Friday, July 3, 2015

Photo: Seeking respect

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 4): Photo: Seeking respect

Members of fishermen’s group Pamalakaya picket the Chinese consular office in Makati City on Friday to demand that Beijing respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines. DANNY PATA

Photo: Protest

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 4): Photo: Protest

On the eve of Filipino-American Friendship Day, a women’s group holds a protest near the US Embassy in Manila to denounce what they called a lopsided friendship between the two nations. Danny Pata

Army commander lauds soldiers for the fall of top NPA leader

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 1): Army commander lauds soldiers for the fall of top NPA leader

Compostela Valley, July 1 - - Philippine Army Commander Lt. General Hernando Iriberri recognized yesterday at the 10th Infantry Division Headquarters in Mawab, Task Force Minions soldiers, who killed Leonardo Pitao “Kumander Parago” on Sunday (June 28).

A total of 64 soldiers received combat medals for their successful conduct of Task Force Minions.

Among the awardees, 16 soldiers received Gold Cross medals, the third highest award in the Army before Medal of Valor and Distinguished Conduct Star.

Nine soldiers received bronze cross medals and 39 got Military Merit Medal, interim to Gold Cross medal.

Lt. Gen. Iriberri said that as far as he can recall, the said activity is the only event in the history of the Philippine Army that gave 60 combat awards.

“This is really a record breaking for me,” Iriberri declared.

He congratulated the soldiers for giving their best for their fellowmen and their commanders for the unparalleled accomplishments.

Iriberri also urged Major Gen. Eduardo Año to frame the map board showing the details of the Task Force Minions.

“That map board will enable future generations of soldiers to learn on how to do it properly and how to conduct combat operations properly,” he said.

“Sobra pa sa libro yan. (It is more than a book). It speaks of volumes of how operations can be done par excellence,” he added.

Lt. Gen. Iriberri also recognized the support of the community leading to the successful operation of Task Force Minions.

Army ready for NPA retaliation

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 2): Army ready for NPA retaliation

COMPOSTELA VALLEY - - “Kung meron mang retaliation, we are very much prepared for it.” (If there is retaliation, we are very much prepared for it.)

10th Infantry Division Commander Major General Eduardo Año declared in a recent interview that the military is ready for any retaliation that will happen following their successful neutralization of Leonardo Pitao alias Kumander Parago on Sunday (June 28).

Major General Año said that they owe it the people of Davao and the Philippines to continue the keeping the peace and ensuring the safety of the populace particularly of Davao.

“Mas lalo pa naming ipagbabayuhin ang aming pagseserbisyo at pagpabantay sa kalinaw sa Davao,” Año said.

He said that Task Force Minions is a collective effort of the whole team and the community.

 “Hindi ito magbubunga kung hindi rin sa suporta ng mga tao sa Paquibato,” Año said. (This will not yield if not with the support of the people in Paquibato.)

He added that when the encounter started, information from the ground kept coming and they acted on all of it.

Gen. Año urged the rebels to surrender because he said “hindi natin titigilan yan habang hindi pa natin napupuksa ang mga teroristang armado na yan.” (we will not stop until we will destroy those armed terrorist.)

“Pwede naman silang lumaban ng walang armas. Andyan ang eleksyion, andyan ang demokrasya. Pero pag gumamit ka ng armas at dahas, hahabulin ka ng Armed Forces of the Philippines at ng Philippine National Police,” he added. (They can fight without weapons. There is the election, there is democracy. But if they will use weapons and force, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police will run after them.)

‘Tatay Parago’ and the defiance of Paquibato

From "Kalibutan" (Earth) and posted to the pro-CPP online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Jul 2): ‘Tatay Parago’ and the defiance of Paquibato



NPA commander Ka Parago. ( file photo by Barry Ohaylan)

NPA commander Ka Parago. ( file photo by Barry Ohaylan

With the death of the New People’s Army’s Commander Leoncio Pitao alias Parago Sandoval, a stalwart figure in the Philippine Revolution has fallen. Perhaps unexpectedly, at least for the State, warm tributes to the guerrilla leader from the people of Mindanao were outpouring.

Journalists expressed in different ways their deep respect, they who are “thankful to have someone like him who cares for the welfare of the people,” he who “has a heart of a father and a brother,” and who “left a legacy in understanding the state of the country.”

Award-winning writer Don Pagusara called him a ‘Man of the Masses.’ [3] Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte himself paid his last respects at Parago’s wake. Everyone in Davao calls him ‘Tatay.’ We environmental advocates ourselves have deep respect for Tatay Parago’s unwavering principles in the face of environmental destruction. He firmly stands by the NPA’s policy opposing big mining projects ushered in by the neoliberal Mining Act of 1995.

Talking about the entry of mining firms in the province of Davao, Parago says: “We are ready to set their trucks and equipment on fire if they enter our territory. They have no business here.”

True to his word, various mine companies in the Davao region have been subjected to punitive actions from the NPA. The latest was the torching of at least 20 vehicles and equipment of Apex Mining in Compostela Valley in 2014, and the disarming of the private army of Monkayo mayor Manuel Brillantes Jr. in April this year.

A cry for land and justice

Perhaps Parago and his fellow Red fighters are well-respected because, to the eyes of a people besieged by more than a century of mining plunder, land grabs, and repression, there is a certain unparalleled beauty in the resistance that Tatay Parago stood for throughout his 37 years as a warrior.

When they shed tears for Parago, it is for the hundreds of thousands of hectares of mountains, forests and fertile lands in Mindanao that were and continue to be ravaged by big loggers, large-scale miners, and plantations. It is for the millions of Lumads, Moros, peasants, fisherfolk, and other small people who have been exploited, oppressed, and adversely affected by these foreign-dominated big business projects.

In Davao’s Paquibato district, where the NPA‘s 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion led by Ka Parago is known to operate, the indigenous Lumads and peasant farmers are constantly under threat of displacement and harassment.

Despite a recently passed city resolution banning large-scale mining in Davao, US-based companies Albertos Gold Corporation and Penson Corporation persist with their attempt to explore almost 17,000 hectares in Paquibato. The AFP’s military and paramilitary forces have been sowing terror among Paquibato’s communities, especially targeting staunch opponents of mining.

Three anti-mining activists—Datu Ruben Enlog of lumad group Nagkalupa, and Oligario Quimbo and Randy Carnasa of the Paquibato District Peasant Alliance (PADIPA)—were recently massacred by elements from the 69th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army last June 14. The military labelled them as NPA combatants.

Aida Seisa, a woman Lumad leader of PADIPA and secretary general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Southern Mindanao, and her husband Henry, barely escaped with their family from the bloody operation. The couple, however, is missing to date.

A reason to rise and revolt

The roots of these crises remain unresolved. Landlords and big businesses own overwhelmingly huge tracts of lands and are seeking to grab more. The Aquino government and its programs remain subservient to foreign economic and political interests. The majority of the Filipino people are disastrously and callously abandoned and neglected.

No wonder Paquibato is a bastion of defiance, and Parago a well-loved father figure not only in Paquibato but in the entire Davao region—and arguably the entire country. For what would a loving father do if his children face such atrocities? Out of love, he would rise in defiance.

The people find rhyme and reason in the revolution, whether through collective action or the penultimate act of armed struggle, against the anti-people and anti-environment laws and policies that persist to be imposed under the current Aquino administration.
More ‘Tatay’ Paragos will surely rise from the ranks of the poor and dispossessed. The defiance of Paquibato is a living, breathing testament.

Leon Dulce is the campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment. He is also the spokesperson for Environmental Network against Pork Barrel and Corruption.

Gunman involved in Semporna shoot-out with Esscom forces arrested

From the Star Online (Jul 2): Gunman involved in Semporna shoot-out with Esscom forces arrested

KUALA LUMPUR: Police have arrested one gunman, following Tuesday morning's firefight in Pom Pom Island near Semporna.

Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) chief General Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin said that police have also seized the pump boat in which the suspect and his accomplices were last seen in during the shooting incident.

"They were intercepted by police during the sea curfew and they did not stop when ordered to, so there was a shooting. Police have arrested one man and have found the boat.

"The rest are still being tracked down," he said.
Policemen in the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) were reportedly shot at twice by men in a pump boat the east coast of Pom Pom Island at about 3am, June 30 and returned fire.

Officers claimed the heard the sound of an engine fading away into the distance after the exchange of gunfire.

The intruders, believed to be cross-border criminals, were about 200m from the policemen and managed to flee from the area.

Esscom chief Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said forces were still trying to ascertain the motive of the incident but said the men appeared to "not have good intentions."

Meanwhile, Gen Zulkifli said the army would be adding another sea base to the Esscom in the form of a mobile oil rig that will be retrofitted into a permanent base called the Tun Sharifah Rodziah.

It is being towed from Lumut and is expected to arrive in Labuan by mid-July. There it will be refurbished before becoming fully operational in Sabah waters in August.

It will join the Tun Azizan mobile sea base ship, which is based five nautical miles from southern Philippines, in stepping up security in the porous border.

"The will be used to intercept criminals that operate in our side of the border. When they go running back to the other side we can inform the sea bases that will deploy quick response forces to stop them," he said.

During a breaking fast session at the Khalid Al Walid mosque in Jalan Padang Tembak, Gen Zulkifli said 20,000 Malaysian armed forces would be working throughout the Hari Raya period to ensure security during the festive season.

It is a scale-down of 5,000 personnel from 2013 and 2014, which was the height of the Ops Daulat operations in the east coast of Sabah.

Sea-basing ship to be deployed in Sabah

Posted to the Malaysia Insider (Jul 3): Sea-basing ship to be deployed in Sabah

The construction of the Tun Sharifah Rodziah sea-basing ship in the waters off eastern Sabah will tighten maritime security, especially in the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) areas.

Armed forces chief Gen Tan Sri Dr Zulkifeli Mohd Zin (pic) said the sea-basing ship would be equipped with interceptor boats, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopter and a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) team.

"The sea-basing ship would be accredited soon, probably in August," he said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He said with the presence of the sea-basing ship, efforts to safeguard national waters, especially to intercept criminal boats in areas near southern Philippines, would be easier.– Bernama, July 3, 2015.

Philippine Air Force Flight Plan 2028 - A Mid-Year 2015 Progress Update on the PAF's Horizon 1 & 2 Asset Acquisition and Bases Development

From MaxDefense (Jun 20): Philippine Air Force Flight Plan 2028 - A Mid-Year 2015 Progress Update on the PAF's Horizon 1 & 2 Asset Acquisition and Bases Development 
Previously, MaxDefense discussed the Philippine Air Force's (PAF) medium term goal (2015-2022) under their organization plan titled PAF Flight Plan 2028. Most of the entry was devoted to the PAF's equipment acquisition and organizational changes until 2022 that will allow the establishment to achieve their goals to build a capability to detect, identify, intercept, and neutralize intrusions in the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone from Area Readiness 4 to 3 by 2022. For those who weren't able to follow, you may read our earlier blog entry by clicking the links below:

The Philippine Air Force's Medium Term "Flight Plan" for an Effective Air Defense Capability


Other Acquisition Plans of the Philippine Air Force for its Medium Term "Flight Plan"

The advancement of the flight plan as of mid-2015 has produced modest results so far, with the program still in the early stages and is still about to gain traction.

This blog entry is a mid-year 2015 update on the progress made by the PAF in accordance to its Flight Plan 2028's acquisition of assets and bases development. Other factors of the Flight Plan like doctrines, training, human resources, and others are not discussed here.

KAI FA-50 and Munitions Acquisitions:
The PAF ordered 12 FA-50 from KAI, with the 1st 2 units expected to arrive either December 2015 or January 2016.
The PAF initially reported in the past that the first 2 units of the FA-50 lead-in fighter trainers it ordered from South Korea's KAI will be delivered by early December 2015, but it will depend on the capability of KAI to meet the schedule. Recent PAF information releases shows that there might be some changes in this, which could see the first 2 FA-50 delivered as late as the end of January 2016. The rest of the 10 units will be delivered by batches from 2016 until 2017.

Pilot training was provided for 3 PAF pilots with high flying time and experience with the PAF's AS-211 Warrior light jet aircraft. Pilot training was done at KAI's facility in Sacheon City, and in ROKAF's 1st Fighter Wing at Gwangju Air Base and 16th Fighter Wing at Yecheon Air Base. Ground crew training for maintenance will also be provided to existing Air Defense Wing personnel, which is scheduled from June to November 2015 in South Korea.
Officials from the Philippines led by President Benigno Aquino III (center) during the group's visit to view the KAI FA-50 at an airbase in Busan, South Korea in December 2014.
The DND and PAF is also expecting to award the contracts with a combined worth of around Php 4.5 billion ($99 million) to supply air launched munitions for the FA-50 by September 2015, if all issues regarding budget and procurement can be cleared by Malacanang and the DND before August 2015. Among those in the acquisition are short range air-to-air missiles on the same category or better than the Sidewinder AIM-9L/I-1 that was originally planned, air-to-ground missiles like the AGM-65 Maverick, 20mm cannon ammo, and countermeasures including chaffs and flares. No confirmation yet though if the air-to-air munitions will include medium-range beyond visual range (BVR) missiles similar to the Derby missile.
The AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder (above) is the so-called natural choice of the PAF for the FA-50's requirement for short range air-to-air missile, although it is still unclear if the PAF is open to award a contract to other missile systems like the Israeli Python missile.
Photo taken from Wikicommons.
Air Defense Surveillance Radar System Acquisition:

The DND has already awarded the contract for 3 air defense surveillance radar systems to IAI-Elta of Israel for the Elta ELM-2288 AD-STAR system. It is not expected for the radars to be in the country within the year, but the first system could be delivered and online by 2nd quarter of 2016. As part of the deal, a gap filler radar is expected to be fielded by the PAF using a radar system provided by IAI-Elta as part of the deal. Originally MaxDefense posted that this radar system will be used to help secure the airspace as part of the APEC Summit in November, so it is expected that the system will be activated before November 2015.
The IAI-Elta ELM-2288 AD-STAR air defense surveillance radar system.
Photo taken from IAI-Elta website.

 Long Range Patrol Aircraft Acquisition:

Currently, the re-bidding for the acquisition of 2 units Long Range Patrol Aircraft (LRPA) has not yet started as of this writing, without formal confirmation from the PAF on the reason why. But recent agreements between the Philippine government and the US and Japanese governments might have an impact on this project. Previous press reports indicated that the both the US and Japanese governments may provide the Philippines of used and refurbished Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, either by grant or sale. There was previous information indicating the possibility of the Americans providing between 1 or 2 units, while Japan may provide somewhere between 2 to 4 units. If traced back to the PAF's Flight Plan 2028, the PAF is planning to acquire 4 LRPA in 2 batches, targetted to arrive by 2016 and 2020, respectively.

Should the plan to acquire P-3C Orion from either the US and/or Japan comes to fruition, it is expected that the PAF and DND may totally cancel the acquisition of new platforms, subject to the performance and longetivity of the P-3s and availability of additional funds after 2020.
Japan and the US are being touted to provide the Philippines with the Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, either by sale or grant, to improve the maritime surveillance and domain awareness capability of the country.

Repair of PAF Air Bases and Air Stations:

Several existing facilities of the PAF are slated, or are currently undergoing repair and rehabilitation as part of the Flight Plan, to enable them to accept the upcoming new PAF assets.

Among those already in the advance stages are the basing facilities for Search and Rescue (SAR) units of the PAF at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan and the Sanga-Sanga Air Station in Tawi-Tawi which were awarded last year.

Also being prepared is the new base for the 15th Strike Wing, which is scheduled to vacate their home base at Antonio Bautista Air Base (Sangley Point) in Cavite to give way to civilian development. The unit will be transfering to the Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro, which was transfered to PAF after civilian traffic was permanently transfered to the new Laguindingan Airport.

Other basing projects are being prepared to accommodate several new upcoming assets:

1. Antonio Bautista Air Base (Palawan), Basa Air Base (Pampanga), and Subic International Airport (Zambales) will be prepared and refitted to accomodate air defense aviation assets, which will include the AS-211, the FA-50, the future MRF. It is also expected that all 3 air bases will also benefit from construction work related to the PH-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which is still waiting for approval with the Supreme Court, and possibly the Philippine Senate.
Subic Intenational Airport is expected to be turned-over to the Philippine Air Force to host air defense and territorial defense assets due to its close proximity to the West Philippine Sea conflict areas.
Photo taken from Philippine Airspace blogsite.

2. The facilities at the Paredes Air Station in Ilocos Norte, Gozar Air Station in Lubang Island, and Salakot Air Station in Palawan were chosen to accept the first batch of Air Defense Surveillance Radar systems from Israel. It was reported previously that these air stations will be undergoing repair and rehabilitation works to enable the acceptance of new radar systems, as well as other support systems related to its function.
This is how Gozar Air Station looks like in the late 1960s when the Americans were helping the Philippine Air Force maintain the facility. Today it is in poor shape and requires rehabilitation work.
Photo taken from
3. Fernando Air Base (Batangas), Antonio Bautista Air Base (Palawan), and Edwin Andrews Air Base (Zamboanga) are scheduled for improvements to accomodate Long Range Patrol Aircraft / Maritime Patrol Aircraft assets, which includes erection of additional hangar and support facilities. The bases are expected to be partially ready by 2016.

4. Ground Based Missile Air Defense assets will also be requiring their own facilities, and the initial bases to receive these assets are the Paredes Air Station (Ilocos Norte), Gozar Air Station (Lubang Island), and Basa Air Base (Pampanga). The missile systems will be working hand-in-hand with the Air Defense Surveillance Radar, while at the same time are expected to defend these radar and air defense facilities from air attacks.
The PAF's upcoming 780th Ground Base Air Defense Group is scheduled to receive guided missile air defense systems to defend air bases and radar sites from air attacks. 

 5. Command and Control Facilities will be erected at the PAF Headquarters in Villamor Air Base, and will probably connected to the C4ISTAR system being developed for the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines.

6. Basing support systems will be improved together with the improvement of the airstrip and facilities at the Rancudo Air Station in Pag-asa Island, Kalayaan Group of Islands in the West Philippine Sea. Currently the runway is in poor condition, and plans to repair it has not been moving forward due to the government policy in relation to its case with the United Nations against China.

7. The use of Crow Valley Gunnery Range in Tarlac for aerial gunnery and bombing practice will be reimplemented, aside from the use of the range for ground military training and testing purposes. The Flight Plan includes a program on rehabilitating the facility for air force use.
Crow Valley Gunnery Range in Tarlac, as seen during the 1980s before the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. The facility will be rehabilitated by the PAF for aerial gunnery and target bombing training purposes.
Photo taken from Wikipedia.
Reactivation of the 105th Fighter Training Squadron and 5th Fighter Wing:

The PAF is scheduled to reactivate the 105th Fighter Training Squadron (105th FTS), which is the primary unit tasked to train pilots that are to be assigned to fly air defense aircraft like the AS-211 and FA-50. The unit previously operated T-33 Shooting Star and S-211 trainer jets in the past to prepare pilots to fly the F-5A/B Freedom Fighter and other PAF fighter aircraft in the past. It was expected that the activiation could be made by May 2015, although there is no confirmation yet if this was realized by now.

To consolidate its air defense aircraft assets, the PAF is also on its way to reactivate the 5th Fighter Wing (5th FW), its foremost air defense unit since the PAF's inception, to replace the current Air Defense Wing. This could become a reality by 2016. The 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron will return back to the 5th FW, and is expected to be the unit to receive the FA-50s. Like before, the 5th FW will be based in Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga, although they would also be expected to operate from other bases including the Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, and the Subic International Airport in Zambales, which is expected to be converted to a PAF air base with emphasis on territorial defense.
The PAF will revive the defunct 5th Fighter Wing to replace the Air Defense Wing. The 6th Tactical Fighter Squadron will be returned back to the unit, together with the reactivation of the 105th Fighter Training Squadron

 Horizon 2 Asset Acquisitions:

The PAF has already started the acquisition planning for several assets that will be acquired as part of the Flight Plan's Horizon 2 phase, which is from 2017-2022. The PAF expects the acquisition planning for at least 6 systems to be completed by end of June 2015, and the procurement stage to proceed afterwards. Procurement for these systems may depend, and could either be by negotiated procurement or by public tender.

1. Ground Based Air Defense System:

With the formation of the 780th Ground Based Air Defense Group (780th GBADG) and the basing facilities in several PAF facilities to house the unit's assets, it is now expected that the PAF will be acquiring missile-based air defense systems. Previous press releases by the DND, AFP, and PAF pointed out to at least two systems: the SPYDER (Surface-to-Air PYthon & DERby) system from Rafael and IAI of Israel, and the Hawk XXI from US company Raytheon. Other systems were reportedly offered but official confirmations were not made as to what models were among those considered by the PAF or DND. There is no confirmed choice yet as of this writing, and anything can happen even after previous reports of interest from the DND, AFP, or PAF existed. MaxDefense previously covered the possibility of acquiring the SPYDER in a blog entry dated June 18, 2013.

3 systems are planned for acquisition by 2016, and another 3 systems are to be acquired by 2020. Each system will be based on one of the PAF's air bases or air stations, and are assigned to defend PAF facilities and nearby areas from air attacks.

2. Heavy Lift Helicopters:

To improve the helilift capability of the PAF, the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing will be diversifying their fleet aside from its light combat utility helicopters by adding heavy lift helicopters into its inventory. Much empahsis was given by the PAF's lack of large helicopters that could carry huge amounts of cargo and personnel to areas without airfields as shown during the rescue and relief operations after the Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in 2013. The PAF relied on US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey to carry heavier load on affected areas, releagating the PAF's small UH-1H Huey and the Canadian Armed Forces CH-146 Griffon (similar to what the PAF's upcoming Bell 412EP) to lighter duties.

Great consideration will be on the helicopter's ability to load and unload cargo and men from a rear ramp, a feature present on two choices being eyed by the PAF if they decide to go brand new: the Boeing CH-47 Chinook of the US, and the AgustaWestland AW-101 from the UK. 2 units are eyed for procurement by 2019, and another 2 by 2022, although MaxDefense believes that the numbers and the schedule could change depending on funding and future decisions by the PAF to prioritize this project in anticipation of more HADR missions from natual disasters. It is also still unclear if the PAF will consider acquiring refurbished units due to the greater numbers it could acquire as compared to new ones using the same budget. 

Previously, Boeing announced a global offer to sell refurbished and modernized CH-47 Chinooks to friendly countries at a considerably lower price than their new CH-47F. The PAF could be among the possible buyers.
The Boeing CH-47F Chinook could be among those being eyed by the PAF for its heavy lift helicopter requirement should they consider new builds. If they prefer refurbished, Boeing could also offer refurbished ex-US Army CH-47Ds as a cheaper alternative.
Photo taken from Boeing's website.

3. Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft Acquisition:

As the FA-50 comes into service and prepare PAF's pilots into flying more advanced combat aircraft, the PAF has also started the acquisition planning to acquire multi-role fighters (MRF). Originally the PAF Flight Plan 2028 indicated a requirement to order an additional 12 SAA/LIFT aircraft, possibly more FA-50 from KAI, to beef up the PAF's requirements. But that could change due to the FA-50's limited capability compared to contemporary fighter aircraft fielded by its neighbors, particularly China. 

The FA-50, as discussed in several forums including in MaxDefense, is considered a bridge for the PAF from its existing aircraft and technology to modern fighter aircraft. Its size has affected a lot of performance factors, limiting the aircraft to light combat aircraft capable of air policing, point interception, and ground attack roles. Even South Korea will only be using the FA-50 to replace the F-5E/F Tiger II, while replacement for the F-4 Phantoms will be of a more capable type. 

The FA-50 has a limited range, limited carrying capacity, limited weapons compatibility, limited radar range and technology, and can be considered as totally substandard compared to larger, more expensive, and more capable fighter aircraft. This could become a deciding factor in the PAF's decision to skip acquiring more SAA/LIFT and instead start investing in acquiring multi-role fighters.

As reported by the PAF, they are about to finish the acquisition planning by the end of June 2015 and will be deciding soon on how the DND could implement the acquisition by either negotiated bid or through public tender. If the PAF will replace more SAA/LIFTs with the MRF, then they expect the PAF to have its new fighters by 2019. Should this happen, it is expected that the PAF may initially acquire 12 units, and may order another 12 units a few years later as part of its Horizon 2 (2017-2022) phase. 

Recently, Saab reported that the PAF has asked questions regarding their JAS-39 Gripen, but admitted that no formal process has started yet. Saab has been active in pushing their Gripen, and has been present in several of the PAF's annual Air Power Sympotiums and at ADAS 2014. 
Saab eyes the Philippines as a possible JAS-39 Gripen user, boasting of its low acquisition, maintenance, and operating costs,  STOL, quick turn-around rate, and ease of maintenance as its main points.
MaxDefense also expects American companies to push hard for their wares should the DND and PAF confirm an existing MRF acqusition project, with Boeing expected to bring their F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and Lockheed Martin their F-16C/D Blk. 52 or F-16V. 

Due to pricing, MaxDefense believes that other European offers like the Eurofighter and the Dassault Rafale will probably pass on this project. This could change, however, if easy payment schemes, counter-trade, or alternative payments sponsored by the manufacturer's government could be offered and is acceptable to the Philippine government, similar to what France offered to Egypt when they accepted to acquire Rafales, its munitions, and FREMM frigates for the Egyptian Air Force and Navy. A Russian offer might be possible from either MAPO-MiG and Sukhoi, but MaxDefense highly doubts the PAF's interests on such.
Lockheed Martin is expected to offer their F-16C/D Blk. 52 or F-16V Viper should the PAF open a MRF acquisition project.
Photo taken from Lockheed Martin.
4. Aerial Early Warning and Control System Acquisition:

Another important project to fill in the gaps of the air defense capabilities of the PAF is for the acquisition of Aerial Early Warning and Control System (AEWACS) system. This is expected to be operated by the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Group (300th AISG)
The Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
Photo from Kevin Whitehead - Jetwash Images c/o

MaxDefense received information that among the strongest offers were those made by Saab for its Erieye AEWC system, which Saab is offering together with its JAS-39 Gripen. Should Saab captures the MRF project, it is expected that a counter-offer involving the Erieye AEWC system could be provided by Saab, similar to what they provided to Thailand. 

Also a possible strong contender due to its recent wins in the Philippine military is IAI-Elta, which recently also have agreements with Airbus to supply the AEWC AESA radar systems for the C-295AEWC variant. With the PAF already a C-295 operator, its not far fetched for them to choose the Airbus-Elta offer.

An American offer could also be possible, with the Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, which was recently sold to Japan and is being actively marketed in the Asia Pacific region. 

Another possible offer could come from India, with their newly developed AEWC by India's Defence Research & Develpment Organization, which it recently showed-off using an Embraer ERJ-145 business jet platform.  

The PAF could have the choice of aircraft platform it wishes to use, and MaxDefense believes that Airbus' C-295 and Embraer's R-99 (EMJ-145) could be strong platform contenders, given Embraer's strong position to bag the pending Close Air Support Aircraft (CASA) project of the PAF. 
India has developed a new indigenous AEWC system, installed on an Embraer ERJ-145 business jet designated as a R-99 replacing the Saab Erieye.
Photo taken from AIN Online website.

 5. Unmanned Aerial System and C2 Center:

The PAF has also released information on the impending completion of the acquisition planning for an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) and Command and Control (C2) Center. The PAF also expects the acqusition planning to be completed by June 2015, although no definite deadline was announced on when they expect these assets to be in service.

The UAS could supplement the different surveillance systems presently available or being acquired by the PAF and the AFP as a whole. Being a maritime country with no land borders, it is expected that any UAS system will take maritime surveillance as its main role, assisting the LRPA/MPA assets of both the PAF and PN (yes, the PN are still expected to use their BN-2 Islander limited MPA) in detecting surface targets. 

Previously Elbit Systems of Israel presented the PAF with an offer to use its Maritime Hermes 900 UAS as maritime patrol assets, gaining positive response from PAF and PN representatives.
Elbit previously presented the Hermess 900 Maritime Patrol UAS to the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy for their maritime patrol requirements, either as a stand-alone asset, or to complement other maritime patrol aircraft assets.
Photo taken from Elbit System's website
The C2 Center will be used to closely coordinate and control all PAF aerial assets, radar systems, airbases and air stations from its headquarters in Villamor Air Base. It is also expected to be interconnected with the AFP's C4ISTAR system which the AFP intends to acquire very soon. This enables the AFP to have total control of all its units and assets during operations.

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Being a mid-2015 report, this analysis is still subject to change, still being in the early part of the entire Flight Plan. But it is expected that the PAF will be using this to chart their course of action in the near future in a similar fashion as the Philippine Navy's Sail Plan 2020. So MaxDefense advices its readers to take this interpretation of the PAF Flight Plan 2028's mid-2015 report as dependent on the PAF and may not be 100% accurate.

Although the plan looks good, the PAF should also consider the threat at hand, with China already banging its feet inside Philippine EEZ and interests in the West Philippine Sea. Instead of being too reliant on this Flight Plan, MaxDefense believes that the PAF should also consider an alternative option emphasizing on a faster phased modernization dependent on the DND and AFP high command's ability to push its goals to the National Government (Executive and Legislative). Although it is already unexpected for the Aquino administrtion to do something better than what is already laid beforehand, the PAF should push harder for more funding and support to hasten its modernization and strengthening in the face of Chinese aggression.

Outgoing Catapang boasts of AFP achievements under his watch

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 4): Outgoing Catapang boasts of AFP achievements under his watch

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. yesterday presided over his last command conference, claiming the military gained grounds against enemies of the state under his watch.

Catapang, who is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on July 11, claimed there were “undeniable gains” gained during the implementation of internal peace and security plan (IPSP) “Bayanihan.”

The outgoing AFP chief said the military scored big against the communist New People’s Army (NPA), the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

A total of 340 NPA rebels and leaders were neutralized during the first quarter of 2015 in the different provinces while around 166 firearms were recovered in various operations.

Based on the 2014 Yearend report, there were 3,200 armed NPA members. In the first quarter of 2015, the AFP has recorded the neutralization of 340 armed NPA members NPA.

Catapang also reported that 58 provinces were already declared Peaceful and Ready for Further Development (PRFD) while 10 were already declared cleared.

A total of 330 cases were already filed against these NPAs in competent courts while 212 warrants of arrest were already released.

Among the top NPA leaders arrested were Adelberto Silva, tagged as the highest ranking communist commander in the country today, and Leoncio Pitao, alias Commander Parago, chieftain of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command-1 (PBC-1) which is the top NPA unit in Davao Region.

Silva was arrested in Cavite last month while Pitao was killed in an encounter with government troops just last week.

Against the Abu Sayyaf, Catapang said that the AFP was able to neutralize 72 terrorists during the first three months of 2015.

A total of 192 BIFF personalities were also neutralized during the all-out offensive launched last February in central Mindanao.

The IPSP “Bayanihan” was the Aquino government’s anti-insurgency campaign aimed at defeating the enemies of the state before 2016.

BBL ‘one-sided’ in favor of gov’t — communists

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 4): BBL ‘one-sided’ in favor of gov’t — communists

Despite the near success of the Aquino administration’s negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a new Moro rebel group affiliated with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) based in Mindanao tags the contested Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as one that “only favors the government.”

In a belated statement released by the Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization (MRLO) after their 10th founding anniversary last June 20, Jihad Al Kursi, the group’s spokesman, said that the peace negotiations between the government and the MILF is double-bladed.

“We should open our eyes to the two-pronged (double-bladed) approach to the peace negotiation. President Aquino, who takes his cue from the US counterinsurgency and anti-terror program, is using the all-out offensives as an excuse to force the MILF to succumb not only to a compromised exit agreement, but to a watered-down version of the BBL,” Al Kursi said in an email.

“The formation of the new political body was cunningly subjected to the executive and legislative processes. After almost a year of deliberation, the provisions in the proposed BBLwhich should reflect the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), have been taken out,” Al Kursi added.

Al Kursi also lambasted President Aquino for not handling the Mamasapano massacre incident well that causing a sort of religious discrimination towards the Moro people that even got worse after military forces launched “all-out offensives” that “displaced more than 100,000 residents, wounded several civilians and destroyed houses, mosques and farmlands.”

“Instead of addressing the controversy arising in the Mamasapano tragedy, President Aquino’s apologists and attack dogs launched an anti-terror tirade against the MILF bordering on anti-Moro hysteria,” Al Kursi said.

The MRLO also scored the MILF for agreeing to surrender arms through the decommissioning of their Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) where 55 high-powered firearms and 20 crew-served weapons along with 145 combatants were surrendered last month in a ceremony graced by President Aquino himself.

“The decommissioning symbolizes the MILF’s abandonment of its revolutionary path to struggle for the right to self-determination and against national oppression by the Aquino administration,” Al Kursi declares, adding that the event symbolizes the removal of their armed forces “that serves as defense for the Moro people against military attacks and plunder of its natural resources found in Mindanao.”

The rebel group suggests that the peace talks between the government and the MILF should have been “a venue to express the genuine demands and democratic interests of the Moro people on self-determination, had been reduced to a constitutional issue.”

Al Kursi also said that their group remains firm in their armed rebellion for the Moro people’s “right to self-determination.”

“MRLO believes that the only way to stop the attack on our Moro brethren is for the Moro people to return to the revolutionary way of addressing the conflict, through armed struggle,” Al Kursi said.

In July 1999, the MILF agreed to form an alliance to defend “common territories” together with the communists in Mindanao. The MRLO did not mention anything about the said pact.

Communist rebel forces cut by tenth, military says

From the Business World (Jul 3): Communist rebel forces cut by tenth, military says

THE PHILIPPINE military has reduced forces of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) by a tenth after it neutralized more than 300 of its members, the armed forces’ spokesperson said on Friday.

“A total of 340 members of the NPA were neutralized starting in the first quarter of 2015 until as of today. And around 166 firearms were recovered in various operations all over the country. From its strength of 4,443 as recorded in last quarter of 2014, the NPA are now down to 4,092 in the first quarter of 2015,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Lt. Col. Harold M. Cabunoc said.

Fifty-eight provinces were also declared peaceful and ready for further development while ten were declared as clear.

“A total of 330 cases were also filed against the New People’s Army in the courts while at the same time, 212 warrants of arrest were released,” he said further.

One of the most notable gains in the military’s campaign against the NPA was the death of notorious NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, codename ‘commander Parago,’ who was killed in June 28 in Davao City.

The military also benefitted from the arrest of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, believed to be the top leaders of the rebel group, at a safe house in Cebu City last year.

Another high profile arrest was the that of Adelberto Silva, believed to be the second highest leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines, who was arrested in Cavite last month.

The AFP official also said that other insurgent groups, namely the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), also took huge casualties from the military’s campaign.

“The AFP also gained ground against the BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf with the neutralization of 72 members of the Abu Sayyaf and 192 members of the BIFF,” he also said.

This puts the troop strength of the BIFF, a separatist group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to less than 200. Earlier this year, the military mounted a month-long offensive against the BIFF yielding the capture of bomb factories and enclaves of the rebel group.

For the Abu Sayyaf, Mr. Cabunoc said that their campaign would now put the numbers of the Abu Sayyaf, a radical group responsible for kidnappings and bombings, to around 330.

The 125,000-strong AFP, with its three service branches -- the Philippine Army, the Philippine Navy, and the Philippine Air Force -- maintains six unified commands all over the country. This are the Cebu-based Central Command (CENTCOM), the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) in Tarlac, the Western Command (WesCom) in Palawan, the Southern Luzon Command (SolCom) in Lucena, Quezon, the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) in Davao and the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) in Zamboanga.

US wants implementation of Edca soon

From the Business Mirror (Jul 3): US wants implementation of Edca soon

U.S. Ambassador to Manila, Philip Goldberg on Friday said his country wants to implement the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the Philippines as soon as possible, as it would allow the immediate institution of a minimum credible defense posture to counter the aggressive moves of China in the contested West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“I think the Aquino administration agrees with that idea. We’re hopeful of implementing it as soon as possible because it will allow the Philippines to build a minimum credible defense to grow into more operations and maritime security, maritime domain awareness and it will allow the United States more presence in the region, which, of course, is the feature of the rebalance,” Goldberg said at the sidelines of the 239th US Independence Day celebration at a hotel in Makati City.

Goldberg said the security relationship between Manila and Washington is well known and that he’s looking forward to implementing the Edca when the Supreme Court has finished its review of the document.

But Edca is facing an uphill battle in the SC, where it remains awaiting decision after some politicians and other opponents challenged its constitutionality last year. The Senate weighed in on the controversy, claiming that the Upper House has to scrutinize the Edca deal before it takes effect.

Asked to comment on this developments, Goldberg said: “It is a Philippine decision whether or not it’s going through the Supreme Court or what’s the political view of it are.”

“That’s for Filipinos to decide, not for us, but we negotiated it in good faith obviously, and we want to implement it because we think it’s important for the security of both our countries,” he added.

Edca was signed just days before US President Barack Obama visited Manila in April 2014.

The agreement will allow US forces wide access to local military bases and build facilities to store fuel and equipment for maritime security.

One frequently mentioned area is Oyster Bay in the west coast of Palawan, directly facing the WPS, which, when finished, would approximate the US naval strength in Subic Bay, Zambales, that the US Navy once occupied.

Goldberg added that the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) has provided the country with $5 million as part of the assistance to the “rebalance” of forces to Asia and second unspecified amount is coming to show America’s commitment to help the Philippines achieve a minimum defense capability.

Goldberg added that the rebalance is ongoing and the Philippines was given $5 billion worth of assistance over a five-year period. It was administered by the USAid and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

“And we have offered a second possible compact. The board of MCC has approved for the Philippines for a second compact, and for our military funding, so it is extensive and it’s ongoing.”

“So I think our relationship with the Philippines is emblematic of the things we’re doing in the rebalance to build up our alliances, and the Philippines is our oldest ally in the region, so it’s important that we do it here,” he added.

“No one should question our commitments to the Philippines. At the same time, we salute the Philippines for its efforts  to solve regional problems peacefully, legally and diplomatically, and we thank you secretary [Albert del Rosario] for your principled leadership on those issues,” he said, while offering a  toast.

Goldberg said the Filipinos and Americans have stood together shoulder to shoulder for more than 70 years and “we continue to face the future, shoulder to shoulder, confident in an alliance that is tried, tested and, as President [Barack] Obama and Secretary of Defense [Ash] Carter have made, clear iron-clad.”

Del Rosario said a Department of Foreign Affairs mission is leaving for The Hague on Saturday to present its oral argument before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which will decide on the country’s claim to delineate China’s claims in the South China Sea.

NPA rebels shot dead CAFGU member in Camarines Norte

Posted to the Bicol Today (Jul 1): NPA rebels shot dead CAFGU member in Camarines Norte

New People’s Army (NPA) rebels gunned down an active member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) who was watching a public dance at about 8 p.m. Tuesday at Barangay Magsaysay, Capalonga, Camarines Norte.

Dead on the spot was Malix Alvarez, 19, a student, who belonged to the Barangay Alayao Patrol Base of the Philippine Army and a resident of the Old Camp in Capalonga.

Alvarez had just came from a motorcycle shop with another CAFGU member to have his vehicle fixed. They passed by a barangay feast day public dance when they came back and decided to watch the activity.

Two men, armed with .45-caliber pistol, approached him and fired at him, causing his instantaneous death.

The victim’s companion ran towards their camp to get reinforcement but the rebels had already escaped.

Maj. Gen Yerson Depayso, commander of the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, has ordered his men to be doubly alert as a result of the offensive stance of the rebels.

Marines clash with suspected NPAs in Palawan

From ABS-CBN (Jul 3): Marines clash with suspected NPAs in Palawan

PALAWAN -- Suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels were involved in a firefight with members of the 112th Marine Corps in Sitio Ogis, Barangay Ransang in Rizal, Palawan, police said Friday.

According to information from the Rizal Municipal Police Station, alleged members of the NPA clashed with the Marines.

The firefight lasted for 15 minutes.

Authorities said the rebels may have sustained one casualty, while there were no reported injured on the side of government troops.

An M-16 rifle, ammunition, a backpack containing documents, personal belongings, and a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) were recovered from the scene.

Investigation on the incident is ongoing.

‘Free Adel Silva’

Posted to the pro-CPP online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Jul 2): ‘Free Adel Silva’

 (Photo by Bruce Mallo /

(Photo by Bruce Kyle Mallo /
A campaign committee calls for the release of peace consultant Adelberto Silva, Sharon Cabusao and Isidro de Lima, and for the resumption of talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
“Silva-De Lima-Cabusao, pa-la-yain!”

The Sikat Hall of the Popular Bookstore along Timog Avenue in Quezon City was filled with voices of friends and families of political prisoners’ Adelberto Silva, Sharon Cabusao and Isidro de Lima, calling for their release.

Silva, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), his wife Cabusao, and their companion De Lima were arrested on June 1 in Molino, Cavite and charged with illegal possession of explosives. They are currently detained in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

The kin of the detainees were joined by leaders from Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kilusang Mayo Uno and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan to form the “Free Adel Silva Committee.”

The committee also dared the Aquino administration to resume formal peace talks with the NDFP. Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma recently said the government is open to the resumption of the talks.

Former Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo said Silva’s arrest showed the Aquino administration’s violation of civil and political rights, including the right to due process. Instead of filing the appropriate charges, such as rebellion and sedition, Ocampo said, the government is criminalizing political offenses.

“What’s happening is that they’re filing unreasonable charges, like grave common criminal offenses that they can’t even explain, in the forms of murder, kidnapping, illegal possession of firearms… which are not bailable,” Ocampo said.

He said that the government also violated the Comprehensive Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl), an agreement that upholds the Hernandez doctrine, which says that those suspected of political offenses should not be charged or convicted of common crimes.

“The government should charge the victims rightfully, with due process, and file cases that are political in nature …because they have no evidence of this people doing the common criminal crimes they’ve charged them with,” Ocampo elaborated.

Family sentiments

Elize Fuertes, daughter of Silva and Cabusao, recalled that her parents became activists during martial law. It seemed like it still is, as Mia, De Lima’s daughter, described their arrest.

“At around dawn, while my parents were asleep, uniformed men kicked the door of the house and with no arrest warrant, they took my father, also without even consulting the captain of the village,” said Mia.

Former Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Liza Maza said that the arrest is de javu of the Marcos era, when people who are critical to the government were neutralized through arrests.

Maza said the government should instead listen to the policy proposals from labor unions and different sectors to resolve the root causes of armed struggle and the different protests in the country.

Kilusang Mayo Uno National Chairperson Elmer Labog said the three detainees were getting “inhumane treatment” in detention.

Labog said that Silva and Cabusao are detained in a six-feet-by-four-feet room, which is adverse to their delicate health condition. Silva had already gone a triple bypass operation, and Cabusao is in dire need of sunlight and fresh air to address her B12 deficiency.

Labog challenged the government to stop its “double standard” as they claim to be champions of peace, while they detain and illegally arrest people with critical roles in the peace process.

“How can you negotiate for peace if you have already detained all the negotiators?” Labog said, adding that 17 NDFP peace consultants are now in detention.

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Families of 2 Malaysians held hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants worried about their health

From the Straits Times (Jul 3): Families of 2 Malaysians held hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants worried about their health

Mrs Chan Wai See (left) and Mr Chung Chin Lung hold up pictures of hostages Mr Bernard Then Ted Fun (left) and Ms Thien Nyuk Fun.

Mrs Chan Wai See (left) and Mr Chung Chin Lung hold up pictures of hostages Mr Bernard Then Ted Fun (left) and Ms Thien Nyuk Fun. PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The families of two Malaysians kidnapped from a Sandakan restaurant are very worried for the deteriorating health of their loved ones, who are being held hostage in the southern Philippines.

It has been 51 days since Ms Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, and Mr Bernard Then Ted Fun, 39, were abducted by Abu Sayyaf linked-gunmen from the seaside Ocean King seafood restaurant, some 3km from Sandakan town in mid May.

Ms Thien, who was manager of the restaurant, and Mr Then, a customer, are being held under close guard on a southern Philippine island.

Both the hostages, who are unrelated to one another, have had no access to medication for health problems that afflict them.

Ms Thien's son Chung Chin Lung, 31, says he is very worried as his mother suffers from high blood pressure.

"She is always complaining about headaches… she is always asking for her medicine," he told The Star Online on Friday, adding that his mother could not sleep at all.

Mr Chung said his mother is so worried about her pressure that she only dares to eat white rice.

Mr Then's wife Chan Wai See, 40, said her husband is pre-diabetic and suffers from gout as he has no choice but to eat the food provided by the kidnappers.

Mr Then is also worried about his fellow hostage Thien, and keeps on asking if medicine can be sent.
"He was also asking if there was any help… He sounds calm but I think he doesn't want me to be worried," Ms Chan said, with tears in her eyes.

Ms Chan was in the restaurant when her husband was kidnapped. It was the first time that her engineer husband, who was working in Cambodia, had been to Sandakan.

For the hostages' families, grappling with uncertainty is only making them restless. The kidnappers contact them almost weekly, demanding a huge ransom for their loved ones.

Ms Chan said that they do not have the means to meet the demands as they are ordinary citizens with limited resources.

She said Mr Then's siblings take turns to be with his parents in Kuching.
Mr Then is the youngest of four siblings.

"His parents are very worried and every day they call to ask about his situation and progress. We have to comfort them," she said.

Similarly, Mr Chung said his grandmother calls every day to ask about her daughter and has been eating less these days.

He also said that some people have been making all kinds of remarks, with people saying than Ms Thien is dead and some even accusing him of not doing anything to save his mother.

"Already we are hurting … What can we do?" he said.

The only saving grace, if any, is that Mr Then and Ms Thien have one another for support. Mr Chan said both of them were taking care of one another.

Both families are also talking to one another constantly, informing one another when there is contact with the kidnappers.

Having exhausted almost all avenues, both families are also appealing to Prime Minister Najib Razak, Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem and Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman to help them secure the safe release of their family members.

Mr Chan said he also hoped that the kidnappers would be compassionate in the holy month of Ramadan and free their loved ones.

"As I understand they also have family and children there… So have the same feeling for our family members," said Mr Chan.