Monday, May 23, 2016

Mandatory military training: Is it time? (2nd of three parts)

From the Business Mirror (May 34): Mandatory military training: Is it time?

2nd of three parts

In Photo: Secondhand military boots, similar to those used by college students doing basic military training under the now-defunct Reserved Officers’ Training Corps, are displayed in a Guadalupe shoe store in Makati City.

Second of three parts

DESPITE the enactment of Commonwealth Act 1, otherwise known as the National Defense Act, in 1935, the road to establishing the nucleus for a reserve force composed of a citizen army was bumpy.

Much of the problem arose when Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon and Douglas Macarthur, a US Army general and former US Army chief of staff, had a falling out because of the costs of raising and maintaining an army.
Quezon had hired MacArthur as a military adviser.
 “Becoming national defense adviser to the Philippines would allow MacArthur to exit gracefully, escaping what, in all other senses, would be a demotion,” Ricardo T. Jose wrote in his book The Philippine Army 1935 to 1942. “Indeed, he would get the highest position in an army he himself would create.”

It turned out that MacArthur was actually interested in being named as the US high commissioner to the Philippines. “He lobbied for it,” Jose wrote. Unfortunately for MacArthur, it turned out that under US laws, it was illegal for an officer to hold two appointments at the same time.

This was one way for MacArthur to restore his prestige, which was tainted after he had ordered soldiers to attack and disperse a rally held by World War I veterans in Washington, D.C.

As a sop to his ego, MacArthur was given the rank in the Philippines as “field marshal.” Then MacArthur went on with the task of forming the Philippine Army.


ACCORDING to Jose, MacArthur had promised Quezon that it would take only P16 million annually to finance “an army suitable for the Philippines.”

“If you have a small regular force, as a nucleus to be expanded by employing the citizen army in time of peril, no nation will care to attack you, for the cost of conquest will be more than the expected profits,” MacArthur told Quezon.

However, it turned out that it would cost P25 million annually to maintain at a bare minimum a regular force of 19,000 soldiers. That would mean a cost of P250 million instead of the P160 million in 10 years, which would extend to the period when the Philippines had gained independence.

Another Filipino also worked on finding a solution to the budget problem. L. Siguion Reyna, a technical adviser to the secretary of the Interior, submitted a preliminary study on national defense and related problems to Quezon.

Jose wrote: “The main problem, Reyna concluded, was attaining maximum effec-tiveness at minimum cost. Despite economic difficulties, the Philippines needed an organized army similar to the Belgian and Swiss models, though the Philippine situation was compounded by a longer exposed coastline.”

“A navy was out of the question because of its excessive cost but a coast artillery corps and an air corps could be developed to insure protection from threats at sea,” Reyna explained.

“Coming to the same conclusion as others before him, Reyna stressed that the best solution was a small regular army with a large reserve force and militia, with various sectors of the country contributing to the defense effort,” Cortes wrote. “In order to further economize, Reyna stressed that the army must be useful both in times of war and peace, otherwise, it would be considered by the already overburdened taxpayers as a real parasite in time of peace.”

“Reyna hit the problem on the head when he noted that it was essentially a problem of maximum effectiveness for minimum cost,” Cortes wrote.

This was a problem in 1935 and more than 80 years later, the dilemma of adequately funding the Armed Forces of the Philippines still exists.


THERE were three basic systems that the Philippine Commonwealth could adopt for its fledgling army.

The first was to adopt the voluntary service, which was in use in the United States at that time. However, this was seen as the most expensive in the long run.

“The second system was to adopt the monarchical system, “which was in use in old Prussia, Imperial Russia and Japan, wherein there was mandatory two- or three-year military service for all males,” Cortes wrote.

The third system was to adopt either the Swiss or Austrian models, which contemplated a small regular force with a citizenry that was trained for fixed periods.
Because of budget constraints, the third system was chosen.

This was the opportunity for Quezon to realize his vision for the Philippines.

Quezon, during his acceptance of his nomination for president, had said he wanted a neutral Philippines under the League of Nations. However, “we cannot rely exclusively on these implements of peace for our national defense,” Cortes quoted Quezon as saying.

“I favor preparedness for national defense,” Quezon said. “We cannot afford to have, nor do I approve of, a large standing army or costly military establishments, but we must have a regular army of sufficient size for our requirements and a trained citizenry ready to be drafted for service in any emergency.” As part of adapting to the cut in military budget, the decision was build up the existing ROTC program.

It was decided to revise its original two-year basic course and four-year optional course into a three-year compulsory course for college students. Training hours were extended from the previous three hours to four hours.

“Under this new program, all graduates would be eligible for direct commission in the reserve force as officers or noncommissioned officers,” Cortes wrote. “This would solve the problem of shortage of reserve officers at reduced cost.”

Additionally, specialized ROTC units were formed. For example, the University of the Philippines (UP) and the University of Santo Tomas were to provide one ROTC medical unit and a field artillery unit each, while the Mapua Institute of Technology was to have one ROTC engineering unit.

These units would form the cadre of trained officers and troops for specialized military units if the reserve was mobilized.

These units were also to form the backbone of the reserve force in the event of actual mobilization, because it was realized that it was too expensive to hold annual practice mobilizations and not all military trainees could join because of the disruption it would cause to the civilian economy.

This system was still partially in place when World War II arrived in Philippine shores.
The reserve force was called up and mobilized to firm up the 10 Philippine Commonwealth Army divisions and form the Philippine Coastal Artillery Units.

Unfortunately, the budget cuts resulting in lack of proper equipment took its toll on Philippine Army units.

When the Philippines fell to the Imperial Japanese Army, the bulk of ROTC graduates who did not surrender formed the cadre for different guerrilla units throughout the country. One of the most famous came to be known as the Hunters ROTC Guerillas. They were citizen soldiers of the country’s underground army.

After the war

THE signing of the surrender documents on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri in Japan in 1945 marked the official end of World War II.

By 1946, the Philippines regained its independence. Two months after Philippine independence was restored, on September 13, 1946, the 10-division strong prewar Philippine Army organization was revived. This included the reactivation of the ROTC program.

According to the Army Reserve Command (Arescom), this set up for a citizen army was further strengthened “when the Philippine Army became the Armed Forces of the Philippines on December 23, 1950,” with the Philippines divided into four military areas. “ROTC units operating within these areas fell under the supervision of their respective Area Commanders,” the Arescom said.

The prewar ROTC program, which emanated from Quezon’s Executive Order 207 in 1939, was updated on February 8, 1967. Under the updated order issued by then- President Ferdinand E. Marcos, ROTC was to be taken as a mandatory course at all college and universities with an enrollment of at least 250 male students. Under the old Commonwealth era order, the requirement was only 100 male students.

Rainbow rangers
A year later saw the rise of an experimental reserve unit based in UP.

This was the Rainbow Rangers-Sunday Soldiers. Their officers came from the ROTC program, while the trainees were students who specialized in small-unit tactics and unconventional warfare to be used as the backbone for civil home-defense units.

In November 1971 one battalion of Sunday Soldiers and UP ROTC officers under the command of Lt. Col. Benjamin Vallejo mobilized and sent to guard the elections in the provinces of Lanao.

“During its three-week stint of peacekeeping in Lanao, nine citations for bravery were earned by the cadets of the battalion,” according to publicly available records from the UP ROTC.

Among these citations was a post-humous award for Cadet Captain Eustaquio Granadillos for acts of bravery. In honor of the slain cadet officer, the main barracks of the UP ROTC now bears his name.

This unit was disbanded in 1983 with the retirement of its founder, Gen. Benjamin Vallejo, a member of UP ROTC class 1952.

Rot within ROTC

AFTER Marcos declared martial law in 1972, military training in campuses under the ROTC program was put under a bad light.

The abuses committed under the Marcos administration transformed the image of the military from being “protectors” to “oppressors.”

And corruption set in within certain ROTC units. There were kickbacks in ordering supplies for uniforms, food and drinks. Students can avoid mandatory military training by bribing ROTC personnel. Others can opt for “light duty” instead of training for a fee.

Instead of training college students to be part of a citizen army, certain individuals made the ROTC program into a milking cow. Many used it for personal gain while others used the money raised to finance ROTC training activities because most of the designated military funds were now going to regular forces engaged in the counterinsurgency campaign. Whatever the reason, it was still corruption.

Then came 2001 and the discovery of Mark Welson Chua Jr.’s body in the Pasig River. Because of his murder, mandatory military training came to an end.

In the third and final part of this series, the article will focus on the aftermath of Chua’s murder, which relegated military training as just one of the three optional courses college students can take under the National Service Training Program. More than a decade after Chua’s murder, there have been attempts to reinstate mandatory military training in campuses throughout the country.

To be concluded

NPA still using minors as combatants, says AFP

From Malaya Business Insight (May 24): NPA still using minors as combatants, says AFP

TWO of the three New People’s Army rebels killed by government forces in skirmishes last week at the boundary of Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte provinces are minors, the military said yesterday.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, public affairs officer of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the presence of the minors in the clashes proves the communists are lying about their supposed non-use of children in their armed struggle.

“They are claiming that they are not using minors in the armed struggle. This proves otherwise. Their act led to the killing of the minors,” said Batchar.

Killed were Marjune Gunay alias Urong, 14, of Laak Compostela Valley; Romel Perez alias Long-long, 17, of Veruela, Agusan del Sur; and Gunay’s cousin Rodel Gunay alias Dodong, 18, also of Veruela town.

The three died in a series of clashes at the boundary of Laak town in Compostela Valley and San Isidro town in Davao del Norte on Wednesday last week.

A soldier, Pfc. Romero Celestial, also died in the fighting.

Officials said soldiers, from the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion, were sent to the area to check information about a large rebel formation. The operation also resulted in the recovery of four rifles, three improvised bombs, a detonating cord and rebel documents.

Batchar said the remains of the slain rebels were claimed last Friday by their relatives who he said provided the age of their slain family members.

“Our challenge to them (communist leaders) is to prove that they are not really employing minors in the armed struggle. They are saying they are not involved and they are for the protection of children’s rights but this incident proves otherwise,” said Batchar.

Batchar also reported that an NPA amazon, part of the rebel group encountered last Wednesday, surrendered to the military.

Batchar said the rebel, one alias Dalia, 18, yielded to troops of the 60th IB last Friday. She was accompanied by several barangay officials during her surrender.

“Dalia revealed that she was part of the ALG (armed lawless group) encountered by government troops on Wednesday. She also revealed that the members of the ALG were consolidating in preparation for the conduct of future atrocities in the area,” said Batchar.

“Dalia also told the police that many in their group were fresh recruits by an alias Blady and his wife alias Avon, who promised them generous monthly allowance upon joining the armed group,” added Batchar.

Stop killings, peace group urges

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 24): Stop killings, peace group urges

No more killings, please.

The appeal was made yesterday by a peace advocate group in Negros, that joined numerous calls to resolve the armed conflict in Negros island in a peaceful manner.

Alarmed by the spate of killings, with even civilians as targets for summary execution, the Kasanag Foundation, that has been a partner of the 303rd Infantry Brigade in the peace and development campaign for seven years now, also called other sectors of society to be part of the solution to the problem.

Within three weeks this month, three civilians and four Army soldiers were killed in separate incidents of summary execution, ambushes and raids, perpetrated and claimed by the New People's Army in Moises Padilla, Toboso and Sagay City,all in Negros Occidental.

John Chiong, Kasanag Foundation president, yesterday re-echoed the call of the Gov. Alfredo Maranon Jr. for the NPA in Negros to stop the killings, as incoming President Rodrigo Duterte is now inviting their top leaders to join his Cabinet.

The recent NPA raid on the bunk houses of agrarian reform beneficiaries in Brgy. General Luna in Sagay City, claimed the lives of two civilians and inflicted injuries to two others.

Chief Inspector Eduardo Corpuz, Sagay City police officer-in-charge, said yesterday that two of the rebel suspects, who had participated in the raid, have already been identified, based on testimonies of the captured government militiamen, who were later freed by the NPA.

Pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels are still underway.

In previous months, two policemen, a retired Army soldier and four government militiamen also died in an ambush and in summary executions in Candoni, Moises Padilla and Cauayan, responsibility for which had been also claimed by the NPA.

The Army's 303rd Infantry Brigade yesterday condemned the latest atrocities committed by the NPA in northern Negros.

Col. Francisco Delfin, 303rd IB commander, said yesterday that said the NPA is employing “terror tactics” in areas where they have lost influence over the people.

MNLF: Editorial -- "Don't forget Bangsamoro Nation" -- Davao MNLF Chairman Olamit to Duterte Government

From the Moro National Liberation Front Website (May 21): Editorial: "Don't forget Bangsamoro Nation" -- Davao MNLF Chairman Olamit to Duterte Government

There has to be a Bangsamoro Nation,” said President Rodrigo R. Duterte while serving as Davao City Mayor.

It should be recalled that President Duterte while still Davao City mayor already strongly advocated for a federal government set-up for the war-wracked and corrupt-ridden Philippines. He knew that only federalism could institute a clean government and solve comprehensively the decades-long Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao and the AFP-NDF/NPA war throughout the whole nation.

In achieving just and lasting Mindanao peace, he advised the Aquino government not to ignore the capability of Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to help forge peace in Mindanao. He pointed out that the MNLF chairman has a key role in ensuring peace in war-torn Mindanao.


In Hong Kong, OFW workers have also complained about voting anomaly because the candidates they voted for came out different than they expected. Surprisingly, the discredited Aquino administration candidates garnered more votes than the popular opposition candidates, like Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe and Jenjomar Binay.   

As overwhelmingly elected president of the Philippines with the highest percentage of electorate approval in the May 9 polls, he has immediately called for the immunity of the MNLF chairman in order to sincerely talk about Mindanao peace.

It is noted that the Aquino administration totally rejected the MNLF-OIC-GRP September 2, 1996 Jakarta Peace Agreements in favor of Malaysia-brokered Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Nonetheless, the Aquino government at the end of the day undermined BBL’s implementation by designing the Mamapasano invasion to court popular protest against the BBL that led to its natural death in the Philippine Congress.

The rejection by the Aquino government of the 1996 peace agreement contributed a major factor for the MNLF leadership to revert back to its original objective of pursuing independence and national self-determination for the Filipino-colonized Bangsamoro people.

The MNLF proceeded to establish the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik (UFSBR) and adopted Davao City the capital center. The MNLF members and supporters conducted peaceful demonstrations in Jolo, Basilan, Dadiangas and Davao in support of the declaration of freedom and independence of the Bangsamoro people. But the prospective public rally for peaceful assembly of MNLF members and supporters in Zamboanga City was forcibly banned by the local government under Mayor Maria Isabel Climaco. The sudden forcible banning and harassment of MNLF members led to the September 9-20, 2013 bloody AFP-MNLF war in the urban center, causing devastation and humanitarian disaster

Until today, there are still a big number of civilian Muslim evacuees living in refugee tents after the burning of around “10,600 houses, mosques and madrasa learning centers” in six villages by Philippine military occupation soldiers during the September, 2013 AFP-MNLF war. 

In pursuit of colonial interest to justify injustice, genocide war and obvious oppressive crime against humanity, the Aquino government filed America-introduced rebellion charges against the MNLF freedom fighters, principally Chairman Nur Misuari and Ustaj Khaber Malik. The Aquino regime thought that the threat of trial court, impending arrest and imprisonment could silence and halt the militant liberation struggle of the Bangsamoro freedom fighters against Philippine colonialism.

In his radio program while mayor of Davao City mayor, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his loud call to the anti-peace Aquino government not to forget MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari in the search for Mindanao peace. He emphasized the existing reality that, “for all his faults, Misuari is still a man to reckon with. Forget the Zamboanga incident (September, 2016 AFP-MNLF war) for a while, we have to talk with him if you want peace.”

On this light, Chairman Abdulaziz Olamit of the Davao State Revolutionary Committee (DSRC) and Acting Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has openly called today on President Rodrigo R. Duterte to fulfill his promise of establishing a Bangsamoro Nation within the spirit of the MNLF-OIC-GRP Jakarta Peace Agreements of September 2, 1996.

The 1996 peace agreement was forged by the Philippine government and MNLF under President Fidel V. Ramos, who issued a presidential decree creating the 13-province and 9-city Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD). The political move was executed in order to comprehensively solve the Mindanao war. But the succeeding Estrada and Arroyo government totally ignored the good-will political solution and both decided to craft and implement the farcical 5-province Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

However, the creation of the 4-province ARMM by President Corazon C. Aquino in 1987 and its 5-province upgrade in 2001 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not end the Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao. The betrayal of Mindanao peace by Philippine colonialism under the Marcos, Aquino and Arroyo regime only exposed the colonial mentality of Luzon-based political leaders to adopt military solution in solving the Philippines-Bangsamoro war in Filipino-occupied Mindanao to no avail.

Today, with the sound and bites of the May 9, 2016 national election over to erase forever the ghost of the present “daang matuwid” Aquino government, the triumphant President Rodrigo R. Duterte from so-called “Land of PromiseMindanao has taken center stage as the 16th President of Philippine Republic.

Thus, on a hypothetical note, is the incoming Duterte government a portentous political whirlwind of change that finally will bring peace to Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao that previous Luzon-based presidents only promised and trumpeted, but never delivered?


What of the betrayal of Mindanao peace by the present Aquino government? It cannot be denied that the Aquino regime designed the controversial Mamapasano invasion to presumably neutralized one “Malaysian terrorist” in the midst of the on-going ‘peace process’. The supposedly clandestine military operation led to the death of 44 PNP policemen and several MILF members as well as innocent Muslim civilians. Consequently, it also resulted to the “killing” of BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) and its eventual burial in the halls of Philippine Congress?

Deceptively from the beginning the anti-peace Aquino government was never serious of achieving “just and lasting peace” in war-torn Mindanao and anywhere else in the country. It only used the high tone of peace in a grandiose propaganda in highlighting the “daang matuwid” program. But it never succeeded to end the 2-front Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao and AFP-NDF/NPA war throughout the whole region.

Similar to the other Luzon-based colonialist leaders before him, President Benigno S. Aquino III could not abandon but patronize still the stark injustice inflicted upon the Muslim and Lumad natives of Mindanao by the Manuel L. Quezon-led Philippine Commonwealth government in 1935.

In the darkest side of Philippine and Bangsamoro history, it was the 1935 Quezon Commonwealth government that enacted the draconian land-grabbing law Quirino-Recto Colonization Act. Clearly, this colonial gross injustice and judicial land-robbery led to the colonization of the Bangsamoro homeland of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan (MINSUPALA).

Subsequently, the colonial nightmare continued with the immoral and illegal incorporation of the Bangsamoro homeland into America-created Philippine Republic on July 4, 1946.  Clearly, this injustice driven by political and economic greed of the previous unscrupulous Filipino leaders has contemporarily brought about the decades-long Philippines-Bangsamoro war in Asia.

In modern history, unfortunately but deliberately, Luzon-based colonialist leaders, like President FEMarcos, CCAquino and GMArroyo, have only become blind and deaf to the loudest cry of suffering, misery and agony of the colonized Mindanao Tri-People (Lumad, Muslim and Christian). Instead, they only adopted the deceptive colonial policy of divide.rule.destroy and accommodation.cooptation and used only the so-called ‘peace process’ methodology in perpetuating Philippine colonialism in the Bangsamoro homeland of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan.

Similar to the Spanish, American and Japanese invaders in the past, the Luzon-based Christian Filipino slavers today have utilized colonization as a lethal weapon to perpetuate per se the colonial slavery of the Muslim and Animist Lumad natives as well as conscious Christian settlers of Mindanao.

On this end, the present but outgoing Aquino government is no different. It tried to bamboozle the Filipino and Bangsamoro communities with “daang matuwid” deodorant propaganda. Yet, the window dressing was only based on false peace promise coupled with massive corruption and spoils of pork barrel system in the 4-branch government and other Malacanang-made societal ailments.

Thus, it was seen that the May 9, 2016 election was also a national referendum for the 6-year performance of outgoing President Benigno S Aquino III, who for the 4th time betrayed Mindanao peace. Before him, Mindanao peace was betrayed by Luzon-based Filipino colonialist warmongers, like former Presidents Ferdinand E Marcos, Corazon C Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They all chose to continue the Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao rather than establishing Mindanao peace.

In the final analysis, now under Mindanawon President Rodrio R. Duterte, is Mindanao peace probable and peace throughout the Filipino nation possible? Is it possible for the Duterte government to change the ugly image of the Filipino nation that is today looked upon by foreign observers as “most corrupt” country and “sick man of Asia”?

Indeed, the Filipino and Bangsamoro communities have always prayed, hoped and anticipated genuine change and clean government coming. Now, by a stroke of historical reality the phenomenon that is the rising Duterte government is given the political opportunity to make a difference. So be it!'t%20Forget%20Bangsamoro%20Nation%20-%20Olamit.htm

War booty bell returns to PH after 100 years (Photos)

From Update.Ph (May 23): War booty bell returns to PH after 100 years (Photos)

war bell


The San Pedro bell was returned to its original home at Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church today after it was taken, as war booty, by American soldiers in 1901 to a Roman Catholic at West Point Academy in New York USA.

Bishop Rodolfo F. Beltran of Diocese of San Fernando, La Union, blessed the San Pedro Bell during the Welcome Ceremony at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Bauang, La Union.

‘Sparrow’ assassin kills IP rep in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): ‘Sparrow’ assassin kills IP rep in Bukidnon

The “Sparrow Unit,” the assassination team of the outlawed New People’s Army (NPA), killed a tribal representative to the City Council in Bukidnon.

A police report reaching here Monday said that Datu Benjamin “Otto” Omao, the mandatory representative of the Indigenous People’s (IP) on Malaybalay City’s legislative council, was killed inside the IP office in Malaybalay City last week.

In a statement, the NPA owned the killing.

Police said that the local law enforcers have waged a manhunt for the killers as the military conducts hot pursuit operations to bring the culprit to justice.

The NPA also owned the killing of a retired police officer in Gingoog City last week on allegation of land grabbing and the killing of tribal leaders in Misamis Oriental.

Ranking Navy officer confident next admin will continue military modernization

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Ranking Navy officer confident next admin will continue military modernization

A ranking Philippine Navy (PN) official is confident that the country's new set of leaders will continue the ongoing military modernization program.

"Well I am confident that the next set, particularly of the defense officials will continue with the modernization project. Remember, this is a plan and I do admit that plans midway have to be reviewed and revised," Philippine Fleet commander Rear Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado said.

"But I am confident that the next set of defense officials or national leadership will continue with our modernization program. The way that we need the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to protect our people and our country," he added.

One of the highlights of the outgoing Aquino administration is its efforts to modernize the AFP, considered the weakest in the Southeast Asia Region.

During the Aquino presidency, modern transport and patrol ships have been acquired for the PN alongside with brand-new attack helicopters, jet fighters, and combat utility helicopters for the Air Force.

Modern assault rifles, armored personnel carriers and trucks have also been given to the Army.o be a really world class naval force, the Philippine Navy (PN) needs three more strategic sealift vessels (SSVs) in its inventory.

This was revealed by Philippine Fleet commander Rear Ronald Joseph Mercado in an interview shortly after the welcoming ceremonies for BRP Tarlac, the country's first SSV, Monday afternoon.

He said that five SSVs are part of the PN's desired force-mix.

"I'm confident that the next set of defense officials, national leadership, will continue with the modernization," Mercado stressed.

Mercado earlier said that the country needs three more strategic sealift vessels following the arrival of the BRP Tarlac (LD-601), the PN's first SSV, last May 16.

The latter was sourced from PT PAL (Persero) and her sister-ship is expected to be delivered by May 2017.

The PN's desired force-mix also include six frigates for anti-air warfare, 12 corvettes for anti-submarine warfare, 18 offshore patrol vessels, three submarines, three anti-mine vessels, 18 landing craft utility vessels, three logistics ships, 12 coastal interdiction patrol boats, 30 patrol gunboats, and 42 multi-purpose assault crafts that can be equipped with torpedoes and missiles.

Also included in the envisioned force mix are eight amphibious maritime patrol aircraft, 18 naval helicopters, and eight multi-purpose helicopters.

The PN needs an estimated PHP497 billion to make this project a reality.

Army in the market for KM-250 spares

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Army in the market for KM-250 spares

The Philippine Army (PA) is now looking for interested parties capable of supplying it with spare parts needed for the maintenance of its KIA KM-250 cargo truck fleet.

The budget for the acquisition program is PHP30,158,825.

The PA's KM-250 weighs two and half tons and is capable of hauling 5,000 kilograms of cargo load.

It is primarily used by the PA for troop transports and humanitarian assistance missions.

Receipt and opening of bids is on Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. at the Philippine Army Bids and Awards Committee Secretariat, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Duterte to release political prisoners if Reds say ‘yes’ to sit down for peace negotiations

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Duterte to release political prisoners if Reds say ‘yes’ to sit down for peace negotiations

Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will release all political prisoners if leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines – National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) say “yes” to come home and sit down with government to talk peace.

Duterte said coming home for the negotiations will be his only pre-condition.

He said they can agree on when, where and how the process of their coming home, including CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison, and how to conduct the talks. The time frame would depend how events would develop.

“Kailangan ko lang yes or no (All I need is yes or no),” Duterte told reporters on Monday night at the Leticia Suites here.

Duterte emphasized the release of prisoners as part of confidence-building between the two sides.

The release of political detainees would even include couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, the chair and finance chief of the CPP, respectively. The couple was arrested in Cebu in 2014.

Duterte said there could be a workable plan to assimilate the Tiamzons back into society.

“I might even decide to free all of them before the talks (could formally start),” Duterte said.

He stressed that if the leaders of the CPP-NDF are confident that his government would work for everybody especially for the poor, not corrupt and satisfied, “I can welcome them back.”

When asked about the criminal cases filed against political detainees, Duterte said it would be part of the pardon.

“For as long as we deal peace in good faith. (Talking) peace must be in good faith, wala akong agenda basta huwag lang akong lokohin (I do not have an agenda just do not fool me),” Duterte said.

The formal peace negotiations with the CPP-NDF has been stalled since 2004 after the communist movement withdrew from the negotiating table on account of the renewed inclusion of Sison and the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army) in the US terrorist list.

The NDF also reportedly backtracked from their commitments and insisted on their demand that the government release their 14 priority consultants, who are all facing criminal charges in various courts, before formal negotiations are resumed.

Although there had been informal talks through the facilitation of the Royal Norwegian Government (the third party facilitator) as an attempt to revive the negotiations these were stymied by prejudicial questions, impediments and preconditions raised at the negotiating table.

China plans base station for rescue operations in South China Sea

From InterAksyon (May 24): China plans base station for rescue operations in South China Sea

Chinese aircraft after landing on the airstrip at Fiery Cross Reef

A Chinese government bureau is planning a base station for an advanced rescue ship in the disputed Spratly Islands, state media reported on Monday, as China continues its push to develop civilian and military infrastructure in the contentious region.

The ship, which would carry drones and underwater robots, is set to be deployed in the second half of the year, said Chen Xingguang, political commissar of the ship, which is under the South China Sea Rescue Bureau of the Ministry of Transport, according to the official China Daily.

The civilian bureau has 31 ships and four helicopters conducting rescue missions in the South China Sea, and officials from the department told the China Daily they work with the military on such efforts.

Officials said the rescue ship base station would enable rescue forces to aid fishing boats in trouble, and shorten the distance they need to travel.

It is unclear on which island the ship will be based, but China has carried out land reclamation and construction on several islands in the Spratly Archipelago, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Washington has accused Beijing of militarizing the South China Sea after creating artificial islands, while Beijing, in turn, has criticized increased US naval patrols and exercises in Asia.

China has said it plans to continue building civilian facilities in the region to benefit itself and other countries, as well as "necessary military facilities." Analysts say an airstrip China is building on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys could be used for both civilian and military jets.

In a separate article, the China Daily said Beijing has build two lighthouses and four beacons on the disputed Paracel Islands and has set up four base stations for radio communications and civilian cellphone networks, providing "complete coverage of the area."

The official People's Liberation Army Daily said on its microblog that China's South China Sea fleet carried out military drills to boost combat capability in the western Pacific on Saturday, without specifying exactly which area.

Duterte to release political prisoners if rebel leaders come home for peace talks

From InterAksyon (May 24): Duterte to release political prisoners if rebel leaders come home for peace talks

Exiled CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison

Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte will release all political prisoners if leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and National Democratic Front agree to come home for peace talks.

Duterte said coming home for the negotiations will be his only precondition.

He said they can agree on when, where and how the process of the rebel leaders' homecoming, including CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, and how to conduct the talks.

Kailangan ko lang (All I need is) yes or no,” Duterte told reporters Monday night.

“I might even decide to free all of them before the talks (could formally start),” he added.

He emphasized the release of the prisoners, including couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, allegedly the CPP chairman and finance officer, respective, is part of confidence-building measures. The Tiamzons were captured in Cebu in 2014.

He stressed that if the rebel leaders are confident his government would work for everybody especially the poor, “I can welcome them back.”

“For as long as we deal peace in good faith. (Talking) peace must be in good faith, wala akong agenda basta huwag lang akong lokohin (I do not have an agenda just do not fool me),” Duterte said.

The peace negotiations with the communists have been stalled since 2004 over several issues, including the government’s refusal to release what the rebels maintain are 14 detained consultants of the NDF peace panel who are facing criminal charges.

Army colonel named Duterte's senior military adviser

From InterAksyon (May 24): Army colonel named Duterte's senior military adviser

An Army colonel currently assigned to the Davao City-based Eastern Mindanao Command confirmed he has been chosen to be senior military adviser to presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte.

"Higher headquarters have already informed me about it (appointment). It's an honor to serve … Duterte," Colonel Louie Dagoy told by phone.

Dagoy, a member of the Philippine Military Academy "Hinirang" Class 1987, is chief of staff to Eastmincom head Lieutenant General Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

Earlier, Duterte named retired Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to be national security adviser and 104th Infantry Brigade commander Colonel Rolando Bautista (PMA "Sinagtala" Class '85) to head the Presidential Security Group.

Duterte has offered the Department of National Defense portfolio to Gilberto Teodoro, who held the post under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

AFPCMOS: Strategic Information Support Affairs Officers Course Class 04-15

Posted to the AFP Civil Military Operations School (May 20): Strategic Information Support Affairs Officers Course Class 04-15

DISCOVER THE POWER OF INFLUENCE: Calling all intersted officers (2LT-LTC or its equivalent) from Philippine Air Force, PHILIPPINE NAVY, Philippine Army , Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. You are all invited to join the Strategic Information Support Affairs Officers Course Class 4-16 to convene on 14 June 2016 at AFP Civil-Military Operations School, Civil Relations Service AFP, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Philippines.Here at AFP CMO SCHOOL, we provide CMO education for your lifetime foundation! For more details, please click the shared post below..
Enroll Now: Strategic Information Support Affairs Officers Course Class 04-16 opening will be on 14 June 2016
Students must have the required rank and achieved least one of the following:
• Graduate of Basic CMO Course preferably in ISA;
• Underwent two (2) CMO-related trainings/seminars;
• Presently holding a CMO position;
• Held CMO position for at least one (1) year;
• Projected to be assigned in CMO units/officers preferably in ISA;
• Ranks: 2LT to LTC; candidates from other agencies, people’s organization and other companies must also possess the equivalent of the above-mentioned requirements.
Course Requirements:
• Recommendation from unit commander;
• Certification of no pending case;
• P-3 Classification order or medical certificate for those concerned;
• Security Clearances either from J2/G2/A2/N2/PNP;
• One (1) 2×2 picture for the information sheet;
• Summary of Information or Curriculum Vitae
• PFT Clearance or equivalent
Here is the link for the online pre-registration:
Click Here to Register

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China objects to presence of Indian ships in South China Sea

From the Economic Times (May 21): China objects to presence of Indian ships in South China Sea

Guided missile stealth frigates INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri; INS Shakti, a sophisticated fleet support ship; and INS Kirch, a guided missile corvette, had set sail on Wednesday on a two-and-a-half month long operational deployment to the South China Sea and North West Pacific.

Guided missile stealth frigates INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri; INS Shakti, a sophisticated fleet support ship; and INS Kirch, a guided missile corvette, had set sail on Wednesday on a two-and-a-half month long operational deployment to the South China Sea and North West Pacific

China has upped the ante on its claims in the South China Sea region ahead of President Pranab Mukherjee's four-day trip to the country from May 24, objecting to the presence of Indian Navy ships in the region where it has significantly expanded its presence since 2009 through artificial islands and military presence.  

Indian Navy ships taking part in maritime exercise in the South China Sea is "a matter of concern", a senior Chinese official, who did not wish to be identified said in Delhi on Thursday night, a day after four naval vessels set sail for participating in Malabar exercise with the United States and Japan. 
The Chinese official alleged that the Western powers are using the colonial tactics of "divide and rule". "When there is some trouble in the South China Sea, India is worried. When Indian ships participate in maritime exercises in the South China Sea, of course China will show concern," the official told a select group of media persons.

The remarks come ahead of the President's visit to China, where he is expected to raise all issues of political, regional and strategic significance including China's efforts to block India's bid at the United Nations to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar banned as well as India's entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group, both ostensibly at the behest of Pakistan . 
On May 24 Mukherjee is scheduled to land in Guangzhou, one of China's most prosperous regions, to seek to attract business and investments. He will be in Beijing on May 25-27 for political dialogue and meetings with Peking University. The Chinese leadership has gone an extra mile for the President, with plans for several official banquets and meetings.

Guided missile stealth frigates INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri; INS Shakti, a sophisticated fleet support ship; and INS Kirch, a guided missile corvette, had set sail on Wednesday on a two-and-a-half month long operational deployment to the South China Sea and North West Pacific.

The ships will also take part in the Malabar exercise near the South China Sea in the waters of Philippines. China claims sovereignty on almost the entire South China Sea region, a claim disputed by Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. China has upped the ante ahead of UN tribunal verdict in a case involving Philippines over entitlements in the region. 
While India is not a direct stakeholder in the South China Sea territorial disputes, the country has over the past few years been asking for upholding freedom of navigation and overflight in the region and speaking against use of unilateral moves in the region that will impact stability in the area.

The US has recently said that the Malabar exercise is an important element for assessing the maritime capabilities of all the three countries. It has also issued warnings over what it calls China's growing "militarisation" in the region.

American warships and aircraft have undertaken a number of operations in the region to challenge China's moves even as the US hopes to bring Asian military powers into a closer cooperation.

The US has also been pushing for a quadrilateral security dialogue involving itself, India, Japan and Australia. 
Meanwhile, on the issue of ban on Azhar under 1267 sanctions committee of UN, the Chinese official said his country has made no difference between India and Pakistan's terrorism. "You need strong evidence. It is not a bilateral issue, it is at the UN. He (Azhar) is not an Indian citizen," the official said. He said that "terrorism sponsor" as a term for Pakistan was a "too heavy title".

The Chinese official said that it was good that foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan met recently. "We encourage this kind of talk. You don't have a language barrier and you have been in the same family," he said.

2 US warships on patrol in disputed seas dock at Subic

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 22): 2 US warships on patrol in disputed seas dock at Subic

ONE OF the two American warships conducting surveillance patrols in the West Philippine Sea, site of territorial disputes between the Philippines and China, docks at Subic. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

ONE OF the two American warships conducting surveillance patrols in the West Philippine Sea, site of territorial disputes between the Philippines and China, docks at Subic. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Two warships belonging to a carrier strike group of the US Navy arrived here on Saturday for a routine port visit.

Guided-missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) docked at the Alava Pier inside this free port at 9 a.m.

The ships are part of the John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) that is patrolling the West Philippine Sea.
 The strike group arrived in the country three days after two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a US military reconnaissance aircraft in a routine patrol in the international airspace over the West Philippine Sea this week.

In a statement, the US Embassy in Manila said 8,500 sailors made up the strike group. It said 238 of the sailors had Filipino heritage.

The relatives of some of the US sailors were seen waiting outside the Alava Pier when the ships arrived.

“Many of our sailors look forward to reconnecting with family and friends in the local area,” said Rear Adm. Marcus Hitchcock, commander of JCSSG.

According to the US Embassy, the strike group personnel will conduct cultural exchanges with Filipinos by participating in community relations projects.

The American sailors are also scheduled to visit local elementary schools, cemeteries and a medical center.

Mandatory military training: Is it time? (First of three parts)

From the Business Mirror (May 23): Mandatory military training: Is it time?

INSIGNIAS of Philippine Army Divisions during the Philippine Commonwealth era, 1935 to 1942

First of three parts

Is the time ripe to restore mandatory military training for college students? This was one of the potential policy issues Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte raised last year, as he was mulling
over whether to run for the presidency in the 2016 elections.
He eventually put his hat in the ring and waged a colorful campaign. After the votes were tallied, his rivals to the presidency have conceded. All that’s left now is for his victory to be declared official.
With his presidency looming, will he follow through with his pronouncement that there is a need to revive mandatory military training for college students?

According to reports last year, Duterte believed that restoring mandatory military training
for college students under the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program will help the country develop a credible defense force, especially in relation to the maritime dispute between Beijing and Manila.
“While we expect the United States to come to our aid if attacked by a foreign force, the country must also be self-reliant,” Duterte was quoted as saying. “And to build up a credible self-defense force, the country must restore the ROTC that was once part of the college curriculum.”
“Our young men are presently too preoccupied with texting, Facebook and other social-media diversions that they don’t even know to handle a rifle like we used to during our time,” the mayor said.
He pointed out that military training can help prepare young Filipinos in case the country’s maritime row with China escalates.
Though Duterte did state he wanted the country to have a more credible defense force, he also pointed out his belief that there was still room for the Philippines to negotiate with the Chinese government.
“We have enough peace-and-order problems in Mindanao and we don’t need to add an external security threat by saber-rattling against China,” Duterte was quoted as saying in last year’s news reports.
Going back to roots
The presumptive president’s statement is an apparent acknowledgment of the reason the country used to require college students to undergo basic military training as a prerequisite to graduation.
The idea here is to form a citizen army, which the government can mobilize if needed in times of dire emergency. This emergency could either be the outbreak of war or a massive national disaster. In both instances, the point here is to protect Filipinos.
This is clearly stated under Article 2, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution: “The prime duty of the government is to serve and protect the people. The government may call upon the people to defend the State and, in the fulfilment thereof, all citizens may be required under conditions provided by law, to render personal military or civil service.”
This section was lifted and expanded from the 1935 Constitution’s Article 2, Section 2: “The defense of the State is a prime duty of government, and in the fulfillment of this duty all citizens may be required by law to render personal military or civil service.”
And to understand how this came to be, one must take a look at what transpired in 1930s.
The road to independence
Many of the survivors of the Philippine-American War were still alive in the 1930s. Some of them were able to hold on to a position of leadership under the Philippine Commonwealth established under American rule.
In February 1930 an Independence Congress was held. Among the committees in  that informal congress was a National Defense and Communications Section.
According to the book The Philippine Army 1935 to 1942 by Ricardo Trota Jose, Gen. Jose Alejandrino, a veteran of Revolutionary Army, favored compulsory military training in schools for Filipinos to form the basis of a citizen army that can be mobilized in times of need.
Unfortunately, this recommendation was not adopted because there was a prevailing American fear that any attempt to institute such moves could form the basis for a new army that could be used to overthrow US rule.
This sentiment eventually changed when the US government agreed to grant the Philippines independence. Thus, the Philippine Commonwealth was formed and with it, the need to form a nucleus for the soon to be independent Philippine military.
That was the idea. And to turn the idea to reality, the Commonwealth’s first official move was to pass the National Defense Act, otherwise known as Commonwealth Act 1.
The National Defense Act
The National Defense Act formalized a social contract of sorts between the citizen and the government. Under the 1935 Constitution, the government was obligated to defend and protect the State in which the citizen lived. And, in order to fulfil that obligation, the citizen must be involved.
This can be clearly seen in Section 2 of the National Defense Act, which states in part: “The preservation of the State is the obligation of every citizen. The security of the Philippines and the freedom, independence and perpetual neutrality of the Philippine Republic shall be guaranteed by the employment of all citizens, without distinction of age or sex, and all resources.”
Article II, Section 3 of the National Defense Act is even more specific. It states that “military service shall be obligatory for all citizens of the Philippines.”
And since military service is obligatory service, citizens had to undergo preparatory military training in case of mobilization. Essentially, what will be mobilized is a citizen army.
The citizen army is the reserve force that will shore up the ranks of the peacetime regular force, which will form the cadre for the expansion. The Act authorizes the president to call for either a full or partial mobilization to meet certain emergencies. However, such a call to mobilize the citizen army is subject to the approval of the National Assembly. The president may be the commander in chief, but the Act was designed to allow the representatives of the citizen army to check whether the call to mobilize was legitimate.
The law also provided for the creation of the Philippine Military Academy, an institution that will provide the officers for the small regular force. The rest of the officers needed for the expansion of the regular force during mobilization will come from trained reserve officers.
Preparatory training
Since the original concept for the country’s defense was based on citizen army that can be mobilized, there was need to for citizens to undergo formal military training.
And that was not gained by enlisting in the military.
Instead, Article VII of the National Defense Act provides for preparatory military training for all citizens outside the regular military establishment.
Article VII, Section 81 of the National Defense Act states:  “Preparatory military training shall begin with the youth in elementary grade school at the age of ten years and shall extend through the remainder of his schooling into college or the university as set forth hereinbefore. In case the youth ceases to attend school, or for any reason shall have no schooling, he shall become liable for service in the Junior Reserve on reaching the age of eighteen years.”
Children, as young as 10 years-old, underwent preparatory military training, while they were in school.
Parents who did not want their children to undergo such training were penalized.
Section 88 of the Act states: “Parents and employers shall be required to compel attendance at preparatory military training. Upon conviction of deliberate failure to discharge this obligation, the responsible parent or employer, or both, shall be subject to a fine of not to exceed P100.”
That fine is equivalent to the ten months’ worth of base pay of an enlisted man in 1935.
This was all designed to prepare the ordinary citizens to become soldiers if necessary. However, whether trained , these citizens will only be a mob of armed men and women without officers. Thus, the ROTC was established.
The rise of rotc
There was already training for officers even before Commonwealth Act 1 was established.
According to Jose, in his book The Philippine Army 1935 to 1942, the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University had offered military training for their students since 1912.
Unfortunately, the graduates of these military training courses had no reliable career to follow after graduation.
The same observation was made by the late Brig. Gen. Benjamin Vallejo (UP ROTC 1952).  Vallejo wrote in his essay “The ROTC Story”: “The training during this period has many limitations. Mostly wooden guns were used, there was no definite program of instruction and very little equipment was available for military training. The greatest difficulty was the fact that there was no promise of a military career for those who underwent this training due to the absence of an organized reserve corps.”
In 1922 a former US Army chief of staff became governor general of the Philippines after his retirement. He was Leonard Wood.
His arrival in the Philippines as governor general was the extra push needed to formally establish the ROTC program in the country.
“In November 1921 UP President Guy Porter Benton recommended to the Board of Regents the formal establishment of a systematic course in military science in the University,” Vallejo wrote.
“The Board of Regents favorably acted on this. On November 9, 1921, the Board of Regents requested the United States War Department, through the governor general, the services of a US Army professor of military science and tactics.”
Wood learned of the request and endorsed it.
“He, in turn, asked the United States War Department to detail a US Army officer as commandant and professor of military science and tactics,” Vallejo wrote. “The request was approved. On March 17, 1922, Captain Chester Arthur Davies, US Army, reported to the Board of Regents, which, in turn, authorized the establishment of the Department of Military Science and Tactics (DMST), and approved the plans and programs of instruction. In the same year, the Philippine Department, US Army, supplied the DMST with armaments and equipment. The UP DMST then became officially one of the curricular departments of the University of the Philippines. The course of instruction opened on July 3, 1922, and the term military drill was superceded by the term military science and tactics.”
“Several universities took advantage of his offer to make available US Army officers to supervise such training,” Jose wrote. “But the failure of the US Congress to enact relevant legislation resulted in the ROTC programs being mere showpieces.” There was still a view among certain Americans that these could be used as potential leaders of an army that would overthrow US rule.
Despite this drawback, the ROTC program persisted. Foremost among these units was the UP ROTC.
“By 1929, a Field Artillery unit was established in UP on October 26, 1929, with the issuance of 75 mm field guns,” Vallejo wrote. ROTC units were no longer just “showpieces.”
By March 30, 1936, graduates of the ROTC program found a home. They were inducted as reserve officers of the Philippine Commonwealth Army by President Manuel  L. Quezon.
When World War II came to the Philippines, the relevance of the establishing a field artillery unit in UP became apparent. Many of these field artillery men formed the backbone of the Philippine Coastal Artillery Units (PCAU) that manned the guns in Bataan and Corregidor.
So numerous were these UP field artillery reserve officers within the PCAU that decades later, the insignia they wore on their collars would sometimes be misidentified as the insignia of the PCAU. In reality, they wore the UP seal on their collars to signify that they were once an ROTC field artillery unit.
To be continued

Photos: Medical Team from 403rd Infantry "Peacemaker" Brigade participates in Medical Mission

From the 5th Civil Relations Group Facebook page (May 21): Photos: Medical Team from 403rd Infantry "Peacemaker" Brigade participates in Medical Mission

Medical Team of 403rd Infantry “Peacemaker” Brigade provides free medical and dental services in a Medical Mission initiated by Dr Glorio Sajulga at Barangay Aglayan, Malaybalay City on May 21, 2016.

Photos: 402nd Infantry Brigade Officer Meeting with CLIP committee members

From the 5th Civil Relations Group Facebook page (May 22): Photos: 402nd Infantry Brigade Officer Meeting with CLIP committee members

402nd Brigade Operation Officer Cpt Erasto M Gallardo (Inf) PA conduct Coordination Meeting together with CLIP Committee led by Mr Rivas, Provincial Administrator of Tandag City in Surigao del Sur on May 21, 2016.

Photos: 402nd Infantry Brigade Officer Dialogue with former rebels

Posted to the 5th Civil Relations Group Facebook page (May 22): Photos: 402nd Infantry Brigade Officer Dialogue with former rebels

402nd Brigade Operation Officer Cpt Erasto M Gallardo (Inf) PA together with Surigao del Sur CLIP Committee led by Mr Rivas, Provincial Administrator in a face to face dialogue with former rebels in their FR community provided by Bohol Provincial Government on May 22, 2016.
5th Civil Relations Group's photo.

Photos: Summer Kids Peace Camp at Magpet, North Cotabato

From the 10th Infantry Division Facebook page (May 23): Photos: Summer Kids Peace Camp at Magpet, North Cotabato

Let the children learn, enjoy and play. They should not be used as instruments for advancing the armed struggle. Kudos 39th Infantry Battalion.