Sunday, May 3, 2015

USS Green Bay Sailors volunteer in Subic Bay

From DVIDS (May2): USS Green Bay Sailors volunteer in Subic Bay

USS Green Bay

150430-N-EI510-074 SUBIC BAY, Philippines (April 30, 2015) - Sailors attached to the forward deployed amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) interact with a student of the Association For Differently Abled Persons during a community relations event. Green Bay is part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 3rd Marine Division Forward, is currently participating in exercise Balikatan 2015, an annual bilateral exercise conducted with members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Barnes/Released)

SUBIC BAY, Philippines - Sailors attached to the forward deployed USS Green Bay (LPD 20) volunteered at the Association for Differently Abled Person’s (ADAP) Center for Special Education in Subic Bay, Philippines, during a community relations project April 30, 2015.
“Today we were allotted the opportunity to really understand what the Association for Differently Abled Persons is all about,” said Lt. Nicholes Alander, chaplain aboard Green Bay. “Getting the chance to understand how children with disabilities struggle in their day to day lives and being able to sit down and spend one-on-one time with them changed my life and the lives of the Sailors who volunteered.”

“The Sailors being here helps the children develop communication skills,” ADAP President, Dr. Emilia P. Sanchez said. “We appreciate the time that the children are able to spend with them.”

During the event Sailors were given a brief history of the ADAP by Sanchez, watched presentations put on by the students and spent time sharing stories with the staff and students of the Center for Special Education.

“This experience will be with me forever,” Chief Engineman Juan Castillo said. “It helped me appreciate what me and my children really have.”

“Doing events like these show that the Navy cares for all walks of life, taking the time to interact with children with disabilities truly shows the ethos of our core values,” Alander said. “This event helped me gain a new appreciation for what we have and what we could offer just by using our time and energy to help out the community of Subic Bay.”

Green Bay is part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 3rd Marine Division Forward, is currently participating in exercise Balikatan 2015, an annual bilateral exercise conducted with members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Wanted terrorist Abdulbasit Usman killed by MILF

From MindaNews (May 3): Wanted terrorist Abdulbasit Usman killed by MILF

Abdulbasit Usman, one of the country’s most wanted terrorists was killed 11:50 a.m. Sunday in a chance encounter with troops of Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) 118th Base Command under a Commander Barok in Barangay Muti, Guindulungan, Maguindanao.

Maguindanao police director Sr. Supt. Nickson Muksan confirmed the report based on the validation with Muti barangay captain Gayak Midtimbang, Guindulungan Mayor Midpantao Midtimbang and Toks Upam of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.

The MILF had earlier said it would help government in going after Usman who eluded arrest by the elite commandos of the 84th Special Action Company of the Phlilippine National Police – Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) early morning of January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The SAF’s operation was not coordinated with the provincial or regional police, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, and the ceasefire mechanisms of the government-MILF peace panels.

Usman’s ally, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan was killed in that law enforcement action in a village identified to be under the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a group that broke away from the MILF in early 2010.

The SAF’s operation was not coordinated with the provincial or regional police, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, and the ceasefire mechanisms of the government-MILF peace panels.

 The 84th Company’s supposed blocking force engaged in a battle with members of the MILF, later with the BIFF, as well as Private Armed Groups (PAGs).

Aside from Marwan, a total of 66 persons were killed that morning: 44 from the SAF, 17 from the MILF and five civilians.

Mayor Midtimbang said Usman and his men are not welcome in his town.

The United States’ National Counterterrorism Center in its website described Usman as “a Filipino citizen, a bomb-making expert with links to the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiyah.

A million dollar (44.5 million pesos) reward has been allocated for information leading to his arrest.

19 NPA rebels yield in Agusan del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (May 2): 19 NPA rebels yield in Agusan del Sur

Weary and tired of the unsettled and uncertain living in the hinterlands of a southern province, 19 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels decided they had enough and came down from their mountain lairs and yielded to the folds of the law and to settle down back to society’s mainstream, police report said.

Reports from Agusan del Sur Police reaching the regional headquarters here on Friday said that 19 NPA rebels gave up their armed struggle against the government and personally surrendered to Hon. Dario E. Otaza, municipal mayor of Loreto, Agusan del Sur and to the police and military authorities in the area belonging to the municipal police station of Loreto and the 26th Infantry Battalion, 4ID of the Philippine Army.

The surrenderees came in two batches, the police report said. The first batch composed of 15 surrenderees yielded at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, coming from Guerilla Front Committee -89 of the North Central Mindanao Revolutionary Committee under a certain Tumbow Telocan, alias “Watiwit” of Mandalikan, Kabanglasan, Bukidnon. The second batch composed of 4 NPAs came on Thursday at 6:00 a.m. from Guerilla Front -34 of the Southern Mindanao Revolutionary Committee headed by a certain Commander Maximo Catarata alias “Datu Makatindug” operating at Kasapa 2, La Paz in Agusan del Sur.

The surrenderees brought along with them assorted Caliber of firearms and equipments which were properly turned over to the Loreto Municipal Police. These consisted of : three Spring Field rifles with defaced Serial Numbers; an improvised Caliber .22 Rifle with defaced Serial Number; 10 Caliber .38 revolvers with defaced Serial Numbers; an improvised 5.56 pistol with defaced Serial Number; 2 Caliber .38 with defaced serial Numbers and a Caliber .22 revolver with defaced Serial Number.

After the proper documentation, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) extended intervention and livelihood program grants for the surrenderees, while their surrendered firearms will be subjected for ballistic examination and records verification by the crime laboratory.

Chief Supt. David Y. Ombao and the entire PRO 13 leadership congratulated the rebel returnees, saying that they had made the right decision in coming down from their mountain lairs and to leave the armed struggle in order to settle to normal living and join their families and relatives back in the society’s mainstream.

URGENT: PNP, MILF say Basit Usman is dead

From the Philippine News Agency (May 3): URGENT: PNP, MILF say Basit Usman is dead

The country's most wanted bomber who had eluded arrest by government forces was killed in a clash with elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Maguindanao as the country was busy watching the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. boxing match on Sunday, a ranking police official said.

Abdul Basit Usman, who had a one million US dollars (about PhP45 million) reward for his arrest, died in a chance encounter with MILF guerrillas in the village of Muti, Guindulungan, Maguindanao at 11:50 a.m., according to Senior Supt. Nickson Muksan.

Muksan, the Maguindanao police provincial director, said Usman was killed in a 20-minute firefight with the group of MILF commander Barok, a sub-leader of the MILF's 118th base command headed by Wahid Tundok.

"We confirmed that Usman was killed, his companions were also wounded," Muksan told reporters.

He said Barangay Muti Chairman Gayak Midtimbang and Guindulungan Mayor Antao Midtimbang confirmed the most wanted bomber was killed.

"We are against extremism, we do not welcome Basit Usman in our town," Mayor Midtimbang told reporters.

Toks Upam, liaison officer of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities of the MILF, also confirmed Usman's death.

Quoting reports from MILF field commanders, Mohaqher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, said Usman traded shots with members of the MILF in Barangay Muti, triggering a gun battle.

He said the MILF in the area did not know Usman was with a group of armed men passing by the MILF identified area. When accosted, Usman's group fired shots.

On Jan. 25, 2015, Abdul Basit Usman was one of the two terrorists eyed by government forces in enforcing Oplan Exodus in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, now known as the 2015 Mamasapano clash.

His companion and other target of the operation, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abd Hir, alias Marwan, was killed in the raid, while Usman escaped.

Police and military authorities tagged Usman as the brains behind the rash of bombing incidents in General Santos City, Davao, North Cotabato and Cotabato City.

He was also seen in a police commando surveillance video with Marwan a week before the Malaysian terrorist was killed in a police commando operation in Mamasapano on Jan. 25.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu was quoted as saying that Usman was wounded in the Jan. 25 police operation which also killed 44 Special Action Force members, 17 MILF guerrillas and three civilians.

Mangudadatu said Usman, along with his followers, was moving from one place to another in Maguindanao to elude arrest by pursuing government forces.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said information about Usman's death was strong and that the Army in Maguindanao has been placed on heightened alert to thwart any attempt by Usman's followers to launch terror attacks to avenge his death.

Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) which claoimed to have coddled Marwan and Usman, refused to confirm nor deny the report.

Mama said he was busy watching the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight when he heard of the news and had no way to confirm it.

(News Features) Calamity resistant schools, a positive legacy of Balikatan 2015

From the Philippine News Agency (May 1): (News Features) Calamity resistant schools, a positive legacy of Balikatan 2015

Eight calamity resistant schools, six in Palawan and two for Panay, are some of the positive memories left behind by the recently concluded two-week Balikatan 2015 military exercises between American, Australian and Filipino troopers.

Balikatan 2015 started April 20 and officially ended on April 30.

Lt. Cmdr. Mike Guzzi, US Navy Balikatan Exercises 2015 operations officer for humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) events, said the combined troops constructed classrooms that could accommodate 30 to 50 students.

Guzzi said that they chose the Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa as one of their beneficiaries because they were considering the possibility of overcrowding in the school as effect of the newly-adapted curriculum K to12 program.

Commodore James Meyer, in his turnover speech at the Sta. Lourdes Elementary School, lauded the combined efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, United States and Australian Defense Forces soldiers in leaving behind typhoon and earthquake resistant structures to students.

He said that these buildings would be able to withstand calamities in the future.

Meyer also said that they hope these could serve generations after generations of Filipino students who would one day lead the country.

He added strong foundations of the school buildings they were leaving behind to students in Palawan and Panay are manifestations of the soldiers’ commitment to service.

“The United States remains committed in its friendship to the Republic of the Philippines. These classrooms are testaments of everyone involved in its building,” Meyer said.

He said that the construction of the school left behind fond memories in the US soldiers’ minds that they would forever be treasured.

"As the soldiers are preparing to part ways as Balikatan wraps up, we are not just leaving behind a school, not just memories. We are leaving behind friendships...friendships that would stand the tests of time...We'll be leaving a part of our hearts behind," he said.

Vice Admiral Alexander S. Lopez, Philippine Balikatan exercise director, called on the students of Sta. Lourdes to take care of the classrooms.

“We want to see these classrooms still standing eight to ten years from now. Take care of them so future students could use them too,” he said.

Lopez added they opted to build school buildings because they symbolized the future of the country – the youth.

“It is where learning starts and with it you will be able to help your fellowmen too,” he added.

Lopez thanked the students, parents and teachers for allowing the soldiers of AFP, US and ADF to become part of their lives even just for a few days.

"Let us remember our soldiers from the AFP, US Armed Forces and Australian Defense Forces as the builders of peace, builders of progress, builders of development and, most of all, builders of hope," he concluded.

Japan Coast Guard ship Yashima to arrive Sunday

From the Philippine News Agency (May 2): Japan Coast Guard ship Yashima to arrive Sunday

The Japan Coast Guard ship Yashima (PLH-22) will be arriving at Manila South Harbor for a visit to its Philippine counterparts 9 a.m. Sunday.

She will be welcomed by officers and enlisted personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard.

The Yashima is one of the Shikishima class patrol ships of the JCG. The vessels were built by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Tokyo.

Planned to guard plutonium transport ships, the Shikishima class is the largest and heaviest-equipped patrol vessel of the JCG.

With her cruising capacity, she can make voyages from Japan to Europe without making any calls.

The Yashima was commissioned on Dec. 1, 1988. She has a gross tonnage of 5,204 tons and measures 130 meters in length and has a width of 15.50 meters.

The ship has a molded draft of 6.50 meters and a complement of 130 officers and ratings. She is armed with a 35mm auto-cannon and a 20mm Vulcan cannon.

She is also equipped with a Bell 412 helicopter.

Four former communist rebels receive Php128,000 for surrendered firearms

From the Philippine News Agency (May 2): Four former communist rebels receive Php128,000 for surrendered firearms

Four former New People's Army (NPA) fighters, who recently surrendered to the 68th Infantry Battalion along with their firearms, received Php128,000 from the government last Friday during short ceremonies at Talaingod Tribal Center, Brgy. Sto. Ni┼ło, Talaingod, Davao Del Norte.

1st Lt. Vergel Lacambra, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the former rebels identified as Ben, Bueno, Janice and Arbie, surrendered an M-16AI automatic rifle, a carbine, a .45 caliber pistol and a 9mm handgun to troopers of the 68th Infantry Battalion last December.

Lacambra also said the four decided to surrender because of hardships and feeling of betrayal by their NPA leaders.

“Complemented by our Peace and Development Outreach Program in Talaingod, we are hoping that more rebels will come out to return to the folds of law and give up their senseless armed struggle with the help of the empowered Tribal Leaders in the area,” Lacambra said.

Since January this year, a total of 46 NPA rebels have surrendered to different units under 10th Infantry Division.

Muslim Filipino groups reaffirm commitment to peace and the BBL

From the Philippine News Agency (May 2): Muslim Filipino groups reaffirm commitment to peace and the BBL

In a public display of solidarity, Muslim Filipino groups and civil society organizations recently gathered to reaffirm their commitment to the peace process and the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)

The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), led the "Walk for Peace" from the NCMF office to the House of Representatives in Batasan, Quezon City.

They were joined by representatives from Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Partylist, Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN), CODE-NGO, UP Institute of Islamic Studies and other CSOs.

The NCMF, AMIN Partylist, YMPN, CODE-NGO and other Moro CSOs have publicly declared its support for President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s call on Congress to approve the Mindanao peace process by passing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

In a statement, they implored the public to not allow the deaths of those who were pursuing peace and security to go in vain. “Lasting peace remains to be our only option. Let us continue to be steadfast and vigilant in giving peace a chance,” NCMF said.

Various groups, through their representatives, echoed the same sentiments and calls as the congregation gathered outside the South gate of the House of Representatives.

NCMF Undersecretary Yasmin Busran-Lao thanked all the groups and individuals who participated in the 'Walk for Peace' and called upon lawmakers to help ensure the passage of the BBL. “Sana ay ipasantabi po muna natin ang mga alitan. Sana ay pakinggan tayo ng ating mga kapatid na mamababatas (We hope we can set aside our differences and our legislators would listen to our call for the passage of the BBL),” she said.

For Sister Maria Arnold Noel, a Catholic nun and peace advocate renowned for her support to the Muslim cause said that the Mamasapano tragedy is a wake-up call to the country and its people who do not heed history.“Kung meron sanang kapayapaan, ‘di sana nangyari ‘yung Mamasapano (If there was peace in Mindanao, then Mamasapano would not have happened),” she said.“ The BBL is a key in correcting the historical injustices that causes the violence in Bangsamoro.”

AMIN Party List Advocacy Officer Norhaya Macusang, likened the BBL to a meal that has taken ages to prepare to make sure that all the ingredients are there and in the right amount.“Pinaghandaan ito ng 17 years. Niluluto na, pero may mga nagnanais na bawasan ang sangkap o pigilan ang pagkain dito (This peace deal has been cooking for 17 years, and when we are about to finish there are some who want to remove key ingridients or prevent it from being served),” she lamented.

UPISS Professor Aisha Flores-Malayang compared their cause to stoking the flames of a different kind of fire --- a “Lagablab ng Kapayapaan,” a fire that does not cause pain but heals, she said. “Ipaalam natin na may mga alternatibong solusyon sa all-out war (The public has to know that there is an alternative to all-out war).”

YMPN Secetary General Alamira Alonto, who was among the final speakers, summed up the relevance of the event. “‘Walk for Peace’ is a meaningful event that symbolizes that the journey to peace takes collective effort. The journey may not be smooth-sailing, but those who aspire and believe that we can achieve peace, will walk together (even the extra mile) to reach our shared goal: para sa ating iisang mithiing kapayapaan (for the peace that we all yearn),” she declared. “No turning back, no backing out from the commitment to peace.”

She asserted that they will continue to stand for peace in honor of their ancestors’ struggle and in service of this generation and the next. Alonto also reiterated the long-term benefit of the BBL – a notion that seems lost to its critics.

“Ang BBL para sa amin, ay ‎'Bangsamoro Bukas para sa Lahat' (BBL for us mean, 'Bangsamoro is tomorrow for all'). Ito ay para sa kinabukasan ng lahat ng Pilipino (This is for the future of all Filipinos)." We remind our lawmakers that your children, the young generation today, us the youth will bear the brunt or reap the benefits of your decision on the BBL or the peace process, she said.

Army to acquire 1,771,056 blank rounds of 7.62mm ammo

From the Philippine News Agency (May 3): Army to acquire 1,771,056 blank rounds of 7.62mm ammo

The Philippine Army (PA) has announced that it is looking for suppliers capable of supplying it with 1,771,056 blank rounds of 7.62mm ammunition.

The planned purchase is worth PhP39,831,049.44. Pre-bid conference is scheduled for May 7 at the Philippine Army Bids and Awards Committee at 9 a.m.

Bid opening is on May 19, at 10:30 a.m. on the same venue.

7.62mm ammunitions are used by the military for their general purpose light machine guns and sniper rifles.

(Update) AFP verifying deaths of Usman, 2 other followers in MILF clash

From the Philippine News Agency (May 3): (Update)AFP verifying deaths of Usman, 2 other followers in MILF clash

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is verifying reports that Filipino terrorist and bomb-maker Basit Usman and two of his companions were killed during an encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces at Barangay Mote, Guindolongan town in Maguindanao before noon Sunday.

Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, AFP spokesperson, quoting unverified reports, said the encounter took place at 11:30 a.m.

He added that MILF forces under a certain Commander Barok clashed with Usman's group, killing the latter and two of his followers.

Kakilala said the report is still subject for confirmation by ground units, particularly the 6th Infantry Division.

The AFP spokesperson said that they have requested pictures of the three for further validation.

Earlier reports claimed that Usman was killed during an encounter with a Moro Islamic Liberation Front group under Commander Malboro of the 106th Base Command.

Usman and Malaysian terror bomber Zulkipli bin Hir, alias "Marwan," were the targets of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

In the operation and issuing encounter, "Marwan" was killed along with 44 SAF members, 18 MILF fighters and five civilians.