Saturday, December 17, 2016

Bus burnings worry Soccsksargen entrepreneurs

From the Philippine Star (Dec 15): Bus burnings worry Soccsksargen entrepreneurs

This file photo shows a bus burned by suspected NPA rebels. According to the regional Tourism office, the attacks are making local entrepreneurs worry. File photo

Stakeholders are worried the series of bus burnings in central Mindanao will dampen the region’s tourism climate and erode investor confidence in the local economy.
Nelly Dillera, regional director of the Department of Tourism, on Thursday said eco-tourism entrepreneurs want authorities to address the problem to keep their operations — which employ residents and generate much-needed revenues for local governments — from being affected by the backlash.
No fewer than 10 airconditioned buses have been burned in arson attacks by suspected New People’s Army guerrillas in central Mindanao’s Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces in the past six months.
The latest of these attacks happened Tuesday night in South Cotabato’s supposedly tranquil Santo Niño municipality, where there are farm resorts frequented by tourists.
Disguised as passengers, five alleged NPAs who had handguns in sling bags commandeered a unit of the Yellow Bus Line en route to General Santos City.
The gunmen forced the bus driver and his passengers to alight before they set bus on fire with kerosene in sealed containers that they brought with them.
It was the fourth unit of the same bus company that NPAs burned in just seven weeks in central Mindanao.
The NPAs has claimed responsibility for the arson attacks through radio stations in the region.
“These burning of buses are so saddening. These incidents can affect the local tourism and business atmosphere,” Dillera said.
The Regional Police Office-12 in General Santos City said Thursday that municipal police offices in Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces will enlist the help of barangay officials in covert intelligence operations against NPA rebels preying on units of different bus companies.  

Army builds farm for former rebels

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 16): Army builds farm for former rebels

The Philippine Army’s 12th Infantry Battalion (12 IB) in Banga town, Aklan, has opened a farm for former communist rebels.

Last Wednesday, the unit opened a two-hectare integrated farm in Camp Jizmundo.
Philippine Army logo (Manila Bulletin)
Philippine Army logo
(Manila Bulletin)

Brigadier General Jon Aying, 3rd Infantry Division (3rd ID) commander, said the farm was patterned after the wellness project in Camp Gerona, Negros Occidental, when he was still with the 303rd Infantry Brigade (303rd IB).
It provided livelihood to former communist rebels as they became farmers. They earned from planting and harvesting vegetables. They also raised ducks, hogs and boars.
Lieutenant Colonel Leomar Jose Doctolero, 12th IB commander, said the integrated farm is one of the battalion’s projects for its 44th founding anniversary.
Doctolero added the project is supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Philippine Fiber Development Authority (PFDA), and the Banga local government.

NAVFORSOL chief visits Catanduanes

From the Catanduanes Tribune (Dec 16): NAVFORSOL chief visits Catanduanes

The commander of the Naval Forces South Luzon made his first visit to the island province recently, remarking that Catanduanes seems to be very peaceful that it does not need the presence of naval ships in its waters.

Commodore Giovanni Carlo Bacordo and company arrived on board a Navy plane Dec. 1 and paid a courtesy call on Governor Joseph Cua at the capitol. The NAVFORSOL chief said that Catanduanes is part of his area of responsibility (AOR) in Regions IV-A and IV-B, with ships often visiting troubled areas such as Masbate and Sorsogon due to the presence of the New People’s Army.

Warmly welcoming the navy officer and his party at his office, Gov. Cua indicated that the province’s main problem with regards to its surrounding waters is the smuggling of narra to Quezon province.

Bacordo disclosed that his command’s main concerns are terrorism, piracy and the smuggling of arms, with their efforts coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard, the Philippine Army, other military units, provincial governments, and other government agencies.

He added that his visit, the first to the island which was the last on his list, was only short as they need to go back to the critical areas of Western Mindanao and Palawan. Commodore Bacordo also paid courtesy calls on Mayor Samuel Laynes of Virac and Catanduanes Police OIC-provincial director Senior Superintendent Jeffrey Fernandez.

China Sees Smooth Resolution After Pentagon Demands Seized Drone

From Bloomberg (Dec 17): China Sees Smooth Resolution After Pentagon Demands Seized Drone

China said its in touch with the U.S. military after the Pentagon demanded that it return a American Navy underwater drone captured in international waters in the South China Sea.

“China and the U.S. are using their military channels to properly handle this case,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement sent to Bloomberg on Saturday afternoon, without elaborating further.

Earlier, the Global Times -- a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party -- cited a Chinese military official saying the drone was taken during a security check and the incident would likely be “resolved successfully.”

A Chinese naval ship unlawfully seized the small unmanned vehicle Thursday while the USNS Bowditch, a U.S. Navy survey ship, was collecting it in a routine operation 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay in the Philippines, according to a Defense Department statement.

While the motive remains unclear, the unprecedented move threatened to exacerbate tensions between the U.S. and China at a time when policy is becoming uncertain. President-elect Donald Trump has threatened higher tariffs on Chinese products and questioned the U.S.’s policy regarding Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.


‘Serious Test’

The seizure was “one of the most brazen actions that the PLA Navy has taken against U.S. Navy for a very long time,” said Ashley Townshend, research fellow at the U.S. studies center at the University of Sydney. “Against a background of rising tensions in the South China Sea and Trump’s increasingly hawkish comments on China policy, this incident will be a serious test for U.S.-China relations.”

The unmanned underwater vehicle is an unclassified “ocean glider” system used around world to gather data on salinity, water temperature and sound speed, the Pentagon said.

“We call upon China to return our UUV immediately, and to comply with all of its obligations under international law," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement Friday.

The Bowditch, which belongs to the U.S. Military Sealift Command, was on a routine mission to retrieve the drones, according to the Department of Defense. The Bowditch made radio contact with the Chinese navy ship requesting the return of the vehicle, but the request was ignored, Cook said in the statement. He described the drone as a “sovereign immune vessel of the United States.”

Typically the drones operate under their own power. The Chinese vessel was about 500 yards from the Bowditch when it launched a small vessel to retrieve the drone, according a Defense Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because those details hadn’t been publicly released.

“China is very sensitive about unmanned underwater vehicles because they can track our nuclear ballistic missile submarines fleet,” said retired Major General Xu Guangyu, a senior researcher at Beijing-based research group the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association. “If one from the Bowditch can be detected and even snatched by a Chinese naval ship, it shows it’s getting too close to the sensitive water areas.”

The nearest disputed area of the sea from the latest incident is Scarborough Shoal, about 150 nautical miles from Subic Bay. The last major confrontation between the U.S. and China similar to Thursday’s happened in 2013, when a Chinese vessel cut in front of the USS Cowpens guided-missile cruiser from a distance of 100 yards, an incident that then-U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called “irresponsible.” The two sides have since sought to improve communications with the intent of avoiding such incidents.

Militarizing Reefs

China claims more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, where it has constructed artificial reefs and built up its military presence. On Thursday, China confirmed a report that it had installed weapons on the reefs it has developed in the sea, with a Defense Ministry statement describing the arms as a “slingshot” to fend off threats, according to the New York Times.

The U.S. has continued to conduct what it calls freedom-of-navigation exercises, deploying vessels through the sea to underscore the right to free passage in international waters. China calls the moves provocative and a challenge to its territorial claims. Other nations in the region claim parts of the same waters, a thriving fishing zone through which more than $5 trillion of trade passes each year.

The rising tensions at sea come as the political balance in Southeast Asia over the disputed waters may be changing. While the Philippines won a favorable ruling from an international arbitration court on its territorial dispute with China that was initiated by his predecessor, President Rodrigo Duterte said at a televised briefing in Davao City Friday that he would set aside that finding as he attempts to work with China.

“It’s entirely possible that the Chinese are beginning to look for ways to send signals to the new administration that they are not going to be pushed around when it comes to the U.S. role in Asia, whether it’s Taiwan or the South China Sea,” said Michael Fuchs, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2013 to 2016 and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Military ready to deal final blow to Mindanao-based terrorists

From the Business Mirror (Dec 17): Military ready to deal final blow to Mindanao-based terrorists

In Photo: New Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año (right) and outgoing chief Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya salute during the change-of-command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on December 7.

THE military is intensely pursuing the Maute Group, also known as the Dawla Islamiya, in the aftermath of its recent attack and nearly weeklong occupation of Butig in Lanao del Sur, where it even hoisted the black emblem of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis), which is currently being pummeled by Iraqi and Syrian forces in the Middle East.

The pursuit operation is being carried out simultaneously with the ongoing offensive against the other terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the provinces of Sulu and Basilan, which have seen the spike of kidnapping cases during the past several weeks.

The twin operations were being undertaken as the Armed Forces has learned its lesson from the ASG, the original homegrown terrorist group that has evolved into Mindanao’s foremost security threat from being a ragtag jihadist group in the 1990s. Such metamorphosis happened right under the government’s nose.

While it may be a tall order to defeat the Maute Group in the short term, especially now that it is already aligned with the Isis and even backed by the regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, it is still possible to break the group since it is still on its infancy.
Grappling with terrorism

No less than President Duterte has warned about the danger posed by the Maute Group with matching words of urgency for the military to lick it, along with the ASG problem, with his statements that the country would have to grapple with terrorism within the next two to three years.

The Commander in Chief again conveyed this sense of urgency when he gathered top military officials right after installing former Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año as chief of staff of the Armed Forces.

“The President reiterated his directive to us…that he wanted terrorism to be addressed properly, particularly the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu and Basilan and other terrorist groups, like the Maute Group,” Año said after the command conference.

Duterte wanted the military to do more in addressing the problem, ordering the officials to ensure that terrorist groups would not have the capabilities to carry out their activities.

Año, whose designation as top military chief was seen as part of the effort in dealing with the existing threat of terrorism, refused to give a time frame in achieving the goal, but ensured he would see to it that the directive is achieved.

“We will do our best to make sure that these lawless groups will no longer be a threat to our people in the area,” he said.

Compared with his predecessor, retired Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya, who failed Duterte both in the campaign against the ASG and the Maute Group, Año is highly respected by his peers for his intelligence and operational grit.

It was under Visaya’s term that the ASG committed a rash of kidnappings, snatching Indonesian and Malaysian seafarers, while the Maute Group occupied the whole municipality of Butig.

Pushing on with the campaign

Just a day after Año was given full control of the military, fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who were supported by elements of the Army’s 37th Infantry Battalion encountered Maute members at the Mount Cararao complex within the triboundary of Buldon and Barira in Maguindanao and Butig in Lanao del Sur.

The Maute fighters led by two of their leaders, Omar and Abdullah Maute, were withdrawing from Butig, which they have occupied earlier, as government troops pursued them.

The municipalities of Buldon and Barira were considered traditional strongholds of the MILF, which has signed a preliminary peace agreement with the previous administration, and which the Duterte administration wanted to make permanent by working on a final agreement.

The involvement of the MILF in the antiterrorism campaign, finally, has been courted by the Duterte administration, believing that as a peace ally, the MILF has to do its share or even perform its task at the other end of the peace table.

The tapping of the MILF’s help, at least in the case of the Maute, which could translate to the denial of a sanctuary for the Lanao-based terrorist group and would therefore constrict its movement, was a new tack for the administration.

The government was also working for the same arrangement with the Moro National Liberation Front in the case of the ASG in Sulu and Basilan.

Surrender or die

Dropping his antidrugs slogan, Duterte gave the fleeing Maute Group the only choice of yielding to the government or perish.

The Commander in Chief enumerated the options as he dismissed the group’s quid pro quo call of a stop to the military’s pursuit operation in exchange for the Maute to stop its attacks.

Duterte said there would be no let up in the campaign against Maute and even with the ASG, an operation that failed previous military commanders, including Visaya, but which will test the mettle of Año once more.

Army installs new chiefs of key offices

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 12): Army installs new chiefs of key offices


FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – The Philippine Army installed new chiefs of the offices of logistics, plans and programs, and the secretary of the Army general staff on Dec. 9 in a joint ceremony held in Luna Hall, Philippine Army Officers Club House here. 
Col. Glenn E. Cruz now heads the Armys Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics, G4 replacing Col. Pio Q. Diñoso III who now heads the 301st Infantry Brigade based in the Western Visayas.
Cruz is the former deputy and executive officer of the Army logistics office prior to his new position.
Col. Roberto S. Capulong replaced Col. Cornelio H. Valencia as the new Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs, G5.
Valencia moved up to the AFPs General Headquarters as the new Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs or the AJ5.
Capulong, on the other hand, is the former Secretary of the Army General Staff and he was replaced by Lt. Col. Arvin R. Lagamon, a newly graduate of the Masters in National Security Administration at the National Defense College of the Philippines.

AFP Welcomes 194 New Officers

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 14): AFP Welcomes 194 New Officers


CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officially welcomed 194 new Probationary 2nd Lieutenants and Ensigns from the Officer Candidate School in a joint graduation ceremony held Tuesday, 13 December 2016, here at the AFP Theater, AFP Public Affairs Chief Marine Colonel Edgard A Arevalo disclosed.
“After a year of rigorous training in their respective Officer Candidate Course (OCC), 68 officer candidates from the Philippine Army, 63 from the Philippine Air Force, and 63 from the Philippine Navy will now join the regular force of the AFP,” said Colonel Arevalo.

The Secretary of National Defense Delfin N Lorenzana, LtGen Salvador Melchor B Mison Jr, the AFP Deputy Chief of Staff, Major Service Commanders and other officers personally welcomed the graduates and presented the awards to the top three students from each Major Service.

Leading the Army’s OCC “Kadasig” Class 47-2016 were P/2Lt Phil Jun D Ocumen who received the Presidential Saber, P/2Lt Kimberly Jean W Lappao, who was awarded the Secretary of National Defense (SND) Saber, and P2Lt Armie B Macapinlac, recipient of the Chief of Staff AFP (CSAFP) Saber.

For the Air Force’s “Siklabtala” Class 2016, P/2Lt Iris Q Eugenio received the Presidential Saber followed by P/2Lt Nathaniel D Diaz with the SND Saber and P/2Lt Argie Clarence C Torralba with the CSAFP Saber.

The Navy’s “Madangpanan” Class 28 were led by Marine P/2Lt Mark Andrew S Badilla who was awarded the Presidential Saber, P/Ens Ricky T Degutierrez with the SND Saber, and P/Ens Jesus Hell C Carballo with the CSAFP Saber.

“The conclusion of your course is as important to you as it is to us in the AFP. We wholeheartedly receive you not only to the camp but also to the organization that only the brave and the patriotic enough dare join,” said LtGen Mison.

Secretary Lorenzana on the other hand advised the graduates to take responsibility in the new positions that they will be holding. He further assured the graduates that the Department of National Defense will continue to support the modernization program of the Armed Forces.

“I thank you for volunteering to serve our country. You will be in the forefront; you will be putting your lives on the line, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I wish you good luck to your new career and I hope that all of you will reach the pinnacle of your respective military careers,” Secretary Lorenzana concluded.

The new officers will be granted a month of academic leave before reporting to their training commands where they will be given their unit assignments.

The officer candidate schools established in the three Major Services train civilians and enlisted personnel who are baccalaureate degree holders to be future members of the AFP regular force.

The one-year course prepares an officer candidate with a rank of Probationary Second Lieutenant or Probationary Ensign to be mentally, physically, and emotionally fit to the AFP’s Corps of Officers in the regular force.  

HERO’S WELCOME | 7th Marine Battalion Set to Retrain and Refurbish

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 14): HERO’S WELCOME | 7th Marine Battalion Set to Retrain and Refurbish

File Photo

NAVAL STATION JOSE V ANDRADA, Roxas Boulevard, Manila (DWDD) – Another Marine Battalion from Mindanao is set for retraining and refurbishing on the next 6-8 months here in Metro Manila.

The 7th Marine Battalion will be arriving on December 14, 2016 and subsequently be officially welcomed by a simple ceremony at Commodore Divino Pier, Headquarters Philippine Navy, Naval Station Jose Andrada in Roxas Blvd., Manila.

After more than a decade of performing frontline combat duties, the unit will be given a break for a retraining and refurbishing at Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, Taguig City.

During this occasion, there will be a presentation of awards to deserving personnel of the unit who has given their unselfish dedication to serve their mandate.

The Flag-Officer-in-Command Philippine Navy, Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph S Mercado AFP will be the Keynote Speaker during the welcome ceremony and will be assisted by the Commandant Philippine Marine Corps, Maj Gen Andre M Costales Jr AFP and other Marine Corps Staff.

The original 7th Marine Battalion which was activated pursuant to General Order Number 706, Armed Forces of the Philippines effective 20 October 1977 has performed security duties to the Presidential family at the Malacañang Complex.

The aftermath of the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986 commenced the deactivation of the 7th Marine Battalion which was then under the Presidential Security Command.

Two (2) years later, the unit was reactivated on 01 June 1988 pursuant to GO Nr 57 HPMAR dated 07 June 1988 as a regular line Battalion of the Philippine Marines. Since then, the unit has consistently accomplished its mandated missions and earned a good reputation in the AFP organization.

Its present Acting Commanding Officer is Lt Col Randy U Victoria PN(M) and Maj Ferdinand B Foronda PN(M) as the Battalion Executive Officer. The battalion staffs are as follows: Maj Earl Owen P Rufin PN(M) the Operations Officer, Cpt Arnel T Laddaran PN(M) Communications Officer, Cpt Ryan Roy A Borra PN(M) Civil Military Operations Officer, 1lt Jieve Ajijul PN(M) Adjutant/Admin Officer, 1lt Ranel C Dimawala PN(M) Logistics Officer, and MSgt George Q Sechong PN(M) Battalion Sergeant Major.

During the welcome ceremony, the families, relatives and friends of the Officers and men of 7th Marine Battalion will also be joining to meet their beloved and patriotic Marines from the frontline. PMC PAO / MCAG

DWDD: CLOSING CEREMONY | RP-US Balance Piston 16-4

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 14): CLOSING CEREMONY | RP-US Balance Piston 16-4




Puerto Princesa City, Palawan (DWDD) – The Philippine and US Armed Forces ended their month-long war exercises in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan which started Nov. 14.

This Philippine Army’s training engagement with the US Special Operations Forces is called “Balance Piston 16-4,” which is meant to hone the Filipino soldiers’ skills in basic war fighting and to improve the relationship of the two armed forces.

The exercise only involved a small unit of soldiers – 30 to 40 personnel – and the live firing aspct during the training has been reduced in terms of volume and they added “Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief” component.

The Closing Ceremony was graced by Commodore Allan Ferdinand V Cusi, AFP, Deputy Commander, Western Command (WESCOM). WESCOM PAO / MCAG

DWDD: CLIP | Former Rebels Receive ₱305,000.00 Financial Assistance

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 14): CLIP | Former Rebels Receive ₱305,000.00 Financial Assistance


DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur (DWDD) – Twenty-four (24) former members of New People’s Army (NPA) who surrendered to 73rd Infantry Battalion (73IB) received a total of ₱305,000.00 immediate assistance from the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) and Provincial Assistance from the Province of Davao del Sur during the flag raising ceremony held at the Provincial Coliseum, Davao del Sur on December 12, 2016.

In a simple awarding ceremony, Hon. Douglas Cagas, Governor of Davao del Sur and Chairman of CLIP Committee, Provincial Director Remedios Baldovino of DILG, Department of Social and Welfare Development Office Officer Geraldine Lano and 1Lt. Edgar Oliva, Alpha Company Commander, 73IB handed-in the check of immediate assistance worth ₱15,000.00 each to thirteen (13) former rebels and provincial assistance worth ₱10,000.00 each to eleven (11) former rebels.

Aside from the CLIP immediate assistance, the awardees will also receive a livelihood assistance worth ₱50,000.00 each in the coming weeks. Moreover, the eleven (11) former rebels awarded with ₱10,000.00 provincial assistance is still waiting for their CLIP requirements to be processed.

Based on records, a total of 103 former rebels from Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental and Sarangani Province have already surrendered to 73IB since last year; 75 of which already received immediate and livelihood assistance worth ₱65,000.00 each with sum amount of ₱4,875,000.00. The rest are under process and others did not qualify to the requirements of the program. Another ₱1,300,000.00 CLIP assistance was also awarded last year to twenty (20) former rebels who surrendered to the unit from 2013-2014.

CLIP is a national program of the government that seeks to contribute toward achieving the goal of permanent and peaceful closure of armed conflicts and non-state armed groups, particularly the NPA’s.

“The livelihood assistance awarded to the former rebels (FRs) is a successful collaborative effort of the provincial government, PNP-Davao del Sur and 73IB in support to the unit’s mission and government’s effort of permanent and peaceful closure of all armed conflict in the country” Lt. Col. Babac said. 73IB / MCAG

DWDD: NEW LEADERSHIP | Joint Task Force Haribon to have a new Commander

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 15): NEW LEADERSHIP | Joint Task Force Haribon to have a new Commander


NSFA, Panacan, Davao City – Joint Task Force Haribon will have its new Commander in the person of Col Gilbert I. Gapay who will be assuming the Command on Dec 15, 2016 at 2PM in a military ceremony at Naval Station, Panacan Davao City.

His assumption came after BGen. Ronnie Evangelista assumed as Commander of the Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines based in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Prior to his assumption, Col. Gapay was the former Assistant Division Commander of the Mechanized Infantry Division, Philippine Army and Brigade Commander in Lanao Provinces.
His vast experience being assigned in various positions in the AFP is expected to infuse innovations and security concepts of Joint Task Force Haribon in securing Mega Davao.
Col. Gapay is an aviator and armor officer. He is a member of PMA Class 1986 where he graduated on top of his class. He is also the concurrent Deputy Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command.

MILF: Editorial -- GPH-NDFP peace talks

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Dec 17): Editorial -- GPH-NDFP peace talks

If available information about the ongoing GPH-NDFP peace talks is going to be the basis of projecting what is in store for this peace process, the best description we can say is that it is uneasy.
For instance, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) wants all political prisoners released before any formal ceasefire is signed, while President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wants a formal ceasefire agreement in place before any further release. Clearly, there is a state of head-on collision of their respective positions.

Hard positions are normal in negotiation, because each side has to start with a position. From there the process inches forward with all the necessary bargaining, if – it is a big if – the two parties are really engaged in problem-solving exercise. If not, then the end of the road for the process is a matter of time.

Except for principles, everything is negotiable, resulting in both parties being happy over the result.  We cannot think of any other issue that is too difficult for the parties to handle.

Negotiation is resorted to by groups in conflict. Their motives vary. The successful deal is one that anchors on problem-solving mode. Others offer to negotiate for any of these reasons: to buy time, need to be pictured as peace-loving, to gain legitimacy, and a scheme to mobilize support, both domestic and international, including access to resources.

We do not say the NDFP’s position is wrong and the GPH’s is right or vice versa. It simply is not required of us to do the vetting. They perfectly fall within their own respective domain and competence. Each side knows best what it is doing.

Furthermore, in negotiation one cannot get all what it wants; neither the other party can. Negotiation is negotiation, not dictation. And dictation can only happen if the pushy party is too powerful impose its conditions.

In dealing with other revolutionary groups, we always uphold the basic principle of mutual respect. The fact that we have different ideologies and political as well as organizational lines speak, as a necessary consequence, of divergent methodologies, approaches, and tactics.

However, our experience is different. There were several occasions in the past where the MILF was criticized severely on the ways it dealt with the government, specifically on the issue of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).  They commented that it contained provisions that short-changed the Bangsamoro people. We did not hit back and instead we appealed to them to respect the position of the MILF and not to evaluate us on the basis of their own perspective or policies.

The truth is that only Moros know best what is good for our people. If any entity including government still believes that outsider knows better, then they are guilty of perpetuating the old, arrogant, racist, and hated Whiteman’s burden policy that created evil colonial empires and enslaved millions of peoples worldwide.

China now capable of targeting PH aircraft in West Philippine Sea

From Update.Ph (Dec 16): China now capable of targeting PH aircraft in West Philippine Sea

Though defensive in nature, Chinese weapons installed in fake islands in West Philippine Sea, especially weapons installed in Panganiban (Mischief) Reef and Zamora (Subi) Reef, can pose direct threat to Philippine aircraft doing patrol or resupply mission in Philippine-held islands in Kalayaan (Spratly) Island Group.

“Yung ipinakita ng AMTI, ito po ay tinatawag na closed in weapon system — anti-aircraft as well as anti-missile. Pang malapitan lang po ito. By themselves, they are not offensive weapons. Hindi po sila pang atake,” former Magdalo Party-list representative Francisco Ashley Acedillo said on DZMM.
However, the former lawmaker said Panganiban and Zamora reefs are close to islands occupied by Philippines. “Every time na nagpapadala tayo ng air supply mission para po bigyan ng supply ang ating tropa doon, palagi silang niraradyohan. ‘You are flying over Chinese territory’. Ang problema, next time na mag raradyo sila may nakakabit na panakot yan,” he said.

“Kayang-kaya ho nilang pabagsakin yung ating mga eroplano,” former Congressman Acedillo said.

Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said on December 13, showing November satellite imagery, that China has installed anti-aircraft guns and possibly close-in weapons systems (CIWS) in its fake islands in West Philippine Sea.

“China has built nearly identical (hexagonal) headquarters buildings at each of its four smaller artificial islands,” AMTI said. “This model has gone through another evolution at China’s much-larger bases on Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs.”

Duterte on non-renewal of US aid: We'll be glad to lose it

From Rappler (Dec 16): Duterte on non-renewal of US aid: We'll be glad to lose it

'We will not go hungry without the American aid. We are not that desperate,' says President Duterte during an interview with reporters in Singapore

'NOT DESPERATE.' As far as President Rodrigo Duterte is concerned, US aid to the Philippines can 'start packing.' Photo from Presidential Photographers Division

'NOT DESPERATE.' As far as President Rodrigo Duterte is concerned, US aid to the Philippines can 'start packing.' Photo from Presidential Photographers Division

President Rodrigo Duterte could not care less about the United States aid package that won't be going to the Philippines because of US concerns over human rights issues facing his administration.

"We’ll be glad to lose it. I also suggest they start packing," said Duterte on Friday, December 16, after being asked about the non-renewal of a grant from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US aid-giving body.
Duterte took a few questions from reporters before flying back to the Philippines after his state visit to Singapore.
The President said he is not bothered even if the aid could amount to $430 million.
"We will not go hungry without the American aid. We are not that desperate. We can always get it from China and Russia," he said.
In recent speeches, Duterte has touted China and Russia as the Philippines' new-found allies as he seeks to pursue a foreign policy independent from the US.
Earlier, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr slammed the US for imposing "conditions" on the Philippines despite the friendship and close ties of the two countries.
Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia also said he "wouldn't lose sleep" over the non-renewed aid.

Duterte wants VFA scrapped, but will 'wait' for Trump

From Rappler (Dec 17): Duterte wants VFA scrapped, but will 'wait' for Trump

ARRIVAL MESSAGE. Pres. Rodrigo Duterte delivers his arrival message at the Davao International Airport on Dec 17, 2016 after his state visits to Cambodia and Singapore. Photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

ARRIVAL MESSAGE. Pres. Rodrigo Duterte delivers his arrival message at the Davao International Airport on Dec 17, 2016 after his state visits to Cambodia and Singapore. Photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

President Rodrigo Duterte warned of the eventual abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States after the US did not renew an aid package for the Philippines.

"You know America, you might also be put to notice, prepare to leave the Philippines, prepare for the eventual repeal or the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement," said Duterte on Friday, December 16, during a speech in Davao City after arriving from Singapore.
His declaration was prompted by his anger about the non-renewal of a grant from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US aid-giving body, announced on Thursday. (READ: Duterte on non-renewal of US aid: We'll be glad to lose it)
"The Supreme Court said it's an executive agreement not a treaty. I am putting them on notice. I will decide any time soon," he added.
But the VFA is a treaty that can only be repealed by an act of Congress.
It's possible that Duterte may have been referring to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement a more recent deal which the Supreme Court has declared is an executive agreement that does not require Senate approval. He previously said he wants to scrap EDCA.
The VFA, which took effect in 1999, outlined guidelines for the conduct of American troops visiting the Philippines. The agreement is the foundation for military exercises between the Philippines and the US, some of which the Duterte adminstration has already stopped.
After his threat about the VFA, Duterte went on a fiery tirade against the US for treating the Philippines like a "doormat."
The Trump factor
But in the same speech, Duterte said he might defer his decision on the VFA out of respect for US President-elect Donald Trump and new US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, two officials he seems to have taken a liking to.
"[Trump] was very nice, very courteous, I could not catch any hostile drift. In deference, I will just wait, I will let Obama fade away. If he disappears, then I will begin to reassess," said Duterte.
About Kim, Duterte said, "They have a very good ambassador of Korean descent. He’s very courteous, also in deference to the new set, I will just – it's a timing actually."
But the Philippine President warned that if his country gets the "raw end" of the deal, he is personally "not inclined to side" with the US.

US alerts PH after China seized its underwater drone off Subic

From Rappler (Dec 17): US alerts PH after China seized its underwater drone off Subic

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza says the security cluster has yet to discuss how the Philippines will react to the incident between the US and China that happened within its exclusive economic zone

The Philippines was not aware that the US Navy was operating an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) off the coast of Subic Bay until after it was seized by China on Friday, December 16.

"No, we were not (aware). Our embassy in DC was informed after the UUV was seized and was not returned by the Chinese," Lorenzana told Rappler in a text message. (READ: China seizes US naval underwater probe in South China Sea)

China's action is feared to heighten tension between the two military superpowers in the disputed seas especially after reports that China has installed more weapons on reefs it illegally reclaimed. (READ: China boosts defenses on South China Sea islets)

Lorenzana said the security cluster has yet to discuss how the Philippines will react to the incident between US and China that happened inside its exclusive economic zone.

US wants its underwater drone back

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said the US Navy was "conducting routine operations in accordance with international law."

The US is calling on China to immediately return the underwater drone, an unclassified "ocean glider" that gathers military oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature, and sound speed.

According to the Pentagon, the Chinese Dalang-III class submarine launched a small boat that seized the UUV just as US Navy ship USNS Bowditch was attempting to retrieve it off Subic Bay. The US Navy successfully retrieved a second UUV.

YELLOW DRONES. This photo shows the recovery of US ocean gliders off the coast of Scotland. A similar unmanned underwater vehicle was seized by the Chinese Navy off the coast of the Philippines. Photo from the Pentagon web site

YELLOW DRONES. This photo shows the recovery of US ocean gliders off the coast of Scotland. A similar unmanned underwater vehicle was seized by the Chinese Navy off the coast of the Philippines. Photo from the Pentagon web site
The US Navy sent radio messages to demand the return of the underwater drone but the Chinese Navy ignored the calls.

“The UUV is a sovereign immune vessel of the United States. We call upon China to return our UUV immediately and to comply with all of its obligations under international law," said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook.
Once the site of a large US naval base, Subic Bay in Zambales province continues to host US naval ships under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Zambales is also the land mass nearest to Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, the reef that was practically occupied by the Chinese Coast Guard after a 2014 standoff with the Philippine Navy there.
A number of US target drones have been found floating in the area in recent years, too.

Policy shift

The administration of President Benigno Aquino III had counted on the US, the country's oldest and most powerful ally, to help defend its maritime territories against China's aggressiveness. Talks between the Philippine and US militaries back then aimed to allow Americans to build facilities again in the former US naval base.

The US' primary concern is to maintain freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, a multibillion dollar trade route where its cargoes pass through.

Cooperation plans between the Philippines and US changed under the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been vocal in his dislike for the US and has declared he wants warmer ties with China.

Duterte had said he wants to scrap both the VFA and EDCA. EDCA is an executive agreement that Duterte may choose to scrap after notifying the US. But VFA is a treaty that only the Senate may scrap.

A possible game changer is the victory of US President-elect Donald Trump who, unlike President Barack Obama, complimented Duterte on his controversial war on drugs. (READ: Duterte wants VFA scrapped but will 'wait' for Trump)

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr had said the Philippines won't confront China over its weapons in the South China Sea.

PH won't protest China 'militarization' of Spratlys – report

From Rappler (Dec 17): PH won't protest China 'militarization' of Spratlys – report

'Let them take whatever action is necessary in the pursuit of their national interest... and we will leave it at that,' Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr says

TOP DIPLOMAT. Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr speaks with the Russian foreign minister during their meeting in Moscow on December 5, 2016. Photo by Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP

TOP DIPLOMAT. Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr speaks with the Russian foreign minister during their meeting in Moscow on December 5, 2016. Photo by Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr said the Philippines will not file a diplomatic protest against China's reported "militarization" of the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

"We will make sure that there will be no further actions that will heighten the tensions between the two countries, particularly in the Scarborough Shoal," Yasay said in Singapore, in reference to another part of the West Philippine Sea, according to Reuters.
"Let them take whatever action is necessary in the pursuit of their national interest... and we will leave it at that, for the Philippines, we have our bilateral engagements with China," the Philippines' top diplomat was also quoted by Reuters as saying.
Yasay was in Singapore to accompany Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who was there on a state visit.
Yasay issued these remarks after a US-based think tank reported on Wednesday, December 14, that China has apparently installed "significant" defensive weapons on artificial islands in the Spratlys.
'Self-inflicted damage'
On Saturday, December 17, a source privy to the case reacted to Yasay's statements: "If the Philippines does not formally protest, China can later claim that the Philippines consented, or at least acquiesced, to China's military fortifications in the Spratlys, including Mischief Reef."
"Yasay's unilateral declaration is a self-inflicted damage to Philippine national interest," the source added.
The latest images of the Spratlys, released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), showed a series of hexagonal structures now in place on each of 7 islets.
They appear to be large anti-aircraft guns and close-in weapons systems (CIWS), the AMTI said.
The construction of these facilities comes months after the Philippines, on July 12, won a historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea.
The July 12 ruling invalidated China's expansive claim over the disputed waters.

Duterte: 'Bye-bye America' … we don't need your money

From InterAksyon (Dec 17): Duterte: 'Bye-bye America' … we don't need your money

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a visit to Tarlac City in northern Philippines December 11, 2016. REUTERS/Czar Dancel

President Rodrigo Duterte told the United States on Saturday to prepare for repeal of an agreement on deployment of troops and equipment for exercises, declaring "bye-bye America", and we don't need your money.

But Duterte suggested relations could improve under President Donald Trump. "I like your mouth, it's like mine, yes Mr President. We are similar and people with the same feathers flock together."

Returning his focus to the present US administration which has criticized him over reports of extra-judicial killings in his campaign against drugs, he said:

"We do not need you," Duterte said in a news conference after arriving from visits to Cambodia and Singapore. "Prepare to leave the Philippines. Prepare for the eventual repeal or abrogation of the VFA."

The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), signed in 1998, accorded legal status to thousands of US troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.

"Bye, bye America and work on the protocols that will eventually move you out of the Philippines," he said, adding his decision would come "any day soon" after reviewing another military deal, Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement.

The firebrand leader was visibly upset and vented his anger on Washington because of a decision by the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) board to defer vote on the re-selection of Manila for compact development due to human rights issues.

"We do not need the money. China said they will provide so many," he said. "The politics here in Southeast Asia is changing."

4th CMO set to hold Young Cultural Minority Professionals’ Forum

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 16): 4th CMO set to hold Young Cultural Minority Professionals’ Forum

BUTUAN CITY -- The 4th CMO Battalion, Philippine Army in partnership with the government line agencies (GLAs) will conduct a two-day Young Cultural Minority Professionals’ Forum (YCMPF) this coming December 21 to 22, 2016 at Division Advance Command Post, Barangay Bancasi, this city.

The activity will be participated by the Officers of the Caraga Mindanao Cultural Development Incorporated (CMCDI), an IP youth organization which was organized by the unit and partner government agencies as IP Youth Leaders and Communicators in Caraga region, students leaders and Muslim young professionals.

This forum is part of empowering and developing the youth leadership potential and transforms them to become responsible citizen and catalyst for peace and development,” said LTC Rey Pasco, 4th CMO commanding officer.

Pres. Duterte to visit wounded soldiers in Zambo

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 17): Pres. Duterte to visit wounded soldiers in Zambo

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to arrive today, December 17, at Camp Navarro 
General Hospital, Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) to visit wounded 
soldiers who were injured in the recent skirmishes with lawless groups in Basilan 
and Sulu province.

Duterte will be visiting seven wounded soldiers namely: PFC Simar H. Salasain, 2SFB, 
SOCOM, PA, who was wounded in Jolo, Sulu; CPL Jerome V. Gonato, 68IB, 1ID, PA; 
PFC Charle Shine O. Carinal, 68IB, 1ID, PA; PFC Romeo G. Ansino, 68IB, 1ID, PA; 
PFC Mitchwayn T. Arsenal, 68IB, 1ID, PA; CPL Ruel J. Tambong, 68IB, 1ID, PA; and 
CPL Ronald Ramos, 68IB, 1ID, PA. The six soldiers were wounded in Sumisip, Basilan.

The President will also award the wounded Personnel Medal (WPM) to SSG Peter M. Ugsod of the 35th IB, 1ID. 
He was wounded in a clash in Barangay Buhanginan, Patikul Sulu on November 16.

The list of names were provided by the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM).

Duterte will also be giving financial assistance and meet relatives of killed-in-action soldiers.

Pres. Duterte calls on ASG to ‘take a vacation’ during the holidays

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 17): Pres. Duterte calls on ASG to ‘take a vacation’ during the holidays

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte today called on the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) to “take a vacation” from their fighting,  stop hostilities during the holiday season, and even invited them, should they wish to join him for dinner in Davao.

“I hope you would take a vacation,” the President said, adding that if they wish, they can contact his Joloano daughter-in-law whom he named as Lovely Sangkula.

President Duterte was in the city today to visit and give financial assistance to wounded soldiers, namely: 1Lt. Albert Peralta, Pfc. Gilbert Verrey, Cpl. Mortaza Allama, Pfc. Simar Salasain, Cpl. Ruel Tambong, Cpl. Ronald Ramos, Cpl. Jerome Gonato, Pfc. Charlie Shine Carinal, Pfc. Romeo Ansino, Pfc. Mitchwayn Arsenal, Ssg. Peter Ugsod, Pfc. Elmer Dela Cruz, Sgt. Julbasar Julhasirin, Sgt. Amilhadir Tagayan, Cpl. Ramly Guzman, and the relatives of Emar Akalul and Ssg. Elmer Aranges who are confined at the Ciudad Medical Zamboanga.

He also talked with families of three killed-in-action soldiers namely Cpl. Mushier Kahaluddin, Pfc. Kennedy Osing and Pfc. Jay Boctot.

“We should take care of our soldiers. They are the protectors of the republic. We should ease their pain,” he said.

Operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group have been ongoing for months, and according to AFP spokesperson Gen. Restituto Padilla, casualties are consequences in the operations. He said that the President’s visits to wounded and killed soldiers are a “sincere show of care” for the soldiers. Padilla added that operations will continue as planned, even if AFP leadership changes.

AFP conducts Governance Forum Lecture for key officers

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 16): AFP conducts Governance Forum Lecture for key officers

In line with its commitment towards positive change, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted a Governance Forum Lecture for its key leaders Thursday.

AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said the event was held at the AFP Commissioned Officers Club, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The activity is part of a series of quarterly lectures in line with the AFP Transformation Roadmap (AFPTR).

“The Governance Forum-Lecture started in January and is part of the many efforts of the AFP in transforming its various commands, units, and offices into a stronger and more credible public institution that is built on good governance,” Arevalo said.

The AFP Office of the Strategic Studies and Strategy Management (OSSSM) head Brig. Gen. Paterno V. Morales, spearheaded the event.

“This historic event is a breakthrough to the modernization of the military. Undeniably, our institutionalization inspires us to exert more effort for the betterment of our armed forces,” he added.

Meanwhile, Bishop Noel A. Pantoja, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches chair, was the guest speaker on the final iteration of the forum-lecture.

He also sits as the general secretary of the Philippine Relief and Development Services Inc., which provides humanitarian assistance to the poor and underprivileged communities.

“It takes longer to build something than to demolish something, just the same in the AFP Transformation Roadmap, it may take longer to build, but each person’s involvement in the transformation is necessary,” Pantoja said.

“With character, competence, and courage, transformation will happen. AFP Transformation begins in the light of every individual. It’s not only your dream, AFP 2028 is ours -- world-class Armed Forces,” he concluded.

After the lecture, the AFP Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, led by Major Gen. Guillermo A. Molina Jr, launched the official website of the AFPTR.

The website displays the electronic balanced scorecard of the AFP Chief-of-Staff as well as the other AFP staff offices and units.

The AFPTR website also promotes transparency as it provides easy-access to relevant information needed by internal and external stakeholders such as the AFP Multi-Sector Governance Council (AFP MSGC).

The AFP was declared Performance Governance System (PGS) institutionalized by the Institute of Solidarity in Asia last Nov. 29.

It also won the Silver Trail Blazer Award. The Institutionalization is the fourth and final stage of the PGS which indicates great progress on transparency and good governance.

7th Marine Battalion returns after 10-year deployment to Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 17): 7th Marine Battalion returns after 10-year deployment to Mindanao

The 7th Marine Battalion, which has been deployed to Mindanao for 10 years, is finally home at the Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown in Taguig City for retraining and refurbishment.

Philippine Marine Corps spokesperson, Capt. Victor Donque, said the battalion had helped secure the 2007 ASEAN Summit, and had sent personnel for security and anti-terrorism operations in central and western Mindanao.

The unit arrived in Manila early this week.

"They were instrumental in most of the anti-terrorism campaigns of the government against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), and remnants of the Jema-ah Islamiyah hiding in the islands of Mindanao. Their latest deployment was to NPA-influenced areas," he said, referring to the New People's Army.

The 7th Marine Battalion lists among its major accomplishments the combat operations against ASG terrorists in the provinces of Sulu and Basilan, neutralization of some personalities identified as kidnap-for-ransom groups or lawless elements in Cotabato City and Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, and its participation in the anti-drug campaign.

"They also performed significant non-traditional roles, such as civil-military operations that have gained superb appreciation from the natives, as well as stakeholders at said areas," he added.Donque said the unit is to undergo a six-month retraining and refurbishment before its next deployment.

While undergoing training, the 7th Marine Battalion will serve as a component of the Philippine Marine Ready Force in Metro Manila.

"Along with the training program are booth lectures and practical exercises on administrative matters, military tactics, simulated military planning, live-fire maneuvers, marksmanship and rigid physical fitness activities. Part of the refurbishment is the issuance of new sets of combat clothing, individual equipment, mobility assets, communications equipment, issuance of the newly acquired R-4 rifle, integration of Marine Corps Operating Concept, and civil military operations," Donque added.

Unit inspection and de-briefing will be conducted prior to a short rest and recreation, which will be given to the soldiers to relieve them of stress from combat fatigue and to rejoin them with their families and loved ones.

China, U.S. 'appropriately handling' seizure of drone, China says

From Reuters (Dec 17): China, U.S. 'appropriately handling' seizure of drone, China says

The USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic survey ship, is seen in this undated U.S. Navy handout photo.  U.S. Navy via REUTERS

The USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic survey ship, is seen in this undated U.S. Navy handout photo. U.S. Navy via REUTERS

China and the United States are using military channels to "appropriately handle" the seizure by the Chinese navy of a U.S. underwater drone in the South China Sea, China said on Saturday, and a Chinese state-run newspaper said it expected a smooth resolution.

The drone was taken on Thursday, the first seizure of its kind in recent memory, about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines, just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), U.S. officials said.

"It is understood that China and the United States are using military channels to appropriately handle this issue," China's Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement sent to Reuters, without elaborating.

The Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, said a Chinese naval vessel had discovered "unidentified equipment" and checked it to prevent any navigational safety issues. It cited an unidentified Chinese source.

"This person said China has already received a claim request for the equipment from the U.S. side. Relevant parties from both sides have maintained smooth communication channels and believe this issue will be smoothly resolved," the paper said.

China's Defence Ministry has yet to comment publicly on the issue.

"The UUV was lawfully conducting a military survey in the waters of the South China Sea," a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It's a sovereign immune vessel, clearly marked in English not to be removed from the water - that it was U.S. property," the official said.

The Pentagon confirmed the incident at a news briefing on Friday, and said the drone used commercially available technology and sold for about $150,000.

Still, the Pentagon viewed China's seizure seriously since it had effectively taken U.S. military property.

"It is ours, and it is clearly marked as ours and we would like it back. And we would like this not to happen again," Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said.

Also In South China Sea

The seizure will add to concerns about China's increased military presence and aggressive posture in the disputed South China Sea, including its militarization of maritime outposts.

A U.S. research group said this week that new satellite imagery indicated China has installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea.

The drone seizure coincided with sabre-rattling from Chinese state media and some in its military establishment after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump cast doubt on whether Washington would stick to its nearly four-decades-old policy of recognizing that Taiwan is part of "one China."

President Barack Obama said on Friday it was appropriate for Trump to take a fresh look at U.S. policy toward Taiwan, but he cautioned that a shift could lead to significant consequences in the U.S. relationship with Beijing, as the notion that Taiwan is part of "one China" is central to China's view of itself as a nation.