Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Miriam sends anti-EDCA draft resolution to Supreme Court

From Rappler (Jun 30): Miriam sends anti-EDCA draft resolution to Supreme Court

Senator Miriam Santiago has collected the signatures of the majority of senators but has yet to sponsor the resolution before the Senate plenary

ROADBLOCK. Majority of senators say EDCA needs Senate ratification. EPA/Amiel Meneses

ROADBLOCK. Majority of senators say EDCA needs Senate ratification. EPA/Amiel Meneses

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, June 30, a draft resolution expressing a "strong sense" of the Senate that the military-to-military agreement between the Philippines and the US is "invalid" without the approval of the Senate.

“This is to respectfully enclose, for the presumable information of the Supreme Court, the copy of Senate Resolution No. 1414,” a statetment from Santiago said, quoting her letter to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (Read about the arguments in the the draft resolution here.)

The draft resolution reads: “The Constitution is clear and categorical that Senate concurrence is absolutely necessary for the validity and effectivity of any treaty, particularly any treaty that promotes for foreign military bases, troops, and facilities, such as the EDCA.”

Santiago has collected the signatures of 13 senators, a majority of the Senate. But she has yet to sponsor the resolution before the Senate plenary. She said she will do so when session resumes on July 27.

Santiago is the chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations.

The High Court is expected to soon issue a ruling on petitions questioning the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), The deal was signed last year by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. (READ: A year later, SC still sitting on EDCA)

During the oral arguments, the possibility of transmitting EDCA to the Senate was discussed. Solicitor General Florin Hilbay opposed this, arguing that it would diminish the powers of the Office of the President.

EDCA seeks to expand US military presence in the Philipines by allowing them to build facilities inside Philippine bases and preposition their defense assets there.

The deal was negotiated at a time that the Philippines is facing threat of losing to China its claimed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). (READ: SC orals on EDCA: China threat looms over charter issues)

Malacañang maintained it is only an executive agreement, and that its provisions are within the powers of the president to approve or delegate to the defense chief.

But critics argued that EDCA is de facto basing and thus unconstitutional without Senate approval.

The 13 senators who signed the resolution are Santiago, Juan Edgardo Angara, Pia Cayetano, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, Teofisto Guingona III, Manuel Lapid, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Sergio Osmeña III, Aquilino Pimentel III, Ralph Recto, Ramon Revilla Jr, and Cynthia Villar.

There used to be tens of thousands of US troops in the Philippines until a historic 1991 Senate vote evicted them from the Philippines. They were able to return in smaller numbers through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a treaty signed by both countries in 1998.

[Video reports]


Prosecution rests case in Pemberton trial

From Rappler (Jun 30): Prosecution rests case in Pemberton trial

On August 3, the defense will begin its presentation of evidence in the trial of Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US Marine accused of killing a Filipino

ACCUSED. US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton (2-R), accused in the murder of transgender Jennifer Laude, is escorted from a courtroom in Olongapo city, Philippines on 24 March 2015. Photo by Jun Dumaguing / EPA

ACCUSED. US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton (2-R), accused in the murder of transgender Jennifer Laude, is escorted from a courtroom in Olongapo city, Philippines on 24 March 2015. Photo by Jun Dumaguing / EPA

The prosecution in the murder case against United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton completed its formal offer of evidence to an Olongapo City court on Tuesday, June 30.

Public Prosecutor Nolibien Quiambao told the media that the defense panel is expected to submit comments on their formal offer.

The US Marine is accused of killing Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in October 2014.

“The court will decide whether they’re going to admit the evidence we marked and presented to the court during the presentation of our case,” Quiambao said.

He said the trial will then continue on August 3, when the defense is scheduled to begin its presentation.

The prosecution presented its last witness, Richard Bush, a forensic consultant of the US Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) in Singapore.

Bush said he guided and directed the NCIS agents during the parallel investigation the NCIS conducted with the Philippine National Police (PNP) Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO).

A private prosecutor present during an earlier trial said Jessica LeCroy, a latent print examiner from the US Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, testified that Pemberton’s fingerprints were present on one of 3 condoms recovered by the door of the bathroom where Laude was found dead on October 11 last year. Her body was found in Celzone Lodge along Magsaysay Avenue.

Another expert witness, Derek Dorrien, testified that he had examined lubricants found in the 3 condoms and said Pemberton’s fingerprints matched those on a condom wrapper found in the motel room.

Dorrien said the lubricant matched the same substance found on Pemberton’s penile shaft as well as on Laude’s anal area.

SOCO testified that the other two condoms recovered from the room did not match Pemberton's DNA samples.

A 3rd expert witness, forensic toxicologist George Jackson, said he took blood samples from Laude.

Pemberton, 19, was on shore leave on October 11, 2014, after participating in the joint Philippine-US military exercise.

He met Laude at an Olongapo bar. Both were later seen checking into a motel.


NPA bomber arrested in Compostela Valley

From InterAksyon (Jul 1): NPA bomber arrested in Compostela Valley

Troopers from the 28th Infantry Battalion foiled a bomb attack following the arrest of a suspected New People's Army (NPA) member as he was about to detonate two improvised explosive devices in Pantukan town, Compostela Valley Monday afternoon.

The suspect, identified as Rito Lucnod, was arrested at Barangay Araibo, Pantukan town at 2:45 p.m., said Eastern Mindanao Command public affairs office chief Capt. Alberto Caber.

Seized from Lucnod were two IEDs, blasting caps, triggering devices, and 100 meters of electric wire.

Appropriate charges are now being prepared against the communist rebel.

Lt. Col Benjamin Daniel Tianco, commander of the 28th Infantry Battalion, said the NPA IED attack was intended to harass residents living in the area.

As of Jan. 1 to June 30, the Eastern Mindanao Command has seized 56 unexploded IEDs.


Duterte calls for ‘temporary ceasefire’ during Parago’s wake

From MindaNews (Jun 30): Duterte calls for ‘temporary ceasefire’ during Parago’s wake

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte appealed on Monday night to both the government forces and communist rebels for a “temporary ceasefire” during the wake of slain New People’s Army (NPA) leader Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Commander Parago Sandoval.

Duterte, who arrived at the wake at 10 p.m., issued his appeal as he condoled with the family of the slain rebel leader at a funeral parlor here.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte condoles with the wife of slain NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Commander Parago Sandoval, at the wake in the city on Monday night. Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte condoles with the wife of slain NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Commander Parago Sandoval, at the wake in the city on Monday night. Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco
Pitao, chief of the NPA’s First Pulang Bagani Command, was killed last Sunday in a clash with the military in the rebels’ stronghold in the hinterlands of Paquibato District.

Alangan mag pinusilay ta na mag bilar pa ta sa patay” (Won’t be easy to continue shooting while we lack sleep mourning the dead), Duterte told reporters at the wake.

Pitao’s remains, along with those of female medic Kyle Limpag who was also killed in the encounter, were brought to Cosmopolitan Funeral Home Monday afternoon.

Aside from Duterte, City Police Director Vicente Danao and Task Force Davao chief Col. Macairog Albert visited the wake.

“Those who want to come down and pay their last respects, you can come down here as long as you don’t have warrants of arrest yet,” the mayor said, referring to the rebels. “Pagkatapos sa haya, kung kursunada pa ninyo balik bukid, limpyuhi na pud na inyo mga pusil” (After the wake, if you feel you still want to go back to the mountains, then you will have to clean your guns), he added.

Duterte said he can guarantee the safety of the rebels and sympathizers who want to come down to the city to pay their last respects to Pitao.

During the Peace and Order Council meeting, the mayor told the Army and the police “to always respect those who fight for their principles.”

While consoling Evangeline, Pitao’s wife, he advised the grieving not take this too personal to avoid more loss of lives.

“I came here to condole with the family of Parago,” the mayor addressed the slain rebels’ friends and relatives.

He added that he will extend any help he can to Pitao’s family.

Duterte disclosed he had told Pitao in previous occasions that should he decide to return to the fold of the law, he should wait for the mayor. “Otherwise, you would be killed,” he recounted telling Pitao.

The mayor, who has been publicly saying that Pitao was his friend, appealed to the NPA not to launch retaliatory attacks during the wake of the slain rebel leader.

During a press conference Monday morning, military officials said that there is no let up on the military operations against Pitao’s comrades in the hinterlands of Paquibato District.

Gen. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said they are expecting a retaliation from Pitao’s followers.

But Año assured that the military is beefing up its security measures to avert any attacks.

He added that with the series of clashes since early June, some rebels have already separated from their main units.

The military official estimated that the rebels are now less than 50 as some of them were already killed in previous clashes.

The series of clashes have been a factor in tracking down and cutting-off of exit points for the NPA guerrillas, Año added.


Photo: Visiting Parago (Mayor Duterte)

From MindaNews (Jun 30): Photo: Visiting Parago

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte visits the wake of his friend slain NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Commander Parago Sandoval, at a funeral in the city Monday night (29 June 2015). Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco


With Parago gone, NPA will weaken in Davao Region – military

From MindaNews (Jun 30): With Parago gone, NPA will weaken in Davao Region – military

The military on Monday claimed that the killing of rebel leader Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Commander Parago Sandoval, is a big blow to the communist movement as it will further weaken the New People’s Army in the region.

But for the communist rebels, Pitao’s death will only further fuel the courage and determination of the NPA guerrillas to pursue revolution in the countryside.

Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said in a news conference on Monday that Pitao’s men have already separated from the main unit following the series of clashes since early June.

Gen. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, briefs the media on June 29 on  the operation that killed NPA leader Leoncio Pitao on June 28 in Paquibato District, Davao City. With him are Eastern Mindanao Commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad and 4th Infantry Division chief Maj. Oscar Lactao. Mindanews photo by Keith Bacongco

Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, briefs the media on June 29 on the operation that killed NPA leader Leoncio Pitao on June 28 in Paquibato District, Davao City. With him are Eastern Mindanao Commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad and 4th Infantry Division chief Maj. Oscar Lactao. Mindanews photo by Keith Bacongco

Pitao was killed in an encounter with government troops in his known stronghold in the hinterlands of Paquibato District last Sunday.

Año believes that the death of Pitao was a big blow to the NPA fronts operating in the hinterlands of the city and Davao del Norte. “This is going to be the fall of the NPAs in the Davao Region,” he said.

He added that Pitao’s death can cause a huge setback in the entire hierarchy of the communist movement in the region.

Pitao’s group, the First Pulang Bagani Company of the NPA, is the toughest front in the area, the military official admitted.

Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Eastern Mindanao Command, claimed that even before the death of the top NPA leader, many cadres have already left the guerilla movement and returned to the fold of the law.

Baladad cited the Army’s data stating that 220 NPA rebels have been neutralized since January until June, which he broke down into 38 killed, 42 arrested and 140 others surrendered.

The data further showed 127 firearms have been recovered.

From 29 guerrilla fronts in the second quarter of 2014, the military was able to dismantle five guerilla fronts in the second quarter this year in its area of responsibility, Baladad said.

He said that from these figures, it goes to show that the rebel movement is weakening.

Eastern Mindanao Command covers the provinces of Agusan, Davao, Compostela and Surigao.

Simon Santiago, NPA’s spokesperson in Davao Region, refuted the military claims, saying that the death of Pitao will not weaken the communist movement in the region.

In a text message to MindaNews, Santiago added that the slain rebel leader has been revered as an icon not just among the ranks of the guerrillas but also among the people in the countryside.


Pambobomba sa militar naudlot, NPA nahuli

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 30): Pambobomba sa militar naudlot, NPA nahuli

Hawak ngayon ng pulisya ang isang isang rebeldeng New People’s Army matapos itong madakip habang naghahandang pasabugin ang dalawang bomba na itinanim nito sa daraanan ng mga sundalo sa bayan ng Pantukan sa Compostela Valley.

Sinabi ni Capt. Alberto Caber, ang spokesman ng Eastern Mindanao Command, na kasalukuyang iniimbestigahan si Rito Lucnod na nahuli sa Barangay Araibo nitong hapon ng Lunes. Nabigla pa umano si Lucnod ng malamang napaligiran na siya sa madamong bahagi ng barangay ng mga sundalong mula sa 28th Infantry Battalion.

Hindi na nakuha pa ni Lucnod na pasabugin ang mga bomba.

“The soldiers recovered two unexploded IEDs with blasting caps, triggering device and 100 meters electric wire from Lucnod. The local PNP is now filing for illegal possession of explosives and other appropriate charges against the bandit,” ani Caber.

Sinabi pa nito na umabot na sa 56 na mga IEDs o improvised explosive device na itinanim ng NPA ang nabawi ng militar sa ibat-ibang lugar sa eastern Mindanao mula pa nitong taon. Nakikipaglaban ang NPA upang maitatag ang sariling estado nito sa bansa.


The Philippine Air Force’s “Flight Plan 2028” [Overview and Critique]

From rhk111 Military and Arms Page (Apr 26): The Philippine Air Force’s “Flight Plan 2028”  [Overview and Critique]
The title page of the Philippine Air Force's "Flight Plan 2018" Presentation
The title page of the Philippine Air Force’s “Flight Plan 2018″ Presentation
The Philippine Air Force (PhAF) recently released on their official website (at http://www.paf.mil.ph) a presentation called, “Philippine Air Force Flight Plan 2028”(the original link is here). The presentation was noted as having been originally presented during the “AFP Governance Exposition 2014” last December 17, 2014 at the AFPCOC CGEA (whatever that means) Main Restaurant.

The document is a unique treat for us civilians as it outlined the GOALS, PROCUREMENT and TRAINING PLANS (among other things) of the PhAF in a nice-looking, well-made and relatively easy to understand format. Hence I have decided to SUMMARIZE some of the more important points of that presentation on this blog.


The PhAF outlined TIME-BOUNDED GOALS in the document, the most important of which would be acquire the ability to DETECT, IDENTIFY, INTERCEPT and NEUTRALIZE INTRUSIONS in what it describes as “Area Readiness (AR) 3 and 4” around the Philippines by 2022. The AR3 and AR4 areas cover around 74% of the Philippines’ territory including all of Luzon, most of the Visayas and most parts of our claimed territories in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

PhAF 2028 -2022 Goal

By 2028, though, the PhAF aims to expand this coverage to ALL or 100% of the Philippines’ territories (or what it calls “AR3” to “AR1”) in a protective air cover.

PhAF 2028 - 2028 Goal

’Procurement Plans’

The PhAF intends to achieve these goals thru the PLANNED procurement of aircraft, weapons and equipment (in addition to the ones that they had already procured recently) from 2016 to 2022.

PhAF 2028 - Planned Purchases

A breakdown of some of the more important procurements are as follows:

* Surface Attack Aircraft (SAA) / Lead Fighter Trainer Aircraft (LFTA) – These are Advanced Trainer aircraft with secondary role as a Light Combat Aircraft similar to the FA-50 Fighting Eagle aircraft which we already bought twelve of and which will all arrive by 2017. An additional twelve SAA/LFTA are planned to be procured by 2020, and these will very likely be FA-50s also as it makes good sense to buy the same aircraft for easier and cheaper logistical support. It is possible that the PhAF will go for a more advanced version of the FA-50, whatever will be available by 2020. This will bring the number of SAA/LFTA aircraft to 24.

* Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEWACs) – In simplest terms these are flying radar stations, designed to SUPPLEMENT the ground based radars that the PhAF is buying. Being in a fast, airborne platform makes these radars less vulnerable to enemy attack, and their coverage can also be extended at least for a limited amount of time since an aircraft can move around and travel great distances relatively quickly. Their airborne perspective also makes them better at spotting low-flying aircraft or missiles. These aircraft are very important in terms of having a good surveillance system for the country. Two are planned to be acquired by 2020.

* Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) Aircraft – A bit of a surprise as these are pretty sophisticated aircraft, and we’ve never had this type of aircraft before in our inventory. My guess is that one of its main tasks would be as support for our defending aircraft against enemy aircraft. This makes sense as Chinese Flanker aircraft have long range radars, which would be most especially true if China does acquire the SU-35 Flanker E (which I personally call, “The Beast”) whose Irbis-E radar range is claimed by its manufacturer as having a 400 km range for a target with 3 m^2 Radar Cross Section (RCS).[1] ECM aircraft on our side would help OFFSET the possible radar disadvantage of whatever fighter aircraft we might get by DEGRADING the enemy radar’s detection range, enabling our fighters to (hopefully) have a more “even” fight. Two are planned to be acquired by 2020 and another two by 2022.

* Aerial Refueling Aircraft – This will help extend the range of our aircraft, but since only one is planned to be acquired by 2021 then it will only have very limited support capability, being able to refuel only a maximum of three aircraft at a time.

* Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) Aircraft – These will be the most capable fighter aircraft in our PhAF inventory, better than the SAA/LFTA we are getting and their main task will be to defend our airspace. An informal survey by a local news organization a couple of years ago showed that Filipino pilots preferred the JAS-39 Gripen aircraft as the MRF for the PhAF,[2] but whether that materializes or not still remains to be seen, though. Four MRFs are planned to be acquired by 2021 plus another eight by 2022.

’Radar Systems’

The PhAF is also acquiring Air Defense Surveillance Radar Systems (ADSRS), the first three by 2016 will be situated in Mindoro, Ilocos Norte and Palawan, and if you will notice ALL these three will be directly facing the WPS where the threat is present as of now.

PhAF 2028 - Radar Sites

A bit of confusion here as the procurement plan calls for another three by 2020, but they listed the “Future Radar Sites” as four. It’s possible that the shortfall of one will be acquired beyond 2022 as the plan only reaches up to that year. Nevertheless, the three systems will be deployed mostly in the Central and Eastern Visayas areas, and one in Mindanao to cover the rest of the country not directly facing the WPS.

As for the first three radar systems, the respected publication “IHS Jane’s” says that these will likely be the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) EL/M-2288 AD-STAR.[3] If so, it is a medium to long range radar system which is relatively compact and mobile, allowing it to be moved from one place to another via air or ground, improving its survivability. It has a maximum range of from 300 to 430 km, depending whether we are getting the medium or long range model.[4]

’Surface to Air Missiles’

Another system in the plan for procurement are Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS) which will likely come in the form of Surface to Air Missile (SAM) systems, at least if want something that will be most effective in deterring enemy aircraft or missiles. An initial three is planned to be procured as soon as 2016, plus another three are planned to be procured by 2020.

These SAMs will likely be used to PROTECT the ground-based mobile Radar Systems mentioned above, they are about the same number as the SAMs and the radars would be PRIORITY targets by enemy aircraft and/or missiles in the event of war.

The local media reports two SAM systems being considered: The Israeli SpyDer[5] and American Hawk XXI systems.[6] The Spyder has short and medium range versions[7] while the Hawk XXI has an older MIM-23 and a newer AMRAAM version, both of which are medium range systems.[8] The reports did not specifically mention which models were being considered, but personally I would prefer to go with the medium range versions, and overall I am leaning towards the MIM-23 Hawk XXI despite its older design simply because it has the flexibility of being able to intercept ballistic missiles also, something which the other systems do not have.


Aside from the purchase of weapons, weapons platforms and other equipment, the plan also outlines an ENHANCED Training Program for the PhAF to not only be able to operate their equipment, but also operate them well in actual combat by participating in sophisticated multi-national or “Combined Training Exercises (CTE)”.

PhAF 2028 - Trainings

Right now the PhAF is involved in “Joint Military Exercises” mostly with the United States in annual exercises like the “Balikatan”, but not much in terms of CTEs. The CTEs which the PhAF intends to participate are as follows:

* Cobra Gold – The PhAF plans to join this CTE by 2018. This is an annual military exercise held in Thailand and is said to be the largest military exercise in the Asia-Pacific region, participated in by dozens of countries and involving over 10,000 troops. This is a general exercise involving various branches of the armed forces of different countries like the Army, Navy and Air Force.[9]

* Pitch Black – Participation is planned by 2020. This is a biennial exercise held in Australia and participated in by more than half a dozen countries. This exercise only involves the Air Forces of various countries, and it covers the offensive and defensive aspects of Air Combat in a simulated environment.[10] This is very similar to the “Red Flag Exercise” (discussed below), but on a lesser scale.

* Red Flag – Participation by 2022. Various Red Flag Exercises are held every year in the United States, and it is perhaps the largest and most sophisticated Air Combat Exercise in the world right now, participated in by dozens of countries. It can be compared as like a “World Cup” of Air Forces, and provides about as close a simulation to an actual combat environment involving aircraft.[11]
As far as I can remember I can’t recall our country participating in any sophisticated Air Force focused CTEs like Pitch Black and Red Flag, so if this plan pushes thru it will be the first in decades. The Philippine Navy (PhN) is already ahead of the PhAF right now in that they have recently participated in Naval themed CTEs like “KAKADU” and “KOMODO”, but this is probably because they were able to acquire slightly better equipment ahead of the PhAF.

Most of the planned aircraft purchases will arrive only around 2020, with the MRFs scheduled to start arriving only on 2021, and I don’t think the PhAF brass will want the new aircraft to participate in such complex war exercises right away. The crew will need a couple of years’ experience and familiarity because there are some risks also involved, so we will be likely be using only the FA-50s for the CTEs from 2018 to 2022.


To be able to meet the planned purchases and trainings, the PhAF is asking for an ADDITIONAL budget of P364 Billion (roughly USD 8 Billion) for 7 years starting from this year (2015) up to 2022. That means on average an additional budget of P52 Billion (USD 1.1 Billion) per year.

PhAF 2028 - Budget

The budget in 2014 for the PhAF was around P12 Billion,[12] so the average annual modernization budget of P52 Billion is more than four (4) times that amount.

’Vision of the Future’

Based on the plan the PhAF presented, their VISION of the future would be something like this: The year is 2028, and the PhAF now has effective radar coverage of the entire Philippines using mobile, ground based ELM-2288 AD-STAR systems which are protected by equally mobile MIM-23 Hawk XXI SAMs. These radar stations are complemented by two AEWACs aircraft.

The skies are filled with two dozen modern FA-50 Fighting Eagles and a dozen more JAS-39 Gripen aircraft, supported by four ECM aircraft and one Aerial tanker. And our pilots and aircrews are continually honing their skills by participating regularly in some of the most sophisticated aerial war game exercises in the world. It is a bright future indeed, for our air force.

’Parting Shot’

The plan is very good, and presented in an excellent way, but in the end this is just a PLAN. Whether it gets realized or not depends A LOT on the next Administration, especially when you look at the COST involved to be able to meet that plan. For that to happen, the economy will have to continue to improve and the next President should have the INCLINATION and POLITICAL WILL to continue to support the AFP Modernization.

However, if a certain “Dark Lord” wins the Presidency, it is likely that this plan will just come into naught. His daughter in the Senate had already proclaimed her preference for the military to just buy equipment related to Humanitarian and Disaster Response (HADR) operations instead,[13] while the “Dark Lord” himself remains strangely silent about the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), not even mentioning it as among his plans during his first 100 days in office if elected President.[14]

This is probably one reason why if you noticed, the title extends all the way up to “2028”, but the actual plan itself is only up to 2022. The PhAF could be giving an allowance in case the next Administration (term of office is 2016-2022) does not provide the necessary support, then the plan could just be pushed back by another 6 years under the next Administration (term of office is from 2022-2028).

Nevertheless, I congratulate the PhAF for coming up with a detailed, well thought out plan for its modernization. Whatever happens beyond 2016, whoever is elected President, at least they are able to say that they did their job, they presented a solid plan on how they can do a better job of defending the country, and all that was needed was the EXECUTION. If the plan isn’t executed properly or isn’t implemented at all, then it’s out of their control.

Ultimately the realization of the PhAF’s plan will be decided by the Filipino people themselves, on who they will vote for President in 2016. It should be someone who will wholeheartedly support the AFP Modernization …


^[1] Irbis-E Radar, http://www.niip.ru/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7:-q-q-35&catid=8:2011-07-06-06-33-26&Itemid=8
^[2] Pilots eye Gripen fighter jet, http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/07/03/pilots-eye-gripen-fighter-jet/
^[3] Philippines sets out capability upgrades at inaugural ADAS show, http://www.janes.com/article/40940/philippines-sets-out-capability-upgrades-at-inaugural-adas-show
^[4] AD-STAR Air Defense and Traffic Control Radar, http://www.iai.co.il/Sip_Storage//FILES/2/38652.pdf
^[5] PH plans to tap Israel for missile launchers, http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/15/ph-plans-to-tap-israel-for-missile-launchers/
^[6] Gov’t eyes enhanced HAWK surface-to-air missiles, http://www.mb.com.ph/govt-eyes-enhanced-hawk-surface-to-air-missiles/
^[7] Rafael SpyDer System, http://www.rafael.co.il/marketing/SIP_STORAGE/FILES/1/1201.pdf
^[8] Hawk XXI – Kongsberg, http://goo.gl/9MStxU
^[9] US-Thailand Relations and Cobra Gold 2015: What’s Really Going On?, http://thediplomat.com/2015/02/u-s-thailand-relations-and-cobra-gold-2015-whats-really-going-on/
^[10] Exercise Pitch Black Concludes in Darwin, http://thediplomat.com/2014/08/exercise-pitch-black-concludes-in-darwin/
^[11] Red Flag Air Exercises, http://www.dreamlandresort.com/info/flags.html
^[12] Philippine Air Force 2014 Budget, http://www.paf.mil.ph/pts/2014/PAFBudget2014.pdf
^[13] NANCY WANTS TO LEVEL UP CIVIL DEFENSE’S DISASTER RESPONSE CAPABILITY, http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2013/1120_binay2.asp
^[14] Binay presents plans for ‘1st 100 days as president’, http://www.rappler.com/nation/87545-binay-plans-100-days-president


Philippine Air Force Flight Plan 2028 Brochure

From Philippine Air Force Website: Philippine Air Force Flight Plan 2028 Brochure


Brochure and Briefing


China says some reclamation projects completed

Posted to ABS-CBN (Jun 30): China says some reclamation projects completed

China has completed some of its land reclamation on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, raising the stakes in Beijing's territorial dispute with its Asian neighbors.

China stepped up its creation of artificial islands last year, alarming several countries in Asia and drawing criticism from Washington. The United States, which has called for a halt in China's island building, said earlier this month that it was concerned about Beijing's plans for more construction work, including for military defense.

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing that the land reclamation projects on some islands and reefs in the South China Sea had been completed "in recent days".

China had been working on land reclamation projects on seven reefs among the tiny islets at the center of the maritime territorial dispute involving the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

Recent satellite images have shown a hive of work on China's new islands. U.S. officials say China has reclaimed 1,500 acres of land this year alone.

The spokeswoman did not specify where the land reclamation had been completed.

"As for the next step, China will begin fulfilling the relevant functions of the facilities," Hua said.

"The construction is mainly to provide services to meet civilian demands so as to better facilitate China's efforts at maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and reduction, maritime research, meteorological observation, environmental protection, safety of navigation, fishery services and so on, in keeping with (our) international responsibilities and obligations," she said.

"Certainly, our relevant construction will also include satisfying the necessary military defense needs," she added.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

Military facilities under construction include a 3,000-meter (10,000-foot) runway and airborne early warning radars, which could be operational by the year-end, according to one U.S. commander.


NPA rebels gun down new police officer in Sorsogon amid Pili Festival celebration

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): NPA rebels gun down new police officer in Sorsogon amid Pili Festival celebration

New People's Army (NPA) rebels shot dead a new police officer who was on routine security duty during the Pili Festival celebration and procession in honor of Sts. Peter and Paul at 5:30 p.m. Sunday in front of the Capitol Park, Rizal St., Barangay Burabod, Sorsogon City.

A report identified the victim as PO1 Rolly Dollentas, assigned with Community Police Assistance Center (CPAC) 3, Sorsogon City Police Station, and resident of the city.

The report reaching Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Bicol police regional director, said two young-looking rebels, aged about 15-20 years old and armed with .45-caliber pistols, approached Dollentas and shot him on his head and body.

Dollentas' companion, PO3 Rhea Laganzo, was stunned by the speed of the execution but was able to draw her gun.

Laganzo, however, could not fire at the assailants due to the presence of a dense crowd, among which the killers blended.

The suspects made good their escape by boarding a motorcycle and sped off.

Laganzo rushed Dollentas to the Sorsogon Doctors Hospital but her fellow officer died on the way.

The rebels failed to get Dollentas' service firearm, which is now in the custody of his superior.


NPA rebels shot man dead in Sorsogon

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): NPA rebels shot man dead in Sorsogon

New People's Army (NPA) members shot a 27-year-old man dead inside his house at Purok 2, Barangay Incarizan, Magallanes, Sorsogon, at about 6 p.m. Sunday.

Victim Roland Jersey, single and jobless, was watching television inside his residence when two armed men arrived and first poked their guns at his father, who was sitting outside.

They then approached Jersey who immediately sensed that something was wrong and ran outside the house.

The rebels went after him and caught up with him inside the comfort room of his neighbor where they gunned him down.

Before the suspects left, they placed a note on Jersey's dead body that reads, "hustisya para kay Rosa Gregory (Justice for Rosa Gregory)."

The police learned that Gregory was a victim of robbery on March 25 in Barangay Pili, Magallanes.

Responding police recovered empty shells of .45-caliber pistol at the crime scene, which the rebels used in killing Jersey.


Army to give P5.6-M reward to informants on ranking NPA leader Parago

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): Army to give P5.6-M reward to informants on ranking NPA leader Parago

The civilians who tipped off the Philippine Army (PA) on the presence of rebel leader Leoncio Pitao alias Ka Parago in Paquibato will get the P5.6-million reward put up for his arrest, capture or mechanization.

Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) chief Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año said the bounty is part and parcel of the military operation when the target is of high value like Parago.

The 57-year-old Parago has been wanted by law for several atrocities he was reportedly responsible for that included the abduction of Army General Victor Obillo and Captain Eduardo Montealto.

The Army also accused Parago as responsible for the attack of a religious group in Paquibato that resulted in the death of 11 persons in the mid-'80s; the 1989 massacre of Zabala family in Paquibato; the killing of Mabuhay barangay captain Rogelio Bernal and a certain Cesar Cabungcag in Paquibato; the ransack of Davao penal Colony (Dapecol) in April 2007; and, a string of cases such as arson, illegal establishment of checkpoint, grenade throwing, liquidation, ambush and landmining.

Parago has 17 standing warrants of arrest for a string of cases filed against him.

Declining to name the persons who gave the Army information about Parago’s whereabouts, Año said the civilians cooperated with them and provided the necessary information.

Since December, Año said they have been operating to get Parago dead or alive. He said he even created the special Task Force Minion solely for the purpose. The Task Force were teams from the 69th Infantry Battalion of the 103rd Infantry Brigade; the 6th SBC of the 2nd Scout Rangers; Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); law enforcement operations that have been collaborating since many months ago.

Año said the last two weeks saw encounters with Parago’s Pulang Bagani Command 1 (PBC) in Purok Manga, Paradise Embac in Paquibato on June 9; Purok 7 in Paradise Embac on June 14 in the house of peasant leader Aida Seisa and Purok Manga where two rebels were killed on June 17.

On Sunday, Parago and his medic aid identified as Kyell Hermoso from Zamboanga, was killed in an encounter with the Task Force Minion.

Parago had only two gunshot wounds - one in the stomach and neck that exited to the right side of the head, dismissing speculations that there was overkill.

The Army had been chasing Parago in Paquibato after receiving information of sightings from the civilians since December.

Año lauded his troops, saying the death of Parago would definitely and adversely affect the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command.

Parago hogged headlines in 2009 when his 20-year-old daughter, Rebelyn, was abducted and tortured. Her body was found later in a ditch in Carmen, Davao del Norte. The NPA accused 12 soldiers of having committed the crime.


SOLCOM conducts youth leadership seminar in Quezon province

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): SOLCOM conducts youth leadership seminar in Quezon province

The Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) based in Lucena City conducted the Youth Leadership Seminar Workshop Caravan 2015: "Project Management Training” over the weekend (June 27-28) at the Quezon National Agricultural School (QNAS) Silangang Malicboy Village, Pagbilao town in this province.

Members of 50 youth organizations in various places in Southern Tagalog (Regions 4A, 4B and 5) attended the workshop organized by SOLCOM headed by Major General Ricardo Visaya, Philippine Army (PA) in cooperation with the 2nd Community Relations Group of the Philippine Army represented by Major Fernando Engcot, PA and U7 represented by Colonel Domingo Gobway, PA.

The program aimed to provide the youth necessary knowledge on leadership, inter-personal relationship and empowered lifestyle. Likewise, the program aimed to involve the youth in keeping the peace and order in the province and in the country as well.


Tribal leaders urge IPs to leave armed struggle

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 30): Tribal leaders urge IPs to leave armed struggle

Tribal leaders in Misamis Oriental called on members of the Indigenous People (IP) to return to the tribal community and abandon the armed struggle.

Capt. Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the army’s Fourth Infantry Division, said on Tuesday that the tribal leaders made the call during the formal launching of the “Peace Caravan” in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental last week.

Martinez said that Datu Bruno Lindahay, the tribal chieftain of the village of Kibanban, called on members of the Higaonon tribes who joined the communist New People’s Army (NPA) to return to the tribal community in order to live a peaceful life.

The hinterland village of Kibanban, a farming village in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, is home to the Higa-onon tribe, one of the indigenous people’s communities in the province.

Martinez said that Lindahay was a former rebel under Guerilla Front 4B of the Northern Mindanao Regional Committee based in Balingasag and Lagonglong, all eastern towns in Misamis Oriental.

The tribal leaders and the Higa-onons gathered at the foot of Mt. Balatucan range Saturday last week to show support to the government’s peace caravan led by the Philippine Army and the local government units in Misamis Oriental.

During the meeting, Lindahay urged the fellow Higa-onons who have joined the NPA movement to abandon the armed struggle and come back to “rebuild” the tribal community in order to attain lasting peace.

Martinez said that the peace caravan is a prelude to a series of programs and projects for implementation in rebel infested tribal communities in Misamis Oriental.

Some of these programs include the construction of farm-to-market roads, electrification, medical and dental assistance, and other basic services of the local government, Martinez said.


Army redeploys brigade out of former MILF camp in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 30): Army redeploys brigade out of former MILF camp in Maguindanao

Military authorities in Maguindanao have moved out an Army brigade from Camp Abubakar, the former bailiwick of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which fell to government hands in 2000, an indication of normalcy in the northern part of Maguindanao.

The entire Army brigade was moved back Tuesday to its former base in Barangay Pigcalagan, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao.

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division commander, folded the 603rd Brigade flag in ceremonies witnessed by Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Maguindanao with Cotabato City Rep. Bai Sandra Sema.

Pangilinan said the redeployment was part of regular military activity, adding that what was moved out of the former MILF camp were offices and command centers.

Col. Ariel Dela Vega, 603rd brigade chief, said the 600-man 37th Infantry Battalion will remain in Camp Abubakar located in the tri-boundaries of Matanog, Barira and Buldon.

Under the 603rd brigade are Army Special Forces Battalion, 37th, 39th and 6th Infantry Battalions.

After the fall of MILF’s biggest camp in June 2000, the 603rd brigade was deployed in the rebels’ former base to prevent MILF from recapturing it.

The camp fell following weeks of air, artillery and ground offensives that completed the “all out war” policy of then President Joseph Estrada.

At least a million residents have been displaced as the armed conflict escalated to North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.

More than 100 government troops, 200 Moro rebels and scores of civilians were believed killed in the all out war offensives.

The symbolic folding of the brigade’s banner was followed by the transport of all brigade’s personnel, equipment, ammunition, artillery and infantrymen’s personal belongings, with local and regional political officials standing as witnesses.

Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr, chair of the GPH ceasefire panel and his counterpart in the MILF, Rashid Ladiasan were also present.

Hataman said the redeployment of an Army brigade was an indication the peace process is succeeding and that soon, real peace will reign in the region.

Pangilinan noted that since 2003, no major Army-MILF encounter has been reported due to religious compliance of both sides to the ceasefire agreement.


MILF insists all Mindanao stakeholders were consulted on BBL

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 30): MILF insists all Mindanao stakeholders were consulted on BBL

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has insisted the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Sulu Sultanate and Indigenous Peoples were consulted on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before it was finalized and submitted to Malacanang.

In a statement posted on its website luwaran.com, the MILF said those who claimed they were not consulted were not telling the truth.

“Such claim is ‘cheap and outright lies," the MILF said.

“It is very unfortunate that there are so many so-called political leaders and religious personalities, who can lie with heads high, as if they are telling the truth,” it added.

The group maintained that the government, Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which drafted the BBL, Civil Society Organizations, Non-Government Organizations, MILF Committee on Information and Political Committee and the Bangsamoro Leaderships and Management Institute (BLMI) have conducted hundreds of consultation with various sectors in Mindanao.

It added the GPH alone has participated in about 553 consultations.

It explained that MNLF is made up of at least five factions of the Nur Misuari-led group, MNLF Committee of 15 led by Chairman Muslimin Sema, the MNLF faction chaired by Abulkhair Alonto, the MNLF-Islamic Command Council spearheaded by Mujahab Hashim, and another MNLF sub-group anchored by Alvarez Isnaji.

The MILF said what is more important was all these factions radiate with the MILF through the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The last meeting which witnessed the fraternal bond and close coordination between and among these groups was held last May 28 where MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim addressed the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers Conference in Kuwait.

“On top of these, the OIC has endorsed the BBL as solution to the Moro Question or Problem in Mindanao,” it said.

The MILF has a direct line of communication with Misuari which was eventually cut after the Zamboanga siege in September 2013, the MILF said.

Since Misuari has already reverted to the pursuit of independence instead of autonomy, consultation was no longer necessary, the group added.

“Likewise, the Sultanate of Sulu has nine claimants, some of whom are supporting the peace process. Of these, only the faction led by the late Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III has been intense in their opposition to the BBL,” the MILF said.

For the IPs, the MILF said, the group was part of the negotiations and in crafting of the BBL. The late B’laan lawyer Datu Antonio Kinoc was an alternate member of the MILF Peace panel.

It said BTC have two IP representatives from the Teduray tribe, Melanio Ulama and Froilyn Mendoza. Commissioner Ulama is also an MILF Peace panel consultant on IP affairs.

“Notwithstanding this, consultations with the IPs were so many, in all levels of engagements. As a matter of fact, the provisions on IPs in the BBL were crafted by IPs themselves,” the MILF added.


Modernization of the Philippine Coast Guard, a must - Madrona

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): Modernization of the Philippine Coast Guard, a must - Madrona

China’s current aggressive activities in the West Philippine Sea only highlights the country’s need to modernize its capabilities to guard its 36,000-kilometer coastline and territorial waters.

It was for this reason that Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona filed HB 5112 or “An Act modernizing the Philippine Coast Guard, creating for the purpose the Philippine Coast Guard Modernization Trust Fund and appropriating funds therefor.”

“Aside from maintaining presence within out territorial waters, it is equally vital for the country to be able to protect its fishing industry and people traversing the internal waters of the Philippines,” Madrona pointed out.

Unfortunately, the author lamented, the capability of the PCG, compared to coast guards of the country’s neighbors in the ASEAN region, is just below par.

“Admiringly, despite its inadequate capabilities, the PCG has continued to perform its mandates with intensity and enthusiasm,” Madrona stressed.

He added that the dedication and commitment of PCG personnel as rescuers and law-enforcers could be further enhanced if technologically improved material capabilities are introduced and integrated into the coast guard organization and systems.

Under Republic Act No. 9993, also known as the “Philippine Coast Guard Law of 2009,” the PCG is tasked primarily to enforce applicable laws within Philippine waters, conduct maritime security operations, safeguard life and property at sea, and protect the marine environment and resources, the author stressed.

Madrona further noted that the PCG is attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications, and currently maintains a presence throughout the archipelago with 12 coast guard (CG) districts, 63 CG stations and 238 CG detachments from Basco, Batanes in the north to Bongo, Tawi-Tawi.in the south.

“The PCG, despite its very limited resources, has continued to discharge its functions,” Madrona noted.

Madrona emphasized that in order to address the concerns of the PCG, there is need for a modernization plan and program that would enhance its capabilities to guard effectively the entire Philippine archipelago, its territorial waters and coastlines.

The modernization program components include: 1) organization development; 2) Professionalization of its human resources; 3) doctrinal development; 4) infrastructure development; and 5) equipment and facilities acquisition and modernization.

The PCG Modernization Trust Fund to be administered by the DOTC Secretary shall be used exclusively for the PCG modernization program, excluding salaries and allowances.

The funds to be appropriated by Congress shall be treated as a distinct and separate budget item from the regular appropriations for the PCG and shall be administered by the DOTC Secretary.

The proposed program shall be based on a ceiling of PHP50-billion for the first five 5 years, and thereafter, may be increased commensurate to the increase in the gross national product (GNP).

A Joint congressional Oversight Committee is also created to monitor and oversee the implementation of the provisions of the proposed Act which is under consideration by the House Committee on Transportation chaired by Cesar V. Sarmiento of Catanduanes.


5 newly-promoted generals officially don new ranks

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): 5 newly-promoted generals officially don new ranks

Five newly-promoted generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officially donned their new ranks during flag-raising ceremonies at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Monday.

The event was headed by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin donned the new rank badges to Major Gen. Arnoldo M. Quiapo, Commodore Ernesto C. Enriquez, Brig. Gen. Joel D. Celino, Brig. Gen. Frederick Evans L. Ramos, and Brig. Gen. Librado B. Moog.

During the same ceremony, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) under the leadership of Defense Undersecretary Alexander P. Pama led the kick-off ceremony for National Disaster Consciousness Month which is celebrated every July.


PHL looking for funds to acquire 'spy plane'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): PHL looking for funds to acquire 'spy plane'

While desirous to acquire a "spy plane" (surveillance and patrol aircraft in military parlance), Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Monday admitted that the Philippines has no funds to acquire such equipment yet.

"We welcome the opportunity to have this kind of equipment but at the moment, we cannot afford to buy," he said.

Gazmin made this statement in response to queries on whether the DND is planning to acquire such aircraft for the use of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

However, he clarified that should such an opportunity to acquire such aircraft from Japan as excess defense articles present itself, they are "open to accept and procure such equipment."

Earlier reports claimed that Philippines and Japan are in talk about the possible transfer of Lockheed P-3C "Orion" maritime patrol aircraft to the country.

Japan is in the process of replacing its P-3C with the homegrown Kawasaki P-1 maritime aircraft which has twice the range of the "Orion" which is pegged at 2,380 nautical miles.


PAF to operate ultra-modern MRFs

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 30): PAF to operate ultra-modern MRFs

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be joining the ranks of nations operating ultra-modern multi-role fighters (MRFs) by 2021.

This was highlighted by "Flight Plan 2028," a document released by the PAF early this June.

This is the Air Force's strategic acquisition and tactical plan.

Under Flight Plan 2028, the PAF intends to acquire and commission 12 MRFs by 2021 to augment the then existing fleet of South Koren-made F/A-50 jet fighters.

An MRF is a combat aircraft which is capable of conducting strike, surveillance and air-to-air superiority missions.

An example of an MRF is the McDonnell Douglas F-18 "Hornet" strike fighter which is being operated by the US and its allies.

By 2028, as stated in "Flight Plans 2028," the PAF will be able to build up its capability to detect, identify, intercept and neutralize incursions from "Area Readiness 3 to Area Readiness 1."

"Area Readiness 3" refers to 51 to 74 percent of Philippine territory while "Area Readiness 1" means 100 percent of the country's territory which is estimated to be 40,000 square nautical miles.

The PAF will do it once its modern radar systems, long-range patrol aircraft (LRPAs), airborne early warning and control system (AEWCS), surface-attack aircraft (SAA) , light interim fighter trainers (LIFTs), multi-role fighters (MRFs) and missile defense systems (MDS) get online by 2028.

Detection capability will be provided by modern radar systems, and the LRPAs, identification of the threat will be done by the AEWCS, while interception capabilities will given by the SAA, LIFTs, and MRFs.

While neutralization will be done by the MDS should intruding aircraft intrude over land.

PAF spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya said that this is the breakthrough goal of the Air Force.

The decision to made public "Flight Plan is aimed at informing the public of efforts to modernize the PAF and make it more relevant.

"And by 2022, (the PAF) will (have) already build up its capability to detect, identify, intercept and neutralize incursions in the PADIZ and the West Philippine Sea from 'Area Readiness 4' to 'Area Readiness 3'," Flight Plan 2028 stressed.

PADIZ is short for the "Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone and Area Readiness" which was established in 1953.

It covers the entire Luzon region, parts of Visayas, and locations north of Palawan.

"Area Readiness 4" refers to 50 percent of known Philippine territory while "Area Readiness 3" means 51 to 74 percent of Philippine territories (including PADIZ and the West Philippine Sea).

And by 2022, the PAF hopes to have in service 24 SAA and LIFTs, four LRPAs, six ADSRS (air-defense system radar systems) platforms, six ground based air defense systems, two AEWCS units, 12 MRFs, one C2C center, four electronic countermeasure aircraft, one AA (airborne aircraft) refueler, and four medium-to-heavy lift helicopters.


DFA is positive Philippines will win in arbitration case vs China’s reclamation of WPS atolls

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 30): DFA is positive Philippines will win in arbitration case vs China’s reclamation of WPS atolls

With the oral argument next week on the adjudication case the Philippines has filed with the arbitration tribunal over China’s alleged violation of the code of conduct of claimant countries in the West Philippines Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reiterated the national government is positive it will win.

"We are quite confident that we will get a favorable decision both on the issue of jurisdiction and merits of the case," DFA spokesperson Asst. Sec. Charles Jose told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) exclusively on Tuesday at the Multi-Sectoral Forum on the West Philippines Sea Issue held here.

China has reclaimed the vast expanse of the West Philippines Sea, including features the country cover under its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that both countries are signatories.

In 2013, the Philippines lodged the case against China with the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal. It submitted its 4000-page memorial, its written argument, on March 30, 2014, which it supplemented on March 16, 2015.

The arbitral tribunal set the deadline on December 15, 2014 for China to submit its counter-memorial, but failed to do so.

Jose said the Philippines legal team, headed by Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, will set to defend the case from July 7 to 13 at The Netherlands-based UN court.

"It will be more of an elaboration, clarification no'ng dalawang memorial na sinumite natin, but we will be more focusing on the issue of jurisdiction (… of the two memorial we submitte…)," said Jose.

And if China would not heed on the UN court decision, in case it would favor the Philippines, Jose said: "It will be up to the international community to convince China that it would be to its best interest to follow the decision."

Jose furthered that China's shying away from the ruling will be counter-productive to its country as it may affect other foreign policy initiatives it will enter or have entered into.

"Let's say other countries will see China is not following the rules of the game, will they still play the game with someone that does not know how to follow rules? China has very important initiatives – foreign policy initiatives – are they going to allow this issue in the West Philippines Sea to undermine that?” he asked.

Jose said the court decision is expected to be announced between the months of January to April 2016.


Monday, June 29, 2015

USS Fort Worth Completes Its First CARAT Exercise with Philippines

From the US Naval Institute (Jun 29): USS Fort Worth Completes Its First CARAT Exercise with Philippines

Sailors refuel an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) during a maneuvering exercise with Philippine navy ships BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF 15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16) in the South China Sea on June 24, 2015. US Navy photo.

Sailors refuel an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) during a maneuvering exercise with Philippine navy ships BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF 15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16) in the South China Sea on June 24, 2015. US Navy photo.
The Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) completed its first-ever Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines, ahead of bilateral CARAT engagements with other Asian partners later this year.

Fort Worth and two Philippine ships, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), spent two days exercising in the Sulu Sea, according to a Navy statement. The CARAT event focused on combined operations at sea and maritime domain awareness, and included training events on tactical combat casualty care (TCCC), visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), gunnery exercises, maneuvering in formation, air defense and search and rescue.

The Philippine Navy also used the time together to conduct deck landing qualifications on the LCS’s flight deck.

Fort Worth will refuel in Subic Bay, Philippines, before returning to the South China Sea for routine patrols. In mid-July the LCS will participate in another CARAT exercise with Singapore.

CARAT began in 1995 and comprises a series of annual bilateral exercises with various South and Southeast Asian nations. Later this year, U.S. forces will conduct CARAT exercises with Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Fort Worth departed San Diego for a 16-month deployment in November and has so far performed better than expected in terms of operational availability and maintenance requirements. The ship skipped a maintenance availability to help search for the missing Air Asia Flight 8501 in January.
And it has kept busy with its South China Sea patrols and exercises with Vietnam, South Korea and more.