Sunday, August 16, 2015

3 females top SCAA graduates

From the Sun Star-Davao (Aug 16): 3 females top SCAA graduates

TASK Force Davao (TFD) has 38 additional Special Cafgu Active Auxiliary (SCAA) who just completed the two-month SCAA Basic Military it administered since June. Three females topped the class.

The closing ceremony was held at the TFD compound at the Sta. Ana Pier, Davao City last Thursday.

The top three graduates in this year's class were SCAAs Aura Plaza, Mary Grace Alberto, and Mar Jun Jimenez.

Jimenez was also awarded the Physical Proficiency Award.

The awarding ceremony was graced by Brigadier General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., acting division commander of the 10th Infantry Division, and lawyer Dwight Domingo, who represented City Administrator Melchor Quitain.

Soldier hurt in gun battle

From the Sun Star-Davao (Aug 16): Soldier hurt in gun battle

A SOLDIER was wounded in an encounter with suspected members of the New People's Army-Southern Mindanao Regional Committee at sitio Sta. Lucia in Barangay Camanlangan, New Bataan town in Compostela Valley, Saturday.

In a statement, Captain Alberto Caber, chief of the public information office (PIO) of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the 20-minute firefight happened around 1 p.m. The soldier has remained unidentified as of press time Sunday.

Soldiers belonging to the 25th Infantry Battalion of the 10th Infantry Division (ID) were conducting security patrol in the area when they clashed with the rebels.

The wounded soldier was rushed to the medical facility for further treatment.

At least 20 NPA rebels fled after the encounter, while the troops have launched pursuit operation.

Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Anayron, commander of the 25th ID, said they will give due recognition to the soldier who risked his life to protect the civilians in the area.

"Our soldiers and their respective families have sacrificed a lot if only to win the peace," Anayron said.

Another rebel surrenders

From the Sun Star-Davao (Aug 16): Another rebel surrenders

ANOTHER suspected member of the New People's Army (NPA) voluntarily surrendered to government troops in Barangay Libon, Gingoog City last August 12.

The Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) only identified the rebel returnee as alias Bangoy, who surrendered to the 58th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the 4th Infantry Division.

The rebel returnee is undergoing debriefing at the 58th IB headquarters.

Lieutenant Colonel Jose Ariel Niembra, commander of the 58th IB, commended the local officials and relatives of Bangoy for their participation in the return of the former NPA rebel to the fold of the government.

"He wants to start a new life and avail of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the Department of Interior and Local Government," Niembra said in a statement.

As of August 10, EastMinCom recorded a total of 187 NPA members who have surrendered to the government, said EastMinCom commander Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad.

Trike driver shot, killed

From the Sun Star-Zambaonga (Aug 16): Trike driver shot, killed

GUNMEN onboard a motorcycle shot dead a tricycle driver in Isabela City, the capital of Basilan province.

Superintendent Albert Larubis, Isabela City police chief, identified the fatality as Mohammad Sabuddin, 36, a native of Al-Barka town.

Larubis said that Sabuddin was driving a tricycle when fatally shot by one of two men who were onboard a motorcycle Saturday afternoon in the village of Sumagdang, Isabela City.

The gunmen sped off after shooting Sabuddin.

Investigation continued Sunday to establish the motive and unmask the gunmen, said Larubis.

Abu Sayyaf groups clash while evading troops

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Aug 16): Abu Sayyaf groups clash while evading troops

MEMBERS of the Abu Sayyaf have clashed with another group of bandits while evading government forces in the hinterlands of Sulu, a top military official said Sunday.

Brigadier General Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said the clash occurred around 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Sitio Paligue in the village of Sawaki, Indanan town.

Arrojado identified the protagonists as that of the combined group led by Jul Aksan, alias Halimaw, and Tuan Annu, a Moro National Liberation Front leader, against the joint groups of Alhabsy Misaya and Marjan Asiri.

Arrojado said the father-in-law of Marjan was wounded during the firefight, which lasted for about 30 minutes.

Arrojado, quoting a report from his field officers, said the misencounter between the groups of Abu Sayyaf bandits was the result of pressure from ongoing law enforcement operations in the towns of Indanan and Parang.

The bandits, he said, were forced to regularly move from one place to the other because of the operations.

He said joint groups of Misaya and Asiri were monitored to be moving around Barangay Sawaki, Indanan municipality, while another group of bandits was reportedly consolidating its members in the village of Silangkan, Parang town.

Rizal Alih, leader of 1989 Camp Cawa-Cawa siege, passes away

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 15): Rizal Alih, leader of 1989 Camp Cawa-Cawa siege, passes away

More than a hundred people – mostly relatives, family members and intimate friends – attended the burial of Rizal Alih here late Saturday.

Alih, the former policeman who led a three-day siege of Camp Cawa-Cawa here in 1989 – which led to the death of General Eduardo Batalla, then Philippine Constabulary chief in Western Mindanao, and several other hostages – died inside the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City around 6:45 p.m. Friday.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, the city police director, said Alih’s remains arrived here on board Cebu Pacific flight number 5J857 from Manila at 12:45p.m., Saturday.

The Alih clan then converged at the house of the former policeman’s sister in Camino Nuevo here before bringing his remains to the public Muslim cemetery in Barangay Caragasan around 4 p.m.

Casimiro said a convoy of 30 vehicles was seen joining the Alih’s cortage.

Senior Insp. Hingming Ladjaali of the Sinunuc police station said some policemen from Camp Crame and several local policemen secured the hearse that carried Alih’s remains towards the grave.

Ladjaali described the ceremony as very solemn and ended around 6 p.m.

Former 2nd District Representative Erico Basilio Fabian, who covered the Cawa-Cawa siege when he was a journalist, said he prayed “his soul rest in peace.”

“Life on earth is really temporary. What happened on January 5, 1989 was a lesson to be learned by all, especially the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police,” he said.

In an interview in 2006, Alih said he had regretted the incident and said the deaths of Batalla and the other hostages were purely accidental.

Alih said it started with an argument with Batalla over his impending transfer to Manila. He was then being held for questioning over the killing of then city mayor Cesar Climaco.

He said he and Batalla had a shouting match because the general did not accede to his request not to be transferred to Manila.

That shouting match ended with Alih taking Batalla hostage, along with several others, including Batalla’s aide, Col. Romeo Abendan.

The military then launched an operation in a bid to save Abendan and the other hostages, but the situation turned violent.

Alih, who escaped in the aftermath of the Cawa-Cawa siege, was later arrested and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in Sabah, Malaysia for possession of firearms. His Malaysian jail sentence was cut short by four years in 2006 when he was deported to the Philippines to face charges for the Cawa-Cawa incident.

New dredge floaters ruin coral reef off Zambales

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 17): New dredge floaters ruin coral reef off Zambales

ANOTHER set of a dredge floater assembly with Chinese markings found in the Zambales sea is pulled to the shore of the capital town of Iba on Sunday. The first set of dredge floaters was found by local fishermen off Cabangan, Zambales province, in July. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

ANOTHER set of a dredge floater assembly with Chinese markings found in the Zambales sea is pulled to the shore of the capital town of Iba on Sunday. The first set of dredge floaters was found by local fishermen off Cabangan, Zambales province, in July. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

IBA, Zambales—A new set of a dredge floater assembly that local fishermen found in the Zambales sea on Friday reached the coastline of Barangay Sto. Rosario here on Sunday morning, but not everyone was thrilled.

Some residents were dismayed over the towing of the floaters along shallow waters, saying the device damaged a portion of a coral reef and blocked their way to the sea.

“It’s wrong to tow these floaters to shallow waters. Look what happened—some of our coral reefs had been damaged,” fisherman Alvin Calimlim, 35, told the Inquirer.

He said residents here rely on fishing in the shallow waters for years and the damaged coral reefs would cost them their livelihood.

“What will happen to fishermen like us who can’t venture into the open sea? These floaters should be immediately removed from here or else we will suffer,” Calimlim said.

His elder brother, Ronnie, 49, said the floaters did not only ruin portions of coral reefs but made their fishing trips difficult.

“We also have our own small fishing boats and as long these huge floaters remained stuck along our shoreline, we’ll have difficulty going to the sea,” Ronnie said.

About 30 fishermen on their way back to the shore on Friday found the kilometer-long assembly some 16 km from this capital town’s coastline.

Efren Medrano, chair of the Lanao-Bangan Fishermen’s Association, said fishermen from Barangay Sto. Rosario began towing the floaters to shore on Saturday morning. The device reached the village’s shoreline at 6 a.m. on Sunday.

The floater assembly was similar to the device seen drifting some 5.5 km from the coastline of Cabangan town on July 24. The first set of floaters spanned a kilometer long and bore Chinese markings.

Floater assemblies are interlinked buoys and metal pipes used in a dredging equipment.

These may have drifted from the West Philippine Sea, which has become the site of Chinese reclamation activities, Erwin.

de la Torre, a former executive of a company that manufactures dredging equipment, said in an earlier interview.

De la Torre said a floater assembly is attached to a dredging machine that sucks up sand from the bottom of the sea.

Fishermen tried to dismantle the floaters recovered earlier to sell these for scrap but were stopped by Zambales officials. The provincial government had secured these for possible use as evidence against reported Chinese intrusion into sections of the West Philippine Sea.

Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said the provincial government would auction off the floaters, should no individual or group claims these, to raise funds for fishermen who lost their livelihood when personnel from Chinese vessels began stopping them from fishing in sections of the West Philippine Sea.

Ebdane has ordered the floaters to be kept and secured in the shores of San Agustin and Sto. Rosario villages here.

Palparan trial delayed yet again

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 17): Palparan trial delayed yet again

The new judge hearing the kidnapping and serious illegal detention cases against retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. and two other soldiers has further delayed the proceedings after he asked for more time to prepare and go over court records.

Judge Alexander Tamayo of Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 15, who took over after RTC Branch 14 Judge Teodora Gonzales inhibited herself from the case last month, had set the next hearing to Sept. 10.

The hearing would have resumed Monday. The case was re-raffled to Tamayo on Aug. 3 before the defense could file a motion for reconsideration.

In an order on July 13, Gonzales, who handled the case starting in 2011, granted the motion for inhibition filed on June 22 by lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan, who represents S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, one of those accused in the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

Palparan, Osorio, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario have been charged in connection with the disappearance of Cadapan and Empeño, who were last seen in Hagonoy, Bulacan, in 2006. Only Osorio, Palparan and Anotado have been standing trial as Hilario has yet to be arrested.

Alentajan’s petition said Gonzales “was no longer qualified to participate in the instant case because she has lost the cold neutrality of an impartial judge.”

But Gonzales, in her order, said Alentajan’s fears were baseless.

“The court vehemently denies such perceived bias, partiality, bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence since her action is within the ambit of the law. However… to preserve and promote public confidence in the integrity and respect for the judiciary, the presiding judge is voluntarily inhibiting herself from further taking cognizance of the instant cases,” she said.

Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and who represents the families of Empeño and Cadapan, had asked Gonzales to reconsider her decision. Olalia said Gonzales had been fair to all the parties.

Olalia said the motion would be filed even if Gonzales had scheduled no hearing and even if the case had already been re-raffled to Tamayo.

Firm position

“Our firm position is that the [decision] is not yet final and therefore Judge Gonzales, who has heard the 2006 disappearance for four years from the very start, is duty-bound to hear us out, especially since we were not given a chance to comment or oppose [the] anomalous, dubious and groundless motion for inhibition,” Olalia said.

“The rules teach us that Judge Gonzales still has jurisdiction over our timely motion for reconsideration and cannot pass the burden to the next judge,” Olalia said, adding that public prosecutors from the Department of Justice would be joining the filing of the motion.

“Such claim [that Gonzales was biased] was baseless and hollow. Accused Osorio has not advanced any just and valid reason in his motion for the presiding judge (Gonzales) to voluntarily inhibit herself from conducting further proceedings,” Olalia said in a statement.

He said there was no other judge who knew the case better than Gonzales.

‘NPA to intensify collection of campaign fees from poll bets’

From the Philippine Star (Aug 17): ‘NPA to intensify collection of campaign fees from poll bets’

An official of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID) yesterday warned that the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in the Caraga and Northern Mindanao regions would intensify its collection of “permit to campaign and win fees” from politicians seeking posts in 2016.   
Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesman for the 4th ID, said during the 2010 and 2013 elections the NPA collected millions of pesos from candidates and political parties, who campaigned in areas said to be under the control of the rebels.

Martinez urged politicians who would receive solicitation or extortion letters from the rebels to report the matter to the nearest police station or military camp.

He said police and the military in the Caraga region would release a list of areas that are not categorized as election hotspots.

Martinez said the collection of permit of campaign and win fees by the rebels violates a law that protects candidates vying for public office.

Martinez warned candidates that giving in to the rebels’ demand for fees is a criminal act.

Citing intelligence sources, he said the insurgents were starting to note down the names of candidates in the 2016 elections.

Martinez said the rebels have also started sending letters to politicians, reminding them of fees should they conduct campaigns in their turf.

2 Army officials hit for ‘military offenses’

From the Philippine Star (Aug 17): 2 Army officials hit for ‘military offenses’

The municipal council on Saturday criticized two officials of the Philippine Army for refusing to shed light on the alleged offenses committed by the military on a beach here.

Mayor Simplicio Rosario told The STAR on Saturday that he signed a resolution declaring Lt. Col. Edgardo Batenga, chief of the Army’s 70th Infantry Battalion (IB), and Capt. Laurencio Panit Jr. persona non grata.

The 70th IB is located at Camp Andres Malong Army Reservation in Barangay San Isidro Norte in this town.

The camp is located near a beach, where the alleged “militarization” reportedly occurred.

Rosario said due process was observed, there was a complaint and the municipal council invited the Army officers thrice to the hearing.

Earlier, the local government officials and the Army officers figured in a dispute regarding the dumping of garbage by the municipal government at the Army reservation site.

Rosario said the invitation of the municipal council was not about garbage, noting the matter has been resolved.

“The issue here is the militarization on the beach. The people are threatened,” he said. Rosario said he had been receiving complaints that militiamen were brandishing firearms as they roamed the area.

Fishermen complained that the Army prevented them from entering the area.

Rosario said the beach area would be improved once the baywalk project of Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil reaches it.

He said local officials are willing to lift the persona non grata declaration against Panit “but not on Batenga.”

Batenga said he was willing to meet the local officials on neutral ground.

He accused the Sangguniang Bayan of berating the representatives he sent in his behalf to the session.

Two other invitations were sent to Batenga but he refused to attend.

Batenga said he was in Davao when he was first invited to the session and he sent Panit as his representative.

He sent a letter to the council explaining why he could not attend the session, but the legislators apparently wanted his presence.

“The bottomline of this is our environment preservation project, which is about tons of garbage dumped at the camp by the municipal government,” Batenga said.

He said he sent his civil military operations officer, Capt. Lubonin Bangoc, to represent him in the session, but the legislators reportedly humiliated him.

He shrugged off the council resolution declaring him persona non grata.

House won’t restore BBL

From the Philippine Star (Aug 17): House won’t restore BBL

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-member House ad hoc committee on the BBL, warned that restoring the deleted or amended provisions could erode support for the BBL in the chamber as many lawmakers, who had been strongly opposing the measure, have agreed to back the bill because of the changes. Boy Santos/

The leadership of the House of Representatives has rejected the request of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to restore at least 28 provisions deleted by lawmakers from the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-member House ad hoc committee on the BBL, said he and other leaders of the chamber met last week with Mohaquer Iqbal, who is both chairman of the BTC and chief negotiator for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Also present during the meeting were the vice chairmen of the ad hoc panel as well as Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II.

The BTC drafted the BBL and is composed of representatives from the MILF and other sectors from Mindanao. The BBL, a product of negotiations between the government and the MILF, seeks to create a new autonomous region in Mindanao.

“It has been the consensus that these provisions that we removed – there were many deletions as well as amendatory language – are really very important and necessary to make the bill constitutionally compliant,” Rodriguez told radio station dzBB.

“In other words, if these provisions are restored, we believe that it may not be able to pass the Supreme Court’s constitutional scrutiny. That’s what we’ve explained to them over and over again during our meeting,” he said.

Rodriguez warned that restoring the deleted or amended provisions could erode support for the BBL in the chamber as many lawmakers, who had been strongly opposing the measure, have agreed to back the bill because of the changes.

He said they impressed upon Iqbal and the other BTC members that they wanted to pass a BBL acceptable not only to the House and the Senate but also to the SC.

“I hope that the MILF will see that what we have done is for the best interest of the Bangsamoro and also for Congress,” Rodriguez said.

He said the House leadership, however, still asked the BTC to submit a clearer explanation of their request as the letter it sent last month contained only bullet points.

The Senate, for its part, has replaced the entire version of the BBL with its own, through the efforts of Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the local government committee tackling the proposed measure.

Marcos defended the new basic law on Bangsamoro Basic Region, adding there was no intent from the Senate committee on local government to sabotage or delay approval of the measure.

“If we really wanted to sabotage the basic law, we would have not touched it. But that was not our goal. Our goal was to craft a basic law that is constitutional so that we can have peace. We are still working for peace. We had to fix this, this could have been junked like MOA-AD,” Marcos said, referring to the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain which was junked by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 2008.

Marcos noted that it took some time before the draft measure was submitted to Congress by the peace negotiating panel. This was after the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident that caused a major setback in the hearing of the draft BBL.

“The draft BBL is highly unconstitutional. I don’t know if this has an impact on (the President’s) impeachment but all I know that it was a law that we cannot pass,” Marcos said over dzBB.

Marcos said he is ready for the period of debates and amendments for the measure. He expressed confidence that the substituted measure has addressed the constitutional issues of the proposed basic law.

In the process, Marcos said the President was spared from any embarrassment once the measure is scrutinized over its constitutionality.


Marcos noted, however, the differences in the version of the House and the Senate might cause further debates on the matter.

“It’s very hard to anticipate on how long the debates will take. I know for sure that during period of interpellation, many senators will ask a lot of questions and during the period of amendments, it would be the same. They have their own ideas on how to make the bill better. So it’s just impossible to predict,” Marcos said.

Explaining the reasons behind the changes, Marcos said many of the provisions of the bill treated the Bangsamoro government similarly to other local governments in the country, in order to draw them closer to mainstream Filipino society instead of treating them as a separate group.

He said the measure was beneficial and fair to all Moros and non-Moros alike.

“I believe we tried very hard to be fair to everyone concerned,” Marcos said when asked about allegations that his substitute bill, Senate Bill No. 2849, presented a watered down version of powers granted to the Bangsamoro government.

This principle guided the substitute bill’s provisions on the authority of the Bangsamoro government over Lake Lanao, which some critics in social media have tagged as “anti-Moro.”

Palace: Iqbal's complaints about revised BBL 'premature'

From ABS-CBN (Aug 16): Palace: Iqbal's complaints about revised BBL 'premature'

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma on Sunday said Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal's complaints about the revised version of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) released by Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. are premature.

Iqbal made his complaints after over 100 provisions were allegedly removed from the original version of the BBL, including the preamble that he compared to the removal of a person's "soul."

Coloma, however, said it will be prudent to wait until the BBL has been discussed in the plenary.

"Baka premature 'yung ganyang pahayag kasi 'di pa naman nauumpisahan 'yung pagtalakay [sa BBL] sa plenaryo," Coloma said.

"'Pag na-present na 'yan, maging sa Kamara man o sa Senado, may pagkakataon ang lahat ng mambabatas, mga kinatawan at mga senador na magpahayag ng kanilang saloobin, magpanukala ng amyenda," he added.

Coloma pointed out that the peace process under the Aquino administration has gained international recognition and support.

"Simula pa noong nakapagbuo ng Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro noong October 2012, hanggang sa nalagdaan yung Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro noong Marso 2014 ay patuloy na umaani ng suporta sa international community ang prosesong pangkapayapaan na itinataguyod ng administrasyong Aquino," Coloma said.

The Aquino administration continues to communicate with House leadership regarding the BBL, Coloma said, stressing that the BBL and the General Appropriations Act should be prioritized by the House.

The Senate is set to discuss the BBL on Monday, according to Coloma, while Congress continues its committee hearings on the national budget.

One of 4 abducted tribal leaders released

From ABS-CBN (Aug 16): One of 4 abducted tribal leaders released
The New People's Army (NPA) has released one of the four tribal leaders abducted in Davao del Norte, the 10th Infantry Division said.

10ID spokesperson 1st Lt. Alex Cabales said in a phone interview that Datu Kulumpot Dalon was brought to the residence of barangay captain Jose Baon of Barangay San Jose, San Fernando in Bukidnon Thursday morning.

The 70-year-old Langilan-Manobo tribal leader was then brought by the Army to the hospital for a check-up, before he was brought to the police for his official statement.

Datu Kalumpot and three others -- Datu Danilo Angcomog, Datu Laris Landakay and Datu Jovanie Angcomog -- were abducted by the NPA in Talaingod, Davao del Norte on August 1. They supposedly went to Talaingod to settle a tribal conflict.

The military believes the tribal leaders were abducted in order to force them to retract their affidavits and statements in a video documentary where they revealed that they were part of a group of indigenous people who were promised a meeting with President Benigno Aquino,III, Sarangani Congressman Manny Pacquiao and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in a dialogue Davao City.

They also revealed that they were promised by progressive group leaders with goods and cash in exchange for their participation in the dialogue. They likewise said they were brought to Haran compound in Madapo Hills in Davao City, where they were presented as evacuees allegedly forced out of their homes by ongoing military operations.

In an effort to rescue the hostages, the military has intensified its pursuit operations within the boundaries of San Fernando, Bukidnon and Talaingon in Davao del NOrte that resulted in an encounter Friday morning between the 68th IB troops and the NPA's Front 55 under Kumander Jose. The army reported that there were no casualties on their side.

Two NPA rebels arrested in Sorsogon

From ABS-CBN (Aug 16): Two NPA rebels arrested in Sorsogon

Two members of the communist New People's Army (NPA) were arrested following a brief firefight in Gubat, Sorsogon Saturday afternoon, the military said.

Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) spokesman Maj. Angelo Guzman said members of the Army's 31st Infantry Battalion were conducting security operation when they were fired upon by at least six rebels at Barangay Union around 4:30 p.m.

The soldiers were sent to the area after receiving a report about the presence of armed men in one of the houses in the area. The soldiers were fired upon while approaching the house.

"After five minutes, the NPAs were able to escape but two of their comrades were left and subsequently captured by the troops," said Guzman.

No one was reported killed or injured on both sides during the fighting.

The captured rebels were identified as Joseph Esperanzate, who carries the aliases Hantik and Darwin; and Noli Rangel. Seized from their possession were two improvised explosive devices and rebel documents.

Esperanzate and Rangel were turned over to the Gubat police station for filing of charges, said Guzman.

"Our effort in Sorsogon and Masbate is slowly being realized and felt…With our focused military operations and the participation of the civil society, we are optimistic that the insurgency problem in region will be resolved soon," said Solcom chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya.

Meanwhile, in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, an NPA rebel, identified only as alias Banoy, surrendered to officials of the 58th Infantry Battalion last Wednesday, the military's Eastern Mindanao Command announced yesterday.

Eastmincom public affairs officer Capt. Alberto Caber said the 30-year-old Banoy surrendered because he wants to start a new life, under the government's Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

Banoy, who used to operate in Gingoog City and other parts of Misamis Oriental under one Kiram, received an undisclosed amount of livelihood and training assistance following his surrender.

According to Caber, total of 187 rebels have returned to the folds of the law in the Eastern Mindanao areas this year.

More applying to join PNP-Special Action Force since Mamasapano clash

From GMA News (Aug 14): More applying to join PNP-Special Action Force since Mamasapano clash 

More police officers have been applying to join the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force since the elite police unit lost 44 of its own in the Mamasapano encounter on Jan. 25. 
"For the information of everybody, continuous ang recruitment ng SAF. Actually, before po, noong hindi pa nangyayari iyong Mamasapano kakaunti po [nag-aapply] sa amin. Ngayon, mas marami na nag-aaply sa amin," said Senior Inspector Jayson Baldoz on Friday. 
He said that SAF gained more recognition after the incident, where some of its troopers engaged in a firefight with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in a Maguindanao town.

The SAF had been on a mission to serve arrest warrants on international terrorists hiding in a remote area of far-flung Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano town.
The surge in applicants has also allowed SAF to add more members to its ranks, especially since the 27 survivors of the clash had to be pulled out mainly because of security reasons. 
"Actually, continuous iyong recruitment process namin. Marami kasi kaming mga recruit ngayon so hindi masyadong mabibigyang pansin iyong pag-alis nila," he said. "We gave way sa mga gusto ng lumabas ng SAF na bigyan naman sila ng pagkakataon na ma-experience nila iyong real life ng isang policeman sa labas kasi very different po iyong trabaho namin sa work ng regular policeman na nasa station." 
He added that many of the officers involved in Oplan Exodus had served more than five years in the elite unit, the minimum number of years in the SAF before a trooper can transfer out.
SAF awaits justice, recognition for fallen comrades
Baldoz is still hoping that all the SAF property and equipment taken from the 44 slain troopers by armed groups after the encounter will be returned to them. 
"Sana at narinig ko iyong news kaninang umaga kay [Justice] Secretary [Leila] de Lima. Sabi niya na mananagot na 90 [individuals] or more.
Maganda para sa amin iyon para at least kahit papaano sa families at the same time sa SAF naramdaman namin na may pangil pa rin yung batas natin," he said. 
The spokersperson also hopes that the SAF 44 will be given the Medal of Valor, the highest award the PNP can give its officers.

It is awarded to police officers who "have performed a deed of personal bravery and self-sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty so conspicuous as to distinguish himself clearly above his comrades in the performance of more than ordinary hazardous service."
"Na-recommend na rin iyong Medal of Valor. Depende na lang po sa higher headquarters," he said.

‘PH has rebuilt strong friendship with Japan’

From The Standard (Aug 16): ‘PH has rebuilt strong friendship with Japan’

THE Philippines said Saturday it had rebuilt a “strong friendship” with former foe Japan as Emperor Akihito said in an address marking the 70th anniversary of his country’s surrender in 1945 that Japan felt “deep remorse” over its actions during the Second World War.

Many Filipinos still have long, difficult memories of the Japanese Occupation from 1942 through 1945, but Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a statement on Saturday that Japan “acted with compassion” after the war.

“We must never again repeat the devastation of war,” Del Rosario said in a statement on the 70th year anniversary of the end of World War II.

The Philippines has been working with the international community to rebuild after the war, and “in establishing and promoting international norms and institutions, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, that help ensure global peace, stability, and prosperity,” Del Rosario said.

“Since the middle of the 20th century, the Philippines’ relationship with Japan, in particular, has been characterized by trust and unfailing support in so many fields, as Japan has acted with compassion and in accordance with international law, and has more actively and more positively engaged the region and the world,” he added.

“This 70-year history demonstrates to the world that through their relentless efforts, peoples of two countries can attain a remarkable achievement in overcoming issues of the past and establishing strong friendship,” he said.

Japan is now the Philippines biggest source of development assistance and the two countries have also been strengthening defense cooperation in the face of separate territorial disputes with China.

Today, the Philippines’ biggest trading partner is Japan, with about $1 billion in exports and about $500 million in imports. Japan is also the top Official Development Assistance lender, holding 36 percent of all development loans.

Del Rosario made the remarks shortly before Akihito made a rare statement of Japan’s “deep remorse.”

‘‘Reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse over the last war, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated,” Akihito said.

Akihito also emphasized that Japan’s peace and prosperity stand on “the people’s tireless endeavors and their earnest desire for peace,” and renewed his war-renouncing pledge.

Del Rosario’s comments were in stark contrast to reactions from China and other Asian victims of Japan’s wartime aggression.

Beijing called Abe’s statement a non-apology while North Korea derided it as an “unpardonable mockery of the Korean people”.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye said the speech “left much to be desired” and stressed the need for Japan to resolve the issue of Asian women forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels.

A Philippine group representing dozens of former sex slaves denounced Abe’s pronouncement that future Japanese generations should not be compelled to apologise for past aggression.

“He wants a gag of silence. That is unacceptable. You can’t commit a crime and set conditions... Our grandmothers didn’t set conditions when they were victimized,” Rechilda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipina, told AFP.

Only 70 of the estimated 1,000 Filipina “comfort women” are still alive, many of them ill and in their twilight years, she said.

The women are demanding an “unequivocal apology”, an acknowledgement of the war brothels policy and compensation from the Japanese government, she said.

“I am very angry because Japan does not want to close this chapter. Will they wait for another 80 years? 100 years?” she said.

Earlier this year, the Philippine and Japan for the first time signed an agreement to strengthen defense ties, particularly on maritime security as they each face China over disputed territory in the South and East China seas.

The Philippines has expressed support for any relaxing of Japan’s post-World War II pacifist constitution that would allow it greater involvement in external defense.

PAF takes delivery of 10 choppers

From The Standard (Aug 17): PAF takes delivery of 10 choppers

The transport capability of the Philippine Air Force (PAF)  gets a big  boost  with the delivery  of   eight  Bell 412 helicopters and  two AW109 attack helicopters.        

Most of the aircraft  were reconfigured  to suit  internal security operations while   the Bell choppers can also  do  search and rescue   operations  during disasters, an Air Force official said.

PAF spokesman Colonel Enrico Canaya said  the eight Bell helicopters were  delivered in  batches by the   Canadian Commercial Corp. and Textron last June.

Canaya  said five  of the choppers were configured for  combat utility,   equipped  with machineguns and rockets while the three others were intended to be used for VIP transport.

Also delivered were two of the  eight  AW109 combat utility helicopters with a total amount of P4.5 billion.

“Hopefully this year,  all the remaining six  AW109 helicopters would be delivered,” Canaya said.

Canaya said all the delivered choppers passed inspection and test flights.

He said the choppers will be deployed in the unified area commands.  

“The Bell choppers will also be utilized for humanitarian assistance and disaster response during times of calamity. They will be assigned to  the 205th   Tactical Helicopter Wing; they are a good support for our UH1H and UH1D,” Canaya said

The “inferior”  version of the German-made UH1D has become  controversial  after the discovery of bidding irregularities made by the Bids and Awards Committee of the Department of National Defense  that  was supposed to purchase 21 secondhand refurbished UH1H worth P1.2 billion.            Only seven  of the supposed 21 defective UH1D replacements were accepted and the rest were scrapped after the issue became public and investigated by the Senate.     

Canaya said the AW109 helicopters will  complement the MD520 in the 15th   Strike Wing for close air support and  reconnaissance.

“This is positive development  because right now we are receiving new aircraft,   air assets to increase the capability of the Air Force. We are looking forward to the delivery of two more medium C295M and two CM212I light-lift transport. And of course, the first delivery of our FA-50 from South Korea this year,” he said.

The DND has ordered 12 FA-50 lead-in jet fighters or trainer jets which are not combat-ready  despite the high cost at   P18.9 billion.

70 years after

From The Standard (Aug 17): 70 years after

Members of the Living History Group from the Philippines carry a wreath to the American Cemetery in Manila on Sunday during a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. AFP

Manila pushes arbitration, as China military recruitment video fans 'war drums' fear

From InterAksyon (Aug 16): Manila pushes arbitration, as China military recruitment video fans 'war drums' fear

On Asian seas, Chinese ships steam past in a column in screenshot from Chinese military's recruitment video posted on YouTube.

The Philippine government Sunday called on China to join it in international arbitration over their maritime row, amid fears Beijing was bent on ramping up its military presence in the region following the issuance of a new recruitment video filled with nationalistic bombast.

The new video issued by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) was obviously meant to appeal to young Chinese citizens to join a well-funded, continually expanding military-defense establishment, but which analysts see as fanning even more fears of Chinese expansion.

The video's release came just days after Beijing announced it had completed its reclamation spree on disputed areas of the South China Sea, but admitted it was ramping up construction, on the reclaimed area, of new facilities. It insisted most of the structures being built were to boost  maritime and meteorological science and invited other countries to check out its plans, but later admitted it was also building defense facilities.

Reacting to the 4-minute recruitment video, the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Sunday: "On the recent Chinese recruitment video, the Philippines reiterates its full commitment to the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea disputes, in conformity with the rule of law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as to the reduction of tensions through the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and an eventual ASEAN-China Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC)."

The Philippines, DFA pointed out, "has won international respect and recognition for resorting to arbitration, and we reiterate our invitation to China to join in this process."

Manila said it would "continue resolutely on this path, not only to protect our national interests, but also to promote regional and global peace, stability and prosperity."
In late July, Philippine officials, with help from a New York-based law firm hired by the Philippine government, argued before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, on why that tribunal should assume jurisdiction over the case filed in 2014 by Manila against Beijing. The PCA is expected to rule on jurisdiction after 90 days. If it does decide to assume jurisdiction, full hearings on the merits would follow.
China, however, has refused arbitration and snubbed the proceedings at The Hague.

Chinese video has 3 parts

The Chinese PLAN's 4 minute, 16 second video has three parts, beginning with a segment titled, “Our Dream,” obviously beamed toward China's youth.

The inspiring images then shift to more undeniably nationalistic themes: showing images of the disputed islets and rocks in the East China Sea - called Senkakus by Japan and Diaoyu by China.

The other images are obviously from islands in the South China Sea, including the infamous "fishermen's shelters" that Beijing built nearly 20 years ago and have since been expanded to huge garrison-like status.

The video's second part titled “Call of Duty,” says in part: “Seventy-one percent of the globe we depend on is blue water...wherever there is blue water, we will be there to secure navigation...China's oceanic and overseas interests are expanding rapidly...our land is vast but we will not yield an inch of our territory to foreigners.”

The video's third part is titled, “The Honor Gene,” and alludes to the many sea battles China has fought, concluding with the line, "we are prepared for war.”

The video's final part says "a strong motherland needs a strong navy" and invites young citizens to help "realize the dream of the great Chinese renaissance together.”

3 people injured in grenade explosion in Southern Philippine town

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 15): 3 people injured in grenade explosion in Southern Philippine town

Three people were injured in a grenade explosion during a firefight between security forces and Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Filipino town of Patikul, reports said.

It said the civilians were caught in the crossfire when the two groups clashed on Friday afternoon in Taglibi where Abu Sayyaf rebels attacked an army detachment.

There were no reports of casualties from either the military or the Abu Sayyaf group, but troops continued its hunt for rebels blamed for the recent killing of Rodolfo Boligao, a village chieftain they kidnapped in Aliguay Island off Dapitan City early this year.

Boligao was beheaded and his body dumped on a highway near the town of Maimbung.

It was unknown who fired the grenade, but a police report said it was a 40mm and fired from a rifle and that both the military and the Abu Sayyaf have this kind of weapon.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding several Filipino and foreign hostages kidnapped in different areas in southern Philippines.

Rebels ambush army patrol in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 15): Rebels ambush army patrol in Southern Philippines
DAVAO CITYCommunist rebels ambushed Saturday a group of patrolling soldiers in southern Philippines wounding an infantryman in a fresh wave of attack against military targets.

The military’s Eastern Mindanao Command confirmed the ambush and said the attack occurred in the village of Camanlangan in Compostela Valley’s New Bataan town. 

At least 20 New People’s Army rebels were said to have took part in the assault on members of the 25th Infantry Battalion. The ambush also sparked a 20-minute firefight, according to the military. 

The wounded soldier, whose identity was not released by the military, had been rushed to hospital. 

The NPA has been waging a secessionist war for many decades now in an effort to put up its own Maoist state in the country.

3 injured in crossfire as troops, Abu Sayyaf brigands clash in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): 3 injured in crossfire as troops, Abu Sayyaf brigands clash in Sulu

Three people, including two students, were wounded in the crossfire when Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) members clashed with Abu Sayyaf brigands in Sulu, a top military official disclosed Saturday.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, disclosed the clash broke out around 2 p.m. Friday in Barangay Taglibi, Patikul, Sulu.

Prior to the firefight, Arrojado said the Abu Sayyaf brigands led by sub-leader Muammar Askali ambushed a project engineer and a BPAT member riding tandem in a motorcycle in Barangay Taglibi.

Arrojado said the brigands were about to burn an unoccupied structure -- a former detachment -- when the project engineer and BPAT member “passed by the immediate vicinity and were ambushed.”

Arrojado said the other members of BPAT from Barangay Mampallan, upon receipt of information, reinforced their beleaguered companion that resulted to a firefight.

“That (ambush) instigated the firefight,” Arrojado added.

He identified the crossfire victims as Nurhaida Jadja, 18 and Marni Suhuri, 17, both students of Patikul National High School and Hadji Anni Abubayong, 61.

The victims were rushed to the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) for treatment.

Arrojado said the BPAT led by Patikul Councilor Akam Ajijul are providing security to the implementation of infrastructure projects in the municipality.

Military recovers dead body of NPA rebels in Misamis Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): Military recovers dead body of NPA rebels in Misamis Oriental

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan De Oro City – Pursuing government troopers recovered a dead body of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) along the rebel withdrawal route in the hinterlands of Misamis Oriental, the military reported Saturday.

Capt. Patrick Martinez, the spokesperson of the army’s 4th Infantry Division here, said that the relatives identified the slain NPA rebel as Jimmy Almonte Lindayo, 28, of Mat-I, Claveria, Misamis Oriental.

Martinez said the army troopers of the 58th Infantry Battalion retrieved Lindayo’s body in the hinterlands of Aposkahoy in Claveria, Misamis Oriental and turned over the body to the local government unit in Claveria so that the family could provide a decent burial to the slain NPA rebel.

“Unlike the rebels who simply leave the bodies of their comrades, the military has a policy to retrieve and turnover the bodies of the slain NPA rebels to the LGUs for the family to claim and provide a decent burial,” Martinez said.

“The truth is, the military also feels the pain of the loss of every rebel because the NPA rebels are also Filipinos. The military is not happy everytime an NPA rebel is killed in a useless war,” the army spokesperson said.

He said that the military condoled with the family of the young Lindayao and urged the NPA rebels to lay down their arms and live normal lives with their families and love ones.

The military recovered an M-16 rifle with an M 203 grenade launcher beside the body of Lindayao who sustained gunshot wounds on the right upper thigh and other parts of the body, Martinez said.

The firefight in the hinterland village of Aposkahoy in Claveria, Misamis Oriental occurred Thursday morning when the combat patrol of the army’s 58IB chanced on an encampment of about 30 fully armed men.

Martinez said that a 30-minute firefight ensued before the NPA withdrew to various directions, leaving 20 backpacks, handheld radios, solar panel, mobile phones, firearms and ammunitions, personal belongings and flash drives containing high valued intelligence information.

The military recovered the body of Lindayo on Friday as the pursuing government troopers engaged the NPA rebels in a running gun battle until Friday afternoon.

Rebels gun down former CAFGU member

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): Rebels gun down former CAFGU member

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City -- New People's Army (NPA) rebels shot dead a former member of the Citizens Armed Forces and Geographical Unit (CAFGU) who was on his way home at Purok 2, Barangay Inararan, Bulan, Sorsogon on Friday afternoon.

A police report said Catalino Guray, a married farmer, was going home at Barangay Aquino at about 2:50 p.m. after visiting a friend when three young men armed with .45-caliber pistols approached him and shot him on his head and body.

The rebels then casually walked away, leaving behind Guray's dead body and astounded witnesses.

The report said the rebels had suspected the victim as giving information on their activities in the village even though he had already left the CAFGU.

Hundreds displaced as clan war erupts in Sultan Kudarat coastal town

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): Hundreds displaced as clan war erupts in Sultan Kudarat coastal town

PALIMBANG, Sultan Kudarat — A clan war erupted in remote village here Friday night involving Moro rebels, displacing hundreds of civilians, police and local officials said.

Sr. Inspector Romeo Calamba of Palimbang police office, said the attack by members of the 105th base command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Barangay Napnapan was allegedly in retaliation against the group of Brian Binago for the killing of Kadil Kongo, a member of the 105th base command.

Binago belonged to the same base command of the MILF.

Calamba said the attack on Friday night displaced hundreds of civilians.

According to Calamba the group of Brian Binago, also an MILF, allegedly shot and killed Kongo which also injured a certain Niknik Andi. The incident happened on Aug. 2 when two men riding tandem on a motorbike killed Kongo.

Kongo’s companion in the 105th base command was furious over his death and retaliated, Calamba said.

Calamba said the conflict was not organizational and only involved members of the MILF who are now locked in a "rido" (family feud).

Local officials, led by Palimbang Mayor Abubakar Pendatun Maulana, are trying to reach out to warring families to prevent the escalation of the conflict.

Soldiers were also deployed to prevent further attacks from both sides.

Land dispute triggers murder of village chair in North Cotabato - PNP

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 16): Land dispute triggers murder of village chair in North Cotabato - PNP
A long standing family feud that stemmed from territorial dispute triggered the murder Friday of a village chair in Pikit, North Cotabato, police said.

According to Senior Inspector Sindatu Karim, Pikit police chief, initial investigation showed a long standing family feud was believed behind the killing of Chairperson Dhats Simon of Barangay Bulol, Pikit and his escort-relative Akmad Bantas.

“The gunmen were known to Chairman Simon and he was the real target," Karim said, adding that the suspects used high powered firearms to ensure the village official is killed.

According to Karim, Chairman Simon had sought police and military assistance after he received threats from his family rivals who are incidentally affiliated with armed groups operating in his village.

But due to lack of police personnel, Simon was forced to allow his relative as escort-bodyguard. He was identified as Dats Bantas.

Karim was driving his motorbike with his escorts backriding on their way home at past 2:30 p.m. when ambushed by five armed men along a dirt road in Barangay Gli-Gli, Pikit.

Karim said the gunmen used M-16 Armalite rifle based on the 37 empty shells recovered by responding policemen in the crime scene.

Family feud, locally known as "rido," is among the deterrent in attaining local peace in most of Mindanao areas where Moro people reside.

It is a culture peace advocates in Mindanao were trying to address through peaceful means and through development.

7 die in MILF infighting in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 16): 7 die in MILF infighting in Sultan Kudarat

Seven persons were killed as in-fighting between members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) continued in remote villages here, police said today.

The village of Napnapan in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat has been turned into a ghost town as more than 500 persons have sought refuge in nearby villages after Moro rebels clashed since Friday night, according to Senior Insp. Romeo Calamba said.

Calamba, Palimbang police chief, said involved in the clan war were groups of Commander Brian Andi of the MILF 104th base command and Commander Bondi Binago of the MILF 105th base command. Both groups have been trading bullets in the village of Napnapan.

Sporadic skirmishes continue until Sunday morning involving the two warring groups.

Commander Andi and his men stormed the village of Napnapan from nearby village of Kanipaan on Friday night to retaliate the death of Kadil Kongo. Kongo was shot dead by two motorcycle riding men on August 2. An eight year old boy was hit by stray bullets and also died.

Heavily armed, the group of Andi attacked the location of Commander Binago, sending some 500 villagers fleeing.

Police said Binago's group suffered five fatalities while two on the side of Andi. Fighting was still on going as of posting.

Calamba said the MILF leadership has sent emissaries to pacify warring groups and prevent further escalation of conflict.

An MILF officials who asked not to be identified said the members were acting on their own and it was not an organizational fighting.

More police forces and soldiers were deployed in the periphery of Palimbang, a coastal town in Sultan Kudarat near the border of Maguindanao to avoid other armed groups from taking advantage of the situation.

2 rebels captured in Sorsogon

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 16): 2 rebels captured in Sorsogon

Two New People's Army (NPA) fighters were captured by troopers of the 31st Infantry Battalion during security operations conducted at Barangay Union, Gubat, Sorsogon Saturday afternoon, Southern Luzon Command (SolCom) spokesperson Major Angelo Guzman reported.

He said the troopers were conducting security patrols after receiving reports that six heavily-armed rebels were seen in the locality.

At this point, the NPAs fired on the patrolling soldiers, triggering a five-minute firefight.

The rebels fled and left behind two of their companions who were quickly captured.

Col. Cesar M. Idio, 903rd Infantry Brigade commander, identified the captured rebels as Joseph Esperanzate and Noli Rangel.

Two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and subversive documents were recovered from them.

The captured rebels were immediately turned over to the Philippine National Police in Gubat for filing of appropriate charges.

Sorsogon and Masbate remain to be the focus of SolCom's internal security operations in the Bicol region.

"Our effort in Sorsogon and Masbate is slowly being realized and felt," SolCom head Lt. Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya said.

"With our focused military operations and the participation of the civil society, we are optimistic that the insurgency problem in the region will be resolved soon," he said.

Soldier hurt in Compostela Valley ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 16): Soldier hurt in Compostela Valley ambush

A soldier from the 25th Infantry Battalion was wounded in a New People's Army (NPA) ambush at Sitio Sta. Lucia, Barangay Camanlangan, New Bataan, Compostela Valley Saturday afternoon.

Eastern Mindanao Command public affairs office chief Capt. Alberto Caber said on Sunday the government security troops were conducting routine patrols when they were fired upon by about 20 NPA fighters from the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

The wounded soldier was immediately brought to a medical facility for treatment.

Caber said the rebels quickly fled after a 20-minute firefight.

A concerned citizen reported that there were wounded NPA members who were carried by their companions during their withdrawal.

Pursuit operations are ongoing.

More planes to arrive for PAF before end of 2015

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 16): More planes to arrive for PAF before end of 2015

(PNA News Feature) --- Expect more brand-new aircraft to join the inventory of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) before the end of this year.

This was revealed by PAF spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya Sunday, a full day before the air service is set to receive eight brand-new Bell-412EPs and two attack versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109Es at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City Monday, Aug. 17.

In the pipeline are the remaining six attack AW-109Es, two Airbus Military C-295 medium-lift transport aircraft, two Indonesian-made CN-212i light-lift transport planes, and the first two Korea Airspace Industries F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" jet aircraft.

Canaya said these new aircraft is a "positive development in terms of our organization."

"(All these planes) will arrive before the end of the year, so we are looking forward to the arrival of these new aircraft," he added.

Earlier, Canaya stressed that the PAF's mobility and close-air support capabilities will be greatly boosted with arrival of eight Bell-412 EP combat utility helicopters and two attack versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109Es Monday,said in a message to the PNA.

"The additional helicopters will certainly help increase (the) capability of the PAF. The Bell-412EPs have better lifting capacity suitable for mobility of troops and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations while the AW-109Es will augment the existing MG-520 gunships in close-air support to ground forces when needed," he added.

These attack AW-109Es are armed with .50 caliber machinegun pods and 2.74-inch rocket launchers.

The Department of National Defense on March 2014, signed a Php4.8 billion contract with Canadian government for the delivery of eight Bell 412EP helicopters.

The order for eight attack AW-109Es signed in June 2013 is worth Php3.44 billion.

Canaya said five of the Bell-412EPs will be assigned to the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing while the remaining three will be configured as VIP transports, for use of APEC delegates, and operated by the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing.