Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Philippines to Acquire Frigates with License to Manufacture

From the Manila Channel (Feb 9): Philippines to Acquire Frigates with License to Manufacture

A Supplemental Bid Bulletin was published by the Department of National Defense (DND) on 2 February, informing bidders of changes in the bidding documents of the Frigate Acquisition Program for the Philippine Navy. The bulletin also covers the Technical Specifications of the Frigate Acquisition, which is essential to prospective bidders to take part in the program.

According to the bulletin, the Philippine government is now acquiring two (2) Frigates with design that the Philippine Navy can legally own or have the license to build in the future. The revised specification also stated that the frigates should have a length of at least 92 meters long and a displacement of at least 2000 tons.

The frigates to be acquired should also be capable of surviving at Sea State 7. This is a notch higher than the previous specification of Sea Sate 6. There is no degradation of anti-air, anti-surface, and electronic warfare capabilities at Sea State 5, and no degradation of anti-submarine capacities at Sea State 4.

The frigates must be able to accommodate 12-ton helicopter units at flight deck, and have a hangar for a 10-ton helicopter.

The DND also became more specific on items such as hull form and layout, weapons, radar, and propulsion systems.

As of this writing, six firms are qualified to bid based on their eligibility during the first stage bidding held in 2013: NavantiaSepi (Spain), STX Offshore and Shipbuilding (South Korea), Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. (South Korea), Hyundai Heavy Industries Inc. (South Korea), Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd. (India), STX France SA.

The schedule of submission to bid is set on 16 February.


Rebels told to return to fold of law

From the Baguio Midland Courier (Feb 9): Rebels told to return to fold of law

The Philippine Army based here enjoins rebels to return to the mainstream and embrace the programs and services of the government that will provide them a better and peaceful life.

In a radio interview, Corporal Sherwin Acson of the 54th Infantry Battalion Civil-Military Operations Unit said the government has many programs for rebels who surrender.

One of these programs is the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP), a priority program for the promotion of peace and order and development to the people and the country as a whole.

CLIP beneficiaries can avail of PhilHealth enrolment; P2,700 initial support while processing needed documents; P15,000 immediate assistance; free livelihood training; and P50,000 livelihood aid, Acson said.

For surrendered firearms, he added payments range from P2,000 to P214,000, depending on the kind, caliber, model, and number of ammunitions of firearms.

Acson said any NPA member who intends to surrender can just approach or contact relatives, or a trusted person or official in the community who can facilitate their surrender to the government.

He assured the safety and rights as citizens of those will surrender. The 54th IB in coordination with the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office will also provide them temporary shelter while their papers are being processed.


‘BIFF commander, 3 Moro rebels killed, 7 hurt in clash with Army in Maguindanao’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 9): ‘BIFF commander, 3 Moro rebels killed, 7 hurt in clash with Army in Maguindanao’

At least four rebels were killed and seven others were hurt as fighting between government forces and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) resumed Tuesday.

Fighting erupted at about 8 a.m. near the road leading to the Datu Salibo town from Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, both in Maguindanao, forcing government forces to close portions of the highway.

“Roads were closed for the safety of the public,” Insp. Noel dela Cruz, Datu Salibo town police chief, told reporters.
Col. Felicisimo Budiongan, commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that among those killed was BIFF commander Mamandra Guino, also known as Abu Sufian.

Budiongan said Guino died when his group clashed with soldiers around 10 a.m. in the village of Sambulawan in Datu Salibo town.

“The number of enemy fatalities came from the civilians themselves,” he said.

“The rebels have split into two groups. One was monitored heading toward the area of Pikit (in North Cotabato), while the other stayed to block the implementation of the dredging project,” he added.

Abu Misri Mama, BIFF spokesperson, confirmed Guino was killed, and was the lone fatality.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said Tuesday’s firefight erupted when government forces on board armoured personnel carriers (APCs) forced their way into the dredging site where the two dredging equipment were torched by the BIFF.

The BIFF fired several sniper shots using the Barret Cal. 50 as six military APCs were moving forward.

The Army retaliated using cal. 50 and cal. 30 machineguns.

On Monday, Mama told the Philippine Daily Inquirer they would shoot anyone coming closer to the project site where the two backhoes were stalled.

Quoting reports from the grounds and intelligence information, Lt. Col. Warlito Limet, of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, said two-way radio communications monitored by the Army showed the rebel fatalities could be more.

Thousands of civilians have deserted the villages of Butalo, Tee and Sambolawan, all in Datu Salibo, since Friday when the BIFF tried to take over the project site.

Mama admitted they attacked the workers and the equipment because the project proponents failed to settle right of way claims of land owners.

The project, funded through the development funds of Maguindanao 2nd district Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu, aims to establish a flood control canal to spare farmlands and residential areas during rainy season.

Since February 5, when the fighting started, at least three soldiers have been wounded, while more than 10,000 civilians have evacuated to safer ground.

The BIFF broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2008. 


Top BIFF man nabbed, son killed in Cotabato operation—military (photo)

From GMA News (Feb 10): Top BIFF man nabbed, son killed in Cotabato operation—military

A ranking member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters was arrested and his sond killed on Tuesday during a joint Police and Military operation in Cotabato City.

Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay, public affairs officer of the the 6th Infantry Division, identified the arrested suspect as Hassan Indal alias "Abu Hazam" of the BIFF, a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is engaged in a peace process with the government.

BIFF commander Hassan Indal. --Ferdinandh Cabrera

Petinglay said Indal is the Top 4 leader of the BIFF being vice chairman for internal affairs and the commander of the 4th division of the rebel group based in Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao.

He was captured in Brgy Kalanganan MB in Cotabato City.

Ali Indal, the BIFF's commander's son and escort, was shot and killed when he engaged authorities in a shootout, Petinglay said.

Commander Indal's group, according to Petinglay, has been involved in different criminal activities and atrocities in Central Mindanao since the BIFF was formed in 2010.

Authorities arrested Indal by virtue of an arrest  warrant for Murder with Double Frustrated Murder,  issued by Judge George Jabido of the Cotabato City RTC.

Recovered during the operation were: 1 M653 rifle, chamber-loaded and with short magazine with 10 live ammunition; 1 cal-.45 chamber-loaded and with two magazines with 14 live ammunition; and 1 fragmentation grenade.


BIFF leader nabbed, son killed in Cotabato raid

From the Philippine Star (Feb 10): BIFF leader nabbed, son killed in Cotabato raid

The arrested vice chairman for internal affairs of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters was wanted for a string of criminal offenses. Philstar.com/File photo

Combined Army and police operatives arrested here Tuesday night a senior official of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and killed his son for resisting arrest.

The arrested vice chairman for internal affairs of the BIFF, Hassan Indal, also known as Abu Azam, was cornered at his hideout in Barangay Kalanganan west of Cotabato City.

Indal did not resist arrest, but son, Alih, also a member of the BIFF, grabbed a rifle hidden in their house and opened fire at the raiding team, provoking a firefight that resulted to his death.

Indal, wanted for a string of criminal offenses, had been turned over to the office of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Cotabato City.

The joint Army-police raiding team found in his lair an M-16 assault rifle, a .45 caliber pistol and a fragmentation grenade.

Local police probers said the unlicensed firearms and the grenade recovered from Indal’s possession will be used as evidence for another criminal case to be filed against him.

The raid that led to the arrest of Indal was a joint operation of the CIDG, the Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion, the 601st Brigade and intelligence units of the 6th Infantry Division.

Lt. Col. Ranulfo Sevilla, commander of the 5th SF Battalion, said barangay folks also helped in locating the whereabouts of Indal.

“He was immediately submitted for medical examination by a physician before he was turned over to the police,” Sevilla said.


9 BIFF killed in Maguindanao clashes

From the Manila Times (Feb 9): 9 BIFF killed in Maguindanao clashes

Nine jihadist members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), including its sub-leader, were monitored killed in sporadic firefight in Datu Salibo town here as the military continues with the clearing operations on a dredging project that was attacked by the group.

Colonel Felicisimo Budiongan, Army commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade, said among the dead was a BIFF sub-leader identified only as Abu Supian. He was killed during Tuesday’s military pursuit operation, while eight others were recorded in previous clashes since the operation started on Friday.

He said the reported casualties was based on military intelligence and was corroborated by eyewitnesses.

Budiongan said the BIFF also suffered an undetermined number of injured, including another sub-leader of the group identified only as Commander Bitol.

Except for an army officer and two civilians, who sustained minor injuries, no other casualties were reported.

Budiongan said an “indirect support fire” was being staged to drive away remaining BIFF groups, who were occupying Barangay Tee in the town.

Local residents and stranded commuters reported to have heard loud explosions on Tuesday along the highway in Datu Piang. They expressed fear of renewed war in Mindanao.

The Army commander allayed fear of war, adding that the current operation was harmonized with the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) through the Ad-Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Military officials said the encounter started when the breakaway group of the separatist MILF started harassing the ongoing flood control project in Datu Salibo.

The report said the BIFF burned heavy equipment and attacked military forces who were defusing a bomb planted under a bridge.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Warlito Limet, commander of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, said government troops diffused several landmines or improvised explosive devices that were planted around the river-widening project in Barangay Butalo and Barangay Tee of Datu Salibo on Friday. The explosives were allegedly planted by a group of BIFF who was reported extorting from the project constructor.

The current hostilities came amid non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress, which was also reportedly lauded by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari and his forces in Sulu.

The BIFF, with more than 400 members, has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) and is opposing the current peace process in Mindanao.


Jolo test mission bomb plot bared

From the Philippine Star (Feb 9): Jolo test mission bomb plot bared

The bomb plot was reportedly part of the test mission of the new recruits of the Abu Sayyaf group. Philstar.com/File photo

Police and military forces intensified security after intercepting plot of the Abu Sayyaf group to conduct bombing in the downtown of Jolo, capital of Sulu.

The Joint Task Group Sulu (JTGS) disclosed the Abu Sayyaf group under sub-leader Majan Sahidjuan, who is an expert in demotion, has reportedly deployed six recruits to conduct the bombing.

The mission, based on military intelligence report, was part of the test mission of the new recruits.

The military revealed that targets include passenger vessels, different business establishments, coast guard station, cathedral, public market and road leading to the airport.

Aside from the test mission, the bombing plot was reportedly part of the Abu Sayyaf group’s diversionary tactics to ease the offensive pressure launched by the government forces against its comrades in the hinterlands of Sulu.

Factions of the Abu Sayyaf group staged bomb attacks weeks ago in Jolo, hitting a combat police patrol car and a videoke bar near the military headquarters.

At least seven Marines were injured after their convoy hit a roadside bombing at Barangay Lagtoh, Talipao town last week.

The injured Marines who were brought to the military hospital here for further treatment were awarded each with a Wounded Personnel Medal by Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz, chief of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

Dela Cruz said relentless focused military operation against Abu Sayyaf continued even during the political campaign period in Sulu to secure both the civilians and the candidates.


Misuari’s son installed as MNLF vice chair

From the Daily Tribune (Feb 9): Misuari’s son installed as MNLF vice chair

The eldest son of Moro National Liberation Front founding Chairman Nur Misuari was installed as new vice chairman of the MNLF Misuari faction’s Central Committee during a recent general assembly in Sulu — signaling the rise of next generation of Muslim leaders in Mindanao.

Hadji Uto Karim Misuari, who is in his late 30s, assumed as MNLF-Misuari faction’s Number 2 man during Sunday’s MNLF leadership assembly at Camp Astana in Sitio Bakud, Barangay Kagay, Indanan.

Karim Misuari has a master’s degree in Arabic and Shariah obtained in Libya.

The younger Misuari replaced Orlando Olamit from Davao who resigned from his post due to health reasons.

The elder Misuari remains the acknowledged chairman of his MNLF faction which declared independence from the Philippine government in 2013 with the establishment of Bangsamoro Republik.

The whole-day activity was attended by estimated 2,000 MNLF members from various parts of Mindanao.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commander of the military’s Joint Task Group Sulu, said that the assembly was peacefully adjourned at around 4 p.m.

He said there was no mention of any violent activities coming from the MNLF during the assembly presided over by Nur Misuari. “He (elder Misuari) issued his guidance. He has lost weight and looked old,” said Arrojado.

Misuari is wanted for rebellion in connection to the Zamboanga City siege.

Arrojado, on the other hand, described the younger Misuari as “more of an academician.”

Among those tackled during the meeting was the result of the tripartite review of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia recently.

The MNLF is insisting that the 1996 FPA between the MNLF and the government of the Philippines (GPH) was not fully implemented.

Also discussed was the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) agreed upon by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a breakaway faction of the MNLF, and the Aquino administration.

“As observed, there was no mention of any future hostile actions from the MNLF leadership particularly on the alleged another Zambo Siege 2,” said Arrojado, referring to the September 2013 siege of Zamboanga City by hundreds of MNLF fighters.

The siege dragged on for three weeks and resulted in the killing of dozens of MNLF fighters and government troops while more than 100,000 civilians were displaced.

The MNLF attack was in in protest of the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro that gave way to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the MILF and the Aquino government which paved the way for the crafting of the BBL.

“The MNLF are concentrated with their reorganizational structures and the non-passage of BBL is much welcome and favorable to them,” Arrojado said.

MILF to pursue peace talks despite BBL’s ‘demise’

From the Daily Tribune (Feb 10): MILF to pursue peace talks despite BBL’s ‘demise’

The peace process in Mindanao did not die with the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) maintains its commitment to pursue negotiations with the next administration.

“The peace process in Mindanao did not die with the non-passage of the BBL. The Exit Agreement is not yet signed by them. Thus, this would require them to start where they have stopped: ‘as is, where is,’” the MILF said in a latest editorial over its Web site.

The MILF explained that the next government or the new administration can either refile the BBL or craft jointly through the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), most likely composed of new members from both parties, a new basic law but still pursuant to the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

“There is no other way forward, except the government would resort to approaches outside of the parameters agreed by the parties. That would entirely be another story!” the MILF said.

The BBL was agreed upon by the MILF and GRP peace panels following the signing of the FAB and then later CAB.

The MILF enumerated four reasons behind the “death” of BBL in the 16th Congress. It cited the hatred, biases and prejudices against the Moros; the materialistic system that promotes monopoly in the Philippines; the support for BBL was weak, and, lastly, those going for status quo were stronger.

Among the clear bias and hatred against Moros was the Mamasapano incident where 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos were killed during the launching of Operation Plan (Oplan) “Exodus” targeting Malaysian terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Amin Baco, alias Jihad, and Filipino bomb expert Basit Usman.

“The Mamasapano incident merely triggered the upsurge or had brought into surface the long-held biases, hatred, prejudices and fear of the majority populations against the Moros,” the MILF said.

“Those forces for change or those supporting the BBL, including the push exerted by President Aquino, are still weak as compared to the forces of status quo…which is very strong,” the MILF added.

The MILF also branded the lack of quorum in the House of Representatives as reason behind the non-passage of BBL is just an “alibi.”

While he consistently pushed for BBL, the President did not certify the bill as urgent measure. At the Senate, BBL was still under interpellation while at the House of Representatives the BBL was already in its final stages of the hearing.


White House: Disputes over South China Sea must not involve ‘bullying’

From GMA News (Feb 10): White House: Disputes over South China Sea must not involve ‘bullying’

President Barack Obama will deliver a tough message to China during a summit with Southeast Asian countries next week that disputes in the South China Sea must be resolved peacefully and not with a big nation "bullying" smaller neighbors, the White House said on Tuesday.

Obama will also address North Korea's "provocations," a nuclear test last month and a rocket launch over the weekend, when he hosts the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in California on Monday and Tuesday, aides said.

Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, said the president will reiterate that territorial disputes over the area, where China and several Southeast Asian states have conflicting and overlapping claims, must be handled through negotiations and consistent with international norms.

Though China will not be represented, Obama's aides made clear that Beijing's actions in the South China Sea, where it has proceeded with island building that US officials suspect could be turned to military use, will be one of the focal points of the summit at the Sunnylands estate near Palm Springs, California.

"The president will call on all claimants to halt land reclamation, construction of new facilities and to carry out no militarization of outposts in the South China Sea," Dan Kritenbrink, Obama's top Asia adviser, told reporters on a conference call previewing the ASEAN talks.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.

Rhodes said part of Obama's message at the summit will be the need "to avoid efforts to resolve those disputes through one nation, bigger nation, bullying a smaller one," uphold freedom of navigation and avoid "inadvertent and unnecessary" military action in the South China Sea.

A US Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of an island claimed by China and two other states in the South China Sea in late January to counter what Washington deems unacceptable efforts to limit freedom of navigation, prompting an angry reaction from Beijing. It was the second such US military exercise carried out last year.

Obama will specifically discuss with Southeast Asian leaders his concerns about China's recent test flights on a newly constructed runway on the Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands, Rhodes said.

But even as Obama seeks to reassure Southeast Asian leaders of his resolve, he is expected to face divisions within the 10-nation bloc on how far they are willing to go in angering China. The Philippines and Vietnam have taken a harder line while Cambodia and Laos are more reluctant to confront Beijing.

US officials insist the summit is not about targeting China but about bolstering economic and security ties with Southeast Asia, a region Obama has focused on as part of his signature "rebalance" toward Asia-Pacific.

At the same time, Obama will update Southeast Asian leaders on efforts to increase international sanctions pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs, a process that the US officials said China had every reason to assist.

"We approach China on the basis that we have a shared interest in the principle of denuclearization and avoiding an escalation on the Korean peninsula," Rhodes said.

But China and the United States have not entirely seen eye to eye on how strong the response should be to North Korea, with Washington urging harsh punitive measures and Beijing stressing the need for dialogue.

China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, displaying its reach on official maps with a so-called nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

It has done reclamation work on disputed areas in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines filed a case against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration saying the latter's massive claim or its so-called nine-dash line does not conform with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Aside from China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan also have overlapping claims in South China Sea. 


Militar takot kay Nur Misuari!

Mindanao Examiner (Feb 9): Militar takot kay Nur Misuari!

Nabahag na naman – sa ikalawang pagkakataon – ang buntot ng militar upang madakip si Nur Misuari, lider ng Moro National Liberation Front, matapos itong makipagpulong sa mga commander at miyembro nito sa Sulu province.

Bagama’t alam ng militar ang naturang pagpupulong sa bayan ng Indanan bago pa man ito maganap kamakalawa ay wala naman ginawa ang awtoridad na dakpin si Misuari na wanted ng batas dahil sa atake ng MNLF sa Zamboanga City noon 2013 na ikinamatay ng maraming katao.

Tinatayang 2000 ang dumalo sa nasabing pulong at kabilang sa kanila ang mga miyembro ng Abu Sayyaf na kung saan ay pinagusapan ang kabiguan ng pamahalaang Aquino na maisulong ang proposed Bangsamor Basic Law ng bahagi ng peace agreement sa Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Kasama ni Misuari ang kanyang anak na si Karim na siyang papalit sa kanya. Nitong Enero lamang ay pinulong rin ni Misuari ang mga commander at tauhan sa Sulu at hindi rin siya dinakip ng militar at sa halip ay iginiit na pulis ang dapat umaresto sa wanted na lider.

Subali’t maraming mga arestong ginawa ang militar sa hanay ng Abu Sayyaf kahit walang arrest warrant sa Sulu sa mga nakalipas na operasyon.


Soldiers accidentally discover marijuana plantation in Tagoloan, Lanao del Norte

From Coconuts Manila (Feb 9): Soldiers accidentally discover marijuana plantation in Tagoloan, Lanao del Norte

 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion

Soldiers from the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion discovered 3,000 marijuana plants in Tagoloan, Lana del Norte. Photo: 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)

The road less traveled may lead to interesting destinations...but who would expect to stumble into a marijuana plantation?

On Sun morning, Feb 7, soldiers from the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion were recently called to intervene on the feud between two political clans in Tagoloan, Lanao del Norte.

However, when they passed through Baranggay Kiazar, they came upon a marijuana farm that had about 3,000 plants.

As indicated in Roxanne Arevalo's report on ABS-CBNnews.com, the authorities are still trying to find out who owns the marijuana plantation.

By the way, the 3,000 marijuana plants were uprooted and then burned in front of Tagoloan's municipal hall.


AFP deliberates on shortlist for new PMA superintendent

From InterAksyon (Feb 9): AFP deliberates on shortlist for new PMA superintendent

PMA cadets in formation, file photo.

The Board of Generals (BOG) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is deliberating on the list of candidates to replace the outgoing Philippine Military Academy superintendent who retires on February 17.

The outgoing PMA Superintendent, Lieutenant General Oscar Lopez, will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56. He is a member of PMA “Dimalupig” Class 1981.

The PMA chief holds a 3-star position and senior officers call it a “retirement position”.

The shortlist is reportedly topped by Major General Donato San Juan, a member of PMA “Maharlika” Class 1984.  He is current commander of the Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM), a position he got in December 2013.

SOCOM is the mother unit of the Scout Ranger Regiment and Special Forces Regiment, the elite forces of the Army.


Top BIFF commander arrested in Cotabato City

From InterAksyon (Feb 10): Top BIFF commander arrested in Cotabato City


Combined forces of the 5th Special Forces and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) from Central Mindanao a high-ranking officer of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in a raid at around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday night in Barangay Mother Kalanganan, Cotabato City.

5th SF Commanding Officer Col. Rannie Sevilla identified the arrested as Hasan Indal alyas Abu Azam, believed to be BIFF’s vice-chairman for internal affairs and its 4th Division Commander.

Abu Azam was nabbed on the basis of an arrest warrant.

Confiscated from him were one Baby Armalite, a caliber 45 pistol, and a grenade.
Abu Azam is now in the custody of the CIDG.

BIFF spokesman Abu Misrie Mama confirmed that Abu Azam was a high-ranking BIFF official, who was in the city due to his diabetes.

Mama also confirmed that a BIFF team leader was killed by the military in the continuing clearing operation in the town of Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

The slain BIFF was identified as Abu Sopian.


DVIDS: Seabee corpsman conducts basic first aid training with Philippine navy and Marines

From DVIDS (Feb 9): Seabee corpsman conducts basic first aid training with Philippine navy and Marines

Pacific Deployment 2016

160125-N-YG415-040 PALAWAN, Philippines (Jan. 25, 2016) Chief Hospital Corpsman Clifford L. Salviejo from Salinas, Calif., assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3, trains a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 2nd NMCB, Naval Combat Engineering Brigade, on how to splint a broken arm during a basic first aid training at Abaroan School District in Palawan, Philippines. NMCB 3 Construction Civic Action Detail (CCAD)’s mission is to execute engineering civic assistance projects, conduct skills exchanges with the host nation, and perform community relations events to help enhance shared capabilities and maintain relationships. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Gomez/Released)

PALAWAN, Philippines - Chief Hospital Corpsman Clifford L. Salviejo conducted basic first aid training with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 Seabees and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), 2nd NMCB, Naval Combat Engineering Brigade Seabees and Marines, Jan. 25, at Abaroan School District in Palawan, Philippines.

The training is designed to enhance U.S. and Philippine Seabees and Marines’ basic knowledge of how to treat an injury on a construction site. Comprised of relatively simple techniques that can be performed with rudimentary equipment, first aid is usually carried out by a layperson until professional medical assistance arrives.

The purpose of first aid training is to minimize injury and future disability. In serious cases, first aid may be necessary to keep the victim alive.

Salviejo assigned to NMCB 3 taught a basic first aid training course that included how to apply a tourniquet, bandaging head injuries, and splinting techniques.

During the training, Salviejo assisted a member of the AFP Seabee on demonstrating how to splint a broken arm.

“It’s good to share knowledge with the Philippine Seabees and Marines,” said Salviejo. “It allows everyone to take care of each other, in case I’m out of reach or at another project site.”

The main focus for this training is common construction injuries, such as slip hazards, fall injuries, and foreign object injuries, anything that would possibly happen on a construction site.

At the end of the training, Salviejo conducted a series of basic stretching exercises as part of injury prevention, due to repetitive motions Seabees carry out through the day.

NMCB 3 is homeported in Port Hueneme, California, and is currently deployed to Okinawa, Japan. The mission of NMCB 3 is to support Navy and joint forces throughout the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) area of responsibility (AOR) through construction projects and humanitarian missions in more than 14 different geographical locations.


BIFF-Army fighting dislocates hundreds

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 9): BIFF-Army fighting dislocates hundreds

Hundreds of people have fled their homes to safe grounds for fear of getting caught in the crossfire between Moro rebels and government forces in Datu Salibo, a poor municipality in Maguindanao province.

Four civilians have been wounded so far in the fighting, which began on Friday, said Alex Manuel, action officer of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

On Sunday, snipers of the Bangamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) fired several times at Army soldiers deployed to protect workers in a river dredging project in Datu Salibo, according to the military.

Using Barret cal. 50 rifles, the rebels targeted soldiers belonging to the 22nd Mechanized Company and stationed in a detachment near the project site in Barangay Butalo, said Capt. Joann Petinglay, spokesperson for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

No casualty was reported on the government forces from the sniper attacks at 6 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The dredging project in the Butilen River, funded by the development fund of Maguindanao Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu (second district), aims to prevent floods in Datu Salibo, a sixth-class municipality (annual income: less than P15 million).

Petinglay said the project had been put on hold unless the security of the workers is guaranteed.

The BIFF, which broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) several years ago over disagreement in pursuing peace negotiations with the Aquino administration, reported that its members had set on fire two heavy equipment of a private company involved in the dredging operations.

“We set the backhoe on fire because the contractor did not coordinate with us and they violated the right-of-way claim of the landowners,” the rebel group’s spokesperson, Abu Misri Mama, said in a radio interview.

“We will shoot anyone—soldiers, engineers, construction workers— once you move forward,” Mama said in another interview. He warned that the BIFF would continue shooting at them “unless you coordinate with us.”

Mama said five soldiers, including a captain, were killed during clashes with BIFF rebels that began on Friday. But Petinglay said Capt. Jimmy Amoloy, commander of the 22nd Mechanized Company, and a certain Private First Class Robles, were only slightly hurt.

Petinglay said she had received information that more than 20 BIFF rebels were killed, but added: “We cannot confirm nor deny that because we have not recovered dead bodies.”

Mama said his group did not suffer any fatality. “Not even scratches. Our troops were just tired,” he said in a phone interview.

Petinglay said the BIFF was showing its true colors that it was against a development project that would benefit the people it vowed to protect.

“The project will benefit every Datu Salibo resident, including relatives of the BIFF,” she said. The government, including the Army security force, does not need to “coordinate” with a lawless group, she said.

Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu has ordered the provincial relief team to attend to the needs of at least 1,500 families displaced by the clashes, Manuel said.


More troops deployed in Surigao del Sur

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 9): More troops deployed in Surigao del Sur

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has deployed more troops in Surigao del Sur to beef up the four Army battalions that are already patrolling areas believed to be infested by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

The elite-Scout Ranger Company (SRC) of the AFP arrived via C130 aircraft of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) at Butuan City (Bancasi) National Airport last week with the primary objective of helping crush the remaining NPAs and sustain the gains of the peace, security, and development efforts of the AFP’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade in Surigao del Sur.

The SRC troops were immediately oriented about their new area of operation and underwent cultural sensitivity, human rights and international humanitarian law seminars at the Division Advance Command Post (ACP) of the AFP’s 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) here, said First Lt. Karl Jan S. Devaras, company commander of the 41st Civil-Military Operations (Magkahiusa) at Camp Bancasi, Butuan City.

The orientation and seminar will help the newly deployed troops to get to know the culture of their new deployment area and to be reminded that respect to human rights, international humanitarian law and the rule of law is imperative in the performance of their duty, he added.
The SRC will augment the 36th Infantry Battallion (36h IB), 75th IB, 16th IB, 2nd Special Forces Battalion (2nd SFB) apart from the two other Special Forces (SF) groups.

These combat maneuvering battallions will also be supported by other operation control (Opcon) units of the 4th ID.

These battalions will be under the operational control of Col. Isidro Purisima, commanding officer of the 402nd Brigade based in Tandag City, in Surigao del Sur.

Some special forces of the Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office-13 (PRO-13) have also been deployed in the province to toughen law enforcement and assist the counter insurgency operations of the AFP.

“We will not fail in our mandate to reduce the capability of the CPP-NPA in the area. And we will also help the PNP and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ensure honest, orderly and credible May 9, 2016 polls,” Purisima said in a statement


Non-passage of BBL not total rejection - OPAPP

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 8): Non-passage of BBL not total rejection - OPAPP

The non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law(BBL) in the 16th Congress did not mean a total rejection.

So said Attorney Armi Beatriz Bayot, speaker of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Peace Process(OPAPP) during the recently held BBL Summit in the city.

Speaking before media, government information officers and local officials, Bayot explained it was due to the lack of quorum why the bill did not pass as expected.

However, it is hoped that the next administration would still consider it a priority, given the gains the Peace Process has obtained in the number of years of struggle in order to achieve the trust and confidence of the Bangsamoro people and their representatives.

“We cannot just leave it at bay”, Atty. Bayot said, as she referred to the signed Memorandum of Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front(MNLF) which is so an important document to start-up a peace talk with the group representing the 13 minority groups of Mindanao.

The lady lawyer who has been a member of the legal team of the peace panel since 2010 is truly hopeful that BBL would pass, if only to liberate the thousands of women, children and elderly in that part of the country, who had been deprived of peaceful and loving community that they rightfully deserve


Peace panel to pursue peace process despite BBL’s non-passage in congress

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 9): Peace panel to pursue peace process despite BBL’s non-passage in congress

Despite the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the 16th Congress, the government peace panel is still determined to pursue the peace process in Mindanao.

Associate Solicitor Armi Beatriz Bayot of the Office of the Solicitor General said this does not mean the peace process ends.

“We see this disappointment as a delay in the roadmap towards the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro but we don’t see this as the end of the peace process,” Bayot said.

Bayot who was the guest of honor and speaker during a forum held in the city recently emphasized that the government is committed to implement the programs and projects under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

The BBL which contains the political settlement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is just one of the components of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Aside from the basic law which aims to create the regional government in Mindanao, other components include the transitional justice and reconciliation, the socio-economic development programs on the ground and the normalization process which began in 2015.

Considering that this is a commitment of the government and not alone by this administration, the lady lawyer hopes that the next administration would still consider the 17 years of negotiations entered into by the government representatives


New 14th IB CO visits Army camps in Eastern Samar

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 9): New 14th IB CO visits Army camps in Eastern Samar

Lieutenant Colonel Ronnie Evarita, the new commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 14th Infantry Battalion, visited all the army camps deployed in the different parts of Eastern Samar last week.

According to 2nd Lt. Marjorie Siwa, the civil military officer of the 14th IB, Evarita immediately visited and had a talk with the soldiers of the Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie company right after assuming his position as the new commanding officer of the 14th IB.

 In this occasion, the new commander in chief assured that he will give focus on the welfare of his men — especially on the assurance that they will have an ample supply of medicines, the direction of their careers, the opportunity of the soldiers to study in the Philippines and abroad, and the recognition and promotion of deserving soldiers
Evarite also assured that their mission to secure the province against insurgency will be fulfilled and mentioned that last year, there has been no huge NPA–initiated violence-relate incidents. He further assured that the 14th IB will do everything to maintain this through their operations and other measures that they will implement. And as they face a big challenge — this May elections, Evarite had emphasized that he is hoping that the 14th IB is ready to fulfill their obligation to ensure an orderly and peaceful 2016 polls.
The 14th IB is part of the 8th Infantry Division and encompasses the whole province of Eastern Samar.


2nd Mech security force remains vigilant in maintaining peace to Lanao del Norte

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 8): 2nd Mech security force remains vigilant in maintaining peace to Lanao del Norte

The 2nd Mechanized Brigade of the Philippine Army has brought the attention of the ceasefire and various peace mechanisms in Lanao del Norte to compel Abdullah Macapaar aka Bravo to return to his base in Lanao del Sur as soon as possible.

Commander Bravo, leads the Moro Islamic Liberation Front 303rd Brigade, a breakaway group from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Bravo now leads the North-Western Mindanao Front operating in Lanao, Misamis and Bukidnon.

Col Gilbert I Gapay, 2nd Mechanized brigade commander, requested the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) to convince Bravo and his group to leave the area because their continuous presence in barangay Tamparan, Munai, Lanao del Norte is unauthorized and not coordinated with the government security forces.

The only coordinated movement of aka Bravo as approved by the CCCH was his visit in barangay Pangao, Munai and barangay Delabayan, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, purposely to attend “Tibao” (wake) of his deceased relatives from January 30-31, 2016, afterwhich, Bravo should have returned to his base in Lanao del Sur.

However, aka Bravo and his group still remain in the area until now.Bravo’s reason for still staying in the area is the visit of the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) and Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) in Munai, Lanao del Norte, to discuss socio-economic development projects for MILF communities.

However, when verified with CCCH, there is no scheduled visit of the JNC and IDB in Lanao del Norte which Bravo expects anytime soon.

Bravo added that he would not disturb the peace and order experienced by the community, but his actions prove otherwise and instead had caused alarm among the local populace.

His group is now fortifying MILF communities in barangays Pangao and Tamparan, this province.

Massive movements of MILF armed groups were also monitored and MILF forces of North Western Mindanao Front were converging in barangay Tamparan.

Bravo is also demanding financial and in-kind support from the populace.

All of these actions constitute deliberate and blatant violations of the ceasefire agreement.

Col Gapay assured that the military will exhaust all peaceful means to normalize the situation.

Nonetheless, the government security forces in the area remain vigilant and ready to respond to any eventualities that may arise from the continued unauthorized presence of Bravo in Lanao del Norte.


Focus Military Operations forced ASG to release captive child, says task force commander

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 9): Focus Military Operations forced ASG to release captive child, says task force commander

The safe recovery of the three-year-old boy held captive by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was the result of the Focus Military Operations (FMO) against the ASG in the province of Sulu.

Maj. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos Jr., Joint Task Force Zambasulta commander, issued the statement Monday a day after Ace Jay Garban was safely recovered in Sulu.

Barrientos, who is also the Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, said the Indanan-based ASG led by Radulan Sahiron released the child to ease the pressure and divert the sustained FMO against them.

Barrientos said the Joint Task Group Sulu led by Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado are continuously pursuing the ASG leaders and members in the municipalities of Parang and Indanan towns.

Garban was spotted “without a companion” by a concerned citizen around 2:42 p.m. Sunday in Barangay Buanza, Indanan, Sulu.

The boy was turned over to the Jolo Internal Defense Force (JIDF) headed by Col. Bernie Sun, who took him to a hospital in Camp Bautista, Barangay Bus-Bus, Jolo for medical check-up.

Sun, along with JIDF troops, brought the boy to this city and reunited with his father Monday morning at Camp Gen. Arturo Enrile that houses the Task Force Zambasulta headquarters in this city.

Fatima Caminan, protective services unit head of the Department of Social Welfare Office (DSWDO) regional office, said the boy has to undergo psycho-social intervention as he has been traumatized.

They observed that Garban no longer talks to other people around him through his native tongue, the Visayan dialect, but was cleared of any physical injury.

Brig. Gen. Demy Terjares, Joint Task Force Zambasulta deputy commander, said the FMO will continue to neutralize the ASG that is still holding captive seven people, including foreigners, in Sulu.


Military accuses communist rebels of violating ‘rights’ accord

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 9): Military accuses communist rebels of violating ‘rights’ accord
The communist New People’s Army (NPA) violated an accord when its armed group burned the equipment and properties of private persons in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental last week, the military said Tuesday.

Capt. Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the Army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID) here, said that the burning of the properties owned by Lapanday Foods Corporation and the Dole Philippines was a clear violation of the CARHRIHL.

CARHRILHL stands for Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, an accord signed by the both communist NPA and the Philippine government.

Aside from the equipment of the Lapanday and Dole, the NPA guerrillas also burned the equipment rented by the Del Monte Phil. Incorporated, Martinez said.

“The provisions of the CARHRIHL clearly states that civilian population and together with their property shall not be the object of the attack,” Martinez said.

He said that the agreement also stipulated that private properties should be protected against arson, strafing, and other similar forms of attack that would destroy the lives and properties of the civilians.

In a statement released to the local media, the NPA warned that “the attack on the pineapple and banana companies were just the first step in demanding a payback for the company’s social debt, which has already piled up,” Alan Juanito, the NPA spokesperson, said.

Last January 26, armed men believed to be NPA guerrillas torched a bulldozer, an owner-type jeep and a generator rented by the Del Monter Phil. in Sitio Kitanglad, Barangay San Juan, Balingasag town, Misamis Oriental. The damage was placed at P15 million.

A few days later, Maoist fighters launched another series of coordinated attacks in the compounds of Dole Philippines, Lapanday and DMPI in various locations in Malaybalay City.(


Four killed as Army-BIFF clashes resume in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 9): Four killed as Army-BIFF clashes resume in Maguindanao

Heavy fighting erupted anew in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao when outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) tried to prevent government forces from securing a government project site harassed by rebels.

On board armored personnel carriers, elements of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion slowly moved to silts beside the river while the BIFF fired several shots of cal. 50 Barret sniper rifles.

Using cal. 50 and cal. 30 machine guns mounted atop military vehicles, the Army strafed areas where the BIFF had positioned.

Residents said at least four bandits were seen hit by machinegun fires.

Lt. Colonel Warlito Limet, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion commander, said they have intelligence information that at least four or five rebels were killed but could not recover the dead bodies as they were taken by retreating guerillas.

The outlawed Moro armed group opposed to a development project resumed Tuesday, the Army here said.

Intense fire fight erupted at about 8 a.m. Tuesday near the road leading to Datu Salibo from Datu Saudi Ampatuan, both in Maguindanao, forcing government forces to shut down portions of the highway.

"For the safety of civilians and commuters, we temporarily shut down the lone road leading to Datu Piang from Datu Saudi Ampatuan town," Police Inspector Noel dela Cruz, Datu Salibo town police chief told reporters. Datu Salibo is situated in between Datu Saudi and Datu Piang tows.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said today’s fire fight erupted when government forces on board armored personnel carriers forced their way into the dredging site where the two dredging equipment was torched by the BIFF.

No casualty was reported Tuesday on the side of the military. On Friday, an Army captain and his subordinate were slightly injured in the skirmishes.

On Monday, Abu Misri Mama, speaking for the BIFF, told reporters they would shoot anyone who came closer to the project site where the two back hoes were stalled.

“We hit several Army tanks, we destroyed two of them," he said. But the Army denied Mama's claim.

Fire fight waned at past 3 p.m. and the police opened the highway traffic.

Based on BIFF's two-way radio communications monitored by the Army indicates the rebel suffered heavy casualties, he said.

Thousands of civilians have deserted the villages of Butalo, Tee and Sambolawan, all in Datu Salibo since Friday when the BIFF tried to take over the project site.

Mama admitted they attack the workers and the equipment because it failed to settle right of way claims of land owners.

The project, funded through development funds of Maguindanao 2nd district Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu, aims to establish flood control canal to spare farmlands and residential areas during rainy season.

Sporadic exchange of snipers' shot are still heard along the Maguindanao highway as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.


Napolcom recommends to PNoy the promotion of 7 chief superintendents and 8 senior superintendents

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 9): Napolcom recommends to PNoy the promotion of 7 chief superintendents and 8 senior superintendents

The National Police Commission (Napolcom) has recommended to President Benigno S. Aquino III the promotion of seven police senior superintendents to police chief superintendent (equivalent to one-star general in the military) and eight police superintendents to police senior superintendent (equivalent to colonel).

The Napolcom en banc headed by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary and Napolcom Chairman Mel Senen S. Sarmiento endorsed to the Office of the President 15 separate resolutions recommending the promotion to the next higher rank of 15 senior officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Napolcom Vice-Chairman and Executive Officer Eduardo U. Escueta said the Commission recommended to President Aquino the promotion to police chief superintendent of PSSupt. Oscar Albayalde, Acting Executive Officer, Directorate for Plans; PSSupt. Ronald Dela Rosa, Acting Executive Officer, Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development; PSSupt. Sheldon Jacaban, Acting Deputy Regional Director for Administration (DRDA), Police Regional Office (PRO) 7; PSSupt. Roel Obusan, Acting Director, Legal Service; PSSupt. Edwin Roque, Acting Executive Officer, Directorate for Research and Development; PSSupt. Valfrie Tabian, Acting DRDA, PRO 18; and PSSupt. Antonio Taylan Jr., Acting DRDA, PRO 12.

Escueta said that the Commission approved and recommended to the President the promotion to one-star rank of the seven police senior superintendents since they have been occupying positions that call for the rank of police chief superintendent.

The Napolcom also recommended the promotion to police senior superintendent of eight police superintendents, as follows: PSupt. Ronnie Francis Cariaga, Acting Chief, Regional Operations and Plans Division (ROPD), PRO 10; PSupt. Jaysen De Guzman, Acting Battalion Commander, Regional Public Safety Battalion, PRO1; PSupt. Lou Evangelista, Acting Chief, Regional Logistics Division (RLD), PRO 4B; PSupt. Jeffrey Fernandez, Acting Chief, RLD, PRO 5; PSupt. Bowenn Joey Masauding, Acting Chief, Anti-Fraud and Commercial Crimes Division, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group; PSupt. William Segun, Acting Chief, Administrative and Resource Management Division, Civil Security Group; PSupt. Harold Tuzon, Acting Chief, ROPD, PRO 6; and PSupt. Orlando Yebra Jr., Acting Chief, Information, Education and Family Liaison Division, PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group.

Escueta said that the NAPOLCOM approved and recommended to President Aquino their promotion after the Chief, PNP Police Director General Ricardo C. Marquez recommended their promotion and certified that they meet all the requirements for promotion.


1st ID opens candidate soldier course program

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 9): 1st ID opens candidate soldier course program

The 1st Infantry Division on Tuesday announced that it will start recruitment and processing for its Candidate Soldier Course for calendar year 2016.

The unit is based in Upper Pulacan, Labangan, Zamboanga Del Sur.

Major Christopher Mugot, 1st Infantry Division public affairs office chief, said interested male and female applicants are advised advised to attend the pre-screening activity which will be held at their headquarters from Monday until Friday.

The basic criteria and qualification for acceptance and selection are as follows: 1) Natural born Filipino citizen; 2) At least 18-26 years of age; 3) Height – 5 feet above; 4) Single and without child; 5) Good moral character; 6) Philippine Army Aptitude Test Battery (PAATB) result - score 80 above/ Armed Forces of the Philippines Services Aptitude Test (AFPSAT) result - score 45 above; 7) Must have passed the pre-qualifying Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and Physical Medical Examination (PME): 8) Physically and mentally fit for military training.

During the registration, applicants should also bring with them the following documents: 1) Birth Certificate from National Statistics Office with official receipt; 2) Form 137 or Transcript of Records, Diploma (High School or College)/TESDA Certificate; 3) Four 2x2 latest ID pictures with name tag and; 4) any valid identification cards. Further, during the processing period, the applicants will undergo the Physical Fitness Test consist of the following: Push Up, Sit-Up, Pull-Up and 3.2 Kilometer Run. Failure in any of these event exercises will automatically disqualify the candidate in the selection process.

For further clarifications and inquiries, interested applicants may contact these numbers: OG1, 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army Hotline: 0935-520-6248.


Metrobank Foundation, AFP join hands in 'Bags of Blessing' project

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 9): Metrobank Foundation, AFP join hands in 'Bags of Blessing' project

In line with its community development missions, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Metrobank Foundation distributed gifts to underprivileged Filipinos in its "Bags of Blessing" project on Monday.

Launched in 2011, the project is a nationwide gift-giving activity held every Chinese New Year as a way of carrying out the Metrobank Group’s tradition of sharing.

AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said each “Bags of Blessing" contains PHP1,000 worth of assorted food items.

The bags were distributed to 10,000 marginalized beneficiaries in selected areas in the country.

Detoyato said the AFP participated this year to showcase its commitment to nation-building.

He added AFP personnel will help in the distribution in the National Capital Region (NCR) areas off Manila, Marikina, Quezon City, Taguig, Pasay and Makati starting Monday until Saturday.

Meanwhile, the distribution of the bag in Luzon areas will take place on Saturday until February 20.

These areas include Gen. Trias, Cavite; Dagupan City, Pangasinan; Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; Tuguegarao City, Cagayan; Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija; Calumpit, Bulacan; and Municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan.

In Visayas, distribution will also be on Saturday until February 20.

Detoyato said these places are: Lapaz, Iloilo City; Cebu City; Maribojoc, Bohol; Palo, Leyte; Guiuan, Eastern Samar; and Toledo City, Cebu.

In Mindanao, distribution will only be on Saturday in Cagayan De Oro City and Davao City.

As this develops, Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) and TeamAsia, in partnership with AFP, began gathering donations to fill 20,000 shoeboxes with school supplies for less-fortunate children and P500,000 to help furnish Payatas Orione Foundation’s Training Center in Dalahican, Quezon Province.

The AFP and its partner-stakeholders started accepting donations on November 20, 2015.

The deadline for shoebox submission was on Jan. 15.

In the spirit of Christmas, last year’s gift-giving events were scheduled Dec. 11 (Payatas Drione Foundation, Quezon City), Dec. 15 (SOS Children’s Village, Muntinlupa City), Dec. 28 (San Pedro Calungsod, Muntinlupa) and Dec. 30 (Ascension of Our Lord Parish, Parañaque). More gift-giving events will be scheduled this February.

The event dubbed “My Dream in a Shoebox” was first launched in 2009 with merely 200 shoeboxes. In 2014, the effort was able to gather 26,000 shoeboxes which were donated to public schools and foundations covering Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Meanwhile, around 348 Grade 8 and 9 students and 30 faculty members of Assumption College were treated to a tour and a chance to participate in AFP’s “Race to 1,000,000 Seedlings” last February 1.

The students were toured in Camp Aguinaldo’s main infrastructures and were allowed to interact with soldiers.

They visited the AFP Museum and Theater where they saw the transformation of AFP, its capabilities, accomplishments and history.

A static display of newly-acquired military vehicles and helicopters were also flown in to showcase the modernization of the AFP.

All the students contributed 10 seedlings to the program which was formally launched last January.

The project has the aim to encourage people to participate in the creation of 1 million seedlings that would be planted in available spots around NCR.


EMC welcomes new deputy commander (Limited bio data)

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 9): EMC welcomes new deputy commander
Officers and enlisted personnel of Davao City-based Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) formally welcomed their newly-designated deputy commander, Brig. Gen. Ronnie S. Evangelista on Tuesday.

EMC head Major Gen. Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero spearheaded the welcoming ceremonies for Evangelista.

The activity took place at EMC headquarters in Panacan, Davao City.

Evangelista was accorded with traditional arrival honor followed by information briefing about the peace and security situation in Eastern Mindanao.

After the briefing, the new EMC deputy commander emphasized that he will support all the plans and programs of the Command.

“I am here to help. Let us all work together to achieve a common goal, that is to win the peace in this part of the country," Evangelista added.

The latter is a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1986.

Among the positions he held were: Commanding Officer of Light Reaction Battalion (LRB), Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Philippine Army; Commandant of Special Forces School, Special Forces Regiment Airborne (SFRA), SOCOM; Assistant Chief of Staff for Comptrollership, NCRCOM, AFP; Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, G3 SOCOM; and Commander SFRA, SOCOM.


20 BIFF bandits killed in series of clashes with Army troops

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 9): 20 BIFF bandits killed in series of clashes with Army troops

Military units have killed an estimated 20 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) during a series of clashes in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao over the weekend.

Fighting erupted when 6th Infantry Division units tried to secure the ongoing flood control project in Barangay Butilen, of the above-mentioned area.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, said these figures are based from reports of civilians.

No bodies of the slain BIFF were recovered as of this time, she added.

"No government forces killed in clashes," Petinglay said.

In the issuing encounter, three government troopers were wounded, including Capt. Jimmy Amoloy, 22nd Mechanized Company commander.

Construction of the flood control project in the area has been going on smoothly when the BIFF bandits harassed private firm workers on Friday, even setting on fire two backhoes used for dredging the Butilen River.


CdO airport to be used for storage, not as base

From The Standard (Feb 8): CdO airport to be used for storage, not as base

THE Palace said Sunday that US forces will use part of Cagayan de Oro’s Lumbia Airport as a storage facility but not as a military base.

We would like to clarify. The facility is a storage depot for equipment used during calamities. This is part of the HADR [humanitarian assistance and disaster relief] program which is an important element of the  Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement [EDCA],”  said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in an interview over state-run radio dzRB. 

“We all know that a US military base is not allowed, since we are implementing the Visiting Forces Agreement, [which allows only] a rotating presence [of military personnel],” Coloma said.
Lumbia Airport (Photo from CDOdev.com)

In calamities, such as typhoons and earthquakes, the facility can help to extend immediate assistance to affected communities, Coloma said.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed that Lumbia Airport would be converted into a US military depot.

“As a depot, the airport would be utilized for military equipment necessary for rescue operations during emergencies,” Gazmin said.

Lumbia Airport, about five kilometers southwest of Cagayan de Oro, stopped commercial operations after the opening of the new airport in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental in 2013.

The 500-hectare airport complex, owned by the Department of Transportation and Communications, is currently home to the 10th Tactical Operations Group of the Philippine Air Force.

A pending House bill urges the national government to return the lot to the city government of Cagayan de Oro.

The government’s clarification about Lumbia Airport came amid sustained criticism from leftist groups of American involvement in Philippine affairs.

The militant League of Filipino Students on Sunday told the US government to back off after US Ambassador Philip Goldberg criticized the Senate investigation of the Mamasapano massacre in which 44 police commandos were killed, saying that sensitive information was exposed during the inquiry.

“The US should back off. They have no right to tell us what to do in our own country,” LFS National chairperson Charisse Bañez said in reaction to Goldberg’s statement.

During the Senate hearings, military officials admitted the involvement of not only US troops but also “civilian types” possibly from the Central Intelligence Agency in Operation Wolverine, an operation to neutralize high-profile terrorists.

Goldberg said such information should have been discussed in closed sessions, but the LFS said this was a way to hide the truth from the Filipino people.

“We are fully entitled to know the particulars of the Mamasapano operation. It is part of the plight of the Filipino people in seeking justice and accountability. The US does not own a single right to keep us in the dark especially because the bungled foreign-engineered operation killed our countrymen,” said Bañez.

“It is clear that the US has engineered the Mamasapano operation. The overwhelming evidence leads us to believe that they planned, funded, directed, and executed every part of it,” said Bañez.

“The US fears that more information on the depths of their involvement will be revealed further. Also, the recent statement of Goldberg implies that the Mamasapano operation is just the tip of the iceberg with regards to the intensified intervention of US in our domestic affairs and local police and military operations,” she added.

Bañez said President Benigno Aquino III must be held accountable for allowing the US to perpetually disrespect the Philippines. She added that the Filipinos are just being used as pawns for the geo-political interest of US in the Asia-Pacific region.