Monday, July 6, 2015

Video: SAVE OUR SCHOOLS: The Plight in Achieving Children’s Right to Education

20 minute propaganda video from the pro-CPP Save Our Schools (Mar 26): SAVE OUR SCHOOLS: The Plight in Achieving Children’s Right to Education

Published on Mar 26, 2015
Res Ipsa Loquitor. This video shows you of an undeniable truth that has been happening in the hinterlands. Schools being used by the military as their barracks and war field despite clear constitutional provisions that prohibits encampment in schools and other public infrastructure. Over a year until present, the Save Our Schools Network (SOS Network) has documented 38 schools in Southern Mindanao alone under military encampment by various units of Armed Forces of the Philippines. On October last year, some schools in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte were strafed by the military. Cases of harassments, threats and red-baiting were also recorded against elements of the AFP. The fact shown in this video speaks for itself.

6 soldiers face murder case

From Malaya (Jul 7): 6 soldiers face murder case

THE Bulan municipal police station in Sorsogon has filed a murder case against six Army soldiers for the killing of a Philippine Coast Guard member during a melee in a nightspot in Bulan last April.

Charged before the Provincial Prosecutors’ Office in Sorsogon City last Friday as Corporals Jose Frugalidad Perillo and Restituto Francia Ramos, and Privates First Class Elmer Pernecita Araya, Gemard Selorico Timple, Jose Rivera Parma, and Jason Ramos, all detailed with the Charlie Company, 31st Infantry Battalion based in Barangay San Isidro, Bulan, Sorsogon.

Slain was Seaman 2 Vladimir Eduarte, 28, then assigned in Ormoc City, and a resident of Barangay Z-2, Bulan, Sorsogon.

On April 12, Eduarte was at the Paraiso Disco House in barangay Sta. Remedios, Bulan town when a fistfight erupted between him and the soldiers. Reports said one of the soldiers pulled out a gun and shot Eduarte hitting him in the back.

China doesn’t want war, says envoy

From Malaya (Jul 7): China doesn’t want war, says envoy

CHINESE Ambassador Zhao Jianhua yesterday assured the Philippines that the dispute between the Philippines and China over some islands in the South China Sea will not lead to war. 

Zhao’s statement on dispute resolution through political and diplomatic means came on the eve of the start of the hearings of the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration on whether it has jurisdiction to hear the Philippine’s historic legal challenge to China’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea under its nine-dash line version of a China map.

China would never wage war against the Philippines. It is not our policy and will not be our policy in the future,” Zhao told reporters after donating books to the National Library in Manila as part of the Chinese embassy’s efforts to foster greater understanding between the Filipino and Chinese peoples.

“These disputes should not be defined as military issues. We need to be careful to avoid defining these as military issues,” the envoy said.

However, he reiterated Beijing’s position that it will not participate in the arbitral proceedings before the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

“Our position is consistent. We will not accept nor participate in the arbitration proceedings,” he added.

Zhao called for direct negotiations to resolve the territorial dispute.

“We need to resume bilateral negotiations without any condition. I think this is the best way that we can discuss how to peacefully resolve these disputes,” he said, adding that China never closed its door to consultation and direct negotiation between the two countries.

The Chinese envoy said the door for consultation and direct negotiation will be “open forever.”

Last month, Zhao said relations between the two countries can prosper in the area of economic and trade exchange and people-to-people exchanges despite the festering territorial dispute.

He expressed confidence that Manila and Beijing will be able to resolve the dispute peacefully.

Relations between the two countries plunged to its lowest when the Philippines took China to the arbitral tribunal in January 2013, challenging the legality of its nine-dash line claim over nearly the entire South China Sea, including parts of the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

China has refused to participate in the arbitral proceedings and insisted on negotiations with claimant countries.

Its sweeping claim over the South China and its aggressive stance, including the reclamation activities in Kagitingan, Zamora and Panganiban Reefs as well as the building of artificial islets over the Mabini, Burgos, Calderon and Kennar Reefs, has rattled the nerves of claimant countries and raised the concerns of the US and other nations.

9 wounded in grenade explosion in Sulu

From GMA News (Jul 7): 9 wounded in grenade explosion in Sulu

At least nine people were wounded after a grenade hurled by motorcycle-riding assailants exploded in Jolo town in Sulu early Tuesday.
The incident occurred at 6:50 a.m. in Barangay Asturias, GMA News correspondent Peewee Bacuño reported, citing initial police reports.
An initial investigation showed a rider on a red motorcycle threw a grenade at an Army vehicle while it was crossing Scott Road corner Kakuyagan Road.
The grenade missed the Army vehicle but exploded, causing minor wounds to civilians passing by.
Those injured were identified as:
  • Hassan Usani
  • Rodelio Bitbit
  • Ibno Abdulman
  • Ferdauzia Rajik
  • Merry Boon
  • Sitti Kausar Asaddi
  • Ruaina Mundi
  • Mohammad Kasim Alkimar
  • Jaypee Gitgit
They were all brought to a nearby hospital.

Authorities are still determining if the suspect belongs to any armed group in the province. 

Manila finds marker with Chinese writing, buoys near Recto Bank - sources

Posted to ABS-CBN (Jul 7): Manila finds marker with Chinese writing, buoys near Recto Bank - sources

* Buoys stretched "as far as eye could see" - Philippine
* Chinese naval ship emerged when sailors tried to remove
* Philippines has long explored for oil and gas along Reed
* Reed Bank not far from disputed Spratly islands
* China says has sovereignty over Spratlys and nearby waters

PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines - The Philippine navy recently found a large steel marker bearing Chinese inscriptions and hundreds of yellow buoys in waters near the Reed Bank, an area of the South China Sea where Manila has long explored for oil and gas, Philippine naval sources said.

One source, a sailor, told Reuters he was on a fishing boat being used by the navy that discovered the rubber buoys and the floating steel marker at the end of May. The buoys stretched "as far as the eye could see", the sailor said.

He said there was no evidence Chinese ships had placed them near the Reed Bank, which is also claimed by Beijing.

But efforts to remove the buoys were thwarted by the sudden appearance of a Chinese naval patrol vessel, prompting the Philippine boat to flee, the sailor said in an interview in Puerto Princesa, capital of Palawan province, the Philippine military's jumping off point to the disputed South China Sea.

The Reed Bank lies 80-90 nautical miles (148-167 km) west of the Philippines in what Manila regards as its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

"Our boys tried to cut and remove the buoys but a large Chinese patrol ship emerged on the horizon and they hurriedly left," the sailor said, adding it was unclear what the Chinese inscriptions on the steel marker said.

The discovery was confirmed by two senior Philippine naval officials. One said the buoys were still there when the navy checked in the middle of June, although the steel marker was gone. No attempt was made to remove the buoys, he said.

The three sources declined to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Philippine military officials said it was the first time in recent years that such markers had been found near the Reed Bank.

The Spratly islands, where China is flexing its naval muscles as it builds seven man-made islands on top of coral reefs, lie to the southwest of Reed Bank, further away from the Philippines.

Asked to comment on the buoys, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said "we do not understand what you are talking about", while adding that China had "indisputable sovereignty" over the Spratly islands and its nearby waters.

"China's position on this is clear and consistent," it said.

The Chinese Defence Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, the Philippine navy spokesman in Manila, said he had not seen any report on the discovery.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.


Philippine military strategists have long worried that China wants to occupy the Reed Bank.

One air force general said he suspected the buoys were put there so Chinese fishermen could tether their boats, then if the Philippine navy tried to evict the fishermen, Chinese coastguard ships would appear to protect them.

In 2012, China seized Scarborough shoal, which lies 124 nautical miles (230 km) west of the Philippines, after a three-month standoff with the Philippine navy.

China has since prevented Philippine fishermen from getting close to the rocky outcrop's rich fishing grounds, the Philippine government and fishermen say.

The Philippine navy has previously found markers with Chinese inscriptions around shoals in other parts of the South China Sea that Manila claims.

In 2011, a steel marker the size of a 14-footer container was discovered in Sabina shoal in the Spratlys. A navy boat towed it away while concrete markers found in the same area last July were blown up, naval officials said.

The Philippine government said in March it was suspending exploration at Reed Bank while it pursued international arbitration over its territorial dispute with China at a U.N. tribunal in the Hague.

Manila is seeking a ruling to confirm its right to exploit waters in its EEZ as allowed under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

China has refused to participate in the hearing, which opens on Tuesday.

China to Philippines: Let's sit down and talk

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Jul 7): China to Philippines: Let's sit down and talk

China is ''still open and will be open forever'' to bilateral negotiations to settle its territorial spat with the Philippines, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said yesterday.

Zhao’s pronouncements came a day before a United Nations tribunal proceeds to determine whether it has jurisdiction over a case filed by Manila contesting Beijing’s massive claim in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

A high level Philippine delegation is now in The Hague to present the country’s position.
“I think the best is to sit down bilaterally to talk. We need to resume our bilateral negotiation without any condition. I think this is the best way that we can discuss how to peacefully settle these disputes,” Zhao told journalists at his official residence after the Chinese government donated books to the National Library of the Philippines, reported.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration, a five-man panel of judges, will start hearing oral arguments on the issue of jurisdiction until July 13.
“Our door for bilateral consultation and negotiation is still open and will be open forever,” Zhao said.

The Philippine team is represented by Solicitor General Florin Hilbay and will be assisted by Paul Reichler of the Washington-based law firm Foley and Hoag.
Also attending the proceedings – aside from Hilbay – are Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Supreme Court Justices Antonio Carpio and Francis Jardeleza, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and retired Armed Forces chief of staff and now undersecretary for security cluster Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

Zhao brushed off criticisms that China is militarizing the waters with its ongoing construction of what appeared to be military installations on reclaimed islands.
“What I would like to emphasize is that we do not wish to define these disputes as military issues because they are political and diplomatic issues and they require political and diplomatic solution,” he said. “China has never regarded the dispute as a military dispute.”

The ambassador also maintained that China would never wage a war against the Philippines, saying “it is not China’s policy and will not be China’s policy” to resort to aggression to achieve its goal.
Peaceful means, bilateral talks,” he pointed out.


Meanwhile, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippines is ready for the start of proceedings at The Hague.
“We can’t talk much about it, but we are prepared for it,” Jose told reporters yesterday.

In a position paper submitted last December, China questioned the jurisdiction of the international arbitral court over the case. The Permanent Court of Arbitration and not the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea is handling the case. With Beijing’s refusal to take part in the proceedings, automatic arbitration has to be resorted to as required by rules.
The DFA said the Philippines would stick closely to facts in presenting its case against China.

“We try to make it as factual as possible on the way we see things, the objective of that is to raise awareness of our people on this very important issue,” Jose said.
“If we get a favorable ruling from tribunal, to us it is a fundamental first step towards a peaceful and rules-based approach towards resolving the overlapping maritime claims in the South China Sea,” he added.

Jose admitted that the DFA is not yet aware of the procedures of the hearing, although it does not expect China to make a presentation.
“Based on the position paper China submitted last December, it is questioning the jurisdiction of the arbitration tribunal over the case. Based on those points, China does not want to participate,” Jose explained.

China has repeatedly criticized the Philippines for initiating international arbitration instead of holding bilateral talks to resolve the territorial dispute.
On Thursday last week, China called the case filed by the Philippines a “political provocation,” a claim denied by Malacañang.

The DFA noted it was the Philippines that first initiated bilateral talks with China to resolve the issue, to no avail.
“We already tried to pursue bilateral talks way back in 1995 concerning the Mischief Reef. We tried to sit down with them. We exhausted all reasonable efforts to solve the issue,” Jose stressed.

He also lamented that China was always setting impossible conditions for bilateral talks, and “they always say we have to recognize their indisputable sovereignty” over the disputed areas.
The DFA noted that the territorial dispute has to be settled by the six claimant countries, including China. A ruling on the Philippine case by the arbitral tribunal is seen to provide claimant countries a clearer direction in resolving the dispute.

Asked if China can be made to follow the tribunal’s ruling, Jose emphasized there is no international law enforcement agency that can compel China to abide by the order.
“There is no international police to enforce. We would be relying on the international community,” Jose said.

“We don’t expect the tribunal to come out immediately with a decision. It may take a couple of months,” he added.

In face of China threat, DND seeks to realign P6.5-B missile program back to internal security

From InterAksyon (Jul 7): In face of China threat, DND seeks to realign P6.5-B missile program back to internal security

Senior leaders of the Department of National Defense (DND) are lobbying for the approval of President Benigno Aquino III to realign the P6.5 billion Shore-Based Missile System (SBMS), an item identified for territorial defense to counter China’s threat, to internal security items for the Army, according to documents obtained by

The mobile SBMS is part of the Army’s “big-ticket items” and included in the 1st Horizon Project List in the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP) approved by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

But defense insiders said the realignment of the project did not pass through the Defense Capability Assessment and Planning Systems (DCAPS) and the Defense System of Management (DSOM), established defense frameworks as provided for by the Defense Acquisition System (DAS) as a policy.

What happens to ‘minimum credible defense’?

If not justified, they warned, the proponents of the realignment may face multiple legal charges and face jail terms.

They said the project is a government-to-government negotiated deal with the Israel Military Industries Ltd. that happened in at least two conferences with DND officials in December 2014.

They also stressed that the realignment of the SBMS negates the President’s promise for the AFP to have a “minimum credible defense” posture before he steps down form office in 2016.

The supplier was waiting for the awarding of the contract when Army chief Lieutenant General Hernando DCA Irriberi suddenly requested for a realignment of the missile system project.

On 5 March 2015, Gazmin, in a letter to Aquino, sought the approval of 28 RAFPMP projects with a total budget of P60,143,404,181, which includes the SBMS. This was after the President, on February 17, ordered the DND to review all the projects and to make sure these, particularly the SBMS, will not violate the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

But Irriberi wrote an undated letter in May to AFP chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. seeking his approval to re-align the SBMS.

“The Philippine Army presented the need to adjust the 2015 acquisition of Shore-Based Missile System…This is due to the rapid change in the internal security landscape brought about by the issues on the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the prevalent use of IED (improvised explosive device) of the threat groups that inflicted significant casualties on our troops. The emerging security situation is further driven by the continuous military operations against the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) and ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG),” Irriberi said in the letter.

The BBL, although still to be passed into law by Congress, has already started the decommissioning of both fighters and arms of the much bigger rebel organization, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Irriberi further explained that the Army as end-user saw the importance of the SBMS for the country’s territorial defense in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) but soldiers involved in internal security operations need more individual protective gears “in view of the of clear, present, and continuing occurrences of terrorist acts perpetrated by enemies of the state.”

Irriberi, who has less than a year remaining in the service as he is to retire April next year, said the Army is not letting go of the SBMS acquisition. He said it would not be realized under his term as Army chief but may be included in the 2nd Horizon (2018-2022) project list of the RAFPMP.

The replacements

In his new list, Irriberi wants the SBMS to be replaced with the following items:

832 pieces of Designated Marksman Rifles worth P149,760,000 at P180,000 each

32 Long Range Sniper Weapon Systems worth P17,280,000 at P540,000 each

11,000 Night Fighting Systems worth P2,750,000,000 at P250,000 each

39,889 Body Armors worth P1,356,226,000 at P34,000 each

81,449 Helmets worth P1,221,735,000 at P15,000 each

2 Lots of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) Equipment worth P103,402,234.50 with total unit cost of P51,701,117.25

150 Radio, 20W HF (Man Pack) worth P233,536,382.50 at P1,490,242.55 each

3,185 Radio, 2-5W VHF (Handheld) worth P678,060,383 at P212,891.80 each

In a letter to Gazmin, Catapang approved Irriberi’s request for the SBMS realignment on 18 May 2015.

On 10 June 2015, defense senior leaders led by Gazmin have approved the scrapping of the SBMS and moved to present and seek approval of Aquino during a meeting on June 15 at Malacanang.

Defense sources told that, at first, Aquino balked at the suggestion for the realignment of the SBMS.

“But in principle, PNoy has approved the realignment and ordered the senior leaders to justify why the Army has to procure the 832 rifles worth P149.7 million amid the procurement of up to 65,000 M4 rifles from Remington and other related rifles for the Army,” a source said.

Recalled for defective parts

The brand new rifles worth almost P2 billion have been recalled from use for defective parts such as the barrel and sights. The DND had already required the supplier, United States-based Remington Outdoor Company, for corrective measures to avoid termination of the contract.

Military officials who criticized the realignment but requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the matter said the realignment of the SBMS is “highly irregular” and “dubious” on intent.

“These officers and defense senior leaders behind the scrapping of the SBMS had just railroaded the DAS (Defense Acquisition System) particularly circumventing the DCAPS (Defense Capability Assessment and Planning Systems) and DSOM (Defense System of Management). They’re inviting trouble for themselves,” a senior officer said.

He also questioned Irriberi’s request for the purchase of new 39,889 body armors worth P1.3 billion when the DND-Bids and Awards Committee has already awarded the purchase of 44,080 units worth P1.6 billion (not P1.4 billion as earlier reported) from JV of Archidatex (Israel) and Collorado Shipping.

“Is Irriberi trying to garb every soldier of the 80,000-strong Army with body armor including his self and those working in offices?” another senior officer asked.

Unfortunately, the DND has yet to voluntarily give an update about the Achidatex and Collorado’s compliance on the delivery of the ballistic vests as their request for 120-day extension had already lapsed on June 29.

Based on the contract, which the DND-BAC awarded in 2013, the supplier was supposed to deliver the first tranche of 20,000 units on 26 February 2015, but it failed to do so.

It can be recalled the bidding was then marred with controversy after the DND-BAC disqualified Kolon Global Corporation of South Korea despite its lowest bidding price. Kolon filed protests, but to no avail.

And why does the Army have to buy another 11,000 Night Fighting Systems worth P2.7 billion when the DND-BAC had currently in a bidding process that only started last 31 March 2015 to buy 4,464 units of NFS worth P1.1 billion?

“For the sake of argument, not every elite soldier involved in special operations during night has to wear NFS. Up to three NFS-equipped soldiers for every platoon are enough, not all of them have to wear that,” a combat-tested member of the Scout Ranger revealed, also on condition of anonymity.

Militiaman dies, soldier hurt in clash

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Jul 6): Militiaman dies, soldier hurt in clash

A MILITIAMAN was killed while a soldier was wounded in a firefight preceded by an ambush staged by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Compostela Valley province, the military reported Monday.

The clash took place a day after another group of NPA rebels detonated two improvised bombs near the hangar of Dole banana plantation in the same province.

Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Bunagan, commander of the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion, said the clash ensued around 8:55 a.m. Sunday in the village of Aguinaldo, Laak.

Bunagan said his personnel were conducting security patrol following the reported presence of NPA rebels when they were ambushed, prompting the troops to return fire.

Bunagan did not release the identity of the slain militia as well as that of the injured soldier, who was taken to a military hospital.

He said the NPA rebels withdrew following a 30-minute firefight. Some of them were wounded based on information from civilians.

He said the troops recovered an AK-47 rifle and three backpacks abandoned by the rebels.

Lieutenant Colonel Eduardo Gubat, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman, said extortion was believed to be the motive in the two improvised bomb explosions around 11 p.m. Saturday near the hangar of Dole banana plantation.

Gubat said the explosion has slightly damaged an aircraft at the hangar in the village of Poblacion, Maragusan.

After Parago, Ka Oris is military’s next target

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Jul 6): After Parago, Ka Oris is military’s next target

AFTER killing top New People’s Army (NPA) commander Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as “Ka Parago,” the military’s next target is National Democratic Mindanao spokesperson George Madlos, believed to be hiding in Surigao del Sur.

Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao confirmed there is an ongoing operation to capture Madlos.

“I do not want to divulge specific military operations. I can say there is a military operation conducted against him,” Lactao said.

Madlos is the last ranking NPA leader following Pitao’s death in an encounter in Barangay Panalum, Paquibato District, in Davao City last June 28.

A team from the Army’s 6th Scout Ranger Company had tracked Pitao and a female NPA medic in Paquibato district.

The death of Pitao came as the military scored a series of successes against the NPA.

Last year, top Communist Party of the Philippines leader Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma, were caught in Alonguisan town in Cebu.

Lactao said the military carried out 113 major anti-insurgency operations and 18, 059 small-unit operations against the rebels in Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and the Caraga region.

He said operations resulted in the death of 24 rebels and the surrender of 212 high-powered firearms.

Noteworthy to mention is the surrender of a total 161 rebels in Agusan del Sur,” Lactao said.

Proposed National Defense budget for 2016 is P27.5 billion higher

From Ang Malaya (Jul 6): Proposed National Defense budget for 2016 is P27.5 billion higher

In the proposed 2016 national budget, the Department of National Defense (DND) is getting a PhP27.5 billion increase from its current budget of PhP144.5 billion. Giving the defense department with PhP172 billion 2016 budget. The proposed 2016 national budget was approved today by President Benigno Aquino III.

Education (DepEd), Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the DND are the departments with biggest pies in the proposed 2016 budget.

DPWH and Department of Health (DOH) got biggest increases with 32 percent and 25.2 percent, respectively.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has a proposed PhP156 billion 2015 budget from PhP141.4 billion this year.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will be having a smaller 2016 budget of PhP107.6 billion, its current budget is PhP108.2 billion.

The total budget for 2016 will be 15.2 percent higher than this year’s budget. National budget this year is PhP2.606 trillion while the proposed 2016 budget is PhP3.002 trillion.

The 2016 budget has a theme of “Paggugol na Matuwid: Saligan sa Tuloy-Tuloy na Pag-Unlad,” with principles (1) Spending within our means; (2) Investing in the right priorities; (3) Delivering measurable results; and (4) Empowering citizens through fiscal transparency, accountability and participation.

The proposed 2016 national budget is expected to be turned over to Congress a day after President Aquino’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA).

8ID Conducts 1st Semester Internal Peace and Security Operations (IPSO) Assessment

From Samar News (Jun 22): 8ID Conducts 1st Semester Internal Peace and Security Operations (IPSO) Assessment

8ID Internal Peace and Security Operations (IPSO) Assessment

8ID chief MajGen Jet Velarmino presiding over the 1st Semester Internal Peace and Security Operation Assessment participants at the 8ID Headquarters conference room on June 22, 2015

June 22, 2015

CAMP VICENTE LUKBAN, Catbalogan CityThe 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division conducted the 1st Semester IPSO Assessment for calendar year 2015 at Headquarters 8ID, Barangay Maulong, Catbalogan City, Samar on June 22, 2015.

The highlight of the 1st Semester IPSO assessment were the presentations made by Brigadier General Herminigildo C. Aquino, 803rd Brigade Commander; Col. Leoncio A. Cirunay Jr., 801st Brigade Commander; Col. Dinoh A. Dolina, 802nd Brigade Commander of their units’ accomplishments in line with 8ID’s four line of efforts in areas of Focused Military Operation, Stakeholder Engagement, Bayanihan Team Activity, and Legal Operation.

In addition, the Police Regional Office 8 presented to the command the current status of the Criminal Investigation Course (CIC) being undertaken by PNP and Army personnel. The CIC is the latest collaboration between the PNP and the Army in Eastern Visayas to enhance inter-operability in conducting joint operations. Earlier, joint Police and Army Sniper Training and Radio Operation Seminar were undertaken to strengthen the bond between the personnel of the Army and PNP.

The IPSO Assessment was attended by Maj. Gen. Jet B. Velarmino, Commander 8ID; Col. Demy T. Tejares, Assistant Division Commander; Col. Leoncio A. Cirunay Jr., 801st Brigade Commander; Col. Dinoh A. Dolina, 802nd Brigade Commander; Brigadier General Herminigildo C. Aquino, 803rd Brigade Commander; PSSupt Isaias Tonog, Chief of Regional Investigation Management Division; PSSupt Brigido B. Unay, Chief of Regional Intelligence Division, PRO8; PSSupt Elizar Egloso, Chief of Police Regional Community Relations Division; and the 8ID Division Staff and Battalion Commanders.

Commenting on the Command’s operational successes as well as lapses, Velarmino said that we must review the time tested combat special operating procedures (SOPs) and the tactics techniques and procedures (TTPs) down to the squad level, so that when employed, soldiers will always be on advantage over adversaries. He also stressed the importance of the conduct of combat rehearsals and drills to ensure success of combat operations.

In addition, he reiterated the importance of sustaining the operational tempo and aggressiveness in meeting the set target goals and timelines in declaring the remaining provinces in our AOR as Insurgency-Free areas.

Further, he said that whatever challenges ahead, the Command must continue to march towards winning the peace until all the stakeholders have joined our cause to achieve peace, progress and prosperity in the region.

8ID installs new commander for 87th Infantry Battalion

From the Samar News (Jun 24): 8ID installs new commander for 87th Infantry Battalion

87th Infantry Battalion change-of-command

(From L-R) LtCol Antonio Dulnuan Jr., MajGen Jet Velarmino and LtCol George Domingo during the Change of Command of 87th Infantry Battalion at Brgy. Polangi, Calbiga, Samar on June 23, 2015.

June 24, 2015

CAMP VICENTE LUKBAN, Catbalogan CityMajor General Jet B. Velarmino AFP, Commander 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division, Philippine Army presided the Change-of-Command of 87th Infantry (Hinirang) Battalion in a ceremony conducted at Headquarters 87IB at Brgy Polangi, Calbiga, Samar last June 23, 2015.

Lt. Col. Domingo succeeded Lt. Col. Antonio B. Dulnuan Jr. and took over the helm of 87IB that covers Calbiga, Jiabong, Basey Marabut, Motiong, Paranas, San Jose de Buan, Pinabacdao, Hinabangan, Sta Rita, Talalora, Villareal, Daram, Zumarraga and Catbalogan all of Samar Province. Dulnuan will assume a position at Headquarters 8ID.

Prior to taking the helm of 87th Infantry Battalion, Domingo was the Brigade Executive Officer of 801st Infantry Brigade of the 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army based at Brgy Fatima, Hinabangan, Samar.

Velarmino in his message acknowledged the contribution of Dulnuan to the peace and development that the province of Samar is now experiencing, at the same time, he challenged Domingo to continue the plans and programs initiated by his predecessor for the overall accomplishment of the Commands mission and the realization of an Insurgency Free Samar.

Rappler Talk: Making China follow the rule of law

From Rappler Talk (Jul 6): Rappler Talk: Making China follow the rule of law

[Video: Rappler Talk: Making China follow the rule of law
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio talks to Rappler about what's at stake for both the Philippines and China]

EXCLUSIVE: Philippine Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio talks to Rappler about the legal case against China in the South China Sea

Rappler talked to Antonio Carpio, Senior Associate Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, about how the Philippines will fare against China in the two countries' maritime dispute over the West Philippine Sea.

Starting Tuesday, July 7, until July 13, the Philippines will argue its historic case versus China before a UN Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague. The core issue to be resolved is: Does the Arbitral Tribunal have jurisdiction over the dispute?

It’s been more than 2 years since the Philippines brought China to an international arbitration court. The Philippines’ main claim is that the 9-dash line of China, which swallows a vast expanse of our Exclusive Economic Zone, violates international law as stipulated in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which China is a signatory.

Justice Carpio, who has extensively studied and lectured on the historical roots and legal dimensions of the South China Sea dispute, joins the Philippine contingent bound for The Hague.

"Once the jurisdiction is won by the Philippines, and the tribunal says it has jurisdiction, then we practically know the tribunal will strike down the 9-dash line," he told Rappler.

Watch Carpio's interview with Rappler's Maria Ressa here.

Rights group in 3-day campaign vs closure of Lumad schools

From InterAksyon (Jul 6): Rights group in 3-day campaign vs closure of Lumad schools

Internally displaced lumad villagers affected by the anti-insurgency campaign. Photographed by Erwin Mascarinas.

Advocates for the right to education of indigenous groups are on a three-day campaign in Metro Manila, to try to reverse the decision of officials to shut down dozens of community schools in the South on the basis of the military claim that those behind them are sympathetic to communist rebels.

At a press conference Monday, Save Our Schools Network (SOS Network) said that the three-day "trooping and dialogue" will take the Lumad champions to the Department of Education, and Senate and House education panel members.

"We will conduct a three-day long trooping and dialogue with different concerned institutions and government agencies to bring the issue of Department of Education-Armed Forces of the Philippines' collusion to shut down Lumad community schools in Mindanao. Administrators, teachers and principal of the Lumad schools will also join the activity to personally detail their plight," Save Out Schools Network said in a statement.

In recent years, SOS Network has exposed the negative impact of the government's counter-insurgency program on the lives of Lumad children in Mindanao, particularly the cases of military harassment and attacks on Lumad community schools.

"These schools have been subjected to intense military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), including harassment of teachers, students and community members. Schools are vandalized, destroyed, turned into military barracks/posts and maliciously tagged by the AFP as 'training ground' of armed group New People's Army (NPA)," SOS Network said.

"This concern had already been brought to the attention of Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro last year, but to no avail. Military attacks on schools continued with impunity," they added.

Apparently, the DepEd consented and even colluded with the military in attacking Lumad schools and depriving children of their right to education, the group said.

Recently, SOS Network claimed, the Department of Education Division of Davao del Norte attempted to shut down Lumad community schools.

In a letter dated May 12 addressed to DepEd Region XI Director Alberto Escobarte, DepEd Division of Davao del Norte Superintendent Josephine Fadul endorsed the closure of at least 24 schools of Salugpongan Ta'Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) and Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. Academy (MISFI Academy).

The schools have yet to open. Although the schools' Permit to Operate (PTO) have been issued by the department due to the pressure from various concerned institutions, military presence in the schools and communities continues to hinder schools operations, SOS Network said.

Rural Missionaries join SOS Network

Meanwhile, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) plans to join SOS Network for a 3-day trooping and dialogue with different government agencies starting July 6 in Metro Manila.

"First, it was direct armed intimidation and assaults on schools, children and teachers. Lately, military agents openly incited Lumads to burn their schools and even kill their teachers – very irresponsible actions coming no less from agents who should keep the peace and supposed gentlemen of the armed forces", according to Sr. Francis Añover, RMP National Coordinator.

"The Department of Education (Dep-Ed) entered the fray to enforce an exclusively stringent permit-to-operate requirements and conditionalities. This civilian government agency also threatened the take-over of indigenous schools, the operations of which would be passed on to military teachers and the para-military," Añover said.

The indigenous rights to free-prior-informed consent (FPIC) have also been highjacked, this time by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), she said.

Añover said that this civilian government agency have been instructed to issue certificates of FPIC – a requirement to the issuance of a permit-to-operate, only when indigenous communities have secured consent from no less than the military-controlled Provincial Peace and Order Council.

Not to be outdone, she added, "The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has threatened to withdraw cash assistance from its Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program to Lumad families who insist on enrolling their children in the schools, which they themselves built."

"All these are orchestrated actions to force the closure of Lumad schools. These are designed in the framework of the government anti-insurgency campaign, known as Oplan Bayanihan. The Aquino government's Tuwid-na-Daan has now employed bullying tactics and vented its ire on indigenous communities. It has resorted to militarize education and held hostage innocent and defenseless Lumad children. It has deprived the children of their future," Sr. Francis added.

The forcible closure of indigenous schools is not simply an issue of compliance to the Dep-Ed's permit-to-operate requirement. The orchestrated actions of civilian and military agencies of this government are attacks to the right to education, the rights of the child and indigenous peoples' rights, Añover said

"Education is a universal right, affirmed by the community of nations in various international laws and treaties. In 2000, under the Millennium Development Goals target, the Philippines had committed to bring half of its out-of-school-youth, to school by 2015," Añover said.

"With the closure of the schools, 3,000 Lumad children have been forced out of their education opportunity."

Groups bring ‘militarization’ of Lumad schools to CBCP’s attention

From MindaNews (Jul 6): Groups bring ‘militarization’ of Lumad schools to CBCP’s attention

After the Department of Education refused to heed calls for the pullout of government troops from schools for indigenous peoples in Southern Mindanao, Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and other groups have taken the issue to leaders of the influential Roman Catholic Church.

In a statement, Ilagan said intensified military operations have disrupted the lives of the Lumad and the education of their children.

She said she has voiced these concerns in a dialogue with Archbishop Romulo Valles, vice president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

“Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan and the Department of Education’s collusion with the military in its counterinsurgency operations have further deprived and impoverished indigenous communities. It is important for more sectors, specially the religious to express their support for the Lumads and their call to stop the attacks on Lumad schools,” she added.

The lawmaker cited in particular the closure of schools being operated by the Salugpungan ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center and Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI) Academy MISFI in Davao del Norte.

Ilagan and other progressive groups blamed the closure of the Lumad schools on pressure from the military which they said branded these institutions as “training ground” of the New People’s Army.

She said that while DepEd has started reissuing permits, “it has imposed very stringent requirements on the Lumad schools and has continuously refused to revoke DepEd Memorandum 221 which allows military presence in schools.”

From July 7-9, the Save Our Schools Network has scheduled dialogues with national DepEd officials, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the Commission on Human Rights.

1 soldier killed in 3 separate BIFF attacks in Maguindanao

From InterAksyon (Jul 6): 1 soldier killed in 3 separate BIFF attacks in Maguindanao

The military fires at BIFF strongholds. FILE PHOTO FROM AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

One soldier was killed as forces of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters staged three attacks in Maguindanao over the weekend.

The first attack was on the police headquarters of the town of Shariff Aguak 9 p.m. Saturday. The exchange of gunfire lasted about 15 minutes and no one was hurt, said 6th Infantry Division Captain Joanne Petinglay.

This was followed by an attack at the wet market of the town of Datu Hoffer Ampatuan 3:45 p.m. One soldier, identified by Petinglay as Corporal Saturnino Saragena Sr., was killed while he was doing his marketing.

The last attack was at 10 p.m. Sunday against the 1st Mechanized Brigade and Kadtatabanga Detachment, also in the town of Shariff Aguak. No one was injured in this incident.

The attacks have put the 6th ID in various parts of Maguindanao on alert.

Opinion: Is this the best way to run an organization?

Opinion piece in the "Reville" column of Ramon Farolan  in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 6): Is this the best way to run an organization?

ON FRIDAY the Armed Forces of the Philippines will once again go through its annual change of command ceremonies with President Aquino installing his last AFP chief. In five years in office, he has appointed five heads of our armed forces, ignoring recommendations from the representatives of our people both in the House and in the Senate, for an AFP chief that would serve for a fixed term of at least three years. In vetoing legislation that would give the AFP chief a decent term in office, he did not offer any explanation as to why such an important and critical post in government should be treated in such a cavalier manner, setting aside common sense and sound managerial practice in the appointment.

Just to inform our people of what has taken place in the armed forces, this is P-Noy’s record on AFP leadership.

This “revolving door” policy on AFP leadership, a policy actually refined by his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has been extremely detrimental to the organization not only in terms of efficiency and effectiveness but more so in terms of promoting and enhancing the professionalism of the officer corps.

A few years ago, Washington Sycip, founder of Sycip Gorres Velayo and Company (SGV and Co.), and the Asian Institute of Management, was the guest speaker at the annual membership meeting of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association. He started his speech with a brief statement about his short military career, after which he cautioned, “You may regret having me with you today.” He then proceeded to provide his impressions on one of the issues affecting the AFP: “We who are in the private sector wonder about the rapid changes in the military leadership. In the private sector, we will not have CEOs with one or two-year terms if we want reforms or proper planning for the future.

Is it possible to carry out reforms in an organization as large as the armed forces when there is such a rapid change in the leadership?”


What is the record of this short-term leadership now existing in the Armed Forces?

In July 2007, eight years ago, 14 Marines were ambushed and killed at Al-Barka, Basilan, while returning from a search and rescue mission aimed at recovering an Italian Catholic missionary, Fr. Giancarlo Bossi. Some were beheaded while others showed signs of mutilation.

The usual so-called offensive operations were launched but after a few weeks, they yielded nothing.

In October 2011, 19 Special Forces troopers were massacred by Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Abu Sayyaf elements, also at Al-Barka, Basilan. They suffered the same fate as the Marines.

The criminal elements responsible for both massacres remain at large. Unlike the victims of the recent Mamasapano massacre, nothing much has been heard as far as benefits for our soldiers who perished in Basilan.

In October last year, two German hostages being held by the Abu Sayyaf were released after payment of ransom.

The Abu Sayyaf claimed that the ransom amounted to P250 million.

The AFP described the so-called payoff as “propaganda,” claiming that increased pressure on the kidnappers by military and police units led to their release. Earlier the AFP had dispatched five additional battalions and K-9 (dog) units to Sulu. These deployments do not mean anything to the Abu Sayyaf.

Why do we see all this massive deployment of troops only when foreigners are taken hostage? It is because we are under pressure from foreign governments. They urge us to do something and we oblige by sending more troops and dogs. We care less when our own citizens are the victims.

Only recently two Coast Guard enlisted men were taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf elements. What actions have been taken to secure their release, or is there scant interest in rescuing them since they are ordinary Filipinos?

Until the government shows that we mean business, it will be business as usual for the Abu Sayyaf. For one thing, the “revolving door” policy of the AFP will see the replacement of key officers who will have warmed their seats just long enough to prepare for retirement.

As I mentioned in my last column, there are three candidates for AFP chief of staff:
  • Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado—commanding general, Philippine Air Force
  • Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri—commanding general, Philippine Army
  • Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya—chief, Southern Luzon Command
Delgado and Iriberri are both retiring early next year, while Visaya stays in the service up to December 2016. Iriberri has indicated a preference to remain at his post as Army chief. That leaves Delgado and Visaya.

If P-Noy wants an old reliable going back to PSG (Presidential Security Group) days, Delgado has an edge and he could be extended a few months to cover the election period up to the next presidency. Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Arroyo both had extendee AFP chiefs. In the case of Ramos, it was Gen. Arturo Enrile while Arroyo had Gen. Hermogenes Esperon.

General Visaya provides a bridge to the incoming administration but his continued stay would depend on the new commander in chief. Readers may recall that when P-Noy assumed the presidency in 2010, he quickly replaced the incumbent AFP chief, Gen. Delfin Bangit, who still had a few months of service left.

* * *

Gov't forces hunt down BIFF hitmen in murder of unarmed soldier

From the Philippine News Agency  (Jul 6): Gov't forces hunt down BIFF hitmen in murder of unarmed soldier

Police and military and authorities here have launched manhunt against suspected hitmen of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who liquidated anew an off duty soldier in Datu Hofer town in Maguindanao Sunday.

Capt. Joan Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said covert operations are still on going to bring the suspects before the bar of justice.

Two elements of the BIFF executed Sunday afternoon an off duty soldier at past 4 p.m. in Datu Hofer, Maguindanao,

It was the fifth attack against government forces in Maguindanao.

The Army spokesperson refused to give details of the operation but stressed it was meant to "put a stop" to the atrocities carried out by BIFF in Maguindanao's second district.

Petinglay identified the latest victim of BIFF "hit and run" tactics as Corporal Saturnino Saragena of the Army’s 38th Infantry Battalion.

Saragena, according to Petinglay, went to the market place unarmed and in civilian clothes to buy his group’s dinner when attacked by gunmen armed with 9mm pistols.

With the series of attacks against government forces in Maguindanao, Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th ID chief, directed field commanders to institute preventive measures, like prohibiting soldiers from roaming or travelling alone.

“Our division commander has directed field commanders to prevent soldiers from travelling or doing marketing chores in high risk areas alone and unarmed," she said.

Abu Misri Mama, speaking for the BIFF, was quick to admit his group was behind the attack, saying “government forces are our enemies.”

Saragena was declared dead on arrival at Maguindanao provincial hospital.

He was a cadre-in-charge of a para-military detachment in Datu Hofer, a known stronghold of BIFF.

A week ago, BIFF also liquidated two unarmed soldiers working for the rehabilitation of a school in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao. They were on board a motorbike carrying carpentry tools when ambushed by BIFF.

Before that, suspected BIFF also killed a member of the Army mechanized battalion out on marketing in Barangay Magaslong, Datu Piang, Maguindanao. His companions were wounded in the mid-afternoon attack.

Two weeks ago, BIFF was blamed in the ambush of two men, one of whom was a police officer, who were just passing by in Datu Salibo town in Maguindanao on board a Toyota van.

In June, BIFF bandits killed Police Officer 1 Habib Narciso, and wounded another, PO1 Abdullah Hashim in Datu Saudi municipality. The two were on board together on a motorbike when shot by armed men riding on a separate motorbike.

NPA surrenders in Davao Occidental town

From the Philippine News Agency  (Jul 6): NPA surrenders in Davao Occidental town

Four members of the New People’s Army (NPA) from Front 71 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) voluntarily surrendered on Saturday to the Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion (IB) in Barangay Little Baguio, here.

The former rebels were identified as alias Richard, 20 years old; alias Joker, 23 years old; alias Ben, 28 years old; and alias Pikot, 21 years old. The group also turned-over one hand grenade to the Army troops.

The rebels belonging to the B’laan tribe decided to surrender because of the hardship and starvation following relentless law enforcement and combat operations being conducted by 73rd IB in their area, forcing them to move frantically all the time.

For the 73rdIB alone, a total of 41 NPA rebels have already surrendered since January this year.

“With this continuous influx of rebel surrenderee, we expect the complete decimation of NPA’s Front-71 and the weakening of other Fronts of Far South Mindanao Regional Committee,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ronnie Babac, Commander of 73rd IB.

Meanwhile, Major General Eduardo M Año, Commander of the 10th Infantry Agila Division, lauded the cooperation of local officials and other stakeholders in propagating the call for the NPA bandits to surrender.

“We are calling on our deceived brothers who are still with the NPA to grab the opportunity of living a peaceful life before it’s too late. The best option for them is to abandon the futile armed struggle,” Año said.

The recent development raises the number to a total of 134 NPA rebels who yielded to different units of 10th Infantry Agila Division since January this year.

The documentation of the said surrenderees is underway for them to be enrolled in the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) as part of the government’s effort to reintegrate them into the mainstream society.

4 more NPA rebels surrender in Davao Occidental

From the Philippine News Agency  (Jul 6): 4 more NPA rebels surrender in Davao Occidental

Four more New People's Army (NPA) rebels voluntarily surrendered to troopers of the 73rd Infantry Battalion at Barangay Little Baguio, Malita town, Davao Occidental over the weekend.

Reports forwarded by 1st Lt. Vergel Alcambra, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, Monday said the surrendered rebels are from the NPA's Front-71.

The four, those names were withheld for security reasons, also turned over a hand grenade to government forces.

The surrender of the four last July 4 was facilitated by barangay officials in the area.

This brought to 134 the number of rebels who voluntarily handed themselves to the 10th Infantry Division.

Upon interrogation, the four said that they all members of the B’laan Tribe.

The four said that the reasons for their surrender are that they are now tired of the incessant fighting and its attendant hardships like starvation and being separated from their loved ones.

“With this continuous influx of rebel surrenderees, we expect the complete decimation of NPA’s Front-71 and the weakening of other Fronts of Far South Mindanao Regional Committee,” 73rd Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Ronnie Babac said.

Meanwhile, Major Gen. Eduardo M. Año, 10th Infantry Division commander, lauded the cooperation of local officials and other stakeholders in propagating the call for the NPAs to surrender.

“We are calling on our deceived brothers who are still with the NPA to grab the opportunity of living a peaceful life before it’s too late. The best option for them is to abandon the futile armed struggle,” he said.

The documentation of the surrenderees is underway for them to be enrolled in the Comprehensive Local Integration Program as part of the government’s effort to reintegrate them into the mainstream society.

CAFGU killed, trooper hurt in NPA ambush in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine News Agency  (Jul 6): CAFGU killed, trooper hurt in NPA ambush in Compostela Valley

A Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) militiaman was killed while a trooper of the 60th Infantry Battalion was wounded in an ambush by New People's Army (NPA) fighters in Barangay Laak, Compostela Valley Sunday morning.

Government security forces were conducting patrols when fired upon by the rebel group at 8:55 a.m.

Killed in the initial burst of gunfire was the militiaman, who was not identified yet pending notification of his next-of-kin.

Capt. Alberto Caber, Eastern Mindanao Command public affairs office chief, said return fire from the soldiers scattered the rebels who retreated 30 minutes later, leaving behind an AK-47 automatic rifle and three backpacks.

The wounded soldier was immediately brought to Tagum Doctor’s Hospital while the cadaver of the slain CAFGU to Escreba Funeral Homes, Maniki, Kapalong, Davao Del Norte.

Residents reported seeing many wounded rebels escaping.

60th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Roberto Bunagan said that the security patrol was aimed at protecting the villagers from the bandits’ attack and extortion activities.

“Aside from NPA’s extortion activities, they also want to instill fear among the villagers as part of their tactics,” he added.

Military to continue with development projects while eliminating the insurgency problem --AFP spokesman

From the Philippine News Agency  (Jul 6): Military to continue with development projects while eliminating the insurgency problem --AFP spokesman

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will continue providing development projects to isolated communities in the countryside even as it conducts operations aimed at eliminating the remaining pockets of New People's Army (NPA) resistance.

"The AFP continues its fight against insurgency and its causes with the implementation of various projects in the countryside which seek to uplift the quality of life of residents there while actively working against the New People’s Army," AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said on Monday.

Bringing of development projects to countryside communities infested with NPAs is part of its "Bayanihan" strategy which seeks to deny the rebels a mass base.

A total of 340 NPA rebels were neutralized by the AFP during the first quarter of 2015 in the different provinces while at least 166 firearms were recovered in various operations.

Based on the 2014 AFP yearend report, there were only about 3,200 armed NPA members remaining.

Fifty-eight 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 NPA rebels in courts while 212 warrants of arrest were already released.

Cabunoc said the AFP supported the conduct of law enforcement operations against notorious NPA members, including Adelberto Silva and Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.

He added that the suspects in the Inopacan massacre, including Satur Ocampo, Vicente Ladlad, Randal Echaniz, Rafael Baylosis and several others were arraigned in court last May 7.

The AFP also recorded the death of notorious NPA leaders like Leoncio Pitao, aka “Kumander Parago” who was killed in an encounter with 6th Scout Ranger Company, 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion in Davao City last June 30.

Operations of PN's AW-109E unaffected by civilian crash

From the Philippine News Agency  (Jul 6): Operations of PN's AW-109E unaffected by civilian crash

The Philippine Navy (PN) on Monday announced that Sunday's crash of a civilian-owned AugustaWestland helicopter will in no way affect the operations of AW-109E "Power" helicopters.

This was revealed by PN public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna Monday.

"Our AW-109s are configured for military use and its configuration is very different to the civilian model which crashed," he added.

Sunday's air mishap which transpired in Cuenca town, Batangas killed the pilot and Victoria Court founder Archie King while injuring six others.

And based on initial investigations, it appeared that inclement weather conditions played a heavy role in the accident, Lincuna said.

The PN's three AW-109Es are currently being used for maritime patrols in connection with the two Gregorio Del Pilar frigates, internal security operations along with rescue-at-sea missions.

He added that this missions will continue despite Sunday's accident.

Meanwhile, PN spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo seconded Lincuna's claim and stressed the operations their AW-109Es would not be adversely affected

"Primarily because there was no information yet as to the cause of the crash. For its part, PN adheres to a high degree of compliance to the aircraft's maintenance regimen and in the pilots' training requirements," he added.

Military units deployed for possible 'Egay' after effects

From the Philippine News Agency  (Jul 6): Military units deployed for possible 'Egay' after effects

Concerned field units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been ordered to monitor and help other government agencies in mitigating the possible after effects of Tropical Storm "Egay".

The order came from AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang.

Units deployed were the Tarlac City-based Northern Luzon Command and Lucena City-headquartered Southern Luzon Command and Joint Task Force-National Capital Region.

These military units were tasked for possible humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

Sub-units activated by the Northern Luzon Command include the Nueva Ecija-based 7th Infantry Division, Isabela-headquartered 5th Infantry Division and 1st Air Division which is based in Clark Air Force Base, Pampanga and Naval Forces Northern Luzon which is based in La Union.

The activation was done as "Egay" passed over parts of Northern and Central Luzon.

While units of the Southern Luzon Command and the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region are also on stand-by.

Navy grateful for government attention to modernization

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 6): Navy grateful for government attention to modernization

With its equipment and facilities now being modernized, the Philippine Navy (PN) expressed its thanks to Aquino administration for its continuing support to its modernization programs.

"(President Aquino) is fully supportive of the entire AFP (Modernization). Of course the Navy got a good share (of) his support to our modest modernization with (the acquisition) mix of capital ships such as frigates, strategic sealift vessels (SSVs), multi-purpose assault craft, amphibious assault vehicles, upgrades of ships' systems and Philippine Marine Corps equipment and bases," Millan said in a message to the PNA.

He added that these tools would allow the PN to carry out its functions effectively.

Recently, the first SSV had its steel-cutting ceremony last Jan. 22 and is slated for delivery this coming May 2016.

While the second SSV had its steel-cutting last June 6 and is scheduled for delivery on May 2017.

Both ships are being constructed by PT PAL (Persero), an Indonesian shipbuilder, at its Surabaya facility.

"The two SSVs will be a big boost to our transport capability once they will be phased-in/commissioned to our inventory. The SSVs will address our gaps on troop transport support for internal security and they could also improve our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities as this vessels are multi-role platforms," Millan earlier stated.

The Philippines has a two-SSV order with Persero for Php3.87 billion, which is financed from the AFP Modernization Fund.

In December 2013, the PN undertook delivery of its first three AgustaWestland AW-109E "Power" helicopters.

The project, which was worth Php1.33 billion, includes two armed choppers which was delivered this January and now undergoing technical inspection and assessment before being commissioned for fleet service.

"The AW-109Es will be also of great contribution to search-and-rescue operations during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, and of course to the morale of our sailors and marines," the PN earlier said.