Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Troops repel NPA attack

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Nov 26): Troops repel NPA attack

GOVERNMENT forces repelled an attack by New People's Army (NPA) rebels on Sunday in the hinterlands of Zamboanga del Sur, the police reported Tuesday.

The incident took place around 10 p.m. at Purok 4 in the village of Fatima, San Miguel, Zamboanga Del Sur, the police said.

Fortunately, no one among the troops from the Army's 53rd Infantry Battalion assigned at the detachment that came under attack were either killed or injured, the police said.

Corporal Orlando Primitivo, the detachment commander, told the police that they were fired upon by the NPA rebels led by a certain Ka Andoy that prompted them to return fire.

Primitivo told the police that the NPA rebels fled to unknown direction following a five-minute exchange of gunfire.

It was not clear whether or not the NPA rebels have suffered casualties, the police said.

Recovered at the crime scene were 47 empty shells of AK-47 riffle, the police added.


Unexploded explosives found in conflict areas

From the Zamboanga Today (Nov 26): Unexploded explosives found in conflict areas

The Explosive and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit of Zamboanga City Police Office continues to recover the unexploded ordnances in the conflict areas.

Report showed that residents who were permitted to return to their homes located at the Barangays Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara, Rio Hondo, Mariki and Kasanyangan, all in this city, started to clean the debris in their surroundings.

The bomb squad team of the local police under SPO4 Wilfredo Fox has retrieved a stun grenade at Ayer Village, Sta. Barbara last Friday while another CTG 40mm HEDP was found at Martha Drive, Sta. Catalina.

SPO4 Fox said that they constantly remind the residents returning to their respective homes in the conflict area to watch out and be careful of unexploded ordnance which is still dangerous and can still inflict harm to people.

He added that the recovered ordnances were brought to their headquarters together with the other recovery for safekeeping.

Police and military EOD led the clearing operation during the Phase 2 after the 3-week Zamboanga siege.

Recently, the recovered ordnances from the conflict areas with the assistance of the United States military bomb experts disposed about a ton of their recovery in Barangay Patalon, this city.


NPA behind assassination of cop: PNP

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 27): NPA behind assassination of cop: PNP

The police yesterday said that SPO1 Agustin Hulleza was assassinated by suspected New People’s Army hitmen in Brgy. Palampas, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.

“It was a SPARU (Special Partisan Unit) operation”, Supt. Victorino Romanillos, officer-in-charge of the San Carlos police, said.

Hulleza, an intelligence operative of the Toboso Police Station, who was killed in line of duty was given a 21-gun salute during his burial at the Calatrava cemetery at noon Monday.

Before his death, Senior Inspector Danilo Zuniega, Toboso police chief, said Hulleza had revealed to him that he was reportedly marked for liquidation by the NPA.

On Nov. 16, Hulleza was shot in the back of his head, by two unidentified motorcycle-riding suspects, while on his way to San Carlos City, also on board a motorcycle, police investigations showed.

Chief Inspector Eduardo Corpuz, spokesman of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, who also attended the burial, said “We hope that justice will be served to our lost comrade”.

The Philippine Army had claimed that the NPA violated its own ceasefire in the killing of Hulleza.

The unilateral ceasefire declared by the NPA in devastated areas of Visayas started Nov. 14 and ended Nov. 24 but it was extended by the CPP-NPA until Dec. 24.


MILF: BDA thanks Malaysia for sponsoring fellowship program in Kuala Lumpur

From the MILF Website (Nov 27): BDA thanks Malaysia for sponsoring fellowship program in Kuala Lumpur

Delegates to the educational tour in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia comprised of Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) Staff, representatives from Moro Non-Government Organizations and various government agencies posed for a souvenir shot at Universiti Malaya. The weeklong study visit entitled “Managing Challenges to Nation Building: Sharing the Malaysian Experience” was held on October 20-27, 2013 (Photo courtesy Rahib Kudto/UNYPAD)

Delegates from the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) expressed their sincerest thanks to the Malaysian government for sponsoring the weeklong fellowship program entitled “Managing Challenges to Nation Building: Sharing the Malaysian Experience.”

Seven BDA officers and staff participated in the said program held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on October 20-27, 2013.

Comprising the BDA team were: Ahmad Yusoph Alamin, Regional Institutional Development Officer; Regional Manager (RM) Mohalikin D. Piang of Southern Mindanao; RM Hashim B. Manticayan of Central Mindanao; Julhaina E. Cadon, Head of Human Resource Development Division; Nor Ayn A. Makakena, Project Operations Officer; and Norhaini A. Manongkarang, Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Officer.

The Regional Coordinator of Sajahatra Bangsamoro, Farouk U. Midtimbang, was also part of the BDA delegation. Other participants were representatives from line agencies, local government units and Non-Government Organizations.

The activity was spearheaded by the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP). Its goal is to share Malaysia’s development experiences with other developing countries. The programme believes that the development of a country depends on the quality of its human resources.

MTCP activities are administered by the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2010. Around 2,000 participants coming from 139 countries come to Malaysia annually under the MTCP.

Strengthening bilateral relations between Malaysia, promoting South-South cooperation and other developing countries and promoting technical cooperation among developing countries are among the objectives of the programme.

The activity bared to the participants how Malaysia has been able to develop economically while avoiding internal conflicts or disintegration on a multi-cultural society. Malaysia is also a home for Chinese and Indians.

MTCP also aims to provide an opportunity for participants from the Philippines to establish network with Malaysian Government, academic community and NGOs for the purpose of strengthening bilateral ties and exchanges.

The learning activities included lectures from the professors of University of Malaya, group discussions, and agency visits. The participants also delved on planning workshop.

Among the topics tackled were Navigating Multicultural Malaysia, Malaysian Political and Administration System, Culture of Peace, Conflict Management, Socio-Economic Development of Malaysia, Challenges to Development, Managing Diversity, Promoting Inclusiveness, and Appreciating Culture.

Participants from different NGOs were Abdul Hamidullah T. Atar, Anwar Z. Saluwang, Imran M. Malomalo, Rahib L. Kudto, and Samsoddin C. Amella.

Delegates from the government agencies were: Maria Carolina Carbonell, DTI; Maria Lourdes L. Agustin, DILG; Pauline Veronica A. Manabat, National Security Council (NSC); Vladimir G. Felix, NSC; Cader B. Mambuay, MGB-DENR; Salekh B. Mangelen, TESDA; Tarhata L. Balading, DILG; Tarhata S. Mapandi, TESDA; and Dr. Tomanda D. Antok of Mindanao State University-Maguindanao.

The delegates from the the Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao government were: Abdulmuhmin A. Mujahid, Consultant of the Regional Governor; Engr. Abdulrakman K. Asim from Maguindanao PLGU; and Monina K. Macarongon, Maguindanao PLGU. Cotabato City Councilor Mohamad Ali Matabalao also joined.

Malaysia has been facilitating the ongoing peace talks between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.


MILF: Bangsamoro Development Agency-SulTa conducts Focus Group Discussions

From the MILF Website (Nov 27): Bangsamoro Development Agency-SulTa conducts Focus Group Discussions

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA)-Regional Management Office- Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (SultTa) conducted Focus Group Discussions (FGD) on November 19, 2013 at the Notre Dame Review Center, Jolo Sulu.
The program was facilitated by Mr. Jemuel Perino and his team from Philkoei International Inc. (PKII,) a group of experts from Manila.

Mr. Donimar Ajiji. BDA-SulTa Regional Manager welcomed the participants from different line agencies in Sulu and Tawi Tawi provinces. Ms. Sitti Rina A. Halun, BDA Assistant Manager acted as master of ceremonies.

Mr. Renato Sabado, presented the overview of the activity and emphasized the inception report of the agency’s transition development plan; purpose of the inception report, key elements of the consultancy service, and overall planning approach.

Among the crucial points discussed were on how to identify the issues in the different sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, fishery and agri-industry, power, natural resources, and water resources and disaster preparedness and management. The participants proposed different key issues deemed necessary for the Bangsamoro in the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi – Tawi.

The program was supported by the Japan International Cooperation agency (JICA), a leading international non – government organization (INGO) and funding Institution. It is also assisting the crafting of the Development Plan for the Transitional Period (DPTP) which is focused on the following studies on:

•    Infrastructure
•    Agriculture, Fishery and Agri-Industry
•    Power
•    Water Resources and Disaster Management
•    Environment and Natural Resources

The BDA is also currently preparing the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) which is divided into two phases, namely;

 Phase I-the crafting of the Development Plan for the Transitional Period (DPTP);

 Phase II- is focused on the Development of a Comprehensive Plan to be completed by year 2016 and the medium/strategic interventions and investment plans for the 2016 – 2020.
At the end of the activity, inspiring messages were delivered by Dr. Norman Abdurahman of BDA -SulTa and Mr.  Perino.

The organizers and the participants expressed their profound gratitude to the resource speakers and the JICA for their time, efforts as well as the valuable knowledge and assistance they contributed to the success of the activity. 


Cops kill 4 Sayyaf bandits in Pata town, Sulu

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 26): Cops kill 4 Sayyaf bandits in Pata town, Sulu

Four Abu Sayyaf men were killed Monday in a clash with a police team which was hunting the bandits in Sulu, the Philippine National Police said Tuesday.

The 20-minute gunfight occurred in Tumaddas, a coastal village in Pata town, where four unidentified members of the terrorist group were gunned down.

According to the PNP report, before the encounter, police have been conducting a pursuit operation in the municipality since Saturday, targeting Abu Sayyaf members linked to a series of kidnappings of civilians in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces.

No casualties from the police were reported.

The PNP said its hunt for Abu Sayyaf involved in the kidnapping of civilians will continue.


‘Rebel’ slain in Army, NPA clash in Neg. Or.

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 26): ‘Rebel’ slain in Army, NPA clash in Neg. Or.

A suspected rebel was killed when government troops clashed with members of the New People’s Army in La Libertad, Negros Oriental, at around 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Capt. Cresencio Gargar of the 302nd Infantry Brigade based in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, said the fatality has not yet been identified. Soldiers were also able to recover a carbine, a military backpack, empty shells of various calibers, and subversive documents at the encounter site.

He said troops from the Bravo Company of the Philippine Army’s 11th Infantry Battalion, led by 2Lt. Jerome Mandocdoc, were on security patrol when they encountered around 10 armed men, believed to be members of the NPA Larangang Guerilla 1, Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, in Barangay Pitogo, about 36 kms. away from the town.

Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, 302nd Brigade commander, said the security patrol is part of the Army’s operation against the local insurgents to prevent them from conducting atrocities against military or civilian targets or vital installations.

He said the soldiers received reports from residents about the presence of armed men, allegedly planning to conduct tactical offensive, or to ambush government troopers in the barangay.

Gargar said the troops were approaching the barangay when they were fired at by the suspected rebels. They returned fire and this lasted for about 10 minutes before the rebels fled, he added.

It was earlier reported that the NPA in the Visayas had declared a unilateral ceasefire because of the devastation from super-typhoon “Yolanda” in the region.

Gargar said reports from military sources in the area showed that some NPA groups are consolidating for a possible tactical offensive against troops, especially Citizen Armed Auxiliary detachments deployed in the hinterland barangays of Guihulngan City.

He said a pursuit operation is ongoing and more troops were deployed to the encounter site as reinforcement. The Army is also coordinating with the Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives for the identification of the slain rebel.


DFA pitch for increased US presence in PH slammed

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 26): DFA pitch for increased US presence in PH slammed

The presence of United States forces in relief operations in the Visayas was condemned anew by militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Tuesday.

The group also criticized the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for citing the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) as reason for the need to have an increased rotational presence agreement between the US and the Philippines.

“It is utterly appalling that two weeks after the storm devastated Central Philippines, [DFA secretary Albert] del Rosario takes this opportunity to pitch for the permanent and continuing presence of US troops and warships in the country, citing the deployment of US troops for relief efforts in Eastern Visayas as among the alleged advantages,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.

“The US role in the relief operations in the Visayas is in line with the US agenda of justifying its military presence in the region,” Reyes said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been in negotiations with the US military for the increased rotational presence of its troops in the country following the US’s decision to reposition more of its forces to Asia.

“Del Rosario just couldn’t wait to get the ball rolling on the negotiations for increased rotational presence and de facto basing, keenly aware of the publicity the US forces have generated in their deployment to Samar and Leyte,” Reyes said.

“[He] is using the government’s incompetence and inability to deal with natural calamities as his basis for allowing the permanent deployment of the US war machine in Philippine territory,” he said.

Del Rosario met with US congressmen Chris Smith and Trent Franks and other members of their delegation on Monday as they visited Tacloban to inspect the ongoing relief operations of US forces.

Sea and air assets of the US have been in the country providing logistical support in the delivery of relief goods.

In a press conference at the DFA, del Rosario said: “I think this demonstrates the need for this framework agreement we’re working out with the US because it accentuates the purposes of the framework [one of] which is to make humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and response a very major aspect of the agreement.”

Reyes insisted that the government should be held accountable for its failure to prepare for disasters.

“The people must press the Aquino regime to undertake comprehensive disaster preparedness for future calamities,” Reyes said.

“To deal with these calamities, the Philippine government must rely on developing internal or domestic capability rather than simply relying on foreign assistance, especially those that threaten to undermine our sovereignty,” he added.


Militants told: US troops’ presence in PH ‘good’ for us

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 26): Militants told: US troops’ presence in PH ‘good’ for us
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday deflected allegations by a militant group that it was using the presence of United States troops conducting relief operations to push for the framework agreement on their increased rotational presence in the country.

“One of the significant benefits of having a framework agreement is in further strengthening our capabilities in humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters in a press conference.

“The US was among the first countries to respond generously providing resources and manpower to assist in relief and rescue operations. Such positive experiences certainly bring tremendous goodwill to any negotiation, allowing negotiating parties to look more at all opportunities instead of impediments,” Hernandez said.

Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in a statement Tuesday criticized Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario for saying that the support being given by the US military “demonstrates the need for this framework agreement.”

Renato Reyes Jr., Bayan secretary general, alleged that this was a “pitch for the permanent and continuing presence of US troops and warships in the country.”

“The US role in the relief operations in the Visayas is in line with the US agenda of justifying its military presence in the region,” Reyes said.

“Del Rosario just couldn’t wait to get the ball rolling on the negotiations for increased rotational presence and de facto basing, keenly aware of the publicity the US forces have generated in their deployment to Samar and Leyte,” Reyes added.

The US and the Philippines have been in negotiations for the increased rotational presence of troops in the country following the US government’s decisions to reposition majority of its military assets to Asia.

Hernandez reiterated that the agreement for increased rotational presence “is not only good for the Philippines but also for the US and that’s why what we are trying to achieve here is to reach a mutually beneficial agreement and arrangement.”

“Whatever agreement will be achieved will always respect our constitution and the laws of the Philippines,” Hernandez said.

The third round of negotiations has finished and will continue, he said.


US military reduces ‘Yolanda’ relief efforts

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 27): US military reduces ‘Yolanda’ relief efforts

The United States military has started downsizing its personnel and equipment involved in the ongoing massive relief operations in the Visayas region where super typhoon “Yolanda” wreaked havoc two weeks ago.

Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, commanding general of the US 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, said that they have started scaling down in number as the operations shift to recovery efforts.

Kennedy, whose unit is supporting the US Joint Task Force 505 now involved in humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations in Tacloban City, expressed elation over his command’s participation in the mission.

“It makes me feel good as an ally of this government that we could respond,” said Kennedy, in a statement issued by the US Marines.

Kennedy stressed that the US troops operated under the direction of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“We were under the direction of the Philippine armed forces the entire time. (The response) was tailored and it was immediate and responsive. We feel pretty good about having participated in this operation,” Kennedy said.

On the other hand, the JTF 505’s Air Component Coordination Element (ACCE), which was primarily responsible in air transport of relief goods in the typhoon-hit areas, has also toned down its operations.

Brig. Gen. James Hecker, commander of ACCE JTF-505, said it was an honor to bring the ACCE’s unique capability to bear alongside joint and coalition partners during Operation Damayan.

“Our ability to coordinate scalable joint and multinational air assets allowed us to augment the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade’s established processes supporting the Philippine government’s airlift mission,” Hecker said.

“With aid now in place where it needs to be, and the lines of communication improving at sea and on the ground every day, the demand for large-scale command and control has ceased. The PAF is fully capable with the scope of the operation where it’s at now, and we will continue supporting them in our normal Pacific theater Joint Force Air Component Commander role,” he added.

The US military has sent more than 13,000 servicemen, including crew members of aircraft carrier USS George Washington, to assist the Philippine government in responding to the havoc wreaked by “Yolanda. The warship was among the first responders in the typhoon-ravaged area.

Meanwhile, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said that the catastrophe brought by Yolanda is not a reason to justify the increased presence of United States troops in the country.

Evardone, whose district was one of the severely affected areas of Yolanda, said that despite the big help extended by the United States for the typhoon victims, the presence of more US troops is not justified.

Evardone, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, was reacting to the statement of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario that the calamity had exacerbated the need for more US troops.

“Their (American soldiers) presence was a major factor in the immediate delivery of relief goods. They filled a vacuum because we lack the resources. But that can’t be a basis for increased rotational presence. It just means it pays to have a big brother on your side amid crisis,” Evardone said during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan Media Forum at the House of Representatives yesterday.

Among those hardest hit by the typhoon were the towns of Guiuan, Hernani and Basey.
“Without them helping, it would have been more difficult for us. This is because their presence here is for humanitarian purposes, not political,” Evardone said.

“By December, I think they can already gradually pull out,” Evardone said.


Video: C-130s in Tacloban stop accepting refugees

From ABS-CBN (Nov 26): Video: C-130s in Tacloban stop accepting refugees

[Video: C-130s in Tacloban stop accepting refugees

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has stopped accepting survivors of typhoon "Yolanda" in Tacloban City, Leyte who wish to go to Manila or Cebu via C-130 planes.
The PAF, however, has yet to clarify whether the stoppage is temporary or not.
- Umagang Kay Ganda, 27 November 2013


Canadian Air Force brings aid to Iloilo town

From ABS-CBN (Nov 26): Canadian Air Force brings aid to Iloilo town

Canadian Air Force troops have arrived in Sicogon Island in Carles, Iloilo to provide aid and conduct medical missions for the survivors of typhoon Yolanda.

Residents of the island rushed to the the Bell Ch146 Griffon helicopter when it landed.

The Canadian soldiers brought relief goods, as well as a mobile medical team.

Most of the residents are suffering from common illnesses like cough and colds. They received medical help from the Canadian doctors.

The Canadians were amazed at how the residents of Sicogon Islands are coping with the tragedy.

"They still smile even when they are sick. They seem to be very happy," said Master Corporal Stephan Fortin.

Meanwhile, the lives of the residents in Sicogon Island are slowly returning to normal.
Fishermen have started repairing their damaged boats and nets. They have also started going back to sea.

They are also hoping to receive free boats from the local government so they can earn for their families.


China air defense zone points to the long game

Posted to the Philippine Star (Nov 27): China air defense zone points to the long game

Two US B-52 bombers flew over disputed islands in the East China Sea during a training mission yesterday, defying new territorial claims laid out by Beijing over the weekend, according to several US officials.

The two unarmed bombers took off from Guam and were in the zone for less than an hour, thundering across the Pacific skies during midday there, the officials said, adding that the aircraft encountered no problems.

While the US insisted the training mission was long-planned and was not in reaction to China's latest declaration, it came just days after China issued a map and a new set of rules governing the zone, which includes a cluster of islands that are controlled by Japan but also claimed by Beijing.

China said on Saturday that all aircraft entering the new air defense zone must notify Chinese authorities and are subject to emergency military measures if they do not identify themselves or obey Beijing's orders. US officials, however, said they have received no reaction to the bomber flights from the Chinese.

The bomber mission underscores Washington's immediate rejection of China's new rules. The US, which has hundreds of military aircraft based in the region, has said it has zero intention of complying. Japan likewise has called the zone invalid, unenforceable and dangerous, while Taiwan and South Korea, both close to the US, also rejected it.

The US mission took place between about midnight Monday and 3 a.m. EST, said the officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the flights.

China's move to further assert its territorial claims over the islands is not expected to immediately spark confrontations with foreign aircraft.

Yet the move fits a pattern of putting teeth behind China's claims and could potentially lead to dangerous encounters depending on how vigorously China enforces it — and how cautious it is when intercepting aircraft from Japan, the US and other countries.

While enforcement is expected to start slowly, Beijing has a record of playing the long game, and analysts say they anticipate a gradual scaling-up of activity.

The declaration seems to have flopped as a foreign policy gambit. Analysts say Beijing may have miscalculated the forcefulness and speed with which its neighbors rejected its demands.

At least in the short term, the move undermines Beijing's drive for regional influence, said Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

"It doesn't serve Chinese interests to have tensions with so many neighbors simultaneously," she said.

Denny Roy, a security expert at the East-West Center in Hawaii, said China's enforcement will likely be mostly rhetorical at first.

"The Chinese can now start counting and reporting what they call Japanese violations, while arguing that the Chinese side has shown great restraint by not exercising what they will call China's right to shoot, and arguing further that China cannot be so patient indefinitely," Roy said.

China also faces practical difficulties deriving from gaps in its air-to-air refueling and early warning and control capabilities, presenting challenges in both detecting foreign aircraft and keeping its planes in the air, according to Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor at Flightglobal magazine in Singapore.

Despite that, Beijing has shown no sign of backing down, just as it has continued to aggressively enforce its island claims in the South China Sea over the strong protests from its neighbors.

Tensions remain high with Tokyo over islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku by Japan and Daioyu by China. Beijing was incensed by Japan's September 2012 move to nationalize the chain, and Diaoyutai by Taiwan, which also claims them.

Since then, Chinese and Japanese coast guard ships have regularly confronted each other in surrounding waters. Japan further angered Beijing last month by threatening to shoot down unmanned Chinese drones that Beijing says it plans to send on surveillance missions over the islands.

Beijing's move was greeted rapturously by hardline Chinese nationalists, underscoring Beijing's need to assuage the most vocal facet of domestic public opinion.

Strategically, it also serves to keep the island controversy alive in service of Beijing's goal of forcing Tokyo to accept that the islands are in dispute — a possible first step to joint administration or unilateral Chinese control over them.

Beijing was also responding in kind to Japan's strict enforcement of its own air defense zone in the East China Sea, said Dennis Blasko, an Asia analyst at think tank CNA's China Security Affairs Group and a former Army attache in Beijing.

The Japanese zone, in place since the 1960s, overlaps extensively with the newly announced Chinese zone. Japan, which keeps a public record of all foreign incursions into its zone, actually extended it westward by 22 kilometers (14 miles) in May.

Blasko and others say much still depends on China's plans for implementation, but cite as a frightening precedent the 2001 collision between a US surveillance plane and an overly-aggressive Chinese fighter over the South China Sea that killed the Chinese pilot and sparked a major diplomatic crisis.

June Teufel Dreyer, a China expert at the University of Miami, said she would expect Beijing to pause until overseas criticisms die down, then engineer a diplomatic incident by warning off Japanese military aircraft without physically confronting them.

China further complicated matters by not consulting others on the protocols it expects them to follow, or the rules of engagement for Chinese pilots, said Ross Babbage, chair of Australia's Kokoda Foundation, a security think tank.

"This is the kind of situation that clearly has the potential to escalate," Babbage said.


Enrile: Yolanda not justification for US-PH deal

From Rappler (Nov 26): Enrile: Yolanda not justification for US-PH deal

For Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, even the world’s most powerful typhoon cannot be used to justify the increased rotational presence of American troops in the Philippines.

Enrile opposed the position of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, who said that foreign assistance during Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) demonstrated the need to allow increased US troop visits as part of the planned framework agreement between Manila and Washington.

“I respect his opinion, but I don’t think that is [reason] enough because we do not always have that kind of a problem. Otherwise, the anticipation of such a disaster or any contingency will be a justification for the presence of other troops in the country,” Enrile told reporters on Tuesday, November 26.

The former defense minister and former Senate President said there are many aspects of the proposal that must be scrutinized.

“We have to see how frequent the rotation is because if there is a permanent presence in the country, who will provide the logistics for the American troops and their quartering? Where will they be quartered? In Philippine facilities or American facilities? There are a lot of questions there,” Enrile said.

Enrile was reacting to the proposed deal that aims to allow more US troops, aircraft, and ships to pass through the Philippines. The deal is part of the Obama administration’s so-called pivot to Asia, Washington’s effort to rebalance its priorities to the Asia-Pacific amid a growing China.

On Monday, Del Rosario said the US humanitarian assistance during Yolanda “accentuates the main purposes of the framework which is to make humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and response a very major aspect of the agreement.”

Arizona Representative Trent Franks echoed the foreign affairs secretary, saying that it is better for the Philippines and US military to stick together.

‘Deal must go through Senate’

The Philippines used to host US military bases but the Philippine Senate voted to close these in 1992. The US has said the new deal is not aimed at creating new bases but only to allow for a greater “rotational” presence.

The deal is meant to be an executive agreement, not a treaty. A treaty requires Senate consent.

Legal luminaries like Enrile and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago though said the deal must have the approval of the Senate.

“I think it will have to come to us. It will become an amendment of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) because there’s a prohibition in the Constitution regarding the establishment of foreign military bases in the country. It depends upon the way they will craft the relationship,” Enrile said.

In a previous speech, Santiago said whether the deal is an executive agreement or a treaty, it must pass through the Senate.

Santiago cited Executive Order No 459, which defined an international agreement as “a contract or understanding regardless of nomenclature entered into between the Philippines and another government in written form governed by international law whether embodied in a single instrument or two or more related instrument.”

The senator said, “Thus, under this definition, an executive agreement falls under the category of international agreement; and under the Constitution, any international agreement requires the concurrence of two-thirds of all senators.”

As for administration ally Senate President Franklin Drilon, he told reporters that any deal must adhere to the Constitution’s ban or permanent foreign bases in the country.

Drilon has called on the foreign affairs and defense departments to brief the Senate on the deal.

“The devil is in the details. As a senator, it is my obligation to our people to ensure that any agreement the government will enter into is legal and in accordance with our Constitution. I will examine the outcome of the negotiations to see to it that it will not infringe on the lives of our people and their guaranteed rights,” Drilon said in a past statement.

Drilon said in August that as long as the deal “respects limitations” under the Mutual Defense Treaty and the VFA, Senate ratification will not be needed.

The two agreements are treaties concerning foreign troops that the Senate ratified.
Militant groups oppose the proposed US-Philippines deal, saying it circumvents the constitutional ban on permanent bases and may undermine Philippine sovereignty.


As tensions rise, China sends carrier on training mission to West PH Sea

From InterAksyon (Nov 26): As tensions rise, China sends carrier on training mission to West PH Sea

China's aircraft carrier, the Liaoning (Reuters file)

China sent its sole aircraft carrier on a training mission into the South China Sea on Tuesday amid maritime disputes with some neighbors and tension over its plan to set up an airspace defense zone in waters disputed with Japan.

The Liaoning, bought used from Ukraine and refurbished in China, has conducted more than 100 exercises and experiments since it was commissioned last year but this is the first time it has been sent to the South China Sea, which Manila, one of the claimants to territory in the crucial sea lane, calls the West Philippine Sea.

Though considered decades behind US technology, the Liaoning represents the Chinese navy's blue-water ambitions and has been the focus of a campaign to stir patriotism.

The Liaoning left port from the northern city of Qingdao accompanied by two destroyers and two frigates, the Chinese navy said on an official news website.
While there, it will carry out "scientific research, tests and military drills," the report said.

"This is the first time since the Liaoning entered service that it has carried out long-term drills on the high seas," it added.

It did not specify exactly what training would be done, only noting that previous exercises involving aircraft landing and taking off had gone well and laid a firm foundation for future tests.

Previously reported training exercises have mostly been in the Yellow Sea.

China's Defense Ministry said on Monday that it had lodged formal protests with the US and Japanese embassies after both countries criticized a Chinese plan to impose new rules on airspace over disputed waters in the East China Sea.

China also claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Sea, overlapping claims from Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam.

That dispute is one of the region's biggest flashpoints amid China's military build-up and the US strategic "pivot" back to Asia signaled by the Obama administration in 2011.

China's navy said the mission was routine, adding that the Liaoning was still in a testing phase.

"This test visit to the South China Sea is part of normal arrangements for testing and training for the Liaoning," it added.


PAF resumes leading role in humanitarian airlift operations

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): PAF resumes leading role in humanitarian airlift operations

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Tuesday announced that it will resume responsibility for coordinating humanitarian airlift operations.

A US Air Force C-130H aircraft delivered the last shipment of USAID relief requested for delivery to Tacloban Airport Nov. 23, and passenger service from the airport is at a level sustainable by Philippine air assets, officials said.

The move coincides with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Monday announcement that it will take the helm it shared with the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander in coordinating all maritime assets assisting the typhoon relief effort.

The announcement initiates the retrograde of Joint Task Force 505's Air Component Coordination Element (ACCE) which stood up Nov. 16 to assist the effort initially led by the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

"The ACCE has met all air coordination requirements and assistance benchmarks set by the Philippine government and the JTF," PAF chief Lt. Gen Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz said.

"The PAF is thankful for their support during the initial and surge response phases, but we are confident that their assistance is no longer required," he added.

Brig. Gen. James Hecker, commander of ACCE JTF-505, said it was an honor to bring the ACCE's unique capability to bear alongside joint and coalition partners during Operation "Damayan".

"Our ability to coordinate scalable joint and multinational air assets allowed us to augment the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade's established processes supporting the Philippine government's airlift mission," Hecker said.

"With aid now in place where it needs to be, and the lines of communication improving at sea and on the ground every day, the demand for large-scale command and control has ceased. The PAF is fully capable with the scope of the operation where it's at now, and we will continue supporting them in our normal Pacific theater Joint Force Air Component Commander role," he added.

During the relief effort, the ACCE provided air liaison to JTF-505 and the Joint Force Land Component Commander, which supported more than 1,100 air sorties that have delivered over 2,000 tons of relief supplies to date.

Air assets also evacuated more than 20,100 people from affected areas and delivered more than 2,000 relief workers into Tacloban, the region hit hardest by Supertyphoon "Yolanda".

For the AFP’s part, it has conducted a total of 698 sorties via its air assets and 49 sorties via its naval assets from November 9 to 20. Over 11 million pounds of relief goods were also ferried by AFP air and naval assets, and 135 trucks of relief goods were transported by ground assets in Leyte, Ormoc, Guiuan, Borongan, Samar, Camotes, Bantayan, Cebu, Tagbilaran, Roxas, Aklan, Iloilo, Palawan, Masbate, and Mindoro as of November 20.


8th Infantry Division one of the forces helping in Tacloban City relief, recovery efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): 8th Infantry Division one of the forces helping in Tacloban City relief, recovery efforts

As the government races to rehabilitate and rebuild Tacloban City from the pummeling its received from super typhoon "Yolanda", one of the units in the forefront of the ongoing recovery efforts is the Samar-based 8th Infantry Division.

Troopers from the unit, since the aftermath of super typhoon, has been tasked to clear roads, help distribute relief goods, secure relief workers, and aid in the transport of construction materials for the bunkhouses being constructed by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Capt. Amado Gutierrez, 8th Infantry Division spokesperson, said they will continue doing these tasks until the situation normalizes.

He also assured the public that there are no looming security threats as the 8th Infantry Division has the situation under control.


EMC soldiers continue conducting humanitarian, construction works in 'Yolanda'-ravaged Leyte

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): EMC soldiers continue conducting humanitarian, construction works in 'Yolanda'-ravaged Leyte

Demonstrating their spirit of "Bayanihan," members of the Eastern Mindanao Command's Joint Task Force "Tambayayong II" (JTFT II) are still conducting humanitarian and reconstruction works in "Yolanda"-ravaged Leyte.

Capt. Alberto Caber, the command's spokesperson, said that benefiting from this efforts are the residents of Javier, San Isidro, Albuera, Ormoc, Baybay and Abuyog towns.

He added that the calamity victims have lauded the humanitarian efforts of the JTFT II troopers who assisted them in the repair and reconstruction of their houses.

Caber said that the soldiers provided transportation assistance, distributed relief goods, rendered medical assistance, helped in the repair of a hospital in Abuyog General Hospital in partnership with the Rescue South African contingent.

Medical volunteers from the Kiwanis International Philippines-South District Divisions 7 and 8 and Davao Medical School Foundation Inc. also joined the troopers in providing medical assistance in the said areas.

Caber said the Eastern Mindanao Command also facilitated the delivery of 70,426 family food packs donated by the people of Davao to Tacloban and Ormoc cities as the relief operations hub. Used clothing from different donors were also delivered.

To sustain the reconstruction efforts of JTFT II in Leyte, the command is accepting donations of construction materials that will be used to repair houses devastated by "Yolanda."

It can be recalled that Eastern Mindanao Command also organized JTFT I after the onslaught of typhoon "Pablo" where more than 700 houses were repaired in a span of two months in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz, the unit commander, lauded the soldiers of JTFT II who are under Col. Arnold Fernandez for their initial accomplishments.

“Even a kilo of nails or a piece of corrugated GI sheet would go a long way in helping homeless families in the typhoon-affected areas," he said.


MNLF fighter nabbed in Cagayan De Oro

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): MNLF fighter nabbed in Cagayan De Oro

The 4th Infantry Division announced that its operatives have arrested a suspected Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighter during operations in West Bound Terminal, Barangay Bulua, Cagayan De Oro City early Tuesday morning.

Captain Christian Uy, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson, identified the arrested suspect as Daniel Cruz Xavier, one of the alleged MNLF fighters who laid siege to Zamboanga City last September.

He was bagged around 3 a.m.

Uy said that the 4th Infantry Division was aided by the 1st Infantry Division and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 10 in this operation.

Xavier has existing warrant of arrest under Criminal Case #28212 & 28213 for violation of Section 4b of Republic Act #9851 and Criminal Case 28214 for rebellion issued at Regional Trial Court (RTC), 9th judicial region br 15, Zamboanga City.

He is now undergoing documentation at the CIDG 10 Office at Camp Evangelista, Cagayan De Oro.

Xavier alias Salahudin Ibrahim Jaffam was personally introduced by Nur Misuari during different gatherings in Sulu before the Zamboanga siege.

Recovered in his possession are one laptop, three cellular phones, and several fake IDs as a UN representative, diplomat aide from the US Embassy, US Navy Seal ID among others.


Army troops continue to secure foreign volunteers in Panay island

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): Army troops continue to secure foreign volunteers in Panay island

Elements of the Philippine Army 301st Brigade continue to provide security to international community responders who have come to Panay island to help the typhoon Yolanda-affected residents.

Col. Arnold Quiapo, PA 301st Brigade commander, said that there are around 400 men in uniform who are deployed since November 8 to help in the relief operations as well as provide security to the different representatives of the international community that have come to bring their relief goods and conduct medical assistance.

He said that even their helicopters and other vehicles are being made available for use.

”We have to make sure that they are safe and will have no fear,” Quiapo contended.

Aside from the Army providing security, they also act as guides and interpreters to the Canadians, Koreans, Swish, and Japanese nationalities, among others, who have come.

”They are very happy to help the Philippines,” Quiapo said, referring to the foreign volunteers.


Zamboanga Peninsula officials undergo two-day anti-terrorism training

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): Zamboanga Peninsula officials undergo two-day anti-terrorism training

The Philippine National Police (PNP) started Tuesday the two-day anti-terrorism training for elective officials in Ipil, the capital of Zamboanga Sibugay province.

The training, which ends Wednesday, is dubbed “Terrorist Targets: Operationalizing the whole nation,” will be conducted in the eight regions of the country including the Zamboanga Peninsula.

“This is in compliance with the directives earlier issued by President Benigno Aquino III, it being the priority concern of the regions in Mindanao, Cebu and National Capital Region(NCR),” Zamboanga del Norte police director James Mejia said.

Among those invited to attend are governors, city and municipal mayors of the different provinces, cities and municipalities as well as the PNP officials assigned in this region.

This are the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay and the cities of Dapitan, Dipolog, Isabela, Pagadian and Zamboanga.

The first day of the training was marked with the signing of the manifesto with the technical experts from the Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and other law enforcement agencies.

It can be recalled that the Zamboanga Peninsula is confronted with all the terrorist groups operating in the area like the Communist Party of Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and other Moro rebels.


Sultan Kudarat town exec bridges warring Moro clan to peace

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): Sultan Kudarat town exec bridges warring Moro clan to peace

Proven that peace begets development, the local government of Lambayong, a farming community in Sultan Kudarat province, has facilitated the forging of a peace covenant between two warring Moro clans, officials said Tuesday.

This is in support of the on going peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Lambayong Mayor Florante Agduma, chair of the municipal peace and order council, took the opportunity to bridge families in conflict during the Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) meeting Monday.

Agduma said the families of Ustadz Mauya Tungkay and Betol Sanday alias Commander Guevarra, of the MILF’s 106th Base Command, forged the peace covenant.

The family feud, which already claimed lives from both sides, started in 2001 and recently heated up anew during the October 28 barangay elections.

Initiated by Agduma, the peace covenant signing was witnessed by representatives from the GPH Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), International Monitoring Team (IMT), Local Monitoring Team (LMT), police and the military.

Agduma lauded the GPH CCCH, IMT and LMT “for their significant contributions in helping the LGU resolved the conflict of the feuding families.”

Army Brigadier General Dionisio Sedillo Jr., chair of the GPH-CCCH, said that although "rido" is outside the mandate of the CCCH, the mechanism’s intervention can help especially when this involves MILF members as it can potentially affect the GPH-MILF ceasefire agreement due to their organizational affiliation.

“There is a need to resolve personal grudges and explore certain mechanisms to go about it,” Sedillo said after the signing ceremonies.

“It is high time for the feuding families who are connected with the MILF to settle their differences considering that the prospect of the peace negotiation is bright,” said Major Carlos Sol, GPH-CCCH secretariat head.

Under their peace covenant, the parties commit to an immediate ceasefire and refrain from making provocative statements and taking hostile actions like harassment, attacks and grenade throwing against each other or their supporters.

They also committed to return to their respective positions prior to the armed conflict last October 28 and to cooperate with the LGU in the negotiation and exploration of solutions to finally end their dispute.

The two sides also vowed to help bring back normalcy and exert efforts to allow the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their respective villages prior to the armed conflict last barangay elections.

A joint peacekeeping force from the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion and the local police have been deployed to Barangay Udtong, Lambayong pending the final settlement of the dispute of the two families.

The conflict resolution through localized peace dialogues in Lambayong was one of the many similar cases that LGUs managed to resolve in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat.


One of most wanted slain in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): One of most wanted slain in North Cotabato 
A follower of Central Mindanao's most wanted man was killed while a soldier was slightly wounded in a clash here Tuesday morning while government forces were serving warrants of arrest.

Chief Inspector Elmer Guevarra, chief of North Cotabato Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), identified the slain armed man as Ramon Bantolinay, one of the most wanted man in North Cotabato.

Guevarra said combined elements of CIDG, 7th Infantry Battalion and Pikit police tried to serve several warrants of arrest for Datukan Sama alias "Commander Lastikman" in his hideout in Sitio Tinibtiban, Barangay Batolawan in Pikit at dawn.

As the soldiers arrived at past 4:00 a.m., they were met with gunfire that left Police Officer 2 Christopher Soriano slightly wounded in the shoulder.

When lawmen returned fire, Lastikman and his followers scampered for safety and hid in various houses.

"Our informant confirmed Lastikman's presence in the safehouse and it was corroborated by Lastikman's wife," Guevarra said, adding that the wife was invited for questioning.

"She was very cooperative, in due time Lastikman will fall in government hands," he added.

The raiding team also seized three Armalite rifles owned by Samad's armed followers.

In July 9, 2012, Lastikman bolted the Maguindanao provincial jail in Cotabato City along with 10 other inmates after sawing off the iron grill of the bathroom inside the detention cell.

Samad is considered a high-profile suspect facing charges of bombing, kidnapping, cattle rustling, multiple murders, and highway robberies.

Previously incarcerated before 2012, his comrades tried but failed to rescue him when they attacked the Kidapawan City jail.


New US Ambassador arrives in PHL

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): New US Ambassador arrives in PHL

Philip Goldberg, the United States’ new ambassador to the Philippines, arrived in the country late Monday night and conveyed Washington’s continuing commitment to help in the rebuilding and rehabilitation of typhoon-ravaged Visayas region.

Goldberg will also help oversee a massive U.S. relief mission in the central Philippines, where at least 5,200 have been killed.

“I arrive at a moment of great challenge in the aftermath of typhoon 'Yolanda'. My colleagues at the embassy, at the USAID, and the US military are working hard in support of your government’s efforts. We will be there also as you rebuild,” Goldberg said in an arrival video statement released on Tuesday.

The U.S. government immediately came to the Philippines’ rescue a day after the colossal storm struck, deploying troops, aircraft, ships, and financial aid amounting to at least $ 50 million.

“We feel motivated by your spirit and impressed by your determination to rebuild lives and livelihood in the tradition of 'damayan',” Goldberg said. “As President Obama has said, when our friends are in trouble, America helps.”

“The US and the Philippines have developed a unique and special friendship based on common values and family ties.

I’m honored to have the opportunity to help strengthen our relationship and see that it endures for many decades to come.”

Goldberg, a veteran career diplomat, was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines on November 21.

At the State Department in Washington, Goldberg served as the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Prior to 2010 he served concurrently as the Coordinator for Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1874 on North Korea.

His diplomatic postings include Bolivia, where he served as ambassador from 2006 to 2008 and in Pristina, Kosovo from 2004 to 2006.


One of 1st AFP responders in Guiuan recalls the day 'Yolanda' hit PHL

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): One of 1st AFP responders in Guiuan recalls the day 'Yolanda' hit PHL

Pfc. Jomar Jay L. Rodin, a driver of KM-450 troop carrier, who is still on duty at Guiuan town, Eastern Samar despite being one of the first military personnel to reach the locality which was first battered by Supertyphoon "Yolanda" last Nov. 8, recalls the morning the monster typhoon first hit land.

Rodin was attached to a squad belonging to the 14th Infantry Battalion which was immediately deployed to Guiuan for humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) prior to the supertyphoon's onslaught

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs office chief, said Rodin's unit was deployed there to serve as eyes and ears of the battalion on the effects that "Yolanda" might bring to the province.

They arrived in Guiuan at around 10 p.m. of Nov. 7.

“Everyone was busy packing relief goods at the town hall when we arrived. They are ready, they prepared well,” Rodin stressed.

“Our squad leader, Sgt Morales, immediately reported to the mayor and informed him of our mission there,” he added.

Rodin recalled that everything seemed to be normal until around 3 a.m. Friday when strong winds coupled with rains started moving buildings, removing rooftops, collapsing walls.

Electricity and communication networks were out and destruction became the scenario for the next three hours.

“Our squad was scattered, we were all on survival mode,” Rodin said.

He said they have to transfer from one room to another to avoid falling debris.

At the 8th Infantry Division Headquarters in Catbalogan City, Samar, the 10 soldiers were declared unaccounted and missing with no reports coming from them.

Other units were able to send messages to give updates except for the squad in Guiuan.

Their radio went down as it was soaked in water during the height of the storm.

“Our squad leader was considering on sending me and another soldier to drive to our command post in Hernani town some 60 kilometers north but fallen trees were blocking the streets. My truck cannot traverse the road. We were cut off,” Rodin stated.

It was daybreak of Nov. 8 when the clearer picture of the effects of Yolanda was measured. Almost everything went down. It was a catastrophe.

Rodin said bodies were seen among the rubble. Others were dead, some might still be alive.

“At first, we worked individually, helping those we see near us and those who seek for assistance,” he added.

Not minding their hunger, the squad continued to help people rescue their loved ones. Bodies started piling up.

As time passed, people started getting hungry. One by one, people entered the town hall to get relief goods.

It was during this time, Rodin said, that their squad leader, Sgt. Morales, realized that if there will be shortage of food, and there will be no fair distribution, more problems will arise.

“He said that we secure the relief goods first so that there will be order to some extent,” Rodin said.

Impressed by the determination of the people of Guiuan to survive despite hardships, Rodin opted to stay behind to continue providing HADR.

Rodin is now on his 18th day in Guiuan.

He said that he believes the residents here are worthy enough of his time and efforts.

Rodin wanted to give them his own helping hand for as long as needed.

He was particularly moved by the respect given to them by the people and the cooperation they showed them.

Despite his entire team’s going back to their headquarters in Hernani, he stayed in Guiuan to help the people get back on their feet.

Today, he continues to fulfill his duty of driving to far-flung barangays to bring relief goods to people still in need there.


Japan Self Defense Force provides measles vaccines to Tacloban City children

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 27): Japan Self Defense Force provides measles vaccines to Tacloban City children

As part of its relief and rehabilitation efforts, the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) medical teams and their Filipino counterparts have vaccinated children displaced by super typhoon "Yolanda" Wednesday.

The Japanese relief force first vaccinated beneficiary children sheltered at the Tacloban City Convention Center.

Capt. Amado Gutierrez, 8th Infantry Division spokesperson, said that JSDF medical teams will make the rounds of all 32 evacuation centers serving Tacloban City's displaced families.

Last Tuesday, JSDF troopers also fumigated various evacuation centers in an effort to clear the area of disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes, flies and cockroaches.

Gutierrez said JSDF units have been in the "Yolanda" stricken areas since Nov. 12.

They are equipped with three C-47 transport helicopters, three UH-1 helicopters, two KC-767 air tankers, seven C-130s and U-4 utility aircraft, one "Osumi" logistic vessel and an "Ise" class escort vessel.


U.S. flies aircraft into China's new air defense zone

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 27): U.S. flies aircraft into China's new air defense zone

A pair of U.S. military aircraft flew into China's newly established air defense identification zone in the East China Sea without informing Beijing, a U.S. Defense Department official said Tuesday.

"Last night we conducted a training exercise that had been long planned that involved two aircraft flying from Guam and returning to Guam," Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.

The move came after China set up the zone that overlaps Japan's and asked the operators of airplanes flying in the area to submit flight plans in advance. The U.S. government criticized China for potentially destabilizing the security situation in East Asia.


4 Sayyafs slain in police battle in southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Nov 26): 4 Sayyafs slain in police battle in southern Philippines

Google Earth Maps of Pata Island off Sulu province in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

Police forces killed four Abu Sayyaf rebels in a gun battle in the island of Pata off the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said Tuesday.

Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita, the provincial police chief, said the police forces were tracking down the rebels when they ran into a group of Abu Sayyaf gunmen and fighting erupted at Sitio Likud Pata in the village of Tumaddas.

There was no report of police casualties. The identities of those killed were not immediately known.