Thursday, September 3, 2015

Outgoing Wesmincom deputy salutes Climaco (Bares the untold story of 2013 siege)

From the Zamboanga Today Online (Sep 2): Outgoing Wesmincom deputy salutes Climaco (Bares the untold story of 2013 siege)

Many things have already been said and done about the Zamboanga siege in September 2013, but for a retiring deputy commander of the Western Mindanao Command there is one side of the infamy that has never been told yet.
Now it can be told.

Brig. Gen. Orlando de Leon, who is due to retire from military service early this month, admitted Monday night he was the one who ordered government forces to engage the attackers in close quarter battle to save Zamboanga City from total ruin.

During the early days of the siege that broke out at dawn on Sept. 9, General De Leon recalled, he met Mayor Beng Climaco at the central police station, while trying to find ways to put an end to the siege the earliest possible time.

“It was then that I told Mayor Beng the military action was the only option available at the time to repulse the attackers. The mayor backed me up and told me to do what was right for Zamboanga,” de Leon recalled during the testimonial dinner tendered for him by the city government Monday.

“Decisions had to be made no matter how tough they seemed and Mayor Beng did it. That was the most inspiring and motivating of her as chief executive of the city,” de Leon further said. 

“Otherwise, had it not for those tough decisions,” he added, “Zamboanga City would have been taken over by the rebels.”

He said at the height of the heavy fighting between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels “there was only one mayor, one commander, one commander-in-chief and one decision, whether right or wrong, for one Zamboanga.”

According to de Leon, many awards were given to him after the siege.

“But the one I personally accept and precious to me is the Plaque of Appreciation from the city government of Zamboanga through Mayor Beng,” said the outgoing military general, who hails from Bicol and has spent almost half of his career in Zamboanga.

MNLF panel in Manila for talks on stalled peace accord

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Sep 4): MNLF panel in Manila for talks on stalled peace accord

Members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) peace panel started arriving in Manila yesterday for three days of exploratory talks on the stalled implementation of the 1996 peace agreement that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation had brokered.

The OIC has set Sept. 6-8 for the government and MNLF to meet at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Makati, MNLF spokesman Emmanuel Fontanilla told The STAR in a telephone interview.

“The MNLF has accepted the OIC invitation, but we are not aware if the government panel will also be present,” he said.

The meeting has no specific agenda and has nothing to do with deliberations on the Bangsamoro Bill in the Senate and the House of Representatives, Fontanilla said.

The OIC wants the government and MNLF to meet to synchronize their 1996 peace agreement and the agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Heading the MNLF panel is Absalum Cerveza, who will represent Nur Misuari as he cannot attend the meeting because of a standing warrant of arrest against him, he added.

However, discussing the final implementation of the 1996 accord at this point might face a legal problem because the peace agreements with the MILF and the MNLF cover the same people, Fontanilla said.

Japan to turn over training center to Bangsamoro Development Agency

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): Japan to turn over training center to Bangsamoro Development Agency

Japanese Embassy officials and officers of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) will turn over Friday “The Project for the Construction of a Training Center for Bangsamoro” in Barangay Datu Balabaran, Cotabato City.

Officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team and Cotabato City government officials are also expected to grace the event, part of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of conflict affected communities in Mindanao as part of the government peace process with the MILF.

The training center was constructed through the support of Japanese Embassy under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) with the objective of providing venue for training and sharing of technical skills participated by number of Bangsamoro professionals through various courses/fellowships in different fields of specialization.

Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan, BDA chairperson, said the agency considers the training center as headquarters for capacity building for Bangsamoro.

“BDA as development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), through various programs and projects is expected in developing capacity of its members and community stakeholders and professionals in hope to be contributory to the anticipated Bangsamoro government,” Dipatuan stated.

He added that through the training center, more trainings will be conducted to develop capacities that can offer the Bangsamoro with a pool of trained professionals ready to be mobilized in serving the Bangsamoro people.

"We hope that this training center will be a venue for such activities geared towards developing a pool of Bangsamoro professionals with enhanced knowledge and skills on project management, facilitation of community development works, and community mobilization,” Dipatuan added.

Specifically, the training center is expected to provide venue for (1) echo training by trained BDA staff to other BDA staff and volunteers both at the Central Management Office and Regional Managements Offices, 2) BDA Capacity Building Plan implementation to capacitate BDA (as a learning institution) and other BDA partners and stakeholders, and 3) strategic and tactical sessions, and intellectual exchanges among partners (both from local and International agencies).

Constructed with a budget of Php 4,754,793.00, the training center is a three-storey building designed to accommodate 80 individuals in its conference room at the third floor; there are four rooms with 16 units of double-decked beds at the second floor ready to accommodate participants for live-in events; a kitchen and dining area, a lobby, a bedroom and an office room situated at the ground floor.

BDA and Japan Embassy partnership through GGP and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) started in 2006.

JICA is currently supporting the BDA for the Community Development in Conflict Affected Areas in Mindanao (CD-CAAM) Project and the Phase II of the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP).

Newly-designated Army official vows to prioritize welfare, livelihood of the people in Davao, Soccksargen

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): Newly-designated Army official vows to prioritize welfare, livelihood of the people in Davao, Soccksargen

Newly-designated chief of the 10th Infantry Agila Division, Major General Rafael Valencia, vowed to put first the welfare of the people in all its peace operations in its area of responsibility.

He told the Aguila troops to consider primarily the impact of its operations to the welfare and livelihood of the people, particularly the future of the children.

“Along this line, our troops must come to a shared concept of security with the people in the community, with the local government and other national government agencies and the civil society. We must understand that security is more than just the occurrence of violent conflict. It has other components like food, jobs, shelter, economy, health, environment, political, community and personal concerns,” he pointed out.

Valencia underscored that the difficulties experienced by the people on these components are exploited by the rebel movement to recruit and entice the people to join in their struggle.

He said the government through the line agencies has comprehensive programs to address these insecurities.

“It is imperative for all government agencies to work together and address these insecurities especially in far-flung areas,” Valencia said.

He said that the troops can be a conduit to deliver the peace and development programs to where it is needed most.

Valencia also called on the rebels to lay down their weapons but not to abandon their dreams for the welfare of their respective families and communities.

“Join us in our Bayanihan to achieve your dreams for the future of your children without the use of force,” he said.

Valencia also vowed to use the full force of law to defeat those who continue to fight government by employing all its capabilities to secure the people and communities from violent and deceptive activities.

He also assured that the troops pay high respect to the human rights, rule of law and the International Humanitarian Law in the conduct of all security operations at all times.

“I therefore expect every officer and soldier to be well-trained on basic military skills and every aspect of our operations. We must also pursue the institutionalization of the Army Transformation Roadmap throughout the Agila Division, down to the last rifleman,” Valencia said.

He also reminded officers to uplift the morale of the troops and be impartial in the forthcoming political exercise in 2016.

Valencia told the troops to be extra-careful that their acts might not be misconstrued as being partial to a political organization.

He also vowed to carry on the responsibilities as the 8th commander of the unit.

Earlier, Valencia took cognizance of the vast accomplishments of his predecessors and the Aguila troopers in keeping the peace in Davao and Socsksargen (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani ang General Santos City) region like the focused military operation against the rebels and Serbisyo-caravan initiated by both the national and local governments and all peace stakeholders.

“I am fully aware the need to sustain these gains and finish the fight,” Valencia said. (

Case filed vs. ‘soldier’ who allegedly raped Lumad girl

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 3): Case filed vs. ‘soldier’ who allegedly raped Lumad girl
AUTHORITIES have filed rape case against a reported soldier for sexually attacking a 14-year-old Lumad girl in Talaingod, Davao del Norte

Sr. Supt. Aaron Aquino, deputy regional director for operations, said the case in relation to RA 8353 or the “Anti-Rape Law” was filed against the soldier, who has yet to be identified.

Two other soldiers were also reported to have raped the girl, but were excluded from the case because they already settled with the victim’s family in the presence of Barangay Captaion Tagpines of Palma Gil in Talaingod.

“The mother changed her mind and she didn’t file a case against the two,” Aquino, who was one of the guests in yesterday’s AFP-PNP press conference, said.

However, Aquino said the two suspects are not yet off the hook because the police will still pursue a rape case against them despite the agreement.

“The PNP will now become the complainant,” he said.

He said they would have to go back to the agreement between the two soldiers and the victim’s family to identify the third suspect.

Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno, commander of 1003rd Infantry Brigade, told reporters that when they learned about the allegations, they tried to trace the identity of the alleged perpetrator to no avail.

But he said that both Galot and Daniel paid the amount of P63,400 after requesting the family to cut the initial P90,000 blood money payment.

Nepomuceno also said that the miltary is open to an investigation to clear their ranks.

The girl was among the evacuees at the UCCP Haran who was pulled out during the scuffle between police and Lumads, as well as activists, on July 23.

Lt. Col. Eduardo Gubat, spokesperson of Eastern Mindanao Command, said “we are concerned about this and we are willing to cooperate so that the truth will come out.”

The victim is now under the custody of the mayor of Talaingod while the police and military are providing security for the family.

Catamco, army sued

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 9): Catamco, army sued

Karapatan asks Ombudsman’s help vs. solon, army officers

KARAPATAN filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) Mindanao on Tuesday against North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco and military officers for reported human rights violations.

The OMB-Mindanao is now conducting an evaluation on the complaints filed by the group to determine if there’s probable cause to file administrative charges against the respondents.

According to Rius Valle, spokesperson of Save Our Schools, the complaint was based on the related human rights violation in Talaingod, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, the attacks on Lumad schools, the alleged Paquibato massacre and the incident in Haran.

On Aug. 13, Karapatan also filed charges before the City Prosecution Office against Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año, commanding general of the Philippine Army, and two military officials for their alleged involvement in the death of three people in Purok 7, Barangay Paradise Embac in Paquibato District.

Año, former commander of the 10th Infantry Division, Lt. Col. Rodney Intal, commander of 69th Infantry Battalion and 1st Lt. Christopher Santos, operations officer of the 69th Infantry Battalion, are facing charges for three counts of murder, six counts of frustrated murder, robbery, serious physical injury, grave threats and grave coercion.

The complaints were lodged by Aida Seisa, Rosita P. Sanduanan and Nestor Flores, all residents of Paradise Embac, Paquibato District.

Almost 3,000 Lumad students were affected after Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center and MISFI Academy schools, indigenous people for schools, in Davao del Norte were closed down by the Department of Education (DepEd) in Davao Region earlier this year.

The progressive groups claimed that DepEd Davao del Norte superintendent Josephine Fadul, in a letter dated May 12 to DepEd Region-XI director Alberto Escobarte, endorsed the closure of Lumad schools and requested for permission to install a public school which will have military personnel as teachers.

Prior to this, schools and communities have allegedly been harassed by soldiers under the 60th and 68th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. About 700 Lumads also were affected due to alleged hamletting by the military.

On July 16, Catamco visited Haran compound along Fr. Selga Street in Davao City and tried to convince the Lumads, some of whom have been in the area for seven months, to return to their home.

Apparently, the IP families being housed in the area were turned off when the lawmaker reportedly scolded them when they refused to go home.

On July 23, an inter-agency organized by Catamco went to the Haran and a “rescue” operation was launched but it ended with 12 injuries as violence erupted between the anti-riot police, Lumads and activists.

Filipinos most troubled over China row in Asia-Pacific – poll

From Rappler (Sep 4): Filipinos most troubled over China row in Asia-Pacific – poll

A Pew Research Center survey shows that while 9 in 10 Filipinos are troubled about territorial conflicts with China, a majority still have favorable views of the regional giant

Filipinos are the most troubled by the territorial disputes with China in the Asia-Pacific region, yet a little more than half of them still express favorable views of China, the results of a regional poll showed.

According to the 2015 survey by the Pew Research Center, 9 in 10 or 91% of Filipinos expressed the most concern about territorial conflicts in the region, with the Vietnamese and Japanese following behind at 83%.

China enjoys a positive opinion from majority of people in the Asia-Pacific region, with the exception of Vietnam and Japan, which had the most negative views among those surveyed.

Only 19% of Vietnamese voiced a favorable opinion of China, and a low 9% of Japanese.

But in the Philippines, despite expressing concern over territorial conflicts, a little more than half, or 54%, of Filipinos have favorable views toward China.

The Pew Research Center also noted that public views of China have improved in the past year in the Philippines, an increase of 16 points.

The survey also showed that younger Filipinos have confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping, and that 59% of Filipinos aged 18 to 29 are among the strongest supporters of the Chinese leader in the region.

This comes as the Philippines faces China in an international tribunal over claims in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In July, the Philippines presented its arguments in its historic case against China at The Hague. (READ: EXPLAINER: Philippines' 5 arguments vs China)

China, however, refuses to join the proceedings, instead pushing for bilateral talks with the countries involved.

Favorable view of Japan

The Pew Research survey also reflected Filipinos’ favorable opinion toward a former wartime enemy: Japan.

The Philippines is among the top 3 countries with a favorable view of Japan, which enjoys a positive image in the region except in China and South Korea.

The survey results showed that 81% of Filipinos view Japan in a positive light, just behind Vietnam (82%) and Malaysia (84%).

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also enjoys support from Filipinos, with 68% saying they believe Abe will do the right thing regarding world affairs.

Earlier this year, the Philippines and Japan – former World War II enemies – began historic joint training exercises, the first time for the two countries to fly together.

But in China and Korea, the anti-Japan sentiment is still reflected. Only 12% of Chinese and 25% of South Koreans have favorable views toward Japan, owing to territorial conflicts in the region and years of historical animosities.

A 2013 Pew Research survey showed that the Chinese and South Korean believe that Japan has not apologized enough for its actions during World War II.

Confidence in leaders

"Overall, despite historical and territorial frictions, Asia-Pacific publics tend to view their regional neighbors in a positive light, with Japan judged most favorably,“ the Pew Research Center said.

Japan enjoys 71% of favorable views, followed by 57% approving of China, 51% for India, and 47% for South Korea.

But the views are more mixed when it came to assessing each other's leaders.

None of the leaders garnered majority confidence in the survey: 47% expressed confidence that Xi will do the right thing regarding world affairs; 43% said the same of Abe; while 39% have the same sentiment towards Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Pew Research Center attributed these figures to the respondents' "lack of familiarity" with the leaders and the prominence of their public profiles.

The survey was conducted among 15,313 respondents in 10 Asia-Pacific nations and the US from April 6 to May 27, 2015.

VOX POP : UP community condemns killings of LUMADS in Mindanao

From InterAksyon (Sep 3): VOX POP : UP community condemns killings of LUMADS in Mindanao


Lighting a candle in support of the lumad community experiencing harassment in Caraga. Photographed by Bernard Testa,

The University of the Philippines community has expressed sadness and outrage over the killings of two Lumad leaders and a third civilian - the latest casualties in a months-long campaign of alleged harassment by government forces against indigenous tribes, using their alleged "communist" ties as grounds for such.

UP groups joined the Lumad community in denouncing the killings in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur of Emerito "Tatay Emok" Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), and Dionel "Onel" Campos, chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu). The two and Campos' cousin Bello Sinzo were killed allegedly by members of the Magahat paramilitary forces.

Several Manobo youths are in Manila this week visiting academic institutions and giving talks on how they wanted the military out of their school.

They said they just wanted to learn to read and write, and yet their teachers and their schools were being red-tagged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

While here in Manila, they are part of the Save Our School Network advocacy asking government institutions, specially the DepEd and AFP,  to respect their alternative learning system and to disband several paramilitary groups occupying alternative schools.

They were shocked when they learned about the murders.

They were in Diliman campus Wednesday September 2, 2015 as indignation and candle lighting activities were organized by different peace groups to let the people know about the killings of Lumad people not being reported in mainstream media.

Some academecians aired their view that the military is just using their counter insurgency campaign to drive the Lumads out of their ancestral lands.

It is said that Andap valley complex in CARAGA region has the largest gold deposit in the country, the largest nickel deposit in Asia and the biggest iron ore deposit in the world.

While they favor developmental projects in IP communities, they wish to know whose interest these projects serve, the IP's or the MNC's and the TNC's which pushed mineral extraction and logging concessions inside the ancestral domain of the indigenous people.
All photographs by Bernard Testa,

Baby Boy Velandrez

"Ganito na ba ang mangyayari sa mga katutubong nag dedepensa para sa kapakanan ng lahat? Hindi lang sa aming sarili, para protektahan ang ang aming lupain, gobyerno pa ang unang tumapak sa aming karapatang pantao.

"Imbes na ang gobyerno ang magtanggol sa amin dahil sila ang nakakaalam ng mas mataas na batas, sila pa ang unang sumusuway sa batas.

"Napakasakit isipin kung bakit ginawa ito ng tropang militar, sa harap ng maraming tao, binaril sa ulo, nagkawatak watak ang kanyang ulo.

"Kaya naparito kami sa Maynila para sa malaking panawagan disarmahan o buwagin ang para-militar, na pinangungunahan ng 36th IB, bigyan ng hustisya ang mga pinatay."

(This is what the indigenous tribal groups are experiencing as they try to defend their interest. Not just for ourselves but also to protect our lands. It's the government that is trampling over our human rights.

Instead of coming to our defense because it is supposed to uphold the rules, it's the government that is breaking the law.

It hurts to think of why the militia did this, in front of many people. He was shot in the head, which broke into pieces.

That's why we are here in Manila, to call for the disbandment of the paramilitary groups under the control of the 36th Infantry Brigade, give justice to those killed.)

Johnny Dela Pena

"Sa aming panahon, hindi kami nakalasap ng edukasyon kaya pinagsikapan naming itayo ang paaralan ito upang mabigyan ng edukasyon ang aming mga anak.

"Nakikiusap kami sa gobyerno ng Pilipinas, na gamitin ang batas sa tamang paraan.

"Igalang ang aming paaralan na aming ipinundar, sila pa ang sumira nito.

"Nagpapatunay lamang na pinoprotektahan ng military ang mga para-militar, ginuwardiahan pa nila ang aming eskwela para ma siguro na mapatay nila ang mga lider namin."

(During our time, we were not favored to receive an education. That's why we had this school built, so that our children can have an education.

We are asking the government to please use the law in the rightful way.

It's clear the military is coddling the militias. They have ringed our school to ensure that they can eliminate our leaders.)

Lito Montenegro

"Huwag kayo magtaka na nandito kami, para ipaalam sa inyo ang karanasan po namin (at sitwasyon) sa aming komunidad. Ang pagpaslang sa aming mga lider, at sa mga nagtulak po sa amin na maipundar ang mga paaralang ito. Kung gaano po sila kahalaga sa amin."

"Kundi po dahil sa kanila e hanggang ngayon hindi pa kami marunong magbasa at magsulat."

"2nd year po ako, hindi na nakapag aral, sa hirap ng buhay namin bilang bakwit, kasama namin yung mga bata, yung iba ay may sakit na dahil walang maayus na tulugan, walang CR, walang tubig na malinis, tubig alat ang ginagamit na inumin minsan, basta hindi ko na alam ang mga nangyayari sa amin, nakakalungkot."

"Imbes na panghinaan kami ng loob, kami po ay nagkaroon ng lakas ng loob upang ipagpatuloy ang kanilang nasimulan, dahil marami pang katutubo ang nangangailangan ng tulong, at marami pang katutubo na hindi pa naabot ng mga paaralan na gusto ding pong matutong magbasa at magsulat."

"Napakasakit sa mga pagkakatoong ito, parang na inuubos nila ang aming lahi at gusto nilang angkinin ang lupang ninuno."

(The reason we are here before you is to share our experience and let you know about the situation in our community, the slaying of our leaders, the reasons why we had our schools built, about how important these things are to us.

If not for our elders and our leaders, we would remain illiterate to this day.

I reached second year and could not continue because of the difficulties as bakwit [internally displaced persons]. The children are with us, some are sick and couldn't sleep well, there is no decent sanitary facility, no safe water. I don't know anymore what's going on. It's sad.

Instead of being discouraged by these trials, we are finding reserves of strength to continue the struggle that our leaders have started. Many more in our indigenous communities are in need of help, many want to learn to read and write.

The hurt is heavy. It's as if they are out to eliminate all of us in order to grab our ancestral lands.)

Menchie Tolendo of STAND UP
"Dinayo pa nila ang mga eskwelahan at mga institution na hindi natin nakikita sa national at mainstream media.

"Una sa lahat, tayong mga skolar ng bayan e mapalad tayo narito pa tayo, sa loob ng pamantasan, nagagawa pa mag aral, matuto kahit papano.

"E ang kapwa natin kabataan sa kanilang lugar, sa kabila ng digmaan at krisis e nakuha pang maglakbay para magpaliwanag, unti unting pinapatay ang kanilang mga kaanak.

"Ilagay natin ang ating kalagyan sa kanilang kalagayan, naranasan natin ang mga pangigipit sa eskwelahan sa pamamagitan ng tuition fee increase. pero tadtad na tayo ng teorya, naisip ba natin na tayo ay makipamuhay sa kanila, walang kwenta ang pag-aaral natin ng teorya kung hindi natin ito maisasa praktika."

(They came and visited schools and institutions and it's hardly reported in mainstream media.

We, the so-called nation's scholars, are fortunate to be in the university, to receive an education.

Our brothers and sisters from other places, bucking armed conflict and crisis, still manage to come to us to make us aware, their folk are slowly being killed.

Let's put ourselves in their places. We ourselves are experiencing pressure, such as tuition issues. But we are mired too much in theory here. Have we thought about being out there, living as they live? Of what use is all this theory if we can't put it to practice?)

Professor Lito Manalili

"Habang tayo ay nagluluksa, palakasin natin ang ating loob, hindi natin maikakaila na tuloy tuloy ang pagtatagumpay na pagkilos na matuwid ang mali. Ang patuloy na pakikibaka sa karapatan ay umaani ng pananagumpay, dahil ang mga katutubo lamang ang pangunahing pwersa na magsusulong na kilalanin ang karapatan sa lupaing ninuno na mag pagpapaunlad sa katutubong kultura at paniniwala."

(As we grieve, let's strengthen our resolve. The struggle to rectify wrongs will triumph. The unceasing forging of unity for rights is succeeding. The indigenous people are the primary force for promoting ancestral land rights and advancing indigenous culture and beliefs.)

Merlyn Villaruel

"Bilang kabataang estudyante, very repressive ang mga pangyayari sa mga miyembro ng pambansang minorya, ang ma contribute ko dito ay sumama sa collective struggle kasama ang mga IP's, hindi ito isolated, dahil parte lang ito ng isang mas malaking problema sa ating lipunan."

(As a member of the youth student sector, what's happening out there is repressive to the minority groups. What I can contribute is to join the collective struggle hand-in-hand with our indigenous people. This is not an isolated case, because it's part of a larger problem in our society.)

G Lasallao

"Sa tingin ko po ang ugat ng problema ay ang patuloy na paglaganap ng imperyalismo, ang pag pasok ng mga foregn investors, Multinational at Transnational corporations, na hindi naman nakakatulong sa pambansang minorya."

"Nagtatayo sila ng mga negosyo at gagatasan tayo ng natural resources tapos ibinebenta nila sa atin ng mahal tapos ang itinatanim pa nila ay mga produktong hindi natin kailangan kundi mas kailangan nila."

(I think the root of the problem is the untrammeled advance of imperialism, the encroachment of foreign investors, mulinationals, transnational corporations that are not bringing our minority groups any good.

They set up their business, milk our raw resources dry and then charge us stiff. It's they who need their products more than we.)

Aivy Hora

"Humihingi ng tulong sa pagsampa ng kaso sa mga gumawa nito, yung iba ay mapipilitang lumaban, ginilitan si Tatay Emok, karumal dumal ang krimen at tinuring siyang parang baboy, may gwardiya pa sila na military para ma ensure na maisagawa nila ang krimen."

(Let's muster help in prosecuting thoe responsible for this killing. There will be those who have no recourse but to fight back. They slaughtered Tatay Emok, guarded by the military to make sure the crime is carried out.)

Maolen Lazaro

"Nagpupugay ang Alay Sining sa ating mga lumad, nakikita po natin na ang estado ay walang pagpapahalaga sa sining at kultura, sa katutubong sining, pinapaalis pa nila ang mga katutubo, mas pinaboran pa nila yung kampanyang "It's more fun in the Philippines.'

"Wala po tayong industriya, walang effort na iparamdam na may priority sa mga estudyante, lumad, guro, kasi walang programang nag susulong sa mga karapatan ng mga tao, ibahagi natin ang edukasyon bilang pangunahing karapatan lalo na sa mga lumad."

(We hail our lumad brothers and sisters. We see that the state assigns no importance of culture and the arts, to indigenous culture. They are driving away the native communities from their lands in favor of the mantra "It's more fun in the Philippines."

We have no industry, no drive to look after our students, our teachers, our indigenous brothers, because there is no real program to promote human rights. We should spread education as a basic human right, especially for our lumad brethren.)

Prof. Rocelle Pineda, CONTEND UP

"Malaki ang laban ng IP, dahil sa Save our School campaign, para sa kanilang kampanya na full literacay, dahil hindi naabot ng mga serbisyong sosyal, lalo ng DepEd and kanilang mga lugar."

"We need to learn form their curriculum, balangkas ng pagtututro, kasi dito sa unibersidad, makadayuhan at neo-lioberal ang edukasyon, samanatalang sa IP education at curiculum, pinapanday ang sining at kultura na naka base sa pang araw araw nilang pamumuhay."

"May sustainable economy, example sa ALCADEV, nagtuturo sila ng agriculuture, alternative health, paggamit ng herbal medicines, na hindi na kailanagan ng sophisticated health equipment dahil hindi naman nakakarating ang serbisyo ng gobyerno dahil remote nga ang mga komunidad."

"Kaming mga akademiko ay nag contribute sa kaalaman, at yung sa kanila ay hitik na hitik sa kaalaman, lokal na knowledge, yung kultura at sining na dapat alam din namin at sana maipalaganap namin sa pagtuturo sa unibersidad."

(Our indigenous people are waging a big fight, supported by Save Our School campaign, in their push toward full literacy, even as they are situated beyond the reach of social services, especially the Department of Education.

We need to learn from their curriculum. Here in the university, the education is neo-liberal and biased toward foreign influences, but indigenous people education springs from indigenous culture and ways-of-life.

Sustainable economy concepts pervade, in ALCADEV they teach sustainable agriculture, alternative health practices, local knowledge, culture and arts that we can do well to propagate and share in the university.)

SHOT ONE BY ONE | Teenage survivor recounts 'massacre' of Bukidnon lumad

From InterAksyon (Sep 3): SHOT ONE BY ONE | Teenage survivor recounts 'massacre' of Bukidnon lumad

The 15-year old survivor of what human rights groups call the 'Pangantucan massacre' clasps his hands as he recounts how his father, two brothers and two other relatives were killed on August 18. (photo by Cong Corrales,

The 15-year old Manobo boy could hardly finish his sentences as he struggled to narrate the events of the afternoon of August 18.

The boy's father, Herminio Samia, 70, his brothers Joebert, 20, and Emir, 19, relatives Norman, 13, and Elmer, 17 -- now dubbed the “Pangantucan 5” -- were killed in Sitio Mando, Barangay Mendis, Pangantucan town in Bukidnon in what the military and police insist was a “legitimate encounter” between government forces and the New People’s Army.

The “official” account may have passed unchallenged but for the boy, the lone survivor, who, flanked by relatives and the spokesperson of the Alliance for Advancement of People’s Rights in Northern Mindanao Region (Karapatan-NMR), Bishop Christopher Ablon, told journalists of how soldiers shot his father, brothers and relatives one by one.

He recalled begging the soldiers to take them in as prisoners instead of summarily executing them.

Herminio was also known in their community as Datu Intabol, the second highest ranking chieftain of their tribal community, Karapatan said. He and another son, Oreneo, belonged to the council of tribal elders who are consulted by the community on major decisions.

The report of a fact-finding mission undertaken by Karapatan-NMR said: “The residents wanted to go to the site immediately hoping they could still save him (Herminio) and the others, but the boy stopped them saying that the military men no longer differentiated civilians and would shoot anyone.”

In its own press conference, the Army vehemently denied the “Pangantucan 5” had been massacred and insisted the five died during a clash with NPA guerrillas, citing the police report on the paraffin test done on the victims to bolster its assertion they were all rebel combatants.

Superintendent April Madrozo, assistant regional director of the police Scene of the Crime Operatives, told the same press conference the dead men and teenagers tested positive for nitrates, indicating they could have fired guns before they died.

Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound widely used in gunpowder, artillery primers, hand-grenade fuses, and fireworks. Also known as saltpeter or niter, it is also used in fertilizers.

Responding to the SOCO findings, Ablon said the presence of nitrate in the arms and hands of the fatalities should not be surprising since they were farmers.

In the book “Gunshot Wounds: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques,” Dr. Vincent JM Di Maio of the Texas Forensic Science Commission said although paraffin tests often turn out positive on the hands of persons who have fired weapons, they can also give positive results for persons who have not actually fired a gun.

“(This is) because of the widespread distribution of nitrates and nitrites in our environment. The paraffin test is in fact non-specific and is of no use scientifically,” Di Maio wrote.

The human rights group also wondered why the military recovered only one AK-47 rifle where the five lumad were killed.

1st Special Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Nasser Lidasan explained to media that the other guerrillas took the firearms of their fallen comrades when they fled the area.

In an emailed statement, NPA-North Central Regional Command spokesman Allan Juanito confirmed that there was a clash with Army Special Forces on August 18 and that they had, indeed, left an AK-47 rifle behind.

But Juanito said the encounter happened some four kilometers away from the Samias’ community.

3 killed in Marawi City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 3): 3 killed in Marawi City

MARAWI CITY – Motorcycle gunmen killed three people on Thursday in an attack in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province in southern Philippines, police said.

Police said the gunmen escaped after killing their victims near at Al Khwarizmi International College in the village of Sarimanok. The victims were in a tricycle when gunmen attacked them and the driver was also wounded, according to the police.

The motive of the killings is still unknown, but two of the victims were just popcorn vendors, according to Senior Superintendent Agustin Tello, the local police chief.

Police identified the non-Muslims victims as Baldwin Romano, Junard Kalagi and his brother Junil, and the driver as Halim Mitomara.

The attackers also shouted “Allahu Akbar” as they escaped following the daring attack.

Non-Muslims have been targeted for attacks in Marawi, also known as the Islamic City, in recent months.

No individuals or group claimed responsibility of the latest killings, but Lanao del Sur is one of the hotbed of radicals groups that have pledged allegiance to Islamic State in Syria.

Russia-China military ties help maintain global stability – Russian defense minister

From Ang Malaya (Sep 3): Russia-China military ties help maintain global stability – Russian defense minister

The Russian-Chinese military cooperation is a basis for the strategic bilateral ties which will help stabilize global situation, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said in Beijing on Wednesday.

“The consolidated position of our countries has a stabilizing impact on the international situation,” Shoigu said during the talks with Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of China’s Central Military Commission.

The Russian-Chinese drills are “the most significant aspect” of the military cooperation, Shoigu said.

“They contribute to improving battle training and authority of the armed forces of the two countries and show the readiness of defence agencies to respond to modern challenges and threats efficiently,” he said.

Shoigu noted that Moscow and Beijing held joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Japan in May and August. The crews held a training on counter-terrorism and anti-piracy actions and on carrying out peacekeeping operations.

The sides “plan to develop relations between the armed forces of Russia and China and to cooperate by ensuring joint security in the zone of our responsibility,” Shoigu said.

Australia against massive reclamation, construction, militarisation in West Philippine Sea

From Ang Malaya (Sep 3): Australia against massive reclamation, construction, militarisation in West Philippine Sea

Australia has expressed its stand regarding the issue that gathered “a lot of international attention in recent months”, the issue of maritime disputes in West Philippine Sea. “Australia has a legitimate interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, unimpeded trade and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea,” Australian Defense Minister Kevin Andrews told an audience at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in India September 2.

While making it clear that Australia does not take sides on competing territorial claims, the Australian Defense Minister said “we are concerned that large-scale land reclamation and construction activity by China and other claimants raises tensions in the region.”

“It is important to recognise that all states have a right under international law to freedom of overflight in international airspace. All countries should respect this,” Andrews said. “Australia strongly opposes the use of intimidation, aggression or coercion to advance any country’s claims or unilaterally alter the status quo.”

“We are particularly concerned about the possible militarisation of features in the South China Sea,” he added.

Australia and Philippines have strong military ties. The two countries have a bilateral visiting forces agreement known as Philippine-Australia Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA).

Just recently, Australia donated two Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) to Philippine Navy. The two donated vessels, BRP Ivatan and BRP Batak, arrived in the country early August.

China marks Japan WWII defeat, shows rising power in parade

From the Philippine Star (Sep 3): China marks Japan WWII defeat, shows rising power in parade

Chinese female military personnel march during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate, in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military's most cutting-edge technology. AP/Ng Han Guan

Tanks, missiles and troops in lock-step filed past Beijing's iconic Tiananmen Square in a massive parade Thursday commemorating Japan's World War II defeat 70 years ago and underlining President Xi Jinping's determination to make China the pre-eminent Asian power.

To underline China's position that its rise is peaceful and poses no threat to neighbors, Xi pledged to cut 300,000 troops from the 2.3 million strong People's Liberation Army, the world's largest standing military. Helicopters zoomed overhead in an array forming the number 70.

Xi kicked off the proceedings with a speech at the iconic Tiananmen Gate in the heart of Beijing, flanked by Chinese leaders and foreign dignitaries, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"The experience of war makes people value peace even more," Xi said. "Regardless of the progress of events, China will never seek hegemony, China will never seek to expand and will never inflict the tragedies it suffered in the past upon others."

Xi then drove past the assembled troops in a Chinese-made Red Flag limousine, standing up through a sunroof with four microphones mounted in front of him, calling out "Greetings, Comrades" every few moments, before the troops started their marching.

The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military's most cutting-edge technology.

The parade is part of commemorations packaged to bolster the ruling Communist Party's self-declared role as the driving force behind Japan's defeat 70 years ago and savior of the nation, though historians say the rival Nationalists did most of the fighting. The events also minimize the role of the U.S., Britain and others.

Most leading democracies kept high-level representatives away, reflecting concerns over the parade's anti-Japanese tone and China's recent aggressive moves to assert territorial claims. The U.S. sent only its ambassador to observe. In Washington, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Bill Urban said that the U.S. maintains such commemorations should be about reconciliation and that a "large military display would not appear to be consistent with this theme."

Under Xi, who took power as party leader in late 2012, Beijing has sent ships to confront Japan's coast guard near disputed islands in the East China Sea, blockaded Philippine island outposts and constructed whole islands from reefs, topping them with airstrips and other military infrastructure.

China usually holds lavish military parades only every 10 years to mark the anniversary of the founding of the communist People's Republic in 1949. By holding an additional one now, Xi ensures that he'll preside over at least two of the prestigious events during his decade-long tenure in power ending in 2023.

The parade panders to a prickly strain of nationalism in a Chinese public constantly reminded by state propaganda of China's past humiliations at the hands of foreign powers, especially Japan, which is widely despised for its perceived failure to properly atone for invading China.

While a hit at home, such sentiments heighten fears abroad about China's intended uses of its newfound power, frustrating Beijing's attempts to market itself as a responsible member of international society committed to the common good.

"In domestic terms, it's certainly a plus for Xi. But in foreign policy terms, it's controversial. It doesn't enhance China's soft power. It doesn't help China's image as a force for peace, stability and development," said Joseph Cheng, a retired academic and political analyst in Hong Kong.

China pledges to cut 300,000 troops from its massive army

From the Philippine Star (Sep 3): China pledges to cut 300,000 troops from its massive army

Chinese President Xi Jinping stands in a car to review the army during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military's most cutting-edge technology. AP / Ng Han Guan

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged a reduction of 300,000 troops from China's 2.3 million-member People's Liberation Army, amid rising personnel costs and growing technological capabilities that reduce the need for large numbers of troops.

The announcement Thursday at the start of a massive parade commemorating Japan's World War II defeat 70 years ago brings the military's headcount down to about 2 million.

Once known for its human wave tactics in conflicts such as the Korean War, the PLA is increasingly focused on high-tech weaponry and more focused missions.

As an example, the latest version of the PLA's mainstay bomber, the H-6K, requires just a three-person crew, half its former complement.

Philippines, Brunei to hold joint military exercises

From the Philippine Star (Sep 3): Philippines, Brunei to hold joint military exercises

The armies of the Philippines and Brunei are hopeful the security ties between the two countries would continue. STAR/File photo 

The armies of the Philippines and Brunei are eyeing joint exercises and trainings to strengthen their cooperation and to improve their interoperability.

The matter was discussed during the meeting of Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año and Royal Brunei Land Forces (RBLF) commander Brig. Gen. Pengiran Dato Paduka Aminan on Thursday in Fort Bonifacio.

Año said a bilateral working group can be formed to facilitate the conduct of visits, training exchanges, joint military exercises and other similar activities.

“I believe that as we put in place an Army to Army Working Group, our forces can examine our common capabilities as well as concerns, and eventually promote Philippines-Brunei bilateral defense ties,” Año said.

“I am certain that the RBLF has much to share with the Philippine Army in terms of capability upgrades, especially after your successful initiatives in enhancing force capabilities and defense policies,” he added.

Aminan is hopeful that the security ties between the two countries would continue.

“I would like to express my commitment in making sure that we continue our close relationship with your Army and hopefully in moving it closer in the years to come,” he said.

Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao said the two military officials did not discuss the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute during their meeting. Both the Philippines and Brunei are claimants in the territorial row along with China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Año and Aminan also compared notes about their units’ best practices and their respective transformation programs.

The Philippine Army described the visit as “a very opportune engagement to further reinforce the partnership and camaraderie between the two forces in working together towards regional and global stability.”

“The visit of Royal Brunei Land Forces to Headquarters Philippine Army served as venues to foster good relations through defense diplomacy as the Philippine Army continuously pursue its international engagements efforts,” Hao said.

Aminan and his party arrived in Manila last Wednesday for a two-day visit that seeks to enhance the security ties between the Philippines and Brunei.

Air Force ready for cloud-seeding to address El Niño impact

From the Philippine Star (Sep 3): Air Force ready for cloud-seeding to address El Niño impact

The Air Force is ready to conduct cloud-seeding operations to mitigate the impact of El Niño phenomenon, which is expected to last until next year.

Air Force spokesman Col. Enrico Canaya said their LC-210 rainmaking aircraft is available in case government agencies order them to do the cloud-seeding.

“We always make ourselves available. We have a long experience working with the Bureau of Soils (and Water Management),” Canaya said.

“With regard to cloud-seeding, we have that capability in case there is a need to do it,” he added.

Canaya said the LC-210 has been used for cloud-seeding operations.

“Recently, we did a mission over Pantabangan Dam and Angat Dam. We had several sorties for rain-making when the water level of the dams supplying water to Metro Manila went down,” he said.

Canaya noted that the Bureau of Soils and Water Management is also tapping private aircraft for the rainmaking efforts. He admitted that for now, only the LC-210 can be used for cloud-seeding.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) previously said the dry spell may intensify until the last quarter and may last until early next year.
At least 79 provinces are expected to feel the impact of the weather condition, according to Science Secretary Mario Montejo.

The government has crafted a road map to address the effects of El Niño, which is affecting agriculture and water supply in the country. Officials have given assurance that agencies are prepared to address the effects of the phenomenon.

President Aquino has formed clusters that would deal with the effects of El Niño on different sectors.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan was tasked to lead the Food Security Council which aims to assist farmers to be affected by the dry spell.

The council consists of Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Finance, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, National Food Authority, National Irrigation Administration, Philippine Statistics Authority and the PAGASA.

Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson will lead the cluster that will ensure adequate water supply.

The group will consist of representatives from the Local Water Utilities Administration, National Water Resource Board, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and the National Irrigation Administration.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council has been instructed to work with its local councils in implementing community-based water conservation and other mitigation programs.

Bishop denies support of missionaries to NPA

From the Philippine Star (Sep 2): Bishop denies support of missionaries to NPA

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes claimed that some priests and nuns are helping train recruits of the New People’s Army (NPA). photo  

KORONADAL CITY, Philippines -- South Cotabato’s prelate on Wednesday assured there are no priests and nuns involved in the activities of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the province.

Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Marbel, which covers Koronadal City and surrounding towns in South Cotabato, also denied insinuations by Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes that certain missionaries have been extending support to NPAs operating in far-flung areas.

Fuentes is the presiding chair of the South Cotabato provincial peace and order council.

The Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation, which has two radio stations in Koronadal City, had quoted Gutierrez as saying Wednesday that priests and nuns are merely working for the poor and needy sectors and are not involved in any uprising against the government.

Fuentes had earlier insinuated that there are nuns and priests helping train NPA recruits.

Gutierrez said Catholic missionaries are only helping fight for the rights of oppressed and marginalized communities in interior areas in South Cotabato.

The bishop said there is no truth to the assertions of the governor.

Philippines, Vietnam to sign partnership deal by year-end

From Rappler (Sep 3): Philippines, Vietnam to sign partnership deal by year-end

The Philippine and Vietnamese governments say the agreement will bolster defense, political and economic ties between the two Southeast Asian nations most critical of China's claims over most of the South China Sea

The Philippines and Vietnam will sign a "strategic partnership" agreement by the end of the year, officials have said, as common neighbor and rival China flexes its military muscle in disputed waters.

Both governments said the agreement would bolster defense, political and economic ties between the two Southeast Asian nations most critical of China's claims over most of the South China Sea.

"As strategic partners, we aim to deliver results... a cooperation at the highest possible level," Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters late Wednesday, September 2.

"We will deepen our cooperation in order to solve all the issues concerning the South China Sea in a most peaceful way in accordance with international law," Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines Truong Trieu Duong told reporters.

The deal would make Vietnam the Philippines' second "strategic partner" after Japan, with which the Philippines is also bolstering military ties.

Maiden naval drills with Japan were held in quick succession this year and negotiations are underway to transfer Japanese defence equipment, including anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft and radar technology, to the Philippines.

The Philippines is also bound by a mutual defense treaty with its oldest and most important ally, the United States.

The planned Vietnam deal was announced hours before China paraded large numbers of soldiers, tanks and missiles on Tiananmen Square in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II.

Del Rosario said the Vietnam deal could be signed on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit in Manila in November.

Negotiations for the strategic partnership agreement started after Vietnamese Prime Minister Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's visit to Manila last year.

The Philippines, Vietnam and China have overlapping claims in the South China Sea – an important waterway for global trade which is also believed to hold vast oil and gas reserves.

Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also have conflicting claims over some or all of these waters.

China recently reinforced its claim by building artificial islands on disputed shoals, raising fears of militarisation in the region.

A United Nations-backed arbitration body is hearing the Philippines' petition to declare China's sea claims as illegal.

MILF backs RH services in Bangsamoro

From Rappler (Sep 3): MILF backs RH services in Bangsamoro

The partnership between the MILF and the United Nations Population Fund aims to improve the delivery of reproductive health services in Mindanao

ENLIGHTENMENT. The partnership between the Bangsamoro Development Agency and the United Nations Population Fund is a step towards enlightenment of the region when it comes to family planning.

ENLIGHTENMENT. The partnership between the Bangsamoro Development Agency and the United Nations Population Fund is a step towards enlightenment of the region when it comes to family planning.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fully supports the delivery of reproductive health services to women in Bangsamoro communities, especially in conflict areas.

“This is a very good move because it will enlighten and will give the right information to our people regarding reproductive health,” said MILF chief Al Haj Murad during the signing of the agreement between the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The partnership aims to improve the delivery of reproductive health services – especially maternal and infant care – to residents in conflict areas.

According to Murad, UNFPA’s close coordination with Muslim Religious Leaders (MRLs) in Mindanao will provide a better contextualization of family planning in relation to Islam. Family planning is often misunderstood due to lack of information, he said.

“While reproductive health is very much welcome as far as MILF is concerned, there are biases against family planning among the Muslim population because of issues that are not fairly addressed,” Murad explained.

Under this collaboration and the campaign “Ligtas Buntis,” maternal care (pre and post pregnancy) and family planning services will be made available in 10 major MILF camps.

UNFPA will develop an existing health center at Camp Darapanan to become a birthing center for women in nearby communities. This center will serve as a model for rolling out these services in other areas.

Health personnel will also be trained on basic emergency obstetric and newborn care.

Decades of conflict have stunted the region's growth. It has the highest proportion of families living below the poverty line in the country at 47%.

The Aquino administration has signed a peace deal with the MILF aimed at ending the conflict and speeding up development. Congress is deliberating the proposed Bangsamoro Basic law that will implement the peace deal.

The reproductive health law is also one of the government's major policy achievements during its term. The Catholic Church vigorously opposed it, which makes the MILF's support for it significant.

Incoming USAID chief to Manila reaffirms strengthened ties with Phl

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): Incoming USAID chief to Manila reaffirms strengthened ties with Phl

The United States’ incoming aid director to the Philippines has reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to further strengthen its development programs in the country.

Dr. Susan K. Brems, newly appointed Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the Philippines, Pacific Islands and Mongolia, vowed to increase cooperation with Manila during a meeting with Philippine Ambassador Jose Cuisia at the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.

In response, Cuisia thanked Brems for the technical and financial support that the US, through the USAID, extends to the Philippines.

He also briefed her on the recent economic developments, including the good governance efforts under the Aquino administration, particularly with respect to transparency and public accountability,

“It was a great opportunity to discuss with Dr. Brems our government’s commitment to improving the lives of average Filipinos, as well as the social development objectives under the President’s leadership,” Cuisia said.

Both officials also exchanged views on the Aquino administration’s conditional cash transfer program, which aims to reduce poverty by making welfare programs conditional for selected individuals or families that meet certain criteria.

At the same time, Cuisia encouraged USAID’s continued support in judicial reforms, rule of law, innovation and technology, economic development, educational cooperation, and public health.

Brems is a career member of the Senior US Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, who brings to Manila 23 years of experience as a development diplomat for USAID.

She previously served as Mission Director in Zambia (2011-2015), Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Global Health (2009-2011), and Mission Director for Angola (2007-2009).

PA chief meets with RBLF counterpart

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): PA chief meets with RBLF counterpart

Philippine Army (PA) chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año formally met with his Royal Brunei Land Forces (RBLF) counterpart, Brig. Gen. Pengiran Dato Paduka Aminan, on Thursday at the PA headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Aminan's visit to the Philippines will last for two days. He arrived in the country on Sept. 2 and was given military honors.

Año also shared the PA's best practice to the RBLF in a command briefing and open forum.

During the briefing, PA vice commander Major Gen. R. Demosthenis C. Santillan warmly welcomed the RBLF delegation, saying that the Army is indeed grateful for the visit as it is a very opportune engagement to further reinforce the partnership and camaraderie between the two forces in working together towards regional and global stability.

Año said that through a bilateral Army Working Group, both armies can push for the conduct of exchange visits, training exchange opportunities, joint military exercises, and other bilateral undertakings that will build up interoperability in terms of regional security initiatives.

“I believe that as we put in place an Army-to-Army Working Group, our forces can examine our common capabilities as well as concerns, and eventually promote PH-Brunei bilateral defense ties,” said Año.

“I am certain that the RBLF has much to share with the Philippine Army in terms of capability upgrades, especially after your successful initiatives in enhancing force capabilities and defense policies,” he added.

Aminan, on his part, said, “I would like to express my commitment in making sure that we continue our close relationship with your Army and hopefully in moving it closer in the years to come.”

Pilots, flight crew of Navy armed AW-109Es constantly conducting drills

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): Pilots, flight crew of Navy armed AW-109Es constantly conducting drills

The pilots and flight crews of the two newly-acquired attack AgustaWestland AW-109E "Power" helicopters are constantly conducting drills and maneuvers that will allow its successful integration with the Navy's Gregorio Del Pilar frigates.

This was stressed by Philippine Navy (PN) public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna in a message to the PNA Thursday.

"They (armed AW-109E pilots and flight crews) are now focusing on (shipboard) training)," he stressed.

After completing this series of training, Lincuna said that two armed AW-109Es will be given their first missions.

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

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

The Navy's armed AW-109Es were commissioned last Aug. 10. They made their first deck landings nine days later.

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.