Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CCTV pins murder of mayor on NPA rebels

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 30): CCTV pins murder of mayor on NPA rebels

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan —The murder of Gonzaga Mayor Carlito Pentecostes last Monday was recorded by a closed-circuit television camera and the killers have been identified, Cagayan Valley police director, Chief Supt. Migueld Laurel said.

He said David Soriano, second in command of the New People’s Army (NPA) Northern Front Committee, shot dead the mayor as he was about to deliver a speech during a flag ceremony, and his back up was identified as Rolando Ibis.

“The hard drive of the CCTV camera has been brought to Manila for decoding,” Laurel said.

The two gunmen walked up to the mayor after the singing of the national anthem and one of them shot him several times in front of the crowd. A total of 30 guerrillas were involved and many of them were posted in various parts of the municipal grounds.

But the Pentecostes family believed the mayor was ordered killed by his political enemies. They rejected claims the mayor was killed because he allowed black sand mining in Gonzaga.

Three days after the killing, the NPA West Cagayan Front issued a statement admitting responsibility for the killing and NPA spokesperson Ester Falcon said the mayor was found guilty of spying and aiding the military in their operations against the rebels.

The Gonzaga municipal council has declared a state of mourning in the town and  the municipal government cancelled the town’s annual fiesta on May 12 to 16.


AFP to use former US Army facilities in Maguindanao

From ABS-CBN (Apr 29): AFP to use former US Army facilities in Maguindanao

Around 2 hectares of former US Army facilities inside Camp Siongco in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao will be used by soldiers of the 6th Infantry Division (6ID) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the military said Tuesday.

6ID spokesperson Col. Dickson Hermoso said American soldiers left the facilities last April 17, about two weeks before US President Barack Obama visited the Philippines.

"Ito ang kagandahan, parang ito yung lease contract, yung mga facilities nila tulad nung 8 buildings na fully airconditioned at may water and electrical facility, may mga ref at washing machines at mga office equipment iniwan nila para magamit ng ating kasundaluhan," Hermoso said.

According to Hermoso, two teams of US soldiers composed of about 20 individuals stayed at the 6ID's camp since 2008.

"Nagre-position sila at tapos na yung mission nila rito sa Central Mindanao at nagsi-uwian na sila dun sa kanilang mother unit," Hermoso said.

"Ang kanilang role dito ay tulungan tayo sa training, yung paggamit ng mga equipment na gawa sa Amerika, at sa humanitarian assistance at disaster response operation," he added.

Now that the United States and the Philippine government have signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDAC), Hermoso said US soldiers might come back to their camp anytime soon.

"Hindi natin mai-aalis na the American forces helped us a lot in terms of skills acquisition, capacitating us sa mga bagay na wala sa ating imbentaryo at of course yung mas malawak na pananaw sa pag intindi sa conflict," he said.

The 6ID is planning to move some of its offices to the buildings previously used by the American soldiers.


Intensified security for Davao del Sur enterprises amid NPA extortion

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 29): Intensified security for Davao del Sur enterprises amid NPA extortion

DIGOS CITY – The military confirmed that it has doubled security efforts for big enterprises in nearby Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur because of the continued extortion activities of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“We could not deny the fact that the NPA still extorts money from some traders in Sta. Cruz (Davao del Sur) despite tight security measures the army has been implementing for a long time,” Lt. Catherine Delima, speaking for the army’s 39th Infantry Battalion, said.

Delima said the 39th IB, headed by Lt. Col. Apollo Lamaton Jr., believes that the NPA would eventually harass large enterprises in the town if its demands continue to be rejected.

She said among the measures being taken is regular combat operations to ensure the rebels would not come close to the areas there businesses are located.

Among big businesses located in Sta. Cruz are the brewery of San Miguel Corp., Pryce Gas facilities, and the bulk depot of Sea Oil.

More ‘NPA supporters pledge support to gov't

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 29): More ‘NPA supporters pledge support to gov't

More self-proclaimed supporters of the New People's Army in Negros Oriental have taken their oath before authorities as a sign of their support to the duly constituted government.

The latest batch included 37 members of the Komiteng Pang-Organisa or KP (organizing committee) from Barangay Apoloy in Siaton town, Lt. Alex Robillos, Civil-Military Operations officer of the 79 th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, said in a press release.

He said the Battalion, in collaboration with the Siaton town government, held a culmination program recently for its Bayanihan Team activities in Barangay Apoloy, and Sangguniang Bayan member Judith Lagos was present at the oath-taking.

In his testimony before the 405 witnesses present, KP leader, Renante Senda, urged others “to break free from the grip of influence the NPA had on them and support the government on its quest for development and lasting peace”.

In his message, Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302 nd Infantry Brigade, said people need to be committed in helping win the peace to achieve development, Robillos said.

An outreach program was also conducted during the activity, that benefited around 405 individuals, through medical consultation, circumcision, free haircut, massage, animal vaccination and feeding program.

The mission was through the collaborative efforts of the 79 th IB, the 302 nd Brigade, 703 rd CDC, LGU- Siaton, barangay officials of Apoloy, and volunteer nurses from the Negros Oriental High School Batch '94.


Opinion: US and Philippines: How strategic is the partnership?

Opinion/propaganda piece posted to Al-Jazeera (Apr 28): US and Philippines: How strategic is the partnership?

Servility to the US in economic and security matters will not save the Aquino regime from its growing disrepute.

Hyped as a major advance in the strategic partnership of the US and the Philippines, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) highlights the meeting of US President Barack Obama and Philippine President Benigno Aquino in Manila this week.

EDCA circumvents the ban on foreign military bases and troops by the Philippine constitution and allows the US to increase the so-called rotational presence of its troops and build military bases under the guise of authorised temporary facilities in areas of the Philippine armed forces.

The Filipino people's negative sentiments against EDCA are rising. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and other organisations have issued statements denouncing it as a violation of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have called for mass protests against Obama and the Aquino regime.

Filipinos are averse to US military bases as they are reminders of the brutal US conquest of the Philippines. More than 10 percent or 700,000 of the Philippine population were killed in the Filipino-American War of 1899-1902. The carnage continued until 1913, bringing the total of Filipinos killed to 1.5 million.

In more recent history, the Filipinos hatred for the US military bases intensified when they perceived these as the main reason for US support of former President Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorial rule from 1972 to 1986. Thus, the architects of the 1987 Philippine constitution decided to ban foreign military bases, troops and nuclear weapons from Philippine territory.

However, the 1947 US-RP Military Assistance Agreement and 1951 US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty have remained intact. The US military bases were dismantled in 1992 after the Philippine Senate passed the 1991 resolution ending leases for the US military bases. Since then, the US has manoeuvred to circumvent the ban and obtain the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in 1998 to cover the annual joint US-RP military exercises.

The VFA allows the the rotational presence of US military forces and their operations anywhere in the Philippines for any length of time to train and inter-operate with the Philippine armed forces, use their facilities and retain jurisdiction over criminal cases, including capital offences, involving US troops.

EDCA is now widely considered far worse than the VFA as it allows not only unlimited increase in the rotational presence of US military forces but also the building of US military bases and stations in areas of the Philippine armed forces, thus reducing Filipino troops to mere perimeter guards at the Philippines' expense.

The US requires the Philippines to upgrade certain AFP camps and reservations in Palawan and Rizal to US military bases. It is spending P1 billion ($22.4m) to improve naval facilities in Ulugan Bay and Oyster Bay in Palawan to accommodate and service the growing traffic of US warships, planes and combat troops.

Filipinos are further outraged by the Aquino government's promise to the US to amend the Philippine constitution in order to allow foreign investors unlimited ownership of land and businesses. The regime also intends to impress Obama with the capture of alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines as proof of the success of Oplan Bayanihan, a military plan aligned with the US Counterinsurgency Guide.

The Aquino government is painting the EDCA as a major help towards the continuing US-directed war against "terrorism" and to the US pivot to East Asia, which aims to deploy 60 percent of US naval forces and 50 percent of US ground and air forces in the region.

Both US and Philippine authorities tout EDCA as part of the US military's rebalancing which aims to restrain China from threatening neighbouring countries. It also intends to keep the South China sea open to international navigation and commerce.

Protected from China's bullying

Because the Philippines now feels protected from China's bullying this has emboldened the Aquino government to oppose China's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea. The exaggerated image of China as a threat to the security of other countries is used as justification to further entrench US military power in the Philippines and has given the US an opportunity to expand militarily in the Asia-Pacific region.

However, China itself has not helped to allay fears because of its claims to 90 percent of the South China sea, including the high seas. China has also threatened to grab the Philippine exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf to the extent of 90 percent and 100 percent, respectively, in violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The Aquino regime supports the US scheme to pressure China economically by participating actively in the US-instigated Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a mega-free trade agreement which pointedly excludes China, and offering the US and its closest allies 100 percent ownership of land and businesses in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the US maintains a dual policy of cooperation and contention towards China. The US and China maintain close bilateral economic and trade relations under the policy of neoliberal globalisation. Their economic and political relations far outweigh those between the US and the Philippines. The Aquino regime deludes itself by imagining that the US values more its relations with the Philippines than those with China.

The US military pivot to East Asia is not meant to provoke a war with China, but it is calculated to encourage so-called political liberalisation within China, discourage ultranationalist outbursts of the Chinese political leaders and blockade North Korea. The TPPA seeks to pressure China to privatise state-owned enterprises completely and further liberalise the economy in favour of foreign investors.

Servility to the US in economic and security matters will not save the Aquino regime from its growing disrepute for exploitativeness, incompetence, corruption and repression. The Philippines continues to reel from the ever worsening and deepening crisis of global capitalism and the domestic ruling system.

Social discontent is widespread and about to explode in massive protests. Meanwhile, the people's armed movement for national and social liberation is conspicuously advancing with the nationwide guerrilla offensives of the New People's Army.
Jose Maria SisonJose Maria Sison is a professor of political science and author of several books on Philippine and global issues. He is Chairperson of the International League of People's Struggle and Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in peace negotiations with Manila.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Defense deal will help PH protect disputed areas: analysts

From ABS-CBN (Apr 29): Defense deal will help PH protect disputed areas: analysts

MANILA -- Foreign analysts believe that the newly-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the US and the Philippines will benefit the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in protecting areas disputed with China.

According to James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor for IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, and Steven Rood, the country representative for The Asia Foundation, the deal merely formalizes US military activities and operations that have been taking place under the radar here in recent years.

"The US has been in the Philippines...since 2001, and I think we've also seen a lot of activity in terms of port visits like Subic bay throughout the last few years. So I think what it really does is it kind of formalizes what's been going on quietly in the background anyway," Hardy told ANC.

"The main headline event of course has been the signing of the EDCA and that comes both in pursuit of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, but also the earlier Visiting Forces Agreement which is the legal framework for actually having American servicemen on Philippine soil. The idea there is to become much more systematic about this kind of work that is ongoing," Rood said.

Hardy said he believes the agreement is likely to be beneficial to the Philippines' military forces as they try to enforce the country's claims to disputed areas.

"If you look at the ability of the Philippine Armed Forces to protect outlying islands, particularly in the South China Sea of course, then to be honest it's not very well-equipped. So having US assets in the Philippines, which it may be able to share intelligence with for example on what kind of patrol aircraft or ships are going to be moving around the South China Sea, that's gotta help the Philippines until they start doing this Armed Forces modernization program and really buy the equipment that they need to protect the outside, outlying islands in other areas," he said.

US President Barack Obama has come under fire for not being as unequivocal about the defense of the Philippines in its territorial row with China as he was with Japan.

But Rood said comparisons between the mutual defense treaties between the US and Japan and the US and Philippines will show that both documents are essentially the same.

The real difference lies in the nature of the disputed territories themselves, he said.

"It's really the difference in legal status. Nobody disputes that Japan administers the Senkaku Islands. China doesn't like that they do so, but they don't dispute that they do so. It is clear that they are within Japanese jurisdiction. Whereas for many of the land formations in the South China/West Philippine Sea, it's not clear who administers them. And that's why the defense treaty is not automatically going to be involved," Rood explained.


As far as the number of US troops that will rotate through the Philippines now that the EDCA is in place, Rood said it could go up to as many as 2,000 at any given time up from the current 600 that are rotating through areas such as Cebu, Zamboanga, Marawi and Maguindanao.

He noted that the enhanced defense cooperation with the Philippines also provides many benefits for the US military.

"The whole notion of having US facilities in the Philippines gives them a chance to preposition supplies... They don't want to have bases in particular but they do want to have access to forward position supplies. Some of them are going to be humanitarian, some are not, some are going to be much more security-related."

"Secondly, the American troops do gain from training here. I was just up in Subic over the weekend and Aetas up there have been training US troops on jungle survival. It is of benefit to them, gives them another range, another place where they can do this kind of work," he said.

Rood, meanwhile, said China is unlikely to be further antagonized by the signing of the EDCA and its claims to disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea are unlikely to change.


Zambo wants full US support in fight against terrorism

From Solar News (Apr 29): Zambo wants full US support in fight against terrorism

Photo: Solar News / Jorem Garcia

Zamboanga City – Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco has asked the United States government for continued and stronger support for police and military forces in the city in its fight against terrorism.
The call was made in response to a question on what the message of Climaco to US President Barack Obama would be, in line with his state visit to the Philippines.
Climaco said that the US government through the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) stationed here, should provide whatever support and services necessary to win the global fight against terrorism which is notable in this part of the country.
Climaco underscored the vital role played by the police and the military in the fight against terrorism by the US government, thus, the necessity for joint cooperation, patrol and coordination efforts, and supplemental services that can be provided by the US government subject to the provisions of the newly-signed defense agreement between the two governments.
Climaco made the statement after the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) Monday morning between the governments of the United States and the Philippines.
Zamboanga City has hosted the US-JSOTF since 2002 for its joint military exercises under the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Role of US troops should be clear

Meanwhile, Climaco has underscored the importance of knowing the role of US troops under the newly-signed EDCA.
Climaco made the statement in response to a query on a possibility of increased presence based on the new agreement signed between the two countries.
The Zamboanga mayor, however, said that the local government will rely on the Armed Forces of the Philippines to provide the briefing as the agreement was made on the national level.
Climaco vowed to abide by the new defense pact and stressed the good coordination at present between the local government, the Joint Special Operations Task Force, and the Armed Forces in the city.

AFP uses couriers to foil China spies

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 29): AFP uses couriers to foil China spies

The Armed Forces of the Philippines knows China is snooping on it so it has taken countermeasures to protect the country’s military secrets, though stopping short of adopting the Russian strategy of eschewing the Internet and clacking away on old but ever-reliable typewriters to communicate.

In AFP offices handling the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, cell phones are banned and there is no Internet connection. Communication is never sent by e-mail but printed out from computers and hand-delivered.

For good measure, USB ports are not used.

Another countermeasure is speaking in codes or using difficult regional dialects instead of the national language or English.

The first time I met my source for this story, he asked me to keep my cell phone in my bag. The next time we met, he took my phone and put it on the table back side up.

Both were strategies intended to muffle the phone’s speaker.

Aside from foiling the eavesdroppers, the military is also on the lookout for traditional spies, the source said. Some pose as businessmen, vendors or even fishermen, he said.

Traditional spies and communication intercepts may have been used in the Chinese attempt to thwart the Philippine Navy’s resupply mission to the Marine garrison on Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea on March 29.

Mission ‘compromised’

That mission was “compromised,” as there were telltale signs of intercepted communication and traditional spies on the ground, the source said.

“Had the US Navy planes not made low passes over your ship and the Sierra Madre, the China Coast Guard could have been more aggressive in blocking you and kept you from getting to Ayungin Shoal,” the source said, requesting anonymity for lack of authority to talk to reporters about military operational details.

The government fisheries vessel manned by Navy sailors traveled more than 36 hours to Ayungin Shoal to bring a fresh team of Marines to replace the garrison on the BRP Sierra Madre, food supplies and other necessities to sustain the troops for their three-month tour of duty.

The mission also included me and other journalists who were invited by the AFP in an effort to “publicize and internationalize” China’s bullying in the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

It was the first time that the military took journalists on a delicate mission, a deviation from its policy of silence on the territorial dispute and instead referring reporters to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Overdue rotation

The March 29 mission was imperative because the garrison on the Sierra Madre had been there for nearly five months, way beyond the usual tour of duty at Ayungin Shoal where the government grounded the rusting vessel in 1999 to mark Philippine territory after China seized Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef) in 1995.

The China Coast Guard had blocked other resupply missions, limiting the military to aerial drops to resupply the Sierra Madre garrison.

The Inquirer source said three days before the Ayungin mission, an area off Palawan province that the Navy maintains for operations on the Spratly Islands lost all its communication signals, from cell phones to the Internet, even if there were no disruptions at all on the mainland.

The military knows, almost by instinct, who is intercepting the signals after nearly two years of heightened tensions with China over disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.

“We knew the mission was compromised,” the source said.

Also monitored patrolling the disputed territory were four China Coast Guard vessels and two China Navy ships about 18 kilometers away from Ayungin Shoal.

Target vessel

The Chinese also knew which vessel to block, the source said. There were other fishing boats in the area around the time of the mission, but the China Coast Guard did not harass those vessels.

“They knew that your vessel was the one that left the military’s jump-off point. We surmised that they were actually waiting for two Philippine ships, that was why only the CCG (China Coast Guard vessel) 3401 blocked you. It seemed that the other Coast Guard ship was waiting for the other Philippine vessel,” the source said.

The “other Philippine vessel” did not make it to Ayungin Shoal. Halfway through the journey, the shaft of the MV Unnaizah May broke, practically disabling the vessel. The MV Unnaizah May was the resupply vessel that the Chinese Coast Guard chased away on March 9.

The source also said that the “spike in physical and electronic activities” whenever there is a scheduled resupply or troop rotation mission likewise alerts China.

A country spending billions of dollars on defense and security could very well have the most advanced technology for eavesdropping on its rivals for territory in the South China Sea.

Potent countermeasure

But the US Navy aircraft that appeared to be P-8 Poseidons were perhaps the most potent countermeasure against China.

A Navy officer manning the fisheries vessel of the resupply mission said in an interview with ABS-CBN that he found the presence of the Poseidons comforting, knowing they were “our friends.”

Journalists on the Ayungin mission had reason to believe that the Philippine military worked with the US Pacific Command for the March 29 run to the Sierra Madre.

While no one from the military would confirm this, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia was quoted in news reports earlier this month as saying the United States helped in the Ayungin mission. Cuisia, however, did not give details.

Matching interests

The Inquirer source said the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed Monday by the Philippines and the United States showed how “countries behave just like people.”

“People have personal interests. Countries have national interests. It is the national interest of the US to keep the status quo in the region. And we have to protect what is ours. Our interests simply match,” the source said.


‘Ka Roger’ compatriot fails to get writ of habeas corpus

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 29): ‘Ka Roger’ compatriot fails to get writ of habeas corpus

The Court of Appeals has dismissed the petition for writ of habeas corpus filed on behalf of Edward Dimalaluan Lanzanas, who was arrested along with the daughter of the late rebel spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal on March 27, 2014 by agents of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).

In a decision, the CA denied the petition filed by Lanzanas mother, Nimfa, seeking the immediate release of his son from the custody of the AFP.

Lanzanas also known as Rafael de Guzman was arrested last month together with Andrea Rosal, daughter of the late rebel spokesman Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal and Barangay Captain Ruben Gatchalian, in Barangay 169, Caloocan City under arrest warrants for kidnapping murder issued by the Regional Trial Court of Mauban, Quezon.

Rosal was eight months pregnant when she was arrested by elements by authorities.

Lanzanas has been detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMO)-National Capital Region (NCR) Office, Special Intensive Care Area (SICA), Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City.

Lanzanas’ camp insisted that his arrest and detention were illegal since his name was not in the list of names included in the warrant of arrest.
But the CA ruled that the arrest warrant mandated the detention of the person alias “Ka Jomel” (a.k.a. Rafael Arellano de Guzon).

“Said detention order clearly made mention of the name Rafael de Guzman, which petitioner herself would have us believe to be one of the names Edward is known by. By virtue of the foregoing order of the Regional Trial Court of competent jurisdiction, the detention of Edward is undeniably impressed with legal character,” the appellate court said.

“Therefore, petitioner cannot resort to a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus to secure Edward’s release from restraint.”

De Guzman was charged along with Andrea in the kidnapping with murder case pending with the Quezon court.

Gatchalian was slapped with obstruction of justice for harboring Andrea and De Guzman.


Community, AFP, US come together for competition

From DVIDS (Apr 28): Community, AFP, US come together for competition

Community, AFP, US come together for competition

The Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata “Team Balikatan” poses 24 before at the Magayan Festival in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. The members of “Team Balikatan” are part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries. (Photo by U.S. Marine Cpl. Kevin Crist)

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay province, Philippines – Humanitarian civic assistance projects are taking place around the Albay Province, allowing members from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces to positively impact local communities, but those projects are not the only thing strengthening the longstanding bonds and friendships.

Filipinos and Americans came together April 24 for the Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata and basketball games during the Magayon Festival 2014. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest that takes place during the annual festival to determine who can capture the most milk from a coconut in a given time.

“There’s great interaction between the Filipinos and the Americans,” said Philippine Army 1st Lt. Raymond Carbonell, communications officer for the Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force, AFP. “Moments like this provide experience for both sides.”

Seven members from Exercise Balikatan joined together for the festival contest, and several service members formed basketball teams to play with local teams.

“We greatly appreciate the hospitality and friendship we have been given during our stay,” said U.S. Marine Maj. Jason Johnson, deputy commander of JCMOTF, U.S. armed forces.

The basketball game was played in the evening, once the heat of the day had begun to diminish, and the majority of community members around the Tamaoyan Elementary School were able to attend.

The festival and games made a positive and immediate impact in the relationship between the AFP, US and community members that will continue to strengthen and grow even after Balikatan 2014 has come to an end, according to Philippine Navy Capt. Ramon Renales.

“We are capturing the hearts of the people,” said Renales, the commander of the JCMOTF, AFP. “We’re building more than just schools -we’re building a friendship.”


Leftist lawmakers vow to take new PH-US military pact to Supreme Court

From InterAksyon (Apr 29): Leftist lawmakers vow to take new PH-US military pact to Supreme Court

Protests during the Obama visit, 28 April 2014. BERNARD TESTA/InterAksyon.com

Leftist lawmakers on Tuesday vowed to take their fight against the newly-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement to the Supreme Court even as the top leader of Congress said the deal will only serve to fortify existing ones.

"Actually it's just an enhancement of various existing treaties with the US," Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said when asked if he believes the new deal is constitutional.

Belmonte said those planning to raise questions before the high court can do what they want.

EDCA was signed Monday just a few hours before US President Barack Obama arrived in the country.

The agreement will give American forces access to select military facilities in the country.

No guarantee vs nuclear weapons

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said no amount of safeguards against permanent basing or entry of nuclear weapons can ease concerns that the US would abuse the EDCA.

“We all know that these can be circumvented because in reality, the US government is the one calling the shots and not the Aquino administration,” he said.

Accountable if US attacks from PH

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares warned that the Philippine could be held accountable under international law should the US use its military facilities here as a base to attack other countries.

“The US is also expanding its bases in Japan. During the International Alliance of Democratic Lawyers Congress last week, it was made clear by many legal luminaries attending the Congress that the crime of aggression does not only attach to the US but also the country that allows the use of its territory to attack other countries. While we condemn China’s aggressive acts in the West Philippine Sea, we will not tolerate aggressive acts of the US, which will subject the Filipino people to retaliatory attacks by the many enemies of the US,” he said.

Colmenares and his colleagues at the Makabayan bloc said the new deal would usher in the return of the US bases without a treaty and without rent.
“This will practically bring back US military bases in the Philippines without a treaty, without rent, and without limits as the American may use all Philippine military facilities -- an arrangement worse than the Bases Treaty rejected by the Philippine Senate in September 1991,” he said, reiterating what he and his colleagues noted earlier.

Make EDCA public

Colmenares also questioned the “undue haste” in signing the EDCA, even as he asked that the EDCA be made public.

Si Obama nabasa na nya ang agreement, tayong mga ordinaryong Pilipino, wala pang kopya (Obama has already read the agreement, we ordinary Filipinos don’t have a copy yet),” he said.

The same call was made by Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone.

"In the spirit of transparency, the executive should disclose to Congress the contents of the new US-PH military agreement to make sure that it is beneficial to our national interests and does not violate Philippine laws," he said.

Evardone added, "There is a need to strengthen our ties with our military allies in the light of the growing tension with China."

Colmenares said volunteer-lawyers are being gathered to do the preliminary work on the certiorari case Bayan will file before the Supreme Court.

‘Take advantage of new pact’

In separate statement, Valenzuela Representative Sherwin Gatchalian said the government should take advantage of the benefits the country could get from the agreement.

"The government should put more emphasis on the disaster preparedness and response of this agreement,” he said.

“The rainy season is only a month away and we cannot stop nature from creating another Yolanda. All we can do is to prepare for the worst. To do this, we must watch and learn from the US and make the most of what they can offer in terms of disaster response within the boundaries of the EDCA," he added.


NDRRMC chief Eduardo del Rosario quits due to 'health, family reasons'

From InterAksyon (Apr 29): NDRRMC chief Eduardo del Rosario quits due to 'health, family reasons'

File photo of NDRMMC chief Eduardo del Rosario.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) chief Eduardo del Rosario said he had decided to quit his job because of "health and family reasons."

Del Rosario on Tuesday said he had submitted his resignation letter on April 24 thru Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

But it was not yet clear whether President Benigno Aquino III had already accepted Del Rosario's resignation, according to Major Reynaldo Balido, NDDRMC spokesperson. Aquino appointed Del Rosario, a retired Philippine Army general, as the council's executive director on February 4, 2013 replacing Benito Ramos, also a retired general who resigned on February 1, 2013, also due to health and family reasons.

Del Rosario was the commanding general of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division based in Tanay Rizal. He was the head of Task Force Kalihim that conducted the search and retrieval of the remains of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and two pilots on board a Piper Seneca aircraft, which crashed off the shore of Masbate Island on August 18, 2012.


New Navy chief named

From InterAksyon (Apr 29): New Navy chief named

The new Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-command, Rear Admiral Jesus Millan (photo from AFP PIO)

President Benigno Aquino III has named Rear Admiral Jesus Millan as the new flag-officer-in-command of the Philippine Navy.

A member of Philippine Military Academy “Sandigan” Class of 1982, Millian will take over from Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano (PMA ’79) Wednesday at turnover of command ceremonies in Sangley Point, Cavite, home of the Philippine Fleet.

Millan is currently commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao and was former chief of Nava Staff and commander of the Naval Reserve Command.
Sought for reaction, Millan said he was “humbled at the opportunity na binigay sa atin ng ating Pangulo (given to me by our President),” and said he would bare his plans for the Navy “when I formally assume the command of the Philippine Navy.”

Nevertheless, he said he wants to “make the Navy what we would like … ipagmalaki sa buong mundo. ‘Yan ang aking (one we can proudly show off to the world. That is my) direction.”

He also said he would continue the “transformation” of the Navy begun by his predecessors.

Asked what he considers the peak of his career, Millan said it was successfully commanding a vessel, which he called “the culmination” of a Navy officer’s dream.

Napakahirap ng pag-command ng isang barko (It is so difficult to command a ship) ... you have to be in distant places, away from your family, isolated, and you have your responsibility with you to carry out ‘yung mandates natin (our mandates). Despite nu’ng mga (the) limitations we were able to overcome the challenges. ‘Yan ang mahirap ipaliwanag sa mga tao (That is what’s hard to explain to people),” he said.


GALLERY | Activists, police clash on 'Battlefield Kalaw'

From InterAksyon (Apr 29): GALLERY | Activists, police clash on 'Battlefield Kalaw'

Police clashed with activists attempting to march on the US embassy in Manila, turning Kalaw Street alongside the Luneta Park into a battlefield as hundreds of seafarers following up their jobs and other kibitzers cheered from the sidelines.

The activists, from organizations allied with the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan protesting the visit of US President Barack Obama and the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, apparently came prepared for battle, marching behind a screen of improvised shields that spelled the message, “Obama not welcome.”

When it became clear that the phalanx of police from the Regional Public Safety Battalion were not about to let them through to the embassy, the protesters charged but were repelled when a Bureau of Fire Prevention truck trained high-pressure blasts at them with its water cannon.

As the water ran out, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr., ACT party-list Representative Antonio Tinio and former Bayan Muna Representative Taddy Casino negotiated with the police, who agreed to let the activists hold their program.

Eventually, the protesters dispersed marching towards Taft Avenue.

Activists bearing shields reading ‘Obama not welcome’ approach the police line on Kalaw Street.

Activists charge the police ...

… who repel the onslaught with the help of blasts from a water cannon

A defiant activist stands his ground wielding a placard

A worker with a bandaged forehead demands to know who struck him.

Drenched activists raise their fists in defiance

An angry demonstrator points a finger at the police

As the heat of passion dissipates, that of the day intensifies, and both sides seek protection, the police under their shields, activists under a large streamer.


Philippines releases pension for war veterans, retired military personnel

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Apr 29): Philippines releases pension for war veterans, retired military personnel

Almost P10 billion in pension was released by the Department of Budget and Management to the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for war veterans and retired military personnel.

Secretary of Budget and Management Florencio Abad said P7.5 billion of the total amount will benefit some 120,296 AFP pensioners. He said the funding was sourced from the Pension and Gratuity Fund under the 2014 General Appropriations Act.

“This latest release guarantees the timely delivery of regular pension benefits to our retired military personnel for the second quarter of the year. At the same time, we continue our transparency efforts to update, validate, and cleanse our list of beneficiaries so that it’s free of invalid, duplicate, and ghost entries. Our pensioners and their families will therefore receive the benefits due them much more quickly and efficiently, all while we ensure greater accountability in the payment process,” Abad said.

He said some P2.4 billion was also released to 208,458 PVAO veterans to cover old age pensions, death pensions, disability pensions, and total administrative disability pensions for the second quarter of the year.

He said the automation of pension payments is one among several initiatives tapping digital technology to strengthen transparency and accountability in the bureaucracy.

“Before we began clearing the list of pension beneficiaries, we found out that hundreds of millions were going to ghost pensioners or deceased retirees every year. Switching from check to ATM payments nipped these anomalies in the bud,” Abad said.

“More important, however, is the fact that we’re able to give better support to our retired military personnel and our war veterans. Such digitization and cashless initiatives ultimately allow us to deliver public services faster and protect government processes from corruption,” he added.


Philippines shells Abu Sayyaf base

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Apr 29): Philippines shells Abu Sayyaf base

Philippine security forces shelled a jungle encampment of the Abu Sayyaf in the southern province of Sulu forcing militants to flee the assault, officials said on Tuesday.

Marine Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the operation against the Abu Sayyaf is continuing in the town of Patikul, a known stronghold of the militant group linked by authorities to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya.

“Due to its proximity to feeder road and trails, it was also being utilized as a staging and rendezvous area before and after their conduct of atrocities like kidnapping. By employing a well directed mortar fires, the Marines were able to force the Abu Sayyaf to abandon the camp and withdraw towards different directions,” she told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Muyuela said the Monday assault killed a still undetermined number of militants. She said troops have occupied the fortified camp which can accommodate at least 100 people.

“The camp has more or less 50 makeshift huts that can accommodate around 100 bandits.  It has a good water source and the whole area is concealed under a thickly vegetated forest. The camp is heavily fortified with bunkers.”

“Individual foxholes are strategically emplaced and scattered in different defensive positions.  The captured camp was reportedly one of the Abu Sayyaf havens where consolidations, meetings and training of their new and young recruits are being conducted,” she said.

Malaysia foils new intrusion attempt by kidnappers

Malaysia also reported that it foiled a new attempt by kidnappers from the southern Philippines to intrude into Sabah.

Eastern Sabah Security Command Director-General Datuk Mohammad Mentek said the presence of security personnel prevented the intrusion, but it was unclear if the Abu Sayyaf was involved in the latest attempt to cross into the border or if it was connected to the ongoing military operations against the militant group in Sulu.

The Malaysian news agency Bernama reported that the tight security in Sabah prevented the entry of lawless elements through Semporna where the Abu Sayyaf has kidnapped a Chinese tourist Gao Huayun, 29, and a Filipina resort worker Marcy Dayawan, 40, in Singamata Adventures and Reef Resort.

Kuala Lumpur has tagged Abu Sayyaf militants as behind the April 2 raid on the resort. The victims were taken to the Filipino province of Tawi-Tawi before being transferred by boat to the neighboring island of Sulu where they are being held by the Abu Sayyaf under Alhabsi Misaya.

“We are serious about this intrusion attempt and we cannot afford to have another incident after the still unresolved kidnapping case at Singamata resort last April 2 occurring,” Mohammad told Bernama.

He said security forces were still collecting information about the identities of the gunmen. He said Philippine authorities are closely monitoring the situation and location of the two kidnapped victims.

Mohammad, citing intelligence information, said the Chinese victim is in regular communication with her family over ransom deal. The kidnappers were demanding RM36.4 million in ransom for the release of the Shanghai woman.

He said Malaysian security officials were sent to Sulu to work closely with the authorities over there for the safe release of the victim. “We have sent our officers to Jolo Island and working closely with the Philippines intelligence for the safe release of the victim,” he said.

There was no report about the fate of the Filipina victim. Police in Sulu remain silent over the reports, although the Philippine military said troops are searching for the hostages.

Other reports said a Filipina woman, Sugar Diane Buenviaje, is also being held captive by Misaya’s group in Mount Taran in Indanan town. The 33-year old woman, whose family owns Cagayan Enterprises and General Merchandise, was kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi’s Mapun town on February this year. Misaya was also tagged as behind the series of bombings in Sulu in recent years.

The Abu Sayyaf was largely blamed for the daring raid on the posh Pulau Sipadan resort in 2000 where they kidnapped 21 people and ransomed them off to Malaysia and Libya for at least $25 million.

In November last year, the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped a Taiwanese tourist Chang An Wei, 58, after killing her husband Hsu Li Min, 57, in a daring cross-border raid in Sabah’s Pom Pom Island. The woman was eventually released a month later near the village of Liban in Talipao town in Sulu after paying ransom.

The Abu Sayyaf has resorted to ransom kidnappings to raise money for the purchase weapons and fund terror attacks in the Philippines.


Annual Balikatan kicks off in Palawan

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 29): Annual Balikatan kicks off in Palawan

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the U.S. Armed Forces will conduct the 30th Philippines-US Balikatan Exercises in May in various venues, including Palawan.

Exercise Balikatan is an annual bilateral combined training initiated by the governments of the Philippines and the United States.

The official opening ceremony of the exercise this year will be held in Manila on May 5, and will formally close on May 16, Western Command (WESCOM) spokesperson Lt. Cherryl Tindog told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Despite the bilateral exercise still opening next month, Tindog said about a platoon of U.S. troops has already started arriving in Puerto Princesa for a “shoulder-to-shoulder” training with Filipino soldiers from the WESCOM starting April 30 in a series of subject matter exchanges and lectures on various areas of expertise, such as civil military affairs, humanitarian assistance, disaster response, and others.

This year’s Balikatan will focus on maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR), and humanitarian civil assistance (HCA). On May 6, the staff planning exercises will happen at Camp Aguinaldo and at the headquarters of the WESCOM.

Tindog added that this year’s exercises is structured to further develop the AFP in crisis-action planning, enhancing ability to effectively conduct counter-terrorism operations, and promote inter-operability with the U.S. Armed Forces.

The annual shoulder-to-shoulder exercise is consistent with the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the U.S. and the Philippines, which aim to continue mutual commitment to train, share information and provide support to each other.


4,000 MILF family members benefit from IPHO-Maguindanao outreach mission

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 29): 4,000 MILF family members benefit from IPHO-Maguindanao outreach mission
DATU ABDULLAH SANGKI, Maguindanao, April 29 (PNA) -- Over 4,000 individuals, mostly family members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, benefited from a day-long health outreach program in Barangay Kayakaya here conducted Tuesday by province’s Integrated Provincial Health Office.

The village, together with the nearby communities of Mao, Old Maganoy, Malatimon, Kabal and Kayanga, forms part of the sprawling headquarters of the MILF 106th Base Command here headed by Commander Wahid Tundok.

Early on, government and MILF peace brokers inked the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), an inclusive peace settlement paving the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro entity that would replace the old, graft-ridden Autonomour Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) set up.

The CAB is a five-page, 12-point manuscript representing the final peace agreement between the GPH and MILF.

Only recently, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission submitted before President Benigno S. Aquino III the final draft of the Bangsamoro basic law designed to replace the Muslim organic act that created the ARMM.

“This just shows that the government is sincere in bringing back to the mainstream society the MILF members and their families as they are also part of our republic,” said Dr. Tahir Sulaik, IPHO-Maguindanao chief.

Apart from dozens of health workers and nurses, Sulaik brought along with him 10 doctors in the medical-surgical-dental mission here.

“This day alone, we would be conducting prenatal checkup to 107 pregnant women in the area,” he stressed.

Edris Sangki, Kayakaya village chairman, said development is also emerging in the area, with the impending completion of the CAB between government and MILF.

“There is now peace in area. We now live without fear from skirmishes between military and MILF forces,” he beamed.

In addition, Sangki bared a plan by Delinanas, a subsidiary of Del Monte Philippines, to tap 150-hectares of land in his village for the pineapple production by 2015.

He said Delinanas people have initially held talks with him and municipal officials led by Mayor Mariam Mangudadatu over the matter.

“We have to make sure that my co-villagers are healthy as they would be accommodated to work in the Delinanas plantation once it pushes through,” the village chief said.

Sulaik said most prevalent disease they are currently monitoring is measles, which has so far affected 176 constituents in the province since January this year.

Sulaik said the figure is quite alarming considering that the province recorded zero measles cases during the past five years.

He noted IPHO-Maguindanao supply on measles vaccines is slowly running low, considering the dramatic increase in the number of measles cases in the province.

Sulaik said DOH-Manila is yet to launch its nationwide anti-measles campaign by September this year.

“Measles is contagious as it is airborne. It could also be fatal especially to children if not treated well,” he said.


2014 PHL-US Balikatan Exercise to finish school, health center construction on May 13, says US Army project officer

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 29): 2014 PHL-US Balikatan Exercise to finish school, health center construction on May 13, says US Army project officer
The joint Armed Forces of the Philippines-US Armed Forces personnel undertaking the 2014 Balikatan Exercise vowed to finish the construction of schoolbuildings and a health center in Barangay Malobagao and Barangay Doña Mercedez in Guinobatan town on May 13.

Lt. Daina W. Bojorquez, US Army project officer, said they will finish all the projects they are doing in these villages on May 13 so that they can turn them over to the barangay officials the following day, before they leave Albay after the Balikatan Exercise.

In Barangay Malobagao, the group is building a classroom, repairing an old Marcos-type building and the village’s health center.

Belinda Balmaceda, a barangay tanod (volunteer village security officer) and resident of the village, said what the Balikatan group is doing is a big help to their place, especially the health center, which is bigger than the original one.

Bojorquez said the health center is typhoon proof and is expected to last long even during heavy typhoons.

The school being constructed and the classrooms being repaired in Barangay Doña Mercedez will be a great help to the students, especially that the classes will soon open.

American soldiers participating in the exercise were pleased with the warm treatment being given to them by the villagers as they mingle with them daily and even sleep in the place.

The residents had a taste of the boodle fight held during lunch on Tuesday.


Communist’s stronghold in the countryside is crumbling

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 29): Communist’s stronghold in the countryside is crumbling

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan De Oro City -- Twenty four rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered on Monday to the 26th Infantry Battalion of the army’s 4th Infantry in Loreto, Agusan Del Sur, the military reported on Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Leonard B. Gille, acting spokesman of the army’s 4th ID, said the latest surrender of armed NPA rebels only showed that the communist movement in the countryside is gradually crumbling.

He said the latest batch of rebel returnees is composed of three groups that came from three different communist guerilla fronts of the Southern and North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

He said the rebels also turned over a total of 24 firearms and communication materials as follows: one carbine rifle, six shotguns, 12 caliber .38 revolvers, two Springfield sniper rifles, one Bushmaster M4, one caliber .22 rifle, one caliber .22 revolver, and one base radio.

Gille said the latest surrender was the fourth batch of mass surrenders in the army’s 4th Infantry Division in the last six months or the surrender of a total of 168 NPA rebels and 171 firearms.

According to Gille, aside from realizing that the communist movement has exploited them, the NPA rebels, who laid down their arms, also disclosed that they could no longer take the killing of innocent people that oftentimes include their own family members and relatives.

He said that officials of the municipal town of Loreto, especially Mayor Dario E. Otaza, a self-confessed NPA rebel who returned to fold of the law, have been instrumental in the surrender of the rebels last Monday.

Gille said that Otaza promised to rid the town of Loreto of insurgents and NPA rebels in coordination with the military and police.


U.S. President Obama lays wreath at Manila American Cemetery

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 29): U.S. President Obama lays wreath at Manila American Cemetery

United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday paid his respects to the fallen American soldiers who fought in World War II, by laying a wreath at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Upon his arrival at the cemetery, where the remains of thousands of Americans and Filipinos who fought and died during the second World War are buried, President Obama was received by Manila American Cemetery Superintendent Larry Adkison, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Following the ceremony, President Obama was shown around the map rooms by Adkison.

Afterwards, the US leader proceeded to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City for his departure.

President Obama was in Manila on the last leg of his four-nation tour of Asia. He also visited Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia.


U.S. President hails Filipino war veterans

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 29): U.S. President hails Filipino war veterans
United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday hailed Filipino war veterans who fought alongside American forces during World War II.

In his speech before some 300 Filipino and American soldiers at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig, President Obama acknowledged his nation’s “injustice” towards Filipino war veterans, who were denied compensation promised to them by the US government during the war.

“Sadly, the proud service of many of these Filipino veterans was never fully recognized by the United States. Many were denied the compensation they had been promised. It was an injustice,” he said.

Obama said his administration has been working with Congress and other concerned units to correct said wrongdoing.

“We passed a law, reviewed the records, processed claims, and nearly 20,000 Filipino veterans from World War II and their families finally received the compensation they had earned. And it was the right thing to do,” he said.

The US President then honored some of the Filipino war veterans present at the event, among them those who fought in Bataan and Corregidor.

“Some fought in the resistance, including nurse Carolina Garcia Delfin. These veterans are now in their nineties. They are an inspiration to us all, and I’d ask those who can stand to stand or give a wave so that we can all salute their service,” he said to a round of applause and standing ovation from the crowd.

He lauded the heroism of the war veterans, saying that their struggle “brought out the best in the Filipino character in the face of adversity and served as a beacon to freedom loving peoples everywhere.”Before leaving, he had a brief opportunity to shake hands with several veterans and soldiers.

After the event, President Obama paid his respects at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, also in Fort Bonifacio. It is the resting place of Americans and Filipinos who fought in the war.

“These Americans and Filipinos rest in peace as they stood in war -- side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, balikatan,” he said.


Millan appointed as new Philippine Navy chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 29): Millan appointed as new Philippine Navy chief

Rear Admiral Jesus C. Millan was appointed to replace Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano who will be retiring April 30 on the mandatory retirement age of 56.

This was revealed by Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.

Alano's scheduled retirement date is May 1 but he decided to retire a day early.

Millan is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1982.

He has served in the PN in different administrative and operational capacities.

Millan currently leads Naval Forces Western Mindanao and served as Chief of Naval Staff and Naval Reserve Command head.

He is also a recipient of various military awards, including the Distinguished Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Star, and Bronze Cross Medals, among others.


MV-22B 'Osprey' not a first time visitor in PHL aerospace

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 29): MV-22B 'Osprey' not a first time visitor in PHL aerospace

The odd-looking aircraft, the MV-22B "Opsrey", seen escorting US President Barack Obama's "Marine One" helicopter during his visit to Malacanang, is not a first time visitor in Philippine airspace.

The "Osprey" had its Philippine debut during "Balikatan 2013" which started last April 5 to 17.

Aside from this, the aircraft played a major role in early part of the relief stage for the victims of Supertyphoon "Yolanda" last Nov. 8.

The MV-22Bs is world's first-ever tilt-rotor aircraft.

The "Osprey" also features both a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability.

It is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.

The MV-22B originated from the United States Department of Defense joint-service vertical take-off/landing experimental (JVX) aircraft program started in 1981.

The team of Bell Helicopter and Boeing Helicopters was awarded a development contract in 1983 for the tiltrotor aircraft.

The Bell Boeing team jointly produce the aircraft.

The MV-22 first flew in 1989, and began flight testing and design alterations; the complexity and difficulties of being the first tiltrotor intended for military service in the world led to many years of development.

The United States Marine Corps began crew training for the "Osprey" in 2000, and fielded it in 2007; it is supplementing and will eventually replace their CH-46 "Sea Knights".

The MV-22B's other operator, the US Air Force, fielded their version of the tiltrotor in 2009.

Since entering service with the US Marine Corps and Air Force, the aircraft has been deployed in both combat and rescue operations over Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.


New Navy chief 'humbled' by appointment

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 29): New Navy chief 'humbled' by appointment

Rear Admiral Jesus Millan, the Philippine Navy (PN)'s newest flag-officer-in-command, on Tuesday said that he was "humbled" by his appointment.

"I am humbled with the opportunity na binigay sa atin ng ating Pangulo (with the chance given to me by the President)," he added.

Millan's assumption-of-command will take place at Naval Base Heracleo Alano in Cavite City Wednesday afternoon.

He replaces Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano who will be stepping down after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

"We will continue performing our contingent mission," when asked on how he plans to run the PN.

He also pledge to do his best to make the Navy a service which Filipinos can be proud of.

Before being named as the new PN chief, Millan was Naval Forces Western Mindanao commander. Prior to that, he was assigned also as the Navy's Chief of Naval Staff.

Meanwhile, PN spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic described Millan as "a well rounded naval officer who gained a lot of experience throughout his career, very much accepted by the officers and civilian personnel of the navy, and very well known in the ranks."

Millan also commanded BRP Pangasinan (PS-31), BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36), two patrol gunboats aside from heading the Naval Reserve Command and Naval Air Group, he added.


Remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama at Fort Bonifacio

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 29): Remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama at Fort Bonifacio

"Kumusta kayo. It is great to be here at Fort Bonifacio. Vice President Binay, distinguished guests: It’s an honor to be here with our outstanding allies -- the leaders and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. And we’re joined by men and women who stand tall and proud to wear the uniform of the United States of America. And let me also welcome all our Filipino friends.

Now, I’m not going to give a long speech, because it’s hot and people are in uniform. I hope you don’t mind me not wearing my jacket. And I also want to make sure that I have some time to shake some hands.

But I’m here in the Philippines to reaffirm the enduring alliance between our two countries. I thank President Aquino for his partnership and the deeper ties that we forged yesterday. I’m especially proud to be here as we remember one of the defining moments of our shared history -- the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Leyte during World War II and the beginning of the liberation of the Philippines.

Right after this, I’ll pay my respects at the American cemetery here in Manila -- the final resting place of so many Americans and Filipinos who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of this country in that war. These Americans and Filipinos rest in peace as they stood in war -- side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder -- balikatan.

Together, Filipinos and Americans put up a heroic defense, at Bataan and Corregidor. Together, they endured the agony of the death marches and the horror of the prisoner-of-war camps. Many never made it out. In those years of occupation, Filipino resistance fighters kept up the struggle. And hundreds of thousands of Filipinos fought under the American flag.

And sadly, the proud service of many of these Filipino veterans was never fully recognized by the United States. Many were denied the compensation they had been promised. It was an injustice. So in recent years, my administration, working with Congress and others, have worked to right this wrong. We passed a law, reviewed the records, processed claims, and nearly 20,000 Filipino veterans from World War II and their families finally received the compensation they had earned. And it was the right thing to do.

What’s been written about Bataan could be said of their entire generation: 'The loss of life was grievous, and hardly a Filipino family was untouched by the tragedy. But the heroic struggle brought out the best in the Filipino character in the face of adversity and served as a beacon to freedom loving peoples everywhere.'

We are truly honored to have some of these extraordinary veterans here with us today. Among them are men who fought at Bataan and Corregidor, and a survivor of those hellish prisoner-of-war camps. Some fought in the resistance, including nurse Carolina Garcia Delfin. These veterans are now in their nineties. They are an inspiration to us all, and I’d ask those who can stand to stand or give a wave so that we can all salute their service.

The spirit of these veterans -- their strength, their solidarity -- I see it in you as well when you train and exercise together to stay ready for the future, when our special forces -- some of you here today -- advise and assist our Filipino partners in their fight against terrorism, and when you respond to crises together, as you did after 'Yolanda'. Along with your civilian partners, you rushed into the disaster zone, pulled people from the rubble, delivered food and medicine. You showed what friends can do when we take care of each other.

These are the kinds of missions we face today.

Yesterday, President Aquino and I agreed to begin a new chapter in our alliance. And under our new agreement, American forces can begin rotating through Filipino airfields and ports. We’ll train and exercise together more to bring our militaries even closer, and to support your efforts to strengthen your Armed Forces. We’ll improve our ability to respond even faster to disasters like 'Yolanda'. Today, I thank the people of the Philippines for welcoming our service members as your friends and partners.

Deepening our alliance is part of our broader vision for the Asia-Pacific. We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace, and to have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected. We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved and commerce must not be impeded. We believe that disputes must be resolved peacefully and not by intimidation or force. That’s what our nations stand for. That’s the future we’re working for. And that’s why your service is so important.

Let me be absolutely clear. For more than 60 years, the United States and the Philippines have been bound by a mutual defense treaty. And this treaty means our two nations pledge -- and I’m quoting -- our 'common determination to defend themselves against external armed attacks, so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone.'

In other words, our commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad and the United States will keep that commitment, because allies never stand alone.

In closing, I want to leave you with an incredible story that captures the strength of our alliance. We all know about the massive international response after 'Yolanda'. What few people realize is that it started all with a single aircraft carrying a handful of Filipino and American troops and civilians. The storm hit land that Friday. The very next morning, the first aircraft took off -- a Philippine C-130 carrying Captain Roy Trinidad, a Philippine Navy SEAL; Colonel Mike Wylie, United States Marines; and Major George Apalisok, U.S. Air Force.

Just hours after the storm passed, with Tacloban devastated, they landed at the airport. And the next day, they were joined by others, including Army Major Leo Liebreich. In the days that followed, they worked together -- Filipinos and Americans -- setting up a medical station, clearing debris from the runway, reopening that airport. Filipino soldiers unloading aid from American cargo aircraft; American troops loading supplies onto Filipino helicopters. And when all the cargo was off those aircraft, our troops worked together to help local residents aboard so that they could be evacuated to safety. And over and over, those grateful Filipinos responded with a simple word -- salamat.

There, in the ruin, men like these worked around the clock, day after day. And at night they’d sleep on boards for cots, in a damaged building with only half a roof. 'It rained on some nights, and we got a little wet,' said George, 'but nobody complained.' 'We’ve been training together for many years,' he said -- 'we worked as a team.' And because of individuals like these, thousands were evacuated to safety, and what started with a few men on that first day became a global relief effort that saved countless lives.

Roy, the Philippine Navy SEAL -- George, Mike, Leo -- they are here today. George also happens to be a proud Filipino-American. I want them to stand again and accept our thanks. We are proud of their outstanding service.

There’s a connection between our proud veterans from World War II and our men and women serving today -- bound across the generations by the spirit of our alliance, Filipinos and Americans standing together, shoulder-to-shoulder, balikatan.

On behalf of the American people, thank you all for your service. Thank you for making us so proud. To the Americans here, I am never prouder than being able to stand before you as your Commander-in-Chief. To our Filipino Armed Forces -- thank you for being such an outstanding ally. Together, you are helping to secure the prosperity and peace of both our nations.

God bless you. God bless the Republic of the Philippines. God bless the United States of America. And God bless the alliance between our great nations. Thank you."