Friday, May 29, 2015

China reclamation in West PH Sea creates 'new facts', says US defense chief

From ABS-CBN (May 29): China reclamation in West PH Sea creates 'new facts', says US defense chief

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT - US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in Washington's latest challenge of Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea, said the scale of Beijing's activities, not the United States, was altering the status quo in the region.

Carter, speaking to reporters at the start of a 10-day trip to Asia, said the United States was trying to maintain a shared regional security structure that had advanced "prosperity for everyone" over the past 70 years.

"We've been flying over the South China Sea for years and years and years, and ... will continue to do that: fly, navigate, operate. So that's not a new fact," Carter said.

"The new facts are the reclamation and the scale on which it is being done, and that's not an American fact, that's a Chinese fact," Carter said.

The United States has publicly highlighted Chinese island-building in the disputed Spratly Islands several times in recent weeks. Carter called for an end to the land reclamation work by China and other countries on Wednesday and a halt to the militarization of the territorial dispute.

The U.S. Navy last week sent a reconnaissance plane carrying Navy and television camera crews to film the Chinese dredging work, which U.S. officials say has added some 2,000 acres to five outposts in the resource-rich Spratlys, including 1,500 this year.

The Spratlys are claimed by half a dozen countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying deflected criticism, saying it was the Philippines that had conducted large-scale construction activities on what she said were China's islands and reefs since the 1970s, saying China would not "recognize the illegal occupation".

"We urge the Philippines to stop making erroneous remarks and we also urge the United States, which is not a party to the South China Sea dispute, to take a responsible attitude, be prudent in words and deeds, be reasonable and calm, and stop making provocative remarks," she told a news conference.

"These types of remarks are not conducive to solving the dispute peacefully, but will further damage the region's peace and stability."

Carter, asked whether the United States would send ships to within 12 miles of the Chinese-built islands to demonstrate Washington does not accept Beijing's territorial claims, said, "The United States will ... fly, sail, operate, wherever international law allows."

He also rejected the notion that the islands, which China built on previously submerged reefs, could claim 12 miles of territorial waters.

"The 12 nautical miles that I think you're referring to does not pertain to features that were submerged and now are no longer submerged," Carter said.

Barangay captain's son abducted in Zambo del Norte

From ABS-CBN (May 29): Barangay captain's son abducted in Zambo del Norte

ZAMBOANGA - A son of a barangay chairperson in Titay municipality, Zamboanga Sibugay province was abducted in Sitio Lupag, Barangay Malintubuan in Labason municipality, province of Zamboanga del Norte past 7 p.m. Thursday.

Sr. Insp. Mohammad Hashim Sahidaini, chief of Labason municipal police station, identified the victim as Dennis Cabadonga, 26.

Cabadonga's mother is the current chairperson of Barangay San Antonio. Their family is operating some businesses which include buy-and-sell of copra and a bakery.

Sahidaini said four to six armed men forcibly entered the compound where the storage room of the Cabadonga family is located. The suspects immediately left the area after they took hold of Cabadonga inside the compound.

They passed through the back of the compound and headed to the shoreline, which is just a few meters away, where two motorized pumpboats were waiting.

The armed men also took some of the personal belongings of some workers of Cabadonga.

Sahidaini said the suspects pretended and identified themselves as policemen conducting an anti-drug operation in the area.

Policemen of Labason municipal police station responded to a call of a resident, but failed to catch the abductors.

Based from intelligence information, the Cabadonga family has been receiving kidnapping threats from a certain group in Titay.

The family bought a property in Labason and started their businesses in the municipality. But they did not coordinate with the police nor requested security escorts amid the threats they have been receiving.

Police believe a certain Commander Maulana, an alleged leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) based in Sirawai municipality, Zamboanga del Norte, was behind the abduction.

Sahidaini said the group of Maulana is in cahoots with the Abu Sayyaf Group based in Sulu province.

The abductors used local residents in the area as their spotters or lookout to monitor the everyday routine of Cabadonga. They planned carefully their entry and exit in the area as well.

The crisis management committee of Labason will convene on Tuesday to further discuss the security loopholes that must be addressed following the abduction incident.

The commander of Joint Task Force Zambasulta, Rear Admiral Reynaldo Yoma, said most of the kidnap victims in the Zamboanga peninsula are being brought to Sulu.

These include the mayor of Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay, Gemma Adana, who was abducted last April 6.

The two Philippine Coast Guard personnel and a barangay chairman who were snatched in an island barangay in Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte were also spotted in Sulu.

Yoma said at least 14 captives are still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu. The military has been conducting discreet operations in a bid to rescue some of the kidnap victims

PAF rain maker aircraft deployed

From Ang Malaya (May 29): PAF rain maker aircraft deployed

The Philippine Air Force deployed to Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija on May 28 its LC-210 aircraft which is dedicated for rainmaking operations being operated and maintained by the 900th Air Force Weather Group led by the Group Commander Col. Lauro Tianchon. The said aircraft will carry out rainmaking missions over Angat Dam, Pantabangan Dam and other areas as requested by Bureau of Soils and Management.

The LC-210 aircraft is based at Fernando Air Base, Lipa City and can be sent in any part of the country for rain-making operations.

Air Force Weather Technicians MSgt. Moleta and TSgt. Fabro of the 900th Air Force Weather Group distributed 357 sacks of sodium chloride and assisted the successful conduct of rainmaking operations over the province of Negros Occidental using a chartered Piper Aztec aircraft last April 23 to May 12.

Weather Technicians dispense sodium chloride during cloud seeding operations. They also provide and specialized meteorological services, including meteorological observations, forecasts, in rainmaking and climatological studies to support the AFP and the other Government agencies.
900th Air Force Weather Group tracks and monitors all weather disturbances inside the Philippine Area of Responsibilities and performs meteorological watch in all PAF bases, sites and TOG’s including issuance of terminal and station forecast. They also repair and maintain all meteorological equipment.

Military eyeing declaration of NegOr as ‘insurgent free'

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 29): Military eyeing declaration of NegOr as ‘insurgent free'

The Philippine Army is seriously looking at declaring the province of Negros Oriental insurgency free at the earliest possible time even with the presence of “remnants” of the rebel New People's Army in the northern part of the province.

Depending on how fast the Philippine Army in the province can finish the documentation, the insurgency free declaration could be any time this year at the earliest, military officials said.

Negros Oriental was declared about a year ago as conflict manageable and development ready after law enforcement agencies announced the insurgency problem was reduced to an insignificant level.

Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, chief of the 3rd Infantry “Spearhead” Division based in Jamindan, Capiz, reported this recently and commended the joint efforts by law enforcement agencies, the provincial government and other stakeholders to set and implement the framework for lasting peace.

“We are very confident and positive about this (declaration of Negros Oriental as insurgency free) as can be seen in the efforts of law enforcement agencies and with support of local government agencies, slowly but surely we are able to make significant gains in the improvement of peace and order” in the province,” he added.

Guerrero also said he has discussed this with Col. Allan Martin, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade based in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, and the province could be declared insurgency free any time soon or, “optimistically, in 2016”.

Guerrero, who was at Tuesday's turnover of financial assistance to former NPA rebels in Dumaguete City, said he was impressed with the number of beneficiaries.

There were 33 beneficiaries who received P65,000 each as Immediate Assistance and Livelihood Assistance under the CLIP at rites led by Governor Roel Degamo at the Negros Oriental Convention Center.

However, Guerrero said that the northern part of Negros Oriental, specifically Guihulngan City, is still problematic with “remnants” of the NPA's South East Front mostly operating there and continue to make their presence felt although “minimal”.

But, he said they continue to enjoy the support of barangay officials and residents, who are cooperating by reporting the presence of lawless elements in their areas.*