Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fishermen remove Chinese-marked buoys off Zambales

From Rappler (Jul 25): Fishermen remove Chinese-marked buoys off Zambales

[Video:  EXCLUSIVE: Fishermen remove Chinese-marked buoys off Zambales
RAPPLER EXCLUSIVE: Zambales fishermen discovered three lengthy containment floating booms about six miles from the disputed Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal

Zambales fishermen find these buoys as China asserts de facto control over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) through island-building

CHINESE-MARKED BUOYS. Fishermen in Zambales remove these markers seen to assert China's claim over the West Philippine Sea. Screen grab from Rappler video

CHINESE-MARKED BUOYS. Fishermen in Zambales remove these markers seen to assert China's claim over the West Philippine Sea. Screen grab from Rappler video

ZAMBALES, Philippines – Fishermen here discovered 3 lengthy floating containment booms, or buoys, located in 3 different barangays about 6 miles from the disputed Bajo de Masinloc (Scrarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Nine fishermen found the orange-colored floating booms in the sea off Zambales.
They towed the booms toward the shore and brought them to 3 barangays – Sitio Lanao, San Agustin, and Sto Rosario.
The fishermen said the booms' markings appear to indicate ownership by China.
They seem to have been placed there to set the boundary for fishermen in Zambales. These will eventually limit the areas where they can go for fishing and harvesting other marine resources, the primary sources of livelihood for these Zambales fisherfolk.
The Zambales fishermen found these buoys as China asserts de facto control over the West Philippine Sea.
In other parts of the disputed waters, China is building artificial islands that have fueled concern in the region. (READ: IN PHOTOS: China's creeping expansion)
The Philippines, on the other hand, is pursuing a historic arbitration case that seeks a long-term solution to the sea dispute. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Philippines challenges China in The Hague)

What is future of China-PH relations? 21st Century will be Pacific Century (Part 1 of 4)

From InterAksyon (Jul 25): What is future of China-PH relations? 21st Century will be Pacific Century (Part 1 of 4) by Cesar Polvorosa Jr.



(Editor’s note: In view of the presentations made by the Philippines before the UN arbitral tribunal on the country’s suit against China regarding the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute, key aspects of China’s history can help produce insights into the dynamics of the rising superpower’s possible future relations with its neighbors, specifically the Philippines. Author Cesar Polvorosa Jr. is a business school professor of economics, world geography, and international business management in Canada. He is also a published writer in economics, business, and literature.)

"The Mediterranean is the ocean of the past, the Atlantic, the ocean of the present, and the Pacific, the ocean of the future." - John Jay, U.S. Secretary of State, 1889

The economic transformation of China is simply stupendous. During the past quarter century, China’s GDP growth averaged a sizzling 9% per annum. From the late 1970s to 2010, the size of the Chinese economy grew more than five times which altered the lives of majority of its 1.4 billion people - almost a fifth of humanity in a blink of an eye in historical terms. From an underdeveloped country China’s GDP per capita income has reached $12,900 as of 2014 (PPP) (CIA World Factbook). China is now the number one trading country in the world.

The downside of heady economic growth though had been severe pollution levels and worsening income inequality - ironic in a country that prided itself on socialist egalitarianism.  

The magnitude of such performance has some staggering implications. Thus, as an example consider the following: In 2014, the Chinese economy grew by 9.4% to reach $10.36 trillion (GDP current prices) (IMF) compared to the $9.47 trillion of the previous year. The increment of $890 billion (10.36 less 9.47 in trillions) is the size of the Netherlands economy or an addition of three Philippine-sized economies in just one year of growth.

Such profound developments in China herald the emergence of the “Pacific Century” or the almost universal expectation that the East Asian economies principally China will dominate the world of the 21st century. Thus, the 20th century was the “American Century” when the US was the superpower (and still is) while the 19th century was referred to as the “British Century” when Britain ruled a far-flung overseas empire. Each time, the country with the world’s biggest economy became preeminent in global affairs - in business, military, culture, diplomacy, and political spheres. Thus, English became the lingua franca of the world because of the legacy of empire of the British and spread in turn by the Americans. Anglo-Americans heavily influenced the world’s production of knowledge.

The US, which spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined, has often been assertive militarily to advance its national interests as defined by its leaders - e.g. Afghanistan and Iraq. Britain cut a bloody swath to create a vast overseas empire especially in South Asia and Africa.
Thus, as China is poised to grab the mantle of economic leadership from the US, the issue is how will China be as a superpower? By purchasing power parity (PPP) calculations of the IMF, World Bank and CIA, China is already the biggest economy in the world. So what happens as China displaces the US as the world’s number one economy?

Having the biggest economy translates into possessing huge resources to build up the armed forces. How will China behave as a superpower when in 2035 it is expected that its defense expenditures will exceed the United States? (estimate of R.S., Kalha, Institute for Defense Study and Analysis comment 17 Jan. 2015). What will be its implications on the world but especially on the Philippines with which it is embroiled in a territorial dispute?

The history of the country is always a guide to its possible future. In the case of China it can offer us a glimpse of its superpower future by giving us insights into the dynamics of its past glories, struggles, priorities, power shifts, and major endeavors.

The great divergence and convergence

This emergence of China (including India) as a superpower in the 21st century comprises the compelling global narrative of the end of the existing World Order and the coming of a new one. Famed British historian Niall Ferguson (6 Killer Apps) referred to the time when the Europeans developed way ahead of the rest of the world starting around the 1500s as the “Great Divergence.” Now, the rest of the world particularly China and India are catching up with the West in a new “Great Convergence.”

In fact, for much of the past millennia China had been paramount in global affairs far longer than the West. While Egypt and Mesopotamia can claim to be the oldest civilizations, China is arguably the longest continuous civilization. Thus, from this perspective, China in the early 21st century is only reverting to its former hegemony.

Such a wealth of historical experience should confer on China the collective wisdom of the Ages, the virtues of good governance, maturity, and grace in its relationship with other neighboring countries. What does the historical and contemporary evidence suggest?

In its long and rich history, China produced exemplary philosophers who played vital roles in guiding both the morality and pragmatism of individual and state behavior. The most prominent of these was Confucius who emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, and sincerity. For Confucius, what characterized superior rulership was the possession of de or “virtue” which was conceived of as a kind of moral power that allows one to win a following without recourse to physical force (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Confucianism had been so influential in East Asia in general that the region is sometimes referred to as the “Confucian Crescent” (e.g. as discussed in The East Asia Edge by Hofheinz and Calder).

Read Part 2 of 4, ‘Shock & Awe in the 15th Century: China's 27,000 sailors, 300 ships, 7 voyages’, on Tuesday, July 27.

Read Part 3 of 4, ‘China following US capitalist footsteps and its various implications’, on Friday, July 31.

Read Part 4 of 4, ‘Internal conflicts that pull Chinese actions in many directions’, on Monday, August 3.

Former NPA couple weds

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul  24): Former NPA couple weds

MALAPATAN, Sarangani, July 24 (PIA)--- One month after surrendering to government authorities, two former NPA members took their vows on Saturday (July 18) as husband and wife in a “traditional tribal wedding ceremony” inside a military camp here.

Fulong Rafael Lantingan, the Indigenous People’s mandatory representative in Malapatan solemnized the wedding at 10 a.m at Headquarters Alpha Company, 73IB, barangay Poblacion, Malapatan, Sarangani.

The newlyweds were former NPA couple Shirley Katot and Federico Bacali, both under Platoon 1, Guerilla Front 71 operating in Malapatan.

The couple began their relationship while in the movement and was even married by their leaders under “party rules.”

But based on Philippine laws, the “wedding is not binding" which was one of the reasons the pair decided to take their vows.

The wedding was witnessed by Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon, 1002nd Brigade Commander Col. Ronald Villanueva, 73rd Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Ronnie Babac, DILG-Sarangani Provincial Director Flor Limpin and town’s Mayor Alfonso Singcoy who all served as godparents to the couple.

 “The wedding of the NPA couple in a tribal wedding ceremony only shows the government’s sincerity in helping the former rebels to return to the mainstream society,” Lt. Col. Babac said.

According to him, the government is duty-bound to provide assistance to any NPA members “once they decide to return to their families and live a normal life that is free from fear and uncertainties.”

“It is but appropriate for the government to take an extra mile in showing to the victims of NPAs’ deception that there is a government that is willing to help them,” Babac added, saying “this is aside from the livelihood assistance that they can get under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program.”

China hits out at US remark on sea spat

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 26): China hits out at US remark on sea spat

THE United States is trying to influence a United Nations arbitration tribunal hearing the Philippines’ complaint against China over maritime disputes in the South China Sea, according to the state-owned Xinhua news agency.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang scored the remark made by IS assistant state secretary Daniel Russell who said arbitration is the only practical means left for China and the Philippines to solve competing claims in the South China Sea, Xinhua reported.

Lu also touched upon issues concerning entitlement of maritime features and jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal, the report added.

PH-CHINA TIES.  An employee of the Philippine Postal Corporation 
holds a copy of newly - released commemorative stamps  marking
  the   40th anniversary of the Philippines-China diplomatic relations.
But China’s position of neither accepting nor participating in the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague remains unchanged and the U.S. should fulfill its pledge not to take sides on the South China Sea issue on Friday and reaffirmed that the U.S. is not a party concerned.

Lu said Russell’s comment is attempting to push forward the Philippines’ unilateral move on arbitration of the South China Sea issue.

The US acts like an “arbitrator outside the tribunal”, designating the direction for the arbitral tribunal established at the request of the Philippines, Lu said.

This is inconsistent with the stance the U.S. claims to uphold on the South China Sea issue, Lu said, and he also urged the U.S. not to undermine regional peace and stability.

On Jan. 22, 2013, the Philippines unilaterally initiated compulsory arbitration proceedings with respect to the relevant issues between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.

Since then, the Philippines has “obstinately” pushed for the above-mentioned arbitration proceedings despite repeated objections of China, the Xinhua report said.

According to Lu, in 2006, the Chinese government made a declaration in pursuance of Article 298 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, excluding disputes regarding such matters as those related to maritime delimitation and historic titles from the compulsory dispute settlement procedures including arbitration.

That is a proper practice of exercising the rights to which China is entitled under the international law as a state party to the UNCLOS, Lu said.

According to Lu, the Philippines’ initiation of the arbitration ignored China’s legitimate rights under such international laws as the UNCLOS, and breached commitments made by the Philippines not to unilaterally seek arbitration.

Lu said China’s stance is based on international law and has been clearly stated in the position paper published by the Foreign Ministry in December last year in response to the arbitration.

The Chinese government published a position paper on Dec. 7, 2014, to elaborate on the legal basis for China’s position on the arbitration proceedings. It says that the Arbitral Tribunal manifestly has no jurisdiction in this case.

According to the position paper, China and the Philippines have agreed, through bilateral instruments and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to settle their relevant disputes through negotiation.

It says by unilaterally initiating the present arbitration, the Philippines has violated its obligation under international law.

MILF hopes PNoy calls for passage of Bangsamoro Law in final SONA

From GMA News (Jul 26): MILF hopes PNoy calls for passage of Bangsamoro Law in final SONA

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front hopes President Benigno Aquino III will push for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law during his final State of the Nation Address on Monday, its chairman said Saturday.

At a forum with Mindanao and Manila journalists at Camp Darapanan, MILF Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim said the group expects the president to reiterate his support for the bill, which will implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in 2014.

Murad also hopes the president would use the opportunity "to enlighten those who are still opposing," and that Congress will pass an "undiluted" BBL that complies with the CAB and its annexes.

"What is ideal is that BBL will be passed as it is now," he said. "We do not want to fail our people."

Murad clarified that the BBL is not meant just for the MILF but for the entire Bangsamoro people.

He added it is now the responsibility of the Philippine government to deliver on the agreements reached in the CAB.

Murad said, however, that even if the BBL is not passed before the end of the Aquino administration "we will continue to demand that the CAB and its annexes be implemented.

"Among those agreements are the delineation of powers that the proposed Bangsamoro political entity will have, which powers the national government will keep, and which will be shared.

He said that any president who will replace Aquino will have to solve the "Bangsamoro question", which can only be solved through the peace process.

Passage of the BBL was delayed after the January 25 clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, where more than 60 people died in a law enforcement operation against international terrorists hiding in a remote part of the distant town.

Murad admitted that the clash had “a very big impact on the ongoing peace process."

However, the CAB, a product of 17 years of negotiations, cannot be renegotiated.

"We will not allow violations [of the CAB], but we may allow improvements to provisions not directly coming from the agreement," he said in reference to House and Senate revisions to the BBL.


The BBL has drawn criticism for provisions that some lawmakers and legal experts say are unconstitutional, including those that supposedly create a separate police force and create counterparts of Constitutional bodies.

Supporters of the bill, including chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer countered that the BBL will not create a separate police force and the proposed bodies will not replace the Constitutional commissions.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, OMI, who supports the peace process and the passage of the BBL, said Friday that the bill should "go without [the provisions] being deleted to the Supreme Court." The SC can remove unconstitutional provisions.

However, he admitted that the SC will not be able to insert otherwise good provisions that Congress removes.

Bangsamoro political partyMurad said that although the MILF has formed the United Bangsamoro Justice Party in preparation for elections for the Bangsamoro government in 2016, it will not participate in the polls unless the BBL is passed.

He said, however, that non-organic members of the UBJP -- supporters of the Bangsamoro struggle who are not members of the MILF -- might yet join the elections givent that the MILF Central Committee has yet to decide on the matter.

However, if the BBL is passed and elections for the Bangsamoro regional government are held, the party will only contest positions in that government.

Local government positions "will complicate" the situation and the party would rather leave local politics to politicians already involved.

Chinese navy plays down South China Sea exercises - Xinhua

Posted to ABS-CBN (Jul 26): Chinese navy plays down South China Sea exercises - Xinhua

The Chinese navy played down recent military drills in the South China Sea and criticized other countries for ''illegally'' occupying islands in the area, the official Xinhua news service reported on Saturday.

China has launched a naval drill in waters to the east of Hainan island, a largely unpopulated region of reefs and shoals in which a number of countries maintain contradictory and overlapping territorial claims.

"Holding sea drills is a common practice for navies with various countries. The annual drill by the Chinese navy aims to test the troops' real combat abilities, boost their maneuvrability, search and rescue power and the abilities to fulfill diversified military missions," Xinhua quoted Chinese navy spokesperson Liang Yang saying.

China's recent assertiveness in the South China Sea has increased military and diplomatic tensions between it and rival claimants including Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

China's naval stance also clashes with the air and sea movements of units of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which aims to protect sea lanes critical to U.S. trade with Southeast Asia and the oil-rich Middle East
Beijing has been building up uninhabited reefs in the area in recent months, constructing airports, defenses systems and even civilian administrations on rocks with no access to fresh water but seen as bolstering legal arguments around its territorial claims by converting uninhabitable reef into defended, populated Chinese islands.

The United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea says countries can't claim sovereignty over land masses submerged by tides or previously submerged but which have been raised above high tide levels by construction.

China has also approved guidelines that would make civilian vessels quickly convertible for military use, according to state media. Many of China's confrontations with neighbors have been conducted with a mixture of military and civilian vessels, including fishing boats.

Other claimants have also built facilities on reefs, they claim.

"Some neighboring countries have long been illegally occupying some of the islands, building facilities there such as airports and even deploying heavy offensive weapons," Liang said.

Zambo bomb blast fatality a witness of previous bombing incident

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25): Zambo bomb blast fatality a witness of previous bombing incident

A top police official disclosed that the lone fatality in Thursday night’s bomb explosion was the main target of the bombing suspects.

Sr. Supt. Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City police director, made this revelation Saturday citing the lone fatality, who is a massage therapist, is a witness of the case they filed against the suspects behind a previous bombing incident here.

The fatality, Geraldine Miguel, was killed while 10 others were wounded when a bomb exploded around 9:47 p.m. Thursday at the Manly KTV bar and massage parlor at the junction of San Jose road and Melanio Calixto street in Barangay Zone II, this city.

Miguel expired while under medical treatment at the hospital.

Casimiro said Miguel was one of the witnesses in the Nov. 9, 2014 bombing of Deluxe massage parlor and videoke bar along Tomas Claudio Street downtown.

The Nov. 9 bomb explosion injured a policeman assigned with the explosive ordnance demolition (EOD) and “Diego,” the bomb-sniffing dog.

Casimiro said the bomb that exploded Thursday night was cellular phone-triggered ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO) explosive.

The bomb explosion have destroyed the Manly KTV bar and massage parlor.

Casimiro said that investigation continues in a bid to establish the identities of the suspects on Thursday night.

Ad interim promotions of Army chief, 2 others given green light

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25): Ad interim promotions of Army chief, 2 others given green light

The Philippine Army on Saturday announced that President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved the ad interim promotions of PA commander Major Gen. Eduardo M. Año and two other officers effective July 23.

"The President has approved effective 23 July 2015 the Ad interim promotion to the next higher grade of: Major Gen. Eduardo M. Año, Commanding General of the Philippine Army; Brig. Gen. Rolando Picar, Chief, Armed Forces of the Philippines Resource Management Center and Col. Leoncio A. Curunay, Jr., Brigade Commander, 801st Brigade, 8th Infantry Division," PA spokesperson Major Enrico Gil Ileto said.

By this order, Año can now used the rank of lieutenant general with Picar getting two-star rank or major general and Leoncio as brigadier general, pending their confirmation from the Commission on Appointments.

Año was appointed as PA chief last July 15.

Año replaces Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri who was appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff last July 10.

He is now the 57th PA commanding general.

Año is a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983.

The former took over the helm of the 10th Infantry Division last July.

Prior that, he was the head of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

MILF Is a worthy peace partner to government - AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25): MILF Is a worthy peace partner to government - AFP

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) remains a worthy and faithful peace partner of the government, said Armed Forces of the Philippines Peace Press Office Chief (AFP PPO), Brigadier-General Buenaventura C. Pascual.

He believed the MILF in general had been a consistent partner in the current administration's quest to restore peace in the Mindanao area of southern Philippines.

"While there may be a few alleged abuses by some of their ground commanders, overall their leadership is able to keep everyone in line," he said in a statement Saturday.

The statement from the Peace Process Media Bureau in Manila was emailed to Bernama here, Saturday.

Pascual said the ceasefire between the government and MILF which was restored just hours after the unfortunate firefight in Mamasapano last January 25 speaks volume on the desire of both parties to pursue the course of peace.

Prior to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014, the ceasefire between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF held a record of zero skirmishes for more than three years, since 2012.

The only recorded breakdown was during the unexpected encounter between the police commandos of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force and MILF fighters in Mamasapano, according to the statement.

Pascual said while the encounter left more than 60 Filipinos dead, the ceasefire breakdown did not escalate into a full-blown armed conflict because of the Bangsamoro peace process' built-in safeguards that were immediately activated.

"The latest data from independent polling company Social Weather Stations showed that Filipinos still support the peace process with the MILF.

"We are for peace in the AFP, and I'm sure the PNP will also say the same. We are at the frontlines of armed conflicts and even though that is part of our job, we are also normal, Filipino people with families to go home to. I think no one from the security sector, even from the MILF, wants war anymore," he added.

Meanwhile Pascual said on June 16, 145 MILF fighters were decommissioned and 75 crew-serve and high-powered armaments were turned over to the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) as mandated by the CAB. The MILF combatants who were decommissioned have now started their transition to peaceful, civilian lives.

"The decommissioning process is another concrete proof of the MILF's commitment to the promise they made to the current administration. For some, the weapons are just that - weapons. But to them, those arms represent their decades-long struggle.

"For them to proceed with the decommissioning is admirable. We expect the next phases of the decommissioning to push through until the MILF is truly transformed into a civil movement and no longer a rebel group," he said.

The CAB stipulates that the decommissioning process, which is part of the more comprehensive normalization arrangement, will happen in a phased and gradual process, he added.

As agreed by both parties, the second phase will happen once the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has been ratified, the third phase after the plebiscite and the last phase will happen when the Bangsamoro Government which will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has been established.

Malaysia has been facilitating the peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF, the country's largest Muslim rebel group, since 2001. Both signed the peace agreement on March 27, 2014.

US may consider deploying Marines to BRP Sierra Madre if China prevents Philippines resupply

From Ang Malaya (Jul 25): US may consider deploying Marines to BRP Sierra Madre if China prevents Philippines resupply

Senior Advisor and Senior Director of Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Dr. Patrick M. Cronin enumerated ten essential elements of a U.S. foreign policy to deal with the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) during a hearing of United State House Committee on Foreign Affairs-Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific regarding America’s Security Role in the South China Sea July 23, 2015.

One of ten elements Cronin recommended American lawmakers is US “should enumerate a menu of potential cost-imposition policy options that transcend reputational and legal costs and make clear that bad behavior will incur a price.”

“If China tries to prevent the resupply of the grounded Philippine naval vessel BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal, then the United States might not only offer to resupply it, but could also consider deploying a few Marines on rotation as part of the crew’s training detachment,” he said.

Cronin also included in his ten essential elements of US policy in dealing with West Philippine Sea the following: United States should regularly underscore our enduring principles; reinvest in our own long-term economic power; deepen diplomatic and practical support for ASEAN; build a maritime coalition ensuring the issue as top tier of regional diplomacy; maintain a constant presence; support an overlapping regional transparency regime; build national and multinational defensive and deterrent capacity; and seek to clarify types of behavior that would be objectionable.

NPA rebels gun down ex-Army man, military 'informer' in Bicol

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25): NPA rebels gun down ex-Army man, military 'informer' in Bicol

New People's Army (NPA) members shot dead a former member of the Philippine Army who was walking alone on Saturday morning at Purok 4, Barangay Ramay, Oas, Albay.

Victim Pfc. Ramil Oray, 29, was a former member of the 2nd Infantry Battalion, 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Barangay Tula-Tula Grande, Ligao City and a resident of the village.

An initial police report said the incident happened at about 7 a.m. while Oray was on his way home when the armed rebels blocked his way and gunned him down.

The suspects fled towards the mountainous portion of the village.

The former co-soldiers of Oray immediately responded to the crime scene where authorities recovered empty shells of an M-16 Armalite rifle reportedly used by the rebels.

Police said the rebels suspected the former soldier to be giving information to the the military regarding their activity.

Meanwhile, another group of rebels shot dead a helper in a piggery farm who they suspected to be a military informant on Friday night in Barangay Genorangan, Lagonoy, Camarines Sur.

Police identified the victim as Mario Verdadero, 45, married, and resident of the village.

A police report said that at about 6:30 p.m., Verdadero was busy with his work in the farm when the suspects arrived, poked guns at him, tied his hands and shot him.

The dissidents casually walked away after the execution.

The police said the NPA suspected Verdadero of being a military asset, giving information to the government forces about their activities in the area, which his relatives have vehemently denied.

Former MILF fighters among TESDA-ARMM graduates

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25): Former MILF fighters among TESDA-ARMM graduates

About 400 students in Maguindanao completed their skills training under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The number of graduates for the first semester of 2015 reflects an increase of more than 100 percent from 2014.

Last Friday, July 24, during the mass graduation rites, a total of 395 technical vocational students graduated at the Regional Manpower Development Center, Barangay Rebuken, Sultan Kudarat.

The training program, which expanded from 45 to 55 days, has the support of partner institutions and trade schools accredited by the TESDA.

Schools in Maguindanao province and Cotabato City accredited by TESDA include Technology Institute, Inc., Southern Kutawato Empire, CAD-IT, Microspan Software Technology Inc., and Ittihadun Nisa Foundation Inc.

“The marketplace in businesses demands employees with greater level of formal education and the vocational schools have always responded to the needs of employers for labor,” Shaima Agassor, vice-president of Ittihadun Nisa Foundation Inc. said.

Short-term courses offered under the program are computer hardware servicing, automotive servicing, consumer electronics servicing, electrical installation and maintenance, machining, plumbing, commercial cooking, consumer electronics, dressmaking, food and beverage and bread and pastry production, and driving.

Dr. Taugan Kikay, team leader of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)-Project Management Team, said the skills training is an educational component also of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro, which is a socio-economic initiative for Moro communities that avails wider access to opportunities in alleviating poverty.

Another key component is focused on health services, including the issuance of PhilHealth cards. The Sajahatra is aimed at accelerating the transition of conflict-affected communities into productive areas.

“The program caters also to the MILF rebel-returnees and their dependents for key employment and job generation,” said Kikay.

Most of the graduates are MILF members and residents of ARMM and Cotabato City.

They received certificates and tool kits to start their respective trade. The kits are based on the vocational courses they have finished.

Omarkhayyam Dalagan, regional operations division chief of TESDA-ARMM underscored the continuous effort of the agency to deliver quality and relevant technical vocational education to the people of the region.

“Students can gain experiences they need for their job interests,” he added.

“TESDA helped us a lot, now it’s not late for us to start our own business,” 35-year old MILF member Abdulmohaimen Abo said in the vernacular. He has finished metals and engineering machining course and has encouraged other MILF members to take TESDA courses.

“Because of this program, many were employed and we hope its coverage would expand further,” said Noraisa Ambil, a pharmacy services graduate.

TESDA offices offer assessment services on a regular basis and those who pass the assessment are automatically issued a national certificate that serves as seal of excellence.

DND acquiring Php14.2-M specialized PAF equipment

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25): DND acquiring Php14.2-M specialized PAF equipment

The Department of National Defense (DND) allots Php14,234,018 for the acquisition of specialized equipment for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

The amount will come from the DND's Quick Reaction Fund Calendar Year 2014.

The acquisition will be in two lots with the first an urban search-and-rescue equipment, with a budget of Php13,274.018.

Winning bidders are required to deliver this item within 90 days of the issuance of the Notice To Proceed (NTP).

While the second one is for a helicopter bucket worth Php960,000, which is required to be delivered 180 calendar days upon receipt of the NTP.

These will be used by the PAF in the fulfillment of their disaster relief missions.

Interested parties must have completed a similar project within the last five years.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled for Aug. 6, 9 a.m. at the DND bidding and awards committee conference room, basement left wing, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

While bid submission and opening is on Aug. 20, at 10 a.m., also on the same venue.