Thursday, January 22, 2015

Photo: Salute (Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao)

From MindaNews (Jan 22): Photo: Salute


Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, salutes to waiting officers after coming down from the UH-1H Huey helicopter to attend the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Committee meeting at the provincial capitol in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur Wednesday (21 Jan 2015), where he said more troops will be deployed in the Caraga Region to help in the “development and not war.” MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas

Military overruns 4 Abu camps in Basilan

From the Daily Tribune (Jan 23): Military overruns 4 Abu camps in Basilan

Four Abu Sayyaf camps were seized by government security forces during two-day clashes on the outskirts of Basilan province since Wednesday but the terrorists continued to put up a fight yesterday.

 Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office chief, said that at around 1:15 p.m. yesterday an armored personnel carrier (APC) of reinforcement troops was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) laid by Abu Sayyaf terrorists along Sitio Abatar, Barangay Baiwas, Sumisip.
No one was hurt during the attack but the APC was slightly damaged.
Cabunoc said that relentless pursuit operations are still ongoing against the Abu Sayyaf in the vicinities of Barangays Baiwas and Pamatsaken.
“Our troops are deliberate and careful in hunting down the Abu Sayyaf remnants because there are IEDs along their escape route,” Cabunoc said.
“So far, we have captured four ASG camps in barangays Baiwas and Pamatsaken,” he added.
Since Wednesday, Cabunoc said the government troops have already recovered five IEDs –two in the encounter sites and three along the Abu Sayyaf withdrawal route.
Cabunoc said that there was no government casualty during the clashes.
On the other hand, Cabunoc said that six Abu Sayyaf terrorists were killed –two of them identified, while six others were wounded so far.
“As of now, relentless operations are still ongoing against the Abu Sayyaf bandits but there was no recorded firefight today (Thursday) so far,” Cabunoc said.
The target ASG band, headed by sub-leader Radzmil Jannatul and Jahaivel Alamsirul, is responsible in the killing of Lt. Jun Corpuz, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 2014, and five other soldiers during an ambush in Sumisip.
Cabunoc said that while Army troops, particularly those from the 104th Brigade, are leading the ground operations against the ASG while Marine forces were deployed to secure the ongoing Basilan Circumferential Road project.

Misuari’s MNLF won’t join BBL talks, pursues secession

From the Daily Tribune (Jan 23): Misuari’s MNLF won’t join BBL talks, pursues secession

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction of Chairman Nur Misuari yesterday defended its absence at the congressional hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by reiterating its independence from the Philippine government, thus it does not recognize any proceedings on the BBL.

Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla, spokesman for the MNLF Misuari faction, stressed that the MNLF would only participate in proceedings to be facilitated by the powerful Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

“We don’t recognize the Philippine government, we declared our independence,” Fontanilla told The Tribune.

Fontanilla said that the MNLF is continuously pursuing its independence under the Bangsamoro Republik through peaceful means.

On Wednesday, the House of Representative ad hoc committee on BBL, chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, held a public hearing on the BBL being pushed by the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

There were, however, representatives from other factions of the MNLF who attended the hearing, namely, Datu Khayr Alonto and Muslimin Sema.

Alonto has expressed full support to the BBL while Sema branded the proposed law as partial fulfillment of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between the government and the MNLF.

During the hearing, Zamboanga City Mayor Isabel Climaco-Salazar expressed opposition to the proposed inclusion of Zamboanga City under the proposed Bangsamoro substate.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, who also chairs the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), stressed that the MILF is continuously reaching out to all for the passage of the BBL.

Rodriguez called on the Moro groups to coordinate their acts for the smooth passage of the BBL.

At the same time, Rodriguez assured the public that the Congress will pass a BBL compliant within the Constitution.

Relatedly, Fontanilla stressed the MILF’s stance that it is too early to discuss the constitutionality of the BBL at present.

He said the MILF is just aware that the BBL cannot pass congressional scrutiny.

“That is feigning absence of knowledge of reality. They know it will not pass and they are evading the issue,” Fontanilla said.

In a statement over its website earlier, the MILF appealed to the public not to make hasty statements over the constitutionality of the BBL that may spark negative reactions.

The MILF stressed that the constitutionality of the BBL, agreed upon by the MILF and the GPH, falls under the authority of the Supreme Court.

“We therefore appeal to all and sundry especially leaders not to make hasty pronouncements that would agitate negative reactions from the people,” the MILF said.

“The issue of constitutionality of any provision of the BBL is in the domain of the Supreme Court. We are not yet there,” the MILF pointed out.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have noted that some provisions of the BBL could be considered unconstitutional.

Representatives from MNLF factions and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) served as resource persons during the 35th public hearing conducted by the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee on the BBL last January 20 at the Batasan complex. Leaders of the Federation of Sultanates were also present as well as Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) President Amina Rasul.?

Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon asked resource persons from the two Moro fronts on the possibility of “reconciling their differences (on the BBL).”

Biazon reiterated the need for compromise among the diverse Muslim communities, Christian settlers, and Indigenous Peoples in the proposed Bangsamoro territory, as the Congress will pass only one law.

Ad hoc committee chairman Rufus Rodriguez, Representative of the second district of Cagayan de Oro City, mentioned that there is the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The BCF serves as the mechanism for the MNLF and MILF to “coordinate their movements toward achieving the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people towards just and lasting peace, and peaceful resolution of their problems.”

Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong underscored that “reconciliation (in opinions or interests) is a challenge to all of us.”

He meant that even Muslims and Bangsamoro lawmakers in the House of Representatives should also be part of the effort to forge unity among the Bangsamoro groups “to come up with a solid position so the Ad Hoc Committee will not face hardships in passing the BBL.”

Loong, the chair of the Committee of Muslim Affairs, suggested that he will invite the Moro fronts for a discussion on issues on the Bangsamoro bill. Citing optimism that Bangsamoro groups can sit down together, he asked time for the discussion to happen so that the Moro fronts can “come to common ground.”

2 alleged rebels arrested at Iloilo checkpoint

From GMA News (Jan 22): 2 alleged rebels arrested at Iloilo checkpoint

Two alleged communist rebels were arrested over the weekend after they were caught with unlicensed firearms at a checkpoint in Barangay Nanga in Guimbal town in Iloilo last weekend.

Anthony John Tajano and Sofronio Talabon were aboard a motorcycle when they were intercepted Saturday night by the police's First Maneuver Platoon, GMA Iloilo's Enrico Surita Jr. reported Thursday.

"Nakita nila ang tropa ng nag-checkpoint... Bumalik sila... eh ang aming checkpoint ngayon ay mayroon ng security. Yun yung nakapagtigil sa kanila," Guimbal police station chief Senior Inspector Norlan Perante said.

Seized from Tajano was a cal-.45 pistol while confiscated from Talabon was a shotgun.

Both men introduced themselves as members of the Revolutionary Proletariat Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, the report said.

"May baon kaming service firearm dahil hindi natin maipagkakaila na mayroon tayong mga kalaban," Tajano said.

"Ang mga armas na ito ay talagang dinala namin dahil nga yung bahay namin ay nasa bukiring bahagi," Talabon added.

However, police noted the two failed to show documents indicating they are authorized to carry such firearms.

The two now face charges of illegal possession of firearms.

China stepped up reclamation in disputed territory—expert

From GMA News (Jan 22): China stepped up reclamation in disputed territory—expert

China continues to fortiify its presence in the contested territories in the South China Sea even with the arbitration case filed by the Philippines, a report from GMA's “24-Oras” said Thursday.

According to national security expert Prof. Rommel Banlaoi, China actually sped up its reclamation and construction activities instead if stopping it. 

“Hindi niya lamang pinapalakas ito. Fino-fortify niya ito ng physical structures with intention to establish permanent presence,” Banlaoi said.

China's reclamation of seven reefs within the Philippine's 200-mile exclusive economic zone is reportedly almost complete.

The area which was mostly submerged before and only had one helipad now has an appearance of an island and is poised to become a military air strip.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said the country could only file another diplomatic protest in response of China's actions.

“But certainly we're taking a position in terms of registering the necessary protest and consulting with our international partners as to what can really be done in the face of blatant violations of TOC and international law including UNCLOS,” Del Rosario said.

[Video report]

Banlaoi said that it would be difficult to ask China to cooperate once the structure is completed.

“Mahirap ng paalisin yan. Permanent yan eh. Even if the internationa' tribunal renders decision in favor of the Philippines, the dilemma is how we can ask China to remove all these reclaimed structures,” he said.

“Who will compel China to follow the decision of the court which China rejected from the very very start?” he added.

For his part, Del Rosario said he will attempt to ask attending foreign ministers during an ASEAN meeting he will attend next week to side with the country.

“I think we will talk about the massive reclamation that were seeing and the threats it presents in terms of its implication on freedom of navigations as well as in the rising of tensions which obviously are violations of TOC,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Palace is still hoping for a peaceful resolution following a two-day meeting with Government officials and US State representatives on the matter.

“The two sides reiterated that international disputes in the South China Sea should be settled in accordance with international law and through diplomatic and other peaceful means including the use of international arbitration,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Sec. Sonny Coloma said.

MILF: Photo: MILF Commander Bravo with possible local government officials

Photo of probably MILF commander posted to the MILF Facebook page (Jan 21): Photo: MILF Commander Bravo with possible local government officials

Kuha ito kung saan pagpunta ni division sa munai lanao del norte, isa sa mga operation nya sa mga adik at ang pagsasagawa ng parusa, pagpapalo sa mga ito, pagpreso sa mga iilan na nalulong na (pilalapudan so mga adik ago pyamag wa-warningan siran)

MILF: Photo: 500 Comments Say: Allahu Akbar

Photo posted to the MILF Facebook page (Jan 21): 500 Comments Say: Allahu Akbar

Kaya ba! takbeer! ALLAHU AKBAR! . .
Wala namang mawawala kung magko-komento ka.
Wassalamu Alaykom mga ka-bangsamoro.

MILF: New registrants flock to Cotabato City COMELEC Office

Posted to the MILF Website (Jan 22): New registrants flock to Cotabato City COMELEC Office

It was a big surprise for the staff of Commission on Election’s Cotabato City Office as they start working for the year 2015 when large number of people flocked to their office to register, and mostly Moro new registrants, who since they turned 18 years old haven’t voted in any local or national elections.
This massive registration application started since January 05, the first working day for 2015 and shall continue until March 31, 2015.  Massive registration shall be observed in other Bangsamoro core territories in the coming days.

The influx of registrants with COMELEC-Cotabato City Office is the result of the first in the series of orientations on the importance of registering as new voters being conducted by the Bangsamoro Development Agency Regional Management Office (BDA RMO Central Mindanao) in partnership with the Al-Amanah Humanitarian and Development Services, Incorporated (AHDSi).

The BDA-RMO Central Mindanao is headed by Manager Hashim B. Manticayan while Engr. Aida M. Silongan heads the AHDSi.

The 1st orientation coupled with action planning was conducted last December 18, 2014 at Al-Nor Convention Center, Cotabato City and was participated in by 158 Cotabato City-based AHDSi members, BDA Volunteers and development catalysts.  Eight (8) District Teams composed of Development Catalysts and AHDSi members were organized to ensure that the one hundred percent turn-out of new and qualified Bangsamoro registrants in every district in Cotabato City is achieved by March 31, 2015.

As a result of this planning workshop, more than 200 registration applicants since January 5, 2015 were reported by the City Development Catalyst as of January 15, 2015.

The 2nd orientation was conducted during the 4th Provincial Development Catalysts (PDC) Quarterly Meeting on December 30, 2014 at Balas, Tacupen, Carmen, North Cotabato graced by BDA Executive Director Mohammad S. Yacob and Datu Unsay Municipal Election Officer Tahir Abu.  It was attended by more or less 185 participants most of them were development catalysts from the eleven (11) provinces, BDA staff and volunteers.   

Series of the similar orientations were scheduled this January 2015. The 3rd orientation conducted in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on January 4, 2015; 4th in Biwang, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat province on January 11, 2015; 5th in Matampay, Balabagan, Lanao del Sur on January 13, 2015; 6th in Pebpuluan, Carmen, North Cotabato on January 16, 2015; 7th in Maganoy, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao on January 17, 2015; and 8th in Poblacion, Pagalungan, Maguindanao on January 18, 2015.

Some of the important reminders were presented and clarified during the series of orientations as follows  1) The filling-up and submission of registration application form doesn’t mean the registration is already approved and that one can immediately participate in any electoral processes; 2) Approval/disapproval of registration applications are done through a hearing of the Election Regulatory Board (ERB) conducted every three months, thus, registration applications from January 5to March 31, 2015 will still be approved/disapproved on April 20, 2015 ERB’s hearing; and 3) To ensure participation in the coming plebiscite expectedly on June/July this year, unregistered qualified Bangsamoro has to register within January to March 2015 so ensure his/her registration is approved on April 20, 2015 and assured of his/her participation in the coming plebiscite set early this year.
On March 7, 2015, a Special Satellite Registration will be conducted at Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao according to Atty.Udtog M. Tago, Maguindanao Provincial Election Supervisor III. 

Municipal Election Officers of Maguindanao province will be reporting to Darapanan bringing with them their respective machines to facilitate the registration application of the members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in accordance with the municipality where they reside.

One of the highlights of the activities at Darapanan on March 7 is that MILF Central Committee officials will be the first to register to be witnessed by COMELEC officials, local and international NGOs, and other stakeholders.

MILF: MILF, MNLF factions and Mindanao leaders invited to congressional hearings on draft BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Jan 22): MILF, MNLF factions and Mindanao leaders invited to congressional hearings on draft BBL

The Senate as it starts its session this year will give priority to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and several bills aimed at improving the business climate, Senate President Franklin Drilon said.

The 75-member special committee of the House of Representatives headed by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan De Oro City also resumed its hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Law.

Rep. Rodriguez said that representatives of three factions of the Moro National Liberal Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari, Abul Khayr Alonto and Muslimin Sema and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were also invited to the hearing. 

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF Chief Negotiator said that his presence in the congressional hearing is due to his being the Chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which crafted the BBL.

“We want to get the views of all stakeholders, including armed groups,” Rodriguez said.

Also invited were incumbent and former Mindanao officials, including Bukidnon Gov. Jose Zubiri Jr. and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., former presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza, former Misamis Oriental lawmaker Homobono Adaza and Cagayan de Oro City Mayors Vicente Emano and Reuben Canoy.

About 60 other incumbent governors and city mayors were invited in another hearing on Wednesday.

Habib Mujahab Hashim, Chairman of the MNLF’s Islamic Command Council declined the invitation in view of their pending petition against the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB).

He also said that, ‘Even Chairman Nur Misuari will not be sending representative to the hearings”.

MILF: Moro fronts share sentiments on the Basic Law

Posted to the MILF Website (Jan 22):  Moro fronts share sentiments on the Basic Law

Leaders of the Moro revolutionary fronts and sultanates as well as Mindanao Christian politicians expressed their sentiments as the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) conducted its penultimate public hearing January 20 at the Nograles Hall of Congress of the Philippines.
Abulkhayr Alonto, once the vice-chairman of the undivided MNLF and who heads a faction thereof, reiterated his earlier stand for the passage of BBL while at the same time proposed some changes in the draft law.

Muslimin Sema, who also chairs another MNLF faction, said that “as far as the MNLF is concerned, we’re not against the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the furtherance of peace in our homeland.”

He added that “in fact we see the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro as a partial implementation of 1976 Tripoli Agreement.”

Sema clarified that they are “only apprehensive on how the government and this august body will dispense with the vital issues more importantly with preserving the gains of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and 1996 Final Peace Agreement.”

In response to the stands of MNLF leaders, MILF Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal thanked Alonto for his full support to the BBL.

Iqbal, who explained that his presence in the 35th public hearing was his being the concurrent BTC chairperson, announced that Alonto and MILF Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim signed a joint communiqué on January 5 at Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao which speaks of the unconditional support of the MNLF under Alonto.

He didn't react though to some issues raised by Sema because they have to discuss “between and among (themselves)” through the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum, a mechanism set up under auspices of the Organization of Islamic Conference for purpose of discussing issues affecting the MILF and MNLF.

Iqbal stressed that MILF position is very clear and quoted from the letter of Chairman Murad to Cong. Rufus Rodriguez which appealed to the members of the House of Representatives to “ensure that the mutually-agreed BBL draft as a legislation that is faithful in letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and its Annexes and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.”

The said letter also stated that the MILF welcomes minor changes or changes that clearly improve or enhances the BBL.

The Federation of Royal Sultanates of Lanao also manifested their full support to the passage of the BBL.

Bukidnon Provincial Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, Jr. called the Bangsamoro as “shining light” for the ushering of federal parliamentary government in the entire country.

Former Cong. Romeo Jaloslos, representing the Mindanao Council of Leaders, also stated their group’s support to the BBL with “exception”, to which he referred only to one provision.

CPP/Ang Bayan: The US war of aggression in Mindanao (1899-1913)

Propaganda article from the English language edition of the CPP online publication Ang Bayan (Jan 21): The US war of aggression in Mindanao (1899-1913)

[Ang Bayan is reprinting this article, which first appeared in its March 2002 issue. It is the fourth in a series of articles reminding readers of the heinous crimes perpetrated by US troops in the Philippines. The first three articles were about US crimes under the Military Bases Agreement and the Visiting Forces Agreement, and in Luzon and the Visayas during the US war of aggression.]

To be able to concentrate their forces on Luzon and the Visayas, the American colonialists deceived the Sultan of Sulu into signing the Bates Agreement of 1899 that declared US sovereignty over the island of Jolo. With the defeat of major sections of revolutionary resistance in Luzon, the US unilaterally scrapped the agreement in 1904 and declared total war on Mindanao.

Moro warriors and the people of Mindanao gallantly resisted the American troops. Because of their superiority in both the number and quality of their weaponry, the American soldiers were able to put down the resistance, but not before suffering major losses themselves. In retaliation, entire communities were massacred by US troops. Among the most infamous of these incidents are the following:

Bud Dajo Massacre. Up to 900 persons died in a three-day attack by the Americans on the entrance to Bud Dajo volcano in Jolo where Tausug resistance fighters had entrenched themselves from March 5-7, 1906. Most of the dead, including children and women, were riddled with bullets. According to someone who saw the bodies, many of them were hit more than 50 times. The Tausug, who were armed only with krises, spears and a few rifles, were no match to the US troops who were supported by cannons from their navy. Gen. Leonard Wood instructed the two battalions under his command to kill or capture the Tausug. (General Wood became governor-general of the Philippines from 1921-1927). The American troops were recorded to have suffered 21 dead and 75 wounded.

Bud Bagsak Massacre. Residents of Lati, Jolo entrenched themselves from January to June 1913 in formidable fortresses in the mountains of Jolo. US troops launched a series of attacks on the fortresses until they reached the entrenchment at Mt. Bagsak. On June 11, 1913, Gen. John Pershing ordered an attack on the fortress. Up to 2,000 persons died, including 196 women and 340 children. Although the incident was exposed in the media and assailed by the American people, Pershing was never punished.

Massacre in Talipao. Residents of Talipao, Jolo opposed paying taxes (such as the cedula tax and toll fees for the use of roads) to the US. They entrenched themselves at Mt. Talipao and on August 13, 1913, were attacked and defeated by American troops. This being the last major act of resistance by the Moro, the US declared an end to its war on Mindanao.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: NDFP consultant illegally arrested

Propaganda article from the English language edition of the CPP online publication Ang Bayan (Jan 21): NDFP consultant illegally arrested

State security forces illegally arrested Rogelio Posadas, a peace talks consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Posadas was arrested by elements of the 67th IB in Barangay Punao, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. He is currently held at the Philippine National Police detention center in Cadiz City, in the same province.

In a statement, NDFP chief negotiator Ka Luis Jalandoni roundly assailed the illegal arrest. Posadas was issued NDFP Document Identification No. ND978313 under the name Angel Jose. A Letter of Acknowledgment had also been issued by Silvestre H. Bello III, who chaired the GPH Negotiation Panel during the Ramos regime. Posadas is therefore covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Jalandoni demanded that the Aquino government release Posadas and 14 other NDFP consultants who are likewise being illegally detained. He said this was the GPH’s obligation under the JASIG, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other existing bilateral peace agreements.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Advances in Mindoro in 2014

Propaganda article from the English language edition of the CPP online publication Ang Bayan (Jan 21): Advances in Mindoro in 2014

The Party leadership and the entire revolutionary movement in Mindoro island are confident of achieving greater victories as they enter 2015 and heed the call to contribute to completing the requisites for reaching the stage of strategic stalemate. In this regard, they are marking the 46th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ reestablishment by summing up experiences and revolutionary work to use these as bases for their programs, tasks and rectification.

In the previous year, the Party, people’s army and all the revolutionary forces in the island fervently fulfilled their tasks of advancing the armed struggle, building the mass base and advancing agrarian revolution amid the worsening political and economic crisis in the country.

A number of successful tactical offensives were launched in Mindoro, the most striking of which was the victorious raid on the Paluan, Occidental Mindoro municipal hall on November 7 that yielded 20 high-powered firearms—enough to arm an additional platoon of Red fighters. Attritive military actions were likewise launched against operating troops of the 4th and 76th IB, 21st Division Reconnaissance Company and the PNP Regional Public Safety Battalion, inflicting major damage to their operations. The NPA makes sure that every time the enemy penetrates the revolutionary bases, they are fired upon by sniper and sapper teams. A number of enemy intelligence agents who served as obstacles to revolutionary work and were banes to the masses were likewise meted punishment, as were bad elements repudiated by the people and class enemies violating the people’s rights and destroying the environment.

Breakthroughs in consolidating the mass base were achieved in Mindoro, such as the conduct of a conference of additional full-fledged mass organizations, building branch groups as well as Party Branches. Experiences in waging agrarian revolution were summed up to ensure that victories are continually protected and preserved. The Basic Party Course was given and supplemented with other studies. Groups and committees of the peasantry, women, youth and national minorities were further consolidated through their participation in various economic, political and cultural tasks. The enemy’s military and psywar operations failed to prevent the conduct of these activities.

There are continuing struggles in Mindoro to defend both the ancestral land of national minorities and land long occupied and developed by settlers. About a thousand peasant and minority families till about a thousand hectares of land, exercising self-management in developing the land and addressing their needs. New forms and tactics of landgrabbing such as the National Greening Program and energy projects such as mines, hydrothermal, geothermal and wind projects are clearly threats to the people’s security, livelihoods and rights. They do not resolve the masses’ basic problems but cause greater suffering and poverty. The people are duty-bound to fight for the land being seized from them due to these pretexts.

Said the Party committee in Mindoro, they achieved their gains due to the Party’s correct leadership and adherence to basic revolutionary principles.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

Ceremonial first steel cutting of Navy’s strategic sealift vessel

From Ang Malaya (Jan 22): Ceremonial first steel cutting of Navy’s strategic sealift vessel

The ceremonial first steel cutting for one Makassar-class Landing Platform Dock, soon joining Philippine Navy as strategic sealift vessel, was held today – Department of National Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez confirms.

Cutting of the first piece of steel to be used for the vessel marks a construction milestone. Delivery of this unit is expected on the second quarter of 2016. The second and final delivery is set on 2017.

This vessel can act as the navy’s floating command center, while carrying out its main purpose as military sealift and transport vessel, in events of disasters and calamities. It will house a presidential and war room to accommodate the commander-in-chief and other high ranking military officials when need arises.

Navy Vice-commander Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad earlier said that AW-109s will become an on-board component of two Makassar-class vessels. Each SSV is designed to accommodate three helicopters.

Army relies on “Bayanihan” in fight against insurgency

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 22): Army relies on “Bayanihan” in fight against insurgency

The  1002nd Infantry Brigade  of the Philippine  Army puts  trust on community involvement  in its   bid to curtail  insurgency in its area of responsibility.

“The  Armed Forces of  the  Philippines  (AFP) is only a part  of the  solution to the   insurgency problem,”  Brigade  Commander   Colonel Ronald C. Villanueva   said in a meeting  with  members of the  media   at the brigade  headquarters in  Malandag, Malungon  Tuesday.

Col.  Villanueva emphasized  in  said  meeting that  the  AFP’s  peace and development  efforts  have  shifted   from predominantly   militaristic  solution to  a  people-centered  approach  that is  founded on consultations  and  engagements  with stakeholders.

 Their troops, he added, are exercising their role as catalysts or agents of change where they have to partly shift from their traditional roles as combatants to nation-builders.

1002nd Infantry  Brigade’s  AOR covers  South Cotabato and  Sarangani provinces, 2nd  District of  North Cotabato  and  the municipality of  Columbio, Sultan  Kudarat  in SOCCSKSARGEN Region and  Davao  del Sur.

The Army  official added that  the brigade  is confronting  the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) and Far-South Mindanao Region (FSMR) of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), National Democratic Front (NDF) and the New People’s Army (NPA) with an estimated strength of 140 regular members and 188 firearms.

Col. Villanueva explained that the rebel  group  has continued  to conduct   ideological, political, and  organizational  works to strengthen their armed elements, consolidating united front efforts and establishing reliable support bases in the communities particularly the indigenous people in upland areas.

“It is that illiteracy still a common reason that some of them are easily deceived and joined with the group. The “walang pakialam” attitude or being unmindful of the situation is also a reason why this insurgency problem exists for a long years”, said by Col Villanueva.

Quoting Desmond Tutu, he  underscored:  “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

“The vulnerabilities of the populace particularly those who are living in far flung communities of the region are persistently exploited by this rebel group.

“The situation is basically driven by unequal opportunity for development, unable to benefit from the delivery of basic services, injustice and poor governance, slow or lack of delivery of basic services and goods have pushed the region to sluggish economic growth,” he  explained  further.

Thus, he emphasized,  the  1002nd IB  conducts support operations in order to assist stakeholders create a just and peaceful environment conducive to sustainable development in its area of responsibility.

The primary objective shall be winning the peace through “Bayanihan,” he said.

At the meeting he  also  appealed to the media  to help  in their  efforts   by  quoting  from  Muzna Shakeel’s “The role of media in today’s world” which states: “The media is considered as "mirror" of the modern society. In fact, it is the media which shapes our lives.

“The media is in charge of information, education, entertainment, advertising and correlation of parts of society.

“Society is influenced by media in so many ways. It is the media for the masses that helps them to get information about a lot of things and also to form opinions and make judgments regarding various issues.

“It is the media which keeps the people updated and informed about what is happening around them and the world. No doubt, media has played significant role in making world a global village and to reduce the communication gaps amongst the people living in the far areas. I believe, if the media identifies its responsibility and work sincerely and honestly, then it can serve as a great force in building the nation.”

Also  present during the  meeting  were  Lt.Col. Ronald Jess S. Alcodia, battalion commander of 27IB based in Tupi, South Cotabato;  Lt. Col. Felix Ronnie B. Babac, battalion commander of 73IB based in Malita, Davao Occidental;  Lt.Col. Apollo Jun F. Lamaton, battalion commander of 39IB based in Sta.Cruz, Davao del Sur;  and staff officers from 1002nd Brigade and its operationally controlled units.

Suspected communist rebels torch bulldozer in S. Cotabato

From the Philippine Star (Jan 22): Suspected communist rebels torch bulldozer in S. Cotabato


Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members torched Tuesday night a bulldozer near the packing plant of Japanese firm Sumifru in T’boli, South Cotabato despite repeated military claims that the communist insurgency is weakening.

Cpt. Rey Balibagoso, public affairs officer of the Army’s 1002nd brigade, said two unidentified armed men burned the bulldozer owned by Jargon Construction Company at 8:37 p.m.

The bulldozer with body number SD22 was parked near the Sumifru packing plant in Sitio Spring, Barangay Poblacion in T’boli town.

The incident happened hours after the ceasefire between the government and the communist rebels was lifted.

The government declared the suspension of military offensives from December 18 to January 19 while the Communist Party of the Philippines implemented a staggered truce from December 24-26, from December 31 to January 1 and from January 15-19.

Balibagoso said witnesses had seen two unidentified men with long firearms escaping from the crime scene. The bulldozer was partially damaged as the fire was immediately put out by responding citizens.

Authorities are investigating the incident, which they believe is motivated by extortion.

“Prior to this incident, it was revealed that Jargon Construction Co. had been receiving extortion letter and threats from the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front),” Balibagoso said.

US, PHL: Reaffirm steadfast commitment to Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951

From Ang Malaya (Jan 22): US, PHL: Reaffirm steadfast commitment to Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951

The two-day Fifth Philippines-United States Bilateral Strategic Dialogue ended yesterday. The forum provided means to strengthen cooperation, address medium and long-term strategies to keep US-Philippine alliance attuned to the realities of the 21st century.

In a joint statement Philippines and United States said “we reaffirmed our steadfast commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, as reiterated in the November 2011 Manila Declaration and reiterated in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).”

“We decided to continue mutually beneficial efforts to reinforce our respective national and collective defense capabilities, including countering terrorism; to strengthen maritime security and maritime domain awareness; and to enhance disaster risk management, disaster preparedness, and rapid response.

The dialogue was co-chaired by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Evan P. Garcia and Undersecretary of National Defense Pio Lorenzo F. Batino from Philippines and Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel and Assistant Secretary of Defense David Shear for United State.

Philippines, US Oppose Beijing’s Activities in S. China Sea

From Voice of America (Jan 21): Philippines, US Oppose Beijing’s Activities in S. China Sea

 FILE - A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet aircraft takes off during a tour of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on patrol in the South China Sea May 23, 2013.

FILE - A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet aircraft takes off during a tour of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on patrol in the South China Sea May 23, 2013.

The Philippines is looking to its alliance with the United States to try to keep up with China’s reclamation activities in disputed islands in the South China Sea. 

Senior officials from both countries strengthened their strategic alliance during two days of bilateral talks on trade and defense that ended Wednesday in Manila.

Click to enlarge
High on the agenda was maritime security, as well as concerns about China’s ongoing reclamation work on reefs and shoals in the Spratly Islands that the Philippines claims. 

Last month the Philippine military’s chief of staff said based on intelligence information, facilities at one of the larger outcroppings, Fiery Cross Reef, could be completed soon. 

Philippine Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino calls development at the reef, which in November appeared to be expanding to accommodate an airstrip, “a very serious concern.”  But the Philippines, with one of the smallest military budgets in Asia, is powerless to stop any of it.

“We have to increase our capabilities and that will only come through modernization," Batino said. "This is a realization of course ... of the needed modernization that we needed to implement earlier.”

Military modernization

U.S. Defense Assistant Secretary David Shear told reporters after the meeting his department’s 2015 budget includes $40 million in military loans for the Philippines.
The country is in the midst of implementing a five-year $1.8 billion military modernization program, but the country will still have tiny naval and air fleets compared to its neighbors.

With a lacking military, Manila is taking the diplomatic track.  An international tribunal is reviewing its arbitration case against Beijing that questions what it calls China’s “excessive claims in the South China Sea.”  China rejects arbitration and did not submit any supporting materials to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague.

China has repeatedly said it has “indisputable sovereignty” over the sea and its hundreds of outcroppings.

Beijing's claims questioned

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Russel says the United States has consistently called on China to adhere to a non-binding declaration it signed with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations on keeping the peace amid competing claims, and to follow international law as the basis for its sovereign claims in the resource-rich sea.

“Behavior that raises tensions, behavior that raises questions about China’s intention and behavior that would appear to be inconsistent with the principles that I have enumerated, work counter to those goals,” said Russel.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Evan Garcia says Manila is “after a peaceful resolution,” and Chinese reclamation activities on the disputed islands “are not a positive development.”

Improved human rights record? US lifts cap on military aid to PHL

From GMA News (Jan 22): Improved human rights record? US lifts cap on military aid to PHL

The US government has lifted a financial cap on military funding support to the Philippines, which was imposed five years ago due to concerns over alleged human rights violations.
For each year since 2009, the U.S. Congress had been enforcing a cutback of $3-million worth of assistance to the country amid many accusations of human rights violations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which allegedly flourished during the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“Yes they have (lifted it) sometime last year,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said at a lunch reception for the media.
Washington’s move to revoke the financial limit on its defense assistance to the Philippines signifies its acknowledgment of Manila’s progress in addressing human rights situation in the country under the leadership President Benigno S. Aquino III.
However, Del Rosario said the amount deducted on Manila’s military assistance in the last five years can no longer be recovered.
“It is not retroactive,” Del Rosario said.
US lawmakers earlier promised to lift the cap until the Philippine government meets certain conditions related to solving and prosecuting cases of extrajudicial killings.
The aid is deemed crucial to the government’s current efforts in upgrading its military—perceived to be one of the region’s weakest—in protecting its territorial sovereignty amid competing claims with China in resource-rich areas in the South China Sea.
Visiting US Defense and State Department officials, who were in Manila this week for a bilateral dialogue with Filipino counterparts, said Washington will be providing $40 million in military financing to the Philippines this year.
US Defense Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific David Shear said Washington’s continued assistance is part of its commitment to support Philippine efforts to modernize its military.
“We want to do everything we can to help the Philippine side make the best use of assistance we provide,” Shear said

JI plot: Why cell signals turned off during Pope visit

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Jan 22): JI plot: Why cell signals turned off during Pope visit

The al-Qaeda-linked regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah had plotted an attack against Pope Francis during his five-day visit to the Philippines, sources revealed yesterday.

But the massive security preparations made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) thwarted the JI terror plot that was monitored weeks before the arrival of Pope Francis on Jan. 15.

Sources in the security side of the Papal Visit 2015 said the terror plot was validated and confirmed by intelligence counterparts in the region.

Malacañang, however, maintained the government did not have to deal with any specific threats during the five-day papal visit.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there was the normal procedure required to check every meter of the route that very important persons – like the pope – would pass through.

Coloma stressed the various armed groups in the national threat board were considered in the security preparations for the papal visit.

“We can only say that it’s part of our security preparations for the pope’s visit, ” he said.

AFP spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla also said they monitored no direct threat against Pope Francis.

He said the military and the police have considered everything in their security preparations for the Papal Visit 2015.

Sources in the intelligence community, on the other hand, declined to discuss in detail the foiled plot but they said the pope was informed of the prevailing security situation on the ground during his five-day stay.

Before leaving for Rome on Monday, the pope met with top military and police officials to personally thank them for keeping him safe.

One of the sources said there are things that are best left unsaid but admitted this monitored terror plot was very serious.

“It must not come from us. If there is any announcement to this effect, it should come from higher authorities,” another security official said.

There were reports that JI planned to detonate an improvised explosive device on the papal convoy. The plan reportedly failed because of the full cooperation and coordination of the authorities with the Swiss Guards in charge of the personal security of the pope.

This was the reason why cellular signals were cut off in areas where Pope Francis visited in Metro Manila and in Leyte.

The seriousness of the JI threat also triggered additional deployment of the military’s elite anti-terrorism force.

Elements of the US-trained Light Reaction Company (LRC) as well as the military armored assets were discreetly deployed in key areas, particularly during the concluding mass of Pope Francis in Rizal Park.

The risk was so high on Sunday that security forces had to adjust their security preparations around Rizal Park to confuse would-be attackers.

Nearly 40,000 soldiers and police were deployed to protect the pontiff during his five-day trip.

Attempts have been made to kill visiting popes twice before.

On the first papal visit to the Philippines in 1970, Bolivian painter Benjamin Mendoza donned a priest’s cassock and swung a knife at Pope Paul VI as he arrived at the Manila airport.

Paul VI was wounded but continued his trip without disclosing his injury.

Then, one week before John Paul II’s visit in 1995, police uncovered a plot by foreign Islamist extremists to bomb his Manila motorcade route.

Adding to the concerns, the 78-year-old Francis has insisted he will not travel in a bulletproof popemobile so he could be closer to his flock.

The Vatican also requested the local authorities in charge of Pope Francis’ route around Rizal Park last Sunday to make a last-minute change to allow the pope to bless as many people as possible.

Aside from a crowd potentially crushing the pope, the route would also make him an easy target for an assailant.

Pacific Partnership to conduct humanitarian mission in Capiz

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 22): Pacific Partnership to conduct humanitarian mission in Capiz

ROXAS CITY, Capiz - The United States Armed Forces will be extending humanitarian activities in Capiz and other provinces in the region.

According to US Civil Affairs Team head Captain John K. Karlsson, the humanitarian mission in the middle of July is in line with the Pacific Partnership 2015 which will be based in Capiz.

He said that on top of their various humanitarian services for Capiceños and people from the nearby provinces will be the conduct of medical mission, engineering works especially for schools and health facilities, disaster risk reduction and management activities as well as community outreach program.

Karlsson likewise stressed that the Pacific Partnership 2015 is a partnership effort of the governments of the United States and the Philippines.

He said that about a thousand of US military personnel will be arriving here in Capiz on board a USNS Mercy for the two-week humanitarian mission.

On the other hand, USNS Mercy Surgery Liaison Dr. Kevin Casey disclosed that they are targeting some 400 to 450 patients for their surgical procedures to include pediatric surgery, gall bladder surgery, and cataract surgery, among others, in their ship hospital during their medical mission activities here.

Part of such mission is also the “Operation Smile” which provides for free surgeries to repair cleft lip and cleft palate.

Casey said that the pre-screening process for the patients will be done at the Roxas Memorial Provincial Hospital.

He said that they are now in close contact with the RMPH, Provincial Health Office and local health units especially for the said medical mission.

Meanwhile, Capiz Provincial Administrator lawyer Jose Villanueva said that the upcoming Pacific Partnership 2015 is given full support by the provincial government because the same will greatly help Capiceños especially the poor.

Villanueva said that while Capiz was heavily hit by supertyphhon Yolanda in 2013, people here have easily recovered from the wrath because of the continuous help of the international humanitarian organizations and communities.

He said that the event here in July is another welcome opportunity for the residents not only of Capiz but also from neighboring areas in Panay Island to avail of free services particularly the surgical procedures free of charge from foreign medical specialist.

Cotabato City PNP, Army placed on heightened alert following North Cotabato bombings

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 22): Cotabato City PNP, Army placed on heightened alert following North Cotabato bombings

Mayor Japal Guiani Jr has directed the Cotabato City police office and members of the multi-agency peace and order council to ensure the safety of residents amid bombings in nearby North Cotabato the past days.

Speaking to reporters, Guiani said he has recommended to the Army Special Forces Battalion task to secure the city as back up force to the city PNP to deploy armored personnel carriers along major entry and exit points of the city.

"The bombing is very alarming because the victims are civilians and non combatants," Guiani said.

He also urged the public to remain vigilant against lawless elements and people engaged in illegal drugs.

Eight bombing incidents have been reported in North Cotabato, including the explosion of a rifle grenade in Barangay Poblacion here last Sunday.

No one has claimed responsibility in the rash of bombings but the military blamed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Of the eight bombing incidents, two attempts were foiled while six improvised bombs were detonated by bombers.

Two bombings toppled transmission towers of National Grid Corporation of the Philippines in separate areas in Pikit, North Cotabato on January 13 and January 18.

The twin bombings sent parts of North Cotabato, the whole of Maguindanao and Cotabato City without electricity for more than three hours.

Power supply was restored on Wednesday.

Guiani said securing the city is not only the sole responsibility of police and other law enforcers but everybody.

He directed the village officials to closely monitor the movement of its villagers.

"Should there be new faces and doing suspicious activities, it should be reported to authorities so they can be monitored," Guiani said.

The BIFF vehemently denied involvement in bombing of civilians in North Cotabato but the military claimed the bombs used were similar to those recovered in BIFF camps in Maguindanao.

The BIFF, a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIFF), is opposed to the peace agreement and publicly declard it will continue harassing Army positions in Maguindanao.

Bombing attempt foiled in Isabela City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 22): Bombing attempt foiled in Isabela City

Isabela City, Basilan: Government security forces have foiled a bombing attempt late Wednesday in this city, a top police official disclosed.

Supt. Albert Larubis, local police chief, said Thursday the bombing attempt was foiled after a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) was discovered around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in Barangay Kaumpurnah Zone 3, this city.

Larubis said the IED, which was concealed in a plastic container sealed with packing tape, was placed under a foot bridge in front of the residence of Ayub Abdil and near the residence of Mayor Muctar Junaid of Tabuan Lasa, this province.

Larubis said the IED was found by Hadji Aradji Jauhari, one of the Tabuan Lasa’s municipal guards, who immediately reported to the local police. Jauhari also owns a house in the area.

Larubis said they immediately sealed off the area and verification by the bomb-sniffing dog “revealed positive indication of an explosive material.”

He said the police and military explosive ordnance demolition personnel rendered safe procedure twice as the first disruption did not fully disarmed the IED.

He said investigation showed the IED is powerful since its main charge consisted of 60-milimeter (mm) and 81-mm mortar ammunitions.

He said the other components of the IED were four bottles of Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil (ANFO) explosive mixtures, one booster explosive, several pieces of one-inch concrete nails, stranded electrical wires and a radio transceiver as the triggering device.

He said investigation continues in a bid to identify the people behind the bombing attempt.

Larubis said they have tightened security in coordination with the military forces to thwart bombing attempts in this city.

Military armored vehicle hits landmine in Basilan; troops unhurt

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 22): Military armored vehicle hits landmine in Basilan; troops unhurt

Government forces escaped unscathed Thursday an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion perpetrated by suspected Abu Sayyaf brigands in Basilan province, an official disclosed.

Capt. Ma. Rowena Muyuela, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, said the explosion occurred around 1:15 p.m. Thursday in Barangay Baiwas, Sumisip, Basilan.

Muyuela said the troops were conducting security and resupply operations when the V-150 “commando” armored vehicle they were riding accidentally tripped on an IED fashioned out as a landmine along the Pamatsaken-Baiwas road.

Muyuela said there was no casualty and the armored vehicle was not damaged during the incident.

The vehicle belongs to the 11th Light Armored Cavalry Troop (11LACT) of the Army’s 1st Light Armored Battalion (1LAB).

The area where the incident occurred was the site of series of clashes on Tuesday between the government forces and Abu Sayyaf brigands.

Three Abu Sayyaf brigands were killed while six others were wounded while no one among the troops were either killed or wounded during the clashes.

F/A-50s able to do autonomous air patrols

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 22): F/A-50s able to do autonomous air patrols

With its relative updated radar systems onboard, the soon-to-be commissioned F/A-50s "Fighting Eagle" is able to do autonomous air patrols without relying too much on ground based surveillance systems.

This was disclosed by Philippine Air Force (PAF)spokesperson Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya in a message to the PNA.

"(The F/A-50s) has its own onboard radar systems so it can detect (any hostile air threats) while on patrol," he added.

Canaya declined to give the specifics of the F/A-50's radar systems for security reasons but stressed that it is quite adequate for air patrol work.

Sources said this feature of the South Korean made jet fighter has greatly boosted the air defense capabilities of the PAF which was greatly reduced with the decommissioning of its Northrop F-5 "Tiger" jet fighter squadrons and Vought F-8 "Crusader" fleet, in 2005 and 1988, respectively.

This was done due to air frame aging and lack of spare parts to keep the two planes on operational status.

WIth the deactivation of its two premier supersonic jet fighters, the PAF was forced to convert the SIAI-Marchetti S-211 jet trainers for an air defense role.

However, the S-211s are ill-suited for air defense work due to their slow speeds

The Department of National Defense earlier said that the radar systems onboard the F/A-50s is one of the many pluses why the Philippines opted to acquire 12 units of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) made jet fighter over its many competitors.

The first two F/A-50s are expected to be delivered and commissioned by the last quarter of this year.

The Philippines has signed a Php18.9 billion with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the delivery of 12 F/A-50s.

And when questioned further, the DND official estimates that the two jets might be delivered within the third quarter of 2015.

The F/A-50 has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one and a half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.

The F/A-50 will act as the country's interim fighter until the Philippines get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

The F/A-50 design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

KAI's previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the F/A-50.

The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.

The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.

An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.

Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.

The F/A-50 uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and Korean Aerospace Industries.

The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.

Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.

PAF logged 362 flying hours in missions related to Pope Francis' visit

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 22): PAF logged 362 flying hours in missions related to Pope Francis' visit

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) logged 362 flying hours in missions related to the security of Pope Francis during his Jan. 15-19 visit to the country,PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya said on Thursday.

He added that this flying time included those of rehearsals and actual air cover related to the papal events in Metro Manila, Tacloban City Leyte.

"PAF flew a total of 362 flying hours for the rehearsals and actual air cover, transport of personnel and equipment, aeromedical evacuation and extrication of Pope (rehearsals only) in Manila and Tacloban areas," Canaya said.

Aircraft involved in these missions for Pope Francis include Sikorsky S-70A helicopters, McDonnell Douglas MG-520 attack helicopters, W-3 "Sokol' combat utility helicopters, Bell Iroquis UH-IH IIs and "Super Huey" helicopters, Lockheed C-130 "Hercules," Fokker F-27 and F-28, and GAF N-22 "Nomad" transport aircraft.

Canaya said that there were no reports of overflight violations.

The PAF and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) had declared all areas where Pope Francis was conducting activities as "no-fly zones."

Army units now conducting pursuit operations against rebels that attacked civilians in Bukidnon, Surigao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 22): Army units now conducting pursuit operations against rebels that attacked civilians in Bukidnon, Surigao

Troopers from the Cagayan De Oro-based 4th Infantry Division are now conducting pursuit operations against the New People's Army (NPA) bands who attacked civilian establishments and equipment in Bukidnon and Surigao Del Sur Tuesday.

Belated reports provided by 4th Infantry Division spokeserson Major Christian Uy to the PNA Thursday said the first attack took place at the DOLE Philippines Plantation in Barangay Lilingayon, Valencia, Bukidnon at 10 p.m.

In this instance, seven heavily-armed members of the NPAs forcibly entered the establishment where they disarmed the duty guard of his 12-gauge shotgun and ICOM radio before gutting and damaging the banana processor owned by the firm.

The rebels immediately made their getaway while other personnel of the establishment managed to extinguish the fire.

Motive for the attack stemmed from the rebels' "personal grudge" against the security personnel, Uy said.

Earlier, a force of 30 NPA fighters attacked a mining firm in Mount Bakahan, Purok 3, Barangay Mabini, Surigao City, Surigao Del Sur, and destroyed one dump truck, one mini dump truck, two backhoes and payloaders.

The rebels were believed to be members of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Command.

Uy said that they are still determining the NPAs motive for this attack. He added that pursuit operations are now ongoing as of this posting.