Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pacific Angel Philippines partnership building commences

From DVIDS (Aug 19): Pacific Angel Philippines partnership building commences

Pacific Angel Philippines partnership building commences

Medical professionals from the U.S. Air Force, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Royal Australian Air Force traveled to Paaralang Elementary school to provide students information about oral heath, general hygiene and rabies prevention during Pacific Angel in Lila, Philippines, Aug. 17, 2015. Pacific Angel is a multilateral humanitarian assistance civil military operation, which improves military-to-military partnerships in the Pacific while also providing medical health outreach, civic engineering projects and subject matter exchanges among partner forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich/Released)

About 70 U.S. service members and five partner nations began work on a multitude of civil military relief operations here Aug. 17.

Thousands of people, young and old, are set to reap the benefits of Pacific Angel Philippines from medical outreach to engineering projects affecting six local schools.

However, those benefits, while important, are not the only ones derived from the operations.

Pacific Angel Philippines provides an opportunity to establish partnerships and capability building that takes place between U.S. service members and their host country, along with five other partner nations and Philippine non-governmental organizations.

The capacity building and civil military projects take place in and around the seaside town of Tagbilaran in Bohol province and will involve members of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy along with service members from the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea.

"The U.S. and the Philippines value the mutually beneficial alliance that has existed since 1951," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jamie Lindman, Operation Pacific Angel mission commander. "We share a rich history and a strong relationship. We are here with our Pacific counterparts to learn how military personnel from different countries provide aid and help to those in need. We learn a great deal about each other's mannerisms, and the relationships that we cement are used in future contingency operations around the world. The added benefit is that this this type of engagement experience also allows us to provide necessary aid to the great people of Bohol province. We are pleased to work with our multilateral partners to assist them."

The week's events are a culmination of months of coordination between the U.S., partner nations and Philippine non-government organizations. Planners identified opportunities for engagement, reviewed projects for implementation and established supply chains to aid in operation implementation.

"These activities were a big step towards the attainment of bringing peace, promoting safety, and winning the hearts of the people," said Philippines Lt. Col. Gerald Naldoza, Armed Forces of the Philippines commander. "The learning exchanges benefited all participants as they were able to understand how each organization works during calamities. By the end of the exercise, the response capability of the military participants and stakeholders will be enhanced; the school buildings and its facilities will be repaired, and the community will have been provided with medical and dental services. This endeavor truly brings the government closer to the hearts of the people."

Now entering its eighth year, the Pacific Angel program ensures that the region’s militaries are prepared to work together to address humanitarian crises. Since 2007, Pacific Angel Philippines operations have improved the lives of tens of thousands of people in nations throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Army chief calls on NPA to surrender but admits rebels won't be beat without 'social pressure'

From InterAksyon (Aug 20): Army chief calls on NPA to surrender but admits rebels won't be beat without 'social pressure'

NPA guerrillas in the Caraga region ( file by Erwin Mascarinas)

Saying 46 years of armed struggle has gotten them nowhere, Army commander Lieutenant General Eduardo Ano again urged the New People’s Army to surrender but, at the same time, acknowledged that military might alone would not be enough to defeat the communist rebels.

Which is why Ano said they would continue to intensify both “military and social pressures” as a strategy.

“Eventually that is going to be the final solution. With only 4,000 of them remaining it is impossible to kill all of them … very costly. All you have to do is really to provide the pressure so that they will realize that there is no sense in fighting, the armed struggle is no longer relevant, it’s already a farce,” he said.

Over the years, all chiefs of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines began their stints with promises to eliminate or decisively defeat the communist rebels. All have retired with the NPA still a force to reckon with despite billions of pesos spent yearly by government for its counterinsurgency programs, including the current administration’s Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan.

When he took over the 90,000-strong Army, Ano admitted that the threats posed by the NPA and other armed groups in some areas of Mindanao, such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Abu Sayyaf remained their priority.

This ran counter to previous statements of AFP and Department of National Defense officials that the military was ready or has been transitioning to external defense in the face of China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

Ano also admitted the Army is still struggling to modernize its equipment and capability to deal with internal threat groups.

In fact, AFP chief General Hernando Irriberi earlier recommended the realignment of funds intended for external defense projects – among these the P6.5-billion Shore-Based Missile System -- to prioritize the upgrading of equipment and capabilities of soldiers in battling internal threats.

The move earned Irriberi and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin flak from security experts.

Still, earlier this week, Gazmin admitted the AFP cannot achieve the minimum credible external defense posture President Benigno Aquino III promised before he steps down in 2016.

Also recently, notwithstanding predictions of victory over the rebels, the government issued new rules handing back to the military the main responsibility for internal security and relegating the Philippine National Police to a supporting role, notwithstanding the declaration of many provinces as “insurgency-free.”

Ano also urged all sectors, including media, to work with government to convince the rebels to abandon armed struggle.

He said military pressure through focused operations should work in tandem with social pressure through the support and cooperation of all stakeholders.

“The social pressure includes alternative options like developmental projects, engaging the rebels through peace negotiations, convincing them to lay down their arms in exchange of alternative livelihoods, among others,” Ano said.

Palawan, Subic bases eyed for new fighter jets

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Aug 20): Palawan, Subic bases eyed for new fighter jets

The Philippines is eyeing the construction of military facilities in Subic and Palawan as it awaits the arrival of 12 lead-in fighter trainer jets acquired from South Korea.

Documents obtained by The STAR showed that the government is spending P135.99 million for the basing support system for the 12 FA-50 jets.

The jets were acquired from state-run Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) at P18.9 billion, making them the biggest item in the military’s upgrade program. Two of the jets may be delivered by yearend.

The Department of National Defense confirmed the project but maintained that it is not directed against any country.

DND spokesman Peter Galvez said it is necessary to build new facilities as the military acquires new air assets. He added that Subic and Palawan are ideal locations for the FA-50 jets.

“Subic has an existing runway which is ideal for operating the FA-50s and medium-lift aircraft. Palawan will provide us with an alternative site for the possible deployment not only of the FA-50s but other aircraft as well,” Galvez told The STAR.

“The preparations of those two locations are being undertaken in accordance with the defense establishment’s intention of addressing concerns in internal and external security as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” he added.

The DND previously confirmed that Subic Bay – site of what used to be the largest overseas defense facility of the US – would be reopened to host the military’s naval and air assets, given its strategic location.

Palawan, meanwhile, is the province nearest the Spratly Islands, a potentially oil- and gas-rich area being claimed in whole or in part by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

MNLF cancels Sulu meet due to AFP buildup

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Aug 20): MNLF cancels Sulu meet due to AFP buildup

Nur Misuari has canceled a meeting between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the government in Indanan, Sulu after getting hold of a military intelligence report that troops have been sent to arrest him.

The plan to arrest Misuari came after the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) invited him to attend exploratory talks for the possible resumption of peace talks with the government, according to MNLF spokesman Absalum Cerveza.

“We were alarmed at the massive military deployment near MNLF stronghold,” he said.

Misuari called the meeting in preparation for the tripartite meeting brokered by the OIC in Manila next month, Cerveza said.

Misuari has formed a panel to represent him in the tripartite meeting among the government, the OIC and the MNLF, he added.

However, the OIC noticed a military intelligence report leaked by their asset showing that the government has conducted a survey on the possible impact on the criminal case against Misuari should he be arrested, Cerveza said.

Misuari has a standing warrant of arrest related to the three-week siege on Zamboanga City two years ago that killed hundreds of people.

The OIC brokered the 1996 government-MNLF peace accord.

5 suspected NPAs killed in Bukidnon clash

From GMA News (Aug 19): 5 suspected NPAs killed in Bukidnon clash

Five suspected New People's Army rebels were killed while two Army soldiers were wounded following a clash in the southern Philippine province of Bukidnon, a military statement said Wednesday.
The Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command said the encounter occurred at 4:14 p.m. Tuesday when elements of the 3rd Special Forces Company of the 1st Special Forces Battalion were fired upon in Barangay Mendiz in Pangantucan town. 
The ensuing firefight left five members of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee dead, with government troops also recovering an AK-47 assault rifle, 19 backpacks, food and medical supplies and other documents.

The wounded troops were brought to a medical facility, the same statement said.

At the time of the clash, the government troops were on security patrol responding to reports on the presence of armed men in the area.

"The soldiers retaliated with the volume of fires coming from the NPA side," the statement quoted Lt. Col. Lidasan, battalion commander, as saying.
The military said that according to the villagers, the insurgents were led by certain alias Andy, who immediately escaped from the scene together with other companions.
Lidasan said they have coordinaed with Bukidnon authorities for the proper disposition of the five slain rebels whose identities are not immediately available. 
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines remain stalled.

5 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed, 8 wounded in Basilan clash –military

From GMA News (Aug 19): 5 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed, 8 wounded in Basilan clash –military

Five suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group were killed while eight others were wounded in two encounters with government forces on Wednesday in Sumisip town in Basilan, military officials said.

The government, on the other hand, lost one man in the firefight, according to Col. Rolando Bautista, commander of the military’s Joint Task Group Basilan. One soldier was also wounded, he said.

“The firefight unfortunately resulted in one killed and one wounded on the government side while reportedly, two killed and six wounded on the enemy side,” he said.

Bautista said his men were conducting combat operation in Barangay Baiwas, a known Abu Sayyaf stronghold, at around 11 a.m. when they chanced upon some 60 bandits.

Bautista could not give other details of the clash, saying, “As of now, the pursuit operation is ongoing so it's really hard to give exact details from troops who are on pursuit.”

The clash occurred a day after troops from the Army’s 4th Special Forces Battalion clashed with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Barangay Limbobong, also in Sumisip.

According to Lt. Col. Eliglen Villaflor, the battalion commander, sporadic firefight with the undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf members lasted for about 40 minutes.

He said the enemies were under Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders Radzmil Janatul, Juhaibel Alamsirul and Pasil Bayali.

“Reports received by this unit states that the ASG were seen dragging away their casualties, three killed and two wounded,” said Villaflor. No soldier was killed or injured in Tuesday’s encounter.

Last Friday, some members of the Army’s 4th Special Forces Battalion clashed with Abu Sayyaf men in Barangay Upper Benengbengan in Sumisip town, leaving a soldier and an Abu Sayyaf member dead.

Sent to court

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 19): Sent to court

Cases filed vs lumad bakwits’ support groups part of vilification campaign – Rep. Zarate

EIGHT individuals, including a congressman, are facing criminal charges before the City Prosecution Office for alleged involvement in detaining the lumads at the UCCP Haran compound along Fr. Selga Street.

Sued for serous illegal detention and violation of Republic Act 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act” are Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Kerlan Fanagel, Datu Ginumao Andi, Sheena Duazo, Tony Salubre, Joel Virador, Juno Vegas, and Malaya Genovacia.
But Rep. Zarate said “these (complaints) are pure lies; clearly trumped up charges and part of the vilification campaign against those who support the legitimate cause of the lumad bakwits.”
The respondents were charged based on the complaints of a 14-year-old girl who was allegedly a rape victim, Datu Lumansad Basong Sibugan, and Datu Anastacio Balid.
Based on the affidavits of the complainants, they went to Haran because they were harassed by the military in their ancestral lands. But when they decided to return home because the Haran compound was crowded, they were not permitted to leave.
Apart from the affidavits submitted on August 12, the private prosecutor also submitted a copy of the medical certificate of the rape victim, a police blotter dated July 22 and 23, and pictures.
Zarate however said that “the people behind these charges are the same reactionary elements behind the misrepresentation of the findings of UN Special Rapporteur Chaloka Beyani who said that the bakwits were not trafficked persons and were in fact manipulated to return to their communities against their will.”
“These manipulators are mistaken if they believed that these charges will deter or scare us in pursuing our advocacies, particularly the defense and advancement of human rights. We will not take this sitting down as we will also file counter charges against these people,” Zarate said.
Meanwhile, 16 members of different progressive groups are also facing charges for campaigning to demilitarize Lumad schools in the Davao Region.
Based on the logbook of the City Prosecution Office, 16 individuals are facing charges.
The Eastern Mindanao Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit filed kidnapping charges and illegal detention on May 12 against Mary Ann Sapar, Gabriela Southern Mindanao secretary general; Kharlo Manano, Salinlahi Alliance for Children secretary general; Rev. Jurie Jaime, Sheena Duazo, Hanimay Suazo, Ryan Lariba, Tony Salubre, Jimong Marciano, Jaja Necosia, Pedro Arnaldo, Kerlan Fanagel, Sr. Stella Matutina, Sr. Restita Miles, Isidro Andao, Riuz Valle and many John Does.

20 Abu Sayyaf militants slain in Mindanao clashes – military

From Rappler (Aug 20): 20 Abu Sayyaf militants slain in Mindanao clashes – military

File photo of Filipino soldiers in Sulu

File photo of Filipino soldiers in Sulu

Soldiers clashed with Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremists on two islands in the southern Philippines leaving 20 of the rebels dead even as fighting continued to rage, according to the military.

The latest and fiercest battle took place on Wednesday, August 19, in Indanan town on the southern island of Jolo where troops, seeking to rescue Abu Sayyaf hostages, encountered about a hundred members of the Al-Qaeda-linked group, said Brigadier General Alan Arrojado, commander of the island's military task force.
Fifteen Abu Sayyaf were killed in the fighting as the military used artillery barrages to drive off the rebels' reinforcements, he told reporters.
There were no reports of casualties on the military side but a firefight is still going on in Jolo, Arrojado added. He made no mention of any of the kidnap victims.
On the nearby island of Basilan, about 890 kilometres from Manila, patrolling soldiers ran into a band of Abu Sayyaf fighters on Tuesday, Agusut 18, sparking two days of clashes that left five extremists and one soldier dead, a military report added.
Both Basilan and Jolo on the country's southwestern tip, are known strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf, a loose band of several hundred armed men that was founded in the 1990s with seed money from the Al-Qaeda network of Osama Bin Laden.
The group often resorts to kidnappings for ransom, targeting foreigners when possible, sometimes beheading its captives if ransom is not paid.
Last week, the decapitated body of a village official kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf was found in Jolo.
The Abu Sayyaf is currently holding at least seven hostages, according to the military.
The group has also been blamed for the worst terror attacks in the country, including the firebombing of a ferry off Manila bay in 2004 that killed over 100 people.

Deleted provisions in proposed BBL can no longer be restored, Belmonte says

Posted to InterAksyon (Aug 20): Deleted provisions in proposed BBL can no longer be restored, Belmonte says

The requests of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to restore at least 28 provisions that lawmakers deleted under the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not acceptable, said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte on Wednesday.

Belmonte said the 98-man ad hoc committee on the BBL, chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, had cautiously crafted the BBL version, which is now being deliberated in the plenary to make this constitutionally complaint.

“We have advanced quite a lot in the BBL. We have to stick to that and Congressman Rodriguez pointed out to me that a lot of changes we have advocated were basically in the Senate version so if we succeed in approving our version which is now pending, ‘di na rin masyadong malayo sa Senate discussion to reconcile the two conflicting versions,” Belmonte told House reporters.

“We have been proceeding very cautiously, but very deliberately on this thing (BBL) and what we have done is substantial,” Belmonte added.

Belmonte vowed to mobilize quorum during sessions starting next week to push for the approval of the BBL on third and final reading next month after recent sessions were adjourned due to absence of quorum.

Belmonte, Rodriguez and other House leaders met last week with Mohaqher Iqbal, who is both chairman of the BTC and chief negotiator for the MILF to discuss the restoration of the deleted provisions.

Earlier, the BTC, composed of representatives from the MILF and other sectors from Mindanao, drafted the BBL.

The measure, a product of negotiations between the government and the MILF, seeks to create a new autonomous region in Mindanao.

House Bill 5811, which is a substitute bill for HB 4994 (An Act Providing Basic Law for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region) is still in the period of interpellations with at least 15 congressmen, including Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat who is the measure’s most vocal critic.

Iqbal said in a previous interview that MILF would continue lobbying until they convince lawmakers to restore the 28 provisions deleted by the committee; they would follow it up to the plenary and their last resort -- the Bicameral Conference Committee.

When asked by reporters what will they do if Congress continues to turn down their request, Iqbal said “they will cross the bridge when they get there.”

For his part, Rodriguez admitted that it was very difficult for him to restore the 28 provisions deleted from the original BBL draft because the product of their work is a compilation and agreement of all members of the panel.

“Of course you cannot do [deleting] that. We have worked on this for months of consultation from people affected in Mindanao. We need to balance the law that will favor all Mindanaons,” he said.

He pointed out that whatever would be the outcome of the law, it must be accepted by the proponents or leave it if they think that they cannot adopt the new version.

Kidnapped PCG personnel escapes from Abu Sayyaf captors

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 20): Kidnapped PCG personnel escapes from Abu Sayyaf captors

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) operative SN2 Gringo Villaruz successfully escaped from the hands of his captors at the height of the battle between Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits and Joint Task Group Sulu operatives Wednesday.

This was confirmed by Capt. Antonio Bulao in a message to the PNA Thursday.

"Likewise, kidnapped victim, SN2 Gringo Villaruz was able to escape from his captors at the height of the firefight and was rescued by operating troops at the vicinity of Barangay Buanza, Indanan, Sulu," he added.

Bulao said government security forces immediately evacuated Villaruz to Kutang Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Trauma Hospital for medical examination.

Villaruz along with SN1 Rod Pagaling and Barangay chairman Rodolfo Buligao were kidnapped by ASG bandits last May 4.

The brigands demanded a multi-million pesos ransom for the three and threatened to behead the victims if their demands were not meet.

Bulagao's headless body was found last Aug. 11.

Wednesday's clash took place at 5:25 p.m. at the vicinity of Sitio Marang, Barangay Buanza, Indanan town, Sulu Wednesday afternoon.

Joint Task Group Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado said troopers from 1st Scout Ranger Battalion under Lt. Col. Eugene Boquio were conducting "focused military operations" in the area when they encountered an estimated 80 to 100 brigands under ASG sub-leaders Yasser Igasan and Alhabsy Misaya.

The encounter scene is near a known Moro National Liberation Front stronghold where Nur Misuari is allegedly staying.

And in the ensuing firefight, 15 ASG bandits were killed with no losses sustained by the government side.

Artillery fire was also provided to government troops.

Arrojado said that five of the slain ASGs were recovered along with three firearms.

Pursuit and scouring operations are ongoing as of this posting. Many of the bandits are believed to have been wounded in the encounter.

15 ASG bandits killed in Sulu clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19): 15 ASG bandits killed in Sulu clash

Fifteen Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits were reportedly killed during an encounter with Joint Task Group Sulu units at Sitio Marang, Barangay Buanza, Indanan town, Sulu Wednesday afternoon.

Joint Task Group Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado said the encounter took place at 5:25 p.m.

He added that troopers from 1st Scout Ranger Battalion under Lt. Col. Eugene Boquio were conducting "focused military operations" in the area when they encountered an estimated 80 to 100 brigands under ASG sub-leaders Yasser Igasan and Alhabsy Misaya.

The encounter scene is near a known Moro National Liberation Front stronghold where Nur Misuari is allegedly staying.

And in the issuing firefight, 15 ASG bandits were killed with no losses sustained by the government side.

Artillery fire was also provided to government troops.

Arrojado said that five of the slain ASGs were recovered along with three firearms.

Pursuit and scouring operations are ongoing as this posting.Many of the bandits are believed to be wounded in the encounter.

2 cops, 1 marine soldier killed in Zambo shootout

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19): 2 cops, 1 marine soldier killed in Zambo shootout

A parallel investigation is being conducted to determine the root cause of the shootout that resulted to the death of three people--two policemen and a marine soldier--and injured a civilian in this city.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) director, disclosed the shootout occurred around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Barangay Labuan, 36 kilometers west of City Hall.

The parallel investigations are being conducted by the military’s Joint Task Force Zambasulta and the ZCPO’s Special Investigation Unit.

Casimiro refused to issue statements surrounding the circumstances that triggered the shootout between the Regional Public Safety Battalion-9 (RPSB-9) policemen and Marine Battalion Landing Team-9 (MBLT-9) troops.

Killed in the shootout were PO3 Alkashmir Lipae and PO1 Muhsin Jainul of RPSB-9 and Cpl. Jason Marqueses of the MBLT-9.

Wounded was Herminio Ardo, a vendor of ballot (fertilized duck egg), who was hit in the crossed fire.

Both the RPSB-9 and MBLT-9 troops were deployed to Barangay Labuan to prevent repetition of kidnapping incidents in the area.

So far, three people--two teachers and a businesswoman--were kidnapped in Barangay Labuan as of 2014.

Col. Andrelino Colina, Task Force Zamboanga commander, said initial information disclosed the marine troops together with Police Station 10 policemen were conducting patrol when allegedly the two RPSB-9 confronted them, thus, the shootout ensued.

Meanwhile, Chief Supt. Miguel Antonio, newly-installed Police Regional Director-9 (PRO-9), has ordered the pull out of the RPSB-9 policemen to defuse the tension in Barangay Labuan.

Casimiro said the RPSB-9 policemen were replaced by the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel under the Zamboanga City Public Safety Company (ZCPSC).

2 Abu Sayyaf brigands, 1 soldier killed in Basilan clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19): 2 Abu Sayyaf brigands, 1 soldier killed in Basilan clash

Two Abu Sayyaf brigands and a soldier were killed while seven others were wounded in a firefight in the nearby municipality of Sumisip, a top military official disclosed Wednesday.

Col. Rolando Joselito Bautista, Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade commander, disclosed that the firefight broke out around 11 a.m. Wednesday in Barangay Baiwas, Sumisip.

Bautista said the firefight broke out as the troops chanced upon around 60 Abu Sayyaf brigands while conducting combat operations in Barangay Baiwas.

The identities of the slain Abu Sayyaf brigands as well as that of the soldier were not immediately available.

Bautista said that one of the seven wounded is a soldier who was airlifted to a military hospital for treatment.

He said troops were deployed to track down the fleeing Abu Sayyaf brigands, who scampered to different directions.

He added that the clash site is an identified stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf brigands in Sumisip town.

Dilapidated school in Maguindanao refurbished by 6th ID, other stakeholders

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19): Dilapidated school in Maguindanao refurbished by 6th ID, other stakeholders

In line with its community development missions, the 6th Infantry Division, together with the Police Regional Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Provincial Government of Maguindanao formally turned over a refurbished school building to the teachers and students of Bakat Elementary School in Rajah Buayan town, Mguindanao on Tuesday.

Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the repaired and repainted school building has four classrooms.

The school facility was heavily dilapidated prior to its repair and refurbishment by the 6th Infantry Division troopers and other stakeholders.

"With its commitment to the growing needs in education, 6ID, PRO-ARMM and the office of the Provincial Government of Maguindanao initiated the repair of the school building that would contribute to the peace and development efforts in the region," Petinglay stressed.

The turnover ceremony was jointly officiated by 6th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Edmundo R. Pangilinan, Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu and Rajah Buayan Mayor Zamzamin Ampatuan.

Navy armed AW-109Es now capable of shipboard action

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19): Navy armed AW-109Es now capable of shipboard action

The Philippine Navy (PN)'s armed AgustaWestland AW-109E helicopters, which was commissioned last Aug.10, is now capable of shipboard service.

This was disclosed by PN public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna in a message to the PNA Wednesday.

"(The two armed AW-109Es are) now capable of shipboard operations and the crew are continuously honing their skills," he added.

The ship where the armed AW-109Es made their first deck landings was the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-15), one of the two Gregorio Del Pilar-class frigates in PN service.

The landings were part of the ship's operational readiness evaluation for this year.

Lincuna said the landings (deck landing qualification in Navy parlance) took place last week.

All pilots and crewmen of the two armed AW-109Es participated in the exercise, he added. p>The PN's armed AW-109Es are equipped with two .50 caliber machinegun pods and six 2.74 inch rocket launchers each.

The PN's AW-109E contract for five helicopters, including the two armed units, is worth Php1.33 billion.

The AW-109 "Power" is a three-ton class eight seat helicopter powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW206C engines.

The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

The aircraft’s safety features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW-109 has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions.

Its superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective maritime helicopter in its class.

For shipboard operations the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures.

The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW-109 to perform its mission when many others helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.

Over 550 AW-109 "Power" and AW-109 light utility helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers in almost 50 countries. (

PA teaches its best practices to Sri Lankan military officers

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19): PA teaches its best practices to Sri Lankan military officers

In line with its efforts to foster military cooperation with other allied nations, the Philippine Army (PA) shared its best practices in a command briefing, open forum and interaction with student-officers of the Defense Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) of Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

The Sri Lankan military delegation was headed by Commodore AARK Perera, the Chief Instructor of Naval Wing of the DSCSC.

The group also made a courtesy call on PA commanding general Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año.

Col. Jose C. Faustino Jr., PA Education and Training assistant chief-of-staff, warmly welcomed the Sri Lankan visitors.

“We are indeed honored with your visit to the Philippine Army for this is a great opportunity for us to foster good relationship between our Armed Forces,” he said.

“Your effort to deepen our defense cooperation is well-appreciated as this will further broaden our understanding of our respective military systems, and can serve as an avenue to exchange views, experiences and best practices between our respective defense establishments," Faustino stressed.

The 19-member delegation from the DSCSC of Sri Lanka arrived in the Philippines for their Overseas Study Tour last Aug. 12.

The team is also expected to visit the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.

The Overseas Study Tour aims to develop mutual understanding and foster good relations through defense diplomacy with other nations. It is also an assessed activity for the DSCSC students in their Strategy Module with the broad theme to evaluate and analyze the elements of national power of the visited country in comparison with Sri Lanka.

It can be noted that the Philippine Army serves as a model to other armies in the ASEAN region, particularly in its humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities.

The DSCSC is the most prestigious and the highest seat of military education in Sri Lanka. It sets out to train officers in basic command and staff techniques, and develop their intellectual attributes to cope with their future appointments and the challenges that comes with it.

International engagements like this is continuously being pursued by the Philippine Army.

Under the Army Operating Concept, the Philippine Army, as a joint-ready and combined arms force, "will operate in a joint, inter-agency, intergovernmental and multi-national setting.

As such, the Army will endeavor to cooperate and collaborate with joint force, government and civilian partners locally and internationally.

The PA, as part of the joint force, must be fully interoperable with other services in order to ensure unified action among joint forces.

AFP orders units to be extra vigilant in wake of Bangkok bombings

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19): AFP orders units to be extra vigilant in wake of Bangkok bombings

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has ordered all its units to be extra vigilant and coordinate closely with their police counterparts to foil a Erawan Shrine style bombing attack from happening in the country.

In the above-mentioned attack, 22 people were killed and 120 others wounded when still unknown bombers targeted the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand last Aug. 17.

"I (have) directed our forces to be extra vigilant and conduct measures to prevent similar incident(s) to occur in our country," AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri said.

"Our efforts are in coordination with the Philippine National Police and other organizations engaged in security services," he added.

Iriberri said this edict is in line with his orders to make the Philippines inhospitable to all threat groups.

As this develops, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato clarified that there are no indications that similar attacks will take place here.

"There is none as of the moment, but nevertheless, the Chief-of-Staff has ordered our troops to be extra vigilant, (and) this means we will just increase our (security) activities and taskings, " he stressed.

Detoyato said this means military units must be on the lookout "for any indicator, or indications or any relevant information that must be pursued."

5 rebels killed, 2 troopers hurt in Bukidnon clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19): 5 rebels killed, 2 troopers hurt in Bukidnon clash

Five New People's Army (NPA) fighters were killed while two members of the 1st Special Forces Battalion were wounded during an encounter in Bukidnon Tuesday afternoon.

Capt. Alberto Caber, Eastern Mindanao Command public affairs office chief, said the clash took place at 4: 14 p.m. at the vicinity of Barangay Mendiz, Pangantucan town, Bukidnon.

He added that the slain rebels were from the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

Also recovered were an AK-47 automatic rifle, 19 backpacks, food and medical supplies and subversive documents.

Caber said that government troopers were conducting patrols when fired upon by the NPAs.

And in the issuing firefight, five rebels were killed while two soldiers were wounded.

Pursuit operations are still ongoing as of this time.