Thursday, November 30, 2017

What Will Philippine Military Modernization Under Duterte Look Like in 2018?

From The Diplomat (Nov 29): What Will Philippine Military Modernization Under Duterte Look Like in 2018?

A closer look at what lies in store for the country on the defense side.

What Will Philippine Military Modernization Under Duterte Look Like in 2018?

Last week, some remarks made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on the country’s potential military acquisitions once again made headlines in local media outlets. Though Duterte’s comments themselves offered little in the way of clarity about the strategic direction the country will take, they did once again put the spotlight on the important question of the future shape of Philippine military modernization under his tenure.

As I have noted before in these pages, though the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) faces a range of internal and external challenges – including insurgencies, natural disasters, and unresolved territorial and sovereignty issues with neighboring states – it spends only around 1 percent of its GDP on defense, which is behind the Southeast Asian average of around over 2 percent of GDP (See: “The Truth About Philippine Military Modernization and the China Threat”).

The Armed Forces Modernization Act, initiated under Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino III in 2013, was an attempt to make up for the anemic (and at times astrategic) investment of the past. Under the plan, Philippine military modernization over the next decade or so was divided into three horizons and phases: the first till the end of 2017; the second from 2018 to 2022; and the third from 2023 to 2028.

Under the First Horizon which started during the Aquino years, where 85 billion pesos was allocated, the Philippines had acquired assets including combat utility and attack helicopters, frigates, armored vehicles, rifles, and cargo and transport aircraft. The Second Horizon, which Duterte said in his budget speech earlier this year would have an amount of 125 billion pesos, was expected to see acquisition of more equipment for external defense missions in the initial list that had been drawn up, including helicopters, fighter aircraft, multi-role fighters, and missile and radar systems.

But since Duterte took office and particularly this year, defense officials had indicated that there would be some changes to the list as well in accordance with the new priorities of the administration and the changing assessment of needs within services, including perhaps more fast crafts and drones capable of addressing transnational threats as well as rifles and other force protection equipment for troops (See: “What’s Next for Philippine Military Modernization Under Duterte?”).

Developments, particularly the siege by Islamic State-linked militants in the southern Philippine city of Marawi that had erupted in May had also reinforced the conception that there could be a shift in the balance between internal and external security considerations that has long been a variable playing into the shape of Philippine military modernization (See: “Battle for Marawi Deepens Philippine Military’s Budget Challenge”).

Though few exact details have been disclosed publicly so far, Duterte already has an idea of what this list looks like, and he has met with economic and defense officials to determine what the major procurement projects will be. And on November 22, during a visit to Philippine Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Duterte disclosed some details about future priorities for Philippine military modernization. In his remarks, which were in a mixture of English and Tagalog and just the latest in a series of off-the-cuff comments we have heard on this score, he mentioned that the Philippine would look to require a list of items including gunship helicopters, multiple rockets, and new firearms.

To be sure, as is often the case, Duterte’s remarks themselves were quite disjointed and in some respects left questions unanswered. For instance, though he referred to several items, he said he was not sure about some of the crucial specifics, such as when exactly they would be delivered and was not really clear on how they would be funded and financed, whether through existing budget allocations, legislative workarounds or loans and other financial agreements with foreign allies and partners (See: “US Terror Aid to Philippines Signals Enduring Defense Ties Under Duterte”).

But some of these items are indeed priorities that could well be approved within the broader list moving forward. For instance, the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) subsequently clarified that it did indeed planned to acquire 24 new attack helicopters, pending approval of budget for contracting from Duterte as part of the Second Horizon of the RAFPMP. Philippine Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had said the acquisition of these helicopters could occur before the end of the year, but he declined to provide more specifics, citing security considerations.

The exact picture of Philippine military modernization over the next few years under Duterte still looks far from clear, and, as noted earlier, tends to be more variable than the fixed in line with evolving priorities and developments. That is important to keep in mind, since we are just in the middle of year two of Duterte’s single, six year term in office, with a number of security issues including two raging insurgencies as well as other domestic agenda items still underdeveloped. As we get closer to 2018 and enter the Second Horizon, it will be interesting to see how things actually eventually shape up, as opposed to just how they are talked about.

Philippines: Peace Process with MILF More Imperative Than Ever

Zachary Abuza commentary posted to BenarNews (Nov 29): Philippines: Peace Process with MILF More Imperative Than Ever


Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas patrol the marshlands against Islamic State-linked militants in Datu Salibo in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao, Nov. 2017.
Mark Navales/BenarNews
The five-month siege of Marawi by pro-Islamic State militants demonstrated the degree to which Mindanao remains a draw for militants around the region. Only in the southern Philippines do Islamist militants have hope of seizing an entire city for months as they did in Marawi or have sufficient control over territory from which they can regroup, train and stage attacks.

And it is for that reason that the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) must become a priority. The MILF is the largest militant group in Mindanao that controls the most territory.

To his credit, President Rodrigo Duterte has acknowledged the primacy of the peace process, and has on several occasions since the siege's end in late October stated that the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) – the peace process' implementing legislation – is a priority.

The BBL has been in limbo since January 2015, when the Philippine National Police launched a counter-terrorist operation in MILF-controlled territory without going through the cease-fire mechanisms. The raid led to the death of 44 police. It was a tactical fiasco with strategic implications. The BBL, which was then being deliberated in Congress, was shelved. Politicians who were gearing up for May 2016 elections used the hearings on the Mamasapano incident to advance their careers; there were few votes to win by supporting peace.

Since 2015, the MILF leadership has repeatedly expressed their commitment to abide by the peace agreement, has put heavy weaponry beyond use, and renounced armed conflict as the means to achieve autonomy. Nonetheless they have been treated with significant mistrust by Philippine legislators.

With little to show from the peace process, the MILF had few "peace dividends" to offer their rank and file. The MILF could not stem defections from their ranks to some six separate groups that pledged baiyat to the Islamic State (IS). The MILF leadership was increasingly seen by angry young Moros as, at best, dupes continually suckered by government promises of autonomy, or, at worst, collaborators.

During the siege of Marawi, the MILF proved their worth, opening up key humanitarian corridors, which helps explain why the civilian death toll in the conflict that left the city in ruins was so low.

Only the MILF has the capability and resources to police their territory and root out extremists. They have the potential to establish, under the BBL, a truly autonomous government that protects religious and cultural values, as a viable alternative to the brutally violent "caliphate project" of pro-IS groups.

As the group's Chairman Ebrahim el-Haj Murad recently said to Channel News Asia:

The longer this peace process takes, the more people are going to be radicalized. What we see now is they [pro-IS groups] are capitalizing on the delay of the peace process. They try to influence young people [by saying] tens of years have been spent on the peace process but nothing happened. They try to get young people to join their group, saying that only by means of violence, could we achieve our aims. History has shown that every time the peace process fails, you will have splinter groups. They always end up being more radical.

Duterte inherently knows this. But despite his repeated pledges to push through the BBL, there are substantial hurdles. Let me highlight five.

First, many lawmakers have made MILF's unilateral disarmament a precondition to taking up the BBL again. This is a non-starter to the MILF; the recourse to armed conflict is their insurance policy that the government will implement the agreement. The 2014 Peace Agreement makes clear that disarmament will be phased in with each successful implementation milestone.

Second, one cannot underestimate the suspicion of members of the Philippine Congress towards the MILF. Their prejudices are deep-seated, and few congressmen see any political gains in supporting the BBL. Despite Duterte's commitment to the BBL and his high popularity, so far no lawmaker has agreed to endorse it. Without a legislative sponsor, the bill cannot be debated, let alone approved.

Third, despite Duterte's nominal support for the BBL, his legislative priority remains a constitutional amendment to establish a federal system. Is he willing to expend political capital on the BBL, which few in Congress support? Duterte constantly – and I would say intentionally – conflates the BBL with federalism. While the MILF do not oppose federalism, for them it has to be something independent of the BBL, which addresses core grievances, has transitional justice mechanisms, allows them to establish their own system of governance, allows for the establishment of Sharia courts, guarantees revenue sharing, and paves the way for disarmament.

Fourth, the BBL that will be submitted by the Malacañang presidential palace to Congress will not be the BBL that was submitted in 2015. This is going to be a dramatically watered down version. For example, Duterte recently ruled out the Bangsamoro having any independent police or security forces. "I am objecting to an independent regional armed forces and police. We only have one Republic of the Philippines. There should only be one Philippine National Police and one Armed Forces. I cannot compromise on that.” Nor can the MILF.

Fifth, Duterte has said that he will only support the BBL if it is “inclusive,” i.e., includes the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and other groups. This is a red herring. The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the BBL are inclusive agreements, but ego and rivalry have hindered inclusion.

In 1996 the government signed an autonomy agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front that the MILF rejected. The MILF became a larger movement that ultimately controlled more territory, while the MNLF factionalized and mismanaged itself largely to irrelevance outside of the Sulu archipelago. Many in the MNLF resist the government's peace agreement with the MILF, which would legally supersede and nullify the MNLF’s 1996 accord.

That's why the CAB establishes a parliamentary form of government in the Bangsamoro. The CAB does not turn governance over to the MILF. It establishes a parliamentary system, which ensures the MNLF will have a voice because the MILF's support throughout Basilan, Sulu, Tawi Tawi, and Zamboanga is paltry.

Yet Duterte has established a second and parallel peace process with his old colleague Nur Misuari. The former MNLF chairman has on two occasions resumed armed conflict when things didn't go his way. Indeed, Duterte has had to lift the arrest warrant on Misuari for his last armed insurrection to even negotiate with him.

The security situation in Mindanao is devolving, and that has security implications for the region, not just the Philippines. A peace process with the MILF is more imperative than ever, yet the impediments remain high. But should Duterte and Congress fail to deliver one thing is certain: there will be more Marawis, as the MILF continues to splinter and loses any incentive to police its territory.

[Zachary Abuza is a professor at the National War College in Washington and the author of “Forging Peace in Southeast Asia: Insurgencies, Peace Processes, and Reconciliation.” The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of the U.S. Department of Defense, the National War College or BenarNews.]

Security plan in Metro in place – NCRPO

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 28): Security plan in Metro in place – NCRPO

Lawmakers were assured on Tuesday that Metro Manila remains safe from terrorists, notwithstanding intelligence reports indicating the presence in the metropolis of relatives and supporters of the Maute group, an IS-backed but locally-bred terrorists that recently laid siege to Marawi City.

The Philippine National Police-National Capital Regional Police Office (PNP-NCRPO) gave the assurance to the House Committee on Metro Manila Development during a hearing presided over by Rep. Winston Castelo (PDP-Laban, Quezon City).

Director Oscar Albayalde, NCRPO director, said security plans for Metro Manila during the Christmas season are now being carried out and that possible Maute terror activities are being addressed.

Albayalde said relatives and supporters of Maute rebels may be in Metro Manila but any threat they pose have been considered by the police.

“So how safe is Metro Manila in the light of that information?” Castelo asked.

Albayalde said arrests of suspected Maute backers have been made and that intelligence operations are in high gear to determine if remnants are in Metro Manila.

“It (Metro Manila) is still safe because of number one, our usual cooperation with the other intelligence units. We were able to arrest supporters of Maute, we were able to arrest suspected ASG during the ASEAN in Culiat, Quezon City. So this indicates meron naman talagang… we cannot deny anymore,” said Albayalde.

The PNP official also assured solons that more security personnel will be deployed during the Christmas season while increased intelligence activities will be in operation to address any security threat.

Pressed by Castelo to confirm if some Maute relatives are indeed in Metro Manila, Albayalde replied in the affirmative.

Cotabato City unlikely to be ‘the next Marawi,’ says peace NGO

From GMA News  (Nov 29): Cotabato City unlikely to be ‘the next Marawi,’ says peace NGO

The possibility of Cotabato City being "the next" Marawi City is unlikely, as the Maute group would not be able to easily mobilize there due in part to the city's more diverse population, a non-government organization said Wednesday.

At the launch of International Alert Philippines' Conflict Alert 2017 report "Guns, Drugs, and Extremism: Bangsamoro's New Wars," country manager Francisco "Pancho" Lara, Jr. said that Cotabato City is a "totally different ball game" from Marawi City.

"First of all, we do not think that they will be able to mobilize the same numbers that quickly after the setback in Marawi. It may happen—and I'm not only talking about Cotabato, it might happen elsewhere, but it will take some time to build up those resources," Lara said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that they are looking at the possibility of Cotabato City becoming the next target of the Maute terrorists.

Lara said, however, that they do not believe that the Maute group will move on to attack another urban area as their next step.

"The first tactical shift was the movement away from the islands. The second tactical shift was the movement away from rural municipalities to urban municipalities. We don't think that the third tactical shift will mean that they will move now to other urban areas yet," Lara said.

The group's "third tactical shift," Lara continued, would be to broker new alliances with other groups frustrated over the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

"If you're asking me whether it will happen, there's so many conditions that will make it difficult that will happen in Cotabato," he said.

"It's not easy to destroy Cotabato. Cotabato has different ethnic groups there, it's almost like saying will the government destroy a place where you have a sizable mix of different ethnicities, in contrast to Marawi? So there's so many factors acting against the possibility of moving in Cotabato," he added.

The BBL, if enacted, would create a new autonomous political entity as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. It was meant to be the legal framework forged between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

The proposal, however, failed to get the approval of Congress in the aftermath of the Mamasapano clash in January 2015, which killed 44 Special Action Force troopers.

Lara said that what would most likely to happen is that terrorists might continue to do what they did in the early stages of 2016: carry out kidnappings and skirmishes and detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Lara added that while it would currently be very difficult for the Maute group to lay siege to other areas the way they did in Marawi, it might be feasible in the future if they get a broader alliance to support them.

"There might be some skirmishes, but they will not approach we think the level that was in Marawi. In fact, right now I've heard that what alarms the military is the nature of a roving, moving group rather than a Marawi-type of operation," Lara said.

"So what we should be looking at is the type of operation that they mounted for... It may be difficult to mount the same operations in the near future, but given some time in the future, given that they were able to broker a broader alliance to support them then they may attempt Marawi type of operations," he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi last October 17, a day after the killing of terror group leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.

As of October 17, a total of 847 Maute members, 163 government troops, and 47 civilians have been killed. A total of 1,770 civilians have been rescued while 846 firearms have been recovered.

Ongoing threats from militant and kidnap threats, Sabah curfew to be extended

From The Star Online (Nov 30): Ongoing threats from militant and kidnap threats, Sabah curfew to be extended

KOTA KINABALU: The dusk-to-dawn sea curfew in eastern Sabah waters will be extended for another two weeks from Thursday because of ongoing threats of militant and kidnap groups.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Ramli Din (pic) said the curfew, scheduled to have ended at 6pm Thursday, would be extended until Dec 16 in view of ongoing cross-border security threats in the east coast.

Under the sea curfew – which encompasses Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Beluran – people are advised to remain indoors between 6pm and 6am, he said.

“The curfew has been extended to ensure the waters remain safe from any criminal or terror threats to tourist at resorts, international researchers, well as the people in the area,” he said.
Ramli said intelligence indicates that Abu Sayyaf militant and kidnap-for-ransom groups from the southern Philippines were still active and were possibly continuing plans to carry out raids in Sabah waters.
“The curfew is to also ensure the safety and well-being of Sabahans who go out to sea, and those living in the surrounding areas,” he added.

Ramli said the curfew also helped in the enforcement and monitoring of boat movements, and the presence of security vessels created a sense of safety among chalet operators and fishermen in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone).

He said all district police chiefs would issue permits to any eligible applicant for fishing purposes or in case of emergencies.

AFP: Maute remnants regrouping in Lanao

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer: AFP: Maute remnants regrouping in Lanao

 Top aide of slain terror leader on recruitment drive, says Army officer

The five-month war between government troops and terrorists led by the Maute group has left Marawi City’s business district in ruins. —JEOFFREY MAITEM

MARAWI CITY — The top aide of slain terror leader Omarkhayam Maute has reportedly been recruiting residents, especially young men, in Lanao del Sur province as the Maute terror group tries to rebuild its forces after its defeat following a five-month battle in this provincial capital, a military official said.

Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., deputy commander of the military’s Joint Task Force Ranao, said one Abu Dar was among the Maute group’s “second line” leaders who escaped the war and was now trying to reorganize the Islamic State (IS)-inspired group that laid siege to Marawi on May 23.

“The [reported] recruitment efforts for training of new fighters of IS-Maute terrorist group were monitored in the towns of Piagapo, Lumbacaunayan and Sultan Domalondong,” said Brawner, noting that he received the information from locals.

He said Abu Dar, who carried a P3-million bounty on his head, had been using images of Marawi’s devastation to win recruits.

“Despite being defeated, the [IS-inspired group] did not learn its lesson,” said Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

Supt. Ebra Moxsir, Marawi City police chief, said information reaching his office showed that Dar’s group was constantly moving and was not staying long in a single area. He said the group was also monitored in the towns of Butig, Marantao, Tugaya and Tubaran in Lanao del Sur.

He said most of the new fighters whom Dar had recruited were relatives of Maute gunmen, who were killed in the fighting here from May to October.

Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute were two of the seven Maute brothers who led the fighting and tried to foil the arrest of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, reported to be the emir of IS in Southeast Asia. The brothers were killed separately in the course of the five-month war.

In October, Omarkhayam was killed with Hapilon in one of the fiercest battles the government waged to retake Marawi. The deaths of both leaders signaled the end of the war, which killed more than a thousand people, 164 of them, policemen and soldiers. The military said 822 alleged terrorists and 47 civilians were also killed.

Vice Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said he received reports that Abu Dar was accompanied by about 40 men.

“The military should check on the reported recruitment activities and not let the terrorists regroup,” said Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra.

In General Santos City, authorities arrested in a drug bust on Monday a Pakistani national and his Filipino wife who were suspected of financing the activities of another IS-inspired group, Anzar Al-Khilafa Philippines (AKP).

Gil Cesario Castro, director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Mindanao, said Shahzad Khan, 35, and his wife, Anjelie Mawani Osama, 30, were members of the El Patron drug group, which allegedly funded the AKP.

Bulatlat: NGO alliance slams red-tagging, detention of devt workers

From the pro-CPP/NDF/NPA online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Nov 29): NGO alliance slams red-tagging, detention of devt workers

An NGO network condemned the arrest and continued detention of two development workers in Negros island, who have been languishing in jail for a month, as the military tagged them as “Communist Party members.”

In an Urgent Appeal, the Assert Socio Economic Initiatives Network of the Philippines (Ascent) called for the release of its convener and senior consultant Jeremy Ang and his staff Rita Espinoza. Ascent said the two were arrested on Oct. 19 in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).

Within two days after their arrest, police whisked the two back and forth from Kabankalan City to Bacolod City, without informing their lawyers, until they were finally flown to Camp Crame Quezon City on Oct. 21. On Oct. 24, the military presented the two to the media as “high-ranking members” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). They were falsely identified as “Louie Martinez” and “Aurora Cayon.”

The two are detained in Camp Crame.

“The military and police must be held accountable for the human rights atrocities they continually commit against development workers and red-tagging of development projects,” said Ascent spokesperson Renmin Vizconde in a statement.

Vizconde said Ang and Espinoza have been affiliated with Ascent since it was established in June 2016. Ascent is a non-government organization advocating economic, social and cultural rights. It was established to campaign for the defense of socio-economic initiatives of people and its member NGOs, which have come under attack from state security forces.

Wrongfully accused

Based on the fact sheet sent by Karapatan, on Oct. 19, Ang and Espinoza had just attended consultation activities with Ascent’s partner organization, National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in La Carlota City. The two were headed to Dumaguete, but made a stop for lunch at a restaurant in Kabankalan City. As they were coming out, about 10 plain-clothed CIDG and ISAFP men forcibly accosted them. There was no warrant of arrest presented to the two.

They were also subjected to inquest proceedings and brought to Camp Crame, Quezon City from Police Regional Office – Negros Island Region at Camp Alfredo Montelibano Sr. in Bacolod City without the knowledge of their lawyers.

Ascent said Ang and Espinosa were part of a team formed to assist NFSW in its campaign for higher wages and better working conditions for the sugar plantation workers. The team held consultations with sugar workers on Oct. 14 and 15, followed by post-consultation activities up to Oct. 17. The two, along with another development worker, and were travelling by a car rented by Espinoza.

Arbitrary arrest and detention
According to the fact sheet, the arresting team handcuffed and blindfolded Ang and Espinoza, and forced them to board separate vehicles.

The driver of the car rented by Espinoza sought help from the restaurant management who then reported the incident as kidnapping. Two local police men quickly responded and, on board the car rented by Espinoza, were able to tail the cars of the CIDG and ISAF. But when they reached the Himamaylan police station, the Kabankalan city police men withdrew, after the arresting unit told them “not to interfere because it was a legitimate operation.”

The two were first brought to Camp Montelibano in Bacolod City where they were separately detained inside the CIDG office. Their mugshots and fingerprints were also taken.

“Ang was solitarily confined inside a small cell while Espinoza was handcuffed inside a separate room. All their personal belongings and valuables, including their maintenance medicines were seized and were not returned until after Ang and Ezpinosa’s lawyers insisted,” the fact sheet read.

Both were later charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
The CIDG also alleged that Ang has a warrant of arrest for murder and multiple attempted murder case issued on April 2017 by Retional Trial Court Branch 7 in Agusan del Sur. Espinoza on the other hand was accused of arson and murder.

On Oct. 19, at 7 PM, lawyers Cesar Biloria of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) came to Camp Montelibano, but were denied by police to see the two. It was only on the next day that Biloria, and another NUPL member, Ben Ramos, were allowed to see their clients and were able to speak to them briefly.

On Oct. 21, at 11:00 a.m., Biloria and Karapatan legal counsel Maria Sol Taule visited the victims and asked the CIDG for the copies of the alleged warrants of arrest, butthe CIDG failed to provide any. Before leaving, the two lawyers instructed the CIDG to inform them of the inquest proceedings for the two. However, at 4:00 p.m. on the same day, police brought Ang and Espinoza for the inquest proceedings in Kabankalan city, without the informing their lawyers.

“There, they were subjected to inquest proceedings without the assistance of any lawyer. The two refused to sign papers, insisting that they were not the persons the CIDG and the military alleged them to be and that the .45 caliber and grenade allegedly seized in their car were all planted,” the fact sheet read.

The two were then brought back to Camp Montelibano in Bacolod. At 11:00 p.m., the two were flown to Manila, without any notice to their lawyers. On Oct. 24, PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa presented the two to the media, as “high-ranking CPP-NPA leaders.”

Red-tagging, persecution of development workers

Vizconde said Ang and Espinoza have been lending their expertise for the advancement of socio-economic projects in various regions, where they conduct consultations with member organizations.

“It is ironic that those who opt to help the poor and impoverished through consultative and participatory methods and are not limited to airconditioned offices are the ones whose rights are being blatantly being violated,” Vizconde said.

“Their knowledge, skills, and years of experience on development work have become invaluable in our advocacy of promoting economic, social, and cultural rights,” Vizconde added.

Report confirms link between drug trade and extremist violence in south

From the Business Mirror (Nov 29): Report confirms link between drug trade and extremist violence in south

Shadow economies, particularly illegal-drugs trade, have financed extremist groups with their terror activities in Mindanao, leading to the explosion of violence in the country’s southern island, a study by a peace organization said.

A report, titled “Conflict Alert 2017,” by the International Alert said the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) “saw an explosion of violence” in 2016 in the face of the national elections and the rise of President Duterte, whose administration vowed to eradicate the country’s drug menace.

According to the study, shadow economies have primarily caused the “sharp rise” in violent conflict. “The sharp rise in shadow economy-related incidents coincided with the start of President Duterte’s term of office, specifically after a nationwide and coordinated antidrug campaign was announced in July 2016,” the report said.

“The volume of illegal drug-related violence grew sixfold from the previous year. Bulk of shadow economy-related conflicts took place in Maguindanao, with illegal-drugs cases in this province comprising most of the cases,” the study added.

The rise in violence was unexpected, the report noted, because there was no “all-out war” declared in the ARMM like in 2000. Nonetheless, “there were 4,356 incidents in 2016, or an 89-percent increase” in cases of violence as compared to 2015.

The study added all provinces in the ARMM witnessed a spike in violent incidents, especially in Maguindanao and Basilan.

Aside from this, the report said much of the conflict cases arose from deadly shadow economies, most of which resulting from illegal drugs and illicit firearms. There were 1,498 shadow economies-related cases in 2016, or a 181-percent increase from 534 incident in 2015.

Common crimes were also found frequent, as there were 535 incidents logged in 2016, or a 15-percent hike from the recorded 467 cases in 2015. Common crimes include carjacking, robbery and conflict arising from intoxication, among others.

The study said it is without doubt this caused the conflict in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, where the Daesh-inspired Maute Group laid siege in May, leading to a five-month fighting between government troops and terrorists.

The fighting has left more than 1,000 dead, and has displaced about 400,000 residents. Although the conflict has ended with the liberation of Marawi City in October, the Islamic town has yet to see daylight, with the government only beginning to roll out its rehabilitation program.

“It is obvious that urban violence will increasingly feature in the conflicts of the future due to some conducive factors, namely, highly dense population, fractious nature of alliances with different groups, ideology and affiliations in the area. Wars waged in urban areas will require new strategies and new alliances,” the report said.

Soon to be released EO declares NPA as a ‘terror’ group

From the Business Mirror (Nov 30): Soon to be released EO declares NPA as a ‘terror’ group

President Duterte is nearing to issue an executive order (EO) branding the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) as “terrorists,” his spokesman revealed on Thursday.

According to Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr., Malacañang is now crafting an EO placing the NPA under the terror watch. “[There is] no date, but the President will do that,” Roque said in a phone interview.

This came a day after the President announced he will be preparing an EO, declaring the NPA as terrorists. Peace talks with the National Democratic Front, the negotiating arm of the communists, has been terminated by the government, saying it had enough of attacks from communist rebels.

“I am preparing now. They are preparing the executive order declaring them to be terrorists, and they will be afforded the treatment of being criminals,” Duterte said on Wednesday.

The President added he already cut ties with the NPA, which he formerly considered bringing into the government. He said the communist rebels “are not really serious” in talking peace with the government, and are “just biding their time” to destabilize the Duterte administration. “They do not have the second echelons to carry the fight, and they just want to be comfortable,” Duterte added.

The government also intends to arrest activists alleged of conniving with the communists rebels, such as members of left-leaning groups. This, however, has drawn flak from human-rights groups, saying it might lead to a brutal crackdown, like the war on drugs.

PNP probes killing of 2 activists

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 30): PNP probes killing of 2 activists

The Philippine National Police is investigating the killing of two activists, and injuring of their colleague Tuesday in Sitio San Ramon, Brgy. Poblacion, Bayawan City, Negros Oriental.

The fatalities were identified by human rights group Karapatan as Elisa Badayos, wife of former labor leader Jimmy Badayos, and Eleuterio Moises, a barangay tanod and member of the Mantapi Edwan Farmers Association.

Injured was a certain CJ Matarlo of Anak Bayan.

The slain Badayos was coordinator of Karapatan Negros Oriental, John Milton “ Butch” Lozande, secretary general of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, said.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay also said in a statement that the victims were part of the 30-member fact-finding mission team sent to investigate reported human rights violations in Bayawan, Negros Oriental.

Senior Supt. Edwin Portento, provincial police director of Negros Oriental, said they are validating the identities of two suspects in the shooting incident, based on the claims of the injured survivor.

Clarizza Dagatan, Karapatan Negros secretary general, said Moises was driving a motorcycle, with Badayos and CJ Matarlo as passengers, when they were shot by the suspects.

Dagatan and Lozande have denounced the killing of Badayos and Moises, as well as for inflicting injuries on Matarlo

Palabay, noting that the attack on human rights defenders are becoming more rampant, more brutal, more fearless, said the incident has only proven how fascism works to out rightly kill those who dare to ask questions.

But Portento said there is nothing to investigate about alleged human rights violations or abuses committed by the military in the area, as almost all of them have already been re-assigned to Mindanao.

He said the victims and their colleagues were not engaged in a fact-finding mission, but in community organizing.

The abuses he had known in the area involved the killing of a member of the Civilian Armed Geographical Unit by suspected rebels, Portento added.

The motive for the shooting of Badayos and her two companions is still being established by the police.

Following the July 21 ambush and the killing of policemen in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, Lozande said that state security forces are disposed to retaliate and harass ordinary farmers and civilians.

NPA rebels own raid, warn quarry operators

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 30): NPA rebels own raid, warn quarry operators

The Armando Sumayang Jr. Command of the New People's Army has claimed responsibility for the recent raid of a quarry site and for destroying its heavy equipment in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, and called it form of punishment to its operator.

Let this serve as a warning to other operators engaged in what Andrea Guerrero, spokesperson of the Southwest Negros Guerilla Front, called irresponsible quarry operations.

Guerrero, in a statement, noted that quarry operators had grow up from six to 15 since 2014.

Police probers are looking into extortion as the possible motive for the raid of a quarry site and the bombing of heavy equipment by communist rebels in Brgy. Orong, Kabankalan City, on Nov. 26.

Estimated damage to the back hoe owned by Kagawad Raquel Siguero was placed by authorities at P200,000.

Guerrero said one of the quarry operators was allegedly engaged in land-grabbing and harassments against farmers in Brgy. Orong, Kabankalan City.

Both the Philippine Army and National Police in Negros Occidental condemned the continued atrocities of the CPP-NPA, following the termination of the peace talks by the government with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Sayyaf militant arrested in Basilan province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 30): Sayyaf militant arrested in Basilan province

Security forces have arrested an alleged Abu Sayyaf militant that the military tagged as a bomber following a tip off from a civilian in Basilan, one of 5 provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region, officials announced on Thursday.

Officials said Rahim Abdul, alias Aman Kabalu, was nabbed in the village of Kampurnah in Isabela City on Tuesday afternoon. A fragmentation grenade was recovered from Abdul, according to Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command.

“Rahim Abdul was arrested in a law enforcement operation launched by the Joint Task Force Basilan and the police in Isabela City. A fragmentation grenade was seized by government forces from Abdul,” she said.

Brigadier General Juvymax Uy, commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan, has confirmed the report and said: “Abdul was positively identified by a civilian, leading to his arrest,” he said.

Abdul is currently being interrogated by the police, he said, adding, the militant has a P1.3-million government reward for his capture.

Officials did not say whether Abdul was involved in bombings in Basilan or in other parts of Mindanao.

Abu Sayyaf bomb expert arrested

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Abu Sayyaf bomb expert arrested

Government security forces have arrested an alleged explosive expert of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) with PhP1.3 million reward in the province of Basilan, top military officials announced Thursday.

Newly-promoted Brig. Gen. Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, identified the arrested ASG “bomber” as Rahim Abdul alias Aman Kabalu.

Uy said Abdul was arrested in a joint military and police law enforcement operation at around 3:40 p.m. Tuesday in Barangay Kaumpurnah Zone I, Isabela City, Basilan province.

He said the arresting team seized from Abdul’s possession a fragmentation grenade.

“Abdul was positively identified by a civilian, leading to his arrest without his resistance,” Uy said.

He said Abdul is listed under the Department of National Defense-Department of Interior and Local Government (DND-DILG) Joint Order of Rewards with PhP1.3 million on his head.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, has commended the troops for the successful operation which led to the arrest of Abdul, a notorious bomber.

Galvez assured the public that the Westmincom units “will continue to keep guard as they sustain the conduct of combat and intelligence operations in their joint area of operations in order to ensure peace and security in respective areas.”

Abdul was turned over to the custody of the police for proper disposition and legal procedure.

Army activates urban counter-terrorism unit

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Army activates urban counter-terrorism unit

The military here has activated a new Army battalion specifically trained to combat urban terrorism and prevent Marawi City-like siege in the future, an Army official said.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) civil military operations office, said the newly designated 90th Infantry Battalion will still undergo a month-long organization and refresher training at the 6ID headquarters here.

Shortly after its activation this week, the unit had been turned over to the Division Training School (DTS) for the month-long special skills and capability refresher course in Barangay Semba, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

A graduate of Philippine Military Academy “Maalab Class” of 1993, Besana was named by 6ID chief Maj. Gen. Arnel dela Vega to head the special Army unit.

Besana, who also earned a degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of the Philippines, said the core personnel of 90th IB were from selected Army units under the 6ID command.

“All personnel who composed the unit are actually battle-tested and experienced in countering violent extremists in Central Mindanao,” Besana said.

The unit is backed by new Army recruits and fresh graduates will replace veteran fighters selected from various Army battalions of the division, he said.

“Equipment is not a problem because the Army has enough but admittedly there still a need to procure or acquire new and essential equipment of course,” Besana said.

He also said that the 90th IB is just one of the 10 battalions that will be activated to enhance the capacity and capability of the Philippine Army in order to better address various threats nationwide.

“We will ensure that the new battalion is ready before deploying wherever it is needed to fill in the gaps we observed,” Besana said of the new Army unit. “Hence, our people will also expect that the 90th IB in particular is ready to serve them and protect them based on our constitutional mandate.”

While the new unit is ready for deployment, Besana appealed to the people in Central Mindanao of their support in terms of cooperation, open communication, coordination and collaboration.

Cops hurt in ambush get medals, financial aid

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Cops hurt in ambush get medals, financial aid

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director-General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, on Wednesday evening visited the policemen ambushed by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in separate incidents in Antique and Iloilo provinces to distribute medals and financial assistance.

Dela Rosa first visited the wake of Police Officer 1 Joeffel Odon in Cabatuan, Iloilo. Odon was killed in the November 24 ambush in Maasin.

He extended his condolences to the slain cop’s mother Evelyn Odon and handed PHP174,000 from the PNP and additional PHP100,000 from his personal pocket.

Dela Rosa also paid tribute to Iloilo’s wounded cops and the men and women of the Police Regional Police Office 6 (PRO 6).

Dela Rosa joined the concert-for-a-cause dubbed as “God Bless our PRO 6 Cops” spearheaded by the PRO 6 Regional Advisory Council for Police Transformation and Development, Bless our PRO 6 Cop Movement and the PNP regional headquarters held Wednesday evening the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).

Funds raised in the concert, which featured local singers and the PRO 6 Mandirigmang Mang-aawit, will go to the “Peso sa PNCO” program, wounded and killed in action policemen and legal support fund.

At the concert venue, dela Rosa awarded nine of the 15 wounded cops in two separate ambush staged by the rebels in Sibalom, Antique and Maasin, Iloilo with the “Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting (PNP Wounded Personnel Medal) and PHP50,000 each.

In his message, he urged the wounded cops to continue their fight against the NPA. “Let us not fear to die,” he said.

He sang two English songs titled “Have I told you” and “All of Me” to the delight of the audience watching the concert.

He capped his engagement in Iloilo by visiting six other wounded personnel who are still recuperating in two private hospitals in this city after the concert. Each wounded personnel was also awarded the PNP Wounded Personnel Medal and PHP50,000 each.

On Tuesday, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Eduardo Año also paid visit to the wounded cops and at the wake of Odon, representing President Rodrigo Duterte.

He turned over to Odon’s mother a total of PHP450,000 from the Public Safety Mutual Benefit Fund Inc. (PSBMFI), Office of the President and personal money of President Duterte.

Wounded soldiers also each received PHP130,000 from the same sources of fund. They all received cellular phones with names of persons in Malacañang whom they could contact anytime.

Each of them is also entitled to one unit of caliber .45 pistol with three magazines as additional gift from Pres. Duterte in recognition of their contribution in the fight against terrorism, illegal drugs, and criminality.

Senate okays 2018 national budget on final reading

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Senate okays 2018 national budget on final reading

The Senate on Wednesday night unanimously approved on third and final reading its version of the proposed 2018 national budget worth PHP3.767 trillion.

It was approved with 16 votes in the affirmative and zero in the negative.

Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Commitee on Finance, listed in a press statement the salient features on the Senate’s version of the national budget which include the following:
  • PHP51 billion allocation for the implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act
  • PHP327 million for free Wi-Fi in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and public places and additional PHP 10 million for capital outlay for each SUC
  • PHP250 million for free tuition for medical students enrolled in SUCs under the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)
  • PHP1.8 billion for cash allowance of teachers; and PHP 2.5 billion for school-based feeding program under the Department of Education (DepEd) budget
  • PHP6.5 billion to fund the Universal Healthcare Program under PhilHealth to provide for the health insurance of government employees under the executive department
  • PHP10 billion under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Fund for Marawi rehabilitation
  • PHP3 billion for the Department of Social and Welfare and Development (DSWD) centers nationwide worth while the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program has PHP 89 billion
  • PHP60 billion for the increase of base pay of military and uniformed personnel; PHP 1.647 billion for the full payment of total administrative disability (TAD) arrears for the surviving spouses of World War II veterans,
  • and PHP 372 million under the Bureau of Corrections for additional prison facilities.
  • PHP900 million and PHP 500 million for the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Oplan Double Barrel and MASA MASID, respectively, were realigned
  • PHP1.35 billion was transferred to the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Housing Program; while the PHP50 million was allocated for additional budget for acquisition of body cameras of police officers
  • PHP2 billion subsidy for irrigation fees of farmer associations and additional funds to boost livelihoods and the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), including the additional
  • PHP800 million for the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Shared Service Facilities (SSF)
A bicameral conference will be held on Bonifacio Day (November 30) to reconcile the differences between the respective versions of the Senate and House of Representatives (HoR).

The Senate panel will be composed of Legarda as the chairperson, with Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Cynthia Villar, Juan Edgardo Angara, Panfilo Lacson, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Nancy Binay, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The proposed 2018 national budget is expected to be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte on the second week of December and enacted before Christmas.

Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, assured that the 2018 national budget is “pro-people”, “socially inclusive”, “gender sensitive”, “climate adaptive” among others.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier said that the proposed 2018 national budget prioritizes education and infrastructure development, particularly for the government’s infrastructure program, “Build, Build, Build”, and the provision of social services to the people.

PRRD calls for nationalism as PH celebrates Bonifacio Day

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): PRRD calls for nationalism as PH celebrates Bonifacio Day

President Rodrigo Duterte is urging Filipinos to instill an era of civic consciousness and nationalism as the country commemorates the 154th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, the Father of the Philippine Revolution.

In his Bonifacio Day message, the President said that everyone should be actively involved in nation building and called on Filipinos to fight to "free ourselves from the grasp of corruption, criminality, and illegal drugs; to liberate our people from the clutches of terror and violence; and to preserve our ideals, values, and way of life.”
“It was Andres Bonifacio who ignited the fires of revolt that led to the foundation of our nation and brought freedom to our people. As the heirs of his revolution, it is our solemn obligation to bring life to his aspirations and usher in an era of civic consciousness and nationalism,” Duterte said.
Filipinos should never lose their sight in realizing the vision for a better and more progressive country as they strive for a peaceful, orderly and comfortable living for everyone.

“Like Bonifacio, let us light the flames of change that will bring about real and meaningful transformation in our nation,” the President said.

Acceptance procedures for frigate components ongoing

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Acceptance procedures for frigate components ongoing

Technical inspection and acceptance procedures for components that will be installed on the Philippines' first two missile-firing frigates are now being finalized.

This was bared by Department of National Defense (DND) public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong on Wednesday when asked on the progress of the modernization project worth PHP18 billion.

"The Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) is proceeding as scheduled and we are now finalizing the Technical Inspection and Acceptance procedures for the many components that will comprise the two frigates," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

This stage includes possible selection of weapons, propulsion and sensor systems on the two frigates.

"We expect the concerned parties to submit the checklists, which are required in the Technical Inspection process, not later than December 1, 2017," Andolong said.

On Oct. 24, 2016, DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana formally inked the contract for the FAP, together with officials and delegates from South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) at the PN's headquarters in Naval Station Andrada, Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

The project involves the construction and delivery of two missile-firing frigates to the PN.

As background, the Notice of Award was approved, issued and was duly conformed by HHI on Sept. 13, 2016 with the amount of USD336,912,000 or PHP15,744,571,584.

An additional PHP2 billion was allocated for the acquisition of assorted weapon systems and munitions.

Joma claim on Nasugbu clash mere propaganda: Army official

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Joma claim on Nasugbu clash mere propaganda: Army official

The claim of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison that no real encounter took place in Nasugbu, Batangas that left 14 New People's Army (NPA) rebels dead and another wounded and captured is just a propaganda.

This, according to Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos, in an interview Thursday.

"Joma Sison’s statement is a mere NPA propaganda against the government forces which are pure and simple lies with the sole intention of salvaging their eroding mass base support and projecting relevance in the region," he added.

Burgos said what the CPP founder cannot contradict is that troops applied first-aid and evacuated the wounded rebels to the nearest hospital for appropriate medical treatment which is more than enough proof that the military highly values the rights and lives of the people.

"This blatant attempt to weaken our resolve through misinformation and harassment only shows that we are hitting, hurting and disrupting their terroristic plans which inspire us to remain steadfast in pursuing our mandate of protecting the people of Region 4 and securing this part of our land," the military official added.

In a series of encounters in Barangays Aga and Kaylaway that started 8:20 p.m. Tuesday, an initial 13 rebels were killed and three security troops were wounded in the gun battles that lasted for 20 to 40 minutes.

Also wounded were two NPA rebels whom troops provided with first aid and brought to the nearest hospital.

One of the wounded rebels later died, bringing the death toll of the NPAs to 14.

The encounter was "intelligence driven" and stemmed from the November 20 operation in Barangay Utod that earlier resulted in the capture of a NPA base and undetermined rebel casualties.

The seized NPA encampment is capable of housing and training a significant number of rebels.

All bodies of the dead NPA were recovered by troops along with 12 high-powered firearms consisting of 10 M-16 automatic rifles, an M-16 automatic rifle fitted with a M-203 grenade launcher and an M-79.

Nine of the slain rebels were male while five were female.

Army always ready to serve nation like Bonifacio

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Army always ready to serve nation like Bonifacio

Like Gat Andres Bonifacio, who is celebrating his 154th birthday Thursday, the Philippine Army (PA) is always ready to serve the people and protect the land.

Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson said Bonifacio is always a hero to the PA due to his efforts to secure nation's freedom and setting up an example on how to use it well.

"Gat Andres Bonifacio is a hero to all of us not only because he fought for our freedom, but because he also taught us to use that hard-won freedom in the best interest of the country and people," he added in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

Tiongson said the PA is more than willing to emulate the example of the 'Great Plebeian'.

"We are always ready to go beyond our call of duties and responsibilities as we serve the people and secure the land," he added.

Around 8 a.m. Thursday, as part of the commemoration rites to honor Kataas-taasang "Kagalang-galang na Kapitunan na Anak ng Bayan" (KKK) founder, a simple wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Bonifacio Monument in front of the Tutuban Center.

Activities were led by officials and representatives of the Tutuban Properties, Inc. and National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

Bonifacio, born on Nov. 30, 1863 in Tondo, Manila, was the founder and later supreme leader of the KKK movement which sought to free the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule.

Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were executed in Maragondon, Cavite, after being found guilty of treason by the Katipunan Magdalo faction supporting Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in May 10, 1897.


From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 29): CUSTOMARY VISIT  |  CSAFP Visit AFP Major Services

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – AFP Chief General Rey Leonardo Guerrero visits yesterday the Headquarters of the Philippine Army at Fort Andres Boifaio in Taguig City and thereafter, the Philippine Air Force at Col Jesus Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

Today, he’s scheduled to visit the Headquarters of the Philippine Navy at Naval Station Jose Andrada at Roxas Boulevard, City of Manila.

This is one in the series of customary visit he had to different AFP Units—in Marawi, as well as other units in the frontline, and in Metro Manila. It is the AFP Chief’s duty as the commander to check on the readiness condition and the morale of the troops. AFP PAO / MCAG

DWDD: MANUNUDLA | PA Honors Army Shooting Team

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 29): MANUNUDLA  |  PA Honors Army Shooting Team 

FORT ANDRES BONIFACIO, Taguig City (DWDD) – The Philippine Army honored members of its shooting team, Manunudla, for bringing home medals and ranking third overall during the recently concluded ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet (AARM) 2017 held in Singapore from November 6 to 23. OACPA/MCAG

DWDD: FRIENDLY VISIT | Royal Australian Navy visits Cebu

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 29): FRIENDLY VISIT  |  Royal Australian Navy visits Cebu

NAVAL BASE RAFAEL RAMOS, Cebu (DWDD) – The two (2) Armidale Class Patrol Boats (ACPB) of the Royal Australian Navy arrived in the Captain Veloso Pier in Naval Forces Central on November 22, 2017 for logistic fill up and crew respite before they resume joint patrols in the Sulu Sea.

They were received by the Commander of Naval Base Rafael Ramos – Naval Installation Facility, Captain Robeline Carpio and other Philippine Navy officers.
During their visit in Cebu, RAN officers rendered their courtesy call to the Commander of Naval Forces Central, Commodore Loumer Bernabe and the Deputy Commander of Naval Forces Central, Captain Renato David. This was immediately followed by security briefing aboard the RAN vessels. An open house or ship’s tour was conducted on November 23, 2017.

To maximize learning opportunities of the Philippine Navy personnel, a Subject Matter Expertise Exchange (SMEE) was held aboard stated vessels and it included topics regarding Safety and Ship’s Maintenance, Best Practices and Crew Welfare.
The Royal Autralian Navy ships departed from CVP, NFC on November 26, 2017. NPAO/MCAG

DWDD: GOODWILL VISIT | Japanese Destroyer visits the Philippines

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 29): GOODWILL VISIT  |  Japanese Destroyer visits the Philippines

NAVAL STATION JOSE ANDRADA, Roxas Blvd., Manila (DWDD) – The Japan Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) vessel JS ONAMI (DD-111), an anti-submarine Destroyer that arrived in Manila on November 26 for a two-day goodwill visit and replenishment of supply from a mission in the ASEAN International Fleet Review has departed towards its homeport.

Philippine Navy (PN) vessel BRP Rajah Humabon (PF11) rendered customary meeting procedures at Corregidor Island and escorted the vessels to its designated anchorage area at in ints departure yesterday.

PN representatives accorded the visiting navy a welcome ceremony upon arrival followed by a port briefing related to health and security aboard JS ONAMI and has conducted various activities. NPAO/MCAG

DWDD: THE FEW, THE PROUD | 67th Marine Day Celebration in Batanes

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 30): THE FEW, THE PROUD  |  67th Marine Day Celebration in Batanes

BASCO, Batanes (DWDD) – The 67th Marine Day Celebration was commemorated in Basco, Batanes November 25, 2017. NOLCOM PIO / MCAG

DWDD: ENCOUNTER WITH PROFESSIONALS | NAVFORSOL visit by students of St Agnes Academy

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 30): ENCOUNTER WITH PROFESSIONALS  |  NAVFORSOL visit by students of St Agnes Academy

RAWIS, Legazpi City (DWDD) – Eight personnel from Naval Forces Southern Luzon (NAVFORSOL) visited the Grade 3 pupils of St. Agnes Academy during the school-initiated Career Day Activity dubbed as Encounter with the Professionals at St. Agnes Academy, Legazpi City.

The children were in awe upon seeing their “real life superheroes” in different navy uniforms.

They actively participated and were truly inspired in the discussion about the mission of the Philippine Navy and the heroism of all military personnel. NAVFORSOL/MCAG

DWDD: AJEX 2017 | AFP NOLCOM Joint Exercise

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 30): AJEX 2017  | AFP NOLCOM Joint Exercise

CAMP GEN SERVILLANO AQUINO, Tarlac City (DWDD) – The Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) forces has participated in the 1st AFP Joint Exercise (AJEX) on November 27, 2017 conducted in Fort Ramon Magsaysay, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.

This event is a capability demonstration on Joint military exercise participated by the three branches of service of the AFP namely: the Philippine Army, Navy and Air Force.

This is to ensure the AFP’s joint operational readiness of in addressing the different threats   that   may   evolve   in   the   contemporary operational   environment.   It will be highlighted   by   the   Joint   force   Operation   applied   in   a   complex   archipelagic environment.


Among the activities during the event are the Table Top Exercise for the Planning and Command and Control, Execution of plans that involves fly-by of Philippine Air Force and Navy air assets  dropping bombs on pre-designated targets and conduct close  air   support,  while  live  firing  of   howitzers,  maneuver  of   tanks  and Airborne Demonstration for the Philippine Army contingent.

The Deputy Chief of Staff AFP, Lt Gen Salvador Melchor Mison, acted as the Guest of Honor gracing the event, together with Defense Undesecretary for Finance Ammunition Installations and Materials Raymundo DV Elefante, Lt Gen Emmanuel Salamat, the Commander of NOLCOM,   Commanders of TRADOC and 7th ID and other field commanders within NOLCOM Area of Responsibility.

The   NOLCOM   forces   operating   in   Central   and   Northern   Luzon,   having a professional, well-trained and well-equipped force, will always be ready to address in any   situation   all   threats to national  security, that includes both external and insurgency threats and terrorism. NOLCOM PIO / MCAG


From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 30): INSURGENCY CRUMBLES  |  NPAs in Batangas Crushed


CAMP MATEO CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal (DWDD) – Intensified operations continues against New People’s Army terrorist in Nasugbu, Batangas after fifteen NPA’s were neutralized in an encounter against government forces on November 28, 2017.

The neutralized terrorist are believed to be remnants of the same NPA group which suffered heavy casualties in September, including the during an encounter with the elements of the 730th Combat Group under Maj Engelberto Nioda last November 20, 2017 at Brgy Utod of same municipality.

Accordingly, the Secretary of the NPAs Guerilla Unit 3 and one platoon leader were among those who engaged and eventually was neutralized in the said encounter.

According to Brigadier General Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, which supervises the operations, the leadership vacuum brought about by the death of these NPA leaders signals the eventual demise of insurgency in Batangas.

He added that government troops recovered 12 high-powered firearms from the encounter site and that two wounded terrorists were given first aid by soldiers and were immediately evacuated to the nearest hospital for medical treatment.

“We put premium to the lives of our fellow Filipinos that is why when they lost their ability to fight, we extended a helping hand to save them and give them the chance to defend themselves before the court of law as they answer to their evil deeds” said General Burgos.

Even before President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that the NPAs will be classified as terrorists, security forces in the region intensified their counterinsurgency operations to put an end to their extortion activities and pre-empt any hostile actions that can hamper the booming economic potentials of CALABARZON.

Major General Rhoderick M Parayno, Commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said that the NPAs which the government forces engaged have been on the run since September.

“This is in line with the president’s pronouncement that NPAs are terrorists. Your soldiers are more committed than ever to push harder and finally put an end to this insurgency in order to protect the Filipino people from fear and atrocities which the NPA terrorists plan to sow while ensuring the safety of our citizens in the area.”

MGen Parayno added that “all available assets, including aircraft, are on red alert. The NPAs will face the full might of the government that is why we call on their families to convince their relatives who are still blinded by their false ideology to give up their arms and prevent them from suffering the fate of the 14 terrorists who died tonight.”

Five (5) soldiers suffered minor injuries and are now in stable condition.

Pursuit operations were launched by joint forces of the PNP and the AFP. 2DPAO/MCAG

DWDD: WELCOME CEREMONY | PN accords Arrival Honors for Navy contingent to AMNEX 2017

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 30): WELCOME CEREMONY  |  PN accords Arrival Honors for Navy contingent to AMNEX 2017

PIER 13, South Harbor, Manila (DWDD) – The Philippine Navy accorded a fitting arrival and welcome ceremony on November 29, 2017 for the returning more or less 600-man contingent onboard two of the PN’s modern and recently acquired vessels, BRP Tarlac (LD601) and BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF15) after the successful participation in the inaugural ASEAN Multilateral Naval Exercise (AMNEX) on Nov. 13 to 22, 2017 at Pattaya and Sattahip Bay, Thailand. NPAO/MCAG