Thursday, September 15, 2016

Alleged Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Zamboanga City

From ABS-CBN (Sep 16): Alleged Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Zamboanga City

An alleged member of the Abu Sayyaf Group was arrested Thursday afternoon in a local wharf in Zamboanga City.

The suspect was identified as Abdul Maani y Munab, also known as "Tanong Handos." The 43-yeard-old is a native of Busbus, Jolo and is presently residing in Barangay Tigtabon, Zamboanga City.

Senior Inspector Elmer Solon, chief of police station 4, said the wanted ASG member was arrested in Taha Wharf Baliwasan Seaside in Barangay Baliwasan.

Maani was arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by Judge Leo Jay Principe for kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

He is currently under the custody of the police for documentation.

DUTERTE REMARKS EXPLAINED BUT...Yasay says PHL not US’ ‘little brown brother’ in Washington speech

From GMA News (Sep 16): DUTERTE REMARKS EXPLAINED BUT...Yasay says PHL not US’ ‘little brown brother’ in Washington speech 

The Philippines is firmly committed to its alliance with the United States but will not be lectured on human rights and treated like a "little brown brother," the country's Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said on Thursday.

Speaking in Washington after recent remarks by the Philippines' outspoken new President Rodrigo Duterte that have strained relations with the United States, Manila's main ally, Yasay said some of Duterte's remarks had been misunderstood.

He said Duterte had explained that his call for the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from the southern Philippines was only a temporary measure to keep them out of harm's way while Philippine forces undertook an offensive against Abu Sayyaf militants.

Yasay also said Duterte's opposition to joint maritime patrols with the United States concerned the Philippines' "exclusive economic zone," not joint patrols within 12 nautical miles of its coast.

The latter patrols, aimed at preserving the territorial integrity of the Philippines, "must continue, because this is our commitment to the United States," Yasay said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

The Philippines and the United States share concerns about China's pursuit of broad claims in the South China Sea, which overlap with those of Manila and other neighbors.

Washington and Manila agreed earlier this year on joint patrols in the South China Sea and a Pentagon spokesman said three had been conducted from March until July.

Yasay rejected criticism of Duterte's war on drugs, in which thousands have been killed, saying that Philippines would never condone illegal killings, and said relations with Washington should be based on mutual respect.

"I am asking our American friends, American leaders, to look at our aspirations," he said. "We cannot forever be the little brown brothers of America. ... We have to develop, we have to grow and become the big brother of our own people. "You (have to) manage it correctly. You do not go to the Philippines and say 'I am going to give you something, I am going to help you grow, but this is the check list you must comply with - we will lecture you on human rights'."

Yasay stressed that Duterte was "firmly committed to keep and respect alliances, including that with the United States."

He said Manila was "not at this point in time" prepared to sit down and discuss its territorial disputes with China bilaterally, given that the two sides differed on what the framework for any such discussions should be.

Duterte's abrasive and sometimes contradictory comments, including calling President Obama a "son of a bitch," have caused anxiety in Washington, where the Philippines has been seen as an important ally in standing up to China in Asia.

Yasay did not address testimony in the Philippines senate earlier in the day from a self-confessed hit man who said Duterte issued assassination orders while mayor of a city where activists say hundreds of summary executions took place.

 Asked to comment on this testimony, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, Anna Richey-Allen, reiterated past comments that it was "deeply concerned" by reports of extrajudicial killings "by or at the behest of government authorities."

"We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts comply with its human rights obligations," she said.

Pemberton jail probe sought

From The Standard (Sep 16): Pemberton jail probe sought

AN opposition lawmaker on Thursday filed a resolution calling on the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of National Defense and the Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces Agreement to allow congressmen to inspect the detention facilities of US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton who was convicted of killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude.

In filing House Resolution 353, Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque stressed the need for government agencies to assist Congress “for the purposes of ascertaining whether Pemberton is in fact detained in the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board facility inside Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.”

“There is no telling whether Mr. Pemberton is in fact detained there, as Philippine authorities have steadfastly refused any visit by outside parties—not even the victim’s family and counsel,” Roque said.

“This is an unacceptable denial of Philippine sovereignty within its own territory,” he added.

Pemberton is serving a maximum of 10 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of homicide for the death of Laude. He was originally sentenced to six up to 12 years in prison.

Roque served as counsel for the Laude family during the murder trial.

In his resolution, Roque said the decision of the DFA, DND, and the PCVFA to allow Pemberton to serve his sentence in MDB-SEB facility ran “counter to national interest” and “kowtows to the American position.”

He said that while Article V(6) of the VFA allows for the United States to request for custody over any US personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction, the Philippines may opt not to refuse such a request in “extraordinary cases” such as murder.

“This was the interpretation of no less than our Senate when it concurred with the Visiting Forces Agreement,” he said.

“This interpretation is also in accord with Department of Justice Opinion No. 094 dated August 10, 1998 where former Secretary Serafin Cuevas, himself a retired Supreme Court Justice, stated that in extraordinary cases or cases of particular importance, the Philippines may deny the US request for custody and even demand to retain custody of the US offender,” he added.

Roque’s resolution also seeks to determine whether policy prerogatives still necessitate the Philippines’ adherence to the VFA under its current form.

Roque said the stance of the DFA, the DND and the VFA Commission on the question of the detention facility for Pemberton is “contrary to President Rodrigo Duterte’s pursuit of an independent foreign policy.”

Duterte earlier declared that he intends to pursue an independent foreign policy, saying under his leadership, the Philippines “will observe and must insist on the time honored principles of sovereignty, sovereign equality, non-interference, and a commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes.”

During the course of the Pemberton trial, the Laude case stirred debate over the renewed presence of American troops on Philippine soil two decades after the Philippine Senate voted against the RP-US Bases Treaty in 1991.

Australia nudges PH on sea ruling

From The Standard (Sep 16): Australia nudges PH on sea ruling

AUSTRALIAN Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Wednesday questioned President Rodrigo Duterte over his decision not to enforce the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejecting China’s claims over most of the South China Sea.

She said that was despite the fact that it was  the Philippines that initiated the case against China, which has been building structures in the area and driving away Filipino fishermen.

Bishop expressed surprise over Duterte’s decision after Duterte declared that the Philippines would no longer join US patrols to the contested areas of the South China Sea.

“I have been informed that the President of the Philippines has announced that the Philippines, as a claimant state and as the state that instigated the arbitration, has announced that the Philippines will not be sending their ships into contested areas,” Bishop was quoted by the Australian Financial Review as telling reporters in Canberra.

“So the question should be directed to the Philippines as to what they are doing to reinforce the arbitration findings.”

Australia, one of the countries with which the Philippines has special ties, has already attracted the wrath of Beijing for calling for China to abide by the recent Hague ruling after supporting the Philippines’ right to take the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the first place.

Bishop said she was surprised by Duterte’s latest position.

“Well, aren’t you surprised that the Philippines is now not going to traverse the territory that the arbitration has just found is in the Philippines’ EEZ [exclusive economic zone]? And that the arbitration found that China was in breach of the Philippines sovereignty?

“And now the Philippines have said they withdraw from those contested areas that the arbitration has found were within the Philippines EEZ?”

Asked whether she was suggesting the Philippines should be more active in the South China Sea, she said, “Well, the Philippines is a claimant state.”

Earlier, Duterte ordered an end to the joint US-Philippine patrols in the South China Sea.

“We will not join any expedition or [be] patrolling the sea. I will not allow it because I do not want my country to be  involved in a hostile act,” Duterte told members of the Philippine Air Force at Villamor Air Base earlier this week.

“I do not want to ride gung-ho style there with China or with America. I just want to patrol our territorial waters.”
From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 16): Army camp supports PRRD’s war against illegal drugs

CAMP MELCHOR DELA CRUZ, GAMU, Isabela -- The 5th Infantry (STAR) Division, Philippine Army (5ID-PA) based in this town in partnership with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Regional Office 2 have expressed willingness to cleanse the ranks of every soldier against illegal drugs in support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Army and PDEA officials from region 2 have conducted a massive information dissemination in suppressing illegal drugs to its soldiers as they warned that soldiers found to be involved in illegal drugs, either as pushers or user will face dismissal if found guilty of such act.

PDEA-2 Director Laurefel P Gabales discussed the evolution of Republic Act of 6425 or the Dangerous Act of 1972 until it was amended on June 7, 2002 and became Republic Act No. 9165 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Gabales also discussed the various types of prohibited drugs that are widely abused in the entire country; the effects of illegal drugs in every individual; how addiction leads to criminalities; preparation and issuance of Search Warrants; the role of Military during the conduct of Buy-Bust Operations; and the penalties and punishment for those persons caught by authorities violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002 or the Republic Act No. 9165.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Paul Atal, commanding general of 5ID, said that in order to ensure the cleansing of ranks of soldiers against illegal drugs, the 5ID facilitated the conduct of surprise random drug tests to more than 600 personnel of this Headquarters in coordination with the Regional Treatment and Rehabilitation Center based in Ilagan City to ensure that the Star Troopers are clean from illegal drugs use.

Atal said that at least one soldier and 13 CAAs were positively found using illegal drugs. The soldier was discharged from the military service and the 13 CAFGU Active Auxiliaries (CAAs) were terminated as members of the Citizens’ Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliaries (CAAs).

DND allots PHP106.1-M for FA-50PH gun system ammo

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 16): DND allots PHP106.1-M for FA-50PH gun system ammo

The Department of National Defense (DND) has allocated PHP106,138,800 for the purchase of 20mm rounds for the A-50 gun system of the Philippine Air Force (PAF)'s brand-new FA-50PH jet fighters.

The sum is equivalent to 93,600 rounds of 20mm munition. Funds for this project will be sourced from the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund.

Delivery of the ammunition shall be in two batches. The first batch shall be delivered within 180 calendar day’s period from the receipt of Notice to Proceed and the second batch shall be delivered within 360 calendar days from Receipt of Notice to proceed.

Bidders should have completed, within 10 years from the date of submission and receipt of bids, a contract similar to the project.

Pre-bid conference is slated on Sept. 26, 10: 30 a.m. at the DND Bidding and Awards Conference Room, Right Wing Basement, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The Philippines has a 12 FA-50PH order from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) worth Php18.9 billion.

The first two units arrived last Nov. 28 with the remaining 10 to be delivered during 2016 and 2017.

The FA-50PHs has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one and a half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.

It will act as the country's interim fighter until the Philippines gets enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

Its design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

KAI's previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the FA-50PH.

The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.

The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.

An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.

Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.

The FA-50PH uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and Korean Aerospace Industries.

The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.

Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.

Gregorio del Pilar Class Frigates, Philippines

From Naval Technology (Sep 15): Gregorio del Pilar Class Frigates, Philippines

Gregorio del Pilar

The Gregorio del Pilar-class multi-role frigates have been in service with the Philippine Navy since 2011. They are intended to improve maritime security of the Philippines in Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal islands in the South China Sea.
The vessels were formerly operated by the US Coast Guard under Hamilton-class all-weather, high-endurance cutter class. Built by Avondale Shipyard, these vessels are now part of Ingalls Shipbuilding. A total of three cutters have been acquired by the Philippines from the US under the Excess Defense Articles programme.

The frigates have been modernised to perform a number of missions in the Philippine waters such as naval warfare, sovereignty patrols, maritime security, law enforcement, humanitarian assistance, search-and-rescue, counterterrorism, and deliver relief.

Background of Gregorio del Pilar-class vessels

The 12 Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters were inducted into the USCG between 1967 and 1972. The US performed upgrades on the Hamilton-class under the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) programme through 1992.

Seven of 12 Hamilton-class cutters were decommissioned from the US service since 2011. Three of them had undergone dry-dock overhaul and retrofitting to meet the Philippine Navy's operational requirements.

In addition to the Philippines, the US transferred two Hamilton-class cutters to Bangladeshi Navy and another two to Nigerian Navy.

Gregorio del Pilar-class commissioning details

The former USCGC Hamilton cutter, which was transferred to the Philippines Navy in May 2011, became the lead vessel of the Gregorio del Pilar-class. Designated BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15), the frigate performed its maiden voyage in July 2011 and was commissioned by the Philippine Navy in December 2011.

BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16), the second frigate in the class, was the former USCGC Dallas cutter. It was acquired by the Philippines in May 2012 and was renovated at a cost of $15.15m. The frigate completed maiden voyage in June 2013 and was commissioned in November 2013.

Another Hamilton-class cutter, USCGC Boutwell, was acquired by the Philippine Navy as the third frigate in the Gregorio del Pilar-class. It was re-christened BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) and entered service in Alameda, California, US, in July 2016. It is expected to reach the Philippines by November 2016.

Gregorio del Pilar-class features

The modernised Gregorio del Pilar-class vessels incorporate new navigational and electronics systems, new armament, and anti-submarine warfare capability.

The overall length and beam of the vessel are 115.2m and 13.1m respectively, and the hull draught is 6.1m. With a displacement of 3,390t, the class can accommodate 162 personnel, including 19 officers.

The flight deck at the stern of the frigate is intended to support take-off and landing manoeuvres of one type AW-159 Wildcat helicopter. The vessel also features a retractable hangar.

The frigate is commanded from an enclosed bridge located amidships. A number of antennae and radars mounted atop the bridge ensure safe operation at sea.

Weapons aboard the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates

The Philippines' modern Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates are armed with two Mk 38 Mod 2 auto cannon systems, which are the improved versions of Mk38 M242 Bushmaster guns, for protection against surface threats in both day and night conditions.

An Mk75 76mm Oto Melara gun mounted in the bow is intended to offer protection against surface and air targets.

The warships are also armed with two 20mm Oerlikon guns to combat close-range air threats and four M2HB 0.50 calibre machine guns to engage light targets.

Propulsion and performance

The Gregorio del Pilar-class is powered by a combined diesel or gas (CODOG) propulsion system. The warships have a maximum speed of 29k and can stay afloat for 30 days without refuelling. They are capable of travelling up to a range of 9,600nm at 15k and can operate under difficult weather and rough sea conditions.

Global Naval Surface Combatants & Warfare Systems Market 2011-2021

This project forms part of our recent analysis and forecasts of the global Naval Surface Combatants & Warfare Systems market available from our business information platform Strategic Defence Intelligence. For more information click here or contact us: EMEA: +44 20 7936 6783; Americas: +1 415 439 4914; Asia Pacific: +61 2 9947 9709 or via email.

DoD unfazed by Philippine president's call for end of U.S. military operations

From the Military Times (Sep 15): DoD unfazed by Philippine president's call for end of U.S. military operations

The Pentagon is optimistic that the U.S. alliance with the Philippines remains intact despite the new president’s abrupt call for ending major American military operations there.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter is unconcerned about the comments this week from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that appear to signal a major shift away from the U.S..

Duterte said he wants U.S. special operations troops to leave the southern Philippines. The Philippine navy will end joint patrols with U.S. Navy vessels and its military may begin buying weapons from Russia or China rather than the United States, Duterte said.

"This is a longtime ally," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Thursday.
"The secretary believes that this is one of the most enduring relationships in the Asia-Pacific region and will be for some time to come.

And he's confident, given our mutual security interests in the region, that any concerns that the Filipinos might have — that these are issues that can be resolved and worked out," Cook said.

Cook said there has been no official communication between the U.S. and the Philippines on the issues Duterte raised. 

“Our defense ties have been strong for some time and ... there's no reason that they can't continue to be very strong," Cook said.

Duterte’s comments were the first since he took office in June that questioned the U.S.-Philippines military cooperation.

Duterte said in a speech in Manila on Monday that the American special operations forces in the southern Mindanao region, about 100 troops, should leave because they are inflaming local Islamic extremist insurgencies. Duterte also pointed to past abuses by U.S. forces during the period when the Philippines was an American colony before 1946.  

On Tuesday, Duterte said his government will no longer conduct joint patrols with the U.S. Navy in the disputed waters near the South China Sea, a move that would nullify a deal his predecessor reached with the U.S. military earlier this year.

In a further sign that Duterte is seeking a major foreign policy shift away from the U.S., the Philippine president said he was considering buying defense equipment from Russia and China. The Philippines has traditionally relied on the U.S. and other Western allies for military acquisitions.

Duterte did not offer any details or timelines for his pronouncements.

Rifle malfunction in death of 15 troopers blamed on weather, dirt

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 16): Rifle malfunction in death of 15 troopers blamed on weather, dirt

The Philippine Army has reiterated that the main cause of the reported malfunction of the R4A3 carbine rifles during an encounter of Army forces with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) last August 29 that left 15 soldiers dead can be attributed to environmental and operational factors.
 “Most of the rifles inspected by our firearms experts were full of dirt,” said Col. Benjamin L. Hao, the Army spokesperson.
“After applying proper maintenance procedures, all rifles functioned well except for one M-14 rifle that has a destroyed barrel part.”
 Hao said the Philippine Army sent a team of rifle experts to check the veracity of the alleged stoppages of the R4A3 carbine rifles, a K3 squad automatic weapon, and an M-14 rifle during the actual encounter of the 35th Infantry Battalion with the Abu Sayyaf  in Patikul, Sulu where 15 soldiers died and 12 others were wounded.
 The team gathered the eight R4A3s, a squad automatic rifle (K3), and an M-14 rifle which allegedly malfunctioned as reported by the using unit during the encounter.
 Hao said initial test made by the team showed that the rifles did not function when used as is. However, after proper maintenance procedures were applied, all rifles functioned well.
“Our conclusion is that the problem is not about the rifles,” Hao said. “The prevailing weather and sustained ongoing operations against the ASG partly affected the proper maintenance and care of the soldiers’ rifles.”
 There was also an alleged problem on old ammunitions used for R4A3 which is also the same ammunition size used for an M-16 rifle.
 When presented to the firearms experts, the said old ammunition all fired using the cleaned rifles.
 The Philippine Army decided to issue new ammunitions to the operating troops. The Army also reminded all its troops to turnover firearms with destroyed parts to replace them with new parts that were already sent to the frontlines.
 “We have already directed our operating troops to follow strictly the maintenance procedures of all our firearms and ammunitions,” explained Hao.
“Even the best war fighting equipment needs proper maintenance, too,” he added.

Joint military exercise can curb transnational crime — Army chief

From the Borneo Post (Sep 16): Joint military exercise can curb transnational crime — Army chief

Mohamed Affandi (centre right) and Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Lt Gen. Eduardo M. Ano  (centre left) with other personnel in a group photo after the Land Malphi Exercise Series 17/2016 closing ceremony at Sungai Petani Airport Camp in Kedah. — Bernama photo

Mohamed Affandi (centre right) and Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Lt Gen. Eduardo M. Ano (centre left) with other personnel in a group photo after the Land Malphi Exercise Series 17/2016 closing ceremony at Sungai Petani Airport Camp in Kedah. — Bernama photo

SUNGAI PETANI: The Malaysia-Philippines military exercise (Land Malphi) does not only strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries, but is also seen as a platform to curb transboundary crime.

Army chief, Gen Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor said it was through sharing of expertise, experience and information on matters
affecting the interests of both countries that transnational crime such as the Daesh threat and kidnapping (in the eastern Sabah waters) could be tackled.

“This 22-year-old joint exercise has given us the space and opportunity to interact and to know our capabilities and inter-operability.

“It is also to boost the mutual trust between both countries and to work closely,” he said.

He was speaking at a press conference after the Land Malphi Exercise Series 17/2016 closing ceremony at Sungai Petani Airport Camp, here, yesterday.

Also present was the Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Lt Gen. Eduardo M. Ano.

A total of 46 officers and men from the Philippine Army, and 50 officers from Team 4 of the Malaysian Royal Ranger Regiment participated in the 14-day exercise which kicked off on Sept 4.

The exercise was organised by the 6th Brigade Formation and Team 4, Royal Ranger Regiment. — Bernama

US troop withdrawal to facilitate Mindanao peace talks – Rod

From the Philippine Star (Sep 16): US troop withdrawal to facilitate Mindanao peace talks – Rod

There are 107 American soldiers in Zamboanga City conducting surveillance operations. The Constitution prohibits foreign troops from engaging in combat operations. STAR, File

The withdrawal of US troops in Mindanao “one day” would help facilitate the peace talks with Muslim rebels, President Duterte said yesterday.

The President explained that Muslims are aware of the atrocities committed by “imperialists and view the rest of the country as an extension of colonial powers.”

 “They think it’s Americans maneuvering. With regard to Mindanao, I never said go out. One day, I might decide that you should leave for now to give us space to talk,” he said.

Duterte’s clarification came three days after he said that US presence in Mindanao could worsen the security situation in the south.

He said Americans are at risk of being abducted or killed by local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

“The special forces, they have to go. There are many whites there,” the President said.
“If they see an American, they would kill him.  They would demand ransom then kill him. Even if you’re a black or white American as long as you are an American, (they will kill you),” he added.

Duterte later on clarified that the Philippines is not cutting its ties with the US and its other allies.

“We are not going to cut our umbilical cord with the countries we are allied with,” Duterte said on Tuesday.

“But certainly, we will follow an independent posture and independent foreign policy,” he added.

In a budget hearing on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told House members that US troops would remain in Mindanao to assist Filipino soldiers.

“We still need them there because they have the surveillance capability that our Armed Forces don’t have,” Lorenzana said.

There are 107 American soldiers in Zamboanga City conducting surveillance operations. The Constitution prohibits foreign troops from engaging in combat operations.

Duterte’s delivered his statement on American troops after US officials expressed concerns over his brutal drug war, which has resulted in the deaths of close to 3,000 suspected drug offenders.

Rally for complete withdrawal of American troops in PHL set

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): Rally for complete withdrawal of American troops in PHL set

The militant Bagong Alyansa Makabayan (Bayan) in Northern Mindanao would stage a protest-rally on Friday to bid for the total withdrawal of the remaining American troops in the country.

Wildon Barros, the Bayan-NMR spokesperson, said that the rally would be participated by about 2,000 protesters from the workers, farmers, women, students, professional, urban poor, and church sectors from Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon.

In a statement, Bayan-NMR said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent pronouncement gave high hope to all patriotic Kagay-anons who had been opposing the installation of military bases in the Lumbia airport here.

Under the Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), the former commercial airport in Lumbia here was one of the airports in the country that would be utilized as a storage facility base by the American troopers.

Barros said that the presence of the American soldiers “only brought atrocities, abuses, and death to the Filipinos” and considered it an affront to the national sovereignty.

Bayan-NMR noted the US troops were stationed in Mindanao under the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines, even without a legislative approval from the Senate.

“This blatantly violated the Philippines’ constitutional ban on foreign military bases lacking any Senate concurrence,” Barros said.

“We are vehement with the more than a decade-running bases of the US troops. The extension of these bases would be more absurd to our national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Bayan-NMR said.

It said even before his term, Duterte’s statements were consistent with his independent foreign policy, which stresses the need for the Philippines to chart its own course and uphold its national interest, free of any foreign dictates and intervention.

“Hence, we are hopeful that the President would take immediate actions to abrogate EDCA and stop all the installation of new US military bases, not only at Lumbia airport, but in all over the country,” Barros said in a prepared statement.

Bayan-NMR said that the Philippine government should also terminate all “lopsided military agreements such as the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement.”

Barros said that the Military Bases Agreement (MBA) was repealed 25 years ago, which signaled the pullout of United States forces and installations especially in Subic and Clark in Luzon in 1991.

He said that the protesters would also ask the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision that declared the EDCA constitutional and urged President Duterte to totally scrap the EDCA agreement.

3 suspects in Basilan shooting slain in police operations

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): 3 suspects in Basilan shooting slain in police operations

Three of the five suspects in a shooting incident in Isabela City, Basilan were killed during police hot pursuit operations in Lanote, Isabela City.

The Basilan police on Thursday identified the slain suspects as Daud Anjawani, Jerome Anjawani and a certain “Marcos”.

Basilan police provincial director Senior Supt. Shephard Reyes said that the three suspects were responsible in the killing of a former village chief in Sumisip and the wounding of a businessman.

Reyes said that during their operations, the suspects fought back which resulted in an encounter.

The three suspects were allegedly members of an organized gun-for-hire group operating in Basilan province.

Police probe showed that the group was allegedly being protected by a prominent politician in the province.

The two other suspects, who managed to escape during the police operations, were allegedly under the custody now of the Army Special Forces.

Reyes added that majority of the incidents which occur in Basilan should not be blamed with the Abu Sayyaf, but members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who allegedly protect some criminals in the province.

He proposed to conduct a dialogue with the commander of the 104th Brigade to discuss this issue.

Reyes said that the three suspects were allegedly included in the payroll of one of the local government units (LGUs) in the province.

He is expected to report this to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael “Mike” Sueno.

U.S. admiral: ISIS coming to Pacific

From the San Diego Union Tribune (Sep 14): U.S. admiral: ISIS coming to Pacific

Adm. Harry Harris visits Malaysia

Gen. Zulkifeli Mohd Zin of Malaysia, left, talks with Adm. Harry Harris of U.S. Pacific Command on April 21 during a flight above the Strait of Malacca. (courtesy of U.S. Navy)

Is the Islamic State’s next frontier in the Pacific and Asia?

The commander of American military forces across Asia, Adm. Harry Harris, said the jihadist group — commonly called ISIS — is seeking new territory as it gets squeezed out of Iraq and Syria.
“It’s clear to me that [ISIS] is also “rebalancing” to the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” said Harris, speaking during a meeting of the San Diego Military Advisory Council on Wednesday in Point Loma.

Using a cancer analogy, the four-star leader of U.S. Pacific Command added: “Through multinational cooperation, we can eradicate this [ISIS] disease before it metastasizes.”

But the U.S. alliance with the Philippines hit choppy waters recently after comments by President Rodrigo Duterte — something that Harris also addressed Wednesday with lightly veiled criticism of Duterte’s statements.

“We have been allied with the Philippines for a long time. We have shed our blood with them. … We fought side by side during World War II. I consider our alliance with the Philippines to be iron-clad,” Harris said. He also mentioned U.S. aid to the Philippines, budgeted at $120 million this year, and the dispatch of American troops to help after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

“So when the leader said, ‘Only China supports us,’ I don’t know what he means,” Harris said, answering a reporter’s question toward the end of his presentation.

Duterte started making headlines last week when, speaking in Tagalog, he called President Barack Obama a son of a bitch.

Since then the Philippines president has said his government would shop for weapons in China and Russia and would halt joint U.S.-Philippines patrols in the South China Sea to avoid appearing hostile to China.

He also called for the departure of U.S. special-operations troops from the southern Philippines, saying their presence could complicate the fight against the ISIS-linked terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

One analyst said it appears that nationalism and a desire for “outsider” status are driving the Filipino president’s current tone.

“I don’t really think this is as much about the U.S. as it is about domestic politics — and just his personality. We are a very useful whipping boy,” said Thomas Sanderson, director of the transnational threats project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. “I think this is largely about someone who is a rebel … he’s an outsider and he’s broken through into an area that outsiders typically didn’t get to.”

Sanderson said the Philippines would do an about-face if Islamic terrorism becomes a more widespread problem for Filipinos.

“[Duterte] comes right back to us, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “Because the center of gravity for counter-terrorism knowledge and skill is the United States.”

Harris outlined the signposts of the ISIS advance on new turf in the Pacific Command theater, an area that’s home to 700 million Muslims. That means more Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region than in the Middle East.

“Population numbers alone have forced [Pacific Command] to think ahead about what’s next in the fight against [ISIS],” Harris said. “The vast majority of these people are peaceful citizens who seek to live lives free from the scourge of terrorism, but we know that a small band of fanatics can produce deadly results.”

He pointed to ISIS-inspired terrorism in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines so far in 2016. Those events include the July 2 attack on a Bangladeshi restaurant by ISIS-aligned militants. In May and June, Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines released video showing the beheadings of two Canadians after their families didn’t pay ransoms.

Hundreds of jihadists have traveled from Asia to the main ISIS battlegrounds of Iraq and Syria to join in the group’s violent vision of creating an Islamic caliphate, according to published accounts.

The tally is about 700 from Indonesia, 100 from Malaysia, 100 from the Philippines, 200 from the Maldives, 300 from China and 120 from Australia, according to a December report by The Soufan Group. These recruits make up a small portion of the estimated 30,000 to 40,000 fighters ISIS can claim or has been credited with over time.

But as they tire of warfare, the danger is that they may return home and try to continue the fight — and recruit others.

Sanderson said Indonesia has the highest vulnerability to ISIS despite its strong security forces, because of the number of ISIS fighters already hailing from there and because of Indonesia being a string of islands with lots of places to hide.

All of this comes as the United States is finishing its own “rebalance,” with the Navy shifting 60 percent of its fleet to the Pacific by 2020. That move, announced late in Barack Obama’s first term, was seen as a hedge against North Korean saber-rattling and the growing economic and military might of China. 

Academics differ on how big the ISIS threat is becoming in the Pacific and Asia.
Eli Berman, a UC San Diego economics professor, said he thinks “rebalancing” is too strong a term for the jihadist group’s foothold in Asia. ISIS isn’t on the verge of controlling territory anywhere in the Pacific Rim, said Berman, who is a research director at the university’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.

Asia expert Denny Roy at the East-West Center in Honolulu agrees with Harris that the basic ideas represented by ISIS won’t die if the Islamic State is geographically erased.
“The purveyors of those ideas are already trying to transplant them into other regions and are finding some interest,” Roy said.

But several observers pointed out that Asia has major differences that may hinder ISIS if it tries to expand there.

Governments there are generally more intact than in the Middle East.

“What’s missing is the ultra-weak states in which locals are ready and chomping at the bit to sign up for something to do,” said Sanderson at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “There are far fewer people who would want to sign up for a battle inside of Indonesia, as opposed to those who would want to sign up to battle inside Libya, Tunisia, Yemen or Syria — where the majority of young men would say, ‘Give me a gun and let’s go.’ They have nothing to lose.”

Roy sees South Asia, which includes Bangladesh, as fertile ground for extremism.
“Southeast Asia is less so, because the sense of grievance and the (routine practice) of mass political violence are less strong than in the Middle East or South Asia,” he said.

Nonviolent Peaceforce visits MILF leadership at Camp Darapanan

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Sep 13): Nonviolent Peaceforce visits MILF leadership at Camp Darapanan

Eager to hear progress on the peace process, Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) Programme Manager Alex Virtanen, together with staff Rexall Kaalim and Desy Romie, made a courtesy call on September 11 to the MILF leadership at its base in Camp Darapanan.

The Nonviolent Peaceforce is an unarmed, paid civilian protection force that fosters dialogue among parties in conflict and provides a protective presence for threatened civilians. Its headquarters is in Brussels, has an office in Minneapolis and have NP field teams presently deployed in the Philippines, in South Sudan, Myanmar  and the Middle East.

Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim related the back-chanelling engagement with the new administration that took place in Davao City, which was officially started when OPAPP Secretary Jesus Dureza was sent by President Duterte to meet the MILF Central Committee last July 21 in Darapanan. In the said meeting, Secretary Dureza presented their proposed Road Map to move forward with the peace process. A meeting of both Panels was subsequently held in Kuala Lumpur on August 13-14 wherein the reconstitution of Bangsamoro Transition Commission to review the enabling law was agreed upon.

Other subjects discussed were about expanding the numbers of BTC commissioners; the  normalization process especially on decommissioning;  Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Committee mechanism, to name a few. Issues on radicalization were also part of the conversation.

The NP representatives also brought out their willingness to participate in the civilian protection and seek advice pertaining to most vulnerable areas.

The meeting winded up with both party thanking each other for time spent in the discussion of humanitarian concern for peace stability and peoples’ protection in conflict affected areas.

MILF: IMT holds dialogue with Zambo village leaders

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Sep 15): IMT holds dialogue with Zambo village leaders

Officials from the International Monitoring Team (IMT) Batch 11 based in this city visited Barangay Tulungatung on September 10 for a dialogue with community leaders, non-government organizations and peace advocates.

Colonel Mohammad Zakri bin Abu, IMT Team- 3 leader based in the AFP Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom), expressed gratitude for the warm welcome extended to them. He made an appeal to the Moro leaders to be always supportive to the peace agreement and exercise more patience in their quest for attaining genuine peace and development in Mindanao. 

He was accompanied by some members of the MILF AHJAG (Ah Hoc Joint Action Group) like Hadji Basaron Kamlon who encouraged the Moro village leaders and residents to stay at the right course in peace-building endeavor. Aside from updates on peace process, Kamlon also clarified the role of AHJAG and other mechanisms under the GPH-MILF peace process.

Mr. Julsalin Morsalin, a community leader, welcomed the visiting IMT and AHJAG officials and expressed his gratitude to their guests’ unprecedented participation in monitoring the agreement forged by Philippine Government and MILF. 

Officers from Moro NGOs such as the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), Southern Islamic Action for Prosperity and Harmony Network (SIAPAHAN) and United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) were also present in the meeting. They also expressed their respective profoundest gratitude to IMT and AHJAG officials for their efforts and contribution in sustaining the gains of peace process through its monitoring and implementing programs on security aspects as stipulated in Term of Reference (TOR) under GPH-MILF Peace agreement.  

IMT mobile team - 3 covers the Zamboanga Peninsula, island-provinces and cities therein.

The Moro village leaders have also got the chance in asking the IMT and AHJAG officials concerning security aspects contained in the peace agreement. Other related issues were also raised by the audience and clarified by the visiting officials. 

Tirso Tahir of BLMI together with AHJAG officials and community leaders facilitated the half-day meeting.

Duterte approves acquisition of 2 brand-new large patrol vessels

From Update.Ph (Sep 15): Duterte approves acquisition of 2 brand-new large patrol vessels

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the acquisition of two (2) heavy weather, high endurance 94-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRVs) under the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP) for the Philippine Coast Guard, Phase II. The project will cost PhP8 billion. Vessels are expected to be delivered by November 2020 and March 2021 for each vessel.

The approval was made, September 14, during the first meeting of National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board under the Duterte administration. NEDA is an independent cabinet-level agency of the Philippine government responsible for economic development and planning. It is headed by the President of the Philippines as chairman of the NEDA board, with the Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning, concurrently NEDA Director-General, as vice-chairman.
The project will “provide the PCG with vessels with a cruising range capability of 4,000 nautical miles, can be used in Sea-State 6 (wave height of up to 6 meters) in rough sea condition, and are capable to conduct continuous maritime patrol up to 15 days at 15 knots,” NEDA said.

“Each vessel, as claimed by PCG, will enable them to recover as much as 500 passengers in the event of a maritime disaster, as well as provide the country with wider maritime coverage for strategic and national security purposes,” NEDA added.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Duterte, during their meeting at the sidelines of ASEAN Summit last week, talk about the supply of two large-sized patrol ships for Philippine Coast Guard.

Japan, through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has granted the Philippine government Official Development Assistance (ODA) Loan for the first phase of Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in 2013. The said project is providing the PCG with 10 44-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRVs). The first MRRV was already delivered, succeeding deliveries are expected every quarter until completion of 10 units in 2018.

CACGO, 83rd achievers spearhead “Peace Caravan for Change”

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 15): CACGO, 83rd achievers spearhead “Peace Caravan for Change”

The Catanduanes Association of Chiefs of Government Offices (CACGO) and Philippine Army unit based in Catanduanes spearheaded an outreach activity dubbed as “Peace Caravan for Change” at Barangay Sabloyon, Caramoran on August 31.

According to CACGO president Joaquin Ed A. Guerrero, the peace caravan brought service package from the different government agencies to the residents of far flung barangays, like Sabloyon.

Thirty-one heads and representatives of national and local agencies joined the caravan wherein 287 school children benefited. Among those who were distributed were slippers, hygiene kit and feeding was also provided by the association.

School supplies from the Army were also distributed and TESDA provided sandwiches and “Libreng Gupit” for 70 school children. In her message during the short program, Mayor Agnes B. Popa of Caramoran thanked members of CACGO and the Army trooper for choosing Sabloyon as the beneficiary of the activity saying that she is looking forward to working with the team in other barangays of Caramoran.

Guerrero, as President of CACGO thanked the Army headed by Battalion Commander Lt. Col Eduardo A. Monjardin for the efforts in identifying the beneficiaries, coordinations with the local and barangay officials, venue preparations and site preparations for the tree planting activity and the preparation of food for the “Boodle fight” activity.

He added that the Army troopers was indeed a great partner in such kind of activity.

Guerrero also thanked the heads of national and local agencies present.

Duterte on US troops: 'I never said go out'

From Rappler (Sep 15): Duterte on US troops: 'I never said go out'

ANOTHER CLARIFICATION. President Duterte with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. File photo by Franz Lopez/Rappler

ANOTHER CLARIFICATION. President Duterte with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. File photo by Franz Lopez/Rappler

President Rodrigo Duterte clarified his earlier statement on wanting United States troops to stay out of Mindanao.

Duterte said he doesn’t want them out of the region right away, but that he might want them out once peace talks between the government and Moro separatist groups are underway.
“I never said ‘go out.’ One day, I might decide, alis muna kayo (you leave first) to give us space to talk,” said Duterte on Thursday, September 15, during a military camp visit in Bulacan.
Last Monday, Duterte had said, "Kaya 'yang mga special forces (Those special forces), they have to go. They have to go.” (READ: Duterte: US troops should stay out of Mindanao)
He had then explained that American troops in Mindanao would make the situation there more tense and could endanger the lives of “white” people in the region.
But in his Thursday speech, he said the presence of US troops would make it hard for the Mindanao peace process to proceed.
He said this was the sentiment expressed by Moro separatist groups to his camp. Right after elections, Duterte claimed to have sent one of his sons to “talk peace” with Moro groups in Mindanao.
“Right after elections, I personally sent my son. Gusto ko makipag-usap ng peace…Sabi nila, for as long as nandiyan Amerikano sa likod ng government niyo, ‘di kami makikipag-usap,” said Duterte. (I wanted to talk peace…They said, for as long as the Americans are behind your government, we won’t engage in talks.)
Duterte said such groups still think the Philippine government’s acts are backed up by “Americans' maneuvering.”
Duterte has also been speaking with Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari.
The strong anti-American sentiment of these groups, Duterte said, comes from the abuses and violence perpetrated by American troops to quell Moro insurgents at the start of the 20th century.
Recently, Duterte has been showing images of the bloody aftermath of the Bud Dajo massacre in which around 600 Moros were killed by Americans in Sulu.
He also made headlines worldwide recently for calling US President Barack Obama for not answering for these past atrocities.
Despite this, the President assured the troops, “I’m not against the Americans.”
Duterte also criticized “pretend-to-know announcers” who think massacres of Moros in the American colonial period are no longer relevant.
“It is not one century ago. The fighting is now one century old! They fall short of their projection. Kaya hanggang ngayon, they see us as an extension of the Spaniards, the Americans. Ang tingin nila, we are the extension of a series of imperialism,” said Duterte. (That’s why until now, they see us as an extension of the Spaniards, the Americans. In their view, we are the extension of a series of imperialism.)
Peace in Mindanao was among Duterte’s major campaign promises.
The Philippine government resumed talks with the MILF last August in Malaysia. Duterte hopes to meet with MNLF leader Misuari about the peace process.
A new Bangsamoro Basic Law is among the Duterte administration’s list of priority legislative measures.

U.S. envoy to ASEAN upbeat about ties with PH

From InterAksyon (Sep 14): U.S. envoy to ASEAN upbeat about ties with PH

Nina Hachigian, the U.S. Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), believes the alliance between the United States and the Philippines "will endure and remain strong", despite President Rodrigo Duterte's maverick take on foreign policy, and his pronouncement Monday that it would be good for them if U.S. troops rotationally stationed in Mindanao pack up and leave.

Hachigian stressed that the ties between the U.S. and the Philippines "is one of our most enduring and important relationships in the Asia-Pacific region."

"It's been a cornerstone of stability for over 70 years," she told reporters in Asia during a conference call from Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday.

Hachigian noted that it was "in the great interest" of both countries to maintain the alliance, and added that U.S. officials had begun holding meetings with their counterparts in the new administration to discuss their shared priorities and programs.

Regarding the status of U.S. troops in the country, Hachigian had this to say: "U.S. military presence in the Philippines is at the request of the leaders of that country. We'll continue to consult closely with our Filipino partners to appropriately cater our assistance to whatever approach the new administration adopts," she further explained.

In remarks before newly appointed government functionaries Monday, Duterte spoke, in part, in Filipino: "The special forces, they have to go ... [Outlaws] see Americans, they'll kill them. They'll hold them for ransom, or kill them. Whether you are a black or white American, as long as you're American."

Hachigian elaborated further that Philippine foreign affairs and defense officials had issued statements Tuesday "affirming the closeness of the alliance", and noted that the two countries had been able to work together to advance their "wide range of shared interests".

Hachigian observed that the ASEAN Summit next year, which the Philippines would be hosting, coincides not just with the association's 50th anniversary, but also with the 40th anniversary of U.S.-ASEAN relations.

12 WWII veterans cited in Victory Day celebration

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 15): 12 WWII veterans cited in Victory Day celebration

Twelve World War II heroes in Northern Luzon were cited during the Victory Day celebration in this municipality.

Keynote speaker Brig. General Allan Martin of the Philippine Army led the awarding of plaques and pinning of medals to the 12 WWII veterans in recognition to their contributions that led to the surrender of General Tomoyuki Yamashita to American and Filipino troops on September 2, 1925 in this town.

 The honorees are 2nd  Lt Romeo Lim-ang,  Staff Sergeant Lorenzo  Pakinkin Sr, Private First Class Marcelo Munar and Estigoy Sison, Privates  Ogao Abag,  Luis Carabacan, Jeronimo Codamon,  Benito Annoque, Teofilo Gano, Bunoy Gano, Nena Masferre and Fangsosot Tangkawan,

The contributions of these awardees during the war are made part of a glorious chapter in the history of the Philippines and will be etched forever in the rich history of the Philippines. Hopefully it will serve as an inspiration to the youth of this generation, to love and serve the country and to fight for peace and freedom at all cost.

Martin commended the awardees and other individuals who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the province and the country as a whole.

Ifugao Congressman Teddy Baguilat  Jr. stressed that there can only be peace when there is justice, and there can only be justice when freedoms and liberties are intact. He added that freedom is indeed worth fighting for, and true progress can only happen under a regime where people are free to think and to act, without doing harm to other people.

Baguilat announced that he filed a bill in Congress declaring September 2 as a non-working holiday in the country considering its importance to the country’s history.

 For his part, Governor Pedro Mayam-o reiterated that the new challenge today is not anymore the battle of guns but the battle against corruption and drugs affecting the country. He enjoined all "Immipugos" (Ifugaos) to work for a corrupt-free and drug- free province and country as a whole to achieve genuine development.

Military projects open to all proponents regardless of country of origin, says defense dept.

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): Military projects open to all proponents regardless of country of origin, says defense dept.

Military projects must be open to all bidders regardless of their country of origin, the Department of National Defense (DND) public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong said Wednesday.

This is stipulated under Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, he said.

"One important point I have to make is under Republic Act 9184, we must open our projects for bidding to all proponents, regardless of their country of origin. We do not and cannot limit it to our traditional allies only," Andolong pointed out.

The Philippines has traditionally sourced its military equipment from the US, Israel, South Korea, and Japan, to name a few.

The DND official made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte announced that China and Russia have agreed to provide armaments and other weaponry to the Armed Forces of the Philippines for its counter-insurgency campaign.

Andolong earlier said that RA 9184 dictates that "we must not limit possible sources of our materiel to only a few countries as this will rob us of the opportunity to acquire what could be the best equipment".

He said technical working groups of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have been conducting market research on new hardware and technologies from many countries, including Russia and China.

"For the record, we also looked at the offerings from Sweden, Germany and France," Andolong said.

"Of course, there are other considerations, such as cost,inter-operability with our existing equipment and personnel capacity," he pointed out.

PAF's 5th C-130 cargo aircraft plane to arrive last week of September

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): PAF's 5th C-130 cargo aircraft plane to arrive last week of September

The Philippine Air Force (PAF)'s fifth Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo aircraft will arrive by the last week of September, according to PAF spokesperson Araus Robert Musico in a message to the PNA Thursday.

"The aircraft will arrive last week of this month. I don't have the exact date yet," he said in Filipino.

The fourth C-130 arrived at the Benito Ebuen Airbase, Mactan, Cebu last April 5.

It was flown by Filipino pilots headed by Col. Alejando Baclayon, Lt. Col. Ian Earth Lamzon, Major Ian Dexter Danes, Major Anthony Amora, and Major Ramil Daet.

The two C-130s are worth USD61 million and were acquired through the US Excess Defense Article Program.

"Remember, if we need to move a big number of troops and supplies (especially) heavy equipment for rapid deployment, it will be much easier as we have additional (C-130) aircraft," Musico earlier said.

Originally, these two C-130Ts were configured for tanker missions and were later converted for transport missions before being acquired by the Philippines.

Aside from the four C-130s, the PAF has three Airbus Military C-295 medium and three Fokker F-27 transports for its logistics and lift missions.

Army commander to work with MILF in fight vs. illegal drugs in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): Army commander to work with MILF in fight vs. illegal drugs in Maguindanao

BULUAN, Maguindanao -- The new Army division commander in Maguindanao vowed to work closely with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to help address the illegal drug problem in the province.

Major General Carlito Galvez, newly installed commander of the 6th Infantry "Kampilan" Division, said the Army will work with the leadership of MILF "for proper coordination" in law enforcement against illegal drug personalities.

"There is a need for complete cooperation between the government forces and the MILF in running after drug personalities because many of them are in areas where the MILF also operates," Galvez told the Maguindanao Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting here Wednesday.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu as PPOC chair discussed with the council the implementation of state of lawless as declared by President Duterte.

Galvez, who served as chair of the government coordinating committee on the cessation of hostilities before he became 6th ID chief, said coordination is the key in successful police or military operation against lawless elements. The same applies in neutralizing persons in illegal drugs, he added.

As CCCH chair, Galvez has been regularly coordinating with his counterpart in the MILF in the hunt against kidnappers, carnappers and armed lawless elements in areas near MILF camps.

The 6th ID chief cited the vast Liguasan marshland where illegal drug personalities allegedly sought refuge.

He said joint operations against drug personalities will be effective in the marshland since the MILF knows the terrain better.

The Moro rebel group which signed a peace deal with the government in 2014, has publicly declared it was against illegal drugs, calling it "haram" (forbidden) for Muslims. It formed anti-drug teams to eradicate the drug menace in Muslim communities.

Von Al Haq, MILF military spokesperson, has said more than 40 Moro residents who were suspected of having been involved in peddling, using and producing prohibited drugs are now undergoing religious reorientation inside MILF's Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao.

"Illegal drug is the common enemy of both the MILF and the government forces," AlHaq said in a radio interview.

Mangudadatu earlier ordered all local government executives of 36 municipalities to require all government employees in their locality to undergo compulsory drug test.

At the Maguindanao provincial capitol, Mangudadatu ordered surprised drug test in July. The result, 18 employees, mostly job orders and contractual, were found positive of illegal drug use.

Mangudadatu also vowed to work closely with the 6th ID commander in helping the government contain armed groups that made the province haven for terrorists.

The outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) operates in Maguindanao as well as local terrorist organizations that expressed sympathy to international terrorist organization Islamic State of Iran and Iraq (ISIS)

PHL-US military exercises eyed in western Leyte

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): PHL-US military exercises eyed in western Leyte

ORMOC CITY, Leyte -- A group of American and Filipino soldiers visited this city on Wednesday to talk about bringing the Balikatan military exercises in the city in April 2017.

Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez expressed his support to the proposal in the bid to enhance the peace and order in the community and improve the quality of life of city residents.

“The peace and order of the city is our priority program and everything else will follow,” Gomez said.

Balikatan exercises are designed to maintain and develop the security relationship between the Philippines and the United States Armed Forces through crisis-action planning, humanitarian assistance, enhanced training to counter terrorism and promote inter-operability of the forces.

Capt. Louis Kalmar, humanitarian and civic assistance planner of the Philippine-US Balikatan program said aside from the enhanced military training there will be medical mission, humanitarian assistance.

Among these are the construction of new school buildings and toilets in classrooms, renovations of school buildings, providing books and learning materials and other capabilities needed by students and the community.

Asked if the move of President Rodrigo Duterte to pull out the US Armed Forces in Mindanao will not affect the planned Balikatan, Gomez said that “since the move to pull them out is not yet final, it is best to push through with the initial talks to do Balikatan here.”

“What will benefit most the people of Ormoc, will always be my priority,” he said.

Capt Kalmar said they will return to Ormoc in December to finalize the Balikatan 2017 plans.

Balikatan is a Tagalog word meaning "shoulder-to-shoulder.” The exercises have been the cornerstone of Philippines–US military relations since the US bases in the Philippines closed.