Sunday, June 26, 2016

Troops arrest 2 suspects in latest Cotabato bombing

From GMA News (Jun 27): Troops arrest 2 suspects in latest Cotabato bombing

Authorities have arrested two persons suspected of having involvement in a bombing in Midsayap, Cotabato last week, where two soldiers and a student were hurt.

One of the suspects were identified as Bobby Ampuan, 51, of Datu Abdullah Sangki, Maguindanao. The other suspect was 17 years old.

Superintendent Tom Tuzon, chief of the Midsayap police, said the two suspects were turned over to them by members of the Philippine Army's 62nd Division Reconnaissance Company.

The two suspects were arrested by the Army at a checkpoint in Barangay Olandang.

Tuzon said the Army personnel seized a .45 pistol and a grenade from the suspects.

He said Ampuan and the other suspect are believed to be involved in the bombing in the same barangay last week that left two soldiers and a student wounded.

A barangay official in Northern Kabuntalan, Maguindanao denied that Ampuan and his companion were involved in the bombing.

The barangay official claimed that the soldiers tortured the two and forced them to admit to the bombing.

He said he is now seeking help from the Commission on Human Rights. Police have yet to file charges against the two suspects.

Sayyaf chief now leads SEAsia jihad

From the Manila Times (Jun 26): Sayyaf chief now leads SEAsia jihad

COMMANDER AT LARGE Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group faction al-Harakat al-Islamiyah, has been named commander of jihadists’ groups in Southeast Asia. Inset shows Southeast Asian ISIS fighters with three alleged spies

The leader of a faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is now the apparent commander of jihadists’ groups in Southeast Asia.

Isnilon Hapilon, who leads the ASG faction al-Harakat al-Islamiyah in Basilan province in southern Mindanao, has been named to head the groups by Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, the caliph of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This assessment was based by Abu Abdulrahman al-Filibini–who speaks the Filipino language fluently–on a supposedly recent video.

The ASG, according to Abdulrahman, has called on the jihadists’ groups to join forces with Hapilon, who has a bounty of $5 million on his head under the United States Rewards for Justice Program.

Abdulrahman threatened to wage war against the incoming government, telling the groups to unite regardless of the tribes to which they belong.

He also told their followers not to be swayed by “deceptive tactics” of the tough-talking President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

Abdulrahman called the Philippines as an enemy of the ISIS because Filipinos “worship the cross.”

In the video, he and two Southeast Asian ISIS fighters are shown leading the beheading of three alleged spies.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) dismissed the video as mere propaganda of the jihadists’ groups that should not be shared with the public as “authorities are working on this. They [those behind the production of the video] can be identified, and they can be hunted down.”

The AFP apparently had obtained a copy or copies of the video.

Its spokesman, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, did not provide further details to the media about the video but intelligence sources said Abdulrahman is most likely to be among those who organized the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM), along with Mohd Amin Baco and Humam Abdulnajid, years ago.

The KIM is a local jihadists’ group.

Terrorism experts, however, suggested that the video is significant, not just propaganda, and represents a serious threat as “this acknowledges support from militants in Indonesia and Malaysia.”

“It suggests there will be more efforts to get people to actually go to Mindanao to launch operations from there,” Sidney Jones, a Jakarta-based security expert, was quoted as saying in a Reuters report.

“We are definitely expecting more attacks in region,” said another security expert, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, chief of Malaysia’s police counter-terrorism unit, apparently referring to Mindanao.

Mindanao has been suffering from a decades-long conflict and many peace agreements have been forged between the government and the Moro rebels, who are fighting for an independent Islamic state in southern Philippines.

The rebels had apparently settled for autonomy greater than that under the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

One of the largest Moro rebels in the South, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has vowed to pursue the current Mindanao peace process with the Duterte administration.

Peace, not war

 A Muslim scholar has claimed that recruitment of jihadists is going on in the autonomous region.

“Abu Mo’min,” founding member of a prominent organization of Muslim scholars in the Philippines, said the recruiters are using Facebook and iCOM or two-way radio to disseminate their agenda and inviting young Moros, particularly those “poor and helpless who can easily be swayed” to join their cause.

He pointed out that his organization is helping counter jihadists’ doctrines that are “totally not acceptable” and against true teachings of Islam.

“Islam teaches peace, not to wage war and kill innocent people,” Mo’min said.

The ISIS claims that around 300 Filipino soldiers have been killed in clashes with their 10 battalions from the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sarangani and Lanao del Sur since January.

Military officials, however, called the claim false and mere propaganda.

Operations against local followers of the ISIS were halted recently in deference to the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

The ASG recently beheaded two of its hostages–Robert Hall and John Ridsdel, both Canadians–after deadlines to pay ransoms for their release lapsed.

It had initially demanded P1 billion each for the Canadians and two other captives but lowered it to P300 million each.

The kidnappers are still holding other foreigners including Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was snatched on Samal Island, Davao del Norte province, last September 21, 2015, along with Hall, Ridsdel and a Filipino woman, Maritess Flor.

Flor was released recently after successful negotiations led by Secretary Jesus Dureza, the peace adviser of incoming President Duterte.

Ongoing private negotiations for Sekkingstad’s release were reportedly underway.

A few days before Flor’s release, Duterte told to the ASG to “surrender unconditionally” and release their prisoners and hostages as there will be a time for “reckoning.”

The small but notorious ASG, which had previous bonded with the al-Qaeda and Jama’ah Islamiyah terrorist networks, pledged allegiance to the ISIS in 2014 together with other local jihadists’ groups.

The groups include the KIM, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Rajah Solaiman Movement and Ansarul Khilafah in the Philippines based in Sarangani.

Tiamzons among 21 Reds eyed for release

From The Standard (Jun 27): Tiamzons among 21 Reds eyed for release

SOME 21 jailed communist leaders, all of them facing criminal charges for murder and other violent crimes, are likely to be released and get safe conduct passes as consultants in peace talks between the Duterte administration and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF), a member of the incoming government peace panel said Sunday.

A list obtained by The Standard shows that the 21 include Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, chairman and secretary-general, respectively, of the CCP, who were arrested on murder charges in Cebu in March 2014, and Adelberto Silva who replaced the Tiamzons as the head of the CPP. Silva, too, was arrested for outstanding arrest warrants for murder.
Alleged leader of Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army, led by Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, raise their clenched fists in this file photo. The Tiamzons are among 21 incarcerated communist leaders who might be released and get safe conduct passes as consultants in peace talks with the government. MANNY PALMERO
Over the weekend, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte confirmed that he and CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison are in talks to formally declare a ceasefire between the government and the rebel group’s armed wing, the New People’s Army, as the incoming leader seeks to put an end to the longest-running communist secessionist movement in the region.

In an interview, Hernani Braganza, an incoming member of the government peace panel, said that both sides would have to assess who should be included in an amnesty.
‘‘When you talk about Jasig [joint agreement on security and immunity guarantees], it’s not just about those who will be moved out of jail. It includes their staff, as their team of experts who will face the government’s experts. Their security personnel and their secretariat will also be covered by Jasig so that they can also move freely and consult with their constituency,” Braganza said.

The list of communist leaders, obtained from the rights group Karapatan, included 21 people, all of whom are in jail on criminal charges.

Aside from the Tiamzons and Silva, the list includes: Tirso Alcantara, senior NDF consultant captured by the AFP’s Southern Luzon Command after he was wounded in a gunfight; Emeterio Antalan and Eduardo Fraginal, both charged with murder, kidnapping and illegal possession of firearms, detained at the Nueva Ecija provincial jail; Eduardo Sarmiento, detained at the Philippine National Police custodial center in Camp Crame for arson and illegal possession of firearms; Jaime Soledad, detained at the Leyte provincial jail for multiple murder; Alfredo Mapano, detained at the Cagayan de Oro City police office for double murder and robbery charges; Pedro Codaste, top NPA leader in Agusan del Sur who was arrested in December for multiple murder cases; and Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, a former UP Journalism student who led the NPA ranks in Panay Island.

Also included are Renato Baleros Sr., Porferio Tuna, Ariel Arbitrario, Kennedy Bangibang, Ruben Saluta, Renante Gamara, Alan Jazmines, Ernesto Lorenzo, Ma. Loida Magpatoc and Leopoldo Caloza.

Braganza said that there are currently 543 political prisoners from the CPP-NDFP, 18 of whom are NDF consultants, 88 of whom are sick, and 48 of whom were elderly.

The incoming administration had said that agreements that the government has signed with the communist rebels will be honored, but these need congressional approval.

Braganza said that a general amnesty might be possible for all political prisoners through legislation or presidential proclamation—which also needs congressional approval.

Braganza said that the leftist bloc in the House might sponsor a measure in seeking to grant total amnesty to all political prisoners.

“There are processes that we need to follow. There are progressive blocs inside Congress. They can take the initiative of filing that bills. How long will that take in Congress? Let’s see,” he said.

Leftist groups that won in the last election inlcude Bayan Muna, ACT Teachers, Anakpawis, Kabataan, and Gabriela, who altogether have eight seats in the House. It is unclear if they will join the “supermajority” being formed by incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to facilitate President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s legislative agenda.

Braganza, together with peace panel chairman, Silvestre Bello III and Jess Dureza, went to The Netherlands to sign a five-point agenda with the communists upon resumption of the talks, which includes an affirmation of previously signed agreements; an accelerated negotiation process, reconstitution of the previously signed Jasig, an amnesty proclamation with the concurrence of Congress; and the mode for an interim ceasefire.

At his thanksgiving party in Cebu Saturday night, Duterte expressed hope that the incoming administration’s efforts to resume peace talks with communist rebels will bear positive results.

In the same speech, Duterte revealed that he’s already talking with Sison, his former mentor, for a unilateral ceasefire after the start of the formal peace talks.

He also appealed to communist rebels to honor the declaration of a ceasefire so that the peace process won’t get stalled as it did in the past administrations.
“I’m talking to the communists right now. I might succeed,” he said.

Aside from efforts to resume peace talks with communist rebels, Duterte said he is also holding dialogues with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front to iron out “whatever arrangement is acceptable for all.”

Duterte said he would feel accomplished if he succeeds in bringing lasting peace to the country, and eliminating illegal drugs and crime.

Braganza said that Duterte has only given them 12 months to finish the talks and come to an agreement with the communists.

Earlier,  Bello said that simultaneous talks will be pursued to accelerate the negotiations and to come up with a final peace agreement in nine to 12 months.
“We are only given 12 months to finish the job,” Braganza told reporters on Saturday.

Police file charges vs. NPA for killings

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 27): Police file charges vs. NPA for killings

The police filed robbery with homicide and frustrated murder charges against several members of the New People's Army before the Sagay City Prosecutor's Office last week, for the killing of two agrarian reform workers, and inflicting injuries on two others, in connection with the raid of a farmer's bunk house in Sagay City, on May 22.

Chief Inspector Eduardo Corpuz, Sagay City police officer-in-charge, yesterday identified two of the NPA respondents as Charity Amaca, alias Cha, and Rogelio Dañoso, alias Ka Gildo, both leaders of the Northern Negros Front of the New People's Army.

Earlier, the Roselyn Pelle Command of the NPA Northern Negros had disputed military and police claims that what they had raided and overran were bunkhouses of agrarian reform beneficiaries in Sitio Buntod Aliwanay, Brgy. General Luna, Sagay City. It maintained that it was a “detachment “ of the Special Civilian Armed Auxilliary of the Philippine Army.

The raid claimed the lives of agrarian reform beneficiaries Jose Pios and Dionesio Ybanez, and caused injuries to Jovito Lutrago and Boboy Respundo.

Corpus said Amaca and Dañoso were positively identified through the pictures presented to them, by two captured SCAA members, who were later released by the rebel captors.

Dañoso was also earlier named among the 21 respondents in two counts of murder, and two of frustrated murder, filed before the Negros Occidental Provincial Prosecutor's Officer, in connection with the ambush-slay of two policemen, and causing injuries to two others, in Brgy. Caningay, Candoni on Feb. 18.

Corpuz said the criminal complaints will be amended as soon the real identities of John Does, are established.

The NPA claimed that it had seized 18 firearms during the raid, but the police said the government lost only four firearms, that were taken from the captured SCAA members.

Dureza: Talks with Abu Sayyaf to continue for hostages’ release

From GMA News (Jun 27): Dureza: Talks with Abu Sayyaf to continue for hostages’ release

The incoming administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will have to continue negotiating with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) to facilitate the release of hostages, incoming peace adviser Jesus Dureza said Monday.

In an interview aired on Unang Balita, Dureza said the incoming administration cannot take a single approach in dealing with the militant group because the situation on the ground is complex.

“Komplikado ang sitwasyon. You cannot put it in one box,” he said when asked whether the Duterte administration’s policy regarding the Abu Sayyaf will be negotiation or launching an offensive.

“It has to be a calibrated approach,” Dureza added.

The incoming peace adviser said the government cannot easily order the bombardment of suspected turfs of the local terror group because there are communities, families, and hostages involved.

Dureza said negotiations are necessary because innocent lives are at stake.

“In fairness, we have to talk to them (Abu Sayyaf) to save lives, but it’s not in the context of peace, unlike with the other groups. The full force of the law will have to be applied here,” he said.

Last week, the ASG agreed to release their Filipina captive, Marites Flor.

Dureza said that no ransom was paid for Flor's release.

Flor was kidnapped along with Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad  and Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel on Samal Island in September 2015.
The bandit group had beheaded the two Canadians.

Dureza said they are still negotiating the release of Sekkingstad.

Before the release of Flor, the military said that the bandit group was still holding at least seven hostages, including the Norwegian national.

The military confirmed on Sunday that the ASG kidnapped seven Indonesian crewmen in the Sulu Sea last week.

Not an enemy

During a thanksgiving party in Cebu on Saturday night, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said he does not consider the Abu Sayyaf an enemy but asked the group to clarify whether it wants to be seen by the government in an adversarial way.

“Abu Sayyaf, hindi ko sila kalaban. I know that is connected with the issue of Mindanao. Nais ko lang linawin, sila ba? Are they willing to talk or just fight it out?” he asked.

Although Duterte’s camp has negotiated with the Abu Sayyaf for the release of Flor, Dureza clarified that opening lines of communication does not mean the government will talk peace with group.

“Yung sinasabing negosasyon, napakababaw naman ng basa ng ibang media. Nung sinabi kong makikipag-negosasyon ako sa Abu Sayyaf, ang sabi nila, ‘ano yan, negosasyon tulad ng sa MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)? I have been negotiating with them (Abu Sayyaf) for the release of the hostages,” he said.

Earlier this month, Dureza and other peace negotiators appointed by Duterte flew to Oslo, Norway to discuss the prospect of resuming peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF).

The dialogue ended with the two parties agreeing to restart peace negotiations on the third week of July.

Duterte said he is also holding dialogue with the MILF and Moro National Liberation Front about ironing “whatever arrangement is acceptable for all.”

Don’t fall for IS ‘propaganda’ video, AFP tells public

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 27): Don’t fall for IS ‘propaganda’ video, AFP tells public

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday dismissed as “terrorist propaganda” a latest video showing supposed members of Daesh or the Islamic State announcing the establishment of a caliphate or IS province in southern Philippines and installing Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon as emir or head.

At the same time, AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. called on the public to delete and not to spread the video so as not to propagate its evil message.

“This is pure terrorist propaganda, let’s just ignore it and don’t share it,” he stressed.

“Let us not dignify the un-Islamic and evil message propagation that these satanic forces are making and churning out. Everyone should just delete it and not pass it on. This is the right thing to do,” the military official added.

Padilla, however, urged the public to be vigilant to thwart any attempt from the terrorists to disrupt peace.

“We should also work together to secure our communities by being vigilant, alert and ever mindful of this evil scourge,” he said.

In the 20-minute video, three supposed IS militants – a Filipino, a Malaysian and an Indonesia, are urging their followers to troop to the Philippines if they can’t afford to join IS ranks in Syria.

The Filipino militant, who spoke fluent Tagalog, announced the appointment of Hapilon as the emir of IS province in southern Philippines.

The US-based Long War Journal of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies which was an offshoot of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, branded the video as an indication that the IS has officially created a province in the Philippines “after months of buildup which included pledges of loyalty from various local groups.”

The newly released video from the region, which was produced in the same style as all other Islamic State provinces, offered confirmation of the new province, it added.
The video begins by showing several “battalions” of the ASG pledging allegiance to the Islamic State.

The supposed battalions included the Abu Dujana Battalion, Abu Khubaib Battalion, Jundallah Battalion and the Abu Sadr Battalion.

“These battalions joined others from ASG, including Jund al Tawhid, Ansar al Sharia, and Marakah al Ansar in pledging bay’ah (an oath of allegiance) to the Islamic State. Additionally, some of ASG’s leader, including overall leader Hapilon, have pledged to the jihadist group,” according to the paper.

The video also issued a warning to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte of their potential activities as they have urged their followers to target the Philippines.

The Filipino IS members asked followers not to be cowed by Duterte’s tactics.

“Take care and be strong, do not be swayed by the deceptive tactics of the newly-elected (President Rodrigo) Duterte. May he be cursed by Allah,” one of the terrorists said in Filipino.

In the same video which was, according to reports, shot in Syria, Mohd Rafi Udin, a Malaysian IS leader, told their followers and potential recruits to go to the Philippines instead of going to their main jihad front Syria.

“If you cannot go to (Syria), join up and go to the Philippines,” Udin said.

Udin also urged Muslims to unite under the leadership of Hapilon who is also named Abu Abdullah who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in January.

Hapilon is on the FBI’s most wanted list for his role in the kidnapping of 17 Filipinos and three Americans in 2001 and carries a bounty of $5 million.

PMA gives testimonial parade for PNP chief Marquez

From ABS-CBN (Jun 26): PMA gives testimonial parade for PNP chief Marquez

Before Chief Superintendent Ronald Dela Rosa officially takes his oath as the newly appointed Philippine National Police (PNP) director general, a testimonial parade was given by the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) for outgoing PNP chief Ricardo Marquez Sunday morning at Fort Del Pilar, Baguio City.

Marquez, who belongs to PMA Class 82, will be leaving his post on June 30. He has received numerous awards for the past 34 years and has been cited by other PNP officers as a man of honesty and integrity.

Marquez said he has done his part in serving the country, citing his handling of the security operations during Pope Francis’ visit in the Philippines and APEC summit, among other achievements.

"I'd like to be remembered as the one who introduced patrolling as the backbone of police. I'd like to be remembered as the one who managed the security operations for the visit of the Pope and APEC. The one who managed Lambat Sibat that led to the reduction in the index crimes," he said.

After leaving his post, Marquez added it is time for him to take a rest and go back to his residence in Fort Bonifacio.

Doubts cast on AFP intelligence efficiency

From The Standard (Jun 27): Doubts cast on AFP intelligence efficiency

THE Armed Forces yesterday confirmed the Abu Sayyaf’s kidnapping of seven Indonesian sailors on Wednesday last week, adding the victims were subsequently brought by their captors to the island-province of Sulu.

The military’s confirmation, which it said was based on intelligence information, came four days after the incident and two days after Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi reported the kidnapping.

Sought for comment last Friday after Marsudi’s statement, military officials said they were still validating the information from Indonesian authorities.

Aside from the kidnapping, Marsudi announced that a halt on coal shipments to the Philippines will remain in place until Manila can secure its waters. Indonesia supplies 70 percent of the Philippines’ coal import needs, which Indonesian data shows stood at about 15 million tons, worth around $800 million, last year.

Fourteen Indonesian tugboat crew members were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf last April and May between Sulu and Indonesian waters. They were later freed after reportedly paying ransom.

The Indonesian navy in April instructed all commercial vessels to avoid piracy-prone waters near the southern Philippines. Also in April, port authorities in some areas of Indonesia stopped issuing permits to ships taking coal to the southern Philippines.

Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesman of the AFP Western Mindanao Command, yesterday said the seven Indonesians, all crew members of the tugboat Charles 001, were kidnapped around 11 a.m. last Wednesday “in the high seas off Indonesia.”

“Information from ground units suggests that the kidnap victims are possibly being held captive somewhere in Sulu,” said Tan.

Sulu is a known bailiwick of the Abu Sayyaf which is keeping six other foreign and Filipino captives in the province.

Tan said the military’s Joint Task Force Sulu “is now assessing the situation and will plan for the best course of action to address the given situation.”

He also said six companions of the kidnapped Indonesians were not taken apparently because the boats used by the Abu Sayyaf were not big enough.

“There were 13 of them but they seized only seven. The rest already returned (to Indonesia) and reported the kidnapping,” said Tan.

“Based on reports, it’s the Abu Sayyaf (which did it). Intelligence units verified that this is the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf. However, we are still in the process of determining their (captives) whereabouts in Sulu,” he said.

“Once we identify the sub-group keeping them and the area where they are being kept, we will launch rescue operation,” he said.

Marsudi said earlier the seven Indonesians were kidnapped by two different armed groups in attacks on a tugboat towing a coal-carrying barge and that the government would “try all options to free the hostages.”

International warships sail by groups to Pearl Harbor for RIMPAC 2016

From Update.Ph (Jun 26): International warships sail by groups to Pearl Harbor for RIMPAC 2016

Four multinational naval forces groups have sailed toward Hawaii in support of this year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise commencing on June 30, the United States Third Fleet said. RIMPAC is hosted by US Pacific Fleet and executed by US Third Fleet in the Hawaiian operating area.

Participating in 4 Group Sails are 10 ships from San Diego and 12 ships in the western Pacific Ocean.

USS America (LHA 6) departed San Diego on June 21, with Canadian ship HMCS Vancouver, Chilean ship CNS Cochrane, USS San Diego (LPD 22), and USS Howard (DDG 83).

USS Princeton (CG 59) departed San Diego on June 22 along with Canadian ship HMCS Calgary, USCG Stratton, and USS Pinckney (DDG 91). USS Coronado (LCS 4) departed San Diego on June 23.

Singaporean ship RSS Steadfast departed the western Pacific Ocean and arrived in the US 3rd Fleet area of operations on June 18 with Japanese ship JS Hyuga, Indonesian ship KRI Diponegoro, Indian ship INS Satpura, and USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93).

USS Stockdale (DDG 106) arrived in 3rd Fleet June 18 with USS William P Lawrence (DDG 110), and the People’s Republic of China vessels PLA(N) Hengshui, PLA(N) Peace Ark, PLA(N) Xian, PLA(N) Gaoyouhu, and PLA(N) Changdao.

The said warships participating in Group Sail are expected to arrive in Pearl Harbor during the last week of June, the US 3rd Fleet said.

“Conducted prior to the start of RIMPAC, Group Sail offers participating units the chance to operate together and conduct basic training like tactical maneuvering drills and communication system checks. Group Sail helps prepare participating units for the more complex exercises conducted during RIMPAC,” US 3rd Fleet said.

AFP hopes for continuation of modernization program under Duterte admin

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 27): AFP hopes for continuation of modernization program under Duterte admin

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is hoping that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will continue with the military modernization program, a project given priority by the outgoing administration for the past six years.

"We are hoping and praying that the programs that we have launched in this (Aquino) administration would be supported by the next (Duterte) administration, because after all this is not for the AFP alone, it is for the Filipinos, it is for the country, it is to defend its national interest," AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in an interview.

During the Aquino administration, significant progress has been made in the implementation of the AFP Capability Upgrade and Modernization Program where PHP60.14 billion has been released from July 10, 2010 to April this year for the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Some of the equipment acquired in this period include the two Hamilton-class cutters, six multi-purpose assault craft, 113 armored personnel carriers, three brand-new C-295 medium lift aircraft, two C-130 heavy transports, two FA-50PH light-interim fighter aircraft and eight attack versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters, five landing craft heavies and two strategic sealift vessels to name a few.

Padilla said it is crucial for the country to continue with the military's modernization program so potential aggressors will think twice of taking on the AFP or violating Philippine territory.

"(Military forces) are respected if they have the capability (to deter and defend their states)," he added.

Earlier, Padilla said the AFP will render a final and simple tribute Monday afternoon to President Aquino in front of GHQ Grandstand, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

"The AFP as a whole will render its final tribute to the outgoing President & Commander-in-Chief (CinC) this Monday afternoon. All the AFP's top brass as well as those who served under his administration as AFP senior leaders are expected to attend," he added.

Other government dignitaries were also invited to attend the activities.

The tribute is also to show the AFP's appreciation for Aquino's efforts in the military capability upgrade program.

"The AFP capability build up under the outgoing administration has been the best so far for the AFP and greatly exceeds the support provided by the last three administrations combined," Padilla said.

"However, in contrast to previous parades, there will be no Air Force fly-by during this testimonial for the CinC this Monday. The toned down ceremonies are in keeping with the desire of the outgoing CinC to keep the ceremonies as simple as possible without sacrificing the necessary military protocols, customs and tradition entailed during the activity," Padilla said.

He added Monday's ceremonies will be the final military parade to honor and pay tribute to the CinC and is the AFP's expression of gratitude for the leadership and support provided by the Honoree for the institution.

Daesh issues PR video for southeast asians

From The Standard (Jun 26): Daesh issues PR video for southeast asians

THE terrorist Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State, released for the first time a propaganda video for Islamists in Southeast Asia and declared a “pivot to Asia” with Abu Sayyaf extremist Isnilon Hapilon as one of their leaders.

The video showed three men, speaking in Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia and Filipino, beheading three people whom Daesh believed to be spies.

The three men in the video also addressed IS supporters in their home countries and warned that whoever stands in the way of their holy war in what they called Khatibah Nusantara, which is presumed to be the Daesh’s so-called province in Southeast Asia.
Isnilon Hapilon
“If you cannot go to [Syria], join the mujahideen in the Philippines,” said a man identified as Malaysian militant Mohamad Rafi Udin.

Udin called upon IS supporters to kill non-believers and look for Abdullah al-Filipini, whom security forces later identified as Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.

“Kill them wherever you meet them. If you have a car, hit them. Use your weapons and knives to stab them in the chest,” Udin said.

One of the men, who had his words subtitled in Filipino, said: “We are slaughtering these [apostates] and tomorrow, our brothers in your land will slaughter you. We will use the language of swords and bullets. We will continue to fight and wage war against you, terrorize you and put fear in your hearts.”

Another man in the same video spoke in Filipino and urged his “brothers” not to hesitate in their fight, trying to downplay the “tactics” of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

“Take care and be strong, do not be swayed by the deceptive tactics of the newly elected [President Rodrigo] Duterte. May he be cursed by Allah,” he said.

Only on Friday, Duterte said the kidnappings and beheadings perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf must stop and he would soon confront the extremist group.

“I don’t want to pick up a fight with anybody, but there will be a time. I have to confront Abu Sayyaf. It’s not yet forthcoming... Their kidnapping must stop. It has given us a very bad image,” Duterte said.

Duterte also warned his fellow Mindanaoans not to join the bandit group, saying he would unleash a war on them.

“Never be a member of that Abu Sayyaf because there will be a reckoning one of these days,” he said.

Incoming National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said meanwhile that he cannot comment yet about the IS threats directed to Duterte, saying that he has yet to assume the post.

Malaysia, Indonesia want Philippines to do more to tackle Abu Sayyaf

From The Star Online (Jun 26): Malaysia, Indonesia want Philippines to do more to tackle Abu Sayyaf

Malaysia and Indonesia are pushing for more concrete steps to improve security in the Sulu Sea and for the Philippines to take on more effective measures in tackling the kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf militant group.  

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said he and Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi want to meet the incoming Philippines Foreign Secretary after the official takes oath of office.  

“We can meet in Jakarta, Malaysia or Manila. We need to have this urgent meeting,” he said late Saturday at a press conference here after receiving a call from Retno about the latest abduction of seven Indonesian tugboat crewmen at international waters in the Sulu Sea.  

Anifah said with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s permission, he planned to meet incoming President Rodrigo Dutarte soon after his inauguration on June 30.  
“I would like to stress upon the seriousness of this problem that involves Filipino nationals.   

“We accept that it is a complex issue. The Philippines military has been going after these people with limited success.  

“The question now is how can we work together,” he added.  

Anifah said both he and Retno voiced concern that the kidnappings carried out by the Abu Sayyaf were now increasing in frequency and targeting merchant shipping there.
He said the abductions, though occurring at international waters, was causing a climate of fear among those intending to come to Sabah thus affecting the tourism industry here.  

On June 24, seven Indonesian tugboat crewmen were abducted at international waters in the Sulu Sea bordering Philippines and Indonesia.  

The incident was the latest in a series of abductions of sailors from merchant vessels operating in the Sulu over the past two months.  

On March 26, abductors linked to Abu Sayyaf grabbed 10 Indonesian sailors from the tugboat Brahman 

Five days later, four Malaysian sailors were taken from MV Massive 6 near Sabah’s Pulau Ligitan.  

Another four crewmen from an Indonesian owned tugboat were abducted on April 15.

Duterte asks Abu Sayyaf: Talk or fight?

From GMA News (Jun 26): Duterte asks Abu Sayyaf: Talk or fight?

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte wants to know if the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) is open to holding a dialogue with the government or just continue its atrocities.

In his speech at the thanksgiving party in Cebu on Saturday night, Duterte said he does not consider the Abu Sayyaf to be an enemy despite its tag as a militant group and involvement in kidnapping foreign nationals for ransom.

The tough-talking politician, however, said the group must be clear on whether it wants to be seen as an enemy.

“Abu Sayyaf, hindi ko sila kalaban. I know that is connected with the issue of Mindanao. Nais ko lang linawin, sila ba? Are they willing to talk or just fight it out?” he asked.

Duterte posed the question to Abu Sayyaf because he said he is half-hearted about using public funds to buy arms that will kill fellow Filipinos.

“But I hate to buy rifles and bullets, cannons and bombs to kill a Filipino. I could hardly move my finger to sign a document buying things just to kill my fellowmen. Masakit. Masakit sa loob,” he said.

The Abu Sayyaf, known for amassing tens of millions of dollars from kidnappings, has beheaded two Canadian nationals in recent weeks after ransom deadlines passed.

On Sunday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday confirmed the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped seven Indonesian sailors in the Sulu Sea last June 22.

Talks with CPP, MILF, MNLF

At his thanksgiving party, Duterte expressed hope that the incoming administration’s efforts to resume peace talks with communist rebels will bear positive results. “I’m talking to the communists right now. I might succeed,” he said.

The President-elect appealed to communist rebels to honor the declaration of a ceasefire that would follow the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front on the third week of July.

“Well, wala pang formal declaration. Nag-uusap na kami ni [CPP founder Jose Maria] Sison and if there is a ceasefire, I hope that... Nakikiusap ako sa inyo, tigil muna tayo,” he told the rebels.

Aside from efforts to resume peace talks with communist rebels, Duterte said he is also holding dialogues with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front about ironing “whatever arrangement is acceptable for all.”

Duterte said he would feel accomplished if he will succeed in bringing lasting peace to the country, and eliminating illegal drugs and crime.

“Kung mawawala ang droga at mawawala ang kriminal, masasabi ko na pwede ko nang talikuran ang mundong ito at masasabi kong magagawa ko na ang aking gusto,” he said.

The South China Sea Moment of Truth Is Almost Here

From The National Interest (Jun 25): The South China Sea Moment of Truth Is Almost Here (By Richard Javad Heydarian)

The Philippines’ lawfare strategy in the South China Sea disputes is inching closer to a moment of truth. In coming weeks, an arbitral tribunal, formed under the aegis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), is set to pass a final judgment on the ongoing maritime spats between China and the Philippines. For the first time, a team of impartial, top-caliber legal experts will officially weigh on the validity of China’s expansive claims and growing footprint across arguably the world’s most important waterway. What is at stake is preventing China from fulfilling a Seldenian Closed Sea (Mare clausum) in favor of preserving a Grotian Free Sea (Mare Liberum) at the heart of the Western Pacific.

Yet it is ultimately up to the Philippines’ incoming president, Rodrigo Duterte, to decide on what to do with a likely favorable arbitration outcome. And this introduces some element of uncertainty into the picture. Unlike his outgoing predecessor, Benigno Aquino, Duterte—a self-described “socialist” with historical ties to Philippine communists—doesn’t seem to be very keen on confronting China and has, quite legitimately, expressed doubts vis-à-vis Washington’s commitment to its Southeast Asian ally. (In fact, during the recently concluded Shangri-La Dialogue, which brought together the world’s leading defense ministers and experts, I asked Admiral Harry Harris, commander of United States Pacific Command, about the precise extent of American treaty obligations to the Philippines in an event of contingency in the South China Sea. I wasn’t able to receive an unequivocal answer beyond well-rehearsed semantics.)

Astonishingly, Duterte has even expressed reservations concerning the wisdom of ongoing efforts to bolster the Philippines’ minimum deterrence capability. “Fighter jets are good only for ceremonial flybys. I’m not in favor of building up external defense, I will not got to war with China,” Duterte recently told reporters. Though known as often mercurial, he was actually consistent with his earlier stance during the campaign trail, when he dismissed the purchase of much-needed jet fighters as a “waste of money.” For the incoming president, what matters is internal security operation, especially in light of the worrying resurgence of extremist groups, tied to Islamic State, in the southern island of Mindanao.

Duterte, meanwhile, has expressed growing interest in reviving long-frayed bilateral investment relations with China, even though this may come at the expense of a compromise on sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea. During his meeting with Chinese ambassador Zhao Jian, among the first dignitaries who met the president-elect shortly after the elections, Duterte and the Chinese envoy apparently went down to business right off the bat, discussing prospects for massive Chinese infrastructure investments in the Philippines. Obviously delighted by the cordial exchanges, with large-scale Chinese investments hanging in the balance, Duterte went so far as to praise Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “great” leader.

Duterte has also expressed doubts as to the utility of the Philippines’ arbitration case against China, which has boycotted the proceedings and questioned the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal to oversee the South China Sea disputes. Encouraged by convivial exchanges with the incoming Philippine leadership, China recently reiterated its call on the Philippines to entirely drop the arbitration case as a sign of goodwill. After all, the verdict is expected to be released a week after Duterte officially assumes power, so technically the case could still be dropped. And as Columbia University professor Matthew C. Waxman succinctly explains, much is also at stake for the whole international law regime, which may explain the curious timing of the expected release of the arbitration judgment.

The Trial of the Century

“For the UNCLOS system—as a body of rules and binding dispute settlement mechanisms—prominence and credibility are at stake,” Waxman explains. The arbitration body faces the risk of “being ignored, derided and marginalized by the biggest player in the region.”

Last October, the arbitral tribunal (formed under Article 287, Annex VII of UNCLOS) decided that it would indeed exercise jurisdiction on almost half of the items in the Philippines’ memorial (official complaint), with the remaining items subject to simultaneous examination in terms of both jurisdiction and merit. In a ten-page summary, the judges argued that the Philippine-initiated arbitration case “was properly constituted” and that the “act of initiating this arbitration did not constitute an abuse of process [as asserted by China].”

The judges reiterated that “China’s non-appearance in these proceedings does not deprive the Tribunal of jurisdiction,” and “international law does not require a State to continue negotiations when it concludes that the possibility of a negotiated solution has been exhausted.” The Tribunal, which has no mandate to decide on questions of sovereignty, decided that it can nonetheless exercise jurisdiction on determination of the nature of disputed features (see Art. 121 on “regime of islands”), particularly the Mischief, Gaven, McKennan, Hughes, Johnson, Cuarteron and Fiery Cross Reefs, as well as Scarborough Shoal.

It can also exercise jurisdiction on allegedly aggressive maneuvers by China against Philippine vessels operating close to Scarborough Shoal, as well as the ecological impact of China’s reclamation activities near Scarborough and Second Thomas shoals. But key items such as the validity of China’s sweeping nine-dashed-line claims and dubious doctrine of “historical rights” were left for further deliberation. Meanwhile, China continuously ignored opportunities, in accordance to Article 5, Annex VII, to formally participate in the proceedings.

Thus, the arbitration body effectively demolished China’s longstanding claim that (1) UNCLOS and arbitration bodies under its aegis have no mandate to arbitrate disputes concerning the South China Sea disputes; (2) the Philippines has yet to exhaust bilateral negotiations before resorting to compulsory arbitration; and (3) China, under Article 298, has exempted itself from such arbitration procedures.

This isn’t just some legal hairsplitting. There are huge strategic implications. First of all, it means that not only the Philippines, but also other claimant countries could resort to a similar lawfare strategy to pressure and extract concessions from China. In effect, the Philippines’ arbitration case could create a “lawfare multiplier.” So far, Indonesia, which is inching closer to dropping its neutrality status in the South China Sea disputes, and Vietnam, which has ramped up defense ties with America, have threatened to go along the same path if China continues to press its advantage in adjacent waters.

Secondly, and more importantly, the arbitration verdict could provide a perfection legal justification for not only America, but also other key naval powers such as Japan, to launch sustained, multilateral Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea. Coordinated and multinational FONOPs by America and its key allies hold the promise of creating just enough pressure to force China to recalibrate its posturing in disputed areas.

Hard Choices

What is clear is that the Duterte administration will not drop the arbitration case, which is in its final phase. This is just politically impossible, given the amount of domestic and international support the Philippines’ lawfare has generated. In fact, incoming foreign affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay made it clear that the Duterte administration will “not pursue any bilateral talks [with China] at this time until we hear, or wait for, the outcome of the decision of the arbitral tribunal to come out.”

Of course, there is a possibility, albeit minimal, that the Philippines will lose on all key items in its arbitration case. For instance, the arbitral body may resort to indefinite legal semantics to avoid giving an impression of openly scolding China. It could also shun exercising jurisdiction on key items like the validity of China’s nine-dashed-line claims, while partially censuring China on other more minor items.

This would surely be a disaster for the Philippines and likeminded countries, which are eager to leverage international law against China, but still leaves Duterte the option of distancing himself from the potential debacle by dismissing it as nothing but a foolhardy maneuver of his predecessor.

A largely favorable outcome, meanwhile, would give the Duterte administration great leverage in any bilateral showdown with China. For instance, the new administration could promise to not fully leverage the arbitration outcome—essentially treating it more of an advisory opinion than a binding verdict—in exchange for Chinese concessions in the South China Sea, ranging from non-imposition of restrictions on Filipino fishermen, troops and vessels roaming the disputed waters to mutual disengagement from the Scarborough Shoal, in addition to large-scale investments.

Without a doubt, China would welcome any opportunity to avoid a massive soft-power coup if Manila chooses to rally international support and portray China, an aspiring regional hegemon, as an indubitable outlaw. So far, the Group of Seven industrialized powers, Australia and almost all relevant players in Asia have openly or indirectly expressed their support for the arbitration case, forcing a panicked China to vociferously question the legitimacy of the arbitration body, set up its own international courts and rally the support of up to forty countries as a kind of counter-coalition.

There is, of course, another curious option. The Duterte and Xi administrations could simultaneously project their respect for international law and operationalize their willingness to bilaterally resolve the disputes by opting for a more mutually acceptable mechanism under the UNCLOS. Both parties can, for instance, consent to the creation of a “conciliation commission” (see Annex V), which allows both parties to address their overlapping claims with the guidance of a mutually agreed-upon panel of legal experts, who would provide legal advise but issue no binding verdict. In metaphorical terms, while Duterte’s predecessor opted for divorce proceedings (i.e., compulsory arbitration), he can instead opt for marriage counseling (i.e., conciliation commission) with China.

For sure, the Duterte administration will come under tremendous pressure from all corners to extract the maximum strategic dividend out of his predecessor’s lawfare. Most likely, Duterte, who has vowed to adopt an independent foreign policy, will decide his next step based on the nature of the verdict and what he perceives as the most pragmatic option to protect the Philippines’ national interest and avoid unnecessary conflict with China.

[ichard Javad Heydarian teaches political science at De La Salle University, and formerly served a policy adviser at the Philippine House of Representatives (2009-2015). The Manila Bulletin, a leading national daily, has described him as one of the Philippines’ “foremost foreign policy and economic analysts.” He is the author of Asia’s New Battlefield: The US, China, and the Struggle for Western Pacific (Zed, London). Follow him @Richeydarian]

Justice Carpio's Presentation about the issue of the West Philippine Sea

Posted to the Philippine Defense Bulletin (Jun 26): Justice Carpio's Presentation about the issue of the West Philippine Sea

Justice Carpio's Presentation about the issue of the West Philippine Sea during the PPI 20th NPF Forum, I think a MUST-READ for everyone. And you may want to download a copy of it also. Thanks to Jay for sharing ...

What Is at Stake for the Philippines
What is at stake in the West Philippine Sea dispute are:
a.  80% of of the Philippine...

Gov't arsenal still using decades-old machines to make ammo – COA

From Rappler (Jun 26): Gov't arsenal still using decades-old machines to make ammo – COA

The Government Arsenal is still using 268 ammunition-producing machines aged between 12 and 39 years old due to a dispute with its foreign suppliers

Even with a modernization program in place, the Government Arsenal (GA) is still using decades-old machines to produce ammunition, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).

In its 2015 audit report released on June 21, COA revealed that the GA is still using 268 ammunition-producing machines aged between 12 and 39 years old due to a dispute with its foreign suppliers.

COA said that the GA, which is mandated to supply bullets to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, is found to have “decreased operational efficiency” due to this issue.

In 2012, the GA ordered P336-million worth of machinery from Waterbury Farrel, a division of Magnum Integrated Technologies Incorporated of Canada, to improve its production of ammunition.

Out of the 5 machines purchased, 3 – a P72.72-million multi-station bullet assembly machine, and two case manufacture and cartridge assembly equipment worth P168.43 million – are yet to be delivered.

The supplier reportedly withheld delivery as that GA has not given full payment on the first delivery. The machinery in the initial delivery were found to be non-compliant with contract specifications, forcing the GA to stop paying the supplier.

A separate procurement contract for ammo loaders for 5.56mm and 9mm and an EDM die sinking machine worth P31.65 million also failed since none of the purchased equipment has been delivered.

“Stated operational capacity of the machines of 23 million per year failed to meet the expected target of 30 million pieces of bullets thus, the Government Arsenal resorted to importation of additional components to meet its obligations,” COA stated in its audit report.

COA has required the GA to demand the replacement of the expired P12.336-million performance security bond, and to seek payment of liquidated damages amounting to P22.306 million.

DWDD: MMSHAKEDRILL | PA Tests Latest HADR Communication System

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 23): MMSHAKEDRILL | PA Tests Latest HADR Communication System

FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – The Philippine Army’s mobile command, control and communications center, also known as PA Mobile C3 Center was tested during the Army’s participation in the simultaneous earthquake drill organized by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today, June 22.

Col. Vener Odilon D. Mariano, the Army’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Command and Control Communication and Cyber System said that the PA Mobile C3 Center is the latest land-based mobile communication platform developed by the Philippine Army.
File Photo
“This Mobile C3 Center will serve as the alternate Army Operations Center for continuous command, control and communications for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) operations of the Army,” said Mariano.

This latest land based mobile communication of the Army is equipped with major means of communications ranging from High Frequency (HF), Very High Frequency (VHF), Ultra High Frequency (UHF), Air and Marine Bands, including Satellite voice capability.

Meanwhile, the Army’s participation in the earthquake drill aims to prepare the military personnel and its dependents before, during and after the earthquake to save lives and properties.

The Army’s HADR units were also alerted to respond during the occurrence of disasters and calamities.

The Philippine Army is one of the government agencies that is immediately deployed as first responders during disasters. OACPA / MCAG

DWDD: TREACHEROUS ATTACK | Unarmed militiaman killed in ambush

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 23): TREACHEROUS ATTACK | Unarmed militiaman killed in ambush

 10ID logo

The 10th Infantry Division, Philippine Army are now conducting pursuit operations against New People’s Army (NPA) members who ambushed two unarmed militiamen in Davao City, killing one and wounding the other on Tuesday.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, in a statement Thursday said the attacks took place 6 p.m. at Purok 7 Cristory, Paradise Embac, Paquibato District.

Batchar identified the fatality as Mansarok Imbac while the wounded as Ruel Salangoy.

The two were aboard a motorcycle and headed towards Paradise Embac to buy some food when fired upon by the NPAs.

Mansarok died on the spot while wounded Salangoy was brought to a nearby hospital.
10th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Rafael Valencia condemned the rebels for their treacherous and unprovoked attacks against the unarmed militiamen.

DWDD: INAUGURATION | Duterte to attend two military events one day after his oath-taking

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 23): INAUGURATION | Duterte to attend two military events one day after his oath-taking

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will be attending two important occasions one day after his inauguration on June 30, 2016.

The first event will be the Change of Command of the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP) for their new Chief of Staff, Lt Gen. Ricardo Visaya on July 1, 2016.

On July 5, 2016, will be the 69th anniversary of Philippine Air Force (PAF) which will be held at Clark Air Base, Pampanga and Duterte will be the guest of honor and speaker which was confirmed by PAF’s spokesperson Colonel Robert Araus Musico.

The Air Force will be showing a flyby which includes air assets parade. As of now, PAF has C-130 cargo planes, three C-295 medium lift aircraft, attack helicopters, refurbished HU-1Hs utility helicopters and currently waiting for the delivery of 10 FA 50 fighter jets bought from South Korea.

DWDD: PH to host 6th Asean Chiefs of Military Medicine Conference in July

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 23): PH to host 6th Asean Chiefs of Military Medicine Conference in July

The Armed Forces of the Philippines under the Department of National Defense will host the 6th ASEAN Chiefs of Military Medicine Conference (ACMMC) aimed to promote cooperation, exchange of experience and expertise, cope up with security challenges and help ensure peace and stability in the region.
The Conference, with the theme “Global Climate Change: Challenges to the ASEAN Military Medicine” will be held on July 11 to 13, 2016 at the Shangri-la Hotel in Mandaluyong City.
The event will be attended by a head of delegation, his spouse, a senior delegate and young Asean military medical officers from nine (9) countries which include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Brig. Gen. Reuel N. Sorilla, AFP Adjutant General, said one of the highlights of the conference is that each participating country will send entries of their respective scientific research papers that will be presented during the ‘Scientific Sessions.”
He said the conference would focus on the roles, functions and duties of chiefs of military medicine, increase their mutual understanding, and exchange of experience and expertise, particularly by young military medical staff, from the region.
There would also be bilateral meetings between Philippines and delegations from the region to discuss and possibly resolve various regional issues and concerns between and among the host country delegates and their counterparts.
Aside from the bilateral meetings and a tour of the AFP Medical Center’s Orthopedic and Traumatology Department, the host country will treat the ASEAN delegates to a ‘fellowship night’ where there will be awarding of winning scientific papers presented in the sessions.
The delegates would also be treated to a cultural tour to the historic Corregidor Island in Cavite. The island played an important role during the invasion and liberation of the Philippines from Japanese forces during World War II.
Sorilla said the ACMMC has made great contributions in forging close, friendly and inclusive relations among ASEAN militaries, not only in forum, but also as “venue for collaborative mechanism on military medical cooperation in enhancing the professional skills in coping with the increasingly complicated, unpredictable, and transnational medical challenges, such as the widespread and dangerous epidemics and natural disasters as well.” (RAE)

DWDD: PMA | Molding Leaders of Our Nation

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 23): PMA | Molding Leaders of Our Nation

Why be a PMA Cadet?
  • A noble privilege in serving the country
  • Free college education with a well-rounded curriculum
  • Monthly salary and allowances
  • Guaranteed job after graduation
  • Progressive career as an officer in the Philippine ARMY, NAVY or AIRFORCE



The start of the journey of a Filipino youth who dreams to embrace the profession of arms, through the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), is when he submits his application form to the Office of Cadet Admission(OCA) for processing, so that he can take the Philippine Military Academy Cadet Qualification Test (PMACQT),

After receiving the Test Permit from the OCA, the applicant will report to the designated Examination Center on the date indicated on the permit. The applicant is to bring said Test Permit so that s/he will be allowed by the Proctors to take the Exam. If the applicant passes the Exam, s/he will receive a written notice from OCA informing him of the result of the Exam and instructing him to report to AFP, Medical Center (AFPMC). He will then undergo the Complete Physical Examination (CPE) where his medical, physical, mental and emotional condition will be examined to determine his readiness and fitness for the military training in the Academy. CPE takes days, so a cadet candidate is required to stay in the billeting area provided by the Academy in AFPMC.

If the applicant successfully makes it, he will be required to report to PMA Liason Office in AFPMC for final processing during the last week of March before s/he will be brought to Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on April 01 for the Oath-Taking Ceremony and Reception Rites, signaling his official entry to the Academy as member of a PMA Class.

From then on, and during the four years stay in the Academy. s/he will undergo the education and training in the Academy designed to prepare her/him into becoming an officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the soldier of the Filipino people.


PMA Philosophy of Education

PMA adopts a holistic view of man as body, soul, and spirit. PMA believes that future leaders can be selected, formed, and developed to their fullest potentials. PMA is principally an institution for military leadership and it is from the total view of man that PMA’s leader development program is based. It contains character development, a balanced college education, military leadership, and physical development, necessary to prepare the cadets for the profession of arms and to be responsive to the needs of the Armed Forces and the Nation.


PMA Program Competency Statement
A PMA graduate is a values-centered leader who possesses the character, the broad and basic military skills, and the education essential to the successful pursuit of a progressive military career in selfless service to the AFP and the Nation
The education and training of a cadet in the Academy is characterized by the acronym CAMP, which stands for Character, Academics, Military Skills and Physical Fitness. These serve as the pillars in developing a well-rounded cadet who will become the future officer and leader of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The CAMP is the blueprint of the present curriculum being implemented in the Academy. The competency statement of each pillar is stated below:


Character Development Program Competency Statement
A PMA graduate is a motivated leader who has imbibed the PMA core values, serves as a role model, acts a mentor, and exhibits both moral soundness and ethical responsibility in the performance of his/her expected roles.

Academic Program Competency Statement

A PMA graduate is a military professional who possesses the broad and basic education holding a Bachelor of Science degree and who can competently use the knowledge learned from the Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Languages, Management, Mathematics, Humanities, Literature, Engineering and Technology in appropriate situations in his/her progressive military career.


Military Program Competency Statement

A PMA graduate is a military leader who possesses the basic military competencies of soldiery and the basic preparatory knowledge of his/her major branch of service peculiarities needed in the effective performance of his/her roles in the AFP.

Physical Program Competency Statement

A PMA graduate fully understands and applies the basics of Physical Fitness, Fitness Training, Nutrition and Sports Discipline, adheres to a healthy lifestyle and wellness which makes him/her physically prepared for military occupational tasks.

Contact Us

Office of Admission

Philippine Military Academy
Fort del Pilar, Baguio City
Tel Nos. (074) 446-8002 / 447-3690 / 447-3292 / 447-3686 local: 6751 or 6752
Telefax. (074) 447-2825
Mobile Phone Nos. 09178964299 / 09285597651 / 09437056890

Public Information Office

Philippine Military Academy
Fort del Pilar, Baguio City

Army in Albay to sustain operations vs communist rebels

From InterAksyon (Jun 26): Army in Albay to sustain operations vs communist rebels

The Philippine Army's 901st Infantry Brigade based at Barangay Villahermosa in Daraga, Albay said it will sustain its combat operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) in its area of responsibility after incoming Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya ordered Bicol-based troops not to relax or lower their guard but to sustain their anti-insurgency activities.

The order came on the heels of NPA ambuscades against the Philippine National Police (PNP) that left one cop killed and two wounded, including a student in Masbate, on June 5 while two cops were killed and another civilian was wounded in an ambush in Bulan, Sorsogon on June 3.

“There are groups in the New People’s Army which do not follow order from their higher-ups despite an agreed ceasefire,” Brig. Gen. Claudio L. Yucot, 901st IB commander, said during a press conference at the Air Force’s Tactical Operations Group 5, Friday morning.

“I came to know this hard lesson for the last 30 years fighting communist rebels,” he said, adding that there are NPA units which are engaged in banditry.

The brigade’s operational control is in Albay, Catanduanes, and Camarines Sur’s third, fourth, and fifth districts -- including the towns of Castilla, Pilar, Donsol in Sorsogon province.

“Yes we are always ready while the peace talk is being worked out,” Yucot said.

He said it is a welcome development that the government is entering another peace talk with the Communist Party of the Philippines, the National Democratic Front, and the New People’s Army in the country.

“But this does not mean that we will put our guards down because there are rogue elements in the NPA who will take advantage of the situation to make a fast run against us,” the Army official said.

Based on military intelligence, Yucot said, there are less than 30 NPA regulars operating in his command's area of operation.

“I want them (the rebels) to avail of the comprehensive local integration program. It’s sad to think Filipinos are fighting and killing each other because a group wants to impose a bankrupt communist ideology,” he said.

Yucot added that this program will give a new chance for their families to live a peaceful and normal life.

Although there is no formal order yet for a ceasefire, they might take advantage to attack far-flung and weak areas, he said.

“Once the order is given to start the peace talks with the accompanying cessation of hostilities, we will follow the order. Whatever order is given to us by our new AFP Chief of Staff we will follow it to the letter,” the Army official said.

Yucot added that there is no problem with the incoming AFP Chief of Staff because he is a very competent commander and a very good leader.

Visaya flew to Camp Elias Angeles, the headquarters of the 9th Infantry Division in Barangay Tinangis, Pili, Camarines Sur on June 20 to bid farewell and personally thank the officers, men, and women of the Army’s best infantry division.

He was received by 9th Infantry Division Commander Major Gen. Ferdinand F. Quidilla with the rest of the Team 9ID.

There was a command conference on the current status of division’s internal security operations which was attended by field commanders.

It was followed by a talk from Visaya to impart some guidance of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

He said his job as Southern Luzon commander was made easier because of “your cooperation and support."

Visaya will assume the post as AFP Chief of Staff on July 1.

PMA Class ’86 member eyed as spokesman of incoming AFP chief

From InterAksyon (Jun 26): PMA Class ’86 member eyed as spokesman of incoming AFP chief

A senior officer from the Army’s 9th Infantry Division is a candidate for spokesman of the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the incoming AFP chief has indicated.

Lieutenant General Ricardo Visaya, who assumes office on July 1, told he is strongly considering Colonel Ferozaldo Paul Regencia as his spokesman.

The one carrying out that task now is Brigadier General Resituto Padilla, who is currently holding the position of AJ7, or Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations (J7).

Regencia, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Sinagtala” Class 1986, is a “mistah” (classmate”) of incoming Philippine National Police (PNP) director general Chief Superintendent Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.

Visaya said of Regencia, “Yes, I’m highly considering him to be my spokesman. He has all the credentials and ability to become an overall military spokesman.”

Regencia has undertaken various public affairs courses. He once served as group commander of the Civil Military Operations Battalion of the National Capital Region (NCR), a position Visaya formerly held. He was also acting commander of the Army’s Civil Military Operations Group (CMOG) of the Philippine Army.

Regencia's current post is deputy commander and concurrent Task Group commander of the Army’s 902nd Infantry Brigade based in the Bicol region. Visaya was also once the commander of that Brigade before he was promoted commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City.

Regencia was among the senior officers given the Military Merit Medal. He helped in supervising security operations during the January 2015 visit of Pope Francis.

Senior and junior officers of the AFP Public Affairs family earlier “unanimously approved” the choice of Visaya about his spokesman.