Sunday, May 11, 2014

DVIDS: Philippine, US military medical professionals exchange best first aid practices

From DVIDS (May 10): Philippine, US military medical professionals exchange best first aid practices

Philippine, US military medical professionals exchange best first aid practices
Philippine Marines and a U.S. Navy Corpsman prepare to bandage a patient during a simulated casualty exercise during combat lifesaver training at Crow Valley, Philippines, May 8, 2014, during Balikatan 2014. The training was designed for non-medical personnel and developed the skills necessary to administer first aid in a field environment. Balikatan is an annual training exercise that strengthens the interoperability between the armed forces of the Philippines and U.S. military in their commitment to regional security and stability, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew Sissel/Released)

CROW VALLEY, Philippines – Philippine and U.S. Marines exchanged combat medical techniques during a bilateral exchange of best practices May 8, 2014, for Balikatan 2014.

The Marines from both nations taught each other how to manage bleeding, splint broken limbs, apply occlusive dressings, administer IVs and triage patients in their own ways during the all-day event.

Philippine Marine Master Sgt. Jesus D. De Guia, a corpsman with 7th Marine Brigade, said the bilateral training benefited both nations.

“It's a sharing of ideas. We are able to help each other in terms of knowledge. We learn from them and they learn from us,” De Guia said. “It's a great opportunity for the guys to be training side-by-side with the U.S. Marine Corps.”

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jerween R. Viola, who is assigned to 3rd Medical Battalion, said Filipinos, like De Guia, taught him to be a better medic.

“I learned a lot from them, especially adapting and overcoming,” Viola said. “They taught me how to use things we don't have in our bags: bamboo sticks, plywood, cardboard boxes ... plentiful resources.”

Viola said cardboard boxes can be used for splinting material, and bamboo sticks can be used to make an improvised litter.

“Training with the Filipino Marines is very fulfilling,” he said.

Balikatan is an annual training exercise that strengthens the interoperability between the armed forces of the Philippines and U.S. military in their commitment to regional security and stability, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

DVIDS: PH, US Marines practice ship-to-shore landings

From DVIDS (May 11): PH, US Marines practice ship-to-shore landings

PH, US Marines practice ship-to-shore landings

Philippine and U.S. Marines conduct an amphibious landing exercise at the Naval Education and Training Command here May 9. The training evolution, as part of Balikatan 2014, aimed at enhancing interoperability and strengthening the Philippine-U.S. relationship.

SAN ANTONIO, Philippines – Doing what they do best, a group of Marines from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. stormed a beach during a company-level combined amphibious boat landing exercise at the Naval Education Training Center here May 9 as part of the ongoing training exercise Balikatan 2014.

In line with their amphibious nature, the Philippine Marine Special Operations Platoon 2, Marine Battalion Landing Team 2, and U.S. Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion crept hastily from the Philippine Navy ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz to their beach landing site during the raid, which was aimed at enhancing their interoperability.

“This amphibious raid is a part of the bilateral training,” said Philippine Marine 1st Lt. Patrick Albano, commanding officer of the 62nd Marine Component. “It is the Marines’ primary capability to come from a ship and go to the shore.”

The two forces kicked off their training by boarding the AFP Navy ship. Then a team of U.S. reconnaissance forces conducted what is known as a “hasty beach report,” where a handful of Marines make an initial approach to the coastline on a combat raiding rubber craft.
“They’ll check out the beach to make sure it’s suitable for the [Philippines’] small unit riverine craft,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Jeremy Scheier, company commander of Company A. “Then they’ll link back up, pass the beach report to (the forces still on the ship).”

Once the teams confirmed that the beach could be used for landing, the two small unit riverine craft and three combat raiding rubber craft landed and conducted an assault on their objective.
These types of landings can be used for any range of follow on operations, including humanitarian and disaster response. Despite both teams being experts in the landing, the importance of the exercise was to enhance familiarization between the Philippine-U.S. team.

“The big thing is relationship building and (gaining) familiarization with each other,” said Scheier. “It familiarizes the U.S. side of the operation with the Filipino side of the operation. So if something comes down that’s time sensitive, when we actually have to bring aid to people, it may not be the first time we’re operating together. It allows us to develop a common starting point for follow on (operations).”

Many training events similar to these landings are practiced during Balikatan, an annual bilateral training exercise between the Philippine and the U.S. military aimed, not only at increasing military-to-military interoperability, but also at strengthening the Philippine-U.S. relationship.

AFP to sue rebels for using human shield

From the Sun Star-Davao (May 10): AFP to sue rebels for using human shield

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is determined to file charges against communist rebels who allegedly used 39 miners, including four children, as human shields against pursuing troops last week.

Army's 100st Brigade Commander Colonel Elmer Quiros said the AFP is set to file charges before the provincial prosecutor's office of Compostela Valley for using citizens as human shields against the government troops and violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) against the rebels belonging to the NPA Guerilla Front 2 and Pulang Bagani Command 6 this week.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Logico, commander of the Army's 66th Infantry Battalion, earlier said about 80 rebels prevented 39 miners, including four children, from leaving the mining site at Sitio Tabon in Barangay Panamin in Mabini town of Compostela Valley last Saturday, to stop the troops from capturing them.

Logico said hostage-taking was confirmed at 10:17 a.m. when Barangay Mahayahay chief Juanito Torcende and his councilman Alejandro Hoylar went to their detachment and informed them on the matter.

He said the troops with the 71st Infantry Battalion were able to corner the rebels at Sitio Tabon in Panamin.

According to the civilians, they were made to sign a logbook and were disallowed to leave the village. They were even asked to carry things and assist the wounded NPA rebels when they were still held as hostages.

The 39 miners were already released last Sunday and Monday after Torcende negotiated with the communist rebels for the safe release of the miners.

But Daniel Ibarra, spokesperson for NPA's Comval-Davao Gulf Sub-regional Command, denied holding the 39 miners.

Ibarra said the NPA has not taken hostages as maliciously reported by the members of the AFP.

MILF: Mlang Municipal Government holds dialogue on CAB

Posted to the MILF Website (May 11): Mlang Municipal Government holds dialogue on CAB

The Municipal government of Mlang in North Cotabato held peace dialogue with stakeholders on April 6 at the municipal hall building, and the dialogue anchored on the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) where approximately 100 people attended including LGU officials and employees, members of Christian Religious Groups, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The program opened with du’a led by Ust. Abdulmanap Alang and Pastor Dalisay followed by a welcome address by Vice Mayor Hon. Atty. Russell Abonado. In his message, he wished that the Bangsamoro Government will guarantee democratic participations among common people.

Datu Mando “Manny”  Pedtamanan, a third termer Municipal Councilor  of Kabacan and now a member of the Peace and Order Committee of the Province of North Cotabato, expressed gratitude to LGU officials headed by Mayor Joselito Piñol, to Vice Mayor Abonado, the barangay chairmen, the religious sector and the academe for the first ever dialogue on Bangsamoro issue held in Mlang, North Cotabato. 

Hon. Mayor Joselito Peñol said that, “I never wanted to be a bad example for the next generation’s history and I salute the GPH- MILF Peace Panels for signing the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) and CAB especially the Annex on Normalization.”  “The LGU of Mlang now understands the inclusiveness of the Bangsamoro Government.

Datu Jabib Guiabar, Local Monitoring Team of the Province of Cotabato said that, “Peace and development could be achieved in every undertaking by way of communicating the value of peace.” He conveyed his congratulations to the attendees for participating in the activity where they were able to understand the CAB.

Lt. Col. Donald Gumiran, the 7IB Base Commander of the Philippines Army told his fellow participants to push forward the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). And he added, “As a soldier we will extend our repressive action anytime at any one or group that may spoil the peace process much more if needed by every Filipino in the region.

Prof. Esmael A. Abdula, BLMI Steering Committee Member, CMM Chairman and KDFI Senior Consultant, the invited resource person delved on the Bangsamoro new political entity and discussed thoroughly the FAB, CAB and the four annexes. He told the participants that the CAB is not for the MILF alone but it is for every peace loving people in the Bangsamoro and Mindanao in general. He further said that, “Moros that reside outside of the territory will also benefit from the resources of the new region”.

Prof. Abdula expressed his appreciation and recognition of the gesture of Mayor Piñol in coming up with the dialogue. He also cited Datu Manny Pidtamanan, Hon. Mohammad Datu Killy Antao Al-hadj (1st District Board Member of North Cotabato) and Mads Timpolok for initiating the very significant and valuable peace dialogue.

On his part, Moidjoddin K. Talusob, Executive Director of KDFI also recognized the peaceful co-existence of Moros and Christians in the locality and their support to the peace initiatives of the government. He lauded the efforts of Mayor Piñol and members of the sangguniang bayan (municipal council) in organizing the dialogue.

He also added that the CAB clearly defined transitional justice and reconciliation among the tri-people of Bangsamoro and expects the dawning of development for Muslims, Christians and the indigenous people under the new region, if Allah’s will.

At the end of the dialogue the participants asked Prof. Abdula to conduct another round of similar program on CAB intended for Muslims and Christian residents of Mlang.

MILF: Pagalungan residents join peace rally for enactment of BBL

From the MILF Website (May 11): Pagalungan residents join peace rally for enactment of BBL

A large number of residents from Pagalungan, Maguindanao, unified and cohesively participated in the mass rally held last May 4, 2014 at Pikit Municipal Plaza appealing to the Philippine Congress to fast track the deliberation and enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). They marched from Pagalungan Municipal hall to Pikit Plaza, carrying streamers containing various calls addressed to Congress.

Aside from their appeal for enactment of the BBL, the rally was also in support to the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) signed on March 27, 2014 at the Kalayaan Ground of Malacanang Palace, Manila between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Panel Chairs Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal, respectively.

When asked about the significance of the gathering, Datu Ali Simpal, head of the rallyists, said ”This rally is very important to us Bangsamoro people, not only for Pagalungan residents but also to all inhabitants of Mindanao because  this is a proof that we are one  and we are peace loving people. We want to show to the GPH and the international community our solidarity in our quest for lasting peace, sustainable development in our homeland for our children and grandchildren to enjoy with”. “Our strong call is for Congress of the Philippines to pass the BBL for the sake of real peace in Mindanao”, Mr. Simpal added. Other calls written on the streamers of participants were: “Congress, pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law without delay for the sake of peace in Mindanao” and “Congress Approve the Basic Law”.

The participants strongly believe that real peace can be achieved through a ministerial form of government for Bangsamoro as envisioned and contained in the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro (FAB).

According to Ustadz Abubakar, one of the organizers, “Joining the rally is a form of struggle and whoever participates can achieve unity, mercy, blessings and peace and the most important reward is “PARADISE” after death or in the DAY “HEREAFTER”, as promised by Allah S.W.T., in the Holy Qur’an.

Pagalungan is widely known as a historic municipality in Maguindanao. It is where the late Governor of the Empire Province of Cotabato, Datu Udtog Matalam Sr. was born and he was the founder of the Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM), who declared total independence for Mindanao in the 60’s. The 1st Bangsamoro Senator late Datu Salipada K. Pendatun was also born in this place and the founder of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was the late Shiekh Salamat Hashim was also born in this municipality. Like other places in Mindanao where brave and fierce Moro fighters fought against colonialism and oppression and perished in the process, Pagalungan is a hometown of heroic Moros and martyrs.

CPP: Demand revelation of complete Napoles list! Press with the complete abolition of the pork barrel system!

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (May 11): Demand revelation of complete Napoles list! Press with the complete abolition of the pork barrel system!

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) supports the Filipino people’s demand for the full revelation of the complete list of government officials and personages who have transacted over the past years with Janet Lim-Napoles in the scam to pocket hundreds of millions of pesos under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

At the same time, the CPP reiterates the people’s demand for the abolition of the entire pork barrel system, especially the presidential pork barrel—the P150 billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)—that is being used by Aquino to perpetuate the corrupt system of cacique political patronage and ensure that members of congress and local government officials remain under his political sway.

Investigations since last year have pointed out to a large-scale scam involving scores of senators and congressmen who have released millions of pesos under their PDAF to Napoles’ fake non-government organizations with the promise of pocketing 40-60% of the funds. The Napoles scam has been going on for more than ten years and has involved people from both the political opposition and the ruling Aquino clique. It is estimated that the Napoles PDAF scam is just one of several big-scale scams involving the pork barrel.

The Aquino regime’s plan was to expose the Napoles scam in order to launch a political campaign against the three main oppositionists in the Philippine senate, including those believed to be challengers in the 2016 elections. In mid-2013, it came up with an audit report centering on the involvement of those senators in the Napoles scam. It would not take long, however, for the pork barrel issue to blow up in Aquino’s face and expose how Aquino himself has been using the PDAF, as well as the DAP, stoking large-scale mass protests last year.

Amid the public outcry, Napoles made arrangements with key government officials to be received inside Malacañang and “surrender” to Aquino himself, who later would accompany her to the main police headquarters and ensure arrangements for her detention inside a police camp in Laguna.
Despite overwhelming evidence, Napoles has maintained innocence and refused to divulge any information in public hearings conducted by the senate. On the other hand, the Aquino regime continues to provide her with special accommodations. Since March, she has been allowed to stay in the hospital, even long after undergoing a medical procedure, without legal protestation by government lawyers.

The said list of pork barrel officials was first drawn up by Napoles several weeks ago when Aquino’s officials, specifically the justice secretary, declared publicly that she is keen on getting Napoles as a state witness against the opposition senators who are the principal accused in the plunder cases being drawn up by the regime.

Napoles, however, subsequently came up with a list which revealed names including key officials of the Aquino regime, whom she claims are involved in the multibillion peso scam. It is apparent that Napoles’ objective is to use the list, which she has leaked to the media but which she has yet to sign or swear by, to strengthen her bargaining position in order to press for more concessions from the government in exchange for limiting her testimony against Aquino’s rivals.

Included in the Napoles list are Aquino’s budget secretary, agriculture secretary, the president of the senate and several key pro-Aquino senators and scores of congressmen. Despite having personally received a copy of the list three weeks ago, Aquino’s justice secretary has yet to reveal its contents to the public, claiming it has yet to be verified. Clearly, though, Malacañang is still busy negotiating with Napoles in order to modify the list and make it hew to the Aquino regime’s political agenda.

The Filipino people protest the efforts of the Aquino regime to cover up or conceal the entire extent of the pork barrel scam and protect its political allies. The Filipino people call for the revelation of the unaltered and unsanitized Napoles list.

They demand that all government officials involved in the scam perpetrated by Janet Lim-Napoles be charged and punished accordingly. The Filipino people are extremely incensed that corrupt officials continue to enrich themselves by plundering public funds in the face of massive budget cuts for social spending resulting in the rapid deterioration of education, public health and other government services.

The Filipino people demand an end to the corrupt pork barrel system. This system did not end with the Supreme Court resolution declaring the PDAF as “unconstitutional.” There remains the issue of the presidential pork barrel, the DAP, which Aquino continues to use according to his discretion in order to push his agenda in the Senate, Congress or local government. It is feared that the DAP has been and will be used by Aquino to rush the resolutions pushing for the amendment of the 1987 Philippine constitution to make it consistent with the demands of the US for the further liberalization of the Philippine economy.

The Filipino people demand an end to the bureaucrat capitalist system under the rule of the big landlords and big compradors. Under this system, the Aquino regime has perpetuated the use of state power in order to serve the class and familial interests of the ruling clique. Beside the PDAF and the DAP, the Aquino regime has made use of the Public-Private Partnership Program to further enrich and gain the political support of the biggest oligarchs and their foreign partners.

The demand to put an end to widespread corruption continues to be amplified in the growing clamor to oust the puppet, mendacious, corrupt and brutal Aquino regime.

AFP hit for using ‘fall guys’ in catching reds

From the Daily Tribune (May 11): AFP hit for using ‘fall guys’ in catching reds

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate yesterday hit the systematic effort of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of using “fall guys” in running after the supposed leaders of the underground communist movement.

Zarate cited the May 2, 2014 abduction and illegal detention of activist Romeo “Ging” Rivera, a member of the anti-mining Tampakan Panalipdan (Protect Tampakan), a group that has been vigorously opposing the presence of the proposed open-pit mining site of Xstrata’s Sagittarius Mines Inc. in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Last May 2, Rivera’s family reported that he was forcibly taken by armed men from their residence in Koronadal, South Cotabato.

However, the military subsequently presented and claimed him as one Felix Armodia, an alleged ranking NPA leader operating in the areas of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Davao del Sur, who was allegedly “arrested” during a military operation in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

“This ‘fall guy’ trick used by the AFP is highly condemnable. This was used during the 2006 enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, who was also abducted by military operatives in a mall in Quezon City. This is also the same pattern used with the illegal arrest of security guard Rolly Panesa,” Zarate said.

In October 2012, Panesa, an innocent security guard, was arrested and presented by the AFP as one Benjamin Mendoza, a supposed ranking CPP leader with a P5.6 million reward on his head.

However, on Aug. 27, 2013, the Court of Appeals ordered Panesa’s release following a habeas corpus petition filed by his family.

“Ironically, despite the court’s ruling that Panesa is not Mendoza, the already claimed and paid bounty is yet to be returned by the AFP,” Zarate said.

“This is an old condemnable trick of the security forces: arresting innocent civilians and conveniently presenting them as leaders of the underground movement,” Zarate said.

“First, they will vilify critics of the regime and even ordinary citizens as leaders of the CPP-NPA-NDF, and then they will be subjected to surveillance, harassment, illegal arrests or even ‘neutralization’ by being victims of enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings,” the solon said.

“Congress must investigate this and craft possible law that will put an end to this despicable practice,” he stressed.....

PHL-US Balikatan Exercise 2014 members in Albay hold medical mission in Tacloban City village

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): PHL-US Balikatan Exercise 2014 members in Albay hold medical mission in Tacloban City village

Members of the Balikatan Exercise 2014 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, United States Air Force and Australian Armed Forces presently doing humanitarian mission in Albay, joined by Korean Armed Forces, flew to Tacloban City on Saturday for a medical and civic assistance projects in Barangay 88 or San Jose in that city.

The group, joined by media men from Albay, including the Philippine News Agency, arrived at the Tacloban Airport at about 8:30 a.m. Saturday on board a C-130 from Clark Field that picked them up at the Legazpi Airport.

Wasting no time, the group immediately proceeded to the village for the mission named Humanitarian and Civic Assistance Cooperative Health Engagement.

In a simple ceremony held at the Fisherman’s Village, Maj. Gen. Emeraldo Magnaye of the AFP and Brig. Gen. Niel Nelson, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Logistics Group, gave messages before the local government officials of the city and the village.

Barangay Capt. Emelita Montalban of Barangay 88 (San Jose), Tacloban City, and lawyer Irene Chui, executive assistant of City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, thanked the visiting Balikatan group for making their place a part of the humanitarian mission under the Balikatan Exercise 2014.

The group conducted a Read-Along session, drawing and painting, classic games, basketball and movie showing, giving temporary relief and entertainment for the residents, who were hard hit by the super typhoon “Yolanda”last November.

The Balikatan group had 10 doctors and three veterinarians who vaccinated the dogs of the residents.

The group rendered medical services to the residents of the village and neighboring barangays and left the excess medicines to the village officials.

Chui sadly recalled the devastation caused by "Yolanda" that killed thousands of people, destroyed houses and brought down the city's economy.

Though tired, members of the Balikatan headed back home to Albay in the afternoon and retired in the evening with smiles on their faces.

Pama replaces Del Rosario at NDRRMC helm

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): Pama replaces Del Rosario at NDRRMC helm

Former Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Alexander Pama was appointed to replace outgoing National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Eduardo Del Rosario who announced his resignation due to health reasons some weeks ago.

This was confirmed by Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez Sunday.

He added that a "office turnover" will be taking place Monday.

This will be a very simple ceremony, the DND spokesperson stressed.

"Upon the submission of (the) resignation (letter) filed by Undersecretary Del Rosario due to health reasons, we forwarded this to the President and the President has accepted it, the Secretary (DND chief Voltaire Gazmin) recommended (the) acceptance of the resignation and Vice Admiral Pama was appointed to replace Undersecretary Del Rosario," Galvez added.

He added that Pama was selected due to his vast experience at the military and defense sectors.

"We view Pama to be very capable with his experience being the chief of our Navy and he was also former chief of staff of then (DND) Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and was also exposed to various events during that time which include dealing with 'Ondoy'," he concluded.

Retiring AFP official distributes Spiritual Fitness Handbook for soldiers

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): Retiring AFP official distributes Spiritual Fitness Handbook for soldiers

Outgoing Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vice chief of staff Lt. Gen. Alan R. Luga will don his military uniform for the last time on Monday after 33 years in the active service but will leave a legacy to the institution he loves so dearly -- a handbook he wrote on the importance of spiritual fitness that enabled him to come out alive unscathed in all combats he had through prayers and faith in God.

The copies of hardbound 44-page, 3-inch by 4-inch Spiritual Fitness Handbook, were distributed during the testimonial review in his honor tendered by his mother unit, the Philippine Army, in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City last Friday.

During the ceremony, Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri, Army commanding general, presented to Luga various awards for the latter’s accomplishments in his more than three decades in the military service. Assisting Iriberri was Col. Bienvenido R. Datuin Jr., assistant chief of staff for personnel (G-1).

Iriberri praised Luga for his dedication to his sworn duty to defend the country in times of trouble.

As a young officer, Luga saw extensive action during the Mindanao uprising by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and later by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

He was also active in the government’s anti-insurgency campaign against the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Luzon.

Luga attributed his success in his military career, particularly coming out unscathed during combat operations, to God’s Almighty power.

On Monday, AFP chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista will give a testimonial dinner for Luga in Camp Aguinaldo.

There is no replacement yet for the post vacated by Luga but President Benigno S. Aquino III is expected to announce the new AFP vice chief of staff when he returns from Myanmar where he is attending a conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders.

In his handbook, Luga cites "a Christian perspective for soldiers and families."

A devout Christian, Luga said that it was his faith in God that gave him the courage to lead in in assaulting rebel strongholds in Mindanao, particularly in Dinaig, Maguindanao as platoon leader of the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion (IB).

Before going to battle, Luga never forgot to pray for protection not only for himself but all the men under him.

He related how he survived unscathed in seven major battles against terror groups and criminal elements in Mindanao in 1997 and 1998.

The three-star general, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1981, cited the importance of the comprehensive fitness of the soldiers and their respective families.

“To increase the post-adversity resilience of soldiers and their families, they must develop strength in five key domains that together make up the whole person,” he said.

These five domains are physical: fitness, strength, endurance and flexibility gained through exercise and nutrition; emotional: optimistic attitude, demonstrating self-control, stamina and good character in choices, actions; social: having trusted, valued relationships that are personally fulfilling and foster good communication; family: part of a family unit that is safe, supportive, loving, and providing a healthy and secure environment; and spiritual: strong beliefs, principles and values sustaining a person beyond all other potential sources of strength.

On the spiritual battle drills, Luga said that Bible study greatly helps because "God’s word provides you with spiritual food, insight and safety."

He said there are six ways to take the words of God: hear, read, study, memorize, meditate and integrate into daily life, adding that “if you read 15 to 20 minutes each day, you can cover the entire Bible in one year.”

For protection, he recommended to pray daily Psalm 91 which is being considered as a soldier’s prayer.

The Spiritual Fitness Handbook also gives pointers on how to prepare for spiritual warfare before and during deployment.

There is also the topic on advanced spiritual fitness on “how to be filled (controlled, empowered and guided) by the Holy Spirit.”

There are lots to be learned by reading this spiritual handbook that will make soldiers the Soldiers for Christ.

The Spiritual Fitness Handbook is undoubtedly Gen. Luga's humble contribution to spread the Words of God.

PN still to verify presence of Chinese warships off Panatag Shoal

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): PN still to verify presence of Chinese warships off Panatag Shoal

The Philippine Navy (PN) is yet to confirm the presence of two Chinese warships off Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal despite an earlier sighting report by a MH-60 helicopter flying-off the USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) last week.

"We are still validating that report and veracity of the information (provided by the USS Blue Ridge and the US 7th Fleet)," PN Civil-Military Operations head Col. Edgard Arevalo, said.

He also declined to comment on why the Chinese have resorted sending "gray" (Navy) ships to disputed areas.

Photos released by the US 7th Fleet indicated that the Chinese Navy vessels were the guided missile destroyer Lanzhou (170) and guided missile frigate Hengshui (572).

Cmdr. William J. Marks, US 7th Fleet public affairs officer, said the Chinese naval vessels were photographed on May 5 by a USS Blue Ridge-embarked MH-60 helicopter.

"The aircraft is part of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, underway with the embarked U.S. 7th Fleet staff aboard Blue Ridge, building relationships and furthering interoperability with allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific," said Marks.

The 7th Fleet spokesman also said the Blue Ridge was in the vicinity of the Scarborough as part of "routine training and operations" in the South China Sea when the Chinese vessels were spotted.

"It's not uncommon for 7th Fleet to have ships and aircraft operating simultaneously in the Yellow Sea, East Sea and South China Sea. The Blue Ridge flight operations in the photos are part of our routine presence in international waters, with the goal of providing security and stability for all maritime nations," Marks explained.

Aquino hopes Bangsamoro Agreement will help promote peace in ASEAN region

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): Aquino hopes Bangsamoro Agreement will help promote peace in ASEAN region

President Benigno S.Aquino III shared the Philippine experience in the successful signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), hoping that it will serve as a model to other ASEAN countries dealing with similar problems with separatist groups.

In his intervention during the ASEAN Summit Plenary held at the Ruby Hall of the Myanmar International Convention Center here on Sunday, President Aquino stressed that the recent CAB signing motivates the Philippines to share insights on peace, conflict resolution, and reconciliation with ASEAN neighbors.

"The Philippines hopes that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro adds to the body of experience that can inform conflict-resolution practices in ASEAN moving forward,” he said.

"Peace in any part of the world redounds to the benefit of all. As peace in the Bangsamoro lays the foundations of stability, inclusivity, and progress in Mindanao, more doors of opportunity are opened -- for the people of Mindanao, for the entire Philippines, and for partners and friends who wish to contribute to development,” he said.

He noted that the success of the peace process thus far contributes to ASEAN’s growing experience and best practices in the promotion of a culture of peace and respect for diversity.

"Included in our work to establish a strong, stable, and peaceful ASEAN Community is the task of building on the values and best practices of our institutions in addressing intra-, inter-, and regional conflicts. Peace is a fundamental concern of all nations; sharing best practices then allows us to address problems and challenges more comprehensively,” he said.

The President also took the opportunity to express gratitude to fellow ASEAN countries who played important roles in sealing a peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last March 27.

He thanked Malaysia, in particular, for facilitating the negotiations between the Philippine government panel and the MILF; as well as Brunei and Indonesia, for playing instrumental roles as members of the International Monitoring Team.

In his statement, the President stressed the hardships of civilians, especially the vulnerable ones such as mothers and children in times of conflict, recounting the experience of MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and his family.

"The signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was the first such occasion that Chairman Murad’s wife had ever visited our capital, Metro Manila. Both of them had witnessed many years of conflict—years during which Chairman Murad and his companions had to isolate their loved ones in special communities to protect them from the ravages of conflict,” he said.

"In these situations, whether for those engaged in conflict or others, the paramount human interest, has always been to keep families alive and healthy. For leaders like ourselves, the paramount interest is very similar: to minimize, or even prevent, loss of life and casualty, and to ensure that communities remain whole, and that development is sustained,” he added.

In an embodiment of the Philippines' desire to contribute to building peace in the regional community, President Aquino discussed the Philippines’ hosting of the first Symposium of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation on April 7 and 8.

"This is in line with the ASEAN Political Security Community Blueprint, which sets out to establish ASEAN’s experiences and best practices on peace, conflict management, and conflict resolution, as well as to enhance cooperation among ASEAN think tanks on the subjects of peace, conflict management, and conflict resolution,” he said.

He emphasized that the Philippines strongly advocates a more proactive approach towards the pursuit of peace, freedom, and stability.

"Our shared commitment must go beyond research and capacity-building. Efforts must be directed towards consolidating the narratives of peace in our region, and distilling its lessons to forge a consensus and to institutionalize habits of peace-building,” he said.

"We believe that documenting ASEAN’s wealth of experience in conflict resolution and preventive diplomacy can guide all of us in building a stronger, more peaceful, and more stable ASEAN Community,” he added.

Meanwhile, Myanmar President U Thein Sein, during the ASEAN Summit opening ceremony, lauded the Philippines for the successful signing of the CAB saying that the peace deal was a "great achievement."

He likewise congratulated Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, as well as the other ASEAN Member States who contributed towards the CAB signing, adding that the ASEAN nations extended full support for the Philippines' efforts to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

Sea row dominates ASEAN summit amid new Chinese spats with PH, Vietnam

From InterAksyon (May 11): Sea row dominates ASEAN summit amid new Chinese spats with PH, Vietnam

President Benigno Aquino III is seen Sunday with Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong at the ASEAN summit in Myanmar. Mr. Aquino on Saturday urged fellow bloc members to face squarely the threat posed by China in its aggressive push in the South China Sea, where at least four ASEAN states have rival claims with the Asian giant. MALACANANG PHOTO BUREAU

Surging maritime tensions dominated a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders Sunday with Vietnam expected to call on its regional neighbous for support in its deepening territorial dispute with China.

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is convening just days after both Vietnam and the Philippines locked horns with China in contested waters, stoking international alarm.

The summit, hosted for the first time by Myanmar in its showpiece capital Naypyidaw, is set to be dominated by discussion of the South China Sea, which is crisscrossed by key shipping lanes and thought to contain vast energy reserves.

In prepared remarks for the summit seen by AFP, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung urged his ASEAN counterparts to protest what he termed China's "serious violation" in the sea.

Tensions flared after a controversial decision by Beijing to relocate a deep-water oil rig into territory also claimed by Hanoi in early May.

The move sparked a series of incidents in the disputed waters, with Vietnam on Wednesday accusing its neighbour of attacks on its ships.

"This extremely dangerous action has been and is directly threatening peace, stability and maritime security and safety," Dung said, according to the prepared remarks.

On Saturday, ASEAN foreign ministers expressed "serious concerns over the on-going developments" in a joint statement ahead of the summit, as the bloc sought to present a unified front in dealing with the region's massive neighbour.

Big protest in Hanoi

The stand-off has stoked bitter anti-China sentiment in Vietnam, with about 1,000 people joining one of the country's largest ever rallies against Beijing in Hanoi on Sunday. Protests also broke out in two other major Vietnamese cities.

China and Vietnam, who fought a brief border war in 1979, frequently trade diplomatic barbs over oil exploration, fishing rights and the Spratly and Paracel Islands.

Vietnam's communist regime, which is wary of public gatherings that could threaten its authoritarian rule, has alternated between tolerating anti-China rallies and violently breaking them up.

Exercise 'utmost restraint'

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on both countries to "exercise the utmost restraint" in the sea, United Nations deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Friday.

Observers have said Beijing's decision to move the rig could have been a tit-for-tat response to a visit to the region by US President Barack Obama, who reaffirmed support for Asian allies the Philippines and Japan, which is locked in its own maritime territorial dispute with China.

Beijing claims sovereign rights to almost the whole of the South China Sea.

The Philippines and Vietnam are China's most vocal critics within Southeast Asia.

But the South China Sea is also claimed in part by ASEAN members Brunei and Malaysia as well as Taiwan.

Manila, which has asked a UN tribunal to rule on China's claims over most of the sea, also said on Wednesday it had detained a Chinese fishing boat in disputed territory.

Face up to China threat – Aquino

Philippine President Benigno Aquino Saturday urged fellow Southeast Asian leaders to face up to the threat posed by China's increasing assertiveness in the sea, stressing that it affected regional security.

Beijing prefers to negotiate directly with its smaller, weaker neighbours on a bilateral basis, a policy that is rejected by rival claimants.

The other ASEAN members are Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

Myanmar's chairmanship is the first time it has taken the helm of ASEAN, despite having been a member for 17 years, as concerns about the rights record of the former junta kept the country on the sidelines.

But reforms under a quasi-civilian regime that came to power in 2011 have burnished the country's international standing and seen the removal of most Western sanctions.

ASEAN suffered a serious knock to its credibility in 2012 during Cambodia's chairmanship of the group when foreign ministers failed to issue a joint communique at their annual meeting for the first time in the bloc's history because of deep divisions on the South China Sea issue.

The Philippines at that time blamed Cambodia, a key Chinese ally, for the fiasco.

Thailand's contribution to the summit will be overshadowed by the removal of Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra from office for abuse of power in a recent court ruling that drew both pro- and anti government protesters onto the streets.

Alex Pama, ex-Navy chief and maritime domain awareness champion, to head disaster council

From InterAksyon (May 11): Alex Pama, ex-Navy chief and maritime domain awareness champion, to head disaster council

In 2012 file photo, then Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Adm. Alexander Pama salutes his men in the turnover of a Navy cutter. He will soon be the new NDRRMC executive director and concurrent head of the Office of Civil Defense. MALACANANG PHOTO BUREAU

Former Navy chief Alexander Pama, who has since been appointed to head the National Coastwatch Council, will soon take over the challenging job of executive director of the National Disaster Risk Deduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). He will be concurrent head of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).

The Navy’s former flag-officer-in-command is replacing retired Army Maj. Gen. Eduardo del Rosario, who earlier tendered his irrevocable resignation citing “family reasons”.

Peter Paul Galvez, spokesman of the Department of National Defense (DND), said “health reasons” were behind del Rosario’s resignation.

He confirmed the transition at the NDRRMC/OCD. “The secretary (Voltaire Gazmin) has recommended the acceptance of the resignation (of del Rosario) and last week the President accepted the resignation. [He], likewise, appointed Admiral Alexander Pama to replace Usec. Del Rosario,” Galvez said.

Since last year, Pama has been head of the govenrment’s National Coast Watch Council, with the rank of undersecretary under the office of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

His work at the Coastwatch Council had been deemed tailor-fit for Pama, who as Navy chief aggressively pushed the mobilization of coastal communities to have the capacity for disaster response and for meeting security threats. Pama had also pushed for stronger maritime domain awareness, noting that for an archipelago whose coastline is longer than the US’, the Philippines ironically has not harnessed its people for a better understanding and defense of maritime domain.

Galvez described Pama as “very capable with his experience” to lead the NDRRMC/OCD.

Pama had been with DND before becoming Navy FOIC. He once served as chief of staff of then defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro.