Thursday, December 19, 2013

MILF: BDA SouthMin staff undergoes Business Plan Training

From the MILF Website (Dec 20): BDA SouthMin staff undergoes Business Plan Training

The staff of Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) - Regional Management Office (RMO) in Southern Mindanao underwent Business Plan Training held at the BDA-RMO in General Santos City on December 17, 2013.
The activity was geared to provide the BDA staff with adequate knowledge that will be shared to target beneficiaries in handling livelihood projects under the Mindanao Trust Fund Reconstruction and Development Program (MTFRDP).

Business Plan is one of the additional requirements for the income generating Sub-Project Proposals of the Barangay Community Volunteers. 

The training was facilitated by Anami C. Canag, Project Technical Team (PTT)-Team Leader from the Mindanao Land Foundation, the Trust Fund Recipient of the MTFRDP.

Canag discussed livelihood, business objectives, planning process, and marketing plan.

“Livelihood must be sustainable, generational, enhancing capabilities and assets and wide-ranging, meaning it is not for a community or for short term only,” she explained.

She pointed out that business objectives must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Canag further discussed the kinds of business.
“In starting business, you should start small, and arm yourself with skills,” Canag hinted.

The resource person added, “it is also very important to consider communications, accessibility, labor, market-customer population, suppliers as well as government assistance.”

For livelihood that is generational, Canag cited the community livelihood activities of Tugaya in Lanao del Sur where the skills of their ancestors were transferred to the current generation.

Tugaya is recognized by UNESCO as a cultural heritage for being able to sustain the production of various Maranao artifacts like Moro swords, brass wares, tapestry and other Moro decors.

The PTT also trained the BDA staff with basic knowledge in photography, documenting self-help projects and reviewed geo-tagging procedure.

BDA-SouthMin currently serves nine barangays of Sarangani in terms of livelihood assistance under MTFRDP.

The beneficiaries have initially proposed post-harvest facilities, fishing, and water system, projects that can help provide them with additional income.

BDA has Central Management Office based in Cotabato City and seven Regional Management Offices namely Central Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, Davao, Ranaw (Lanao), Zamboanga Peninsula, Zamboanga-Basilan, and Sulu - Tawi-tawi.

The PTT will conduct Business Plan Training in other RMOs of the BDA.

The agency is tasked to determine, lead and manage relief, rehabilitation and development projects in the conflict affected areas of Mindanao with the support of local and international development institutions.

PNoy: PHL to buy more planes, ships, choppers for military

From GMA News (Dec 20): PNoy: PHL to buy more planes, ships, choppers for military

The government will be acquiring more ships, choppers, and cargo planes for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), President Benigno Aquino III said Friday.
"Hindi na po manhid ang gobyerno sa pangangailangan ninyo. Ang tugon natin tuloy-tuloy na modernisasyon," Aquino said during his speech at the AFP 78th founding anniversary celebration in Camp Aquinaldo.
He specifically said that the Aquino administration will be purchasing two more C-130 cargo planes to add to the existing three and two more naval helicopters in addition to the three they recently purchased worth P1.33 billion
He also said that they will be adding more ships to BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz .
"Malaki ang inaasahan sa ating mga kawal kaya naman marapat lang na bigyan kayo ng estado ng sapat na kapasidad upang tumugon sa inyong tungkulin," he said.
Aside from the new equipment, the President also assured soldiers that the government is working on other benefits for them and their families.
"Sa maayos na pamamahala nasusuklian natin ng makabuluhang suporta ang pagmamalasakit ninyo sa ating bayan makakaasa kayong...  isinusulong ng gobyerno ang makakabuti sa inyong kapakanan," he said.
In his speech at the same event, AFP chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista thanked Aquino for his "unwavering support" to their modernization efforts.
He likewise committed to "develop" their capabilities and "further professionalize" their troops. 
"We will be a world-class armed forces, a source of national pride. We may have a long way to go but we have already set our transformation direction as inspired by the lead and steady vision for reform of President Benigno Aquino," he said.
Bautista, however, also asked the help of the public in "winning just and lasting peace for our nation."
"Join us in building a stronegr armed forces that we can all be proud of.  After all this is your Armed Forces, our Armed Forces, the Armed Forces of the Filipino people," he said.

CPP/NDF: PKM-NDF hail CPP’s 45 years, calls on urban-based sectors to join people’s assemblies in guerrilla zones

From the PRWC blog (Dec 19): PKM-NDF hail CPP’s 45 years, calls on urban-based sectors to join people’s assemblies in guerrilla zones

Andres Agtalon
Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid (PKM-NDFP)
December 19, 2013

Revolutionary farmers under the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid - National Democratic Front (PKM-NDF) today held a lightning rally in Quezon City to salute the 45 years of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The PKM-NDF also called on farmers and urban-based democratic sectors to join people’s assemblies in guerrilla zones on December 26.

“If not for the correct leadership of the CPP, the revolutionary peasant movement will never expand, increase, and strengthen in a nationwide scale,” says PKM-NDF spokesperson Andres Agtalon.

Agtalon said “the Party’ exemplary application of the revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism correctly identified the basic character and problems of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal Philippine society.”

“It is also the Party who said that the people’s democratic revolution, in which the main content is agrarian revolution, is the solution to the centuries-old landlessness suffered by the Filipino peasantry,” Agtalon added.

The PKM-NDF noted the Filipino peasantry’s practical revolutionary struggle as a living proof of the CPP’s leadership.

“The revolutionary peasantry’s continuing and increasing participation in the people’s war and membership to the New People’s Army, and advancement of agrarian revolution in the countryside clearly demonstrate the correctness of the Party’s analysis and political line,” Agtalon said.

The PKM-NDF called on farmers, workers, youth and students, professionals, urban poor, women, and other democratic sectors to join people’s assemblies in celebration of the CPP’s 45 years of revolutionary struggle to be held in guerrilla zones across the country.

“The mass activities to mark the CPP’s 45 years on December 26 will celebrate the accumulated victories of the Party, and renew the Filipino peasantry and the people’s resolve to achieve complete victory of the people’s democratic revolution in the near future,” Agtalon said.

150 Cafgus to beef up Army

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 20): 150 Cafgus to beef up Army

The manpower requirements of the Army's 303 rd Infantry Brigade has been beefed up with 150 members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, who graduated Wednesday from a 45-day basic military training at Camp Major Nelson Gerona in Brgy. Minoyan,Murcia, Negros Occidental.

Col. Jon Aying, 303 rd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday that the 150 CAFGU personnel will be distributed to various detachments in the province.

The more people in detachments, the more operations will be conducted to protect the people, especially in the countryside, from lawless elements, Aying added.

The 303 rd Infantry Brigade supervises about 1,154 CAFGUs in Negros Occidental alone, aside from personnel of the 47 th and 62 nd Infantry Battalions, deployed in southern and northern Negros, respectively.

Army calls NPA truce superficial

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 20): Army calls NPA truce superficial

A ranking military official in Negros Occidental dismissed yesterday as “superficial”, or “pakitang tao (hypocrisy)”, the four-day unilateral ceasefire to be observed by the New People's Army.

Col. Jon Aying, 303 rd Infantry Brigade commander, said the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army, which is based on Marxism and a Godless ideology, is all out in spreading violence.

“How come they are declaring such occasion that is based on Christian faith?” he asked, adding that the rebel group does not care about social, moral and spiritual aspects.

“That is why I say that the ceasefire (for the NPA) is just to say that they are also human, but to me, it is not,” Aying said.

The CPP said in a statement it issued that the ceasefire will take effect midnight of Dec. 24 to 11:59 p.m. of Dec. 26, and from midnight of Dec. 31 to 11:59 p.m. of Jan. 2, 2014.

The CPP, however, reminded NPA commands and units to remain vigilant against encroachments by military and police units despite the ceasefire.

AFP chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista had said earlier that the government will observe its own “suspension of offensive military operations” against the CPP-NPA over the Christmas period, as it had done in previous years.

“We deserve a break during Christmas. This is a very significant, very important holiday for our people especially now after these major disasters,” Bautista said. He, however, did not give specific dates for the effectivity of the truce.

Should there be a SOMO (suspension of military operations), Aying said it does not mean that they also have to suspend law enforcement and being the protector of the community.

“Christmas does not stop us from enforcing the law,” he said.

Aying said they will arrest rebels who insist on carrying firearms, especially those with pending arrest warrants and facing charges in court, pointing out that these are not covered by the SOMO.

The CPP is marking its 45 th founding anniversary Dec. 26.

Aying said they expect the NPA to stage atrocities, in line with the CPP founding anniversary. “That is what they are for, to create atrocities”, he added, apparently referring to the CPP-NPA.

The CPP meanwhile, had lambasted earlier the military in Negros and Panay island for attacking NPA members helping victims of super typhoon Yolanda, as they observed the SOMO.

The CPP claimed in a statement it issued that t he high-profile disaster relief operations being conducted by the central headquarters of the AFP, serve only to camouflage the continuing brutal war being waged by more than 11,000 ground troops of the AFP's 8th and 3rd ID in the interior and coastal areas of the islands of Samar, Leyte, Panay and Negros.

Meanwhile, four suspected rebels burned 10 hectares of sugarcane fields in Brgy. Cabagnaan, La Castellana, and prevented fire fighters of the Bureau of Fire and Protection from responding to the incident on Dec. 15, police said.

Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, said yesterday that the owners of the burned sugarcane fields had received extortion letters last year, allegedly from a rebel group.

Last month, suspected NPA assassins shot and injured a barangay chairman in Brgy. Minautok, Calatrava, police records show.

CPP/NPA: NAAC-NPA-Rizal, ipapatupad sa unilateral na tigil putukan!

From the PRWC blog (Dec 19): NAAC-NPA-Rizal, ipapatupad sa unilateral na tigil putukan! (NAAC NPA-Rizal, enforce the declared unilateral ceasefire!)

Macario “Ka. Karyo” Liwanag
Narciso Antazo Aramil Command (NAAC-NPA-RIZAL)
Disyembre 19, 2013

Ang lahat ng yunit ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan sa lalawigan ng Rizal, kabilang na ang mga Yunit Partisano at Milisyang Bayan ay mahigpit na tatalima sa atas ng Komite Sentral ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (KS-PKP) at ng mga karampatang organo ng Partido sa lalawigan ng Rizal para sa tigil putukan bilang pakikiisa sa mamamayang Pilipino sa kanilang pagdiriwang sa panahon ng Kapaskuhan at Bagong Taon.

(All units of the New People's Army in the province of Rizal, including partisan and militia units must strictly adhere to the decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP-KS) and the competent organs of the Party in the province Rizal for ceasefire in solidarity with the Filipino people during their celebrations of Christmas and New Year.)

Idineklara din ang nasabing tigil putukan upang mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang sambayanang Pilipino at lahat ng rebolusyonaryong pwersa na dumalo sa mga pagdiriwang ng ika-45 anibersaryo ng muling  pagkatatag ng PKP-MLM sa Dieyembre 26, 2013.

(The ceasefire was also declared to give all the Filipino people and revolutionary forces an opportunity to attend the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the reestablishment of the CPP-MLM Dieyembre 26, 2013.)

Ang tigil putukan ay magsisimula sa hatinggabi ng Disyembre 24 hanggang ika-12:59 ng gabi ng Disyembre 26, 2013 at hatinggabi ng Disymbre 31, 2013 hanggang ika-12:59 ng gabi ng Enero 2, 2014. Sa panahong ito, lahat mga pwersa sa ilalim ng NAAC-NPA-Rizal ay iiwas at hindi magsasagawa ng opensibang operasyon laban sa mga armadong yunit at tauhan ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) at lahat ng pwersang paramilitary ng Gobyerno ng Republika ng Pilipinas. Sa panahong ito, ang lahat ng mga pwersa ng Philippine Army na nakabase sa Rizal tulad ng 16th IB-PA, 59th IB-PA, 2nd ID-PA.  Cafgu Active Auxillary (1st Rizal CAA Coy hanggang 5th Rizal CAA Coy) at mga pwersa ng PNP tulad ng Special Action Force (SAF-PNP), Regional Police Maneuver Batallion at 418th at 419thProvincial Police Maneuver Company kasama ang mga myembro ng local na Pulisya sa lalawigan ng Rizal ay malayang makapasok sa mga teritoryo  ng Demokratikong Gobyernong Bayan upang dalawin ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay, mga kapamilya at kaibigan upang magdiwang ng Pasko at Bagong Taon.

Gayunpaman, habang hindi maglulnsad ng opensibang operasyon, pananatilihin ng NAAC-NPA-Rizal ang  aktibong depensa postura at magiging mapagmatyag sa pagpasok ng anumang yunit at pwersa ng AFP-PNP-CAFGU sa mga teritoryo ng Demokratikong Gobyernong Bayan. Batay sa karanasan sa mga nakaraang tigil putukan, ang mga pwersa ng Philipppine Army, laluna ang pwersa ng 16thIB-PA-2 nd ID-PA ay  tuloy-tuloy na ginagamit ang panahon ng tigil putukan para magsagawa ng operasyong paniktik at mga strike operations laban sa mga pwersa ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Anumang oras na sumalakay ang mga armadong pwersa ng Rehimeng US-Aquino ay nakahanda ang mga pwersa ng NPA-Rizal para lumaban bilang aksyon para ipagtanggol ang sarili at upang pigilan ang kaaway na magsagawa ng panunupil at brutalidad laban sa mamamayan.

Nanawagan kami sa mga ordinaryong sundalo at pulisya at sa mga batang opisyal ng AFP-PNP na huwag sundin ang utos ng kanilang mga opisyal na magsusubo lamang sa kanila sa kapahamakan. Sa halip na sundin ang utos ng kanilang mga opisyal na nais lamang makakuha ng promosyon ay pinakamaiman nang hindi sila pumasok sa teritoryo ng Demokratikong Gobyernong Bayan upang maiwasan na sila ay mapahamak.  Kung sakaling magpursige ang kanilang mga opisyal na paglunsarin sila ng operasyon at sa dina maiiwasang pagkakataon ay makaenkwentro nila ang mga tropa ng NAAC-NPA-Rizal ay dapat kagyat silang sumuko at ibigay na lamang ang kanilang armas upang maiwasan na mapinsala pa sila. Mas ang mainam na gawin nila ay umuwi na lamang sa kanilang mga pamilya para magdiwang ng pasko at bagong taon.


Troops donate school supplies to schools displaced by Zambo standoff

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 20): Troops donate school supplies to schools displaced by Zambo standoff

Troops from the 13th Light Armor Cavalry Battalion have donated school supplies to selected 100 school children who were among those displaced by the standoff in September in this city.

The selected children-beneficiary are enrolled at the Don Gregorio Evangelista Memorial School (Don GEMS) in Barangay Sta. Catalina, one of the most affected barangays.

13th Light Armor Cavalry Battalion Executive Officer (Ex-O) First Lieutenant Rainer Carlo Jadaone said they have decided to cancel their Christmas Party and utilized the budget allocation to purchase school supplies for the school children.

Jadaone said each of the beneficiaries received a backpack containing ball pens, pencils, writing pads and notebooks, which they distributed Thursday.

Jadaone said they will also donate some more 100 backpacks to children studying at the Salum Elementary School, a Muslim community, in Barangay San Roque, this city.

The 13th Light Armor Cavalry Battalion helped repell the hundreds of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels who occupied the barangays of Kasanyangan, Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara, Rio Hondo, and Mariki last September.

MILF infighting displaces 100 families in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 20): MILF infighting displaces 100 families in Maguindanao

The Army's 45th infantry battalion has sent peacekeeping team to a remote town following a clash involving armed followers of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), officials said.

The infighting within the MILF ranks triggered mass evacuation of about 100 families, according to Raja Buayan town Mayor Zamsamin Ampatuan.

He said the fighting was between two families who happened to belong to the MILF's 105th base command.

Ampatuan said the clash which began Wednesday and was on-going sporadically was triggered by the murder of one of the members of MILF by another MILF member.

“We could only appeal to the MILF leadership to immediately intervene as both are heavily armed," Ampatuan said. "We are attending to the needs of displaced families,” he added.

Von Al Haq, speaking for the MILF, said an emissary had been sent to Rajah Buayan to pacify the warring families who are both members of the 105th base command.

According to Ampatuan, an unidentified member of the MILF was shot dead in nearby Mamasapano town, also in Maguindanao.

“The relatives of the slain MILF member wanted to avenge his death, thus the skirmishes,” he said, adding that the fighting was on and off.

“We pity our civilians who have no recourse but to flee to safer areas,” he added.

The Army's 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade has already sent peacekeeping force in Raja Buayan to secure the civilians.

PH Army displays drones to public

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 19): PH Army displays drones to public

The Philippine Army showcases its unmanned aerial systems used in the Zamboanga siege at a static display held at Camp Aguinaldo Thursday. Photo courtesy of Captain Mark Posadas/AFP PAO

The Philippine Army showcased to the public its drones at a static display at Camp Aguinaldo as part of the anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Thursday.

This finally confirmed reports that the military used unmanned aerial systems (UAS) during the Zamboanga crisis last September.

The UAS provides real time imagery intelligence and video feed from a particular area with a range of three to seven kilometers and can extend up to 50 kilometers, Army spokesman Captain Anthony Bacus said.

“It complements the existing Human Intelligence/ Signals Intelligence capability of the Army which is used in surveillance operations and also in humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” he added.

He also said the drones had been “instrumental” in their operations against the Moro National Liberation Front in Zamboanga City last September.

The Army started its research and development of drones in 2012 which cost P2.5 million. The first drone (Raptor), is worth P150,000. The second drone (Knight Falcon) is worth P300,000.

A third drone is in the works, which will be a more enhanced version of the two drones. It will cost P1.5 million.

Other Army assets also showcased at the static display were GARMIN Global Positioning System and a 100mm mortar.

The static display showcased the capabilities and new acquisitions of the military. The Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy also put up their own booths.

PNP to buy equipment to boost disaster response

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 19): PNP to buy equipment to boost disaster response

PNP Director General Alan Purisima. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima said the PNP would buy aircraft and maritime equipment in anticipation of disasters.

In a command conference, Purisima cited the importance of having an airlift capability following an assessment of the PNP’s performance in recent calamities where it encountered difficulties in transporting its personnel to affected areas.

Purisima was referring to the police deployment in Tacloban, the hardest hit area by Supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) — the strongest typhoon on record to make landfall.

Because of the massive damage, peace and order became a problem as widespread looting occurred.

If there were enough equipment and transportation, augmentation forces from the police could have responded immediately to the situation, he said.

“The PNP was having difficulty with transportation. Our vehicles are mobile cars . . . our sole chopper crashed in Kalinga,” said Purisima, referring to the accident last June 19, when the PNP helicopter carrying three police ffficials crashed while on their way to Kalinga for a marijuana eradication drive. The three policemen were hurt in the incident.

“We need military-type vehicles that can climb mountains when roads are damaged,” Purisima added.

The police chief said the PNP has proposed the procurement of aircraft and maritime exquipment.

“I’m not very particular how many but we are trying to get fix-wing, rotary wing, and water assets also,” he said.

More than 100 military personnel, civilians awarded

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 19): More than 100 military personnel, civilians awarded

Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco Salazar was one of the eight civilians awarded with the AFP Command Plaque on Thursday, at the kick off ceremony of the AFP anniversary at Camp Aguinaldo. More than 100 soldiers were also awarded. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/AFP Public Affairs Office

More than 100 military personnel and civilians were awarded in the kick-off ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines anniversary on Thursday.

Most of the enlisted personnel and officers recognized in the awarding ceremony participated in the Zamboanga siege last September. It was a three-week gunbattle with forces of the Moro National Liberation Front, which killed nearly 30 government forces. It displaced more than 100,000 civilians and killed nearly 200 persons, most of which were MNLF.

About 2,000 troops were deployed to battle the MNLF.

“This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest accomplishment of the armed forces in recent history because of the number of hostages that we rescued,” AFP chief General Emmanuel Bautista told reporters after the event.

He added there are “so many” military personnel deserving to be awarded.

More personnel will be awarded on Friday, the 78th day anniversary rites of the AFP.

There are also speculations of a Medal of Valor awardee, the highest award in the military service.

“This is an important day for soldiers. You heard earlier how I lauded our soldiers.

They risk their lives so we can sleep soundly at night. Have you tried being away from your family when your wife is about to give birth, or your parents get hospitalized? Or when you miss your child’s graduation day? A soldier sacrifices not for himself but for the country,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters in the sidelines.

In Thursday’s awarding ceremony, a total of 148 military personnel and civilians were awarded—14 personnel were awarded with Distinguished Conduct Star, the second highest combat award in the military.

Eight civilians were also awarded with the AFP Command Plaque. Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar was one of the civilian awardees, for her “invaluable support to the AFP in the successful defense of Zamboanga City last September against hundreds of rogue Moro National Liberation Front.”

Other awardees on Thursday’s ceremony participated in humanitarian assistance and disaster operations during super typhoon Yolanda, Bohol earthquake, collision of MV Aquinas and MV Sulpicio, typhoon Quinta; as well as socio-economic activities of the military in Davao, Naga City, and Palawan.

An interfaith prayer service, blessing and commissioning rites of the new AW-109 choppers were the other activities at the AFP Thanksgiving day held at the General Headquarters canopy area.

2013 a challenging year for the military—AFP chief

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 19): 2013 a challenging year for the military—AFP chief

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and AFP chief General Emmanuel Bautista award more than 100 military personnel on Thursday at the AFP Thanksgiving Day. More personnel will be awarded at the AFP’s 78th anniversary on Friday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/AFP Public Affairs Office

It was a tough year for soldiers and it is time of the year that they get recognized.
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista described 2013 as a “challenging” year for the military.

The year 2013 saw many big challenges in the armed forces—from the Sabah crisis, kidnapping of Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights, disaster response during calamities and the Zamboanga crisis.

“We have gone through a lot,” Bautista told reporters on Thursday.

It was a year that the military battled for three weeks in an urban setting. It was also the year where the strongest storm to hit land, super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan), battered the country.

A huge number of soldiers were recognized this year and awarding ceremonies were held in various military camps. About 2,000 soldiers were deployed to battle forces of the Moro National Liberation Front in Zamboanga City last September.

A bigger awarding ceremony was held on Thursday at the AFP Thanksgiving Day at Camp Aguinaldo where 140 military personnel were awarded—most were from the Zamboanga crisis.

A second batch of the awarding ceremony with President Benigno Aquino III expected to attend will be held on Friday at the AFP’s 78th anniversary. Talks at Camp Aguinaldo say that the prestigious Medal of Valor, the highest award for combat, will be awarded to one military personnel.

“Soldiery is one of the noblest and honorable professions. For, indeed, the test of nobility and honor can be best measured by one’s willingness to offer the supreme sacrifice of his life for his country and people,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on his speech at the AFP Thanksgiving Day.

Gazmin directed Bautista to revise the current policy-procedures in order to expedite the grant of awards to deserving military personnel.

“I would like to believe that the rendition of awards to our soldiers should have been expeditiously done earlier. It would have afforded added importance to the heroic deeds of our awardees, as there is no greater feat or achievement than offering ones lives for the sake of our beloved native land and people,” he said further in his speech.

The AFP decided to forego its festive activities on Friday and instead will hold “a toned-down” anniversary rites. Highlights of the usual AFP anniversary are a fly-by of air assets and a parade of troops and assets.

“It will be a simple celebration in solidarity with our people. Our supposed expenses for the AFP day will instead be used for relief operations,” Bautista said.

Filipino soldiers cited for heroism

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 20): Filipino soldiers cited for heroism

Defense military leaders paid tribute to the gallantry of Filipino soldiers both in times of conflict and during natural disasters, on the eve of celebration of the 78th anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Speaking to reporters during the AFP Recognition Day on Thursday, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin lamented that soldiers “are only remembered in times of hardships.”

“When there are calamities, floods, everyone is looking for the soldiers. When everything’s okay, the soldiers are forgotten,” he said. “That’s why to me, (the AFP Day) is important for the soldiers to be recognized.”

Referring to the Zamboanga fighting in September between soldiers and Moro rebels, Gazmin said that 13 years after retiring from the military, he never expected he would be in the middle of an urban warfare.

He said his wife, Rhodora, suffered from high blood pressure because he was once again in a conflict zone. He joked that his wife thought he would be an easy target because of all his white hair.

Gazmin said he never expected he would wear combat boots again, which was what he did during the Zamboanga skirmishes and later when he was in Tacloban City after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” struck.

“But I am always comfortable in combat boots. They are part of my first life,” he told the Inquirer.

Paying tribute to the soldiers, Gazmin said: “They give up their lives so that we can all sleep well at night.”

Talk is rife within the military that a Medal of Valor will be given on Friday at the AFP rites, where President Aquino will be the guest of honor.

Sources told the Inquirer that a soldier who fought and died during the Zamboanga siege last September would win the award.

If that happens, he would be the 40th soldier to receive the military’s highest combat award.

The Inquirer has learned who the awardee is but various military sources were divided on whether his name should be revealed before the medal is actually given to his family.

Some of the sources said there could be a chance the award might not be announced on Friday.

The last Medal of Valor was given nine years ago.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista described 2013 as “challenging but fulfilling” for the military.

“We had a lot of crisis this year. At the start of 2013 we had Sabah, then our people were kidnapped in Golan Heights, then we had storms that came one after another.

There was an earthquake, the Zamboanga crisis, Yolanda. We went through a lot,” he said.

The military kicked off its AFP anniversary celebrations by awarding medals to nearly a dozen soldiers who took part not only in the Zamboanga siege but who successfully fought communist rebels in other areas.

China was ‘irresponsible’ in stand-off at sea – US

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 20): China was ‘irresponsible’ in stand-off at sea – US
China acted in an “irresponsible” way in a stand-off with a US naval ship this month in the South China Sea, American Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday.

US officials have said that the USS Cowpens, a guided missile cruiser, had to take evasive action to avoid a collision with a Chinese vessel that was dangerously close in the December 5 incident.

“That action by the Chinese, cutting in front …100 yards out in front of the Cowpens, was not a responsible action,” Hagel told a news conference.

“It was unhelpful, it was irresponsible,” he said.

Hagel said the maritime confrontation, the first reported for several years, pointed to the need for clear protocols between the two militaries to avoid a potential clash in the Pacific.

“That’s the kind of thing that’s very incendiary, that could be a trigger or a spark that could set off some eventual miscalculation,” he said.

The two sides needed to work “to have a mechanism to be able to defuse some of these issues as they occur.”

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the same press conference that American and Chinese military officers have been meeting to draft rules for when the two militaries encounter each other.

He said “those working groups have actually been meeting and making some progress.”

China has played down the incident and said the US ship posed a “threat.”

Military says NPA violated own ceasefire declaration

From the Manila Times (Dec 19): Military says NPA violated own ceasefire declaration

THE Maoist New People’s Army (NPA) continues to operate in super typhoon Yolanda-devastated areas in violation of its earlier declaration of a unilateral ceasefire as it engaged government forces anew in two separate encounters that left one rebel dead.

Capt. Amado Gutierrez, spokesman, Eight Infantry Division (8ID) based in Catbalogan, Samar, on Tuesday said the latest encounter between troops of the 87th Infantry Battalion (87IB) and a band of rebels took place in Barangay Santo Niño, Motiong, Samar province.

Reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo showed that the government troops were tracking the NPAs at Barangay Bay-ang, San Jorge, Samar province when they received a report from a concerned civilian that the rebels were hiding just some six kilometers away in Barangay Santo Niño.

Gutierrez said a five-minute firefight ensued until the NPAs withdrew, leaving behind an Armalite rifle and traces of blood indicating casualties on their side. There was no casualty on the government side.

On the same day, he added, two NPAs also voluntarily surrendered bringing along with them their service firearms.

He identified the two as Roberto Abunaler and Jeffrey Pajarito Delfin.

Roxas aide promoted, Gazmin boys rise

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 19): Roxas aide promoted, Gazmin boys rise

Chief Supt. Josephus Angan on Wednesday assumed his post as Region 6 director of the Western Visayas police, the information office said.

Angan is the chief security aide of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II who hails from the region.

Angan succeeded Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr., former National Police spokesman, who is now assigned to Purisima’s office in Camp Crame headquarters.

Brigadier Gen. Ben Donato San Juan, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maharlika” Class of 1984, has been named commander of the Army’s Special Operations Command.

He was former commander of the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) based at Camp Tecson in Bulacan.

San Juan, one among several officers known as close to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, assumed office on Wednesday.

The elite command is based at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

He replaced Maj. Gen. John Bonafos (PMA “Sandigan” Class 1982) who was earlier promoted chief of the Central Command based in Cebu City.

Replacing San Juan is Col. Ronnie Evangelista (PMA “Sinagtala” Class 1986.

Evangelista is also known close to Gazmin.

New choppers boost military’s air defense

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 20): New choppers boost military’s air defense

The Armed Forces of the Philippines showcased three brand-new AW-109 helicopters worth P1.35 billion during the first day of a two-day celebration of its 78th founding anniversary in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
New helicopters for the Navy. Navy personnel stand
in formation beside three newly acquired Augusta
Westland 109 Power Helicopters, some of the
military’s new acquisitions, during their commissioning
and blessing at the Armed Forces headquarters in Makati
on Dec. 19.

Two more helicopters of the same type are expected to be delivered in 2014 with a contract price of P850 million.

AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista said that the Augusta Westland helicopters will be equipped for territorial defense missions and humanitarian assistance for future external defense functions.

The new choppers feature maritime air surveillance/downlink capability and could support marines and special operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, maritime interdiction and aeromedical evacuation, among others.

The AFP highlighted Thursday’s ceremony with the blessing of the three helicopters and other military hardware.

On the second day of celebration on Friday, President Benigno Aquino III personally inspected the choppers, a new Sikorsky Air Ambulance and other equipment on display.

Also showcased were Army acquisitions such as the Unmanned Aerial System, GARMIN Global Positioning System (GPS), and a 100mm Mortar.

Army spokesman Capt. Anthony Bacus said the UAS provides real time imagery intelligence and video feed from a particular area with a range of 3 kilometers to 7km and can extend up to 50 km.

“It complements the existing Human Intelligence (HUMINT)/Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) capability of the Army which is used in surveillance operations and also in humanitarian assistance and disaster response. The UAS had been instrumental in the successful conduct of operations against the rogue MNLF rebels in Zamboanga City last September that led to the surrender and arrest of several MNLF fighters under Nur Misuari,” Bacus said.

As this developed, the AFP denied the claim of the New York-based Human Rights Watch that the Philippine Army will be excluded from Washington’s $40 million military assistance because of human rights violations.

“That is hearsay,” AFP public affairs chief Lt. Col. Demi Zagala said.

“Do they have any document to prove their claim? I am not sure what their intent is for saying that, and more importantly, what is their basis for making such an assumption,” Zagala said.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin watching
his wife pour champagne on one of the
helicopters. The helicopters will be used for
surface surveillance, search and rescue and
maritime security operations. AFP
HRW Asia Advocacy director John Sifton on Wednesday said the $40-million assistance promised by US Secretary of State John Kerry “is restricted to maritime security assistance and counter-terrorism training for the police in Mindanao.”

“We note that none of it will go to the Philippine Army, a traditional recipient of US foreign military financing, and there’s a reason for that.

The US Congress, the Pentagon, and the State Department each agree that the Philippines Army is implicated in abuses, past and even present, and continues to enjoy impunity since the government has not established any significant record of prosecuting human rights violations. This new military aid package reflects that consensus,” Sifton said.

Sifton claimed that the Obama administration agreed that the Philippine Army should not get any major assistance.

But Zagala dismissed the HRW claim as untrue.

“The assistance is for the AFP. There was no caveat that the Philippine Army should be excluded,” he said.

“Besides, ever since we adopted the Oplan Bayanihan in 2010, in terms of human rights violations, our record has been at an all-time low. And it is not the policy of the AFP to condone or encourage human rights violations,” Zagala said.

Sifton, without citing documents to back up his statements, also claimed that there is an existing hold on a $3 million annual financial military assistance to the Philippines “as a result of the government’s failure to address these abuses.”

Mission done, Canadians say Farewell

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 19): Mission done, Canadians say Farewell

The Canadian soldiers deployed to help in overall relief aid efforts in areas devastated here by super typhoon Yolanda are now pulling out of Panay Island.

Brigadier General Arnold Quiapo, commander of the Philippine Army (PA)’s 301st Infantry Brigade (301 IB), said members of the Canadian Armed Forces’ Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), have started leaving the country.

Quiapo, who was assigned overall ground commander assisting the foreign troops, said the Canadians are done with their part in relief efforts in the provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, and Antique.

In particular, he said the DART elements helped rebuild key infrastructure damaged or destroyed by the typhoon. Such infrastructure included public schools and health centers.

Phil Navy commissions 3 naval helicopters

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 20): Phil Navy commissions 3 naval helicopters

The Philippine Navy (PN) yesterday formally commissioned into service the three AgustaWestland AW-109 “Power” helicopters.

Commissioning rites was done at the grounds of the AFP Grandstand in Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Leading the ceremonies were Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, PN flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano and ranking officers of the naval service.

With the commissioning, the three AW-109s can now be deployed aboard the two Gregorio Del Pilar class frigates for shipboard duties.

The helicopters arrived in the Philippines last Dec. 8.

Gazmin said that the arrival of the three AW-109s signifies the DND’s focus in upgrading the various military services.

He also stressed that modernization of the AFP will gain greater ground by next year.
Aside from their usual patrol and monitoring roles, the three helicopters can be configured into other roles declared by the PN.

Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said these helicopters can be modified into speedy air ambulances, passenger carriers, and utility aircraft for the resupply of far-flung naval outpost.

He said that these configurations can be done within a few minutes and merely involves the installation of equipment needed for medical, passenger and cargo handling.

These capabilities prompted the PN to acquire the AW-109s from other helicopter units being sold in the international markets.

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

The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW-109 to perform its mission when many others 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 in almost 50 countries.

Military in NCotabato: NPAs are human rights violators

From the Philippine Star (Dec 19): Military in NCotabato: NPAs are human rights violators

The military on Thursday lambasted the New People’s Army (NPA) for “concocting” stories portraying soldiers in the province as human rights violators.

Lt. Col. Nilo Vinluan, commanding officer of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion, said it is in fact, the communist forces in the province that have wantonly been violating human rights by using landmines, attacking unarmed peasant communities, and mulcting “protection money” at gunpoint from farmers on a regular basis.

The 57th IB, a unit of the 10th Infantry Division, has jurisdiction over four adjoining North Cotabato towns, and Kidapawan City, where NPAs have been operating with impunity, targeting both government forces, and villagers who refuse to shell out money and provide food to rebels.

Vinluan was apparently reacting to circulating text messages and statements of NPA leaders, sent to local media outfits via emails, accusing soldiers in the province of disregarding International Humanitarian Laws, while forging ahead with their pacification campaign against rebels.

“It is the NPAs that have been recklessly violating human rights, not the military,” Vinluan said.

Vinluan said the NPAs in North Cotabato have continuously been using powerful roadside bombs, and booby traps fashioned from fragmentation grenades, which are banned by all international warfare regulations and laws set by the United Nations.

“These explosives are not `command-detonated,’ or those that can be exploded to hit selected targets. These can be accidentally set off through trip wires, and improvised triggering contraptions that can activate at the slightest touch, or pressure, making them so dangerous to innocent people and even farm animals,” Vinluan said.

He also cited as an example the NPA’s act of banditry when rebels ambushed  about two months ago a team of soldiers and militiamen in Tulunan town in North Cotabato, while on their way to deliver monetary allowances of local members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit.

Nine government combatants were killed in the attack, where the NPAs also carted away the P2 million worth payroll money the victims were to distribute to CAFGU members in Tulunan and surrounding towns in the province.

Gazmin: Deal on increased US troops presence unlikely this year

From the Philippine Star (Dec 19): Gazmin: Deal on increased US troops presence unlikely this year

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin remains upbeat on talks on the increased rotational presence of American troops in the country but admitted that a deal is not likely to be signed this year.

Gazmin said the Philippines and the United States remain committed to the talks, which got stalled after negotiators failed to reach a consensus on American facilities to be set up in the country.

“We are still optimistic. You know, when lawyers talk, they scrutinize everything closely so that we can be assured that when a deal is reached, it will be well-crafted,” the defense chief told reporters in Filipino on Thursday.

When asked if an agreement can be inked this year, Gazmin said: “Maybe next year. It is not likely this year because it’s only a few days before Christmas.”

Last month, Gazmin admitted that the talks on the increased rotational presence have hit an impasse since the two countries have yet to reach a deal on temporary US facilities to be set up in the country.

He admitted that the US has submitted proposals that they do not agree with. Negotiators from the two countries, Gazmin said, are also patching up differences over the wording of the agreement.

Philippine and American negotiators have held four rounds of negotiations since August.

Informal talks were held early this month in Washington but Philippine negotiating panel has not provided details.

Gazmin could not say when the fifth round of talks will be held.

The Philippines and the US have agreed to tackle the policy on increased rotational presence in the wake of China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Providing temporary access to US troops was meant to help the Philippines attain a “minimum credible defense.”

Officials have repeatedly clarified that the US would not establish permanent bases in the country as this would violate the constitution.

They stressed that the talks would also be guided by existing laws, and jurisprudence, Philippine sovereignty, non-exclusivity of use of facilities by the US side, and mutuality of benefits.

DND orders faster granting of awards to heroic soldiers

From the Philippine Star (Dec 19): DND orders faster granting of awards to heroic soldiers

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday ordered the military to fast-track the validation and granting of awards to soldiers especially those who displayed heroism in the battlefield.

Gazmin said the giving of awards to deserving soldiers usually involves a long process and normally happens long after the display of the heroic act.

“I am directing our Chief of Staff, Gen. Manny Bautista, for our armed forces to revise the current policy-procedures and effect the expeditious determination and grant of awards to the members of our armed forces, especially for those whose deeds and achievements are combat-related, or operational in nature,” he said.

“During my time, the process was slow. We need to pay attention to this so we can give the award while the event (where the soldier displayed heroism) is not yet forgotten,” he added.

Gazmin said it is hard to get an award as it involves meticulous processes including the gathering of testimonies and consolidating of information.

“You will really pass through the eye of a needle. There should be testimonies from disinterested personalities, someone will do an after-operation report and this will have to be reconciled,” he said.

Gazmin said the military could still ensure that only the deserving ones get an award even if the process is expedited.

“If someone who is not deserving gets a reward, there will be demoralization (among the ranks),” he said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday honored 148 soldiers and civilians who contributed to the accomplishment of its mission.

Majority of the awardees, 118 of them, were involved in security operations during the Zamboanga crisis last September.

Among the civilian awardees was Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, who supported the soldiers who resisted the members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Misuari faction.

The crisis ensued after about 400 followers of MNLF founder Nur Misuari tried to occupy the city hall and raise their flag.

Also feted was TV5 reporter and Defense Press Corps Vice President for Broadcast Erel Cabatbat for his fair and comprehensive reporting on security issues.

Among the military personnel who received awards, 15 got Distinguished Conduct Star, 40 got Gold Cross medals, eight got aviation cross, six were given Naval Cross, 15 received Bronze Cross Medal and 10 were awarded Military Merit Medals.

President Aquino is expected to fete around 60 more individuals during the celebration of the AFP’s 78th anniversary on Friday in Camp Aguinaldo.

“We must always remember the sacrifices of our soldiers and their patriotic deeds to our country and people. We should continue to honor them and place them in the highest pedestal of respect and admiration,” Gazmin said.

AFP confers medals on officers in Zambo ops vs. MNLF

From GMA News (Dec 19): AFP confers medals on officers in Zambo ops vs. MNLF

Over a hundred military officers received medals on Thursday for the successful operations against Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters in Zamboanga City last September.

Fifteen of the 118 awardees received the Distinguished Conduct Star (DCS) medals, the second highest decoration in combat next to the Medal of Valor.

These included Lt. Col. Melencio Ragudo of the AFP Joint Special Operations Group and Lt. Col. Zaldy Dioneda of the 3rd Marine Battalion Landing Team.

“This is a recognition of their efforts, their sacrifices,” said Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista told reporters after the awarding ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo.

Bautista and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin pinned the medals to the deserving troops.

Bautista said more than 2,000 soldiers have been given medals over the past months for their role in combating the MNLF forces that lay siege in Zamboanga City for three weeks last September.

“This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest accomplishment of our Armed Forces in recent history because of the number of hostages we rescued and the number of enemies we neutralized,” said Bautista of the Zamboanga offensive.

Close to 200 people were killed while thousands were forced out of their homes when MNLF forces loyal to founding chairman Nur Misuari occupied several villages in Zamboanga City allegedly to declare independence.

Video Report: Increased US troops won't change anything: Trillanes

From ABS-CBN (Dec 19): Video Report: Increased US troops won't change anything: Trillanes

Antonio Trillanes

MANILA - Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV believes the increased rotational presence of American troops in the Philippines will not be drastically different from what is happening now under the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Speaking to ANC's Headstart, Trillanes said he backs the increase in US troop presence since there is no threat that the nation's sovereignty will be affected.
He said the IRP "will only increase what we have now." ANC HEADSTART, December 19, 2013

CPP: Kerry visit heightens tensions to justify increased US presence, weapons buildup—CPP

From the CPP Website (Dec 19): Kerry visit heightens tensions to justify increased US presence, weapons buildup—CPP

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounced the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to the Philippines, saying his statements and actions contribute to overall US efforts to heighten political and diplomatic tensions in the Asia-Pacific region in order to justify the further deployment of US rotational forces in the region. Kerry arrived for a two-day visit on December 17.

“The heavy-handed presence of US armed troops, warships, drones and jetfighters in the region make the peaceful resolution of territorial conflicts, particularly in the South China Sea, more and more difficult,” said the CPP.

The CPP denounced the allocation of $40 million by the US government under the Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) to supposedly strengthen the sea defense capabilities of the Philippines against China.

“US State Sec. John Kerry pretends to be altruistic and big-hearted in granting the Philippines the $40-million GSCF funding when in fact, American policy-makers always make strategic calculations of US interests for every dollar extended to its so-called allies,” said the CPP. According to US State Department documents, the US government extends GSCF assistance to its “partner countries” to enable them to “address emergent challenges and opportunities important to US national security”.

The CPP said the $40-million dollar funding from the US is likely to supplement the expansion of the Oyster Bay naval facility of the Philippine Navy in Palawan in order for it to accommodate the biggest US aircraft carriers in its docks. “The US military has long wanted to set up facilities in Oyster Bay because the deep waters allow its warships to dock near the shores.”

The CPP said such military funding “is unduly drawing the Philippines to an arms buildup campaign which serves the interests of the US, causing China and other countries in the region to race ahead of each other in the purchase or production of war materiél which would invariably benefit the US military-industrial complex.”

“The Filipino people should denounce Kerry for declaring all-out US support for the large-scale rearmament efforts of Japan and plans to spend as much as $240 billion to buy stealth fighters, drones and submarines,” said the CPP. “Upon US prodding, the weapons buildup in Asia is now being boosted by the Abe government’s campaign to revive the military power and dominance of Japan.”

“The CPP denounces the Aquino regime for exhibiting extreme obsequiousness to the US government when it continues to allow the US military to building up its rotational presence in the Philippines. Aquino has even followed the US lead with regard to Japan when he declared that he was seeking to forge a military treaty with the Abe government.”

The CPP further denounced the US government for engaging in “disaster interventionism” in using the devastation brought about by supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan) to “glamorize American troops by letting them carry relief and emergency supplies aboard their nuclear-capable warships and missile-carrying helicopters.”

On a different note, the CPP likewise called on the Filipino people “to reject the offer of the US government to categorize the Philippines as being under US ‘Temporary Protection Status’ to supposedly ease restrictions for Filipinos seeking employment in the US.”

The CPP branded the US offer as “extremely hypocritical” as the Obama government continues to make life difficult for Filipino immigrants in the US, especially those coming from the working class, who not only suffer from widespread unemployment, but from the highly restrictive and punitive US immigration laws.

3 naval helicopters to boost capabilities of Gregorio Del Pilar frigates

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 19): 3 naval helicopters to boost capabilities of Gregorio Del Pilar frigates

The commissioning of the three AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters Thursday, will greatly increase the surveillance, patrol and monitoring capabilities of the two Gregorio Del Pilar frigates in service.

"(The three naval helicopters) will extend the coverage of the two ships," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista stressed.

Aside from these capabilities, the AW-109s can also be utilize as medical evacuation aircraft of critical wounded or ill personnel.

The AgustaWestland helicopters arrived last Dec. 8. Another two, the combat version, are scheduled to arrive by the third quarter of 2014.

These choppers are worth P1.33 billion.

PA showcases capabilities during AFP Thanksgiving Day

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 19): PA showcases capabilities during AFP Thanksgiving Day

As the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) celebrated its Thanksgiving Day, the Philippine Army displayed its newly-acquired weapon systems and equipment to the public on Thursday.

This includes the Army's unmanned aerial system (UAS), GARMIN global positioning system (GPS), and the 100mm mortar.

The UAS provides real-time imagery intelligence and video feed from a particular area with a range of three to seven kilometers and can be extended up to 50 kilometers.

It complements the existing human intelligence/signals intelligence capability of the Army which is used in surveillance operations and also in humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR).

The UAS had been instrumental in the successful conduct of operations during the so-called Zamboanga City siege last September that led to the surrender and arrest of several Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels under Nur Misuari.

The Garmin GPS and the 100mm mortar have also been very useful in the conduct of the Army’s varied and valuable missions.

A photo exhibit has also been set up at the AFP Commissioned Officers’ Club at Camp Aguinaldo, showing the Army soldiers in action.

This includes the combat operations in Zamboanga City; the HADR operations in Central Luzon during typhoon "Santi," the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Bohol, and the onslaught of super typhoon "Yolanda" in the Visayas last Nov. 8.

Each of the major services also put up booths wherein demo videos are shown and informational materials such as flyers are distributed.

The celebration started with an interfaith prayer, followed by the blessing of the new Philippine Navy helicopters, recognition of stakeholders, and a song rendition by OPM artists.

With this year’s anniversary theme, “Tagumpay Noon, Bayanihan Ngayon, Karangalan Nating Lahat Bukas,” the AFP has lined up several activities to commemorate its 78th founding anniversary.

On Dec. 20, simultaneous flag-raising ceremonies will be conducted in all AFP units nationwide at about 7:30 a.m.

The anniversary celebration will also be highlighted by the awarding of medals to combat heroes as well as those who were involved in the disaster response efforts of the AFP.

This will be led by President Benigno S. Aquino III himself at the GHQ Grandstand. He will also deliver his anniversary message to the troops and the Filipino people as well.

Canadian Royal Armed Forces hold medical mission in Antique town

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 19): Canadian Royal Armed Forces hold medical mission in Antique town

Almost 500 patients in four remote barangays in the municipality of Tibiao received treatment in the medical mission conducted by a team of Canadian Armed Forces as part of their Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).

The 12-man medical team visited Barangays Castillo, Salazar, Pitac and Alegre in Tibiao recently.

These four barangays are among the most remote areas of the town located in the hinterlands and mountains. Tibiao was among the hardest hit towns by super typhoon Yolanda last November 8.

A total of 90 patients were treated in Barangay Castillo, 74 in Barangay Salazar, about 200 in Barangay Pitac and 99 patients in Barangay Alegre.

The team, headed by Dra. Melanie Espina of the Royal Canadian Army whose grandfather is a Filipino, included a nurse and medical technicians. With the team were two Filipino-Canadians -- Capt. Christopher Daniel and Sub. Lt. Fred Niese.

The medical team in Antique was part of the 300-strong delegation of the Royal Canadian Armed Forces deployed to the Philippines to help in relief operations, medical missions, rehabilitation and clearing operations.

Medical teams were also deployed in northern Iloilo towns, and Capiz and Aklan provinces which were hard hit by super typhoon Yolanda.

Aside from medical missions, the Royal Canadian Armed forces also helped in relief distributions in remote areas in Antique which can be reached only by way of helicopters.

Capt. Daniel said they also distributed relief goods in the mountain barangays as well as in remote islands in the towns of Culasi and Caluya using three helicopters.

In Antique, the team also brought with them a Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment equipment that is capable of producing 5,000 liters of purified water.

The Municipal government headed by Mayor Gil Bandoja provided the Canadian team with sleeping quarters and helped the patients needing further medical treatment in hospitals by providing funds for their hospitalization.(

Chopper carrying AFP chief makes emergency landing

From Rappler (Dec 19): Chopper carrying AFP chief makes emergency landing

EMERGENCY LANDING: Military chief General Emmanuel Bautista was forced to make an emergency landing last week. PAF photo

EMERGENCY LANDING: Military chief General Emmanuel Bautista was forced to make an emergency landing last week. PAF photo

Armed Forces chief General Emmanuel Bautista was making the rounds in Mindanao to check on the troops when he was forced to make an emergency landing Tuesday last week, December 10, in Lanao Del Sur.

Bautista was on his way from the 1st Infantry Division based in Zamboanga City to the 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao when the warning light was activated.

It was a mechanical problem, according to sources, and the chopper was forced to make an emergency landing at the Malabang Airport in Lanao Del Sur, where it was "fixed."

"We did a precautionary landing because one of the helicopters in our party had some warning lights on. It is standard procedure for the pilots to land and check the problem but eventually we were able to continue with our flight and reach our destination," Bautista told repoters Wednesday, December 18, when he was asked about it.

They were aboard UH-1H or Huey helicopters, the Vietnam War-era combat ulility helicopters that many Philippine Air Force pilots vouch for in spite of its age. The Philippine military claims it is still being used by some units in the US military.

The two Hueys were able to proceed to Cotabato on the same day but the malfunctioning Huey was unable to join in the following rounds.

The incident happened as 3 brand brand new naval choppers arrived from Italy's AgustaWestland. Two more for the navy and 8 more for the Air Forces are arriving next year. They are 3-ton class 8-seaters with twin engines. (READ: Air Force gets 8 new attack helicopters)

The defense department is also finalizing the bidding for 12 refurbished Hueys.

It's not the first time that the military chief was caught in a tricky situation. In Zamboanga City while military operations were ongoing against a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a stray bullet landed near Bautista when he was out to check on the troops.

He didn't feel the bullet fly into their location, Bautista recalled, but a fellow military officials picked it up and showed it to him.

3 brand new choppers for West PH Sea

From Rappler (Dec 19): 3 brand new choppers for West PH Sea

NEW CHOPPERS: The wife of defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin performs the ceremonial pouring of the champagne. Photo from Armed Forces of the Philippines

NEW CHOPPERS: The wife of defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin performs the ceremonial pouring of the champagne. Photo from Armed Forces of the Philippines

Three brand-new choppers were commissioned to the Philippine Navy on Thursday, December 19, and are now ready to patrol the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea), where the Philippines is engaged in territorial disputes with several countries including China.

The AW109E Power naval helicopters were acquired to work in tandem with 2 recently acquired warships in patrolling the country's maritime territory. BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz have helidecks for shipborne helicopter operations, allowing the Philippine Navy to patrol wider areas at sea.

The choppers are equipped with a capability for surveillance, which can transmit directly to the ship.

"They will increase the navy's ability to have a larger coverage of maritime surveillance and to cover a larger area. The seas are so vast and to ensure that we are able to cover it on the fastest part of time, these helicopters willl be able to do that," said Navy chief Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is shifting its focus from insurgency to territorial defense. The warships and the naval choppers are among the assets acquired to boost the country's maritime surveillance. Alcaraz was commissioned only in November. (WATCH: Maiden voyage of PH's most capable warship)

President Benigno Aquino III is scheduled to inspect the choppers on Friday, December 20, during the 78th founding anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Each chopper can carry 2 pilots and 6 passengers. Its capabilities include:
  • Maritime air surveillance and downlink capability
  • Support marines and special operations
  • Humanitarian assistance and disaster response
  • Support to Over-the-Horizon Targeting
  • Aeromedical Evacuation
  • Vertical replenishment

The navy is expecting 2 more AW109 Power helicopters next year. Italian aircraft manufacturer AgustaWestland won the P1.33-billion contract to supply the 5 choppers.

The same manufacturer recently won a P3.4-billion contract to supply the Philippine Air Force 8 attack helicopters. It is the same model as the naval helicopters except that these are armed. (READ: Air Force gets 8 new attack helicopters)

Aquino will also inspect on Friday other military assets on display.

Sikorsky Air Ambulance

Sikorsky Air Ambulance

Military truck

Military truck

NAVSOG Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB)

NAVSOG Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB)

Small Unit Riverine Craft

Small Unit Riverine Craft