Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Video: Overview of the Philippine Navy's New Frigate

From the Modern AFP Website (Oct 26, 2013): Video: Overview of the Philippine Navy's New Frigate 

A video about the Philippine Navy's Two Brand New Frigates.


More Detailed Ship Specification:

Budget: Php 18 billion for 2 brand-new frigates.
Delivery: 1460/ Days

- Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), and Electronic Warfare (EW);
- Extended Maritime Patrol with embarked helicopter;
- Operation on up to Sea State 6

Dimesions: per function of design (depend on bidder's proposed design)
Displacement: per function of design (depend on bidder's proposed design)
Range: 4,500 nautical miles @ 15 knots;
Endurance: 30 days in tropical condition;
Speed: maximum continuous of 25 knots;
Boats Carried: minimum of 2 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats;

Operating Environment:
- Operation at Sea State 6,
- Non-degradation of warfare mission at Sea State 5;
- Helicopter operation at Sea State 4;
- RHIB operations at Sea State 3

Propulsion: minimum of 2 engines with 2 propellers with reduction gear box;
Power Supply: minimum of 3 diesel generators;
Replenishment at Sea Capable.

Navigation Equipment:
- minimum 2 navigation radars (X-band and S-band), at least 1 in solid state design, capable of Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA), Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Automatic Tracking Aid (ATA);
- GPS;
- depth sounding set;
- vessel tracking system compatible to Philippine Navy's system

- Standard VHF AM/FM and UHF radios;
- Satelite Communications (SATCOM) system;
- Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system;
- "Fitted for but not with" Tactical Data Link (NATO standard), still to be determined which type, supplied by PN;
- Local Area Network (LAN);
-Connectivity to the PN's Littoral Observation Stations and Maritime Research Information Center.

Sensors, minimum requirement:
- Combat Management System (CMS), readily upgradable;
- Fire Control System integrated to CMS, can track and engage surface, air and missile targets simultaneously;
- Fire Control Radar and/or Electro-Optical targeting system;
- Electronic Support Measures (ESM) with Radio Detection and Finding (RDF);
- 2D air search radar for air surveillance and target acquisition, minimum range of 80nmi, can detect sea-skimming missiles with maximum altitude of 10ft., integrated to ESM and CMS;
- 2D surface search radar, can detect anti-ship missile threats minimum range of 40nmi, integrated to ESM and CMS;
- Passive and Active Sonar system;
- Decoy launcher minimum 6 tubes per side or centrally rotating launcher

Weapons Systems, minimum requirement:
- 76mm gun at forward section with target tracking radar and/or electro-optical target acquisition and fire control computer;
- 1 x stabilized secondary gun;
- 4 x 50-caliber machine guns;
- primary and secondary guns shall be integrated to combat management system;
- 4 x surface-to-surface missile launchers, minimum 50km range, active homing seeker and ECCM capability;
- surface-to-air missile launching system, minimum quadruple launcher, minimum 6km range, IR or semi-active homing seeker, with ECCM and/or IR CCM capability;
- anti-submarine torpedoes, minimum range 2km, minimum depth 500m, with acoustic countermeasures capability, 2 x triple launchers (one on each side);

Flight Capability: Hangar and deck facilities for at least 1 helicopter up to 10-tons.
Helicopter Hangar Dimensions: 14.3m L x 9.5m W x 4.5m H, capable of accepting 10-ton helicopter design.

Video: Philippine Navy's Strategic Sealift Vessel Specifications

From the Modern AFP Website (Dec 29, 2013): Video: Philippine Navy's Strategic Sealift Vessel Specifications

A video showing the Philippine Navy's upcoming (2) Strategic Sealift Vessel

Video: Philippine Air Force -- End of 2013 Inventory

From Modern AFP Website (Dec 30, 2013): Video: Philippine Air Force: End of 2013 Inventory

During 2013 The Philippine Air Force has been tested to its peek, responding to different kind of events from Hurricanes to Earthquakes. This video shows the full force of the Hukbóng Himpapawid ng Pilipinas. After a year of the Modernization law here is your Air Force.

We look ahead to 2014 where the Air Force will get stronger. Its time to rise Air Force!


Video: Philippine Army -- End of 2013 Inventory

From Modern AFP Website (Dec 31, 2013): Video: Philippine Army: End of 2013 Inventory

The Philippine Army has been has seen many action in 2013. During the Zamboanga Crisis the Philippine Army shows their enemies what they can do. The devastation of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) gave the Philippine Army opportunities of many kind to help their people.

In 2014 the Philippine Army will rise to show their full strength and capability of a top Army.


Video: Philippine Navy -- End of 2013 Inventory

From Modern AFP Website (Dec 30, 2013): Philippine Navy: End of 2013 Inventory

The Guardian and the Protector of the Philippine seas, the Philippine Navy (Hukbóng Dagat ng Pilipinas). During 2013 the Philippine Navy patrolled the seas with full might defending our sovereignty and freedom. The Navy's actions in the 2013 Zamboanga Crisis proves how credible the Navy is in Internal threats.

As we look forward to 2014 the Philippine Navy will show its full force and show its ability to handle Internal threats as well as External threats.

Full speed ahead, Philippine Navy!


Video: Philippine army attacks Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters | Mindanao

Video report from Aljazeera (Jan 28): Video: Philippine army attacks Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters | Mindanao

The Philippine military has launched a major offensive against a splinter rebel group in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. They are targeting the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which opposes the peace deal between the government and the main rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan reports from Manila. | Al Jazeera | Jan 27, 2014


‘Bigger war’ looms

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 29): ‘Bigger war’ looms

Military attacks on BIFF spread to MNLF camps

The continuing clashes between government forces and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters which the military said had so far killed 17 BIFF rebels and wounded two government troopers and a civilian, could escalate into a ‘bigger’ war also involving the Nur Misuari-faction of the Moro National Liberation Front.

MNLF Commander Bensalih Sharifah claimed on Tuesday that government troops launched attacks on its camps in Bgy. Bakat in Datu Piang, the largest MNLF encampment in Maguindanao.
Dangerous road artery. The second mechanized
Infantry Brigade watches the national road
between Datu Saudi and Datu Piang in
Maguindanao following the exchange of gunfire
and sporadic explosions in several areas there
starting on Sunday. Omar Mangorsi
Sharifah warned that should the military persist on attacking their camps, a full-blown war could ensue.
MNLF Spokesman Absalom Cerveza confirmed Sharifah’s claim, adding that the military also attacked an MNLF territory in Saydona Mustapha in Maguindanao, which he said resulted in fierce clashes between MNLF fighters and army troopers.

“They (military) attacked MNLF camps in Saydona Mustapha and Brgy. Bakat in Datu Piang forcing MNLF fighters to engage the military in intense fighting but they withdrew,” Cerveza said.

“Kung hindi maghinto di geyera na,” Cerveza said, adding that MNLF forces were alerted of possible attacks from government forces. “But as of now they are in the defensive mode,” he said.

He said that fighting could escalate into a bigger war because there are other groups whose camps are situated within the perimeter where the skirmishes between the BIFF and the government were taking place.

The military made no mention of the attacks on MNLF camps, as Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, only reported that fresh fighting occurred at 5 a.m. in Barangay Bakat as government troops pursued fleeing BIFF forces.

Hermoso also insisted that their operations had nothing to do with the signing of the fourth annex of the framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which was signed on Saturday in Malaysia.

“It was just a coincidence. It has no bearing. If you remember, the BIFF launched an attack last September in Midsayap [in North Cotabato] where 12 civilians were killed, one of whom was beheaded,” he said.

But Hermoso admitted that ending BIFF’s armed challenge will help boost the creation of a new Bangsamoro entity in Muslim Mindanao.

“Putting an end to the BIFF armed challenge will be a big help to the autonomous Muslim political entity that will be created by the peace agreement,” he said, describing the military’s attacks on the BIFF as ‘pro-active.’

This is actually in compliance with the new policy adopted by the Palace, which it said is being done to nip in the bud the growing threat of the BIFF before it styles itself as another group that the state needs to negotiate peace with.

“We are being proactive now, so the situation does not deteriorate,” Presidential Communications Office Secretary Sonny Coloma said, recalling that the MILF itself was a splinter group from the MNLF before it became a legitimate group.

“The AFP and the PNP are now conducting joint law enforcement operations to serve arrest warrants against members of the BIFF. According to the Philippine Army, the MILF are part of the operations to secure their communities and prevent entry of BIFF elements,” Coloma said.

“All of these actions are being taken in order to protect the gains from the peace process, and we are determined to protect these gains,” the Palace official said.

Coloma added that the AFP and the PNP are now conducting joint law enforcement operations to serve arrest warrants against members of the BIFF and said that the MILF are part of the operations “to secure their communities and prevent entry of BIFF elements.”

As this developed, Abu Misry Mama, BIFF spokesperson, denied the AFP claim that 17 BIFF were killed in the clashes, saying that only one BIFF member was wounded.

But Hermoso said the reports on the deaths came from the troops and barangay officials in Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Datu Piang, Sultan sa Barongis and Datu Salibo in Maguindanao, and Pikit in North Cotabato.

He added that the Army has yet to receive more detailed reports on the casualties.

Hermosa added that small arms skirmishes were continuing on Tuesday in three farming villages on the edge of a marsh near the town of Datu Piang, about 800 kilometres (500 miles) south of Manila.

Hermoso said the BIFF had about 120 “hardcore” members who were backed up by scores of relatives and members of other armed groups opposed to the peace talks.

The military said the clashes has spread into the outskirts of the municipalities of Shariff Aguak, Sultan sa Barongis and Ski Pendatun, all in Maguindanao, forcing some 10,000 residents to flee their homes.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the fighting is now contained in Maguindanao, particularly in Shariff Aguak, Saydona Mustapha.

He added that the military is in close coordination with the police to prevent the fighting from spreading into other areas.

“Our objective really is to contain the BIFF forces and all other auxiliary threat groups. There is already a plan…we cannot remove the possibility of a spillover, that’s why we are preventing that,” he said.

Cerveza, however, claimed that disgruntled MILF members who were against the ‘normalization’ annex, had defected to the BIFF and joined the fighting in Datu Piang, Maguindanao and Pikit, North Cotabato.

Cerveza said more MILF forces would soon defect to either the MILF or the BIFF.

BIFF fighting spreads; fatalities placed at 40

From Malaya (Jan 30): BIFF fighting spreads; fatalities placed at 40

FIGHTING between government forces and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters has spread to other towns of Maguindanao even as the military claimed to have killed as many as 40 BIFF men since Sunday when the skirmishes started.
As of yesterday, the fighting has spilled over to the towns of Datu Piang and Datu Saudi Ampatuan towns. It broke out Sunday in Sultan sa Barongis town as government troops launched law enforcement operations, specifically to serve arrest warrants against some BIFF members.
The following day, clashes also occurred at the boundary of Shariff Saidona Mustapha town, also in Maguindanao, and Pikit town in North Cotabato. On Tuesday, fighting continued in Datu Saidona Mustapha town.
Also Tuesday, security officials said the fighting has been contained and discounted the possibility that the conflict will spread or escalate. They said they have enough forces to contain the BIFF, which has an estimated strength of 300 members.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said fighting was continuing yesterday in barangay Ganta in Shariff Saidona Mustapha town and in barangay Damablas in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.
He said members of the BIFF – a faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is negotiating a peace accord with government -- are resisting although “they have splintered into smaller groups.”
Hermoso also disclosed that fighting also broke out at a national highway in barangay Kabingi in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town yesterday dawn after the armed group established a roadblock.
“Our troops engaged them…We removed the roadblock but it took us awhile because of the improvised bombs laid by the BIFF men along the road,” he said.
Hermoso said government troops cleared the highway at around 5 a.m.  
The military initially reported 17 BIFF men were killed in the fighting while the military had four injured.
Yesterday, Hermoso said they have confirmed the death of 37 BIFF members, including “child soldiers.” He said the deaths of the 37 “were confirmed on the ground.” Twelve of the fatalities have been identified, he said.
The military is also verifying the deaths of three more BIFF men, he said.
The military has one fatality and seven injured. Some of them were wounded when an improvised bomb planted by the BIFF exploded near a mosque in barangay Ganta.
Hermoso also said government troops overran a training facility and a bomb-making facility of the BIFF in barangay Ganta last Tuesday. He said troops cleared and subsequently occupied the two facilities.
Hermoso said training facility had some barracks and lecture rooms. He said the troops recovered an undetermined number of improvised bombs and paraphernalia at the bomb-making facility.
Hermoso also said the MILF’s coordinating committee on the cessation of hostilities has authorized the military to continue with the law enforcement operations “because of the developing situation.” He said they sought clearance from the MILF because the area of operations is near MILF communities.
President Aquino said the Armed Forces and Philippine National Police are committed to go after BIFF men and other lawless elements like the Abu Sayyaf, who are out to spoil the peace process with the MILF.
The government and MILF panels last Saturday signed the Annex on Normalization and Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters.
The Annex on Normalization is the last of the four annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in October 2012. The agreement serves as a roadmap for the creation of a Bangsamoro entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Rough sailing for MILF basic law, peace pact

From the Daily Tribune (Jan 30): Rough sailing for MILF basic law, peace pact

It looks like money will again be flowing in the hundreds of millions of pesos in Congress courtesy of Malacañang, as President Aquino yesterday exuded confidence that his political allies in Congress, who are in the majority in the House of Representatives, would see to it that the measure on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, with all the provisions found in the Framework Agreement and the annexes and addendum on Bangsamore waters, will have smooth sailing.
Senate President Franklin Drilon also stated that he is certain that not only will there be bipartisan support for the passage of the Basic Law of the so-called Bangsamoro nation in the Senate but will also be supported overwhelmingly by the Filipino people.

“Well, of course if that goes to Congress, we could have a bit of apprehension or maybe we would need some negotiations with them (members of Congress) so as not to have doubts. There could be some of them whose information is incomplete or what we call as fear of the unknown,” Aquino said.

Aquino complained that he had read in a certain newspaper that raised questions relating to the amendment of the Constitution to suit the provisions of the Bangsamoro Agreement.    

Aquino explained that there was no commitment in the Bangsamoro Agreement which committed the change in the Constitution.

“So, it could create in the mind that this insinuation is not based in the Constitution,” Aquino said.

Aquino said the Transition Commission would reveal its report that the critics of the Bangsamoro Agreement should read in detail because everything is in accordance with the Constitution.

“I would be the first to be surprised because right from the start, this framework should have been covered by the Constitution to have a peaceful  implementation,” Aquino said.

Aquino said the decision of the central government on the wealth sharing should be given consideration because the localities in the ARMM have been so behind in development.

“We want now to give equal sharing to every Filipino. Those who have been left behind in development should now be given what we call as affirmative action or accelerated action,” Aquino said.

Malacañang has reason to be wary over the fate in Congress of the proposed law that will establish a new autonomous political entity in Mindanao, once it is submitted to the two Houses for deliberations and passage.

One administration senator admitted that proposed powers to be devolved to the Bangsamoro government will likely be the sticky issues among lawmakers.

“In principle yes (I support it). But as they say the devil is in the details. There will be sticky issues like what powers will be given up, what powers will be devolved to the new entity. That will be the debating points,” said Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara.

Drilon remained confident that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law will have the support, not only of the lawmakers but the public in general.

“I can see a bipartisan support. It doesn’t mean that there will be no debate. But this is our last chance for a peaceful settlement of the problem,” he said.
Drilon also expressed belief that the government should not be distracted by the renewed fighting in Mindanao amid the signing of the government panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of the last and the most contentious of the four annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

“That should not distract the government and this is our last chance to achieve peace. The fighting in the south at this point, to me is not unexpected. There are groups which are opposed to the peace process, although this, to me is not unexpected. But I am certain that if we handle the situation and at the end of the day, the entire nation will rally behind this peace agreement,” he said, adding that the government should continue enforcing the law in dealing with the supposed rebels.

Besides the devolution of powers to the Bangsamoro government, Angara also noted that territorial integrity is also a concern in passing the proposed law.

The presidential cousin Bam Aquino, another administration member in the upper chamber, said that while he welcomes the signing of the final annexes, he raised concerns on the economic provisions of the agreement.

“We also have to look at improving economic conditions of the area. Even if you have peace and yet the people there are poor, it will defeat the whole peace process. (Government) agencies have to work double time to make sure that  economic growth of affected areas is increasing or higher than rest of country,” Aquino said.

But the Bangsamoro Basic Law being drafted by a special commission may likely face rough sailing at the House of Representatives courtesy of the minority bloc.

At a press briefing Wednesday, House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora noted that “many questions are still left unanswered” regarding the final framework agreement between the government and the MILF.

The minority is still unclear about the rights of  non-Muslims, such as the Christians and the Indigenous people  in the proposed Bangsamoro Political Entity, which is intended to  replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“We can’t speak for the Congress, but for the minority we have many questions to ask regarding the final framework,” Zamora said. “Many questions are still left unanswered, we are not yet satisfied regarding important things, including territory and the certain rights of non-Muslims in the area.”
Zamora said concerns of non-Muslims on the peace agreement should be addressed by the government.

“Keep in mind that Muslim Mindanao is part of a larger Mindanao territory and communities  and we would like to make sure that all Filipinos living in Mindanao and ARMM have their rights protected,” Zamora said.

“What about the others, who should pay attention to their concerns? What about the larger concerns of even a larger community like the non-Muslims?”

Among the concerns raised by Zamora were those pertaining to the proposed Bangsamoro territory and other provisions of the agreement.

Zamora is also wary about the sudden surfacing of splinter Muslim groups whose leaders feel being left out in the peace deal or whose concerns have not been addressed.

“The MILF occupied roughly the position of something like the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) now.  The agreement then was with the MNLF and that fell by the wayside after two decades,” The San Juan lawmaker said.

The BIFF is a Misauri-led group under the Moro National Liberation Front that recently laid siege to  Zamboanga City.

The minority leader, however, admitted that his group  has no conclusive opinion on the entirety of the peace deal yet, saying they will have to wait until the basic law is at the plenary to form an opinion.

“There is a big community of non-Muslims living in Mindanao. We are prepared to wait for answers, to listen to suggestions. You’ll see how we make up our mind as we ask questions,” he said.

“We want to know about the reserves that are going to be protected, and the (sharing of power) of the national and regional government. Many things we want to know, and we will ask. But as of now we’re reading and studying,” he said.

Meanwhile, as they talk peace, the fighting in Mindanao goes on with the days of fighting between government forces and Moro rebels slowly spreading in Maguindanao province, with the military resorting to propaganda, claiming to have killed 40 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) which continues to put up resistance against the government’s so-called law enforcement operations.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID), said that fighting was reported in the towns of Datu Piang, Shariff Saydona Mustapha and Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

Hermoso said the military has sought extension of the 72-hour period given to conduct deliberate law enforcement operations against wanted personalities identified with the BIFF in Maguindanao province.

The Joint Cooridnating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the government of the Philippines and the MILF gave the go signal for the police and military to launch the operations against BIFF last Monday.

Aquino vowed Wednesday to crush militants opposed to an imminent deal aimed at ending a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency, as the death toll from a military assault on them rose to 38.

“The armed going on these operations to prevent lawless activities from inflicting harm on our population, and to seriously degrade their abilities to again act as (peace) spoilers,” Aquino told reporters in Manila.

Hermoso said he expected the fighting to be over in about three days, although he made no mention of the military’s initially stated goals of capturing the BIFF’s top leaders.

Anti-insurgency training ongoing

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 29): Anti-insurgency training ongoing

The 45-day course on Special Counter-Insurgency Operations Unit Training participated in by 130 personnel from the Regional Public Safety Battalion in Region 7 will start today at Camp Ausejo in Barangay Nagbagang, Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.

This will be the first training in Negros Oriental and the second in the region for 2014, Chief Insp. Dexter Calacar, training manager of the Regional Special Training Unit of the Police Regional Office 7, said.

The 130 trainees, 24 females and 106 males, are all assigned to the RPSB-7, he added.
The Scout Class 42-2014 opening ceremony will be attended by Gov. Roel Degamo, PRO-7 director Chief Supt. Danilo Constantino, Supt. Clifford Gairanod, battalion commander of RPSB-7, and Supt. Alet Virtucio, OIC director of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office.

Yesterday, the Scout Class 41-2014 started at the RPSB-7 headquarters in Sibonga, Cebu province, with 128 trainees, 24 of them females.

The PNP Scout is a mandatory program for police personnel to enhance their skills in militaristic tactics.

Woman rescued from suspected NPA rebels

From ABS-CBN (Jan 29): Woman rescued from suspected NPA rebels

COMPOSTELA VALLEY -- Troops from Philippine Arrmy's 71st Infantry Batallion, with the help of locals, on Wednesday rescued a woman taken hostage by alleged New People's Army (NPA) rebels on December 27.

"Joy" (not her real name) told Army officials after she was rescued that she was taken by armed men from her home in Barangay Teresa, Maco to be "investigated" for taking a video of the NPA anniversary program on December 26.

"Takot na takot ako habang naririnig ang mga putukan," Joy recounted to authorities.
According to Lt. Col. Denniz Tanzo, Battalion Commander of the 71st IB, civilians gave them a sketch of Joy's whereabouts, which helped them in her rescue.

Joy is now under the custody of the Maco police, even as authorities promised to protect her and her family.

MILF: Hiroshima University embarks on Bangsamoro Study Mission

From the MILF Website (Jan 29): Hiroshima University embarks on Bangsamoro Study Mission


A professor and a research fellow of the Hiroshima University embarked on Bangsamoro Study Mission last week to jumpstart another support for peace building from the Government of Japan. 
In a five-day mission, Prof Yoshida Osamu, who works with the Faculty of Law, Graduate School of Social Science and International Economic Cooperation, and Meg Kagawa, Research Fellow of the Graduate School of Social Science, met with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission headed by its Chairman Mohaghre Iqbal; high ranking officials of the Mindanao State University (MSU) – Main Campus in Marawi City; President of the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College (CCSPC); Senior MILF Peace Panel Member Atty. Datu Michael Mastura, Prof Rudy Rodil, a Mindanao historian and  former member of the GPH Peace Negotiating, ARMM Governor Mujib Hataman and ARMM Youth Director Anwar Upam, and more than ten Cotabato City – based fellows who had been Hiroshima University through the HIPEC Program of the Hiroshima University and invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) – Japan.

Aside from the meetings, lectures on Public Administration and Decentralization: Cases in India and Japan were delivered by Prof Yoshida to the BTC, civil society organizations in cooperation with the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS), and students of MSU, CCSPC and Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy.

Yoshida and Kagawa being assisted by the Secretariat of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) also visited MILF’s Camp Darapanan, the office of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute Training Center, which was constructed under the GGP scheme of the Embassy of Japan in Manila.

Prof Yoshida said the mission aims to get proper understanding of the Bangsamoro - issues, situations, people - and the Bangsamoro Government as envisioned in the peace process between the GPH and MILF, and to advocate the project, Hiroshima Peacebuilding Human Resource Development Project for the Bangsamoro Government.

He added the Study Mission in Bangsamoro and Hiroshima Peacebuilding Human Resource Development Project for the Bangsamoro Government are significant endeavors of Hiroshima University and the Hiroshima Prefecture Government pursuant to the program dubbed as Hiroshima for Global Peace.

“Indeed, Japan is strongly to promote peace in global scale, good governance and accountability,” Yoshida said.

The Hiroshima Peacebuilding Human Resource Development Project for the Bangsamoro Government is a two-year (2014 to 2105) project being supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

74 youths of the Bangsamoro will undertake trainings for capacity development in the field of civil service, local/regional development and public administration. 33 of the 74 youth will be selected following agreed procedures in order to go to Hiroshima University.

“Preparing and empowering the youth in the course of civil service and public administration is one important pillar of entrenching good governance and accountability in the Bangsamoro,” stressed Yoshida.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that works on the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that shall govern the Bangsamoro is the project partner of Hiroshima University.

BTC Chair and MILF Peace Negotiating Panel, Mohagher Iqbal, expressed the endless gratitude of the Bangsamoro to the Hiroshima University and Prefecture Government, JICA and Japan Prime Minister Shnizo Abe and its people for the continuing strong support for the GPH – MILF peaceprocess, even as he said “this undertaking with Hirshima is so vital and timely, manifesting in many ways the great concern and commitment of the Japan to help achieve peace and progress in this part of the region.”

“Kindly accept our gratitude and appreciation for the unfaltering support of Japan for the cause of peace, unity and progress in the Bangsamoro,” Iqbal said.

Enthusiasm of the youth to go to Hiroshima citing the values and discipline of Japanese...

MILF: GPH to grant amnesty to MILF rebels

From the MILF Website (Jan 29): GPH to grant amnesty to MILF rebels

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles said on Sunday January 26, that under the newly signed Annex on Normalization, the government will grant amnesty to Muslim guerrillas who are facing or have been convicted on rebellion-related charges.
However, she said, the amnesty which still need congressional approval, would only cover fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and exclude guerrillas who broke off from the group and continue to endanger peace.

According to the annex, signed by Philippine government and MILF negotiators in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last January 25, the granting of the amnesty and pardon was aimed at facilitating "the healing of the wounds of conflict and the return to normal life."

According to a Sunstar report on January 26 sourced from Associated Press, the conclusion of the Malaysian-brokered talks has been the most significant progress made over 16 years of negotiations to tame a tenacious insurgency that has left more than 120,000 people dead and derailed development in Muslim-populated southern regions that are among the most depressed in the Philippines.

Under the peace deal, the Moro insurgents agreed to end violence in exchange for broader autonomy. An existing five-province Muslim autonomous region is to be replaced by a more powerful, better-funded and potentially larger region to be called Bangsamoro, Sunstar said further.

Like other amnesty programs, only rebellion-related crimes could be absolved. Others like rape would not be covered, Deles said.

"It's not a blanket amnesty," Deles said, adding that the details still have to be threshed out.

Rebel spokesman Von Al Haq said dozens of guerrillas were currently detained on rebellion-related charges and that his group would draw up a list of fighters eligible to benefit from the program.

Under the "normalization" pact, the government and the insurgents also agreed to establish a joint task force to turn six main guerrilla camps in the southern Philippines into "peaceful and productive communities" although no timetable was mentioned.

"There will be no more camps, they will become peaceful, unarmed communities," Deles said. "Camp Abubakar will no longer be known as such," she said, referring to one of the Muslim rebels' largest strongholds.

An independent Decommissioning Body to be led by foreign experts would oversee the deactivation of rebel forces and collection of their weapons. The huge military presence in the autonomous region would be scaled down and a joint assessment would be made for an orderly redeployment of troops and "avoid a security vacuum," according to the pact.

The government also pledged to disband private armies, mostly of politicians and warlords, and encourage the Moro rebels to give up their own weapons — a decades-long concern past presidents have failed to fully address.

"They need to be assured that they will be secure even if they are decommissioned and their weapons put beyond use," Deles said.

Saturday's pact was the final component of a peace agreement, which is expected to be signed soon by both sides in the Philippine capital, Manila.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague congratulated the Philippines and said his country would continue to back the difficult peace process.

Westmincom prepares for Bangsamoro normalization

From the Daily Zamboanga Times (Jan 29): Westmincom prepares for Bangsamoro normalization

The completion and signing of the Annex on Normalization of the Framework (Comprehensive) Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) was achieved last January 25 in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and this momentous event prompted the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) to initiate initial planning steps in anticipation of the annex’s implementation.
This initiative is necessary since the bulk of the Armed Forces’ responsibility in the peace process with the MILF is prescribed within the said annex and this will require an in-depth planning in order to allow its unhampered implementation.
Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, Westmincom chief, pledged full support to the normalization and the whole of the peace process, further stating that being a national priority, Westmincom will exhaust all legal means to support the national government in its undertakings in the peace process until peace and stability are achieved in the Bangsamoro areas.
Westmincom’s area of responsibility currently covers all areas of interest of the MILF and the proposed Bangsamoro Domain.

IEP: Latest Ummah Updates (1/28/2014) Datu Piang, Maguindanao

Posted to the Islamic Emirate of the Philippines (IEP) Facebook page (Jan 29): Latest Ummah Updates (1/28/2014) Datu Piang, Maguindanao

Latest UMMAH Updates
Datu Piang, Maguindanao

Another fierce fighting began at 5am dawn on the 27th of this month with a heavy artillery shelling that lasted more than an hour and followed by a light shelling and air strike bombing at the mujahideen camp continues as of the moment of writing.
More than 6000 heavily armed AFP were deployed after the culmination ...of the MILF and GRF alliance signed by both paties. The alliance of these infidels and murtadeen then started a ground attack trying to penetrate the BIFF camp at Datu Piang, Maguindanao where they were ambushed by the BIFF mujahideen where the epic encounter claimed 20 casualties from the infidels and the murtadeen. One hammer was destroyed and all 8 soldiers in it were killed on the spot.

On the 1st day of fighting, 27th of this month, 2 counts of amphibians were destroyed by IEDs, and with the joint forces of the AFP infidels and the MILF murtadeen fighting forcefully the BIFF Mujahideen, the allied fighter planes incidentally bombed their ally MILF task force elements while having a ground encounter, it was a very close fight that the fighter plane pilots were not able to determine the exact location of their allied elements from their enemies, thus, killing numbers of allies from the ground with their air strikes. These air strikes were executed by an AFP fighter plane and a couple of their helicopters that are constantly bombing the area.

Another blessing from ALLAH SubhanaHu Wa Ta'Ala where one of the artillery of the infidels backfired and killed 7 of their own soldiers on the spot.

Yesterday, 28th of this month, the fight continues. The enemies of ALLAH restlessly shells the mujahideen camp, but still another unit of their amphibians deployed was destroyed.

Currently the infidels have a total of 89 casualties and an indefinite count of injured soldiers. In spite of the joint forces of the MILF task force murtadeen and the AFP infidels, they were unable to penetrate the mujahideen and their camp.

AlhamduliLLAH there are no Martyrs reported yet and only three were wounded by the shrapnel from the artillery bombs.
Just arrived update, as of the moment of writing, the infidels tried to penetrate the camp with their ground assault but they were dispersed by an IED, a couple of their soldiers accidentally arrived a post of our brothers, thus, they were disarmed and captured as prisoners of war and a unit of M60 was claimed as a booty of war apart from the ammunition of the soldiers captured.
The report stated that majority of the shelled bombs by the enemies miraculously did not explode, a great resource of IEDs.

ALLAHu Akbar! ALLAHu Akbar! ALLAHu Akbar!

Make Du'a for the Mujahideen who are honorably fighting to protect ans establish the Deen of ALLAH wherever they are.

Make Du'a to ALLAH for ourselves to help us and guide us to be amongst those whom who are true to their oath to ALLAH and tirelessly fight against ALLAH's enemies.

Make Du'a to ALLAH to help us and protect us from the evils of the Infidels and the Murtadeen and make us NOT amongst those who befriend them and make them allies against our bothers who are honorably defending ALLAH's Deen Al-Islam, for a very cheap price of physical safety and worldly praise.

help and Support our Mujahideen brothers in anyway you can, thus, in turn doing yourself a favor by helping them.

Be reminded of the rewards ALLAH has promised for doing so.

Be reminded of the Great Rewards ALLAH has promised for those who are true to their oaths to ALLAH till they acheive the Greatest of Success, Martyrdom!

Be reminded of the punishments ALLAH has promised for those who lag behind, sitting amongst the weak/disabled, women and the children of the UMMAH where they are able to fight!

ALLAhumagfilrliy wal Muslimina wal Muslimaah, wal Mu'mineena Wal Mu'minah, Wal Mujahideena Wal Mujahidah

ALLAHumma Unsuril Islamah wal Muslimina wal Muqatilina fiy sabiliLLAHirRabbil Alamin

Don't forget to Like, Comment and Share!!

 JazakumuLLAHu Khairan Katheeran WabarakumuLLAHu Fiqkum

DVIDS: Philippine Coast Guard commandant reinforces need for strengthening maritime security

From the Defense Video & Image Distribution System (DVIDS) (Jan 28): Philippine Coast Guard commandant reinforces need for strengthening maritime security

Philippine Coast Guard commandant reinforces need for strengthening maritime security

Vice Adm. Rodolfo D. Isorena (right), the Philippine Coast Guard commandant, presents a plaque to Sec. Cesar P. Garcia Jr., national security advisor to the president of the Philippines, during the initial maritime domain awareness demonstration at the Philippine Coast Guard Headquarters in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 27.

PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD HEADQUARTERS, MANILA, Philippines – Senior Philippine and U.S. officials observed a maritime domain awareness demonstration at the Philippine Coast Guard Headquarters here Jan. 27

This event was the beginning of the initial phase of the first Philippine-U.S. conceptual program initiatives to enhance Philippine security and defense capabilities, and was spearheaded by the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, (MARFORPAC) Experimentation Center (MEC). The demonstration showcased the capabilities of the Maritime Persistent Surveillance Tower (MPST), an experimental maritime adaptation of the Persistent Ground Surveillance Tower (PGST) currently used in Afghanistan. 

“The freedom enjoyed by our people and the rest of the world in roaming the Philippine waters – either for recreation, trade or livelihood – does not come free,” said Vice Adm. Rodolfo D. Isorena, Philippine Coast Guard commandant. “We, in the Philippine Coast Guard, pay the price with 24/7 vigilance and preparedness to respond to any untoward maritime incident.”

While the PCG has carried out this duty for the past years satisfactorily, Isorena recognizes the need for a stronger, modernized system capable of operating consistent with the changing times.

“The Philippines is fortunate to be learning from a trailblazer in the field of cutting-edge technology, the United States,” said Isorena. “Today, we are taking a step towards carrying out [initial plans] to outline the activities for enhancing the Philippines’ security capabilities.

The MPST is a land-based, mobile, multi-sensor payload platform that supports persistent 360-degree surveillance operations. The MPST detects and monitors surface contacts operating in the littorals, with various advanced sensors. The system is tailorable to meet specific requirements and mission parameters. 

“One of the pillars of ensuring safety at the sea is the ability to detect maritime incidents and abnormal behaviors of vessels; knowing is the first step to responding,” said Isorena adamantly. “The sooner we get accurate information on the location and nature of a maritime occurrence, the quicker we can respond.”

During the demonstration, PCG personnel were familiarized with the operation and capabilities of the MPST. If successful, it will be a capability enhancement that improves maritime domain awareness particularly in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) port traffic management scenarios.

“Both the United States and the Philippines have a continuing interest in strengthening our longstanding security alliance, which has provided a cornerstone for security and stability in the region for decades,” said U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Richard L. Simcock II, deputy commanding general of MARFORPAC. “Enhanced maritime situational awareness contributes to the accomplishment of a broad variety of missions, to include humanitarian assistance, maritime law enforcement, environmental protection and territorial defense, among others.

“Initiatives like the maritime domain awareness experiment help to maintain a high level of interoperability, enhance our military-to-military relations, and improve our combined capabilities.”

The demonstration is currently scheduled to conclude Feb. 10. Afterward, the tower will be packed up and stored at an Armed Forces of the Philippines facility until the next demonstration for the Philippine Navy in May during exercise Balikatan.

Malaysia denies China's encroachment on its waters

From the Global Times (Jan 29): Malaysia denies China's encroachment on its waters

Malaysia has dismissed recent foreign reports that China's navy ships patrolled an area which is also claimed by the Southeast Asian country, referring to them as inaccurate.

Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar said China was actually holding a high-level maritime exercise in the northwest of the Nansha islands (regarded by the Philippines as Spratly islands), which was far away from Malaysia's 200 nm exclusive economic zone, according to the New Strait Times Wednesday.

"There has been no act of provocation on the part of the Chinese or threat to our sovereignty," said Aziz, adding that Malaysia and the United States was aware of this.

The navy chief said the RMN was informed of the maritime exercise through diplomatic channels, adding that there was no reason for alarm.

Aziz spoke highly of the cordial relations between Malaysia and China, claiming it was China's right to conduct the exercise.

Recently there were some reports claiming China's navy ships having patrolled an area contested by Malaysia, which some think might hurt the two countries' relations.

The biggest fighter among many

From the Economist (Jan 27): The biggest fighter among many

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is preparing to sign an agreement with the government that is meant to end decades of conflict in the south of the predominantly Christian Philippines. The southern region of Mindanao is the home to almost all of the country’s Muslim minority, where the MILF is the most important in a range of armed groups that have been fighting for Muslim independence. After 18 years of negotiations often interrupted by heavy fighting, the government and the MILF concluded the last and most crucial part of a four-part peace agreement on January 25th.

The first three parts gave autonomy—not independence—to the mainly Muslim parts of Mindanao, in return for peace. The fourth sets out how the government and the MILF will jointly restore order in the autonomous entity, called Bangsamoro. It also sets out how the 12,000 or so MILF fighters will lay down their weapons, once all the other armed groups have been disarmed. This is the nub of the peace agreement.

That the negotiators have got this far demonstrates the determination of both sides, weary as they are after nearly 46 years of a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people. A few obstacles remain. A constitution for Bangsamoro must be drafted and then enacted by a congress which is predominantly Christian. Anyone whose nose is put out of joint by the peace agreement may challenge it in the (predominantly Christian) courts. But the main Philippine parties are spurred on by the hope that peace will allow Mindanao to unlock its mineral wealth it sits on and the agricultural potential of its fecund soil. And America is ready to help with money to build the groundwork for prosperity. It hopes growth will prevent Mindanao it from remaining a sanctuary for Islamist terrorists.

The biggest obstacle will be the erstwhile rebels’ resistance to disarmament. Some of the reasons are cultural. In parts of Mindanao the concept of manhood is tied up with gun ownership. Feuds between Muslim clans are often extended by gunfire. Some resistance to disarmament is political. Communist guerrillas still infest parts of Mindanao, and their leaders are reluctant to talk peace. A faction of the MILF that now calls itself the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) opposes the peace agreement and plans to keep fighting in the name of Muslim independence. Other factions of the MILF that are dissatisfied with the peace agreement may follow the BIFF’s lead. The MILF itself began as a faction that splintered off the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The MNLF settled for autonomy for some largely Muslim areas in a peace agreement which it signed with the government in 1996. Now the MNLF is upset that the autonomous entity created by the 1996 agreement is to be supplanted by Bangsamoro. In September one of the MNLF’s factions protested with a show of force in the southern city of Zamboanga, provoking three weeks of street-fighting that killed 240 people.

The Abu Sayyaf is another armed group of Muslims, which has links to Islamist terrorists. It has been able to keep operating in Mindanao despite the presence of American troops who are there to help the Philippine security forces wipe it out. And then some of the resistance to disarmament will come from common criminals. Mindanao is awash with armed gangs of kidnappers and extortionists, some trained in bomb-making.

For defence against all these threats, local politicians often arm civilian Christians and Muslims, forming private armies that later become part of the problem. It is little wonder then that the MILF has agreed to lay down its weapons only once everybody else has. Peace between the MILF and the government is one thing; peace in Mindanao is another.

Nur to followers: Prepare for things to come

From ABS-CBN (Jan 29): Nur to followers: Prepare for things to come

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari has instructed his followers to “solidify, prepare and be very vigilant” for things to come, particularly after its rival Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forged an agreement with the government on the proposed Bangsamoro region.

MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza said Misuari instructed their members to consolidate and make preparations ahead of their petition before the United Nations seeking the decolonization of Mindanao.

Cerveza said the MNLF would question the expected comprehensive agreement between the government and the MILF through peaceful and political means by bringing the issue before the UN for the decolonization, not just of Mindanao but other areas including Palawan and the Spratly Islands.

“Our lawyers are now working on the necessary documents. We are submitting them to the UN soon,” Cerveza said.

He said the MNLF maintains its ground against any “convergence” effort on the part of government with the MILF.

The instructions were reportedly relayed to the MNLF leaders as Misuari is still in hiding evading arrest on charges of leading his men in the siege of Zamboanga City in September last year.

The MNLF is also banking on the three petitions asking the Supreme Court to declare the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the MILF as illegal and unconstitutional.

“There is chance that the Supreme Court would declare the (Framework Agreement) illegal and unconstitutional just like what it did to the MOA-AD (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain),” added MNLF Islamic Council Command chairman Habib Hashim.

Cerveza said Misuari also ordered his forces to be “very vigilant,” citing the military offensives against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Central Mindanao.

The BIFF was formed by disgraced MILF commander Ameril Umbra Kato who opposed the peace negotiations with the government.

“He (Misuari) told us to be very vigilant because even our camps in Central Mindanao were also attacked even if these are not of the MILF,” Cerveza said.

The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996, paving the way for the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where Misuari served as its first governor.

Once the Bangsamoro Basic Law with the MILF is enacted, the new entity will replace the ARMM following a plebiscite.

Misuari has opposed the talks with the MILF, believing this would sideline the 1996 peace agreement of the MNLF with the Philippine government.

NPA rebel shoots village official, son

From ABS-CBN (Jan 28): NPA rebel shoots village official, son

A barangay councilor and his son were wounded after they were shot by an alleged member of the New People's Army (NPA) in Brgy. Bayabas in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley on Monday morning.

According to Luis Arana, he and his son Bernie were on their way to their farm when a man who identified himself as a member of the NPA fired at them.

He added that the gunman even apologized to his neighbors while he was leaving the scene.

Barangay Chairman Cipriano Cunado confirmed that the gunman is a member of the NPA.

He added that the incident may be a case of mistaken identity, as the two came from the house of a certain George Dinano, a Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) member, who is believed to be the original target of the suspect.

Authorities said that they already have a lead on the gunman.

Army urged to ensure smooth turnover of peace, security operations to LGUs

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 28): Army urged to ensure smooth turnover of peace, security operations to LGUs

Maj. Gen. John Bonafos called on members of the Philippine Army in Negros Oriental to exert all efforts to ensure a smooth transition in the turnover of the peace and security responsibility to provincial and local government units.

Bonafos, who is the commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Central Command in the Visayas region, visited the 302nd Infantry Brigade based in Camp Leon Kilat in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental during the weekend to discuss Internal Peace and Security Operations.

He assured that CentCom continues to support the military units in Negros Oriental and Occidental, with focus on the preparations for the eventual turnover of the peace and security responsibility to the local chief executives.

Our days are numbered, and the Army and the police will soon be under the authority of the governor, Bonafos said.

He added that, once this takes place, peace and development efforts shall be the responsibility of the governor and local chief executives, with the military and the Philippine National Police playing a support role.

He highlighted the role of the military in maintaining peace and order with the police, but also said this is not the sole responsibility of government forces. Local governments and other stakeholders also play an equally important role in peace and development, and everyone must work hand in hand to achieve lasting peace, he added.

He said he hopes that all provinces in Region 7 will normalize from the long-running insurgency problem and be free from it in the coming months.

An extension of about six months was given for Negros Oriental to neutralize the insurgency threat in the province as the military was unable to meet the target last month.

Military officials said it was not a failure, but merely a delay, in handing over of the IPSO to the civilian government.

Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, 302nd IB commander, said about half of the problem has already been addressed but additional time is needed to complete the job.

He assured that there will be continuing efforts to clear the province of the insurgency problem.

Philippine Army plans to handover internal peace, security responsibility to LGUs in NegOr

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 27): Philippine Army plans to handover internal peace, security responsibility to LGUs in NegOr

The Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command (AFP-CentCom) plans to handover to local government units (LGUs) in Negros Oriental the implementation of the military’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) this year.

The handover will be a sharing of responsibility among the military, LGUs, local police and other concerned stakeholders for peace and development.

The CentCom clarified that the handover does not mean the military will totally abandon their duty in clearing Negros Oriental from insurgency problems.

CentCom commander, Maj. Gen.  John Bonafos said in a press conference in Camp Leon Kilat  in Tanjay City that the move aims to develop partnership among all the parties mentioned since maintaining peace, security and development programs is a shared responsibility among them.

This is in line with the military’s aim to prepare the local government in resolving insurgency problems and declaring Negros Oriental insurgency free within the year.

Once the handover is made, the army and the police will be under the authority of the governor who will lead the implementation of IPSP in the province. The military will come in as support agency in maintaining peace and order.

“It is our job to maintain peace and order in our area with the help of our police as well as other stakeholders in peace and security including local government officials and local chief executives of the province,” Gen. Banafos said as he met soldiers in Camp Leon Kilat.

Philippine Army's 3rd Infantry Division commander, Major General Aurelio Baladad also believes the plan to handover the IPSP to LGUs is a good approach to resolve problems in insurgency.

“Insurgency is everybody’s responsibility because it is multi-faceted. There are social dimensions, economic dimension, political and other dimensions and we have to address all these to resolve the problem,” Gen. Baladad said.

Baladad said that the military will work hand in hand with other stakeholders in resolving other concerns linked with insurgency.

Gen. Banafos cited the province of Bohol as a model for the scheme. He said Bohol was cleared from insurgency because of active leadership of its provincial government in its internal security plan in partnership with the police, military and other stakeholders.

Philippine Army-302nd Infantry Brigade commander, Brigadier Gen. Francisco Patrimonio disclosed that right now the military is slowly coordinating with LGUs in preparing them for the handover of internal peace and security responsibility.

Patrimonio added that LGUs are very responsive to their incoming role. However, he dismissed the idea that the army will leave their area of responsibility once it is cleared from insurgents.

Patrimonio said that they learned their lesson that once they cleared the area and leave it, it becomes vulnerable again to insurgency activities.

Also, the Philippine Army promised to train law enforcers in maintaining peace and order in their areas.

“We have made some contingencies that the military should still support the LGUs in maintaining peace while we are still preparing the Philippine National Police and other indigenous forces to have an extended role in maintaining peace and order in their municipalities,” Gen. Patrimonio said.

The Philippine Army also set to conduct trainings with the police to enhance their capability to respond to insurgencies.

Banafos also said that there is Comprehensive Integrated Public Safety System (CIPSS), a program laid by the Department of Interior and Local Governance which will intensify the campaign against insurgency.

Banafos hopes that through collective efforts from various agencies, the province will be totally free from insurgency and development can penetrate in areas with rebel presence.

Independent body to manage decommissioning of MILF forces

From the Philippine Star (Jan 29): Independent body to manage decommissioning of MILF forces

An independent  body will be created to oversee the decommissioning of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces when the normalization annex of the Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro (FAB) is implemented, according to a member of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) negotiating panel Wednesday.

Mejol Sadain, GPH peace panel member and chairman of the National Commission on Muslim Filipino (NCMF), said the decommissioning will be implemented parallel to the Bangsamoro transition commission.

“The decommissioning will be implemented when the independent decommissioning body is created,” Sadain said.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Deles said  the decommissioning of the MILF forces and other private armed groups will start in  May.

Sadain said the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) will be composed of three foreign experts and four local experts jointly nominated by the government and MILF parties. He said the experts could come from the retired members of the military or those who have backgrounds and knowledgeable in the arms and military process.

Sadain said as part of the its task , the IDB will conduct the inventory, verification and validation of the members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), armed wing of the MILF, as part of the dismantling or decommissioning process.
According to Sadain, the IDB shall plan, design, and implement techniques and technology for weapon collection or retrieval, transport, and storage and putting weapons beyond used in accordance with the agreement of both parties.

He said the IDB will also develop and implement the schedule to decommission the MILF forces and other armed groups and report the progress of its task to the GPH and MILF panels.

Meanwhile, the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), following the signing of the annex of normalization, initiated the initial planning steps in anticipation for the decommissioning implementation.

“This initiative is necessary since the bulk of the Armed Forces’ responsibility in the peace process with the MILF is prescribed within the said annex and this will require an in-depth planning in order to allow its unhampered implementation,” Westmincom said in its statement.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, Westmincom chief, pledged full support to the normalization and the whole of the peace process to ensure stability is achieved in the Bangsamoro Areas.

Westmincom area of responsibility currently covers all areas of interest of the MILF and the proposed Bangsamoro Domain.

AFP: 37 BIFF killed, including child warriors in Maguindanaoby

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 29): AFP: 37 BIFF killed, including child warriors in Maguindanaoby

Thirty-seven members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and a soldier were killed as the military operation against Moro rebels in Maguindanao entered its third day, the Army here said.

”We will continue the manhunt for the next 72 hours,” Colonel Dickson Hermoso, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said in a news conference here.

Of the number of BIFF killed, about 12 dead bodies were recovered by soldiers in Datu Piang, Shariff Saydona and Sultan sa Barongis, all in Maguindanao, Hermoso said.

”Ironic but sad, the BIFF used child warriors as shown among the dead bodies our troops on the ground have recovered,” Hermoso said.

He said some of the dead BIFF were still on the marshland and could not be retrieved by troops as BIFF had snipers firing at them.

Hermoso said the police punitive action jointly carried out by the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the Maguindanao police will continue in the borders of Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

Hermoso said one soldier was killed in action while seven other infantrymen were wounded and are now recuperating at a hospital in Camp Siongco, the home of 6th Infantry Division.

Hermoso also told reporters the military is assisting the police in the towns surrounding Maguindanao and North Cotabato to thwart any attempt by BIFF or its sympathizers from carrying out bombings as diversionary tactic.

”They have started it in Datu Piang when they set off a bomb at the town’s public terminal,” Hermoso said, saying the blast hurt a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old girl.

”Our major highways remain passable and safe because we have successfully contained the BIFF in one area in the marshland,” he said.

Police and Army checkpoints have been put up along portions of Cotabato-Gen. Santos highway and Cotabato City-Davao City highway.

Government forces have been serving warrants of arrest for BIFF members for carnapping, kidnapping, bombings and murders when clashes erupted in Maguindanao marshland Sunday.

Before the Army offensive was carried out Monday, civilians in four Maguindanao towns and two North Cotabato towns were given ample time to evacuate.

35 more RPA-ABB members to be hired as forest rangers

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 29): 35 more RPA-ABB members to be hired as forest rangers
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is hiring 35 more members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) to serve as forest rangers.

This was disclosed by Undersecretary Maria Cleofe Gettie Sandoval of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, who said the additional 35 will bring to 130 the number of RPA-ABB members working as contractual hires of the DENR.

The hiring of the RPA-ABB members is part of the initiatives in support to the peace process of the government, Sandoval said.

Majority of more than 700 armed RPA-ABB members are based in Negros Island.

Sandoval met with Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, commander of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, and other military officials in Talisay City, Negros Occidental recently.

The DENR began hiring RPA-ABB members for its forest protection program last September.

DENR Regional Technical Director said the deployment of RPA-ABB members as forest guards is part of the livelihood support extended to them by the government in preparation for the signing of the closure agreement for the peace negotiations.

RPA-ABB, a breakaway group of the New People’s Army (NPA), was founded by rebel leader Arturo Tabara in 1998 in Negros.

The peace talks between the government and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Mangagawa-Pilipinas and its armed wing RPA-ABB started in December 2000 under the administration of then President Joseph Estrada.

In April last year, the RPA-ABB Tabara Paduano Group changed its name into “Kapatiran para sa Progresong Panlipunan (Brotherhood for Social Progress)” as part of their compliance with the provisions of the closure agreement.

The group has been an active partner of Task Force Ilahas, an environmental enforcement unit of the provincial government of Negros Occidental.

Army to boost firepower, communications, night-fighting capabilities

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 29): Army to boost firepower, communications, night-fighting capabilities

The Philippine Army's (PA) major acquisitions under its so-called "medium term" phase of modernization program will focus on improving its firepower, communications and night fighting capabilities.

Capt. Anthony Bacus, Army spokesperson, said that this phase started this year and will end on 2016.

He said the acquisition of heavy weapons, communications equipment and night-fighting devices has an estimated funding of P8 billion. These equipment will make the PA a more credible territorial defense force once acquisition is completed.

However, Bacus did not give specific details on what particular weapons and platforms are in the pipeline, as the group that will plan the acquisition is still yet to convene.

"The concerned offices cannot yet give the details because talks are still to convene for these projects," Bacus stressed.

The Department of National Defense (DND) earlier said that it is planning to acquire a shore-based missile system for the PA.

This project has contract amounting to P6.5 billion.

Patrick Velez, DND vice chair for the bids and awards committee, said, once acquired, the weapon will be placed under the control and supervision of the Army.

The shore-based missiles will be carried out through “limited source bidding".

No other details were given for security reasons.

Shape, size, capabilities of frigates to be determined after workshop --DND

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 29): Shape, size, capabilities of frigates to be determined after workshop --DND

The shape, size and capabilities of the two P18-billion frigates, now undergoing bidding at the Department of National Defense (DND), will be determined once the workshop for qualified proponents starts in February.

This was disclosed by DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo Wednesday in reply to a query on the possible tonnage, length, width and capabilities of the two ships.

"The workshop will allow the proponents to present their proposed specifications. The data/information that will be generated during the workshops will be used by the Navy in formulating the final TOR (terms of reference)," Manalo said.

Each proponent has a working week (around five days) to present their design to the Philippine Navy technical working group and its private consultants.

As of this posting, only four shipbuilders have successfully passed the first stage of the bidding for the P18-billion frigate project.

These are Navantia Sepi (RTR Ventures) of Spain and South Korean firms STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. and Hyundai Heavy Industries Inc.

The first stage of the bidding involves the inspection of company eligibility documents.

Three other shipbuilding firms joined the bidding but the DND declared their documents to be deficient.

These companies, identified as Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. of India, STX France SA, and Thyssenkrupp Marine System, have filed a motion for reconsideration at the DND.

Earlier, PN technical working group head Commodore Roland Mercado said that the panel, which will be assessing the designs, are all seasoned naval architects from the government and private sectors.

He added that these individuals will closely scrutinized the designs for possible flaws.

Mercado said that this will ensure that the designs submitted are proven ones and comparable in capabilities with existing frigate classes.

Inspection of the designs and technical specifications will be done in Sangley Point Naval Station in Cavite.

During this period, hull, powerplant, communications, and weapon systems designs will be closely looked into by the panel.