented.”

“Included in the CARHRIHL is that both parties would recognize that each member of their armed group, either the NPA or the AFP, is only made to answer in their own separate courts,” he said.

“I was invited by the OPAPP last September and it seems that the government side of the peace negotiation is unclear,” he said.

He added that the Aquino government “fears” of giving the NDF a “belligerent status.”
“The current GPH peace panel should not fear it because what comes out of the negotiations will benefit the people,” he said.

http://davaotoday.com/main/2013/11/16/ndf-oks-release-of-5-pows-families-plea-for-safe-conduct/

Kidnappers release Indian trader in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Star (Nov 16): Kidnappers release Indian trader in Maguindanao



Indian merchant Mike Khemani, owner of the Sugni Supertore in Cotabato City, after his release Friday night. He refuted stories about ransom payment, but sources close to him said money was paid to his captors for "board and lodging" before they set him free in Maguindanao. JOHN UNSON


Kidnappers released on Friday night Indian businessman Mike Khemani who was kidnapped last October 29.

Local authorities were quick to announce that Khemani was freed without ransom, but members of the business and political communities in Kidapawan City, some of them close friends of the victim, said money was handed to the kidnappers by a courier named “Al” hours before his release.

Khemani, in his late 50s, was freed at the swampy border of Maguindanao’s adjoining Datu Piang and Kabuntalan towns, according to local officials in the province.

"There were 10 to 15 of them surrounding me always. I heard names of my captors, but I can't remember them. I can recognize their faces if I see them again," Khemani told reporters, referring to his abductors that held him for more than two weeks.

A municipal councilor in Datu Piang, who asked not to be identified, said Khemani and his captors were spotted in Barangay Andavit in the municipality three days before text messages about his release spread Friday night.

“According to reports reaching us, he was seen somewhere in Barangay Andavit accompanied by armed men. I just don’t have any information on the circumstances of his release,” the local official said.

A haggard-looking Khemani told reporters he lost weight for persistently refusing to eat the food his captors served him during his 17-day captivity.

Khemani, a vegetarian, said he drank plenty of water whenever he was hungry instead of dining along with his captors during meal time.

He said his captors treated him well and even supplied him with medicines for his arthritis.

Khemani owns the Sugni Superstore here, a department store which has branches in Kidapawan City and in Kabacan, North Cotabato.

Khemani was abducted near the premises of the Sugni Superstore here by kidnappers, who first gunned down one of his bodyguards and wounded another, before forcing him into a black Kia getaway car, which was found empty by responding policemen near a riverside area in the city several minutes later.

Khemani denied the insinuations that ransom was paid to his captors.

But police and military officials in Maguindanao said it was unlikely for the kidnappers to just let Khemani walk away without paying any ransom money.

“They (kidnappers) spent money for the planning of his abduction. They also spent money for the procurement of the black getaway car that was used in his abduction which is now in the custody of the police,” one of the sources said.

Khemani was freed three days after gunmen snatched another Indian businessman, Krishan Singh Arora, 54, while inside the compound of the Eversun plywood factory in Barangay Sarmiento in Parang town in the first district of Maguindanao.

The suspects, disguised as soldiers, took Arora at gunpoint and spirited him using a getaway vehicle.

Arora was reportedly trying to re-open the plywood factory, along with his Indian partners, after its original incorporators from South Korea shut the establishment down about a decade ago due to management problems.

http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/11/16/1257455/kidnappers-release-indian-trader-maguindanao

Village chief, wife abducted in Basilan

From the Philippine Star (Nov 16): Village chief, wife abducted in Basilan

Unidentified armed men in camouflage uniforms abducted a barangay captain and his wife in waters off Lantawan town, Basilan province on Saturday morning.

Senior Superintendent Mario Dapilloza, provincial police director of Basilan, identified the victims as Pilardo Roxas Francisco, elected chairman of Barangay Landugan, Lantawan town and his wife Saharina.

Dapilloza said the abduction of the victim was reported by their son identified as Jhayco Francisco, 19, who appeared at the Maluso Police Station.

Police said the victims were on board a motorized banca from Barangay Landugan enroute to Maluso town, when they were intercepted by eight unidentified fully-armed men on board a separate motorized boat locally known as Jungkong at around about 10:20 a.m.

Police have yet to identify the kidnappers and the motive behind the abduction.

http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/11/16/1257465/village-chief-wife-abducted-basilan

Israel army medics deliver baby in typhoon-hit Cebu

From GMA News (Nov 16): Israel army medics deliver baby in typhoon-hit Cebu

Israeli army medics have delivered a baby in the typhoon-hit central Philippines, and the grateful mother named him Israel.

About 150 members of the Israeli Defense Forces Home Front Command set up a field hospital in Bogo city on Cebu Island a week after Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 3,633 people and injured 12,487 others, according to the latest toll Saturday.

A day later, on Friday, Audrin Antigua was rushed in from among a long line of patients seeking treatment.

According to Dr. Reuven Keidar, quoted by the Israeli Embassy in Manila, Antigua gave birth to a healthy boy hours later. She named him Israel.

Israel's response to the disaster in the Philippines follows similar relief operations the country mounted in Haiti in 2010 and Turkey in 2011.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/335761/news/regions/israel-army-medics-deliver-baby-in-typhoon-hit-cebu

Deles asks CPP to extend ceasefire declaration

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 17): Deles asks CPP to extend ceasefire declaration

Peace Adviser Secretary Teresita Deles appealed to the Communist Party of the Philippines-Central Committee (CPP-CC) to extend its ceasefire declaration to be in solidarity “with our suffering sisters and brothers, their children and elders, and their shattered communities.”

“We, therefore, urge the Communist Party of the Philippines to extend a humanitarian ceasefire indefinitely and nationwide and join the rest of the country in mobilizing all necessary resources in a human chain of service to our people.

“We ask them to pick up the tools that give life, help rebuild from destruction, and promote the peace we so badly need in our land,” Deles said.

Deles said that the task is massive.

“Government needs all the help it can get. Indeed, the global community has responded generously,” Deles said.

She said that “never has our motherland been in such a need for national unity since perhaps the Second World War. United, we shall overcome this tragedy. Divided, we shall fail our people.”

Deles said that “we call on all Filipinos to set aside the politics and ideologies that have divided us, and with arms linked kapit-bisig, together surmount this crisis,” OPAPP said.

“We are heartened by the declaration of a ten-day ceasefire in typhoon-affected areas by our brothers and sisters engaged in armed struggle against the government,” OPAPP said.

OPAPP said, ”but the task is huge; it will need more than a token suspension of armed hostilities in a limited area.”

OPAPP said that, “our Armed Forces and police have changed their mode of operations from armed resistance to unarmed resistance, rescue, relief and rehabilitation in Yolanda-affected areas.”

“We invite our brothers and sisters in the New People’s Army to do the same by participating in this national effort. For the sake of our people. In the name of humanity. For peace in our beloved Pilipinas,” Deles said.

On Nov. 14, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines has issued formally a ceasefire declaration to all concerned commands of the New People’s Army (NPA) and people’s militias in areas devastated by the recent supertyphoon Yolanda.

“Concerned NPA units have, as a matter of course, ceased offensive operations since 9 November. This ceasefire declaration will remain in effect up to 2359 hours of Nov. 24, 2013,” the CPP said.

This ceasefire declaration covers the following regional commands of the NPA: Eastern Visayas Regional Command, Panay Regional Command, Central Visayas Regional Command, and Negros Island Command.

“Respective regional commands are also to transmit this ceasefire declaration to the concerned provincial commands of the NPA, namely: Masbate Island Command, Palawan Island Command, Mindoro Island Committee,” the CPP said.

Based on their assessment of the extent of the devastation of the recent supertyphoon in their areas of responsibility, the respective regional commands can extend the effectivity of this ceasefire declaration in their areas of concern, while other regional commands of the NPA can issue similar or limited ceasefire declarations in areas within the scope of their operations.

http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/deles-asks-cpp-to-extend-ceasefire-declaration

Video: U.S. ships carrying relief packs, docked in Ormoc

From ABS-CBN (Nov 16): Video: US ships na may dalang relief packs, dumaong sa Ormoc (U.S. ships carrying relief packs, docked in Ormoc)

US ship

Dumating na sa Ormoc ang dalawang barkong puno ng relief goods mula sa armed forces ng Estados Unidos. Live at exclusive mula sa Ormoc City, magpa-Patrol si Chiara Zambrano. TV Patrol, Nobyembre 16, Sabado.

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/video/nation/regions/11/16/13/ormoc-receives-aid-us

Video: US helicopters bring aid to Guiuan

From ABS-CBN (Nov 16): Video: US helicopters bring aid to Guiuan

chopper/ helicopter

US helicopters come and go at the airport in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

Since Thursday, they've been bringing relief supplies for survivors of typhoon Yolanda and they will continue to do so until Guiuan gets back on its feet.

Dominic Almelor has the story.

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/video/nation/11/16/13/us-helicopters-bring-aid-guiuan

Mactan air base hospital treats 472 patients from Tacloban City

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16): Mactan air base hospital treats 472 patients from Tacloban City

The medical staff of the hospital at the Mactan Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City has so far treated at least 472 patients from supertyphoon Yolanda-ravaged Tacloban City and other typhoon survivors from Eastern Visayas.

Col. Aurora Helen Natividad, the air base's hospital commanding officer, said they referred those with severe injuries to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City.

"We are expecting more patients this week," said Natividad.

She said 40 percent of the patients were discharged.

Aside from treating people with minor injuries, she said they also treated babies suffering from diarrhea and adults with hypertension and respiratory infection.

She said they need bandages, antibiotics, pain relievers, antiseptics and sterile water packs.

Volunteers were busy giving food packs to evacuees. They later had to clean up spilled noodles, water and juice, and pick up styrofoam packs and plastic bags that the evacuees left.

Many residents of Eastern Visayas fled their towns and cities that were devastated by super typhoon Yolanda for lack of food, water and for fear of armed looters.

They arrived at this air based aboard the Philippine Air Force C-130 Hercules military transport planes which flew relief goods to Tacloban City.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=587376

PAF pilots to be trained on how to land on ship decks

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16): PAF pilots to be trained on how to land on ship decks

So that Philippine Air Force pilots flying the AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" can be deployed for seaborne operations, the Philippine Navy announced that Navy pilots will be giving instructions to PAF pilots on how to land on the decks of their frigates and logistic ships.

According to Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, PAF pilots will be given special training on flight deck operations.

He said that such instructions are needed since both PAF and PN services will be using the AW-109s within the next two years.

Fabic said that having both pilots familiar with the operating procedure will greatly complement the interoperability of both the Navy and the Air Force, especially now that both services are operating similar aircraft.

PAF spokesperson Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol earlier said that having both the Navy and the Air Force acquire and operate AW-109s is a wise and very cost-effective move by the government.

"It eases integration and (both services) can share in logistic (support) and best practices. That is a very cost- effective move," he explained.

The PAF will soon operate eight armed versions of the AW-109 while the Navy will get five units of these helicopters, three to be delivered this December.

The PN spokesperson shared Okol's opinion and stressed that having both services operate the same type of helicopter will greatly boost their interoperability or capability to conduct joint operations using the same air platform.

"Having the same platform, interoperability in terms of exchange of pilots and crew, training and logistical requirement will surely be enhanced," Fabic said.

He added that as part of their interoperability training with the PAF, both services will also conduct deck landing qualifications on PN frigates and logistic vessels.

The AW-109 "Power" is a three-ton class, eight-seat helicopter powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW206C engines.

The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

The aircraft’s safety features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW-109 has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions.

Its superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost-effective maritime helicopter in its class.

For shipboard operations, the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures.

The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW-109 to perform its mission when many other helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.

Over 550 AW-109 "Power" and AW-109 light utility helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers from almost 50 countries.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=587382

E. Mindanao Command deploys battalion to help in Leyte relief efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16): E. Mindanao Command deploys battalion to help in Leyte relief efforts

The Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Saturday that it has deployed a construction battalion to help in the ongoing search and relief efforts in "Yolanda"-battered Leyte province.

Capt. Alberto Caber, the unit's spokesperson, said the Eastern Mindanao Command contingent has been named Joint Task Force Tambayayong (JTFT II).

It can be recalled that a year ago, when typhoon "Pablo" hit the Davao region, the same carpenter-soldiers from JTFT repaired more than 700 houses, facilities, schools and chapels in the communities in the rehabilitation phase.

These soldiers are armed with hammers, craw bars, saws and other light construction equipment, Caber said.

The Task Force is organized for reconstruction works, search and rescue, and relief operations from the Army’s 4th and 10th Infantry Divisions, Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao, and Army Engineer units.

Medical volunteers from the Kiwanis International Division 7 and 8 also joined the troops as component of the said humanitarian mission.

The convoy has with them family food packs for distribution to the people in Leyte that came from donors in Davao. Some donors gave nails and large tarpaulins for temporary shelters.

Eastern Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III said that sending the JTFT II to Leyte will help the people in the affected communities construct shelters or repair partially damaged houses and facilities, clear roads to speed up entry of vehicles transporting relief goods and even recover missing persons.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=587468

More military resources now helping in 'Yolanda' relief efforts --AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16): More military resources now helping in 'Yolanda' relief efforts --AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Saturday that more military personnel and trucks are arriving in Tacloban City, Leyte to help in the ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) and ground relief operations in other supertyphoon "Yolanda"-affected areas.

As of Saturday morning, the 2nd Serial Bayanihan Express, which comprises 140 Army soldiers and 24 military trucks, is preparing to depart to Tacloban City after refueling in Legazpi City.

These self-sustaining troops, composed of security elements, maintenance personnel, and communications personnel with equipment, will assemble in Tacloban and will be redeployed to other affected areas in need of further assistance.

The 3rd Serial Bayanihan Express, consisting of 53 Army, Air Force and Navy elements with 28 military and civilian trucks/vehicles, on the other hand, is set to depart from Batangas Port via a roll-on, roll-off (RORO) vessel along with personnel from the 1st Special Forces Battalion en route to Tacloban.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy vessel AT296 left Cavite City Saturday en route to Matnog, Sorsogon. The logistics ship, which has a bow ramp, will prioritize the transport of military vehicles carrying equipment and personnel who will conduct HADR operations in Tacloban City.

The vessel, which has a capacity to carry eight military vehicles, is expected to arrive in Sorsogon Sunday night.

Also on Saturday, five C-130 flights by the Australian and New Zealand governments will be conducted from Mactan Airport in Cebu to Tacloban, Guiuan, and Ormoc to transport teams and equipment to augment the ongoing HADR operations in the area.

Last Friday, troops from the PA's 3rd Infantry Division, together with a group of Canadian Army soldiers, arrived at Roxas City, Capiz on board a Ceres bus and five M-35 trucks loaded with logistics supplies for relief and rehabilitation operations. A command post was established there to monitor movement of relief operations.

The first batch of the Canadian Army composed of 54 personnel arrived in Iloilo City on board their C-17 to aid ongoing relief operations in the area. They were augmented by another seven Canadian Army personnel who arrived in Roxas City on board a jet plane from Iloilo airport.

Currently, the AFP has about 12,000 troops on the ground under the Central Command conducting HADR operations in typhoon-affected areas in the Visayas. It also has about 3,400 external troops, including follow-on forces augmenting said troops.

Soldiers are also deployed to assist the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the repacking of relief goods.

Aside from troops deployed in DSWD Repacking Centers, the AFP has also established its own Repacking Centers in various headquarters in Metro Manila in coordination with the department: four in the Navy Headquarters, one in Villamor Air Base, two in the Army Headquarters, and one in the General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=587476

Joint GRP-MILF peace panels' solidarity statement on the aftermath of 'Yolanda'

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16): Joint GRP-MILF peace panels' solidarity statement on the aftermath of 'Yolanda'
 
"The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Negotiating Panels extend their heartfelt sympathy to and solidarity with the families and communities affected by the devastation of Supertyphoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan).

"Disasters result in the disruption of peace, the destruction of property, and the lack of order and security. In the same way that natural calamities bring havoc to people and endanger their existence, man-made disasters such as armed violence equally pose tremendous devastation to lives through blatant disregard for life and other human rights.

"It is the moral responsibility of everybody to place maximum importance to the protection of life, that is, the right to live in a peaceful and humane society. The destruction from Yolanda and similar natural calamities and from man-made disasters such as wars and armed violence, though from different sources, all point to the same gravity of suffering that halt development and a better future.

"Yolanda is a reminder, a call for unity and perseverance of everybody irrespective of status and political stance to face boldly these hardships and work together to mitigate, if not prevent, future disasters. The Parties believe that our people’s resilience becomes our most potent tool during these challenges. Most especially, the GPH and MILF Panels commit to work together in order to find a just and lasting solution to the armed conflict in Mindanao so that together, we can focus on the even bigger challenges of a changing global environment."

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=587509

Ready to eat meals, in war and disaster

From Rappler (Nov 16): Ready to eat meals, in war and disaster

INSTANT FOOD. Soldiers and police deployed in Samar and Leyte are subsisting on ready-to-eat meals that do not spoil for one year. Photo by Cecille Santos/Rappler

INSTANT FOOD. Soldiers and police deployed in Samar and Leyte are subsisting on ready-to-eat meals that do not spoil for one year. Photo by Cecille Santos/Rappler

Soldiers and police deployed in Samar and Leyte to maintain order and help in the relief and recovery efforts are subsisting on ready-to-eat meals (REMs) that do not spoil for a year.

These REMs may also temporarily help solve the problem of creeping starvation among hundreds of thousands of victims and survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Eastern Visayas.

The Armed Forces has already ordered 10,000 sets of REMs for soldiers deployed in Samar and Leyte, with the National Police ordering a separate 6,000 sets. One set consists of 3 meals good for one day, with each meal having 250 grams of rice and 200 grams of a viand.

Initially meant for soldiers deployed in remote areas, REM is a two-in-one combo of rice and viand that does away with cooking preparations.

It was developed only this year by businesswoman Jo Magcale, and was first delivered to the Army as part of its food provision for soldiers deployed in Zamboanga City.

They stayed for about a month after a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front laid siege to the city.

“We’re already getting inquiries from private donors for the purchase of REMs.

Instead of sending clothes, noodles, canned goods, or clothing, this is one stop-gap measure to readily address hunger in Eastern Visayas,” Magcale, president of Soul of David Corp, said.

Taga-bitbit ng kaldero

Magcale came up with the idea of REMs after soldiers deployed in remote and rebel-infested areas complained that they could not afford a decent meal during operations.

“In the Army, one is assigned as the taga-bitbit ng kaldero at bigas (rice pot carrier). They said it is a bother to cook food. They need also water. Besides, cooking is a security risk. It may give away their location,” Magcale said.

“They also complained that they do not have a decent meal for days, with the meager food allowance allocated for soldiers.”

A soldier has a monthly food allowance of P2,700 or P90 a day. This means that they only have P30 for each breakfast, lunch and dinner meal.

The REM is an apparent adaptation of the US’ "Meal, Ready to Eat" (MRE), which are rations for American soldiers sent to the field or to combat zones where cooking facilities are not available. An MRE may consist of a main course, side dish and dessert, with each meal containing the calorie requirement for an American soldier.

Magcale however said the US military’s MRE does not fit the Filipino concept of what constitutes a meal. “When we say meal, there’s rice and at least one kind of viand. Without rice, that is not a meal.”

Tested by DOST

Conscious of the soldier’s daily food budget, Magcale managed to work around the overhead cost and came up with a pricing scheme that suits the soldier’s needs. Meals in foil packs are priced P30 while those in can are priced at P40.

“There’s actually little margin (of profit). It is our way of helping our soldiers in the field,” she said. “We used rice from the National Food Authority and we order by bulk from poultry and hog raisers. That’s how we are able to keep operational costs within our budget.”

However, testing and development of the REM cost almost P1 million. It underwent and passed the standards set by the Department of Science and Technology for food safety. “We do not use preservatives. The rice and viand are cooked in high heat for longer shelf life. Our REM has a shelf life of one year,” she explained.

Ordinary consumers may find the rice a bit drier than normal. This is because the rice had to be “dehydrated” so it won’t spoil easily.

Magcale also came up with different varieties of viand – from adobo to chicken and pork peccadillo, kare-kare, sisig, chicken caldereta, chicken teriyaki, and chicken curry.

The military admitted it initially hedged about sending a large contingent to Tacloban City because of concerns that the troops would only contribute to the food shortage already plaguing the city.

“We also have a problem on the ground with food and water. We might be adding troops that are not needed. Another problem is how to feed the soldiers and policemen we will send there,” National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director and retired Army general Eduardo del Rosario was quoted as saying.

In times of crisis and national emergencies, the REM addresses that concern.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/43869-ready-to-eat-meals-war-disaster