Monday, May 11, 2015

Government of Canada provides $3.58 million to Philippines for regional and global security threats

From Ang Malaya (May 10): Government of Canada provides $3.58 million to Philippines for regional and global security threats

“The Government of Canada is committed to working with trusted allies and partners to address international security issues,” Office of the Prime Minister of Canada said in a statement. The government of Canada is providing $3.58 million towards three initiatives which will enhance collaboration with the Philippines to counter regional and global security threats.

First initiative is Capacity Building for Port and Maritime Security in the Philippines which will seek to enhance front line law enforcement institutional capacity by strengthening the ability of the Philippines to gather, collect, analyze and share essential law enforcement data. This initiative will be funded with $1.14 million that will be implement from 2015 to 2017.

Second is Civilian Police Capacity Building and Deployment of Canadian Police Officers to the Philippines with $1.5 million.
Third project is the Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices Training in the Philippines allocated with $940,000.

“It was a pleasure to welcome President Aquino to Canada. During his highly productive visit we were pleased to announce several important bilateral initiatives in the areas of commerce, development and security that will benefit citizens in both countries,” Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper said during an event during President Aquino’s state visit to Canada from May 7 to May 9.

“His visit also provided an opportunity to introduce the President to Canada’s hard working Filipino communities and highlight some of their major contributions to the fabric of our society,” PM Harper added.

Coast Guard confirms negotiation for 4 C-23 Sherpa from US military

From Ang Malaya (May 11): Coast Guard confirms negotiation for 4 C-23 Sherpa from US military

The Philippine Coast Guard confirms that it is talking with United States military for two US Army Short C-23 Sherpa aircraft to be transferred as Excess Defense Articles.

Eesti Rahvusringhääling (Estonian Public Broadcasting) a publicly funded radio and television organisation in Estonia reported earlier that US will donate units of Sherpa C-23B+ to Estonia, Philippines and Djibouti as Excess Defense Articles.

The coast guard added that it is also in the talks for the procurement of additional two Sherpa aircraft.

PCG spokesperson Cmdr. Armand Balilo said an inspection team will be travelling to US next week to check the aircraft. Units of C-23 Sherpa aircraft are being eyed to augment existing Islander planes for maritime patrol missions.

United States used Sherpa C-23 to transport fewer cargoes and small military units in Iraq. It can take off with a load of approximately 5,400 kilograms.

Lawmaker urges DFA, DND to come up with clear course of action to stop China’s strident assertions in West PHL Sea

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): Lawmaker urges DFA, DND to come up with clear course of action to stop China’s strident assertions in West PHL Sea

A ranking member of the Nationalist Peoples Coalition (NPC) at the House of Representatives on Tuesday urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of National Defense (DND) to come up with a clear plan of action to stop the unabated strident assertions and massive reclamation activities of China in the West Philippine Sea.

Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian said the government must have concrete courses of action to suppress China’s threatening reclamation activities in order to prevent the possible irreversible and widespread economic damage it might cause to future generations.

“Several violations against the rights and sovereignty of the Philippines have been escalating, such as the prevention of Philippine vessels and fisher folks from gathering resources in the contested water, which are well within our exclusive economic zone,” the majority member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs said.

China shows a wanton disregard of our rights and a blatant disrespect of our country. Their notion of being a super power is now being expressed through coercion and creeping invasion of its neighbors' territories," Gatchalian said.

Recent aerial and satellite images have confirmed reports of large-scale construction of permanent structures on the contested areas, including banks, reefs and low tide elevations which do not even qualify as islands, as well as small inhabitable coral projections, which are considered “rocks” under the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS).

Defense officials have also confirmed that China is building a wall at Mischief Reef, which is located inside the Philippines' 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

According to DND, the “China wall” will cause nonstop fishing by the Chinese from the People’s Republic of China and would also enable the Chinese Navy and Coast Guard to check all vessels passing through the area.

Starting last year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has recorded at least six maritime aggression from Chinese vessels in which Filipino fishermen where driven away from Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).

Because of this, Gatchalian has filed House Resolution No. 2059has filed House Resolution No. 2059 which directs both House Committees on Foreign Affairs and National Defense to conduct a joint inquiry on the steps being taken by the government in the standoff against China in the contested Kalayaan group of islets known internationally as Spratlys.

'China will not open fire at PHL patrol planes' --WesCom chief

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): 'China will not open fire at PHL patrol planes' --WesCom chief

Despite a series of challenges involving Filipino aircraft and Chinese monitoring platforms in the West Philippine Sea, Western Command (WesCom) head Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez expressed belief on Tuesday that China will not destabilize the situation by firing at patrolling Philippine planes.

"No, I don't think they will do that," he said.

And should China do this, Lopez said that the Philippines can invoke the 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States.

The Western Command is the unit tasked to defend Palawan and Filipino possessions in the West Philippine Sea.

Chinese attempts to challenge Philippine planes patrolling the West Philippines Sea started on April 19.

Another incident took place two days ago, Lopez said.

Aircraft usually challenged are the Philippine Air Force's GAF Nomad patrol aircraft.

"If they do that, it is already an affront to the Republic of the Philippines and we can invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States," the Western Command head stated.

Article 5 of the MDT defines the meaning of attack and its purpose which includes "all attacks by a hostile power will be held as an attack on a metropolitan area by both parties or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific."

Lopez said that such incident will prove counterproductive to China and the rest of the region and they should not allow it to happen.

"If they are a peace-loving nation, they will not allow that to happen," he stressed.

The Western Command head added that the US is very clear in coming to the aid of the Philippines should any of its planes or ships be fired upon without any provocations.

"It is very clear in the MDT," he pointed out.

AFP chief's Pagasa flight unchallenged by Chinese

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): AFP chief's Pagasa flight unchallenged by Chinese

Despite simmering tensions at the West Philippine Sea, the Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo plane carrying Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang and select members of the media was able to make a normal approach and departure from Pagasa Island Monday.

Pagasa is the island where Kalayaan town is located.

This is despite earlier Chinese attempts to challenge Philippine military planes conducting sovereignty patrols in the area.

"We just landed safely without being challenged and I congratulate the pilot because the runway is very short so we’re always at the tip of the runway when we're about to land or stop so I congratulate the pilot who is very good in landing, it's quite a short runway," he said.

The AFP chief's flight left Villamor Air Base, Pasay City around 6 a.m. It arrived at Puerto Princesa around 8 a.m. where it refueled before making its flight and landing at Pagasa Island around 11 a.m.

He and his party departed the locality around 2 p.m. and arrived at Puerto Princesa, Palawan at 4:15 p.m.

Catapang said the short and dilapidated runway being used by Philippine forces in the area justifies the need to improve the runway because it is very difficult to land in.

He added that his visit to Pagasa Island is part of his farewell call as he is scheduled to retire by July.

Catapang said he made the visit at the invitation of Kalayaan town mayor Eugenio Bito-onon.

However, prior to landing at Pagasa Island, Catapang said he spotted Chinese reclamation works at Subi Reef and described it as "enormous".

Catapang also said that part of his visit is aimed at determining how the AFP can help in further developing Pagasa Island which experts describe as a rich fishing ground and ideal tourism spot.

Air Force plane loses wheel upon landing in Legazpi

From Rappler (May 11): Air Force plane loses wheel upon landing in Legazpi

The PAF Fokker 27 plane has just landed in Legazpi from Tacloban when the front landing gear was busted

NOSE DOWN. An Air Force F27 plane lies nose down on the runway of Legazpi Airport following a landing accident, May 11, 2015. Photo courtesy Office of Civil Defense-Bicol/Facebook

NOSE DOWN. An Air Force F27 plane lies nose down on the runway of Legazpi Airport following a landing accident, May 11, 2015. Photo courtesy Office of Civil Defense-Bicol/Facebook

The front landing gear of an aircraft of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) detached from the plane upon landing at the Legazpi Airport on Monday, May 11.

In a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the Fokker 27 plane, with aircraft body number PAF669, busted its landing gear upon touchdown. The plane was flying in from Tacloban City.

"The aircraft was disabled at the middle of runway causing temporary closure of operations while it was being towed to safer ground," the NOTAM said.

The plane was carrying 3 passengers and was piloted by a certain Captain Valdez.

Photos posted on Facebook by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol showed a PAF Fokker plane lying nose down on the airport's runway, while the landing gear lay several meters away from the plane.

The photos from OCD also showed airport personnel inspecting the damaged plane and the detached wheel.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who was at the airport waiting for a flight to Manila, said in a Facebook post that the incident occurred at around 10:13 am.

The incident has caused flight delays at the airport.

Clearing operations are undergoing as of 2 pm Monday, and flights could resume at the airport later in the day, according to a Facebook post by Salceda.

PH military chief visits Pag-asa Island in West PH Sea

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): PH military chief visits Pag-asa Island in West PH Sea

General Gregorio Catapang Jr also gets to see the reclamation work of the Chinese in nearby Subi Reef

STRONG MESSAGE: Armed Forces chief Gregorio Catapang Jr and Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez in Pag-Asa Island. Rappler photo

STRONG MESSAGE: Armed Forces chief Gregorio Catapang Jr and Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez in Pag-Asa Island. Rappler photo

PAG-ASA ISLAND, PhilippinesArmed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Gregorio Catapang Jr on Monday, May 11, visited the disputed Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) at a time that tension in the region continues to escalate due to maritime disputes.

"I'm visiting this place to establish the fact that Pag-asa is municipality of Palawan and Palawan is a province of the Republic of the Philippines. Therefore, Pag-asa is a territory of the Republic of the Philippines," Catapang said in a statement obviously meant for China, which claims almost the entire South China Sea.

Pag-asa is the second biggest naturally occurring island in the West Philippines. It is home to a small community of about a hundred Filipinos who depend largely on government subsidy.

A military C-130 plane brought Catapang to the island and allowed him to go around the West Philippine Sea to check the status of Philippine-occupied features in the area and nearby reclamation activities of China.

"Before we landed we saw the reclamation in the Subi (Zamora) reef and it's really enormous," Catapang said.

He earlier expressed concern that China's reclamation activities will result in the militarization of the area and cut the country's access to the West Philippine Sea.

The C130 flight was not challenged by the Chinese when it flew over Chinese-occupied areas. The Palawan-based Western Command (Wescom) recorded at least 6 incidents of harassment against Philippine planes by Chinese frigates recently.

Catapang also inspected military facilities and led various activities on the island.

Armament packages of Navy AW-109s now in PHL

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): Armament packages of Navy AW-109s now in PHL

The armament packages of the two armed AgustaWestland AW-109 helicopters of the Philippine Navy (PN) has finally arrived.

This was disclosed by Navy public affairs spokesman Cmdr. Lued Lincuna during the sidelights of Monday's Pagasa Island trip.

He said that the weapon systems, which consisted of rocket and machine gun mounts, have arrived and is now in the process of being moved to the hangar where the aircraft is stored.

The two armed AW-109 airframes arrived in the Philippines last December. This is part of the five-helicopter deal, worth Php1.33-billion, signed by the Philippines with AgustaWestland in early 2013.

Three of the AW-109s were delivered and commissioned in Dec. 22, 2014.

The versions of the AW-109s will be armed with machine guns, 20mm cannons and possibly, with air-to-ground rockets.

The AW-109 "Power" helicopter is a three-ton class eight seat helicopter powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW206C engines.

The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

The aircraft’s safety features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW-109 has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions.

Its superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective maritime helicopter in its class.

For shipboard operations, the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures.

The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW-109 to perform its mission when many other helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.

Over 550 AW-109 "Power" and AW-109 light utility helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers in almost 50 countries.

PCG to acquire 2 helicopters

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): PCG to acquire 2 helicopters

In line with its efforts to improve its maritime patrol and rescue capability, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is planning to acquire two brand-new helicopters.

This was disclosed by PCG spokesman Cmdr. Armand Balilo during the sidelights of Monday's Pagasa Island visit.

He added that basic requirement of the aircraft is the capability to land on the flight decks of the PCG's EDSA or Tenix class cutters.

Balilo said the instructions from the Department of Transportation and Communications, the parent agency of the PCG, is to expedite the acquisition of the helicopters.

The PCG currently operatives four helicopters in its air group. Each measures 56 meters and has a top speed of 25 knots.

/A-50s first PHL military aircraft with ECM arriving before year-end

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): F/A-50s first PHL military aircraft with ECM arriving before year-end

With the arrival of the South Korean-made F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" by the last quarter of this year, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be at last fielding aircraft with "electronic countermeasures" (ECM) capability.

It is an electrical or electronic device designed to trick or deceive radar, sonar or other detection systems, like infrared or lasers.

ECM may be used both offensively and defensively to deny targeting information to an enemy.

Col. Enrico Canaya, PAF spokesperson, said this will allow F/A-50 pilots to determine whether they are being targeted by hostile fire control radars.

With the "Fighting Eagle" having this capability, he added that pilots can evade or launch countermeasures that that can deceive or "spoof" enemy radars, thus ensuring their survival.

The PAF earlier said relatively updated radar systems onboard, the soon-to-be commissioned F/A-50s is able to do autonomous air patrols without relying too much on ground based surveillance systems.

"(The F/A-50s) has its own onboard radar systems so it can detect (any hostile air threats) while on patrol," it added.

The PAF declined to give the specifics of the F/A-50's radar systems for security reasons but stressed that it is quite adequate for air patrol work.

Sources said this feature of the South Korean made jet fighter has greatly boosted the air defense capabilities of the PAF which was greatly reduced with the decommissioning of its Northrop F-5 "Tiger" jet fighter squadrons and Vought F-8 "Crusader" fleet, in 2005 and 1988, respectively.

This was done due to air frame aging and lack of spare parts to keep the two planes on operational status.

With the deactivation of its two premier supersonic jet fighters, the PAF was forced to convert the SIAI-Marchetti S-211 jet trainers for an air defense role.

However, the S-211s are ill-suited for air defense work due to their slow speeds

The DND earlier said that the radar systems onboard the F/A-50s is one of the many pluses why the Philippines opted to acquire 12 units of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) made jet fighter over its many competitors.

The F/A-50 has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one and a half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.

The F/A-50 will act as the country's interim fighter until the Philippines get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

The F/A-50 design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

KAI's previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the F/A-50.

The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.

The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.

An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.

Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.

The F/A-50 uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and Korean Aerospace Industries.

The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.

Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.

Civilian found dead, govt personnel wounded in clash with NPA in Camarines Sur

From InterAksyon (May 12): Civilian found dead, govt personnel wounded in clash with NPA in Camarines Sur

A civilian was found dead during clearing operations at the scene of a clash Tuesday morning between government force and communist rebels, in which two soldiers and a policeman were wounded, in Camarines Sur, the military said.

“Two soldiers and a policeman were wounded while a civilian was found dead after the clash” in Barangay Cawayan, Libmanan town, Southern Luzon Command chief Major General Ricardo Visaya said, citing a report from the 42nd Infantry Battalion.

He said Army and police personnel were on a joint combat operation when they chanced on around 15 New People’s Army guerrillas around 5:48 a.m.

“The firefight lasted 20 minutes. At least three M16 rifles and four jungle packs with documents of high intelligence value were recovered from rebel positions,” Visaya said, adding he had ordered more troops deployed to pursue the rebels.

Sunday afternoon, troops of the 74th Infantry Battalion clashed with 15 rebels in Barangay San Vicente Kanluran, Catanauan, Quezon, killing a guerrilla and recovering an assault rifle.

Before this, rebels ambushed a pair of militiamen on their way to the market in Barangay Centro Casay, Catanuan, killing Alan Madrilejos, 39, a resident of Ragay, Camarines Sur.

Building Oyster Bay naval base is military's top priority - Catapang

From InterAksyon (May 12): Building Oyster Bay naval base is military's top priority - Catapang

AFP chief General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. interacts with flag-waving children who greeted him on his visit to Pagasa Island. (photo by Krisken Jones,

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines -- The military's top priority is to build a naval base on Palawan’s western coastline, opposite the disputed Spratly Islands, although the plans have been delayed by funding bottlenecks, Armed Forces of the Philippine chief of staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. told Reuters.

Catapang said US, Japanese and Vietnamese naval vessels would be allowed to make port calls once the facility at Oyster Bay was finished.

Developing the island paradise into a military facility could exacerbate tensions with China, which claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, including the Spratlys. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the vital waterway.

Palawan is about 160 kilometers from the Spratlys, where China's rapid land reclamation around seven reefs is causing alarm among some Asian countries and drawing increasing criticism from Washington.

"We feel this is the number one priority because of the emerging security situation," Catapang said in an interview late on Monday at a military base in Puerto Princesa City after taking reporters to Pagasa Island in the Spratlys.

"As soon as we have the money, we will pour resources there," he said.

China last month offered a detailed defense of its reclamation in the Spratlys, saying the new islands would provide civilian services such as weather forecasting and search and rescue facilities that would benefit other countries.

Catapang said P800 million was needed for the initial development of the naval facility and then P5 billion to turn it into a major operating base.

While plans had been drawn up, they were stalled by a lack of funds, he said.

"There is nothing there yet, we are still constructing an access road and upgrading the water and oil depots that would service ships. There's still much work to do," he said.

Japan, which is helping Manila boost its maritime capabilities, might fund infrastructure around the base but not the facility itself, a Japanese source with knowledge of the plan said earlier this year.

Washington has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft and ships for training as Washington shifts more of its forces to Asia, Catapang said last month.

Security ties between the Philippines and Vietnam are also growing in light of China's assertiveness.

The Philippine navy has said it planned to base two former US Coast Guard cutters at Oyster Bay, a sheltered cove within the much larger Ulugan Bay, once the facility was finished.

BBL voting moved next week to give lawmakers time to review amendments

From InterAksyon (May 12): BBL voting moved next week to give lawmakers time to review amendments

Voting at the committee level on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was moved next week to give lawmakers more time to review the amendments to the measure, leaders of the House of Representatives said.

The decision to postpone the voting came following the introduction of scores of amendments - mainly the rewording of a number of provisions that were being eyed to be removed, from a group of lawmakers, mostly members of the administration's Liberal Party (LP).
"In a leadership meeting tonight (Monday), we decided to have (Cagayan de Oro Representative) Rufus (Rodriguez) submit a working draft by tomorrow, which will be the basis for discussion and vote starting Monday (May 18)," Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. siad.

Rodriguez, the head of the 75-member ad hoc panel that will vote on the draft BBL, confirmed that voting has been moved from May 11 and 13 to May 18 to 20.
The ad hoc panel convened on Monday and called on lawmakers to state their proposed amendments on the 18 provisions of the BBL. Panel members introduced their line-by-line amendments on the bill, tackling issues ranging from the basic definitions to the powers and privileges to be granted to the soon-to-be-established Bangsamoro government.

"We want every member of the panel to be heard. This will be their last chance to introduce their amendments.  After today, the next thing we will do is to vote per provision," Rodriguez said.

After the voting at the committee level, a committee report containing the approved version of the bill will be prepared and submitted to the plenary for debates, this time involving all the 290 House members.

Rodriguez said earlier the target for approval on second and third reading will be on or before June 11.

Davao del Norte Representative Anthony del Rosario came out Monday with the most number of proposed amendments, a number of entailed the rewording of some provisions on the constitutional bodies to be established under Bangsamoro government, such as its own auditing and election bodies.

Rodriguez said Del Rosario's proposed amendments were the version of the administration's Liberal Party.

Rodriguez had stood firm that he wanted eight provisions removed from the BBL, which he said were unconstitutional.

These provisions are:

*Creation of a separate Commision on Audit;

*Creation of a separate Commission on Elections;

*Creation of a separate Civil Service Commission;

*Creation of a separate Commission on Human Rights;

*Creation of a separate Office of the Ombudsman;

*The sections which require the President to coordinate military operations with the chief minister of the Bangsamoro region;

*The sections which empower the chief minister to have control and supervision over police forces in the region.

*The provision authorizing the conduct of a plebiscite in any territory contiguous to the Bangsamoro region where 10 percent of residents want to join the autonomous regional government.

A few hours after Monday's meeting of the ad hoc panel, a group of mostly LP lawmakers issued a statement calling on the House to ensure the passage of a BBL that will remain faithful to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed last year between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The proposed BBL was the product of the said agreement.

The 22 lawmakers called for the passage of a bill "that will stand firm and steadfast, a BBL that will fulfill the promise of change in Mindanao in the form of a just and lasting peace," and one that would "correct the historical and present-day injustices that will ultimately lead us towards peace in Mindanao and in the entire country.

"With this, we have taken the initiative to carefully and critically study the draft BBL pending in the House of Representatives. We have undertaken thorough discussions beyond formal congressional hearings," they said.

"We have devoted time outside the regular working hours of the House in order to come up with amendments to the BBL that are still consistent with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. This was done together with the consideration of various opinions that seek to refine the current proposal to turn it into one that will sincerely represent the interests of all Filipinos, especially our Moro brothers and sisters," the lawmakers said.

The signatories to the statement were:

Rep. Henry Oaminal (2nd District, Misamis Occidental)

Rep. Arthur Defensor, Jr. (iIoilo)

Rep. Anthony del Rosario (Davao del Norte)

Deputy Speaker Henedina Abad (Lone District, Batanes)

Rep. Kaka Bag-ao (Lone District, Dinagat Islands)

Rep. Barry Gutierrez (Akbayan Party-List)

Rep. Bolet Banal (3rd District, Quezon City)

Rep. Jesus Sacdalan (1st District, North Cotabato)

Rep. Kit Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City)

Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong

Rep. Bai Sandra Sema (Maguindanao / Cotabato City)

Rep. Leni Gerona-Robredo (3rd District, Camarines Sur)

Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu (2nd District, Maguindanao)

Rep. Sherwin Tugna (CIBAC Party-List)

Rep. Jorge Almonte (1st District, Misamis Occidental)

Rep. Tupay Loong (1st District, Sulu)

Rep. Silvestre Bello III (1-BAP Party-List)

Rep. Jim Hataman-Salliman (Lone District, Basilan)

Rep. Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo (1st District, Lanao del Norte)

The following had no signatures, but expressed an intention to sign:

Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat (Lone District, Ifugao)

Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla (2nd District, Zambales)

Rep. Malou Acosta-Alba (1st District, Bukidnon).

Senate amends rules on AFP arms purchase

From InterAksyon (May 11): Senate amends rules on AFP arms purchase


Senator Antonio Trillanes.

The Senate on Monday approved a measure amending Republic Act 10349, known as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Act, to expedite the purchase of weapons and equipment needed by the military.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, author and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2269, said the proposed measure seeks to relax the procurement process of weapons and equipment and, thereby, hasten the implementation of the modernization act.

"The highly tedious, circuitous and complicated procurement process of the AFP thwarts the full implementation of the law," he said.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said that the measure was part of the Senate's effort to improve the capabilities of the nation's armed forces "by ensuring the speedy and efficient provision of military equipment and supplies so urgently needed by our fighting men and women."

Trillanes said a provision in the AFP Modernization Act disallowed the purchase of major equipment or weapons system unless they were used by the armed forces in the country of origin or used by the armed forces of at least two countries.

He said the passage of SBN 2269 into law would amend the provision by allowing major equipment or weapons system to be purchased as long as the same were used by the armed forces in the country of origin or used by the armed forces of at least one country.

"It is hoped that by relaxing the requirement, the acquisition process of the AFP can be unclogged, if not expedited, thereby hastening the implementation of the law," Trillanes said.

R.A.10349, or the Revised AFP Modernization Program was signed into law in 2012. This law was intended to extend the comprehensive efforts to modernize the armed forces for another 15 years and to introduce needed reforms.

Since then, Trillanes said, a total of 36 modernization projects worth P41.2 billion have been completed.