Sunday, April 24, 2016

WESCOM Election 2016 Leaflet/Poster

Posted to the 6th Civil Relations Group, Palawan Facebook page (Apr 22): Election 2016 Leaflet/Poster

It is the Desire of Team Wescom for a Peaceful and Safe Election 2016

Bayanihan Leaflet

Posted to the 6th Civil Relations Group, Palawan Facebook page (Apr 22): Bayanihan Leaflet (From the Civil Military Operations School, Civil Military Operations Group, Philippine Army)

Naval Forces West Civil Military Operations (CMO) Orientation Training

From the 6th Civil Relations Group, Palawan Facebook page (Apr 22): Civil Military Operations (CMO) Orientation Training

The Naval Forces West with the Civil Military Operartions Unit - West successfully conducted the five-day Civil Military Operations Orientation Training to the ...NFW and OPCON personnel. The said training enabled the participants to be oriented to the doctrine of the Warrior-Diplomats - the CMO, in order to win the hearts and minds of the people and ultimately peace. Said training was in partnership with the Western Command Public Affairs Office and the Sixth Civil Relations Group.

[Begin slide show at URL below:]

PACAF Airmen stand up air contingent in Philippines

From Ho'okele Pear Harbor-Hickam News (Apr 22): PACAF Airmen stand up air contingent in Philippines

Pacific Air Forces Airmen stood up the first rotation of an air contingent at Clark Air Base, Philippines, April 16, following a joint announcement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin in Manila that highlighted several initiatives aimed to enhance bilateral relations between the two nations.

The air contingent comprises five A-l0C Thunderbolt IIs from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea; three HH-60G Pave Hawks from Kadena Air Base, Japan, and approximately 200 personnel deployed from multiple Pacific Air Forces units. The air contingent is designed to promote interoperability and provide greater and more transparent air and maritime domain awareness to ensure safety for military and civilian activities in international waters and airspace. The flights further enhance ongoing maritime situational awareness missions by U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft at Clark AB. The air contingent’s missions will include air and maritime domain awareness, personnel recovery, combating piracy, and assuring access to the global commons.

“It’s a tremendous privilege having PACAF aircraft and Airmen constitute the air contingent’s first rotation that will lay the foundation for joint air patrols and promote stronger ties with our Philippine partners,” said Gen. Lori Robinson, Pacific Air Forces commander.

The aircraft and approximately 175 Airmen, including aircrew, maintainers, logistics and support personnel, remained in place to stand up the air contingent following their participation in Exercise Balikatan, April 4-16. During the exercise, PACAF Airmen joined more than 7,000 personnel in the two countries’ premier bilateral event to conduct a variety of missions that enrich the bilateral partnership and commitment to the mutual defense treaty.

The remaining 30 air contingent Airmen will deploy from PACAF headquarters at Joint Base Pearl-Harbor-Hickam, as well as several other PACAF bases.

Three of five U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, with the 51st Fighter Wing, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, sit on the flight line of Clark Air Base, Philippines, April 16.
Three of five U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, with the 51st Fighter Wing, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, sit on the flight line of Clark Air Base, Philippines, April 16.

“By leveraging forces already operating at Clark AB, the standup of the air contingent required a minimal additional investment and will help to strengthen ties with our Philippine allies,” said Brig. Gen. Dirk Smith, Pacific Air Forces director of air and cyberspace operations. “Standing up this air contingent is just one way we are exercising our continued presence and demonstrating our commitment to partners and allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”

The A-10C Thunderbolt II is a multirole aircraft with the excellent loiter capabilities and maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude necessary for conducting the air contingent’s air and maritime domain awareness and personnel recovery missions. The HH-60G Pave Hawk is the Air Force’s premier personnel recovery platform, capable of conducting a diverse array of missions including civil search and rescue, medical evaluation, and humanitarian assistance and disaster recovery operations.

“Selecting the A-10C and HH-60Gs for this mission was strategically and economically the right decision as it allows us to use forces already deployed to the Philippines for Exercise Balikatan,” Smith said. “Balikatan and the air contingent allow us to strengthen working relationships and become more interoperable with our Philippine partners and enable our aircrew and support personnel to become familiar with operating in this region.”

Following the completion of the first air contingent rotation, PACAF Airmen and aircraft are projected to redeploy to their assigned units in the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations, and will be replaced at a future date by aircraft and personnel from either PACAF or other military services. Follow-on rotations of additional aircraft and personnel will be determined in consultation with the Philippine government.

Along with standing up an air contingent, Carter announced several new bilateral alliance initiatives including ongoing joint patrols with U.S. and Philippine maritime forces in the South China Sea and a routine patrol by the USS John C. Stennis in the region following its participation in Exercise Balikatan. Additionally, Carter noted the U.S. will stand up a rotational, combined command and control element at Camp Aguinaldo after the conclusion of Exercise Balikatan.

Approximately 80 personnel will comprise the initial rotation of this forward coordination element, with Marines from the III Marine Expeditionary Brigade (III MEB) forming the nucleus and representation from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and U.S. Air Force. The element will support increased operations, activities, and actions in the region and will enhance combined C2 capabilities between both nations.

“There is going to be regular, periodic presence here of American forces,” said Carter during the April 14 joint press conference in Manila. “It may change in its nature, timing and duration depending on what we and the Filipinos decide is optimal.”

Get ready, China: Lethal A-10 Warthogs are patrolling South China Sea

From the National Interest (Apr 22): Get ready, China: Lethal A-10 Warthogs are patrolling South China Sea

The U.S. Air Force’s venerable A-10 Warthog has been a lot of things. A Cold-War Soviet tank-killer. A slow-flying escort for rescue helicopters. A heavily-armed counter-insurgency plane. Even a specialized hunter of rotorcraft.

Now add “maritime patrol plane” to the twin-engine attacker’s resume. That’s because the Pentagon has sent four A-10s and their crews and maintainers to fly sea patrols west of The Philippines, in a mineral-rich region of the South China Seas that Manila and Beijing both claim.

The four Warthogs from the 51st Fighter Wing, home-based in South Korea, were actually part of a larger contingent of U.S. warplanes that visited The Philippines for the 2016 edition of the Balikatan war game. When the exercise ended on April 15, most of the Americans and their planes departed. But four A-10s and two HH-60G rescue copters remained behind at Clark Air Base.

Their mission — “air- and maritime-domain awareness, personnel recovery, combating piracy and [the] assurance [that] all nations have access to the regional air and maritime domains in accordance with international law,” according to the U.S. Defense Department.

And on April 19, the six-aircraft “Air Contingent” flew its first patrols over the South China Sea west of Luzon, The Philippines’ largest and most densely-populated island. In mid-April, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis had sailed through the same waters as part of a so-called “freedom-of-navigation” patrol that the Pentagon meant to assert America’s — and other countries’ — legal right to sail in international waters.

U.S. Secretary Ashton Carter and Philippine defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin flew to Stennis together on April 15. Carter took the opportunity to announced joint U.S.-Philippine patrols, of which the A-10s’ April 19 flights were presumably just the beginning.

Beijing officially condemned the planned patrols, insisting they reflected a “Cold War mentality.” China has dredged several coral reefs in the China Seas, piling sand atop them to create artificial island air bases and ports — and, in the process, killing the delicate reef creatures.

The U.S. Air Force possesses around 300 of the low- and slow-flying, heavily-armored, 1980s-vintage A-10s but has been trying to retire them in recent years in order to free up money for a handful of F-35 stealth fighters. Congress has consistently blocked the retirements.

Warthogs based in Turkey conduct air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. A-10s also frequently visit Eastern Europe in order to deter Russian aggression. Warthogs have seen combat in the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan — but usually over land.

But in 2011, A-10s strafed and sank enemy boats during NATO’s intervention in Libya. The Philippines sea patrols represent a rare maritime mission for the ungainly jets.

And it’s also possible the A-10s’ Luzon deployment is part of a sale pitch. Boeing, which maintains the Warthogs, wants to sell any A-10s that the Air Force prematurely retires. And coincidentally, or not, Philippine airmen have expressed interest in acquiring them.

DVIDS: US Executes Combined-Joint Operation with AFP Counterparts

From DVIDS (Apr 20): US Executes Combined-Joint Operation with AFP Counterparts
US Forces Executes a Combined-Joint Operation with their Philippine Counterparts

JAMINDAN, Philippines – Philippine Army soldiers, and U.S. Army soldiers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment walk back to the helicopter landing zone, after completing a combined-joint operation Handa Koa for Balikatan, April 14th, 2016. This year marked the 32nd iteration of the annual exercise Balikatan, which is an annual Philippine-U.S. military bilateral training exercise that is a signature element of the Philippine-U.S. alliance focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance, maritime law enforcement, and environmental protection. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jerome D. Johnson)

At the break of dawn, a Philippine Army platoon and one U.S. Army platoon from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment geared up on Antique airfield to conduct the final mission of operation Handa Koa. The team of soldiers boarded two CH-47 Chinook and four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to launch an air assault. They trekked through the jungle "shoulder-to-shoulder" to reach their main objective code named "Rhino".

 "We started off with a combined-joint amphibious assault on the island itself, and then a Marine air assault onto Antique airfield. The combined Marines then took control of the airfield expand the lodgment, and conducted a defense," said Capt. James Hodges, 25th Infantry Division, assistant G3. "We then conducted an air landing with U.S. Army Forces and Philippine Army Forces via C-130 to occupy the airfield, and then conducted air assaults from the airfield to a northern objective on Panay itself. Simultaneously, we had Philippine Special Forces conduct reconnaissance missions on the same two objectives to the north."

 The first phase of the operation began on the island of Luzon, which included numerous days of planning and synchronization at Camp Emilio Aguinaldo. A combined-joint U.S. and AFP team then worked together to project assets from Luzon to conduct a large scale operation on the island of Panay.

 "As we transitioned out of the initial projection phase down to our initial staging base, it gave us the opportunity to do final rehearsals here on the airfield and then understand a little more about the operational environment that we were going to go into specifically to the island of Panay, and then conduct the air assault today on the objective," said Lt. Col. Jared Bordwell, Task Force Patriot, commander.

 Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment had the opportunity to work closely with their Philippine Army counterparts at Fort Magsaysay before executing their mission on Panay. The soldiers conducted jungle survival training, close quarters training, and counter improvised explosive device training.

 "The initial phase back at Magsaysay is when we started to understand each other and gain that appreciation for capabilities as well as form that comradery between the two forces," Bordwell said. "An infantryman is an infantryman. So the AFP and their capabilities and our capabilities, as we understood each other a little bit more they meshed very well with actions on the objective. It was just like having two U.S. platoons or having two AFP platoons out there. Both company commanders did an incredible job of planning, synchronizing, and really enabling that communication during the actions on to facilitate the execution of the mission."

 By training together, the U.S. and the AFP soldiers developed tactics, techniques, procedures, and built partnerships.

 "I think Balikatan was a great opportunity, for my soldiers and myself to learn a lot about the Philippines, understand our partner here, and understand some of the unique challenges of the operational environment, " Bordwell said. "I think it’s also a great teaching tool as we continue our partnership in the pacific in the future, and more likely than not soldiers will be back here doing Balikatan or other operations. It’s a great partnership and a great ability for us to learn from our partners as well hopefully teach them some capabilities, and refine some of their overall abilities."
This year marked the 32nd iteration of the annual exercise Balikatan. The U.S. and the Philippines have a continued interest in strengthening their longstanding security alliance, which has provided a platform for security and stability in the region throughout the decades.

No more localized peace talks and 'peace zones': Cordi rebel spokesperson

From InterAksyon (Apr 24): No more localized peace talks and 'peace zones': Cordi rebel spokesperson

There is no longer a need for "localized" peace talks as the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) carries the whole revolutionary movement, including the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), whenever it talks with the Government of the Philippines (GPH), said the leader of the Cordillera revolutionary movement.

Cordillera People's Democratic Front (CPDF) spokesperson Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan said local revolutionary movements like the CPDF will not entertain “localized” peace talks anymore. He said such talks together with the “peace zones” of the Aquino administration are divisive and intended to confuse the Filipinos on the peace talks process.

Armed NPA guerilla fighters and troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are barred from entering areas declared as “peace zones” to avoid skirmishes.

Naogsan said the Secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) started the idea of “localized peace talks” with NPA units in different parts of the country as the GPH chief negotiator claimed that the NDFP has stalled the talks with its conditions.

The NDFP said the government is delaying the peace talks, claiming the Philippine government violates already reached agreements and documents like the Hague Joint Declaration and Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG).

The Hague Joint Declaration contains the agenda of the peace talks, namely, 1) human rights and international humanitarian law; 2) socio-economic reforms; 3) political and constitutional reforms; and the 4) the cessation of hostilities and disposition of forces, in this order. JASIG provides protection and immunity from arrest and surveillance to peace talks participants including panelists, consultants, technical, and security staff.

The Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) as agreed on the first agenda was signed in 1998. Both peace panels should be now talking about the second agenda focusing on Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).

Naogsan said the Philippine government should show its sincerity and push for the resumption of the peace talks instead of delaying them by pushing for “localized” peace talks and peace zones.

He stressed the importance of the second substantive agenda or CASER. He explained that this will specifically address the economic problems the people have been suffering for so long.

According to Naogsan, the government of President Benigno Aquino III was not at all serious in talking peace with the NDFP. He then challenged the next administration to be sincere enough in finding peace and push for the resumption of the peace talks. He said the NDFP has been always open for talks.

Indonesians Being Held by Abu Sayyaf in Good Condition: Minister

From Tempo.Co (Apr 24): Indonesians Being Held by Abu Sayyaf in Good Condition: Minister

Indonesians Being Held by Abu Sayyaf in Good Condition: Minister

Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said that fourteen Indonesian nationals being held hostage in the Philippines are still in good condition.

According to Retno, the government continues to coordinate with the Filipino government to monitor the development of the process to free the Indonesians.

"Based on the information we have received, thank God, they are still in good condition. We continue to take measures (to free them), Retno said in Jakarta on Saturday (23/4).

The minister also said that she continues to have ‘intense’ communication with the Filipino Foreign Affairs Minister and during her five-day working visit in Europe, she said that she continued to communicate with her Filipino counterpart about the measure to free the Indonesians.

For the record, two Indonesian ships -- the TB Henry and the Cristi  -- were hijacked on Friday (15) at 10 local time allegedly by the Abu Sayyaf group. The incident came on the heels of the March 26 hijacking of two Indonesian-flagged vessels, the Brahma 12 tugboat and the Anand 12 barge, and the kidnapping of their crews, numbering 10 men in total.

The Abu Sayyaf militant group in demanded a ransom of 50 million pesos (US$1.07 million).

Military urges Indonesian tugboat owner not to give ransom to ASG

From the Zamboanga Today Online (Apr 24): Military urges Indonesian tugboat owner not to give ransom to ASG

The military has rejected ransom demand for ten Indonesian crewmen kidnapped by Daesh-linked militants in the waters of southern Philippines, a Filipino military official said on Thursday.

In a statement, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the Armed Forces of the Philippines also urged the owner of a tugboat whose 10 crewmen are being held by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu not to give in to ransom demands.

This developed after reports that the hostages’ employer had agreed to pay the P50-million ransom for the crewmen.

“This is the first time we heard about this development,” Padilla told reporters.

The AFP spokesman said the Armed Forces continues to encourage everyone to observe the government's no-ransom policy, because of a very specific reason, it is to discourage this kind of growing industry’ in the area.

"This is also to avoid providing this group a means to strengthen themselves," Padilla added.

Padilla had earlier said the Abu Sayyaf managed to retain a popular following by giving people part of their loot while using the bulk of their earnings from kidnapping to purchase armaments.

According to him, the primordial concern of the Armed Forces is always the safety of all kidnap victims and here are many operations ongoing.

"Details of which I cannot disclose but the Armed Forces is doing everything within its power as well cooperating with all other agencies of government to carry specific instructions in facilitating the rescue of the victims," Padilla said.

Aside from the 10 Indonesian sailors, four other Indons were reportedly abducted by Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippine waters.

Currently, the Abu Sayyaf militants are also holding captives two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina who were abducted from a resort on Samal Island, who they have threatened to behead unless a ransom of P300 million is paid for each of the hostages by April 25.

Four Malaysians, a Dutch national, and several Filipinos are also in the hands of the terrorist group.
There were reports that some groups, acting as middlemen, have been trying to reach out to negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf, said a military official  at Western Mindanao Command who requested anonymity as he is not authorize to talk to the media.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said he could not give information on the military and police operations to rescue the hostages from the Abu Sayyaf.

Earlier this month, the Abu Sayyaf posted a video showing the four captives surrounded by gunmen threatening to execute them in a month if the demands for ransom were not met.

This was the third time the bandits posted a video of the hostages. Last October, a post on social media demanded a halt to the military operations against the kidnappers while in November, they asked for P1 billion in ransom for each of the captives.

Middlemen are usually tapped by the families of the kidnapping victims in dealing with the Sulu-based bandits to secure their safe release. These middlemen are local folk known to and have the trust of the bandit group.

The official warned any payment of the huge ransom to the Abu Sayyaf will further complicate the already shaky security landscape in Sulu and other key areas of Mindanao.

PHL warship to join Brunei, Singapore maritime exercises

From GMA News (Apr 24): PHL warship to join Brunei, Singapore maritime exercises 

The Philippine Navy will send one of its two warships to Brunei and Singapore to participate in counter-terrorism and maritime exercises next month.

The warship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a former US cutter, will depart the country this week, according to Lt. Cmdr. Marineth Domingo, the Navy's acting public affairs officer.

Domingo said BRP Gregorio del Pilar will leave Manila South Harbor's Pier 13 on Wednesday following a send off ceremony. It will be joined by a Navy helicopter and about 120 troops, among them personnel from the Naval Special Operations Group.

The warship will first participate in a counter-terrorism exercise in Brunei and Singapore from May 1 to 12, then proceed to another naval exercise with Brunei from May 10 to 17.

"This 11-day multi-lateral exercise will be focusing on maritime security and counter-terrorism," Domingo said, referring to the first exercise dubbed ASEAN Defense Minister's Meeting-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-Terrorism Exercise 2016.

During the exercise, BRP Gregorio del Pilar will participate in a sea-storming or surface operations," including a Visit, Board, Search and Seizure training, Domingo said.

On the other hand, the second exercise, dubbed Maritime Training Activity Seagull, "aims to enhance the interoperability and building [of] defense capability," said Domingo.

 BRP Gregorio del Pilar was acquired from the US in 2011, followed by its sister ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz two years later. The two are the most capable ships of the Navy at present and are assigned to patrol the disputed areas in the South China Sea.

Army to buy P247.8-M high-explosive ammunition

From GMA News (Apr 24): Army to buy P247.8-M high-explosive ammunition
A Philippine Army official on Sunday said they are acquiring P247.8 million worth of high-explosive ammunition for its 105mm Howitzers.
The supply contract for the artillery rounds is open to local and foreign suppliers, said the Philippine government's portal for public procurement activities.
It added that foreign suppliers should be represented by a Philippine-based company.
The public bidding will be conducted using a non-discretionary "pass/fail" criterion as specified in the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulation of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.
A pre-bid conference was scheduled last Thursday and the deadline for the submission of the bids and the opening of the bids is on May 12.
Army spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said they need 8,588 artillery rounds for their 105mm Howitzers this year. "That is a regular requirement of our troops in the field. Based on our estimate, we need these for the year," Hao said.
He said the 105mm Howitzers are the Army's main combat equipment. "We use these during operations, especially during infantry operations. In infantry operations, we use these items in areas that should be clear. We bombard these areas first," he said. After the bombardment, the ground troops are sent for clearing operations.

Farmer-protesters briefly blocked Koronadal-Gen. Santos Highway; PNP on heightened alert

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24): Farmer-protesters briefly blocked Koronadal-Gen. Santos Highway; PNP on heightened alert

Police authorities here remained on alert and applied maximum tolerance against farmer-protesters who barricaded portions of the Koronadal-Gen. Santos Highway Sunday morning, preventing motorists from passing through it for about an hour.

Senior Supt. Barney Condes, Koronadal City police director, said the farmers, who have been asking rice subsidy from the government, formed human barricade, brandishing placards that said "Bugas, dili bala," starting at about 9:30 a.m.

Domingo Azures, speaking for the rally organizer Anak Pawis Partylist, said they will continue asking for rice subsidy from the government because Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has made it public that Mindanao has enough supply of rice for the victims of the continuing dry spell.

Vehicles, private and public transport, were stranded on opposite sides of the national highway in front of the SOCCSKSARGEN Regional Center in Barangay Carpenter Hills.

Supt. Barney Condes, Koronadal City police director, said negotiations were underway to convince the protesters to just occupy half of the highway so vehicles could pass through.

Protesting farmers left the highway open after about an hour of closing it.

Condes welcomed the reopening of the highway but admitted they received reports the farmers would again barricade the highway anytime.

He assured maximum tolerance will be applied against the farmers.

Meanwhile, vital installations in Koronadal City have been secured with the deployment of peace officers, including the National Food Authority (NFA) warehouse, government buildings, public markets, malls and even media outlets following reports of possible sabotage by communist guerrillas.

Elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion have been deployed around the city to thwart any attempt of destabilization.

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar to participate in 2 naval exercises

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24): BRP Gregorio Del Pilar to participate in 2 naval exercises

The Philippine Navy (PN) will be deploying BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) to this year's ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus Maritime Security & Counter-Terrorism (ADMM-PLUS MS & CT) Exercises and the Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Seagull.

The exercises will be held in the waters of Brunei and Singapore from May 1 to 12

PN spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Marineth Domingo said the send-off ceremony for the Filipino frigate is scheduled for April 27.

The 11-day multi-lateral exercises will be focusing on maritime security and counter-terrorism.

Domingo said ADMM-PLUS MS & CT will conduct its first field training exercise which is highlighted by the rising tide of terrorism threatening the Southeast Asian region.

It will represent another significant moment whereby participation and commitment of all 18 countries for practical cooperation which the two major events -- the maritime security to be represented by PN, will participate in the sea-storming or surface operations, particularly the visit, board, search and seizure, and the counter-terrorism operations to be represented by Philippine Army will participate in land-storming or ground operations.

Aside from BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, other PN participants include one AW-109E "Power" naval helicopter (PNH-431), a medical team and chaplain, and a naval special operations team.

Eighteen countries will participate in the annual maneuvers and the 10 regular members are identified as the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The eight non-regular member countries are Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and the United States.

MTA Seagull will be held from May 10 to 17 in Singapore and Brunei waters.

This seven-day bilateral exercise between Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) and the PN aims to enhance the interoperability and building defense capability.

The training includes the conduct of subject matter expertise exchanges, social interaction, shiprider program, and seaphase/field training exercise.

PHL not pressuring China over arbitration of maritime disputes, says Palace official

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24): PHL not pressuring China over arbitration of maritime disputes, says Palace official
A Palace official denied on Sunday that the Philippines is trying to pressure China over an arbitration of the South China Sea disputes.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the Philippines’ move to present its case against China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague as "either political arrogance or legal prejudice.”

Wang, who was in Cambodia to meet with his counterpart Prak Sokhonn last Friday, said China wants the maritime row to be resolved peacefully through negotiations between the parties directly concerned.

The UN Charter and international law encourages peaceful settlement of rows through dialogue. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), on the other hand, respects the decision of the parties concerned to choose how to settle the disagreement.

“Malinaw na hindi lamang ang Pilipinas ang naniniwalang makatuwiran ang paghain ng petisyon sa Court of Arbitrations sa The Hague,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in an interview over Radyo ng Bayan.

Coloma noted the declaration signed by the participants of the ASEAN-United States Special Summit in California last February which stated “Shared commitment to maintain peace, security and stability in the region, ensuring maritime security and safety, including the rights of freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the seas, and unimpeded lawful maritime commerce as described in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as well as non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities.”

“Iyan din ang buod ng posisyon ng Pilipinas sa pagsusulong sa mapayapa at rules-based approach. Bilang bahagi ng international community, ang paghahain ng Pilipinas ng petisyon sa Permanent Court of Arbitration ay isang matibay na pagpapatunay sa pagtataguyod ng nasabing prinsipyo,” Coloma added.

Coloma said that participants of the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting held two weeks ago in Hiroshima, Japan want the maritime disputes between the Philippines and China to be settled peacefully.

“Dalawang linggo lamang ang nakakaraan, dito rin sa buwang Abril 2016, sa pagpupulong ng mga G7 Foreign Ministers sa Hiroshima, Japan, ipinahayag ng mga foreign ministers ng Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan at United States ang kanilang malakas na pagtutol sa 'intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions' sa South China Sea o West Philippine Sea para sa atin,” said Coloma.

“Idiniin din nila ang kahalagahan ng “peaceful management and settlement of maritime disputes through applicable internationally recognized legal dispute settlement mechanisms, including arbitration,” Coloma added.

“Klaro na ang makatuwirang posisyon ng Pilipinas sa usaping ito ay kinakatigan at umaani pa ng suporta ng maraming bansa. At malayong-malayo doon sa ipinaparating,” said Coloma.

According to the Chinese foreign minister, China is exercising its legitimate right to reject a compulsory arbitration. He said China made a declaration that excludes a compulsory arbitration in 2006 under the Article 298 of the UNCLOS.