Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New ESSCom commander visits outlying security posts

From the Borneo Post Online (Jan 7): New ESSCom commander visits outlying security posts

LAHAD DATU: Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) commander DCP Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid made his first official working visit to several outlying security posts in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) yesterday.

Wan Abdul Bari, who was accompanied by ESSCom chief executive officer Noor Alam Khan Abd Wahid, visited several security posts in Pulau Adal, sea-based Tun Sharifah Rodziah, Pandanan, Pom Pom, Bohey Dulang, Mabul, Sipadan, Kapalai and Pulau Omadal.

The visits, he said, are to check on the level of preparedness and logistic needs of the security forces in the frontline to ensure they are always adequate and ready.

“These visits are to check on the needs of security forces and to ensure their logistic needs, weapons and assets are adequate to ensure they can carry out their patrolling duty effectively,”he said during his visit to Pulau Adal security post.

Also accompanying him were deputy commander Brigadier General Dr Kenali Basiron, special operations force chief of staff, SAC Mohamad Ismail, operation centre chief of staff, Brigadier General Dato’ Md Rahim Mohamad, intelligence chief of staff, SAC Ahamad Zufahmi, maritime enforcement chief of staff, Laksamana (M) Karunanithi A/L Munusamy, special investigation and technical chief of staff, Awang Besar Dullah and senior ESSCom officers.

He said the visit is important for him to assess and be apprised on the level of preparedness and emergency action plans in the event of any cross border crimes in the areas.

“I will review the plans and daily assignments of the control posts to ensure that it meets the needs of the current security situation as had been planned by ESSCom, including its contingency plans in the event of cross border crimes,” he added.

Wan Abdul Bari took over as ESSCom commander from DCP Dato’ Abdul Rashid Harun on December 23, and has pledged to continue the crime prevention efforts that have been implemented by the ESSCom leadership.

Malaysia to install new coastal radars

From Shephard News (Jan 6): Malaysia to install new coastal radars

Malaysia to install new coastal radars

Malaysia will receive new coastal radars later this year for installation in the troubled eastern Sabah region of the Southeast Asian nation.

A contract with Airbus Defence & Space for five Spexer 2000 Coastal radars with an unspecified value was announced on 17 December 2015. Interestingly, the new radars are funded by petrochemical firm Petronas rather than by the defence budget.

These new systems will contribute to Malaysia’s integrated maritime surveillance system (IMSS) along the eastern Sabah coast. Completed in August 2012, the IMSS consists of eight coastal surveillance stations, a joint regional command centre and a data interface to Malaysia’s national command-and-control (C2) system.

In 2013, Filipino insurgents from the Royal Sulu Army intruded into Lahad Datu in Sabah, prompting a full-scale security operation by Malaysia’s military and police. The Spexer 2000 will help monitor waters adjacent to the neighbouring Philippines to prevent any repeat infiltration.

Thomas Müller, head of electronics and border security at Airbus Defence & Space, commented, ‘Spexer 2000 Coastal is the world’s first security radar using the latest radar technology of active electronically scanned array [AESA]. Its capability to detect even the smallest targets in difficult littoral environments ensures a very high level of situational awareness providing security forces with additional reaction time.’

The company lists its instrumented range as 21.6nm (40km), and the AESA system is able to simultaneously detect targets on the sea, land or in the air. The associated C2 system is being provided by Signalis/Bremen.

These radar systems are just one method the Malaysian authorities are utilising to monitor the area encompassed by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM). ESSCOM also has existing CSS 1206 radar surveillance stations supplied by Techno-Sciences and granted by the US in 2006, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and floating bases.

The latter, also funded by Petronas, consists of a decommissioned oil rig plus a former cargo ship. They have been operational in ESSCOM’s area of operations since May 2015.

China building submarine base in Panganiban Reef

From the Philippine Star (Jan 7): China building submarine base in Panganiban Reef

Palawan is just 135 nautical miles away from the Panganiban Reef, which is being developed by China into a submarine harbor,” KAI’s student volunteers said in their report after the Freedom Voyage. Images obtained with permission from CSIS/AMTI

China is reportedly building a submarine harbor at Panganiban (Mischief) Reef located in the West Philippine Sea near Palawan, the Kalayaan Atin Ito (KAI) movement said yesterday.

KAI has just concluded its nationwide maritime and territorial campaign that was highlighted by the “Freedom Voyage” to the disputed Spratly Islands to protest China’s invasion of the country’s maritime domain.

“Palawan is just 135 nautical miles away from the Panganiban Reef, which is being developed by China into a submarine harbor,” KAI’s student volunteers said in their report after the Freedom Voyage.

Former Marine captain Nicanor Faeldon, who initiated a peaceful protest against China’s occupation of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in Zambales in 2012, led the student-volunteers during the trip to Pag-asa Island on Dec. 24.

Located within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, Panganiban Reef was first occupied by Beijing in 1995, purportedly as a shelter for fishermen.

China gradually developed the area and transformed it into a naval facility.

“This evil project does not concern the Filipino alone but the entire humanity, including the peace-loving Chinese people,” KAI said, referring to China’s ongoing reclamation and construction activities on Panganiban Reef.

The Philippine Navy (PN), tasked to secure and guard the country’s maritime domain, has yet to comment on KAI’s claims.

Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon said the KAI report needs further validation, noting the route taken by the student-volunteers during the Freedom Voyage as well as their return trip to Palawan was nowhere near Panganiban Reef.

Bito-onon said the only thing confirmed for now is that China is continuously fortifying its presence on Panganiban Reef.

Panganiban Reef is not only located near Recto Bank where the Philippine government has oil exploration projects, but is also close to Ayungin Shoal, an area being guarded by Navymen (no longer the Marines) stationed on the grounded PN ship BRP Sierra Madre.

Meanwhile, state media reported yesterday that China landed two more planes on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, despite international condem- nation of a landing at the same location days earlier. Vietnam also claims the reef.

Two civilian aircraft landed during “test flights,” the of- ficial Xinhua news agency said.

“This successful test flight proves that this airport is equipped with the capacity to ensure the safe operation of large civilian aircraft,” said Xinhua.

Photo: US Navy submarine docks at Subic

From ABS-CBN (Jan 6): Photo: US Navy submarine docks at Subic

The US Navy Virginia-class submarine USS Texas (SSN-775), is docked at the Alava Pier of the Subic Bay, Wednesday for a routine port call after its tour deployment at the Western Pacific area. The Virginia-class attack submarine is considered to be one of the most advanced submarines that is capable of a submerged speed of 25 knots.

AFP confers Bayanihan Award to Ifugao Guv

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 6): AFP confers Bayanihan Award to Ifugao Guv

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) bestowed  the Bayanihan Award 2015 to Governor Denis Habawel for  his invaluable contributions to the AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan” (IPSPB) in support of development programs focusing on peace and security.

Bayanihan Awards are conferred to AFP’s active partner stakeholders, both from the government and non-government agencies, who have helped the AFP in achieving its goals through the spirit of Bayanihan.

According to the AFP, the governor also provided support to the implementation of the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program.

“Through his leadership, the province of  Ifugao became the top implementer of PAMANA and now had commendable implementation and completion of 13 infrastructure projects and nine livelihood projects worth P30.96 million and P16.415 million respectively,”

These achievements accordingly contributed to the attainment of the objectives and vision of the AFP’s IPSPB.

Army 402nd Brigade confirms failure of NPA to mark CPP’s 47th anniversary in SurSur

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 5): Army 402nd Brigade confirms failure of NPA to mark CPP’s 47th anniversary in SurSur

Col. Isidro Purisima, 402nd Infantry Brigade commander, this province, confirmed that the New People’s Army (NPA) has failed to hold the 47th founding anniversary celebration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) here on December 26, 2015.

Such celebration, characterized by plenum, has been traditionally held in the province annually for a very long time.

Earlier, 1Lt. Karl Jan Devaras, company commander of the 41st Civill Millitary Operations (CMO) Company of the 4th CMO Battalion of the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (PA) based in Barangay St. Christine, Lianga town, this province, issued a press statement in this regard.

The young army CMO chief cited “withdrawal of support” from influenced masses in the province as well as “non attendance of local media practitioners on the day of the celebration.”

“It is believed that several of the CPP-NPA influenced masses opted not to attend the anniversary and have withdrawn their support from the local Communist-Terrorist group due to their continuous abuses and extortion activities,” Devaras pointed out.

Besides, he stressed that “the tangible results of the Bayanihan efforts of the 402nd Infantry (STINGERS) Brigade in partnership with the Local Government Units and other local stakeholders in the pursuit of peace, security and development in Surigao del Sur,” as one of the main reasons to push through with the celebration.

Devaras noted in his statement that “Out of shame and desperation,” Jorge Madlos aka ‘Ka Oris, Mindanao CPP-NPA-NDF spokesperson, “blamed the AFP of orchestrating a threat to the local media practitioners which was allegedly from a lawless armed group.”

He said Col. Purisima “belied the allegation.”

“We will never stop media from informing the public, we respect the freedom of press for it is inherent in a democratic society; after all we are here to defend the democracy of our country,” Devaras quoted the brigade commander as saying.

With this turn of event, Col. Purisima expressed belief “the CPP-NPA in Surigao del Sur is now close to being dismantled,” it was learned.

ASG weapons, equipment seized in Sulu operations

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 7): ASG weapons, equipment seized in Sulu operations

Troops from Joint Task Group Sulu, a focused military operation, have recovered several Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) firearms and other equipment in Patikul town, Sulu province on Wednesday afternoon.

Seized were an M-14 automatic rifle and a magazine containing 19 rounds; an empty M-16 magazine; three ICOM VHF transceivers; a bandolier, one pair of binoculars, and a laser red dot (vertical hand grip) for a M-4 rifle.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said the capture of these items took place at 1:30 p.m. while his men were conducting operations against ASG bandits at Sitio Tambang, Barangay Timpook, Patikul.

In the same operation, an undetermined number of the bandits were killed and wounded.

No losses were reported among government troops. Pursuit operations are still ongoing.

China lands 2 more planes in disputed South China Sea – state media

From Rappler (Jan 7): China lands 2 more planes in disputed South China Sea – state media

'This successful test flight proves that this airport is equipped with the capacity to ensure the safe operation of large civilian aircraft,' says official Xinhua news agency

FIERY CROSS. Satellite imagery shows changes to Fiery Cross Reef between February and March 2015, including the beginning of an airfield installation. Image courtesy: CNES 2015, Distribution Airbus DS/Spot Image/IHS

FIERY CROSS. Satellite imagery shows changes to Fiery Cross Reef between February and March 2015, including the beginning of an airfield installation. Image courtesy: CNES 2015, Distribution Airbus DS/Spot Image/IHS
China landed two more planes on a contested reef in the South China Sea Wednesday, January 6, state media said, despite international condemnation of a landing at the same location days earlier.
Two civilian aircraft landed Wednesday morning on Fiery Cross reef in the disputed Spratlys island group during "test flights", the official Xinhua news agency said. Vietnam also claims the reef.

The planes departed from and returned to the city of Haikou, the capital of the southern island province of Hainan – a two-hour journey each way.

"This successful test flight proves that this airport is equipped with the capacity to ensure the safe operation of large civilian aircraft," said Xinhua.

It said the facility would help transport supplies, personnel and medical aid.

China claims virtually all the South China Sea, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have partial claims. (READ: Q and A: Is South China Sea now a superpowers' battleground?)

China has asserted its claim by rapidly building artificial islands, including airstrips said to be capable of hosting military jets.

Several other claimants have also built facilities but at a slower pace, and China's activities have heightened tensions in the region.

It began work in 2014 on the 3,000-meter (9,842 feet) runway on Fiery Cross reef, around 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from Hainan.

Last Saturday, January 2 China said it had landed a civilian plane on the runway in an initial test flight – the first time it had been used.

That landing sparked a formal diplomatic complaint from Hanoi, which labelled it a violation of sovereignty.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs has also said it would file a protest at the weekend incident.

Laude case: Pemberton files appeal to reverse conviction

From Rappler (Jan 7): Laude case: Pemberton files appeal to reverse conviction

The American's lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores also filed a separate motion seeking a reduced sentence for the marine in the event that the acquittal is not granted

In this file photo, US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton (C) is escorted by security as he arrives at a court in Olongapo city, Philippines, December 1, 2015. Stringer/EPA

In this file photo, US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton (C) is escorted by security as he arrives at a court in Olongapo city, Philippines, December 1, 2015. Stringer/EPA

The lawyer representing a US Marine found guilty of killing a transgender Filipina filed an appeal on Wednesday, January 6, seeking to reverse his conviction.

Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was convicted of homicide last month by a Philippine court, in a case that reignited long-simmering anti-American sentiment in the former US colony.

The American's lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores also filed a separate motion seeking a reduced sentence for the marine in the event that the acquittal is not granted.

"Of course, we want an acquittal but what is the likelihood the court will grant that?" she told Agence France-Presse.

Pemberton met the transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude in October 2014 in a bar in the city of Olongapo, after the marine took part in a joint US-Philippine military exercise.

During the trial, the court heard that Pemberton and Laude agreed to have sex after meeting in Olongapo's red light district, but that the drunken marine turned violent when he discovered Laude still had male genitals.

He acted out of "passion and obfuscation", the court said, adding that "in the heat of passion, he arm-locked the deceased, and dunked his (her) head in the toilet".

Pemberton was sentenced to 6 to 12 years in jail and is being held in a cell in the country's military headquarters in Manila.

If Pemberton's conviction is upheld, his attorney said the case could be raised to a higher court.

Pemberton's homicide conviction is the first under a visiting forces agreement between the two countries signed in 1998, covering the legal liability of US troops taking part in military operations in the Philippines.

Tensions in South China Sea among 10 conflicts that could escalate into a major war

From InterAksyon (Jan 6): Tensions in South China Sea among 10 conflicts that could escalate into a major war

A Chinese ship (R) uses water cannon on a Vietnamese Sea Guard ship on the South China Sea near the Paracels islands, in this handout photo taken on May 3, 2014 and released by the Vietnamese Marine Guard on May 8, 2014. REUTERS/Vietnam Marine Guard/Handout via Reuters

Ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, as well as tensions in the South China Sea and violence in the Lake Chad basin could escalate into major wars, which – if unresolved – would spell catastrophe for the region, if not the world, former French diplomat Jean-Marie Guéhenno asserted.

Current trends indicate that when it comes to conflicts in all regions of the world things are not getting better.

"For 20 years after the end of the Cold War, deadly conflict was in decline. Fewer wars were killing fewer people the world over. Five years ago, however, that positive trend went into reverse, and each year since has seen more conflict, more victims, and more people displaced. 2016 is unlikely to bring an improvement from the woes of 2015: It is war – not peace – that has momentum," Guéhenno noted.

The former French diplomat named ten major conflicts, which require the immediate attention of the international community, in an opinion piece for Foreign Policy. In his view, the Syrian war is "the world's gravest," but it is not unresolvable.

"The pace of diplomatic action has quickened, spurred in part by Russia's military intervention in Syria in September and the Islamic State-sponsored terrorist attacks in Paris in November. While the growing internationalization of the conflict presents many dangers, it may also open possibilities for diplomacy," he observed.

Iraq and Yemen run the risk of being torn apart along sectarian lines, while Turkey has seen its conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) escalate to levels unseen in two decades. The deadly power struggle in Libya is fueling conflicts across the Sahel, including in Mali and the Lake Chad basin.

In Africa, Boko Haram has turned into a "resilient, adaptable, and mobile" terrorist group, capable of unleashing violence in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, the former French diplomat noted.

"The South China Sea risks becoming a theater of big-power competition, as the United States challenges China's large-scale land reclamation and construction on several disputed reefs," Guéhenno noted.

Tensions between Beijing and Washington escalated following a series of incidents in what is one of the world's key waterways. The major ones included the US sending a spy plane and a warship on a freedom of navigation to artificial islands, claimed by China.

Other major conflicts Guéhenno mentioned in his list include Burundi, Afghanistan and Colombia. The last one, in his view, offers a glimmer of hope, since the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) appear to be heading for a comprehensive agreement, which is meant to put an end to a decades-long armed conflict.

BIFF open to talks with Duterte, vows more attacks Vs gov’t

From the often pro-CPP Davao Today (Jan 5): BIFF open to talks with Duterte, vows more attacks Vs gov’t

The breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters said they are open to peace talks with PDP-Laban presidential bet and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte should he win in the May 2016 national elections.

Abu Misry Mama, spokesman of the BIFF, told Davao Today that their group’s openness to be involved in the peace and order agenda of Duterte is based on the holy teachings of Qu’ran, a central religious text of Islam.

“If he plans to talk to us, we will entertain him because it is according to the Qu’ran,” Mama said in an interview Tuesday morning.

Mama, however, clarified the BIFF will not endorse any candidate.

BIFF’s statement came after Duterte vowed that he will build peace across the country if he will be elected as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines. Duterte said that he will achieve this within three to six months by doing “inclusive” talks with MILF, MNLF, NPA, CPP and NDF.

Mama stressed that whoever wins the 2016 presidential election, BIFF will continue to wage war against the government unless the latter will yield to their demand of establishing an Islamic State in Mindanao.

GPH Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, in a statement, has called on the BIFF leadership “to reconsider their violent ways and take heed of the people’s desire for peace and normalcy in their lives.”

But Mama said that peace in Central Mindanao is a “myth” because the “Bangsamoro Homeland” has not yet been given to them by the government.

“We won’t stop until the government will grant our aspirations to have an independent Islamic State. BIFF’s offensive operations will continue,” Mama warned.

“BIFF doesn’t recognize the peace efforts between the MILF and the government. Our own struggle should be respected,” the BIFF spokesman said.

MILF: Muslim orgs regularly hold Islamic seminar in Lanao del Sur

Posted to the MILF Website (Jan 6): Muslim orgs regularly hold Islamic seminar in Lanao del Sur

Muslim orgs regularly hold Islamic seminar in Lanao del Sur

Two active Muslim organizations regularly hold Islamic seminar in Lanao del Sur in their effort to propagate Islamic teachings that will guide the constituents in the localities to become responsible and devout Muslims.

The ARD Islamic Family Foundation, Inc. and Run for Proper Hijab, two groups that focuses on Da’wah activities, will hold their 56th Islamic seminar on January 8 at Barangay Paiguay, Tubaran Lanao del Sur.

The topics to be discussed are Tawheed (oneness of God), Shirk, Bid’a (innovation), experiences in the grave, and the essence of Hijab (veil).

Among the invited lecturers are Alim Norodin Darungcala and Alim Suhair Rinabor.

Last December 27, the two organizations hosted an Islamic seminar for women where the resource persons discussed the proper attitude in dealing with neighbours, death and the process of bathing and preparing the corpse for burial.

Alimah Samiyah Abdulkarim and Alimah Noronsalam “Ummu Mus'ab” Idaros handled the discussions.

They also hosted Islamic seminar for women with the topics Somuliyatul Islam and Sahabatu Rasulillah wa Fardhailuhom held at Soraya Function Hall in the City of Marawi last November 30.

RDFFI and RFPH promote the wearing of Hijab among the Muslimah (Muslim woman).

They also post Qur’anic verses and Hadiths in their facebook pages to inform Muslim netizens on certain important reminders about Islam particularly death and obedience to the commandments of the Almighty.

Of General Intel Interest: South Korea spy agency believes bomb was atomic

From the Philippine Star (Jan 6): South Korea spy agency believes bomb was atomic

South Korean Foreign Ministry officials attend an emergency meeting as a TV news program showing North Korea's announcement at the ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016. North Korea said Wednesday it had conducted a hydrogen bomb test, a defiant and surprising move that, if confirmed, would put Pyongyang a big step closer toward improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal. The headline of the TV says " (North Korea) has become hydrogen bomb holding country." Kim Ju-sung/Yonhap via AP KOREA OUT

SEOUL, South Korea — The latest on North Korea's announcement that it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test (all times local):
6:10 p.m.
A South Korean lawmaker says the country's spy agency told him in a private briefing that Pyongyang may not have conducted a hydrogen bomb test given the relatively small size of the seismic wave reported.

Lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo says the National Intelligence Service told him that an estimated explosive yield of six kilotons and a quake with a magnitude of 4.8 were detected Wednesday.

According to him, that's smaller than the estimated explosive yield of 7.9 kilotons and a quake with a magnitude of 4.9 that were reported after the 2013 nuclear test, and only a fraction of a typical successful hydrogen bomb test's explosive yield of hundreds of kilotons.
Lee says the agency told him that even a failed hydrogen bomb detonation typically yields tens of kilotons. Lee sits on the parliament's intelligence committee.
5:10 p.m.
China, Australia and France have strongly condemned North Korea's announcement of a nuclear test.
China, the North's closest ally, says the reported test was carried out in defiance of the international community and urged North Korea to refrain from acts that might worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says in a statement Wednesday that the action "confirms North Korea's status as a rogue state and a continuing threat to international peace and security."

French President Francois Hollande said in a statement that "France condemns this unacceptable violation of Security Council resolutions and calls for a strong reaction from the international community."
4:30 p.m.
South Korea's President Park Geun-hye has convened an emergency national security council meeting and is vowing a tough response to the North's bomb test.

Park said at the start of the meeting that the government "must get North Korea to face corresponding measures based on closed cooperation with the international community."

She says: "It's not only grave provocation of our national security, but also an act that threatens our lives and future. It's also a direct challenge to world peace and stability."

Park also ordered the military to bolster its combined defense posture with the U.S. military, saying South Korea will sternly deal with any additional provocation by North Korea.

She called for a swift, accurate analysis on the North's claim to have conducted a hydrogen bomb test.
— Hyung-jin Kim, Seoul, South Korea
3:45 p.m.
In Pyongyang, North Koreans reacted enthusiastically to the news that the country has carried out its fourth nuclear test since 2006.

Kim Sok Chol, a 32-year-old man who watched the TV announcement on a big screen at the train station square, told The Associated Press that he does not know much about what a hydrogen bomb is, but added that "since we have it, the U.S. will not attack us. I think the first successful H-bomb test is a great national event."

Ri Sol Yong, a 22-year-old university student, said the test "gives us more national pride."

She said, "Thanks to the fact that our country is a nuclear weapons state, I can study at the university without any worries. If we didn't have powerful nuclear weapons, we would already have been turned into the slaves of the U.S."
2:25 p.m.
The White House says it can't confirm a North Korean nuclear test, but said it would condemn such a test as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

North Korea said Wednesday it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test — a move that would put the country a step closer toward improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal.

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says the U.S. is "aware of seismic activity on the Korean Peninsula in the vicinity of a known North Korean nuclear test site and have seen Pyongyang's claims of a nuclear test."

He calls on North Korea to abide by its international obligations and commitments and said the U.S. consistently made clear that it will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state and will continue to defend U.S. allies in the region.
2:10 p.m.
Crowds dressed in thick winter coats have gathered outside a large video screen near a Pyongyang train station to cheer and take video and photos on their mobile phones of the state TV anchor announcing the country had carried out a nuclear test.

Some people raised their hands and applauded. Many smiled and cheered.
2 p.m.
South Korea says it will consult with allies and regional powers to get North Korea to face the consequences of the nuclear test it said it had carried out, such as additional U.N. sanctions.

Presidential security official Cho Tae-yong says: "We strongly condemn" the North's fourth bomb test.

He says North Korea must abide by U.N. resolutions that require the country to scrap its nuclear and ballistic missile programs completely and irreversibly.

South Korea's Defense Ministry also says it is bolstering security and monitoring on North Korea.
— Hyung-jin Kim, Seoul, South Korea
1:45 p.m.
The head of the U.N. Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, which monitors worldwide for nuclear testing, says if confirmed, a nuclear test by North Korea would be a breach of the treaty and a grave threat to international peace and security.

Lassina Zerbo says in a statement that the universally accepted norm against nuclear testing has been respected by 183 countries since 1996.

Zerbo urged North Korea to refrain from further nuclear testing and join the 183 states who have signed the treaty.

— George Jahn, Vienna
1:40 p.m.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the North Korean announcement of a hydrogen bomb test is a threat to his nation's safety.

Abe told reporters: "We absolutely cannot allow this, and condemn it strongly."

He called it a violation of the U.N. Security Council agreements that is against the global efforts toward nuclear disarmament.

Abe says he will take "strong action," work with other nations, the U.S., South Korea, China and Russia, as well as through the U.N.

— Yuri Kageyama, Tokyo
1:25 p.m.
The U.N. organization monitoring the world for signs of nuclear testing says it has detected "an unusual event in the Korean Peninsula."

The head of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization Lassina Zerbo says in a statement: "Our International Monitoring System detected an unusual seismic event in the Korean Peninsula at latitude 41.27 longitude 129.10."

The location on the map places the epicenter at North Korea's Pyunggye-ri testing site in its northeastern mountains, where all of its nuclear tests have been conducted.

North Korea said Wednesday it had conducted a hydrogen bomb test, which, if confirmed, would put Pyongyang a big step closer toward improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal.

— George Jahn, Vienna

AFP acquires 717 military trucks for operations, disaster response

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 6): AFP acquires 717 military trucks for operations, disaster response
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has acquired about 700 brand new military trucks worth P1.937 billion to boost its mobility in operations and disaster response.

Army spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said on Wednesday that 327 of the 717 KM450 trucks from KIA motors in South Korea were delivered last December.

“The Philippine Army will get 219 of the trucks, while 108 will go the Air Force, Navy, and Marines.”

These new trucks are undergoing road tests and final technical inspection and will be turned over this month.

The rest of the trucks will be delivered at the end of the month, Hao said.

These vehicles will not only be used for operational purposes but will also be used for disaster response.

“This will not only help in operations but in humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” he said.

Of General Intel Interest: Vietnam Protests as China Lands Civilian Aircraft on Newly Constructed Spratly Airstrip

From The Diplomat (Jan 3): Vietnam Protests as China Lands Civilian Aircraft on Newly Constructed Spratly Airstrip

The Vietnamese foreign ministry described the move as a “serious infringement” of its sovereignty.

Vietnam Protests as China Lands Civilian Aircraft on Newly Constructed Spratly Airstrip

Image Credit: Victor Robert Lee/Digital Globe
The status of China’s artificial islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea hit a new milestone on Saturday. China landed a civilian aircraft on Fiery Cross Reef, drawing a sharp reaction from the Vietnamese government. Le Hai Binh, a spokesperson for the Vietnamese foreign ministry, said that a Chinese aircraft had landed on the 3000 meter airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef. He added that the strip had been  “built illegally on Fiery Cross Reef, which is part of Vietnam’s Spratlys.” Vietnam, along with China, Taiwan, and Malaysia, claims Fiery Cross Reef, which has seen extensive land reclamation and construction work since last year. China has occupied the reef since 1988.

Binh continued that the move represented “a serious infringement of the sovereignty of Vietnam on the Spratly archipelago, contrary to the common perception of high-ranking leaders of the two countries and [to] an agreement on the basic principles for directly solving maritime issues between Vietnam and China.” He additionally noted that the Vietnamese government had filed a formal protest with the Chinese embassy, requesting that China refrain from staging another landing on the disputed island.

Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, clarified the nature of the landing. According to Hua, “the Chinese government conducted a test flight to the airport with a civil aircraft in order to test whether or not the facilities on it meet the standards for civil aviation.” She added that the “relevant activity falls completely within China’s sovereignty.”

“The Chinese side will not accept the unfounded accusation from the Vietnamese side,” she continued. This latest spat between Vietnam and China comes nearly two months after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Hanoi in November 2015, attempting to reset ties between the two neighbors. Ties between Vietnam and China have been strained over disputes in the South China Sea. In May 2014, a major crisis involving a Chinese oil rig near the Paracel Islands triggered a steep decline in bilateral ties and led to widespread anti-China protests in Vietnam.

Fiery Cross Reef is one of seven disputed features in the Spratly archipelago where China has built artificial islands and constructed various civilian and military structures. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), which has tracked Chinese construction and reclamation activities in the Spratlys through the use of satellite imagery, China has reclaimed 2.7 million square meters of area on Fiery Cross Reef.

As IHS Jane’s 360 reported in early 2015, the 3000 meter airstrip at Fiery Cross was the first to be constructed by China on these features. The length of the airstrip on Fiery Cross was of particular concern to observers in the region and in the United States as it suggested planned military use. As Jane‘s noted at the time, the specifications of the airstrip are “well within the parameters of existing People’s Liberation Army Air Force runways on mainland China, which vary in length from about 2,700 m to 4,000 m at most.” It isn’t immediately clear from either the Vietnamese or Chinese foreign ministry statements if the civilian aircraft that landed on Fiery Cross Reef on Saturday was comparable in size to a large military aircraft, such as a long-range bomber.

AMTI notes a range of other structures and facilities at Fiery Cross that suggest the artificial island can potentially serve as a major power-projection node for China in the South China Sea. Satellite imagery reveals a 630,000 square meter harbor–large enough to host large warships and tankers–anti-air weaponry, two helipads, two lighthouses, and satellite communication antennas. AMTI also notes that China may be constructing a new radar tower and possible gun emplacements at Fiery Cross Reef.

Military Task Force in GenSan Confirms: ISIS exists in Mindanao

From the Manila Times (Jan 5): Military Task Force in GenSan Confirms: ISIS exists in Mindanao

THE alleged leader of Ansar al-Khilafah (Supporters of the Caliphate) in the Philippines (AKP) who escaped from a four-hour gun battle with government forces on November 23, 2015 was reportedly on a mission to create large-scale violence in Central Mindanao, a military officer said on Tuesday.

The Philippine Army officer, who asked to be identified only as “Major Jamalul,” a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) integree of Joint Task Force GenSan (JTF-GenSan), has confirmed that Ansar al-Khilafa’s Muhammad Jaafar Maguid, alias “Tokboy,” was tasked to continue the role of a slain leader of their group which claims to be affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Part of ISIS’s strategic plan is to secure external support and recruit other terror groups in Southern Philippines like the Abu Sayyaf Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao, Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Special Operations Group (MILF-SOG) and other allied forces, according to the officer.

The Manila Times source said that Maguid, trained by Abdul Basit Usman, will continue the role of the latter under the alleged ISIS terror cell that forms the core of the AKP, particularly in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat in Central Mindanao.

Usman was killed in a military operation in May 2015, four months after the Mamasapano raid that ended the infamous activities of Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as “Marwant,” in January of the same year.

Maguid, who is now reportedly an important AKP operator, is tasked to coordinate with the Indonesians who were among his contacts with the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terror cell formerly led by Usman.

A ranking officer of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces Military Intelligence Group (ISAFP-MIG) told The Manila Times that an affiliate of ISIS will be created with heavy Indonesian influence along with Philippine-based groups granted membership into the newly organized AKP.

The AKP was formed in 2013 by Usman and Marwan and was intended to establish a group loyal to the Black Flag ideology of the greater global jihadist movement championed by ISIS.

AKP is among the radical jihadist groups in Mindanao that have pledged allegiance to ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the English equivalent for Al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al-Sham (Daesh), an ISAFP-MIG report said here.

‘All lies’

 A Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander known as Jules King, and father of Maguid, has belied the military intelligence report. He said Tokboy is not a replacement of Usman as AKP leader and that charges against his son are all lies and have no basis.
Link not confirmed

 Meanwhile, Police Superintendent Maximo Layugan, chief of the General Santos City Police, denied the existence of ISIS in the region but urged security forces under his area to apply the full force of the law against unfriendly forces.

Layugan said that he could not confirm the report of Maguid’s link with ISIS, except that the suspected leader is a fugitive with a string of criminal cases against him, including a series of bombings in GenSan and Maasim Town in Sarangani Province.

“So far, we have no evidence to say that Maguid has links to ISIS or that they are a terrorist group. Maybe they are just using the ISIS name to gain recognition and popularity,” Layugan said.

He said that until the police intelligence group confirms that Maguid has access to the ISIS or has been arrested, then he could not categorically validate the same.

Layugan also admitted that General Santos has been on the list of top bombing sites since 2001 up to the present as the city is considered a show window of the SOCCSKSARGEN growth area.

String of cases

 The suspected AKP leader is facing various criminal charges and has been considered a fugitive.

GenSan Mayor Ronnel C. Rivera has put up a P200,000 reward for the capture of Maguid, who is believed to have been responsible for the 2014 bombing that killed a 17-year old freshman of AMA Computer Learning Center and seriously wounded eight others.

Maguid, formerly a sub-commander of the BIFF under Ameril Umbra Kato, is an escapee from the Sarangani provincial jail while facing charges in connection with the attacks on the town hall and police station of Maasim, Sarangani in August 2008.

Maguid was also tagged in the ambush of a convoy of former Sarangani Gov. Miguel Dominguez during the May 2010 election.

DND to spend P292 M for high-explosive ammo

From the Philippine Star (Jan 6): DND to spend P292 M for high-explosive ammo

Philippine Marines fire an M101 105 mm howitzer during artillery live-fire training. Cpl. Courtney G. White/U.S. Marine Corps

The Department of National Defense (DND) will spend close to P292 million to buy 9,728 rounds of high-explosive ammunition for its 105-millimeter howitzer cannons.

A bid bulletin posted on the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System showed that the project has an approved budget of P291.84 million.
Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao said the ammunition will be used in security operations.

"Our operational requirement in Mindanao require this firepower equipment," Hao said.

"We use artillery to soften the ground. We use also the artillery to destroy targets. We use artillery to illuminate the target areas. We use artillery to mark our enemy and target areas," he added.

The bidding for the project will be held on January 28.It is open to all companies local or foreign, subject to the eligibility conditions provided in the procurement law.

To be qualified, bidders should have completed a contract equivalent to at least fifty percent of the approved budget within the last ten years from the date of receipt and opening of bids.

Bidders who completed at least two similar contracts with an aggregate amount of at least fifty percent of the approved budget will also be entertained.

The deadline for the submission of bids will be on January 28. The bids will be opened on the same day.

Late bids and those that are costlier than the approved budget will not be accepted.

Army head hoping truce with NPA to last the year

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 6): Army head hoping truce with NPA to last the year

Col. Francisco Delfin, 303 rd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday that the Philippine Army in the Negros Island Region hopes that the truce between state security forces and the New People's Army will not last only during the yuletide season, but throughout the year.

Delfin, who supervises the internal peace and security operations in Negros island, said the suspension of military operations, both by the government and NPA, ended January 3, without any violation.

The Army's 3 rd Infantry Division also reported that they had not monitored any-insurgency related incident for the duration of the SOMO in Negros, Panay and Central Visayas, that have been added to its areas of operation.

Delfin said the yuletide season celebration in Negros was peaceful.

Last month, the Philippine Army figured in four encounters with the NPA rebels in southern Negros.

The military estimates that there are still about 400 remaining NPA members in Negros and Panay islands.

The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the NPA had earlier dismissed military claims that they have defeated the revolutionary movement in Negros.

The 3ID is running against time to clear Negros and Panay of armed NPAs by June this year, which is their target, before President Benigno Aquino III steps down, six months from now.

Brig. Gen. Harold Cabreros, newly-installed 3ID commander, however, said he is hopeful that they will meet their objective and vowed to sustain the gains made by his predecessors.

Paying permit to campaign to NPA ground for disqualification – COMELEC

From MindaNews (Jan 6): Paying permit to campaign to NPA ground for disqualification – COMELEC

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the Davao Region warned candidates of the May 2016 elections that paying permit to campaign (PTC) to the New People’s Army (NPA) can be ground for disqualification if proven true.

During the AFP/PNP press conference on Wednesday at Ritz Hotel, Comelec 11 assistant regional director Marlon Casquejo said that PTC can be considered as a form of cash donations, which are prohibited during the election period from January 10 to June 8, 2016. The gun ban also takes effect during this period.

He clarified, however, that the commission cannot prevent the candidates who they want to support as this is their constitutional right to freedom of expression.

For his part, Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, 10th Infantry Division commander, said that the military is not against these candidates supporting the rebels but there should be no monetary support as they are helping the NPA gain strength to fight the soldiers.

As the rebels gain foothold, he warned that the NPA might turn against the candidates from whom they get the money.

Valencia added that what the military can do is to secure the area so that it will be safe for politicians to do the campaign.

He noted that in the region, the area known to have many NPA rebels is the boundary shared by Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

Casquejo said anyone, or even personnel from the Armed Forces, can file a disqualification case against a politician who is proven to have paid for PTC.

“They will gain force and kill our soldiers,” he said. “What we don’t want is the use of arms to force the people to vote,” he added.

Recently, Capt. Albert Caber, spokesperson and chief of the Public Information Office (PIO) of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), appealed to the candidates not to give in to the extortion demands of the Communist Party of the Philippines to “be used to sustain the armed struggle through violence and intimidation against innocent civilians and properties.”

In past elections, the NPA, which is the armed wing of the CPP, had demanded “permit to campaign” fees from politicians. The amounts would vary depending on the positions they were running for.

“The CNN’s [referring to the CPP-NPA-NDF] resorting to armed struggle utilizing threats, intimidation, terror and violence infringes upon the constitutional rights of the people to choose the best leaders who can bring real reforms through good governance,” Caber said.

Maguindanao guv urges town mayors to help secure communities vs BIFF

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 6): Maguindanao guv urges town mayors to help secure communities vs BIFF

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu has called on all town mayors in the province to design localized security plan to ensure the safety of civilians, especially in areas where outlawed Moro armed group regularly harassed.

"We should have security plan and we should always be ahead of the lawless groups,” Mangudadatu told a news conference after presiding over the Maguindanao provincial peace and order council Tuesday.

At least 7,000 individuals have been displaced by atrocities carried out by outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the towns of Ampatuan and Abdullah Sangki in Maguindanao since December 24.

Fighting involving Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Sultan sa Barongis also displaced civilians who are now in at least three evacuation centers.

Mangudadatu said police and military authorities have designed security measures but it is still best for the local leaders, down to the barangay, to have its own defense plan.

“We all know that the police and the military could not be in all places at all times, so the local officials are expected to protect their own people,” Mangudadatu said.

More police and military checkpoints have been established in areas considered conflict zone. These are the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Mamasapano, Datu Piang, Datu Salibo, Shariff Saydona and Sultan sa Barongis, areas where the BIFF operate.

Mangudadatu also directed the provincial relief response team to continue with the distribution of food packs and assistance to displaced families.

He also handed out financial assistance to relatives of slain farmers in Barangay Kauran, Ampatuan, Maguindanao even as he assured them that justice will be served.

Mangudadatu said the government is filing charges against the Barangay Kauran attackers.

The governor also appealed to the MILF leadership to help protect civilian communities from BIFF and help mediate in the MILF infighting.

Relief workers of the provincial emergency and disaster response team and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Midnanao - Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (ARMM-HEART) have extended food packs and other provisions to about 7,000 evacuees on Monday and Tuesday.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, through ARMM-HEART, also extended financial and medical assistance to two civilians trapped and injured in Sultan sa Barongis town after MILF clashed on Monday morning due to long standing land dispute.

DA to launch agri program to transform MILF camps into peaceful communities

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 6): DA to launch agri program to transform MILF camps into peaceful communities

Current and former agriculture secretaries will turn over initial agricultural equipment and materials to the farmers of six previously acknowledged Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps in Maguindanao and Lanao provinces Wednesday, Jan. 6.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala will lead the service presentation ceremony of the farmers’ assistance program with former DA Secretary and Philippine government (GPH) peace panel member Senen Bacani at the Bangsamoro Leadership Management Institute in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

The program is an initial confidence-building measure under the Bangsamoro peace process with the end in view of transforming these areas into peaceful and productive communities.

The initiative was organized by the Task Force Camps Transformation (TFCT), in partnership with the DA-Farmer’s Assistance Program and is part of the normalization process stipulated under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the MILF and the Philippine government.

Among the equipment and materials that will be turned over to farmers in the MILF-acknowledged communities are six units of heavy-duty 90HP farm tractor with complete accessories; six units of cassava grater; three units of hand tractor; 1200 bags of palay seeds and fertilizer; and 1200 bags of OPV corn seeds and fertilizer.

Also part of the assistance are planting materials such as 300 pieces of assorted rambutan, lanzones, jackfruit seedlings; and 300 pieces coffee, achuete, and guyabano seedlings. Eighteen carabaos will also be turned over for distribution to local farmers in conflict-affected areas.

In addition, certificates of commitment from the DA will be given during the event for the upcoming delivery of 16 units of non-motorized bancas; 160 units of fish traps or "baliyat"; 12 modules of goats (one module is composed of 4 female goats and one male goat); 18 heads of cattle; 6 units of corn sheller; 6 units of corn mill. Said equipment and farm animals will be turned over to local beneficiaries in a span of two to three months.

These areas are in the vicinity of former MILF Camp Abubakar as-Siddique, Camp Badre, and Camp Omar ibn al-Khattab in Maguindanao; Camp Rajamuda in North Cotabato and Maguindanao; Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur; and Camp Busrah Somiorang in Lanao del Sur.

Prominent individuals such as Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Sabbihi Hataman, ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia, Bangsamoro Development Agency Executive Director Mohammad Suib Yacob, Maguindanao 1st District Representative Bai Sanda Sema, and Maguindanao 2nd District Representative Zajid Mangundadatu were also invited to attend the event.

The event is expected to be joined by more or less 1,000 participants, including members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) and the farmer-beneficiaries.

The implementation of such confidence-building measures is undertaken through the Joint Task Forces mandated to help transform the MILF camps into peaceful and productive communities.;postID=6962674481330567843

DND in the market for 9,728 rounds of 105mm HE rounds

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 6): DND in the market for 9,728 rounds of 105mm HE rounds

The Department of National Defense (DND), in a bid bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website, is planning to acquire 9,728 rounds of high-explosive ammunition (HE) for its 105mm howitzers.

The project has a budget of Php291,840,000 which will be sourced from "FY 2015 General Appropriations and Philippine Army Appropriation CY 2015".

Winning bidders are required to deliver the items within 180 calendar days from receipt of "Notice to Proceed."

They must also have completed a single largest similar completed contract, the amount of which is equivalent to at least 50 percent of the DND's HE rounds acquisition project within the last 10 years.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled on Jan. 15, 11 a.m. at the DND bidding and awards committee, conference room, basement, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Bid opening is on Jan. 28, 11 a.m. at the same venue.

The 105mm howitzer is the most numerous weapon of the Nueva Ecija-based Army Artillery Regiment.

APC with defective brakes rams civilian vehicle in Benguet

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 6): APC with defective brakes rams civilian vehicle in Benguet

An armored personnel carrier (APC) lost its brakes and rammed a civilian vehicle, a Ford Eco-Sport SUV, which was parked in Bontiwoy Poblacion, Tuba, Benguet, on Tuesday afternoon.

A report coming from Cordillera Region Police Office Supt. Cherry Fajardo said the incident took place at 4:45 p.m. and the APC involved was assigned to the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion based in San Jose, Tarlac.

The military vehicle was driven by Sgt. Jesus Salinas, 35.

The Ford Eco-Sport SUV sustained an undisclosed amount of damage. Nobody was injured, the report added.

Malacañang expresses condolences to former U.S. Ambassador Stephen Bosworth’s family

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 6): Malacañang expresses condolences to former U.S. Ambassador Stephen Bosworth’s family
The Palace has conveyed its deepest condolences to the family of former US Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen Bosworth, who died at the age of 76 in Boston, Massachusetts last Sunday.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda described Bosworth, who served as US ambassador to the Philippines from 1984 to 1987, as “a true friend” of the country.

“Stephen Bosworth was a true friend of the Philippines. During his ambassadorship to the Philippines from 1984 to 1987, he was placed in the middle of the country’s transformation from a dictatorship to a newly restored democracy,” Secretary Lacierda said.

“He proved to be an honorable representative not just of his country’s interests but of the spirit of the times: one that embraced the toppling of tyrants throughout the world and the ‘restoration of democracy by the ways of democracy,’ as former President Corazon C. Aquino so memorably expressed it,” he added.

The Palace official said that in dealing with the democratic opposition to the dictatorship, Bosworth was an “understanding and sympathetic envoy”.

“His passing marks the loss of one more important figure in the history of people power, as we prepare to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution. We extend our deepest condolences to his family during this time of grief,” Lacierda said.

Bosworth had an extensive career in the United States Foreign Service. He also served as ambassador to Tunisia (1979-1981) and the Republic of Korea (1997-2001), and as special representative for North Korea Policy for the Obama Administration (2009-2011).

PNP welcomes reinvestigation of Mamasapano incident

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 6): PNP welcomes reinvestigation of Mamasapano incident

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor on Wednesday said that the national police have nothing against the re-investigation of the Mamasapano incident case but recognize their priority in providing benefits to the families of SAF 44.

Mayor declared the PNP’s willingness to participate in the investigation if called in the Senate hearing.

“It has always been the aim of the PNP to seek justice of our SAF heroes as well as the benefits for their families. We respect the move of senator Enrile and we will fully cooperate with the investigation,” he said.

Moreover, PNP always recognizes their responsibility in providing the benefits from scholarship, financial assistance, insurances, awards and recognitions to the family of SAF44.

“On the part of the PNP, binibigay natin ang dapat ibigay sa kanila," he said.

Asked if the re-opening of the case may cast rift between PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Mayor claimed that there are no gaps between two agencies as they are both professionally working together in helping the families of SAF44.

He added that the incident even helped them to work better in coordination. (PNA) RMA/CLTC/Kimberly Gonzales Dionela/KGD

Additional mobility assets for PA now in PHL

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 6): Additional mobility assets for PA now in PHL

Mobility assets of the Philippine Army (PA) were greatly boosted with the delivery of brand-new 219 Kia KM-450 military trucks late December.

This was announced by PA spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao in an interview Thursday.

The 219 KM-450s are part of an initial 327 vehicle delivery made by KIA, he added.

Of these, 219 are earmarked for the Army while the remaining 108 will be divided between the Air Force, Navy and Marines.

These vehicles are now undergoing technical inspection and assessment before being handed over to their mother units.

Hao said another 390 KM-450s are scheduled to arrive before the end of January.

The PA spokesperson said the KM-450 deal with KIA is Php1.937 billion for 717 KM-450 units.

KM-450s are used for transport and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions by the PA.