Sunday, July 20, 2014

China ‘disrespectfully’ sent an uninvited spy ship to RIMPAC – report

From AngMalaya (Jul 19): China ‘disrespectfully’ sent an uninvited spy ship to RIMPAC – report


“The U.S. Pacific Fleet has been monitoring a Chinese navy surveillance ship operating in the vicinity of Hawaii outside U.S. territorial seas,” Capt. Darryn James, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman told USNI News.

Capt. James said that the said PLA spy ship showed up in the vicinity of Hawaii a week ago but did not speculate about the purpose of the said deployment, adding that questions about the intent must be directed to China’s PLA.

“We expect this ship will remain outside of U.S. territorial seas and not operate in a manner that disrupts the ongoing Rim of the Pacific maritime exercise.”

The said PLA ship is Beijixing (851), a Dongdiao-class auxiliary general intelligence (AGI) ship designed for intelligence collection/missile range instrumentation. It is equipped with High Tech Radio Signals Gather-and-Process.

“Now we learn they chose to disrespect the 20 other international participants by sailing an intelligence gathering ship directly into the middle of the exercise. It is clear China is not ready to be a responsible partner and that their first trip to RIMPAC should probably be their last,” Rep Randy Forbes (R-Va.) chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces also told USNI News.

RIMPAC, largest exercises of its kind held every other year, is joined by more than 20 nations by sending aircrafts, warships, subs, and specialized troops.

This year’s RIMPAC started June 26 and will end on August 1.

PNP-ARMM intensifies search, rescue for 1 more kidnapped DSWD worker

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 21): PNP-ARMM intensifies search, rescue for 1 more kidnapped DSWD worker

Police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Monday intensified its efforts to rescue, through peaceful means, the fourth social welfare worker seized by extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Talipao, Sulu last week.

The heavily armed ASG is still holding Roberto Saputalo, a social welfare worker of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-ARMM), in the hinterlands of Talipao, according to reports from Sulu police provincial director Senior Supt. Abraham Orbita.

Four social workers, namely, Lerma Jura; couple Nurhati Sicangco, coordinator for Talipao of the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), and her husband Agusto; and Saputalo, were conducting survey for 4Ps when the ASG flagged down the vehicle they were riding in Barangay Sinupaan Thursday.

Lerma, sensing something wrong, quietly fled from the group and walked for about a kilometer until village officials found her.

The victims were brought to the hinterlands of Talipao and the Sicangco couple was freed Saturday.

No ransom was paid but police learned the family paid “board and lodging fee” to the kidnappers.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman has ordered the local government officials in Talipao to secure the release of the remaining victim without paying any ransom as a matter of government policy.

NDF sets release of cops captured in Surigao Norte raid

From MindaNews (Jul 21): NDF sets release of cops captured in Surigao Norte raid

Four policemen who were taken captives by New People’s Army rebels during the raid in Alegria, Surigao del Norte on July 10 have been scheduled for release on July 25, the National Democratic Front-Mindanao said in a statement Sunday.

The statement signed by NDF-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos however said the release of PO3 Vic Calubag Concon, PO1 Rey O’niel Morales, PO1 Joen B. Zabala and PO1 Edito F. Roquino will depend on the “security situation”.

“The date of the release is set on 25 July 2014, Friday, in a location we shall disclose in future time. The release will only be possible if the situation warrants it, where the NPA Custodial Force, the POWs themselves, the receiving 3rd party facilitators and all those who will be present, including the media, shall be completely out of harm’s way,” Madlos said.

He said that to ensure the safe release of the captives military operations should be suspended “from noon of until 1 week after the actual date of release, in the mainland towns of Surigao del Norte, including Surigao City and the municipalities Kitcharao, Jabonga and Santiago of Agusan del Norte , and that all evacuees from these areas are able to return safely to their respective barangays”.

Madlos said the suspension of military operations was necessary for the preparations of the release such as communications with third party facilitators and families.

He said the NPA will declare its own “temporary ceasefire covering the aforementioned areas” once the Armed Forces of the Philippines declares a suspension of military operations.

He said the rebel group will cancel the release if military operations would continue three days before July 25 for the safety of the captives and the NPA unit holding them.

“We intentionally skipped the preliminary investigation and possible trial of the 4 POWs under the revolutionary judicial system to release them as a goodwill gesture for the resumption of the GPH-NDFP peace talks and for humanitarian consideration of the POWs themselves and their families,” Madlos said.

But he said that if the government could not meet the conditions the NPA may “terminate the release” and subject the captives to a “trial”.

DND orders 10 small amphibious vehicles for the Marines

From AngMalaya (Jul 20): DND orders 10 small amphibian vehicles for the Marines


Department of National Defense awarded Hydratek to supply the Philippine Marine Corps with 10 units of brand new small amphibian vehicle.

Defense Studies, through their source, acquired the Notice of Award for the said deal with US-based private company Hydratek. The Notice of Award was conformed by Hydratek’s representative dated April 10, 2014.

The NOA says, “This is to inform you that the proposal of Hydratek, Inc. for the supply and delivery of ten (10) units Small Amphibian Vehicle for the Philippine Marine Corps with a corresponding contract price of Sixty Six Million Eight Hundred Sixteen Thousand Nine Hundred Thirty Four Pesos and 90/100 (P66,816,934.90), is hereby accepted.”

“You are hereby required to provide ten (10) days the performance security in the form and amount stipulated in the bidding document. Failure to provide the performance security shall constitute sufficient grounds for cancellation of the award.”

The said document was signed by Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin.
As per Hydratek’s product description, “This vehicle is also popular with public safety organizations that routinely deal with the threat of hurricanes or river flooding.”

It can carry a payload of 3,000 lbs in land and 1,400 lbs, with seating capacity of 6 persons,

DND moves bids opening for close air support aircraft on August 11

From AngMalaya (Jul 18): DND moves bids opening for close air support aircraft on August 11

“This supplemental bid bulletin is issued to inform prospective bidders of the change in the schedule of the Bid Submission and Opening for the acquisition of Close Air Support Aircraft Project for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to be held at the DND BAC Conference Room, Basement, Right Wing, DND Building, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City,” said USec Fernando Manalo, Chairman of DND Special Bids and Awards Committee 1 in a letter.

The schedule was moved from July 23 to August 11 at 10 am.

Allocated budget for this acquisition program is PhP4.9 billion.

Six close air support (CAS) aircraft will acquired in this project mainly for counter-insurgencies.

According to source, DND is eyeing the Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano.

It was also reported that IOMAX will be offering the Archangel Block 3 Border Patrol Aircraft.

Close air support (CAS) is defined as air action by fixed or rotary-winged aircraft against hostile targets that are close to friendly ground or naval forces, and which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces. Both helicopters and fighter jets can be utilized as close air support aircraft.

Strategic Sealift Vessel of the Philippine Navy to be delivered 2016 and 2017

From AngMalaya (Jul 18): Strategic Sealift Vessel of the Philippine Navy to be delivered 2016 and 2017

“PT PAL executive Edy Andarto confirmed to IHS Jane’s on 17 July that the contract – worth USD92 million – was signed with the PN (Philippine Navy) in June and calls for the vessels to be supplied in 2016 and 2017,” IHS Jane’s Defence Industry said.

Indonesia’s PT PAL will be providing the Philippine Navy with two Makassar-class Landing Platform Dock to act as the force’s Strategic Sealift Vessel.

These sealift vessels will be carrying landing craft utility/mechanized, including the upcoming Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) and attack helicopters.

Each vessel can carry up to 500 troops plus a hundred vessel crew.

“The contract also stipulates a requirement for PT PAL to provide an integrated support package that will enable Philippine industry to undertake maintenance and support of the SSVs in partnership with the PN,” IHS Jane added.

Indonesia’s PT PAL won the bidding last January this year.

Currently, PT PAL, in coordination with Philippine government, is building vessels with specifications provided by Department of National Defense.

Textron AirLand Scorpion – reason for close air support aircraft project bids opening resched

From AngMalaya (Jul 18): Textron AirLand Scorpion – reason for close air support aircraft project bids opening resched

Department of National Defense just announced the rescheduling of the Bid Submission and Opening for the acquisition of Close Air Support Aircraft Project for the Philippine Air Force from July 23 to August 11.

It is given that Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano – designed for light attack, counter insurgency, close air support, aerial reconnaissance missions – has an advantage in this project via government-to-government deal with Brazil.  Super Tucano is being used by 10 operators with over a hundred built.

However, with the delay, experts say that the government might be looking for a deal with Textron AirLand venture who developed Scorpion, an American-made light attack and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) jet aircraft.

With the budget of PhP4.9 billion, the DND can still go for 6 aircraft.

Major constraint is, may be the deal breaker, the Textron AirLand Scorpion is currently on the hunt for its first clients. “We are well beyond initial discussions with at least three potential customers,” said Bill Anderson, president of the Textron AirLand venture.

The Scorpion is designed to carry out maritime security missions, close air support, jet training, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response.

It can reach the speed of 518 mph or 833 kph (Super Tucano – 590 kph), and carry 6200 lbs of armaments (Super Tucano – 3,300 lb).

Russia looking to supply PH with radar and missile systems

From AngMalaya (Jul 19): Russia looking to supply PH with radar and missile systems

In an exclusive interview of Manila Bulletin with visiting Russian Federal Service Deputy Director Konstantin Biryulin for Military-Technical Cooperation, it was made known that Russia is currently negotiating with Philippine government to provide the country’s armed forces with “radar stations and means of intercepting and destruction of violators.”

Russia may be offering the Department of National Defense with radar and surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, something that could shot down an aircraft flying in an altitude of 10,000 meters or more sophisticated hardware.

“We fully understand the problems Philippines has to face with its huge maritime border,” Konstantin Biryulin told Manila Bulletin on Friday.

“We have similar problems in Russia and we know how to tackle them. That’s why we have a proposal regarding equipments which could help in controlling those areas.”

About a day ago, a Russian-made SAM was reported to have allegedly downed a Malaysian Airlines plane killing 298 persons on board.

Would China or US allow a Russia-PH military hardware deal, will Philippines enter in this kind of deal.

Asian Defense Exhibit and Conference opens

From AngMalaya (Jul 18): Asian Defense Exhibit and Conference opens – Philippine Army Public Affairs

Army Chief Lt Gen Hernando DCA Iriberri inspects the Philippine Army’s booth in the Defense, Security and Crisis Management Exhibition and Conference 2014 (ADAS 2014) which opened on Thursday, July 17, at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. Shown in this photo is the barret sniper rifle. (Photo by: PFC Cesar Lopez)

Army Chief Lt Gen Hernando DCA Iriberri inspects the Philippine Army’s booth in the Defense, Security and Crisis Management Exhibition and Conference 2014 (ADAS 2014) which opened on Thursday, July 17, at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. Shown in this photo is the barret sniper rifle. (Photo by: PFC Cesar Lopez)

Philippine Army Public Affairs Release – The Asian Defense, Security and Crisis Management Exhibition and Conference 2014 (ADAS 2014) opened on Thursday, July 17, with His Excellency President Benigno S Aquino III as the Guest of Honor and Speaker, at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.

The three-day exhibit and conference is participated in by the different Armed Forces of neighboring ASEAN countries, including Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam; as well as exhibitors who are in defence, security and civil defence industries.

The Philippine Army also set up an exhibit booth which contained some of its war fighting capabilities that include, among others, barret sniper rifle, M4 with bipod and Harris radios. The highlight of the Army’s booth is the “Augmented Reality”, wherein visitors get to experience actual combat and rescue operations just by standing in front of a big television/screen wearing upper battle dress attire.

An Army Senior Leaders Symposium was also held with Army Chief Lt Gen Hernando DCA Iriberri, senior officers and general staff officers of the Philippine Army, Philippine Army Major Units and Brigade Commanders, and other selected guests and exhibitors.

ADAS 2014 is an inaugural defense and security event with 200 exhibitors from nine ASEAN members, South Korea, and other foreign Armed Forces.
In an earlier statement, Lt Gen Iriberri recognized the relevance of the conduct of this state-of-the-art defense and security systems exhibit in the Philippines.

“ADAS 2014 comes at a time when the Philippine Army and the rest of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are stepping up efforts to modernize capabilities. It is a venue for officers and personnel to be exposed first-hand to emerging trends and innovations,” said Lt Gen Iriberri in a statement.

The Asian Defense Exhibit and Conference is organized by APAC Expo Pte. Ltd., and the Department of National Defense.

The Philippine Army believes that this activity will likewise provide opportunity for bilateral talks and defense cooperation among the participating ASEAN countries.

Profile: New AFP Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Punzalan Catapang Jr.

From AngMalaya (Jul 18): Profile: New AFP Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Punzalan Catapang Jr.

AFP – Lieutenant General Catapang assumed the post as the 42nd Vice Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on May 16, 2014. Prior to this, he served as the 24th Commander of the Northern Luzon Command, AFP starting July 5, 2013.

Some of his professional military training include: Intel Officers Basic Course at the SITS, ISAFP in 1982; Infantry Officers Advance Course at Combat Arms School, TCPA in 1992; Command and General Staff Course at the Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Bonifacio in 2002; Australian and Military Familiarization Course and ADC Preparation Course at the Defence International Training Center in Australia, in 2005; Defence and Strategic Studies Course at the Australian Defence College in 2006; Symposium on National Security and Strategy at NDU, PLA, China in 2007; and Change Management Workshop and Strategic Communications at the Australian Defense Coop Program in 2008.
He moved on with his career carrying an excellent standard of performance, fine leadership, and a keen vision that resulted in accomplishments, both in garrison and field tours of duty. He held positions of major responsibility, such as: Commander of the 7th Infantry (Kaugnay) Division, Philippine Army, Commander, 703Bde, 7ID, PA from September 6, 2010 to October 3, 2012; Battalion Commander of 28IB, 4ID, PA from November 20 1999 to March 3, 2001; Battalion Commander of HHSBn, 4ID, PA from March 3, 2001 to December 17, 2001; Ac of S for Operations, G3, 8ID, PA from July 16 2002 to February 1, 2003; ACUCS for CMO, U7, NOLCOM, AFP in February 19 2003 to May 12 2003; ACUCS for Operations, U3, NOLCOM, AFP from May 12, 2003 to October 24, 2005; and Chief of Unified Command Staff, NOLCOM, AFP on May 15, 2005 to Oct 24, 2005.

His achievements and his service have been duly recognized through the awards and commendations he has received, such as: Two Distinguished Service Star Awards; three Gold Cross Medals; five Outstanding Achievement Medals; one Bronze Cross Medal; sixteen Military Merit Medals and Military Commendation Medals; three Combat “Kagitingan” Badges; various Letters of Commendation and Badges.

Lieutenant General Catapang was born on July 11, 1959 in Manila. He spent his primary and secondary education in Claret School, Manila. He is a member of Philippine Military Academy “Dimalupig” Class of 1981.

Pre-Sona meeting for Aquino, Murad

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 20): Pre-Sona meeting for Aquino, Murad

A third meeting between President Benigno Aquino III and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Murad Ebrahim is likely to take place before the Chief Executive addresses a joint session of Congress on July 28, the Inquirer has learned.

Mr. Aquino and Murad need to thresh out the issues hounding the draft Bangsamoro basic law, which would establish a new autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao, as agreed upon by the government and the MILF.

Saving peace deal

A reliable source privy to the talks told the Inquirer yesterday that the meeting between the President and the MILF head appeared necessary to save the peace agreement after Mr. Aquino’s legal team allegedly watered down the draft law prepared by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal heads the Transition Commission.
It was not clear where the third meeting between Mr. Aquino and Murad would take place.

Tokyo meeting

President Aquino and Murad first met in Tokyo, Japan, in August 2011 to revive peace talks between the government and the MILF, which had waged a decades-long war in Mindaano, fighting for a separate state.

The meeting ultimately opened the peace negotiations where the MILF agreed to having a Bangsamoro autonomous region.

A peace agreement between the government and the MILF was signed in March this year.

But the the alleged dilution of the draft law prompted another meeting between the President and Murad in Hiroshima, Japan, last month.

The Manila leg of the five-day “workshop” being done by government and MILF negotiators had a rough start on Friday, the source said.

The workshop appeared to be a review of the annexes on power, wealth sharing, normalization, and transitional modalities that made up the peace agreement against the long list of comments of the President’s legal team on the draft law.

Just like the “workshop” held in Kuala Lumpur a week ago, the Manila workshop started off with some tense moments between the two panels, the source said.

Don’t give up

But Murad had told Iqbal and the rest of the MILF panel not to give up on the efforts to save the draft law.

“Chairman Murad told the MILF panel to stay put, keep engaged and temper their emotions,” the source said.

Moreover, Murad appeared to understand that President Aquino was focused on handling the fallout after the Supreme Court declared his economic stimulus plan, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), unconstitutional.

Kidnapped Japanese recovered in Cotabato

From the Manila Times (Jul 20): Kidnapped Japanese recovered in Cotabato

Authorities recovered Japanese Yashuhiro Nakamura, who was allegedly kidnapped in Cotabato.

Chief Supt. Noel delos Reyes, director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Police, said the Japanese was recovered by the Anti-Kidnapping Task Force in a village in Guindulungan town on July 3.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, said they too did not have any information about the reported kidnapping.

Japanese Consul in Davao City Koichi Ibara presented Nakamura to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in a Davao City hotel last week.

US Embassy gives P6.5M to help Albay, Sorsogon residents rebuild homes

From GMA News (Jul 20): US Embassy gives P6.5M to help Albay, Sorsogon residents rebuild homes

The United States government has provided P6.5 million ($150,000) in aid to victims of Typhoon Glendsa (Rammasun) in Bicol, one of the areas hardest hit by the storm.

In a news release, the US Embassy in Manila said the aid includes 600 shelter return kits for families in Albay and Sorsogon provinces.

"We will continue to work with our counterparts to help the Philippines mitigate, prepare for, and respond to natural disasters as we work on achieving inclusive and resilient growth," said US Ambassador Philip Goldberg.

He also extended the American people's "deepest condolences" for the devastation and loss of life caused by Typhoon Glenda.

Figures from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council as of Sunday morning indicated Glenda left at least 94 dead and more than P7 billion in damage.

"The US government stands ready to assist the Philippine authorities in helping affected families bounce back from this tragedy," Goldberg said.

The US Agency for International Development will work with World Vision International to distribute the 600 shelter return kits.

Each kit has galvanized iron sheets, plywood, nails, blankets, mosquito nets, and plastic mats "to help families rebuild homes damaged during the storm."

Meanwhile, Goldberg commended the efforts of the national and local governments and the communities to minimize the loss of life before and during the storm.

On July 17, the US government had announced it would provide  P107.5 million ($2.5 million) in assistance to build community resilience to flood and other disasters in Metro Manila.

Congress to get draft of Bangsamoro Basic Law in time for SONA – Palace

From GMA News (Jul 20): Congress to get draft of Bangsamoro Basic Law in time for SONA – Palace

MalacaƱang will submit the draft bill of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress next Monday in time for the President's State of the Nation Address.

"Inaasahan maisusumite ito [Bangsamoro Basic Law bill] sa pagbubukas muli ng Kongreso," Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said in an interview on radio dzRB on Sunday.

The second regular session of the 16th Congress will open on July 28, followed by the President's State of the Nation Address on the same day.

BBL is a measure that will set the creation of the Bangsamoro political entity, which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, in motion.

It is an important piece of legislation that the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front hope will end decades of armed conflict in Mindanao.

The bill was drafted by the 15-member Bangsamoro Transition Committee and was submitted to the Palace in April.

"Sana’y maipasa na nga [ang panukalang batas] na hindi lalagpas pa sa pagtatapos ng taon," Coloma said.

After the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, people in provinces in the proposed Bangsamoro entity will vote in a plebiscite. If ratified by the pebiscite, a transitional authority will be installed in Bangsamoro until 2016.

"‘Yun pong sa 2016 naman ay inaasahang maisasabay na ang regular na eleksyon ng mga opisyal na bubuo ng Bangsamoro Political Entity kasabay ng 2016 national elections," the Palace spokesman said.

"‘Yan po ang timetable na sinusunod hanggang sa ngayon kaya sinisikap na nga pong makumpleto ‘yung komprehensibong pag-aaral at pagsasapinal ng Bangsamoro Basic Law draft bill na isusumite sa Kongreso," he said.

Valte says Bautista won’t replace Gazmin

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 20): Valte says Bautista won’t replace Gazmin

Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista has no assurance to replace Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin after President Aquino had promised to give him a civilian post in the administration, presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte yesterday said.

"That information has been circulating but SND (Secretary of National Defense) Gazmin himself denied this," Valte said.

Valte added the better position should be to wait for the announcement of PresidentAquino on what post he would give to Bautista.

Valte assured the public the post of Gazmin was not the position Aquino would give to Bautista who retired last Friday.

Aquino attended the retirement ceremony of Bautista where he also presided over the change of command ceremony which established Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. as the new AFP chief of staff.

Valte also denied that Aquino is trying to accommodate the military officers as he was exercising a revolving door policy in appointing the AFP chiefs of staff.

"I think it is only perception. We do not agree that there was revolving door policy or accomodation because those appointed by President Aquino in the positions of the Chief of Staff of Armed Forces are based on their track records," Valte said.

101 Scout trainees finish 45-day training

From the Sun Star-Davao: 101 Scout trainees finish 45-day training

A TOTAL of 101 Scout trainees from the 11th Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) completed the 45-day rigid training on Special Counter Insurgency Operation Training in Davao City on Friday.

The closing ceremony of the 101 Philippine National Police (PNP) Modified Scout Class 01-2014 was held at the grandstand of the Camp Quintin M Merecido in Catitipan in Davao City, with Senior Superintendent Federico L. Dulay, Police Regional Office-Davao Region (PRO-11) Deputy Regional Director for Administration, as guest speaker.

In a message, Dulay said the scout training is one of the toughest trainings that one could experience, as it teaches the scouts every basic detail in Internal Security Operations (ISO). He added that is mandatory to all police personnel as preparation for the PNP’s ISO.

Among the trainings being conducted were statistic display, section movements, patrolling, field training, intelligence training, and marksmanship. The training was mounted by the Regional Special Training Unit 11 that started March 20 and ended July 18.

Davao Police Regional Office (PRO) spokesperson Chief Inspector Jed Clamor, in an interview Saturday, said the training also sharpens one’s mind, strengthens camaraderie, and builds unity with its fellowmen and the community as a whole.

Clamor said the 101 scout graduates, who are already at the RPSB11 office, are set for deployment along strategic detachments in Davao Region to counter insurgency problems. They’re mandated to assist and support the military, he added.

PA to get new automatic rifles by August

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 20): PA to get new automatic rifles by August

The Philippine Army (PA) will be getting and putting into service its brand-new M-4 automatic rifles on Aug. 2, according to PA spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato.

Around 27,000 units are expected to be delivered to the Army by that date, Detoyato said, adding that the delivery date of the first batch of the rifles was supposed to be on July 19 but there was some shipping delay.

The PA acquired 63,000 M-4 automatic rifles to replace its Vietnam-era M-16A rifles. These new weapons will be immediately issued to line units, he said.

Each M-4 costs P38,402.10 and the entire order is estimated to be worth P2.4 billion.

The M-4 is a shorter and lighter variant of the M-16A2 assault rifle. It is a gas-operated, magazine-fed, selective fire, shoulder-fired weapon with a telescoping stock and 14.5-inch (370-mm) barrel to ease close quarters combat.

It fires the .223 caliber or 5.56 mm NATO round.

Folding gun? High-tech weapons wow PH soldiers

From Rappler (Jul 20): Folding gun? High-tech weapons wow PH soldiers

Military suppliers from around the world flocked to Manila for the first defense and security exhibition held in the Philippines in more than 15 years

POPULAR BOOTH: A Filipino soldier tries the CornerShot weapon accessory at the ADAS 2014 defense and security exhibit in Manila. Rappler photo
POPULAR BOOTH: A Filipino soldier tries the CornerShot weapon accessory at the ADAS 2014 defense and security exhibit in Manila. Rappler photo

Elite officers of the Philippine Army have wanted the CornerShort since they saw it on the Discovery Channel. Many of them got to see, hold, and play with it for the first time as military suppliers from around the world flocked to Manila July 17-18 for the first defense and security exhibition held in the Philippines in more than 15 years.

Up to 130 international companies, many of them bidders to the ongoing modernization projects of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), participated in the ADAS 2014 Asian Defense Security and Crisis Management exhibition and conference at the World Trade Center.

"Imagine if we had that during the Zamboanga siege. The Light Reaction Regiment (LRR) could use that," quipped an Army general impressed with CornerShot. It an expensive accessory that the Army may not afford yet – but the troops got a thrill playing with it.

To a civilian, it looks like a folding machine gun. You can twist the barrel left and right to shoot sideways – a stuff previously seen only in cartoons. It's actually a specialized weapon accessory with a color video camera developed by the Israelis for rural combat scenarios like the September 2013 siege of Zamboanga City, where the elite LRR had to comb shanties one by one to clear them of rebels.

With CornerShot, soldiers don't have to peep through a window and die because the enemies are waiting for them. They only have to insert their guns to a window or a door and stay hidden and safe. Let the video camera show them what's happening inside and shoot if they see the enemy.

The defense and security exhibit offers the Philippines a chance to scrutizine and discuss what the supppliers have to offer. It's a lot better than checking out the products online, officers said. Representatives of neighboring Asian countries' militaries also came to Manila to check out the exhibit.

"We are focusing on enhancing our move, shoot, and communication capabilites. The exhibit provides us the opportunity to see what is available in the market today. Unlike before, we only see them in the Internet. We brought here our major unit commanders so they can see for themselves the different options," said Army chief Lieutenant General Hernando Iriberri.

FA-50: The Philippines recently signed a contract acquiring a squadron of FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea. Rappler photo

FA-50: The Philippines recently signed a contract acquiring a squadron of FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea. Rappler photo

There are booths for the Air Force pilots and Navy commanders, too. But unlike the Army troops who got to see the actual weapons, the pilots and the commanders looked at models of aircrafts and ships. Discussions on technical specifications were heard in these booths.

Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) showcased a model of the FA-50 fighter jet, which the Philippines is acquiring. At least 2 of 12 are scheduled to arrive next year. Nearby, a former Air Force general was making a case against the project reiterating arguments that FA-50 is a trainer and the Air Force pilots already have advanced skills for fighter jets.

SHIPS, TOO: Navy officers checking out ship models
SHIPS, TOO: Navy officers checking out ship models

The exhibit was organized as the Philippines seeks to modernize its military amid escalating regional maritime conflict. In his speech during the opening ceremony, President Benigno Aquino III boasted that his administration allocated P40 billion to modernize the capabilities of the military. He said former President Gloria Arroyo only allocated P26 billion during her 9-year term.

"For the longest time, the state of our military’s equipment had been neglected. It reached a point where even lawless elements possessed superior equipment. This is precisely why, from day one, we have done everything in our power to give the AFP the support they need to perform their duties to the fullest of their capabilities—and to make sure that the risks they take in the battlefield are reduced to a bare minimum," Aquino said.

But Aquino said the AFP modernization is not to provoke neighbors.

"Lest anyone accuse us of shifting to a more militaristic position, I must emphasize: Our efforts seek to modernize the capabilities of our security sector is to address the needs in human disaster response arenas and for our own internal defense. None of these actions are meant to increase tensions in the region; rather, they are meant to address our domestic problems and issues," Aquino said.

Hoping for a peaceful resolution of the maritime conflict, Philippines lodged an international arbitration case against China's actions in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea).

Abu Sayyaf frees 2 social workers, fate of another hostage unknown

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 20): Abu Sayyaf frees 2 social workers, fate of another hostage unknown

Abu Sayyaf militants have freed two of three social workers they snatched in Talipao town in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, police said on Sunday.

Sulu police chief, Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita, said the couple Nurhati and Mark Sicangco were released on Saturday afternoon by their captors in the village of Danag in Patikul town and fetched by their relatives and brought to the house of the local vice mayor. It was unknown if ransoms were paid for their safe release.

Orbita said they fetched the victims and brought them to the hospital for a routine medical examination before returning home. “They are okay and reunited with their family. There is an ongoing operation to search for the remaining hostage,” he told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

He said the fate of the remaining captive Roberto Saputalo is still unknown, but the kidnappers had earlier freed Lerna Jurah. The four social workers were conducting a house-to-house survey on the government’s anti-poverty program for the Department of Social Welfare and Development when armed men seized them in the village of Upper Sinumaan in Talipao town.

It was unknown why kidnappers targeted the social workers, who were active in various government programs that benefit poor Muslim villagers in Sulu. The kidnappings were condemned by provincial government officials.

There were no immediate statement from the DSWD and the mayors of Talipao and Patikul on the kidnappings, but the Abu Sayyaf is actively operating in the two towns. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding at least 10 kidnapped victims, including foreigners seized from the neighboring Tawi-Tawi province and Sabah in Malaysia.