Sunday, July 26, 2015

Authorities to cause-oriented groups: Police own ranks

From GMA News (Jul 27): Authorities to cause-oriented groups: Police own ranks 

Hours before President Benigno Aquino III delivers his last State of the Nation, protesters have started arriving at Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to air their gripes against the administration.
To prevent a confrontation, authorities have not only set up barricades to contain them but also sat with leaders of these cause-oriented groups.
In an interview with GMA News' Unang Balita on Monday morning, Chief Superintendent Joel Pagdilao, Quezon City police director, said the meeting was held last July 22 at the Quezon City Sports Complex, where they invited leaders and organizers of the groups for a meeting.
"Napag-usapan na magkaroon kami ng policing of the ranks -- sa pulis at sa hanay nila -- para maiwasan 'yung taong-taon na pambabato sa mga pulis ng mga nagpo-protesta, na sana ma-police 'yung ranks ng mga kasama natin ng mga leaders ng cause-oriented groups," he said. 
[Video report]
He also assured that the police will exercise maximum tolerance for Monday's event.
Some 4,000 police officers have been deployed for the event.
Double lanes of concrete barriers with barbed wires have been placed around Batasan Complex for Aquino's last SONA. According to Pagdilao, this is to ensure that the groups that will hold their protest there on Monday afternoon will stay at their designated area, for crowd control and traffic management.
"Napakalaki nu'ng lugar na ibinigay natin para sa mga magsasagawa ng protesta kaya hindi na sila kailangang tumawid sa kalsada, para hindi maabala ang mga motorista," he said. 
As of Monday morning, several groups have gathered in various points in Metro Manila, including Mendiola in Manila, Ever Gotesco in Commonwealth Avenue.

SONA protesters mob 2 alleged gov't intel officers

From GMA News (Jul 27): SONA protesters mob 2 alleged gov't intel officers

Two alleged government intelligence agents were beaten up by activists preparing for their protest march for President Benigno Aquino III's last State of the Nation Address this afternoon.
The protesters caught the two men taking pictures of their leaders, a report by Jay Sabale in News TV Live and Allan Gatus of dzBB radio.
One of the men tried to escape, which resulted in the mobbing. The two men were taken aside afterwards and supposedly admitted that they were intelligence officers.

View image on Twitter View image on Twitter          
Isa sa dalawang diumanoy intel-agent, kinuyog ng mga militante @dzbb
The protesters said they were able to retrieve an ID from one of the two men.
According to them, they will confiscate the memory cards from the men's phones before letting them go.

Palace ‘paranoia’ slammed

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 27): Palace ‘paranoia’ slammed

LEFTIST groups on Sunday slammed the Palace for setting up a fortress of steel and concrete barriers, barbed wire and even container vans and deploying thousands of policemen and soldiers to keep protesters away from President Benigno Aquino III when he delivers his final State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) today.
On Commonwealth Avenue, the road leading to the Batasang Pambansa, empty container vans have been placed on the roadside to prevent protesters from spilling over to the route expected to be taken by the President and members of Congress, where Aquino will give his sixth and last speech during the formal opening of the national legislature. Ey Acasio
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said thousands of protesters would defy the tight security measures, which showed that President Aquino was “running scared, now that the end of the regime draws near.”
“By these paranoid measures, the Aquino government’s fear of confronting the people’s just demands shows through,” Reyes said.

Citing the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NULP), Reyes denounced the government’s contempt for the people’s basic right to peaceful assembly.

“Through its servile and robotic police, it is without a shadow of doubt that it is the government that actually poses a clear and present danger to the public order, public safety and public convenience,” Reyes said.

“The fortress of steel and concrete barriers, concertina wire and container vans along the route to the House where laws by supposed representatives of the people emanate is eloquent proof whose side is this government on. This is not to mention an uninterrupted record of violent and brutal dispersals by an army of so-called law enforcers of otherwise peaceful rallies during past SONAs for good measure,” he added.

Reyes said the failure of the Quezon City government to act on their permit to rally within two days as required by law meant that their application was approved.

“The law is crystal clear. Despite its loopholes, the better part of its letter and spirit are being undermined even further. To coop the people to an arbitrary space to express their grievances is therefore unlawful,” said Edre Olalia, NULP secretary general.

“International law is explicit and mandatory. The noble and basic right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly cannot be curtailed arbitrarily especially on contrived if not imaginary grounds. A government that openly and unabashedly tramples this right for its speculative if not dubious reasons is not only a hypocrite but should be ashamed of itself before the community of nations,” Olalia said.

“After all, history has taught us that marching in streets--no matter how inconvenient to some who are yet to be enlightened or to those ensconced in their entitlements--has changed societies for the better, from abolishing slavery to stopping sweatshop practices, from ousting dictatorships to outlawing apartheid, from overturning racial segregation to protesting wars of intervention.”

Olalia said Aquino had reason to be afraid, as people seek redress for his administration’s “gross and systematic violations of their rights.”

Reyes criticized the President for keeping the people away.

“As he chest thumps and delivers his last litany of “achievements” from yellow-colored glasses in Congress, Aquino, together with his truncheon-wielding henchmen in uniform and lackeys in their posh costumes, will succeed in only one thing: to further isolate themselves from the Filipino people,” he said.

 But the people will defy repression, Reyes said.

“Not even an elaborate blockade and threats of brute police force will stop them from demanding justice and accountability from the government – they who were never cowed into submission by any fascist government not unlike the present one in many ways,” Reyes said.

“The people will and should march on. Join them or get out of their way,” he warned.
The leftist youth group Anakbayan denounced Aquino as a coward who can’t even face his so-called bosses in his final SONA.

“Aquino’s lies cannot hide the systemic corruption and anti-people policies under his administration. The people want him out of office. We are sure that he is already trembling with fear, and that explains his [paranoid] anti-rally blockades on Commonwealth Avenue,” said Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chairman.

In preparation for SONA, the Aquino administration will deploy more than 2,000 military and 4,000 police personnel; and has already erected concrete barriers, container vans, and concertina wire around Commonwealth Avenue to repel the march toward the Batasang Pambansa complex where the SONA will be delivered.
“The people’s march will not be shaken by Aquino’s fascism. These measures only further enrage the people to call for his ouster,” Crisostomo added.

The Palace on Sunday said all systems were go for the SONA today, with police deployed in Metro Manila and in the provinces to ensure the safety and security of the public.

“Police forces have been deployed routes going to and near the Batasan Pambansa complex. The police forces in the National Capital Region, as well as all police forces in all areas nationwide,  have been deployed in order to ensure peace and order,” said Communications Secretary Hermino Coloma Jr. on  state-run radio dzRB.

Coloma said that the police would observe “maximum tolerance” in dealing with protesters, but urged demonstrators to “observe the laws on freedom of expression” during the SONA.

“We are calling on our brothers who will be expressing their sentiments to let peace and order prevail and follow the laws regarding freedom of expression,” Coloma said.

Philippines' most wanted man still believes in the revolutionary struggle

From the South China Morning Post (Jul 26): Philippines' most wanted man still believes in the revolutionary struggle

Exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison has been a political refugee in the Netherlands for nearly 28 years

 Jose Maria Sison traces his socialist roots to his barber.

Jose Maria Sison traces his socialist roots to his barber.
In a working-class Dutch neighbourhood in Utrecht a few minutes walk from the central train station stands a small shop that looks abandoned from the outside. There's nothing to indicate that behind the nondescript door and smudged glass window is the headquarters of the Philippines' most wanted man, exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison.

Its shabbiness, beside a costume rental shop and a store selling party favours, masks bold ambition: to take over the reins of government and install a socialist society in the Philippines.

"In a socialist society," Sison says, "there are still certain classes such as those of the workers and peasants but these are no longer subject to the ruling exploiting classes. Incomes are still earned according to the quantity and quality of work done. The reduction of working hours is accomplished from stage to stage. Social services and cultural facilities keep on expanding. There is still a state that defends society from counter-revolutionaries and imperialist aggressors."

With nearly one of every four Filipinos still living below the poverty line and a mere 3 per cent of the 100 million population owning a majority of the nation's wealth, Sison's message still finds fertile ground among the working class, university students and in remote villages populated by indigenous ethnic groups.

Take the Manobo tribe on the southern island of Mindanao, which is currently fighting to keep its school open despite pressure from the Philippine Armed Forces. The military insists that the CPP's armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), now secretly runs the school and uses it to teach subversive ideas and recruit Manobos.

Lila Shahani, an assistant secretary of the National Anti-Poverty Commission under the Office of the President, says there is some truth to the soldiers' claim: "Current military figures estimate that out of a total 1,866 NPAs active in the Northern Mindanao region, 74 per cent are IPs (indigenous persons)."

However, the Oxford-educated official - who happens to be a niece of former President Fidel Ramos - said the government is failing to address the root cause of the Manobos' discontent, namely, the exploitation of their land by one of the country's billionaires.

"So long as these deep structural issues persist, Manobos and others like them will turn to groups like the NPA, or other home-grown insurgencies, for relief and defence," Shahani warns.

Ironically, Sison comes from the very class which he seeks to overthrow. His family owned vast tracts of land and traces its ancestry to a Chinese trader who sailed from Fujian.

Under the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jose Maria Sison was beaten, given water torture, electric shock treatment and shackled to a cot for 18 months in solitary confinement. Photo: Reuters
Sison says he would not have escaped the narrow ambition of his class if not for his village barber. As his barber cut his hair, he regaled the young Sison with stories about the Huks or armed guerrillas who fought for their land in Central Luzon, north of Manila.

"My barber talked about the need for the workers and peasants to overthrow the big capitalists and landlord class by armed force because, in the first place, these exploiting classes use violence to perpetuate their system against the working people," said Sison in an interview last week.

"What the barber said complemented what I heard from farm workers who had returned to my hometown after a stint of being tabaseros (sugar cane cutters) in Central Luzon. They said that the Huks were good, for advocating the free distribution of land to the tillers," Sison recalled.

At 20, while studying for a degree in English and literature at the University of the Philippines, Sison organised his first group, the Student Cultural Association of the Philippines.

According to Ninotchka Rosca - co-author with Sison of his semi-autobiographical book Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World, Portrait of a Revolutionary - it was Sison who "made acceptable the concepts of mass organisations and mass mobilisations".

The works of Marx, Lenin and Mao Zedong would inspire Sison to come up with a Filipino version of protracted armed struggle. However, Sison's revolution would be exploited by President Ferdinand Marcos, whose family comes from the same region as Sison. In 1972, Marcos imposed military rule, claiming he was saving the Philippines from a Sison-led revolution. Five years later in 1977, Sison would fall into Marcos's hands.

Sison recalled that Marcos spoke to him in Ilocano, "perhaps to show that we belonged to the same tribe". But Sison responded in English and Filipino.

Marcos tried to flatter his prisoner saying, "I've been reading your works, your writings" and hinted that the two were not so far apart in thought and could cooperate together.

He said he replied to Marcos: "Yes, if it's for the people we can cooperate. If you keep on borrowing lots of money from abroad, some day the US will dump you when you become more of a liability than an asset."

Marcos told him, "You talk like an Aquino", referring to the late Senator Benigno Aquino, father of the incumbent President Aquino. Marcos would have his revenge on Sison. He was beaten, given water torture, electric shock treatment and shackled to a cot for 18 months in solitary confinement.
Sison was also tried, along with the elder Aquino, before a military court. Then, in 1983, the unexpected: Aquino was shot as he disembarked a plane surrounded by soldiers at Manila's airport, setting in motion the chain of events that would lead to Marcos's ouster. Three years later, Sison was conditionally released from jail by Aquino's widow, President Corazon Aquino, pending peace talks with the communist rebels.

But while on a world tour, Sison's Filipino passport was revoked. He and his wife Julieta de Lima have been political refugees in the Netherlands for nearly 28 years since.

Does he dream of going back? "I do not just dream, even in the sense of imagining a better world that can arise from the people's struggle," Sison, now 76, replied.

"I deal with realities and do whatever I can in the revolutionary struggle of the people."

"Like Lenin before the outbreak of the first world war, I am not sure whether the revolution would win in my lifetime," he said. "But I am sure that the neoliberal policy of imperialist globalisation, the wars of aggression and the intensified inter-imperialist contradictions are already generating the conditions for an unprecedented upsurge of the revolutionary movements for national liberation, people's democracy and socialism."

To Sison, no country has established a truly communist state. "It is simply journalistic parlance in the Western media to call communist a state or society governed by a communist party," he said.

Should his group ever come to power, Sison describes his vision: "There can be a model for a people's democratic system gliding into socialist revolution and construction. This model can be a composite of the best features of the people's democracies and socialist societies that have arisen in history before the successful betrayal of socialism by modern revisionists. More importantly, the model takes into account the history, circumstances and aspirations of the Filipino people."

Having bedevilled six Philippine presidents, Sison's party may yet continue to hound the next.

Body of NPA rebel exhumed in Agusan del Sur

From ABS-CBN (Jul 26): Body of NPA rebel exhumed in Agusan del Sur

Government troops found the burial site of a member of the New People's Army (NPA) who was allegedly killed in an encounter last April.

Members of the 23rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army found the body of Ryan Behing, 19, in a mountain in Sitio Umas-As, Barangay San Isidro in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

Behing was allegedly killed in a 10-minute firefight between members of the Guerilla Front Committee 21-B and the military in Barangay San Isidro in April 21.

The victim was a resident of San Miguel in Surigao del Sur.

The military brought Behing's body to a cemetery in Barangay Villangit in Sibagat.

The NPA has yet to release a statement on the incident.

2010-2015 SONA PROMISES: KEPT/NOT YET KEPT: National security focus on people’s protectors

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 26): 2010-2015 SONA PROMISES: KEPT/NOT YET KEPT: National security focus on people’s protectors

The Aquino administration’s security agenda has been focused mainly on strengthening the police and military through the acquisition of better equipment and weapons as well as additional personnel. But it is the government’s elevation to the UN arbitration tribunal in The Hague of its territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea that has been most prominent as the issue gained international attention.

Promise: Provide more housing for policemen (Sona 2011); additional housing for men and women in uniform (Sona 2013)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police Housing Project for uniformed personnel is a five-year flagship project of the National Housing Authority (NHA) that was started in 2011, in accordance with Administrative Order No. 9.

Under the program’s P4.2-billion first phase, more than 20,000 affordable housing units have been earmarked for policemen and soldiers in various sites near Metro Manila. The monthly amortization rate has been set at P200 for the first five years, to increase to P1,307 for the standard model and P1,419 for the loft type for the succeeding years.

A symbolic turnover of 21,800 houses to the AFP and PNP personnel was held in 2012, during which President Aquino announced that 21,400 units had already been completed under the first phase of the project.

The program has since expanded to cover employees of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Bureau of Corrections, and selected areas of the Visayas and Mindanao under a second phase.

In 2013, the NHA started to roll out the second phase of the project across the country, with 20,680 houses built. By early 2014, the NHA reported that 29,810 units were under various stages of completion.

By July 2014, the government said 30,558 units had been completed at 30 sites in 14 regions: Northern and Central Luzon—La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan; Southern Luzon and Bicol—Batangas, Cavite, Quezon and Camarines Sur; the Visayas—Iloilo, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Cebu and Leyte; Mindanao—Zamboanga del Sur, Bukidnon, Davao del Norte, South Cotabato, Agusan del Norte and Maguindanao.

A month later, the budget department released P5.46 billion in fresh funds for the NHA to provide 20,000 house-and-lot packages for uniformed personnel. Once the new houses are completed, the number of completed units for policemen and soldiers since 2011 would have reached 66,852.

The NHA will also be providing housing assistance to the families of the 44 Special Action Forces troops killed in a January 2015 “encounter” with Muslim rebels from the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The President had previously announced that the administration’s target was to provide 140,000 housing units before the end of his term in 2016.


Promise: Bring the West Philippine Sea before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or Itlos (Sona 2011)

On July 7, oral arguments on whether Itlos had jurisdiction over the arbitration case brought by the Philippines had started in The Hague, the Netherlands. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told the five-member Permanent Court of Arbitration that China had violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) by invoking “historic rights” in claiming nearly all of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea.

Other officials from the Philippine delegation argued other points on the question of the tribunal’s jurisdiction over the Philippines’ complaint against China.

At the conclusion of the weeklong hearing, the tribunal, which was established in 1982 by the Unclos, gave Beijing until Aug. 17 to comment on the proceedings.

China had in a December 2014 position paper refused to participate in the arbitration proceedings and insisted that the UN court had no jurisdiction over the case.

The Philippine government filed a motion for arbitration in January 2013 asking the Itlos to nullify the nine-dash demarcation line that China has used to claim almost the entire South China Sea region, including territories in the West Philippine Sea that fall well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.


Promise: Protect the territory of the republic. “If someone enters your yard and tells you he owns it, will you allow that? It’s not right to give away what is rightfully ours. And so I ask for solidarity from our people regarding this issue. Let us speak with one voice.” (Sona 2012)

Apart from the arbitration case now before the international tribunal at The Hague, the government has fired off several diplomatic protests against Chinese intrusion into and reclamation of waters and areas within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone. The protests were all filed in the Chinese Embassy in Manila, which routinely immediately rejects all protests from the Philippines concerning the sea dispute.

In June 2014, the Philippines filed a complaint against China’s land reclamation activities on McKennan (Hughes) Reef in the disputed Spratly group of islands.

In February 2014, the Department of Foreign Affairs summoned Chinese Chargé d’affaires Sun Xiangyang and presented him with a note verbale protesting reported incidents of harassment of Filipinos by the Chinese to prevent the former from fishing in Panatag Shoal, also known as Scarborough Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc.

In May 2013, the Philippines protested the presence of a fleet of Chinese fishing boats, accompanied by patrol vessels, at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Reef).


Promise: Provide policemen with guns: “Pacquiao does not fight every day, and so we can’t rely on him to bring down the crime rate. Which is why we’re strengthening our police force.” (Sona 2012)

The first batch of Glock 17, Generation 4 9-mm pistols were distributed in July 2013, out of a total of 74,879 units of the firearms model that will be distributed to police forces.


Promise: Pass the AFP modernization bill to be able to allocate P75 billion for the AFP modernization program within the next five years. Better equipment for naval defense, Air Force protection (Sona 2012)

In 2012, Republic Act No. 10349 amended the AFP Modernization Act to include at least P75 billion in funds for the revised military modernization program for the first five years. However, a number of controversies over the manner of acquiring military equipment and aircraft under the program have marred the Aquino administration.

In July, defense officials took members of the media on a demonstration flight aboard a UH-1D helicopter, following a Senate inquiry into corruption allegations in the acquisition of military equipment and weapons systems, including the allegedly defective chopper. As of July 2015, seven of the 21 helicopters have been delivered and received by the AFP. The remaining units, which have been assembled and delivered, have not been accepted, pending the resolution of an arbitration case after the P1.26-billion contract was partially terminated in March.

In December 2014, President Aquino inspected a model of the FA-50 fighter jets at Gimhae Air Base in Busan, South Korea, where he attended the Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit. The deal involves the purchase of 12 of the FA-50s, the first two of which are expected to arrive in December 2015. The rest will be delivered in 2017.

On July 7, the Inquirer reported that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former AFP Chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. and then Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri had shelved the contract, signed in December 2014, for a shore-based missile system, an Israeli weapons system, for territorial defense.

The defense department said the project had been “merely a proposal” and that there had been a reprioritization of the modernization program in favor of protective equipment. During his recent turnover ceremony, newly appointed AFP Chief Iriberri explained that it was he who had proposed the reprioritization of the military budget for “mission-essential equipment” for the troops to protect them as they go into battle and carry out their duties.

The new shopping list of military equipment include 832 marksmen rifles worth P149.76 million, two lots of chemical-biological-radiological-nuclear protective gear worth P103.402 million and 32 long-range sniper weapons systems worth P17.28 million.

The House of Representatives will begin an inquiry on July 29 into the progress of the military modernization program since the President has still not signed the final national defense strategy amid the controversies over military equipment purchases.


Promise: Review of Presidential Decree No. 1638 and Republic Act No. 8551 to ensure that the pensions of PNP and AFP personnel are timely, and balanced against national needs. (Sona 2013)

In the current 16th Congress, six bills (two in the Senate, four in the House) have been filed to amend RA 8551, or the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998, while seven bills (four in the Senate, three in the House) have been lodged for the review of PD 1638, or the AFP Retirement Law.

The Commission on Audit (COA) in April directed the Department of National Defense and the AFP to pay the accumulated arrears of the retired soldiers and pensioners amounting to P17,891,468,975 over the past 12 years. The COA ruling was in response to the petition of the Conference-Assembly for Unity and Solidarity of Associations in the Armed Forces and Police Retirees, Veterans Pensioners Inc., an organization representing some 120,000 police and military retirees and pensioners.

The COA noted that while the retired soldiers’ payrolls reflected the increases in their pensions, these “were not paid due to lack of funds and thus have accumulated over the years.”

Under the AFP Retirement Law, a retiree’s pension increases as the active personnel’s salary increases. President Aquino said that the system has been a burden since the funding would most likely come from the government’s budget and not from the contribution of the uniformed personnel.


Promise: Hiring civilian personnel to focus on administrative work in the PNP (Sona 2013)

According to the 2014 accomplishment report of the PNP, a proposal to fill up the remaining 7,561 nonuniformed personnel posts, out of the 15,000 additional vacancies for civilian members, had been submitted for approval. Administrative work undertaken by civilian personnel includes gathering of statistical data, delivering accurate and credible crime reporting, efficient case monitoring, tracking of serving of warrants and precise crime mapping and analysis.

In August 2014, about 100 policemen were transferred out of administrative duties to areas in Metro Manila with high crime rates to address the shortage of street patrollers.


Promise: Distribute more firearms to police force to achieve a one-is-to-one police-to-pistol ratio (Sona 2013)

Even as the government continues to acquire and distribute firearms under the PNP’s capability-enhancing program, the PNP has been able to rationalize the distribution of guns to policemen. In August 2014, an internal audit by the Police Regional Office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao found that 228 personnel had more than one firearm to them. This resulted in a recall of firearms and redistribution to other units and policemen.

Sources:,, PNP 2014 accomplishment report, Inquirer Archives

Over P82 B poured in for upgrade of AFP; P50 B released under Noy

From the Philippine Star (Jul 26): Over P82 B poured in for upgrade of AFP; P50 B released under Noy

President Aquino inspects a South Korean FA-50 fighter jet at an air base in Busan, on the sidelines of the 25th ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit. South Korea signed a $420-million government-to-government deal to export 12 FA-50 jets to the Philippines as part of moves to expand defense cooperation. File photo

The government has released more than P82 billion to upgrade the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) since 1996. However, it is still considered one of the weakest in the region, a condition that has been blamed on limited resources, changing priorities of administrations and stalled implementation of the modernization program.

Data obtained by The STAR showed that a total of P82.48 billion has been disbursed to the program, which started when Republic Act No. 7898 took effect in 1995.

The law gave the AFP the opportunity to modernize in 15 years with a budget of P331.62 billion, of which only P63.39 billion was actually released.

The failure of RA 7898 to attain its objectives prompted Congress to pass another law, RA 10349 which President Aquino signed in 2012 to extend the AFP modernization program.

Aquino allotted P75 billion for AFP modernization from 2013 to 2017 at P15 billion per year. A total of P19.098 billion has been released so far.

The P63.38 billion disbursed under the old law and the P19.098 billion released under the new law made up the P82.48-billion fund poured in for the AFP Modernization Program.

Funding sources

The funds are sourced from the national budget (P55.99 billion), remittances from the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (P12.96 billion), Malampaya Fund (P1 billion) and Department of Energy (P6.59 billion).

Most of the funds or P50.75 billion were released under the Aquino administration. Fund releases under the Arroyo regime totaled P26.22 billion and under Estrada, P5.53 billion.

A total of 100 projects have been completed under RA 7898, although 55 of these were done only during Aquino’s time.

The Army got 40 projects worth P13.69 billion, the Air Force had 12 projects costing P5.2 billion while the Navy had 29 projects worth P4.07 billion.

Although RA 7898 lapsed in 2010, some of its projects are still uncompleted, with 46, costing P25.07 billion, still in its implementation or procurement phase.

The P19.08-billion fund released under the new modernization law was used to pay for assets that can be used for territorial defense, including the P4.94 billion for the partial payment of 12 lead-in fighter trainer jets from South Korea. The jet acquisition project costs P18.9 billion and at least P9.35 billion was channeled for the partial payment of the remaining multi-year obligation authority balances.

The government also released P4.8 billion for the full payment of eight Bell 412EP combat helicopters to be acquired from Canada.

A total of 34 projects, worth P66.69 billion, have yet to receive funds even if they are already in the procurement phase, including: three air surveillance radars (P2.68 billion), six close air support aircraft (P4.97 billion), two long range patrol aircraft (P5.98 billion), two anti-submarine warfare capable helicopters (P5.4 billion), two frigates (P18 billion) and 114 US excess defense armored personnel carrier (P67.5 million).

Aquino still has to sign on 28 projects, including naval and air assets to boost patrols in the West Philippine Sea. The projects cost more than P60 billion.

Despite the issues, security officials are confident the modernization program will remain on track and the country able to achieve its minimum credible defense goal.

Fourth Star

Meanwhile, AFP chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri yesterday got his fourth star, two weeks after he assumed leadership of the 125,000-strong military.

The donning of ranks formalized Iriberri’s promotion. It was held yesterday morning at the Department of National Defense building in Camp Aguinaldo with Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Iriberri’s wife Agnes pinning the fourth star on the military chief’s shoulders.

“I know the magnitude of the responsibility of this rank, and I would like to share this rank with all the soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines, especially those in the field. This rank is for them,” Iriberri said, promising to “give nothing but the best service” to country and people.

The promotion of military officers with the rank of colonel or higher has to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA), a congressional body composed of 13 senators and 12 House members.

The military is optimistic that Iriberri would be confirmed by the CA despite the complaint for graft filed against him before the ombudsman and the accusations of human rights violations.

Armed Forces public affairs chief Noel Detoyato said the cases cannot hamper the chief’s confirmation as the complaints are mere allegations that have yet to be proven by the accusers.

MILF: “Don’t use peace process in 2016 polls”, an imam urges politicians

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 26): “Don’t use peace process in 2016 polls”, an imam urges politicians

“Politicians should refrain from using the Bangsamoro peace process as a platform from which to launch their political bids in the 2016 elections”, Ebra Moxsir, Al Haj, Imam Council of the Philippines (ICP) said yesterday, July 25.

He said in a statement that politicians using the Bangsamoro peace process in their political campaign is committing “injustice.”

“The Bangsamoro peace process, at its heart, is about social justice for a segment of our population who, for decades, were made to endure gross injustices and discrimination. Using it to further a personal, political agenda will be a form of another injustice,” Moxsir Al-haj said.

Once enacted by congress, the BBL will entrench the proposed new political entity Bangsamor that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Moxsir Al-haj expressed concern that the elections might affect the peace process.

“President Aquino is to deliver his SONA (State of the Nation Address) next week. We are already beginning to hear in the news political rumblings and rumored pairings for 2016. It is very evident that our country is about to be gripped soon by political fever,” he said.

“They should leave the Bangsamoro out of it. We need to detach the process from the political noise and see the process for what it is – a democratic means being attempted to close the socio-cultural divide among the peoples of the Republic of the Philippines,” he added.

On his part, Sulu 1st district Rep. Tupay Loong, Vice Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL, admitted that the committee had always been aware that the BBL might be dragged into politics.

The House of Representatives is expected to continue with the plenary debates on the BBL once session resumes after President Benigno Aquino’s SONA on Monday, July 27.

“As they say, the Philippines has three seasons: summer, rainy and elections. To be honest, we wanted our work on the BBL to be done before election season arrives because we know for a fact that there are those who’d make the basic law another casualty in their quest for power,” Loong said.

“But passing the BBL didn’t happen, and we’re nearing October. What I can personally promise is that we’d do everything in our capacity to ensure that the remaining House debates will be sober.
And that the fate of the BBL will be determined by its own merits, not by political forces,” he added.
“If passed, the BBL would come as an act of brinkmanship in state craft,” Integrated Bar of the Philippines acting national secretary Nasser Marohomsalic said in a statement.

For retired chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. and other surviving framers of the 1987 Constitution, the envisioned Bangsamoro autonomous region can close the centuries-old gap between law and justice in Mindanao for the Bangsamoro.

 Dean Antonio Laviña of the Ateneo School of Government urged lawmakers to complete the peace process so the country can move on to benefit from its fruits.

“It is important to have a vibrant, strong and autonomous Bangsamoro,” he said.

Laviña said the envisioned autonomous region would remain part of the Philippines, contrary to statements of anti-BBL lawmakers. It would also give the Moros more power to fulfill their aspirations for self-governance while remaining within Philippine society and territory.

Laviña sees nothing wrong with the fact that the BBL is a product of negotiations between the government and the MILF.

“The Supreme Court held that the President has the power to negotiate peace with the MILF, and to determine in what form and manner the peace process should be conducted, which includes the signing of peace agreements,” he said.

Laviña said the President also has the authority to propose new legislation to Congress, as was done in the case of the BBL.

CPP/NDF-Panay: Aquino II's 'Mutuwid na Daan' disastrous for the country, Pnoy will share the fate of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in jail

NDF-Panay propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 25): Aquino II's 'Mutuwid na Daan' disastrous for the country, Pnoy will share the fate of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in jail

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
July 25, 2015 at 6:32pm
NDF-Panay Statement of the occasion of BS Aquino’s last SONA

In the last year of his term, the main concern of Pinoy is to find successors that would supposedly sustain his program‘matuwid na daan’ (straight path). For all its claims of national development, peace and unity and clean government,‘matuwid na daan’ was selectively unleashed only upon some leaders of opponents and instantly conferred the ‘honestunless proven guilty’ status on himself and his cohorts even as they looted pork barrel funds (PDAP, DAP) in thehundreds of billions of pesos. National economic development in terms of the Gross Domestic Product increase from abackward economy only went to enrich foreign and local capitalists and big landlord-haciendero while inflicting povertyand misery on the poor masses.

The search for worthy successors was more to ensure that the next administration remains beholden to his clique andabsolve him from his various crimes during his term in office. The people demanding to topple him, even before the endof his term, are ever nipping at his heels. He favors the ever loyal Mar Roxas to be his successor but is unsure if Roxascould claw his way in to the presidency, even with the regime’s guns, goons and gold, in the face of public anger at theregime.

The Aquino regime may claim major gains in politics, the economy, peace and order, foreign affairs, governance andpoverty alleviation in the past 5 years and seek to carry these forward by preparing successors to his rule. But the pastfive years “achievements” constituted of the ravaging of the country’s patrimony and wealth for the benefit of bigforeign and local capital while dragging the people to further sufferings and want. The last year of his term could not beeven better.

Foremost in the people’s mind is the economy. The regime gives high priority to economic growth and foreigninvestment. While engorging big foreign capitalist and their local counterpart (the Sy family of Shoemart has even risento be the 73rd richest dollar billionaire in the world) in profit, the ranks of the poor expands and became ever miserable.Inspite of the high-rise building spree and road highways expansion, no genuine national industrialization was ever evenimagined. The last remaining sector of the economy still owned by the people are being open up to foreign andmonopoly control (such as privatizing public markets in Iloilo City for the Sy’s and now being copied in Metro Manila;corporatization of public hospitals towards private ownership; selling out of public water utilities).

The rice self-sufficiency program was a failure and abandoned for a resumption of massive rice importation to cover forever larger deficits in rice production. Panay Island, in agricultural/rice production, could feed twice its inhabitants andyet imported 10,000s of tons of rice. And then, the implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) by theAquino regime would flood the country with cheap sugar and rice and would strike the final blow to struggling rice andsugar producers and workers. The rest of the middle and working class would be choosing between basic serviceoutsourcing (BPO like call centers), tourist service workers or working abroad—all vulnerable to the worsening globalcrisis. Of course, these alternative employed only fill a small portion of the working class employment.

Panay has hardly recovered from the devastation of Super typhoon Yolanda in 2013 when the Aquino regimes criminalinutility again became highlighted. PNoy’s disbursement of Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA—the people’s money)came a year and a half too late. Panay, among the millions of disaster victims in the Visayas, even received it earlier dueto the storming by the people of the islands city and capitols (tens of thousands), demanding for compensation fromtheir own money. And yet the ESA distribution become mired in partisan politics, especially by PNoy local henchmen,and many were stolen by public officials. So many others have not received compensation due to them.

Thousands ofvictims living along sea and river banks were never given anything at all for the simple reason that they live in hazardouslocation. Thousands of public school buildings have not yet been repaired. The destroyed crops and other livelihood hasnot been compensated even as the general livelihood has not recovered yet in much of North and Central Panay.

The Jalaur River Dam was trumpeted as the regime’s foremost major project, symbolic of the regime’s drive for‘development’. And yet it will, at best, only serve as a glorified water reservoir costing some P11B (the Korean loanportion to be paid by future generations). Its irrigation capacity would only be needed during dry season especially longones. During rainy season the rains would render it useless as irrigation facility and even be dangerous if it spills its damor be smashed by strong up river flooding. During dry seasons, the water provided by the watershed would not beenough, because even farms below stream near Jalaur’s mouth in Barotac Nuevo and Dumangas, had been fighting forirrigation water ever since. Water for the high canal to irrigate additional 10,000s of hectares is only a pipe-dream—theintensifying El Nino would prove this point: no water even for just those below the Jalaur river basin unless they drain allthe waters of the Dam, how much more for other areas to irrigate. (They won’t drain—remember Angat Dam).

The regime has now hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to further subject the country to neoliberalpolicies. In Panay, some ministerial-level conferences had and are to be conducted including the ones on capitalinfrastructure (policies which facilitate capital penetration and remittances, privatizing small and medium industries andthe further exploit the blue economy (of the sea). We are allowed to participate, by hosting the APEC, the planning ofthe firm control of our livelihood by foreign capital, the sell-out of our patrimony, the bankruptcy of small and mediumindustries by subcontracting them to serve more profits of big local and foreign corporation. Our depleted sea would befurther exploited for more profits for big foreign fish factories.

The regime has doubled the regular army troops deployed in Panay to face increasing numbers of protesting peoplemassing up on the streets and to fight the invigorated NPA forces. Occasionally the regime reinforces some 2-3000 ofPNP to secure APEC and presidential sorties in Panay. Some US troops were detached to Panay to train AFP soldier to beinter-operative with US troops and to help secure APEC. So was the justification for the militarization of cities and capitaltowns in Panay. The regime then, continuing the fascist practices of the Arroyo government before it, selectivelyassassinated Romy Capalla, Fernando Baldomero, Garete and others to sow terror among the rising people. The regimefurther harasses and intimidates the people’s organization, their mass leaders and members.

We attribute to the regime’s intensification of military operation, fascist attacks, and strong-arm tactics and criminalinutility, the powerful upsurge of armed and unarmed movement to oust the Aquino regime from power. The NPA hasmore frequent attacks on enemy troops and widened areas to maneuver in Western and Eastern Panay to strike at theenemy where he least expects. Some 10,000 to 16,000 regularly mass up at 3 to 4 urban centers and capitol all over theisland to confront the regime for several times in a year.

Enrichment of monopoly foreign and local capitalists and fellow hacienderos, while continuing to impoverish the massesand making them beggars of a measly cash transfer. Further destruction of a backward agricultural economy, criminalinutility in the face of Yolanda’s calamity further allowing foreign parasitic control of our patrimony and livelihood.Doubling on militarization and fascist attacks on the people. All of the above only makes the people more determined tooverthrow the US-BS Aquino regime.

Concha Araneta
National Democratic Front Panay

Top US military official in Pacific says China changing facts, creates false sovereignty

From Ang Malaya (Jul 26): Top US military official in Pacific says China changing facts, creates false sovereignty

The Commander of United States Pacific Command Admiral Harry B. Harris reiterates US call to immediately halt land reclamation in West Philippine Sea. “These activities are harming the environment and will not strengthen any country’s legal claims to disputed areas in the South China Sea,” the top American military officer in the Pacific said at ASPEN Security Forum in Colorado, USA July 23.

“The South China Sea is front and center in the tug-of-war between the majority of regional nations that want to maintain the status quo and China that wants to change it to suit its narrow self-interest,” he said.

Admiral Harris said China is changing facts on the ground which essentially creates false sovereignty by building man-made islands on top of coral reefs, rocks, and shoals. “In doing so, China’s actions are destroying the surrounding underwater environment.”

“Most countries choose to pursue diplomatic means to address their disputes. China, on the other hand, is changing the status quo in the region through aggressive coercive island building without meaningful diplomatic efforts toward dispute resolution or arbitration,” the admiral said.

The military official also called on China to use the mechanisms of international dispute resolution in good faith, and to abide by those decisions as so many of its regional neighbors have already done.

“It is China’s actions that are inducing its South China Sea neighbors to build stronger relationships with each other and the U.S., driven not by a sudden U.S. effort to increase stability and security within the region, but by China’s conspicuous failure to do the same,” Harris said.

Admiral Harris served as the Commander of US Pacific Fleet from October 2013 and in May this year he assumed command of the US Pacific Command.

Reds claim growth under Aquino administration

From Rappler (Jul 26): Reds claim growth under Aquino administration

'The tactical offensives of the New People’s Army (NPA) have become bolder and more intensified'

MORE MEMBERS? The NDF belittles economic gains under Aquino government and claims NPA guerilla fronts increased under his term. Photo by Edwin Espejo/Rappler

MORE MEMBERS? The NDF belittles economic gains under Aquino government and claims NPA guerilla fronts increased under his term. Photo by Edwin Espejo/Rappler
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Mindanao claimed it had added more guerrilla fronts and added close to 1,000 high powered firearms under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
In a statement sent to the press, National Democratic Front (NDF) spokesman Jorge Madlos (a.k.a. Ka Oris) said the NPA guerilla fronts climbed from 42 to 47 since 2010 when Aquino was elected president.

“In the 5 years of US-Aquino regime, the armed struggle in Mindanao has gathered more strength. The tactical offensives of the New People’s Army (NPA) have become bolder and more intensified,” Madlos also said in Visayan dialect.

The NDF is the political umbrella of the CPP and its armed unit, the NPA.

The statement came on the eve of Aquino's last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 27.

The President is expected to trumpet gains made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in reducing the armed strength of the NPA.

Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año, commanding general of the Philippine Army, claimed the AFP has reduced the armed strength of the NPA to less than 4,000 armed regulars, more than half of them are reportedly in Mindanao.

The CPP-NPA-NDF previously claimed it has approximated their 1980’s strength when, at their height, it was believed the NPA has close to 8,000 fully armed regulars.

The AFP recently scored a major victory after a unit of the Philippine Scout Ranger killed Leoncio Pitao, a.k.a. Ka Parago, in a military raid in Davao City last month.

Ka Parago headed the The Pulang Bagani Battalion, first NPA battalion to be organized throughout the 46-year history of the NPA, and one of the most senior and experienced guerilla commander.

But in a show of force, more than 10,000 NPA supporters and sympathizers held an unprecedented funeral march in the streets of Davao City waving revolutionary flags and shouting slogans extoling Ka Parago and the NPA.

Madlos also belittled the economic gains under the Aquino government.

“The 6.3% average growth Gross National Product or GDP in 5 years was primarily based on the growth in the service sector,” he explained.

Madlos said both agricultural and manufacturing productions have declined from 60 percent of the GDP to only 40 percent over the last five years resulting into the increase in the number of underemployed and unemployed.

“The unemployed and underemployed has reached 11.8 million or 27 percent of the total workforce in the country,” the NDF statement further added.

The NDF spokesman blamed the implementation ‘neo-liberal policies’ of the Aquino government which, he pointed out, only led to the “exclusive growth of the ruling elite” instead of the promised inclusive growth.

The CPP-NPA-NDF has been waging a Maoist inspired guerrilla warfare since 1969.

Murad; continue peace process even if BBL not passed within PNoy’s term

From MindaNews (Jul 26): Murad; continue peace process even if BBL not passed within PNoy’s term

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said on Saturday that it will continue to demand for the implementation of the peace agreements it signed with the government (GPH) even if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not passed within President Benigno Aquino III’s term.

But MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim maintained that the “ideal time” to pass the BBL is under the Aquino administration which has only 11 months left until June 30, 2016.

He called the passage of the BBL as an instrument to execute what had been earlier agreed upon under the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamaro (CAB). But he added that with or without BBL, they will continue to press the government to implement the other aspects of the agreements and their annexes.

An acceptable version of the BBL “means in accordance with the CAB and FAB and their annexes because it’s the bottomline. We cannot renegotiate,” he told some 50 Mindanao and Manila journalists in Camp Darapanan on Saturday afternoon.

MEET AND GREET.Moro Islamic Liberation Front chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim meets journalists at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao on July 25, 2015. Journalists from different parts of the country attended a 2-day forum on reporting the Bangsamoro peace process. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

MEET AND GREET.Moro Islamic Liberation Front chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim meets journalists at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao on July 25, 2015. Journalists from different parts of the country attended a 2-day forum on reporting the Bangsamoro peace process. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

The journalists gathered in Cotabato City for the two-day forum, “Beyond Mamasapano: Reporting the Bangsamoro Peace Process” organized by the Mindanao Media Forum. They also visited Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano, site of the tragedy on January 25 that left 44 members of the elite Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police, 17 from the MILF and five civilians.

Murad said the MILF is open for any changes and improvements in the provisions in the original draft, but these should be made in accordance with the FAB and the CAB.

“We may allow improvements in some provisions that are not yet hinged on the agreement,” he said.

Appeal to Congress

He appealed to both chambers of Congress to expedite the approval and come out with a final and acceptable version of the BBL immediately because it will be uncertain if the next administration will have the same interest as Aquino on the ongoing peace process.

Congress will resume sessions this week, after the President’s State of the Nation Address on July 27. The House of Representatives will resume the period of interpellation on HB 5811, the substitute bill approved by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

In the Senate, Senator Ferdinand Marcos has yet to release copies of the substitute bill he promised to submit before they resume sessions, as SB 2408, the proposed BBL drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in its present form and substance, according to Marcos, “will lead us to perdition.”

Murad said the delay in the passage of BBL will also mean delay in the decommissioning process, which kicked off with 145 MILF soldiers and the initial 75 high-powered firearms and crew-served weapons in June.

Should the BBL be passed, thousands more of MILF troops will be decommissioned while the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is transitioning into the Bangsamoro government.

“What is ideal is BBL will be passed as it is now,” he said.

Only solution

On the first day of the media forum on Friday, ARMM executive secretary Laisa Alamia, Cotabato City, said the version that the Senate and House of Representatives will pass should not be anything less than the ARMM, which has often been referred to as a “failed experiment”.

Alamia acknowledged that the BBL will not solve all the problems that are hounding the entire region, but said it is a necessary first step to achieving peace and development on the back of good leadership and governance.

“The only solution to the problem is to continue the peace process,” Murad said.

The MILF chair said he hopes whoever succeeds President Aquino will not be anti-peace.


The MILF chair said what’s keeping the MILF members intact is the fact that there’s still hope that their struggle will soon come to an end if they continue the peace process.

“We are trying our best to control our people for as long as they will see that’s there’s still hope for the peace process to move on,” he added.

“Having BBL is not the end of struggle. Even if we have the perfect BBL in place but we cannot sustain it, we are going back to zero again,” he said.

Murad also addressed those opposing the BBL by saying that the peace process is not only for the MILF, as the draft BBL was jointly crafted both by peace panels of the Philippine government and the MILF.

“We’re trying to work out that people will not see BBL as BBL of MILF.”

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT: “The police started to swing their truncheons, hitting the unarmed Lumads” Rius Valle

Posted to MindaNews (Jul 26): EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT: “The police started to swing their truncheons, hitting the unarmed Lumads” Rius Valle

I could not grasp the thought of a congresswoman in pursuing her own agenda of coercing IPs (Indigenous Peoples) to go home without listening to why they evacuated in the first place.

The bloody and forcible entry and dispersal of the anti-riot police, military and Alamara among the Lumad evacuees last July 23, in UCCP Haran Compound evacuation center in Davao City, was a clear reflection of military abuse and harassment experienced by the IPs in their communities.

Furthermore, the brutal means of Nancy Catamco, Alamara – a local paramilitary group – and the police was sugarcoated as a ‘rescue operation’.


Ant-iriot policemen clash with Lumads who are seeking refuge at the United Church of Christ of the Philippines’s (UCCP) Haran Compound along Father Selga St. in Davao City Thursday (23 July 2015).MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

I was there. I was witnessing the continuation of classes of about 300 Lumad children when the police started to cut-off and destroy the gate. Then the police started to swing their truncheons, hitting the unarmed Lumads who tried to fend off their attacks while trying to block the entrance. As some of the tribesmen were bloodied and bruised, the women and children screamed as they looked on horrified.

The children were immediately evacuated to Haran’s main building while their parents tried to stop the police from entering the gates. Visibly anxious and terrified, the children huddled to their mothers who were trying to appease and comfort the little ones even as they also felt helpless and uncertain of their children’s security, especially after hearing the loud ruckus at the gate and hearing their ‘datus’ screaming “sagdok” calling for the police to “stop”  from entering.

The children were all kept safely in a room inside the compound of Haran. A 12 year-old student then asked me if he could go help in keeping the police from entering. Of course, I told him not to, adding “now is not your time.” He then asked me why could they [soldiers and police] not leave them alone in peace? “Didto sa bukid, mahadlok gyud mi kay magkampo sila sa among mga balay ug eskwelahan, karon diri sa ubos, hadlokon na pud mi nila unya pugson nga paulion. Asa na lang man diay mi ani moadto” (In the mountains, we were fearful that soldiers were camping in our homes and our schools, and now here they are, ensnaring us and forcing us to go back where we do not feel safe.  Where will we go now?), the child lamented.

I wish I could explain it to him how rooted this conflict was. But at that moment I only assured him that this is going to be okay. That we, together with their parents will defend them at all cost. That these children, these Lumads don’t deserve this kind of treatment. And that no matter how Nancy Catamco or the police say it, rescue, or anything else, it is apparent who the aggressors are, and certainly it is not the ones who were inside the gate.

 [Rius Valle is spokesperson of Save Our Schools Network in Southern Mindanao]

PA Dragon Boat Team to receive Military Merit Medal

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): PA Dragon Boat Team to receive Military Merit Medal

The 22-member Philippine Army Dragon Boat Team, considered as one of the fastest dragon boat crews in the world, will be decorated with the Military Merit Medal on Monday for winning the gold medal at the Japan Dragon Boat Championship in Osaka, Japan last July 19.

The Army paddlers finished first in the 250-meter Men's Open Category of the competition.

The awarding ceremony will take place at the PA headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City at 7:30 a.m.

Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año, PA chief, will confer the Military Merit Medal during the flag-raising ceremony to the team which is composed of 20 paddlers, one steersman, and one drummer.

"Truly another world-class performance that has once again inspired the 85,000-strong Army. Our Dragon Boat Team displayed dedication and commitment to excellence, and exhibited discipline and teamwork, qualities that are worth emulating and which the Philippine Army is proud of," Año said.

In line with the vision of the Army Transformation Roadmap (ATR), the PA continues to pursue sports development, which prepares and equips soldier-athletes to become world-class.

The Philippine Army Dragon Boat Team was founded in 2009 and was first composed of Army soldiers who came from other field of sports.

Staff Sgt. Usman Anterola, the head coach, has steered the team into many championships, both local and international. He has been racing for 17 years now.

Instrumental to their success are the arduous training, expert coaching and guidance, the commitment and discipline of each of the paddlers, and the support from the people.

To stay in shape, the team trains year-round, from paddling to exercise at the gym.

They also do pool training twice a week at the Philippine Army Wellness Center to help perfect paddling techniques.

Vigorous regiment of core and aerobic exercise, free weights and running are also included in their training program.

Meanwhile, Año will officially don the new ranks to Major Gen. Gerardo F. Barrientos Jr. and Brig. Gen. Alan R. Arrojado.

Barrientos is the commander of the 1st Infantry Division.

Prior to this, he was the chief of the Office of Ethical Standard and Public Accountability (OESPA), 4th Infantry Division.

He also served as assistant division commander of the 4th Infantry Division.

He also commanded the 102nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and the 72nd Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983.

Arrojado is the commander of the 501st Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division.

He also commanded the 602nd Brigade, 6th Infantry Division, and served as group commander of the 10th Regional Community Defense Group, Army Reserve Command, and commanding officer of the 35th Infantry Battalion, 1st Infantry Division.

He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1984.

No change in AFP alert status for SONA --Military

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): No change in AFP alert status for SONA --Military

On the eve of President Benigno S. Aquino III's sixth State-of-the-Nation-Address (SONA) on Monday afternoon, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said there is no change in the alert status of the military.

"So far, there is no change in alert status," AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato told th Philippines News Agency on Sunday.

Earlier, the AFP said that it is still to detect any threats for the SONA.

Detoyato said a brigade-sized formation will be in stand-by for possible eventualities that may occur during the SONA.

Five hundred troops each from General Headquarters, Army, Navy and Air Force and the Tanay-based 2nd Infantry Division will be on call during that event.

Soldiers from the General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City include the Security Escort Battalion, Military Police Battalion and Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, along with K-9s, Explosive Ordnance Division and medical units.

"But until these troops are requested by the Philippine National Police, which is the lead agency for SONA security, these soldiers and units remain in their respective camps," Detoyato said.

While the traditional militants are free to do their protest rallies, he urged them not to conduct actions that may prove detrimental to others.

"It is their freedom to express their right but we just hope and appeal that that freedom will not infringe on the freedom of others," Detoyato said.

JTF-NCR expects a generally peaceful conclusion of President Aquino's 6th SONA

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): JTF-NCR expects a generally peaceful conclusion of President Aquino's 6th SONA

Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR), the military formation which will aid the police in monitoring President Benigno S. Aquino III's sixth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, is projecting a generally peaceful conclusion of the activity.

"Basically, we are seeing a generally peaceful conclusion to the SONA," JTF-NCR deputy commander Col. Vic Tomas said in Filipino on Sunday.

Tomas also said they are expecting militant groups to come out with their sentiments against the SONA but added that the police are ready to contain these individuals should they become unruly.

The JTF-NCR deputy commander disclosed that they are not expecting any untoward for Monday's activity.

"As far as we are concerned, it's all system go (for the SONA)," he added.

Around 2,500 troops from the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Headquarters, Air Force, Navy, Army and the Tanay-based 2nd Infantry Division are on stand-by in case the Philippine National Police needs security assistance.

These include attached K-9, explosive ordnance division, crowd-control and medical units.

However, these troops will remain in their respective camps unless called by the PNP, Tomas said.

Another 1,000 men from the JTF-NCR are ready for possible mobilization if needed.

DND still investigating purported Chinese booms found off Zambales

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): DND still investigating purported Chinese booms found off Zambales

The Department of National Defense (DND) announced that it is still investigating the circumstances on how the purported Chinese booms were found and towed by Zambales fishermen Saturday.

We are awaiting verification on the incident & will investigate the circumstances under which the booms were found and recovered," DND spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez said.

He added that the discovery of the booms is a disturbing development given that the booms were supposedly found well within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

"As we have aimed in the 2002 Declaration of Conduct, we remind all that the Philippines and the ASEAN are committed to peace in the region," Galvez stressed.

"Further we advise that all other parties in the region to adhere to and respect the DOC and refrain from selfish and self centered acts that we may all benefit from continued progress and development of the region," the DND spokesperson pointed out.

The booms were spotted by the fishermen floating three nautical miles west of Iba, Zambales 3 p.m.Saturday.

It was towed by nine fishing bancas at the shoreline of Barangay Sto. Rosario, Iba at 4 p.m.

It has three segments, each measuring 40 feet each and measuring two meters wide. It also has Chinese markings.