Monday, October 12, 2015

New Mamasapano witnesses unreliable’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 13): ‘New Mamasapano witnesses unreliable’

INSTEAD of reliable witnesses, individuals of “dubious backgrounds and motives” showed up before the Department of Justice (DOJ) special investigation team during the second phase of its probe into the Jan. 25 Mamasapano massacre and presented an “unorthodox” version of the bloodbath.

In a 120-page report made public Monday, the joint National Bureau of Investigation-National Prosecution Service (NBI-NPS) probe panel said several persons volunteered information about the massacre but gave suspicious testimonies.

The panel said the accounts of the witnesses were taken down between June and August in Manila in the course of its investigation into the deaths of nine members of the Special Action Force’s (SAF) 84th Seaborne Unit, who were among the 44 SAF men killed in the operation to arrest Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”

The probe’s second phase had yielded no leads to those responsible for the deaths in the SAF unit, hence, no one was recommended to be charged.

The investigating team earlier filed charges of direct assault with murder and theft against 90 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups for the deaths of 35 members of SAF’s 55th Special Action Company (SAC) in the cornfields of Barangay Tukanalipao.

The team met with the supposed witnesses “who presented themselves,” in the hope that “they could identify any or some of those” who attacked the 84th Seaborne men.

“Mindful of its mandate to ferret out the truth surrounding Oplan Exodus, the team was constrained to patiently listen to the unorthodox version floated by these individuals,” said the report, referring to the name of the operation to arrest Marwan.

“Instead of identifying assailants, however, these persons tried to persuade the team about an all-together ‘alternative’ version of the events at Pidsandawan on Jan. 25, 2015, and on prior dates,” the report said.

The team “quietly vetted these persons as well as their narrations” but found that their stories may well be fiction: “…[T]hey all utterly failed in terms of credibility, lucidity and chronology. Worse, these supposed ‘witnesses’ refused to be deposed under oath.”

The testimonies left the investigators so incredulous, they opted not to make their “alternative” story public and instead recorded the details in a “secret memorandum” submitted to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

“Because these individuals were clearly unreliable and their allegations wholly unverifiable and not supported by any shred of independent testimonial and documentary evidence, the team saw fit not to include their wild allegations in this second report,” the report said.

It is unclear if the “unorthodox” account was the same “alternative version” that President Aquino had hinted at last month—that Marwan’s own aides had killed him during the assault. Mr. Aquino later declared that the story was not true.

The investigators said that besides the volunteer “witnesses,” individuals “who described themselves as “handlers” or “facilitators” of “witnesses” were similarly met by the NBI-NPS special investigation team for “exploratory” interviews.”

It said the team “exerted all diligent efforts to find at least one credible witness who could testify as to the identity and criminal liability of the persons involved” in the 84th SAF deaths. But no one was found.

As this developed, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday pressed the Senate to reopen its investigation into the Mamasapano massacre, saying that several questions remained unanswered.

“I will ask for the reopening (of the Senate probe) so we can ask questions on the participation of each government agency involved,” Enrile told reporters after the deliberations on the proposed budget of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process in the Senate.

Enrile said he was wondering about the gaps in information.

“I just want to be informed…I was wondering why there was silence about a very telling tragedy that happened,” he said

AFP to buy 6 air support aircraft

From the Philippine Star (Oct 12): AFP to buy 6 air support aircraft

Six foreign firms reportedly expressed interest to participate in the bidding for the aircraft acquisition. PAF/

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will buy six close air support aircraft worth P4.9 billion as part of its continuing modernization program.

The Department of National Defense (DND) is set to hold today the bid opening for the acquisition of the close air support aircraft designed to provide air support to infantry and naval units engaging with the enemy.

Six foreign firms reportedly expressed interest to participate in the bidding for the aircraft acquisition. They are Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer Asia Pacific; United States-based Beechcraft Defense Co. and IOMAX USA Inc.; Korea Aerospace Industries; European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. - Construcciones Aeronautics SA (EADS-CASA) Airbus Defense and Space, and Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems.

The DND announced the invitation to bid in May but this was put on hold pending the approval of President Aquino.

The DND’s technical working group said that technical specifications require aircraft with dual tandem seating and a carrying capacity of at least 3,000 lbs with five hard points. The aircraft must also have two .50 caliber guns built in or through pods.

The winning bidder will be required to deliver the six aircraft within 540 calendar days upon the receipt of notice to proceed.

No connection between 2 separate abductions – PNP

From the Daily Tribune (Oct 13): No connection between 2 separate abductions – PNP

The Philippine National Police (PNP) does not see any connection between the kidnappings of Italian Rolando del Torchio in Dipolog City and the four victims, including three foreigners, snatched from Samal Island.

Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, spokesman for the PNP, said that police investigators have no information that links the two kidnapping incidents.

“We have not received information that would lead connection between the two kidnapping incidents in Samal and Dipolog,” said Mayor.

Del Torchio was snatched right inside his Ur Choice Pizza House along Quezon Avenue in Dipolog City last Wednesday by more or less 10 armed men.

On the other hand, Norwegian Kjartan Sekingstad, Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and Filipina Maritess Flor were kidnapped by 11 gun men during a raid at Ocean View Resort on Samal Island last Sept. 21.

Mayor said that the PNP in working closely with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the local government units (LGUs) to address the two kidnappings.

“Ongoing operations and investigation is being undertaken by the PNP and the AFP together with the LGUs for the rescue of the victims and arrest of the perpetrators,” said Mayor.

Authorities have taken into custody Amante Sagario, 49, the registered owner of the Mitsubishi L300 van (TMY 490) used as getaway vehicle by the gun men who snatched Del Torchio.

Based on the video footages from the security camera of the pizza parlor, police authorities identified a certain Saher Munloc, alias commander Red Eye, as behind Del Torchio’s kidnapping.

Munloc, who is tagged as head of the police force of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) 113rd Command, reportedly led the gun men in dragging Del Torchio to the waiting van before being transported at sea using speed boats.

Authorities tagged Munloc as leader of a criminal gang operating in Zamboanga del Norte.

Lorenzo Aseniero, spokesman for the Zamboanga del Norte provincial crisis management committee, said that government security forces have already established sea barrier to prevent Del Torchio’s kidnapping from slipping out of the province.

Meanwhile, search and pursuit efforts by the government security forces for the four kidnap victims from Samal Island have yet to yield breakthrough.

A military official, who asked not to be named, said there has been no significant in the operations — three weeks after the kidnapping.

“No significant development on the Samal KVs (kidnap victims) up to now. Those information for validation have not been fully substantiated up to now,” the official said.

There are reports saying that the four are now under captivity by the Abu Sayyaf group of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan in the outskirts of Sulu province.

ASG brigands release Zambo Sibugay town mayor

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 13): ASG brigands release Zambo Sibugay town mayor

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) brigands have released the lady town mayor they seized more than six months ago in the province of Zamboanga Sibugay, the military announced Tuesday.

Maj. Antonio Bulao, Joint Task Group Sulu information officer, disclosed the town official was released around 6:50 a.m. Tuesday in the town of Indanan.

Released was Mayor Gemma Adana of Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Bulao said Adana was brought to the residence of Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan II by the Indanan town officials and religious leaders following her release.

Bulao said the ASG brigands released Adana due to intense pressure brought about by the relentless military offensive against them in the hinterlands of Sulu.

“The group believed that be releasing any of the KVs (kidnap victims), military pressure will ease a little,” Bulao said.

The ASG brigands are believed to be still holding some 10 hostages, including foreigners, kidnapped in the different parts of Mindanao.

The Joint Task Group Sulu has launched focus military operations (FMO) against the ASG brigands with the senior leaders and their foreign cohorts as the main targets.

Bulao said Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, has sent a medical platoon to fetch Adana from the residence of Tan to the Camp Bautista Trauma Hospital for medical check-up to be followed by debriefing.

Bulao said Adana will be brought to her residence via this city after the debriefing.

Adana was seized by gunmen from her residence in the evening of April 6 in Barangay Taytay Manubo, Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay.

10th ID promotes 1,641 enlisted personnel

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 13): 10th ID promotes 1,641 enlisted personnel

The 10th Infantry Division has promoted 1,641 of its enlisted personnel to the next higher rank during simple ceremonies Monday.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, on Tuesday said the traditional pinning of ranks of newly-promoted enlisted personnel took place in Camp Gen. Manuel T. Yan Sr, Barangay Tuboran, Mawab, Compostela Valley Province.

"These soldiers definitely deserved their promotion. This ceremony is a fitting reminder to them of the added responsibilities that come with their new ranks. These newly promoted personnel hold vital roles in our overall campaign,” 10th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Rafael C. Valencia said.

The 1,641 newly-promoted enlisted personnel are broken down into the following; Master Sergeant - 22, Technical Sergeant - 45, Staff Sergeant - 351, Sergeant - 590, Corporal - 633.

AFP: No Malaysian plane wreck found in Tawi-Tawi

From ABS-CBN (Oct 12): AFP: No Malaysian plane wreck found in Tawi-Tawi

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has denied reports that the wreck of a Malaysian aircraft has been found in South Ubian town, Tawi-Tawi province.

Rear Admiral Primitivo Gopo, commander of Joint Task Group Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi (ZamBaSulTa), said they immediately deployed their water assets to the island town of South Ubian to verify information that the wreckage of an aircraft with the Malaysian flag painted on it has been found.

However, after hours of checking the area, soldiers from the Philippine Navy did not find any aircraft wreckage.

Gopo said they also coordinated with local officials and the Philippine National Police (PNP), but they also had no information about the alleged wreckage, which was reported by a Filipino to the Malaysian government.

According to a report on The Strait Times on Sunday, police in the Malaysian state of Sabah received a report from a Filipino man who spotted the wreckage with human remains at Ubian Island a few days ago.

In the report, the man said his nephew and a few others were hunting for birds when they spotted the wreckage on the island. The group managed to get near the wreckage and found human bones. They also took a flag they found in the wreckage before they left.

The man said he informed the police as the wreckage could be that of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared in March 2014.

MH370 was carrying more than 200 crew and passengers, mostly Chinese nationals, when it disappeared.

Last July, a wing component, known as a flaperon, of the said aircraft was found in the coastline of the Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.

The Malaysian government confirmed last month that it was part of the aircraft's wing, based on the paint color and the maintenance record of the airline company.

Wanted MILF commander nabbed in North Cotabato town

From ABS-CBN (Oct 12): Wanted MILF commander nabbed in North Cotabato town

ALAMADA, North Cotabato - An alleged commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who is wanted for murder and robbery charges has been arrested in Barangay Kamansi, Alamada town of North Cotabato, police said Monday.

Tahir Manangga alias Tahir Saripada, a resident of Sitio Tambonan, Barangay Giling, a mountainous part of Alamada, was issued a warrant of arrest by Regional Trial Court Branch 18 in Midsayap, North Cotabato for various cases including robbery, frustrated murder, murder, multiple attempted murder and homicide.

Chief Insp. Joseph Bryan Placer, chief of Alamada police, said Manangga was visible in the area during the negotiation conducted to appease two warring parties in Sitios Marabuhay and Papandayon in Barangay Bao last week.

Authorities apprehended Manangga at a checkpoint in Barangay Kamansi. He did not resist arrest.

"Si Commander Tahir huli na lang namin nalaman na diyan siya nakatira. Bundok kasi 'yan, boundary na ng Banisilan at ang hirap hulihin kasi affiliated sa MILF," Placer said.

He said the MILF, through the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, had requested Alamada police to have him detained in Midsayap municipal police station while waiting for his commitment order in Amas Provincial Jail in Kidapawan City.

MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces spokesman Von Al-Haq told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview that they will still have to verify the information and the identity of the arrested commander.

MILF: BDA SouthMin completes the delivery of development projects in Sarangani

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 11): BDA SouthMin completes the delivery of development projects in Sarangani

Photo courtesy of BDA SouthMin

Photo courtesy of BDA SouthMin

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) -Southern Mindanao (SouthMin) has completed the delivery of development projects in Sarangani Province in line with it’s mission that is to initiate rehabilitation and development in conflict affected communities in Mindanao.

Beneficiaries have been enjoying the projects which include water system, post-harvest facilities (warehouses, solar driers, haulers), fishing vessels, and trading centers which provides them convenience in engaging with their livelihood activities.

The development interventions basically aim to provide the beneficiaries with  additional income and strengthen unity among the constituencies.

The projects were identified out of the community consultations following the stringent Community Driven Development (CDD) process being employed by its funder - the Mindanao Trust Fund Reconstruction and Development Programme (MTFRDP).

BDA staff from the Central and Regional Management Offices provided capacity-building training to the People’s Organizations (POs) which are responsible for the establishment and management of the said projects.

The beneficiary barangays are Ticulab, Maguling and Mindupok in Maitum, Amsipit, Lumasal and Daliao in Maasim and Tuyan, Lun Masla and Libi in Malapatan.

Amsipit, Libi and Ticulab are Indigenous People’s dominated communities. Mohalikin Piang, BDA SouthMin Regional Manager, said the BDA is not merely for Muslims but also for Christian settlers and IPs.

He urged the PO officers and members to share their time and efforts in order to sustain the projects.

The regional manager hinted that a PO which has a good track record shall have more opportunities considering that there are still other agencies that shall come to bring more projects.

The municipal and barangay government units have shared their monetary and logistic counterparts in compliance with the CDD process.

Air Force renews allegiance to ‘Bible of Soldiery’

From Ang Malaya (Oct 12): Air Force renews allegiance to ‘Bible of Soldiery’

The men and women of Philippine Air Force renewed their vow to upheld the Armed Forces of the Philippines Code of Ethics today, October 12 at Col. Jesus Villamor Air Base, Grandstand in Pasay City. The pledge of allegiance was part of PAF’s celebration of the 25th AFP Code of Ethics Anniversary.

“AFP Code of Ethics appropriately known as the “Bible of Soldiery” is a guide for the uniformed personnel to perform their duties and responsibilities competently and professionally,” the Air Force said.

PAF Vice Commander Major General Emeraldo Magnaye read the message of AFP chief General Hernando DCA Iriberri. The AFP chief’s message encouraged the men and women in uniform that despite of the threats to national peace and development as well as the global challenges, the AFP is still pushing through to accomplish its mandate and uphold the moral principles of the organization.

General Iriberri ended his message challenging every soldier, airman, sailor and marine to revisit the organizational core values that shall mark each individual and collective action.

MNLF exec: `President’ Rody to implement Tripoli Pact

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 12): MNLF exec: `President’ Rody to implement Tripoli Pact
THE MORO National Liberation Front is confident Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte would implement the 1976 Tripolo Agreement if he becomes president next year.

At the rally attended by about 500 Moro representatives at the Rizal Park Friday, Randolph Parcasio, MNLF spokesperson, said Duterte is the best bet for Moros as he understands the causes of the Moro conflict and the potential solutions.

Parcasio said the Moro people have remained that a peace deal is still possible even of Congress will shelve the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, even as he maintained at his group has made no stand on the proposal.

The BBL is a peace deal between the government of the Philippines and the peace panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Samad Pangandaman, president of the People’s President Rody Duterte movement, even claimed further that the Muslim community was “100% supportive of Duterte’s run”.

Pangandaman said that they will continue calling for the presidential run, despite the mayor’s repeated claims he would not go for the presidential campaign next year.

Asked about the campaign strategy for convincing the mayor to run, Pangandaman said “the filing of candidacy is very near now, and we don’t have time to conduct more rallies.”

“We just pray to Allah the creator who has control of everything, even control the mind of Duterte. He can change his mind. Through prayer, Inshallah, we will be able to convince him,” Pangandaman said.

Speaking to a crowd at the Rizal Park, Pangandaman also claimed that a 300,000-strong OFW base in Saudi Arabia alone was supportive of Duterte’s candidacy, and that this was already proof of Duterte’s winnability as a candidate.

Friday’s rally was attended by different representatives from various Muslim tribes from all over Mindanao, including members from other parts of the country.

The event was also graced by the Muslim deputy mayors from the city, as well as other city officials.

Cops intensify hunt on NPA death squad after slaying of another tribal leader in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): Cops intensify hunt on NPA death squad after slaying of another tribal leader in North Cotabato

Police has augmented troops hunting down a communist New People’s Army (NPA) death squad that gunned down Monday another tribal leader in remote Barangay Panaca, Magpet, North Cotabato.

Two pistol-wielding men gunned down victim Roberto Cupino, 56, around 8 a.m. inside his house at the Manobo-populated Panaca village.

Sr. Insp. Felix Fornan, Magpet police chief, said the victim was the incumbent Indigenous Peoples Representative (IPMR) in the area.

"Witnesses recognized the faces of the perpetrators as NPA rebels, although they do not know their real names,” Fornan told newsmen here.

Authorities recovered at the crime scene seven .45 caliber pistol empty shells that were immediately submitted to the PNP Crime Laboratory for ballistic and cross matching examination.

Earlier this month, NPA gunmen also shot dead Noel Biaong, the Manobo Supreme Council of Alimaong Guardians, in Barangay Basak, also in Magpet.

The Magpet police has tightened security around its area of responsibility following the twin slaying.

Bomb attempt in Cotabato City foiled

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): Bomb attempt in Cotabato City foiled

Police bomb experts successfully discharged a homemade bomb found around 2:00 p.m. Monday along Pansacala Extension, Barangay Rosary Heights Mother here.

Alert residents reported the bomb, rigged from a 60 mm mortar explosive with timing device, following its discovery near the road.

The area was immediately sealed off and electric power was temporarily shutdown as cops moved residents to a safe distance prior to the bomb detonation procedure.

A short, loud blast and power was immediately restored after the bomb was properly disposed.

The bombing attempt came as the Commission on Elections officially declared Oct. 12 as the start of the filing of Certificates of Candidacy for political aspirants in connection with the 2016 national and local polls.

DND to acquire PhP 16.2-M worth of 5.56mm M-27 links

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): DND to acquire PhP 16.2-M worth of 5.56mm M-27 links

The Department of National Defense-Government Arsenal is acquiring PhP 16,200,000 worth of 5.56mm M-27 links for the use of the military.

Winning bidders are required to deliver the items within 180 calendar days.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled on Oct. 16, 1:30 p.m., at the Government Arsenal Metro Manila Liaison Office, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The 5.56mm M-27 link is a disintegrating metallic bullet link issued by the United States armed forces and designed for use in belt-fed firearms.

It holds 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition. It was first developed for the Stoner belt-fed Machine Gun in Vietnam but was later resurrected and adapted for use with the FN Minimi Light Machine Gun (LMG)/M249 squad automatic weapon (SAW).

Military verifying reports of MH-370 wreckage, human remains in Tawi-Tawi

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): Military verifying reports of MH-370 wreckage, human remains in Tawi-Tawi

The military on Monday said it is verifying a report that the wreckage of ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-370 as well as human remains were seen at Ubian Island in Tawi-Tawi province.

Unconfirmed reports claim that some bird hunters were able to locate plane parts and skeletal remains of passengers and crew members of the aircraft in a remote part of the island.

Naval Task Force 61 head Capt. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said a gunboat has been deployed off the island on Sunday to talk with fishermen and residents regarding the report.

"So far, our questionings have determined that island residents have no knowledge of (a plane crashing in their locality)," Bacordo said in Filipino.

He said even long-time residents of the island could not recall seeing or hearing reports of plane wreckage or human remains being found in the remote parts of their locality.

"They were surprised by this report and were asking us on where it came from," he added.

Bacordo said the crew is still in the area and conducting interviews with the residents.

The plane, a Boeing 777-200 aircraft coded as flight MH370, lost contact with the air traffic control in Kuala Lumpur 2:40 a.m. on March 8, 2014.

Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur 12:41 a.m. for Beijing, China. The flight, piloted by Malaysian Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members.

The passengers are citizens from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, France, the US, New Zealand, Ukraine, Canada, Russia, Italy, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Austria.

President Aquino reiterates call for passage of BBL

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): President Aquino reiterates call for passage of BBL

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday urged anew Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), one of the important proposed bills of his administration, which will end decades-old conflict in Mindanao.

“Pangunahin na po sa akin ang BBL, na ang tanging layunin ay makasabay sa ating paghakbang ang mga kababayan nating nasa Muslim Mindanao,” the President said in his speech during the introduction of the Daang Matuwid coalition.

President Aquino noted that passing the Bangsamoro law is imperative for Mindanao and the Philippines.

“Isipin ninyo na lang: ‘Pag di naipasa ang BBL, ipagpapatuloy lang natin ang siklo ng hidwaan; tuloy lang na malulugmok ang mga kapatid natin sa gulo at kahirapan; at patutunayan lang natin ang mga pagkukulang ng ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), kung saan kahit isa lang ang maling mailagay sa puwesto ay apektado na ang kinabukasan ng lahat,” he said.

The Chief Executive further said the proposed law will provide opportunity for each voice to be heard.

Under the BBL, President Aquino added the desires of leaders are conveyed through their representatives.

“Malayong-malayo ito sa kinagisnan nating sitwasyon kung saan may warlord na nagdidikta sa kapalaran ng nakakarami, samantalang pinagtutuunan lang niya ng pansin ang pag-unlad ng kanyang angkan o tribo,” the President said.

“Sa BBL, sa simula’t simula, ang punto ay asikasuhin ang lahat. Ang mga nasasakupan naman, may pantay na karapatan at sariling boses,” he said.

Aussie, PHL ships conduct PASSEX off Subic Bay

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct): Aussie, PHL ships conduct PASSEX off Subic Bay

Australian and Filipino naval ships conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX) off the waters of Grande Island, Subic Bay, Zambales on Sunday.

Participating in the PASSEX were Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships HMAS Arunta (FFH-151) and HMAS Sirius (0-266) and the Philippine Navy's BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16).

This is in connection with the five-day goodwill visit of the Australian ships which started Oct. 7 and ended on the 11th, PN public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna said.

While conducting PASSEX, the vessels conducted maneuvering, visual communications and publication exercises utilizing the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), a non-binding rules-of-the-road agreement between the 21 member countries of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) which offers a safety measure and a means to limit mutual interference, to limit uncertainty and to facilitate communication when naval ships encounter each other in an unplanned manner.

Lincuna said the exercise served as an avenue in enhancing the ability and skills of the sailors and promote cooperation and interoperability between the two navies.

Moreover, the exercise was also a chance to establish a professional relationship with allies for a more capable force working in synergy at sea.

Both HMAS Arunta and HMAS Sirius arrived in Subic on Oct. 11 for a goodwill visit which signals the deepening relationship and partnership between the PN and RAN.

The visit involved several confidence building activities between PN personnel and their visiting counterparts that involved ship’s tour, courtesy calls, and sports events.

The Philippines is just one of the ports of call of the RAN ships as part of their South East Asia deployment.

Education paramount in enabling women's participation in peace process

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): Education paramount in enabling women's participation in peace process
Representatives of various women's rights organizations have underscored the core task of educating and training women to enable their meaningful participation in conflict resolution and peace building activities in Muslim Mindanao during a roundtable discussion held on Monday in Ortigas.

To mark the 15th year of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on women, peace and security, Oxfam, Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (WE Act 1325), and Australian Aid organized a roundtable discussion and press conference entitled "Ready to Break the Glass Ceiling: Responding to UNSCR 1325's Call for Women's Participation” to highlight how armed conflicts affect women, and why there is a need to increase women participation in political processes essential for peace and security.

"We need competence to make a difference," said Anak Mindanao Party List Representative Djalia Turabin-Hataman to encapsulate the common clamor for education laid out during the roundtable discussion.

Hataman stressed the importance of capacitating women by increasing their level of consciousness even in the ground level as a means of "bridging the gap."

Women's participation in conflict resolution and peace building is often impeded and rendered less meaningful due to a key constraint which is the lack of access to education.

This in turn further entrenches the root causes of conflict which makes women vulnerable to its impacts such as gender-based violence, child marriages, and the struggles of displacement, among others.

The lack of knowledge makes them unwilling or uninterested in engaging in conflict prevention activities.

A holistic approach must then be used to enable women to engage in local peace building efforts by providing adequate access to education, training, and capacity building thereby making their participation credible, productive, and meaningful.

Furthermore, Executive Director of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy Atty. Salma Rasul stressed the need to "teach and educate what women's rights are."

Rasul said women should become more aware of their rights to enhance their opportunities for empowerment and participation in the peace processes.

"It is when women are able to take on leadership roles, in formal or informal structures that they are truly empowered," said Representative Hataman.

This event, held at the Marco Polo Hotel, was attended by partner organizations including Al Mujadillah Foundation, Kutawato Council for Justice and Peace, Nisa Ul-haqq fi Bangsamoro, Pinay Kilos, Tarbilang Foundation, and United Youth of the Philippines Women.

Through this event, women from Basilan, Sulu, Maguindanao, and Lanao provinces shared how armed conflicts affected their lives and how they, in turn, became active agents of peacebuilding in their communities.

155 Army personnel benefit from Comelec's voter registration project

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): 155 Army personnel benefit from Comelec's voter registration project

At least 155 personnel from the Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division benefited from the Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Jamindan's initiative to conduct voter's registration activities on military personnel last Oct. 8.

Major Ray Tiongson, 3rd Infantry Division public affairs office chief, in a statement Monday, said the 155 personnel were composed of 34 officers, 100 enlisted personnel, 14 military dependents and seven civilian employees.

Heading them was 3rd Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero.

The initiative was aided by a computerized voters’ registration process in preparation for the May 2016 elections.

Tiongson said the activity aimed to provide an opportunity for the 3rd Infantry Division personnel to update their records especially for the reactivation and transfer of their registration.

Likewise, personnel of the unit, who are first-time registrants, were given a chance to register for them to exercise their right to suffrage as responsible citizens of the Philippines.