Monday, August 24, 2015

MILF: OP and Congress remain committed to the enactment of mutually-accepted BBL: Sec. Deles

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 25): OP and Congress remain committed to the enactment of mutually-accepted BBL: Sec. Deles

OP and Congress remain committed to the enactment of mutually-accepted BBL: Sec. Deles

Despite calls to pass on to next administration the enactment of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, told MindaNews on Sunday (August 23) that the Office of the President and the leadership of both Houses of Congress “remain committed to the enactment of a meaningful and mutually acceptable BBL within President Aquino’s term of office.”

“Towards this end, we expect legislative action to move rapidly in the next few weeks,” she said.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez also told MindaNews that they “still have time to finish the bill by September 15” (11 session days from August 24) and that “there will be quorum tomorrow (Monday) up to Wednesday.”

“I agree with Rufus,” Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur, said. “Never say die,” he told MindaNews.

Lawyer Jesus Dureza, former Representative of the 1st District of Davao City and former government peace panel chair said he expects “best efforts to pass ASAP but if not attainable, Congress as a continuing institution will pass it at its own mandated pace and time and collective judgment.”

“We should not all be transfixed at whether it is the ‘present’ or the ‘next’ administration,” Dureza.

“There significant work still needs to be done in fixing the two versions sponsored in the Senate and House of Representatives”, Tony La Vina, Dean of Ateneo School of Government said.

Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said, “You don’t quit when you’re almost there. You fight the good fight.”

“We should do this with the Aquino administration,” MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said on Monday. 

Iqbal, also chair of the GPH-MILF Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that drafted the BBL, had pointed out that “no BBL is better than a bad BBL.”

“Let me assure you once again that the MILF will not accept a bad BBL,” Iqbal said during the “Dialogue on House and Senate Bills on BBL” organized by the Institute of Autonomy and Governance on August 20 at the Dusit Thani hotel in Makati.

He acknowledged the limited time left to pass the Basic Law, but added, “For me I still believe it can be done.”

Guiamel Alim, Executive Director of the Kadtuntaya Foundation and a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, said that, “If you pass a weak BBL, it makes things worse. If you wait for the next administration, you don’t know who they will be”. 

“But the same people in Congress who don’t like the BTC draft will still be there… Every which way is a losing proposition. To invoke UN resolution to resolve the Bangsamoro question will take generations. For now, I don’t have any proposal to move forward. I am confused, I am stressed. My hope for peace is running out,” Alim also said.

Alim said government can save face by saying the draft BBL is severely mangled “but by all indicators, Congress will pass a BBL that is acceptable to both houses of Congress and to the Supreme Court and also the larger Filipino population regardless of whether it is acceptable to the MILF and the Bangsamoro.”

“Let’s call a spade a spade,” lawyer Ishak Mastura of the Cotabato City-based Bangsamoro Study Group, told MindaNews.

“Marcos and Rufus and their ilk hijacked the BBL agenda with a watered down version less than ARMM and just a mere local government unit like a province. Marcos publicly admitted it is no longer a BBL but another thing altogether. So if we continue along the hijacked agenda what does that say about PNoy (President Aquino) and MILF and supporters of the peace process?”

Mastura cited several flaws in SB 2894 or the substitute bill filed by Marcos, among them that the ARMM under RA 9054 can legislate its own Local Government Code but the Marcos bill is silent on it.

“This makes the LGUs beyond the supervision of the Bangsamoro government and a formula for another failed autonomous region where the LGUs do not have much accountability to the regional government.  As it is, the LGUs in the ARMM are already under the impression that the ARMM is a mere extra layer of bureaucracy for the LGUs because of the disconnect between the regional government and the LGUs,” he said.

The Marcos bill is “worse than the ARMM because it does not just repeat problems in the ARMM with its practically dysfunctional relations with LGUs but even exacerbates it,” said Mastura, also chair of the ARMM’s Regional Board of Investments and co-convener of the ARMM’s Promotion of Investment Sustainability Organization.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, ARMM Executive Secretary from December 2009 to December 2011 and a member also of the Bangsamoro Study Group said there is a clear attempt in SB 2894 “to change the autonomy framework.”

He explained that in the Senate version, “they clearly transferred some of the concurrent powers to reserved powers and redefined some of the powers inside the concurrent powers, making it clear that it is no longer concurrent, rather, it is reserved.”

MILF: “Be extra careful in the treatment of proposed BBL”: Gov. Hataman

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 24): “Be extra careful in the treatment of proposed BBL”: Gov. Hataman

“Be extra careful in the treatment of proposed BBL”: Gov. Hataman

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman appealed to the legislators to be extra careful in the treatment of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

His call came amid reports that the Senate version of the BBL has replaced 80 percent of the provisions of the Malacañan-MILF Peace panel agreed version submitted to Congress on September 10, 2014, while the House of Representatives made around 30 revisions.

Gov. Hataman said he and other ARMM officials are concerned over raised apprehensions that the substitute version no longer stands for the aspirations of the Moro people for a genuine independence and self-rule.

"We take note of how precarious the current situation and a diluted BBL will only worsen the lives of Moro people in Mindanao," Gov. Hataman said.

He said it is the call of the Mindanaoans to the lawmakers in Senate and House of Representatives to pass a BBL that will result in the creation of a political entity that is way better than the ARMM.

He also said that anything lesser than the ARMM will not solve the problem of Mindanao and the Moro people.

He said the imperfections of Republic Act 9054, an act to strengthen and expand the organic act for the ARMM, restricted the regional government's implementation of its development goals and reform agenda. 

He said what the Moro people want is a law that truly addresses the historical injustices committed against the Moro people, "something that will give genuine autonomy to a people whose longing has always been to self-govern."

"We appeal for them to reflect on the lives of the Moro people in Mindanao who will directly suffer from the gaps in the delivery of services once a weak and diluted law is passed," he added.

MILF: Belmonte optimistic House can still pass Bangsamoro Law

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 24): Belmonte optimistic House can still pass Bangsamoro Law

Belmonte optimistic House can still pass Bangsamoro Law

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr is optimistic that the House of Representatives could still pass the proposed controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite the problem on quorum.

“I am still hopeful. We will work hard because the peace measure is very important to attain peace and the President was right in pushing for its approval,” he said in a text message to reporters.

“I’ve been texting the members to help us, from each of the component parties of the majority, of the coalition. I anticipate something better next week,” he said.

Last week Belmonte met with leaders of the Liberal Party-led majority coalition to seek their help in gathering sufficient attendance so the House could speed up debates on the proposed BBL.

The bigger political groups belonging to the majority bloc are the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), Nacionalista Party (NP) and National Unity Party (NUP).

Sharing the speaker’s optimism on the eventual passage of the draft BBL, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, principal sponsor of the measure, said there is enough time between now and December to pass the proposed law.

 “We should not be on election or campaign mode yet. The May 2016 balloting is still eight months away. We can pass the BBL provided there is quorum,” he said.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III agreed with Belmonte and Rodriguez.

“I think that we can push for the approval of the BBL along with the 2016 national budget before the end of the year. I am sure we will pass the budget. We should also pass the BBL so that we approve two measures before the election season,” he said.

Realistically, Albano said the House and the Senate could only pass the 2016 budget and the proposed BBL.

“I don’t think we will have time for other measures,” he added.

MILF: “We still have time to finish the bill by September 15”: Rep. Rodriguez

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 24): “We still have time to finish the bill by September 15”: Rep. Rodriguez

“We still have time to finish the bill by September 15”: Rep. Rodriguez

Despite 15 session days left to tackle the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Rep. Rufuz Rodriguez of Cagayan De Oro City, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL is confident “They still have time to finish the bill by September 15.”

“There will be quorum on Monday (August 24) up to Wednesday. We will have interpellations,” Rep. Rodriguez  told MindaNews in a text message.

The period of interpellation on House Bill 5811, the substitute bill filed by Rodriguez’ committee started June 2 and was suspended on June 10 when Congress adjourned sine die. At that time, only eight of the 38 who had signed up, completed their interpellation.

Interpellations were supposed to have resumed on August 4 but no quorum was mustered on August 4 and 5.

No interpellation was done on the third week – August 17, 18 and 19 – again because of quorum problems.

At the Senate, the period of interpellation on SB 2894, the substitute bill, was supposed to have started on August 17 but senators asked for another week to study the bill. Interpellations will begin Monday, August 24.

On August 16, Rodriguez told DZBB that he hopes his colleagues would be present on August 17 “until we finish this bill for the second and third reading in the middle of September” because according to the calendar of the Committee on Rules, the 2016 budget will be debated in the plenary by September 28.

“There will be no more debates, so therefore the real deadline for the passage of the BBL is on or before Sept. 28,” Rep. Rodriguez said.

Rep. Rodriguez also told MindaNews on August 16 that there were “only 16 representatives left to interpellate,” as some of those who signed up had backed out. He said the 16 includes Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat and Biazon, who have yet to complete their interpellations.

No interpellation was done on August 16, 17 and 18, again due to quorum problems.

The period of interpellation is followed by the period of amendments. The House then votes on the measure, transmits it to the Senate, Senate acts on the approved bill of the House and this is followed by a Conference Committee. The bill is then transmitted to the President who will either approve or veto the bill.

If no BBL is passed before Congress goes on recess, elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will proceed as scheduled in 2016.

The substitute bills in the House and the Senate are being criticized for paving the way for a Bangsamoro that will be “less than the ARMM that it seeks to replace.”

The draft BBL was submitted to Congress by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in ceremonial rites held in Malacanang on September 10, 2014. It became HB 4994 in the House and SB 2408 in the Senate. These were replaced by substitute bills HB 5811 and SB 2894.

The BTC “strongly expresses its support to the passage of the BBL in its original form (HB 4994), as the provisions of the same are consistent with the letter and spirit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the peace talks.”

The resolution also said it “stands firm” that HB 4994 “is the most appropriate version based on the FAB and CAB and considering that it is the one that underwent the legitimate process of consultation with the people and engagement with the Office of the President.”

The BTC also “implores the better judgment of the leadership of both Houses of Congress to pass the BBL in its original form and to henceforth act according to the terms of the peace agreements.”

Rep. Rodriguez emphasized that they may not be able to heed the BTC’s call be for two reasons: “We impressed on them that if we lose those (representatives) who supported us then, we will have a more difficult chance in the plenary… I hope the MILF will see that what we have done is for the best interest of the Bangsamoro and also for Congress”.

CPP/NDF/NPA: 1st Special Forces Battalion Troops Massacred Samia and Somina Families in Pangantucan, Bukidnon

NDF/NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Aug 24): 1st Special Forces Battalion Troops Massacred Samia and Somina Families in Pangantucan, Bukidnon

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Media Statement
August 22, 2015

1st Special Forces Battalion troops massacred Samia and Somina families in Pangantucan, Bukidnon

The butcher unit from the 3rd Special Forces Company of the 1st SF Battalion under Capt. Balatbat mercilessly slayed five members of Samia and Somina families in Brgy. Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon last August 18, 2015.

Lt. Col. Jesse Alvarez, commanding officer of the 403rd Brigade himself, boastfully pronounced to the media the victory of their men in killing the hapless victim peasants namely: Herminio Samia (70 years old) and his son Joebert Samia (20), Norman Samia (13), Elmer Somina (17) and Emir Somina (19). They were peppered even though they raised their hands in surrender. Their dead bodies were sent by members of the Pangantucan police station to a Funeral Parlor in Valencia City and there they were claimed by their relatives the day after. Col.Alvarez and 4th Infantry Division spokesperson Capt. Martinez repeatedly stated that they were NPA members.

At around 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon of that day, almost simultaneous with the massacre, an NPA guerilla unit encountered troops from the 3rd SFC on the mountainous spot which is more or less four kilometers from the victim’s hut. On this firefight, 2nd Lieutenant Alvin Cantala Balangcod was killed and Private First Class Virgil Soto Rubantes was gravely wounded. On the other hand, two NPA fighters were wounded and a firearm was left behind.

This year, it is fitting for the 1st Special Forces Battalion based in Mampayag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon to be decorated with the skull medal due to their brutal record in civilian killings. Last March 28, soldiers of the 1st SFB massacred a group of peasant claimants in Bugna, Brgy. Casinglot, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental. Four farmers were killed and three suffered wounds in the incident. Like the Samia and Somina families, they were suspected to be members of the NPA. Last February 13, 2015, a local tourist guide, carrying a camera tripod, was wounded when SF troopers strafed a seven-man group of foreign bird watchers trekking in Sityo Damitan, Brgy. Dalwangan, Malaybalay City proceeding to Mt. Kitanglad. The Special Forces transmitted that they encountered the NPA in that area.

Being herein assigned, the 1st SFB and other AFP forces clearly manifested their unwavering mercenary stance in serving the interests of the imperialist plantations and otherenterprises of the ruling class. This killing of the farm dwellers aims to terorrize the peasants and Lumad in order that their wide plains on the foot of the Kitanglad and Kalatungan mountain ranges be grabbed as augmented land for plantations expansion.

The NPA-Mt. Kitanglad is in unity with the relatives, neighbors and friends of the Samia and Somina families in their grief of this tragedy that even up to the victims’ funeral, the fascists were still present on guard. With this situation, they must remain steadfast in standing up to their rights, in preserving their ancestral domain and for demanding justice.

It is proper that the murderer troops of the 1st SFB should answer to the crime. Col. Alvarez of the 403rd BDE and the high officials of the 4th ID should also shoulder the responsibility for the deaths of these poor taxpayers who were the ones providing their salary.

Mamerto Bagani
NPA-Mt. Kitanglad Sub-regional Command

CPP/NDF-Visayas: APEC’s Neoliberal Agenda Further Underdevelopment, Worsen Economic Conditions of Cebuanos and the Entire Filipino People

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Aug 23): APEC’s Neoliberal Agenda Further Underdevelopment, Worsen Economic Conditions of Cebuanos and the Entire Filipino People

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conferences in Cebu have begun. Other parts of the Visayas have also hosted APEC conferences throughout the year. These meetings will culminate in APEC’s Economic Leader’s Meeting in Manila this November.

There has been a media hype on the APEC Summit. Local organizers claim that hosting the APEC Summit 2015 provides opportunities to boost Cebu’s economy. It is said to feature the province’s business environment and thus attract investors.

Such sugar-coating cannot conceal the day-to-day sufferings the Cebuanos and the Filipino people have long endured brought about by economic policies aggressively pushed by imperialist organizations like APEC. Since its establishment in 1989, the APEC has done nothing but ensure the interests of the advanced capitalist economies especially that of the United States. Its key role is to facilitate the implementation of the components of neoliberal globalization namely trade and investment liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization in underdeveloped countries.

The current Aquino Regime is an avid neo-colonial puppet of the United States. The “free market” globalization policies it adopted bodes a deepening and an intensification of the backwardness of the Philippine economy which means worsening poverty, persistent joblessness and landlessness, the exodus of overseas Filipino workers, further commercialization of education and other basic services, and more. It is a sell out of our resources, patrimony and sovereignty.

The brunt of the effects of neoliberal globalization is mostly felt by the broad masses.
In Cebu, the daily minimum wage of P275-P340 is not sufficient to decently provide for an average household size of 5 people. It is a far cry from the needed daily family living wage of P1,086. Contractualization and the two-tiered system worsen working conditions. Furthermore, the prices of basic needs and commodities have unceasingly increased.

The on-going privatization of the Metro Cebu Water District through PNoy’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and the already private-owned Visayan Electric Cooperative have brought about the increase of water and electricity prices in the first half of 2015.

This year, there is a projected increase of 544,000 persons in Cebu province and the cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu. This means additional congestion in the urban poor areas where there are day-to-day threats of demolition. This migration to the cities is caused by landlessness and the lack of decent work opportunities in the rural areas. In North Cebu, especially in towns affected by typhoon Yolanda, poverty has aggravated due to government neglect and the corruption of public funds. The programs intended for rehabilitation and recovery are anti-poor and favor foreign interests and tourism.

More PPPs will be implemented in Cebu like the Bus Rapid Transit wherein 2,614 Public Utility Jeepney drivers will be affected in its Phase 1 implementation.

Moreover, the PPP scheme’s supply and pricing of public service is biased to the profits of the private provider and is not driven to serve the need of the majority of the people.

The education sector is not spared from the effects of neoliberal globalization. PNoy’s K-12 program will further the already declining quality of education. Its said objective to adapt to international standards is actually aligning the educational system to the demand of foreign markets. Schools, aside from being diploma mills, will become producers of cheap labor-ready youth.

All these are manifestations of the detriment caused by imperialist agenda particularly of the US. It is a result of a Philippine economy that for decades has been servile to imperialist mechanisms like the APEC.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) – Visayas stresses the need to raise the awareness of the Filipino people on the adverse effects of the APEC to the Philippines contrary to the bogus development touted in mainstream media. We must actively oppose the neoliberal offensives that have been eagerly implemented by the Aquino II Regime. A national democratic revolution through protracted people’s war is necessary to end the current semi-feudal and semi-colonial crisis and attain national liberation and democracy, national industrialization, agrarian reform and genuine socio-economic development.

Pax Enguerra
NDFP Visayas Media Liaison

CPP/NDF: Enrile release smacks of political quid pro quo — CPP

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Aug 21): Enrile release smacks of political quid pro quo — CPP

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines
Press Release
August 21, 2015

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said the release yesterday of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile from detention on bail granted earlier by the Supreme Court smacks of political quid pro quo, especially in the light of the upcoming 2016 elections.

“Enrile’s release from detention is all part of the game of political accommodation being played by the ruling political elite,” said the CPP. “His release could only have been effected with a political exchange deal with the Aquino regime.”

“The revolutionary forces join the Filipino people in denouncing the Aquino regime for having cooked up a political quid pro quo with Enrile leading to his release on bail,” said the CPP.

Legal analysts point out that in granting Enrile’s petition for bail, the Supreme Court made the extraordinary discretion of deciding on the matter which many assert should have been properly decided on by lower trial courts.

The CPP points out further that Aquino-appointed Ombudsman lawyers did not oppose Enrile’s petition, “a clear indication of political collusion.”

“It is outrageously deceitful to claim that Enrile was released on humanitarian grounds because there is no such thing under the Aquino regime or the reactionary judicial system,” said the CPP. “The fact is that thousands of prisoners, including scores of political detainees, are in dire need of medical attention including those who are in their advanced age or are nursing mothers.”

Enrile is identified with the faction supportive of Vice-President Jejomar Binay who is set to run against Aquino-endorsed interior secretary Mar Roxas for president in next year’s elections. Enrile was detained last year on charges of plunder over the use of pork barrel funds. Similarly charged and currently detained are fellow senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, also identified with the political opposition.

“What form of political advantage Roxas gained or Binay lost in Aquino’s deal with Enrile will be more clearly revealed in the coming months,” added the CPP.

“The Filipino people have long demanded that Enrile be punished for his innumerable crimes against the people over the past five decades as the paramount fascist, bureaucrat capitalist and puppet of the US imperialists,” said the CPP.

“In fact, Enrile should long have been imprisoned and punished for his long list of crimes ranging from plunder and corruption since the 1970s to his role in the 1981 Sag-od Massacre of peasants in Las Navas, Northern Samar and his role as chief administrator of the Martial Law regime who ordered the torture and solitary confinement of activists and Marcos’ political opponents,” added the CPP.

The CPP also pointed out to Enrile’s role in the killing of KMU leader Rolando Olalia and Leonor Alay-ay in 1987.

ASG on the run after heavy losses

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 24): ASG on the run after heavy losses

Ten more Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members were killed in the military’s continued operations in Patikul, Sulu, bringing to 25 the number of bandits slain since Thursday’s successful rescue of two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) hostages.

According to Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commanding general of the Sulu Joint Task Group, 10 ASG combatants were slain after artillery fire was used to chase down fleeing members of the terror group.
The ASG has reportedly been split into numerous groups in Patikul and and Indanan towns in a bid to evade pursuing elements of the Sulu Joint Task Group.

The Group had earlier engaged the ASG in a fierce encounter Thursday that allowed PCG men Gringo Villaruz and Rod Allain Pagaling to escape after more than three months in captivity.

Villaruz and Pagaling have since been reunited with their families.

According to Arrojado, the bandits have since been thrown into panic and have fled Patikul together with some foreign hostages which included Malaysian and Korean nationals.

In that Thursday operation, 15 ASG bandits were killed while 16 others were injured.

MILF 'not giving up on BBL' despite calls to disengage

From the Philippine Star (Aug 24): MILF 'not giving up on BBL' despite calls to disengage

The MILF revealed that some groups are asking its members to disengage from the BBL

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is not giving up on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite criticisms and the decision of lawmakers to amend its original proposal.

The MILF revealed that some groups are asking its members to disengage from the BBL, believing it is already a “lost cause.”

“To them, it's (BBL) chance to pass Congress is not only slim but dims everyday as the month of August is ending and September comes in so fast. In fact, one group including some legal minds (have) already urged the MILF to give up on pushing for the proposed law,” an editorial posted on the MILF website read.

“It is a lost case, they argued, and therefore the MILF should disengage. They cited the two substitute bills in the House and the Senate which are (a) far cry from the original BBL,” it added.

MILF said it was also criticized by a “prominent media practitioner” for “trusting the government too much.”

“Similarly, one leader of the other Moro liberation organization had told the MILF that the BBL is a hopeless case to pursue, citing their bad experience with the government.

‘What they did to us, they will do it to you,’ he warned,” MILF said, apparently referring to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Founded by Nur Misuari, the MNLF aimed to create an independent Islamic state in the south. The group inked the Tripoli deal with the government in 1976, which led to the formation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 1996.

An MNLF faction led by Misuari, however, returned to armed struggle because it opposes the peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF last year.

The peace deal between the government and MILF serves as the basis of BBL, which will form a new Bangsamoro entity with greater economic and political powers.

The measure, however, is being opposed by critics who are worried about the extent of the powers of the proposed Bangsamoro government. Opponents of the measure have also vowed to question BBL’s legality before the court once it is signed into law.

MILF remains optimistic that the BBL will be enacted under President Aquino’s term.

“But the necessary question is. If the MILF is to disengage right now, what are the implications and alternatives? Who will be on the bad side of history? Truth is that many a person criticizes an idea or decision, but he or she has nothing to offer. Often their decision is caused by emotions and not a well-thought-out idea,” the group said.

“The BBL is not yet dead on track. There is still chance for it to pass Congress. President Benigno Aquino III will deliver; we still believe in this. We also trust the collective wisdom of Congress to pass the proposed law, a good BBL,” it added.

MILF previously said that the BBL would not likely to be enacted if Congress does not approve it by October.

Army to study impact of K to 12 on recruitment

From the Philippine Star (Aug 24): Army to study impact of K to 12 on recruitment

An applicant should have completed at least 72 college units to be accepted to the military. File photo

The Army is studying the impact of the K to 12 program on its recruitment efforts, saying it may adjust some requirements to prepare for the changes under the new curriculum.

Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao noted that an applicant should have completed at least 72 college units to be accepted to the military. The K to 12, however, will reduce the number of subjects to 36 units for all students from 63 units for humanities and social science majors and 51 units for science, engineering and math majors.

“Before, one can earn the 72 units at the age of 18. If one earns the 72 units in college, he will be able to have a career. Most probably we are going to adjust the requirements,” Hao said.

“We realized that we should study the implication of the K to 12 program,” he added.

Hao said the Office of the Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Reservist and Reserve Affairs is now conducting the study.

“The worst scenario is our rules may not be able to meet our own requirements. We really have to prepare for it,” he added.

The Army is also assessing the impact of the K to 12 on age of its officers coming from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.

“The ROTC program remains a major manpower source for the reserve force as well as the regular force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Hao said.

A total of 111,733 students are taking up basic ROTC while 2,423 others are enrolled in its advance training course.

The ROTC is one of the three components of the National Service Training Program (NSTP), which seeks to instill patriotism among Filipino college students.

Other NSTP components are the Civic Welfare Training Service, which allows students to participate in developmental programs and the Literacy Training Service, which requires students to teach basic skills to school children.

The mandatory ROTC program was abolished following the death of University of Santo Tomas student Mark Chua, who exposed the alleged irregularities in his unit.

The program was scrapped in 2002 after then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act 9163, which created the NSTP.

New version of Philippine map to be released

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Aug 25): New version of Philippine map to be released

A new version of the Philippine map would be released by the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF) – and it will not only include Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal as part of the country’s territory but also identify each of the contested islands by their names during the Spanish era.

KWF chairman Virgilio Almario yesterday said they aspire to issue the new map within the year. Once completed, the new Philippine map may be viewed on the KWF website.

By using the native names of the disputed islands, Almario said Filipinos would be able to provide proper references to them, aside from stressing the Philippines’ sovereignty over the territories.

“If I would be able to do it my way, I would look for the original name of some of these islands so that we would be using their real names. For instance, the Scarborough Shoal, who would believe that it is owned by the Philippines… They have native names so we should do research,” said Almario, a National Artist for literature.

He noted that Beijing uses Chinese names for the islands to emphasize their territorial claim.

Scarborough Shoal is sometimes referred to by its native names, Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc.

But as for the other islands in the West Philippine Sea, Almario admitted the need to conduct research using maps available during the Spanish period.

For this project, Almario said they would be coordinating with the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA).

Meanwhile, in observance of the month-long Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa, the KWF re-launched the “Aklat ng Bayan” project.

Under the project, books on world literature were translated into the Filipino language.

Since last year, the KWF has translated 25 books, which include world literature as well as anthologies of Ilocano, Bicolano and Hiligaynon regional writings.

Almario clarified that profit was last on his mind when they came up with the Filipino translation of such books.

“It (sales) is not important to us. What is important is what is needed in the education and to show that Filipino is a language that could be used anywhere, and not only for gossip,” he said.

Air Force attack helicopters compliment to MD-520MG

From Ang Malaya (Aug 24): Air Force attack helicopters compliment to MD-520MG

Delivery of eight Philippine Air Force (PAF) AgustaWestland AW-109E “Power” attack helicopters will be completed before the end of this year. “We expect six more attack helicopters that will come before the year ends,” PAF commander Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado said.

The Air Force formally commissioned first two of eight attack AW-109Es last August 17.

Lt. Gen. Delgado is confident that the remaining six units will be mission-capable before the last quarter of 2015.

The Philippine government signed the contract for eight units of attack AW-109E with AgustaWestland in 2013 for PhP3.44 billion.

The night capable AW-109Es are assigned to 15th Strike Wing and will perform the role similar to existing MD-520MG in conducting closed-air support, armed air reconnaissance, forward air control and armed escort. The AW-109Es are armed with .50 caliber machine gun pods and rocket launchers.

Japan’s Abe seeks military expansion to deter rising China

From Ang Malaya (Aug 25): Japan’s Abe seeks military expansion to deter rising China

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants his country to deploy forces overseas for the first time since WWII to check China’s growing military power, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb told Sputnik.

The United States, Korb said on Monday, would certainly benefit from Japan taking on a larger role in the region, but Washington is not the primary driving force behind Tokyo’s military buildup.

“I think it’s Abe… if you look both at his economic plan and his military plan,” Korb explained. “The Chinese are increasing their military capacity and the Japanese feel they have to increase theirs.”

Members of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force conduct small arms weapons training aboard U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu.

Abe wants to ensure that the Japanese can defend themselves if the Chinese do take military action, he added, a fear that has been fueled by the Senkaku islands territorial dispute and China’s perceived aggressive behavior in the South and East China Seas.

The Japanese prime minister, Korb argued, believes that World War II ended 70 years ago and it is time to broaden the interpretation of his country’s constitution so Japan can adequately defend itself.

On Sunday, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Japan to protest security bills that Abe has been pushing through the legislature to expand Japan’s military to levels not seen in seven decades.

The Senkaku islands, known as the Diaoyu islands in China, are the subject to long-standing regional territorial disputes between China, Japan and Taiwan. The islands are part of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture.

Japan’s has a pacifist constitution and under Article 9 the country is prohibited from engaging in war.

Soldiers in NegOr commended

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 24): Soldiers in NegOr commended

Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commanding officer of the 3 rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division of the Philippine Army, led the pinning of ranks and awarding of merit medals to outstanding personnel of the 79 th Infantry (Masaligan) Battalion based in Siaton, Negros Oriental, recently.

Guerrero was guest of honor and speaker at the 9 th foundation anniversary of the Army unit August 19, attended by unit friends, visitors and stakeholders, despite the intermittent downpour brought on by typhoon “Ineng”, its press release said.

The pinning of ranks to six promoted personnel, awarding of military merit medals to nine personnel, and pinning of personnel readiness badges to 30 soldiers highlighted the celebration. Guerrero also presented a plaque of recognition to retired Col. Nestor Porlucas, the first commanding officer of the battalion.

Forty-two civilians and groups received the Gawad sa Masaligan award for their supportive to the unit, the press release also said.

Guerrero congratulated the Battalion, adding that “despite being young, it had contributed far reaching effects to people in its area of operation.” He also recognized the individual and collective effort of the Masaligan troopers for their service to the people of Negros Oriental, and parts of Negros Occidental and Siquijor.

The unit was founded Aug. 16, 2005. Events such as a thanksgiving mass, sports festival, launching of the “Apo i CARe” environmental campaign for the preservation of Apo Island, awarding of certificates of recognition to partners, and a thanksgiving dinner were held before the highlight of the celebration August 19, the press release added.

Soldiers to continue ‘bayanihan’ projects in Leyte’s remote villages

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 25): Soldiers to continue ‘bayanihan’ projects in Leyte’s remote villages

Soldiers of 19th Infantry Battalion (IB) will continue to carry out its “bayanihan” (heroism) project in remote villages of Leyte until December.

The bayanihan team concluded last week their mission for the month of August, benefiting more than 700 school children from poor families in far-flung villages of Rubas in Jaro town and Tinaguban in Carigara town.

The Army delivered school supplies, shoes and toys donated by government troopers and their partner, SM Foundation.

In September, the team will be moving to upland villages of Kanangga and San Isidro in Leyte.

Rubas and Tinaguban villages were one of those remote villages of Jaro and Carigara towns, which used to be under the control of the New People’s Army.

The nearest market is a four hours walk through a bumpy road. Most parents are farmers and had no sufficient income to provide basic needs for their children.

However, though it’s hard for children to study without books, paper, and pencils, still they gather every day at school, driven by their desire to learn.

Marites Dador, 41, mother of Marvin, a first grade learner of Rubas Elementary School, struggles hard daily to bring food to the table.

“It has been my desire to buy him one, but I never got the chance to do so. I could not even afford to buy a pair of shoes. Our money is only good for our daily food,” Marites Dador said.

A big smile was seen on Grade 6 learner Juliemar Elises’s face when he opened a bag full of school supplies and when he tried to wear a pair of shoes for the first time.

Juliemar comes from large family. His father’s meager income from farming bars them from buying non-food needs.

Lt. Col. Reymondo A. Delgado, commander of 19th IB, recalled the pride and excitement in the children faces when they received their school supplies, shoes and toys.

“They reacted like kids receiving gifts on Christmas Day. These kids don’t have sets of clothes and with no pair of shoes for years and to have one is really an amazing gift,” Delgado said.

City gov't, military conduct medical mission in remote community in Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 25): City gov't, military conduct medical mission in remote community in Samar

CALBAYOG CITY, Samar -- The city government in partnership with the Philippine Army has joined efforts to provide access to health services to far-flung communities.

In line with this, hundreds of underprivileged patients in Macatingog village, one of the most remote community along the city’s Oquendo Left River benefited from a medical and dental mission conducted by the two offices over the weekend.

Village chairman Melchor Loberiano thanked the government for bringing health services to their village.

“This really brings us relief as we have no regular access here to health facilities and medical services due to distance and poverty," Loberiano said

Meanwhile, Mayor Ronaldo Aquino assured village officials that the city government will continue working with them in the realization of the city’s future development initiatives for the village.

With this, the official assured infrastructure development projects for the community, which include the rehabilitation of Bayo-Dawo-Macatingog Road section worth PHP11,000,000.

For his part, Lt. Col. Carmelito Pangatungan said the activity is part of bringing their mission to disadvantaged communities within their area of responsibility through team activities. The initiative is aimed at protecting residents of remote areas from the deceptive activities of lawless elements.

Macatingog was once categorized by the military as a New People’s Army (NPA)-controlled area. This means there has been the presence of a significant numbers of rebels residing in the village.

Army reports said the NPA even had the capacity to even supersede the village council by force and protests the presence of soldiers in the community.

However, the increased visibility of military personnel in the village made the villagers aware of the real intention of the bandits which is to ruin the people's strong desire for peace and development.

JICA continues aiding Muslim Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 25): JICA continues aiding Muslim Mindanao
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) continues to pour in assistance to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), making it the biggest peace and development contributor in the region, officials said Tuesday.

On Monday, a school building worth PHP2 million was turned at the Kibleg Elementary School in Upi, Maguindanao as part of the continuing support from JICA “to peace and development in Mindanao.”

According to Akihiko Tanaka, JICA president, the building is one of the 20 Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) initiated by JICA, aimed at supporting “the ongoing peace-building process in Mindanao and help people realize the dividends of peace in their lives.”

The building houses rooms for Kindergarten and Grade One pupils of the school.

“These two-classroom buildings will be beneficial to us, especially to the natives of this place,” according to school principal Nestor de Vera.

Established in 1950s, the Kibleg Elementary School has been catering mostly to Teduray indigenous people. Teachers previously used temporary school buildings to cope with the increasing number of enrolees, especially in Nursery and Kindergarten.

"This building meets our long time problem of lack of classrooms," Marilou de Vera, 56, a teacher for 32 years.

The project aims at addressing the town’s classroom deficiency for the increasing number of pre-school enrolees in the area, and the use of temporary classrooms by the teachers.

“The schoolchildren will learn more and better because of the new classrooms, which are very conducive to learning,” Upi Mayor Ramon Piang said.

The early QIPs, which include multi-purpose halls, warehouses with solar dryer, and school buildings, have already benefited people in conflict-affected areas like Maguindanao, Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Basilan, Sulu, Sarangani, Tawi-Tawi, Sultan Kudarat, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Zamboanga Sibugay.

JICA is an agency of the Japanese government responsible for implementing technical cooperation, grant aid, and yen loan programs of Japan’s overseas development assistance to developing countries like the Philippines.

Tanaka, JICA chief representative in the Philippines Noriaki Niwa, together with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, MILF municipal political committee chairman Sumail Mensong, Bangsamoro Development Authority executive director Mohammad Yacob, Mayor Piang, and school principal de Vera led the turn-over ceremony.

Iqbal recognized what he described as steadfast aid and assistance provided by Japan to Muslim communities and other less developed areas of Mindanao.

"Japan has been here long before our peace agreement with the government was forged. Regardless of the outcome of the draft basic law, Japan is helping us and continue to do so without preconditions," Iqbal said in Filipino.

"Japan has been the biggest contributor of our desire to attain peace in our communities, not only through monetary aid by capacity building as well," Iqbal said, adding that Japan also sent in experts in reconstruction and rebuilding of conflict affected communities in Mindanao.

He also recognized and appreciated the efforts of other donor countries in the peace and development efforts for Muslim communities.

VIDEO | US Marine Pemberton fought but did not murder Laude, says lawyer

From InterAksyon (Aug 26): VIDEO | US Marine Pemberton fought but did not murder Laude, says lawyer

US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton. (Photo: Facebook)

A US Marine accused of murder told a Philippine court Monday he fought with and subdued a transgender Filipina in self-defense but denied murdering her, his lawyer said.

Eight months after he was charged over the death of Jennifer Laude, US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton admitted they fought after oral sex because Laude did not have a female organ, said his lawyer Rowena Flores.

The trial is closed to the press and court officials do not comment on details.

The case has attracted national attention as the Philippines seeks closer defense ties with its longtime ally the United States, in the face of Chinese territorial claims in the West Philippine (South China) Sea.

Pemberton, who was 22 at the time, said Laude, 26, slapped him and caused him to respond "in defense", Flores said.

"After some time, to subdue Jeffrey, Joseph Scott Pemberton held his (Laude's) head under his armpit. Jeffrey stopped moving. Joseph Scott Pemberton tried to revive him," Flores added, using the victim's former name of Jeffrey.

She quoted Pemberton as saying "I felt like I was raped by Laude."

"He (Pemberton) was so repulsed and so disgusted because he did not give his consent to allow a man to do that to him," Benjamin Tolosa Jr, another lawyer for Pemberton, said.

Harry Roque, a lawyer representing the victim's family at the trial, said the US marine testified he held Laude in an "armlock" until she stopped moving.

"He then dragged her to (the) bathroom and dumped her," Roque added.

Bakit, yun sa tingin niya, ang pagsampal ay nagkaroon ng banta sa kanyang buhay dahil malinaw naman na kalmot lang ang kanyang natamo (Why, as Pemberton testified, was the slap a threat to his life when it was clear that he only sustained a scratch),” Roque said.

Jennifer’s mother was not convinced with Pemberton’s testimony.

Nanginginig ako. Talagang hindi ko… gusto kong batuhin, kasi sinungaling (I’m trembling. I really cannot… I want to throw something at him because he’s a liar,” Jennifer’s mother, Julita Laude, said.

She said that if Pemberton was indeed innocent, why didn’t he seek the help of his colleagues when Jennifer fell unconscious.

Another lawyer for the family, Virgie Suarez, said Pemberton confessed to choking Laude but said he thought she was just unconscious.

Flores said Pemberton told the court he left Laude "alive in the bathroom".

Pemberton's lawyers again insisted that the modus operandi of Laude's group was to deceive others into believing that they were females.

Government prosecutors confirmed Pemberton testified but did not comment further.

Earlier, they said Pemberton and Laude had left a bar in the northern port of Olongapo City and checked in at a nearby motel, where they alleged the American strangled the victim.

Pemberton, who had just taken part in joint US-Philippine military exercises nearby when the alleged murder occurred, was taken to the Olongapo trial court Monday by armed escort from his cell at a Philippine military camp in Manila.

He was the second witness for the defense.

His mother Lisa Pemberton took the stand a week ago, when lawyers said she identified letters from family friends and relatives attesting to his good character.

[Read related story: US Marine Pemberton puts mom on witness stand in Laude murder case]

The judicial proceedings will continue until December.

Here's a related News5 video report by Mon Gualvez:

[Video report]

Philippines, Malaysia Maritime Training Activity reels off in Zamboanga City

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 24): Philippines, Malaysia Maritime Training Activity reels off in Zamboanga City

A five-day Maritime Training Activity (MTA) between the Philippine Navy (PN) and the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) reeled off Monday in this city.

Rear Adm. Primitivo Gopo, Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) commander, said the primary objective of MTA is to enhance interoperability between the PN and RMN forces and develop better understanding and cooperation between the two navies

Gopo said the activity dubbed as the “MTA MALPHI-LAUT 18/15, which ends on August 28, involves the conduct of various exercises ashore and afloat in the vicinity of this city and in the Moro Gulf.

Gopo said the MTA consists of three phases with main focus on maritime security and transnational crime.

The first phase or the harbor phase is from August 24 to 25 that comprises the arrival of the RMN ships at the NFWM headquarters; courtesy calls; communications protocol discussion; opening ceremony; subject matter expert exchange lectures; special operations activities; naval aviation training and operations planning activities.

The second phase or the at sea serials is from August 26 to 27 involves combined ship maneuvers to address various contingencies at sea.

The third phase is from August 27 to 28 involves the MALPHI sports cup activity; closing ceremony; the Great Sta. Cruz Island tour; and, departure of RMN ships.

The MTA MALPHI-LAUT is an annual bilateral training activity between the PN and RMN ships, aircraft, and special operations units whereby the two navies alternately host the conduct of the activity.

This year’s MTA which is hosted by the PN, will be the 18th training activity to be conducted since the signing of the Defense Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Philippines and Malaysia in 1994.

The PN and the RMN annually conduct MTA MALPHI-LAUT to strengthen the relationship and enhance mutual cooperation between the two navies through the development of combined operational doctrines, practices and naval tactics.

This year’s MTA involves the participation of 157 PN sailors and 136 RMN sailors.

Trooper hurt in NPA clash in Davao Del Sur Sunday

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 24): Trooper hurt in NPA clash in Davao Del Sur Sunday

A trooper from the 73rd Infantry Battalion was wounded during an encounter with an estimated 40 New People's Army (NPA) fighters in Malita town, Davao Del Sur Sunday afternoon.

Capt. Alberto Caber, Eastern Mindanao Command public affairs office chief, said that the soldiers were conducting routine security patrols in Purok Glamang, Sitio Malbag, Barangay Little Baguio, of the above-mentioned town when they encountered rebel forces under one alias "Dodong" of the NPA Far South Regional Committee at 5: 45 p.m.
A 45-minute firefight then erupted and resulted in the wounding of the government soldier and several others in the NPA rank.

Troops are still conducting pursuit operations.

It can be recalled that the security forces under the AFP's Eastern Mindanao Command supported the heightened PNP checkpoints at strategic areas to complement the pursuit operations of military units following the atrocities and rampage perpetrated by NPA bandits in some parts of Agusan del Sur and Davao Del Sur.

Cousins gunned down in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 24): Cousins gunned down in Sulu

Government security forces are now tracking down the six suspects behind the fatal shooting of two cousins in Indanan town, Sulu Sunday afternoon.

The incident took place at 2: 20 p.m., Joint Task Group Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado said.

He identified the fatalities as cousins Frazer Undog and Pidal Undog.

The two were gunned down by six suspects, armed with .45 caliber pistols and clad in bonnets, as their motorcycle was passing at the vicinity of the Manpower Building, Buotan Village, Barangay Kajatian, Indanan.

After seeing their quarry dead, the gunmen fled in different directions.

Lumads accused military of massacre of five civilians

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 24): Lumads accused military of massacre of five civilians

The family of the five persons killed in Bukidnon called for an independent probe of the alleged encounter between the military and New People's Army (NPA) rebels Wednesday last week.

In a press conference here Monday, Eryo Inahan, Chairman of the Manobo Farmers Association in Pangantucan, Bukidnon, said that the victims, who died in a reported military encounter in Pangantucan, Bukidnon last Wednesday, were innocent civilians.

“We want the military to clear the names of the victims because they (victims) were not rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) as alleged by the military,” Inahan told the local press.

Inahan said that the oldest among the victims was a blind 72-year-old man and the youngest was a 14-year-old minor, all members of the Manobo clan, an indigenous tribe in Bukidnon.

He identified the victims as Mateo Samia, 72, brothers Wilmer and Elmer Simena, Ibe Samia and the 14-year-old minor as Kadong Samia.

Inahan said that Lontoy Samia, 15, the elder brother of Kadong Samia, managed to escape to tell the alleged massacre story.

Lontoy alleged that the military shot them one-by-one after they went down from their house on orders of the military, Inahan said.

Capt. Patrick Martinez, the spokesperson of the army’s 4th Infantry Division, said that they encountered a group of armed rebels in the village of Mandog Mendez, 9-kilometers from the town of Pangantucan last Wednesday.

He said that the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) in the municipal police station in Pangantucan conducted an investigation of the incident and submitted an official report about the death of the victims.

Based on the SOCO report, the military recovered 19 backpacks, an AK-47 rifle, and the bodies of the five persons in the encounter site, Martinez said.

“While the military laments the unfortunate incident, the family of the victims has the right to call for an investigation – it is their right,” Martinez said in response to the accusation of the Manobo tribesmen association.

Troops told to renew commitment to AFP values

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 24): Troops told to renew commitment to AFP values

As the nation makes its first observance of the “Armed Forces of the Filipino People Week” under Republic Act No. 10644 this month, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Hernando DCA Iriberri called on Filipino soldiers on Monday to renew their commitment to the values of the AFP.

“Let us renew our commitment to the values of honor, service and patriotism,” he stressed.

Iriberri also reminded every soldier, airman and sailor of the AFP to remember the courageous sacrifices of all members of the AFP, past and present, to inspire them to fulfill their duty to the Filipino people.

“For the first time in our history as an institution and in the history of our nation…we highlight the role of officers and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the accomplishment of our nation’s goals through the years,” he said.

By virtue of R.A. 10664, otherwise known as “An Act Declaring the Last Full Week of August as Armed Forces of the Filipino People Week,” the last week of August will be spent in the observance of “Armed Forces of the Filipino People Week” starting this year.

Iriberri said the declaration should give every AFP member “more reason to do the best, be the best on the frontline, in the community and every instance of our service.”

The law was approved by President Benigno S. Aquino III last July 6 “to give due recognition to the important role and contribution of past and present Filipino Military Officers and personnel.”

Under this law, the Department of National Defense is mandated to urge all citizens to recognize the event and by holding programs and activities in its observance.

18th training activity between PN, RMN now ongoing

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 24): 18th training activity between PN, RMN now ongoing

This year's Maritime Training Activity (MTA) between the Philippine Navy (PN) and the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), which formally started on Monday, is the 18th joint naval drills since the signing of the Defense Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding between the Philippines and Malaysia in 1994

The annual bilateral training activity between the PN and RMN ships, aircraft, and special operations, dubbed as "MTA MALPHI-LAUT 18/15," will last for five days or until Aug. 28. It is taking place at the waters under the control of Naval Forces Western Mindanao, specifically Moro Gulf.

Both navies alternately host the naval exercise.

Rear Adm. Primitivo Gopo, Naval Forces Western Mindanao commander, said the five-day naval drills seek to enhance interoperability between the PN and RMN forces and develop better understanding and cooperation between the two navies.

"MTA MALPHI-LAUT 18/15" consists of three phases with primary focus on maritime security and transnational crime.

Gopo said the first phase is the harbor exercises which is from Aug. 24 to 25 and comprises the arrival of the RMN ships at the Naval Forces Western Mindanao headquarters in Zamboanga City and attendant courtesy calls; communications protocol discussion; opening ceremony; subject matter expert exchange lectures; special operations activities; naval aviation training and operations planning activities.

The second phase or the at sea serials is from Aug. 26 to 27 and involves combined ship maneuvers to address various contingencies at sea.

The third phase from Aug. 27 to 28 involves the MALPHI sports cup activity; closing ceremony; the Great Sta. Cruz Island tour; and departure of RMN ships.

This year’s MTA involves the participation of 157 PN and 136 RMN sailors.

Pre-bid opening for PAF's SF-260FH engine assembly project slated for Aug. 26

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 24): Pre-bid opening for PAF's SF-260FH engine assembly project slated for Aug. 26
Pre-bid conference for the Philippine Air Force's (PAF) SIAI-Marchetti SF-260FH engine assembly project is scheduled on Aug. 26.

It will be held at 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

Meanwhile, the bid opening is on Sept. 10, 9 a.m., at the same venue.

The PAF is allocating the sum of PhP4,250,000 for the acquisition of an engine assy (assembly) for one of its SIAI-Marchetti SF-260FH aircraft.

The latter refers to the assembly housing the plane's engine or powerplant.

The SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 (now Alenia Aermacchi SF-260) is an Italian light aircraft marketed as an aerobatics and military trainer.

It was designed by Stelio Frati, originally for Aviamilano, which flew the first prototype of it (then designated F.260) on July 15, 1964.

Actual production was undertaken when SIAI Marchetti purchased the design soon thereafter and continued with this firm until the company was bought by Aermacchi in 1997.

The military versions are popular with smaller air forces, which can also arm it for use in the close-support role.

The PAF is known to have between 10 and 18 units of the above-mentioned aircraft in its inventory.

Permberton admits strangling, killing Laude

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 24): Permberton admits strangling, killing Laude

Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, on trial here for the death of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in October last year, admitted on Monday to the crime, saying he choked him but it was “in self defense.”

Pemberton, appearing at the Regional Trial Court Branch 74 as a witness for the defense, told presiding judge Roline Ginez Jabalde the circumstances that led his killing of Laude.

Lawyer Harry Roque, one of the private prosecutors, told the media in a press briefing, that Pemberton made the admission during his testimony.

Roque said that Pemberton told the court Laude was performing oral sex on him when he suddenly felt a penis when put his hand between the legs.

The US serviceman said he was shocked at the discovery and pushed back Laude, who fell from bed but got up and went to him to slap him in the face.

He said he retaliated by putting his hand in Laude’s neck and tried to choke him.

He said he saw Laude stopped moving and thought he lost consciousness because of what he did and he dragged his body to the bathroom to try to pour water on him to revive him.

He said he found no water in the bathroom so he decided to just leave him there.

Court sources say part of Pemberton’s testimony indicated he had oral sex twice in the room with another “woman”, one in stand up position and another lying down before he had oral sex with Laude.

Pemberton, 19, was on shore leave with some of his marine buddies from USS Peleliu after participating in the just concluded US-Philippines joint military exercises in Subic on Oct. 11, 2014.

He met Laude at the Ambyanz Nightlife Bar along Magsaysay Avenue and were later seen checking in together at the nearby Celzone Lodge.

Laude was found dead at the bathroom of the motel hours later.

A murder complaint was filed against Pemberton in December last year.

Pemberton is currently detained at a US facility inside Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.