Monday, November 14, 2016

Probe sought on 'red-tagging' of Lumad schools in Sultan Kudarat

From GMA News (Nov 14): Probe sought on 'red-tagging' of Lumad schools in Sultan Kudarat

Militant lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc on Monday called for a congressional inquiry on the alleged harassment of teachers of community schools in Sultan Kudarat being tagged as "fronts for the New People's Army."

In a House resolution, the party-list congressmen claimed that local government officials have been harassing teachers of schools run by the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (CLANS) and telling residents that the schools are connected with the communist group. Among those accused in the resolution of "red-tagging" were officials of the local government, the Department of Education, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the police, and the military.

According to the resolution, armed and plainclothes-wearing police on October 11 hung tarpaulins labelling CLANS as "the entry point of deception of the NPA" or a front of the NPA and saying that CLANS and the schools they are managing are "fake and illegitimate."

The police also entered the school and started taking pictures of it, the lawmakers said. The following day, the officials of Barangay Kipunget allegedly gathered the residents at a meeting where the "vilification" was repeated.

Municipal officials also allegedly distributed flyers with the same contents as the tarp, and told residents they would be given a P5,000 reward for those who can take pictures of the CLANS teachers or point out who the NPAs are.

Due to the threats and harassment, Diya Menuwa, which operates in 18 school sites in Palimbang, was forced to close for several days, according to the resolution.

Classes in four sites have yet to resume as of Monday, it added.

"The resolution urges an immediate congressional investigation into these reports, and calls all concerned agencies to look into the allegations of the victims and to immediately put an end to all forms of attacks on Lumad schools and people's organizations," the lawmakers said in a statement.

4 MILF men killed in clash with drug dealers

From Tempo (Nov 15): 4 MILF men killed in clash with drug dealers

Four Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters conducting anti-narcotics operations were killed during an encounter with a large number of alleged drug traffickers in two villages of Balindong, Lanao del Sur recently.

Sources said the running firefight, which erupted Saturday between the group of Northwest Front Commander Abdurahman “Bravo” Macapaar and armed followers of an elected official in the villages Debarosan and Buluan in Balindong town also led to the wounding of three more MILF fighters.

MILF former peace panelist Robert Maulana A. Marohombsar said both groups were still trading shots on Saturday, saying that casualties from the “large armed group of drug traffickers” were still unknown.
“As of this time, MILF forces have surrounded Bualan, even as the IMT (International Monitoring Team) and other peace bodies have trekked to the area of conflict to forge a truce,” said Marohombsar.

Marohombsar said one of the confirmed fatalities was a son of Lanao-based MILF 2nd Vice Chair Aleem Solaiman Pangalian.

Threats to security hamper gains—NSA

From The Standard (Nov 15): Threats to security hamper gains—NSA

THE country can’t take off if the government can’t solve internal security threats such as the 48-year-old communist insurgency, the Moro rebellion and the problem of Islamic jihadists in some parts of Mindanao, National Security Adviser (NSA) Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Monday.

“We have to have internal security before anything else,” Esperon said during the Kapihan sa Manila Hotel forum Monday.
Security talks. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. Surigao Rep. Prospero Pichay and Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza discuss the country’s security problems at the Samahang Plaridel Kapihan sa Manila Hotel media forum. Lino Santos
Esperon also said the government’s battle against illegal drugs and anti-corruption were cornerstones of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on criminality.

The government has been in the thick of negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front. The negotiations have temporarily silenced the guns of the contending parties while working out a more permanent end to the armed conflicts.

These efforts, Esperon said, must show concrete results.

“We’ve to create peace and stability. We’ve got to take out all these internal problems so we can take off for the better,” he said.

“The President believes that if the internal strife is not solved, the country would not be able to achieve progress,” Esperon added.

Esperon said the government had a separate plan to neutralize terrorists such as the Abu Sayyaf group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other jihadist groups in Mindanao.

He denied the presence of more foreign terrorists in Mindanao, however.

“We cannot confirm that yet but we’ve taken preventive steps. All information are being validated but as of now we’ve no confirmation yet of all these reports,” he said.    

At the same forum, Esperon dismissed rumors of a military coup backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency, allegedly in reaction to Duterte’s anti-American policies.

“In the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we’re not trained to become politicians. We’re trained to address armed conflicts, and that’s our job,” Esperon said.

He added that political problems should be solved by political leaders, not by the military.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, meanwhile, said he expected the relationship between the United States and the Philippines to improve under President Donald Trump.

“Presidents Duterte and [Donald] Trump are very much alike. And so far, Trump has not said anything against Duterte’s campaign versus illegal drugs unlike Trump’s predecessor that pissed Duterte off,” said Pichay, another guest at the forum.

Pichay was referring to US President Barack Obama, who drew Duterte’s ire by raising concerns over extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

House Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza, meanwhile, said that opposition lawmakers fully support Duterte, but not the “culture of death” that the authorities have embraced.

“There is actually no point in restoring the death penalty because we already have a de facto death penalty with all the senseless killings of criminals happening now,” Atienza said.

Wanted BIFF bomb maker killed in encounter with gov’t troopers

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 15): Wanted BIFF bomb maker killed in encounter with gov’t troopers

Government troopers shot dead during an encounter in Matalam, North Cotabato, a rebel bomb expert who carries a PHP1.2 – million reward on his head.


A report from the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade identified the slain bomb maker as Mohammad Nor Hassan alias Kamarudin Sulayman, a member of the militant Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) operating in the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

Acting on a verified intelligence report, soldiers swooped down Monday on the target’s safehouse in Barangay Central Malamote, Matalam, to convince him to yield with the help of local officials but the operation resulted to a shootout.

Col. Nolly Samarita, 602nd IB commander, said the suspect fired first at the soldiers that led to the gun battle.

Samarita added that a local court has also issued two arrest warrants for the capture of the suspect.

The Army’s Sixth Infantry Division that has jurisdiction over the South Central Mindanao Region including North Cotabato province has confirmed the standing bounty on Hassan’s capture.

The BIFF faction, which bolted from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) three years ago due to ideological differences, is being held responsible for intermittent attacks against soldiers and military installations in the region.

The MILF, for its part, is currently engaged in a comprehensive peace overture with the government.

Army says alleged BIFF bomb maker slain in Cotabato clash

From InterAksyon (Nov 15): Army says alleged BIFF bomb maker slain in Cotabato clash

An alleged bomb maker of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters with a P1.2-million bounty on his head was killed by government troops in an encounter in Matalam, Cotabato province Monday, the military said.

A report from the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade said its troops, acting on a verified intelligence report, went to Barangay Cetral Malamote with local officials intending to convince Mohammad Nor Hassan, alias Kamarudin Sulayman, to surrender.

However, battalion commander Colonel Nolly Samarita said Hassan fired at the troops triggering the shootout in which he was killed.

Hassan, who operated in Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces, was the subject of two warrants of arrest.

How Much Will Duterte Wreck the US-Philippines Military Alliance?

From The Diplomat (Nov 15): How Much Will Duterte Wreck the US-Philippines Military Alliance? (By )

The fallout, though significant, will likely be more limited than the rhetoric had suggested.

As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, for all the headlines that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte generates – including on his “separation” from the United States – more often than not his rhetoric does not translate well into reality (See: “The Limits of Duterte’s US-China Rebalance”).

Indeed, even his advisers have privately, and sometimes even publicly, urged those trying to understand Philippine foreign policy to look more at what the administration actually does, rather than what Duterte says.

That applies to the U.S.-Philippine defense relations too. As I have noted previously, while Duterte had called for an end of all U.S.-Philippine military exercises, defense officials including Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had indicated that Duterte in fact had little knowledge about the full extent of ties, even though his anti-Americanism is quite real and deeply-rooted (See: “Why the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte Hates America”).

Given this, it was always likely that once the president was briefed by his advisers on the state of relations and given a set of recommendations, we would see more of a downgrading in U.S.-Philippine defense relations, as opposed to a full-blown severing (See: “Will Duterte Really End the US-Philippines Military Alliance?”).

Sure enough, that now appears to be what is happening. After defense officials including Lorenzana outlined their proposals to Duterte, the expected outcome looks to be the cutting of some war games but not others, thereby limiting the damage that the president can do to the decade-old relationship.

Where Might the Axe Fall?

According to the Philippine defense ministry (DND), defense officials had given a set of detailed recommendations to Duterte, including: the refocusing of U.S.-Philippine bilateral engagement on command post exercises, tabletop exercises, staff exercises, and simulation exercises and trainings; the maintenance of bilateral humanitarian and disaster response (HADR) and counterterrorism exercises, given their importance to the Philippines; increasing the focus of engagements on non-traditional security concerns such as counter-narcotics and transnational crimes taking into account the new administration’s priorities; and increasing the significance placed on ensuring that civic action and engineering projects benefit civilian communities.

In response, Lorenzana said last week that Duterte had “approved practically all” of the recommendations presented to him. Specifically, Duterte asked to discontinue assault exercises and some bilateral drills between the two countries, even though other joint trainings and exercises would continue as scheduled.

The exact number of exercises to be cut is not finalized, as it will have to be presented to the U.S. panel of the Mutual Defense Board – Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) during its meeting later this month.

But according to GMA News, Philippine defense ministry spokesman Arsenio Andalang suggested in a mixture of English and Tagalog that military exercises could be cut by half, with around six or seven engagements – perhaps less or more – affected, but definitely less than ten.

More specifically, Lorenzana revealed that PHILBEX, a marine amphibious landing exercise, and CARAT, a naval exercise, both held annually, would be scrapped. Other exercises that remain, he said, would be focused areas like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counterterrorism and counter-narcotics.

Gauging Potential Impacts

In assessing the impact of the cancellation of any U.S.-Philippine military engagement, it is important to emphasize that though the specific effects may vary, in general, though Washington would lose opportunities for bilateral and wider regional cooperation, Manila would lose more relatively speaking since it is heavily – in some cases wholly – dependent on the United States for certain forms of security cooperation and absence of this collaboration can affect its readiness not only for, but also for other areas like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (See: “The Truth About Philippine Military Modernization and the China Threat”).

This is why Philippine defense officials have been stressing to Duterte the full range of benefits that U.S.-Philippine defense cooperation offers Manila, in spite of his insistence that they largely are for Washington’s benefit.

Turning to the specific exercises targeted for cuts, the first is the Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHILBEX), a bilateral exercise which has gone through 32 iterations with the last one ending in October, usually includes not only a command post exercise, field training exercises, amphibious operations, combined arms training, but also civil-military operations and humanitarian civic assistance projects will real benefits for the Philippine people.

Its inclusion in a list of scrapped exercises was not entirely surprising, a defense official told The Diplomat, especially since Duterte’s initial call for the cancellation of bilateral drills, in late September, came right before the last iteration of PHILBEX. Its damage will also be limited since it is an exercise that only involves the two countries.

The cancellation of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), by contrast, would be more damaging. The periodic downgrading or cancellation of CARAT exercises is not unique to the Philippines, and Thailand witnessed the same thing recently for a brief period (See: “Exclusive: Managing the Strained US-Thailand Alliance”). In the case of the Philippines, however, the fallout could be greater because it was part of plans by defense officials to gradually multilateralize the exercise series’ in the Asia-Pacific as well in 2016 and beyond (See: “Interview: The Future of US Military Exercises in the Asia-Pacific”).

One promising indication of this was the fact that in the midst of the Shangri-La Dialogue and in between the bilateral phases of CARAT that Washington does with the Malaysian and Philippine militaries, the U.S., Philippine, and Malaysian navies conducted a coordinated multilateral training activity in the Sulu Sea on June 4 (See: “The Other Sea That Dominated Asia’s Security Summit in 2016”).

That demonstrated the fact that the Philippines is an important part of a broader U.S. effort to pursue multilateral cooperation with its Southeast Asian partners in other maritime spaces including the Sulu Sea. Given the increasing emphasis that Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia have been placing recently on the Sulu Sea, including with trilateral patrols, this is not an insignificant point (See: “Confronting Threats in the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas: Opportunities and Challenges”).

Though these cuts would unquestionably have an impact on U.S.-Philippine relations, equally important is what remains untouched, at least for now.

Lorenzana said that the U.S.-Philippine annual Balikatan exercises, meaning “shoulder-to-shoulder” in Tagalog, would continue as scheduled, though they might be refocused on certain areas like HA/DR relative to others.

The fact that they have not been scrapped is important because these exercises have grown more multilateralized in recent years, with the inclusion of Australia as well as other observers, including Japan which had participated with three Japanese Maritime Defense Force (JMSDF) ships during the latest iteration of the drills held in April this year.

In addition, Lorenzana also said that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – a pact inked back in 2014 that would, among other things, give U.S. troops and equipment wide access to Philippine military bases on a rotational basis – will continue to be implemented.

Assuming that this is the case, it will be a big sigh of relief for not only policymakers in Manila and Washington, but other Asian capitals as well. Though the United States already enjoys significant access to Philippine facilities, EDCA’s implementation would gradually allow the United States to station more troops, ships and planes more frequently in more locations and enhance its rotational presence there and in the region more generally, even though this may not take place quickly, or even much at all, during Duterte’s six years in office. It would also enable both allies to engage in a range of activities including the prepositioning of defense equipment and the construction of facilities, much of which would benefit the Philippines too (See: “A Big Deal? US, Philippines Agree First ‘Bases’ Under New Defense Pact”).

But it also would preserve enough U.S.-Philippine bilateral cooperation so as not to eliminate Manila’s role in longer-term regional initiatives like the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative (MSI). As I explained back in April, the initial U.S. vision for MSI sought to build a common operating picture (COP) in the maritime domain starting with the Philippines’ National Coast Watch Center and out onto the rest of the region, with willing countries as initial connective nodes eventually leading to a network that actors can “plug into” (See: “America’s New Maritime Security Initiative for Southeast Asia”).

Still Early Days

Though we’ve gotten some indications about the kind of downgraded U.S.-Philippine defense relationship we might see under Duterte, it is important to emphasize that it is still early days.
Close observers of Philippine foreign policy have become used to a pattern where Duterte’s initial rhetoric is downplayed or clarified by his advisers and, following a reconciling of positions, a general policy position is developed with a varying degree of specificity. It is unclear if this picture Lorenzana laid out is the one that we will eventually see. More specifics will be revealed once U.S. and Philippine officials meet later this month for talks, after which we will get a fuller idea of where both sides see ties standing.

The key to look for here is not just which engagements are kept, but what restrictions if any there are on where they can operate and what they can do. Even if certain exercises remain, they may be carried out in certain ways or located in particular places so that they are not seen as complicating Duterte’s focus on improving ties with Beijing and not antagonize it on the South China Sea disputes, which informed his decision to discontinue U.S.-Philippine joint patrols.

There are also other variables that could affect the trajectory of U.S.-Philippine relations further into Duterte’s single six-year term. He may decide that a greater or lesser downgrading is necessary depending on the state of bilateral relations or even the Philippines’ ongoing rapprochement with China (See: “China and the Philippines Under Duterte: Look Beyond a Voyage”). Recall that Duterte’s successor Benigno Aquino III too began his term by being open to forging better ties with China, but eventually moved much closer to the United States after Manila bore the brunt of Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. It is still too early to determine whether a similar turn might occur under Duterte as well.

Furthermore, it is unclear what the shape of U.S. Asia policy will be following the shock election of Donald Trump, and how U.S.-Philippine relations will develop within that (See: “What will Donald Trump’s Asia Policy Look Like?“). Though Duterte has signaled after Trump’s victory that he is unlikely to change his tune, it is also true that part of his anger at the United States was directed at the Obama administration and its ambassador Philip Goldberg. With Trump assuming office on January 20 and a new U.S. ambassador, Sung Kim, in Manila, we could see some shifts that could affect defense ties too (See: “US-Philippine Alliance in the Duterte Era: A Path to Recalibration”).

[Prashanth Parameswaran is Associate Editor at The Diplomat based in Washington, D.C., where he writes mostly on Southeast Asia, Asian security affairs and U.S. foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific. He is also a PhD candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
An ASEAN citizen who grew up in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines before moving to the United States, Prashanth previously worked on Asian affairs at several think tanks including the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has also conducted extensive field research in the region and consulted for companies and governments. His writings have appeared in a wide range of publications in the United States and in Asia, including Foreign Policy, The National Interest, The Washington Quarterly, The Straits Times, and The Nation.]

Esscom: Hunt for 23 individuals linked to Abu Sayyaf terror group

From The Sun Daily (Nov 15): Esscom: Hunt for 23 individuals linked to Abu Sayyaf terror group


Twenty-three men being hunted down by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) for suspected involvement in cross-border crime in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) waters, are believed to be linked to the Abu Sayyaf terror group.

ESSCom commander, Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid said they were all wanted by the agency and were believed to be in the Philippine waters still.

"At the moment, ESSCom is intensifying operations to track down all those involved, aged around 20 to 30 years.

"They are also believed to be coming back and forth between the Philippine waters and Sabah to commit crime, hence ESSCom is urging all the fishermen to cooperate with us if they see individuals that raise suspicion in the Sabah waters," he told Bernama, today.

Wan Abdul Bari also called on the public with information on all the suspects to contact the ESSCom operations centre at 089-863181.

Last Friday, ESSCom released a list of 23 wanted individuals being hunted down by the enforcement agency for suspected involvement in cross-border crime.

Information on the wanted men were then distributed in Sabah for public knowledge.

Most of them are Philippine nationals who have been in this country, according to a spokesman from the ESSCom operations room based in Lahad Datu.

Last Thursday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at a meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak in Putrajaya, stated that he allowed Malaysian security forces to chase kidnapping groups right into the Philippine waters. — Bernama

Abu Sayyaf Silent About Hijacking of Vietnamese Ship

From The Maritime Executive (Nov 14): Abu Sayyaf Silent About Hijacking of Vietnamese Ship


The Armed Forces of the Philippines say that they have not yet confirmed whether the kidnapping of six Vietnamese mariners was perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf militant group, which has terrorized shipping in the Sulu Sea since early this year.

"It's hard to say if [Abu Sayyaf] are behind it. There is always the possibility that another group might be behind it," said Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, speaking to Manila Bulletin.

No one has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the attack, he said. In most prior kidnappings, Abu Sayyaf has issued a request for ransom payments soon after seizing seafarers.

The abductees included the master, the deck officers, the bosun and an A/B.

The six men went missing in a pirate attack on the Vietnamese bulker Royal 16 on November 11. One crewmember was shot during the hijacking.

Authorities received word of the attack from the crew of a second merchant vessel, who witnessed the Royal 16 in distress.

Separately, four soldiers were injured by an improvised explosive device in Lamitan City, Basilan. The AFP is conducting a large-scale campaign against Abu Sayyaf forces on Basilan and Sulu in an attempt to deny them a shoreside base of operations. As of early November, the Army said that it had killed over 100 Abu Sayyaf fighters in Sulu and Basilan. The military’s casualties to date are about 30 soldiers dead and about 40 wounded.

Malaysia and Indonesia have also entered into the fight against Abu Sayyaf. Last Thursday, the Philippine and Malaysian governments reached a new agreement allowing Malaysian forces to pursue pirates into the Philippines' territorial seas.

Abu Sayyaf is formally allied with the Islamic State, and Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte warned today that any infiltrators from the conflict in the Middle East will be dealt with harshly – and without any consideration of the norms of human rights.

“Once the terrorists of the Middle East are deprived of the land area, the real estate area where they can sleep … they will wander to other places and they will come here and we have to prepare for that,” Duterte said in a speech on Monday. "I will not just simply allow my people to be slaughtered for the sake of human rights . . . forget about human rights."

Fleet-Marine Ready Force to conduct amphibious maneuvers

From Update.Ph (Nov 15): Fleet-Marine Ready Force to conduct amphibious maneuvers

The Philippine Navy’s Fleet-Marine Ready Force will hold a five-day unilateral exercise with the aim of boosting its amphibious capability starting Nov. 18.

Ensign Adeltrude Dayata, FMRF spokesperson, said maneuvers will last until Nov. 23 and will take place at the Marine Barracks in Camp Gregorio Lim in Cavite province.

The exercise aims to develop an amphibious capable force for range of amphibious operations, develop capability to support and sustain the force ashore.

The maneuvers would also develop the capability for mobility and counter-mobility operations in support to amphibious operations.

US rifles purchase pushing through – Dela Rosa

From Rappler (Nov 14): US rifles purchase pushing through – Dela Rosa

Despite President Duterte's announcement of a cancellation, the PNP insists it has his 'blessing' to push through with it

PNP, US TIES. PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa is flanked by US embassy officials during the donation of antiterrorism equipment in September 2016. File photo from PNP PIO

PNP, US TIES. PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa is flanked by US embassy officials during the donation of antiterrorism equipment in September 2016. File photo from PNP PIO

It's a deal the Philippines will continue to pursue after all.

Nearly a week after President Rodrigo Duterte said he was ordering the Philippine National Police (PNP) not to buy assault rifles from a US-based company, Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the planned purchase would push through – barring hiccups.

"As far as the PNP is concerned, we have the blessing of the President to continue with the transaction as long as it's not barred. But if they stop it, I'm sure the President will tell me to stop it," said Dela Rosa on Monday, November 14.

On November 7, Duterte said he was ordering the PNP to drop its plan after reports that a US senator planned on stopping the Philippines' purchase of over 27,000 rifles from a US-based company. US weapon makers must inform Congress through the State Department when selling to foreign entities.

The apparent stalling of the PNP's plans comes amid Duterte's plan to pursue a foreign policy "independent" of the Philippines' longtime Western ally, the United States.

But Dela Rosa insisted that contrary to an exclusive report from Reuters, the processing of documents was still ongoing before the US State Department.

"I talked to him personally during our trip to Malaysia. We reported to him that the processing of the documents is going on smoothly according to Sig Sauer. So when I explained that to him, he said, 'Okay, you can continue,'" said Dela Rosa.

"Ewan ko kung itutuloy ni Presidente 'yung sinabi niya dahil iba naman 'yung [US] presidente ngayon. Mag-kaibigan naman sila ni Donald Trump (I'm not sure if the President will push through with his earlier pronouncements because the US president is different now)," quipped Dela Rosa, referring to the United States' president-elect.

But it's not the US's executive branch that plans to intervene in the sale, but the legislative branch, which has a huge say on foreign policy in America.

Dela Rosa sought to downplay the American senator's stand on the matter.

"Siguro na-play up lang 'yung comment ng isang senator. Tinanong pa nga niya [Duterte] kung 'yung senador na 'yun eh tumakbo uli, kung nanalo or natalo. Mukhang hindi ata tumakbo, mukhang incumbent," said Dela Rosa of Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, who "was reluctant for the United States to provide the weapons given concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines."
(Maybe a senator's comment was played up. Duterte even asked me if that senator ran again, if he won or lost. I don't think he ran. I think he's an incumbent.)

Cardin is a junior senator from Maryland who was elected to a second straight term in 2012. His term does not expire until 2018. He had expressed plans to stop the sale of weapons as a ranking member of the US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations.

Improved situation in Scarborough only temporary – analysts

From Rappler (Nov 15): Improved situation in Scarborough only temporary – analysts

The Philippine government is also told: 'Any negotiation to access Scarborough is a mistake because that is already your territory'

MARITIME DISPUTE. Experts discuss the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute in an academic conference at the UP College of Law on November 14, 2016.

MARITIME DISPUTE. Experts discuss the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute in an academic conference at the UP College of Law on November 14, 2016.

Experts warned the Philippine government to remain vigilant against China's actions in the Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal), saying the relatively peaceful situation now may only be temporary.

The Chinese Coast Guard recently stopped harassing Filipino fishermen in the shoal.
"Within last week or so there has been some retreat by the Chinese in Scarborough Shoal. I would suggest that it is a temporary reaction on the part of China," retired US Navy Captain Raul Pedrozo said during an academic conference at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law on Monday, November 14, to tackle the historic arbitration case between Manila and Beijing.
The Philippines was also cautioned against weakening its position on ownership of the shoal in exchange for fishermen's access to the fishing ground.
Scarborough is located off the coast of Zambales province, well within the country's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
"Scarborough Shoal is clearly a sovereign of the Philippines... Any negotiation to access Scarborough is a mistake because that is already your territory," Pedrozo added.
UP College of Law professor Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea, said tensions could still flare up in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) given the absence of a written deal between Manila and Beijing on actions in the disputed waters.
"Definitely, we still need to mitigate the risk of a serious incident or crisis," said Batongbacal.
He added that risks include the possible deployment of another oil rig, which is "still on the table given that we do not have a solid and clear written agreement."
"We can only presume that the current modus vivendi, at best, is temporary. It will depend on what happens next," said Batongbacal.
China's military triangle
Pedrozo said China's interest in the shoal located on the eastern part of the South China Sea remains: It will complete its military control over the disputed waters, having military facilities on Woody Island in the north and on several islands in the Spratlys in the middle.
"Scarborough Shoal is the lynchpin of security in the South China Sea... If they gain control of Scarborough, they will complete their triangle of military control over the South China Sea," Pedrozo explained.
"It is important that the Philippines stands its ground and not allow Scarborough to become yet another artificial island of China," he added.
Other countries like the US, Australia, and Singapore have been vocal about their interest in maintaining freedom of navigation in the waters, where trillions of dollars worth of goods pass through each year.
'MILITARY TRIANGLE.' The Scarborough Shoal is crucial in the Philippines' maritime dispute with China.
'MILITARY TRIANGLE.' The Scarborough Shoal is crucial in the Philippines' maritime dispute with China.

China has reclaimed 7 reefs in the West Philippine Sea, including Mischief Reef which the arbitration ruling said is part of the Philippines' EEZ.
In September, the Philippines expressed concern when it monitored increased presence of Chinese ships in the shoal. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said back then that a Philippine Air Force plane saw 4 Chinese Coast Guard ships, two barge-like vessels, and two suspected troop ships near the shoal. (READ: PH to China: Explain ships in Scarborough Shoal)
Filipino fishermen, who have suffered harassment from Chinese Coast Guard ships that practically occupied their traditional fishing grounds, celebrated bountiful catches.
The Philippine Coast Guard "tested the waters," too, deploying its ships to Scarborough Shoal to patrol the country's EEZ.
Batongbacal said these were clearly China's reactions to the arbitration ruling even as it publicly dismissed the case.
"In terms of resuming access, it (ruling) apparently had an effect. Certainly, without the case, China will probably not have been as welcoming or giving," said Batongbacal.
But Pedrozo said China could return to its aggressive behavior in Scarborough if interest in the historic ruling wanes.
"I hope my opinion is incorrect, but I have dealt with South China Sea issues well over 20 years now. China, once it reaches a certain level of tension in an area, will reduce its presence there and go somewhere else... When it is to their advantage to make their presence in the South China Sea again, I believe that it is their intention to do so," said Pedrozo.
The arbitration ruling junked China's sweeping claims over the South China Sea, upholding freedom of navigation and the Philippines' sovereignty over maritime features – Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal, and Reed Bank.
Concerns have been raised against Duterte's policy of highlighting economic relations with China. The President chose to take a friendlier stance toward Beijing compared to his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, who brought China to court.
Duterte also reduced training exercises with the country's defense treaty ally, the United States, particularly ending naval drills that he said China was opposed to.

Another top U.S. official visits Philippines

From Rappler (Nov 15): Another top U.S. official visits Philippines

US Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield is set to offer help in promoting rule of law, his spokesman tells Rappler

TOP OFFICIAL. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield is set to tackle rule of law in the Philippines during a two-day trip. File photo courtesy of the US State Department

TOP OFFICIAL. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield is set to tackle rule of law in the Philippines during a two-day trip. File photo courtesy of the US State Department

US Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield arrived in the Philippines for a two-day trip to offer help in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs and other law enforcement matters.

Brownfield arrived in the Philippines shortly before midnight on Tuesday, November 15, his spokesman told Rappler.
Brownfield is the 4th high-ranking Washington official to visit the Philippines since the anti-US Duterte took office on June 30.
He is the assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs (INL) of the US State Department.
He is married to former US ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney, who is now counselor of the US State Department.
Mike Alpern, public affairs head of Brownfield's bureau at the US State Department, said Brownfield is set to stay in the Philippines until the afternoon of Thursday, November 16.
Alpern told Rappler that Brownfield "will be meeting with senior leadership of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Supreme Court (SC), and the Department of Health (DOH)."
Alpern said he cannot specify the people Brownfield will meet.
"The Assistant Secretary's overall goal for this trip is to refocus State Department assistance to the Philippines on building just, fair institutions that advance rule of law," Alpern said.
He added that Brownfield "will be looking to advance US support for accountable and effective justice sector institutions." He said this support "includes programs to build the capacity of prosecutors, judges, and other justice sector actors in the Philippines."
Expert vs illegal drug trade
In a separate statement, the US State Department said Brownfield "will also discuss US support for maritime security and effective, humane drug treatment in the Philippines."
Brownfield earlier approved a pledge of around P320 million ($6.7 million) to boost law enforcement in the Philippines.
Brownfield is one of the world's leading experts in fighting the illegal drug trade.
After all, he once served as US ambassador to Colombia, which is known for a decades-long war on drugs. Before this, he was US ambassador to Venezuela and Chile.
In a phone interview with Rappler in September, Brownfield was asked about global best practices in fighting illegal drugs. Without referring to the Philippine case in particular, he explained that the drug problem, in general, "is a public health crisis as much as it is a law enforcement crisis."
On the drug crisis in his own country, Brownfield quoted former US drug czar Gil Kerlikowske as saying, "We cannot arrest our way out of this drug problem."
Duterte's anti-US rhetoric
Brownfield's trip to the Philippines comes as Duterte moves away from Washington and closer to Beijing, America's rival in the Asia Pacific. It also takes place in the context of Duterte's war on drugs that has killed more than 4,800 people since July 1.
Less than a month before Brownfield arrived, US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel also visited the Philippines from October 22 to 25.
Russel, the US top diplomat for East Asia, met with Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
In their meeting, Russel told Yasay that Duterte's anti-US rhetoric "has created consternation" in a number of countries.
He also cautioned the Philippines against choosing between the US and China.
From July 26 to 27, US Secretary of State John Kerry also visited the Philippines to meet with Duterte.
Before Kerry arrived, Kenney also stayed in Manila from July 9 to 12 to meet with Duterte officials.

‘Red tagging’ of ‘Lawin’ responders slammed

From InterAksyon (Nov 14): ‘Red tagging’ of ‘Lawin’ responders slammed

Environmental and disaster response groups blasted the military’s “persisting harassment and surveillance” of relief workers who came to the aid of people affected by typhoon “Lawin” in Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya provinces.

Alay Bayan-Luson Inc. executive director Lorena Villanueva said in a statement that their relief operations, including the distribution of food and clothing, and medical missions, had been “greatly delated due to incessant stalking and persecution by the” Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Armed men have been following us for several days as we scour communities affected by Lawin,” Villanueva said as she noted that “this wasn`t the first time we have been (subjected to) the AFP`s red-tagging and harassment tactics. ″

ABI is the nongovernmental organization once headed by Dutchman Willem Geertman who was murdered in July 2012 by gunmen believed to be soldiers. Before his death, Geertman and the ABI had been openly accused by the military of acting as “fronts” for communist rebels.

Villanueva said ABI workers had reported the military “spying on their daily operations, listing names and questioning their community members,” as well as “spreading black propaganda” in the villages they went to.

The most recent incident, she said, was on November 4 when “a certain Lieutenant Cruz of the 7th Infantry Division in Tarlac (phoned) one of the ABI staff” and inquired about the group’s address and the nature of its work.

She said these incidents had prompted them to put their humanitarian work on hold, denying beneficiaries, particularly members of the Bugkalot tribe, of their assistance.

Frances Quimpo, executive director of the Center for Environmental Concerns, which works closely with ABI, lamented the continued harassment even under the Duterte administration, which has resumed formal peace talks with communist rebels.

“It is upsetting to think that in the face of the Peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front, these military aggressions against communities and individuals still occur,” Quimpo said.

Bayan calls for massive protests to dissuade Duterte from allowing Marcos burial at Libingan

From InterAksyon (Nov 14): Bayan calls for massive protests to dissuade Duterte from allowing Marcos burial at Libingan

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan called on Monday for widespread demonstrations across the country in the hope these will dissuade President Rodrigo Duterte from pushing through with the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“Should the burial proceed anytime this year, all roads will lead to the LNMB in what would be a national day of rage and remembering,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.

And even if it does not, “the fight to uphold the judgement of history must continue, wherever the dictator may be interred,” he said.

The protests, said Reyes, “will hold to account Duterte and his alliance with and rehabilitation of the Marcoses” and at the same time “drive home the statement that the people will never forget the crimes of the dictatorship.”

They should “likewise be an indictment of our bankrupt political system which has continuously rewarded plunderers and rights violators,” he added.

Reyes also said the protests would be an opportunity for “history lessons … discussion groups and teach-ins” on the streets as “part of the continuing education of the current generation on the crimes and abuses of Martial Law.”

He called on “people from all walks of life to make a stand for truth and justice.”

Duterte says if Islamic State comes to Philippines, forget human rights

From InterAksyon (Nov 14): Duterte says if Islamic State comes to Philippines, forget human rights

President Rodrigo Duterte warned on Monday that Islamic State militants driven out of Syria and Iraq could set up in his country, and if that happened he would forego human rights obligations to keep his people safe.

Duterte said the southern Philippine province of Mindanao was already a hotbed of rebellion and banditry and he was worried about "looming terrorism" and an influx of extremists who could exploit the insecurity.

"Once the terrorists of the Middle East are deprived of the land area, the real estate area where they can sleep ... they will wander to other places and they will come here and we have to prepare for that," he said during a speech at the 80th founding anniversary of the National Bureau of Investigation.

"Remember, these guys, they do not have an iota of what is human rights, believe me. I will not just simply allow my people to be slaughtered for the sake of human rights, that's bullshit."

Human rights have been a touchy subject for Duterte, who has vented daily fury at activists and Western governments that have shown concerns about his war on drugs and the high death toll.

A native of Mindanao and mayor of Davao City for 22 years, Duterte said there was a "very strong" Islamist rebellion there and Abu Sayyaf rebels were taking hostages almost every day.

Abu Sayyaf is holding 21 captives, most of them foreign, and despite an ongoing military offensive to wipe them out, its piracy and kidnappings continue unabated.

Duterte said the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia were working closely to keep foreign extremists at bay.

On Friday, he warned that he may use his executive power to tackle lawlessness in the Philippines by suspending habeas corpus, a legal safeguard against arbitrary arrest and detention.

The constitution allows 60-day suspensions "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it" and would permit arrests without warrant and detention without charge for three days.

Duterte mentioned habeas corpus on Friday in the context of both the southern unrest and his war on drugs and said building cases for arresting suspects took too much time and resources.

The president's office on Monday issued a statement saying Duterte was giving a stern warning to those behind violent acts that he could take "more drastic action" to stop them.

MILF leadership calls for ceasefire among feuding commanders

From InterAksyon (Nov 15): MILF leadership calls for ceasefire among feuding commanders

MILF fighters (file photo by Dennis Arcon,

The leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has appealed for a ceasefire among its commanders battling each other in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

In Maguindanao, continuing hostilities between MILF units in the towns of Sultan sa Barongis, Datu Piang and Northern Kabuntalan, triggered by land disputes or clan feuds, or “rido,” have left at least six persons dead and four wounded, and displaced hundreds of families.

Hundreds more families have also fled fighting in Balindong, Lanao del Sur.

Ghadzali Jaafar, the MILF’s vice chairman for political affairs, said he was saddened by the internecine fighting and urged the feuding commanders to discuss their differences instead of resorting to violence.

But he also warned that the MILF leadership would not hesitate to take action on commanders who refuse to heed the call for a ceasefire.

The organization’s central committee has met to find ways to ease tensions.

TRADOC plants 2,000 non-fruit seedlings

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 15): TRADOC plants 2,000 non-fruit seedlings

CAMP O’DONNELL, Tarlac -- Personnel of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) planted about 2,000 non-fruit seedlings on the occasion of the Army school’s 65th founding anniversary and in support to the National Greening Program.

TRADOC Commander Brigadier General Herminigildo Francisco Aquino said the trees planted inside their camp are for the benefit of the next generation.

“Trees play an important role in our lives. They provide food and shelter, improve air quality and aid in climate control. Someday, the trees that we plant will benefit future generations of soldiers who will pass the portals of TRADOC,” Aquino stressed.

Varieties that were planted include Mahogany, Narra, Kupang, and Banaba.

DWDD: SEND-OFF CEREMONY | Bayanihan sa Barangay

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 14): SEND-OFF CEREMONY | Bayanihan sa Barangay


17IB, MASIN, ALCALA, Cagayan (DWDD) – The 17th Infantry (Do or Die) Battalion, 5th Infantry Division conducted the Opening and Send-Off Ceremony of the troops that will implement “Bayanihan sa Barangay” at Allacapan, Cagayan.

 Cpt Rodolfo J Lucas (FA), the Executive Officer of 17IB and other Officers and Men of 17IB together with the Local Government Unit of Allacapan headed by Hon. Harry Florida, Municipal Mayor and P Chief Insp Rodel Tabulog, Chief of Police of Allacapan initiates the opening and send-off ceremony.

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The Local Government Unit of Allacapan warmly welcomed the bayanihan teams and expressed their full support to the activity. The bayanihan activities will be conducted at the six (6) barangays of Allacapanl namely: Capanikian Norte, Capanikian Sur, Utan, Binobongan, Dalayap and Tubel.

2Lt Donabell R Rapi (CE), the Civil-Military Operations Officer of 17IB discussed the background of the bayanihan and explained its purpose. She said that their objective in conducting such bayanihan is to help the said barangays to live peacefully, facilitate its development, extend basic services, tie up to the other government agencies in bringing their programs and services, and help the PNP Allacapan in anti-drug campaign, anti-criminality and support to law enforcement.

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Hon. Florida stressed out to his constituents that their (bayanihan teams) stay to their barangays doesn’t mean to conduct “militarization” but instead to conduct bayanihan sa barangay and support the PNP. He also assured the bayanihan teams for his full support to their endeavor.

The send-off ceremony were also witnessed by the Sangguniang Bayan of Allacapan, Barangay Captains of the other Barangays of the municipality, PNP and other stakeholders involved. 17IB / MCAG

DWDD: AFP Statement on what actions have we taken on the soldiers in the “blue book”

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 10): AFP Statement on what actions have we taken on the soldiers in the “blue book”

AFP Statement on what actions have we taken on the soldiers in the “blue book”

Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, DWDD – Colonel Edgard Arevalo PN (M), Chief Public Affairs Office-Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) issues statement on the actions taken by the AFP on the soldiers included on the blue book or the list of personalities involved in illegal drugs.

Arevalo pointed the following:
  1. We are validating the names that appeared on the list as to their identities, and If they exist, their unit assignments. We have to be very diligent against jumping into hasty conclusion.
  2. In case there are soldiers in the list, we will have them investigated for the circumstances why their names are in that list.
  3. AFP Chief General Ricardo Visaya took the occasion to remind field commanders to be very circumspect in accepting any form of financial assistance or pledges of financial supports in their civil military operations projects with local government executives.

DWDD: SURRENDERS | Suspect in Davao Night Market Bombing Gives-up

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 10): SURRENDERS | Suspect in Davao Night Market Bombing Gives-up


CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – A member of the group tresponsible for the Davao Night Market Bombing surrendered to authorities at 5:30 this morning.

In an exclusive interview by DWDD with Col Benjamin Hao, Philippine Army Public Affairs Officer, the suspect was identified as Jericho Javier De Roma alias Cocoy, 25 years old, a resident of Mandamas Compound, RH 10, Totabato City, and a member of the Dawla Islamiya Fi Cotabato – Maute Group.

Cocoy acted as driver of the group. Initial investigation revealed that there were more than a dozen personalities involved in the Davao bombing last Sept. 2.

The locations of the group hideouts were identified through the information relayed by an action agent and collaborated by the follow-up operations made after the arrest last Oct. 4 of the three suspects of the Davao bombing incident, namely, TJ Tagadaya Macabalang, Wendel Factural, and Musaili Mustapha.

Arrested during the follow-up operations were Mohammad Lalaog Chenikandiyil alias Datu Boi; Jackson Mangulamas Usi alias Abu Mansor/Jam; Zack Villanueva Lopez alias Haron, and; Ansan Abdulla Mamasapano alias Abu Hamsa.

“We will not stop until all involved in the Davao bombing incident last September are put in jail,” said Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año, the Army commander. “The Army will continue haunting other terrorists for the protection of the public and to serve justice.”  AES / MCAG / OACPA

DWDD: JUNGLE FIGHTER | Change of Command 2nd Infantry Division (Bio data-BGen Parayno)

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 10): JUNGLE FIGHTER | Change of Command 2nd Infantry Division


CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – The outgoing 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division Commander, Major General Romeo Gali Gan is a principled man with great regards to the rule of law and its contributions made a great impact to the officers and enlisted personnel not only under his command but to the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a whole. His 37 years of selfless service made an indelible mark that will be remembered.

General Gan said a leader that is worthy to be position should possess the qualities of credibility, role model, dedication and commitment to perform his assigned task. Without those qualities the direction of the objectives will be misled and difficult to attain.

Major General Gan is a member of Philippine Military Academy “Matikas” Class 1983 and will retire from military service after reaching the mandatory retirement at the age of 56.


Incoming 2nd Infantry Division Commanding General BGen Parayno is a Manileno, having been born in Paco, Manila. He is the current Commander of the Civil Relations Service, AFP and was the former Commander of the 201st Brigade under the 2nd Infantry Division.

His military career started at the Philippine Military Academy where he graduated in 1985 as the top 6 graduate out of 209 cadets. After graduation, he immediately took up the Scout Ranger Orientation Course. He is also a graduate of many other courses within the Armed Forces and they include: Infantry Officer Basic Course, the Intelligence Officers Course, Infantry Officer Advance Course and the Command and General Staff Course.

Internationally, he took up a Master of Arts in Strategic Security Studies and the International Counter-terrorism Fellows Program at the National Defense University in the United States.

He also attended workshops on International Rules Governing Military Operations at the Malaysian Armed Forces and Maritime Border Security and Operation Law of Malaysia and the Philippines at the US Defense Institute of International Legal Studies.

He spent the first seven years of his career serving in Mindanao where his field expertise was honed.

When he was assigned in the National Capital Region, it was to serve in various capacities at this Command – the CRSAFP – for four years, where he started as the Chief of the Admin Branch of the Office of the OCR2 back then, until being the Group Commander of the Media Affairs Group.

He also became the Deputy G7 of the 7th Infantry Division. It was followed by various assignments in the NCR, Luzon and Mindanao until being posted as the 201st Brigade of the 2nd ID.

He is a recipient of many awards and decorations, highlighted by Silver Wing Medal, Bronze Cross Medal, Gawad sa Kaunlaran and Distinguished Service Stars.

He is married to Mrs. Lorelei Parayno and they are blessed with four sons. SOLCOM / CRSAFP / MCAG

DWDD: TEAM NAVFORSOL | Launches Peace and Development Activity in Sorsogon

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 10): TEAM NAVFORSOL | Launches Peace and Development Activity in Sorsogon

TEAM NAVFORSOL  |  Launches Peace and Development Activity in Sorsogon

NAVAL STATION JULHASAN ARASAIN, Rawis, Legazpi City (DWDD) – The Naval Forces Southern Luzon (NAVFORSOL) thru the Civil Military Operations Unit-Southern Luzon will launch the Community Peace and Development Team Activity in Bulan, Sorsogon.

It aims to bring a just and lasting peace and sustainable development to the communities in partnership with the Local Goverrnment Units and Non-Government Organizations.

Through this activity, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) creates an avenue wherein all relevant stakeholders can collaborate for the benefit of the Filipino people in the localities.

The Launching will be attended by Commodore Giovanni Carlo J Barcodo AFP, Commander of Naval Forces Southern Luzon & Mayor Helen C. De Castro of Bulan Sorsogon. CMOU-SL / MCAG

DWDD: PHILIPPINE MARINE CORPS | “The Few, the Proud” at 66

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 9): PHILIPPINE MARINE CORPS | “The Few, the Proud” at 66

JURADO HALL, Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, Fort Bonifacio, Tagiug City (DWDD) – November 7, 2016 marked the 66th commemoration of the Philippine Marine Corps’s (PMC) Birthday highlighted by the Cake-cutting Ceremony held at Jurado Hall, Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, Fort Bonifacio, Tagiug City with Gen. Ricardo Visaya, the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines as Guest of Honor and Speaker.

The traditional occasion was headed by no less than the Commandant, PMC, Maj. Gen. Andre M Costales Jr. The event was graced by Vice Adm. Caesar C Taccad, the Flag Officer In Command, Philippine Navy and Brig. Gen. Maximo Ballesteros, the Deputy Commandant, PMC.


Unlike other organizations, the country’s elite force celebrates November 7 as “birthday” not “anniversary” because every Marine believes that the organization is a living institution that continues to grow and improve in time. Every year, all Marines whether in active or retired service, and their families, greet each other in the full spirit of esprit de corps manifesting the strong bond of brotherhood as epitome in the saying “Once a Marine, always a Marine”.

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Just like any birthdays, the Marines celebrate with a cake cutting ceremony which symbolizes sharing and passing on of the finest traditions of the Corps from the senior Marines to the younger ones. This tradition has been done for the past six decades and passed on from one generation to another.

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Since 1951, the Philippine Marines as the AFP’s cutting edge braved the challenges of time at the height of communist insurgency, Moro rebellion, counter terrorism and winning peace and community development in coastal and littoral deployments. The Marines have always been sent when everything else fails guided by its vision of being the country’s premiere force in readiness and the nation’s force of choice, living up to its motto of Karangalan, Katungkulan and Kabayanihan. NPAO / MCAG

RETIREMENT | Major General Gan bids goodbye to team SoLCom

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 9): RETIREMENT | Major General Gan bids goodbye to team SoLCom


Camp Guillermo Nakar, Lucena City – The outgoing 2nd Infantry (Jungle Fighter) Division Commander, Major General Romeo Gali Gan AFP bids adieu to Team Southern Luzon Command during his farewell visit to Commander, Southern Luzon Command Lieutenant General Ferdinand F Quidilla AFP yesterday November 8, 2016.

A principled man with great regards to the rule of law and its contributions made a great impact to the officers and enlisted personnel not only in SoLCom but to the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a whole. His 37 years of selfless service made an indelible mark that will be remembered.

The visit is part of his parting message as member of the SoLCom family as Commander of 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army and former Officer-in-Charge of Southern Luzon Command before Lieutenant General Quidilla assumed the position.

General Gan said a leader that is worthy to be position should possess the qualities of credibility, role model, dedication and commitment to perform his assigned task. Without those qualities the direction of the objectives will be misled and difficult to attain.

Lieutenant General Ferdinand F Quidilla Commander, Southern Luzon Command said, Major General Gan is my big brother, my buddy, my mentor and my inspiration to continue my perseverance in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He is the conscience and adviser of the cadet corps in our group when we were in the PMA.

Major General Gan is a member of Philippine Military Academy “Matikas” Class 1983 will retire from military service after reaching the mandatory retirement at the age of 56. (SOLCOM)